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What Marketers Need to Understand About Automated Bid Algorithms

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In conversations with clients, I find myself using a phrase like, “We can do that, but we need to make sure we grease the wheels of the machine first.” What my Industrial-age jargon actually means is, we need to make sure that we’re not forcing the algorithms to have to relearn in a way that will be detrimental to our performance. I’m going to spare you arguments as to why you should be turning to machine learning in your work in digital advertising, if you don’t know already – plenty of folx out there can help you. If you’re finding the move towards automation difficult, take some advice from Lauren Rosner’s blog, Relinquishing Control Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love PPC Automation.

Below are the most useful elements to understand about how algorithms work in your PPC campaigns.

Target Strategies

Target ROAS as a smart bidding strategy is best deployed across campaigns that are NOT budget constrained and have had at least 15 conversions  in the past 30 days. The strategy drives the highest conversion value possible while maintaining a consistent return on ad spend.  This strategy does not work well in a hyper-sgemented account structure. Target CPA functions very similarly, except it optimizes toward a CPA value and does not have a minimum conversion volume.

When using target strategies, it’s important to understand what you’re asking the strategy to do:

If you have an aggressive CPA or ROAS target for your industry, let’s say a 20X ROAS, you are asking the algorithm to limit your risk by heavily limiting the number of auctions you’re willing to participate in. Effectively you’re saying: Don’t bid in an auction, unless you’re pretty darn certain you can get me a 20X return. This will cause the algorithm to become very selective and enter into auctions very cautiously. This can result in a drop in impression share, an increase in CPCs, and a general drop in volume. Ironically, in order for automation to work optimally, it needs to have a lot of data to make decisions. So, it’s important to be REALISTIC when setting your targets.  Here are a few rules to abide by:

  1. If you’re switching to one of these automated bid strategies for the first time. Set the initial targets based on your last 30 days CPA or ROAS.
  2. It takes 7-14 days for the algorithm to recalibrate – so give it time to “settle” and don’t make changes. It will not start to “perform” until it’s learning phase has ended.
  3. Shift your CPA or ROAS targets in 15%-20% increments at a time. For example, if your last 30 Days ROAS was 5X and you want to move toward a 10X goal, first shift to 6X – let it run for a few weeks, Then shift 20% again.. Avoid aggressive shifts in either CPA or ROAS to not rock the boat.
  4. Feed your algorithm by layering in audiences. Set these to “Observation” and make bid adjustments accordingly.

If you’re struggling to scale campaign volume, the limiting factor could be your targets. Try increasing CPA or decreasing ROAS targets in 15-20% increments. This will not necessarily result in worse performance. By lowering your bar, you’re effectively telling the algorithm that you’re not as risk averse, and you’re willing to take some chances while trying to achieve your goal. If your accounts experience seasonality, I highly recommend lowering your ROAS and increasing your CPAs at least 1 week in advance to allow the account to scale during times of high seasonality.

Maximize Strategies

Maximize Conversion Value or Maximize Conversions are budget based strategies and should be utilized on campaigns that are regularly limited by budget or spending most of their daily budgets. The minimum criteria for these strategies is 20 clicks/day. In order for Max conversions to operate effectively, ensure that you’re only tracking important conversion actions or set up conversion action sets (linked to PPC hero article). These strategies perform best with broad match type keywords, which allows for more traffic and gives the strategy more data to learn from.

When you’re asking for the maximum,  you’re asking the strategy to run out into the auction, and capture as many valuable conversions it can based on the budget provided. It gives no effs about any of your other campaign inputs and does what it wants. For example, these strategies will NOT CONSIDER the following when participating in auctions:

  • Device bid adjustments
  • Location bid adjustments
  • Ad Schedule
  • Audience
  • Age Rage
  • Gender
  • HH Income

These strategies also do not care about CPCs. If you have keywords that have set CPC goals, move these to a different campaign, this is not the strategy for these terms. A common misconception when using these strategies is that you have to start with eCPC, then ramp up to Max Conversions. You DO NOT need to do this. In fact, if you do you will cause the algorithm to have to learn twice and recalibrate. You can start fresh campaigns with Maximize conversion or Maximize conversion value bid strategies.

