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How to Host a Website

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Unless you have your own server, you’ll need to go through a web host to get your site online.

Think of it as renting space on a server to hold your website files. Instead of buying and maintaining one on your own, your host takes care of all the IT backend stuff.

If you don’t already have a domain name, you’ll need that, too. It’s the online address where people find your site.

The whole process may be unfamiliar to you, but it is not hard. Trust me. Thousands of people with zero computer programming experience launch new sites every day

All you need is the right guidance. This post will cover the entire process step by step.

Your 2-Minute Cheat Sheet

This section is your shortcut to success. I’ll explain the essential steps here, and go into much more detail in the later sections.

Start by researching a good web hosting provider. I recommend Dreamhost, Hostinger, and Bluehost, as I found them reliable and speedy. These only cost a few dollars a month for one website, and they offer excellent customer service, too!

Bluehost main page for How to Host a Website

Want more options? Don’t worry. There are several other alternatives that you can try out. Head over to our best web hosting service guide to find the right fit for you.

Next, you have to work on registering an available domain name. 

Here, you have two options: Either buy a domain name from the same hosting service or get one from a third-party provider—your call.

Follow this up by choosing the hosting type you want and a hosting plan to go with it. From cloud hosting to dedicated hosting to shared hosting—the choice is difficult but not when you know what you want. 

For instance, if you’re on a tight budget, shared hosting would be more practical. But if you’re a large company experiencing high traffic volumes daily, dedicated hosting would be better.

All that’s left is to do is change your DNS address and upload your website.

Congratulations! You now have a live website up and running.

That was the gist. Let’s dig into these steps in a bit more detail now. Feel free to jump ahead if you’ve already taken care of the early steps.

  1. Find a Good Web Hosting Provider
  2. Register a Domain Name
  3. Select the Type of Web Hosting You Want
  4. Choose a Good Hosting Plan
  5. Change Your DNS Address

Step 1: Find a Good Web Hosting Provider

When you want to buy a house, what would you do? How will you approach the situation?

You wouldn’t just buy the very first property you see when driving down the street.

No, you would do thorough research. 

You would contact different real estate agents, check out all kinds of properties, see what fits within your budget, and find out everything you should know to make the right decision.

The same logic applies to web hosting.

Let me make one thing clear: No web hosting provider is the same. Some are better than others. 

How do you know which one is the right fit for you?

If you plan on turning to Google and simply typing “best web host,” you’ll only end up getting more confused than before. 

Google search results for "best web host" for How to Host a Website

There are tons—1,330,000,000, to be more precise—of articles on the internet. And what makes it worse is that not all of them offer the right advice.

You need to know the right research process and eliminate unsuitable options ASAP. As someone who has been in this line for decades, I’ve compiled a list of the best web host providers in my experience. 

While you can check out my methodology in this guide, here are a few of my top picks:

There are many others. Go through all the options and their features and pricing to determine the right fit for you.

Step 2: Register a Domain Name

Remember when I mentioned that a domain name points the server to your website files’ location on the internet? 

Simply put, your domain name is your digital address.

My domain name is neilpatel.com. I use my name because it’s a big part of my brand.

Neil Patel domain for How to Host a Website

You can make your domain name anything you want—provided it’s available for registration.

Come up with a short list of ideas you like. A lot of domain names are taken, so you might have to get a little creative.

The good news is you can get a domain from your web host provider itself. For instance, Bluehost offers free domains to its users who sign up for its subscription plans. 

Bluehost pricing with free domain for How to Host a Website

Some providers will give you a domain for a small upcharge.

Do you want even more options? Great, because I have another.

You may buy a domain name from a third party who is not your web host provider. 

There are quite a few hosting providers who don’t sell domain names as they specialize in hosting products exclusively. In those cases, you’ll have to purchase a domain before using the hosting service.

Here’s my take on this: It’s better to buy hosting and domain name together. It’s simpler, hassle-free, and less time-consuming.

On the other hand, when you buy a domain name and hosting service separately, extra steps are involved. You’ll have to set the Name Servers on the domain registrar’s website to point to the address provided by your web host. 

It’s best to consult with your registrar for more instructions since it varies from one site to another.

Once you have your domain name in place, you can move forward in the process of getting your website live on the web.

Step 3: Select the Type of Web Hosting You Want

We’ve discussed web host providers and domain names. Next on the list should be to determine the type of hosting you think would be best for your website.

I’m going to briefly talk about these hosting types to give you a basic idea of what you can expect from each.

Hosting type comparison graphic for How to Host a Website

There are four main options:

  • Shared hosting
  • VPS hosting
  • Dedicated hosting
  • Cloud hosting

Shared Hosting

This hosting option is best for small businesses, small websites, and personal blogs. In other words, people who are just starting out. 

It allows multiple websites to share the same server resources, which is what makes it more affordable. This also means you might have to deal with slow loading times.

I would recommend shared hosting if you’re on a budget, don’t have tons of technical knowledge, and don’t expect high traffic volumes.

My guide to the best shared hosting companies can help you find the right one, if this option sounds good to you.

VPS Hosting

VPS stands for virtual private service. It’s a type of shared hosting in a sense, with the only difference being you get access to a flexible set of resources, making it easier to handle large traffic spikes.

Think of VPS hosting as the more advanced version of shared hosting.

You get better site performance under this hosting type as you get your own “virtual” server that includes your dedicated resources. Expect more bandwidth, disk space, higher uptimes, and faster loading speeds. 

Basically, you have more control over your server settings.

I would recommend this option if you expect higher volumes of traffic, and hence, need additional resources to accommodate those visitors.

Dedicated Hosting

As the name suggests, a dedicated hosting gives you the entire server—one that’s dedicated to your website exclusively. 

You can enjoy all server resources, advanced tools to manage your server better, and have the option to install your own software and operating system.

Beware, you will need some technical skills for this hosting type.

I feel dedicated hosting is a better option for larger websites that want a high performance to tackle higher traffic volume without compromising loading speed. 

It’ll also be more suitable for those who are tech-savvy and can afford to pay the higher price tag.

Cloud Hosting

Even hosting plans need to accommodate the changing times, which is why we now have a cloud web hosting option.

Cloud web hosting comes between shared hosting and VPS. While you get better services than a shared service, it’s also cheaper than a VPS plan.

In this case, your site will be run on multiple cloud servers, decreasing the chances of having unexpected downtimes due to server problems or traffic surges.

This hosting type is ideal for growing websites that need to scale server resources as they get bigger. If you expect your website to surpass 50,000 monthly visitors, I’d encourage you to choose a cloud plan.

Step 4: Choose a Good Hosting Plan

Now that you know the hosting type you want, you need to look for viable hosting plans that offer solutions at a price point that meets your budget.

I’m going to assume you already have a budget in mind and will straightaway start discussing factors you should consider when vetting hosting plans. 

Uptime

Probably the most crucial feature that you should consider is uptime. 

I’m going to cut to the chase: If your hosting provider isn’t offering a minimum of 99.9% uptime, move on. 

HostGator uptime guarantee for How to Host a Website

What’s more, you’ll find plenty of web hosts that offer an uptime guarantee in their plans. This means that whenever they fail to meet the promise, they’ll end up compensating you.

Customer Support

Not many people consider the level of customer support offered by a web host provider, which is a mistake.

Thinking that nothing will go wrong with your website or server is just wishful thinking. It’s during these times of trouble that you should have instant help. Try to look for plans that offer 24/7 support by a live chat, phone, or email.

Liquid Web support options page for How to Host a Website

Another tip would be to look for web host providers that have a knowledge base and resource center. This way, you can teach yourself how to do specific tasks on their platform.

Resources

Look for plans that come with enough resources to accommodate your website content and traffic. 

The very first that you should do is look at the RAM storage. I would minimum at least a minimum of 4GB RAM. Consider the bandwidth next. Again, 120GB of bandwidth is enough for 2000 daily page loads of a 4GB website.

Talk to your provider to better understand the resources you’d need based on your requirements.

Additional Features

Your main aim should be to get a web hosting plan that provides you the best value for your money. And the best way to maximize value is to get freebies, add-ons, and other additional features.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • Free site migration
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free cPanel license
  • Free site builder
  • Unlimited email accounts
  • Automatic backups
  • Google ads credit
  • Bing ads credit

While the above features are optional, I’d encourage you to only opt for those plans that have a money-back guarantee. Thirty days is the industry standard, but you can find plans with a 60-day or 90-day guarantee as well.

Step 5: Change Your DNS Address

After purchasing your web hosting, you will get name servers, also known as Domain Name Servers (DNS). These are the internet equivalent of a phone book that will contain IP addresses.

You have to change the name servers of your domain. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Go to your Domain Control Panel.
  2. Enter your registered email address and password that you used when signing up for the web host provider.
  3. Click on the domain name that you want to change the name servers for.
  4. In the Domain Registration section, click on the Name Servers option and replace the existing name servers with the ones provided by your current web host.

The steps will be slightly different if you register your domain is with a third-party provider. 

In that case, you’ll have to log in to their Control Panel and update the domain names to the ones provided by your web host.

That’s it! All that’s left to do is upload your website to your account, and your website will be live and running.

Conclusion 

Hosting a website doesn’t have to be overly complicated. 

You must start by finding the right web host provider and choose your hosting type and plan. Then simply prepare yourself to handle a live website!

As for the domain name, you can either choose a web host provider that offers a free domain or sign up for one with a third party—the choice is yours! 

Which web host provider is your favorite and has given you the best results?

Account-Based Marketing: Past, Present, and Future

Account-Based Marketing: Past, Present, and Future

The average email click-through rate is 2.6 percent. The rate of return on direct mail is around 1 percent. A good social media campaign will convert at less than 1 percent.

Why are these numbers so low? Because many new marketing campaigns don’t have the right customer research, ideal client avatars, personalization, or segmentation. They dangle a worm out there to see if anyone bites.

These factors are important, and it is why account-based marketing is a great opportunity. It is a great way to find the ideal client who you will pay you month after month.

That’s the type of client you want, and that’s what we’re focusing on in this guide.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing is a B2B marketing strategy where the sales and marketing teams work together to find the most qualified accounts to become customers.

You’re flipping the traditional sales funnel upside down.

account-based-marketing-fishing-with-nets-vs-spears

I love the example of fishing with nets versus fishing with spears.

When you fish with nets, you throw out a generalized marketing campaign to fit the needs of your customer persona, but you’re not entirely sure what will stick.

When you fish with spears, you pinpoint the clients you want with the help of your sales team. Working together will help the marketing team identify ideal clients and then put together a campaign that speaks directly to that audience.

Examples of Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing works by creating campaigns for highly specific audiences. By going in with a certain target group in mind, you are able to customize campaigns like you never could before.

