social media marketing

Talking about AB testing tools to the readers of this blog may be like preaching to the choir. But if you are new to this blog, or new to conversion optimization in general, you may be wondering which AB testing tools you can start using without making a huge investment. Fortunately, there are some AB testing tools out there that are either free or won’t cost you any additional money because you already have them – you just don’t know it yet.
In this post, we’re going to look at AB testing tools that you may have had all along and how to use them to optimize different aspects of your marketing strategy for conversions.

Website AB Testing Tools

Since most people will want to do AB testing on their website, we’ll start with the tools you can use here. Did you know that if you have fewer than 50,000 unique visitors per month, you can use tools like Optimizely for simple AB testing for free? It’s a really simple tool to use. You just sign up for your free account and start up a website project.

Create a project with Optimizely for free when you have fewer than 50,000 visitors a month

Create a project with Optimizely for free when you have fewer than 50,000 visitors a month


Once you’ve entered your URL, you will be taken to a screen where you can immediately start creating a variation to test on your website.
Create a variation for your AB test

Create a variation for your AB test


Once you’ve created your variation, you click the Start Experiment button and get the code you need to add to your site.
Start your Optimizely experiment

Start your Optimizely experiment


You will set up a goal so you know which variation leads to the most conversions.
Create a goal for your AB testing experiment

Create a goal for your AB testing experiment


And then sit back and wait for visitors to come to your website to determine which variation gets the most conversions!
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to test on your landing page, you can try the common elements – headlines, subheads, images, calls to action, etc. – as well as some creative options listed in our landing page testing ideas post.
If you have more than 50,000 visitors each month, or would prefer to not add another tool to your toolkit, you can also look into Google Analytics Content Experiments. This allows you to conduct testing with your Google Analytics.
To start, you go to Behavior > Experiments for your website and click the Create Experiment button. Then you define the experiment you want to perform, starting with the goal of your test. You will use your Google Analytics goals to ultimately determine which variation of your AB test is the winner.
Create an experiment in Google Analytics

Create an experiment in Google Analytics


The key difference between Google Content Experiments and your average AB testing tool is that you have to create an additional page on your website that has the variation, whereas most AB testing tools (like Optimizely) will let you “edit” your page in their editor. So depending on what you want to change, it may be an easy or difficult process to create that second page.
Setting up variants in Google Analytics may require more steps than using a traditional AB testing tool like Optimizely.

Setting up variants in Google Analytics may require more steps than using a traditional AB testing tool like Optimizely.


Next, you will receive the code you need to insert on your website to start your experiment.
You code for your AB test in Google Analytics

You code for your AB test in Google Analytics


Finally, you will confirm that the code has been installed and you will start your experiment. Once your experiment is completed, Google Analytics will declare a definitive winner.

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Website

An alternative to doing AB testing on your own website is to monitor the tests of others. There’s a free way to do it and a paid way. First, you can try to find your competitor’s website history in the Internet Archives. The downside to the free is that you’ll have a lot of clicking to do.

The Internet Archive brings you the tool Wayback Machine which lets you see how a website appeared on a particular date.

The Internet Archive brings you the tool Wayback Machine which lets you see how a website appeared on a particular date.


The other option I mentioned in my landing page testing ideas post, Rival IQ, allows you to see your competitor’s website history in a much easier to digest format.
RivalIQ is a paid tool for viewing website histories.

RivalIQ is a paid tool for viewing website histories.


There’s a good chance that if you look through your competitors designs over the last couple of years, you’ll see subtle changes to headlines, images, colors, etc. that will relate to some AB testing. So instead of testing on your own, you can learn from their tests and pave your own unique way from there.

Email Marketing AB Testing

If you are running email marketing campaigns, chances are you are using a popular email marketing software platform that likely has an AB testing component built in. MailChimp, for example, allows you to select an AB testing campaign and then allows you to test four aspects of your email campaign: the subject line (highly recommended), the from name, the content, and the send time.

AB testing options in MailChimp

AB testing options in MailChimp


You can choose a certain percentage of your recipients to test with and you can choose click rate, open rate, revenue, or other goals to judge the results of your testing. For example, if you chose to test subject lines, you would simply enter two subject lines for your recipients instead of one.
AB testing email subject lines in MailChimp

AB testing email subject lines in MailChimp


Or, if you were going to test two different types of newsletter content (such as a text-only email versus an HTML newsletter), you would get two email templates to send to your recipients.
AB test your email content

AB test your email content


Most email marketing software offers AB testing. At the bare minimum, you can at least test your subject lines. Some go further with the from name testing, email content testing, send time testing, and other forms of AB testing.
But considering that your subject line is the make or break point of whether someone opens your emails, it’s safe to say that so long as you have the option of testing that, you are good!

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Email

There is a simple and free way to monitor your competition’s email and potentially see what headlines are working for them – just sign up for their emails. And be sure to at least open them. If you just ignore them, some will automate you out of their main line of emails. And that might mean you’ll miss out on some good subject lines!
Bonus tip: if your competition is using email marketing software like Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, or others that allow automations, you should open the emails and click on the links on occasion. You may get to see one of their automation funnels in action too!

