Increasing Clicks and CTR on Banner Ads Using Trust Symbols in Your Ad Creative

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If you’ve run prospecting banner ads on Google Display Network or a similar network, you know they sometimes can feel like a shot in the dark. They don’t have the ad copy and social proof that accompanies social ads, nor the user intent of a keyword search that triggers a paid search ad. Even if you’ve got the audience targeting down pat (we recommend testing custom intent audiences) it can be hard to know for sure if your messaging is resonating with your audiences. 

So, knowing that your prospecting audience has likely never heard of your brand before, how do you fit everything you want to say in a banner ad?

The best place to start is highlighting the unique selling proposition (USP) of your product. And one easy and visually appealing way to do that is by featuring trust symbols in your ad. 

A trust symbol is just what it sounds like—something that increases your brand’s credibility and user trust. Think of the Better Business Bureau seal on a website, the “As Seen on TV” stamp on that funny product you picked up at the drugstore, or the “Voted Best Restaurant” sign in your favorite downtown Thai place.  

The best trust symbol for your ads is something that’s recognizable and important to your consumer. For a lifestyle brand, that may be a Benefit Corporation, Fair Trade or Women-Owned certification, or something similar that will entice socially conscious consumers to click. 

If you’re part of a partnership such as 1% For The Planet, including this logo on your ads is also a fantastic way to increase user trust. Including a 1% logo on banner ads for one of our clients increased the campaign’s click-through rates to 1%+ as opposed to the 0.20% - 0.40% we’d typically been seeing. 

If you don’t have any trust symbols to feature (yet!), another great tactic is to feature awards received, press mention quotes or customer reviews as the ad copy in your banner ad, which will also increase trust by showing that your product has loyal fans and pleased critics. 

These tactics will all go a long way to brag about your brand in a way that encourages viewers to take that coveted next step—clicking through and visiting your website. 

(While you’re at it, it’s great to feature all of these trust symbols on your website as well!)

So, when in doubt with your banner ads, test the placement of a trust symbol, from a certification to a customer review. It’s the quickest way we’ve seen recently to increase the click-through rate generated from a prospecting audience. 

Wondering what other creative best practices to follow or audiences to target with your banner ads? Book a free consultation with us today by emailing hello@makadigital.com.

7 Long-Term Strategies to Grow Your Social Media Follower Count

Growing Social Media Followers

It’s top-of-mind for every DTC brand—how do we grow our social media presence to outpace competitors while still giving viewers an authentic brand picture that inspires them to purchase? It’s a big question, and if you’re expecting your brand’s social media to work hard for you, then you need to work hard on your strategy. Here are 7 actionable, long-term strategies to grow your social media follower count while maintaining an authentic brand voice (no spammy, free followers included).

  1. Post high-quality and valuable content. Goes without saying, but you won’t get very many followers if every Instagram picture is just your product or offer with an aggressive appeal to buy, buy, buy. Take the time to post content that’s valuable for your followers, whether that’s recipes, tips, customer profiles, etc. Stasher Bags (yes, we do in fact name-drop our clients) is one great example of this. 

  2. Focus on a few platforms and slowly expand out. It’s easy to run yourself ragged by posting on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. multiple times a day… Focus on two or so that are the best match for your brand and core consumer, and move out once you’ve gotten a solid fanbase and posting strategy for these.

  3. Post during the days and times that your viewers are most active. This depends on the platform you’re using and the demographics of your core audience. We’ve found Thursdays and Fridays to work well for most of our own clients. This article from Hootsuite goes into more detail on the best times for different platforms, and your Facebook and Instagram Analytics should provide more detail on your own profile trends. On Instagram, for example, if your post gets a lot of engagement in the first few hours of being posted, Instagram will typically favor it and expand its reach.

  4. Use relevant hashtags. This is also especially relevant for Instagram. Take the time to research popular hashtags in your niche and apply them to your posts. Don’t spam with a bazillion hashtags, though, and don’t use non-relevant hashtags just to try to gain traction. Additionally, it’s good practice to choose a personalized hashtag for your brand (just make sure it’s not already being used or doesn’t have any negative connotations) and apply it to your posts, and after a while of posting with this hashtag you’ll build up a library of content, which is worthwhile for branding.

  5. Provide incentives for following. If your company exists as a brick-and-mortar (such as a clothing brand) you can offer an one-time discount or reward in exchange for a follow on your platform of choice. You can also offer customers rewards or recognition for tagging your brand in their posts.

  6. Consider a partner giveaway. If you’re friends with related brands or services, see if they’d be willing to partner in a social media giveaway. Viewers can enter the giveaway by following all of the participating brands, or commenting/tagging friends, etc. Just be sure to clarify that Instagram/Facebook, etc. is not affiliated with the giveaway (more rules here) and know that there can sometimes be a follower drop-off of people who follow you just for the giveaway and then unfollow you.

  7. Take advantage of trends. Maybe you’re an organic food brand who can make a post relating to that ubiquitous Instagram egg. Maybe you’re a clothing brand who can demonstrate how to create a Halloween costume of Eleven from Stranger Things. Take advantage of trending topics, especially those that are relevant to your core audience. 

These are the best strategies, in our opinion, to connect to your social media audience and grow your followers sustainably. In order to convert these followers to purchasers, a fast next step is paid social ads, which, when paired with a strong organic strategy, can take your brand’s social media to the next level. That’s where we come in. *Drops confetti* If you have more questions, book a free consultation with us at hello@makadigital.com. We’re happy to chat through questions big and small.  

*This blog post was originally posted on Quora by MAKA Digital team members.

Should My Business Be on Pinterest?

Here’s How Your Brand Can Use Pinterest for Business in 2019

Optimizing Your Pinterest Business Profile

Your brand is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Your social and creative teams are already run ragged trying to create quality content for these platforms, not to mention for your own website and retailers. Should you really commit to another social media platform? 

The answer to this question is almost certainly yes. To be sure, though, we have a question for you. Who’s your core demographic?

