What Does Google’s New Personalized Search Mean for Marketers?

When working with our clients on search campaigns, one of the most common conversations I have is about the nature of Google searches and how, if you’re signed in to your Google account, things aren’t universal (despite the “universal search” term).

To drive this home more, Google is now blending its (awesome) Google Now type features with the search engine:

Google today announced a number of search features that make it easier for you to find your own personal information through Google Search. The search engine can now find information about your upcoming flights “Is my flight on time?”, hotel or OpenTable reservations, package delivery information “When will my package arrive?”, your purchases and what’s on your calendar. Just like on Google+, you can also now use the regular Google search to find your own photos through queries like “Show me my photos of beaches.”

via Google Search Gets More Personal, Now Lets You Find Your Flight Info, Reservations, Photos And More | TechCrunch.

Google is quickly living up to its promise to index all of the world’s info (or at least yours). Translating and understanding what that means for SEO and paid search is becoming increasingly more detailed.

However, advertising and marketing always improve as the variable of relativity is increased. While the Panda and Penguin updates Google brought to its search algorithms over the past year have made it seemingly more difficult for some marketers to keep their search traffic flowing, there is great benefit for the agencies and companies willing to go to the whiteboard and figure out how best to use Google as a tool instead of relying on decade-old understandings.

Google has also performed a number of upgrades and changes to its AdWords tool (including the keyword tool) and Analytics package (adding a real-time API for one). It’s increasingly pushing publishers and companies to make sure they are using Google Webmaster Tools. In other words, Google understands these changes can be seen as damaging to their base of advertisers (their main monetary stream, of course).

This trend towards personalization is ushering in a new age of search marketing that is still shaking out and will take years to fully comprehend. In the meantime, keep an eye on Google’s updates to AdWords, Analytics and Webmaster Tools and do your due diligence on how search marketing is changing (for the better).

Will iOS 7 Be Popular?

When I write popular, I don’t mean in the techmeme indy-app eco-bubble, but in terms of the hoi poloi. I think about my “non-techy” friends and family who are all now on iOS (5 and 6 with lots of 4’s and 4s’ still in my circles) and who still have their 1st page of apps set with the default app that shipped with the phone.

I’m not so sure that sentiments like this will be true in the general market:

Aside from a technological standpoint, I think the most important factor to consider is that users cant wait to get their hands on iOS 7. The new version is a major change, and – at least based on my survey of non-geeky friends – I suspect that more people will upgrade more quickly than last year the launch of iOS 6 surely wasnt helped by doubts surrounding Maps.

via iOS 7 Apps and Aggressive Adoption.

While people like to claim that Google is the new Microsoft and Android is the new Windows, I think a little of the reverse is true.

iOS as it has pretty much looked for the last five years is a staid classic. It is the Windows XP of mobile operating systems while Android has gone on ahead slowly-but-surely building on the back of Linux in much the same way OSX built on the Unix desktop.

While Microsoft released Longhorn Vista and the excellent Windows 7 and the disaster of Windows 8, it almost took an act of Congress to get my family and friends away from Win XP and on to more current architecture.

Many of them eschewed Windows 8 because it was so radically different in the public chatterspace (even though it really isn’t) and I see more and more Macs or Chromebooks now.

iOS 7 has the very real possible future ahead of being “too different” from “what just worked.”

While I love Ive’s aesthetic and Apple’s “we know what’s best for you” design ethos, I’m not so sure that iOS 7’s radical color palate, icon design and gaussian blurs (having used iOS 7 for a few weeks for app development myself) will be a hit in the flyover states.

This is a critical time for Apple and iOS. The launch of iOS 7 and the iPhone 5s and/or 5c (and a retina iPad mini?) come at a time of a literal onslaught of excellent Android devices (Nexus 7, Samsung S4, HTC One, LG G2, possible Nexus 5) and Windows Phones (that Lumia one has a pretty nifty camera at least). Contracts are timing out with the release and people are going to be wondering if now’s the time to make a switch… to iOS 7 or something else.

Should be an interesting October.

Your Newsletter Will Be Deleted if Users Can’t Read It On Their Mobile Devices

From a new study by Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey on newsletters and mobile interaction:

The survey of 1,497 consumers found that 80 percent of smartphone owners say it is “extremely important” to be able to read emails on their mobile devices. The study also exposed what could be unfortunate results for marketers who have not yet taken mobile email display into consideration: 75 percent said they are “highly likely” to delete an email if they can’t read it on their smartphone.”

