What can I do for you as your digital marketer?

I started this blog for an introductory digital marketing class, and I have greatly enjoyed posting entries twice a week. The greatest piece of knowledge I am taking away from this class is the realization that I can combine the two areas that interest me to make a career. Digital marketing pulls from both sociology and business.

I started my college career as a sociology major, and after the realization that business was what I wanted to do with my life, I switched my major to Business Management. I know that the major you pick in college does not matter nearly as much as everyone makes it seem, but to me, it was a huge deal. Looking back, I am glad I switched- I have taken amazing courses. I probably would not have discovered how much I enjoy digital marketing (or even marketing!) without taking the basic MKGT 380 Principles of Marketing.

Sociology and digital marketing have intersections in the way that you want to get as many people to visit your company’s webpage as possible, and you do that by appealing to as many people as you possibly can. Like this article discusses, you want to look at the qualitative aspects of users visiting your site to attempt to anticipate their needs. But it really goes deeper than that according to Marcus Giesler: “The success or failure of any product, any industry, is largely a question of how these needs are culturally established and enacted.” By looking at what causes the customer to need or want the item, marketers can market the item in a way that will appeal to the most number of people.

Apple is a great example of this: Apple realized that people were not only interested in smart phones for the technology. People were interested in being seen as technologically-savvy consumers by society. Apple took this and ran with it, and is now one of the most well-known cell phone brands.

In my digital marketing class, we spent time discussing present digital marketing trends, companies who are succeeding at digital marketing, and how to use technology to see how successful a company’s digital marketing strategy is and ways to improve it. I have gotten certified in Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and (in the next week) Google AdWords! All these tools will help me see how successful a webpage is, and how to increase its success.

Long story short, this class has been better than almost every class I have ever taken at Western. As a digital marketer, I am able to run a social media campaign, how to check the success of a website, discover which version of a site is best (A/B testing!), and really, I have the ability to run my own marketing agency. The purpose to this class was to be able to exit college, and build a digital marketing company if that is something you want to do. Even though I am not ready to start my own company at this moment, I am excited about the opportunity to have a start-up in a year, or maybe in five years. Starting my own company is something I am interested in, but right now, I want to get more digital marketing experience before diving in to my own company.

I am graduating on June 13th, and currently job searching for a full-time position in the Seattle area (Bellingham maybe as well). I am particularly interested in a job in digital marketing, and also Human Resources. I am currently in the running for an HR internship at a company called Eagleview Technologies located in Bothell (my hometown!). Eagleview does all kinds of cool stuff with imaging.  After the internship, I am hoping to find a full-time non-temporary position. In the next 4-6 years, I am looking forward to going back to school to get my MBA.

Here are the overall statistics for my blog over the last three months:

  • Total words written: 12,555.
  • Total traffic achieved: 55 Views this year from 24 visitors
  • Most popular post: Creating Remarkable Content (8 views).
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The Importance of Mobile Marketing

What are some important differences between mobile search and desktop search that marketers should understand and consider?

Mobile users account for a large amount of traffic throughout the web. In May of 2013 (2 years ago!) mobile accounted for 15% of global internet traffic. That’s huge, especially considering that the trendline that accompanied that statistic continues upwards. Today in June 2015, I think we could guess that mobile accounts for almost 30% of global internet traffic. Though the graph below compares mobile traffic data in terms of exabytes per month instead of percent of internet traffic on mobile devices, you can still see how the trend will continue. The graph is from this article published in February 2015.)

Mobile is growing, and there is no way anybody can say otherwise. Personally, I can often be seen sitting on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table in front of me with a paper half written, and my smart phone or tablet in my hand browsing Facebook which happens to be the most popular mobile application in the United States. Applications on smart phones account for 85% of internet time spent on phones in 2013.