Here are some real-life examples of account-based marketing.

Webinars

Let’s say you’re targeting an outdoor retailer that creates custom kayaks for professional fishermen. That’s a pretty specific audience, right? You can create a webinar dedicated to marketing for custom kayak companies.

Live Events

Even better than a webinar is a live event in-person. Work with the sales team to identify key prospects as you plan this event. You can also create personalized upsells such as VIP passes, VIP rooms, or merchandise for the people you want to close.

PPC

Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are all ways to reach high ticket clients through account-based marketing. Once you’ve identified your targets, you can create specific campaigns for those few prospects.

Remember the fishing with spears versus fishing with nets analogy? We’re no longer just throwing a net out to see if we catch anything. We know what we want to catch, where it is, and how to get it. We just have to do it.

Why and When You Should Use Account-Based Marketing

account-based-marketing-abm-maturity-model

We tend to open the funnel with a broad-based marketing approach to “play the field” and see what’s out there. Eventually, we need to get away from that and narrow down to focus on the clients who will pay us what we’re worth and stick with us.

I like to call this the “ideal client.” Once you know who these clients are, account-based marketing helps you reach them.

Here are some ideal situations where you should use account-based marketing:

To Bring Marketing and Sales Together

One of the biggest issues many companies face is not having their sales and marketing team on the same page. Account-based marketing gives these two departments a chance to work together, understand a common goal, and help each other out.

To Increase Engagement

One indicator you’re targeting the wrong audience is if they’re not engaging. This can be a sign of fatigue with your marketing campaigns as well.

How often have you seen ads over and over to the point where you don’t notice them anymore?

When this happens, it’s time to change things up and switch to a personalized strategy that will speak to one specific audience.

To Maximize ROI

The goal of both marketing sales is to bring as many people through the funnel as possible. That is a key indicator for long-term success.

Even better is bringing qualified people through the funnel versus bringing everyone.

If we focus on ROI, we only bring the most qualified accounts through the funnel. This will save you money, time, and resources.

Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

Now let’s talk about the direct benefits of an account-based marketing strategy versus something more broad.

Shorter Sales Cycle

Shortening the sales cycle can save you so much time and money. This is one reason why an account-based marketing approach maximizes the ROI.

You are able to connect directly with key decision makers early instead of using resources to engage with employees who may not have that authority. Because you are targeting decision makers directly, you know they can pay, and you can serve them.

Personalization Saves Time and Money

How often does your sales team spend their time speaking with prospects who barely understand what your business does? That’s a sign of broad marketing.

With account-based marketing, you attract prospects who are already warmed up, familiar with your company, and ready to make a decision. This type of personalized marketing saves time and money in the long run.

Easier to Measure ROI

When we narrow down the funnel, we focus on fewer prospects. This makes it easier to figure out the ROI and deliver better results.

For instance, if we reach 100 ideal clients and convert 10 of them, we know our account-based marketing conversion rate is 10 percent.

This sure beats reaching out to the entire east coast with a marketing campaign and converting 10 people—then having four of them duck out after their first month.

Instead, you’re nurturing long-term, well-qualified prospects that will stick with you.

How to Plan and Begin Account-Based Marketing

Now that you have an overview of account-based marketing, let’s put it into practice with some actionable steps you can take.

1. Zero in on Your Targets

account-based-marketing-target-market

Who is your ideal client?

Work with the sales team to figure out some warm prospects. What characteristics describe them? What type of revenue do they have? What platforms do they live on?

Use all of this information to put together a personalized marketing campaign.

2. Research Them

Do plenty of research. Figure out what makes prospects tick and put together creative ideas that will make the prospect feel like the marketing campaign was made just for them—because it was.

3. Choose Your Avenue

Where are you going to market to this audience? What are you going to use to do it?

Do they have a younger demographic on platforms like Instagram and TikTok? Are they older executives that prefer direct mail or live events?

These are some key questions you should be asking before starting your campaign, especially if you expect to reach them and maximize your ROI.

4. Run Your Campaigns and Measure Frequently

One thing marketers are advised to do when running PPC, social media ads, or any other type of campaign is build up enough data before making a conclusion. With account-based marketing, things are a little bit different.

You can spill your entire ad budget pretty quickly when you have a narrow audience. You want to check on these campaigns frequently to see if your approach is hitting or not. If you don’t see the signs of success early, it is a good idea to adjust accordingly.

Tips for Implementing Account-Based Marketing

Here are some higher-level tips to make the most of your account-based marketing campaigns.

1. Plan Out Every Detail

You’re targeting a specific account, so the marketing campaigns need to be highly targeted. Information like competitors, customer relationships, buying points, selling points, and best-selling products/services are all important.

2. Align With the Sales Team

Make sure everyone is on board, from the president of marketing to the new trainee in sales. There should be no miscommunication on either side since everyone has the same goal of securing these high-ticket clients.

3. Build a Dedicated Account-Based Team

You should have a team of dedicated account managers working with these prospects before they become clients. Their focus should be on building relationships and understanding the needs of each account to streamline communications and limit the number of people you need to speak with before a close can happen.

4. Have a Small Target

Don’t spread yourself out too much. By limiting your focus to two or three high-value accounts, you are able to make sure that your campaigns speak directly to their specific needs and paint points.

If you go too broad too early, you risk the chance of your campaign alienating some or all of your target accounts.

5. Work With Decision Makers Only

You’re pouring a lot of resources into these two or three accounts, so you need to make sure you’re not wasting time. The key is to only deal with decision-makers in the company. If you can’t target specific decision-makers, they’re not a high-value target.

6. Target Warm Prospects Only

In addition to reaching decision-makers, work with your sales team to find the warmest targets. These people know who you are and have shown interest in the past but never converted.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Adjust

Be sure to measure your results, change things as needed, and work with everyone involved to figure out what you can do differently.

Account-Based Marketing Frequently Asked Questions

What is an account-based marketing platform?

An account-based marketing platform is a form of technology that allows you to scale your marketing campaigns. These platforms allow you to run larger campaigns at narrower audiences.

How much does it cost to set up an account-based marketing plan?

It depends entirely on how much you do yourself and what you outsource. We can help you set up your account-based marketing to get you started on the right foot.

Why is account-based marketing important?

Account-based marketing is important because it caters to a specific audience which helps you maximize your ROI and bring in more high-ticket clients. This increases client retention over time and generally improves your company’s ROI.

How is ABM used?

Account-based marketing is used in various ways, but one of the most popular is to align marketing and sales teams. When these two departments work in perfect harmony, it helps bring in more high-value clients and shortens the sales process from beginning to end.

Conclusion: Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is a smart choice for companies of sizes, allowing you to create deeper relationships with clients who will be more meaningful to your bottom line.

Taking on this strategy will bring in the exact type of clients you need to keep retention rates up and build a strong base. Work with your sales to identify the right accounts, create your ideal buyer persona, and pick an avenue to reach that audience.

Have you ever implemented a successful account-based marketing campaign?

Personalized Advertising and How to Use it in Paid Search

Personalized Advertising and How to Use it in Paid Search

Personalized advertising is not a new concept. In fact, it’s been around for years and has become more sophisticated as technology has evolved.

What used to be considered as spammy or intrusive marketing techniques are now commonplace with personalized advertising.

The benefits of using personalized ads can’t be ignored either.

Personalized ads offer higher click-through rates, lower cost per acquisition (CPA), and provide a better customer experience because they will see exactly what they want to see when browsing your site or searching on Google.

If used well, personalized advertising can also help you improve your organic search results.

In this article, I’ll outline how you can start incorporating personalized advertising into your paid search strategy.

What Are the Benefits of Personalized Advertising for Paid Search?

Personalized advertising helps get your message in front of potential customers at the right time.

It can also lead to better performance in digital search by tailoring your ads to the individual searcher.

There are many benefits of using personalized advertising in paid search with some of the most important including:

  • Higher click-through rates (CTR): Personalized ads have been shown to get higher click-through rates than regular, non-personalized ads. Because they are more relevant to the individual user, they are therefore more likely to be interesting.
  • Lower cost per acquisition (CPA): Since they are more relevant, personalized ads also tend to have a lower CPA which increases the likelihood of conversions.
  • Better ROI: All of these benefits mean you’re likely to see better ROI from your personalized advertising campaigns than from non-personalized ones.

How to Leverage Personalization in Paid Search

Personalized advertising can go a long way in paid search, but it’s important to use it in the right way.

Customer data is an integral part of personalized advertising, so start by collecting it. There are lots of ways to do this, but the most common ones involve data collection tools like Google Analytics or Bing Webmaster.

From there, use these tips to get the most out of personalized advertising in paid search.

Use AI To Streamline Your Ads

Search engines like Google offer machine learning to make it easier to create more personalized ads.

Google Ads offers a number of AI-driven tools, including the ability to auto-generate ad headlines and descriptions based on the data you’ve collected about your customers. You can also use machine learning to target similar audiences for your ads.

With AI assistance, you can help match your offer with consumer needs, helping give your business the edge over competitors.

AI can also help you find more high-performance keywords or remove low-performing ads.

personalized-advertising-streamline-ads

Create More Targeted Ads

Personalized advertising requires an understanding of who your customers are, where they live, and what they are looking for.

Google Ads allow you to create highly targeted ads based on a variety of factors, including:

  • demographics
  • location
  • interests and habits
  • past search behavior
  • returning customers

Consider the following example. If you own a restaurant in New York City near Central Park, your ad targeting should include keywords related to your location as well as those that will appeal to local customers who are looking for a place to eat.

In this example, the ad could include language such as “located in Central Park” or “New York City restaurant near Central Park.”

The ads can get even more specific by targeting people who have recently searched for things like “dinner near me,” “walking distance from my hotel,” and “Central Park restaurants.”

personalized-advertising-more-targeted-ads

​​Use Customer Match to Target Specific Customers

Once you have some customer data in hand, send that information into your Google Ad campaigns through Customer Match. This will allow you to target ads based on individual users’ search behavior.

For example, you can use Customer Match to target ads at users who have purchased something from your site in the past 30 days.

This feature is especially helpful if you want to reach out to customers who are likely ready for another purchase.

Customer Match can also help you optimize your campaigns by adjusting ad bids based on past customer activity.

For example, you can set a bid adjustment to receive more ad exposure to customers who have viewed or purchased items in specific categories.

This feature is great for targeting ads based on what you know about your customer’s interests and product preferences, helping you find potential new leads that fit within your existing target audience.

Other Customer Match features include:

  • showing personalized ads in Gmail inbox tabs based on customer data
  • targeting ads on YouTube segments that are similar to your own
  • using personalized ads on the Google Display Network
personalized-advertising-customer-match

Use Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads match user search terms to your ad to help fill gaps in keyword-based campaigns.