If you’re uncertain if a bid strategy is working for a particular campaign, look to the Bid Strategy Report. This can be found here:

Hover over the Bid Strategy type in the Bid Strategy Type Column and click on it:

target cpa in the bid strategy column

The Bid Strategy Report will look something like this and will provide info on how to optimize your strategy. For example, recently actual CPAs have been climbing, so I may want to adjust my target to make sure I can capture more volume.

bid strategy report google ads

Even though it’s hard, you have to pad in learning periods for your smart bidding strategies. The general recommendation is 7-14 days with no changes before you start to get meaningful shifts in performance. One of the biggest pitfalls for marketers is pre-emptively calling a strategy ineffective prior to the end of the learning phase. Plan ahead, ensure the expectations are understood up front and when in doubt, turn to your Bid Strategy Report to see how you should adjust.

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Pillar Pages: Why and How You Should Add Them to Your Content Strategy

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Pillar Pages: Why and How You Should Add Them to Your Content Strategy

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

In a recent study, we found that our pillar pages are magnets for links, organic traffic, and newsletter subscribers — especially compared to regular blog posts. Here are the results that both types of SEO content generated over the course of a year:

Do these results mean you should ditch your blog strategy in favor of pillar pages? Not exactly.

Here’s the catch: You really can’t have one without the other, and it all comes down to content mapping. I’ll explain exactly what I mean in this article.

What is a pillar page?

A pillar page is a piece of content that comprehensively covers a broad topic. Pillar page — also sometimes referred to as hub and spoke — content weaves together a wide range of relevant subtopics (spokes), organizes them all in one place (hub), and effectively showcases your subject matter expertise for the broad topic.

Pillar page content should be easy to navigate for readers looking to learn — at a high level — about a particular topic, but should also offer relevant resources for them to dive deeper. 

Example of related resources found on a pillar page.

It’s kind of like the choose-your-own-adventure of content marketing.

Topical authority: why it’s important

When it comes to content creation for SEO and digital marketing, you don’t want to create content around any old topic. Instead, you want to reinforce your brand’s topical authority with every new piece of content you create (be it a blog, a pillar page, an eBook, etc.).

Let’s put it this way: If you’re in the business of selling mechanical keyboards, it doesn’t make sense to publish a blog article about the best recipes for a summer BBQ. Unless you’re recommending that your customers grill and eat their mechanical keyboards, which is (highly) unlikely.

Instead, it’s more helpful to your brand — and your audience — if you cover topics related to mechanical keyboards, like:

  • What is a mechanical keyboard?

  • Mechanical keyboards vs. regular keyboards.

  • Custom mechanical keyboards.

  • How to transition to a mechanical keyboard.

  • Pros and cons of a mechanical keyboard.

By covering as many topics related to mechanical keyboards as possible, you’re building a foundation of informational content that tells search engines: “Hey, I know a lot about mechanical keyboards!”

And the more content you have that starts to rank for important search terms related to mechanical keyboards, the more likely searchers will see you as an authority on the subject. Ideally, they will start coming back to your content when they need to learn more about this specific topic.

Pillar pages + blogs = a match made in content marketing heaven

A well-executed and organized pillar page is one of the best ways to showcase to your audience (and search engines) that you have topical authority in a specific area. Blog posts help you achieve topical authority by allowing you to cover a wide range of relevant subtopics in great detail, and pillar pages organize all of that content into a nice, user-friendly package.

Let’s take a look at this tactic in action.

We built our content marketing guide as a pillar page, which allowed us to cover a slew of subtopics related to the broader topic of content marketing, all in one piece of collateral. 

All of these subtopics are organized into sections on the page, with a hyperlinked table of contents at the top to allow readers to pick and choose exactly what they’d like to learn about:

Then, throughout the page, we offer readers the opportunity to go deeper and learn more about each subtopic by linking to relevant blog content:

What is content mapping?

A pillar page is a great tactic if you’ve got a lot of existing blog content all focused on a particular parent topic. It’s one of our favorite ways at Brafton to repurpose and repromote our blogs.

But you can also create a pillar page with all brand-new content — it’ll just take more research, planning, and production time to complete.

Enter: content mapping.

Content mapping is the process of assessing your target audience, understanding what they are trying to achieve, and helping them along that journey with branded educational and commercial content. Its scope can span the entirety of your content marketing strategy or a single piece of pillar page content.