One company who has done a fantastic job creating an application that users frequently use is Starbucks Coffee. By integrating their app and rewards program, Starbucks keeps users engaged, and continuously thinking about their product. While writing this post on my laptop computer, I looked up Starbucks in hopes of finding their website. I have never gone on it, even though I love getting an iced tea there once or twice a week. I do however, go on their app multiple times a week. It keeps me engaged, and incentives me to make conversions (buy a drink!) more frequently.

Most recently, Starbucks started allowing customers to pre-order drinks using their app. For example, find what you want, place order, pay though the app, and then pick it up as you normally would at the counter as if you had stood in line and ordered it. It’s a really cool idea, especially since I (and other users I’m sure) are deterred occasionally by the long line in the morning or on a sunny afternoon.

After a few weeks of the new pre-order option being available, Starbucks offered 6 Reward points (Stars!) if you try pre-ordering a drink (in addition to the 1 you get just for buying a drink!). Usually, you get 1 Star per drink ordered, and every 12 you get a free drink. This majorly incentivized me to try pre-ordering so I could earn 1/2 a free drink. Additionally, in order to stay in the rewards program, Starbucks requires that you earn 30 Stars per year. In other words, you have to spend about $120 at Starbucks yearly ($4 x 30 drinks per year). By just pre-ordering 1 drink, I am able to get 7  steps closer to staying in the program, and get 1/2 way to a free drink. Of course I tried it! I am positive this campaign allowed Starbucks to get more users interested in pre-ordering drinks. Without their mobile app, non of this would have been possible.

There is a difference between the types of people who use Android Phones and who use iPhone. The average user age for both platforms is 40, but the average income is $85,000 for iOS users, and $61,000 for Android. It is interesting to see that app usage is higher on iPhones, though users have fewer apps than Android users. Additionally, it seems that most iPhone users are generally white collar, while more Android users are typically blue collar. All of these details (average income, type of worker, app usage) effect how each phone is used. 

Android and iPhone users use their phones in different ways: iPhone users consume media (news, weather, social media) more than Android users, and Android users spend more time on search and email. Additionally, search and news have greater reach on desktop than on mobile. It is not surprising to me that maps, instant messaging, and radio are used more on mobile. Marketers need to keep in mind the difference between mobile search and desktop search while perfecting their site online.

There are two ways a site can be seen on a mobile device: responsive and separate sites. When choosing between a responsive and separate site, it is important to consider if you want the content on your site to be the same of different on mobile.What goals do you have for your mobile site? Sell things? Get your name out there? You need to decide, and make your choice on content based on that choice. From there, decide on the technology: should you use a responsive or separate site for mobile?

A responsive site will realize if a user is on a mobile device, and load so that the site looks good on a smaller screen. Responsive sites will have the same content on both the desktop and mobile version. Separate sites are self-explanatory: different content that will look different on a mobile device. In general, it sounds like responsive sites are better, but it is a personal (company?) choice based on the content, and the technology of the site.

Why coding should be part of every DigiMark’s toolbox

Coding is used to “create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your OS, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and this website – they’re all made with code.” Over Memorial Day weekend, I took some time and played around with CodeCademy and taught myself coding basics.

HTML

The way I see it, knowing coding basics as a digital marketer can only help a career. For example, while working on copy or posting something on the company website, what if I noticed something small was out of place or formatted incorrectly? Well, if I didn’t know coding, then I would have to find the person who could fix it, show him the problem, and ask him to (pretty please!) fix the problem. If I did know how to code, I could fix the problem in under a minute. How long do you think the former scenario would take? I would guess more than a minute! Knowing coding will save a lot of minutes throughout a digital marketers career, and when an employer hears you can code, they will realize this, and hire you! Long story short? Learn to code!

There are three options to learn how to code. The first is to go to a university! Western Washington University offers a Computer Science major which would cost (instate) around $93,o00 total over the four years it would take to earn your degree (which includes books, tuition, fees, transportation, and even personal costs). Behind Door #2 is a coding boot camp!

