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11 Actionable Ways to Build Client Relationships That Last

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11 Actionable Ways to Build Client Relationships That Last

Some agencies manage to build a steady client base that strengthens over the years, while others ride roller coasters and eventually close up shop. What’s the difference? Client relationships. Strong client relations make for greater success with projects and campaigns, loyal clients who stay with you longer and refer new clients, and a better reputation for your brand. Even better, they make everyday work more enjoyable for all.

So what makes for a strong client relationship? The same traits that define any good relationship: awareness, communication, empathy, dependability, accountability, honesty, and the list goes on.

In this post, I’ve compiled 11 ways your agency can demonstrate the above and more to achieve the best possible outcomes for you and your clients. I’d say happy endings, but good relationships don’t really end.

Table of contents

Why are client relationships important?

It’s easy to skim over the importance of creating a strong relationship with your clients—you know you have to do it. But when you dig into how it helps your agency grow, you can be more strategic about it.

Reduces churn

It can be 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. You also have a much higher probability of selling a new agreement to a current client than closing a deal with a new one.

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A strong client relationship helps you weather rough patches and identify clients who are at risk of leaving. Both will help you reduce customer churn.

Increases referrals

Customer referrals are an extremely important source of new clients for your agency. That’s because referred customers are more likely to buy, are more loyal, and spend more on average than non-referred customers.

When you have a strong relationship with your clients, you can ask them to give reviews and refer other businesses. That’s especially helpful if your agency serves a niche industry where everyone knows everyone else.

Provides opportunities to learn

Have you ever wanted to know how a new regulation would affect your clients? Or how to best sell a service like PPC? When you have a rock-solid relationship with your clients, you can ask them.

It takes time to build that sort of comfort, but when you do, your best clients become your agency’s de facto advisers.

📣 Learn how 300 marketing agencies manage services, pricing, and challenges in our State of the Digital Marketing Agency report.

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How do you build client relationships that last?

In the following list, you’ll find actionable ways to improve client satisfaction and build mutually beneficial partnerships, with input from PPC agency experts like Mark Irvine, Francine Rodriguez, Akvile DeFazio, and Susie Marino.

1. Gather “hard” and “soft” information

A strong agency-client relationship starts before the client even becomes one. You know that you need as much information as possible about your client to come up with a winning proposal. But the solution you come up with isn’t going to establish a meaningful connection between you and your potential client. It’s how you present that solution with respect to both the business’s goals and the personalities and values of the team you’ll be working with.

This means collecting “hard” information like:

  • Products and services they offer
  • Target audience and the end-users of their product or service
  • Top three competitors
  • Prioritized list of goals and challenges
  • Strategies that have worked and not worked in the past
  • Software are they currently using
  • Budget

But also “soft” information like:

  • What they define as success
  • Their future hopes or anticipations, like scaling, adding on new offerings, etc.
  • The company’s mission, beliefs, and values, and unique selling proposition
  • What makes them different from their competitors
  • Hobbies, interests, and preferences of the individuals you’ll be working with

strengthen client relationships emotional vs logical intelligence

Think with both sides of your brain when gathering information about your client.

Building emotional intelligence about the team you’ll be working with will help you to make communication more personalized as you move through these initial phases of your journey together.

Side note: Be prepared to answer their questions too! Even their non-PPC questions.

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2. Internalize that information

This is the information you’ll be not only including in your proposal, but applying throughout your actual execution and ongoing communication with your client. Take the time to really internalize it so that it shines through organically in everything you do.

  • Gather the information in person (or video): Body language and facial expressions tell a lot. Take note of what gets them excited (and not so excited). Also, be sure to send out a list of the questions you’ll be asking far in advance so the client can have time to think about answers and produce follow-up questions.
  • Iterate back: As you listen, iterate back to your client what you have interpreted so you can make sure you’re crystal clear on the information you’re receiving. Remember, incorporating the tiniest details into your proposal and execution is what will give your clients confidence that you truly understand their needs.
  • Templatize: Have an internal templated document where you can collect all of the information you’ve gathered in one place. This gives every team member something to continually refer back to, and the uniformity makes it easier to internalize.

3. Go above and beyond with your proposal

    From a project standpoint, your proposal shows what you’re going to do to achieve your client’s goals. From a relationship standpoint, it’s your opportunity to reinforce, once again, that you have a deep understanding of your client—both the business and its team members. Speak to both the client’s business goals as well as the more personal pain points and desires of its employees.

    To do this, think in terms of “what,” “why,” and “so that.”

    • The what refers to what you’ll be doing from a process standpoint.
    • The why ties the process to one of the business’s specific goals.
    • The “so that” speaks to the pain point it will address for the business’s team members.

    For example, we’d like to ramp up ad spending in the latter half of the month to drive more signups so that your sales team isn’t scrounging for leads. Just be sure to use the language that your clients used in the initial information-gathering process.

    This strengthens that partnership feel. You’re not just looking to achieve goals, you care about the individuals impacted by them.

    how to strengthen marketing agency client relationship with a winning proposalhow to strengthen marketing agency client relationship with a winning proposal

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    4. Have an onboarding process

    This is one of our customer retention strategies as well. Once you get started, there will be more points of contact added to the roster for both sides. A streamlined onboarding process will set the stage for the clear communication and seamless execution needed for a strong and long-lasting client relationship to form. During this process, you may want to:

    • Mail them a welcome kit: Send along some giveaways like branded swag, a greeting card, and additional goodies based on the more personal information you’ve collected.
    • Take care of housekeeping: Make sure each of you has the access needed for tools, accounts, and dashboards.
    • Have a kickoff meeting: This is to ensure everything is lined up for perfect execution. You’ve also become pretty familiar with one another at this point. This is a good time to have a more informal atmosphere.

