The Best Damn Food & Drink Gift Guide on the Web

What’s in this guide that makes it so good? 37 small, privately-owned, high-quality businesses you’ll actually want to support, 75+ delicious food and beverage gifts that your friends and family will love to receive, and 0 slideshows, 0 ads…

What’s in this guide that makes it so good? 37 small, privately-owned, high-quality businesses you’ll actually want to support, 75+ delicious food and beverage gifts that your friends and family will love to receive, and 0 slideshows, 0 ads, 0 affiliate links, and $0 dollars biasing the editorial recommendations. In short: everything you’d want in a food+beverage gift guide, nothing…

Identity Resolution: How Marketers Can Get it Right

The world of marketing and technology is in constant motion. While marketers are seeing more data privacy regulation put into place, consumers continue to demand more relevant experiences from advertisers. Identity resolution is the key to combat these…

The world of marketing and technology is in constant motion. While marketers are seeing more data privacy regulation put into place, consumers continue to demand more relevant experiences from advertisers. Identity resolution is the key to combat these seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum.

Identity resolution is the process of collecting and matching identifiers across devices and touchpoints to build a cohesive omnichannel view of an individual consumer. Sounds complicated right? Identity resolution is complex and many brands struggle to connect all the dots. However, identity, and the process that resolves it to a real consumer, creates an intersection of data - bringing together all consumer interactions, both online and off, past and present.  Investing in Identity and a plan to achieve your marketing goals will produce results. If you are looking to advance your marketing capabilities, having an identity solution is the one crucial thing that can bring your data together, deliver an accurate view of your customer, and fuel the vision you seek.  Here are three of the most popular motives to put identity at the top of your to do list:

Accurate, In-Moment Personalization

A consumer’s journey not only spans across multiple devices and channels, but also extends into the physical world. Identity resolution collects and connects all different types of identifiers to one person so a customer can be recognized and targeted with the right content, in the right context, and at the right time.

Say, for example, a consumer is browsing your website and downloads your app. Then, that same consumer visits your store and makes a purchase. The content you serve them next time should be informed of that prior purchase. At this point, the consumer should not be getting retargeting ads from the initial visit or any triggered email connected to that original browse behavior.

Linking all touchpoints to a single identifier and ensuring all channels are indeed marketing to a person is critical for in-moment personalization. This allows marketers to always be one step ahead of the consumer, anticipating their needs and providing a message that is person-based and the most precise, next best offer/action for that person.

Omnichannel/Cross-Device Customer Journeys

Omnichannel marketing puts the customer at the center of your strategy to ensure a completely consistent, unified experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, or in a brick-and-mortar store, and through omnichannel marketing the experience should be seamless. 

This capability, however, is hampered by the nature of the MarTech stack. Across the stack there are multiple technology solutions and partners and customer data can be scattered among different platforms, channels, applications and silos. Each platform has their own set of IDs and methods for targeting customers. Adding further complexity is the number of devices each consumer uses daily. How can a brand effectively know their customers on all devices and in store to create this cohesive messaging experience? 

Identity Resolution and a singular, enterprise Customer ID can bridge the gap between these platforms and devices for this unified experience. The Customer ID facilitates the ability to connect the points between those devices, platforms, and channels along the customer’s path to purchase.  Building the private identity graph in conjunction with a device graph will strengthen the ability to tie all disparate ID and device signals received, make sense of them, and then unite them to a person (their Customer ID) allowing marketers to create that cohesive omnichannel journey.

Proven Marketing Attribution & ROI

Marketing has never been so measurable, and at the same time, it’s never been so difficult to connect all the siloed metrics into one complete multi-channel attribution model. Enter identity resolution. Identity resolution gives you the ability to connect your different marketing platform and channel exposures together to a person, to learn what’s really driving revenue.

To understand the impact of each event, it’s important to uncover each touchpoint that both prospect and current customers have with your business from their very first interaction to the moment they purchase. Which pages did they visit? Did they download any of your premium content offers? Once you know which touchpoints are the most effective, you can prioritize them in the coming year.

For example, you can see that people in Segment A saw ads A and B online and they were twice as likely to buy products C and D offline. Subsequently, not only will you be able build more accurate attribution models, but you will also able to more accurately forecast revenue. This allows better planning and budget forecasting as you can effectively drive conversions based on data. Identity resolution allows you to connect every silo, give credit to all touchpoints, and maximize ROI through the learnings gained from attribution.

The year 2020 has brought about many uncertainties and changes. Many organizations are finding themselves rising to the occasion and accelerating their digital transformation. Investing in identity and a long-term strategy for continued identity management creates the foundation needed to mature capabilities across the tech stack and will unlock the most sought-after marketing competencies as discussed here.

