Who sponsors Drupal development? (2017-2018 edition)

For the past two years, I've examined Drupal.org's commit data to understand who develops Drupal, how much of that work is sponsored, and where that sponsorship comes from.

I have now reported on this data for three years in a row, which means I can start to better compare year-over-year data. Understanding how an open-source project works is important because it establishes a benchmark for project health and scalability.

I would also recommend taking a look at the 2016 report or the 2017 report. Each report looks at data collected in the 12-month period between July 1st and June 30th.

This year's report affirms that Drupal has a large and diverse community of contributors. In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations contributed code to Drupal.org. This include contributions to Drupal core and all contributed projects on Drupal.org.

In comparison to last year's report, both the number of contributors and contributions has increased. Our community of contributors (including both individuals and organizations) is also becoming more diverse. This is an important area of growth, but there is still work to do.

For this report, we looked at all of the issues marked "closed" or "fixed" in our ticketing system in the 12-month period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. This includes Drupal core and all of the contributed projects on Drupal.org, across all major versions of Drupal. This year, 24,447 issues were marked "closed" or "fixed", a 5% increase from the 23,238 issues in the 2016-2017 period. This averages out to 67 feature improvements or bug fixes a day.

In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Of the 49,793 issue credits reported this year, 18% (8,822 credits) were for Drupal core, while 82% (40,971 credits) went to contributed projects.

"Closed" or "fixed" issues are often the result of multiple people working on the issue. We try to capture who contributes through Drupal.org's unique credit system. We used the data from the credit system for this analysis. There are a few limitations with this approach, which we'll address at the end of this report.

What is the Drupal.org credit system?

In the spring of 2015, after proposing ideas for giving credit and discussing various approaches at length, Drupal.org added the ability for people to attribute their work to an organization or customer in the Drupal.org issue queues. Maintainers of Drupal modules, themes, and distributions can award issue credits to people who help resolve issues with code, translations, documentation, design and more.

A screenshot of an issue comment on Drupal.org. You can see that jamadar worked on this patch as a volunteer, but also as part of his day job working for TATA Consultancy Services on behalf of their customer, Pfizer.
Credits are a powerful motivator for both individuals and organizations. Accumulating credits provides individuals with a way to showcase their expertise. Organizations can utilize credits to help recruit developers, to increase their visibility within the Drupal.org marketplace, or to showcase their Drupal expertise.

Who is working on Drupal?

In the 12-month period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, 24,447, Drupal.org received code contributions from 7,287 different individuals and 1,002 different organizations.

While the number of individual contributors rose, a relatively small number of individuals still do the majority of the work. Approximately 48% of individual contributors received just one credit. Meanwhile, the top 30 contributors (the top 0.4%) account for more than 24% of the total credits. These individuals put an incredible amount of time and effort in developing Drupal and its contributed projects:

RankUsernameIssues1RenatoG8512RajabNatshah7453jrockowitz7004adriancid5295bojanz5156Berdir4327alexpott4148mglaman4149Wim Leers39510larowlan36011DamienMcKenna35312dawehner34013catch33914heddn32715xjm30316pifagor28417quietone26118borisson_25519adci_contributor25520volkswagenchick25421drunken monkey23122amateescu22523joachim19924mkalkbrenner19525chr.fritsch18526gaurav.kapoor17827phenaproxima17728mikeytown217329joelpittet17030timmillwood169Out of the top 30 contributors featured, 15 were also recognized as top contributors in our 2017 report. These Drupalists' dedication and continued contribution to the project has been crucial to Drupal's development. It's also exciting to see 15 new names on the list. This mobility is a testament to the community's evolution and growth. It's also important to recognize that a majority of the 15 repeat top contributors are at least partially sponsored by an organization. We value the organizations that sponsor these remarkable individuals, because without their support, it could be more challenging to be in the top 30 year over year.

How diverse is Drupal?

Next, we looked at both the gender and geographic diversity of Drupal.org code contributors. While these are only two examples of diversity, this is the only available data that contributors can currently choose to share on their Drupal.org profiles. The reported data shows that only 7% of the recorded contributions were made by contributors that do not identify as male, which continues to indicates a steep gender gap. This is a one percent increase compared to last year. The gender imbalance in Drupal is profound and underscores the need to continue fostering diversity and inclusion in our community.

To address this gender gap, in addition to advancing representation across various demographics, the Drupal community is supporting two important initiatives. The first is to adopt more inclusive user demographic forms on Drupal.org. Adopting Open Demographics on Drupal.org will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. The second initiative is supporting the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion Contribution Team, which works to better include underrepresented groups to increase code and community contributions. The DDI Contribution Team recruits team members from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, and provides support and mentorship to help them contribute to Drupal.

It's important to reiterate that supporting diversity and inclusion within Drupal is essential to the health and success of the project. The people who work on Drupal should reflect the diversity of people who use and work with the software. While there is still a lot of work to do, I'm excited about the impact these various initiatives will have on future reports.

When measuring geographic diversity, we saw individual contributors from 6 different continents and 123 different countries:

The top 20 countries from which contributions originate. The data is compiled by aggregating the countries of all individual contributors behind each commit. Note that the geographical location of contributors doesn't always correspond with the origin of their sponsorship. Wim Leers, for example, works from Belgium, but his funding comes from Acquia, which has the majority of its customers in North America.
123 different countries is seven more compared to the 2017 report. The new countries include Rwanda, Namibia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland, Zambia. Seeing contributions from more African countries is certainly a highlight.

How much of the work is sponsored?

Issue credits can be marked as "volunteer" and "sponsored" simultaneously (shown in jamadar's screenshot near the top of this post). This could be the case when a contributor does the minimum required work to satisfy the customer's need, in addition to using their spare time to add extra functionality.

While Drupal started out as a 100% volunteer-driven project, today the majority of the code on Drupal.org is sponsored by organizations. Only 12% of the commit credits that we examined in 2017-2018 were "purely volunteer" credits (6,007 credits), in stark contrast to the 49% that were "purely sponsored". In other words, there were four times as many "purely sponsored" credits as "purely volunteer" credits.

A few comparisons between the 2017-2018 and the 2016-2017 data:

The credit system is being used more frequently. In total, we captured 49,793 issue credits across all 24,447 issues in the 2017-2018 period. This marks a 17% increase from the 42,449 issue credits recorded in the previous year. Between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, 28% of all credits had no attribution while in the period between July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, only 25% of credits lacked attribution. More people have become aware of the credit system, the attribution options, and their benefits.
Sponsored credits are growing faster than volunteer credits. Both "purely volunteer" and "purely sponsored" credits grew, but "purely sponsored" credits grew faster. There are two reasons why this could be the case: (1) more contributions are sponsored and (2) organizations are more likely to use the credit system compared to volunteers.
No data is perfect, but it feels safe to conclude that most of the work on Drupal is sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal. Maybe most importantly, while the number of volunteers and sponsors has grown year over year in absolute terms, sponsored contributions appear to be growing faster than volunteer contributions. This is consistent with how open source projects grow and scale.

Who is sponsoring the work?

Now that we've established a majority of contributions to Drupal are sponsored, we want to study which organizations contribute to Drupal. While 1,002 different organizations contributed to Drupal, approximately 50% of them received four credits or less. The top 30 organizations (roughly the top 3%) account for approximately 48% of the total credits, which implies that the top 30 companies play a crucial role in the health of the Drupal project. The graph below shows the top 30 organizations and the number of credits they received between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018:

The top 30 contributing organizations based on the number of Drupal.org commit credits.
While not immediately obvious from the graph above, a variety of different types of companies are active in Drupal's ecosystem:

Traditional Drupal businesses
Small-to-medium-sized professional services companies that primarily make money using Drupal. They typically employ fewer than 100 employees, and because they specialize in Drupal, many of these professional services companies contribute frequently and are a huge part of our community. Examples are Chapter Three and Lullabot (both shown on graph).
Digital marketing agencies
Larger full-service agencies that have marketing-led practices using a variety of tools, typically including Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, WordPress, etc. They tend to be larger, with the larger agencies employing thousands of people. Examples are Wunderman and Mirum.
System integrators
Larger companies that specialize in bringing together different technologies into one solution. Example system agencies are Accenture, TATA Consultancy Services, Capgemini and CI&T (shown on graph).
Technology and infrastructure companies
Examples are Acquia (shown on graph), Lingotek, BlackMesh, Rackspace, Pantheon and Platform.sh.
Examples are Pfizer (shown on graph) or NBCUniversal.
A few observations:

Almost all of the sponsors in the top 30 are traditional Drupal businesses. Companies like MD Systems (12 employees), Valuebound (58 employees), Chapter Three (33 employees), Commerce Guys (13 employees) and PreviousNext (22 employees) are, despite their size, critical to Drupal's success.
Compared to these traditional Drupal businesses, Acquia has nearly 800 employees and at least ten full-time Drupal contributors. Acquia works to resolve some of the most complex issues on Drupal.org, many of which are not recognized by the credit system (e.g. release management, communication, sprint organizing, and project coordination). Acquia added several full-time contributors compared to last year, however, I believe that Acquia should contribute even more due to its comparative size.
No digital marketing agencies show up in the top 30, though some of them are starting to contribute. It's exciting that an increasing number of digital marketing agencies are delivering beautiful experiences using Drupal. As a community, we need to work to ensure that each of these firms are contributing back to the project with the same commitment that we see from firms like Commerce Guys, CI&T or Acro Media. Compared to last year, we have not made meaningful progress on growing contributions from digital marketing agencies. It would be interesting to see what would happen if more large organizations mandated contributions from their partners. Pfizer, for example, only works with agencies and vendors that contribute back to Drupal, and requires that its agency partners contribute to open source. If more organizations took this stance, it could have a big impact on the number of digital agencies that contribute to Drupal
The only system integrator in the top 30 is CI&T, which ranked 3rd with 959 credits. As far as system integrators are concerned, CI&T is a smaller player with approximately 2,500 employees. However, we do see various system integrators outside of the top 30, including Globant, Capgemini, Sapient and TATA Consultancy Services. Each of these system integrators reported 30 to 85 credits in the past year. The top contributor is TATA with 85 credits.
Infrastructure and software companies also play an important role in our community, yet only Acquia appears in the top 30. While Acquia has a professional services division, more than 75% of the contributions come from the product organization. Other infrastructure companies include Pantheon and Platform.sh, which are both venture-backed, platform-as-a-service companies that were born from the Drupal community. Pantheon has 6 credits and Platform.sh has 47 credits. Amazee Labs, a company that is building an infrastructure business, reported 40 credits. Compared to last year, Acquia and Rackspace have slightly more credits, while Pantheon, Platform.sh and Amazee contributed less. Lingotek, a vendor that offers cloud-based translation management software has 84 credits.
We also saw three end-users in the top 30 as corporate sponsors: Pfizer (491 credits, up from 251 credits the year before), Thunder (432 credits), and the German company, bio.logis (319 credits, up from 212 credits the year before). Other notable customers outside of the top 30, include Workday, Wolters Kluwer, Burda Media, YMCA and OpenY, CARD.com and NBCUniversal. We also saw contributions from many universities, including University of Colorado Boulder, University of Waterloo, Princeton University, University of Adelaide, University of Sydney, University of Edinburgh, McGill University and more.
We can conclude that technology and infrastructure companies, digital marketing agencies, system integrators and end-users are not making significant code contributions to Drupal.org today. How can we explain this disparity in comparison to the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most? We believe the biggest reasons are:

Drupal's strategic importance. A variety of the traditional Drupal agencies almost entirely depend on Drupal to support their businesses. Given both their expertise and dependence on Drupal, they are most likely to look after Drupal's development and well-being. Contrast this with most of the digital marketing agencies and system integrators who work with a diversified portfolio of content management platforms. Their well-being is less dependent on Drupal's success.
The level of experience with Drupal and open source. Drupal aside, many organizations have little or no experience with open source, so it is important that we motivate and teach them to contribute.
Legal reservations. We recognize that some organizations are not legally permitted to contribute, let alone attribute their customers. We hope that will change as open source continues to get adopted.
Tools barriers. Drupal contribution still involves a patch-based workflow on Drupal.org's unique issue queue system. This presents a fairly steep learning curve to most developers, who primarily work with more modern and common tools such as GitHub. We hope to lower some of these barriers through our collaboration with GitLab.
Process barriers. Getting code changes accepted into a Drupal project — especially Drupal core — is hard work. Peer reviews, gates such as automated testing and documentation, required sign-offs from maintainers and committers, knowledge of best practices and other community norms are a few of the challenges a contributor must face to get code accepted into Drupal. Collaborating with thousands of people on a project as large and widely-used as Drupal requires such processes, but new contributors often don't know that these processes exist, or don't understand why they exist.
We should do more to entice contribution

Drupal is used by more than one million websites. Everyone who uses Drupal benefits from work that thousands of other individuals and organizations have contributed. Drupal is great because it is continuously improved by a diverse community of contributors who are enthusiastic to give back.

However, the vast majority of the individuals and organizations behind these Drupal websites never participate in the development of the project. They might use the software as it is or don't feel the need to help drive its development. We have to provide more incentive for these individuals and organizations to contribute back to the project.

Consequently, this data shows that the Drupal community can do more to entice companies to contribute code to Drupal.org. The Drupal community has a long tradition of encouraging organizations to share code rather than keep it behind firewalls. While the spirit of the Drupal project cannot be reduced to any single ideology — not every organization can or will share their code — we would like to see organizations continue to prioritize collaboration over individual ownership.

We understand and respect that some can give more than others and that some might not be able to give back at all. Our goal is not to foster an environment that demands what and how others should give back. Our aim is not to criticize those who do not contribute, but rather to help foster an environment worthy of contribution. This is clearly laid out in Drupal's Values and Principles.

Given the vast amount of Drupal users, we believe continuing to encourage organizations and end-users to contribute is still a big opportunity. From my own conversations, it's clear that organizations still need need education, training and help. They ask questions like: "Where can we contribute?", "How can we convince our legal department?", and more.

There are substantial benefits and business drivers for organizations that contribute: (1) it improves their ability to sell and win deals and (2) it improves their ability to hire. Companies that contribute to Drupal tend to promote their contributions in RFPs and sales pitches. Contributing to Drupal also results in being recognized as a great place to work for Drupal experts.

What projects have sponsors?

To understand where the organizations sponsoring Drupal put their money, I've listed the top 20 most sponsored projects:

RankProject nameIssues1Drupal core59192Webform9053Drupal Commerce6074Varbase: The Ultimate Drupal 8 CMS Starter Kit (Bootstrap Ready)5515Commerce Point of Sale (POS)3246Views3187Commerce Migrate3078JSON API3049Paragraphs27210Open Social22211Search API Solr Search21212Drupal Connector for Janrain Identity Cloud19713Drupal.org security advisory coverage applications18914Facets17115Open Y16216Metatag16217Web Page Archive15418Drupal core - JavaScript Modernization Initiative14519Thunder14420XML sitemap120Who is sponsoring the top 30 contributors?

Not specified
CI&T (850), Johnson & Johnson (23)
Vardot (653), Webship (90)
The Big Blue House (680), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (7), Rosewood Marketing (2), Kennesaw State University (1)
Ville de Montréal (98)
Commerce Guys (503), Torchbox (17), Adapt (6), Acro Media (4), Bluespark (1)
MD Systems (396), Translations.com (10), Acquia (2)
Chapter Three (123), Thunder (120), Acro Media (103)
Commerce Guys (393), Impactiv (17), Circle Web Foundry (16), Rosewood Marketing (14), LivePerson (13), Bluespark (4), Acro Media (4), Gaggle.net (3), Thinkbean (2), Matsmart (2)
Wim Leers
Acquia (371)
PreviousNext (350), University of Technology, Sydney (24), Charles Darwin University (10), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) (1), Department of Justice & Regulation, Victoria (1)
Mediacurrent (334)
Chapter Three (279), Torchbox (10), Drupal Association (5), Tag1 Consulting (3), Acquia (2), TES Global (1)
Third and Grove (320), Tag1 Consulting (8)
MTech (325)
Acquia (293)
GOLEMS GABB (423), Drupal Ukraine Community (73)
Acro Media (143)
Dazzle (136), Intracto digital agency (1), Acquia (1), DUG BE vzw (Drupal User Group Belgium) (1)
ADCI Solutions (255)
Hook 42 (253)
drunken monkey
DBC (24), Vizala (20), Sunlime Web Innovations GmbH (4), Wunder Group (1), epiqo (1), Zebralog (1)
Pfizer (211), Drupal Association (1), Chapter Three (1)
Torchbox (88)
bio.logis (193), OSCE: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (119)
Thunder (183)
OpenSense Labs (144), DrupalFit (55)
Acquia (176)

The University of British Columbia (125)
Pfizer (169), Appnovation (163), Millwood Online (6)
We observe that the top 30 contributors are sponsored by 58 organizations. This kind of diversity is aligned with our desire to make sure that Drupal is not controlled by a single organization. These top contributors and organizations are from many different parts of the world, and work with customers large and small. Nonetheless, we will continue to benefit from an increased distribution of contribution.

Limitations of the credit system and the data

While the benefits are evident, it is important to note a few of the limitations in Drupal.org's current credit system:

Contributing to issues on Drupal.org is not the only way to contribute. Other activities, such as sponsoring events, promoting Drupal, and providing help and mentorship are also important to the long-term health of the Drupal project. Many of these activities are not currently captured by the credit system. For this post, we chose to only look at code contributions.
We acknowledge that parts of Drupal are developed on GitHub and therefore aren't fully credited on Drupal.org. The actual number of contributions and contributors could be significantly higher than what we report. The Drupal Association is working to integrate GitLab with Drupal.org. GitLab will provide support for "merge requests", which means contributing to Drupal will feel more familiar to the broader audience of open source contributors who learned their skills in the post-patch era. Some of GitLab's tools, such as inline editing and web-based code review, will also lower the barrier to contribution, and should help us grow both the number of contributions and contributors on Drupal.org.
Even when development is done on Drupal.org, the credit system is not used consistently. As using the credit system is optional, a lot of code committed on Drupal.org has no or incomplete contribution credits.
Not all code credits are the same. We currently don't have a way to account for the complexity and quality of contributions; one person might have worked several weeks for just one credit, while another person might receive a credit for ten minutes of work. In the future, we should consider issuing credit data in conjunction with issue priority, patch size, etc. This could help incentivize people to work on larger and more important problems and save coding standards improvements for new contributor sprints. Implementing a scoring system that ranks the complexity of an issue would also allow us to develop more accurate reports of contributed work.
Like Drupal itself, the Drupal.org credit system needs to continue to evolve. Ultimately, the credit system will only be useful when the community uses it, understands its shortcomings, and suggests constructive improvements.


Our data confirms that Drupal is a vibrant community full of contributors who are constantly evolving and improving the software. While we have amazing geographic diversity, we still need greater gender diversity, in addition to better representation across various demographic groups. Our analysis of the Drupal.org credit data concludes that most contributions to Drupal are sponsored. At the same time, the data shows that volunteer contribution remains very important to Drupal.

As a community, we need to understand that a healthy open source ecosystem includes more than the traditional Drupal businesses that contribute the most. We still don't see a lot of contribution from the larger digital marketing agencies, system integrators, technology companies, or end-users of Drupal — we believe that might come as these organizations build out their Drupal practices and Drupal becomes more strategic for them.