Blog Content AB Testing

Similar to email AB testing, blog content performance can rely heavily on one specific element: the title. If you choose a great blog title, people will click through and read your post from your blog’s homepage, search engines, social networks, and other sources. If you choose a bad blog title, then you may not get an clicks or readers at all.
That’s why AB testing your blog post titles can be a crucial key to the success of your content marketing strategy. If you have WordPress, Nelio A/B Testing is a tool you can use to do just that.
While it’s not free, it starts at $29 a month for websites with 5,000 views per month. And it will allow you to test crucial elements of your blog, beyond just the headlines of your blog posts.

You can use Nelio A/B Testing to test WordPress blog content

You can use Nelio A/B Testing to test WordPress blog content


For serious publishers, WordPress website owners, and WooCommerce website site owners, this can be a powerful AB testing tool that can help you test a variety of things that other testing tools simply can’t.

Alternatives to AB Testing Your Own Blog Headlines

Going back specifically to blog headlines, if you don’t want to test your own, there are ways of finding out the best headlines for a specific topic. The free way would be to use BuzzSumo – even without an account, you can usually get the top five to ten headlines about a specific topic based on social sharing.

Find the top headlines for a topic using BuzzSumo

Find the top headlines for a topic using BuzzSumo


If you don’t mind paying, a similarly priced tool that offers even more information that you can try or compare to BuzzSumo is Impactana. Both start at $99 per month, but Impactana goes a step further by allowing you to see headlines that are not popular based on social shares alone, but also based on views, backlinks, comments, and other metrics (based on the type of content).
Impactana uses more metrics than BuzzSumo to show you the top headlines for topics

Impactana uses more metrics than BuzzSumo to show you the top headlines for topics


This can give you a strong idea of what headlines and content generate the most social buzz, search authority, traffic, and audience engagement.
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Social Media Ad Campaign AB Testing

While social media advertising is not free, AB testing for some social media ad platforms is because it’s built right in. Take Facebook, for example. You can create an Ad Campaign, an Ad Set that is targeted to a specific audience through specific placements, and multiple Ads under that set that help you test variations so you can determine which one drives the most conversions.
Here’s how the process looks in the standard Facebook Ads Manager. First, you will start by choosing your ad objective.

Choosing your ad objective in Facebook

Choosing your ad objective in Facebook


Then you will name your Ad Campaign.
Naming your Facebook ad campaign

Naming your Facebook ad campaign


Next, you will define your Ad Set by choosing your target audience, ad placements (the desktop news feed, the mobile news feed, Instagram, etc.), and setting your budget.
Defining your Facebook Ad Set

Defining your Facebook Ad Set


Before you continue, you can save the name of your Ad Set.
Your budget and schedule for your Facebook ad

Your budget and schedule for your Facebook ad


Finally, you will configure your first Ad.
Configuring your Facebook ad

Configuring your Facebook ad


Once you’re finished with your first ad creative, you will place your order. Once you do, that ad will go into review and you will get the option to create a similar ad.
After finishing your order for your Facebook ad, you're ready to get set-up for your variation

After finishing your order for your Facebook ad, you’re ready to get set-up for your variation


This will allow you to create another Ad under the same Ad Campaign and Ad Set. You will get the option to modify the Ad Set if needed.
Modifying your Facebook ad set

Modifying your Facebook ad set


Otherwise, you can click Continue to create your next Ad variation. This will bring up the same Ad you created before so you can create your variation by changing one specific element, such as the image, originating page, the headline, the text, the call to action, the news feed description, or the display link.
Change the element you want to test in your Facebook ad AB test

Change the element you want to test in your Facebook ad AB test


Once you have made your variation and placed your order, you will again get the option to create a similar ad or to continue to your Ads Manager. You can also decide to add more variations from the Ads Manager by clicking on the Create Similar Ad button.
You can add more variations by clicking Create Similar Ad

You can add more variations by clicking Create Similar Ad


The downside, as you can see above, is that you can’t name the individual ad variations. Therefore, unless you’ve changed the images between them, they all look the same in the Ad Manager view. Hence, to know which variation in terms of originating page, the headline, the text, the call to action, the news feed description, or the display link is working, you will have to click through to the winning variation and view the post to learn from it.
It's easy to toggle off an ad if it's not working out

It’s easy to toggle off an ad if it’s not working out


The upside, however, is you can easily toggle off the losing variation of your ad based on its performance.
But overall, this is a great way to use AB testing in your Facebook Ad Campaigns. And it’s the simplest way as it doesn’t require you to use Power Editor, although if you are more comfortable in Power Editor, it can be done there as well.
If you use LinkedIn Ads, they also offer an option for creating variations with their text and image ads. Fortunately, their variations editor is even simpler. Start by going to LinkedIn Ads Manager, select your LinkedIn advertising account, create a new Campaign, and then select Text Ads.
How to begin a LinkedIn ad campaign

How to begin a LinkedIn ad campaign


Start by giving your campaign a name.
Name your LinkedIn ad campaign

Name your LinkedIn ad campaign


Next, you will create your first ad.
Creating your first ad

Creating your first ad


When you save your first ad, you will get the option to continue or create up to 100 variations of your ad.
After you create your ad, LinkedIn makes it easy to create your variations

