Category Archives: Industry Buzz

Watch Super Bowl Commercials Like an Expert

We love Super Bowl at RIESTER because the day is about competition. The two teams who have passed, kicked and darted to the ultimate showdown should be applauded, regardless of the outcome. The secondary competition, which has been the topic of the day for the last week is all of the anticipated commercials. Brands will be vying to leave a long-lasting impression on the more than 100 million viewers tuning in.  Ideally, winning over the audience for: 30 seconds equals the beginning of a relationship. It’s certain, that the day has evolved into a cultural event that celebrates and critiques.

And we at RIESTER are right there on the sidelines, judging the commercials just like many of you will be at home. With more than 20 years of advertising experience under his belt, Tom Ortega has become an expert at judging TV commercials. The chief creative director for RIESTER stopped by ABC 15 studios where he discussed three Super Bowl ads and the secrets to a great commercial.

Key elements separate a great advertisement from a bad one. The top factor is emotional appeal. Commercials that make you laugh or cry are more likely to be memorable. Additionally, Tom points out that a good commercial should relate to the brand and be smart, leaving you with an “ah-ha!” at the end. The three commercials Tom selected as his favorite accomplished all those things. Watch the ads below:

Axe Deodorant “Peace”

Doritos “Finger Cleaner”

Volkswagen “Wings”

And share the ads you enjoyed the most with us on our Facebook page.

Social Media engagement is no longer free

facebook-promoted-postsPaid promotion has long been an excellent tactic to extend reach across social media platforms. However, some recent changes have shifted this tactic from a nice add on to a must have. The final nail in the free-engagement coffin being Facebook’s confession that it is suppressing content that performs well to push companies to use promoted products. As Facebook explained it, “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

With Twitter going public and the addition of Instagram and Pinterst ads, it’s only a matter of time before these platforms turn to similar tactics to boost ad revenue. We don’t like these changes. The need to promote posts makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish what content performs best, and adds additional costs for brands. Unfortunately, we see no indication of this changing in the near future.

While we lament these changes, it’s important to realize that social media has always been an outlier in the marketing world. What other advertising and marketing mediums allows brands to connect its customers with its messages at no cost? We’re all accustomed to paying for audience on television and the web, now social media is no different. As a platform with a direct link to consumers, it still provides exceptional value, at a cost that is still quite low when compared to other platforms.

So instead of lamenting the chances, we suggest you get ahead of the game and get a plan in place today. Here’s our three-step guide to initiating or optimizing social media advertising:

  1. Establish a social media advertising goals and budget. Increasing likes will require a different type of campaign than an objective to increase engagement. Depending on how many people you want to reach, a Facebook ad campaign can be successful for as little as $500 a month.
  2. Identify promotion-worthy posts. Focus on the content that speaks best to your social media and marketing goals/objectives. Promote content that has a clear call to action, links back to your website, and/or which will drive significant engagement. We recommend starting with one promoted post weekly, or bi-monthly.
  3. Monitor organic/viral reach and paid reach metrics separately. This will help you determine the true engagement of content. Continue to measure and make adjustments as the campaign progresses.

If you’d like to know more about the implications of these changes, or to help set up your social media adverting program, contact the social media marketing experts at RIESTER.

What Instagram and Pinterest ads, Twitter’s IPO Mean For Brands

instagram ad-example

Example of an Instagram advertisement

Social media sites are quickly evolving from places where people merely interact, to serious companies that can provide for their employees and their consumers. The clearest path toward that goal is to provide opportunities for brands and marketers to engage with audiences and buy ads. This is exactly the path that Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are heading down.

Instagram and Pinterest to Introduce Ads

Looking to move out of the red and into the black, Instagram and Pinterest are both showcasing their new advertising units that will be unveiled soon. The sites offer great opportunities for brands to connect with consumers through highly visual ads. Based on what we’ve seen, we’re anticipating that the in-feed layout of these ads will have high engagement levels, perhaps similar to Facebook news feed ads. Neither site has announced when ads will be available to all marketers, but we’re expecting it to be within the next six months.