Coding boot camp consists of about 3 months of intensive schooling in a non-school environment.  The article I read on the subject described a basement in Boston that hosted coders-to-be. These people would be in the basement from 9am-5:30pm and then go home and do coding homework! It’s intense, but you walk away with coding skills and examples of the work you did to show potential employers. No job guaranteed, but boot camp will help you if you aren’t having any luck with a liberal arts degree, or no degree at all. Cost? Depends where you live, but around $11,000 to $18,000.

start
CodeCatemy! Let the games begin… (1:43pm)

The first two options are both fairly expensive, but they certainly get the job done and look good to employers. At a university, you get a degree saying you completed the coursework, and at boot camp you get hands on experience and deliverables to show employers. Option three is teaching yourself online using Khan Academy or CodeCademy. Personally, I taught myself using CodeCademy. The benefits to CodeCademy are obvious. It is free, and super easy to use!

stop number 1
This was the point I got frustrated during. I had set up the problem wrong! I took a few days off from CodeCadey after putting in one hour of studying.
half way done
CodeCademy: Day 2! Let’s go!

I spent two hours on CodeCademy prior to writing this blog to ensure that I could give an accurate review on their service. I breezed through the first hour, but then I got stuck on something that should have been easy. CodeCademy walks you though each part of learning code, and even provides help on certain sections it deems more difficult. Unfortunately for me, I got stuck on something that should have been easy: there was no help button! (I cheated a little to get out of the mess: I looked at a YouTube video, and as it turned out, my previous submission was the one that had gotten messed up. The site took it and said it was correct even though it wasn’t!)

end after 2 hours
16% done with the course after 2 hours!

After two hours of working I managed to get about 16% of the way through the course. A little slow, but with the frustrations mid-way through I figure it is a respectable amount completed. I am interested in finishing the course, but unfortunately, it will have to wait another night. My experience with CodeCademy was fantastic overall. I’m good with computers, but I never thought I’d be able to code (or even want to learn how!). Here I am, two hours into my Code-ucation (coding education!) and loving it. If I can do, you can.

square space
“About Me” section of my eCommerce page.

In addition to playing around with CodeCademy, I also spent some time on Square Space designing an eCommerce webpage. I had created a website before using Weebley, and the experience was similar using Square Space. Square Space is a content management system, that I found to be more complicated to use than CodeCademy. Check out my eCommerce page I created using Square Space. (Hopefully the link works- it’s possible I need to upgrade prior to the page being public.)

What I liked about CodeCademy was the stepbystep instructions that walked me through how to make the page look good. Square Space let me do my own thing, without a walk-through. It had some examples on the page, but mostly, I had to fend for myself! Because of this, I preffered my experience with CodeCademy over Square Space.

Automating Ads in New Places

These days programmatic and native marketing are paving the way for digital marketers and creating quite a buzz in the community. Both programmatic and native advertising are trying to put the right ad, in the right place, for the right people. Let’s talk native marketing first. There’s a podcast creator called Gimlet Media that got in a tough spot with their audiences by accidentally using the story of a 9 year old in an advertisement without his (or his moms) knowing.

How would you feel if you thought you were being interviewed for a popular, respected, and interesting radio show but as it turns out, you were just being used in an ad? This happened to a nine year old because the person contacting him and him mom mentioned she was calling on behalf of a former producer of This American Life, and forgot to also explain that they were contacting him for an ad. This exact situation was something Gimlet Media had to deal with after they published their first podcast called Reply All, and put a story of a 9 year old (Riley) talking about his website in as an ad for the website building platform.

Gimlet Media

Gimlet Media advertises similarly to how their podcast sound. The host does the talking, and people are interviewed, and it sounds just like the podcast does. This is called Native Adverising: advertising that matches the form and function of the platform it is on, and is similar to the content the platform provides. This is sometimes confusing to users, and Gimlet Media wanted to be as transparent as possible. Instead of blending together their content and the ad content, they put all the ads for the entire season the same background music to make it obvious when they were discussing sponsored content.