    🛑 Free guide >>> The 6 Absolute Best Strategies to Grow Your Digital Marketing Agency

    5. Treat clients like partners

    Treating your client like a business will make your relationship purely transactional (i.e., no relationship at all). Treating them like family leaves too much room for miscommunications and unmet expectations.

    Treating your clients like partners, on the other hand, sets the stage for a healthy mix of personal, purposeful, and transactional encounters where both your and your client’s identities are preserved, and each of you supplies the essential ingredients for success.

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    • Embrace the truth: Remember that at the end of the day, both of you are businesses that want to make money. There’s no need to skirt around that. They need your service to generate revenue, and you need their continued business to generate yours.
    • Maintain structure with some fluidity: Keep deliverables clear and stick to the intended plan as much as possible, but always leave the door open for input and feedback.
    • Let them in: While some of your tools and processes may be proprietary, give them access to dashboards and data when possible. Let them in on (non-confidential) tidbits about your agency that “outsiders” wouldn’t know. Their earning your trust is just as important as you earning theirs.
    • Stay honest: This means giving pushback on your client’s desires or requests that may not be best for long-term success (wants vs needs). A good partnership is not one where both parties constantly agree; it’s one where the two parties come together with different perspectives to bring to the table, resulting in better output than either one could have achieved on their own.

    6. Be proactive rather than reactive

      Akvile DeFazio, President of AKvertise, makes this a priority with clients.

      Her team makes sure to proactively:

      • Share ideas and propose new campaign strategies.
      • Forewarn about upcoming platform changes and any action required.
      • Educate the client to empower them further.

      “This shows care and builds trust, and our clients share that they appreciate our diligent proactivity,” she says. “When we work with clients, we aim to be a seamless extension of their team and genuinely embed ourselves as so. When they win, we win, and proactive communication is the key to success for all.”

      7. Be empathetic rather than defensive

      This recommendation from Mark Irvine, Director of PPC at Search Labs Digital, ties back to the partnership mentality in tip #5. The scenario here is that your agency is doing great work. Performance metrics continue to climb. But the client is upset. They aren’t seeing new business come in.

      “A wrong response here is to dig your heels in,” Mark says. “Telling them that their business is doing fine is at best tone-deaf. Instead, let them talk it out and listen to them. This may even lead them to discover the problem is in their other marketing or sales teams.”

      If this ends up being the case, Irvine recommends that you take yourself out of the problem to prevent it from becoming an “us versus them” situation. Take the approach of teaming up together to come up with a solution. Use language like:

      • “I see what you’re talking about.”
      • “This is a valid concern.”
      • “That really is frustrating, we’re glad you brought this up with us.”
      • “Let’s make a plan to review this and report back with some solutions to remedy this.”

      Position yourself as a partner in their campaigns. Value their feedback. Even if you’re an expert, allowing them to work with you will help build a long, trusting relationship.

      “And remember,” Mark adds, “if you dismiss or fight their concerns, there’s an agency sales rep somewhere else who will be happy to listen to them vent about you all day.”

      8. Establish structure around communication

      Brett McHale, founder of Empiric Marketing, LLC, provides some great tips around communication and setting boundaries:

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      Stay away from being “always available

      Being always available, whether through Slack or other forms of direct communication, blurs the ever-important work-life balance. It can also distract you away from other clients.

      Hold regular meetings with actionable takeaways

      Instead, establish weekly or bi-weekly meetings to check in, review performance, and answer questions. “I always have some takeaway or action item from those meetings,” Brett says. “This keeps me accountable, and when I deliver on things that I say I’m going to do, it helps build trust with the client.”

      Use email and instant messaging

      Brett says, “Email can be very robotic, and I try not to be too professional or polished all the time. Communicating with clients directly via a messenger helps to build rapport and have a more laid back ‘human-to-human’ relationship.”

      He suggests designating instant messaging for urgent matters and email otherwise. This cuts out the back-and-forth emailing and also reassures your clients that while you may not always be available, you will never leave them hanging.

      how to strengthen relationships with clients the seven c's of effective communicationhow to strengthen relationships with clients the seven c's of effective communication

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      9. Share your concerns early

      This suggestion from Mark Irvine is particularly relevant to the many changes happening in the advertising realm lately. The scenario here is that your client has big plans and aspirations, and you want to say yes to everything they want. But in the back of your mind, you’re not sure if they can create that audience in Google or build that campaign on Bing. You’re unsure of how the new iOS updates will impact their Facebook targeting.

      “Don’t nod, say yes, and then stress,” Mark says. “You lose trust with your client if you say you can do something and then can’t, even if that’s not your fault.”

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      Instead, show your expertise by sharing your concerns. Practice saying:

      • “That’s a really good idea. I know that some ad policies might come into play as we explore it, so let me double-check those first.”
      • “This new change could pose some challenges to us. I’ll keep an eye on it as it changes over the coming days.”
      • “It’s tough to say what this means for us yet, but I wanted to make sure we all knew about it in advance.”

