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Diving for Pearls: A Guide to Long Tail Keywords – Next Level

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Diving for Pearls: A Guide to Long Tail Keywords - Next Level

Welcome to this refreshed installment of our educational Next Level series! Originally published in June 2016 this blog has been rewritten to include new tool screenshots and refreshed workflows. Together we’ll uncover keywords in the vastness of the long tail.

Looking for more Next Level posts? Previously we explored how to create relevant and engaging SEO reports.

One of the biggest obstacles to driving forward your business online is being able to rank well for keywords that people are searching for. Getting your lovely URLs to show up in those precious top positions — and gaining a good portion of the visitors behind the searches — can feel like an impossible dream. Particularly if you’re working on a newish site on a modest budget within a competitive niche.

Well, strap yourself in, because today we’re going to live that dream. I’ll take you through the bronze, silver, and gold levels of finding, assessing, and targeting long tail keywords so you can start getting visitors to your site that are primed and ready to convert.

Quick steps to building a long tail keyword list:

  1. Draw from your industry and customer knowledge

  2. Add suggestions from Google Autocomplete

  3. Explore industry language on social media

  4. Pull relevant suggestions from a keyword tool

  5. Prioritize using popularity and difficulty metrics

  6. Understand the competitive landscape to pinpoint opportunities

What are long tail keywords?

The “long tail of search” refers to the many weird and wonderful ways the diverse people of the world search for any given niche.

People (yes, people! Shiny, happy, everyday, run-of-the-mill, muesli-eating, credit-card-swiping people!) rarely stop searching broad and generic ‘head’ keywords, like “web design” or “camera” or “sailor moon.”

They clarify their search with emotional triggers, technical terms they’ve learned from reading forums, and compare features and prices before mustering up the courage to commit and convert on your site.

The long tail is packed with searches like “best web designer in Nottingham” or “mirrorless camera 4k video 2016” or “sailor moon cat costume.”

This adaptation of the Search Demand Curve chart visualizes the long tail of search by using the tried and tested “Internet loves cats + animated gifs are the coolest = SUCCESS” formula.

Diving for Pearls A Guide to Long Tail Keywords

The Search Demand Curve illustrates that while “head” and “body” terms typically amass higher search volume, seeming appealing at first. The vastness of the “long tail” presents a more substantial opportunity and larger percentage of search traffic that shouldn’t be ignored. You can really see this illustrated when combined as a percentage of search traffic. While this graph contains no cats, it is still entirely illustrative. However the long tail of search isn’t slowing down anytime soon with voice search and AI integrations we can expect the vastness of the long tail to continue to grow.

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While search volume for any individual long tail keyword is typically less, user intent is much more specific and viewed as a group targeting the long tail often enables you to target a larger more engaged audience. Also beautifully illustrated in Dr. Pete’s infamous chunky thorax post.

The long tail of search is being constantly generated by people seeking answers from the Internet hive mind. There’s no end to what you’ll find if you have a good old rummage about, including: Questions, styles, colors, brands, concerns, peeves, desires, hopes, dreams… and everything in between.

Fresh, new, outrageous, often bizarre keywords. If you’ve done any keyword research you’ll know what I mean by bizarre. Things a person wouldn’t admit to their best friend, therapist, or doctor they’ll happily pump into Google and hit search. In this post we’re going to go diving for pearls: keywords with searcher intent, high demand, low competition, and a spot on the SERPs just for you.

Bronze medal: Build your own long tail keyword

It’s really easy to come up with a long tail keyword. You can use your brain, gather some thoughts, take a stab in the dark, and throw a few keyword modifiers around your ‘head’ keyword.

Have you ever played that magnetic fridge poetry game? It’s a bit like that. You can play online if (like me) you have an aversion to physical things.

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I’m no poet, but I think I deserve a medal for this attempt, and now I really want some “hot seasonal berry water.”

Magnetic poetry not doing it for you? Don’t worry — that’s only the beginning.

