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Succeed in an automated world: Let AI do your dirty work

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As I write this in winter, the weather is cold and miserable. Trees are without leaves, and grass isn’t growing like it was six months ago. There can’t be a summer without a winter. The cycle of life involves death, and often in nature, without death new life can’t come forth.

Why am I telling you this? The same is true of digital agencies. If an agency refuses to adapt old processes that are no longer necessary, it will eventually die. It will become the dodo of the digital agency world.

Within the last 12 months alone, there have been huge shifts in technology changing how tasks are tackled in paid search. More often that not, this is good I’m excited by how automation can do our ‘dirty work’ – the tasks we humans no longer need to do.

Every end has a beginning

2020 has the potential to be the beginning of the end for many things within PPC, but this needn’t be feared. Old habits do sometimes die hard, but it’s better for old habits to die hard, than for the source of the habit to die itself.

Rule number one: don’t settle.

Think about BlackBerry; their end started when Apple launched the iPhone, and companies realised you didn’t need a physical keypad on a phone. Touchscreen phones, and Blackberry’s lack of innovation on this front, was the beginning of their decline.

A similar issue is arising in PPC, one that’s both great and terrifying for agencies.

You might have built who you are on fairly solid foundations, and success may even have come quickly and with ease, but resting on laurels could be the worst thing you ever do where emerging technologies are concerned.

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Future-proof your workflow

First things first, a confident prediction: paid search agencies who don’t get on-board with Smart Bidding won’t be around in five years.

You’re probably often looking for the most efficient ways of completing tasks, and getting the best results. This does not, I should stress, involve cutting corners. What it does involve is looking for ways of making inefficient practices efficient.

There are many ways you can achieve efficiency within Google Ads, as well as using external software. Firstly, here are the Google Ads wins you should be aware of:

Automating rule changes for ads/campaigns

This is one of the oldest and simplest tricks in the Google Ads book – using rules to enable or pause ads for sales, or to ensure a particular campaign goes live at an exact hour.

Using these rules means all you have to do is set them up and let Google do the rest. If that means you save a good chunk of time enabling and pausing hundreds of sale ads, why wouldn’t you do it?

Optimising Smart Bidding

Your daily task management may have changed so you now spend only half the time you previously did changing bids and tweaking adjustments across location, schedule, device and audience datasets. And so it should if you’re using Google’s Smart Bidding.

However, smart bidding still needs optimising. The captain of an aeroplane doesn’t just put the plane on auto-pilot and have a nap; they ensure it reaches its destination safely and adjusts the flight path accordingly, should there be changes needed.

The exact same has to be done with Smart Bidding. Two of the most common pitfalls are people setting up Smart Bidding and expecting it to work instantaneously, and users not optimising Smart Bidding.

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The latter is especially problematic as it means you’re just leaving Google to run the Smart Bidding for you. The best way to achieve the performance you need is to manipulate and optimise individual ad group targets.

If, for example, you have a campaign using Target ROAS Smart Bidding working towards 1,000%, there will likely be ad groups within there that are both surpassing target and not hitting it. Optimising the targets of these individual ad groups is essential to rounding out the campaign’s performance.

Utilising external tech

You’re good at what you do. That’s great. But you probably have limited brain capacity. Eventually, we all hit a level where we consistently flatline our ability to do tasks that don’t require too much specialisation.

If this is the case, why not consider using external software to help efficiency? This could be something like Optmyzr, which can severely aid productivity. Where both external software and Smart Bidding are concerned, the chance to alleviate potential human error is one that shouldn’t be sniffed at and offers huge peace of mind.

Reinvesting time saved Into creative endeavours

One of the best things you can do with any time saved from utilising a smarter way of working, is using it to do the tasks you maybe didn’t get round to as often as you wanted, or even visiting new areas.

This could come in many forms: setting up dynamic remarketing for the first time, creating more innovative audiences, checking and updating your ad extensions. The time saved thanks to AI-completed tasks can mean an account gets more attention and better optimisation and results than ever before. This is a huge win-win.

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A challenge to agencies

Any agency refusing to use smart bidding will lose clients clicks, revenue and return by not being able to compete with those utilising it. They’ll do too much manual work in the account, ultimately not spending their time wisely and achieving the same results, or worse, than what smart bidding could – all without being as productive as they could be.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to practices and patterns of work, but be mindful that previous success could in fact be your downfall if you fail to keep up with where your industry is going. This applies to a wider field than just PPC.