      If you really have to put your foot down, try something like:

      “We agree that this is a great idea, but we can’t in good conscience proceed with it until we know that it won’t cost you in the long run.”

      Be transparent and ask them for their trust. Most of the time, you’ll come out as the person who helped them navigate through uncertainty, and they won’t forget that.

      10. Embrace small talk

      Small talk often gets a bad rap, but Susie Marino, WordStream’s Senior Content Marketing Specialist and former Customer Success Specialist, has found that it actually helps with building strong client relationships.

      “I know it can feel cringey or uncomfortable at first, but just go for it,” she says. “You’d be surprised at how receptive clients are. Next thing you know, you’ve got a great rapport going, and the banter at the beginning of meetings becomes more meaningful.”

      “People love to talk about themselves, and clients are no different,” Susie adds. “When you ask them about how that home garden is coming along, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. These conversations reveal how much you truly care.“

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      Clients are people who like to work with real people who also have personalities and personal lives. If you don’t show a touch of personality with small talk, it will be harder to stay connected and to demonstrate your genuine care, outside of campaigns and metrics.

      11. Establish quarterly business reviews

      Francine Rodriguez, former Senior Manager of Customer Success at WordStream, believes that quarterly business reviews are essential for client retention.

      “I think all agencies get into a cycle of monthly reporting and proving that deliverables were completed,” she says. “It is important to take that step back once a quarter and have a focused conversation on high-level strategy.”

      The QBR allows the agency and the customer to reflect on new goals, the efficiency of strategies taken in the past, and what needs to pivot for the future.

      It is also a time to allow your customer to provide insight into how their business goals are changing and perhaps what strategies outside of the agency’s scope they are also planning in the near future. Having that dedicated time to talk without existing action items on the table is a great way to strengthen the relationship, create trust, and become better partners.

      It may also lead to surprising discoveries, where an agency could find opportunities to upsell its customers into new services. If your agency is doing QBRs now and your conversations don’t look any different from your regular monthly check-ins, it is time to change the format!”

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      Start cultivating strong relationships with your clients today

      Strong agency-client relationships are built on virtues like trust, reliability, transparency, and personability, and they result in greater outcomes for everyone involved. If you find that you’re lacking in productivity, loyalty, or the overall feel of harmony with your clients, see if you can adopt or improve any of these strategies for your agency:

      1. Gather “hard” and “soft” information about your client
      2. Internalize that information
      3. Go above and beyond with your proposal
      4. Have an onboarding process
      5. Treat clients like partners
      6. Be proactive rather than reactive
      7. Be empathetic rather than defensive
      8. Establish structure around communication
      9. Share your concerns early
      10. Embrace the small talk
      11. Have quarterly business reviews

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Critical Display Error in Brand Safety Metrics On Twitter/X Corrected

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Critical Display Error in Brand Safety Metrics On Twitter/X Corrected

In a recent public statement on Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, highlighted a critical error in the display of the company’s Brand Safety Rate which was provided by DoubleVerify, a third-party company known for verifying brand safety metrics.

The error, identified in the graphical display of the Brand Safety Rate on X’s dashboard, persisted for nearly five months, from October 24, 2023, to March 14, 2024. During this period, the dashboard erroneously displayed a significantly lower Brand Safety Rate, which sharply contrasted with X’s actual rate. According to the statement, the true Brand Safety Rate for X has consistently exceeded 99.99% since October 2023, a figure that surpasses global benchmarks for brand safety across all campaigns, as per DoubleVerify’s global industry data.

Brand Safety Rate refers to a metric used to measure the extent to which a brand’s advertising efforts appear in environments that are deemed safe and appropriate, aligning with the brand’s values and standards. This rate is crucial for ensuring that ads do not appear alongside content that could harm the brand’s reputation.

DoubleVerify has accepted full responsibility for this oversight, acknowledging the display of incorrect and misleading safety rates on X’s dashboard. They have assured that they have communicated the error to the affected advertisers and have corrected the display to accurately reflect the current and retroactive Brand Safety data for X.

Yaccarino assured advertisers on social media platform, that immediate actions are being taken to rectify this issue in collaboration with DoubleVerify to ensure that all clients receive accurate and reliable information. She also mentioned that the X team, along with DoubleVerify support, will reach out to advertisers who may have made business decisions based on the erroneous data.

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This situation underscores the critical importance of accurate data representation in digital marketing and the potential consequences of data inaccuracies on business decisions. It serves as a cautionary tale for all involved in paid social advertising and emphasizes the need for continuous vigilance and rigorous verification processes to maintain the integrity of marketing metrics.

Of course this follows a number of issues where paid social advertising platforms have shared incorrect data with advertisers leading to concerns about measurement accuracy and transparency. 

Here are a few notable examples:

Facebook Video Metrics Issue: In 2016, Facebook admitted to overestimating average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years. This error reportedly inflated the average viewing times by 60-80%, which could have misled advertisers about the performance of their video ads on the platform.

Twitter Ad Billing Error: In 2016, Twitter disclosed a bug in its Android app that led to overcharging advertisers over a month-long period. The bug affected campaigns using the feature that charges advertisers for the first engagement with a campaign each day but instead charged them for engagements that occurred afterwards as well.