It’s worth your time to go read the full report.

Quotes like this should send a shiver down your spine if you’re still sending out long and non-mobile friendly newsletters to your subscription list:

“The fact of the matter is that consumers are opening emails on their phones first with increasing regularity,” said Jim Garretson, mobile product manager at Constant Contact. “The great thing about mobile emails is that shorter content and fewer calls to action actually perform better than complicated and dense messaging. By simplifying email marketing campaigns, marketers can take an essential and effective step towards becoming mobile-friendly.”

While the study was done by email newsletter provider Constant Contact, the data still points to something that I regularly try to convince clients of… less is more when it comes to newsletters.

Email newsletters are still an incredibly important piece to most, if not all, marketing campaigns. Making sure that your company’s mailings are mobile friendly is not just a nice feature but a requirement in 2013 and beyond.

Affiliate Marketing’s Bad Rap

From VentureBeat courtesy of Scott Jangro on FB:

“Be very careful when you sign up to affiliate networks. Do all your analysis. Profile the traffic, and then make an educated decision for yourself. Even though we were managing to get $200,000 a week of sales for all but nothing, this is not a sustainable business model.

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/08/12/the-big-ugly-affiliate-marketing-scam/#f1Ue76oSercfP2GX.99”

To be honest, I can’t blame the guy. Despite the correct admonitions by affiliate marketing heavyweights in the comments, it’s a shame that an industry with so much promise continues to field a bad reputation from large scale brands (and state governments looking to make tax revenue from affiliate sales).

I love and believe in the affiliate channel, especially when it is “democratized,” but it only takes a few bad actors and not enough storytelling to ruin the message.

Women in Marketing

When I first started in the marketing business, I was in way over my head.

And now, two years later, I’m still in way over my head.

The transition from being a teacher in a classroom into the real world that we only talked about as we gazed out the window wasn’t too easy for me. My first problem was I was a pretty good teacher. I got good reviews. I solved parental issues. I even had the kids who had started the throwing erasers (they were the small pencil top ones) at me stop by Christmas. I still made mistakes of course, but overall I held my own.

But you can’t get buy just holding your own in marketing because even if you try your hardest and even if you blog everyday and even if you learn how to embed affiliate links (not to mention even learning what affiliate links are!), it doesn’t amount to anything if people don’t click and buy. You have to close. No questions. No discussions.

I can spend all day on lead generation and follow up from last week’s lead generation and in the end, it can amount to no money, no gas in the car, no groceries for the week. That was a wake up call to me. I couldn’t just show up and expect someone to give me a gold sticker and pat me on the back.

The second issue I encountered was moving from a profession in which females greatly outweighed males to a profession in which women were almost non-existent. There were many times I was the only woman in the room and many times I wasn’t even spoken to because the assumption was that I was a secretary or personal assistant of some sort.

I’m not going to lie, I spent time whine and whimpering over how unfair and hard it was to be a woman marketer (especially when the contracts I was preparing weren’t being signed), but it didn’t change a thing.

Marketing is hard. It’s hard for the people who have been in it for 15 years, it’s hard for the person who just signed her first contract. It never stops. There aren’t vacation days. Your whole day could change at a moment’s notice.

And here I am…still at it.

Why? Because there’s not another profession that doesn’t allow you to coast…that is if you’re doing it right.

Taking Up the Challenge

This week, MarketingTrends is turning into a group blog focused on the always fascinating space of online marketing, analytics, trends and thought development. If you’re interested in blogging regularly about this space and want to be a part of something special, email me sam@marketingtrends.co or @samharrelson on Twitter.

I plan on operating much the same way the old ReveNews did with no editorial approval process, comments wide open and actual pay for bloggers (see below for more on that).

MarketingTrends will look different as we move into Phase 2 this week so stay tuned for the new theme and features.

This is something I’ve had planned for a while, but a conversation about ReveNews tonight made me speed up the process.

When Affiliate Summit acquired ReveNews in February of this year, I was elated. As a former editor and publisher of ReveNews (and the one that ushered us through the incredible process of moving from MovableType to WordPress with an updated look/feel in 2008-2009), I have a deep love for the community and ecosystem of thoughtful bloggers and commenters that once made the site a mandatory read for folks in the online marketing industry.

I can even say that it was ReveNews that launched my career in 2002-2003 as I was reading insights from people like Wayne Porter, Jim Kukral, Brian Clark or Jeff Molander and pondering what I could contribute to this industry. They took me in and made me a part of the ReveNews family in 2006.