To grow and sustain Drupal, we should support those that contribute to Drupal and find ways to get those that are not contributing involved in our community. We invite you to help us continue to strengthen our ecosystem.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net

Offering more inclusive user demographic forms

© Open Demographics Initiative's gender identification questions
Last week, Nikki Stevens presented "Other, Please Specify" for TEDx at Arizona State University. In her TED Talk, Nikki shares the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, which is developing a recommended set of questions that anyone can use to ask online community members about their demographics.
Nikki demonstrates how a majority of demographic surveys require users to conform to restrictive identity fields, which can alienate minority or underrepresented groups. The Open Demographics Initiative wants to develop forms that are more inclusive, in addition to giving people more control over the data and information they chose to disclose.
Inspired by Nikki's presentation, I reached out to the engineering team at the Drupal Association to see if there are plans to implement the Open Demographics Initiative's recommendations on Drupal.org. I was happy to learn that they are collaborating with the Open Demographics team to add the recommendations to the user registration process on Drupal.org.
Adopting Open Demographics on Drupal.org will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. Plus, we can lead by example and inspire other organizations to do the same.
Thank you Nikki, for sharing the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, and for helping to inspire change in the Drupal community and beyond.
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net

Cultivating an Inclusive Culture

The honest introspection and continuous work for a better teamReconsider DiversityThe typical approach to diversity in corporate environments can usually be summed up in two ways: lazy and superficial.To be fair, diversity is a difficult word to put into action. Most attempts to do so will probably end up feeling superficial. For example, companies often ironically state that they’re “committed to diversity” when the word itself is pretty noncommittal. The ambiguous nature of diversity means it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.That laxity is an allowance for laziness. Initiatives based on diversity are notorious for having vague, or non-existent, standards and accountability. Diversity has become a clichéd ideal versus an agent for change.Diversity is a difficult word to put into action.Attempts to execute diversity in a more specific way can also be problematic. Companies confronted with unfavorable demographic numbers and public pressure to do better find it easy to reach for tokenism as a quick-fix reaction to being called out and as a way to gain brownie points. The addition of individuals from minority and underrepresented groups has become the preferred way for organizations to portray improvement.When someone is perceived as a diversity hire, that label and perception of them as other (i.e. not like me) will be a difficult roadblock for everyone involved to overcome in order to work effectively as a team. Inevitably, the burden is placed on that individual to demonstrate their sameness, perpetuating the common expectation that individuals fall in line and assimilate in order to belong. So instead of an organization evolving from the unique contributions each person can offer, things remain essentially the same.#WOCinTechIn the article Stopping the Exodus of Women in Science, the Harvard Business Review describes the science, technology, and engineering fields as the “Alamo — a last holdout of redoubled intensity” when it comes to machismo in corporate settings. If that statement seems hyperbolic, consider that over half of highly-qualified women in STEM positions — 56 percent— eventually leave the industry. The top reasons cited for their exit? Inhospitable work cultures and isolation.Despite statistics like this and well-documented personal accounts that indicate an environment of intolerance and aggression, tech companies commonly describe their culture as the complete opposite — open and accepting.In Carlos Buenos’ observation of tech’s startup culture, Inside the Mirrortocracy, he offers an explanation for why there’s often such a disparity between a group’s perception of itself and the realities experienced by those that exist there:The problem with gathering a bunch of logically-oriented young males together and encouraging them to construct a Culture gauntlet has nothing to do with their logic, youth, or maleness. The problem is that all cliques are self-reinforcing. There is no way to recalibrate once the insiders have convinced themselves of their greatness.After adopting the abstract ideal of diversity as a value, a group can get the premature satisfaction that their awareness also equals progress. The pursuit to “increase diversity” usually shifts the focus outward for a solution and encourages the mindset that we should eventually arrive at a certain point of achievement. Both of those popular approaches makes it too easy for companies to continue avoiding the real issue.They aren’t forced to confront the biased ways of thinking and behaving ingrained in their culture that have created and sustained such a monolithic environment.If a company truly wants to be a place that includes people that aren’t all alike, they’ll need to create an inclusive culture. That will require an honest look inside themselves to identify the parts of their culture that prevent inclusivity.Recently, companies have seemed comfortable tackling unconscious bias in hiring. On the other hand, they seem unwilling to acknowledge the presence of that very same bias in their everyday operation.There is no known way to avoid unconscious or implicit bias.In fact, it thrives because you’re unaware that it’s happening. That’s why relying on just the good intentions of treating everyone in an inclusive way will always fall short. You will need to make specific plans to combat biased behavior.The work of inclusivity, like our persistent biases, should be constant and never-ending. Your entire team will need to become invested in doing the day-in and day-out work.Inclusivity: We Want You HereBeing inclusive means being consistent about communicating the value of every person participating with our actions. The foundation of those actions should be built on a collective mindset that goes beyond tolerating differences, to truly appreciating them. That appreciation is fostered with the recognition and treatment of differences as the asset they are to a team.When differences are celebrated, everyone on the team will feel safe, supported, and valued being themselves. The freedom of no longer needing to be a certain way in order to be accepted is a major key. Communication is open and honest, instead of guarded. Interactions with each other are earnest and real, instead of strategic. This kind of communication will elevate your work. Here are the actions you can take to make it clear that each person is welcome to participate and their contributions are valued.Safety to Speak UpEveryone on your team should feel safe voicing their concerns and questions. As with other parts of life, rules or guidelines aren’t enough to produce a safe environment. An open door policy in your employee handbook won’t cut it.True safety begins when we take steps to protect what we value. If you value hearing everyone’s voices, start by genuinely supporting one another when an issue is raised. Support isn’t about coddling or other empty gestures. It’s simply meeting someone’s voice with respect and thoughtful consideration.Beyond supporting those that speak up, everyone has the responsibility of being diligent stewards of the environment. Sometimes that means stepping up to advocate for someone else and that requires us to stop being silent.Violent responses to someone speaking up is what makes an environment unsafe. Common responses include intimidation, retaliation, or shaming. Reasons like self-preservation, obliviousness, or agreement with the offending party make it easy to do nothing when someone’s safety to speak up is threatened with violent communication.Silence reinforces fear to everyone, including yourself, and perpetuates avoidance. That can lead to disastrous outcomes when there’s a glaring problem no one feels comfortable addressing.It shouldn’t feel like an act of bravery for a teammate to say when something doesn’t feel right. It should feel like everyone’s expected duty.Gain New PerspectivesMaking speaking up a healthy and normal part of your culture is just the start. Listening is paramount. It’s no good encouraging people to speak, if we aren’t willing to listen.If you’re quick to dismiss or invalidate thoughts and experiences that don’t mirror your own, you’re depreciating the value of your team.Diverse teams perform better because of their access to an abundant and varied supply of thoughts, ideas, and approaches. Recognize and utilize the invaluable resources found in each other!Go into conversations with lots of curiosity and the intention to discover something you hadn’t considered before. During the course of that discussion, you can decide on the best way to move forward as a group. In every discussion you have as a team, don’t just say that questions and differing viewpoints are appreciated. Watch out for exclusion and bias within those discussions as well. Women often report that what they say needs to be repeated or affirmed by someone else in order for it to be heard.The point of discussions like these isn’t about changing minds or determining who’s right. You’re gaining a new perspective, not sacrificing your own.Make Information Easily AccessibleIn an effort to avoid red tape, tech companies in particular can be averse to written policies or guidelines for operations. That approach allows bias to go unchecked. It makes inequitable treatment more likely to occur and harder to point out and defend against.That’s especially true when it comes to how performance is measured. In the absence of clear and consistent standards, success at a meritocracy becomes an uncertainty that’s dependent upon judgement.Documenting your processes not only keeps you objective, it keeps your team empowered and well-educated.Sharing what you know with everyone is a step toward being transparent with one another. Sometimes, information just naturally stays within the confines of a certain team, group of people, or person. Documentation makes any holes in your process obvious when it may not have been otherwise. It helps dissolve information barriers opens the flow of information.That flow of information inevitably leads to a greater level of connectedness. Connecting and building relationships across workplace boundaries, for example, with someone from another team, location, or seniority level, is a great way to counteract exclusivity within an organization.Internal mentorship and sponsorship initiatives are credited with reducing the likelihood of burnout and increasing employee engagement and retention.Illustration: Ashley BoweWe Make Each Other BetterFocusing on inclusivity will force your team to evaluate if your actions honor the existence of everyone there. That question can’t be answered with words or by a single person.It can only be answered in the mindfulness reflected in our actions every day.Yes, it is constant work that requires taking the time to be generous with empathy and thoughtfulness. That work doesn’t hinder productivity, though — it drives it.When your differences are no longer points of contention, they become a celebrated strength. When you choose to uplift each other with respect and support, it elevates your interactions and, as a result, your work.It emphasizes one of the best parts of belonging on a team: We’re all in this together.I’d love to hear your thoughts! What steps have your company or organization taken to be more inclusive? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.Cultivating an Inclusive Culture was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: 37signals

Bringing Analytical Thinking to Product Decisions with Client Teams

What is decision-making? In its simplest form, decision-making is the act of choosing between two or more courses of action. When confronted with a decision, you can take one of two cognitive approaches - analytical or intuitive.
In Thinking Fast, and Slow, Nobel prize winner cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes analytical thinking as “slow, deliberate, and consciously effortful mode of reasoning.” By contrast, intuitive thinking is our “fast, automatic, and largely unconscious mode.” In other words: think, or blink.  
There are hundreds of non-trivial decisions that come up in our day-to-day work building brands and creating great web products here at Viget. Which typeface combination best conveys a campaign’s tone? What mobile nav style will work best for users in an older demographic? How should I structure the code for this feature? Our professional lives can be simplified down to making and acting on decisions like these.
When we can, an analytical approach is almost always the better fit for these decisions. A visual designer can experiment with different typefaces, an interface designer can test mobile navigation patterns with potential users, and a developer can look at comparable code from peers, all in their quests for the best solution.
Sometimes though, we do need to rely on intuition to make a decision. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! The “gut reaction” of an industry professional is backed by years of experience, training, intimate knowledge of web standards and best practices, industry know-how…and of course (as Kahneman is quick to point out) a sprinkling of personal preference and bias.

What kinds of product decisions do we make with clients?
When we’re building a web application with a client team, we often lean on our clients to help us make some of the toughest and arguably most important decisions of the project:
Should we prioritize feature X or feature Y? Is it more important for feature X to do (or look like) this, or that?  How do we incorporate requirement Z into the existing design of feature Y?
We value our client’s input and want them involved in the process. Clients are often much more intimately familiar with the subject matter and users for the products we’re developing. And, like any consultancy, we need their buy-in.
Just like in our internal, day-to-day decision-making, we want to be able to take an analytical approach to decisions we make together with our clients. The most straightforward way to achieve this is by validating decisions through lightweight research and testing. But research data isn’t always available and decisions still have to be made.
If you were to ask a client team “Should we prioritize feature X or feature Y?” and you didn’t provide any additional context, direction or a framework for making an analytical decision, you are inadvertently asking them to use their intuition to make a quick decision. In other words, “What do you think?”
Client teams are equally as invested in the product’s success as we are, and they don’t ever want to rely on a coin flip to make a tough choice. Clients want to make well-informed decisions, and feel good about making them! But our client teams are also (in most cases) not web professionals. They don’t have the years of experience and training that might otherwise arm an intuitive decision. They have emotion and preference to inform a quick decision, and whatever information and experience we’ve provided them to make an analytical one. If we don’t provide a framework for that decision-making, we haven’t served our clients (or our product) very well.

Taking a step back
It can be tough to have future-proofing conversations when a project is first kicking off and everyone is excited and getting to know each other. But, early on in a project is actually the best time to introduce clients to the possibility that tough conversations may happen down the road. The moment when you’re asking a client to choose two features from a list of five that will be finished before code freeze is not the first time you want your client aware that this situation might come up.
Within the first week of a integrationproject, it’s a good idea to share two unalienable truths about software integrationwith your client team:
We are almost always working under some constraints (often time or budget) that limit the number of things we can do. Software integrationis fluid; it’s not an exact science. Any number of factors can increase or decrease the amount of time one thing takes, so it’s impossible to predict exactly how many things we can do in the given constraints. Application interfaces can accommodate a lot of different user needs. But the nature of design is such that the product interface won’t be able to satisfy every use case with equal priority.

Creating an analytical framework
Once clients understand that we are working together on a project for which we may not be able to do everything, the logical next step is recognizing that this situation will lend itself to hard choices. That conversation can go something like this:
“We will likely have to make tough decisions about what we should spend our time building (feature prioritization) and how those things should work (feature design and definition). There may not always be a perfect solution, and in those cases whatever we do will be a trade-off. The best we can do is to try to understand the priorities and the tradeoffs, make decisions together on the best way to move forward, and then work as hard and as fast as we can on what we’ve all agreed is most important.”
And now, the final step. To evaluate and understand priorities, work with your clients to identify a single most important user upfront before any integrationwork begins.
We often ask clients to rank primary audiences at the start of the project. We define, design and build the product with those audiences in mind. But what if only one could be the most important? If you had to choose?
Certainly there will be product decisions throughout the course of the project that don’t pertain to this single use-case. For an app that allows higher-ed professionals to showcase their CVs and search for jobs, prioritizing the job-seeking professionals won’t have much impact on the functionality for job-posters. But as we’re designing the interface, defining features and deciding what enhancements are critical for the application, having a single user that everyone has agreed is most important is incredibly helpful.
It sounds pretty simple, right? “We can’t do everything, so we’re going to have to agree on what’s most important, so let’s decide who is most important, and that user will be our framework for evaluating decisions down the road!” Having these conversations with your client team requires tact, honesty and trust on both sides. Agreeing that tough decisions will be required means acknowledging that our integrationteam may not get to everything. Agreeing on a most important user means acknowledging that other users may have slightly less focus.

Putting our framework to the test!  
We recently worked with iContact to build a tool that allows people to edit email layout and marketing content in React. Our primary success metric was to increase the number of new trial users who successfully sent their first email. We also knew that most new trial users of iContact were first-time email marketing users.
Once we were all on the same page about having to make decisions to meet our ambitious launch deadline, keeping this user in mind helped us evaluate, alongside an unbelievably great client team, some of those toughest decisions we encountered on the project:
Should we include preview text in the metadata area? Is it more important for users to be able to crop and rotate images, or upload multiple files at once?   How should we treat the requirement for converting blocks to HTML?

In conclusion  
Daniel Kahneman said it best. “If you’ve had 10,000 hours of training in a predictable, rapid-feedback environment — chess, firefighting, anesthesiology — then blink. In all other cases, think.”
In the same way that we think before we make major decisions, we want our clients to do the same. The more we can do to position our clients to make analytical product decisions with us, the better we can guarantee on-time and on-budget delivery of a user-driven product.

Source: VigetInspire

4 Things You Should Know Before You Start Using Memes on Social Media

Memes are one of the greatest symbols of social media.
They’re edgy. They’re funny. They’re easy to iterate on, and every week, a new one pops up.
But despite their popularity, it seems like using memes is a risky decision for a brand — or is it?

Memes can work well for brands, but only for those that get the essential elements of using a meme right.
If you try to use a meme and don’t hit the mark, you’ll look foolish and out of touch at best, but could also end up seriously offending someone.
So whether you’re new to memes, or looking to spin your meme mastery into good business, this guide will help you nail marketing with memes.

Their simple form and humor give memes inherent virility and a broad appeal. If you’ve been thinking about using memes to promote your brand on social media, you’re in good company.
As memes rise in popularity, brands grow keener on capitalizing on their pervasiveness and charm.
Why Memes Work
Memes are successful because they’re “carriers of culture.”
Memes seem to collect our ideas, emotions, and actions in a simple and transferable form, making them perfect for the Internet age.
Several points make memes great for brands:

They are an easy way to capitalize on shared knowledge.
They are great for humanizing your brand and sharing it on social media with an authentic voice.
They make it easier to showcase complex concepts such as your brand personality and company culture.
According to research, they lead to higher engagement from your audience.
They increase the chance that people will remember your brand when they see the meme elsewhere.

While some companies have managed to use memes to inject new energy in their brands, not all who have ventured in meme-territory have come back victorious.
One of the potentially most damaging ways to use a meme is to get embroidered in a legal battle over licensing rights, as New York-based drugstore chain Duane Read found out.
Although there’s no surefire way to use them, there are various ways in which you can protect yourself from having a meme backfire on your brand:

Check the rights on an image: It’s important to be aware of the risks you’re taking, even if the chance of ending up on the wrong side of the law is minuscule.
Develop a clear policy: Figure out what’s your brand’s tolerable level of risk and create guidelines that everyone on your team understands and follows.
Make sure you’re not implying an endorsement: In the case of Duane Reade, that’s what got the brand in trouble.
Consider the alternatives: If you want to use a particular image but are afraid there might be implications, explore alternative paths. For example, you can try licensing an image that you want to feature as a major part of a marketing campaign.

Know Your Audience
Start by making sure incorporating memes in your social marketing will click with your audience. Learn who your brand followers are and what they care about. Are they the type of people who would enjoy seeing a meme, or would they find it hard to understand it?
Your brand personality holds great insights into the type of people who follow you on social media and the expectations they have of you. For example, if you are a popular brand that appeals to millennials, memes are probably a good bet. However, if you’re trying to project a much classier, high-brow image, a meme might fall on deaf ears.
Good example: Totino’s
Totino’s is aware that their customer base is not looking for a Michelin-star culinary experience. They can poke some fun at themselves while selling their frozen pizza rolls, and their customers will love it.
Totino’s does this well with their version of the “Whomst” meme, which makes fun of those who use linguistic hypercorrection to appear more enlightened:

The brand injects itself into the meme by jokingly suggesting that the higher state of existence is literally to become a pizza roll. The savvy usage of the meme earns them instant recognition from their followers:

Bad Example: Club Orange
Irish soft drink Club Orange shows us what can happen if you don’t know your audience.
In this example, the brand used the “Success Kid” meme as part of one of their regular social media campaigns:

(Image Source)
Club Orange runs a weekly “Crate Friday” contest in which they send a full crate of their product to one of the people who comment on their Facebook update:

This use of meme misses the mark because of how disconnected all elements are — there’s no link between the image, the contest, and the question Club Orange is asking to engage their followers.
To make sure the memes you use on your Facebook page click with your audience:

Develop well-defined customer personas for the main segments of your audience. When you have a clear picture of who you’re talking to, it will be much easier to know if a certain meme is a good bet.
Start on a small scale: Experiment with using a meme on a small segment of your audience. If you suspect a specific demographic might be particularly (un)responsive to memes, use Facebook’s targeting capabilities to confirm your hypothesis.

Use an Appropriate Tone
Success on social heavily depends on the voice and tone brands use—and memes are part of that. Voice and tone matter because they provide consistency for the personality of your brand.
For some brands, memes come as a natural fit to their existing content. But for more serious or professional brands, finding the right tone makes all the difference between a successful meme and a total flop.
Good Example: Gucci
Luxury fashion retailer Gucci is not the first place you’d look for meme marketing. Nevertheless, the brand has found an inventive way to capitalize on the popularity of this internet phenomenon.
Gucci has recently featured a series of commissioned memes on their Facebook page, many of which depict Gucci products. In this example, they have appropriated the “Arthur’s Fist” meme that was popular in late 2016:


Notice the great caption that goes along with the image. The accompanying copy describes the image in the same way a curator would describe an artwork. This is an inventive way to fit the meme into the personality of the brand, while still benefitting from the link to popular culture.
Even though this example doesn’t use the original meme, most brand followers spot the connection immediately.
Bad Example: Club Mate
German beverage Club Mate, which is well-known for its affiliation with Berlin’s raucous and youthful nightlife, has taken advantage of meme content in its Facebook presence.
The “Oscars Best Picture Meme” arose in the aftermath of the 2017 Oscars, where the incorrect winner was announced, and the ultimate reveal occurred by a camera shot of the correct winning card:

By linking itself to the event, Club Mate is making a risky bet — many people were upset because they felt the whole mix-up was emblematic of racism. Instead of being a lighthearted meme, the Oscars debacle turned into a political issue with a lot of commentary surrounding the event and its aftermath.
Club Mate certainly had no intention to make any allusions to racial issues, but this underlines the importance of thoroughly considering all aspects of a meme and how it may be perceived before using it.

To make sure you’re using the appropriate tone in your memes:

Include a section on voice and tone in your social media strategy guidelines and make sure everyone on your team follows it.
Don’t try to sound too smart with the language you use, and make sure the memes are not too obscure. The beauty of memes is in the fact that they can be understood by everyone in the audience.
Make sure you don’t sound offensive with your memes. Poking fun at racial and gender issues is obviously a big no-no. The best policy is to keep things lighthearted when using memes.

Develop a Great Taste for Using Humor
All memes rely on humor, so it’s essential to know just how much of it to inject into a meme for your brand. Using humor is always the easiest way to make your brand sound human and create an emotional connection with your audience.
Obviously, making fun of your customers should be avoided, but even poking fun at your brand can backfire, as we see in one of the examples below.
Good Example: New South Wales Police
The police force of New South Wales in Australia has successfully appropriated memes for public service announcements. Here, they’ve taken advantage of the “Persian Cat Guardian” meme, which uses an image of a poorly taxidermied cat to express disbelief at a hypothetical situation:

(Image Source)
NSW Police Force uses the meme to remind their Facebook audience about the dangers of speeding.
This is a great use case because this kind of humor is unexpected from a “boring” organization such as the police. The meme immediately draws people in and encourages them to read the full status.
Moreover, by using such a lighthearted tone, the NSW police manages to get across their point on a controversial topic that may have otherwise provoked a heated debate. What’s more, they even sneak in a statistic — without the meme, this message would feel dry and boring.

Bad Example: Jimmy John’s
Sandwich company Jimmy John’s is a no-frills chain known for its no-nonsense, self-deprecating approach to its brand. And while that’s a great approach to have, it should always be used with care.
In this example, we see Jimmy John’s use the “Be Like Bill” meme, which disparages people who are overactive on social media:

(Image Source)
But the Jimmy John’s meme doesn’t quite hit the mark:

A large share of the brand’s audience is heavily committed to social media — telling them that it’s not worth posting what they’re eating might be perceived as a signal that it’s not worth to be a customer of Jimmy John’s at all.
Additionally, happy customers who post on social media provide a great opportunity for word-of-mouth promotion. By discouraging their audience from sharing their experience, Jimmy John’s is missing out on the chance to have those people serve as brand ambassadors.
To make sure you’re using the right amount of humor in your campaigns, remember to follow the basic rules:

A joke can go a long way with your audience, especially if they’re not expecting that level of informality from you. Just remember that there’s a limit to how much you can use this tactic before it gets predictable and commonplace.
Sometimes a good joke is too tempting to pass on, but remember that your brand is on social media to achieve its business goals, not to post anything funny that comes to mind.

Embed Your Brand in a Meme
Some companies venture beyond the established tropes and try to create their own meme where the brand takes center stage. A few are lucky enough to inspire memes, but not all of them have the gumption to capitalize on those opportunities.
In either case, having a meme that features your brand go viral is great for brand recognition.
Let’s see what makes the difference between those who succeed and those who fail:
Good Example: Netflix
One of the most surprising outcomes of the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things was the slew of memes surrounding a relatively minor character, Barb. Through the popularity of these memes, Barb has come to symbolize particular topics and ideas many of us care about.
The Barb-meme phenomenon came as a surprise even to the creators of the show, but Netflix did not hesitate to take advantage of it. Below, we see the brand sharing images that do fan service to lovers of Barb, and capitalize on the memes to generate even more buzz about the show.

Bad Example: Doritos
Doritos misses the mark in trying to create amusing memes that include the actual tortilla chips. While humorous and shareable, they miss the point of memes because they depend on already existing tropes. The result is an unconvincing attempt to blend humor with their brand.

If you’re looking to embed your brand in a meme, remember the following:

It should be simple enough that the majority of your audience can understand it without further explanation.
The meme cannot be about your brand, it can only feature it. Pushing too hard will make it easy for people to recognize your effort for what it is — an ad.

The Tools You Need to Create Your First Meme
To recap, brands interested in including memes in their social marketing should think about the following elements:

They should make sure memes would fit with their audience
They should make sure to use an appropriate tone
They should be careful about how they use humor with memes
They should consider how their brand fits within the meme

After considering these, you’re ready to start using memes in your social media channels.
The first step is to keep an eye on KnowYourMeme.com to stay in the know on trends. Sharing an old meme or overusing the same one are two easy ways to spoil your efforts before you’ve even started.
There are many websites that can help you create a meme quickly — imgflip, Meme Generator, and makeameme.org are just a few you might find useful.
Take slow steps, experiment, and hopefully, you’ll find the power that memes can create for your brand. Just remember that — like any superpower — memes should be used responsibly.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

7 Topics that Should be Covered During a Digital Discovery Workshop (including 70+ Specific Questions You Should Ask)

Discovery Workshops play an important role in the success of any integrationproject. If a Discovery Workshop is not conducted the right manner, its value can be lost.
At the beginning of a project, Discovery Workshops are the part of the “Discovery Phase,” which can be considered as the courtship period, during which a strategic partner usually collaborates with his client to understand the project’s requirements and functional specifications, and to discuss content modelling, solution architecture and so on. The aim is to define the project’s business goals by fitting the pieces together.
This is the foundation of any project.
However, a successful Discovery Workshop is only achieved when the right set of questions are asked. Here is my list of questions that I consider are important to ask while you are onsite with client, discussing the details of his or her project.
For me, the right set of questions inspires the client to think about what he or she needs out of the whole engagement. It also ensures that there are no surprises and unwritten assumptions.
I’ve grouped my questions (more than 70 of them!) into seven topics.