After you create your ad, LinkedIn makes it easy to create your variations


When you click to create another ad, you will be able to create an entirely new ad from scratch to test different URLs, headlines, descriptions, and images.
Building your LinkedIn ad variations

Building your LinkedIn ad variations


Once you are finished creating your variations, you will continue through the campaign creation process to select your target ad audience and set your ad campaign budget.
Select your targeted audience and your budget

Select your targeted audience and your budget


Once you have finished creating your campaign, you will get a clear view in your ads dashboard of how each of your ad variations are performing. This will allow you to learn what works and what doesn’t quickly, as well as allow you to toggle the losing variations off.
Your dashboard will tell you how your ad variations are performing

Your dashboard will tell you how your ad variations are performing


Alternatives to Doing Your Own Social Media Ad AB Testing
There are two free alternatives when researching paid advertisements. The first is Moat. Moat allows you to look at other companies display banner ads. While this isn’t specific to social media ads, it can help you learn about the images and ad copy that big brands use to drive paid traffic to their websites.
Use Moat to discover what your competitors are doing with their ad testing

Use Moat to discover what your competitors are doing with their ad testing


If you notice particular imagery, copy, calls to action, button colors, or other elements have been used over and over again, you can assume that said elements have been doing well, considering you can almost guarantee big brands are testing the elements that they are paying for.
The second resource you can tap into that is specific to Facebook is the AdSpresso Facebook Ads Gallery. Simply sign up for their newsletter and start searching for brands that advertise on Facebook. Not only will you get to see the variations of ads they have used over time, but you can click on their ads to get some pretty good details about the ads.
AdSpresso shares a lot of valuable information about Facebook ads

AdSpresso shares a lot of valuable information about Facebook ads


Between these two resources, you should learn a lot about how to create a successful ad campaign on social media and beyond. And they’re both better options than sitting around and refreshing your Facebook or LinkedIn news feed, hoping to see some ads from your competitors.

In Conclusion

As you can see, between free and premium tools, there are various ways to A/B test many aspects of your online marketing beyond just your landing pages. Be sure to look at the different aspects of your online marketing strategy and think about the ways you should be testing it to improve your results today!

About the Author

Kristi HinesKristi Hines Headshot is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast. You can follow her latest tweets about business and marketing @kikolani or posts on Facebook @kristihinespage to stay informed.
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It can often seem that conversion optimization conflicts with brand and image marketing. In some cases, this is true. A recent infographic from the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master in Business Administration program (NJIT) got us to thinking about the importance of branding to any conversion optimization effort.

How a Conversion Scientist Thinks of Brand-Building

For the purposes of conversion optimization, brand is critically important. If we’re talking about a landing page, a website, an email or an ad, brand can communicate some important information in the blink of an eye.
[pullquote]For us, brand is a container for trust, credibility and authority.[/pullquote] Brand marketers will tell you to put the company logo and tag line on every communication. A Conversion Scientist uses brand symbols primarily to communicate authority and credibility.
A brand symbol is a hook on which brand experiences are hung. Conversion Sciences has benefited from its brand symbol — the lab coat — and we work diligently to hang positive brand experiences on this symbol when we write, teach, and speak. We give lab coats to our clients so they can associate our business-changing results with this important brand symbol.
Companies who have invested in brand recognition over decades and have protected their brand symbols have a significant advantage over less-known brands. These brand symbols communicate a complex set of impressions quickly.
From a budgeting standpoint, building brand is very expensive. It requires paying for millions of impressions with little expectation of short-term increases of revenue. It also takes time.
We believe that conversion optimization is a brand-building activity. Conversion-based brand building works on the assumption that there is no better brand experience than finding what you are looking for. As you improve the conversion rate and revenue per visit of your website, you are, by definition, giving your visitors better experiences. These experiences are associated with your brand symbols and build brand quickly and powerfully.

Brand Building in Digital Environments

Because conversion optimization relies on data, and since digital environments are data-rich, these digital environments are ideal for conversion-based brand building. Your investment in optimizing online properties is an investment in brand.
The infographic acknowledges that there are three moments in the buying process when companies come into contact with new and existing clients.

There are potential touchpoints with new and existing clients before, during, and after a purchase.

There are potential touchpoints with new and existing clients before, during, and after a purchase.


Each of these can be optimized to increase conversions and sales.

        

  1. Before purchase, using proper navigation, search and “affordances” to guide the visitor to their desired outcome.
  2.     

  3. During purchase ensuring that completing the transaction is intuitive and surprise-free.
  4.     

  5. After purchase optimization influences up-sells, repeat purchases, and enables sharing.

Be Careful with Consistency

The infographic tells us that “Consumers Expect Consistency” across channels and devices. This is a lie.

90 percent of customers expect their experience with a brand to be the same across every marketing channel

90% of customers expect their experience with a brand to be the same across every marketing channel


Consumers expect consistent quality of experiences and consistent use of brand symbols. However, our testing shows that they want very different experiences when they are in different contexts. Desktop visitors want a more intense experience with more choice and deeper information. Smartphone visitors want immediate access to solutions.
Quality experiences across devices become a consistent builder of brand value.

