Friday, 27 February 2015

HOW TO: Correctly Test to See if Starting SEO is a Worthwhile Investment for Your Business?

The incremental approach to SEO, the approach of making small investment in SEO for proof of concept and scaling on it –  is very tempting: it seems low cost and low risk. Also, for companies that are heavily focused on paid advertising, it is common to have a small test budget to run small cheap tests with, so it would seem that on face value that the same logic would work on the SEO side.
Unlike several other types of online marketing activities, several features of SEO activation make it more difficult to implement:
  • Results from SEO efforts are not instantaneous but are cumulative, over time
  • SEO of requires teams in various parts of the organization and sometimes outside entities to work together to execute on SEO projects and campaigns
  • If you’re new to SEO, there is no institutional knowledge for how to “do” SEO and there are not processes or workflows around it
Because of poorly implemented tests that are not tailored to the nuances of SEO, many organizations trying this approach either never get SEO off the ground and the project just remains an idea or they abandon SEO all together claiming that it did not work for them.
Here are some tips to help you not be one of those organizations and for your to test if SEO works for your organization

Start Your Project With A Clear And Reasonable Goal In Mind

Often times, the goals that are applied to SEO tests tend to be the same goals as paid search. Very common goals are
“I want an X CPA from organic”
“I want 2-to-1 return on spend in organic”
Other goals are keyword focused:
“I want to rank in the top 5 for [keyword]”
The key thing to keep in mind with these types of goals is where you are starting from. Unlike paid advertising, you cannot turn the faucet on and off, your returns are cumulative. If your website is brand new or if the placements (rankings) are all branded, you’ve got some investing before you can apply your standard KPI’s to organic search. For a brand new website, instead of using traditional KPI’s to test to see if you want to ‘start’ doing SEO, build a test plan based on traffic and engagement metrics.
Think of this as a funnel:
  • Engagement
  • Traffic
  • Impressions
  • Placements In Top 20
Using this model will help you see the results from your efforts with greater precision and will allow you to see if there is opportunity that would be invisible if you applied your standard KPI’s right from the start.
It is common to see a low amount of movement, at first, especially if your website is fairly new or if you’re in a very competitive niche. The key thing during this early phase is to fast track SEO projects and get them done fast. The fast you make changes to the website, the faster you see results. Also, keep in mind that the search engines run different algorithms at different times, also impacting when you will see outcomes. Once you have completed some initial projects and a small campaign, you should start to see fluttering in some of the metrics.

Schedule Your Test To Be Long Enough To Show Reasonable Outcomes

In online marketing, you can run some pretty short tests. You can test ads, landing pages, campaigns, and more all very quickly. Testing if organic search makes a sound investment as a new traffic source, well, it takes more time. How long it takes to run an effective test depends on your goals, how quickly you can get SEO projects done, and how competitive the niche that you’re in is.
On the low end, if you’re one of two of the worlds only manufacturers of kitten-only prosthetics, you don’t have much of an uphill battle and you can see some meaningful results in just a couple months. On the high end, if you’re a insurance, automotive, hosting etc. website, you may need to run your test for longer, depending on what an acceptable test outcome is for you.

Assign An Owner For SEO

If you’re really serious about testing SEO for your business, it is key to have someone in house that can manage the day-to-day workflows, this is particularly important if you’re working with a vendor or agency to help you try to get things off the ground.
SEO projects that don’t have someone coordinating within the organizations between individuals that ‘own’ the website front-end, the content, and the decision makers, get lost or get de-prioritized. Incomplete SEO projects will have a negative impact in terms of the outcomes you see from your test.

Draft a Detailed Project Plan

Having a detailed as possible view of what everything that needs to be done to get the test completed beforehand helps things go significantly smoother. It gives an opportunity for key stakeholders to sign off or provide feedback on the whole test, saving time. It also gives an opportunity to identify an technology challenges as well as uncover any requirements that may have been missed or not mentioned in the initial project scoping.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Stop Waiting for Inspiration to Strike: 7 Creative Methods to Try Instead


Advertising is the business of creativity.

And an agency’s existence depends on its ability to produce and cultivate creative ideas.
So what happens when your creative flow is cutoff? What do you do when inspiration has evaporated?