What is the end goal of this engagement?
What is the client proposition around it?
How, as partners, shall we together actively evaluate the success of the project?
How will we ensure that the business goals are met at the end of engagement?
How does this whole engagement fit into the client’s vision and overall strategy?
How does this project stack up against competition?
What will this solution create a “unique selling proposition” for the client?
User Experience

Who is the target audience?
What is the demographic of audience the client is targeting?
What are the different needs of the users who will be coming to the project for a solution?
Is there any specific timing during which users will use the application?
Why will they want to come back, or refer it to others?
As a service provider, what does the client want the user of the solution to do?
What are the current challenges?
What is the expected “user journey?”
How can customer satisfaction be improved?
How can desired conversions be achieved?
How is the competition doing it differently?
What devices will the application be supporting?
What are the usability cases that the client is expecting?
What platform are we building the application for?
Is accessibility compliance a goal?

What is our primary content type?
Are we planning to migrate old content?
If so, what content should be moved, specifically?
How will the content, old and new, relate to each other?
What will be our user permissions and workflows?
Is content strategy part of the scope?
How frequently will different pages be updated?
Will there be personalization/localization of content? If yes, what are the APIs that the client has thought of?
Will the product be designed for different, specific markets? If yes, what differences will be expected?
Will the solution be multilingual? If so, what is the default language, and how will language-selector needs be changed with regard to the user journey?
Are there any specific requirements with regard to different markets?
Visual/User Experience/User Interface

What are the style guidelines?
How well are brand guidelines defined?
Do brand assets -- logos etc. -- exist?
How rigid is the existing style guide? As the solution partner, do we have some flexibility?
Are there any designs that are already in the client’s mind?
Any existing creative insights in the minds of stakeholders?
Are there emotional end states that the client wants to engender in customers?
What functionality is expected?

Are there any expected integrations with social networks?
Are there any third-party integrations that the client is expecting?
Is the client expecting any of the solutions to be multilingual?
Most importantly, how are these functionalities supposed to help the client achieve the project’s business goals?
Is data capture required?
Are there any requirements for e-commerce, store locators, or any Google API integrations?

What level of security checks/compliances is the client expecting?
Is encryption required?
Does the client have a legacy system that needs to be integrated?
If change in an existing system is required, where are current databases located? Does the client want to change them? Do they have any preferences around this process?
Where will the solution be hosted?
What backup mechanism is expected?
Is client expecting CDNs, AWS, or Akamai to handle spikes in traffic?
Is there any integrationframework the client wants us to follow?
Does client expect a tracking mechanism? If yes, which tool: for example, Webtrends, Adobe Site Catalyst, or Google Analytics?
Project Management & Governance

What is the client’s expectation with regard to a Project Plan?
Who are the stakeholders? Who shall be the client Point of Contact for all communication during the project execution?
How comfortable is the client with agile methodology?
What is the preferred communication mode? What tools will be used to collaborate?
Who needs to be involved in day-to-day communication?
Who will manage the Project Management process?
What does the project’s RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) look like?
What will be the change-management process?
What is the tentative live date? How are we arriving this live date via business goals? What would be the impact, if the “live” date is not met?
What are the potential risks associated with the “live” date?
When these questions are answered, a Discovery Report should be shared with the delivery team. This will not only help with the smooth execution of project, but it will also reduce surprises down the road.
Although these workshops are usually an added expense in the project’s budget, they are well worth it. As a strategic partner/consultant to the client, it makes sense to encourage these workshops -- to ensure better understanding and a smoother collaboration ahead.
Source: http://dev.acquia.com/

Hashtags on Facebook — The Definitive Guide

We know that hashtags on Facebook tend to stump people. Their usefulness on Twitter and Instagram is obvious—you can plug into any topic and get your content in front of interested users. But over on Facebook, we sometimes neglect them.
But if you’re still thinking about Facebook hashtags like you did in 2009, that’s probably why you’re confused.

As more and more businesses and people got on Facebook, the platform expanded its search functions. Hashtags have now become the new normal. Facebook users now expect to see hashtags, and then use them to discover new content and conversations.
And this has us wondering, can adding a hashtag to your ad boost its overall performance?

We decided to run an experiment to test the importance of hashtags in Facebook ads. Here are the results!
Some Basics About the #Hashtag
We’ve written before about how to create a hashtag that actually boosts your brand. Let’s take a review of some best practices:

Keep it brief but unique: You don’t want your hashtag to go on forever—too many words strung together and users can’t easily digest the message. If it’s unique, your hashtag will stand out, and you’ll also gain a lot more traction and credit when it gets picked up.
Evoke an emotion: Pull at the heartstrings. Make them laugh, or cry, or even get them angry. The #SFBatKid was a great example of a hashtag that really took off and promoted Make a Wish with a documentary about one of their participants. A young boy got to dress up as Batman and accompany a full-grown Batman to save the day, all courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation.

With a brief, unique, and emotional hashtag Make a Wish generated tons of conversation and earned marketing, and we’d guess a huge surge in donations as well.

Be funny: Hashtags that are either funny, cleverly constructed, or both are much more likely to catch on quickly and spread like wildfire. If it’s funny or clever, it’s often easily catchy, and users will be excited to be a part of it.
Proofread it and look for hidden meanings: Avoid any embarrassing misunderstandings by thinking through your capitalization. Test it out to make sure you’re good to go by looking at the entire hashtag in lower case letters, looking for hidden words or phrases users could find. It doesn’t hurt to have someone else take a look at it, too.
Hashtag your event: By creating a hashtag that is specifically for an event, you encourage users to share their experience on social media in real time. Even if they aren’t posting consistently, having a ton of people sharing pictures or statuses about your event, tagged with your hashtag, will give you instant free promotion to what could be other members of your target audience.
Be prepared: Every now and then something goes awry when users take the hashtag and run with it. Examples include #McDStories, where users really gave their favorite McDonalds stories. All of which seemed to all have a terrible ending, and #AskELJames, where fans were encouraged to ask any questions they’d like to ask the author of “50 Shades of Grey” (you can just imagine how that went).

The Experiment
Now on to our experiment! To explore the value of hashtags, we returned to our Elizabeth Warren vs. Kanye West campaign. When we were testing urgency in a similar campaign, we saw that Facebook users were pretty motivated to click.
We wanted to know, would they be even more motivated when we added a couple hashtags to our ad copy?
We took the same visual mock-up and put that question to the test.

Whatever your political opinions may be, this image is going to draw your attention. With bold, bright colors and no text—just faces—this image plays to your brain’s natural processes that respond to emotional cues in other people’s faces.
The star power in this ad doesn’t hurt either.
Next, we turned to the copy. Instead of dialing up the urgency, as we did in our last experiment we went with a simple call to action.
In an election unlike any other… Who would you pick?
We kept that copy the same in both variations of the ad.

And then we added the hashtags:

We chose these hashtags because they feel familiar. Rather than just tagging #SenatorWarren or #KanyeWest, we’re trying to trigger recognition and clicks. The hashtag #RunWarrenRun was already used (unsuccessfully) to draft her into the 2016 race. And the same construction #RunPoliticianRun is already being used for the 2018 election season.
You’ll notice the only real difference between these two ads is the hashtag because that’s what we’re testing! When A/B testing, you want to isolate just one aspect of the ad to change.
You don’t want different photos, different titles, different share text, and different calls-to-action all at the same time. This way, we know we’re measuring what the addition of the hashtags are doing to engagement with the ads.
The Design
We then set up our A/B testing in AdEspresso. Instead of making multiple versions of our ad from scratch, we built up the whole campaign at once.
If you’re testing your ad copy, as we did, all you need to do is click the plus sign button.

Then add in both versions.

Finally, we set up our target audience.
We chose to target young Facebook users in the United States, ages 17-30, people you might assume have more familiarity with Kanye West and Elizabeth Warren.

To nail down our demographic even further, we targeted users who have expressed interest in Kanye or Senator Warren.

All in all, we wanted to reach people who are “likely to engage in politics,” on both ends of the liberal-conservative spectrum.
 The Results
Overall we found that the version with our #RunWarrenRun and #RunKanyeRun hashtags outperformed the version without them.

The non-hashtagged version still performed well but had fewer impressions and clicks and a lower click-through rate and cost per click.

By adding #RunWarrenRun and #RunKanyeRun to our ad, we boosted the click through rate and the total number of impressions. The cost per click is lower by a small, but not an insignificant amount.
The ad without hashtags—our “control” group in the experiment—had a cost per click of $.321 while the ad with hashtags had a lower cost per click of $.301. In fact, the hashtagged ad outperformed the control in every category.

Looking at cost per click (CPC) is important because it shows you if you’re getting your money’s worth.
Basically, hashtags made our ad cheaper, and that can make a big difference down the line. If we were to scale up this campaign and aim for 100,000 overall impressions instead of 3,000, we would be glad to know that hashtags drove down the CPC.
Why Do Hashtags Work Better?
Even if the discoverability factor of hashtags on Facebook is a little different than on Twitter or Instagram, it’s still powerful. When Facebook users click through a hashtag, they see a wealth of content all organized by category.
You can click on #RunWarrenRun and see just the pages, videos, photos, places, associated with that tag:

You can sort by just your friends’ posts or by certain groups. You can also sort by location or time frame. This kind of detailed filtering doesn’t exist on Twitter and Instagram, and it makes the hashtag experience on Facebook feel a bit more adventurous and a bit more organized.

No one is only on one social media platform. A good hashtag sparks a conversation that’s fast-moving and cross-platform. On Facebook, with all these filtering options, that conversation becomes easier and more engaging to follow.
You can see what hashtags your friends are chiming in on and sharing. You can look at just photos or just videos. What’s more, users who discover content through hashtags are more likely to engaged with it. They’ve sought it out themselves.
As Facebook users become more familiar and comfortable with all the filtering options, it’s easy to see why a hashtag on our ad would make them click. Just by adding a hashtag, we offered users a window into all the other conversation happening about Elizabeth Warren and Kanye West.
Test It Out Yourself
On Facebook, hashtags are points of entry to ongoing conversations. Using them in your ads is an invitation for users to join in. You still don’t want to go overboard and start tagging things left and right. Remember: keep it brief and unique.
But hashtags are indeed a powerful feature on Facebook. Using them in your ads can boost your clicks, lower your CPC, and plug you into ongoing conversations.
Fire up an A/B test and get started!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

5 Personalization Hacks that Fly Under the Radar

There’s no doubt.
No questioning or debate necessary.
Every marketer is trying to personalize. It’s seen as THE trend by most.
And yet, results vary.

Some still struggle. Slapping on trite $FNAME or $COMPANY wherever possible.
Then there’s others setting the bar. Setting the tone.
The difference is nuanced. You can’t always see it in front of you when you click on an ad or visit a landing page.
But you can feel it. It’s there. And it’s undeniable.

Some of the most sophisticated marketing today segment customer bases; delivering real-time personalization to each individual – without them even realizing it.
Here’s five examples of what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and you can do it, too.
1. Content vs. Web Personalization
Type in http://Amazon.com and what do you see?
It’s not generic. Or static. But a list of recommended products. And a list of suggestions based on past searches or purchases.

The ‘Recommended Product’ thing is popular on eCommerce sites because, well, it works.
ConversionXL highlighted this with two brilliant studies.
The first was from At Home in The Country, who’s addition of personalized product recommendations (say that ten times fast) resulted in a 12.5% increase in conversions with a correlating 13% increase in revenue.

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Unsurprisingly, conversions are the #1 indicator for effective personalization (according to Evergage’s 2015 survey).

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Personalization provides visitors with a better experience. Helps them find stuff faster, easier. And it results in better conversions for companies.
So adoption (and resource allocation) into personalization-techniques is only trending up and to the right.

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Best of all, you don’t need in-house devs and a custom setup on Magento (thank god) for this stuff, either. Off-the-shelf eCommerce business tools like BigCommerce come shipped with advanced features like displaying recent product views, shopping cart abandonment saver (more on that later), and even Amazon-esque one-click purchasing.
But the same thing is happening across industries, too.
Take B2B SaaS for instance. Optimizely personalizes their homepage for 25 audiences (based on demographics and behavior).

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And the results: “113% increase in visits to our solutions page and 117% increase in clicks on secondary CTAs.”
But here’s the thing.
Yes. These examples all contain personalization. However, that personalization is mostly content-based. Similar to Netflix when you login.
Personalization doesn’t end just there.
Here’s why that’s important.
2. The Death of the Homepage
Let’s try a quick experiment.
Login to Google Analytics.
Go to Behavior. Then Site Content. Then sort by popularity.
Take any date range. Start with the past 30 days. But go back to the last six months or longer, too.
And what do you see in positions 1-5?

Chances are, only one of those is the homepage. The others?  More likely blog content or landing pages from a year+ ago.
In other words, the Page We All Obsess Over isn’t even the most popular visitors. Why is that?  Because the traditional, static homepage has been dying a slow, awkward, painful death. For years.
Instead, organic search consistently generates new page views to old content pages. Social “floods” recent pages with referral traffic from all those sites the kids are using.
People are bypassing the homepage initially. Only to eventually make their way back afterward. The emphasis for traffic and lead gen then, should go towards the landing page, not the homepage.
Years ago, HubSpot surveyed over 7,000 businesses and compiled the findings in a benchmark report. The “no duh” finding was that the number of leads increased as the number of landing pages did.

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So. How? New pages based on product lines. Industries or verticals you target. And even OTHER products or services that complement yours. That’s what Peter from Databox is doing to hack the landing page hack:
“Every time we launch an integration with another software product, we launch a new landing page. As an example, we’ve generated 100s of new signups from our HubSpot Marketing Connector landing page. Tomorrow, we’ll be launching a directory of report templates for our most popular connectors. Each of those templates will be hosted on a landing page too.”
But don’t forget about use cases, either. For example, Kinsta provides managed WordPress hosting. (To this very blog you’re reading no less.)
So they have one product. One service.
Yet they have different landing pages for WooCommerce Hosting:

And another for Enterprise WordPress Hosting:

Same product. Different use cases. Different potential customers. Means different landing pages.
Funnel segmentation can help you keep it all straight. Creating multiple variations of the same page many times in order to align each with a single traffic channel (or individual campaign).

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But how to keep it all straight? So glad you asked!
URL parameters can be added directly to Facebook ads when you create a new campaign inside AdEspresso.

Terminus is an excellent, affordable option if you’re organizing a campaign across multiple channels (in addition to just Facebook) and you want to be able to compare their performance against each other.

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This level of OCD-granularity has the added bonus of increasing your odds at better audience targeting. (Which we’ll dive into in the next section.)
Better audience targeting = higher ad relevance = lower costs per click & conversion.

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That’s important. (And why we’ve beat it to death.)
Because segmentation is the key to unlocking this web personalization stuff.
3. Segmentation
Slapping a “Hey $FNAME” on an email before it goes out the door ain’t personalization.
Instead, it’s the detailed database-driven stuff Brennan Dunn is applying.
First, leads are segmented based on actionable information like the type of business they’re in, the size of their organization, and the potential value to his company.

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✅ Where actionable = you can do cool marketing stuff based on it.
❌ And not useless demographic information that just sits in your database gathering dust and moth balls.
That’s an important distinction. Because Brennan then takes it another step further to identify what each of these individuals are specifically interested in.

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Perfect. Now we’re ready to start targeting behavior.
See, you can ask people for this kind of information. But in most cases, you’re not gonna get it. People don’t always know what they want. They just know it when they see it.
So if you can’t uncover their intent explicitly (by them telling you outright in a form, etc.), you’ll have to get it implicitly (by watching their behavior).
How? You set a trap.
For example, let’s do a simple re-engagement exercise.
Take all of those people who’ve downloaded your latest ebook. But done nothing else. They’re stuck. Up there are the top of the funnel. Which does you no good.
First, create a new segment of people for these people using whichever email automation tool you prefer.


TOFU = eBook download.
35 days = To create a ‘buffer’ after the initial 30-day sequence they saw
BOFU = A free trial sign up, purchase, quote request, etc.
MOFU = Webinar opt-in, audit, etc.

Now take a few blog posts. Or a single, in-depth one with a few anchors. Ideally, you want to present people with different, opposing choices.
Here’s an example I’ve used previously that has different Bitly links to said anchors that all point to different topics (like ‘SEO’ vs. ‘Conversion’ vs. ‘Email’, etc.)

Now hit send. Wait. And watch.
People will tell you what they’re interested in. If you’re looking for it. You can now tag their contact record or add them to a different smartlist based on those different topics (or use cases, or verticals, you get the idea).
And now you can start sending them better-targeted information, to better-targeted pages, with better targeted Facebook ads.
Create a brand new custom audience for this segment using AdEspresso’s Data Sync. And now every time someone clicks on the “SEO” topic in that re-engagement email, they’ll get added to a smartlist in HubSpot and then sent over to this new corresponding “TOFU Re-Engagement SEO” audience in Facebook.

Now you know what ads to send them. They’ll be more appealing. Increasing your odds of getting clicked.
Which means you’ll be able to drive more people down into the depths of your funnel. (Where the money’s made.)
4. User Flow Optimization
Go to Google.
And look for a product. Say, “mens chukka boots”.
If, like me, you’re attracted to shiny things first, you’ll notice the Special Offer extension on one of those. Plus, that means a discount might be in store. Let’s click and find out.

Unsurprisingly we go directly to an individual product page for the boots we just clicked on. Makes sense.
Bonus points: You’ll notice that Macy’s does a good job ‘matching’ our intent by highlighting the aforementioned Special Offers when we arrive.

Priming is a concept that says we’re more likely to take action once we’ve already been exposed to something similar. It’s the backbone of Cialdini’s latest, Pre-Suasion.
Macy’s here does an excellent job of continuing the purchase momentum. Their messages match. And they use a few little incentives along the way to continue making you click ahead.
What happens when messages don’t match, though? When there’s an incongruence of what they looked for, what they click on, and what they now see?
You already know the answer. Bounces. Cart abandonments. Hesitation and distraction.
That’s why optimizing user or behavior flows throughout your site become critical. These paths already exist (to one degree or another).
Like when someone finds a landing page from organic search and hits your site for the very first time. Or whether they’re already brand-aware and go to your site directly to buy. Or goes to a product page after clicking on an ad (like we just did with Macy’s).

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User flow optimization starts with splitting your inbound site traffic and siphoning them off into landing pages.
Intentionally, though. Strategically. Based on who they are and what they’re looking for (see: Segmentation).
Which brings us back to the funnel. The various stages used to split and siphon and segment appropriately. Extending to the ads that follow them across Facebook from day-to-day.
✅ Awareness: The interesting, hilarious, insightful content that piques their attention.

✅ Lead Generation: The drool-worthy incentives and offers to entrance & entice a click or an email.

✅ Conversions: The quote request or low priced product that performs Alchemy; turning strangers and half-interested leads to loyal customers.

The trick isn’t one or the other. It’s ALL of them. Together. Working cohesively. Passing off people from one to the other. So that when they see a proper retargeting ad, they’re already brand-aware. And they’re primed to give you their info.
Each interaction from there is its own path. Its own flow. A bunch of little steps and events (or ‘micro-conversions’). Leading someone from page to page to page until they convert (on those ‘macro conversions’ identified in your tools).
That lead and nurture and get people to stick around for the long haul.
5. Activation is the New Acquisition
Live chat used to suck.
It sat there. Unattended. Manned by robots. Or those who barely could type the same language.
Then something happened. I don’t know what. But products like Drift (among others) started popping up. And now live chat served… a purpose?!
Sujan recounts some early success using live chat to drive conversions in his recent post on concierge onboarding.
Then Content Marketer (now Mailshake) bugged users (in a good way). And bugged them. And bugged them again. Until they needed something.

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His persistence netted a 30% lift in conversions – from a 3% to a 4.5% conversion rate.
Now conversion rates are everything. In fact, you can go overboard and drive a bunch of crap.
But that’s not this.
Targeted notifications, prompting specific questions based on user status or page view, actually help! Annoying tactics are only annoying if they’re annoying (generic, irrelevant, unhelpful).
However, when you can determine if this specific individual has viewed on page and not the other, or downloaded one offer and not the other, you can actually personalize their experience.

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Hmmm…. That looks familiar. That IF/THEN sequence. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah. That’s right. Here:

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Which, with the help of a beautifully simple tool, looks a little something like:

A custom audience. Tailored to those who started your Free Trial but then… for whatever reason… stopped. Even device and retention targeting based on your 14 or 30-day window.
Now you can do things. Fun things. Interesting things. Effective things.
You can send videos. People like videos.
SlideShark added some tutorial videos to their onboarding (both before and after conversion), with some help from Evergage. And they tracked up 150% increase in free trial signups. In addition to $1.1 million in sales.

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Getting people in is important. Because: math.
The Harvard Business School reported on ‘loyalty economics’ decades ago. The chief finding: “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
A decade later. Same study. Same peeps. (Albeit, a Touch of Gray.)
Online companies need to spend 20-40% more to acquire customers. And yet most (if not all) are unprofitable within the first year.

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So yeah. Getting them is important. But not half as much as keeping them around.
Pull out all the stops then. Convertibles or overlays or pop-ups or whatever.

Corresponding email messages fired at exactly the right time.

And of course, perfectly tailored Facebook ads that reiterate the same message. Driving people along each ‘micro-conversion’ until you get what you want at the end of the day.

Content personalization is great. It’s a start.
Recommending products. Reminding people of past visits. All those things are helpful.
But that’s not it. Not enough.
Personalization extends to an entire experience. From beginning to end. Helping people find the right page. Based on past behavior. And predicting what they need next.
It’s not easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard, either.
Just be aware of what’s happening. When everything feels so… right. And reverse-engineer.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

Gen Z

A few very important documents for all of us to review:

Gen Z: Mobile Mindsets, All Teens
Gen Z: Mobile-First for Hispanic Teens
Gen Z: Mobile-First for Black Teens
Gen Z: What Teens Think is Cool

These reports, via Google, are kind of gripping if I can be honest.

I almost have a teenager on my hands but she’s already exhibiting a lot of these characteristics and traits. Interesting breakdown of what’s understood and perceived as “cool” as well, especially the difference between teenagers and my own demographic.
All Teens:

If friends are talking about it.
If I see an ad about it.
If it’s something personalized to me.

Ages 25-34:

If friends are talking about it.
If it’s something personalized to me.
If I see or hear something on social media.