When a customer’s search is relevant to your product or service, Google will automatically show an ad for the most relevant page on your site that matches their search.

For example, this could be showing an ad for winter boots when a customer searches for “cold weather gear.”

Dynamic ads also update as you make changes to your website. All headlines and landing page content are pulled automatically from your site, ensuring you always have the most up-to-date content and CTAs to drive new customer traffic.

This feature is great for advertisers who want the ability to manage ad campaigns on a daily basis and optimize based on changing business goals and priorities.

Use Retargeting Strategies

Another great use for personalized advertising is Dynamic Remarketing. You can target ads specifically at users who have visited your website but haven’t made a purchase yet. This can be a great way to remind customers what they were interested in and nudge them towards completing a purchase.

Targeting returning customers is another great way to use personalized advertising. You can target people who have visited your website before or even those who have made a purchase from you in the past.

You can do this by including customer data in your remarketing lists. This could include things like email addresses, phone numbers, or even past purchase data.

When you target your ads to these customers, you can be sure they are more likely to convert because they have already shown an interest in your product or service.

Use Geotargeting

Geotargeting is a method of personalized advertising that allows you to target people based on their location. You can use this to target customers in a specific area, or even those who are visiting your city or town.

This is a great way to increase local sales and drive traffic to your physical store locations. It can also be used to target people who are traveling in your area.

In addition, geotargeting can be used to target people who are near your competitor’s location.

For example, if you’re one of many pizza restaurants in a neighborhood, you can use geotargeting to target customers who frequent your competitor’s shop, and draw them to your own business.

Personalized Advertising for Paid Search: Frequently Asked Questions  

Can search ads be personalized?

Yes, search ads can be personalized in a number of ways by using geotargeting, remarketing, location targeting, and Customer Match.

What is the benefit of personalized advertising?

Personalized advertising can result in increased sales and traffic to your physical store locations, as well as targeting people who are traveling in your area.

What are examples of personalized advertising in paid search?

Examples of personalized in paid search include ads that target specific locations, past customer behaviors such as abandoning a cart, or past customer interactions such as viewing a product or clicking on an ad.

How do I implement personalized advertising in paid search?

To establish the foundation for personalized ads, you must first set up goals and advanced segments within AdWords to determine which online behaviors indicate interest in your products and services.

Do personalized ads creep users out?

Personalized advertising has been shown to perform better with customers, as long as it is done correctly. The key to success with personalized ads is creating a balance between relevance and frequency, as well as being upfront about how and when data is being used.

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Conclusion: Personalized Advertising for Paid Search

Personalized advertising can be a powerful tool for your paid search campaigns.

When done correctly, it can lead to improved click-through rates and conversions.

By setting up goals and advanced segments in Google Ads, you can create personalized ads that are relevant to your customers’ interests.

Just be sure to be upfront about the kinds of information you are collecting from your customers, how it’s being used, and why.

NP Digital has been helping businesses achieve their marketing and advertising goals since 2017. If you need help setting up your personalized ads or just want someone to bounce ideas off of, contact us today!

Have you found success with personalized advertising?

Facebook Lead Ads: What They Are and How to Use Them

Facebook Lead Ads: What They Are and How to Use Them

It has 2.89 billion monthly active users, a global presence, and a massive influence on consumer buying decisions.

What am I talking about? Facebook, of course!

Given its broad audience, marketers and businesses can’t afford to ignore Facebook if they want a fresh pool of prospects to target.

However, there’s another reason why you should use Facebook: they provide many innovative tools to help anyone drive more attention to their products and services by targeting specific audiences.

One of those tools is Facebook lead ads.

What Are Facebook Lead Ads?

Facebook lead ads allow marketers to generate leads on Facebook among users who might be looking to buy your product or services.

Rather than the traditional landing page, these ads keep users on social media while the prospect fills out a simple lead form with basic details such as their name, email address, and other contact information.

When a prospect completes an “Instant Form”, they get added to the company’s email list where they receive updates and offers (if you have an active mailing list).

Alternatively, you can customize Facebook Instant Forms—making it easier to target your audience (and filter out non-relevant customers).

With Facebook lead ads, you can choose from several campaign types, including:

  • demos
  • downloads, like PDFs
  • discounts
  • event advertising

Facebook users will then see lead ads in different site areas, including news feeds, Messenger, and even articles.

facebook-lead-ads-facebook-business-center

How Facebook Lead Ads Work

Facebook lead ads work in much the same way as other advertising. You can create your adverts by going to Facebook’s Ads Manager.

Once there, you establish your budget while adding your descriptions, images/videos, and other design elements for a successful ad. You can also customize your ad by using specified interests or demographics to target your ideal audience.

Ads then get shown in users’ feeds, where they can respond to your offer, helping your ability to generate more leads.

From a user’s perspective, Facebook Lead Ads don’t look different from other link ads. Once clicked, they take the Facebook user to a form rather than a website, like in the example below.

facebook-lead-ads-form-example

When creating the Facebook lead ad form, you get to decide what information you’d like to ask for. Aside from the pre-filled data, you can also select from a list of custom questions types such as:

  • multiple choice
  • short answer
  • store locator
  • conditional
  • appointment request

Benefits of Facebook Lead Ads

The most obvious benefit of Facebook lead ads is that they give prospects an easy way to provide their information—especially if you choose the pre-fill option—allowing you to collect leads in a more efficient and straightforward way.

As for marketer and small business owner benefits, you can customize questions for your forms, have a better chance at increasing conversions, and access a mix of new lead generation campaigns.

Some other significant benefits of Facebook lead ads are:

  1. targeted audience segmentation
  2. easy data collection
  3. mobile responsiveness
  4. a better understanding of your customers

As you can see, you’ve got plenty of reasons to explore these ads and get to know how they may work for you in your business.

Why Should Marketers and Small Businesses Use Facebook Lead Ads?

The reality is marketers and small business owners are busy and can’t be everywhere at once, even if you might want to be.

That means you need to focus your marketing efforts on maximizing success.

That’s why it makes sense to use tools like form-driven ads to capture leads efficiently and dynamically (without too much effort and time commitment on your part).

You can use Facebook lead ads in any number of ways, including:

  1. finding prospects for your products/services
  2. gathering subscriber details for newsletters
  3. gaining insights into consumers behaviors
  4. encouraging people to sign up for courses and events

Facebook Lead Ads Best Practices

There are plenty of ways to make the most of your Facebook lead ads. Let’s start with the basics.

A few best practices include:

  • ensure your ads are in line with your business goals
  • make sure your ad messaging is consistent with your brand
  • create a clear and effective call to action (CTA)
  • use CTAs that speak to your specific audience
  • keep the ads simple
  • spell out the benefits

Facebook has a heap of helpful suggestions too. These include:

  1. Decide on the right budget and use ad scheduling.
  2. Create lookalike audiences to help find your ideal customers.
  3. Reach previous prospects with the Engagement Custom Audience feature.
  4. Run ads on both Facebook and Instagram.
  5. Add an engaging image/video.

Just a quick note: it’s definitely worth reading up on Facebook-published articles for a wealth of tips on increasing conversions from Instant Forms.

Before moving on, here are a few more things to consider:

  • Find the right leads: By pairing Facebook lead ads with the platform’s audience selection and optimization tools, you can reach the right audience at the right time every time.
  • Ask the right questions: Only you know what information you’re looking for from your audience. Ask the most important questions up top to ensure that you get the information you’re angling for.
  • Integrate your CRM: Rather than losing your leads, you can integrate Facebook lead ads directly with your CRM, allowing your system to immediately reach out to interested parties.

Now you know what makes a great ad, let us look at some examples.

Examples of Great Facebook Lead Ads

Many brands in different niches are using Facebook lead ads to their advantage and, as you can see from the following examples, there’s a ton you can learn from them.

Let’s start with the Wealth Factory.

The Wealth Factory

Let’s face it. If someone is going to click on a link, they want to know what’s in it for them. When the benefits are clear, and they can see what they gain from clicking through, they are more likely to take that extra step.

facebook-lead-ads-Wealth-Factory

That’s what The Wealth Factory does so well with its Facebook lead ads. The free PDF details the IRS’s tax benefits and lists 32 jobs that your child can do to help you in your business.

As you can see from the ad, the benefits include a sizable tax-free income for your child and a tax deduction for you as a business owner.

To find out more, Facebook users complete the super-short form and click send. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

This is an approach you can adapt for your campaigns.

Make the benefits clear and bullet point them, so people see at a glance what they’re set to gain, and you can encourage Facebook users to click through with a clear CTA.

Boux Avenue

Another proven technique guaranteed to inspire consumers to spring into action is offering a discount. After all, who doesn’t love a bargain?

facebook-lead-ads-Boux-Avenue

That’s what Boux Avenue does with its Facebook lead ads form. Like the Wealth Factory, it’s very clear about the benefits of signing up (a 20 percent discount and a regular newsletter).

To make the decision even easier, Boux Avenue makes signing up a snap with pre-filled information and a CTA button.

Offering a discount is something most businesses can do, and by simplifying form completion, you’re increasing the chances of prospects clicking. Bear that in mind with your ads, and add a time limitation to discounts to create urgency.

How to Set Up Facebook Lead Ads

Creating Facebook lead ads involves some basic preparation.

First, Facebook advises businesses to familiarize themselves with the terms of service and its advertising policies. If you want to list some questions on your form, Facebook suggests you ask your legal team to look them over first.

Then there’s just one more bit of prep: you need the link for your privacy policy as it will appear on the form.

With all that done, you’re ready to start creating your first ad. It’s simple to do. Just follow these steps:

Creating a Successful Facebook Lead Ad

  1. Log into your Facebook business account and click on “Publishing Tools.”
  2. Go to the “Forms Library” on the left-hand side of the page and click.
  3. Next, click “+Create”.
  4. Select “New Form” or “Duplicate” if you already have a form.
  5. Go to the “Create Form” window and fill out the “Form Name” box.
  6. Now, go to the “Form Type” field and select which form you’d like. There are two choices: Selecting “More Volume” lets you make accessible fillable forms suitable for mobile users. While setting “Higher Intent” allows users to review and confirm their details first.
  7. Next, go to the “Intro” section and create an introduction screen. Facebook has details on how to complete this stage. Here, you can add your images, headlines, and descriptions about your products/services.
  8. Go to “Questions” and choose + “Add Question.” Facebook lets you list up to 15.
  9. Next, move to the “Prefill Questions Section.” Fill out the description and explain how you intend to use or share the information people give you. Remember, you can’t use the info you gather for any other purpose other than the one you state.
  10. Select any pre-filled information you want for your form. Select categories by clicking “+ Add Category.”
  11. Go to “Privacy” and include your link text and the URL to the “Privacy Policy” box. You can also add a custom disclaimer by clicking “+Add Custom Disclaimer.”
  12. Move to “Completion.” Put in your headline, descriptions, CTA button, and add a link. You can include up to 60 characters for Headlines and CTAs.
  13. Click on the arrows on the top of “Form Preview.”
  14. Select “Publish” or “Save Draft” if you want to edit later. Ensure all your details are as you want them because you cannot edit your Instant Form once you’ve published it.
  15. Choose “Boost” to send out your form as an ad. Select your image/video, text, audience, length of publication, and budget.
  16. Click “Promote.”
  17. Congratulations! You’ve just created your first Facebook lead ad.

