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Proven Amazon Listing Optimization Tips From a Selling Pro

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There are over 300 million active users on Amazon. As the world’s largest online marketplace, Amazon is an excellent opportunity for people who want to make money (minus the boss). To grow your eCommerce business, you need to understand Amazon Listing Optimization.

By optimizing your listing, you become more visible on the marketplace, this will increase sales and save your advertising budget. To assist you with direct examples, we will be taking the experience of Aftab. Through their understanding of success on Amazon, we will show you real-world examples of how you can boost your sales on the world’s most customer-centric eCommerce marketplace. 

About Aftab: A Successful Amazon UK Seller

The lure of eCommerce encouraged Aftab to bring its business online eight years ago. Aftab initially started selling outerwear and home furniture, eventually focusing more on the bedroom furniture side of their business, making what resembles their business today. Eventually, his business grew to incredible sales:

Years Number of Sales
2017-2018 2,652
2018-2019 4,675
2019-2020  4,566
Over The Last Year 9,453

Like other online sales professionals, success did not happen overnight. Aftab had to overcome many challenges. To start, he found that selling beds was an incredibly competitive business. Existing UK mattress brands outperformed Aftab’s product, causing some initial struggle.

Because Aftab had already started in the retail business, his product research process was more straightforward than most. Aftab learned two lessons: Have some knowledge of what you sell och don’t rely on a single product.

Aftab also learned the importance of listing optimization. Through that, much of his traffic came from organic sources. Below, we will share some of his experience in optimizing product pages.

Advice From Aftab on Listing Creation

If you want to match Aftab’s strategy across any niches, you need to break down your listing optimization process. You need to focus on three areas:

  • Keywords
  • Content
  • Title
  • Description
  • Bullet points.
  • Product Photos

Reviews

1. What You Need To Know About Keywords

When customers look for favorite products, keywords are what they type in the search bar. If you use Amazon, think of what you type in the search box to find what you want. Ranking high for those words is necessary to remain competitive on Amazon.

Source: Screenshot

Understanding what your customers search for, lets you know which keywords to target. Relevancy is your goal, meaning whatever customers search for accurately defines your product.

Finding the best keywords breaks down into two tasks: 

  • Finding relevant keywords
  • Finding keywords your competitors use

You can accomplish both by using keyword research tools. These tools include AMZScout’s keyword search, tracker, and the Reverse ASIN Lookup tool. 

To use the AMZScout Keyword Search, follow these steps:

  • Step One: Fill in the fields with what your product is (ex. Bed set)
  • Step Two: Choose the minimum and maximum number of words
  • Step Three: Choose the search volume. (for example, you might want to search for products that get more than five hundred searches per month)
  • Step Four: Select “Find Keywords” and see your results.

Source: Screenshot

Your following method of gaining keywords comes from your competition. The AMZScout ASIN Lookup Tool can help you determine how your competition ranks. Here’s how you can use this tool:

  • Step One: Go to your competitor’s product page
  • Step Two: Scroll down until you find the ASIN (found under product details)
  • Step Three: Copy the ASIN into the lookup tool.
  • Step Four: Choose your keyword criteria (like the number of keywords and search volume) 
  • Step Five: Click “Find Keywords” for your results

Source: Screenshot

Once you have a complete list, ask yourself about the best way to describe your product. The best way to describe your product is the most relevant keyword, which should be your primary keyword. Focus on keywords you can easily rank for but will still give you enough sales to meet your budget goals. 

These keywords fall into three categories and should be used like this: 

  • Secondary keywords are found throughout the description and bullet points. 
  • Backend keywords are built into the product listing as you create it, but you will not see them in the description or bullet points. 
  • Primary keywords are included in your title and description. 

For example, “memory foam pillow” will bring up pillows made using memory foam but won’t bring pillows full of cotton or goose down. Placing these keywords in your title and throughout your product listing tells Amazon your product is relevant for that search.

It isn’t enough to cram keywords into your listing. It would help if you also found out how to create engaging content. Find out how (by example) below.

2. Content for Product Listing

Optimizing for content boils down to creating a copy that will most likely convert visitors and increase your exposure on Amazon search results. This involves making the most engaging sales copy that people who buy your product will appreciate. 