These incidents highlight the importance of accuracy in digital advertising metrics and underscore the need for ongoing vigilance by both advertisers and platforms to ensure data integrity and transparency. Such errors can have significant financial implications and can affect strategic decisions made by advertisers and we can’t always trust the data shared with us by platforms 100%.

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14 Ways to Use AI in Marketing that Actually Work

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14 Ways to Use AI in Marketing that Actually Work

Does your head spin when someone mentions artificial intelligence? It’s understandable. LinkedIn and Twitter (fine…X) are rife with newly minted AI experts and tech bros sharing their latest 27-step process for gaming algorithms and automating entire marketing programs.

That’s not useful for most ground-level marketers.

What can help? Knowing which everyday marketing challenges the technology can solve for us right now is a great start. So, I reached out to several marketers I admire to see how they’re using AI in marketing.

The response was outstanding. They shared specific, tactical examples, plus the prompts and AI tools they use—everything you need to repeat their processes.

Contents

💡 Download this handy, free Guide to AI in Marketing for more tips and strategies.

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14 ways the pros use AI in Marketing

Interestingly, no one said they were using AI to spin up entire ready-to-publish articles. But they are using AI tools to get out of writing ruts, analyze data, inform strategy, and automate marketing flows. The use cases were way more diverse than I imagined.

1. Pull insights from past campaigns for future strategy

Knowing which ad or blog post generated the most leads is easy. It’s harder to learn why they worked so you can double down on their success. Curt Woodward, Director of Content at ZoomInfo, devised a genius way to get Jasper, a generative AI copywriting tool, to help him figure it out.

Curt started by ranking a list of ZoomInfo’s content titles by a “power score” comprised of three weighted KPIs. Here’s a mockup of that list with fake data he uses for demonstration purposes.

AI in marketing - Curt's powerscore sheet

Next, he fed the list to Jasper, along with a prompt asking the AI to identify commonalities that would inform future content campaign choices.

His prompts looked like this:

“Act as a marketing analyst. I am going to give you a list of content titles with corresponding numbers, which represent a value score we use to determine top content. Higher scores are better.”

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“Compare the content titles to find common themes, keywords, ideas, and approaches among the top-scoring titles. Suggest ways to replicate successful content packages.”

“Jasper, as a tool, often asks for more information about what you want the output of your prompt to look like,” Curt explained. “In this case, I gave it instructions about format, use of the memo, etc.”

Here’s the follow-up prompt Curt gave Jasper:

“I want to come away with a memo that summarizes our best themes, formats, and concepts for our future marketing content campaigns. Give us ideas and frameworks to use going forward.”

AI in marketing - AI output of recommendationsAI in marketing - AI output of recommendations

Based on the data and prompts Curt gave it, Jasper created a list of recommendations with detailed ideas for future content.

Curt qualified the fairly obvious results from this example by pointing out that it was fictitious data. He said you get a more insightful analysis when you feed it accurate information. Next up, he plans to get Jasper to proactively rank and sort the content assets by the power score, which will make the process even faster.

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But for now, Curt suggests trying this tactic with other marketing copy. “You can easily adapt this for any measurable marketing asset. Ad and landing page copy comes to mind. Just rank them by whatever KPIs are important, and ask the AI to find themes you can use in future campaigns.”

📚 Free guide >> 135 of the Best Words & Phrases for Marketing With Emotion

2. Complete competitive analyses

Completing a competitive analysis is a core function for just about every marketer. The hard part is synthesizing competitive product features and brand positioning for multiple competitors.

Celia Quillian is an MBA and product marketing leader who’s also an influential voice in the artificial intelligence space through her channel @smartworkai on TikTok and Instagram. She uses ChatGPT Plus (the paid version) to quickly curate competitive intel.

ChatGPT Plus’ web browsing feature is fabulous for competitive analysis,” she said. “In my prompts, I provide the links to competitor websites, asking that it only source from these sites for its competitive intel, and have it craft a table comparing the features of different market competitors.”

The free version of ChatGPT can’t surf the web. I tried a quick version of the request on perplexity AI using three HR software competitors.

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AI in marketing - competitor comparisonAI in marketing - competitor comparison

Obviously, this would need some additional prompts to make it useful. But Celia said AI is really good at that. “Generative AI models like GP-4 have lengthy ‘context windows,’ meaning I can continually ask follow-up questions,” she said. “My combined prompts and answers only build on each other, helping me to learn, brainstorm, and find answers more efficiently.”

For context, Celia said ChatGPT Plus can “remember” the context of about 100 pages of written text.

3. Roleplay for customer sentiment

AI can’t replace humans, but it can pretend to be one. Celia said that’s a valuable feature of the technology. “ChatGPT is great at playing pretend, so when it comes to thinking of how I might solve a problem for a customer, I can ask ChatGPT to roleplay as my ideal customer persona.”

I gave this a try with the free version of ChatGPT. I fed the AI a description of a backpacking tent that focused on its weight, then entered this prompt:

“Pretend you’re the target customer for a company that sells outdoor camping gear. You’re very concerned about the durability and weight of the next backpacking tent you buy. How would you feel about this product description.”

Here’s what I got back.

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AI in marketing - ChatGPT reply to customer question.AI in marketing - ChatGPT reply to customer question.

This was a simple example, but ChatGPT spotted the durability gap and suggested we add more specificity. Not bad.