If you answered with millennials, then we can confirm that you should, absolutely, be posting on Pinterest, as it reaches 42 million millennials, not to mention 46 million women ages 25 to 54. “But wait!” you say. “What if my core demographic is men?” It’s still a good idea to post on Pinterest, given that there was a 50% increase in men on the platform in 2018, according to Pinterest itself.

So let’s assume that you’re reasonably convinced and ready to dive into this platform. Where do you start? 

If you haven’t already, make sure your profile is fleshed out with information about your store or brand. Then, create boards highlighting topics your core consumer is likely to be interested in, such as meal prepping or fall fashion. Fill these with both your own pins and other related pins, so that you’re providing value to your viewers. Most people come to Pinterest to get ideas or use it as a search engine, so keep that in mind when creating and gathering content.

If you’re wondering what your own pins should look like, some best creative practices include featuring a person using the product, helping viewers picture the product in their own lives (i.e. showing it in context), or aligning with specific events such as Halloween. It’s usually best to include your logo in the pin and the brand name in the first few words of the description. Pinterest has some great tutorial videos that go more into depth on this topic.

If you want a dose of creative inspiration, Pinterest has a great studio gallery of example pins.

Next, use hashtags in your pin descriptions to help people better find your pins—as with most instances of hashtags, though, less is more. Keep it to just a few.

Applying for rich pins is another step you can take to give your pin more real estate by attaching recipe or product details to your pin.

With quality content your audience should grow, and with this, constantly test your pins—colors, fonts, content type, etc—to see what drives the best engagement.

At this point, if you have a few dollars to put into Pinterest marketing, and you’ve learned what delivers the best results, it would be smart to begin promoting your Pins. Budgets on promoted pins are customizable, and will allow your pins to reach a higher volume of people in the places they’re most likely to click, such as within interest and keyword targeting that matches your niche.

Bonus: Do you advertise on Amazon or Google Ads? You can use keyword insights from both to influence the keywords you target with your promoted Pinterest pins.

In sum:

  1. Provide value to your audience through relevant boards

  2. Test, test, and again test your own pin content

  3. If budget allows, promoted pins will increase audience reach

Hey, that’s a lot easier than you thought, isn’t it? *Sigh of relief*

If you still have questions, want to know more about promoting your pins, or are feeling overwhelmed by your entire paid social strategy,  book a free consultation with us at hello@makadigital.com. We’re happy to chat through questions big and small.  

*This blog post was originally posted on Quora by MAKA Digital team members.

Why Does Facebook Consider My Ad Political?

Facebook+Political+Ads

In the wake of user privacy concerns and the discovery of Russian-linked campaigns spreading misinformation, Facebook has been under pressure to tighten advertising capabilities and screen those who advertise. At first glance that sounds reasonable enough, right? Well… this is where it gets tricky. Facebook has taken a very, very broad view of what it deems political, creating an umbrella category for all “issues of national importance.” This can include things as vague as “education,” “health,” “environment,” and “values.” (We can’t make this stuff up. See more here.)

This directly affects many of our clients who are Benefit Corporations or in the sustainability space, and it may affect you too, if your ads ever include things like vitamins for kids, the plastic-free movement, or Earth Day. 

Once you’ve picked your jaw back up off the floor, you might be wondering, “What happens if Facebook deems one of my ads political?” 

Below we’ve laid out the steps you’ll need to take and factors to consider if Facebook flags your ads.

  • To run political ads at least one member of your team needs to become “politically authorized”. With this process Facebook essentially wants to verify your identity, and will ask for your ID or social security number and home address to do so. (Way to fight privacy concerns by taking more of our data, Facebook). 

    • To become authorized, you’ll need to be a Page Admin and have two-factor verification set up on your account.

    • It’s also worth noting that unauthorized members of your team cannot build political ads or even make edits to them after they’ve been created. 

  • Once you’ve become authorized, you’ll need to link that authorization to your ad account by going to Settings > Authorizations > Link Your Ad Accounts. 

    • More information on this entire process can be found here.

  • Now you’re ready to run political ads. When you build a new campaign, you’ll see a new box at the ad level that asks you to check a box if you believe your ad is political. If you check this, a “Paid for by [your brand name]” tagline will appear at the bottom of your ad, even on placements like Instagram Stories. 

  • You can either add this political disclaimer during the creation of the ad, or publish without and let Facebook make the determination in the review queue. If they do deem it political, the ad will be disapproved with a message saying, “We’ve determined that this ad needs your political disclaimer to run.” The disclaimer will need to be added and the ad run through review again.

  • Political ads often take longer (occasionally as long as 48 hours) to go through Facebook’s review.

  • A limitation to political ads is not being able to apply automated rules for bids, and not being able to run them in certain placements like Audience Network, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Otherwise, we haven’t seen any delivery changes with political ads.

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So, now you’re prepped and ready to enter the world of Facebook political ads. Our last piece of advice is to do so with a glass (or three) of wine in hand. Oh, and spy on your competitors using this handy Political Ad Library, which catalogs all active (and some inactive) political ads.

Have more questions? Book a free consultation with us today & let’s strategize on how your brand can navigate the minefield that is Facebook and its ever-changing rules and algorithms.  hello@makadigital.com 


Redesigning or Moving Your Site? What to Know Now So You Don't Do Brand Damage

What does a redesign or replatform (i.e. moving your site from one web platform to another) have to do with damaging your brand? After all, brands undertake these sorts of things so they can grow their brands long-term, right? Yes! They are wonderful for your brand long-term. It’s a chance to refresh your brand image, take advantage of new functionality, enrich the user experience, be mobile-first, add tools to support store traffic for your retailers, and grow long-term revenue.

Except, these things also affect your brands’s organic search (SEO) rankings and if you’re not very careful and work SEO into your project roadmap, you can tank your rankings. And if you’re not on page 1, your competitors will be there scooping up all that market share till you pop back to your rightful place, dominating that search results page.

So, what do you need to know now in order to protect your market share?

Ideally, you’ve planned for the budget to bring on an SEO expert that navigates you and your development team through these choppy waters. But if you don’t have the budget or the project is already underway, begin now with this step by step process.