For example, creating content about how more people report a restful night’s sleep with your brand over others would be compelling. Getting off-topic by talking about how you also need a reasonable frame might be distracting. 

Most sellers start by taking a look at competitor content. How do other people write in a way that engages customers? Look for popular listings that have a high number of positive customer reviews. You can also see the type of pictures they use to attract sales.

For a direct example of how content works, we will look at the description, photos, and titles of Aftab’s products:

Product Titles

Your Amazon product titles should meet these criteria:

  • Less than 200 characters 
  • No promotional phrases
  • No special characters
  • Have product identifying information (e.g., bed set, jogging shoes, etc.)

Here are two title examples from Aftab’s experience: 

The title offers excellent detail about the item. Given the liberal use of more information, people with specific searches will find what they want. Also, take note of the formula, which you will find used across Amazon:

  • Brand + Item + Item Details

While its form changes depending on the listing, follow it until you reach 150 characters (minimum). People are more likely to find this if they live in the UK and want a bed with a matching headboard. 

Both the “item” section and the “item details” section have great potential to contain keywords. For example, let’s take a look at the Divian Bed Set’s primary keywords:

Source: Screenshot

The example above shows two keywords, both of them focusing on relevance:

  • “Divian bed”
  • “Divian bed with mattress”

The score on the far-right enables this bed to rank high (despite it being a new product on Amazon). 

Given the relatively low searches (600 and 200), you won’t see any significant brands targeting this keyword. This gives new sellers an excellent opportunity to rank. 

As the product gets more popular, your keyword turrets should look like this:

Source: Screenshot

These screenshots are from the AMZScout Reverse ASIN Lookup tool, showing one of Aftab’s more popular products. Notice how they target a wide range of keywords, focusing on maintaining relevance in multiple searches. 

By starting small and focusing on a small number of keywords, you can eventually expand to target multiple keywords spread throughout your product title, description, and bullets. 

Bulleted Lists

Bulleted lists on Amazon should meet the following requirements:

  • Under one thousand characters
  • Usage of no more than five bullets
  • Naturally contain your target keywords 
  • Start with a feature and end with the benefits

The bullet points (found between the images and descriptions) highlight the features and benefits that are the most important. You can see from Aftab’s listing that they make a comprehensive list but are missing benefits.

Source: Screenshot

Benefits translate features into reasons a person should buy (what problems they solve). For example, why would someone want a thick memory foam layer? Because memory foam adjusts to the contours of the person resting on it. 

Regardless, people looking for these features in their mattresses won’t look far. The bulleted list should contain the most common things people look for in the product you list.

Product Description 

To write good product descriptions, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Describe your products accurately
  • No duplicate pages for the same product
  • Do not use HTML
  • Avoid inappropriate content 
  • No usage of reviews or testimonials
  • No request for positive customer reviews 
  • Do not advertise more than one product 

The description of Aftab’s products makes ample use of limited space, enabling a simple list of critical features people will look for. It mentions how these features translate into benefits in the opening section.

Source: Screenshot

There isn’t too much information; it is easy to read. The drawback of this strategy is that there isn’t a lot of detail here to counteract some common doubts.

From our earlier section on keywords, there are a few product keywords in the description. Ideally, having more content would solve this problem while giving people more reasons to buy the product.  

Also, the addition of images could help this description. Overall, it does do the job and keeps things simple. 

Product Photos

Before submitting images, here are Amazon’s minimum requirements:

  • Stick with TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PNG formats
  • Dimensions of 1000 pixels (or larger) for height and width. (for quality)
  • RGB color mode is your best option (CMYK works as well)
  • File names need to include the ASIN, a period, and the file extension
  • Images must be professional looking 
  • They should not include secondary items (unless included with the product)
  • The primary image must have a pure, white background (RGB 255,255,255)

Both products use photos and have multiple variants, each with a primary image depicting the change. It can be expensive given the numerous listings, but these listings meet the bare minimum requirements.  

Source: Screenshot

Images are high-quality but could be improved with infographic-based pictures and pictures of people sitting/sleeping on the bed. Seeing the product in use enables the users to see themselves using it, increasing your likelihood of a conversion.  

It’s best to consider photos part of your quality-driven content strategy. Without them, people aren’t able to see how high-quality the product is.

Some product categories (smaller products) also require white backgrounds. Keep that in mind when creating your product listings. 