Frequently Asked Questions About Facebook Lead Ads

How much do Facebook lead ads cost?

Compared to other platforms, Facebook ads are not wildly expensive. On average, Facebook advertising costs $0.97 per click and $7.19 per 1000 impressions. These low numbers make advertising on Facebook extremely attractive to marketers across industries, with over seven million advertisers actively trying to engage consumers on the platform.

What are dynamic Facebook lead ads?

Dynamic Facebook lead ads are a cost-effective way to create and test ad variations and choose which one performs best. They allow advertisers to show different offers, images, and CTAs to each individual. Dynamic Facebook lead ads offer greater personalization and let you create locally relevant ads to enhance lead quality and increase sales.

What is the format of Facebook lead ads?

Ads come in-text links and carousels, and appear on different areas of the site, like feeds. Users see them labeled as “sponsored.”

Are there any tools for testing Facebook lead ads?

Marketo has a Facebook lead ads testing tool for checking functionality and Hevo Data has a similar tool. You can also measure parameters by adding them to your lead form.

Don’t forget to do some A/B testing as well to see which ads work best for your ideal audience.

Conclusion: Facebook Lead Ads

Facebook has a massive reach, which is why it makes sense for marketers and business owners to explore the available tools to get your products and services in front of a considerable audience. One of those tools is Facebook lead ads.

With the ability to create custom leads, Facebook lead ads provide significant advantages to advertisers.

Marketers can customize form fields, capture more prospect information, and target more relevant audiences while making the experience as simple as possible for users.

Aside from customization, Facebook lead ads offer many other advantages including increased conversions and getting a better understanding of your customers—making them an important part of any lead generation strategy.

Do you use Facebook lead ads? How are they working for you?

4 Useful Google Podcasts Manager Features

4 Useful Google Podcasts Manager Features

What’s the hottest piece of content right now? Podcasts.

Currently, there are over two million podcasts and more than 48 million episodes waiting for your ears to devour. It’s incredible growth considering there were only 500,000 podcasts in 2018.

That’s not all.

There’s considerable brand awareness and buying power on podcasts. Fifty-four percent of podcast listeners are more likely to make a purchase after hearing an ad on a podcast.

With the number of listeners (and their money) on the table, it’s not surprising that Google has entered the chat. The search engine giant recently unveiled its Google Podcasts Manager platform.

If you’re a publisher, you definitely want to check it out.

What Is Google Podcasts Manager?

Google Podcasts Manager is a free tool for monitoring your podcasts on Google. All you need to sign up is a Google account and a podcast feed.

Once your profile is set up, you’ll have access to a publisher dashboard. Here, you can see valuable insights on how well your show is performing, including hard-to-find data like when listeners start and stop listening, the exact types of devices they use (e.g., mobile vs. speakers) and how listeners found your show.

Besides the dashboard, Google launched a Podcasts Manager forum for publishers. Here, you can connect with other podcasters to learn tips and tricks for optimizing your podcast for Google.

What Is Google Podcasts Manager

What Google Podcasts Manager Is Not

Google Podcasts Manager is not a podcast host, meaning you can’t record or post your podcast directly through this program. Instead, the Manager focuses on monitoring the success of your existing show.

Yes, most hosts monitor your analytics as well. However, Google Podcasts Manager gives a different, perhaps more in-depth view.

Many hosts allow you to submit your podcast to Google Podcasts directly, meaning it should still appear on Google searches. However, the Google Podcast Manager makes sure this happens and gives you details you wouldn’t otherwise see. 

Why Should You Use Google Podcasts Manager?

Not sure if this latest Google product is worth your time? Here are some of the top benefits of the Google Podcasts Manager that’ll change your mind:

The Potential Reach

Without a doubt, one of the top reasons to use Google Podcasts Manager is the potential reach and discoverability. As the largest search engine globally, there’s a good chance your ideal listener is only a search term away from finding your podcast.

While using your host to submit to Google should make you findable on Google search results already, using Google Podcasts Manager gives you details that could help you extend your reach on the search engine. The Manager can also give you an idea of how people find your podcast. 

(Note: This podcast has only recently been added to Google Podcast Manager, so things are still in flux. If you’ve been around for a while and see low numbers here, it may simply have not caught up with your history.)

The Analytical Data

No matter what type of business you’re running, analytics play a big part in your success. By scrutinizing your data, you can get a clear idea of what works.

When you sync your show to the Google Podcasts Manager, you’ll get insights on:

  • Audience retention: What percentage of your show is listened to?
  • Total listens: How many listens each show and segment receives?

While most podcast hosts give information on the number of downloads or retention, you may not be able to get more detailed information. For instance, “retention” often means how many people downloaded your podcast each week; the data doesn’t mean they listened.

What percentage of your show was listened to? Forget about it! That’s a rare insight.

You can see this show below has between 34 percent and 100 percent of its tracked episodes listened to.  

Why Should You Use Google Podcasts Manager - The Analytic Data

That’s only scratching the surface of what the tool offers to help you create a successful podcast.

It’s Free to Use

Google Podcasts Manager isn’t the first podcast analytics tool to hit the market, but it’s free, unlike some competitors. 

To be honest, podcasts can be expensive to run. This is true whether you run your own personal podcast or a show on behalf of a brand. We’ve talked about Come Alive Creative before, and we’re bringing them back to show how expensive this can be.

If you’re doing everything yourself, you lose a lot of time, even if you don’t use a lot of money. Nothing is $0 except for a few hosts—and their free tiers often don’t give a ton of data. For a personal podcast (prices go way up for professional ones), you may look at:

  • equipment cost: $2,000 (for high-quality equipment)
  • production and editing: Up to $799 between software and time
  • hosting: Free to over $100; free usually has few helpful details
  • marketing: Varies but can be extremely expensive
  • third-party assistance: Varies; may include other analytics sites, outsourced help, and more

You could spend thousands even if you do this entirely on your own!

This makes Google Podcasts Manager the perfect solution for publishers who want to cut down on some costs.

4 Google Podcasts Manager Features

Let’s take a deep dive into Google Podcasts Manager features and what makes this tool incredibly valuable for publishers.

Google Tweet About Google Podcasts Manager

1. Audience Insights 

Are you not seeing results with your podcast? Curious about how to replicate your one-hit-episode-wonder? The audience insights feature is where you’ll find all the juicy data.

You can see exactly which episode attracted someone from search and when they dropped off with a glance. 

That’s not all.

You can also see the exact search terms someone used to find your podcast. 

Talk about powerful stuff.

Podcast SEO is more important than ever before, and with Google rolling out this tool, it amplifies why you need to have control of what terms your content ranks for on the Internet.

Back to the analytics dashboard, you can jump between the different page views to see analytics on a show or episode level and gleam device breakdowns, play counts, retention by segment, and more.

Google Podcasts Manager Features - Audience Insights

Here’s a quick overview of the different page levels on Google Podcasts Manager:

  • show-level page: landing page for show-level analytics
  • show-level charts: charts for the number of times a user listens for at least five seconds each day and the total number of daily listens
  • episodes table: total number of meaningful plays per episode, total number of plays within the first 30 days, average percentage of the episode listened to, and average length of the episode streamed or downloaded

2. Update Podcast Information

Whether you’re a brand running a podcast or a solo creator, you may need to update your podcast down the line. 

While your podcast host can often update this automatically, this isn’t always the case, and some podcast apps and managers make you jump through a billion hoops to update your information. Google Podcasts Manager makes this process straightforward.

For example, you may need to change your RSS feed if you switch hosts, like this podcaster who went from Anchor to Podbean.

Google Podcasts Manager Features - Update Podcast Information

You can also request a recrawl of your feed to make sure all information is quickly updated after changing a logo or description.

Google Podcasts Manager Features - Update Podcast Information (request confirmation)

3. Get Your Podcast Indexed on Google 

If you want to get your podcast in search results, your podcast RSS feed and homepage need to be indexed by Google.

What does “indexed” mean?

It’s when the Google spiders have discovered your podcast show and episodes, processed the information, and stored it. Then, when someone searches for something related to your podcast topics, your episodes (if relevant) will appear in the search results.

The Google Podcasts Manager makes this whole process a breeze.

To check if your show is indexed, open Google Podcasts and search for your show.

Not there?

You can fix that with one of these methods:

  1. Check your show is published with your hosting service.
  2. Verify ownership with Google Podcasts Manager.
  3. Request indexing of your homepage and RSS feed via the Google Search Console.

Keep in mind, after submitting a successful indexing request, it can take up to one week for a podcast to be entirely manageable.

4. Manage Your Feeds With Google Podcasts Manager

Not every podcast has one RSS feed.

You might have feeds for different topics like personal development, true crime, or veganism.

You could have a second containing all your episodes or one with your latest episodes.

If you have multiple RSS feeds, you want Google Podcasts Manager to choose the best one to serve. By using the podcasting tool, you can let Google know which feed is the most representative of your show.

Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager

Want some more options to play around with? Here are some of the best alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager.

Chartable

Chartable can find a lot of analytics for you, including the expected things like the number of downloads and how things have changed over time.

Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager - Chartable
Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager - Chartable Analytics

It can also show you how your show compares globally or locally compared to other podcasts attached to Chartable.

Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager - Chartable is not free like google podcasts manager

However, you can also see that some of the valuable data isn’t available for free.  The level above is the free one; other options are Indie for $20 per month, which gives more detailed information but only holds data for up to a year, and Pro for $100 per month, which is comprehensive. They also offer an Enterprise level, which varies in cost.

Podtrac

Podtrac offers both analytics and advertising services. You can find a variety of analytics for free. Though their services appear to be pretty thorough, they work with a limited number of podcast hosting services. Podtrac’s analytics services are free.

Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager - Podtrac

Backtracks

Backtracks offers many of the same features as Google Podcasts Manager, but it starts at $39 per month. 

Alternatives to Google Podcasts Manager - Backtracks

Your Podcast Host

Podcast hosts—where you upload and distribute your podcast—almost always include some kind of analytics. How much it costs and what type of analytics you get depends on your unique host and their pricing levels. 