  1. Review & Give Feedback Early. Before your team begins building or redesigning pages, they should create what’s called a wireframe. Wireframes are layouts of each of the key pages on your site - essentially the template that will then create your site. Review the wireframes for the homepage, your category page, your product page, and your content page. In these wireframes you want to ensure you have breadcrumb navigation, content blocks for well-SEO’d and keyword-text, slots for product reviews, a navigation structure that is text-based and hierarchical. Now is your best chance to work these key SEO elements into your updated site. Speak up and push hard at this stage.

  2. Audit Your Content. Sit with your content teams and decide which content is making the cut to the new version of the site, and which you are ditching. Consult your analytics to ensure any content that drives SEO traffic (and of course revenue) does not get cut.

  3. Redirect Users. Plan out your URL redirects. This item alone can tank your results. For any pages that aren’t making it to the new version of the site, you will need to 301 redirect those old URLs to the new next-most-relevant deep page on your site. This will also keep return visitors on your site that bookmarked old URLs, are coming from old email marketing campaigns, or are following links from blogs, press, affiliates, etc. Do not simply redirect all the old URLs to your homepage. If you do this, your deeper pages will lose Page Authority and will drop in the rankings. Take the time to map out your redirects carefully.

  4. Test. Once your site is in a staging environment for you to begin playing with, make sure all the feedback from step 1 is incorporated into this version. You will also want to make sure all your well-SEO’d page titles, meta descriptions and on-page text made it over to the new version of your site. If they didn’t, get those in place now. Finally, test your robots.txt file and work with your developer to make sure what goes live is exactly what you want to go live. It’s rare, but on occasion I’ve seen sites push live a version of their robots.txt file that disallows the entire site, meaning you’re now telling Google to ignore your site. Your competitors will looooove that!

  5. Go live. Once your updated site goes live, take a moment to celebrate! And then test, QA, watch the data, and plan to be submitting updates and fixes to your developers. Launch day, the day after, and the following 30 days are a key time to stay on top of your SEO rankings, triage and fix whatever issues cause rankings to drop, and make sure it’s converting all that great SEO traffic you should be getting.

There are so many nuances in these 5 steps. To help you navigate the waters, download our free Replatforming/Redesigning SEO Checklist.

Why Bid on Your Brand's Name with Paid Search Ads if You Rank Organically?

Using Branded Paid Search Ads as Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Maybe your brand has been testing paid search ads on Google for years, or maybe you’ve just started to dip your toes into this world. Either way, when bidding on keywords, companies often divide campaigns between branded and non-branded keywords. Any keyword that includes your brand’s name is considered branded, and anything that doesn’t is non-branded (think “Patagonia” vs. “women’s jackets.”)

When setting up brand campaigns, a common question we receive from our clients is, “Why do I need to bid on my own brand’s name if I already rank #1 for that keyword with my organic (free) Google listing?” 

Here are the reasons why paid search ads for your brand name are not a waste of money and can even pay off, big time. 

  1. If your brand’s products are also sold via Amazon or any other big-name retailer/marketplace, and you don’t run brand ads, that retailer is likely to take that paid space (for your product) and show above your organic listing. So, running ads for your brand allows you to compete against these other retailers.

  2. If you have any major competitors, it’s likely that they’ll bid on your brand terms, and show ads in that space (again, over your organic listing). That could reroute clicks from your website to theirs.

  3. Similarly, if there’s any brands that have the same or a very similar brand name as yours, they may show paid ads for your name, or compete for that first organic listing.

  4. Running brand ads allows you to capture any misspellings or variations of your brand name that happen. If you were running ads for Patagonia, for example, you could use brand ads to more easily capture “Patagon,” “Pategonya” (seems silly but search terms can get pretty wild), “Patagonia sale,” “Patagonia near me,” etc.

  5. Brand ads typically have high return on investment, as cost-per-click here tends to be low, and the people who click are “warm” viewers already familiar with your brand and ready to buy. There’s a lot more purchase intent behind the search term “Patagonia women’s insulated black jacket” than there is behind “women’s jackets.”

  6. With brand ads, you can tailor your text in a way you sometimes cannot with organic listings. For example, you can target customized ad copy to someone who searches “Patagonia sale” or “Patagonia woman’s coat.” There’s the ability to very closely match search terms with ad copy and increase the chance that someone will click.

  7. Brand ads often take up more “real estate” on the Google page than organic ads. If you add sitelinks, price extensions, and all that Google has to offer, your ad can be quite big, again increasing the chance someone will click. But be careful—your ads may be opted into automated extensions, which allows Google to create dynamic extensions using text from your website, even if you haven’t vetted it. It’s usually better to turn off the automation and create them manually, and that’s what we’re here for. 

Want to learn more? Book a free consultation with us today at hello@makadigital.com, or enter your info below to receive our FREE guide of 17+ actionable promotions you can implement to increase your brand’s revenue and profit margins (no discounts needed!).

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*This blog post was originally posted on Quora by MAKA Digital team members.

Do I Need to Do Digital Marketing If I Sell Primarily Through Retailers, Amazon and Marketplaces? (Part 3)

Part 3 - Activate Your Consumer

In part 1, we shared why a brand that sells primarily through retail, Amazon and/or marketplaces would want to do digital marketing.  And that reason is to own the customer relationship that will ultimately fuel future brand growth.

In part 2, we shared a key element of the digital marketing mix to build the base of those customers that will ultimately drive your future growth:  search marketing. By dominating the Google search page just as you would dominate the retail shelf space to win, you should aim to grow your web traffic so that as much as 50% is coming from search (both organic and paid search).

In this final part, we’re going to share with you how to actually build that customer relationship once your prospective consumer has found you through search, what to talk about when you have nothing to say, and creative ways to reach that customer where they are to activate them.