3. How To Encourage Positive Customer Reviews

Reviews are an automatic source of social proof that impacts whether a customer purchases an item. When your product has a high amount of customer reviews, it is more likely to make a sale. 

More reviews mean that both Amazon and buyers enjoy your product. When getting into a new niche, it’s also a sign of competitiveness. 

Here are some ways that you can obtain more positive customer reviews:

  • Use Amazon’s Request a Review button to send your buyer a pre-built request.
  • Enroll your product in the Amazon Vine program (found under the advertising tab) to have it gain more attention 
  • Use product inserts to encourage customers to leave a review. Also, take the opportunity to plug your social media pages. 
  • Respond quickly to customer messages requesting help or product returns 
  • Grow an email list and social media presence for your business so you can have more flexibility

Amazon’s Terms of Service clarify that you shouldn’t harass customers with review requests. So you can only click the “request a review” button and send them a message once before you get in trouble.

To gain social traction from Amazon, the best way to do this is through product inserts. These inserts are little cards requesting people to follow you on Facebook and leave feedback. 

Don’t include them with feedback requests if you want to provide discounts. Even if the two cards are unrelated, Amazon might view these as trading discounts for reviews (against the TOS).

Your most powerful tool is to gain a presence where you have more flexibility in advertising.  Creating email lists and growing your social pages are essential. With a Brand, you can do this with greater ease, as you give people something to connect with. 

An Example of How Positive Customer Reviews Work

The customer reviews for this product are about four stars, one star away from the best result. You will also find that the review count among both products is below 50. However, given these are new listings, these are likely getting a boost from PPC campaigns.

Having four-star results is still an excellent rating, indicating good things about the quality of both products. Overall, reviews are paramount to gaining exposure, so this is a step in the right direction.

Ideally, you’ll want to use negative reviews as a tool for which to improve your product. Avoid taking things personally at all costs, as that will distract you. 

Results

Aftab’s improved product listing optimization took first through the tenth place for main keywords. The focus is on a single small keyword to expand to multiple keywords. This leads to thousands of exposures, eventually resulting in more sales. The total optimization effort saw an overall sales increase of nearly 360%. This meant nearly seven thousand additional sales over the last year (almost ten thousand sales!). 

Tips Roundup for Amazon Newbies 

To review here’s a quick list of newbie tips for Amazon sellers:

  • Perform keyword research based on the most relevant words customers need to find you.
  • Encourage customer reviews by selling high-quality products.
  • Focus on benefits and features when writing content for your listings.
  • Have high-quality images that include pictures of people using your products.
  • Research using third-party tools (like AmzScout).
  • Use all of the character space in your title to be detailed.

Aftab’s example provides you with an excellent real-world example to base off of. Try not to overthink it, but focus on delivering a good product in an area you have some knowledge of. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your future store!

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Facebook vs TikTok Ads: Key Differences & How to Use Them Together

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Facebook vs TikTok Ads: Key Differences & How to Use Them Together

Facebook and TikTok are two juggernauts in the world of social media marketing.

These platforms are hugely popular with advfertisers around the globe, and that’s not surprising. Both attract colossal audiences, both offer data-driven targeting options, and both are packed with powerful marketing tools.

However, if you’re thinking about including Facebook and TikTok in your paid social plans, then you need to understand the key differences between these platforms and how to effectively use both networks together.

In that’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post! Let’s start with a little introduction to each platform.

Table of contents

What are Facebook ads?

Let’s start with a little Facebook advertising 101. Facebook ads are image-based ads with captions that are delivered across the Facebook network.

They can be served in various placements, including Facebook Stories, Facebook Messenger, the Facebook home feed, and more. They’re also available in a wide range of different formats, and these formats are often designed to achieve specific campaign objectives.

facebook ad examples - grin

For example, while Single Image and Video ads can be great for top-funnel activity, Collection and Advantage+ ads are built to generate clicks and conversions.

One of the biggest strengths of the Facebook advertising platform is its targeting capabilities. Facebook harvests a huge amount of data from its users, which allows advertisers to leverage advanced targeting tactics that can deliver exceptional results.

You can also easily extend Facebook ad campaigns onto the Instagram platform, which is great for securing incremental reach and targeting new audiences.

instagram ads costs: instagram ad examples

More Instagram ad examples here.