Ensuring you still offer value is the most important thing you can do as an agency – or freelancer – especially with more and more of the tasks you made your name for previously now being completed by AI. Building and maintaining client relationships, being at the forefront of new types of ads and campaigns, and ensuring you know how to get the best out of the AI you’re using in accounts will go some way to making sure you’re still valuable, in whatever capacity you operate.

Finally, embrace new methodology. Try new things. Experiment. If you work in Paid Search, use Smart Bidding to help shape a more efficient working day. Whatever you do, don’t relent and think that the way you’ve always done things will be the way things will always be done.

Agencies can still have a future, provided they remain client-focused and latch on to the industry’s creative shift.

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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade är en innehållsmarknadsförares dröm: 7 lektioner

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a Content Marketer’s Dream: 7 Lessons

Updated Nov. 22, 2022

Millions gather to view your content marketing on their screens.

Crowds line up over two miles just to get a glimpse of your content in real life.

That’s the stuff of content marketers’ dreams. And it’s the reality for marketers at Macy’s, the U.S. department store chain that has put on a parade in New York City every Thanksgiving since 1924.

I’m a big fan of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I traveled to see it twice, and I never miss watching it on television. And that’s before I realized it’s all content marketing. Here are some lessons that struck me.

1. Steal ideas – just make them better

Macy’s wasn’t the first department store to host a parade as a content marketing tool for the Christmas buying season. In 1920, the Gimbel Brothers department store in Philadelphia created the first one. Four years later – the same year Macy’s launched its parade – the J.L. Hudson Co. department store started one in Detroit. Though those parades continue today, Gimbels and Hudson’s haven’t been involved for decades. Hudson’s ceased its parade connection when it closed its Detroit flagship in the late 1970s. (The chain was later bought by Macy’s). And the Philadelphia department store was liquidated in the mid-1980s.

Original ideas are hard to come by (some say there aren’t any). Don’t spend all your time trying to create something no one’s done. Look for existing inspiration. You may find content that isn’t living up to its potential – and then you can take the opportunity to do it better.

You don’t need original ideas. Just do existing ones better. That’s what @Macys did in creating its New York Thanksgiving Day parade, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Klicka för att tweeta

2. Stick with what works, adjust what doesn’t

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stretched over six miles and featured nursery rhyme characters, store employees dressed as clowns and cowboys, and animals from the Central Park Zoo. A float carrying Santa and a reindeer-pulled sleigh closed the parade.

In the 21st century, the parade traverses only 2.5 miles to ensure a tighter show. It features multi-story-tall balloons that long ago replaced the zoo animals. It welcomes brands other than Macy’s into the act (think Pillsbury Dough Boy and Ronald McDonald). Marching bands from around the country, floats featuring lip-syncing celebrities, and live characters like the gang from Sesame Street expand the appeal.

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Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are far more elaborate now, but the jolly fella retains his almost 100-year-old place in the parade – the final act anticipated by young and old.

When you have an enduring content star, go ahead and tweak it. Don’t use the same old, same old content all the time. Each year, Macy’s creates a curiosity gap: What new balloons will debut? Which will be retired?

@Macys creates a curiosity gap every year as audiences wonder what new balloons will debut and which will be retired, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

What annual content can you create that entices your audience to return again and again? At CMI, for example, we create content marketing research reports every year. Some of the questions in the research questionnaire remain the same each year, but we add new ones based on our audience’s needs, industry trends, and global changes.

Think about how to freshen up your content by adding new ideas or trying different format.

Think about how to freshen up your #content by adding new ideas or trying different formats, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

For example, a B2B brand might add a new department focused on remote work to its quarterly magazine. A B2C brand might shoot short, tip-focused videoklipp based on information from blog articles.

The opportunities to adjust your content mix – topic, format, etc. – are endless.

3. Look at things from a different perspective

Let’s get to the truth. Despite the name (and the turkey float), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has little to do with Thanksgiving. It’s really about the shopping season leading up to the biggest gift-giving occasions of the year. The floats, balloons, and songs all revolve around the red-and-green holiday. In fact, the event’s initial name was Macy’s Christmas Parade. Macy’s, as a business, isn’t focused on the Thanksgiving holiday. Macy’s cares about the timing of Thanksgiving – a month or so before the gift exchanges begin.