Want to learn more? Check out our other blog posts on identity resolution here.

Best Event Management Software

It’s been six hours of driving but you’re almost there. You’ve always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon and finally said “the heck with it,” hopped in the car and took off. But, in all your excitement you forgot to pack your phone charger.  You&#82…

It’s been six hours of driving but you’re almost there. You’ve always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon and finally said “the heck with it,” hopped in the car and took off. But, in all your excitement you forgot to pack your phone charger.  You’re about 20 minutes away when your phone dies. Bye-bye GPS. […]

The post Best Event Management Software appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Be a digital marketing winner with these 3 powerful video storytelling strategies

Video storytelling should be an integral part of any online marketing strategy. By following these three fundamentals, brands can build the foundation for a strong video campaign.

The post Be a digital marketing winner with these 3 powerful video storytelling strategies appeared first on Marketing Land.

In an increasingly digital world, video is becoming the new norm for visual storytelling. It’s no surprise, given that video is a highly visual and effective medium for communicating with a brand’s audience.

Going beyond static images, videos use sound and movement to create a compelling message, making it an integral part of any brand’s online marketing strategy. According to Databox, almost 60% of marketers said video ads tend to drive more engagement than images.

To create online experiences that resonate with customers, every business should consider emerging video technologies that mirror the in-person experience, such as 3D and 360-degree videos that we highlighted in our last article. These immersive tools will build strong customer engagement that push the boundaries of the digital experience. 

However, the key to using these tools effectively is to first get back to the basics and understand all of the fundamental strategies that can improve a brand’s video visual storytelling – one that reaches the right audience and generates strong ROI.  

Segment audiences for a personalized connection

Creating great video content is wasted if the wrong audience is watching it. As with anything, personalized communication that targets the right consumer will lead to the strongest results. Accenture’s study reveals that 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience. It’s clear that consumers desire their favorite brands to truly understand them and their preferences.

Since one-to-one video personalization is not always possible, marketers can simply create one-to-small group outreach that segments customer data into specific categories, whether it be age, gender, location or behavior. A new restaurant opening in a New York neighborhood can target consumers who live in that specific region. A retailer with a new outdoor clothing line can segment their audience to target customers who have bought hiking gear in the past or have searched for camping items. These grouped segments can also inform the video’s message and storyboard, creating meaningful interactions that consumers will resonate with. 

Use AI to boost efficiency

Managing video assets for each segment and campaign can take hours of manual work. Delivering video content in today’s competitive world demands an intelligent approach that provides speed and performance. This is where AI steps in to boost efficiency and make it easier than ever for organizations to create and distribute videos, all at scale. 

With AI, teams can dynamically format, crop and resize video content, live crop to ensure the main subject is always the focus of the clip, automatically transcribe audio to produce subtitles, and generate short previews for visitors to click through and view more. This technology can also streamline workflows through AI-based auto-tagging, structured metadata and advanced search for real-time collaboration and on-the-fly content changes. 

By taking the complexity out of managing videos with AI, companies can be more efficient with video creation and distribution and focus on delivering more engaging visual experiences that convert.

Measure video performance with analytics

To determine success, brands must measure their video campaigns to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Each data point will help inform the on-going creative and marketing strategy, ultimately improving video ROI. To start, marketers can evaluate the following key metrics:

  1. Who viewed the video?
  2. How does page placement impact play?
  3. How is performance impacted with auto-play?
  4. What cookies are associated with the viewer?
  5. Was there a call-to-action?
  6. Which part of the video was replayed or skipped?
  7. Was there a video abandonment event?
  8. When did the abandonment event take place?

Based on the results, brands can easily pivot their video content and distribution strategy. Over time, these metrics should be updated and refined as marketers gain a better experience and understanding of the different components of video storytelling. With measurable goals, brands can constantly track what is happening to the video content and continuously improve and optimize those metrics with a sound strategy. 

Brands can win with personalized, high-performance videos

The power of video visual storytelling cannot be underestimated. As we’ve seen from the pandemic, consumers have quickly adapted to all things video, making that medium even more central to a brand’s online marketing strategy in the coming years. Now more than ever, brands must understand where their audience is and create immersive and engaging videos that resonate. 

Implementing these three main pillars creates a strong foundation for delivering the great video storytelling that consumers crave. Once these are established, marketers can move towards new video trends that will take their video content to the next level. In the end, the winners are those brands that deliver more personalized, high-performance videos to customers across the buyer journey.