What are TikTok ads?

Now time for some TikTok advertising 101. Like Facebook ads, TikTok ads are also available in a range of different formats.

However, while Facebook ads can appear in several different positions throughout the app (e.g., Reels, Stories, Messenger) the majority of TikTok ads are served in and around the main feed.

Standard TikTok video ads (i.e. In-Feed ads, Top View ads, etc.) are capable of generating huge audience reach and sky-high levels of engagement, which is why they’re popular with both smaller businesses and established corporations (more on why you should advertise on TikTok here).

For brands looking to make a statement on TikTok, formats like Branded Effects and Branded Hashtag Challenges can also be incredibly impactful.

These ads are designed to drive mass user engagement and incremental reach, and many brands have achieved viral fame by utilizing these creative formats.

There’s no doubt TikTok ads can be highly effective for digital advertisers, particularly if you’re able to tap into popular trends (like Stitching) and create content that resonates with your target audience.

tiktok ad example

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Facebook ads vs TikTok ads: Head to Head

It’s time for a good old-fashioned social media showdown. We’ve done a comparison on TikTok ads vs Instagram Reels ads, now it’s time to compare Facebook and TikTok in a few key marketing areas and see how these paid social powerhouses stack up against one another.

Costs

To kick things off, let’s examine the average costs associated with TikTok ads:

  • TikTok average CPM (cost per mille): $10.00
  • TikTok average CPC (cost per click): $1.00

For comparison, below are the average costs of Facebook ads:

  • Facebook average CPM: $7.00
  • Facebook CPC (Cost Per Click) – $1.00

Both platforms are evenly matched when it comes to their average CPC, but Facebook is significantly cheaper than TikTok in terms of CPM. As a result, Facebook takes the victory in this category, enabling brands to achieve more cost-efficient reach.

However, this does come with a caveat.

It’s worth remembering that your campaign costs will be influenced by many factors, including your industry, target audience, ad formats, and bidding strategy. The above figures can be used as a helpful guide, but they’re certainly not written in stone.

facebook ads average cost per click

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Demographics

Now let’s break down the demographic profiles of the Facebook and TikTok audiences.

TikTok is known for its insane popularity among younger generations, and the data certainly backs this up. A whopping 41.7% of TikTok users fall into the 18-24 bracket – 31% are aged 25-34, while just 24.1% are aged over 35.

tiktok user distribution worldwide

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Facebook, on the other hand, attracts a broader mix of age groups. Just 22.6% of the Facebook audience falls under the 18-24 umbrella, while 31% of the user base is aged 25-34, making this the largest segment on the platform.

Older generations are also better represented on Facebook, with 41% of users over the age of 35 compared to just 24.1% on TikTok.

facebook user distribution worldwide

Bildkälla

So, what does this mean for marketers?

Well, if you’re interested in targeting Gen Z and younger millennial shoppers, TikTok is the place to be. The platform is massively influential among younger audiences, with data suggesting that 40% of Gen Z prefer using TikTok for searches rather than Google.

For brands less focused on younger generations, Facebook offers a more balanced user base, as well as a significantly higher reach. Facebook boasts around 2.96bn monthly active users, compared to TikTok’s 1.2bn monthly users.

Targeting

Audience targeting is fairly standardized across TikTok and Facebook, with both platforms offering basic options such as:

  • Demographic targeting
  • Interest targeting
  • Behavior targeting
  • Device targeting

privacy-first facebook ad targeting guide

 

Advertisers can also build pixel data-fuelled Custom Audiences on both TikTok and Facebook, as well as generate Lookalikes based on these segments.

However, the main difference here is that Facebook has been collecting and harnessing audience data for significantly longer than TikTok.

Facebook first introduced its ad platform way back in 2007, while TikTok ads only launched in 2020. That’s a sizable head start for Facebook, meaning the platform has access to a lot more user data and audience insights that can be used to improve campaign performance.

Although TikTok and Facebook offer near-identical targeting options, Facebook has the edge because it’s sitting on a goldmine of historical data.

Formats

TikTok and Facebook both offer a range of versatile ad formats, so let’s compare their offerings head-to-head.