So you’re getting an influx of traffic from search and you’re happy with how you’re showing up for your prospective consumer.  Don’t stop there. Once that traffic lands on your site, the worst thing you can do is end the communication chain there and leave it to chance that they will come find you through your resellers.  The simplest way to ensure you stay in contact with consumers is to invite them to join your email list. It’s not enough to have a pop-up on your site with an opt-in box. Give customers something of extreme value for opting into your list. Some ideas:

  • A manufacturer’s coupon to redeem in-store

  • A free cookbook (as an ebook) if you’re a food brand

  • Exclusive access to an event

  • Early access to a limited edition product or sale event

  • Free swag

  • Entry into a giveaway package with like-minded brands you partner with

That’s great, but you may be asking yourself what communications do you send when you don’t have anything significant to say?  Some of our most successful clients augment their communications with customer testimonials, press mentions, creative ways to use their product, and of course product launches, store launches, and sales events.

The Value of Your Customer Email List

The real value of your customer email list

Now that you have an audience base that you’ve converted into prospective consumers you can build a relationship with via email, the real magic begins.  The two hidden gems of having an email list:

  1. Your sales team now has a secret weapon to talk about in pitch meetings with important retailers.  When they’re trying to get that sell-in, it’s powerful to be able to say, “we’ve got a database of 7,000 consumers that we own in this region we can announce our partnership to on launch day to help drive sell-through.”

  2. That email list can be uploaded to Facebook and Google to intelligently find more consumers like those in your database.  Within a matter of minutes, you’ve now opened yourself up to a highly qualified audience of potential buyers. And as your email list continues to grow, the audience matching grows and becomes more intelligent, performing even better over time.  


We love number two because this isn’t a tactic many lifestyle or CPG brands are savvy to, meaning we can find very qualified customers for dirt cheap.  Want to talk? Book a free consultation with us today & let’s strategize on how your brand can be best positioned for stronger growth. hello@makadigital.com 

Do I Need to Do Digital Marketing If I Sell Primarily Through Retailers, Amazon and Marketplaces? (Part 2)

Part 2: Dominate the shelf space


Now in part 1 we talked about the reasons why it’s important to own a relationship with your end-consumer directly.  Quite simply, it fuels your future growth in a way you have direct control over. It doesn’t leave your future success to chance and it doesn’t put you at the mercy of your retailers, Amazon or marketplaces to do your brand justice.

In this second part, we’re going to share with you a key element of your marketing mix that will help you own those customer relationships more directly.

In an interview Nestle Waters’ CMO Antonio Sciuto did with Google, he said this about their digital marketing approach:

“We need to think about search with the same obsession that we think about our store shelving.  It’s exactly the same.”

Now I’m not sure about you, but I don’t think innovation when I think about Nestle Waters.  But here we are. This quote rings true more so now than it did in 2017.  Just as a brand wins at retail by dominating the store shelf space, brands need to win online by dominating the search results page - it’s exactly the same.

Now over our years of experience building lifestyle brands through digital, one thing has stayed true:  the sheer amount of traffic search marketing can drive cannot be ignored. Search drives, on average, 50% of a website’s traffic.

The Impact of Search on a Website's Traffic

So in order to successfully own the relationship with your end-consumers directly, you need to make sure they can find you in the first place.  It’s not enough to rank #1 organically. It’s also not enough to hold the top spot in the ad space. Those are great starting points and if you’re not doing search as part of your mix currently, definitely start there. But don’t end there. Dominate that search page with your video content, your blog, your social properties, your influencers and affiliates, rich snippets, and answer box optimization.  You win, your retailers win, and your marketplaces win because you’ve pushed competitors to page 2… and nobody visits page 2.

Once you’ve acquired this traffic, you need to take it a step further to truly own the customer relationship.  In the last part of our 3-part series, we’ll discuss how to build the customer relationship, what to talk about when you don’t have anything to say, and how to reach consumers where they are.

Stay tuned for the epic conclusion, and in the meantime, enter your info below to receive our FREE guide of 17+ actionable promotions you can implement to increase your brand’s revenue and profit margins (no discounts needed!).

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Do I Need to Do Digital Marketing If I Sell Primarily Through Retailers, Amazon and Marketplaces? (Part 1)

Yes.  Why?

  1. You’re only going to grow going forward.  New products which means new product launches, new markets, new retailers.  You need to own a relationship with your end-customer directly so you’re not at the mercy of your resellers to do proper marketing for you.

  2. Manage your reputation, push competitors down the search page, dominate the “shelf space”

  3. Activate your consumer to take action.  And get the benefit of the hidden gems in owning customer relationships - and it’s very likely your competitor isn’t thinking of these.

Fueling Future Growth

You need to own some aspect of a customer relationship in order to fuel your future growth in today’s DTC landscape.  It’s more than fine to sell primarily through retailers, Amazon and marketplaces, but when you do so, you don’t own a relationship with your end-consumers directly.  They do. This means you don’t have a built-in audience with which you can launch future products, future product extensions, new regions and retailers, and new brands even, if those are in your future growth plans.

Using Digital Marketing To Drive Retail Sell-Through

Do you want to be at the mercy of Amazon, retailers and marketplaces to do you justice with your next big launch?  We certainly don’t allow our clients to and you shouldn’t either.  

In part 2, we’ll discuss a key element of your digital marketing mix to help you build customer relationships you own directly. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, enter your info below to receive our FREE guide of 17+ actionable promotions you can implement to increase your brand’s revenue and profit margins (no discounts needed!).

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What Should My eCommerce Conversion Rates Be?

Analyzing Your eCommerce Conversion Rates

If you’re a part of a DTC or lifestyle brand (or any business, for that matter!) you have a lot on your plate. You’re trying to outpace your competitors and grow brand awareness while ultimately bringing in more bottom-line revenue to please your CEO and executive board.

Let’s say your brand awareness is growing and you’re driving strong ROI. But all that said, what should your eCommerce conversion rates be? How do you measure whether that awareness and spend is paying off? 

The short answer is this: a strong eCommerce conversion rate (if you’re looking for purchases, not leads or sign-ups) is typically estimated to be about 1.5%, with mobile at 1% and desktop between 1.5% to 2%. This depends largely, though, on the price of your product, stage of brand growth, and quantity of online and offline retailers.