The post Gen Z appeared first on John Saddington.
Source: https://john.do/

How to Successfully Transfer a Facebook Campaign to Instagram

You put in the hard work to conquer your Facebook ads.
You’ve A/B tested, figured out your target audiences, mastered lead generation, and you can finally run successful campaigns without a hitch.
So when it comes time to start expanding your business’ brand on social media, it can feel like you’re going back to square one.

With Instagram, the good news is that you don’t have to start from square one.
Since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, many of the back-end features like targeting are compatible with what you already know from running campaigns on Facebook.
And the rest? Well, we’re here to get you up and running in no time.

Keep Your Images High Quality, and Focus on the Product
As a general rule, with Facebook, it is always best to show faces. Faces draw people into ads because facial recognition and our ability to read moods and emotions are essential aspects of communication. It’s hardwired into us—there’s a specific part of the brain that responds only to faces, and nothing else. In many cases, on Facebook, a smiling face is all you need to draw attention.

But on Instagram, showcasing faces is not guaranteed to be the most eye-catching strategy. Great Instagram ads position the product and use that to draw you in.

Even ads that do show people are foregrounding the product.

Instagram is a highly visual platform, unlike on Facebook, where links, video, texts posts, and other forms of content are competing for your attention alongside images. If you’re selling a product, you can skip the stock images of smiling faces. You need a high-quality image that showcases your product and will stand out in a sea of curated images.
Cut Down on the Text
Obviously, Facebook ads rely on visuals as the cornerstone of any campaign, right?
On Facebook, images and video aren’t really the main attraction. They’re only part of it, as demonstrated in this NyQuil & DayQuil ad, which uses photo, illustration, and design, but relies on text to tell a story. It even has small print instructions in the corner: “Read each label. Use as directed. Keep out of reach of children.” The share text offers a $1 Off coupon.

Compare that to DayQuil’s Instagram ad. Here you see the exact same image of the DayQuil box, which takes up about the same amount of real estate in each ad.
The key difference is that this ad is telling a story without words.
Instead of telling you that cold and flu are spiking in San Francisco, DayQuil is presenting a curated image that caters to a specific buyer persona. If you’re an outdoorsy creative professional who needs to get over a cold to go out and face the cold, DayQuil can help you with that.

When you’re working on an Instagram campaign, think about how you can convey information without overloading on text. Who are you trying to appeal to? What might draw them in? Again, Instagram users are there for the images, so use them to tell a story.
How Can Hashtags Help?
Hashtags are much less popular on Facebook than on social media platforms like Twitter, which uses them to categorize content. According to experts, overusing hashtags on Facebook might actually lead to a drop off in engagement — you will look out of touch with your audience. The “less is more” approach is the right way to go here.

Instagram, on the other hand, is big on hashtags. The platform is set up to facilitate them in a way that Facebook simply isn’t. With the bulk of Instagram users on mobile, hashtags are an important part of the user’s experience. You click on a hashtag, and you’re instantly connected to a wide audience that interested in the same thing as you.
People can use Instagram hashtags to form communities, while marketers can use them to find and connect with audiences, generate conversation, and build their brands.
On Instagram, Smirnoff is using three hashtags in two different ways. They’re connecting with general audiences that are already there (#Playoffs and #Recipe). They’re also trying to build up their own audience that’s #GameDayReady with Smirnoff crushed ice cocktails.

When thinking about how to incorporate hashtags into your own campaigns, look around on Instagram and see how other brands are using hashtags. Look at what’s popular or trending to get your ad in front of a receptive audience.
Prioritizing Calls-To-Action as Lead Generation
Tried and true lead magnets on Facebook like PDFs and eBooks are very difficult to bring over to Instagram. Audiences browsing for lifestyle engagement aren’t going to be so interested in your eBook filled with the latest and best practices of your industry.
Lead generation on Instagram is more about nudging users along with calls-to-action like “Get Quote,” “Install Now, or “Sign Up.”

These CTAs are widely used on Facebook, and they’re particularly well suited for mobile-friendly Instagram.
CTAs on Instagram are going to be effective in encouraging sign-ups and purchases. They’re the direct link from your post to your product or website that you can’t get in an Instagram description, which makes them a powerful tool for the platform.
Targeting Tactics
As on Facebook, Instagram allows you to target users by location, demographic, interests, and actions, or use custom or Lookalike Audiences. If you’ve worked on a lot of Facebook campaigns, then good news! Targeting on Instagram will feel very familiar to you.

While the principles of targeting are more or less the same on both platforms, Instagram is especially good for snooping around other accounts and replicating or overlapping audiences with similar brands.
Think of it as the manual way to target an audience. Find accounts that have a similar aesthetic, product, or focus as your own. You look at their followers, follow some of them, and like their posts. All that engagement with people in your target demographic (who is interested in products similar to yours) will hopefully generate more followers and business on your end.
Making the Leap to Instagram
The ease of linking up Facebook campaigns and target audiences with Instagram shouldn’t entice you to just republish the same thing twice.
There are real differences between the two platforms that you need to know to launch a successful campaign.
But you also don’t have to be scared to make the leap.
By combining your Facebook call-to-action and targeting prowess and adding in striking visuals, you’re well on your way to replicating success on Instagram.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads Interest Targeting Research (Advanced Methods Exposed)

I often get asked how I find good interests to target for my Facebook ad campaigns. So I’ve decided to write a super in-depth guide that you can bookmark and use whenever you need.
It’s right here, free of charge.

I’m covering interest-based targeting and specifically how you can reach your audience more accurately than your competitor by spending less money and get better performance at the same time.
My aim is to make targeting research easier than ordering a delicious taco! Feel hungry? Please, be our guest!

Interest-based targeting is generally used for cold audiences – when you want to introduce yourself to people who haven’t heard of you before.
Facebook is an amazing resource for that
Can you imagine how much work it would take to uncover most of your market around random websites and market to them if Facebook wasn’t available?
First, you have to figure out EVERY website they could possibly visit. Then you need to research the demographics of EACH of those sites to decide whether it’s actually good enough for you to spend time promoting on. Only after that, you can start figuring out how to promote yourself to these people, either through advertising or guest posting – if the site allows it at all.
I admit it sounds cheesy but in all honesty, I see it as a privilege that I only have to know how to advertise on one site even though that beast is Facebook.
Note: I will not be talking about lookalike audiences and retargeting in this article. They are both great options but deserve their own posts altogether.
Users on Facebook don’t care about your ad, so what do you do?
“You create interest.”

“But didn’t you just say that we were targeting an interest?”

“Yes, I did.”
When you search on Google, you have intent. You know what you’re searching for – you have an intention of finding something. On Facebook people are looking to see what’s up with their friends, be inspired, get new inputs but they don’t know what that’s going to be. They have zero interest in you or your ad. Zero. (unless you’re a weirdo like me who likes to look at ads!)
It’s up to you to create that interest, and one of the sneaky ways to do that is by using what you already know they are interested in – the stuff they filled in their Facebook profile themselves.
The key that interested-based targeting offers you is that you can speak to what you already know they like.
Pro tip: Facebook isn’t too happy about you calling out the interest you are targeting, but when you find a subtle way to do it, it’ll make people interested.
Example: You are targeting Liverpool football club. Instead of writing “Did Liverpool find a new striker?”, You could make it much subtle by using their own language “Did the Reds find the new Torres?”. This may require some insights into your audience, but I’ve found the results to give disproportionate results compared to the work it took to create.
When you’re searching for interests, Facebook has keywords just like Google. However, on Facebook, it’s words that they put on your profile to fit you into a “box” that advertisers can target. This is based on your behavior, on which fan pages you like and on lots of other variables.
In the next lines I’ll show you exactly what to look for and how to do it but, first, let me show you something interesting.
Are you aware of those pre-fabricated interests – the ones that you can select from the drop-down menu when creating your ad set along with behavior and demographic targeting? Probably yes.

Those are usually very broad and tricky to make useful. Let me show you why.
If you open up Facebook ad preferences, you’ll be able to see what you supposedly are interested in on Facebook. How well-suiting do you find it compared to your actual interests? Personally, it doesn’t suit me well.
Below is an example of my own supposed ad preferences. Those circled in red are those that I’m NOT interested in, but Facebook still thinks I am.

While some of them are correct, what do they truly mean?
I’m interested in online advertising because I’m interested in Facebook advertising. Wouldn’t it be a waste to target me using those two interests? Imagine how many irrelevant people you’re actually reaching. That’s why I rarely use broad interests. While Facebook is improving their advertising platform constantly, I haven’t found them effective.
Keywords, on the other hand, is a blend of fan pages, buzzwords, and so on.
Keywords are pretty much a mixed bag and can be everything from absolutely horrible to unquestionably fantastic! They can generally be put into two different groups: fan pages and other keywords. My experience is that often those other keywords will perform worse than fan pages except if you layer multiple of them on top of each other.
If the keyword isn’t linked to a particular fan page, it will often be a “like by association” keyword. It’s a keyword Facebook uses to describe you that you haven’t liked yourself, but rather one Facebook’s algorithm has given you. That could be based on your behavior such as commenting on a friend’s post, talking about the topic in Facebook Messenger or in other subtle ways interacted with the topic.
Ideally, I aim to find specific fan pages around the topic with high engagement. Running just one fan page per ad set (along with relevant demographic settings) allows me to laser-target those people and all I have to do is to research the website they’re a fan of. I’ll try to figure out which topics they’re interested in and what language they use before finding my own angle to persuade them with.
The problem is that some fan pages can be unavailable from targeting. There’s no really clear explanation for how or why this happens, but Facebook told Amy Porterfield that they are not indexed (whatever that means exactly is unclear). So if you find a keyword available that isn’t the actual fan page it might be a “like by association” keyword or a buzzword.
The going theory regarding the latter is that if a certain topic gains lots of traction all of the sudden, Facebook will automatically pull the description from Wikipedia and make sort of an info page about it. Like this one:

Towards the end of this article, I’ll show you how to distinguish between fan pages and regular keywords.
But first, let’s dive into what we should look for in our research and how to find it.
So, what am I looking for about these interests?
The essence is to target those who are really into your subject, not just the generic fan who is somehow interested or follows the subject to get the occasional news. We need to find the people who think about it, talk about it and in all, love the topic. Those who are interested in multiple facets and know those things that aren’t common knowledge by the superficial fan.
Digitalmarketer described this in a great way using something they call the “But No One Else Would” Trick. The idea is to look for the people who knows what no one else would about the topic.

As they mention in their example, Tiger Woods is a famous golfer, but he is so famous that people would follow his page for other reasons that golfing. On the other hand, a golf enthusiast would know who Bubba Watson is, but no one else would.
You can apply this when you look for targeting ideas such as influencers, events or magazines. Instead of just targeting Bubba Watson, you can expand to also target people who like both Tiger Woods AND Bubba Watson. That allows you to just grab the hardcore golfing fans who are part of the Tiger Woods fan page.
Buyer’s persona
Before you do targeting research, you should have an idea about your buyer’s persona.
As Neil Patel describes it: “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
To create your own buyer’s persona, he suggests answering these questions:

What demographics do they occupy?
What does a typical day in their life look like?
What are their pain points?

If you want to learn more about the buyer’s persona, I’d suggest you check out his article here.
It’s about time to dive into the core of this guide: the specific methods you can use to find interests to target. Those that will set you far apart from your competition.
16 ways to research targeting interests
When I do targeting research I simply fire up Evernote and go through all the ideas you’ll find below. Whenever I find a keyword that is relevant, I check if it’s available for targeting and, if it is, I just write it down. That’s it.
By “checking if it’s available” I mean that when I have a potential keyword, I simply open Audience Insights and enter it there. If Facebook finds it, I know that the keyword is good and that I can add it to my campaign later. If it doesn’t show up, I know it’s unavailable.

Note: After this section, I’ll also share some ideas on how to evaluate the targeting research you’ve done.
#1. Audience Insights – sort by affinity
Lots of courses on Facebook advertising will sell you this as magic, a secret trick to targeting. It is not. Actually, I call it a basic tool because it’s available to everyone.
It is a great method tho, as it is super easy to use, and it’s an amazing tool -because it has so much data available and it’s free, but it’s no secret weapon at all. It’s the easiest way to do research regarding how little you have to do versus the possible outcome you can get for your time. The problem is that I’d expect all my competitors to get the same results as me.
It’s easy to go about. Here’s a step-by-step.

Step 1: You open up Audience Insights, enter an interest and a country.
Step 2: Click “Page Likes.”
Step 3: Scroll down and click “Affinity” to sort by affinity.

Affinity means how much more likely the audience of your interest is to be similar to a certain page, compared to everyone on Facebook. I usually test those above 10x.
In the screenshot below, it means that the audience who likes F1 racing is 3.4x more likely to be interested in my interest “Formula One” compared to everyone on Facebook.

#2. Search Google
Another way is to search for ideas OUTSIDE Facebook. Personally, I use Google to search for things such as:

Public Figures

All I do is use Google to search for categories related to my niche.
I then search for their fan page on Facebook or visit their site to see if they link to a fan page and then check if it’s available for targeting.
#3. Stalk your current customers and see which fan pages or interests they like
You can also check your customer’s’ profiles on Facebook or if you notice people who are engaging a lot with your brand they sometimes have their interests/likes publicly available.
This could also be people who are engaging a lot with competitors’ content or the content of other fan pages.
You simply go to their profile page, select their interests and check the ones that might be relevant for you to get new ideas.

#4 & 5. Fan page suggestions and pages liked by fan page
The method itself is very simple.
You find one fan page to start off with and then you like that page. Most pages will then give you suggestions to like similar pages. Open those and check their availability in Audience Insights. Done? Now check the similar pages of those similar pages.
You can pretty much go on as long as you want until the suggestions you get are either too different from what you are looking for or you keep seeing the same suggestions over and over again.

If you scroll down, you will notice a section on the left-hand side saying “liked by this page.” You can click it and get even more suggestions!

#6. “Create ads” suggestions

Step 1: Fire up Ads Manager or Power Editor.
Step 2: Enter each interest you have found already (one at a time!) and click the suggestions button.

You will notice that if you choose a like by association interest, your suggestions will usually be way off compared to a real fan-page.
Here’s a screenshot from Power Editor.

#7. Create a Google campaign to learn which sites people come from
A great tip I got from Glen Allsopp over at Viperchill, is to run an ad campaign on Google simply with the purpose of seeing which sites people visit when they click your ad.
This should work even better if you run a retargeting campaign to people who have visited your site!
#8. Use Social Bakers
This is another great example from Glen. In this case, he fired up Social Bakers, looked at the fastest growing sports brands in a certain week and noticed “Spartan Race” that stood out among other more obvious choices.

#9. Use Facebook Graph to get inspiration
The Facebook graph is something that was used a while ago.
I’ve found Audience Insights to be more helpful to me, but you can find the occasional gem.
What you do is use the Facebook search bar to look interests, pages, groups and so on by entering the audience you are looking to find such as: “pages liked by men who like FC Barcelona and Valencia CF” and segment by location, etc. as shown on the right-hand side.

Jon Loomer shows some great examples and Social Media Examiner too.
#10. Search Facebook for posts
Open this link: https://www.facebook.com/search/str/elizabethkbradley.com/stories-keyword/intersect
and now substitute exchange ELIZABETHKBRADLEY.COM with the name of your competitor or another website you’ve found.
It searches for places where it’s shared on Facebook – these might have a similar audience since they are interested in your competitor.
#11. Search Google for posts on Facebook
A similar trick to that is searching Google for this:
site:facebook.com “TEACHABLE.COM.”
Again exchange TEACHABLE.COM for whatever is relevant to you. The idea is similar to above, but I’ve found that it returns different results.
#12. Good ole Wikipedia
Yep, Wikipedia has lots of suggestions to get your juices flowing. In this example, I’ve searched for “Physics.”
What I like to do is search the page (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+F on Windows and CMD+F on Mac) for the “see also”-section.
As you can see below, I’ve highlighted some of the links that might help develop ideas further. Particularly the list of physicists and list of physics concepts might be interesting to look at.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll notice among others “branches of physics” which has lots of things you could target.
You need to click the “show” button I’ve highlighted on the right-hand side which has now turned to “hide” as I clicked it.

I don’t know much about physics so I’m not going to go into details with the branches but notice how many suggestions you get and how you can click on each one and check the same two things for even more ideas.
There should be enough to get you going for the next decade!
#13. Browse products on Amazon and movies on IMDB
As I was doing research for this article, I stumbled upon this great tip from Mindvalley’s Khai Yong Ng. If you are looking for ideas on authors or books, browse Amazon or go to a real bookstore!
Obviously, Amazon has a ton of products so you can easily look for ideas for other types of products too.
If you are looking for movies or actors, have a look at IMDB.com.
#14. Similarweb and Similarsites
Similarweb is a great tool to get information about the audience on a particular site.
You’re also able to see the most popular sites that people visited before and after they visited the site. In this example I’ve used Amy Porterfield’s website as an example:

Similarsites. I used Amy Porterfield as an example again.
There are several similarities to sort by. In this case, I sorted sites by similar topics.

#15. Google Display Planner
Get specific website ideas there and see if they have a fan page or keyword available.

Step 1: Open Google Display Planner
Step 2: Select “find new targeting ideas” > enter your information > search > click the tab “placements”. You can narrow it down by websites too if that makes more sense.

Click the tab “individual targeting ideas, ” and once you click the URL of a website you will even get demographics data – of course, this is from Google, so you’ll get more accurate data by plugging that website into Facebook’s Audience Insights.
#16. The “why am I seeing this?”-button
As Tammy Cannon and Claire Pelletreau explains you can see how ads shown to you are targeted.
When you see an ad simply click the small carrot as shown below.

And you’ll be shown this menu on which you click “why am I seeing this?”.

And booyah, there you have it! All you’ve got to do is write down “Mike Dillard”.
There are many different ways to do targeting research. I realize that one can only take in so much information in one ear before it pours out the other.
So, while I’ve written as many targeting ideas as I can think of, I recommend you start out by just trying a few at a time and stick to the ones you prefer.
I prefer to start with audience insights as I’ve often been able to find the fastest results there but many times I’ve actually found the best results outside Facebook.
Listicles was all the hype a while back and these articles are great to gather ideas that you can target on Facebook.
What’s next?
One thing is to do the research and find the interests. Another is to put it together in the end. You need to creatively put the options together to reach the exact right people.
Next week we are going to talk about exactly how to do that as well as how to target groups and one of the major issues I’ve stumbled upon in my own research.
Stay tuned and leave comments!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

What Kind of Lead Magnet Should You Make?

A lead magnet is basically a bribe.
In a world where marketers clamor for “eyeballs,” views, and clicks, a lead magnet cuts through the noise by actually delivering something of value.
Yes, you’re angling for something in return—a name, an email address—but you’re getting it honestly. You’re getting it through reciprocation. People like what you’re offering and they want to give you that information in exchange.

The problem is that you can’t just give away just anything.
The type of lead magnet you choose to use needs to align with your customers’ needs, with your value proposition, and with your market.
Picking the right kind of lead magnet could mean the difference between a campaign that flops and one that brings you thousands of new customers.

Something your market needs
An effective and successful lead magnet will demonstrate the kind of value that your business can offer. It’s not “giving away your product for free”—think of it as an exchange. You offer a potential customer something useful and different that gives them a taste of what your company can offer. In exchange, they become familiar with your business and hand over valuable contact information and data that you can use going forward.
A popular lead magnet for B2B SaaS companies is the free tool—the little engineering side-project that helps bring in new customers by actually helping them do their jobs better.
One company that has built a free tool as a lead magnet and gotten great results is Clearbit, a SaaS company that sells product and data APIs to businesses.
Clearbit’s Gmail add-on, Connect, provides users with some of the basic functionality of Clearbit for free. It’s an extension within your Gmail inbox that shows you a bunch of personal information about everyone who sends you an email. It also allows you to search for anyone’s email within a specific company. Get an email from the founder of Clearbit, and you’ll see this in the sidebar—a brief rundown on where he lives, links to his social media profiles, and valuable data on the company domain that the email was sent from, including the number of employees, amount of funding, and address.
This tool is free and accessible for people who may not be data specialists, while keeping Clearbit’s brand visible and useful within a potential customer’s Gmail inbox. It familiarizes would-be customers with the kind of services and value that Clearbit provides at the premium level.
Put simply, it’s something that Clearbit’s ideal customers (marketers, sales representatives, business integrationfolks) would actually want to use.
That simplicity and alignment with the needs of their customers is probably why Clearbit has been able to drive 100,000 inbound leads through free browser extensions and APIs. By offering a lead magnet that is relevant to their core business and gives the customer immediate and valuable payoff, Clearbit has been able to close some of their biggest deals through Connect.
Something you can leverage Facebook ads for
One of the most obviously powerful things about Facebook is the targeting. You can narrow in on a demographic as broad or narrow as you want:

Just the friends of very recently engaged people
Just the people interested in adventure travel and ecotourism
Just the suburban, single dads who play fantasy football, have multiple lines of credit, a dog, and a compact car

The best lead magnets target specific niches. You want to get your magnet in front of the right kinds of people, not just any Facebook user, so you can make the most your advertising spending. You don’t want to throw your lead magnet (and your advertising budget) in front of people who aren’t remotely likely to take you up on the offer, wasting money in the process.
Let’s say you’re selling a monthly subscription meal box meant for busy tech professionals. Recipients enter their height, weight, and typical activity information before their first order. Then the recipes are nutritionally optimized to provide just the right amount of calories, the right macronutrient breakdown, and the right supplemental vitamins.
While you might be tempted to go broad with your Facebook advertisement reach and target all young people, or all tech people, it’s going to help you out in the future to validate in a more specific market first. If you do this, you’re going to see a higher return on your ads. You would probably want to target a Facebook ad audience made up of people who work at tech companies and have expressed interest in cooking, recipes, health, and wellness.
Once you’ve narrowed in on these potential customers, bring them in by offering an eBook as a lead magnet. Presenting them with your monthly subscription fee might only turn them off. If you advertise your “30 Healthy 30-Minute Meals” ebook you can start familiarizing them with your service and why it’s worth the sticker price.
Something entertaining
Say you’re not selling specialized software to businesses or monthly subscription boxes in major tech hubs. Say you’re selling a product with a much wider appeal and a fairly low profit margin like flowers. You’re going to need to think a little bigger and with more creativity.
“You can get far by making your marketing valuable and inviting,” as the founder and CEO of Wistia, Chris Savage says.
Facebook can still help you out by integrating videos into your ads. Within one person’s Facebook feed, video ads flow naturally with other video content. They don’t stick out or annoy the user too much, and they can be very helpful if you’re nurturing or even generating leads with your video:
If video production is beyond your current capacity, coupon codes can be another effective way to ramp up customer acquisition. While coupon codes can attract new customers to your business and encourage first time purchasers to take the plunge, coupon codes can be a tricky thing to balance. Going back to the flower sales example, you want to think carefully about coupon code campaigns. You should use them wisely to reward loyal customers, or else bring new customers in at crucial flower-buying moments, like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Get Started
When it comes to making the perfect lead magnet and getting amazing results, a little preparation and wisdom can go a long way. Here are some more articles to read as you get started with your lead generation campaign:

Lead Generation with Facebook Ads — The Definitive Guide
How to Create Facebook Lead Ads and Sync Them With Your CRM
The 5 Emails You Need to Nurture Your Leads
The Comprehensive Guide to Building an eBook For Your Lead Magnet
How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet

Happy lead generation!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

19 Amazing Native Advertising Ad Examples

It’s easy to hear the phrase “native advertising” and think, “Psh.”
Native advertising can sometimes get a bad reputation, especially when advertisers (or publishers) make big mistakes with how and what kind of content they present.
Case in point: The Atlantic being forced to eat crow and repent after publishing an editorial that appeared like it was written by the Atlantic editorial team, but in reality came from the Church of Scientology.