A few of the most popular podcast hosts include Captivate, Buzzsprout, and Podbean.

How to Set Up a Google Podcasts Manager Account

Ready to set up your Google Podcasts Manager Account? Follow these steps, and you’ll have your show connected in a couple of minutes.

Step 1: Log into your Google account and go to the Add Feed homepage.

Step 2: Enter the RSS feed for your podcast. (Note: Your RSS feed may look different than this one.)

How to Set Up a Google Podcasts Manager Account - Enter RSS Feed

Step 3: Click on “Next Step” and confirm you’ve selected the right podcast.

How to Set Up a Google Podcasts Manager Account - Confirm Podcast

Step 4: Click on “Next Step” and request a verification code.

Step 5: Enter the code and verify your ownership. (This one already was registered with Google Podcasts Manager, which may be the case even if you don’t realize it!)

How to Set Up a Google Podcasts Manager Account - Verify Ownership

Once Google is sure you’re the podcast owner, you’ll have access to your dashboard and all the above features.

Where is your RSS feed? Unless you entirely run things by yourself, it’s somewhere on your podcast host. If you can’t find it, contact them to ask. Google Podcasts Manager does not create your RSS feed. 

Google Podcasts Manager Frequently Asked Questions

Is Google Podcasts Manager free to use?

Yes, Google Podcasts Manager is free to use. All you need is a Google account to sign up.

What kind of data can you get from Google Podcasts Manager?

You can get insights on audience retention, the total number of plays, segment retention, top Google search terms, and more.

Is Google Podcasts Manager hard to use?

No, Google Podcasts Manager is easy and straightforward to set up and use.

Is Google Podcasts Manager helpful?

Yes! It can give you valuable insights into what your audience likes and how you can create a better podcast.

Conclusion: Google Podcasts Manager

There’s no denying Google’s relevance in the online space. It’s the biggest search engine globally, owns YouTube, and is now dipping its toes into the highly lucrative world of podcasting.

For publishers, this is good news. It allows you to monitor critical analytics and potentially improve your search engine rankings to grow your podcast.

With its in-depth insights and publishing tools, Google Podcasts Manager will help you understand what works, what has to go, and how to deliver the kind of content your audience wants to hear.

Are you using podcasts to reach a new audience for your business?

Using the Google Search Trends 2021 Report to Generate Content Ideas

Using the Google Search Trends 2021 Report to Generate Content Ideas

As marketers, we’re constantly attuned to Google’s ever-changing algorithm, keeping an eye toward shifts in prioritization and SERPs.

Google is pretty good at equipping users (and businesses) with information about what it considers important by providing resources like their search engine optimization (SEO) guides and the annual Search Trends report. 

The Google Search Trends report can be an incredible asset that allows you to dig into users’ search habits and gain access to a steady stream of content ideas.

In this blog, we’ll unpack how to mine the Google Search Trends report for content gold to flesh out your content calendar into 2022 and beyond. 

What Is the Google Search Trends Report?

Published each year, the Google Search Trends report aggregates the highest-ranking terms for the year.

Curious readers—or those of us looking for content ideas—can visit the mini-site to explore search volume through several lenses. 

google search trend in 2021 global

You can break down by region and then topic, including categories like actors, TV shows, sports teams, songs, and many more.

google search trends trending topics in us

While this report can certainly generate year-end nostalgia, it also offers a unique perspective into the terms that gained the most search volume and traction in the last year.

For marketers, that data can be gold.

Top Trends from the 2021 Google Search Trends Report

Regardless of what region you’re researching, you’ll find a common theme in this year’s report: perseverance.

2021 saw searchers looking for “how to heal” and “how to be hopeful.” This theme resonated in more concrete searches as well with high volume searches including, “how to start a business in 2021” and “how to get a job in 2021.”

Entertainment was another balm in a complicated year. We looked to Google for distraction and clarification, typing in searches like “Squid Game” and “Amanda Gorman.”

Here are a few other Google Search Trends that got a lot of attention around the globe this year:

  • Australia vs India
  • India vs England
  • IPL
  • NBA
  • Euro 2021
  • Copa América
  • India vs New Zealand
  • T20 World Cup
  • Squid Game
  • DMX

In the United States, here’s what users were most interested in overall:

  • NBA
  • DMX
  • Gabby Petito
  • Kyle Rittenhouse
  • Brian Laundrie
  • Mega Millions
  • AMC Stock
  • Stimulus Check
  • Georgia Senate Race
  • Squid Game

While these searches can entertain, they can also inform your content strategy, by helping you create content that users are likely to be interested in.

How to Use the Search Trends Report to Generate Content Ideas

Struggling to come up with fresh, new content ideas? I’m no stranger to the frustration that comes with this.

Using Google Search Trends, you can determine what topics users are interested in, increasing engagement while building relationships and good will.

Below, I’ll break down the five best strategies for harnessing the insights associated with the search trends report to generate content ideas

1. Use Popular Search Terms and Find a Unique Angle to Cover the Topic

While a blog post about the permanence of the cottagecore aesthetic might be popular, this topic may not align with your brand. However, also topping the aesthetics search list is “sage green,” a topic that might be related to more industries.

Whether you’re a small boutique or a landscaping company, you can take advantage of this particularly high-volume query and build out a content plan to address it.

Sage green might not be in your wheelhouse.

If that’s the case, look for other search terms that might meet your audience’s interest in some way. This part of the Search Trends report breaks down searches by different topics, including: 

  • culture
  • economy
  • entertainment
  • environment
  • health and wellness
  • news and events
  • philanthropy
  • representation
  • sports

“How to maintain mental health” was searched more than ever in 2021—most industries could leverage that to provide mental health advice and tips to their audience. For example, I might write about how to maintain mental health as a remote digital marketer or how to help your remote team maintain their mental health.

By aligning your audience’s interest with a popular search query, you not only increase visibility of your content, you also offer your existing and would-be audience a fresh perspective within your industry.

2. Search for Topics Using the Search Bar

Suppose you’re curious about the search visibility behind a certain query. In that case, you can use the Google Search Trends report to explore how much a specific term resonates, as well as related queries and terms.

For example, we searched “digital marketing.”

In addition to highlighting the term’s prominence, the report also offers tons of valuable detail. We could build a content strategy with a pretty solid idea of what type of content will and won’t resonate from this one search.

google search trends report digital marketing list

In the “related topics” section, I see terms like education assessment and professional development, which means a list of digital marketing courses or training might do well.

Search the name of your industry and the main key terms you target and see what content ideas pop up.

3. Use the Google Trends Report to Find Topics that Appeal to Gen Z

In 2019, Gen Z officially outnumbered millennials, tallying 32.2 percent of the world’s population. 

Even more impactful, Gen Z makes up over 40 percent of U.S. consumers.

Consider this: a third of the world’s population is Gen Z. You’re doing your brand a huge disservice if you don’t consider how to speak to this massive, tech-empowered group.

After you’ve identified topics you know resonate through your search bar exploration, how can you ensure your content resonates with this unique group?

The answer is pretty straightforward.

Your content needs to be more interactive and appealing.

Here’s how to do that:

Create More Interactive Content

The more opportunities audience members have to interact with your content, the more likely they will.

By incorporating interactive elements, you encourage action. Next time you’re planning content, consider including a poll, stickers, or slider that allows your audience to truly engage with your brand.

Personalize Your Messages

Gen Z grew up amid a time of increased personalization. In fact, they’ve come to expect it. Be sure that you use every personalization opportunity to reach this coveted demographic. 

Time-Sensitive

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is still very much a thing. Take advantage of this fear by incorporating time-sensitive offers into your content, forcing your audience members to take action or miss out on a one-day-only deal.

Make Your Content More Visually Appealing

It’s no secret that Gen Zers flock to platforms like Instagram and TikTok, home to bite-sized video content. Take advantage of this content preference by drawing inspiration from the short, visually appealing videos that spread like wildfire. 

4. Create Content Around Topics You’re Passionate About

It’s always easier to create compelling content around topics that resonate with you. As you peruse the 2021 Google Search Trends, keep an eye toward topics that resonate personally with both you and your brand identity.

Start by looking at the major search terms in each main topic I listed out above. Let’s say you work or own a coaching business and are looking for more topic ideas.

A quick look at popular “culture” topics shows us doom scrolling is the most popular topic in the culture section. How can you use that to your advantage? By matching it to your brand identity. 

As a coach, you might write about how to avoid doom scrolling, how doom scrolling impacts your job search, or create a challenge to encourage your followers to stop doom scrolling and improve their mental health (which was another popular search term, as you might recall!)

After identifying high-performing topics, create a content plan to address them. Will you create blog posts, ebooks, or courses? Can you use these ideas in other areas of your marketing, like paid ads?

5. Identify New Niches

If you’re searching for a new niche, Google Search Trends is a great way to identify rapidly-expanding niches that may have content gaps you can fill.

To see search growth for a particular topic, simply set your search duration to “2003 to present,” so you can see long-term traffic on the topic.

This can also help you see when topics are most popular in a specific year, allowing you to plan your content publication around timeframes when Google users are historically searching for specific terms each year.

For example, topics around “fly fishing” tend to peak in the summer, when the weather’s nice. Tips for Black Friday marketing tend to peak in late November, as you might have guessed.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Google Search Trends 2021 Report 

What is the most searched thing on Google in 2021?

Globally, the highest-volume search term was “Australia vs India.” In the United States, the most searched term in 2021 was “NBA.”

How do you find what is trending on Google?

Google releases their year-end search trend report once a year. In these pages, you’ll find the highest-volume search phrases in a variety of different categories, as well as through a geographical lens. 

Throughout the remainder of the year, you can visit Google trends to see what the world is searching. 

How can you capitalize on search trends in marketing?

You can use search trends to power your content plan, perform keyword research, find seasonal trends, optimize your SEO strategy for video, and find related terms to outperform your competitors. 

What are the search trends for late 2021?

The most popular search trends for late 2021 include mammography, why people are quitting their jobs, back to work bonus, potluck, small business Saturday, and how to become a volunteer firefighter. 

Conclusion: Google Search Trends 2021 Report

The Google Search Trends report provides a nostalgic look at the year in review, with pop culture topics like Squid Game and news stories like the disappearance of Gabby Petito. However they’ve also given us a tool we need to gain greater visibility into search patterns. 

By mining these trends for insights into search patterns and behavior, you can create a content plan that speaks to the topics users care about.

The uses of the Google Search Trends report goes beyond content ideas. You can also perform in-depth keyword research, use popular trends in your ad copy, and find new niches to target. 

As you wade into your 2022 content planning, keep an eye toward the information Google has generously handed over—your click through rate (CTR) will thank you.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned from the Google Search Trends report?