Optimizing Touchpoints

There are different kinds of people coming to each of your touchpoints. They are often the same person coming in different modes.
Search Engine Watch tells us that certain types of searches are more common on Bing than on Google – finance and automotive for instance. You probably already know that mobile iOS users behave differently than Android ones, but have you made the connection about how their searches differ?
Ninety-seven percent of Millennials touch at least two devices every 24 hours, and many of them interact with even more devices.

Millenials are multi-device creatures.

Millenials are multi-device creatures.


That’s a lot of opportunity for touchpoints just from search.
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Social media platforms prime visitors in different ways meaning online experiences must be tailored to each. For example, Instagram is poised to be a better organic marketing option than Facebook for many companies.
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 9.58.22 PM
Customers expect to find you on all of the major social media platforms, but how much effort should you use in maintaining your presence? Our answer is to be only on those platforms for which you have the resources to optimize the experience. The default social experience may negatively impact your brand.
Each platform has a distinct purpose that should dictate how much time and money you must invest in it. Your most important task when you invest in new digital marketing is to go back to the original concept of branding, no matter how complicated contemporary marketing may seem. Your new and existing customers will know what to expect from you based on past experience, and today’s experience is tomorrow’s past experience.
Thanks to NJIT’s MBA program for sharing.
NJIT-MBA-Branding-Across-the-New-Digital-Environments-Infographic
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Feature image by Hanna_Elise via Compfight cc and adapted for this post.

You can find the most inane demographic information about Facebook users, the amount of time they waste on the site, how many of them are grandmothers, where to find a browser extension that will make all of those pictures of your friends’ kids turn into pictures of cats, and lots of other quasi-useful information that make for great click-bait.
Millions of people visit Facebook every single day without fail, and many of them are money-spending Millennials. Conventional wisdom says that, if you run a business, you probably should be on Facebook because that’s where the customers are.
Facebook has become an object beyond criticism. Or has it?
There’s also a lot of other data out there about how Facebook isn’t doing all that much for businesses. If you consider all of the time needed to build a following and curating content, it becomes too expensive to reach your Facebook members. There are alternatives, apparently.
An infographic from selfstartr makes the argument that Instagram is where you should be placing your bets on organic marketing instead of expending all your effort with Facebook. When a business posts on social media and doesn’t pay for it, that’s what we mean by organic marketing.

Facebook Organic Marketing is Dead or Dying

According to an article on Clickz, even people who defend marketing on Facebook aren’t saying organic marketing on social media helps increase conversion rates because “Most organic social media posts aren’t directly selling, because selling is rarely interesting enough to drive engagements.” This article lumps all social media sites together, including both Facebook and Instagram, but treating them the same way ignores a lot of data.

People actually really like interacting with brands on Instagram

People actually really like interacting with brands on Instagram.


Instagrammers engage at a much higher rate than Facebookers. Not only that, there’s a very strong chance that your followers aren’t even seeing what you post on Facebook since only 6% of your followers see each one.
Facebook's algorithm for what shows up in newsfeeds means that no matter how far someone scrolls, they may never see what you posted.

Facebook’s algorithm for the newsfeed means that no matter how far someone scrolls, they may never see what you posted.


Companies using Instagram have the potential to reach 100% of their followers. If your customers scroll far enough down on their feed, they’ll see what you shared. Keep in mind that when we say that engagement with brands is lower on Facebook, it’s not necessarily because people don’t see posts from brands. Millions of companies are creating content on both social media sites, but a much smaller group of people bother interacting with brands on Facebook.
Interactions on Instagram are more passive than on Facebook. Instagram has more barriers to content going viral, and you can’t see whether seven of your friends have double-tapped the same image (on Facebook, your newsfeed tells you what your friends Like). In other words, interacting with brands on Instagram isn’t as visibly social as it is on Facebook. Turns out, this model isn’t bad for business.
Engaged users are worth more on Instagram.

Engaged users are worth more on Instagram.


To sum up: Instagram users engage at higher rates and spend more money than their Facebook counterparts. How much time are you putting into creating content for your Facebook followers when only a handful of them see it and even fewer care?
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There’s Still Time to Be An Early Adopter

How many of your competitors are on Instagram? The market on Facebook is pretty saturated, so your eCommerce company is probably one of many. That might not be the case on Instagram.

What's keeping you from using Instagram?

What’s keeping you from using Instagram?


Don’t dismiss Instagram because whatever you’re selling doesn’t photograph well. Kissmetrics makes a pretty persuasive argument that it doesn’t matter: you can find a creative way to get around that problem. It also addresses some other misunderstandings that might be keeping you from creating a business account.

Is Instagram the Way to Millennials’ Hearts?