Use your industry knowledge

Time to draw on that valuable industry knowledge you’ve been storing up, jot down some ideas, and think about intent and common misconceptions. I’m going to use the example pearls or freshwater pearls in this post as the head term because that’s something I’m interested in.

Let’s go! Let’s say I run a jewelry business and I know that my customers regularly have questions, like:

How do I clean freshwater pearls

Using my knowledge I can rattle off and build a keyword list.

Search your keyword

Engage google suggested search tool to get some more ideas. Manually enter your keyword into Google and prompting it to populate popular suggestions, like I’ve done below:

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Awesome, I’m adding Freshwater pearls price to my list.

Explore the language of social media

Get amongst the over-sharers and have a look at what people are chatting about on social media by searching your keyword in Twitter, tiktok, Instagram, and Youtube. These are topics in your niche that people are talking about right now.

YouTube is also pulling up some interesting ideas around my keyword. This is simultaneously helping me gather keyword ideas and giving me a good sense about what content is already out there. Don’t worry, we’ll touch on content later on in this post. 🙂

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I’m adding understanding types of pearls and Difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls to my list.

Ask keyword questions…?

You’ll probably notice that I’ve added a question mark to a phrase that is not a question, just to mess with you all. Apologies for the confusing internal-reading-voice-upwards-inflection.

Questions are my favorite types of keywords. What!? You don’t have a fav keyword type? Well, you do now — trust me.

Answer the Public is packed with questions radiating out from your seed term

Pop freshwater pearls into the tool and grab some questions for our growing list.

To leave no rock unturned (or no mollusk unshucked), let’s pop over to Google Search Console to find keywords that are already sending you traffic (and discover any mismatches between your content and user intent.)

Pile these into a list, like I’ve done in this spreadsheet.

Now this is starting to look interesting: we’ve got some keyword modifiers, some clear buying signals, and a better idea of what people might be looking for around “freshwater pearls.”

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Should you stop there? I’m flabbergasted — how can you even suggest that?! This is only the beginning. 🙂

Silver medal: Assess demand and explore topics

So far, so rosy. But we’ve been focusing on finding keywords, picking them up, and stashing them in our collection like colored glass at the seaside.

To really dig into the endless tail of your niche, you’ll need a keyword tool like our very own Keyword Explorer. This is invaluable for finding topics within your niche that present a real opportunity for your site.

If you’re trying out Keyword Explorer for the first time, you’ll have 10 free searches/mo with a free Moz Community account and even more with a Moz Pro free trial or paid subscription.

Find search volume for your head keyword

To start, enter a broad industry keyword. In my case I’ll type in “pearls” into the Keyword Explorer search box. Now you can see Moz’s Monthly Volume displaying how often a term or phrase is searched for in Google:

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Now try “freshwater pearls.” As expected, the search volume goes down, but we’re getting more specific.

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We could keep going like this, but we’re going to burn up all our free searches. Just take it as read that, as you get more specific and enter all the phrases we found earlier, the search volume will decrease even more. There may not be any data at all. That’s why you need to explore the searches around this main keyword.

Find even more long tail keywords

Below the search volume, click on “Keyword Suggestions.”

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Well, hi there, ever-expanding long tail! We’ve gone from a handful of keywords pulled together manually from different sources to 1,000 suggestions right there on your screen. Positioned right next to that, search volume to give us an idea of demand.

The diversity of searches within your niche is just as important as that big number we saw at the beginning, because it shows you how much demand there is for this niche as a whole. We’re also learning more about searcher intent.

I’m scanning through those 1,000 suggestions and looking for other terms that pop up again and again. I’m also looking for signals and different ways the words are being used to pick out words to expand my list.

I like to toggle between sorting by Relevancy and search volume, and then scroll through all the results to cherry-pick those that catch my eye.

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1678336502 423 Diving for Pearls A Guide to Long Tail Keywords

Now reverse the volume filter so that it’s showing lower-volume search terms and scroll down through the end of the tail to explore the lower-volume chatter.