“It’s never as good as talking with a real customer,” Celia added. “But it can make for a great stand-in when I’m in the early phases of research and ideation.”

4. Produce internal project management assets

One of the best applications of AI is to automate repetitive marketing tasks. That’s a common way Alaura Weaver, Content Marketing & Community Leader at Writer, uses it.

“I use Writer to spin up internal project management assets instantly—stuff like writing briefs, editing checklists, and creating content promotion plans,” she said. “That way, I don’t have to start from scratch with routine tasks.”

Alaura detailed how she creates briefs since that’s a common task for many marketing team leaders and those who work with freelancers.

“I built a custom ‘brief generator’ app in our no-code Writer App Studio,” she explained. “All I have to do is give a working title, indicate what audience the piece is for, and paste or upload source material (like an executive LinkedIn post, research article, or dev documentation). The app generates content briefs that align with our business goals and content strategy (which I baked into the prompt that powers the generator).”

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AI in marketing - Writer AI responseAI in marketing - Writer AI response

Alaura said that using AI this way speeds up the entire editorial process, freeing up bandwidth for high-level tasks.

“The output follows a consistent format, so I can easily plug it into docs without much editing,” she said. “It means that my writers have what they need to get started on assignments a lot faster, and it means I have more time to focus on fun, creative, strategic work like producing our Humans of AI podcast.”

5. Find thinking models for thought leadership content

The best thought leadership content has a unique, personal, and interesting point of view. It’s not the typical wheelhouse for robotic writing.

But Anjana Vasan, a Senior Copywriter and Content Strategist at Block Club, found an unexpected way to improve thought leadership content with AI. She asks ChatGPT for thinking models or academic concepts related to her topic.

AI in marketing - ChatGPT thinking concept output.AI in marketing - ChatGPT thinking concept output.

“Using AI this way, I can develop a unique point of view or think of an interesting metaphor and connect the dots to the topic or the person I’m writing for,” Anjana said. “All while still keeping their experience and expertise in mind.”

The great thing about this tactic is that it works with just about any AI writing assistant or even generative search platforms like Perplexity AI.

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6. Analyze data for SEO audits

Anjana showed us another way AI can help analyze large blocks of data—this time for SEO audits.

Here, she asked ChatGPT to review a spreadsheet of content links.

AI in marketing - ChatGPT audit reply AI in marketing - ChatGPT audit reply

“Usually, I dig in further with additional questions or prompts to draw the insights I’m looking for,” she said. “Or I ask ChatGPT to organize the data so I don’t spend my time on administrative tasks.”

Here are some of the follow-up prompts Anjana uses:

  • “Based on the available data, can you identify the top 10 pieces of content?”
  • “Have you noticed any themes or overarching topic categories in all the content?”
  • “Can you edit the spreadsheet to include only the URL, date of publication, title, meta description, and word count and remove the other columns?”

She warned that this tactic only works with the right information and that any AI output should be double-checked.

“The results are only as good as the quality of your data, so ensure you include the right types of information in your file,” she said “And remember to validate the information since you may not always get the right insights if you rely completely on ChatGPT.”

7. Link ideas while you write automatically

If you have folders full of half-complete ideas and clever copy that are hard to find when you need them, Anna Burgess Yang feels your pain. “I publish a lot of work online and have thousands of notes from articles I’ve read, podcasts I’ve listened to, and even my own writing. In the past, I’ve relied on tags or categorization in note-taking apps to connect topics or ideas.”

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Anna is a prolific freelance content marketer and a self-described workflow automation geek. She uses an AI tool called Reflect to surface related notes based on the text she’s writing. So, mid-draft, Anna will see categorized suggestions from her network of documents.

AI in marketing - ideas for content to add to text.AI in marketing - ideas for content to add to text.

Our human brains are wonderful, but they’re not always great at quickly recalling a specific point buried amongst thousands of others. AI is ideally suited for the job. “This has become an invaluable part of my note-taking since AI can pull ideas together that I may have overlooked or not considered,” Anna said.

8. Repurpose long-form content for social media posts

Social media marketing is one of the best channels for brand awareness and lead generation. But it’s also a never-ending grind that requires a constant flow of content ideas to stay relevant.

Anna came through with another AI tip: a way to pull social media posts from the content she previously produced. “I’ve already done the hard work by crafting long-form content. Why not use AI to speed up the process of creating social posts?”

Anna uses a content summarization feature in the generative AI platform Writer to do this.

AI in marketing - summary of content in WriterAI in marketing - summary of content in Writer

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After dropping in the URL of her source article, Writer comes back with a brief synopsis of three key takeaways.

AI in marketing - three takways from WriterAI in marketing - three takways from Writer

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Next, she pastes the takeaways into Trello, the tool she uses for content planning. Those snippets inspire social posts when she’s ready to write them.

Why not just ask AI to write the posts? “You can try and use AI to write social posts for you, but I’ve found that it never sounds like me,” Anna said. “I’d rather use key takeaways as a launching pad and write my own social posts.”

👍 Get copy-and-paste social media posts you can customize >> Social Media Calendar Template

9. Create customized SMS and email marketing campaigns

Customer journeys are like choose-your-own-adventure stories with dozens or hundreds of potential flows. Personalizing those journeys requires a lot of manual work.