Facebook began with exclusivity. Only students at certain colleges could join, and no one else was welcome. No parents, certainly no grandparents, and absolutely no businesses. People caught marketing their business ventures weren’t welcome and would be immediately reported.
If that’s Facebook’s origin story, maybe it’s not surprising that people react with derision when it feels like their newsfeed is bloated with paid and unpaid ads. It’s inauthentic when someone tries to sell you something in a setting that’s supposed to be just your friends. Facebook’s original model didn’t have a place for that kind of interaction.
Instagram, however, was born into a world where businesses were already an integral part of social media. By the time Instagram launched in 2010, Facebook was already trying to be an everything-to-everyone social media site. Instagram’s focus was more narrow. Just photos.
Facebook is so broad that you can post your Instagram photos to Facebook. People use Facebook as a catch-all, so when they need something more focused, they go elsewhere.
People tend to use Instagram to follow interests instead of friends. They can see what their friends are doing on Facebook. Remember that you can potentially reach 100% of your followers on Instagram since it’s just chronological instead of using an algorithm. That doesn’t work well when you’re trying to keep up with other people’s lives, especially if they don’t post often.
Keeping up with an interest is easier because someone can follow lots of similar users. That’s a real advantage for businesses because data exists on the best times to post. It’s more acceptable to re-post similar images because followers may not see both and get annoyed.
Instagram is fertile ground for attracting Millennial consumers. This generation loves transparency, engaging with people and organizations with similar interests, and creative marketing. This group is huge. More than half of US adults age 18-29 are already on Instagram.
My takeaway from this study is that people think Facebook is kind of a drag. It’s necessary, but not all that fun. Two thirds of users engage with brands on Instagram compared to less than a third of the users on Facebook. Stats like that make me think about the quality of engagement on Facebook versus Instagram.
There are countless articles about customer service and customer complaints on social media, but it’s tough to find any information about using Instagram as a platform for complaints. Maybe Instagram will bring you higher-valued conversions and make social media enjoyable again.
Why-Brands-Should-Embrace-Instagram-Instead-of-Facebook-INFOGRAPHIC-by-selfstartr
Thanks to selfstartr for sharing.
 
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How does one build traffic to a blog? That’s easy. One writes. One posts. One shares.
Unfortunately, not all posts are created equal. Not all topics interest the same number of readers. And not all keyword phrases get the attention of the great granter of traffic, Google.
Having blogged since 2005 on marketing topics, from email to conversion optimization. Every post has it’s own signature when I look at it in Google Analytics. There are Eagles, Icebergs, Burps and more.
I thought I would share them with you.

How We Look at Traffic

Our subscriber list gets an email each week of with new posts. We publish new posts three times per week. We put new posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, and will generally share with on Twitter multiple times over the course of a week or two. Our most active posts will get reposted on LinkedIn.
We count on this initial outreach to drive relevant backlinks for search engine optimization. I use Referral Traffic as a proxy for backlinks. While backlinks aren’t about generating referral traffic, there is a correlation between the amount referral traffic and the number of backlinks a post has.
So, when evaluating the performance of our blog posts, I’m examining:

  1. Email traffic
  2. Social traffic
  3. Referral traffic (for backlinks)
  4. Organic traffic

With these segments, I look at the Google Analytics Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report for individual posts that rank high in traffic generated, and go back more than a year.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

Separating Social Referrals from Referral Traffic in Google Analytics

First of all, Google Analytics seems to include social referrals in it’s “Referral Traffic” filter. I want to look at social separately, so I created a filter based on the social networks that send traffic to us.
^t\.co|facebook\.com|twitter|pinterest|disqus|linkedin|
lnkd\.in|quora|plus.*\.google\.com|digg|netvibes|
scoop\.it|slideshare|instapaper|
meetup\.com|paper\.li|stumbleupon

The difference between Referral and non-social Referral Traffic-Graph-Arrows

This article shows that Google’s “Referral Traffic” advanced segment includes social referrals.

The Kinds of Posts You Find in Analytics

Every post is unique. Each has its own signature in analytics. However, there are some common themes I’ve seen in the data and I’m going to share them with you here.

The Burp

The Burp is a post that gets all of it’s juice from email and social media. There is a spike of activity followed by near “silence,” if you can say visits make a sound.
These are topics that may have been interesting to people when shoved into their inbox or social media timeline, but didn’t grab the attention of the search engines.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.


Burps can be blamed on poor search optimization, poor choice of keywords or just boring content. The post shown above had a nice email spike and got some referral traffic. But the referrals didn’t seed organic visitors like some. See below.

The Burp and Fizz

A variation of the Burp is the “Burp and Fizz.” This traffic pattern burps when email and social sharing are being done. Then it sizzles with search traffic – just a little – over time.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.


Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.

Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.


These may be long-tail topics, or the small amount of search traffic may be driven by less-relevant backlinks.

The Iceberg

Like its frozen namesake, the iceberg is massive and floats through your analytics, slowly melting over time. In our case, the iceberg has been one our most visited post since it was published in March of 2011. It has generated a large volume of search traffic, decreasing slowly.
Icebergs can be misleading. In our case, email is not how potential prospects find us, so traffic to this post is largely poor quality from a lead generation standpoint. As more visitors come to this post, our conversion rates drop.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.


We can see the influence of key backlinks here in driving search relevance. A new resurgence in traffic came after a swelling of referral traffic. A little investigation showed that the post was featured in January of 2014 on the Crazy Egg Blog.