If we don’t have tracked data in our database you can always cross reference with another data set to validate their value.

This is where your industry knowledge comes into play again. Bots, formulas, spreadsheets, and algorithms are all well and good, but don’t discount your own instincts and knowledge.

Use the suggestion filters to your advantage and play around with broader or more specific suggestion types.

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Looking through the suggestions, I’ve noticed that the word “cultured” has popped up a few times.

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To see these all bundled together, I want to look at the grouping options in Keyword Explorer. I like the high lexicon groups so I can see how much discussion is going on within my topics.

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Scroll down and expand that group to get an idea of demand and assess intent.

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I’m also interested in the words around “price” and “value,” so I’m doing the same and saving those to my sheet, along with the search volume. A few attempts at researching the “cleaning” of pearls wasn’t very fruitful, so I’ve adjusted my search to “clean freshwater pearls.”

Because I’m a keyword questions fanatic, I’m also going to filter by questions (the bottom option from the drop-down menu):

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OK! How is our keyword list looking? Pretty darn hot, I reckon! We’ve gathered together a list of keywords and dug into the long tail of these sub-niches, and right alongside we’ve got search volume.

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You’ll notice that some of the keywords I discovered in the bronze stage don’t have any data showing up in Keyword Explorer (indicated by the hyphen in the screenshot above). That’s ok — they’re still topics I can research further. This is exactly why we have assessed demand; no wild goose chase for us!

Ok, we’re drawing some conclusions, we’re building our list, and we’re making educated decisions. Congrats on your silver-level keyword wizardry! 😀

Gold medal: Find out who you’re competing with

We’re not operating in a vacuum. There’s always someone out there trying to elbow their way onto the first page. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because it’s a long tail term with a nice chunk of search volume all those clicks will rain down on you. If the terms you’re looking to target already have big names headlining, this could very well alter your roadmap.

To reap the rewards of targeting the long tail, you’ll have to make sure you can outperform your competition.

Manually check the SERPs

Check out who’s showing up in the search engine results page (SERPs) by running a search for your head term. Make sure you’re signed out of Google and in an incognito tab.

We’re focusing on the organic results to find out if there are any weaker URLs you can pick off.

I’ll start with “freshwater pearls” for illustrative purposes.

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Whoooaaa, this is a noisy page. I’ve had to scroll a whole 2.5cm on my magic mouse (that’s very nearly a whole inch for the imperialists among us) just to see any organic results.

Let’s install the Mozbar to discover some metrics on the fly, like domain authority and back-linking data.

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Now, if seeing those big players in the SERPs doesn’t make it clear, looking at the Mozbar metrics certainly does. This is exclusive real estate. It’s dominated by retailers, although Wikipedia gets a place in the middle of the page.

Let’s get into the mind of Google for a second. It — or should I say “they” (I can’t decide if it’s more creepy for Google to be referred to as a singular or plural pronoun. Let’s go with “they”) — anyway, I digress. “They” are guessing that we’re looking to buy pearls, but they’re also offering results on what they are.

This sort of information is offered up by big retailers who have created content that targets the intention of searchers. Mikimoto drives us to their blog post all about where freshwater pearls come from.

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As you get deeper into the long tail of your niche, you’ll begin to come across sites you might not be so familiar with. So go and have a peek at their content.

With a little bit of snooping you can easily find out:

  • how relevant the article is

  • if it looks appealing, up to date, and sharable

  • be really judge-y: why not?

Now let’s find some more:

  • when the article was published

  • when their site was created

  • how often their blog is updated

  • how many other sites are linking to the page with Link Explorer

  • how many tweets, likes, etc.

Learn more about how to do a competitor analysis in our free guide, and don’t forget to download the handy worksheet.

Document all of your findings in our spreadsheet from earlier to keep track of the data. This information will now inform you of your chances of ranking for that term.

Manually checking out your competition is something that I would strongly recommend. But we don’t have all the time in the world to check each results page for each keyword we’re interested in.