What about paid media conversion rates? We’ve laid out more info below on conversion rates for the two most common types of paid media—paid search and paid social.

Paid Search Conversion Rates

The conversion rate you’ll see for paid search also depends on different factors, like the niche and maturity of your brand and competition in the PPC ad space. For our eCommerce clients, we typically aim for different conversion rates depending on the type of PPC campaign.

“Branded” campaigns, or those focused on keywords that contain the brand name (ex: Patagonia women’s winter jacket), garner the highest conversion rate since these searchers are already familiar with the brand and ready to purchase. This is variable, but conversion rates around 3% - 5% are what we aim for here.

Campaigns that are focused on general or competitive terms (ex: women’s jackets) tend to have a much lower conversion rate, as searchers here are often just researching and not ready to make a purchase, or may ultimately purchase from a competitor. Conversion rates here often fall in the range of 0.5% to 1% for our clients.

Shopping ads also tend to be very competitive, and often include big players like Amazon and Target, and show a lower conversion rate similar to general keywords.

If your brand is influenced by seasonality (ex: you sell swimming suits), there also will be peaks and valleys in conversion rates depending on the season.

Paid Social Conversion Rates

Similar to paid search, we separate paid social (defined here as any ad or post with money behind it) into audiences who are familiar with the brand and those who are not: simply defined, retargeting and prospecting. 

Retargeting audiences, who have already engaged with your brand in some way, drive the highest conversion rates. Here we typically aim for a threshold of 2-4% (when based off those who have clicked an ad) though we’ve seen it jump to 20% or higher when advertising a promotion or offering a special incentive of some kind. 

Because prospecting audiences have never heard of your brand before, it’s difficult to convince them to convert with a social ad. For this reason we almost always use brand awareness or traffic objectives on our prospecting campaigns, but if we do have an activation event or a highly-qualified audience we’re pushing to purchase, we aim for a conversion rate in the 1% ballpark. 

To beat a dead horse: these are the conversion rate trends we’ve seen during our 30+ years of combined experience, but averages will always differ depending on your product’s pricepoint, brand maturity, competition and more. Our best advice is to test, test, test, and you’ll begin to get a feel for your averages after a while of building data from your campaigns.

One last note here: if your overall conversion rates are continually less than 0.5% despite paid media efforts, and macro-level trends that affect your business are also on the decline, it may be a sign that you need to pause paid media and focus instead on conversion rate optimizations and search engine optimizations. Check out our blog post on deciding when to put a hold on paid media

Want to learn more? Book a free consultation with us today at hello@makadigital.com, or enter your info below to receive our FREE guide of 17+ actionable promotions you can implement to increase your brand’s revenue and profit margins (no discounts needed!).

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*This blog post was originally posted on Quora by MAKA Digital team members.

When to Put a Hold on Paid Media

Paid media – PPC, Paid Social and Display, specifically – is one of our core services.  Along with SEO, these channels are what we do day-in and day-out for the world’s best lifestyle brands.  It’s what we’ve done collectively for over 30+ years.  And through those years, we’ve rarely seen a time and a place where Paid Media doesn’t make sense in a media mix.  But once in awhile there is.  If any of the following are happening to your website, you may want to rethink Paid Media in your current mix:

  • Your conversion rates are less than .5% and you can’t quickly prioritize Conversion Rate Optimization

  • Designing custom landing pages for paid media traffic is quite expensive for you (expensive, not just inconvenient)

  • The macro-level trends that affect your business are on the decline

In these cases, paid media dollars can be a lost cause.  The reason is either you can’t convert that traffic into customers to get an ROI or no reasonable level of paid media will reverse traffic declines at the macro level.  So, what do you do in these cases?

Search Engine Optimization

Use this time to double-down on SEO.  If macro level trends that affect your business are on the decline, now is the time to pivot with new content optimized for more viable keyword markets.  Create new content, optimize and amplify that content to help improve in rankings, and began to rebuild.  Now is also a great time to have a soup-to-nuts SEO audit done on your site to ensure no technical issues are impacting your traffic now or in the future.

And more SEO traffic means better bottom-line profitability that you can then use to reinvest back into your .com revenue with paid media.  It’s not that you’re giving up on paid media all together, it’s just a matter of prioritizing and resetting.

Conversion Rate Optimization

If conversion rates are your problem, do the housekeeping on your website to get customers from one step to the next all the way down the path to purchase.  Start with your homepage for the biggest impact – is your most important message above the fold?  Do you have clear and prominent calls to action?  Are your products showcased and put into context for visitors that don’t already know who you are?  Don’t stop there.  Evaluate your category pages, your product pages, your cart page and your checkout page.  We’re big fans of Hotjar to get some first-hand views into what areas of the site users are getting stuck on. 

And when the time is right, you fire that paid media back up and go after that much improved ROI.  Need help prioritizing your media mix?  We’re here for you:  hello@makadigital.com

What Google’s 2019 Keynote Announcements Mean for Marketers

Google announced some major improvements for both Ads and Shopping at their 2019 Keynote address. From linking and bidding optimizations to new options for audiences and product comparisons, marketers have a lot to look forward to in 2019. We’ve combed through the address and come up with five essential takeaways that likely will impact the marketing industry over the next year.

Impact on Ads

Gallery Ads were introduced, allowing marketers to include 4-8 images and a 70-character tagline for each image in their paid search ads. This is the first time that imagery has been integrated into traditional search ads and will greatly increase both the size of the ad and its ability to capture viewers’ attention. Images will be especially beneficial for brands in the food or consumer packaged goods space, as buyers can get a clearer idea of the product straight away. Though the end destination is still your website, these ads will likely change how Google defines a click on your ad.    

New Audience Type

Custom Affinity and Custom Intent audiences will be merged and renamed to “Custom Audiences”. This will be helpful for creating an audience type (such as “hiking enthusiasts”) that contains the best of both audience categories and using that audience across both Google and YouTube ads.