Twitter’s IPO Shows Channel’s Strengths

Twitter began monetizing in 2010 when it launched its advertising program. Since then, Twitter’s advertising revenue has skyrocketed from $7 million in the first year, to a whopping $221 million in the first six months of 2013. This puts Twitter in a good place as it takes its next step – going public.

The specifics regarding Twitter’s IPO are becoming clear: the company expects to offer 70 million shares at $17-$20 a share when it goes public next month. The site is joining Facebook (currently at $52 a share) and LinkedIn ($243 a share), other social networks that have already evolved to full-fledged media companies on the exchange. The current success of Facebook and LinkedIn is proving that these networks are evolving and will likely be a part of the digital landscape for years to come.

Why This Matters For Brands

Since RIESTER isn’t an investment firm, we’ll refrain from offering any recommendations on the Twitter IPO. But as marketers, we can offer some direction in terms of the new advertising options on Instagram and Pinterest. These ads will be an excellent way to reach key demographics with bold and visual ads. But you won’t be able to properly leverage these platforms unless you have mastered use of the sites for brand purposes. We’re here to help you do that.

Google’s Encrypted (Not Provided) Analytics Solutions

Google has aggressively shifted policy to encrypt all organic search visit data, which has the potential to drastically impact analytics if the proper steps aren’t taken. This isn’t the first time Google has hidden search results from marketers and businesses. In late 2011, Google began this process by making searches private for Google users logged into their accounts. As Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land reported, in August 2013 Google started encrypting non-logged-in users’ search data. Industry experts estimate that by the end of 2013 all incoming organic search data will be classified as (not provided). Meaning a viewer of Google Analytics will have no idea what search terms were used to lead visitors to your site.

(not provided) example

(not provided) example: Jan 1, 2012 – Sep 21, 2013

The change poses some clear obstacles to research:

  • Removing clear paths to keyword/conversion data
  • Top organic keywords per landing page
  • Brand versus non-brand keyword performance data

RIESTER analysts are able to uncover insightful information through expert use of Google Analytics data still available and other research tools. The solutions outlined will provide usable solutions to the recent changes in Google Analytics.

Solutions for (not provided) Organic Search Analytics

With the encryption of organic search data, Google is forcing a change in tactics to identify historic search term performance for future planning. RIESTER has identified three ways to regain the information lost by Google’s move. The following solutions will provide much more information than a big report featuring the vague “(Not Provided)” encompassing all of the organic traffic performance.

Use the Existing Google Analytics Data

While Google’s recent change creates some research difficulties, there is still a wealth of available information in Google Analytics. The direct line of data (e.g. Keywords driving revenue or conversions) is not available; we can still uncover a great deal of insight from page-level information. This viewpoint is based on the fact that, ideally, each major search theme or query should land on a distinct page within the website. For example, if visitors search for Widgets, there should be a page for widgets. If you find that your widgets page has poor engagement based on the page type (homepage, category, product page), you can determine if the page content, on-page optimization or off-page factors need to be addressed. In his recent Whiteboard Friday Tuesday, Rand Fishkin additionally explained how marketers will be able to pull together information we still have into actionable insights.

(not provided) solution diagram

By combining Google Analytics Page Metrics, Ranking Data (seoClarity) and Webmaster Tools Keyword Insights, we can further see the areas of opportunity per page for a given, high-value search term.

Google Webmaster Tools and AdWords Keyword Reports

The SEO analytics platform, seoClarity, is able to archive keyword performance data provided by Google Webmaster Tools. This historic record of keyword performance will be invaluable when constructing a content calendar or identifying content gaps/opportunities.

Additionally, recent updates to Google AdWords reporting will enable marketers to view keyword performance within the AdWords platform. RIESTER SEM and SEO services will review the new features to address areas of opportunity for search as a whole with the new reporting available.