Why content mapping matters in content marketing

The planning (or content mapping) of a pillar page is just as important as the research done to choose the correct keyword to target for your business.

Pillar pages are kind of like the books of the marketing world. If you were an expert birder, for example, you wouldn’t set out to write a book about bird-watching without doing any research. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time writing and publishing articles about bird-watching on your blog. You’d want to understand a few things before starting that book, like:

  1. Which of my blog posts generated the most interest from new and returning readers? (i.e. pages with the most new and returning visitors, as seen in your web analytics tool).

  2. Which blogs kept readers coming back for more? (i.e. pages with the most newsletter subscriptions, or the best newsletter subscription rates).

  3. Which blogs did my industry peers find most useful? (i.e. pages with the greatest number of high-quality referring domains and backlinks).

These questions can be answered by looking through your web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Moz Pro.

Example of content analysis by top linking domains.

You’d also want to understand what the competition looks like before you spend dozens of hours writing thousands of words to fill a book.

You’d want to answer questions, like:

  1. What do my competitors’ books on bird-watching look like? (i.e. the types of bird-watching subtopics the page 1 results cover).

  2. What does Google think searchers want to see when they search for bird-watching? (i.e. the types of content that are found on page 1 for your target keyword — and surprise! it might not be books).

  3. How long and detailed are my competitors’ books? (i.e. the level of complexity and comprehensiveness of the content ranking on page 1).

These questions can be answered by manually reviewing relevant SERPs and utilizing TF-IDF tools like Clearscope or MarketMuse to understand the breadth of subtopics and types of content ranking on the first page.

Example of manual SERP inspection.
Example of TF-IDF content analysis.

Once you understand which of your content performs best and which content Google and other search engines prefer to rank highly for your target keyword, you can start piecing together a plan for your pillar page.

A note about internal linking

Before we dive into the how-to portion of this piece, we should also acknowledge the importance of internal linking to this whole process.

And I’m not just talking about throwing in a link to a related product/service at the end of the page and calling it a day. The internal linking structure of your pillar page is literally the glue that holds the whole thing together. It helps readers easily navigate to related resources to continue learning from your brand. And it helps search engines understand the relationship between your pillar page content and the additional content you’re highlighting on the page.

But when it comes to internal linking, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Including too many internal links throughout your content can cause a frustrating user experience or look spammy, so use caution and make sure the only internal linking you do on the page is extremely relevant to the parent topic.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve got too many internal links on the page, you can run it through Moz’s On-Page Grader tool, which automatically counts the number of links on your page and flags if you’ve got too many.

Tip: Keep in mind that this tool will count ALL links found on the page, including those in your main navigation and footer, so the “Too Many Links” warning could be a false positive.

As Moz explains: Google recommends you don’t go over 100 internal links per page, because it can dilute the SEO value sent from the pillar page to the linked pages, and it can also make it more challenging for users and crawlers to navigate all of the content.

Two data-led ways to map out content for a pillar page

There are a couple of different ways to approach the construction of this type of content, but they each rely on organic search data to lead the way.

1. Planning a pillar page and related resources (all from scratch)

Let’s pretend you don’t have any prior content created about a particular topic. You’re basically starting from scratch. Let’s also assume the topic you’ve selected is both core and commercially valuable to your business, and that your domain realistically has a chance of ranking on page 1 for that keyword.

Let’s say you’re a pet food company and one of your main products is cat dental treats. Once you’ve determined that this is the exact keyword you want to target (“cat dental treats”), it’s time to start your research.

Step 1: Manually inspect SERP to understand searcher intent

First, we’ll start by manually inspecting the first SERP for this keyword, and answering the following questions:

  1. What types of content are on the first page of results?

  2. Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?

By answering these two questions in our SERP analysis, we’ll make sure that our plan for creating a pillar page to rank actually makes sense and it’s what searchers want to see on the SERP. We’ll also better understand all the reasons behind why someone might search this keyword (and we can then address those reasons in the content we create).

So let’s answer these questions:

Question 1: What types of content are on the first page of results?

Answer 1: The first SERP includes a variety of product ads, a People Also Ask section, and a selection of organic blogs and product pages.

Types of content found on the SERP for “cat dental treats.”

Question 2: Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?