Keyword Explorer leaps to our rescue again

Run your search and click on “SERP Analysis” to see what the first page looks like, along with authority metrics and social activity.

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All the metrics for the organic results, like Page Authority, goes into calculating the Difficulty score above (lower is better).

And all those other factors — the ads and suggestions taking up space on the SERPs — that’s what’s used to calculate Organic CTR (higher is better).

Priority is all the other metrics tallied up. You definitely want this to be higher.

So now we have 3 important numerical values we can use to gauge our competition. We can use these values to compare keywords.

After a few searches in Keyword Explorer, you’re going to start hankering for a keyword list or two. For this you’ll need a paid subscription, or a Moz Pro 30-day free trial.

It’s well worth the sign-up; not only do you get 5,000 keyword queries per month and 30 lists (on the Medium plan), but you also get to check out the super-magical-KWE-mega-list-funky-cool metric page. That’s what I call it, just rolls off the tongue, you know?

Okay, fellow list buddies, let’s go and add those terms we’re interested in to our lovely new list.

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Then head up to your lists on the top right and open up the one you just created.

Now we can see the spread of demand, competition and SERP features for our whole list.

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You can compare Volume, SERPS Features, Difficulty, Organic CTR, and Priority across multiple lists, topics, and niches.

How to compare apples with apples

Comparing keywords is something our support team gets questions about all the time.

Should I target this word or that word?

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1678336509 439 Diving for Pearls A Guide to Long Tail Keywords

For the long tail keyword, the Volume is a lot lower, Difficulty is also down, the Organic CTR is a bit up, and overall the Priority is down because of the drop in search volume.

But don’t discount it! By targeting these sorts of terms, you’re focusing more on the intent of the searcher. You’re also making your content relevant for all the other neighboring search terms.

Let’s compare the difference between freshwater and cultured pearls with how much are freshwater pearls worth.

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Search volume is the same, but for the keyword how much are freshwater pearls worth Difficulty is up, but so is the overall Priority because the Organic CTR is higher.

But just because you’re picking between two long tail keywords doesn’t mean you’ve fully understood the long tail of search.

You know all those keywords I grabbed for my list earlier in this post? Well, here they are sorted into topics.

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Look at all the different ways people search for the same thing. This is what drives the long tail of search — searcher diversity. If you tally all the volume up for the cultured topic, we’ve got a bigger group of keywords and overall more search volume. This is where you can use Keyword Explorer and the long tail to make informed decisions.

You’re laying out your virtual welcome mat for all the potential traffic these terms send.

Platinum level: I lied — there’s one more level!

For all you lovely overachievers out there who have reached the end of this post, I’m going to reward you with one final tip.

You’ve done all the snooping around on your competitors, so you know who you’re up against. You’ve done the research, so you know what keywords to target to begin driving intent-rich traffic.

Now you need to create strong, consistent, and outstanding content.

As Dr Pete confirmed:

We don’t have to work ourselves to death to target the long tail of search. It doesn’t take 10,000 pieces of content to rank for 10,000 variants of a phrase, and Google (and our visitors) would much prefer we not spin out that content. The new, post-NLP (Natural Language Processing) long tail of SEO requires us to understand how our keywords fit into semantic space, mapping their relationships and covering the core concepts. Study your SERPs diligently, and you can find the patterns to turn your own long tail of keywords into a chonky thorax of opportunity.

Here’s where you really have to tip your hat to long tail keywords, because by strategically targeting the long tail you can start to build enough authority in the industry to beat stronger competition and rank higher for more competitive keywords in your niche.