Site Search Data

Another opportunity to pull search keyword data is through in-site search data that is tracked through Google Analytics. These are the terms visitors to the site search for after arriving. The drawback to this method is, these will likely be long-tail, product-level terms and not the more general search queries that users make in Google, Bing or Yahoo. The benefit to researching in-site search data is it will help digital marketers understand what content users have difficulty finding or want to find quickly, then create dedicated pages around that content, a blog post or simply clarify website usability and navigation.

If necessity is the mother of invention, this move by Google will most certainly be the catalyst for savvy digital marketers and researchers to collaborate for solutions to create compelling, user-focused content and optimization. 

For additional information about Google Analytics as well as RIESTER SEO and Content Strategy solutions, please Contact Us.

Facebook focuses on content with news feed and advertising updates

Facebook story bump illustration

Story bump takes older, interesting stories and moves them to the top of the news feed

Facebook has just announced another round of changes to its news feed algorithm and advertising products that are important for brands to understand.  On the surface, the Facebook news feed and advertising updates appear to be good for brands and less suppressing than edgerank has been in the past. Whether or not your brand will benefit from these changes comes down to one key point: do you post content that people care about?

News Feed Algorithm Update

News feeds are not sorted chronologically. The goal of Facebook’s algorithm is to show users the most important or interesting updates first. Facebook considers posts interesting if they: have high engagement; are made by people/pages with whom the user actively engages; are talked about by people with whom the user engages regularly.  With its new additions of “Story Bump” and “Last Actor,” Facebook is hoping people will find their news feed more interesting, and therefor, spend more time on the social network. More time on Facebook = more probability that a fan will see your content.

Facebook believes that the changes will increase organic reach of brand content. However, if your content isn’t interesting or engaging to your fans, it will still be at risk of being suppressed. Being proactive and understanding the needs and wants of your fans is essential to being seen on Facebook.

Facebook Advertising Changes

In addition to the feed changes, Facebook has made significant changes to their advertising program. Facebook is actively cutting its number of advertising units from 27 to about half that number, and improving the remaining products to better meet marketing goals.

The biggest change here is the new page posts. The improved ads have larger photos that better showcase products and services. As a result, ROI on page post link ads are up 53%. More importantly, ROI on the new page post ads are 26 times higher than standard ads! If page post ads are not a key component of your Facebook advertising campaign then you are missing out on key consumer interactions.

With the ever-changing landscape of social media and the increasing emphasis on content, it is more important than ever for brands to have their social media programs buttoned up. Having a clear understanding of what consumers want and offering value are what it will take to get noticed.

RIESTER Ranked Top Interactive Marketing Firm in Phoenix… Again!

RIESTER top interactive marketing firm Biz Journal awardThe Phoenix Business Journal has named RIESTER the number one interactive marketing firm in Phoenix once again!

We are thrilled to be recognized by the Business Journal for the size and work of our interactive team. RIESTER has certainly been busy this year on digital projects. Some of our recent developments include the launch of the new Don Miguel and Herdez websites. Additionally, we recently created sites for Dysport and Restylane. A number of projects are also in the works including a new website for VOSKOS Greek Yogurt.

Our skilled team and great clients are behind this award. We’re constantly being inspired to push the boundaries of design and development to create the most engaging and productive digital environment possible. Allow us to transform your digital presence as our next award-winning project.

Google Penguin 2.0 is LIVE! What Does it Mean for Your Site

Matt Cutts Google Penguin 2.0

Matt Cutts discusses Google Penguin 2.0

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team, announced the fourth iteration of Google Penguin, dubbed internally as “Google Penguin 2.0”. This update, which launched May 22, 2013, is a major effort in Google’s push to present the most-authoritative, least-spammy websites for search queries. This latest rollout will affect about 2.3% of English-US search queries and has also rolled out to all other worldwide markets. With the launch of Penguin 2.0, many gaming and adult entertainment sites have been heavily hit by the latest algorithm change. Penguin 2.0 is being noted by Mr. Cutts as one of the major changes to expect with Google’s ranking algorithm in the coming months.