However, watching ReveNews become just a press release outlet for Affiliate Summit since February has been sad to say the least. This once proud banner stood for insight and thought provocation and real dialogue in an industry still trying to find its own identity (and identities).

While I can’t purchase ReveNews and right that ship, I can take up Shawn’s challenge after I posted my own thoughts about ReveNews’ direction this afternoon.

Here’s the whole Twitter convo:

To which Shawn replied:

Good point by Shawn on the previously dwindling but still salvageable content being produced by bloggers there:

And that’s where things turned. Shawn thinks that “print > group blog” but I find this sort of coasting to be the antithesis of what ReveNews once meant to lots of folks in our industry.

Not to mention that a healthy group blog is, in my mind, needed and required in an industry where the main group voice is behind an editorially produced dead-tree printing that serves as an advertising platform for the main conference of an industry and itself makes its owners money (with a traditional 20th century ad model) without paying its writers.

I was ready to leave things there and move on agreeing to disagree. Shawn wasn’t ready for that just yet.

To which I responded with a tongue-in-cheek:

Which earned this:

So, we’re taking the challenge.

Moving MarketingTrends to a group blog paradigm is something I’ve had planned for a while, but Shawn’s tweets tonight reinforced my realization that something akin to what ReveNews was in years past is not only needed but required in the online performance marketing space.

Group blogging means turning over some aspects of control, such as in the editorial space. I’ve never liked the idea of a editor to correct grammar or thoughts on something like a blog and our bloggers will have the freedom to post when the spirit moves them, whether on the floor of a trade show with their mobile device or after carefully plotting out a detailed thought piece over a long weekend.

The look and feel of MarketingTrends will reflect its group blog nature and that new theme should be live this week. I’ve got experience doing this and I’m excited about how things are shaping up.

Our revenue model is not just based in a mid-20th century banner display ad model. There will be a few of those ads, but the majority of the revenue to pay bloggers will come from a content-specific marketplace, newsletter placements and micro-transactions. You’ll see what we mean when we roll out the redesign this week.

In many ways, what I wanted to do with ReveNews in 2008 is finally coming to fruition with MarketingTrends in 2013. I’m excited.

I hope you’ll stick around and participate.

Facebook’s Big Problem

Beautiful and well-argued post from The New Inquiry:

Facebook is like a television that monitors to see how much you are laughing and changes the channel if it decides you aren’t laughing hard enough. It hopes to engrain in users the idea that if your response to something isn’t recordable, it doesn’t exist, because for Facebook, that is true. Your pleasure is its product, what it wants to sell to marketers, so if you don’t evince it, you are a worthless user wasting Facebook’s server space. In the world according to Facebook, emotional interiority doesn’t exist. Introspection doesn’t exist, and neither does ambivalence. There is only ostentatious enthusiasm or null dormancy.

It’s worth your brain’s time to go read the entire piece, but the above paragraph is the penultimate one that makes the clearest comparison that non-techies can understand in the middle of talk about algorithms and organic searches.

Facebook’s main problem, in my opinion, is that the company (from the releases to date at least) doesn’t put stock in the power of its many users. Certainly, with a billion or so people using the service that seems like a fantastical idea. However, we continue to see growth in companies like Twitter and Google that, while relying on algorithms themselves, do much more than Facebook to maintain some transparency in their dealings and actively work to include the voice of users beyond what they might want to receive in the form of marketing messages.

When it runs out of its hydrogen and helium, Facebook will inevitably implode because of its own gravity into a black hole that will suck in all of the web or into a cooling dwarf star that is but a shadow of its former self (or a very cool quasar but that’s probably not going to happen). I’m betting on the dwarf star. We’ll look back on this period of the web and wonder what sucked us all in to its gravitational pull and why we fell for it. Books will be written about the cognitive surplus that web users enjoy post-Facebook while relying on services that will still be shining bright like Twitter.

In the meantime, let’s demand more than to be treated like a captive audience from the services we use.

Facebook Kills EdgeRank

From The Next Web:

One of the key pieces of technology Facebook relied on in the past to aid in content discovery was EdgeRank. It was revealed that this form of technology is no longer in use. The company utilized this algorithm that looked at a post’s affinity, weight, and time decay to help determine what post should be at the top of the News Feed for an individual user.