Maya Angelou said, “Creativity or talent, like electricity, is something I don’t understand but something I’m able to harness and use.”
If the absence of ideas has become overwhelming, try these exercises, and learn how to harness your creative magic.

1) Ignore Everyone


Some of the most brilliant writers and artists are famous for living in a hermit-like existence, shunning the existence of friends, family members, and the public.
But this isn’t really feasible for most of us, especially in a time of open office plans. The changing architecture of the workplace is interesting as a study in 2011 by Matthew Davis, an organizational psychologist, found that these open environments can actually reduce creativity, productivity, and attention spans.

The basis of this idea is that to be creative, we need to create spans of uninterrupted time to think, and we should do this in a space that is free of distractions.
This might mean only accepting meeting invites on certain days, blocking off time on your calendar where you go analog, booking a meeting room for a few hours each week, or investing in some quality noise-canceling headphones.

2) Really Ignore Your Boss


Management can either foster creativity or severely limit it in the workplace.
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, authors of Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management, wrote:
The more that authority figures hang around, the more questions they ask, and especially the more feedback they give their people, the less creative the work will be. Why? Because doing creative work entails constant setbacks and failure, and people want to succeed when the boss is watching -- which means doing proven, less creative things that are sure to work.
A lack of attention might be what your employees need to feel comfortable and confident in testing, failing, and hopefully, succeeding.

However, managers can also be the guardians of creativity.
Harvard Business School researchers found that the best way leaders can support creativity is by protecting their employees time and resources from distractions, problems, and scheduling issues.

3) Force a Smile

Just smile.
It should be simple request. But there are some days where even a floppy-eared bunny hugging a kitten that is hugging a stuffed animal that looks like the adorable floppy-eared bunny won’t make you crack a grin.

It turns out, you can retain all the rage and hate you want -- just keep it inside. As long as you can massage your face into a smile, you can enjoy the benefits of humor, which include increased creativity and energy.

So before you dive into that creative brief, spend some time watching videos that make you laugh or grab coffee with the office comedian.
A little laughter can do wonders for the creative soul.

4) Quit Brainstorming Meetings 


People think of brainstorming meetings as these high-energy get-togethers where people throw out one idea after the other, which collide and change and shape into the big idea. It's high energy and fast-paced.

Anyone who has actually attended a brainstorming meeting knows this is completely false. They typically look like this: one or two people come up with the ideas. Most of the group is busy chatting online or catching up on email. There’s always someone who brings the conversation off topic, and there’s that one person who thinks every idea is terrible and will point out its flaw.
It's unproductive at best.

Alex Osborn, a partner at BBDO in 1940s, authored the book that introduced the brainstorming technique, which has a stronghold grasp on the creative industry to this day.

However, after the technique became popular, a test of the brainstorming method was done at Yale University. The results contradicted the idea that brainstorming groups come up with more ideas than an individual, and similar studies continue to support the idea that creativity occurs when a person works alone.

5) Stay in Your Pajamas


Do people really get more done typing away on their laptops from the comfort of their bed?
Well, it seems that working from home can actually make you more productive.
A research report on telecommuting found that while people were less productive when it came to completing mundane tasks; however, they were 11% to 20% more productive on creative projects and tasks.
Implement a more flexible work schedule so people can work from wherever they feel most inspired.

6) Set a Timer


Constraints can actually make you more creative.
Author Tina Seelig writes:
There are conditions where high pressure leads to high creativity, and people feel as though they are on a mission. In this environment, despite the pressure, there is a clear, focused, and important goal, and people are highly creative.
A tight deadline, a lack of a budget, a limited number of words, a certain color scheme, and other strict rules can actually force us to think differently because we can’t consider and reconsider every single option. We have to make quick decisions, use our imaginations, and work around challenges.
A perfect of this example is Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” Twitter update. Who would have thought that a blackout at football’s Big Game could be so inspirational?

7) Schedule Your Time Differently


Do you know how you spent each working hour of your day?
Some people have every hour of every day planned out. This is just the way they work. They schedule tasks in terms of clock-time. When the hour strikes, they move on to the next project on their list.

The other type of person schedules his time based on events. He works on one project until the project is done or until he is at a good stopping point. The position of the minute-hand on a clock makes no difference to him.