In April 2012, Google Penguin was introduced to address website linking strategy (among a few other website quality indicators) that affected 3.5% of search queries. Sites that were impacted by the update had practiced old, “black hat” link schemes: focusing on quantity of links, rather than quality.

Before you think, “all is lost” if your website has a number of poor-quality links, there are a number of ways to address this problem going forward and fix past activity.

Resolving Low-Quality Links
If you’re worried that your website may be (or has been) impacted by Google Penguin, there are a few tools and practices to employ to resolve those past actions. Utilizing tools like MajesticSEO, SEOmoz Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs, webmasters can identify links that are low-credibility or not relevant to the website.

Upon identification of harmful, low-quality links, webmasters can turn to the Disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools. Much like implementing canonical tags, this is a tool provided by Google that should not be undertaken lightly. Disavowing valuable links can negatively impact the website’s PageRank.

Build Link “Relationships”
Like any valuable relationship, solid link partnerships take time and effort. To gain a good, relevant link from an authoritative site in your industry, it is worthwhile to make connections and nurture those relationships.

Prior to reaching out for a link back to your website, consider addressing a blog post comment, retweeting or answering a tweet of the publisher, or engaging with the web publisher in another unrelated venue (at an industry forum, etc.). Once a connection is made, take time to review the website and be able to speak to the attributes of the site as you ask for a link. A few extra minutes and care when reaching out will save hours in wasted batched, “shotgun” link email blasts.

Create Link-Worthy Content
The most holistic and easiest way to establish a healthy link portfolio is by creating engaging content to which other sites and users will want to link. Depending on your website, often “fresh”, relevant content gets the most buzz and links. Additionally, content that can be used as a reference and provide valuable information is a strong draw for other linking sites. Finally, publicize “newsworthy” content. What is it that makes your company unique? Drawing traffic through news outlets often provides high-quality links as well as high referral traffic. Be interesting and you will be rewarded.

Going forward, it is important to practice good behaviors for the benefit of users. Look deeply into your site to identify problem areas and as you address them, search engines will only reward you.

To learn more about RIESTER SEO services, please contact RIESTER today.

Three Reasons Why Your Company’s Website Needs to be Responsive

A quarter of web views come via a mobile device

A quarter of web views come via mobile devices

Today, there are more cell phones in the United States than people. We increasingly use our phones to access websites and social networks, and for many Americans, smartphones are their only access to the internet. It’s not surprising then that mobile traffic to websites rises each year, now accounting for a quarter of all views. But if your website is not designed to be viewed from a mobile device, you can expect six out of 10 of those mobile viewers to leave your site before completing a call to action.

The solution to this challenge is a responsively designed website. Responsive sites adapt to the device the viewing the website, allowing for a more user-friendly experience. Web pundits are calling 2013 “the year of Responsive Design.” RIESTER has been developing sites with a responsive, mobile first, philosophy since 2011. Since then, we have helped clients develop a number of award-winning responsive web design websites.

Here’s the top three reasons why your website should use this design philosophy:

1. Better User Experience

According to Google, users are 67 percent more likely to buy on sites when they have a positive mobile experience. It is easy to see why, optimized, responsive sites are more enjoyable and easier to navigate than the pinch-and-zoom method of non-responsive websites on a smartphone or tablet.

2. Responsive Web Design Improves SEO

Google and Bing favor websites that create a positive, engaging user experience more than ever. When curating search results, they will place more credit to websites that address user needs in the context for the visitors. At the heart of it, search engines also have technical preferences to websites that are responsive.

3. Your Website Will Be More “Social Friendly”

In 2012, 60 percent of Social Media visitors came from mobile devices. A brand’s responsive designed website that is referenced in social media posts will perpetuate a “mobile friendly” experience for the end user. This positive, interesting experience will also set the stage for the sharing of information socially through brand advocates.