The situation for Gimlet Media was a social media fiasco stemming from the first episode of their first Podcast. First, the miscommunication between the Riley’s (the 9 year old) mom and a Gimlet Media producer which led the mom to believe her son was to be featured on This American Life. “I work for This American Life’s Alex Bloomberg” is what the producer said. What she should have followed up with was, “I’m doing an ad for a podcast, and we would like to feature your sons story!” Sadly, this didn’t happen. The lack of communication of what the conversation would be used for sparked Riley’s mom to head to Twitter and sound off about how mad she was with the situation. Luckily, after a few months of this, Alex Bloomberg and Riley’s mom had a conversation about the situation, Bloomburg apologized profusely, and the apology was accepted.

An example of native advertising!

Native advertising is tricky because it can easily be confused with editorial content. I know when I read the Seattle Times website or another reputable (from my point of view) news site I am not en-guard for potential ads when looking at a news site, but now in 2015, that may be something to watch out for. According to this article, native advertising will not be overtaking traditional advertising quite yet, but it could do so later this year, or maybe next year. My question is will native advertising be confined to online only publications, or will I need to keep a keen eye out for “sponsored article” when I read the newspaper? Judging from the snapshot from Washington Post, looks like we can expect to see this more and more.

There was a native advertisement published by the New York Times online website for Shell (their first native ad ever!). I’m unsure if the original form of the ad looked the way it did for me when I found it, but I was pleasantly surprised how obvious it was that it was an advertisement. For starters, in the URL, the first part read “paidpost.” Second, at the top center of the page, it had the New York Times logo, and just below that it read, “paid post” with the Shell logo (this went away the second time I visited the page). The ad itself was different from other articles on the NYT page because of the cool graphics integrated with the article and the abundance of pictures. Take a look- I think you’ll agree the ad is different from editorial articles.

According to Peter Naylor, former evp at NBCUniversal, “programmatic marketing “is a catchall term that many people are using to categorize everything from behavioral and intent-based targeting to real-time bidding and exchange-based buying of inventory.” A newer, better version of an advertising mousetrap.

From what I gather, Programmatic means automating the buying, placement, and optimization of advertisements. Programmatic marketing is replacing the job humans used to have to do, and decreases the cost of labor for companies. It is also more efficient, and is able to provide a granulated view of customers, rather than one or two general personas. Ads are placed based on consumers past behavior online. For example, if you were recently looking at buying an iPad, you may see an ad for something similar! Similarly to AdWords, companies will bid on viewers for their ads, and whoever bids the highest, will get the viewers to see their ad.

Google Adwords Exam! All about AdWords

I am currently in the process of studying for the Google AdWords fundamentals exam that I will take in the next few weeks. On May 4th, the exam changed completely. The biggest (and most disappointing) change, is that the certification is valid for only one year (which sucks compared to the two years it was valid for two weeks ago). The good news is I will be able to keep up to date on all things AdWords by studying for the exam yearly, and retaking the exam. This will be great to help my company or clients with all their AdWord needs.

Google AdWords gives businesses the option to put an ad at the top of search results whenever a Google user searches for a particular keyword. It can target the users who are searching for similar words, and the user will see a small ad at the top of the search results or ads along the side bar. The ads are always clearly labeled, and are relevant to what the searcher wants to find.

The most interesting thing about Google Adwords is how many people trust it. In reading peoples testimonials on the Google AdWords site and other sources, I noticed how many customers swear by the product. One person said her company put 90% of their advertising budget towards Google AdWords because it works so well for them. Many businesses rely on Google AdWords to make online sales, but my favorite success story I read was about a new restaurant owner and how he was able to get his restaurant’s name out using AdWords.