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Data Breaches

How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Data Breaches

The number of website data breaches is steadily growing. Statista data shows the number of U.S. breaches rose from 662 to more than a thousand in recent years. 

Some industries like government and healthcare have been particularly affected. For instance, recent data by Verizon shows data breaches in the healthcare industry increased by 58 percent

You may be thinking, “What is a website data breach exactly, and should I be worried?”

Like most things in technology, there are no one-size-fits-all warning signs and solutions for website data breaches. However, understanding what these threats entail and learning effective ways to prevent and deal with them can make a huge difference to your business.

What Is a Website Data Breach?

A data breach occurs when information is taken from a system without the owner’s knowledge or authorization. This stolen data may include confidential details, personal data, trade secrets, and even sensitive information that could majorly threaten the organization’s security.

Some common examples of data stolen during a website data breach include:

  • stolen passwords
  • identity information (date of birth, email ID, location, etc.)
  • credit card information
  • banking details
  • medical history

If a data breach occurs and this information is stolen for misuse, it could mean harm for both the business and the person whose information is being taken.

Think about it: If you’re a business owner handling sensitive customer information such as their financial history, you must protect this data. When a website data breach occurs, these personal details can be misused, leading to identity theft, empty bank accounts, and unauthorized transfers among other types of fraud.

Ecommerce businesses need to be particularly careful about website data breaches as most of their dealings happen online, so nearly all the information is at risk. 

This is important because you’re not just losing data but also money. Consider this: Data by RiskIQ suggests cybercrime costs organizations $2.9 million every minute, and major businesses lose $25 per minute as a result of data breaches. 

Do you still want to risk a data breach?

What Causes Data Breaches?

A data breach doesn’t need a trained hacker. Something as simple as losing your device can be enough for a website data breach to occur. Some other causes of website breaches include:

  • Hacking: Various types of hackers work alone or in teams to compromise and sell sensitive data. This is one of the leading causes of data breaches and tends to cause the most damage as not only could you lose the data, but your entire system could be compromised.
  • Accidental access: If you’ve ever logged in to a coworker’s computer for a minute and got access to sensitive information you weren’t supposed to see, it’s a data breach. This happens more often than you’d think, as many colleagues sometimes share a device to work on a common project.
  • Internal spy: If an employee inside the company shares information to outsiders for money or other gains, the data is breached by an “internal spy.”

While these causes can be dangerous for businesses dealing with sensitive data (think payment processing apps), most of them can be prevented. To help you bolster your security, below we’ll talk more about common data breach strategies and how to protect your business against them. 

What Strategies Do People Use to Cause Data Breaches?

There are various strategies people use to cause website data breaches. These can be spontaneous or well-planned depending on the type of data being breached, whether it’s a solo or a team venture, and the purpose of the breach.

Here are some of the most common strategies cybersecurity experts recommend watching out for:

Phishing

Phishing attacks are designed to fool users into giving up their information. These look like genuine messages from trusted institutions but actually are clever traps designed by hackers to get access to your data.

Users who are not tech-savvy or those in a hurry may accidentally click on the false links and give away important information straight to the fraudsters.

Here’s an example of a phishing email impersonating Netflix:

Netflix phishing scam email for website data breach.

Brute Force

Brute force attacks cause website data breaches by working through all possible combinations to crack your passwords. This used to take a long time as there could be endless variations of letters, numbers, and symbols to try, but nowadays the use of sophisticated software makes this process much easier. In fact, some hackers use fully automated brute force attacks.

This graphic explains how a brute force attack works to cause website data breaches: 

Basic brute attack process for website data breach.

Malware

Malware attacks capitalize on your device’s security flaws to gain access to your system. Hackers shove viruses and spyware into your system to view, access, lock or change your files, which causes a massive data breach.

In fact, data shows nearly half of the security professionals surveyed say ransomware and malware pose the biggest IT risks, so businesses should be extra careful to protect themselves against such cyber threats. 

How to Prevent Data Breaches

While every business that operates online faces some cyber threats, there are many ways to prevent data breaches or at least minimize their impact. Let’s take a look at some of them below.

Look for Vulnerabilities

No system is perfect. Every system, network, server, and device has a flaw that hackers use to grab access. The sooner you identify these flaws, the better you can protect your business from website data breaches

One way to do this is to proactively look for vulnerabilities in your security system. You can do this by using security software specifically designed to test your system for such vulnerabilities.

If you don’t want to rely on software, there’s another option for you. Many companies hire trained white-hat hackers to spot system vulnerabilities and patch them before other hackers can get a chance. This is more time-consuming but can also offer more reliable results, especially when it comes to larger organizations handling a lot of data.

Human testers are also better at recognizing patterns, so if there’s a recurring issue, paid white-hat hackers might be able to identify the problem before it’s too late. 

Train Your Employees

While human testers can be a great benefit to your organization, sometimes it’s your very own employees causing the very breaches you are trying to prevent.

Many incidents of website data breaches occur when employees accidentally leak information to people who do not have authorized access to this data. For instance, if an employee accidentally emails private information to a third-party client, or if sensitive information is leaked through a shared device in the office, this data is considered to be “accidentally” breached. 

It’s still harmful to the company, but it’s caused by human error, often due to the employee’s negligence, lack of technical knowledge, or skills in handling data.

Accidental website data breaches like these are easy to prevent through appropriate employee training to improve their understanding of data management. Organizations can use various programs like the Polymer DLP Behavioral Approach to train up their employees on cybersecurity. 

If a complete program is too big of a time or budget commitment, consider hosting small webinars. Invite a guest speaker or show a documentary that highlights the impact accidental website data breaches can have on a company, and how to prevent them.

These might sound like small steps offering minimal results, but training your employees early on can go a long way in securing your organization and minimizing the chance of accidental data breaches down the road.

Have Backups for Your Data

In some cases, despite your best attempts at preventing them, a website data breach can wipe out important information from your system. While it may or may not be able to be recovered, it’s always a good idea to backup any and all information that might be important.

This way, if data is stolen, you’re not completely lost. You still have something to fall back on. For this, you can invest in a cloud backup solution or use a third-party service depending on your company’s needs. 

Install a Firewall

Firewalls are one of the most basic yet secure ways to defend yourself against website data breaches. By installing a firewall, you will prevent unauthorized traffic and malicious software from entering your network. This can act as the first line of defense and work well with other security measures to minimize the threat of hackers and other cybercrimes.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

The process of encryption involves encoding data in a way that only authorized parties can read it. This is another basic but effective strategy to protect your business against website data breaches. 

Different types of encryption processes can safeguard confidential data that is only meant to be shared with specific people in an organization. Only these people will be able to access and share it, keeping it in tight circles.

Online payment apps, email service providers, and messaging apps like WhatsApp use encryption to protect user privacy and boost security around sharing personal information on these platforms. 

This graphic by Okta, explains encryption in simple terms:

Encryption for preventing website data breaches.

Monitor Database Activity

Want something that gives you a high-level view of your security system? Consider monitoring database activity. This might be a new concept for many teams who are still in the early stages of adopting data security tech, but it’s worth taking a look at and can be effective for organizations of all sizes.

A database activity monitor (DAM) observes, identifies, and reports on database activities. These monitoring tools use real-time security technology to monitor all actions across the database. Additionally, they can detect abnormal and unauthorized activity, internally and externally, while gauging the effectiveness of your existing security protocols.

Like most other measures, this has multiple layers, and it’s important to consider your security needs before implementing any complex programs.

Website Data Breaches: Frequently Asked Questions

How common are website data breaches?

The number of data breaches happening in the United States is growing. For instance, Statista data shows the number of data breaches in the U.S. has drastically increased in recent years, from 662 breaches in 2010 to over a thousand breaches in 2020. 

Which industries are the most affected by website data breaches?

Data from TechRepublic shows 95 percent of data breaches occurred in the government, retail, and technology sectors. Healthcare and finance industries are also particularly affected by such cyber threats. Researchers at IBM found that the healthcare and financial industries spent the most time in the data breach lifecycle, which is 329 days and 233 days, respectively.

What is the most common cause of website data breaches?

Hacking has consistently been one of the most common causes of website data breaches. Human error is also a common cause, as a lot of confidential data is accidentally leaked by employees in the organization. Losing, sharing, and leaking passwords is also a type of human error that can lead to accidental website data breaches. 

What is the best way to prevent website data breaches?

Some of the best ways to protect your business from data breaches include: looking for vulnerabilities within your security system, training your employees to reduce the chance of accidental breaches, having a backup of important data, using a firewall, encrypting confidential information, and monitoring database activity. 

Conclusion: Website Data Breaches

In the age of the internet, cyber threats are expected—which means you need to be prepared. Learning more about what causes breaches and finding personalized solutions to prevent those attacks can go a long way in keeping your business—and customer information—safe.

If you’d like to take this a step further, learn how to effectively manage your website, get an SSL certificate, or focus on security and trust throughout your website.

Which cybersecurity technique will you use to protect your website from hackers and data breaches?

A Marketer’s Guide to the Metaverse

A Marketer's Guide to the Metaverse

Technology is ever-changing and, because of that, so is marketing. The evolution of the metaverse is just one recent development in the world of technology, but one that will have a huge impact on the human experience as we know it.

While digital marketing has seen many advances over the last few decades, the metaverse is one that has stumped many companies and marketers. How can they use the metaverse to their advantage so they aren’t stuck in the dark ages?

In this post, I’ll introduce the metaverse. This will include a breakdown of what it means and a look at both its current and future states. I’ll then introduce the various ways marketers can expect to use the metaverse in the years to come, as well as how they can get their foot in the door.

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse as envisioned by Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist and writer, and later on Zuckerburg, is “an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations.”

Put more simply, the metaverse is a currently hypothetical version of the internet that supports online 3-D virtual environments. This is done through personal computing (a current example is the online game Second Life), virtual reality headsets, and augmented reality headsets.

Second Life for Metaverse

That’s not to say that elements of the metaverse don’t exist currently. There are games like Roblox and Fortnite that form the basis for what many consider to be the future of the metaverse. More specifically, virtual avatars who can interact with their virtual environment, and other players. They can also purchase merchandise in-game, such as clothing and decorative accessories, to personalize the experience.

Metaverse and NFT: How Are They Related?

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is anything digital that cannot be replaced as it doesn’t have a tangible value. The most common forms of NFT today are digital art like animations. However, within the metaverse, an NFT can become so much more.

According to Morgan Stanley, the multinational investment bank, NFTs have the potential to become a $56 billion market by 2030. How? All thanks to the demand the metaverse will create.

With the increase in virtual avatars, the demand for virtual fashion will skyrocket. The need to personalize oneself within the digital space is undeniable and fashion is one of the easiest ways to do so. Just look at the success of markets found on Fortnite and Roblox, virtual games with an avatar.