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Think about traditional events or activities in your industry. How can you create content that turns them on their head? Let’s say your company has a booth at the same handel show every September. Instead of crafting another evergreen white paper to showcase your thought leadership, use the event as the exclusive release site for a must-have report on industry predictions for the coming year. Make that report the center of your content hub for the quarter, giving it life far beyond the two-day event.

4. Don’t go solo

Macy’s isn’t the only brand involved in the parade. McDonald’s sends up a Ronald McDonald balloon accompanied by his giant shoe car on the ground. Kraft’s Kool-Aid Man crashed the party for many years. Jennie-O’s Big Turkey Spectacular, Dreamworks’ Boss Baby, and Sinclair Oil’s baby dinos participate this year. And brands like Olay, Entenmann’s, Wonder Bread, and Lego host floats. Each branded parade entry is an example of sponsored content.

Image source

Each branded float in the @Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade is an example of #SponsoredContent, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

If a sponsored content model doesn’t fit your organization’s innehållsstrategi, you can still find ways to connect with other companies. For example, accept guest blogs on your site or craft guest content for non-competing brands that have similar target audiences.

5. Interact with your audience

In 2020, Macy’s used its Twitter konto till engagera sig i sin publik före och under paraden. Förutom att förhandsgranska årets attraktioner, genomförde Macy's en serie marknadsförda tweets (det var så de hittade mig, även om jag inte kom ihåg att spara en för att dela här). Tweeten sa att Macy's skulle skicka mig en påminnelse om paraden om jag valde min favoritparadaktivitet och twittrade om det.

Så jag gjorde:

Två timmar innan paraden började fick jag denna personliga påminnelse tweet:

När du försöker engagera dina publikmedlemmar på Twitter, tänk på att bjuda in dem till ditt konto eller varumärke. Det kräver mer än att klicka på ett hjärta eller retweeta. Göra det personligt. Ge dem något roligt eller värdefullt att dela med sig av. Följ upp med mer personligt innehåll.

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6. Granska ditt språk

Samtidigt som jag gillade Macys sätt att anpassa sig Twitter det året var jag inte ett fan av dess användning av ordet "diverse" i en tweet från 2020 som var avsedd att fira Zeta Phi Beta, en Black Sorority som firar 100 år och gör sitt första framträdande i paraden:

TheJasmineBRAND tog tag i tweeten innan Macy's tog bort den ett par timmar efter att den orsakade ett ramaskri:

Dåliga, felaktiga eller okunniga ordval eliminerar allt värde som ditt innehåll kan ha haft och kan skada varumärket. Korrekturläs ditt innehåll inte bara för stavning och grammatik utan också för avsikt, tolkning, inkludering och så vidare. Macys felsteg ger också en annan skrivlektion – att skapa inkluderande och mångsidigt innehåll kräver vanligtvis inte att du påpekar att det är mångsidigt och inkluderande.

Att skapa inkluderande och mångsidigt #-innehåll kräver vanligtvis inte att du påpekar att det är mångsidigt och inkluderande, säger @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

7. Börja smått

Macy's arrangerade inte ett storslaget evenemang 1924. Paradposterna täckte bara två kvarter och omfattade cirka 50 personer. Men det räckte för att fängsla tiotals, om inte hundratusentals, att dyka upp längs den sex mil långa rutten. Även om media knappt täckte händelsen, fick publikens svar Macy's att meddela några veckor senare att paraden skulle komma tillbaka nästa år. (Det var inte förrän paraden gjorde sin tv-debut nästan 30 år senare som Macy's fick nationell uppmärksamhet och drog till sig miljontals fler fans.)

Vilka är dina drömmar för innehållsmarknadsföring (dvs. stora mål)? De kan verka överdrivet ambitiösa, men finns det en minsta möjliga innehållsprodukt du verkligen kan skapa som kan leda till att dessa drömmar går i uppfyllelse? Börja planera idag.

Vill du ha fler tips, insikter och exempel på innehållsmarknadsföring? Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckomail från CMI.

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Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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