Facebook allows advertisers to utilize the following ad formats:

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • In-Stream Video ads
  • Stories ads
  • Collection ads
  • Messenger ads

facebook messenger ad example A Facebook Messenger ad example. (Image source)

Below are the ad formats available on TikTok:

  • In-Feed ads
  • Top View ads
  • Brand Takeover ads
  • Branded Hashtag ads
  • Branded Effects ads
  • Collection ads

tik tok ad examples

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Once again, this category is remarkably close between the two platforms. Both Facebook and TikTok offer ad formats that can be used to achieve specific objectives. For example, In-Feed video ads to build brand awareness, or Collection ads to drive conversions.

The key difference here is that Facebook ads can be served in multiple environments across the app, while the TikTok platform design is more streamlined.

For example, Messenger and Stories ads appear in completely separate sections of the Facebook site, while TikTok ads are delivered in (or around) the home feed.

If you’re keen to test out a broad range of versatile ad formats, Facebook is a great option. However, if you want to maximize visibility, the simpler layout of TikTok may be more appealing.

Analytics

The ability to monitor, analyze, and optimize your paid social ad performance is crucial for success.

So which of these networks is best suited for campaign measurement?

The truth is that Facebook and TikTok are both well-equipped in the analytics department.

As marketing platforms, both Facebook and TikTok are designed to help advertisers achieve optimal results through accurate and accessible analytics. Each platform offers a built-in analytics dashboard (i.e. the Facebook Ads Manager och TikTok Ads Manager) that enables brands to monitor performance, create custom reports, and track conversions.

Beyond basic analytics, Facebook and TikTok also offer additional measurement options, such as Brand Lift studies and the ability to implement a tracking pixel on your website.

brand lift study in facebook ads

How Facebook ads brand lift studies work. (Image source)

You’ll never struggle to track and analyze your ad performance on either of these platforms, so this category is a clear draw.

How to use Facebook & TikTok ads together

TikTok and Facebook ads together are effective and profitable for businesses old and new, big and small.

Both platforms have their own unique strengths and marketing opportunities, which begs the question: How can you leverage both partners to accelerate your returns?

Let’s explore how you can combine Facebook and TikTok ads to drive optimum performance.

1. Gather & implement insights across platforms

If you want to grow your business in today’s environment, a cross-channel advertising strategy is a must. This means running ads on different channels like search and social, as well as on different platforms within these channels, like on TikTok and Facebook within social.

Running ad campaigns across multiple social media platforms enables you to collect more insights and apply more learnings. Be sure to frequently analyze your campaign reports on both TikTok and Facebook to identify these valuable cross-platform opportunities.

For instance, there may be a high-performing Facebook audience segment that you can replicate on TikTok or an effective creative asset that you can repurpose across platforms.

2. Strengthen your brand identity

I emphasized the importance of solidifying your brand identity in my Facebook trends post and this applies across platforms as well.

To do so, maintain a clear tone of voice across these platforms, use the same branding elements (colors, fonts, imagery, vibes), and regularly interact with your audience on both networks. Consistency is a great way to build trust among consumers, so use both Facebook and TikTok as a launchpad for your brand.

brand consistency across social ads

3. Expand your campaign reach

This may sound obvious, but make sure that you’re using Facebook and TikTok to effectively increase your overall reach and frequency.

Both of these networks give you access to unique audiences and specific demographics, so take full advantage of this. Experiment with different target audiences to discover new prospects, and make sure that both platforms have sufficient budget for scaling up (how to scale your Facebook ads here).

Maximize your Facebook & TikTok ad returns

TikTok and Facebook can both deliver outstanding results when used individually, but when these social media giants are combined, the sky’s the limit.

By capitalizing on the strengths of each platform and following some of these best practices, you can transform your paid social marketing into a well-oiled, conversion-driving machine.

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Account-Level Negative Keywords Now Available in Google Ads: What You Need to Know

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Account-Level Negative Keywords Now Available in Google Ads: What You Need to Know

While we’re all striving for different business and marketing goals with our PPC campaigns, we do all have one thing in common: to get the highest return on our investment. And there are a number of ways to facilitate that—one of which is through negative keywords.

And just recently, Google announced that account-level negative keywords are now available globally.

 

So what are they, what’s changing, and what does it mean? Read on to find out!

Quick refresher: What are negative keywords?