Wrapping up…

The various different keyword phrases that make up the long tail in your industry are vast, often easier to rank for, and indicate stronger intent from the searcher. By targeting them you’ll find you can start to rank for relevant phrases sooner than if you just targeted the head. And over time, if you get the right signals, you’ll be able to rank for keywords with tougher competition. Pretty sweet, huh? Give Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool a whirl and let me know how you get on 🙂

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

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How to Buy Ads on Netflix: Specs & Tactics for Marketers

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By Emily Sullivan

Netflix, the streaming giant known for binge-watching and award-winning originals, sent shockwaves through the industry in 2022 by announcing an ad-supported tier. This move was likely fueled by a desire to reach new audiences, combat rising subscription costs, and potentially even fend off competition from other OTT platforms. These ads could lead to strong growth potential with advertisers eager to tap into Netflix’s massive user base. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how Netflix works, it’s important to know that Netflix is an OTT (Over-the-Top) platform, meaning it delivers streaming content directly over the internet, bypassing traditional cable or satellite providers. It’s one of the most popular OTT platforms globally, but in the ad supported video on demand (AVOD) space, Netflix is a relative newcomer. Understanding this new facet of Netflix is crucial for marketers looking to capitalize on this advertising opportunity.

Interested in learning more about Netflix and its advertising offerings? You came to the right place. In this post, we’ll cover the foundational elements of Netflix ads including ad types, specs, advertising best practices, and more. 

Why Did Netflix Start Offering Ads?

In November 2022, Netflix introduced an ad-supported tier. This move marked a significant shift, as Netflix was previously known for its commitment to an ad-free experience. The decision likely stemmed from a desire to tap into new revenue streams. With consumers increasingly cost-conscious, an ad-supported tier provided a way to attract budget-minded viewers while still offering a premium ad-free option, similar to established AVOD providers like Hulu and Peacock.

Initially, the launch was off to a slower start, with few people signing up for the ad supported tier and Netflix failing to meet guarantees, but things are quickly turning around and savvy advertisers are taking notice. Netflix boasts a massive user base, with roughly 270 million paid subscribers – a household name with immense reach. In fact, 40% of new Netflix sign-ups are choosing the ad-supported tier, translating to a total of 40 million users. Netflix’s ad platform presents a unique opportunity for marketers looking to reach a large and engaged audience.

“Our goal isn’t just to offer the same products and tools the industry has come to expect — although we’ve made a lot of progress on that front over the last year. It’s to build something bigger and better than what exists today. We want to shape the future of advertising on Netflix and help marketers tap into the amazing fandom generated by our must-watch shows and movies.”

Amy ReinhardPresident, Advertising at Netflix

How to Start Advertising on Netflix

So, you’re interested in capitalizing on Netflix’s massive audience? Here’s a breakdown of the three main ways to buy ads on their platform:

1. Netflix Ads Manager

This platform, powered by Microsoft, allows you to directly purchase ad space on Netflix. However, be prepared to meet their minimum spending requirements, which can be substantial and offer little room for negotiation.

2. Partnering with an Agency

While the minimum spend might be high for direct buys, streaming agencies like Tinuiti can be a valuable asset. They can not only help you navigate the intricacies of Netflix advertising, but also:

  • Consolidate Streaming Data: The streaming landscape is fragmented, with viewers spread across multiple platforms. Agencies can collect data from these various platforms and turn it into a unified, actionable strategy for your advertising campaign.
  • Expertise and Negotiation: Agencies bring a wealth of experience to the table. They can leverage their knowledge of the advertising landscape and potentially negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf.

3. Ad Tech Partners

Companies like Microsoft offer ad tech solutions that provide technical capabilities to streamline your advertising efforts. These partners typically take a more hands-off approach compared to agencies, focusing on the technical aspects of ad delivery and optimization.

The best option depends on your budget, experience level, and campaign goals. If you’re a large brand with a significant budget and an in-house marketing team, going directly through Netflix Ads Manager might be a good fit. However, for most businesses, partnering with an agency or ad tech provider can offer valuable support and expertise.

Ad Types & Specs for Netflix Ads

Now that you understand the different avenues for buying ads on Netflix, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of ad formats and specifications:

Netflix Ad Types

Example of a Netflix Ad Featuring Smartfood and Love is Blind

Currently, Netflix offers two main ad types, pre-roll ads and mid-roll ads. Netflix notes that users can expect to see a few short ads per hour and that they aim to place ads during natural plot breaks for a more seamless experience.   