The Responsive Web Design Bottom Line

As we move into this new, post-PC era it is imperative that brands address the mobile needs of their customers and partners by creating an experience that fluidly conforms to smartphones and tablets. Not only will this convey thought-leadership, but improve usability that will lead to increased conversions and engagement.

Contact RIESTER to learn more about responsive web design

Responding to tragedy on social media

Epicurious boston tweets The horrific Boston Marathon bombing prompted many people and brands to get on social media to offer their condolences and, in some cases, assistance to those impacted by the atrocity. While most comments were sincere and thoughtful, one brand, Epicurious, sparked outrage with its tweets suggesting recipes to help Bostonians get through the trauma. The company quickly deleted the offending messages and apologized, but the damage to the brand was done.

Epicurious is not the first brand to fall into this trap. Famously, Kenneth Cole used the #Cairo hashtag during the Egyptian uprising to plug their new spring collection on Twitter. During Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel struck a nerve when it offered a special online discount for people in affected areas with the prompt “In case you’re bored during the storm.”

How to Avoid the Social Tragedy Trap

First, take the marketing hat off. Using tragedy as an opportunity to push products or sales is rarely a good idea. Unless you are giving away snow shovels during a blizzard and want to communicate to people how to take advantage- step out of the marketing mindset and be sincere, human and offer an authentic response to the events. We do not believe the saying “there is no such thing as bad press.” Consumers remember social media mishaps like this for a very long time, and it may impact whether someone buys from you or your competition in the future.

How Should Brands Respond to Tragedy on Social Media

Another question we have clients ask us is if they should post about a tragic event and at what point a tragedy becomes post worthy. First, consider your brand. If you have a brand that focuses on being fun and light hearted, then you may not want to draw attention to tragedy. Second, ask what you have to offer to the conversation. If your brand does business in the impacted community, then you have a connection that you can discuss on social media. Or, if your customers are in the impacted community you may want to let them know that you are thinking about them. If you are not connected but feel your brand’s voice is caring and compassionate, then posting is still appropriate when done without putting marketing first.

When one of our clients debated about posting something on Boston, we considered their voice. We determined that it was fitting within the brand to offer condolences. The post performed similarly to their other content, showing that fans were just as likely to engage with the condolences post as they were with the brand-centered content.

Have a Plan Before You Post

As in all social media crisis situations, it’s best to have this discussion before the next tragedy to ensure that you can easily answer if and how you will respond to a tragedy. Being prepared now can prevent an Epicurious mistake in the future.

 

Google Analytics Just Got Smarter – Introducing Universal Analytics

Google Universal Analytics

Google Analytics – the industry standard for web analytics – just got smarter. Much smarter. Google revolutionized the analytics service to track and visualize the complete user experience with its new analytics offering, Google Universal Analytics. This advancement is based on the understanding that users interact with brands on a variety of touchpoints online and offline, on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Complete User Behavior Tracking

google-analytics

Google has changed how data will be collected to provide more clarity into user behavior. To leverage Universal Analytics, a new JavaScript snippet must be utilized and businesses will need to set up a new Analytics web property or new account for Google Universal Analytics.

With Universal Analytics, marketers will have simple, customizable user engagement tracking options across multiple devices and online/offline campaigns. Additional customization of engagement tracking will also be provided for “clean” metrics.

For example, Google Universal Analytics will enable:

  • Exclusion of referral domains (e.g. self-referring traffic)
  • Modification of accepted search engine traffic
  • Simple modification of campaign and session time limits
  • Search term exclusions (e.g. attribute “exampledomain.com” to direct traffic)

Universal Analytics Business Insights

These new offerings address many “disconnects” in past Google Analytics metrics that only told one side of the user experience story. As our RIESTER digital division focuses on mobile users with responsive website design and mobile application development, we are keenly aware of the impact of mobile devices on the entire brand experience. The ability to track user engagement across these devices, as well as the attribution of offline campaign metrics will provide our team and our clients much more holistic, strategic insight.

Learn more about RIESTER Google Analytics solutions and services.

View the Google Universal Analytics blog announcement for additional details.