The restaurant owner choose to use AdWords because he could target ads at people who were looking for a restaurant. Compared to a magazine where people would probably just skim over the information, AdWords can show his ad when users WANT to hear about restaurants in the area. This offers the possibility of a higher return on his advertising costs, and in the food industry, this is particularly important because of their low profit margin. The owner’s favorite thing about AdWords is that once he set it up, he only checks it every few weeks to edit the keywords, adjust the budget, and check how his ads are performing.

As your AdWords guru, I would be able to make your company more well known, and increase the traffic to your site. Though only about 30% of users click on the AdWord ad, 100% will see it if it lands on the top of their search. After glancing over your ad, a quick recognition of the company name, and the user might continue down the list and click on one of the organic results. Even though your company didn’t get the click, your company still gets the eyes on the ad, and recognition of your company name.

You got 70%; now to get that other 30%

As explained in my last blog post about search engine optimization (SEO), 70% of people click on an organic search result, and 30% of people click on a paid link. These are differentiated on Google by where each result is displayed. The results at the top of the screen, and to the right of the page are usually ads, and are denoted by a small “Ad” indicator (as shown below), or an orange “Ad” button to the right of each ad’s title. In the picture above, the advertised results are highlighted in red. I’ve noticed that the way the ads are denoted have changed over the years, but if you Google “Shoes” right now, you will see the orange “Ad” button.

Let’s pretend you are a business that wants to have an ad on Google’s search results pages. First, you would need to get a Google Adwords account, and determine a budget for the campaign. Google will let you set a max amount of money you want to spend on your campaign, and ensure they don’t charge you more than that. Adwords uses a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model, which means your ad could show a million times and let’s say that only one person clicked on it. That means you are only paying for that single click. How much are you paying? That depends on how much you bid for each keyword.

For each keyword that a user wants to have their ad shown on, Adwords users can bid a certain amount of money for the top, center spot. Let’s say the top bidder bids $5 per click. The other bidders bid $2.50, $2.20, $1.80, and $1.25.  Now, the person who bid the least amount ($1.25) receives the least coveted ad spot- the lowest on the right hand column for the amount they bid ($1.25). The rest of the bidders get charged less than they bid per click, at an incremental dollar value higher than the lowest bidder. Let’s say that incremental value is $0.25. The five bidders in order would be charged $1.25, $1.50, $1.75, $2.00, and $2.25. The highest bidder bid $2.50 and will be charged $2.25 per click based on the demand of the keyword chose.

The placement of your ad does not depend only on the amount a user bids. It also depends on the quality score of your ad. Quality scores are based on how relevant your ad is to the keyword, the quality of the landing page, and whether people click on your ad when they search for a keyword. or example, if I searched for the keyword, “hotel” an ad for shoes would most likely not show up. Google wants to create a fantastic user experience, and wants the ads they show to be relevant to what their users are searching for. Google is monetarily incentiveized for user to click on ads they show. In a PPC model, they only generate revenue when someone clicks on an ad, and users are much more likely to click when it is a relevant ad.  According to the Adwords Fundamentals Binder, “You’ll always pay the lowest amount possible for the best position you can get given your Quality Score and bid” so think of your bid as the maximum amount you want to pay per click, and focus on creating the best ad and keywords possible.

One company, Powerenz, has had success using SEM to increase their online retail sales. As a startup, it is hard to get your name out there, and to reach the first page of the organic search results. Using SEM, Powerenz was able to become known to potential consumers, and increased their rank on organic search results.

Remember how 70% of users click on the organic search results, and only 30% click on the sponsored ads? It is important to remember this, and employ a combination of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) in your marketing mix. Organic search results (which are effected by SEO) vary day-by-day, and are hard to control. One day, a site could be the number one result when a certain keyword is searched, and the next it could be below the fold…. Or worse, on page two of the search results! Using SEM will cover this situation, and ensure that your site is linked somewhere on the first page, even if it does show up as an ad.

The best times, will be when your page is number one of the organic search results, and on the page as an ad as well. This increases visibility, increases click-through, and increases conversions.