New Ways to Bid

Going forward, there will be a new bidding type that is focused on maximizing conversion value. It weighs different conversions against their values and optimizes bids accordingly. This means that marketers will be able to choose different conversions and conversion values at the campaign level, providing more flexibility with conversion tracking. Campaigns can even be optimized for conversions like for in-store visits.

Simplified Video Ads

Later in 2019, Google will be rolling out a new automated way to create YouTube’s six-second bumper. When a video is submitted, the platform will use machine learning to grab out 3-4 six-second clips that can then be used as bumper ads. Marketers will retain final control over these clips and the audio used for them, making this an easy way to engage with viewers your way while reducing time investment.

Changes to Google Shopping

Google Shopping will be experiencing some of the most exciting changes, according to this year’s keynote. A new Google Shopping site will roll out, which will allow users to see hundreds of products side by side with the option to purchase from online retailers directly through the Google Shopping interface. Users will be able to buy a product they see directly from a YouTube ad as well, and later this year the optimization will expand into Google Images.

Google is ever-changing – but keeping ahead of the curve is what MAKA does best. Contact us at hello@makadigital.com and we’ll use our industry experience to help you ride Google’s wave into your most profitable year yet.

Making the Most of Content Marketing for Your Retail Brand

We recently had a discussion with a large retail brand that is looking to leverage content marketing to reach new prospective consumers.  Their specific inquiry:

As [we] begin to place more emphasis on adjacent interests (food, travel, music, etc.) for our target customer - how should we think about content in this context? How can we make our site a destination of this type of content and make it stickier and more relevant to our customers?

The team rallied and formalized our thoughts in the following stance:

As you know, many of the digital marketing channels available to us as retailers are product-driven. But through a thoughtful process, digital marketers can flip that on its side and lead with content.  The “thoughtful process” is comprised of a few pillars. 

Pillar #1: Solve the perceived pain points of your target demographic.  For example, if you’re a footwear brand, maybe one of your target demo’s has the pain point of wanting to DIY their own shoe designs but they don’t know where to start or are seeking inspiration.  Go Live with an underground hip-hop artist customizing a white pair of Jordans.  Then leverage that Live to create evergreen blog posts, social posts, YT videos, snippets for SnapChat, etc to continue to reach prospects and build traffic.  Doing so will serve the search engines and build your cookie pool for product retargeting down-stream, revenue growth during major sales events, and for email opt-ins

Pillar #2: Leverage micro influencers to build reach that matters.  Some of us are huge Peloton fans and one a fan-favorite instructor is @RobinNYC.  Adidas, Burning Man, and a few other brands do a fantastic job of leveraging her and her platforms to push their messages in a way that entertains me as a follower and stays true to her personal brand.  Those two brands probably wouldn’t reach us any other ways, or at least not in such a credible way.  Not that you’ll find many of us at Burning Man.  #introvertproblems



Pillar #3:  Go outside of the typical realms of product advertising (Google Shopping, Brand PPC, etc) and live in the spaces that are content driven like Pinterest, IG, blogs and even Snapchat, depending on your target demographic. 

What ways have you leveraged content marketing for a traditionally strong retail site? Let us know in the comments!

Striking Distance Keywords: the often over-looked SEO tactic with the biggest payoff

Leverage Striking Distance Keywords in your Search Engine Optimizations

Most SEO audits are very thorough, cover all the important SEO factors, and the payoff can be experienced for years to come.  Our SEO audit clients are continuing to have year over year SEO traffic increases of 30%+ from audits done over three years ago.  But they can be costly. 

If you can’t yet afford a soup-to-nuts SEO audit, auditing your “striking distance” keywords – keywords that have the potential to rank on page 1 – and  improving those can have a nice payoff, bumping up revenue steadily.  To audit these keywords:

1.       Go into Google Search Console, Performance Report

2.       Add in Impressions, Clicks, Avg Position and CTR

3.       Download the Report

Sort the report by impressions and filter for all keywords in position 9 through 13.  These are your striking distance keywords.  They represent the biggest opportunity to get on page 1 with a bit of elbow grease, thus increasing your traffic.  Go through this report keyword by keyword and visit the pages that are ranking for each of those keywords and see what optimizations you need to make to improve rankings.  Often the optimizations with the biggest payoff are the following:

1.       Build more internal links to that page.  Blog posts, footers, navigation, and product descriptions are examples of places that can link back to the target page.

2.       Optimize page titles to include the target keywords

3.       Improve meta-descriptions for your target keyword.  This in and of itself won’t improve your rankings, but it can help improve your Click-Through Rates which gets you more traffic while your other optimizations take effect.

4.       Improve on-page text to include more of your target keyword.  Readability and flow is the first priority, so don’t use keywords too many times that they sound unnatural.  But sometimes a bit more keyword usage can help.

Doing this practice once a month will begin to have steady, noticeable improvements in your SEO traffic, which then allows you to invest more in paid media traffic and channels that grow your brand over the long-term. No time to manage this? Drop us a line at hello@makadigital.com and we’re happy to talk strategy.

Facebook and Instagram broke… did your performance break too?

It’s not uncommon for up-and-coming brands to be built with strong influencer and organic social media strategies. But if you took a hit in performance when Facebook and Instagram broke last week, it’s time to diversify your marketing mix.

When brands have strong influencer and organic social performance, that tells us a couple things. First, it tells us that the product is remarkable and likeable, which often means getting a consumer to purchase isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s probably a strength and one that lends itself to a strong ROI once you do begin to do paid media like Google ads, display ads and the like. Second, it tells us that there already is a groundswell happening for your products and now the challenge is to find new customers, which also is solved by diversifying your marketing mix to include paid media channels.

Recently, we talked about not building your castle on rented land. If Facebook and Instagram going down reinforces anything, it’s that point. A well-rounded marketing mix for any brand, but especially an emerging brand, is usually 50% paid channels, 25% owned channels (email lists, direct traffic), and 25% earned channels (PR, SEO, bloggers, influencers, organic social). If your brand isn’t quite there yet, it’s time to double-down on paid media, SEO, and building your email lists. We’re only going to see social performance drop more over time as Facebook continues to optimize its algorithm for paid exposure.