The PPC community includes advertisers of all levels, so before we dive into the announcement, let’s do a quick refresher on negative keywords. We do have a definitive guide to negative keywords which you are welcome to delve into, but we’ll cover the basics here:

When you create a Google Ads search campaign, you have to tell Google which keywords you are targeting/bidding on. These represent the queries that users type into the search bar that you want your ads to appear for. So if I’m selling box springs, I might target the keyword box spring and my ad might appear for queries like affordable box spring eller box spring twin.

Conversely, negative keywords are the terms that you don’t want your ads to appear for. So if I only sell box springs, I might set mattresses as a negative keyword; or if the campaign is only for twin box springs, I’d want to add king box spring, queen box spring, etc. as negatives.

negative keyword match types in google ads

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Negative keywords are important as they help your ads to appear only for the most relevant searches, which improves click-through rate and conversion rate and saves you from wasted spend.

What are account-level negative keywords?

You’ve always been able to create negative keyword lists for each of your campaigns. In account structure terms, this is called the “campaign level” and now, you can also set them at the account level. This means that if you have one term you want to set as a negative for all of your campaigns, instead of adding it to each individual negative keyword list in each campaign, you can just add it once at the account level and it will be applied across all campaigns.

What campaign types does it apply to?

When you set an account-level negative keyword, it will apply to all eligible search and shopping campaign types, which includes Search, Performance Max, Shopping, Smart Shopping, Smart, and Local campaigns (get a refresher on all Google Ads campaign types here).

In fact, negative keywords for Performance Max campaigns are account-level only, as noted by Jon Kagan in a recent #PPCChat:

Robert Brady responded saying this seems to encourage a second Google Ads account for PMax:

Julie Bacchini brought up the same idea in a separate thread, calling it “laughable” and ineffective.

A1.1:

I am not currently running any PMax campaigns in Google Ads, but their whole “we have solved brand terms” solution – letting you add account level brand negatives is laughable.

It neither addresses the issue advertisers have nor solves it.https://twitter.com/hashtag/PPCChat?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PPCChat

— Julie F Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon) https://twitter.com/NeptuneMoon/status/1620470621380526080?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 31, 2023

 

How to add account-level negative keywords

To add account level negative keywords in Google Ads, go to Account Settings > Negative keywords. Click the plus button and enter them in.

account settings - account level negative keywords in google ads

For more help with managing your keyword lists in Google Ads, here are some additional resources:



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Vad de stora tekniska uppsägningarna betyder för små och medelstora företag och PPC: 8 viktiga takeaways

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What the Big Tech Layoffs Mean for SMBs & PPC: 8 Key Takeaways

Unless you live under a rock (I can say that because I’ve been known to camp out under a pebble or two), there’s no doubt that you’ve been hearing about one thing in the news lately:

Big Tech layoffs.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon.

It even has its own hashtag #layoffs2023.

Mass layoffs of any kind are unsettling no matter how applicable they are to you, but as a small business owner or marketer, you may have some concerns. Yes, this is “Big” Tech, but does this or will this have any implications for small businesses? Many of these companies are also ad platforms, so will this have any impact on PPC?

I’ve taken a dive into the story from this angle to provide you with some key takeaways. Read on to learn:

  • What’s happening in Big Tech?
  • Why are all these layoffs happening?
  • What does it mean for online advertising and small businesses?

What’s happening in Big Tech?

In January of 2023 we saw more layoffs in the Big Tech sector than in any month since the pandemic. To put things in perspective, there were 159,684 tech job cuts in 2022, but in January of 2023 alone, we saw 68,502. That’s more than 43% of what we saw in all of last year.

big tech layoffs 2022 vs 2023

Companies that have conducted mass layoffs in January and recent months include Google, Microsoft, Informatica Salesforce, Amazon, SAP, IBM, Spotify, Wayfair, Coinbase, and Vox Media.

As mentioned earlier, mass layoffs innately are concerning, but the reason why this situation is of particular interest is that not only is it unexpected, but it’s also being called one of the worst contractions in the industry’s history.

And it’s also a little peculiar when you look at it in relation to the labor market. As The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson points out:

  • During the 2010s, the labor market was weak but the tech sector was growing.
  • During the pandemic, the economy had a “flash freeze depression” while tech took off.
  • Today, the labor market is strong but tech is “bleeding.”