Let’s take a look at each option… 

  • Pre-roll Ads: These commercials play before a program or movie begins, similar to traditional linear TV advertising.
  • Mid-roll Ads: These ads appear in the middle of a program, typically inserted during natural breaks in the content.

During paused playback, ad breaks are displayed on the progress bar. As an ad break begins, the upper-right corner reveals the number of ads included in that break.

While Netflix advertising is fairly new, the platform has made a few important announcements to look out for in 2024. Netflix plans to introduce a new binge ad format for global advertisers, offering viewers an ad-free fourth episode after watching three consecutive episodes. Additionally, QR code integration in U.S. advertising will launch early in the year. Sponsorship opportunities, including Title, Moment, and Live Sponsorships, are also now available in the U.S. and will expand globally in 2024.

Netflix also offers live opportunities including WWE Raw (launching January 2025), which will air live on Netflix 52 weeks of the year, and the NFL Christmas games which Netflix just secured the rights to. These live events provide advertisers the opportunity to reach ad and ad-free members of Netflix in a live environment with traditional ad formats.

Last but not least, Netflix recently announced they are adding Pause Ads to their suite of custom ad units. This is currently in beta and is expected to be rolled out to the general marketplace in H2 2024.

Netflix Ad Specs

When it comes to advertising specs, it’s important to follow Netflix’s guidelines which include the following… 

  • Supported Lengths: Netflix accepts ads in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60-second durations.
  • File Format: Ads must be submitted in MP4 or MOV format.
  • Aspect Ratio & Resolution: Maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of either 1920×1080 HD or 1280×720 HD.
  • QR Codes on the Horizon: Netflix is preparing to support QR code integration within commercials, allowing viewers to seamlessly access additional information or promotions.

Hot Tip: Stay tuned for updates, as Netflix is constantly evolving its ad platform.

Why Advertise on Netflix?

Advertising on Netflix offers several unique advantages for advertisers including… 

  • Massive Reach – Netflix boasts a massive subscriber base worldwide (globally, there were around 270 million Netflix subscribers in Q1 2024), providing advertisers with access to a vast and diverse audience. These viewers are often highly engaged, spending significant time on the platform consuming content. In fact, Over 70% of Netflix’s ad-supported members watch for more than 10 hours a month – which is 15 percentage points higher than the nearest competitor according to Nielsen.
  • Targeting – Netflix collects extensive data on user preferences and behavior, enabling precise targeting of advertisements based on demographics, interests, viewing history, and more. This targeted approach increases the relevance and effectiveness of ads, maximizing ROI for advertisers (more on this below).
  • Global Reach and Localization – With a presence in numerous countries around the world, Netflix offers advertisers the opportunity to reach audiences on a global scale. Additionally, the platform’s localization capabilities enable tailored advertising campaigns to resonate with specific regional or cultural audiences.
  • Unskippable Ads – Unlike some streaming advertising platforms, Netflix ads are unskippable, guaranteeing your message reaches viewers.
  • Positive User Experience – Netflix prioritizes a positive user experience, so it’s unlikely viewers will see the same ad twice in a single episode. However, there’s a chance you might encounter the same ad later during your viewing session. It’s also important to note that children’s profiles maintain their ad-free experience.
  • Ad Delivery & Blocking – Since ads are delivered server-side, ad blockers are ineffective on Netflix. Additionally, playback automatically pauses if you minimize the window while an ad is playing, ensuring your message is seen.

Best Practices When Advertising on Netflix

When advertising on Netflix, it’s essential to understand the platform’s unique capabilities and audience targeting options to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns. Check out a few best practices you need to consider… 

Explore Audience Targeting Capabilities

Netflix offers several audience targeting capabilities for advertisers on their ad-supported tier. These capabilities focus on three main areas: demographics, viewing habits, and content context. Here’s a breakdown:

Demographics:

  • Age: Advertisers can target users by age groups, like 18-34, 35+, etc.
  • Gender: Ads can be shown to specific genders (male or female).
  • Location: Targeting can be set by country or even state (in the U.S.).