Answer 2: From a quick analysis of the SERP, we can deduce that people want to know why and how cat dental treats are important to a cat’s health, and they also want to know which cat dental treats work best. Perhaps most importantly, it’s highly likely that they plan to purchase cat dental treats for their furry companion(s) in the near future.

Step 2: Select related keyword ideas for blog content

Since you don’t just want to create a pillar page for just the primary keyword, you also want to pinpoint a selection of related subtopics to be written as blog content.

For this part of the process, head over to your keyword research tool, plug in your target keyword and (with an eye for topics that you’re well-suited to cover), jot down a list of keywords and phrases.

Here’s our list of potential blog topics:

  • Best cat dental treats.

  • How do cat dental treats work?

  • What to look for in cat dental treats.

  • Do cat dental treats work?

  • Can cat dental treats replace brushing?

  • Vet recommended cat dental treats.

  • Grain-free cat dental treats.

Step 3: Choose subtopics to cover in your pillar page content

Next, you’ll want to review the subtopics mentioned in the top ranking results. While this process can be done manually (by clicking into each result on the SERP and jotting down the topics mentioned), a TF-IDF tool like MarketMuse makes this part of the process much quicker:

These TF-IDF tools analyze the top 10-20 results for your target keyword and automatically present the common subtopics mentioned in each piece. This gives you a very good understanding of what you’ll also need to cover in your piece to compete for a top-ranking spot.

Here’s the list of subtopics we’ll want to cover in this pillar page, based on our MarketMuse data:

Step 4: Create your outline and plan content

Now it’s time to connect the dots from your research. The best way to do this is to start by structuring your pillar page outline, and then going back in and filling in the areas where you want to create supporting blog content.

Here’s an example of what the end result might look like:

H1: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend

H2: What are cat dental treats and how do they work?

  • Topics to cover: Cat dental treats
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them)
    Keyword: how do cat dental treats work

H2: What are the benefits of cat dental treats?

  • Topics to cover: Clean teeth, fresh breath
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say)
    Keyword: do cat dental treats work

H2: Are cat dental treats an acceptable alternative to brushing?

  • Topics to cover: Cats dental health
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know
    Keyword: can cat dental treats replace brushing

H2: Do vets recommend using cat dental treats?

  • Topics to cover: Veterinary oral health council
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why
    Keyword: vet recommended cat dental treats

H2: The best cat dental treats to try

  • Topics to cover: Purina dentalife, Feline greenies, natural ingredients, artificial flavors.
  • Blog post to support section:
    Title: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them
    Keyword: best cat dental treats
  • Blog post #2 to support section:
    Title: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats
    Keyword: what to look for in cat dental treats

Creating an outline for a pillar page isn’t easy, but once laid out, it helps us understand the content that needs to be produced to bring the whole thing to life.

Here is our list of content to create (based on our outline):

  1. Pillar page: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend

  2. Blog #1: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them)

  3. Blog #2: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say)

  4. Blog #3: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know

  5. Blog #4: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why

  6. Blog #5: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them

  7. Blog #6: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats

The best way to tackle this list of content is to create and publish the six blog posts first, then once they are live, you can write the pillar page content, placing hyperlinks to the supporting blog posts directly in the copy.

2. Planning a pillar page from top performing content

For this next method, let’s say you already have a ton of published content about a particular topic, and you’d like to reuse and repromote that content within a pillar page dedicated to that topic.

All of the steps in the previous process apply, but for Step 2 (Select Related Keyword Ideas for Blog Content), do the following:

First, you’ll want to understand which of your existing pieces generates the most interest from your audience. Let’s use our web analytics data for this. In this example, we’ll look at Google Search Console data because it shows the actual search performance of our website content.

Let’s use the topic of “content creation” as our desired pillar page keyword. Search for the query in Google Search Console (choose the “Queries containing” option): 

Pull all of the pages currently generating impressions and clicks from terms containing your topic, placing those with the highest clicks and impressions at the top of your list. Here’s what this might look like: 

As you can see, most of the content we’ve created that also ranks for keywords containing “content creation” is blog content. These will be highly useful as related resources on our pillar page.