The post Be a digital marketing winner with these 3 powerful video storytelling strategies appeared first on Marketing Land.

7 Strategies to Reduce Cart Abandonment in a Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic brought radical changes in eCommerce sales that no one imagined at the start of the year. These changes are driven by the shift in consumer shopping behavior. Without a cure and a vaccine, many are still choosing to live their lives at home[1] as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus…

The COVID-19 pandemic brought radical changes in eCommerce sales that no one imagined at the start of the year. These changes are driven by the shift in consumer shopping behavior.

Without a cure and a vaccine, many are still choosing to live their lives at home[1] as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus — or any other illnesses for that matter. Indeed, we are living in a day and age where eCommerce’s role in the lives of many is becoming increasingly significant.

However, this does not mean that all eCommerce categories are doing well at this time. Luxury brands, for example, are struggling and are forecasted to lose between $450 to $600 billion worldwide sales[2]. This holds true, especially for non-essential brands. 

On the upside, eCommerce stats such as cart abandonment rate is said to have dropped significantly[3] in the United States. Cart abandonment refers to the phenomenon wherein a visitor adds items to their cart but does not proceed with the purchase. 

Before the pandemic, the average cart abandonment rate was 75.71%. At the onset of the lockdowns last March 2020, cart abandonment dropped to a low of 59.76% before inching higher to 64.98%.

graph of cart abandonment rate in US
Image Source: [1]

With these in mind, there is pressure among eCommerce and online retailers to address the consumers’ changing behavior and shifting needs. Dan Fries, one of the founders of Blue Tree AI[4], a content marketing and PR agency that specializes in SEO, stresses the importance for businesses to know their purpose and place online. 

“Since the end of pandemic isn’t in sight yet,” he says, “brands should be able to grow and gear their online presence to avoid being totally lost in the clutter. We’re all going to be competing in a limited online space, so imagine the effect that can have for consumers and moreso brands that need to sustain their sales.”

In this article, we show you one of the things to keep your business afloat in a time like today: focusing on reducing cart abandonment and encouraging your market to proceed with their purchase.

How to reduce cart abandonment in a crisis  

Transparency is key

One way to gain the trust of your customers and reduce the chances of cart abandonment especially in the time of COVID-19 is to be extremely transparent on your store fees right away. Make sure that additional costs such as shipping fees and taxes are visible during their purchase experience, so there aren’t any surprises that might send people away from your store.

This also applies to any other details that are significant in their consumer journey, the likes of shipping details and return policies. How can users return items if they’re unable to visit your physical store? Are there new policies you must follow for door-to-door deliveries? 

When your customers are completely informed about all the details of their orders, it becomes easy for them to proceed with their purchase. 

DSW shows shoppers what they should expect when they want to shop online
DSW shows shoppers what to expect now when they shop with them online, especially when COVID-19 healthcare concerns are highest.

Launch an abandoned cart campaign

If you’ve been in the eCommerce industry for a while, then you’ve probably created an abandoned cart recovery campaign. 

There are plenty of reasons why your customers abandon their carts. For you to be able to know what strategy you’ll implement, you must be able to figure out the specific reasons why users leave items in their cart. 

While it’s a valid reason that some shoppers might be experiencing pay cuts in COVID-19, that might not be the most prominent reason someone abandons their cart—after all, if someone knew they didn’t have the budget to buy right now, they likely wouldn’t have gone through the shopping process that far.

Having a high cart abandonment rate can usually indicate a poor user experience, a distorted purchase funnel, or a complicated checkout flow. Therefore, optimizing user experience can definitely lower your cart abandonment rate.

Once you’ve pinned down the plausible reasons and fixed the leaks, you include an abandoned cart recovery strategy that would essentially bring people back to your site and proceed with your purchase. In other words, converting visitors to actual paying customers. To do this, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is key. 

Two impactful CRO practices that can give you an idea on how to help with cart abandonment avoidance during COVID-19 are:

  • Cart abandonment software: A software that tracks your visitor’s journey on your website with the goal of capturing their emails and finding those who have abandoned their carts. With this, you can bring them back to your site through an enticing email, SMS, or a dynamic ad.
  • A/B split testing: Running two versions of your website that are identical in intent but different in aspects like style or layout so that you’d be able to compare and contrast which version has a better conversion rate. Experiment with different messaging as well, such as emphasizing any new policies that shoppers might not know—do you offer contactless delivery now? Do you have new minimum order values for free shipping eligibility?

Offer flexible payment options

There’s no denying the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on some consumers and their income. Because of this, you’ll need to empathize and make it as easy as possible for shoppers to actually make a purchase on your store.