Beach Ball at a Concert

Sometimes a post just won’t fly without frequent support. Here’s a topic – Generating Mobile Phone Calls from the Web – that looked like it was going to iceberg on us (see below). However, every couple of months we did a presentation on the topic of mobile and generating phone calls from the web.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.


Each presentation included being mentioned in blog posts and online show marketing. So, we got new life from each, like popping a beach ball back into the air at a concert.

The Celebrity Curve

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.


I did one of my live Instagraph while Rand Fishkin was presenting at Business of Software 2014. Rand is well known in our industry as the founder of MOZ and it’s various products.
Our email list gravitated to his name, which you can see in the orange line below. His our social channels responded with less enthusiasm. However, we were on the search engines’ radars for his name, at least until his next thing became more relevant.
Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.

Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.


Celebrity is a fickle master, even when creating content.
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The Eagle

These are the posts you write for. You seed them with some email and social media attention, and then they spread their wings, riding the winds of the search engines. [pullquote]The Eagles are the posts that your blog is built on.[/pullquote]

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.


Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.

Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.


It’s hard to tell what causes Eagles to soar. Some enjoy early social traffic. Others get early referral traffic. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to jump starting an Eagle post. However, most of our Eagle posts are not on conversion-related keywords, but focus on Adwords, Facebook, Live Chat, and Exit-intent Popovers to name a few.

The Blue Bird

It’s unclear how a blue bird post gets started. There’s little support in the way of email, social or backlinks. Yet, it nonetheless finds an updraft and takes flight.
 

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.


A blue bird is just a gift of the search engines.

Dodo Bird

This form of post takes a while to get off the ground, but soon evolves into a workhorse.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.


For some reason this post didn’t take off for months, and it’s unclear what got it going some seven months after it was published. Who are we to argue. This looked like a classic Burp Fizz post for most if that time.

Identifying Blog Posts that Drive Organic Traffic

The signatures you use to grade your blog posts may vary from ours, though this approach has proven to be very effective for the business.
You need to take a long-term approach to content. It’s never obvious when a Burp Fizz is going to turn into a Dodo Bird.
When you understand what makes Eagles, Blue Birds and even Dodos soar; when you understand the impact of icebergs on your reports; when you can see the impact of celebrities on your traffic, then you can select the right mix of content to grow your site.
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Should I waste my time on Facebook advertising or throw all my eggs into the blogging basket this year? What social media marketing trends do I need to integrate into my marketing?

The 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report holds results from over 2,800+ marketers. These experts share their experience with new and rising trends in social media marketing. The following infographic will answer marketers questions concerning where to focus their efforts in social media marketing this year.

Some relevant takeaways from the following infographic and Social Media Examiner article:

  • Over half of the marketers (58%) surveyed chose original written content as their most important form of social media content.
  • 68% of marketers plan to increase their future use of blogging.
  • Only 6% of marketers podcast, with 28% wanting to learn more about it.
  • 68% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more a week.

Enjoy and share!

social media examiner marketing trends infographic

Social media marketing trends for 2014 from Social Media Examiner.

Looking to gain more from your library of original content? Breath new life into your webinars and start generating leads today.

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This is a guest post by Ivan Serrano.
The phrase “too long; didn’t read” has entered the lexicon of internet users worldwide, highlighting the importance of keeping things brief, so that’s what we’ll do here.
[pullquote]Now more than ever, a quality video can often do a better job at getting clicks to your site and getting sales than any other form of marketing.[/pullquote] The reasoning is simple: people are less likely to be distracted while watching and listening to a video, compared to text, where there’s no need to pause for fear of missing something, one can just tab over to respond to a message and never tab back.
If you want to keep a customer’s attention and turn idle curiosity into hard sales, social video is the platform to use to get it done. Whether you brave the masses of YouTube or take this advice to the extreme and market your business through Vine, get acquainted with the major social video channels with our graphic below by 1800numbernow.com.

About the Author

Ivan Serrano, a journalist and business enthusiast, enjoys sharing his knowledge within the business communities through his writing. In addition to covering social media marketing, he also likes to discuss globalization, business communications, and developing technology.

When the Arizona PBS station asked Lon Safko to do a first-of-its-kind special on social media, they didn’t know what they were getting in to. Lon knew that this was going to be a throw-down between social media vs. traditional media, measured in donation dollars.
Believe it or not, KAET AZPBS does not do an online version of their specials during their key fundraising times.
We are changing that.
This is the first airing of a television program on the entire spectrum of social media. It will introduce the audience and businesses to the full potential of social media, from Twitter to Second Life. Lon addresses issues such as privacy, using social media as a meeting tool, and finding work using social networks.
We are pleased to work with some very innovative folks at AZPBS, but they are steeped in “the way things are done around here” syndrome. However, they have agreed to work with us to measure the effect of an aggressive social media program. I’ve joined Lon to see if social media can out-raise their on-air spots in a very real and measurable way and I can’t wait to see the data.
If we are able to demonstrate the donation-raising power of social media, more of these excellent programs will be available online. Furthermore, a successful program will get national coverage in June. If you help out, we can change hearts and minds across the nation.
This is where you come in.