How Will the Metaverse Impact Marketing?

If you haven’t considered how the metaverse will impact marketing, then you’re already behind the curve. The metaverse isn’t an “if” but a “when.” That is, it’s an inevitability. The metaverse will impact marketing in many ways, some of which you can begin to implement now.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around in one variation or another for decades. Of course, it’s improved leaps in bounds in recent years, and it will continue to do so in the years to come.

From product development to the sale of existing products or services, virtual reality enables you to bring your customers into the fold. They can play an active role in all stages of the process. Who says “no” to free product research?

Even more, many customers will seek out such opportunities as opposed to hiding from them like they do with online advertisements. The generations coming of age now and in the next 15 years, largely Generations Z and Alpha, will feel more at home within these environments than any other generation before them.

Augmented Reality

Unlike virtual reality which takes over your vision, augmented reality just adds elements to it. Think of “smart glasses” or the popular mobile game Pokemon Go. These devices take note of your surrounding environment and then enhance it by adding images, animations, or data over the top of it.

Where does marketing come in? From trying on a pair of glasses or a dress to test driving a new car, augmented reality brings the shopping experience to another level. In an augmented environment, your customers can interact with your products without leaving their homes. Even in-store experiences will benefit from the metaverse, however. Since augmented reality is an overlay on the real-life environment, you can use it in stores to share in-depth information, display additional features and use cases, etc. Think of it as a parallel marketing experience.

Branding in The Metaverse

As the metaverse grows, so too will branding and advertising opportunities. Including virtual message boards, billboards, merchandise, and even the virtual clothing avatars wear.

NFTs will play a big role, too. With the ability to personalize avatars and spaces like “homes” and storefronts, you can create branded virtual content for your customers. This enables you to break into merchandising spaces you don’t currently work in, such as virtual apparel and digital art.

According to the Chief Metaverse Officer of Futures Intelligence Group, Cathy Hackl, it’s not so easy as going “direct-to-avatar.” That is, breaking onto the scene isn’t so simple as creating a virtual version of your merchandise. This is especially true for brands that don’t sell apparel, art, or other things easy to digitize. Brands have done it, though. Just look at Chipotle and even Gucci.

Branding in the Metaverse - Gucci Garden on Roblox for Metaverse

Virtual Popups

Popup shops are a common occurrence for businesses of all sizes. Whether it’s products or services you’re selling, a virtual popup gives you the opportunity to share your brand on a larger scale.

Similar to an in-person popup, a virtual popup is a chance to network, advertise, and sell your products and services. Whereas popups in a physical location may limit attendance (both due to space and travel required), a virtual popup helps you to reach a larger audience.

The virtual location will not only benefit attendance numbers, but it will also have less impact on the bottom line. With a decreased need for employee travel and lodgings, and no need to rent out physical space, you can cut costs and perhaps even decrease the end price for users.

Virtual Training or Classes

With so many live streaming and pre-recorded video platforms, virtual training and classes are already a big part of the corporate world. While many virtual trainings and classes will likely continue in their current form, the metaverse creates a space for them to expand.

Bringing real-world classes to virtual headsets worldwide, the growth opportunities are endless. Just imagine a virtual reality training course on your product or a use case walkthrough for your services. You can even use it for product demonstrations with potential customers or troubleshooting sessions with your current clientele.

Beyond marketing efforts, you can even use virtual classes for in-house onboarding and training. Emergency preparedness, diversity and inclusion, new employee orientation, and more.

Metaverse Events

In this post-COVID world, it’s easy to imagine the continued need for virtual meeting spaces. From family get-togethers to concerts to non-profit galas, the metaverse has no limits on who you can meet up with and when.

A recent example of such an event was the Lil Nas X concert that took place within the virtual world of Roblox.

Metaverse Events - Lil Nas X Roblox Concert for Metaverse

With events like this becoming more popular, especially with Generations Z and Alpha, metaverse events won’t just be a tool you can use but a necessity. As your target audience changes, so too will your marketing efforts. This is just one example of how the metaverse will play a role.

You don’t want to wait until these types of events become popular before you hop on the bandwagon. You should consider hosting your own virtual event, whether through virtual reality or augmented reality, soon. There are even consulting agencies that can help you to host such events.

Metaverse in Marketing: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is a digital universe where users interact with the computer-generated reality and other users. It’s a digital life, for all intents and purposes, that includes components such as virtual reality and personal computing.

Why should marketers care about the metaverse?

As a second life for users, the metaverse provides an opportunity for marketers to reach their audiences in a new dimension. The metaverse expands the digital footprint of customers so as to provide a whole new look into their actions and behaviors.

How could businesses monetize the metaverse?

From opportunities to brand digital merchandise to offering virtual classes and popup events, businesses can monetize the metaverse in the same ways they can monetize their real-world counterparts.

What companies are in the metaverse?

While we speak of the metaverse in its future state, there are companies that contribute to its existence both now and in the future. Just a few companies currently “in” the metaverse are Facebook (Meta), Niantic, Epic Games, and Apple.

How can my company prepare for the future of marketing in the metaverse?

The metaverse, in its simplest, is a virtual community. With community is the need for connection. Companies can prepare for the future of marketing in the metaverse by taking steps towards building that connection. For now, this includes opening new commerce stores on Instagram Shop and Facebook Shop and even creating AR advertisements.

Conclusion: Metaverse for Marketers

The metaverse as imagined by the likes of Matthew Ball and Mark Zuckerberg is still years away. Digital marketers shouldn’t sit on the sidelines waiting until that time has come. Instead, they should use these next few years to prepare for opportunities to come.

There are ways that marketers can get ahead of the curve, including investing in virtual reality and augmented reality advertising. There are also e-commerce platforms, like Instagram Shop and Facebook Shop, that offer a glimpse into the future of the metaverse and what it has in store.

What step will you take to get your company started in the metaverse?

Comprehensive Guide to NFTs for Marketers

Comprehensive Guide to NFTs for Marketers

You’ve likely heard of NFTs already. But did you know they can be used in marketing?

NFTs are taking the art and technology world by storm. The Nyan Cat GIF was recently sold for $600,000, for example.

What, exactly, are NFTs and why should marketers care? Is it just another buzzword?

Maybe—or maybe not.

Here’s what marketers need to know about NTFs, including how you can leverage them to grow your business.

What Are NFTs?

NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. They are digital assets that can be bought and sold, just like any other piece of property. Each NFT is “tokenized” which means it has a digital certificate of ownership that makes it unique. That ownership token is stored in a digital ledger, called the blockchain.

Which all sounds pretty complicated.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you want to buy the Mona Lisa. Part of the value of the painting is there is just one original.

Although there are millions of prints of the Mona Lisa, you wouldn’t own every single one of them; you would only own the original.

The same is true with NFTs, except everyone has essentially decided to agree which version of a digital file is the “original.” This means, while other people can still access whatever NFT you buy, you hold the original, tokenized version.

Here’s where this example goes off track—there’s no physical item to hold with an NFT. Instead, your purchase is recorded in a blockchain ledger.

I’ve written a bit more about how NFTs work (and how brands are using them) if you want to learn more.

How Can Marketers Use NFTs (With Examples)

NFTs aren’t just taking over the art world. Plenty of big brands are using this technology to drive their marketing strategies. Here’s six ways brands are using NFTs to drive brand awareness and profits.

Build Brand Awareness: Marriott

Looking to take your brand awareness campaigns into the metaverse? NFTs can help brands expand awareness.

Marriott is leveraging NFTs through its Marriott Bonvoy travel program. The brand partnered with three artists to create three different NFTs based on travel experiences. They shared this teaser on their website:

nfts-for-marketers-Marriott-Bonvoy

The NFTs were unveiled at an event during Art Basel, a premier modern art show. A drawing was held to raffle the NFTs off. Winners got their own NFT, along with 200,000 Bonvoy points.

The event helped increase brand awareness by leveraging NFTs and built excitement around the brand and the experiences offered by Bonvoy.

Expand Audience Reach: Bicycle Cards

Looking to expand your audience and reach new markets? Facebook look-alike audiences aren’t your only option.

Bicycle, one of the world’s oldest card-making companies, is looking to reach a new audience. Founded in the 1800s, the brand has been a staple in the card printing industry for more than a century.

But times are changing, and Bicycle wants to reach a younger audience, many of whom are interested in new technology like NFTs.

They recently announced their first-ever NFT collection. In addition to purchasing NFTs designed by artist Adrian Valenzuela, owners will also gain access to exclusive events, presales, and access to a physical deck of NFTs.

Stefaan Merckx, CEO of Bicycle, shared:

“At Bicycle, we’re a heritage brand that has been at the forefront of playing cards for over 135 years and this NFT launch marks a special moment in our history where we’re bridging the gap between tradition and innovation. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to reach new consumers and generations, while also staying true to our history.”

Protect Brand Image: Robert Mondavi Winery

While smaller brands don’t have to worry much about knockoffs, legacy brands are leaning into NFTs as a way to protect their brand image.

Robert Mondavi Winery has also jumped on the NFT bandwagon, but is leveraging it in a whole new way. Rather than using it to expand their audience or build their brand, this well-established brand uses NFTs to protect their wine’s providence.

Worried about the growing marketing of knock off vintages, they partnered with artist Clay Heaton to create a collection of wines featuring porcelain bottles and NFTs to authenticate the wine.

nfts-for-marketers2-Robert-Mondavi-Winery 

They launched this collection in an effort to get ahead of the curve in wine providence:

“Both the NFT and wine collector communities thrive on authenticity, traceability, and ownership, so a pairing of the two through this unique offering is a natural progression that offers exciting possibilities and foreshadows the future of collectorship, where blockchain technology sets the standard for provenance.”

Support a Good Cause: Kinetic Sand

Consumers want to support companies that give back. In fact, 84 percent of millennials say they prefer to support brands that are transparent with values and a culture they can trust. They don’t want promises, they want action.

Kinetic Sand, a popular brand of squeezable, moldable sand, is using NFTs to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), to expand their arts and creative experiences programs.

The NFT collection was created in collaboration with artist Dan Lam.

Promote In-Person Events: AMC/Spider-Man

Are you looking to promote in-person events? Take a page from AMC and consider offering NFTs to the first few attendees.

nfts-for-marketers3-AMC-Spider-man

When tickets for the new movie went on sale, they offered the first 86,000 AMC investors who bought or reserved a ticket the opportunity to receive a free NFT. If users purchased a ticket and did not attend the movie, they would no longer be eligible to receive an NFT.

So not only did users have to be a member of the AMC rewards program, but they also had to actually show up to the theater in person to watch the movie.