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Angela Rollins, an ecommerce-focused content marketer and strategist, suggested a tool called Attentive AI as a solution. “Instead of manually creating all the different flows a brand normally would and layering on segments, Attentive AI basically personalizes SMS and email messages at scale based on all the data a brand has on its customers,” Angela explained.

This screenshot from Attentive AI’s website shows the campaign creation workflow.

AI in marketing - screenshot from Attentive AI page.AI in marketing - screenshot from Attentive AI page.

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The tool continually learns from the highest-performing marketing interactions to create multi-channel campaigns. It can also build refined segments from your pool of subscribers and dial in the best time to send messages for the highest rate of response.

By using AI, you can “send each person the right message at the right time depending on where they’re at in their relationship with the brand,” Angela said.

10. Prepare an interview question list

Here’s an exciting use of AI’s ability to riff off an existing text. Angela gives the AI assistant Claude outlines and asks it to fill out question lists for subject matter expert interviews.

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Here’s an anonymized version of a conversation Angela recently had with Claude.

AI in marketing - questions given to Claude.AI in marketing - questions given to Claude.

Claude replied with some pretty insightful new questions to add to the list. It even categorized them like Angela did in the original structure.

AI in marketing - Questions put into Claude.AI in marketing - Questions put into Claude.

Once the interview is over, Angela goes back to Claude to help pull out the most interesting bits. “It’s so helpful to just plug large amounts of content into Claude and ask it to summarize for me. That helps me find specific answers from a long interview.”

11. Improve design elements in email headers

Marketers who aren’t necessarily graphic designers are often called on to produce visuals for the assets they manage. When Ceillie Clark-Keene, Head of Marketing & Communications at Building Ventures, finds herself in this position, she turns to AI.

“I’m not a designer, but I do put together the occasional email header,” she said. “I’ve started experimenting with the AI features in Canva and Designs.ai to improve design elements or generate graphics.”

I gave it a try on Canva. I had trouble creating a new newsletter design (I found plenty of pre-made templates), but with a few clicks, I got a handful of post designs that were properly sized for Instagram.

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AI in marketing - AI generated instagram posts from canva.AI in marketing - AI generated instagram posts from canva.

“These tools help me create better graphics for those times when outsourcing a professional isn’t in the budget or timeline,” Ceillie said.

A word of caution is warranted. Review AI image generators closely. They can sometimes go off the rails and create less-than-ideal visuals.

12. Build article outlines quickly

I’ve written hundreds of articles, and without fail, creating the initial structure is the hardest step. Once you have the logic and framework down, it’s just a matter of filling in the blank spots.

Will Ruzvidzo is a seasoned B2B SaaS content marketer who’s worked with global brands for over 10 years. Will explained how he uses Writer to overcome outlining obstacles.

He starts by entering a straightforward headline. “With just a few clicks, I can generate a well-structured outline for my blog post, complete with relevant subheadings, key points, and supporting examples.”

AI in marketing - Outline workflow in Writer.AI in marketing - Outline workflow in Writer.

With the “bones” in place, Will customizes the outline to “add my own voice, insights, and creativity into the blog post.” Writer also gives Will AI-powered copy suggestions as he writes.

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He said the time saved lets him focus on crafting captivating introductions and compelling arguments—the types of things that make human-written content stand out.

13. Write craftier subheadings

Subheadings are among the most important aspects of a blog page. They help readers skim and search engines crawl articles more effectively. That’s why Hsing Tseng, a freelance content writer, editor, and strategist, uses ChatGPT as a sounding board when she writes subheadings.

“AI tools can brainstorm much faster and more imaginatively (sometimes) than I have the creative bandwidth to do,” she said.

Here’s an example prompt Hsing shared.

AI in marketing - Subhead examples from ChatGPTAI in marketing - Subhead examples from ChatGPT

Notice how she adds tone and structure instructions to the prompt, like “don’t be too flowery” and “keep H2s concise.” Hsing said the more specific you can be, the better your output will be.

It’s not just about banging out better section titles, though. The AI suggestions Hsing gets incite new directions for a post she hadn’t considered yet. “I’m able to explore a broader range of angles, picking and choosing wording that might align better with the framing of my article,” she noted.

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14. Scale product descriptions and ad copy

A single ecommerce website can have hundreds of products, each needing a concise description and advertising copy.

Gordon Donnelly, a multi-discipline marketer and SEO expert, said that’s one of his favorite use cases for AI. “I have a couple of affiliate/dropshipping sites, and ChatGPT is great for creating product descriptions and ads.”

Here’s an example of how Gordon prompts ChatGPT to zhuzh up a bland product description.

AI in marketing - product description examples from ChatGPTAI in marketing - product description examples from ChatGPT

The key, said Gordon, is that you need to coach your AI tool with the right prompts to get it to say something interesting and useful. As he previously wrote, when prompting an AI tool, you should:

  • Be specific
  • Provide all the relevant information
  • Follow up

The future of AI in marketing

We’re just scratching the surface of what AI can do for marketers. Current trends seem to be headed towards more automation, more complex customer-facing AI tools, and analytics that predict as well as review.

Celia also sees a comeuppance on the horizon for marketers trying to game the system with AI.