Not sure where to start? Reach out to us for a free consultation – katherine [at] makadigital.com

2 Secrets Brands Can Take from B2B to drive Direct-to-Consumer Revenue

Maybe you have a healthy marketing mix, you’re well-invested in all areas of the funnel, your organic search is dialed-in and your promotions are acquiring new customers (not just recapturing existing customers). But you still aren’t hitting your goals. What’s next? The B2B space holds a couple key secrets we see brands not leveraging:


Secret #1: You don’t have a “value ladder”

Follow me on this example: Your local dentist might send out a postcard to her ideal demographic offering a free cleaning. You come in for the free cleaning and while there, she mentions that your teeth are looking a little stained and he could whiten them while you’re there. You agree and while she’s whitening them, she notices that you must have had braces as a child and it seems that your teeth are shifting again. So she sells you into a retainer. And over the course of the return visits, you buy an expensive toothbrush, opt for cosmetic surgery, etc etc.

The point of this example is that every business, brands included, have a value ladder to nurture customers through to incrementally increase revenue. What’s your value ladder?


Image courtesy of Russel Brunsen, author of  DotComSecrets.

Image courtesy of Russel Brunsen, author of DotComSecrets.

Secret #2: You’ve only got one main product offering

Using our dentist example, maybe your revenue isn’t increasing because you only sell retainers and you’ve maximized those potential people. What’s next? You need to create (or oftentimes just reposition) products that get people into your door – the free cleaning and whitening services level people. And once you’ve tapped out all of those folks, and now you need to create a “cosmetic surgery” – that is, a high-end – package.

We worked with a very well-known national boutique fitness brand that did this extremely well. They had an online workout membership you could subscribe to. And the next upgrade was an in-studio class package. And after that, the next upsell was prepaying an annual studio membership. And for the handful interested, they offered an ultra-exclusive in-person wellness retreat hosted by the founder of the company.

How can you create packages and reposition products to create entry, mid-tier, and high-end offerings to ensure incremental revenue?

Are You Treating Search as Shelf Space?

Hey, Katherine Romero here, co-founder of MAKA Digital. Much of my career prior to agency life was spent building footwear brands in the digital space. The company I did that for was wildly successful and had a strong sales team whose job was to sell into the Nordstrom and REI’s of the world. I remember in one particular sales meeting, the CEO gave an insightful speech about what it takes to build a brand at traditional retail spaces. It took:

  • Having compelling POP – bright and colorful, eye catching, and have attractive people in the photography

  • Having eye-catching products – color pops, unexpected designs, collaborations

  • Knowledgeable sales people – people that can hype the benefits of your shoe vs the competition

And more, but those were the key points. This speech didn’t sit right with me, though. For a company with brands that have a strong Direct-to-Consumer channel banking double margins, why in this decade are we still counting on building brands firstly through wholesale and retailers? They are a key component of a holistic business, don’t get me wrong. But that can’t be central focus.

The New Shelf Space

Some of the most successful D2C brands out there understand that Google is the new shelf space. And dominating that shelf space is the key. Dominating doesn’t happen by just ranking well organically. That’s the first step, sure. But you really need to dominate that SERP with all the other tools in your tool belt. If you’re taking up page 1, that’s that much further you push your competition down the page and that’s that much more market-share you take.

search-is-the-new-shelf-space

Dominate with:

  • Google Ads: Text ads, shopping ads, and extensions

  • Your website: Rank as high as you can, have clear site architecture and get sitelinks taking up serious SERP real estate

  • Your social properties: Get your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds ranking well. Yelp too if you have a brick-and-mortar presence. YouTube as well if your brand lends itself well to YouTube

  • Your affiliates and partners: Feed top keyword data to your extended sales force and help get their content for your brand ranking on page 1

  • The Brand Panel: populate it with as much info as possible, upload compelling imagery, create posts, and populate some of the Q&As.

It’s rare that we find a brand that is approaching search with the mentality as traditional retail shelf space. (Nestle Waters, of all companies, gets it… talk about a boring, traditional retail brand.) But when they do, traffic shoots up, sustainable growth happens, and bottom-line profitability is often improved.

Not sure where to start for your brand? Let’s talk! katherine@makadigital.com

Instagram and Facebook strike again - what brands need to do to take back control

Instagram has made some changes recently that’s affecting every brand we’ve been in contact with. Reach has tanked yet again, followers have been lost, then gained back, then lost again, and engagement is dropping by the day.

It’s time to diversify.

A key trend we’re seeing happen for brands starting as early as January 2018 is that brands that had been built on organic social strategies like social influencers, great content and authentic engagement with their audience can’t get by with those same strategies any more. They’re important still for sure, they’re just not pulling in the same magic they once were.

We love organic strategies, and you should still too. Organic is part of what builds a profitable marketing mix that can sustain for the long-haul. And organic is what gives ground cover to test new things with marketing dollars, fail, iterate, and eventually find those veins of gold.

You can’t build your castle on rented land.

Social Media platforms will only continue to cut brands’ organic performance

Social Media platforms will only continue to cut brands’ organic performance

2019 is only proving further that the social media platforms will change on a dime and brands need to take back some ownership if their revenue growth from these giants. If you haven’t invested in long-term, sustainable SEO it’s time. If you haven’t focused on email list growth, it’s time. If you’re not leveraging the earned media your PR team is getting, it’s time.

Want to learn more? Book a free consultation with us today at hello@makadigital.com, or enter your info below to receive our FREE guide of 17+ actionable promotions you can implement to increase your brand’s revenue and profit margins (no discounts needed!).

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Cyber Five 2018 Is A Wrap — Here Are The Biggest Insights We Gained

We’ve made it through another Cyber Five (the fancy term for the shopping bloodbath between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) and the MAKA Digital team is breathing a sigh of relief and catching up on our ZZZs. Though Cyber Five was crazy, as always, it was also the best one yet—revenue numbers were higher than last year nearly across the board, and we gained worthwhile insights and learnings to be applied next year, the best of which we’ll share here.