Adidas used a similar strategy by offering POAP tokens to hard-core fans who attend specific events.

Drive Pre-Orders: Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is well known for many reasons, including his infatuation with NFTs. He loves them so much, he decided to use them to promote his newest book, titled Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success.

It’s worth noting this isn’t his first book—there is a good chance the book would have sold well even without the NFTs. Regardless, the book quickly racked up more than a million pre-orders in the first day—which is no small feat.

Here’s how it worked: for every twelve copies buyers purchased in a 24-hour period, they’d earn one NFT. Based on the results, the NFTs definitely made some waves.

What are NFTs?

NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. They are digital assets that can be bought and purchased but do not physically exist. Digital file ownership is stored in the blockchain.

Can NFTs be used for marketing?

Absolutely. Many brands are leveraging this cross between art and technology to promote their business, raise money for charity, expand their audience reach, drive pre-orders, and much more.

What are the benefits of NFT for marketers?

NFTs are relatively new. The novelty makes them more exciting and means there is currently less competition. It’s easy (at least right now) to stand out with NFTs.

What brands are using NFTs?

A number of high-profile brands are dipping their toes into NFTs, including Taco Bell, AMC, Charmin, and Coca-Cola.

How much does it cost to create an NFT?

While you can create NFTs for free, you will likely need to invest some money to use them for marketing. If you partner with a well-known artist, costs can get into the hundreds of thousands or even millions. However, you don’t have to spend that much. Depending on the size of the campaign, expect to pay between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

Conclusion: NFTs for Marketers

NFTs provide marketers with a new way to reach their audience, drive awareness, and even promote new product lines. But, are they here to stay, or are they just another blip on the marketing radar? Only time will tell. What we can tell is big brands are leveraging NFTs in unique ways, so it is worth paying attention to.

However, before you dive into new strategies like these, make sure you are making the most of SEO and content marketing first. These time-tested strategies drive long-term growth, not just fleeting market attention.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy—or if you’re interested in using NFTs for marketing—we can help. Learn more.

Are you using NFTs in your marketing? Why or why not?

How to Create Inclusive Content for Everyone

How to Create Inclusive Content

The last thing you’d ever want to do is exclude a person or group of people through your marketing. Yet many marketers and writers have made this mistake.

Divisive and exclusive words and phrases have become so baked into our language that many of us don’t realize when we use them or the harm they cause.

In this article, I’ll explain what inclusive content really means, why you need to be creating it, and how to do it in a meaningful way. 

What Does “Inclusive Content” Mean?

Inclusive content is any form of media (such as a blog post, a video, an image, etc.) that speaks to a broad and diverse audience without excluding anyone.

When it comes to blog posts, that means the words do not hurt or divide, the images represent as many different people as possible, and the structure makes the content as accessible as possible (through clear fonts, image alt tags, etc). Inclusive content is NOT a political statement or a personal take on social justice topics. 

What Are the Benefits of Inclusive Content?

Let’s be clear; creating inclusive content is the right thing to do. However, there’s a lot more to gain when you write in a way that includes as many people as possible.

For one, it can grow your business. You significantly widen your target markets by opening the door to previously marginalized communities.

At the same time, it raises the profile of your brand with everyone. More than half of consumers want to purchase from companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion, according to a report by Zendesk. 

Reasons for inclusive content

Millennials are even more loyal to inclusive brands. Seventy percent of them will choose a brand that demonstrates inclusion in its marketing efforts.

Inclusive content sells better, too. 

The Psychology of Inclusion and the Effects in Advertising by Microsoft Advertising found that the purchase intent of the most inclusive ad in their study was 13 percent higher than the next most appealing ad and 23 percent higher than the average. 

Finally, creating inclusive content demonstrates your brand’s commitment to change. Fail to do so, and you’ll look like a brand unwilling or unable to learn or grow (or worse, paint your brand as one that doesn’t care about social issues).

6 Steps to Create More Inclusive Content

Even if you think you already write in an inclusive manner, there’s almost certainly an opportunity to grow. The six steps I’ve outlined below can help even the most experienced content creator to be more inclusive.

1. Look for Blind Spots

Who are you currently creating content for? That should be the first question you ask yourself as you start to write in a more inclusive manner.

While having a target audience may help narrow your focus and improve your PPC campaigns, it won’t necessarily win you any fans when it comes to your content. For one, a customer persona rarely fits every potential customer. If the language and imagery you use only appeals to a specific demographic, you risk alienating potential new customers.

Furthermore, you should use inclusive language and imagery in your content to not alienate your target audience.

The good news is that as soon as you start writing for a wider audience, you’ll suddenly find that your content is much more thoughtful and appealing than any of your competitors. Most marketing efforts still lack diversity and inclusivity, especially when it comes to content marketing. Just identifying and fixing your blind spots can breathe new life into your efforts—and help you build important relationships with a variety of stakeholders.

2. Make Your Content Accessible

How you present your content can be just as important as what you say from an inclusivity standpoint. If you want your writing to be accessible, then you need to start by making your entire site accessible.

Start by making sure screen readers can interact with every page on your site, but especially your blog. Next, make certain the alt text on your images is relevant and not just used to stuff keywords into your article. Screen readers rely on alt text to describe pictures and other visual content.

To that end, captions should also be added to videos. This doesn’t require a huge amount of effort. A tool like Kapwing makes it easy to add captions. 

That’s just a start, though. You can do many other things, which I’ve covered in my article on ADA website compliance. These include:

  • making sure your website is navigatable by keyboard
  • reducing excessive motion in design elements
  • ensuring your site doesn’t ignite physical triggers
  • improving your website’s color contrast
  • making sure your site works with all browsers and accessibility tools

3. Use Inclusive Language

The words you use matter. They have the power to inspire, but they also have the ability to divide and exclude. When it comes to creating inclusive content you have to be careful about the language you choose.

Adopting gender-neutral language should be the bare minimum. Instead of words like “mankind” and “salesman”, use “humankind” and “salesperson.” You should also avoid making gender-based assumptions. Politicians are not always male. A parent is not necessarily a woman. A gender-neutral pronoun like “they” is the safest bet in these scenarios.

For more examples, see the UN’s recent tweet on gender-neutral language.

Inclusive writing often goes beyond gender-neutral language, though. There are plenty of idioms and phrases that seem innocuous on first impression but that actually have harmful and divisive origins. Blacklist and whitelist come from discriminatory metaphors about race, for instance. Similarly, calling people crazy can exclude people with mental or psychiatric disabilities.

Other idioms can exclude people who don’t have the necessary background knowledge. Sport phrases are major culprits here. Using “out for the count” as a phrase wouldn’t typically make sense unless you know about boxing, or are a native-English speaker. A “ballpark figure” can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with baseball.

4. Ask for Audience Input and Additional Help

I mean it when I say creating inclusive content is an ongoing, repetitive process. To that end, you should be having an open and honest dialogue with your audience and other third parties.

The truth is everyone has very different world views, and, ultimately, you don’t know what you don’t know.

As good as these tips are (at least I like to think so), no one gets inclusive writing correct at the first time of asking. So encourage and embrace feedback. The more you discuss your work openly and invite readers to have their say, the quicker you can start creating genuinely inclusive content.

It’s not just your audience you should consult, however. A sensitivity reader can be a huge help when reviewing your writing for poor phrasing and insensitive language. A good editor should be able to do this for you, but there are also services like Writing Diversely, which lists specialist editors who can help. 

5. Use Diverse Images

Stock images are known to often feature white, middle-class Americans or Europeans. 

That’s not exactly great when you’re aiming to be more diverse and inclusive.

It’s not enough to just write in an inclusive manner. People like to see themselves represented in images because it makes them feel empowered, included, and capable. They’ll identify with your company and product more when they see people like themselves included in your content marketing efforts. It also makes it clear that you are writing for them specifically.

Thankfully, there is an easy fix. Make your blog posts more exclusive by including photos of people from different backgrounds. That can include people of color, non-traditional families, and people of different sizes and abilities.

There are plenty of diverse stock photo websites which can be used to help.

One of my favorites is Nappy, which features high-quality stock photos of exclusively black and brown people.

Nappy for inclusive content images

Another is the Disabled and Here collection from Affect the Verb. This stock library features disabled Black, Indigenous, and people of color with a wide range of disabilities and health issues. 

Disabled and here collection for inclusive content

Another option is to do away with stock photos altogether. Creating your own photos and graphs or adding screenshots to blog posts will let you put your personal touch on writing and make your pieces more informative.

6. Write in an Accessible Way

Being inclusive with your writing isn’t just about using inclusive language. The format and structure of your writing can also exclude readers.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, half of US adults can’t read a book at the 8th-grade level. In other words, flowery language and complex clauses aren’t going to cut it if you’re writing for laypeople.

Instead:

  • Use short words and short sentences.
  • Keep paragraphs short and use lots of subheadings to make it easy for readers to skim your content.
  • Avoid industry jargon, abbreviations, and other specialized terms that the average consumer won’t understand.
  • Use bullet points to break down lists of information.
  • Write in the active advice to keep your writing as concise and clear as possible.

If in doubt about the quality and effectiveness of your writing, use a tool like the Hemingway App. The Hemingway App analyzes your writing and provides a grade-based reading level. It will also point out long, complex sentences, places where you’ve used the passive voice, and other issues with your content.

Use the Hemingway editor to create inclusive content

Inclusive Content Frequently Asked Questions

Why is inclusive content important in marketing?

Being inclusive and diverse helps position your brand as a forward-thinking company and improves your relationship with consumers. You appeal to a much broader audience and increase the likelihood consumers will purchase.

How can I make my content more inclusive?

Always use inclusive language and gender-neutral terminology. Include diverse images alongside your content and write in an accessible way that appeals to as many readers as possible. Follow all this up by making your entire site accessible.

What does it mean to be more inclusive?

Being more inclusive with your content is about increasing the number of audience members who will be able to relate to your content, or see themselves within it. Avoid using discriminatory terms and do your research carefully when writing content so as to not intentionally cause harm.

What is an example of an inclusive term?

Gender-neutral terms like businessperson and salesperson are examples of inclusive terms. Avoid phrases like guys and pump for “everyone” instead.

Conclusion: How to Create Inclusive Content

As you write content for your brand, it’s important to constantly come back to the principles I’ve discussed in this article. Remember, this is just the beginning. Creating inclusive content is an ongoing process that requires you to grow and learn as a writer.

Make sure you have everything you need to create inclusive content going forward by re-reading this article and integrating each of the steps into your style guide. Bookmark the stock photo libraries I highlighted and read up about inclusive words and phrases even more. I recommend this thorough guide by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Then get writing. Because the only way of getting better at creating inclusive content is to write.

Which step do you plan on using first to make your content more inclusive?