Where You Can View this Special

Social Media and You 3D Viewers Guide Cover-Thumb
Download the Free Viewer’s Guide
To View Online
– You can view a pre-cast of the AZPBS special on Facebook. You can watch it in its entirety.
To View on Live TV (Arizona Residents only) – The on-air broadcast will be at 10:30pm MST.
 

Ways to Show your Support

The title of the AZPBS special is Social Media and You: Communicating in a Digital World. It will air online first and then be broadcast through Arizona TV stations later in the evening. Now is your chance to send a very real message to television stations everywhere. Vote for social media by donating online.
You can donate and show your support the following way:

        

  1. Watch the special online at www.22s.com/LonSafko starting March 6 starting at 10:00pm EST. You can sign up for a reminder on this page now.
  2.     

  3. If you support public broadcasting, donate through the link on the page.
  4.     

  5. Spread the word.

Once you have viewed the special and donated to support local broadcasting, make sure to share this information with your friends, family, business associates, and anyone else you can think of. Note: you can donate at any time, even now.
Your donations will go to KAET AZPBS, home of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Is there a more appropriate place to start a revolution?

Will you join in the Throw-down?

Be sure to get your reminder and watch the program. Donate if you support public broadcasting, and let’s make some history together.
Here’s a sneak peak of Lon talking about mobile marketing.

Special thanks to our media pioneers: 22Social, Andrea Vahl, Phyllis Khare, Jamie Turner, Brian Massey and of course, Lon Safko.

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This is a guest post by Simon Campbell
Social media sites can be used in a wide variety of ways in many different industries. Though for most businesses, a site like Facebook is typically used to promote products and services rather than to sell them. With a few key tweaks, however, you can change that and actually use the social networking giant as a direct sales page for your products.
You can sell directly on Facebook? Yes! Some market analysts even think that Facebook will eventually spawn a whole new category of online e-commerce, called F-commerce.
Melding your social media advertising with your selling and creating one centralized hub might just be a great way for your small business to cut costs and increase productivity. Follow these five simple Facebook marketing steps to help you sell products.

Selling Products with Your Facebook Page

1: Building a Store Page
Creating a Facebook page (rather than a simple profile) is the first step in this process. Take advantage of the customizable tabs and other options on Facebook to fill in your company information, your mission statement, and other essential info about your business.
Use the cover photo of your page to present your brand’s logo and to create a clean, professional-looking environment that seeks to use Facebook for business and not for  personal interactions.
2: Constructing a Landing Page
You  need to create a separate landing page, where you will set up a store experience. Chose a platform that allows you to create custom pages, different categories, an SSL certificate, a responsive, adjustable format, and more. Just search around through different apps and platforms, read real user reviews, and find a store platform/app that’s affordable, feature-rich, and one that can be used to tie your store in with Facebook seamlessly.
3: Finalizing the Store
Once you have a landing page/store created and your Facebook page finalized, you have to bring the two together to create a seamless store experience on Facebook. To do this efficiently, you should use one of the e-commerce widgets on the market today.
Ecwid is a one widget to try out. It’s affordable, provides around 30 separate payment options, and you can sell shipped products, downloadable products, and more. It’s also a responsive widget, meaning that mobile users will go to the same fully functioning store that desktop users go to.
This isn’t your only option, though. Other widgets, including StoreYa, are available and allow you to create multiple product categories, list dozens of products, choose from a variety of templates, and ultimately integrate your store with your Facebook page to create a seamless e-store experience. Your Facebook fans will be able to purchase your products without ever leaving your Facebook page.
4: Marketing Your Products
Now that your store is created and running on your Facebook page, it’s time to implement some Facebook marketing to help you sell your products. Your first step  should be to check out some of the literature available on Facebook marketing tips and tricks. Look into third-party ad-management apps, various ad types, different organic methods, and other marketing staples.
To start out with a bang, however, you may want to try running a promotion right out of the gate. Spread the word around through targeted advertisements that you’re offering a free product or a hefty discount for people who like or purchase through your Facebook page.  You can use a wide range of apps to create games and other promotions, hold photo or slogan contests, and a slew of other promotions that will draw people in.
5: Performing Brand Upkeep
It’s up to you to stay entertaining and engaging as a marketer on Facebook. Make sure you post on a regular schedule, provide interesting material that your audience wants to see, solve problems for your niche, always add incentives, and give people material that they would want to share with their friends.
Paid advertising in the form of Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts are great, but don’t forget basic methods like video reviews of your products, real user feedback, infographics explaining things, and other social-friendly and trending methods that will help keep your brand in a good light.
From creating your Facebook page and store page to promoting your products and working to engage with existing fans while attracting new ones, you have to play to the social context of the network. It’s hard not to come across strictly as an advertiser, so don’t try to be something you’re not. Promote yourself as a business – just make sure to include a personal side that likes to engage with people on Facebook, that cares for and appreciates fans and customers, and that always offer quality products and quality customer service.
Simon Campbell, author
 
 
About the author: Simon Campbell, a writer from a Facebook ad campaign tool – Qwaya. He loves to write different topics about social media and participates in some communities and forums. If you have more social media marketing questions, feel free to ask Simon on Twitter.