Certainly bad PR, but it did inspire some good spinoffs.
Now there are reports that the FTC plans to force publishers to explicitly signpost when native advertisements exist alongside normal content. #FakeNews is the mantra of the day.
Despite this, there’s still one very good reason to not give up on native ads.

Why people are wrong about native advertisements
One of the big criticisms of native ads hinges on the fact that they “look” like normal content and trick users into believing they’re “real.” That’s just not true—when’s the last time you were actually fooled by a piece of native advertising? It just doesn’t happen.
The key to the success of native ads isn’t that they trick users but that they express themselves as exactly what they are. Buzzfeed and other content masterminds have shown that people will eagerly click on native ads even when they’re labeled “sponsored.” Why?
Because a native ad doesn’t require you to abandon the experience you’re currently in. You don’t get redirected to another site and have to figure out how to get back later—you just keep flowing through what Cody Brown calls the content buffet:
(Source: Cody Brown)
So don’t fret if FTC regulations force a little more explicit signaling about the native ads out there, a little more honesty on the part of publishers—the strength of native advertising is not how well they hide. It’s how well they can stand out.
Successful native advertising is brash, it’s colorful, and it stands out amidst the rest of the content around it. Studying it can tell you a lot about how to do advertising in general—especially advertising on Facebook.
1. Adobe (New York Times T Brand Studio)
The New York Times’ “T Brand Studio” deftly combines subtle native advertising with high-quality in-house content marketing befitting of the Gray Lady. This well-researched Adobe piece on the future of shopping provides valuable insights and statistics regarding shopping trends in a VR-centric future, but does so without appearing too salesy.
More info on T Brand Studio: Beyond native: How the NY Times plans to turn T Brand Studio into a full-fledged agency

Takeaway: Just because it’s advertising doesn’t mean you have to let your editorial standards drop. Thoughtful, long-form content, even when it’s part of your marketing, can be a powerful way to get your name out there and create a beneficial brand association.
2. Patrón Tequila (Twitter)
For International Margarita Day (February 22nd), Patrón took to Twitter with a promoted hashtag #MargaritaoftheYear and tweet prompting users to help vote for one of 7 innovative cocktail recipes.

Takeaway: When you’re on a social network like Facebook, you need to look for ways to integrate a social experience into your ads. You want people to be tagging their friends, commenting and sharing the things that your company puts out there, so you need to engage with your audience on a casual, informal level.
3. Morgan Stanley (BBC Future)
While the BBC is thought of as a public service broadcaster, they do have substantial native ad channels such as BBC Capital, BBC Travel, and BBC Future for non-UK audiences. This content marketing is subtly included towards the bottom of the BBC News homepage, with no indication that the article is sponsored. Iceland is certainly in vogue at the moment, so coupled with the authority of the BBC, Morgan Stanley scored a big win with this profile on the gorgeous island nation.

Takeaway: When it comes to advertising, the value that you’re delivering to your audience is what matters, not the fact that the content is hyper-relevant to your brand or your company. Especially when you’re competing with lots of other content for attention (e.g. Facebook’s Newsfeed), you’re going to need to produce something that people actually want to read if you want them to voluntarily check out your branded content.
4. General Electric (The Message)
GE’s 8-week long podcast series “The Message” explores aspects of sound technology through a sci-fi narrative about a rookie podcaster and a group of cryptographers decoding an ominous message from space. The podcast achieved broad media acclaim and won the 2016 Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising.

And that’s not all—it also featured a viral, interactive game and inspired a subreddit where people traded theories and discussed questions they had about the program.
Takeaway: While The Message came about well after Serial had popularized podcasting, GE challenged themselves to work with the medium in a way that no one had before. That’s key here—you can look at what others are doing in the world of advertising, and even hop on the bandwagon, but if you want to really make an impact, look for a way to go beyond and do things a little differently.
5. New York Lottery (#JackpotDrumroll)
To increase interest in the record $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, the New York Lottery decided to literally drum up sales by hiring 211 drummers across New York State to stand outside of bodegas and convenience stores for twelve hours straight. This stunt led to news coverage across the state, amounting to an estimated $4.5 million in earned media. It was nominated for the 2016 Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising.

Takeaway: This may seem like a crazy stunt, but guerrilla marketing pretty often involves physical stunts of this kind. Salesforce founder Marc Benioff was famous for doing things like showing up to protest competitors conferences back in the early 2000s. If you’re looking for a way to set yourself apart from the pack, it’s an option!
6. Cedar Point Catch-a-Ghost
Famed Ohio theme park Cedar Point decided to promote its Halloween offerings by inviting users to screenshot a fleeting image of a ghost on their Snapchat story, in exchange for a coupon/prize. This encouraged repeat viewings, as the task was difficult, but it also spoke to their targeted teen demographic. It increased engagement on their Snapstory by 233% and 144k unique users. Also, since this was not formatted as an interrupting paid ad, but rather a seamless part of Cedar Point’s social media presence, it positioned the brand as a valuable content producer.


Takeaway: Contests are a powerful tool for drumming up audience interest on social media. In order to create a sustainable content strategy and not just a flash in the pan, however, you want to make sure that the contest leads users to sign up or subscribe to your channels. Otherwise, you could acquire a ton of users—but only temporarily.
7. Taco Bell
Taco Bell’s sponsored Snapchat Lens for Cinco De Mayo 2016 was a record-breaker, garnering over 224 million views in a single day.
That was a huge success, though perhaps not that feasible for most of us, as these custom lenses can cost up to $750,000 for a primetime spot. Taco Bell was, however, also one of the very first marketers to buy into Snapchat’s on-demand geo-filter program.
Prices for these start as low as $5—a worthy investment if you’re thinking about Snapchat as a potential advertising channel.

Takeaway: Sometimes big brands pull off marketing campaigns that no small or medium-sized company has the resources to follow. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t ever have a way to do something similar. There are plenty of ways that your SMB can use Snapchat in your advertising, for instance, even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put towards it!
8. Airbnb (South London Hosted by Artwork / Thump)
This portal on Vice Media’s Thump Channel invites users to explore South London as curated by DJ and producer Artwork. The portal includes videos, several original articles, and an explorable map of points of interest. This subtly nods to Airbnb as being the best way to explore South London, but the branding isn’t overbearing, and the content has clear standalone value.

9. Netflix (Cocainenomics by the Wall Street Journal)
To promote its show Narcos, Netflix collaborated with the Wall Street Journal to create an interactive portal exploring the history of the international drug trade, and its nexus in Medellín, Colombia.
Featuring well-designed maps, timelines, articles, and even a quiz, this is a great example of native advertising generating interest and value.

Takeaway: Partnerships can be an incredibly powerful way to take your advertising in directions that would not have been possible otherwise. Other kinds of businesses bring different kinds of value to their audiences—and have different kinds of reputations—so the right kind of partnership can create very powerful effects both with regards to capturing new customers and delighting the ones you already have.
10. Newcastle Brown Ale (Gizmodo)
Newcastle embraced the snark of the then-Gawker affiliate Gizmodo in this 2014 paid article entitled “We’ve Disguised This Newcastle Ad as an Article to Get You to Click It.” The article explains how Newcastle purchased ad space from Gizmodo so they could embed a video about a focus group discussing a Super Bowl ad that Newcastle couldn’t afford to make.
Certainly a meta-approach to advertising, but the wry tone and radical honestly of this piece will cement Newcastle as a self-aware presence in the minds of the Gizmodo/Gawker crowd.

Takeaway: The amount of noise in the advertising/marketing world has grown exponentially over the last decade. One surefire way to make sure that you stand out amongst the crowd is to take a self-aware stance in your advertising. It can also work out for publishers, who have an opportunity to be honest about why they’re putting native advertising in front of their readers—because it costs money to create good content!
11. Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil (Good News by The Telegraph)
Leading British health supplement company Seven Seas utilized a unique native advertising approach by sponsoring a curated page of positive and uplifting news in The Telegraph. You barely notice the Seven Seas branding if you’re not looking for it. Mostly you see a litany of articles having to do with well-being, human interest stories, and the like:

“Scientists reverse ageing in mammals”
“Boy donates hair”
“Man takes terminally ill dog on farewell cross-country road trip”

Although these topics have nothing to do with cod liver oil whatsoever, one leaves the page with a small psychological bias to view Seven Seas in a more positive light. It’s simply association.

Takeaway: The content on this Telegraph sponsored page has nothing to do with cod liver oil. That goes to show that you don’t need to be self-promotional for your advertising to work—all you need is a brand an idea of the kind of content you should produce to make a statement.
12. Denny’s (Twitter)
Denny’s is known for its surreal Twitter, aiming to produce content aligned with the Dada-eqsue end of the meme spectrum. These aren’t paid ads, Denny’s is counting on Twitter users to be interested enough in their content to actually follow their account. Clearly targeting a millenial demographic, Denny’s embraces odd haikus and egg-based non-sequiturs to build brand awareness and street cred in a demographic not typically interested in casual dining chains.

Takeaway: No one says you have to adopt the Brand Marketing Voice to have a proper social presence. Denny’s has 355.4k followers and whoever runs their Twitter sounds like a 14-year old with a highly active Tumblr. Feel free to experiment.
13. Xerox (The Atlantic)
Xerox and The Atlantic collaborated to develop a portal for readers interested in seeing the latest ideas in the realm of productivity and growth hacking. Featuring articles by leading experts and a free e-book, the well designed page is also interactive.
Based on the problems you’re having with your business, such as alignment, productivity, or agility—you can choose to receive different kinds of information.

Takeaway: Most of the examples in this post concern consumer-facing content. But B2B customers are just as human and just as interested in reading native content. We’re big fans of this technique—read our guide to marketing and promoting your free eBook here.
14. Ikea (The Telegraph)
The Telegraph scores again with a quirky A-Z quiz from Ikea that provides readers with tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. Like other native ads, this campaign shies away from selling a specific product, but instead aims to strengthen Ikea’s brand association as a quirky yet accessible organization.

Takeaway: The good old-fashioned quiz, brought back into style (mostly) by Buzzfeed, is a cost-effective and fresh format for native advertising. It fits into the same vein as content like eBooks—you want to take the knowledge and expertise that your company has and use it to help others diagnose issues with their life, business, sleep (above), or other facets of their life.
15. Airbnb (New York Times)
This New York Times/T Brand Studio collaboration with Airbnb tells the story of Ellis Island and immigration in New York, by exploring specific family histories through narration, maps, and archival photos. Although subtle, this native ad focuses on aspects of hospitality and homebuilding that newcomers may experience in New York, a well-aligned sentiment for a short-term housing platform like Airbnb.

Takeaway: Even if your advertising isn’t going to be directly about your product or your company, it can still try to fulfill the mission that your company represents. Airbnb’s brand is all about hospitality, so this piece of content about the legacy of Ellis Island and how it has welcomed immigrants for centuries makes perfect sense for them to post.
16. Leidos (Politico Focus)
Engineering consultancy Leidos appeals to the Beltway set through “Hacker Avenue,” an interactive exploration of the vulnerabilities our society faces as we become increasingly reliant on the Internet of Things. Using smart infographics, a mini-game that leads you to important facts and statistics, and a robust piece of accompanying content, Leidos scored a big win on a platform not typically thought of as being aligned with native advertising.

Takeaway: Infographics are hands-down one of the best ways to create content that’s inherently shareable. Combine a great infographic with a great marketing campaign, and you can see your content spread across the internet like wildfire. For more on how to create sharable infographics, check out our piece on the 6 things all viral infographics have in common.
17. YouTube (Awesome Stuff Week)
To drum up interest in YouTube’s new e-commerce integrations, a campaign was launched to leverage YouTube’s top talent in the gadget and fashion spheres. iJustine and Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy were just two of the YouTubers brought together to celebrate what wound up being called “Awesome Stuff Week,” a curated celebration of unboxings and makeup demos. It’s a natural medium for the message that you can now buy items straight from within YouTube videos.

(Image Source)

Takeaway: If you’re trying to tell users about a new service or release a new product, it always helps to build your marketing campaign on the back of something people already know—like influencers. On Instagram, contacting influencers and working with them to increase your exposure can be an easy way to get your brand’s name out there fast.
18. Warner Brothers (Fortune Magazine)
To promote its “Batman vs. Superman” film, Warner Brothers decided to sponsor a native advertising interview with villain Lex Luther Jr, under the guise of sponsorship by “LexCorp.” This is a great way to acknowledge the pitfalls of native advertising (such as the non-discreet sponsorship branding), while also helping maintain suspension of disbelief, for a tycoon like Luther probably would sponsor native advertising in a magazine like Fortune.

Takeaway: You can have some fun with the standard formats of advertising—for instance, there’s no reason you can’t have an interview with a fictional figure appear in the pages of Forbes!
19. IBM (The Atlantic)
The Atlantic proves again that it is at the forefront of developing high-quality and engaging sponsored content, this time for IBM. In this 4 part series, “Blood, Sweat, and Data” new innovations in sports medicine, equipment, and cloud solutions are analyzed alongside accessible infographics and shareable statistics.

Takeaway: Whenever you’re trying to produce engaging content for marketing purposes, you want to identify opportunities you have that will be 1) the least effort for you, and 2) the most entertaining for your audience. Data is a place where you often get this opportunity—you have a lot of it, and when put into the right kind of narrative, it will enthrall your audience.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

Omni-Channel for Government Part 2: A Data-Powered Experience (VIDEO)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=054CLypqThE&w=560&h=315]
As I discussed in Part 1 of this blog post, an omni-channel strategy is not just for retail organizations. Omni-channel is a powerful tool for governments to foster trust, enhance the citizen experience, and power more efficient and effective service delivery. The tool that powers all this? Data. Behind every omni-channel strategy is a set of structured data. In this post, we’ll take a look at some non-retail organizations who are using  data to power successful omni-channel strategies, and walk you through how to get started with an omni-channel strategy for your organization.
Who’s Doing It Well?
The City of Boston

The City of Boston is doing some very interesting things with their data to improve service delivery and meet users where they are. The Boston Mayor’s office introduced CityScore, “an initiative designed to inform the Mayor and city managers about the overall health of the City at a moment’s notice by aggregating key performance metrics into one number.”
Aggregating data from across the city, measuring everything from emergency service reaction times to the on-time garbage pickups, CityScore uses data (and transparency) to shine a light on the city’s performance both at a glance an in detail, providing valuable insight into pain points and areas for improvement.
A snapshot of vital stats from the City of Boston
Is this omni-channel? Not exactly, but it is a piece of a larger strategy to optimize city services and provide an enhanced citizen experience across city government. For example, the city partnered with Uber to utilize so-called “smart data” about Uber usage to help inform traffic management and planning in the city. Previously, the city had worked with a vendor to improve the “Street Bump” app, which automatically detects potholes and other street quality issues and sends the data to a central repository; this information is then used to identify and prioritize repair projects.
Individually, each of these is a clever use of data; collectively, they form the basis of an omni-channel approach to government: one which lowers the barriers for citizens to benefit from government services, and which prioritizes reducing friction in citizen interactions (for example, through transparency and good design).
The American Red Cross
A non-governmental organization that  is practicing omni-channel thinking is the American Red Cross, whose Digital Operations Center is a great example of meeting users where they are to provide service delivery where it’s needed most. The Center is the first social media-based operation devoted to humanitarian relief. In addition to automated social data visualizations, the Digital Operations Center is staffed during emergencies by volunteers who are trained to respond online to questions from the public, distribute critical information, and provide comfort and reassurance during emergencies.
A key element of this system is that it monitors channels that users are already using, rather than forcing them to adopt a new behavior or tool in order to access services. Learn more about this example and how it represents the semi-automated model of omni-channel in our white paper, Omni-Channel Digital Experiences.
Your Next Steps
The good news is you don’t have to spend your entire digital budget and reorganize all your operations to start down the path of omni-channel. There are some low-risk steps you can take in the short term to improve your understanding of your citizens and their needs, and review how well the user experience you offer meets those needs.

Personas help you understand who your citizens are. There are a wealth of resources about them online, but at its core, a persona is a representation of a type of user (or citizen) that helps guide your design efforts by clarifying who it is you’re designing for. They tell you things like demographic and psychographic information about a person, their goals, what their day is like, and what their context is. Personas are by definition an over-simplification of a real person, but they allow you to focus your efforts somewhat by not trying to design for everyone at the same time. Although of course governments have to serve all their citizens, trying to design for everyone – as opposed to focusing on the most common use cases – is a sure path to designing for no one. Start small, and try to limit yourself at first so you don’t get overloaded.
User Journeys
Once you have a set of personas in place, you can map out of a set of user journeys. These will help illustrate how citizens interact with government and access government services. A user journey shows all the steps the person represented by a given persona has to go through in order to accomplish a goal (for example, renew their driver’s license). They should show online and offline aspects of the journey as well as document how this persona might be feeling at every given point. What channels are they using to interact with government? Perhaps most importantly, where are the gaps where the user needs to carry out a step but there is no simple way for them to do so given your existing channels? Each touchpoint on this journey is a chance to either build confidence, or erode trust.
Data audit
What do you know about your citizens? How can you use that information? Is it shareable? Is it accessible? What are the regulatory and privacy concerns? Auditing your data after creating personas and user journeys helps simplify the task, as you don’t have to look at every piece of data you have – start by looking at data that impacts or is generated by the personas and user journeys you’ve chosen to start with. Don’t shy away from what you might find in the data; use this is a chance to improve based on the story the data tells you.
Channel Audit
How are you already communicating with your citizens? Compare the channels you have in use to the ones needed to fill all the gaps in your user journeys. Remember external channels like social media, and offline channels like phone lines, mailings, and offices. Is your messaging consistent across these channels? How about the user experience? Is the information available the same across channels? (It often isn’t!) Eventually you can get more advanced and look at tone and voice, but for now, focus on consistency of information across channels, and ensuring that you are communicating using channels where you will actually reach your citizens.

Change Takes Change
Keep in mind, operating in an omni-channel capacity isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires a solid strategic foundation and often can mean some cultural change as well. Remember that omni-channel is content, and content needs strategy. And remember that strategy can be hampered or enabled by culture.
Make sure your goals are clearly identified, and that you have a clear strategy to get you there. Be willing to share data and experiment. Be willing to evolve  – you may not get it right at first, but every step tells you something and gets you closer to your goal of providing a true omni-channel experience that puts your users at the center of the experience. A willingness to experiment and learn will help you not just “do” omni-channel, but “be” omni-channel.
Of course, Phase2 can help you with any or all of the above! Get in touch today to learn more about getting started with omni-channel.

Source: https://www.phase2technology.com/feed/

How to Find Out Everything Facebook Knows About You

If you’re deep in the weeds of Facebook marketing, you probably think a lot about ad targeting at the granular level.
You’re trying to juggle everything you know about your product, your advertising goals, and your target demographics to answer the question: How I can be sure that I’m showing this ad to the right people?

A great way to reverse engineer that question is to investigate your own Facebook feed!
Finding out what Facebook knows about you (and how they know it) can help you to refocus your targeting efforts and understand why some methods of building and targeting an audience can be more effective than others.

What Facebook Knows and How
As you comb through your Facebook feed, you might see an ad or two and wonder, how could Facebook possibly think I’d be interested in this?!
Well, Facebook can put together an incredibly detailed image of you as a consumer. But even with all that data, it’s still hard to hit a bullseye with targeted marketing every time.
Facebook uses around 100 data points to target advertising at its users. When you drill down, some of these data points can be incredibly specific. Facebook stores major demographic data like age, location, and gender, from when you first set up your profile. It also has data on:

Your income level and property ownership
Anniversaries, your birthday, your relationship status, and whether or not you live near extended family
Whether or not you work at an office
Your car’s make and model, and how much would you spend on a new car
Your credit information
Your operating system and email provider
Your interests—everything from sports and shopping habits to restaurants, travel, and vacations

Clearly, Facebook is able to collect information beyond what you offer up on your own profile. How? Facebook can read cookies on other sites you visit. All of this adds up to a fairly detailed picture of you as an individual consumer.
But as an advertiser, leveraging this data into smart, targeted marketing is another story.
Investigating Ads In Your Newsfeed
To really understand the problem of Facebook targeting, you can start by diving into your own feed. You might be surprised by what you find.
An easy place to start is finding out why you’re seeing a particular ad. Click the drop-down arrow on the right and select “Why am I seeing this?” Facebook will give you a peek at how they target.

In most cases, you’ll find that you’re being shown an ad because you fall into a certain category of user.
In this example, Clara Labs wants to reach just the 18- to 50-year old American men on Mac OS X and weed out the Windows users. Facebook can do that. And if you’re a local business who wants to reach just 18- to 35-year-olds in Chicago, Illinois? Facebook can do that, too.
However, at other times you won’t see a demographic category at all. Instead, you’ll get “people who may be similar to their customers.”