Researchers did a study on the differences between these two types of workers and found that clock-timers tend to be less creative than their event-scheduler friends.

You can use this theory to chunk your schedule into blocks. Work on a certain project instead of allotting each hour to a different client or task. This should also be taken into consideration when scheduling meetings, as the breaking up of the day can harm the flow you need to increase creativity and productivity.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Psychology of Branding: How 4 Brands Used Emotion to Tell Better Stories


Emotional branding can strike a lot of different chords -- happiness, pride, empathy, excitement, inspiration, and even affirmation. And it’s our job to understand these emotions.
Beyond this, we need to be able to trigger these emotions through content and visuals. While some might call it playing with people's emotions, I like to think of it as a deep understanding of what resonates with people -- what they really care about.

It's not just about selling. It's about connecting.
If you are looking for inspiration on how to use emotional triggers in your clients' messaging, check out the four examples below:

1) You Can’t Fabricate Truth


Trigger: Honesty


Philly bleeds green. And the city boasts one of the most fickle fan bases in all of professional sports.
Heading into 2013, on the heels of a 4-12 season, there was a skepticism in play. A new coach. New players. The same closed doors? How cautiously optimistic should Eagles fans be? To reconnect that broken circuit, undercut the uncertainty, and prime Eagles Nation for a new, exciting season, we adopted a "tough love" brand stance, likening the bonds between city and team to those of family members. We owned and celebrated the past and reminded fans of an essential truth: the Eagles fuel Philadelphia, and Philadelphia fuels the Eagles. 


Philadelphia rallied for the Eagles -- and broke barriers. The takeaway? While media channels will vary, effective brand messaging is always grounded in authenticity and fundamental truth.



2) Go Right to the Source

Trigger: Authenticity

Once you’ve crafted the brand story, how’re you going to tell it? And in an effort to humanize the brand and strike an emotional chord, who’s going to tell it? A celebrity? An anonymous voice-over? A real, relatable consumer?

For the University of Florida’s "Gator Good" campaign rollout, we turned the camera lens away from the school and onto the world of change that the Gators are inspiring. Instead of using University of Florida’s 30 seconds of airtime to show sun-drenched shots of campus, the stadium, and magnolias lining the plaza, we told the story of Aaron Pinksy, a now seven-year-old boy who, at the age of four, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. We also showed the story of the Polcaros, a family who moved to Punta Gorda, Florida, just days before Hurricane Charley hit back in 2004, destroying their home and their new town. They showed people how The University of Florida is making an impact around the globe, and right in their backyard.

Across the country, as UCLA was readying to launch a $4.2 billion "Let There Be" capital campaign in connection with its centennial, they enlisted real people, such as Alysia Padilla-Vaccaro, whose twin baby girl was born without an immune system, to highlight the unparalleled impact of UCLA’s scientific research and medical advancements.

These stories tug at the heartstrings and rouse inspiration, not just because of the nature of the content, but because of the authenticity with which they’re portrayed.

3) Acknowledge Your Audience

Trigger: Affirmation

You. Are. Amazing. You’re the fun-bringer. You’re the one who’s holding it all together, at work and at home, and you’re doing a super job.

Feels pretty good to hear that, right? Especially In the world of children’s birthday parties, play dates, and super-sized snacks, where do-it-yourself has turned into outdo everyone else. It provides validation. Builds confidence. Maybe even empowers you.

America’s favorite soft pretzel company, Superpretzel, is taking this affirmative tack in their brand new, mom-centric brand campaign. Speaking from a back-to-basics brand platform, Superpretzel is giving busy moms a well-deserved break with a focus on simple ingredients, ready in seconds.


4) It’s Not for Everyone


Trigger: Exclusivity

Want a rush? Nothing quite compares to the feeling of being behind the wheel of the world’s most iconic luxury brand: Ferrari. And we’re not talking about a leisurely drive to your local Starbucks. The real Ferrari ownership experience comes by driving the car the way Enzo Ferrari intended for it to be driven: on a racetrack.

The work is not only meant to sell Ferrari vehicles but to drive brand affinity. Ferrari is coveted, and it takes powerful, compelling verbiage and visual treatments to convey a feeling of exhalation and also exclusivity.


In this case, attainability takes a back seat to aspirational, and that’s what sells.