“There’s an ethical issue behind passing off AI-generated writing as your own, which is unfortunately becoming more popular a pastime as people chase a quick buck or a shortcut,” she said. “If you were to ask ChatGPT to generate the content of a blog post packed with SEO keywords, it would certainly be possible. But you risk not only false information making it in, but ethically not flagging the content as AI generated is by most considered plagiarism.”

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Does that really matter to less-ethical marketers who only care about driving traffic? Celia said it should, in light of the recent volatility of Google SERPs.

“Well, it might end up doing more harm than good for your site’s SEO,” Celia warned. “Google recently announced updates to its algorithm that will make it more vigilant at removing low-quality content like much of what AI produces without human refinement. So, if ethics aren’t as much of a concern for you, a drop in your site’s rankings might be!”



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A History of Google AdWords and Google Ads: Revolutionizing Digital Advertising & Marketing Since 2000

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A History of Google AdWords and Google Ads: Revolutionizing Digital Advertising & Marketing Since 2000

What started in 2000 as Google AdWords with just 350 advertisers has burgeoned into a comprehensive digital advertising platform, indispensable to digital marketing strategies worldwide. Now re-branded as Google Ads, it stands as a colossus, shaping the way businesses reach their target audience online.

If you’re your looking for a guide on how to use Google Adwords to advertise your business you might enjoy our Ultimate Guide to PPC.

The Conceptual Foundation of Google Ads

Before Google Adwords was launched, the online advertising landscape was vastly different. Traditional models dominated, and the concept of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising was still in its infancy. Google Ads introduced a game-changing model that allowed advertisers to pay only when a user clicked on their ad, offering a more performance-driven approach than ever before. This innovation not only maximized the efficiency of advertising budgets but also laid the groundwork for a more interactive and targeted advertising ecosystem.

But Google Adwords was not technically the first pay per click advertising platform. There was another PPC paid search platform known as Overture which launched before Adwords.

The Early Days of Online PPC Search Advertising

Before Google AdWords became synonymous with search advertising, there was Overture. Founded in 1998 as GoTo.com, Overture was the pioneer of the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model. In February of that year, Jeffrey Brewer of Goto.com presented a pay per click search engine proof-of-concept to the TED conference in California.

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This model was revolutionary, allowing advertisers to bid for placement in search results based on specific keywords, with the cost determined by the bid amount. This approach enabled advertisers to directly connect with potential customers actively searching for related information, products, or services online.

When Google introduced AdWords in 2000, the digital advertising landscape was ripe for innovation. Google’s entry with AdWords brought a new player into the field, initially offering a cost-per-impression model before shifting to Overture’s PPC model in 2002. This shift was a clear acknowledgment of the effectiveness of PPC advertising in connecting businesses with their target audiences in a measurable and cost-effective way.

Mutual Influence and Evolution

Overture felt Google’s approach was too similar to their’s and ended up filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Google, claiming that Google’s AdWords service violated its patents on PPC and bidding systems. The lawsuit was settled in 2004, with Google agreeing to issue 2.7 million shares to Yahoo (which had acquired Overture in 2003) in exchange for a perpetual license to the patents in question. This legal battle underscored the high stakes in the online advertising arena and the importance of intellectual property.

For the broader industry the relationship between Overture and Google AdWords is a classic example of competitive innovation, where the presence of each spurred the other to evolve and improve.

Google’s innovation wasn’t just in adopting the PPC model but also in enhancing it with a focus on ad relevance and targeting. Google introduced the Quality Score, a metric that determined ad placement not just on the bid amount but also on the relevance of the ad to the search query. This move forced Overture to refine its own algorithms and offerings to stay competitive, emphasizing the importance of ad quality and relevance.

Both companies played crucial roles in expanding and enriching the digital advertising ecosystem. Overture’s model laid the groundwork for keyword-based advertising, while Google AdWords introduced innovations that improved ad relevance and efficiency. These advancements helped attract more advertisers to online platforms, increasing the diversity and quality of ads presented to users.

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The competition and innovations brought forth by Overture and Google laid the foundation for subsequent advancements in digital advertising. It influenced the development of advertising platforms on social media and other online channels, highlighting the importance of targeted advertising, relevance, and the user experience.

1712832962 546 A History of Google AdWords and Google Ads Revolutionizing Digital

Early Challenges and Evolution of Google Adwords

The journey was not without its hurdles. As internet usage surged and Google’s popularity soared, the platform faced significant technical and scaling challenges. This period also saw the expansion of Adwords beyond search to include display advertising, marking the beginning of the Google Display Network.

Its rise to prominence in digital advertising can be attributed to several key factors:

1. Integration with Google Search

  • Vast Reach: Google’s dominance as a search engine provided a vast audience for AdWords ads, offering advertisers unparalleled access to potential customers.
  • Intent-Based Targeting: Ads on Google are shown based on user search queries, meaning that AdWords could deliver highly targeted advertising based on real-time intent, a significant advantage over traditional advertising mediums.

2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Model

  • Cost-Effectiveness: AdWords popularized the PPC model, where advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad. This efficiency made it an attractive option for businesses of all sizes, ensuring budget spend was tied directly to tangible results.
  • Accessibility to Small Businesses: The PPC model leveled the playing field, allowing small businesses to compete with larger companies for ad space, as long as their ads were relevant and of high quality.