The worst times, will be when a competitor is show two times on the first search results page, and you are nowhere to be seen. Avoid these bad times by using both SEM and SEO strategies, and the best of times will be right around the corner.

How to SEO your site

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way to get your site high on the list of search results when someone Googles or Bings or uses another search engine to look up a keyword. Did you know that the top 4 rankings get (almost) all the clicks? It’s true, and your company needs to optimize your site to ensure you are one of those top 4 for keywords specific to your business.

When choosing keywords, it is important to find the ones that customers are using to search for your site. There is a difference between what a business thinks their keywords are, and what consumers think the company’s keywords are.

The goal of SEO is to grow the “visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results” (according to Moz).  SEO can help you find the keywords that generate traffic to your website, make your site friendly to search engines, and  build links andmarket the unique value of your site. Doing the right SEO things can increase your visibility on search engines, but taking the wrong moves and decrease your visibility and bury you at on page 9 of a Google search. 

Google searches through millions of websites (called “crawling!”), and indexes the results for themselves so they are ready for when a user Googles a word or phrase.  There are hundreds of variables that go into deciding which page is most relevant and popular for each search, and SEO can help site owners sort through those variables. The most important SEO practices, is to avoid setting your page up so it is only search engine accessible. Focus on your customer, and make your website ideal for any human user; not some computer. That being said, it is important to make your website easy for both humans and search engines to understand.

Search engines are not perfect, they aren’t good at completing online forums so many pieces of information that are hiding being login pages, or other forums might not show up on a search. Make information accessible whenever possible to ensure the search engine can reach it.

Google’s rankings change daily, which means SEO needs to be a continual process, and not just something you do once. There are a few best practices you should do with your site to get noticed on search engines. First, make sure all pages on your site are linked together. There should not be any page on your site that is only accessible through a search box, or else, a search engine would not be able to find it. Second, create good URLs that describe what the page is about.

Bad example: http://www.example.com/dksjflaewkhr32.

Good example: http://www.example.com/how-to-write-a-good-URL.

Third, hire Moz to see how you are doing with search engines. Moz will fudge a ranking for you, and tell you where you can improve.

Moz, a company that specializes in SEO, is ranked #3 midsize company to work for in 2013. What makes moz so great? The fact that they give you 39 sick days a year, contribute to your vacation, charitable match program of 150%, and the list goes on. Moz treats their employees amazingly, but they also provide an amazing service. They offer subscriptions to users to help improve their inbound marketing, and marketing analytics software. It is possible to DIY SEO, but you will want to to a lot of research to ensure you don’t go backwards! What I like best about Moz is their commitment to teaching people like me about SEO, and Link Building as part of their inbound strategy.

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link users back to your website. At the beginning of my last sentence, I provided a link to Moz’s Link Building guide, which is an example of link building. “Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own” according to Moz. Search engines use links to discover new webpages, and to determine how a page should rank in search results. Creating good links is one of the most important, and difficult jobs of SEOs. If you can build links well, you are going to be able to succeed in SEO. Ideally, links should lead to a sites homepage, awesome content, or contain your brand / company name or other keywords. After you create content for your site, you build the links to get customers there.

One company that has had success using SEO is Meridian Financial Advisers (a small fee-only financial adviser in Massachusetts). Before Meridian optimized their site, they were receiving 128 visits per month. After optimizing, the monthly traffic visits increased by 128% to 343 visits per month, and kept growing after that. In general, when using SEO, users should try to target niche keywords, but what Meridian did was target geographical keywords since they didn’t want to promote a particular service area niche. The company was successful, and was able to grow its business and its website using SEO.

70% of users on Google will click on an organic result over a paid result. It’s important to optimize your site so that you have the chance to introduce users to your site. The other 30% of users will click on a paid-ad.

Like SEO, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is using search engines to advertise your site. You can expect to learn more about SEM in my next blog on Wednesday.