Facebook’s new search algorithm details are definitely interesting. However, the apparent death (in name and brand at least) of the EdgeRank name is completely fascinating to me.

Given Twitter’s recent announcements regarding its (monumental) shift in the approach to search, Facebook had to do something. I just don’t see an algorithm tweak to surfacing user posts as enough.

How Many Clicks Does it Take?

Worth your 2.5 mins for pondering how your click path is best resulting in conversions…

via Forward3D: Are Men Out-Shopping Women Online? – YouTube.

Brands vs retailers aside, this type of data (not sourced but evidently part of an internal study by the presenter) is particularly important for thinking about how your average or median site visitor goes from landing on your site to making a decision.

What type of analytics and tracking are you using to track that route? If you’re looking at only the number of page views, you’re missing out on very valuable data. Do yourself a favor and connect your site to at least Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and start learning from what your visitors are trying to tell you.

YouTube Introducing Live Streaming For Channels with 100+ Subscribers

One channel that’s particularly valuable for many marketers, particularly in the affiliate industry, is live video (for webinars, etc), so this is great news:

YouTube Creator Blog: Investing in you: more tools to build your channels: “Start live streaming if you have 100+ subscribers: All channels in good standing with at least a hundred subscribers will be able to live stream, within the next few weeks. Check your Account Features page for an ‘Enable’ button, and click it if you’re interested.”

Email Marketing Doing Well On Mobile

2013 is the year of the mobile device:

Mobile Takes an Increasing Share of Email Opens – eMarketer: “In May 2013, research from marketing solutions provider Harland Clarke Digital found that consumers primarily in the US used the desktop to open 55.2% of business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing emails. The smartphone took one-quarter of email opens. And when adding in the tablet, mobile’s share of exclusive email opens rose to nearly one-third.”

Email marketing is still an indispensable tool for many businesses and is something you should integrate into your campaigns early.

Facebook Video Ads Coming This Fall?

Very cool:

Facebook’s Video Ads Now Likely Delayed Until Fall | Digital – Advertising Age: “Based on how they were being positioned for the summer launch, video ads will appear to targeted users in their news feeds up to three times on the day they’re slotted and will begin silently playing when a user scrolls over them, according to source who heard Facebook’s pitch.
Audio won’t be activated unless a user clicks on the 15-second ad, at which point it will restart and spread over the right- and left-hand rails of the page. Users can then scroll horizontally in the expanded interface and play up to two additional videos, which could be useful for storytelling for some advertisers.”

Instagram’s (which is owned by Facebook) video feature has done very well for businesses and there’s been lots of talk about video/photo ads coming to Facebook’s Instagram, so it’s only logical that Facebook roll out a (much bigger) advertising feature on its own turf.

What Did We Do Before YouTube?

My dad always says “you can learn anything on YouTube.”

As a “real” book lover, I’ve always had something of a mental block about using YouTube to solve a problem for some reason. Probably due to the same neurons that prevent me from being able to ask for directions (again, much easier problem to solve in the age of portable computing, LTE connections, and mobile phones).

Nevertheless, I’ve given some of my stubbornness away. Just in the last 24 hours, I’ve used YouTube to learn how to fix a leaky shower faucet, root my Android phone, install an early copy of a mobile software update that’s not been released yet, how to best grow tomatoes in South Carolina, update a few codecs on my non-smart TV, get a lightbulb with a broken bulb out of a socket, and adjust the brightness controls on a laptop that has a new Ubuntu install.

It’s one thing to use Google as a search engine to find info or directions on replacing a lawn mower blade or installing a -curl command on a server or changing a cloth diaper, but it’s a whole different experience in using YouTube for education and instruction purposes.

Brave new world we live in.

Make more videos.

What Social Networks Drive The Most Sales?

Interesting…

Social Media Drives In-Store Buying Nearly As Much as Online Buying – HootSuite Social Media Management: “Interviews with close to 6,000 social media users found that Facebook is the social network that drives the most users to purchase. Contrary to popular belief, the data also indicated that social media drives in-store buying at an equal rate as online buying.”

This kind of data is great because many local businesses don’t realize that social media can drive local sales as well as online sales. Many businesses who don’t rely on online sales are reluctant to test social media campaigns for their own efforts because what frequently exists is the belief that full-on social media campaigns (as opposed to social media presences) are only for businesses who make most of their profits on the internet.

Social media is an invaluable resource that you should either be using already or testing extensively to see what it can do for your business.

(And if you need help, we’re always happy to help.)