Viewing Habits:

  • Genre: This lets advertisers target users based on the genres they watch, like comedy, drama, action, etc.

Content Context:

  • Top 10: Ads can be placed before or after shows and movies on Netflix’s daily Top 10 list, ensuring high visibility.

Advertisers also have the option to choose where they don’t want their ads to appear. For example, they can avoid showing ads on programs with mature themes or content that may not align with their brand values.

By using a combination of these targeting options, advertisers can reach a more precise audience interested in their product or service. This increases the ad’s relevance to viewers and potentially improves the ad campaign’s effectiveness.

It’s also important to note that Netflix now has the ability to target advertiser first party data. The platform currently has two approved DMPs: Liveramp or Adobe. Advertisers who work with either of these DMPs can upload first party data for targeting or suppression.

It’s important to note that Netflix’s ad targeting is still evolving. While it doesn’t offer some of the more advanced options found on other platforms, they are working on expanding their capabilities.

Test Your Ad Creative

Just like any other marketing campaign, testing your ad creative on Netflix is vital for optimizing performance. Here are some key reasons to test your ads:

  • Discover What Works: Testing allows you to compare different ad variations and identify which elements resonate most with your target audience. This could involve testing variations in messaging, visuals, calls to action, or even ad length.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Testing provides valuable data and insights. You can track metrics like click-through rates, completion rates, and brand recall to see which ad versions generate the best results. Don’t rely on guesswork. Testing helps you move beyond assumptions and identify what truly connects with viewers.
  • Meet Audience Expectations: Netflix viewers anticipate premium content, including ads. Testing ad creative ensures that your commercials meet these expectations by delivering high-quality, engaging content that resonates with the audience.
  • Optimize Performance: Testing allows you to refine your ad creative to achieve optimal performance. By experimenting with different elements such as messaging, visuals, and calls to action, you can identify the most effective combinations that drive engagement and conversion.
  • Enhance Relevance: Testing helps ensure that your ad creative remains relevant to your target audience. By continuously testing and refining your approach, you can adapt to changing consumer preferences and market trends, ensuring that your ads stay impactful and resonant.
  • Maximize ROI: Effective testing enables you to make data-driven decisions that maximize ROI. By identifying and scaling the best-performing ad creative, you can allocate your advertising budget more efficiently and achieve greater results.

Measure and Analyze Your Results

Netflix doesn’t offer 1:1 conversion measurement for ad buyers (yet) – but they do have brand awareness and lift studies they offer advertisers so keep this in mind when measuring and analyzing your results. 

The platform did recently announce that this summer, Netflix will expand its buying capabilities to include The Trade Desk, Google’s Display & Video 360, and Magnite who will join Microsoft as the main programmatic partners for advertisers.

Starting in the second half of 2024, Netflix just announced that the following third party measurement partners (partnering to measure and verify the impact of advertiser campaigns) will also be added: Affinity Solutions, iSpotTV, NCSolutions, Videoamp, DCM and TVision.

They also announced Netflix will launch an in-house advertising technology platform, by the end of 2025. This will give advertisers new ways to buy, new insights to leverage, and new ways to measure impact. 

Is Netflix Advertising Right For Your Brand?

Overall, Netflix advertising offers the unparalleled reach of a massive, highly-engaged audience. This can be a strategic choice for brands seeking broad awareness and brand association with premium content.

If you’re interested in exploring advertising opportunities on Netflix for your brand, consider reaching out to the Tinuiti team. Our expertise can provide guidance and assistance in navigating the complexities of advertising on the platform, maximizing your campaign’s effectiveness and ROI. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to showcase your brand on one of the world’s largest streaming platforms—connect with Tinuiti today to get started.

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