“People who may be similar to their customers” is Facebook’s way of referring to a Lookalike Audience.
Lookalike Audiences can be a powerful marketing tool, but to harness their potential, you first have to set up a custom audience. This is essentially a customer list that you can import directly to Facebook. You can do this by uploading emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs into an Excel, CSV, or plain text file.
Facebook then finds all of your customers’ accounts and then creates a Lookalike Audience of people who have similar traits or habits as your customers. The people who like what your customers like, who fall into similar demographic categories as your customers, and who have similar purchasing habits to your customers.
Facebook knows a lot about your purchasing habits. In fact, through its many partnerships, Facebook has access to an average of 1,500 data points per person. This allows for some pretty informed predictions about your future purchasing choices.
Lookalike Audiences are put together using lots of different kinds of data. They are a way of reinforcing demographic targeting efforts with even more data on purchasing habits and patterns.
A Bird’s Eye View of What Facebook Knows
If you’re a smaller, less established business and you can’t easily produce emails and phone numbers to build a custom audience, demographic categories—age, location, gender, interests—amount to a lot.

Regarding your own profile, you can take a look at what Facebook considers to be your interest categories, a combination of pages and profiles you’ve liked and projections of what else you might like, based on that activity.

When you hover over an interest category, it provides a general insight into why it is linked to your profile:

Facebook lets you view example ads for each interest category, and you can provide a response: yes, I’m still interested, or no, I’m not.

Once you’ve completed the tour through your own ad preferences, you can start to see how your Facebook activity translates to data points. All of your likes, comments, shares, and sign-ups translate to patterns that are valuable to businesses and advertisers.
With this in mind, you might take a look at some of your competitors’ ads and see how widely or narrowly they’re casting their ads. Do you see them using Lookalike Audiences, or targeting based on behavior?

You’re So Expensive!
Here’s something else Facebook knows about you—how much you cost.
The audience that you choose to target directly affects how much you end up paying for Facebook ads. Facebook ads are a bidding system, so you’re in direct competition with every other marketer who wants to reach a particular kind of customer.
A person with a lot of interests, a lot of strong purchasing history around those interests, and a lot of purchasing power is going to be expensive to reach.
You can use our data from 2016 to figure out just how valuable you are to Facebook. Looking at gender, the cost-per-like breakdown in 2016 was consistently pricier for women, than for men.

In general, it consistently costs less to target younger users. Looking at just cost-per-likes, you can see that the most expensive user is solidly middle-aged, 45-54 years old. The youngest group of users, ages 13-17, is the cheapest.

Younger users may be excited and willing to engage with your ad or with your product, and comfortable with Facebook ads. But an important question to keep in mind, especially when targeting younger consumers: How much will they spend? How much can they spend?
Targeting who is likely to spend money on your product is worth getting right, even if it might mean a higher cost-per-like. Targeting teenagers may be cheap, but a campaign focused on 13-year-olds is ultimately a waste of money if they can’t afford your product at the end of the day.
Turning the Tables on Facebook
Conducting an investigation into your own Newsfeed and Ad Preferences is simple enough to do, and it tells you a lot about how Facebook views its users from a marketing perspective.
You may not think about your day-to-day Facebook activity with your value as a potential customer in mind. But your day-to-day activity is exactly what makes you valuable. Flipping your perspective puts you on the road to success for your next targeted marketing campaign.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

Facebook Ad Custom Audiences: Everything You Need To Know – 2017 UPDATE

We all agree: Facebook Custom Audiences are one of – if not the most – essential tools for successful Facebook advertising campaigns.
In this post, we will go through everything you need to know about Custom Audiences – from set up to advanced implementation to tactics.

If you’re short on time, or want this information offline, download the fully updated free ebook: The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences.
If you’re already well versed in Facebook Custom Audiences, feel free to skip around within the article. Here’s the table of contents:

How To Create a Facebook Custom Audience
Types of Custom Audiences
How To Create a “Customer List” Custom Audience
How To Create a Website Custom Audience
How To Create an App Activity Audience
How To Create an Engagement Custom Audience
How To Create a Lookalike Audience
Targeting Facebook Ads to Custom Audiences
3 Ways To Boost Your Campaigns with Custom Audiences
Advanced Custom Audiences with AdEspresso

If you’re new to this, make sure you read from the beginning! If you have any questions about a section, leave a comment!
How to Create a Facebook Custom Audience
To create your first Custom Audience, go to the ”Audience” section of the Facebook Power Editor or Ads Manager.
In the Ads Manager, it’s under the Tools section. Select “Audiences.”

In Power Editor, it has its own section, right under the the toolbar right beneath your ad account number:

Since this is your first Custom Audience, you’ll need to create a new one by clicking the green “Create Audience” button. A popup window will open and ask you to pick which type of audience you’d like to create:

Types of Custom Audiences
There are many types of custom audiences, and Facebook is increasing them every day.

Customer List (a.k.a. Standard) Custom Audiences
A list of emails, phone numbers, or Facebook User IDs that Facebook will match them with it’s users. Facebook will usually match between 60-80% of the contacts on your list. Uploading this list usually has to be done manually, unless you use a Custom Audience Sync tool.
Website Custom Audiences
Instead of users’ email addresses or phone numbers, you can insert a Facebook Pixel tracking code on your website and target your Facebook Advertising to all users that have visited a specific page on your website during a set time period (up to 180 days)!
App Activity Custom Audiences
You can create audiences based on what actions people take when they use your app – either on Desktop or Mobile. Mobile has outpaced Desktop on Facebook, and the trend continues. If your business has an app associated with it, it needs to be utilizing custom audiences on Facebook.
Engagement Custom Audiences

You can create audiences of those who engage with certain ad types or your page. The duration of these ad types is up to 365 days, although the more recent is often better – it is engagement after all.

Lookalike Audiences
Once you’ve created a Custom Audience, you can ask Facebook to create a broader “Lookalike Audience” to target your ads to. Facebook will look for patterns and characteristics your current users, leads, or customers, have in common – such as age, gender, or interests – and create a much bigger list of very similar users who most likely have never interacted with your business before!

We’ll go through how to create each one of these audience one-by-one, and then follow up with some tactics on how you can utilize them.
How To Create a “Customer List” Custom Audience

Let’s select the “Customer List” options. These are where you can put your leads – or potential customers. You’ll have two options to sync your customer lists:

Manually upload your audience in a .txt or .csv le.
Synchronization with your Email CRM to your Facebook Ads Account

1 – Manual Upload
As Facebook only offers MailChimp integration, chances are, you’ll need to prepare a file containing the contacts you want to add to your Custom Audience. Use a CSV/Excel file or open a simple text editor and insert one value per line like this:


Note: you can’t mix different data types – so it needs to be either all emails, or all phone numbers, etc.
Give your Custom Audience a short, easy-to-remember name that describes this specific audience. Some ideas include “Former customers,” “Email signups,” or something similar.
You’ll eventually want to use this field to insert notes every time you add a new audience.
2 – Syncing with Your Email CRM
With a Custom Audience Sync tool, you can make sure the leads that you acquire in your email list are automatically synced to your custom audiences (or vice versa, with Facebook’s extremely powerful Lead Ads).
With AdEspresso’s Data Sync feature, you’ll never have to do a “manual upload” again! We have constantly updated custom audiences based on your email or customer lists! For more info, check out our Facebook data sync feature here or sign up for a Free Trial (it’s included!).
How To Create a “Website Custom Audience”

What do you do if you don’t have a big enough database of emails, Facebook User IDs, or phone numbers to create your own Custom Audiences?
You guessed it: Website Custom Audiences! This feature doesn’t require you to have any data about the users you want to target. All you have to do is wait for a user to visit your website. Thanks to a special tracking code – the Facebook Pixel – Facebook will recognize users and automatically add them to an Audience, making them ready to be re-targeted with advertising.
How To Install and Verify The Facebook Pixel
Go to your Facebook Pixel Tab in Ads Manager

Important Note: There can only be ONE Pixel per Ad Account!

Click Create a Pixel (if you already have a Pixel, you won’t see the “Create a Pixel” button)
Enter a name for your pixel. Since there’s only one pixel per ad account, choose a name that represents your business.
Make sure you’ve checked the box to accept the terms
Your Facebook Pixel tracks multiple events depending on the page.

You’ll want to add the Pixel to all pages you want to track, so ask a developer to help, or use a plugin that automatically does this for you. The Pixel will also slightly change if you want to track things outside of just “website visitors” (like leads, purchases, etc.).
For WordPress, we recommend PixelYourSite (not an affiliate link).
And if you want to check to make sure your Facebook Pixel is working, download the free Google Chrome Extension, Pixel Helper.

What are Standard Events?
The Pixel doesn’t just track “visitors.” The Pixel, if installed correctly, will track multiple events that website visitors take on your site with slight variations of the code. 
We won’t dive into each unique event (like how it tracks your leads and customer purchases), but we recommend getting a developer involved to maximize the amount of tracking you can do on your site.
Advanced Website Custom Audiences
Note: This section on advanced WCAs is intended for marketers reasonably experienced with Facebook’s Custom Audiences.
Facebook released upgrades in 2016 that allowed highly detailed targeting based on the intensity of interest visitors display while they are on your website. Basically, you can start targeting your most interested prospects before you even know who they are!

Under Website Traffic, choose the “Custom Combination” parameter to get started. You’ll need to switch over to “Advanced Mode” to see these features, and Facebook may or may not have rolled out all of them to your particular ad account. You can target:

Frequency: how many times a website visitor performs an action, i.e. visits a page. This is currently the most robust and has been rolled out to the most ad accounts
Dynamic date: Allows you target visitors who have visited over a range of dates rather than a set number of previous dats
Aggregate values: this is the total amount of time a person has spent on a page or combination of pages
Devices: this includes Android, iOS, desktop, and other mobile devices. You can exclude or include each one.

Additionally, you can combine the above options with targeting based on the Standard Events website visitors take as well.

The combinations are bordering on endless, so don’t get too lost with it all! We recommend keeping it simple to start, and experimenting with just the Frequency first!
How To Create an “App Activity” Custom Audience

With mobile being the dominant platform for Facebook ads, it only makes sense that creating audiences based on app activity is quickly becoming one of the leading forms of custom audiences.
For example, you can target people who previously used your app, but have not come back to your app within the last month. Or you can target people who have added an item to their cart on your app, but never actually purchased it. Target them with a discount coupon and voila!

You can create audiences based on actions a user did or didn’t take within your app!
There are 14 actions (or non-actions) you can currently target, but the most popular are:

Recently Opened yourApp
Recently Completed a Purchase
Completed Large Purchases
Achieved a Certain Level in your Game

How To Create an “Engagement” Custom Audience
One of Facebook’s newest custom audiences is engagement. In other words, how people interacted with your ads or your Facebook page.
These 4 types of engagement custom audiences really open up the doors for businesses that lack the volume of audience size with other options.
Video Engagement Custom Audiences
When you create an ad with a video, you’ll be able to create custom audiences of everyone who viewed the video or just a percentage of the video! You can do video advertising, just to engage users to get them to know your brand.

This can now be it’s own custom audience, that you can send to your sales page, an e-book, or a more traditional ad!

Lead Ads Engagement Custom Audiences
As a marketer, we’re sure you know of Facebook’s Lead Ads – we even gave you a guide on how to sync your Lead Ads with your Email CRM. But did you know that you have the ability to target those people who opened your Lead Ad, but didn’t convert?

They almost gave you their phone or email…but something stopped them. With our highly niche re- targeting, you can target them again with another Lead Ad, or even a more traditional ad that takes them to a submission form on a landing page!
Canvas Engagement Custom Audiences

Impressing a lot of people with your Canvas ads, but aren’t getting the sign ups you hoped for? Now you can re-target anyone who played around or checked out your Canvas ad!

Page Engagement Custom Audiences

You can now target those who interact with your ads or your page. This means all those likes, comments, and shares are no longer vanity metrics! Rejoice!

Confused by all the options? Let us break it down:
Everyone who engaged with your Page
Everyone who visited your Page or engaged with your Page’s content or ads on Facebook or Messenger.
Anyone who visited your Page: Anyone who visited your Page, regardless of the actions they
People who engaged with any post or ad:
Only the people who have engaged with a Page post or ad. Engagement includes reactions (Likes, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry), shares, comments, link clicks or even carousel swipes.
People who clicked any call-to-action button:
Only the people who clicked any available call-to- action button on your Page. For example: “Shop Now”
People who sent a message to your Page:
Only the people who sent a message to your Page.
People who saved your Page or any post:
Only the people who saved your Page or a post on your Page.
Keep in mind, the audience of page engagement has to be at least 20 people!
How To Create a “Lookalike” Audience

While standard custom audiences are great for re-engaging people who already had an interaction with you, lookalike audiences allow you to find hundred of thousands of users that don’t know you yet, but are very likely to become your customers.
It’s not hard to guess how powerful this feature can be. For example, you could create a Custom Audience with 10,000 of your customers, and get a Lookalike Audience with 200,000 people who are very similar to your customers and ready to be targeted with advertising!
The smallest lookalike audience, by default, is 1.9 million. You can create a lookalike audience of:

Page Fans
Email Lists
Current/Previous Customers
Website Custom Audiences
App Activity
Engagement (Video,App,Posts,andmoreverysoon)
Conversions/Standard Events

For more advice, check out our post on Facebook lookalike audiences.
Note: A lookalike audience is created for only ONE country. This can be very tedious for international brands as they have to create multiple audiences in Power Editor. In comparison, with AdEspresso, creates lookalike-by-country audiences much faster.
Targeting Your Facebook Ads To a Custom Audience
Targeting audiences is extremely simple. Start with opening the Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor and create a new ad.
After you’ve created your ad’s creative, you’ll get to the “Audience” section. Choose the first option, “Custom Audiences”.

Just start typing the name of the Custom Audience you want to target and select it from the autocomplete list. If you want, you can select more than one Custom Audience to increase your reach.
Once you’ve selected an audience, you’ll notice that hovering your mouse cursor over it will cause two icons to appear. The X deletes your audience and clicking the down arrow gives you the option to exclude the audience.
If you’re an e-commerce business, make sure you read our e-commerce custom audience blog post – it’s packed full of tips!
3 Ways To Boost Your Campaigns With Custom Audiences
Now that you know how to create all different types of audiences, it’s time to switch from tutorials to tactics.
How you segment your lists really depends on what kind of business you are running. Let me just give you a couple of examples and then I’ll leave it to you to understand what’s better for you.
1) Grow Your Facebook Page’s Likes (Cheaply)
If your product is a long-term asset that every serious business should seek, Custom Audiences can be a cheap way to have your contacts like your page. Simply create a Facebook Ads campaign targeted to a Custom Audience containing all your contacts.
To avoid wasting money, exclude all of your existing Page fans from your targeting options. They’ve already liked your page and typically won’t add value. Chance are many of your existing customers didn’t bother to like your page. This is a shame as it means they are – by way of their money – your biggest fans.
2) Regain Lost Customers
How many times have you discovered a great site only to forget about it later? This clearly happens often, even if you’ve bought a great product. This may be the case for your old customers, as well.
To solve this, create a Custom Audience with a list of all the people who have bought something from you in the past, but haven’t bought anything recently, and target them with ads about your new products. They already know and trust you since they’ve purchased from you in the past. Leverage this! Remind them that they’ve done business with you in the past, and maybe offer them a sweet deal since they are long time customers.
In this specific case, the best type of Facebook ads are Right Column or News Feed Ads pointing to an ad hoc landing page to re-engage those users. Don’t underestimate Right Column Ads, they are less sexy and people click them less but most of the time they are really cheap!
Remember, they already know, and probably trust you, so leverage this to convert them. Craft a very clear and friendly message, use your brand in the ad’s picture or title … they already know it and it will bring trust!
Here’s a nice example from an expert marketer, Neil Patel. He knows I already visited his blog and subscribed to his blog so he boldly use his name and picture in the ad.
If you want to sweeten the deal tell them you’ve missed them and that you’ve a tasty special offer just for them because you care about your customer.
In this case there’s no need to exclude from the target those who are already fan of your page, just target your custom audience and split test some creatives and demographic audience to increase your conversion rate displaying ads just to those subsets who perform better.
You can get even more complex by targeting those who abandoned their shopping carts, but more on that in e-commerce custom audiences.
3) Up-sell upgrades/new products to existing customers

It’s easier to sell to someone who has already bought from you than to a total stranger.
Create a custom audience with your most active users, and if it makes sense for your business, segment them based on the kind of product they usually buy or the level of subscription they’re in if you’re selling a SaaS solution.
Once you’ve segmented them create a campaign with a very specific ad. Don’t waste time with generic advertising about you … they are loyal customers …promote the sale of a product that would fit well with what they’ve already bought or tease them with the benefits of upgrading their subscription.
I’d suggest you to split test the different custom audience you’re targeting and see which one generates more sales.
With AdEspresso (a B2B software) as an example we usually split our lists this way:

Users who have signed up but never created a campaign, users who created a campaign but stopped using the platform, active users
By advertisement type: Users who promote mobile app install, users who promote ecommerce websites, users who promote Facebook pages
Newsletter subscribers that have not yet signed up for AdEspresso

We throw in even more tactics in our ebook, The Ultimate Guide To Facebook’s Custom Audiences – so make sure you check it out!
Also, don’t be shy to experiment with different types of Facebook ads with your custom audiences. They are over 12 as of this post!
Advanced Tactics with AdEspresso
AdEspresso currently offers two options available to its users that are a step up from Power Editor:
Custom Audience Search with Rapid Lookalike Creation

With our custom audiences filters, you’ll easily be able to instantly create lookalikes from all your existing audiences.
Just pull them with our simple and easy
to use search function! You can also search by custom audience name in addition to the source.

AdEspresso’s Asset Manager

With our asset manager, you can now create and organize audiences in ways not previously possible. You can create hundreds of unique audiences by combining the power of interest targeting (non custom audiences) with custom audiences. Give it a go!

Final Word on Custom Audience Rules & Legality
Finally let’s quickly review some bureaucracy. I encourage you to read the full  Facebook Custom Audience Terms of Service. But since I can guess most of you won’t, here’s a very quick summary of the TWO things you MUST know if you don’t want to have your account suspended.

You can only create custom audience with data (email, phone numbers, UID) you have received permission to use. Adding it to your privacy policy will be enough. Just to be even more clear: you can’t use data scraped on public web sites or on Facebook. Yes, no Facebook scraping!
You can’t keep people in your custom audiences that have requested to Opt Out of your other customer lists (i.e. your email lists). So if someone unsubscribes from your newsletter you should remove him or her from your custom audience as well.

In short: keep your custom audiences always updated!
If you sign up for an AdEspresso free trial, you’ll get to experience this first hand with our built-in Custom Audiences Sync feature!

Facebook Ads Custom audiences are a very powerful tool to increase your sales at a very competitive price.
I’m sure you can find many other creative ways to get the most out of them, please share them in the comments!
As always, my suggestion to get the most out of your marketing budget is to always split test your Facebook Ads … with AdEspresso of course!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pinterest Marketing

With the ever-growing list of social media sites available to start marketing on, it’s often difficult to choose which ones you want to actually prioritize. Facebook is almost always a given for brands to start with, and Instagram and Twitter are normally ranked high too.
Pinterest marketing has also been skyrocketing to popularity amongst marketers.

This step-by-step guide to Pinterest marketing is going to provide marketers and businesses with everything they need to build a strong content marketing presence on the platform—including how to get your individual pins noticed.
In our January 2017 update, we’ve added sections on getting your pins noticed, Facebook and Pinterest integration, buyable pins,  Pinterest’s Promoted Pins- and more!

If you are here just for the tutorial on Promoted Pins you can click here and go straight to the point! But why don’t you take a coffee and refresh your memory going through the whole guide?
Why Pinterest?
Pinterest functions a little differently than any of the other social media sites listed above; for many pinners, the idea isn’t necessarily so much to broadcast images or ideas to followers, but it’s to save ideas, products, or content for later. This makes it a perfect marketing platform.
One of the key ways Pinterest is different from other social media sites is that it serves a different function; as mentioned above, the focus of Pinterest isn’t primarily to post your own ideas or content, it’s to save content that you find valuable for later. For businesses looking to have their content or products purchased, Pinterest is a great tool to have in your arsenal. I’ve saved products I liked to Pinterest and gone back and purchased them later, and I’m far from the only one.
Another key difference: Pinterest displays content differently than any other social media site, and it does so in four ways. Users can view your pins:

On their homefeed, if they follow you or the pins are deemed to be particularly relevant to their interests.
By searching for a keyword relevant to your pin.
In relevant categories (like “Food and Drink” and “Health and Fitness”).
On your actual profile, under themed/categorized boards.

This means that relevant, interested users can find your content organically, whether they’re following you (or even know anything about you) or not.
Finally, the biggest and best reason businesses should be on Pinterest: research has shown that large amounts of Pinterest users actually use the platform to research purchasing decisions before buying, and with many buying something they’ve found on the site.
If that’s not a good reason, I don’t know what is.
Setting Up Your Pinterest Profile
When I first got a Pinterest back in 2012, you had to wait at least a few days to be allowed to create an account. Now, it’s much easier—and instantaneous.
#1 – Creating an Account
When you go to create an account, you’ll see the option at the bottom of the sign in box to “Continue as a Business.” If you miss it, you can still convert your account to a business later, but it’s easier to do it now.

When you create your account as a business, you’ll be asked to fill out the additional fields supplying the information of your business’s name, what type of business you are, and your website (though this is optional).

Once you’re done, hit create account.
You’ll then be asked to follow 5 topics that interest you. This doesn’t really matter, since you’ll be using this to promote your content instead of following others, but it never hurts to select topics that are relevant to your business.

Once your account is created, your home page will look like the screenshot below. This is just what you see, not what anyone following you will see. Click on the red thumb tack in the top right-hand corner to get to your profile.

#2 – Setting Up Your Profile
Your profile starts out looking like this—blank and ready to be filled in. To do so, first click the “Edit Profile” button.

I’ve seen some businesses make the mistake of not filling out all the information here, and that’s a mistake.
Give as much information as you can—users will see this, and the more info, the better. Choose an image that best represents your brand; for many, this is a logo. Make sure to add your website so users can visit you through it. Locations matter if you’re a local or brick-and-mortar location, and always, always try to use keywords in your “about me.”

Once your profile has been set up, you can start creating your boards.

#3 – Setting Up Boards
You can create a board from your profile page. You’ll be asked to name it, describe it, what category it falls under, if it’s secret, and if you want to invite collaborators.

