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Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2022: Oracle Survey Results

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Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2022: Oracle Survey Results

To say the last two years have been tumultuous for marketers would be a massive understatement.

Agility, adaptability, and constant innovation are now table stakes for marketing organizations of all sizes, across every sector.

Delivering an exceptional customer experience in this environment is a top priority and also the most pervasive challenge for marketers right now, according to the new Marketing Trends 2022 report from Oracle and Ascend2.

Oracle’s survey of over 850 marketing professionals in leadership and management roles reveals that 94% feel their 2021 marketing efforts were successful – and for 48%, extremely so.

What challenges lie ahead and how do marketing leaders plan to meet them head-on this year?

Read on to explore the top challenges and marketing solutions on marketers’ minds, as well as which AI solutions they trust, how they plan to replace third-party data, and other key trends to inform your own marketing strategy.

Top Challenges for Marketers in 2022

Oracle’s survey revealed the top marketing challenges for respondents right now:

  1. Maximizing performance across channels – 38%
  2. Ability to change/adapt to circumstances as they arise – 36%
  3. Delivering exceptional customer experiences – 35%
  4. Aligning marketing and sales efforts – 32%
  5. Segmenting and targeting audiences – 32%
  6. Ability to scale programs, content, personalization – 31%
  7. Proving marketing attribution and ROI – 31%

Which Performance Metrics Matter Most In 2022?

Data-backed insights are essential in resolving the above challenges. But which performance metrics are marketing organizations using right now to measure success?

Image source: Oracle

Extremely successful marketing organizations say their top performance metrics are:

  • Sales and revenue attributed to marketing.
  • Customer lifetime value.
  • Cost per lead (CPL) and cost per acquisition (CPA).

All other marketing organizations are more likely tracking “Marketing ROI” and customer acquisition and retention.

Marketing Solutions We Can’t Live Without

When it comes to the most important martech solutions that power modern-day organizations, customer data platforms top the list.

Which marketing solutions can you not live without?Image source: Oracle

Email marketing platforms, content management systems, marketing automation platforms, and testing and optimization tools round out the top five.

How Marketers Plan To Replace Lost Third-Party Cookie Data

When asked which first-party data sources will become most valuable in the wake of third-party cookie losses, the top five selected by marketers were:

  • 36%: Customer purchase history
  • 32%: Social media profiles
  • 31%: Website registrations
  • 26%: Survey respondents
  • 26%: Mobile app usage

CRM and call center interactions, loyalty programs, user community members, newsletter subscribers, and SMS messaging also made the list.

AI Will Bring Agility & ROI – At Least, To Those Who Trust It

Adapting to circumstances as they arise and being able to change course on the fly was identified as a top challenge, and this is where AI shines.

Even so, marketing organizations have varying levels of trust in the technology.

Smaller marketing teams are less confident in AI, and those on teams of 30 people or less said they only trust it for scoring leads and writing subject lines.

Across the survey set as a whole, marketers are most comfortable using AI for ad targeting, real-time content personalization, optimizing email sends, and estimating conversions.

When asked, Which of the following activities would you trust (or already use) artificial intelligence to do for you? Marketers responded:

Which of the following activities would you trust (or already use) artificial intelligence to do for you?Image source: Oracle

Other Key Marketing Insights For 2022

Among their more interesting findings, Oracle revealed that:

  • 37% of marketers are confident, 31% are hopeful, and 24% feel excited about their chances for marketing success this year.
  • 82% of marketers plan to make changes to their tech stack this year, either adding, removing, or replacing components.
  • 24% of marketers said they absolutely couldn’t live without their loyalty marketing solution.
  • 40% of marketers want to add customer service insights and 36% loyalty insights to their marketing program.
  • 88% of marketers are confident they’ll have access to the right data for effective decision-making this year.

Download the full Marketing Trends 2022 report from Oracle to learn more.


Featured image: Shutterstock/BAIVECTOR




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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


Featured Image: Danishch/Shutterstock

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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