3. Continuous Innovation

  • Quality Score and Ad Rank: Google introduced the Quality Score, a metric that assesses the relevance and quality of ads and their landing pages. This innovation ensured users saw more relevant ads, improving the user experience and increasing the likelihood of ad clicks, benefitting both advertisers and users. Ad Rank built on quality score and improved the quality of adverts for search users.
  • Advanced Targeting Options: Over time, Google introduced sophisticated targeting options, including location targeting, demographic targeting, and later, remarketing. These features allowed advertisers to refine their audience with precision, improving the effectiveness of their campaigns.

4. Comprehensive Analytics and Tools

  • Google Analytics Integration: AdWords’ seamless integration with Google Analytics provided advertisers with detailed insights into their ad performance and website traffic, enabling data-driven decision-making.
  • Robust Toolset: Tools like AdWords Editor and later, Google Ads Manager, allowed advertisers to manage and optimize their campaigns efficiently, saving time and enhancing campaign performance.

5. Expanding Beyond Search

  • Google Display Network: AdWords expanded beyond search ads to include the Google Display Network, offering visual ads across millions of websites. This expansion allowed advertisers to reach users across different stages of the buying cycle, not just when they were searching for specific terms.
  • YouTube and Mobile Advertising: The acquisition of YouTube and the growth of mobile advertising opened new channels for AdWords advertisers, tapping into video and the increasing use of smartphones for internet access.

6. A User-Centric Approach

  • Enhancing User Experience: Google has consistently prioritized the user experience, refining its algorithms to display the most relevant ads and penalizing low-quality content. This focus on user satisfaction has kept users engaged and trusting in the Google ecosystem, indirectly benefiting advertisers by maintaining a high user base.

7. Global Reach and Local Relevance

  • Language and Localization: AdWords supported multiple languages and localized advertising, making it a powerful tool for businesses targeting global markets or aiming for hyper-local advertising.

1712832962 66 A History of Google AdWords and Google Ads Revolutionizing Digital

Key points in history and Milestones for Google Adwords

1. Launch and PPC Model Introduction (2000-2002)

  • 2000: Google AdWords launches with a cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions model.
  • 2002: The introduction of the pay-per-click (PPC) model, significantly altering the online advertising landscape. This shift made advertising more accessible to businesses of all sizes, offering a more performance-oriented advertising solution.

2. Quality Score and Ad Rank Introduction (2005-2006)

  • 2005: Google introduces the Quality Score, a critical component that would determine the cost and placement of ads based on relevance, landing page quality, and click-through rate (CTR).
  • 2006: The Ad Rank formula, which decides the position of an ad on the search results page, now includes Quality Score along with the bid amount. This emphasized the importance of relevant, high-quality ads.

3. Expansion Beyond Search (2005-2008)

  • 2005: Launch of the Google Display Network (GDN), allowing advertisers to place ads on a wide network of websites beyond Google’s search results.
  • 2006: Introduction of local search ads, enabling businesses to target ads based on the geographical location of users.
  • 2007: Acquisition of DoubleClick, enhancing ad serving and providing advertisers with sophisticated tools for managing display ads.
  • 2008: Google introduces AdWords for Video, later integrated into YouTube, allowing for video-based advertising.

4. Mobile Advertising and Enhanced Campaigns (2010-2013)

  • 2010: With the rise of smartphones, Google focuses on mobile advertising, introducing features that allow advertisers to target mobile device users.
  • 2013: The launch of Enhanced Campaigns, making it easier for advertisers to target users across devices with the right ad type, size, and message based on user context, time of day, and device type.

5. Introduction of Machine Learning and Automation (2015-Present)

  • 2015: Google starts incorporating machine learning into AdWords to improve ad targeting and bidding.
  • 2016: Introduction of Smart Bidding, using machine learning to optimize bids for conversions.
  • 2017: Launch of Google Ads Data Hub, offering advanced analysis and reporting features.

6. Rebranding to Google Ads (2018)

  • 2018: Google AdWords is rebranded as Google Ads. This change reflects the platform’s growth beyond search to encompass a variety of advertising formats across Google’s vast array of services, including the Display Network, YouTube, and Google Maps.

7. Introduction of New Advertising Solutions and Platforms (2019-Present)

  • 2019 and beyond: Continuous introduction of new ad types and formats, such as Discovery Ads and Gallery Ads, aimed at providing more engaging and visually appealing advertising options. Expansion of automation and AI-driven tools to optimize campaign performance.

These milestones highlight Google Ads’ evolution from a simple text-based advertising system to a comprehensive digital advertising platform. By continually integrating new technologies and adapting to changes in user behavior and advertiser needs, Google Ads has maintained its position as a leading platform in the digital advertising space.

Impact on Digital Marketing and Economy

Google Ads has undeniably shaped modern digital marketing strategies, enabling businesses to reach their audience with unprecedented precision and efficiency. Its impact extends beyond marketing, contributing significantly to economic growth by providing businesses of all sizes with accessible and effective advertising tools.

Challenges and Controversies

However, the platform has not been without its challenges and controversies, particularly concerning privacy and regulatory issues. Balancing advertising effectiveness with user privacy remains an ongoing challenge for Google Ads.

The Future of Google Ads

Looking ahead, Google Ads is expected to continue its trajectory of innovation, with automation, personalization, and integration with emerging digital platforms at the forefront. Its role in the digital marketing ecosystem remains as vital as ever, adapting to the changing needs of businesses and consumers alike.

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