Now, go back to your TF-IDF tool and select the subtopics related to “content creation” that you want to cover in your pillar page. Example:

  • Social media content

  • Content creation tool

  • Content creators

  • Content strategy

  • Content creation process

Finally, map your existing blog content to those “content creation” subtopics. The initial mapping may look something like this:

You may not be able to map each blog perfectly to the subtopic you’re covering in your pillar page, but that’s  OK. What’s important is that you’re providing readers with relevant content (where applicable) and that content, as you’ve seen in your Search Console data, is already proven to perform well with your organic search audience.

Pillar page planning templates and resources

Pillar pages take an incredible amount of time and planning to execute, but they are worth every penny.

Here’s an example of the success we saw after producing one of our more recent pillar pages, “How to Rank on Google:”

Growth of referring domains and links to the page since its launch in April 2022.

Here’s a template of the outline used to bring the page to life (and you can use it for your own pillar page). Just make a copy and off you go. Good luck!

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11 Free Email Hacks to Step Up Your Productivity

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11 Free Email Hacks to Step Up Your Productivity

If you’re anything like me, a solid portion of your day is sifting through your inbox, sending emails to junk, and responding to time-sensitive emails.

(mer …)

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Hur CTV kan leverera marknadsundersökningar för B2B-marknadsförare

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How CTV can deliver market research for B2B marketers

Connected TV (CTV) is the fastest-growing digital ad channel, as more TV watchers cancel cable subscriptions and turn to lower-priced or free a la carte streaming options they can watch on TVs, laptops and mobile devices. Many streamers are also potential B2B prospects, but not many B2B marketers are leveraging CTV for advertising.

“We believe connected TV advertising is undervalued, and there’s so much that digital, data-driven marketers can do with connected TV advertising that goes beyond the scope of any other ad channel,” said Hooman Javidan-Nejad, director of performance marketing for CTV advertising platform MNTN, at The MarTech Conference.

Varför vi bryr oss. Hit shows on streaming services get the credit for the CTV surge. But within these mass audiences there is data for targeting and segmentation. B2B marketers ahead of the curve have also experimented with streaming for delivering on-demand video content to prospects. 

Serving prospects ads on ad-supported Netflix, or managing your own video programming like a kind of B2B Netflix, is a much different experience than traditional whitepapers that recognize professionals’ changing media consumption and self-serve research habits.

CTV data. “Data-driven marketing has picked up in the last decade because the nature of all those digital channels are enabling you, and empowering you, to have access to the data and to act on it,” said Javidan-Nejad. “This is something that we never had for a TV — [traditional linear] TV advertising has always had limited or no reporting.”

Because of CTV’s digital infrastructure, ad campaigns on that channel have performance and measurement data that can be used as a market research tool.

“The beauty of approaching connected TV just like another digital channel is that you can apply the same targeting criteria you are applying today on LinkedIn, or on Facebook,” he added. “The insights that you’re getting from connected TV advertising can be applied to all the other channels, or the insights that you’re getting from the creative can be applied into the other channels.”

Dig deeper: Bringing your ABM strategy to CTV

Finding audiences on CTV. When advertising on CTV, B2B marketers should execute multiple campaigns, or target different audiences with a single campaign.

For example, a B2B marketer could run one campaign based on job titles, and another one based on firmographic criteria. You could also launch a retargeting campaign, based on first-party data acquired from those who have visited your website and shared their info.

“For each of these audiences, you will get audience segment reporting,” Javidan-Nejad explained. “So you will be able to see which of these audiences have performed better, which of these audiences had a better verified visit rate, and all the other metrics [to discover] which audiences are performing better. And then you can take those audience insights and apply them to the other channels.”

Matched audiences. B2B marketers can also use existing customers and prospects from their CRM and match them with a CTV adtech partner, in order to deliver CTV ads to those prospects when they’re watching streaming TV.

“This is the same audience that you’re using across all the other paid social channels,” said Javidan-Nejad. “The insights and learnings that you get from CTV can be extended and implemented across the other channels.”

Testing creative. Before committing a large budget on a robust TV campaign, B2B marketers can test different kinds of creative on CTV to determine what messages and visual cues stick with customers and prospects.

While every digital ad channel has its own sweet spot for what works in video ads, some of these insights about what works best on CTV can be applied to other channels.

“We are all familiar with A/B testing,” Javidan-Nejad said. “As digital marketers, we always try to leverage this feature or functionality across all the other digital channels. Now you’re able to do that for your TV advertising.”

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