Insight 1: Launch Campaigns Earlier to Compete with Large Retailers

Most of our clients’ campaigns launched at 12:00 a.m. on Black Friday in their respective time zones. But those who launched days before, or even just hours before, saw powerful revenue numbers come through before the clock even struck midnight. One client made 6% of their total Cyber Five revenue on Thursday night just by launching around 10:00 pm Pacific rather than 12:00 am Pacific. Our major takeaway here: As the biggest retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, push their Cyber Five campaigns earlier and earlier into the week, other companies are smart to follow suit and launch their campaigns on Thanksgiving or even test launching on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Insight 2: Make Mentions of the Sale in Homepage Meta Descriptions

It’s a common strategy to include mentions of Cyber Five sales in paid search and shopping campaigns, but another channel that can benefit from this practice is organic search. During Cyber Five we ran a test for one client in which we updated their homepage meta description to mention their weekend sale, and this updated text received a click-through rate that was a full percent point higher than their traditional meta description. A word of warning, though—updating meta descriptions is dependent on Google’s bots and how fast they can crawl your website and update the new text in Google’s search results. Reverting back to regular text after the sale is also dependent on Google’s bots again crawling the site in a timely fashion, which leaves the potential for the sale-themed meta description to still be live after the sale is over. The best way to combat any confusion this may cause is to emphasize the timeframe of the sale within the text, such as “Shop our biggest sale of the year, through Cyber Monday,” or something similar. You can also force Google’s bots to crawl your site through the “Fetch as Google” link in Google Search Console, though it’s still not a complete guarantee that all text will be updated immediately.  

Insight 3: Holiday-Themed Imagery Performs Better Than Traditional Imagery

Within the social media campaigns that ran over Cyber Five, we saw stronger responses to any imagery that was holiday-themed. If you’re not sure which holidays your customers celebrate, feel free to stick with a general holiday aesthetic—gift wrapping, lights, snow, pinecones and berries, or even just a red, green, gold or blue color scheme work well. Anything that’s outside of your traditional creative imagery will signify to viewers that this ad is something special and worthy of their attention. For us these holiday ads generated click-through rates that were roughly double our traditional ads.

Insight 4: More On-Site Payment Options

The option to check out with PayPal is ubiquitous across the internet by this point, but there are many other payment options that are worth considering if they’re not already implemented on your website. Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay are some of the big players in the space, and the options will only grow as digital eCommerce expands. Though there are fees with any third-party payment tools, they can help to increase both checkout conversion rates and customer trust, as a study by Bounteous showed that 40% of shoppers feel more secure purchasing from a site with multiple payment options.  

In addition, if you carry products with high price points, consider offering financing options on your website, such as paying for the product in multiple installments. This will cause the product to appear cheaper and can help overcome any reservations customers may have with the pricing.

 

Now that we’ve shared a few insights, we’d love to hear what you learned this Cyber Five. Drop us a line at hello@makadigital.com, and in the meantime, we’ll be gorging ourselves on sugar cookies and peppermint bark. From the team at MAKA Digital, happy holidays.

Google's New, Bigger Ad Format — Is It Worth The Hype?

It’s been three months since Google changed the world as we know it (or maybe just our world) by announcing a new wave of changes to its advertising platform. These changes included a new paid search ad format called responsive search ads (RSAs), and here at MAKA Digital we were excited to dig in and try them out, as they were built to allow for bigger headlines and descriptions than traditional ads, as well as an automated way of testing which ad text is the most successful.

Tell Me More.

There was a lot that initially seemed worthwhile about RSAs. Larger headlines and descriptions are never a bad thing for enticing viewers to click on your ads—they provide more information about your brand and they take up more real estate on the search results page. These ads also allow you to give Google a group of different headline and text ads, and Google will dynamically serve these in different combinations until it finds the combination that leads to the best click-throughs and other metrics. Google said that in early tests RSAs had led to higher click-through rates, and all these factors combined seemed to make them a slam dunk.

What’s the Catch?

When we first launched RSAs in isolated campaigns, the outlook looked good—during those first few weeks, they showed higher click-through rates and lower CPCs than traditional ads. Fast forward to several months later, though, and the prognosis doesn’t sound as great. Since those first tests we’ve run RSAs across several client accounts, and the results have changed (read: performance staled in a big hurry). Click-through rates are still occasionally higher, but often only within campaigns focusing on brand-related keywords, and sometimes even then they’re not any higher than traditional ads. And they haven’t led to a significant change in conversion rates, either. This a phenomenon that’s been echoed industry-wide.

So What Happened?

This turn toward low performance seems counterintuitive. Why wouldn’t bigger ads/longer text lead to more clicks? We’re not sure, but it seems it has something to do with Google dynamically optimizing for the best-performing text combinations—this appears to have caused click-throughs to worsen, not improve, indicating that Google’s bots are simply not as adept as human marketers in judging which text is truly the better performer. Google also has not offered much help in analyzing its selected combinations of text within an ad, with only impression data available to view here rather than click-throughs or conversions.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

At this point, we’ve taken to analyzing RSAs at an individual level—if one appears to be performing strongly for a certain group of keywords, we’ll keep it in place, and if it’s underperforming in another group of keywords, we’ll turn it off in favor of traditional ads. Though overall trends show that RSAs are not all they cracked up to be, every keyword group is different, and it’s worth weeding through for any black sheep. If you’re ready to turn off all RSAs, though, don’t be afraid—Google has promised that they won’t be sunsetting traditional ads, so they’ll always be a viable option to return to. Even better, traditional ads now offer longer headlines and descriptions, which is a great option to try if you’re not seeing success from RSAs.

In upcoming months we’ll be waiting for Google to fine-tune its dynamic text combinations and provide more metrics to compare these combinations, and maybe then we’ll give RSAs more weight. In the meantime, we’re appreciative that human marketing instincts have won at least one battle against Google’s all-powerful bots.

Still have more questions about RSAs vs. traditional ads? Did all the acronyms and metrics we mentioned sound like mumbo-jumbo? Give us a shout out at hello@makadigital.com and we’d be happy to talk it through.