So what’s going on here?

Why are all these layoffs happening?

There are multiple factors at play, which Derek’s article does a great job covering. Here’s the rundown:

The expected tech “acceleration” from the pandemic turned out to really just be a “bubble.”

Tech companies, consumers, and investors alike all subscribed to the notion that the surge in remote work, ecommerce, and other online platforms during the pandemic put us on the fast track to the 2030s. But this has not been the case. We never made it there; we’re still just on our way and we’re settling back into the same speed of travel as in 2019. As a result, all of that expansion and investing now is in excess. Hence the contraction.

Inflation caused an advertising slump

Keep in mind that many of these tech companies—Google, Meta, Amazon, etc.— are also advertising platforms. And with inflation reaching its highest levels in 40 years in 2022, many businesses pulled back on advertising as this is often one of the first areas to see cuts during a shaky economy—not to mention the fact that advertising costs increased along with everything else.

Companies are preparing and adjusting

For some companies, the layoffs are happening also as a proactive measure. While inflation appears to be on the mend (it has dropped from 9% to 6.5%), economists, and therefore businesses and consumers are still wary of a recession. If these companies want to maintain profitability and to send the right message to shareholders, they need to prepare for businesses and consumers to continue cutting back on spend even in the new year—which means cutting back on spending themselves.

Of course there are spinoff theories and schools of thought, but these are the core reasons you’ll find woven throughout any coverage on the matter.

What does it mean for small businesses and PPC?

Alright, so now that you have a grasp on what’s happening and why, let’s talk about what this means for small businesses and PPC according to news articles, last week’s PPC chat discussion, and the very PPC experts who contribute to our blog! Here are some key takeaways that feel particularly pertinent:

1. Big tech is not at risk

“Revenue decline” doesn’t necessarily mean that any of these businesses are failing or on their way out. Remember, these aren’t just businesses, they are behemoths. And as Tech Reporter Bobby Allyn’s NPR article cited earlier states, while these changes are historic, they’re still small on a percentage basis.

These companies are still massively wealthy and Big Tech has been on a strong growth trajectory for the past ten years. Microsoft alone made $198 billion in revenue in 2022.

microsoft annual revenue

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These measures aren’t a sign that they’re on the brink of disappearance, but rather course correction in accordance with the post-pandemic story as it unfolds, to get back on that growth trajectory.

2. This is only temporary; digital advertising will still grow

Given the above, it’s not surprising that many PPCers feel this is only temporary and aren’t concerned about there being a further economic downturn or ripple effect on small businesses or advertising in general.

Take digital marketing strategist, author, and speaker Anders Hjorth’s Tweet in #PPCChat, for example:

We also asked Brett McHale, founder of Empiric Marketing, LLC and regular WordStream contributor for his take on the matter and he shared the same sentiment:

“We have seen economic downturns and mass layoff lead to eventual booms/bubbles—what comes to mind is the 2008 economic crisis that eventually gave way to the tech boom of the 2010s. I’m not necessarily saying that is what is going to happen now, just that these economic situations tend to have a cyclical nature to them.”

It’s worth noting also that no one expressed concerns about any one platform in particular other than Twitter, for obvious reasons.

3. It could open up new opportunities

Another perspective that many PPC influencers and practitioners share is that with so many talented people out of work and with time on their hands, there is potential for new opportunities or movements to happen. Paid search manager Sarah Steman Tweeted in #PPCChat:

Mark Irvine, Director of Paid Media at Search Lab Digital and regular WordStream contributor (and former Streamer!), shared this viewpoint:

“The biggest piece to think of is that there are tens of thousands of people with top-quality talent reentering the industry who have years of experience working with large numbers of clients and varied budgets. They’re also well-versed in their former company’s tools and features and have unique insight into the industry from their past roles that many of us don’t have exposure to.”