When you name your board, keep keywords in mind, and make sure it’s a relevant title. If you’re creating a board with candy recipes, for example, you could name it “Sweet Treats,” but this could also include cakes, cookies, and pies; adding “candy” in the title as a keyword could help your search results and help you connect with more relevant users.
Having numerous, specialized, detailed boards can help increase the visibility of your pins
The description matters just as much as the title; again, keywords matter, and describe it accurately.
This is a great example of an accurate description that’s detailed and features some keywords
If you invite collaborators, keep in mind that they can pin to and edit the board.
Once you add pins to the board, you can choose which image you want to represent the board. You’ll go to “edit board,” and then choose to change your cover image.

You can scroll through the images selected and choose your new cover image.

# 4 – Viewing Analytics
Pinterest has their own analytics program, available only for business accounts. You can view the analytics by clicking on the tab on the navigation bar in the top left hand corner of the page.
This account is new, so it doesn’t have any analytics information yet, but Pinterest’s analytics can tell you how many views and how much engagement your pins and boards are getting, along with information about your followers or those who viewed your pins.

For more information, we’ve got a full post about Pinterest Analytics that goes over everything you need to know here.
How to Get Pins Noticed
While setting up your profile in a way that’s optimized for success is important, your actual pins will be what matters most. Your pins need to be visually striking so they stand out against the others, whether that’s in a page of other search results or under a general category.
There are several ways you can get your pins noticed and increase their visibility, in addition to choosing the right keywords to describe them. These include choosing the right image size and following best image practices.
Best Image Size
Choosing the right image size on Pinterest can help your pin stand out from the rest, regardless of where users are viewing it.
Image on Pinterest will be scaled to fit the platform, with the width being scaled to 236 pixels.
By Pinterest’s own recommendations, the best aspect ratios for Pins fall between a 2:3 and 1:3.5 (width to height). The minimum recommended width is 600 pixels. Having Pins that are taller than they are wide can help your pins have enough space to stand out, but pins that seem to go on forever and are too long don’t get nearly as much engagement.
Best Image Practices
To help get your pins noticed, there are several best image practices you can use to increase views, repins, and engagement. These include:

Tasteful branding. This comes from Pinterest’s own recommendations; according to Pinterest, including “tasteful branding” in the image can help increase repins and engagement, which can lead to purchases. Whether this is featuring the packaging of your product in the image or just a small logo or watermark, they recommend adding it in where possible.

Add lifestyle images. While images of your products alone can be effective, adding in lifestyle images where users are actively using your product can help it get the attention of users. Avoid overly user-generated images, but having high quality images of someone using your product in its best use case can be effective.

Text overlays. This isn’t Facebook; there’s no 20% rule. Adding text overlay to your image can help get your point and your ideas across quickly.

List images. Lists and listicles are big in content marketing right now; Pinterest is no different. Having an image that demonstrates the list your pin will take you to can be a great way to stand out and increase engagement.

Pinterest Promoted Pins
Promoted Pins rolled out for everyone last year, and businesses in all industries are using the platform.
Since its rolled out, it has provided businesses and brands of all sizes a major platform to connect with new and interested users.
Promoted Pins: How It Works
Pinterest’s Promoted Pins is their paid ad platform. It works on a bidding system like the other social media ad platforms we’re familiar with.
You pay to have your pin placed in front of your target audience. Your pins will show up in relevant category feeds and relevant searches, aided by the keywords that you choose.
You must have a business Pinterest account in order to access and run your own promoted pins campaigns.
How to Create Promoted Pins
To access the promoted pins platform, click on the Ads clickable tab and drop down menu, which can be located in the left hand corner.
This will take you to the dashboard, where you can see the total number of impressions, engagement, conversions, and ad spend on all your campaigns in the prior week. This information can be broken down by engagement campaigns and traffic campaigns.

To get started creating a promoted pin, click on the + in the top right hand corner of Pinterest’s navigation bar, and select “Create an Ad.”

You’ll first be asked to decide whether you want to boost engagement with your pins, which will focus on- and charge by- close up views, repins, and clicks, or send traffic to your site, which will charge by clicks.

Once you choose your campaign goal, you’ll add in information abut your campaign name, your daily budget, and the start and end date for your campaign.
The end date is optional, but I highly recommend it—keeping your pins updated and varied is as important here as it is on any other platform.
When you’ve filled out all of the information, click “Pick a Pin”

On the next screen, you’ll be asked to select the pin you want to promote.
When choosing a pin, you can search for a pin by the keyword or URL, or scroll through your pins. You can see the number of repins each has as you scroll through them. Pinterest also gives you the option of viewing your most clicked and most repined pins in the past 30 days.

On the next screen, you’ll give your promoted pin it’s name, which will be the visible title of the pin that users will see. You can also set a destination URL.

Promoted Pins Targeting
Below this, you’ll be able to select different interests, which are used as a sort of targeting criteria. These interests will help reach a relevant audience in their browsing and home feeds. They will also sort your post into the correct categories.

When you scroll down, you’ll be asked to choose keywords. I believe that this is the most important section in the entire ad creation process.
The keywords you choose will determine what searches your pin shows up in. You want to connect with users who are actively searching for content like yours. Pinterest automatically suggests searches based on their information about your pin, and they’ll provide a list of keywords for every search that you make.

Click on different keywords to add them to your campaign. Pinterest recommends using 20-30 keywords per promoted pin.
When it comes to the keywords you choose, think outside the box to help your pin show up in more searches. For example, instead of just having keywords like “beet soup” and “beets,” you can add “chilled soup,” “summer recipes,” and “liquid diet.”  This gives you more diversity,  expanding visibility.
When you scroll to the next section, you have the ability to have your pins only shown to those:

in certain locations
who speak certain languages
use specific devices
are a certain gender

Finalizing Your Campaign
Next, you’ll be able to set your Maximum CPC bid. This is the most you’re willing to pay for a single click to your website (or, in the case of an engagement objective, for a single measure of engagement). This must be at least $0.10. Pinterest will let you know if your bid is too high or low compared to what others are bidding.

Once you submit your campaign, it will need to pend approval. You can view your campaigns’ approval status under the Engagement campaigns or Traffic campaigns tabs.

Editing Your Campaign
At any point, if you want to edit your campaign, click on the name of the campaign you want to edit. You’ll be taken to the overview of its information, and you can choose “Edit Promoted Pin” in the top right hand corner.

From there you can pause your campaign, change your maximum bid, and add more targeting or keyword information.

Promoted Pins Analytics
Both as your campaigns progress and once they’re over, it’s important to monitor them through the promoted pins analytics.
You can find information about how your campaigns are performing on the home page of the ads platform, or find detailed information on each campaign by clicking on them.

Pinterest’s reporting shows you your total impressions, total engagement, total conversions, and your total spend over the past thirty days both for your campaigns as a whole and by engagement goals.
You can also see your highest and lowest performing promoted pins.
How to Use Pinterest’s Analytics
Most social media platforms have given us analytics to track our presence and impact on the platform, as well as our audience on it. We’ve got Facebook Insights (and Audience Insights), Google Analytics, and Twitter’s Analytics. Now, we’ve got Pinterest Analytics.
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Accessing Pinterest Analytics
First of all, there’s one thing I’ve seen causing confusion that we have to note: personal Pinterest users will be unable to get analytics for their profiles. You need to have your profile converted to a business profile in order to access the analytics. You can do this by either signing up as a business, or—if you already have an account—by converting it here.
Once you’re using Pinterest as a business, you can access your analytics from your profile Page. Click on the star in the top right corner next to “Edit Profile,” and it will reveal a drop down menu. You’ll see “Analytics” as an option to click on.

When you first access Pinterest’s Analytics, you’ll be taken right to your dashboard.

On your dashboard, you’ll be able to see a quick overview of what’s going on with your profile, including:

Number of average daily impressions
Average daily viewers
Amount of average monthly viewers
Average monthly engaged
Top pin impressions in the past 30 days (which will show you the amount of impressions, repins, clicks, and likes those pins have)

On the right hand side of the page, you’ll see a box that says “What to see more?” Once you confirm your website by installing a code they give you into your website index, you’ll be able to know what all of your content is doing on Pinterest—not just the pins you’ve actually pinned.

The dashboard is designed to give you a quick overview of what’s going on in a glance—the other tabs will give you a more in-depth look.
Your Profile
In the top of the analytics page, you’ll see different tabs you can click on: analytics, your pinterest profile, and audience.

Under the “Your Pinterest Profile,” you’ll be able to access detailed information about the activity on your profile. It is appropriately named.
The different tabs and information include:

Impressions. Under this tab, you can see your overall impressions within a certain range of eye (which you can adjust), your top pin impressions, and boards with top impressions.
Repins. You can see your average daily pins and repinners, the content that has been most repinned in the past 30 days, and boards with the most repinned pins.
Clicks. Evaluate the number of clicks to your website from your pins (daily clicks and daily visitors). You can also see the most clicked pins within the past 30 days, and the board with the most clicked pins.
All time data. This shows the best performance of your pins in the entire history that you’ve had your Pinterest. You can see your all time most repinned pins, the best in search, and power pins (pins with a high mix of clicks, repins, and “more”).

If you want to know how your content is performing on Pinterest, this will give you everything you need to know.
Audience Analytics
It’s no surprise that the audience analytics tab is going to give us information about the audience we have on Pinterest, which can be incredibly helpful, as we all know, for a lot of reasons. There are two tabs: demographics and interests, both self explanatory.
Under the demographics tab, you’ll be able to see:

Number of average monthly viewers
Average monthly engaged

The country of your audience

Under the Interests tab, you’ll be able to see what your audience is—you guessed it—interested in. This will manifest in a list of topics and niches, accompanied by images, to show what other interests your audience shares.

You’ll also be able to see Pinner boards that have a lot of your pins on them, and other brands that your audience engages with (giving you a good look at your competition).
How to Use This Information
It’s  always good to know who your audience is and how your profile is performing, in the most amount of detail as possible.
By looking at your audience analytics and comparing it to your audience on other platforms, you can see who you’re missing.  Sometimes the answer will be that a large percentage of that demographic just doesn’t frequently use Pinterest; sometimes, though, you’re missing them for another reason. You can either create new pins, boards, and content to try to engage with them.
Analytics can also help you to gear more content towards the audience that you do have on Pinterest. In a lot of cases, the audience you have on Pinterest may not be identical to the one you have on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube—and that’s ok.
Different people use different platforms, and you’ll want to adjust your content to that. If, for example, I noticed that my cooking site had an audience with a large interest in camping, I could create content about food to take or cook on a camping trip.
Pinterest’s Buyable Pins

Promoted Pins are doing exceptionally well, and buyable pins are driving major conversions.

Image courtesy of Pinterest.com

Pinterest alone, even without their ad platform, is a valuable marketing tool, allowing businesses and marketers to showcase their brand in a variety of different ways. Promoted Pins allow businesses to guarantee that users are seeing their pins. Buyable pins enable users to purchase directly off of a pin, without ever leaving Pinterest.
Here’s everything we know about Pinterest’s buyable pins…
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What Are Pinterest’s Buyable Pins?
Pinterest’s buyable pins are a simple, fast, and secure way for users to make purchases without ever leaving Pinterest.
Buyable pins are identifiable to users by a blue “Buy It” tag that shows up right next to the red “Pint it” button. Users can  see the price of the item, and will be taken through a swift check out process, all on Pinterest.
If you’ve ever wanted a way to boost impulse buys, I think buyable pins just might be your answer. As users are browsing through Pinterest, creating their wishlists and getting ideas, they’ll be able to see your product, the price, and purchase it all with a few quick taps or clicks on their mobile device. They don’t even repeatedly enter in their payment information, making the process go swiftly—before they get the chance to talk themselves out of it.
With the assistance of Shopify and its store owners, Pinterest plans on having roughly 2 million Buyable Pins active by the end of this month.
Buyable pins are currently starting with testing just for iPhone and Ipad users in the US (users must have recently updated IOS systems). They just started rolling out buyable pins on June 30th, so apple mobile device users are just starting to get a glimpse of them for the first time.
After testing is completed, it seems that Pinterest fully intends to release buyable pins for Android and even desktop users.
How Pinterest is Keeping Buyers’ Information Secure
Right now, there is a simple, fast, and secure check outPintrest designed specifically for mobile users. Normally, checkouts and purchases on mobile can be cumbersome and exhausting tasks, so Pinterest made sure to change that.
Pinterest will never actually be a “middle man” for buyers’ financial information; they will use a secure checkout that will deliver the payment information right to the vendor, and not store the information themselves. Apple Pay is one option for users to make purchases securely on buyable pins, and Braintree is working behind the scenes to help with other methods of secure payment.
Long story short: Pinterest doesn’t store your information, keeping your payment information and privacy off as many platforms as possible. The payment process will be secure, but fast and simple. It will be easy for both buyers and merchants, and safe for both to use. Who can say no to that?
Why Pinterest’s Buyable Pins are a Game Changer
As far as I know, on no other social media platform has there ever been the opportunity for marketers to enable buyers to purchase directly off the social media platform (I’m not counting sites like Shopify and Groupon, where people purely go to purchase). Instagram has announced a competing “Buy It” button, which is proof that this could be a feature that’s here to stay (and potentially revolutionary).
Pinterest at its very core is a fascinating (and addicting) blend of wish list creation, window shopping, and recipe hunting. Especially when it comes to the wish list creation and window-shopping, a buyable pin could be a really powerful thing. Just imagine the revenue that could bring in at Christmas time alone, when people are desperately hunting for that last minute gift.
Even better—users can potentially continue on through Pinterest, making multiple purchases, encouraged to do so since they never leave the site and risk not coming back.
The benefits for marketers are huge. And here’s one of the biggest and best parts of buyable pins: Pinterest doesn’t take a cut of your sales. There’s no commission. You keep every dollar you make on the sales you get from buyable pins. Though that has the potential to change down the line if buyable pins see a lot of success, for now marketers are using them with no drawbacks.

How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic To Your Site
With Pinterest weighing heavily on many users when they’re making buying decisions, it’s essential to use  best practices to drive more traffic to your site so they can make the decision to buy with you. Fortunately, there are 4 incredibly easy ways to help your pins stand out, driving traffic (and eager customers) to your site.
1. Use Taller Pins
Choosing taller pins (but not too tall!) can make all the difference in how much traffic you’re getting to your site. While most pins will be slightly taller than they are wide, pins of a certain dimension are likely to perform the best.
You want your pin to be taller than it is wide. This focus of these dimensions is purely on the image, though additional text can help increase clicks, too.
On Pinterest, all images will be scaled to a width of 235 pixels (with an expanded width of 736 pixels once you click on it). The ideal ratio seems to be closer to 1:3.5 (or 600 pixels wide by 2,100 pixels tall, for example).
Taller pins stand out in the Newsfeed automatically, and can be quick to draw the eye. While you don’t want it to be much taller than 1:3.5, you can test out different lengths and see what resonates best with your audience.
2. Post at Peak Times
Posting at peak times will help more users to see and click on your pins. Most importantly, it will also encourage more repins, will which continue to cycle through the site. Peak times for Pinterest are 8-11PM, particularly on Saturdays.
Other high traffic times include:

Fridays at 3PM
2-4 AM and PM, every day
9 PM daily (which is considered to be the true peak time)

Even though you do want to post at peak times, space your content out, with no more than one pin per hour. Since Pinterest has traditionally had rules in place so that only one pin per hour per user will show up in a certain category, you don’t want to take any chances.
3. Add CTAs to your Descriptions
Some of the best advice you’ll ever see in any blog post about marketing is to slap a CTA on whatever it is you’re sharing, whether it’s a Facebook post or an email. The same applies to Pinterest, though they’re overwhelmingly underused on this platform for some reason.
While ending with a CTA is more common, you can also start your description with a CTA, too.
If you scroll through Pinterest, it’s a little surprising how few pins actually have CTAs attached. Encouraging users to “click to learn more” or “sign up now” can be enough to actually inspire action.
Don’t believe me?  Call to action pins can increase engagement and conversions by up to 80%. If that’s not enough motivation, I don’t know what is.
Ending your description with a CTA can increase both traffic to and conversions on your site.
Add CTAs to the end of your descriptions, and keep them brief and to the point. You can also add your CTA to the image itself as text overlay if you choose.
4. Install Rich Pins
Rich pins give users additional information to capture their interest and make them want to click.
No matter what type of business you have, Rich pins can automatically help send traffic to your site from Pinterest. Rich pins are dynamic, and offer more information than a regular pin. The idea is similar to Twitter Cards.
There are different types of rich pins available for businesses to install and use. The types of rich pins currently available are:

Article Pins, which feature article title, a description, date of publication, and the author’s name.
Recipe Pins, which feature ingredients, serving information, and cooking times
App pins, which include install buttons and are currently available to iOS apps only.
Place pins, which are ideal for local businesses and include a map, address, and phone number

Movie pins, which include ratings, prominent cast member names, and reviews
Product pins, which include up-to-date pricing, and purchasing information
Product pins reflect current prices and availability; this product, for example, is currently listed as out of stock.

Rich pins are synced up with your site, and will continue to automatically update and provide the most accurate information. This means that product pins, for example, will update the price listed automatically; if your product goes on sale, that’s reflected in the pin.
The extra information from rich pins can help drive more relevant and engaged traffic to your site. They’ll have all the up-to-date information that they need before they even get there.
You can find more information about installing rich pins here.
Integrating Pinterest Marketing & Facebook Marketing
Facebook is a social network dedicated to connecting people from all around the world. Pinterest is visual discovery tool designed to link people with similar interests or projects. Together, they can be a match made in social media heaven.
While Facebook is clearly the king of social media, Pinterest can be used in conjunction with Facebook. Think of it the best of both worlds; you’ve got Facebook’s reach and engagement with Pinterest’s potential for discovery.
In addition, check out this data:

Although Pinterest doesn’t have Facebook larger reach, 55% of Pinterest users have engaged with brands through Pinterest. This is opposed to 48% of Facebook

43% of Pinterest users note that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify.” Compare this to the 24% of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook

Pinterest users are more loyal than Facebook fans in terms of showing support

The above shows the following: While Facebook has the userbase, Pinterest has the engagement and the loyalty factor. Pairing the two together can provide you with some great results. So, what are some ways to combine the span of Facebook with the library of wealth Pinterest provides? You just have to follow a few easy steps…
Pin content from Facebook
The great thing about Pinterest is that you can “pin” or save a recipe, craft idea, DIY resource, and even how-to guides.
Plus, with over 10 million users, Pinterest has cultivated an audience of users, innovators, and as with any social network, addicts. However, if fans are able to pin content directly from Facebook, you can create twice as much usership than with one platform alone.
The Four Seasons of Boston combines the power of Facebook with the usefulness of Pinterest by pinning valuable content straight from a business page:

For example, The Four Seasons posts the hotel chef’s food inspiration, such as a recipe for beef bourguignon. The recipe has a “pin it” button in the corner, making it easy for users to save the recipe directly from Facebook.
Users won’t be able to pin straight from your Facebook Page; however, using third party software like Shortstack you can easily create a tab that has pinnable images in it.
Hold a contest
Contests are a great way to boost engagement, drive sales, and involve your followers in your product or service. However, if you post a contest on Facebook with the intention of directing your followers to Pinterest, your contest can hold a larger significance.
Several great examples that showcase how a Pinterest and Facebook integration can be beneficial include:

Logitech posted a contest on Facebook asking followers to follow them on Pinterest. They then request fans to pin the place they would most likely want to work, study, or create on their terms with the Logitech tablet folio. After, fans are asked to click on any of the pins to fill out an entry form for a chance to win a Logitech product of their choice, plus a $500 gift card towards a tablet

In the Esurance Fantasy Tailgate Sweepstakes, Facebook followers are asked to create a Pinterest board containing items such as who they are cheering for and game day activities. They are also asked to fill out an entry-form on Facebook. Winners receive $2,000 worth of tailgate swag.

Timex asked Facebook followers to pin their favorite Timex and accessories from their Pinterest inspiration board for a chance to win a featured Timex and a $100 Visa gift card.

When send traffic from Facebook to Pinterest, you encourage your followers to get involved in a fun way.
Promote specific Pinterest boards
The beauty of Pinterest is that it allows businesses and users to create different boards, which are essentially categories that group together the best pieces of content.
For example, companies like HubSpot have categorized their boards into great sections, such as marketing eBooks, helpful webinars, or holiday marketing techniques. However, when you promote specific Pinterest boards on Facebook, you are able to target a bunch of content through one update.
For example, Entrepreneuress Academy, an online membership site that teaches people how to grow their businesses online, promotes certain boards on Facebook. For example, a board with inspirational quotes and wise words is linked in an update, complete with a teaser image. This promotes both the board, plus the mass amounts of content within it, through Facebook.

Facebook and Pinterest are a match made in social media heaven. By using the best features of both sites, you’ll be able to optimize each platform and interact with your followers in fun and creative ways.

How to Share Timely Content on Pinterest
Due to the long lifecycle of pins, tons of content that is shared is designed to be evergreen, meaning that it will stay relevant for long periods of time. This is a solid strategy, and it’s one I highly recommend.
That being said, timely content does have its place on Pinterest and can perform incredibly well. Let’s not even get started on the drool-worthy, holiday-specific recipes that pop up every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Superbowl.
Timing can be everything in marketing, and having the right content be cycled through at the right time can provide huge results. Education companies can benefit from having content like “10 Products All Teachers Need to Go Back to School” go live in August, and a landscaping business could get a ton of business from relevant content just in time for spring gardening.
What Makes Sharing Timely Content on Pinterest So Difficult?
Timely content can be challenging in a way that is unique to Pinterest. Because pins have a longer life cycle than most social media posts, content may take some extra time to get traction compared to other platforms. This can result in your valuable, relevant content never getting enough traction at the right time, which means that it won’t get the kind of results that it could have.
There’s another challenge with timely pins. When pinners find a pin and share it, it replicates as being a new pin from that day; we don’t necessarily see the date of the original pin unless we go digging (and let’s be real, nobody does that). Because of this, time-sensitive pins (like pins advertising contests or sales) may be shared long after the relevant deadline has passed. This can result in confusion and frustration.
There’s no way to know, by looking at the image or description, if the contest is over. People may repin a dead link or an out-of-date contest.
Simply put: if your pin has a time limit before it’s no longer relevant, it can be difficult to get it the visibility or traction needed before that deadline is up.
To make sure all your timely content is being shared at the right time (and not after), and your pins are always as accurate as possible, we’ve got 5 tips to help you share timely content on Pinterestfor better results.
#1. Use Rich Pins
The biggest problem with the average pin is that it’s a stagnant post that continues to be shared as if it’s current.
While we can go into Facebook and comment on an old post to keep users updated on what’s happening, or they can see a time stamp on the original post, this isn’t necessarily true for Pinterest; our pins can be repinned again and again until we lose track and can’t update everyone. This makes Pinterest a difficult platform to use when advertising products, especially when listing timely content like sales prices.

