Top Marketing Posts from 2018

It is getting to that point in the year where we like to take a look back and take stock of how we did. In that spirit, we took a look at those blog posts and articles that were most popular with our readers in 2018. Below are the top 7 posts according to number of readers, in case you may have missed any of them:

  1. 5 Simple Steps to Effective Email Personalization

  2. What is the Paradox of Choice?

  3. 25 Cognitive Biases Marketers Can Use to their Advantage

  4. 7 Ways to Make Your Business More Competitive Today

  5. Google’s Mobile-First Indexing and How It Impacts SEO

  6. How SEO and SEM Work Together

  7. Why You Should Send Your Next Promotion Email at Midnight

Thanks for reading!

Adopt a Growth Mindset for 2019

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For this topic, I can think of nowhere better to start than with a story I recently learned. The following comes from Avinash Kaushnik, via his excellent Marketing <> Analytics Intersect Newsletter (subscribe here):

One day a group of Google engineers walked into Larry Page, co-founder of Google and current CEO of Alphabet. The group wanted to show off their latest idea.

“It’s a time machine,” they told him.

The thing they brought in was roughly the size of a small refrigerator, about one foot wide, with a sleek metallic exterior. One of the engineers looked for a place to plug it in.

“Why does it need electricity?” Larry asked.

What I love about this story is how well it illustrates Larry Page’s mindset. He wasn’t thrown by the fact that his team was working on a time machine. What he wanted to know was why they hadn’t created a time machine that ran without electricity.

And although you are not likely to be working on anything quite so ambitious, it is the mindset that all of can set out to adopt.

What is a Growth Mindset?

Growth mindset is a psychology term coined by Carol Dweck to describe the difference in outlook between groups of people. Those with a growth mindset see things as changeable over time, whereas those with a fixed mindset believe in the inherent nature of things.

When we apply that concept to our businesses, one can see how Larry Page’s mindset might be different from other people. He wants his team to push the limits on what they think is possible. He wants them to ask “why not?” rather than “why?”

A growth mindset is critical for success as a marketer, because growth is our responsibility.

How to Adopt a Growth Mindset for 2019

The business as usual approach would say you should measure your growth in 2018 and forecast 2019 accordingly. Perhaps your revenue grew 5% this year. Okay, so let’s aim for another 5% next year. If the business grows 5% every year, things are pretty good. Right?

Enough with the business as usual approach. If your business grew 5% last year, the Larry Page mindset would ask, “why not 50%?”

And yes, 50% growth might seem unreasonable. But it’s not as crazy as you might think. Because if you aim for 50%, while you might not get there, you might get somewhere closer to 20% or 30%.

So force yourself to be unreasonable. Setting unreasonable goals forces you to adopt a growth mindset. If forces you to think about your business in new ways. And only when we think about things in this way will we be able to see the strategies and opportunities available that we might otherwise miss.

Business as usual is boring. Don’t be boring.

The Future of Search Might Destroy Your Business

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What is the future of search? If you ask 20 people you might get 20 answers.

The truth is that the future of search will depend on a number of different factors.

  1. Technological change – what is possible?

  2. Business investment – what do they build?

  3. Consumer behavior – what do we like?

More and more, it is looking like Voice Search will be a big part of the future of search.

What is Voice Search?

That may seem like a silly question to some. Voice search is exactly what it sounds like, searching with your voice.

What started as a convenient option for mobile Googlers has taken on added significance thanks to the rise of personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. Google tells us that as of 2017, 20% of all searches done on mobile devices are voice searches. That is a significant number of searches. And it’s growing every month.

But where voice searches done on Google still lead a user to a search engine results page (a SERP), new voice search tools have eliminated the SERP entirely. For devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Homepod, the entirety of the interaction is spoken and heard. Gartner predicts that nearly 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020.

And therein lies the potential issue for many companies.

Will Voice Search Destroy Your Business?

When searches occur entirely via a conversation with virtual assistants, the first result is often the only one that matters.

While users are given the ability to set preferences for certain types of searches or commands, the majority of these voice searches will return one result. And if that result is not for your company, too bad.

If the prospect of a voice search world scares you, you are not alone. Rather than bury your head in the sand or hope the future never comes, there are things you can do now to prepare for this inevitability.

There are tools and tips out there to begin optimizing for voice search today.

Are You Paying for Traffic You Might Get for Free?

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As a consumer, free is the best price. As a marketer, free traffic is the best kind of traffic.

We spend millions of dollars to get people to come to our website with the hopes that some of them will turn into paying customers. But often, the people that get to our website via other channels (free channels, for the most part) are “higher quality” leads.

They come in through organic search results, or links from social media, or directly based on the recommendation of a friend or colleague. And because they took the impetus, they are often highly motivated.

Sometimes, if we take the time to look, we end up spending our money to get some of these folks to come to our website, even though they would have come on their own otherwise. And while that might not necessarily make them less likely to convert, it does cost us money that we’d be better off saving, or investing elsewhere.

Where Are You Spending Money Unnecessarily?

The most common place we encounter this problem is on search engines, where companies spend money to target certain keyword phrases, with the goal of getting searchers to click on an ad at the top of the SERP.

What most marketers fail to do is take their organic search rankings into account when deciding how to spend their money. For example, if you are already showing up in the first organic position on Google, do you really need to spend the money it takes to display your ad there?

We know the value of the top position on Google. And if you’re already successful at winning traffic on that keyword, why spend any money at all?

But Google is not the only place this happens. Companies spend countless ad dollars on banners, social media, billboards, television and radio that gets wasted on people who have already made their decision to purchase from you or not. In some of the more traditional channels, this is hard to avoid. But online, it’s not.

Gain a Deeper Understanding of Your Traffic

The key to spending your money intelligently is to treat your marketing efforts more strategically. Each channel, each source, each campaign or effort or idea is just one part of the larger plan. Instead of putting them in siloes and assigning them to different teams, we must bring our teams together and approach the roles and responsibilities more holistically.

SEM and SEO must be on the same page, so they don’t duplicate efforts and cancel each other out. Sales and marketing need to come together to make sure they’re not stepping on each other’s toes and sending the consumer mixed messages. The email team, or the social media team, should not be targeting introductory offers to existing customers.

Stop spending money advertising to people you don’t need to. If you can figure out how to do that, you will suddenly free up a ton of cash you can put toward more effective means. And you will make your boss very happy.

There Are an Infinite Number of A/B Tests You Can Run

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So much of your efforts in conversion rate optimization should be centered around running controlled experiments. And the most popular of those is the A/B test, wherein you show one half of your website visitors the current version of a page or element, and the other half a new version of that same page or element, in order to see which version performs best.

And in the lifecycle of website testing, there is no end. Each and every test that you run will open up the possibility to run several more. Each and every result that you produce will lead you to new learnings about your website, your audience, and the conversion process. And with those new learnings come new ideas and new solutions.

There are an infinite number of A/B tests that you can run. And so your job, in this realm, is never over.

You must recognize that small changes can have large impacts. You don’t need to overhaul an entire page to dramatically raise conversion rates. Sometimes something as small as the color of a button, or the phrasing of a headline can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce.

Did adding a call to action to the page lift the conversion rate? Great. But is that the best call to action? The only way to know is to continue to test.

Did showing the price on your product page lift the conversion rate? Great. But is there a better way to highlight it that would drive even more sales? The only way to know is to continue to test.

Punctuation, font size, image choice, color, words, actions, navigation options, social proof, and more. They can all be tested. They can all be added or removed. And they can all be given different design treatments.

A website or webpage is never perfect. The only way to know whether or not you can improve its’ performance is to keep testing.