They friend you. They fan you. They pin you. We love our social media tribes.
But how often to they customer you? How often do they buy, subscribe, or register?
When you get customered, your business grows, you gain another social influencer, and you get proof that your social media strategy is delivering what your social network wants.
Getting customered is an important part of the social media life cycle, and it’s also one of the trickiest.
I’m going to do a deep dive on getting your business customered at Engage Mexico in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, November 14-17.
You should be there.

The potential in your social networks

Social Media Battery Drawing
Your social networks store potential, like a battery stores voltage.

If you’ve been actively building your social networks, you have stored potential, like a battery has stored voltage. How do you hook up to the juice that turns that potential into leads and revenue.
Tapping this potential requires that you connect your social battery to something of interest to both you and your social denizens.

Use Content for Wires

Ultimately, you discharge your social batteries the same way you charged them. You use relevant content presented in a ways your crowd likes to get it.
Content might be blog post links on Twitter, contests on Facebook, and product pictures on Pinterest. Without the content, no one is going to find their way back. They just stay potential.
Many of us already have content strategies for our social networks, but what gets people to customer us when they visit?

website with wires drawing
Use social media landing pages to get customered

Connect them to your Landing Pages

Here’s where you need to start thinking like your visitors. Once read, great content is quickly dismissed.
What is the next step for me as a visitor and potential customerer of your business?
(Customerer??)
The golden secret is to treat your content pages as social media landing pages.
A landing page is a single minded page designed to do two things:

        

  1. Keep the promise made by the link that was clicked.
  2.     

  3. Get the reader to do something that benefits them and your business.

A Social Media landing page, then, is a single minded page designed to:

        

  1. Deliver the content promised.
  2.     

  3. Get the reader to customer you.

Both pages have content that delivers on a promise and a call to action that entices readers to do something wonderful.
NOTE: If you are building an email list, you get customered when you get subscribered. Think about it: the visitor is paying for content with their contact information.
NOTE 2: “Subscribered” is the last time I will verbify a noun in this article.

Where do Social Media Landing Pages Live?

Social media landing pages live anywhere you are drawing social visitors.
Your blog content pages have the content, but do they have the call to action? Is the call to action where it can be seen?
Add calls to action in or near the content.
Your email signup pages have the call to action, but do they have the content that makes signing up appealing?
Give subscribers a better reason to sign up than “Get on another mailing list.”
Your lead generation pages, offering gated content have the call to action, but do you talk about the content you are offering, or do you talk about our company and your products instead?
Don’t talk about yourself like a socially awkward freak.
Any page to which your friends, fans and followers might come in search of education or entertainment qualified as a social media landing page.

Remember that these are Social Visitors

Product pages on ecommerce sites are another frequent social media landing page. The call to action is invariably there: Add to Cart.
Given that your visitors are coming from a social network, they will be more likely to want to see social content with the product information. You should oblige them.

        

  • Consider star ratings and reviews for your products.
  •     

  • Use social proof. How many others have customered (bought) this product? How many friends, fans and followers do you have?
  •     

  • Don’t invite them to become a friend, fan or follower. They already are. The only choice they should have is to customer you.

It’s one thing to get people to friend, fan, follow, and flatulate. It’s quite another to get them to customer you. Use content to connect your social batteries to social media landing pages and get customered.

Customered Credit Please customer me!

Tweetables

Tired of getting friended, then nothing? Get customered!
Your social networks store potential, like a battery stores voltage.
The golden secret is to treat your content pages as social media landing pages.
Images by Brian Massey

Flipboard-Conversion-Scientist My blog looks awesome on iPads with Flipboard. Watch the video and see how yours can, too.

It was a Saturday. I was painting the walls of one of our bathrooms. The new color really brought out the tile we’d had installed the week before. Otherwise, things were pretty quiet around the house on this day.
But things were different on my blog.
As I painted, a series of machinations were in motion. A post I’d launched that morning which was being broadcast out to my mailing list.
My social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook – were being lit up with links to the content and people were clicking through.
Those spending Saturday morning with their iPads were seeing my post as a story in their electronic magazines using Flipboard and Zite.
All of this was happening without my participation. I was painting the bathroom.

Eruptions Happen Naturally

My content literally ERUPTS onto the web. I don’t have to push it. I don’t have to post and share.
How is this?
Content is a force on the Web. It wants to be shared. It needs to be set free.
All you have to do is give it a channel through which it can relieve the natural pressure.
Blogs are equipped with RSS feeds that make natural vents and fissures for your content.
It’s time you started letting your content free (while you do other things).

Free Video Preview Explains the Basics

Watch a short video (8 minutes) that I’ve put together for you. It’ll tell you why content creates pressure and detail many of the channels you can let your content escape through.
If you want to get more details, you can watch the full 40-minute video for just $29 at the Online Marketing Institute’s eLearning Center.
For that same $29, you will also get access to over 150 other videos on topics including:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Analytics and Testing
  • Content Marketing
  • Digital Advertising and Affiliate

All in one place.
All for $29 per month.
I can’t think of a better value on the Web. Get started with my free video.
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