4. We may see more small consultancies open up

Brett also sees new opportunities arising, more small consultancies in particular:

“I can see many talented professionals in the space making the transition from big brands to independent contract work. Taking on a W2 employee is a massive risk for a company whereas a 1099 employee is a much lower risk, both financially and legally. Talented folks who have lost their jobs might source their talent to multiple companies to create several sources of income for themselves and handle their own health benefits under their own LLCs. “

Navah Hopkins, Brand Evangelist at Optmyzr, regular WordStream contributor (and also former Streamer!) Navah Hopkins expressed the same:

“On a personal note, I often questioned whether I made a mistake not going for one of the big brands. When the layoffs happened, it cemented for me and many other digital marketers like me that we can thrive without “big brand safety.” I’m excited to see the rise of consultants and taking lessons learned to verticals that didn’t have access to the amazing talent now on the market.”

5. Agencies and large resellers have the most to gain

Another outcome we may see, Mark pointed out, is an influx of new talent to agencies and resellers.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Agencies and large resellers likely have the most to gain from this shuffle. Compared to small businesses, they’re in the best position to attract this new talent that has experience working across a large portfolio of clients. Additionally, Google’s most recent announcement is that of reembracing its partners, specifically resellers to enable more advertisers to grow on their platforms.”

google's turn to resellers

Resellers mentioned in the article include Accenture, Interactive, Incubeta, Jellyfish, and Media.Monks.

6. Advertisers need to be on guard

One potential concern that many PPCers agreed on was that with revenue in greater focus, ad platforms may start pushing features and upsells more so than genuinely helping advertisers succeed. This wouldn’t be a novel concept by any means (Google Ads automation anyone?), but it will be important to be extra vigilant, especially if you’re a beginner advertiser.

PPC influencer Robert Brady expresses this concern in his Tweet:

He also followed that up with:

And I feel like reps will be even more insistent on pushing features that help the platform and not advertisers. @robert_brady

Mark shared the same viewpoint:

“I’m going to be increasingly skeptical of new products released over the next ~120 days. Layoff rounds right before an earnings call is not coincidental. Product announcements aren’t coincidental either. There’s still lots of great teams at these companies that are making great things, but following a round of layoffs, a product manager isn’t going to boldly recommend that they push back their new anticipated tool for another quarter or two because it’s not ready. Implicit or not, many teams will feel the pressure to produce “quickly now” rather than “correctly later.” I would be extra skeptical of anything announced or anticipated before big days for their investors in April or July. Looking at you, GA4.”

7. Be prepared for outages and/or gaps in support

Another concern is that we could see a degradation in customer support or more outages. In fact, Google Ads was out for three hours on January 23.

Many agree that support is already lacking so this could be a pain point. Navah notes that these brands will be under higher scrutiny:

“The brands doing the letting go will be under more scrutiny than ever before. I suspect true return on investment with any of these platforms (Google, Microsoft, Amazon), as well as less patience for substandard service will be the main themes of higher churn for their customers. Many of us noted that it was odd Google Ads went down hours after the layoffs, and instances like these might become more common, and the industry will have less patience for it.”

8. Moderation and policy enforcement could suffer as well

Mark comments on this final concern (as if ad disapprovals weren’t already a pain point):

Unfortunately, I agree that traditional “cost centers” like customer support are going to be pulled from first. Particularly given the recent successes in AI like ChatGPT, it’s increasingly tempting to push AI in these areas.

However, I’m also worried that there’s temptation to pull away from areas like moderation or policy enforcement. Google has increasingly automated its policy enforcement over the past few years, to poorer results, and I imagine this will continue.

Twitter sets a dangerous precedent in eliminating its moderation teams and I think that lowered bar makes for poor incentives for other tech giants to dedicate resources to important non-revenue generating teams.”

headlines about twitter eliminating moderator staff

While I hope that companies continue to reinvest in their values, even things ensuring advertisers only pay for quality traffic and filter out invalid traffic are troubling. When no one is watching, are these tech companies going to improve or maintain their standards, or are they going to be tempted to water down that wine and charge advertisers for more traffic to influence their bottom line?”

So what’s the verdict?

If you haven’t been quite sure about how what’s going on with all of these Big Tech layoffs, my hope is that this article has demystified some of that for you. And as far as how you should be feeling, I’d say that a little concern is good, but panic? Not necessary. The experts and veterans in the industry aren’t taking any drastic measures. The idea is, as Ashton Clarke Tweeted to “help clients keep a level head and maintain stability.”

So long as you stay on top of the storyline, keep an eye on your metrics, and make PPC decisions based on data, not automated recommendations, your account and performance will stay in good shape!



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