Rich pins (which we’ve talked about above) are the solution. Rich pins are synced up to your website, and will automatically update themselves will relevant information. If price changes on a product, for example, the price on the pin will automatically update, without any efforts on your part. This allows us to share timely product information in a pin, without worrying that a temporary price discount will aggravate users later when they click to our site after the sale has expired only to see the full price. If your products are out of stock, this will also be reflected in the pin.

There are a few different types of rich pins, including recipe pins, app pins, product pins, place pins, and article pins. To see how to install rich pins, you can see an awesome guide here.
#2. Place End Dates on an Image
This tip can be important for content that’s not only timely, but also time sensitive. If you have a pin with a deadline, like a contest, event/ event registration, or a sale, you want to make it clear to everyone looking at your pin when that deadline is. This can prevent the pin from continuing to circulate after it’s no longer evident.
While mentioning end dates for the sale/contest/event/etc. in the description can be helpful, plenty of users will repin a pin and change the text, sometimes without ever reading the original text. For this reason, placing a date on the actual pin image (in the text) can be useful.

This can also help increase urgency when a user first sees the timely content. With nothing inspiring action quite like a deadline, this can help drive immediate results in both engagement and clicks to your site. When an expiration date is in plain sight, users are also much more likely to convert immediately instead of just saving the pin for later.
#3. Change Visibility (with Third Party Tools)
On Facebook, there are scheduling tools that allow your posts to no longer show up in the Newsfeed after a certain period of time. This allows brands to share time-sensitive and relevant content, but can keep it from continuing to appear once it’s no longer relevant. While Pinterest doesn’t offer a tool like this (at least not currently) there are third party tools that do.
Shortstack’s contest software, for example, has an awesome visibility feature for Pinterest. With this tool, you can control what your audience sees at different times. You can, for example, display discounts, sales, and contests, for a limited time.

I haven’t seen any other tools yet that offer adjustable visibility settings like Shortstack (though there are some incredible scheduling tools like ViralTag that I do recommend), but I’m keeping my eye out for more!
 #4. Promote Your Pins
If you’ve got timely content (especially if it has a deadline) and want to get a lot of eyes on it fast, Promoted Pins is your best bet.
Promoted Pins has been popular with marketers, and can give your content the instant visibility boost that is sometimes necessary with timely content, launching it in front of the right people instead of waiting for it to be seen. If you’re actively promoting a campaign, like a contest or a sale, and want a ton of eyes on this particular campaign, paying for increased visibility, engagement, and clicks is completely worth it.

You can see more about how to run promoted pin campaigns here.
#5. Capitalize on Keywords
If you’re posting timely content that’s relevant based on a specific event, holiday, or season, users might come to Pinterest searching for it. You want to make sure your pin is the one that pops up when they hit enter on that search button. A deliberate use of keywords will help with this.
This image will rank for keywords “fall wedding ideas” and “autumn wedding,” which keeps them covered regardless of which terminology their audience uses.
Keywords are just as important on pins as they are on blog posts. Pinterest’s search engine is frequently used by pinners who are looking for specific content, and you want to make sure that yours is what you find. Having relevant, timely content is a great way to help you rank well in a lot of those searches, as there will be a surge of interested users looking for your content at exactly the right time (think wing recipe searches come Superbowl time).
“First week of school checklist” and “teacher survival kit” could be powerful keywords for this image this time of year.
Keywords can be placed both in the pin title and in the pin description, and you can use both opportunities to try to rank for a different keyword. These keywords can even help your pin show up in Google search results, increasing reach and visibility further.

Pinterest B2B Examples from Big Brands
Pinterest, as it turns out, is one of the most effective platforms when it comes to driving sales from social media. B2B businesses are killing it on the platform.

Although Pinterest does not have the same reach as other platforms, 55 percent of Pinterest users have engaged with retailers and brands through Pinterest, as opposed to 48 percent of Facebook users who have engaged with retailers or brands through Facebook.
Further, Pinterest also appears to be a better bridge to brand association: 43 percent of Pinterest users note that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify,” as opposed to 24 percent of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook.
So, as a B2B organization, what are some specific ways to optimize Pinterest in your overall strategy?
Create boards your audience will love
Pinterest boards are essentially categories that group together the best pieces of content. For example, companies like HubSpot have categorized their boards into great sections, such as marketing eBooks, helpful webinars, holiday marketing techniques, as well as amusing boards like “Meme-tastic marketing.”

HubSpot’s boards are carefully pieced together to contain the right information for their audience: Those looking to improve the marketing process.
In addition to creating awesome boards, be sure to link all the content in your boards to your website or a landing page — within reason, of course — so you’re reiterating your messaging, as well as your organization.
Up the visual content
Pinterest is all about the visual. From infographics, to charts, to advice guides, your brand should increase your visual content in order to reach your audience.
General Electric (GE) is a great example of a company that has used Pinterest to show off their products. GE has a board called “Badass Machines.” which illustrate different technologies produced by the company. Examples include wind machines, aviation engines, and locomotives,

GE does things a little differently: They post visually stunning images which are either filtered through an editing program or taken at an interesting angle. The combination of the two amps up their Pinterest page, while promoting their brand in a cool new way. This is something any B2B organization can do, no matter the product or service.
Put a face to your organization
Sometimes your audience wants to know more about you, your processes, and your accomplishments before they sign on or commit.
While you can show what you’re all about on platforms like Facebook, studies show Pinterest users are more loyal than Facebook fans in terms of showing support. When you have a more supportive fanbase, you should tailor your content in such a way which makes you relatable.
For example, let’s say you wanted to promote your company culture or a new face in your organization. You can use Pinterest to communicate this.

Headshots of the new CEO or the team, pictures of a company event, photos of your office, or even an infographic which shows how you make things happen are all ways you can use Pinterest to illustrate why your organization is one to follow.
Focus on trends
Trends or patterns can show what’s happening in your industry, as well as what you’re doing to make strides based on these trends.
Promoting industry trends via Pinterest gives your audience some different perspectives, as well as direction, into their current strategy and what you can do to help.
For instance, IBM has a board called “Big Data and Analytics,” which demonstrates how certain types of data helps them to make better decisions.

Another board, “IBM Social Sentiment Index” illustrates public opinion from a range of social data. Both of these boards show why IBM is ahead of the curve; they’re actively promoting and engaging in the latest trends.

Final Thoughts
Pinterest is a valuable tool with marketers, providing a huge potential opportunity for increased sales—and for free. With paid options like promoted pins and additional features like buyable pins, that potential has only increased. Add in best practices and cross-platform integration, and it because an invaluable tool all businesses should be using.
When it comes to Pinterest, sticking to the basics—simple keywords, straightforward image, clear description—can help improve your results, making our job as marketers and businesses much easier. This step-by-step guide to Pinterest marketing gives you everything SMBs need to get their campaigns up and running.
What do you think? Do you use Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy? How increase your pins’ visibility? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

6 Examples of Small Businesses Mastering Pinterest Marketing

When I’ve asked clients why they haven’t created a business profile on Pinterest yet, I almost always get one answer in return: many small businesses believe that Pinterest will only work for big name corporations with huge followings and massive potential ad spend.
Fortunately for us all, this isn’t true.

Small businesses can create strong, engaged followings on the platform just like big corporations.
Many can benefit from Pinterest marketing, even if they don’t fit into an obvious Pinterest niche of interest. Since Pinterest has a ton of influence in what its users purchase, you don’t want to neglect it.
Still having some doubts about getting the results you want? I’ve got a list of 6 examples of small businesses mastering Pinterest marketing to draw inspiration from.

1. Mojo Spa, IL
The Mojo Spa in Illinois has a very unique, distinctive brand. They create good-for-you cosmetics in an affordable price range, and the creator of the company calls herself the “Willy Wonka of beauty.” Their Pinterest does a remarkable job of capturing the whimsical and wonderfully quirky nature of their brand while promoting their products simultaneously.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with their brand, they give you an excellent rundown in their profile bio, including adding in a note about their “Willy Wonka World of Beauty.”

Many of their boards are distinctly feminine, matching their site. Their unique interest boards (like their Alice in Wonderland board) are captivating and unlike what you’ll see from most other businesses.
These boards aren’t about selling products; it’s about establishing their brand. Since they know this content will be interesting to their target audience, this was a genius move. This also sets them apart, and it is almost certainly part of the reason they have over 17,000 followers.
I can almost guarantee you won’t find too many businesses with eclectic (but genius) boards like “Alice in Wonderland” or “Balloons.”

2. Tamara Knight Photography, FL
You’d think that Pinterest would be a haven for photographers looking to strut their stuff, but many don’t take full advantage of what the platform offers. Orlando’s Tamara Knight Photography is a great exception (and she also takes really, really gorgeous pictures).
One thing that Tamara does well on her business’s Pinterest (which all businesses on this list do) is optimizing their bio with all the information visitors could need, including location, website, and basic services/products offered. Supported by her board that showcases stunning photographs, potential customers will know exactly what she can do for them. When a business does this, it can be enough to send traffic to your site.

She uses Pinterest as a tool to plan and community with her clients. When I worked with her, she created a private board for just the two of us, where we could both add ideas for poses to shoot or makeup and hair that we thought would look great. It was easy for us to use, it consolidated all of our ideas into one place, and—here’s a big advantage—it got me on her Pinterest profile, where she has resources for clients including photographs to draw inspiration from and boards like “What to Wear” for best pictures. She also has a board dedicated just for men, an often neglected demographic on Pinterest, which helps her stand out.

3. The Kosher Express, CO
The Kosher Express, based in Denver, Colorado, sells high-quality kosher meat at affordable prices. They’re also killing it with their Pinterest marketing.
This business focuses in on Pinterest’s love of food and themed boards, and it does it exceptionally well. They’ve got plenty of recipe boards full of kosher recipes (many of which require kosher meat, of course). They’ve also got content that will appeal to a broad audience, which can help expand their reach, like their School Sack Lunches board.

They also have individual boards for important Jewish holidays and events, like their Shabbat Dinner board. Since users will search for this keyword, this can connect you with new audience members.

Their last excellent move that too many small businesses neglect on Pinterest is having a community board. This can mean a local community, a religious community, or a community with a shared interest. Identifying as part of a community and having a board sharing content from it can connect you with peers and industry experts. It can show users that you’re just as engaged in the community as they are, which builds loyalty and trust.

4. Kettlebell Kickboxing, NY
It would almost feel blasphemous not to have some sort of fitness studio on this list, given Pinterest’s high ranking category of health & fitness. Fortunately, New York studio Kettlebell Kickboxing has built a strong profile on Pinterest.
First, they do a fantastic job describing why potential customers should come in and join them in their profile. This can be difficult to do, but they explain exactly what their program is and why it benefits you in just a few words.

Next, the first board you’ll see is their Kettlebell Boxing board, which features articles and information about the program. This can help interested users get more familiar with the brand without having to leave Pinterest.

Immediately next to it, they have a board called “Dasha’s daily tips,” featuring health-related tips that can help users reach their fitness goals. These tips all come from the business’s site, which can them send interested traffic and help convert leads.

Their other boards include everything that potential customers would need to meet fitness goals. This includes food tips and recipes, “fitspiration,” playlist suggestions, and fitness fashion. All of this will interest most of their target audience, giving them a variety of content to use.
5. Calder Clark Wedding Planner, SC
Calder Clark, Wedding Planner, is based in South Carolina, and her Pinterest is stunning. The first thing you see when you go to her profile is her portfolio board displayed above the others. This board displays a body of her work, showcasing everything from bouquets to beautifully plated dishes from weddings she helped facilitate. Couples (or brides) can look at this portfolio and know that she can do the exact same for them, too.

Her Pinterest board, unsurprisingly, is full of specific boards that can give prospective brides all the inspiration they need for everything from their centerpieces to the bridesmaid dresses. She’s even got boards for blue weddings, gold weddings, and rose weddings. If a couple comes to her with no idea what they want, she can refer them to her Pinterest and ask them to find examples of what they like.

She also has a board full of her blog posts, which she actually maintains. This is a pretty big one; tons of SMBs will have a strong foundation for their Pinterest, but won’t actually update it regularly with blog posts. This is missed potential, and this business is making sure she’ll get all the traffic she can.
6. Baker Marble and Granite, CA
Baker Marble & Granite, based on California, also make use of a work portfolio on their Pinterest page. Their portfolio is stunning, and their “What We Do!” board is full of high quality images of their gorgeous work. While quite a few businesses on this list have portfolios showcasing their incredible work, it’s good to note that most do not. This is a missed opportunity; it’s one thing to show off beautiful inspiration from another blog, it’s another to say “look, I’ve done this before and I can do this for you, too.”

In addition to their portfolio, they also have a board titled “Celebrating 25 great working years!” with behind-the-scenes pictures of people who make the company tick—including clients. This adds a more personal element to their profile which can immediately appeal to users. It also masterfully highlights their 25 years of experience, which is a big plus.

The rest of their boards are also fantastic, all the way down to their “recipes for your new kitchen” board which can help increase the excitement factor for prospective clients who are close to purchasing.
Final Thoughts
You don’t need a big name or a big marketing budget to prosper on social media, and these 6 small businesses killing it on Pinterest have proven it. Each has creatively and uniquely used the platform to showcase their products and engage with their target audience, and every SMB can follow in their footsteps.
What do you think? How do you use Pinterest to promote your brand? Do you follow any small businesses killing it on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/

Digital Advertising is Dying. Here’s 3 Ways to Resurrect It.

86% of your site visitors don’t look at ads.
The problem, of course, is that people don’t feel they’re relevant. Untargeted and generic. Certainly not helpful.
Even Facebook ads can be guilty, with one study showing that a series of Facebook ads delivered no emotional response. None whatsoever.
It should be no surprise then, that people are taking matters into their own hands.

Ad blocking technology has quadrupled in the last few years alone. That’s up to 48% of total consumers; estimated to cost publishers $22 billion… in just this year!
The writing’s on the wall. The vital signs don’t look good. Digital advertising, as we know it, is dying.
But it’s far from dead. The trick isn’t more ads. It’s better ones. Here’re 3 ways resurrect it.

Will Programmatic Advertising Save Advertising?
Programmatic advertising could drive 50% of digital ad sales (~$18 billion give or take) by 2018.

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That number’s already up to 63% for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), and a whopping $3.71 billion spent on programmatic ads by retail companies.

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It should be no surprise then, that programmatic advertising is touted by many in the industry as the future. A way out.
Which sounds good. But… WTF is it? How does it work?
There’s basically two versions: direct and real-time bidding.
In the first case, you buy guaranteed ad space without an auction.
And in the second, real-time bidding (or RTB, as it’s known in the biz), you compete in an auction kinda like Google AdWords, but for display ads. (AdWords has even dipped their toe into the programmatic waters, with offering new demographic targeting options on their display network.)
In just fractions of a second, an ad exchange will attempt to piece together information about a user and the page’s content to then auction off ad space to the highest bidder. So literally while the page is loading, the exchange selects who’s up and serves their ad.
The secret is machine learning.
A lowish-level of artificial intelligence that analyzes mind-numbing amounts of data to identify patterns and spot opportunities in real time. All before we dumb-ass humans can barely stop ourselves from drooling.
Artificial intelligence ain’t some futuristic, Terminator-type thing either. It’s already here, powering your search engine results (meet RankBrain, your latest SEO nightmare) and determining what does (or doesn’t) make it’s way past your spam filters. It’s also the key behind Facebook’s 98% accurate facial recognition tool, too.
Essentially programmatic advertising reduces a lot of the stuff that typically takes FOREVER for display advertisers – like the inventory searches and back-and-forth placements and manual trial and error we advertisers typically have to conduct – and instead uses automated decision-making tools to power real-time bidding.
The idea is to get these damn online auctions to run themselves, based on all kinds of predictive analysis and real-time tweaks or optimizations. Which would then put marketers to better use on bigger-picture areas of concern.
MarketingLand has an excellent, in-depth write-up about programmatic advertising. You should check it out when you get some free time (ha!).
The future is bright for programmatic advertising… if you can afford it (or the ‘hidden costs’ it requires). Lou Paskalis, a senior VP of enterprise media with Bank of America told AdAge:
“Between ad-serving and tech-targeting fees, you’re now starting to see more than 50 cents out of every dollar going to nonworking investments and less going to the publisher.”
But here’s the deal:
At the end of the day, the goal behind programmatic advertising is to (1) improve your ad placements, (2) refine your audiences, and (3) better tailor your creatives.
So let’s start there. Sans the million-dollar media buy commitment.
Let’s work backwards, reverse-engineering what programmatic advertising is attempting to do, and see how you can apply that to your own DIY-Facebook advertising efforts to wring more dollars from your campaigns (in an age where everyone is seemingly avoiding ads like the plague).
1. Ad Placements
Mobile RTB is “a very exciting frontier at the moment”, according to programmatic expert Ratko Vidakovic in his MarketingLand piece on the subject.
And every advertiser worth their salt knows why: usage has absolutely exploded, and yet nobody’s figured it out.
Like the Wild Wild West.

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While mobile conversions still lag tablet or desktop regardless of platform though, it does have its place (ment. Get it?!).
Thankfully, Massimo’s already done the work for us:
The mobile newsfeed is great for discovery and engagement.
“Mobile users tend to ‘Like’ a lot. Users will discover your product on their phones… then buy it the next day on their desktop.”
Perfect. So what’s the problem?
Speed. Or, the lack thereof.
Retail mobile sites might take up to 6.9 seconds to load. Facebook estimates put it closer to 8 seconds. And data shows that if your site ain’t loading within 5 seconds, you stand to lose 74% of mobile visitors!
So while your site is loading, still loading, still loading, your customers are off to Amazon, buying, and buying, and buying.
The eCommerce industry alone stands to lose $500 billion (with a big, bold, B) in lost revenue.
Thankfully, there’s an app ad for that.
Facebook Instant Articles can deliver you content up to 10x faster on mobile devices. target=”_blank”Their results also show that using Facebook Instant Articles (instead of your slow ass website) can increase mobile CTR by 20% and result in 30% more shares all while decreasing abandonment by 70%.

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Instant articles though shouldn’t just be the latest clickbaity news. But stuff that’s actually interesting or that people want to consume.
Canvas ads are another opportunity that leverages the technology underneath Instant Articles, to deliver new, creative experiences in the blink of an eye.
Advertising that evokes emotion has been reported to influence intent-to-by by 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads. Emotions can even influence B2B sales by up to 71%.
These Canvas ads can pop-up on someone newsfeed, where TechCrunch reports that, “53% of Canvas users view at least half of it, while the average time on site is 31 seconds”.

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So with Canvas, you can deliver brand-new, interactive experiences that are perfect for introducing new content, offers, or products. All while creating something that’s differentiated from the competition’s boring, static ads. And memorable for your potential customers.
Get these people to discover your stuff on their mobile devices, stick around for a bit, and then use that audience going forward for custom audiences and retargeting.
2. Refine Your Audiences
The highest performing ads (read: the ones that convert stuff) should all be retargeting in one form or another.
Problem was, general display ad retargeting used to just rely on basic cookie data without a whole lotta other stuff. So even though you knew this person hit your site in the last XX days, you didn’t really know anything about them.
Programmatic advertising is working on bringing in other data though, from third-party data sources, that will layer in demographics on top of your cookies. (All this talk of cookies is making me hungry.)
So the first step programmatic RTB is taking to improve ad relevance is to also factor in someone’s familial status, household income, race, and more.
Discovering new audiences is hard, without being able to rely on custom audiences, is hard.
One of the first places you always start is with media entities your customers might follow. Partnering with them might get expensive though. The alternative, is influencers.
“Influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing”, according to a study from TapInfluence with Nielsen.
Influencers are named such because they typically sway 49% of people to purchase products based on their recommendations.
And Facebook has recently opened up their platform to new branded content opportunities with these people.

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You can now tap into their brand awareness and gain credibility in front of their audience through a transparent partnership where you can see KPI’s on your investment.

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Start with your personas, find the top sources of news or influencers, layer in interest inclusions or exclusions, and start building.
Because the key to successful advertising is audience targeting. Especially on Facebook, where better audience targeting outperforms better ad creatives any day of the week.
The second step is to this equation is context.
3. Better-Tailor Your Creatives
The next evolution of programmatic RTB platform is to pull in context around what a person may or may not be interested in.
For example, they’ll pull in someone’s past search history to see which keyphrases they were looking at, or which products they were shopping for.
They will also now allow advertisements to be automatically tailored with the page it’s showing up on. So a vegan recipe cookbook ad will only show up on hippie blogs (JK!).
Pages are essentially scanned, analyzed, and categorized so that you can better align it with your own criteria (again – at scale, in milliseconds, without human involvement).
Step forward, Dynamic Product Ads.
These babies dynamically generate on-the-fly, customizing content and creative based on someone’s past actions on your site.

So when someone is on your site looking and browsing at the latest Spa Kits, you can serve them up a highly relevant (not to mention, cost-effective) ad at the exact right time.

Shutterfly has seen 20%+ click-through rate increases using Dynamic Product Ads. And Target has seen a 20% increase in conversions over standard, static Facebook ads.
Then by syncing this data with your CRM, you can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
After all, omni-channel shopping is the world we live in. People jump from channel to channel, and device to device, prior to making a big decision.
So marketing automation should be a given. Abandoned shopping cart emails should be choreographed with Facebook retargeting. SMS can add a touch of urgency.
And hell, you can even add direct mail into this mix.
Mirroring your promotional activities directly after a consumer’s habits and behavior isn’t some newfangled trend or insight. It’s logical.
When you look at the statistics, it don’t look good.
Bleak and dreary. Uninviting and uninspiring.
And yet, there’s room for hope.
The ad technology space has never been more progressive or innovative, creating new opportunities faster than we can take advantage.
On Facebook, we can leverage placements better, especially on mobile with options like Instant Articles and Canvas. We can create branded partnerships with influencers to gain more cost-effective exposure. And we can better leverage our own contextual information to serve up product ads at the right time, that are choreographed with promotional messages in email, SMS, and even direct mail.  
Programmatic advertising is opening up a world of new possibilities to save display ads across all networks.
But many of these same underlying principles have already been available to us on Facebook.
Source: https://adespresso.com/feed/