Having a limited number of payment options could be a reason buyers end up unwillingly abandoning their carts. If they don’t see their desired and trusted payment method on your website, they won’t probably proceed with their purchase. Or if they find that there are no flexible payment options, they might try looking for an online store that does.

flight tickets booking with methods of payment
Image Source: [2]

The best way to avoid this is to offer flexible, customer-centric payment solutions that work best for your shoppers. Invest in services and platforms that let you support multiple payment methods but also payment plans. FreshBooks, for instance, lets business owners offer their clients and customers installment or partial payment options, since they care about how brands show their support for their customers through invoicing and billing.

In a time like today, those who stockpile on essentials would find it very convenient if they won’t pay for the whole value at once. Having convenient payment options shows that you care.

Optimize your checkout user experience

COVID-19 has forced many stores to go online, but many brands that may already have had eCommerce platforms might not have been prepared to take their entire buying experience on the web. Because you have to solely rely on your online properties in servicing your customers these days, it’s time to put the focus on a completely optimized online experience.

One of the ways for shoppers to have a wonderful experience buying from your online store is when you have a user-friendly website design and optimized checkout process.

Think about it: if it’s difficult to navigate through the different pages of your website, if it’s hard to review their cart or input information quickly, visitors won’t exactly be motivated to complete a purchase.

Having poor checkout experience can also come from how your website is designed: are the colors so striking that it’s hard to browse through your store? Are the product photos or fonts so small that it’s difficult to see product details? Are there too many unnecessary details on your checkout form?

In Brainstation’s 2020 Design Survey Results[5], it revealed that 75% of designers believe that additional design training to enhance their skills can make them more successful in their role. Similarly, 25% mentioned that their organization would be more successful if employees had better design skills. 

Designing a streamlined checkout experience isn’t just for show — it actually helps you make sales.

streamlined checkout process
Image Source: [3]

Adding your logo and brand colors to your checkout page makes your business more trustworthy and puts your customer at ease to continue with their purchase.

Use push notifications

For many shoppers, reminding them of the items they left on their cart can push them to proceed with their purchase. It should be no surprise that COVID-19 has everyone a little more distracted than usual, so a friendly reminder might be all you need to give for consumers to check out their orders. 

These reminders can come in the form of web push notifications, which prompt customers to engage with your brand even more on your site. Of course, simply reminding them of items abandoned in their carts won’t be enough. Your push notifications should ideally have elements that would attract your shoppers to reconsider buying from your business.

Signing up for a free trial with VWO gives you access to ready-to-use push templates, and you can customize these notifications according to what your market cares about. 

VWO Engage

Are they looking for the right opportunity to buy the items they left in their cart (a.k.a a sale or a discount)? Send them a personal voucher code they can use. 

Do they want to know more about the product before buying it? Send them an email that explains how the product can benefit them and improve their lives.

Send follow-ups using Messenger apps

Because of COVID-19, almost everyone has had to rely on online means of communicating with one another—and that doesn’t exclude the way they engage with their favorite brands online[6].

The beauty of using VWO’s Facebook Messenger app integration in your abandoned cart recovery campaign is that the platform itself can turn your follow-ups into helpful conversations. If your customers aren’t able to speak to a sales rep in store like they used to, this might be the next best thing. 

And unlike the ads they see on their social media, this makes the experience more personal and shoppers would feel that the brand is trying to reach out to them in a more sincere way. 

Conversational marketing is becoming more relevant today when people have increased their social media usage due to home isolation[7]

graph on the increase in the number of active users by medium
Image Source: [4]

Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram saw the highest rise in active users as a result of stay-at-home orders brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook Messenger has emerged as a highly effective and more personal automated channel for reaching out to customers who have abandoned their carts. Remarketing through Facebook Messenger chatbot allows you to deliver personalized, real-time messages and achieve higher open and click through rates. 

Sending abandoned cart reminders through Messenger can deliver an average of 80% open rates[8] compared to email’s 20%, and 35% click-through rates compared to email’s 2%.

abandoned cart reminders
Fashion Store All for Color allows their customers to continue the checkout process on Facebook Messenger.

Perhaps the best part about this is that you can easily create one by simply signing up for a free trial with VWO.

Implement an omnichannel marketing strategy

The previous sections make it clear that you can’t just rely on one channel for your remarketing communication. As we are still in the midst of the pandemic, the role of digital in the lives of consumers will only grow more significant.

Using a combination of different channels such as push notifications, emails, SMS, ads, and Facebook Messenger to reconnect with your visitors about their abandoned carts can help you be present in their preferred channel, especially at the moment of their highest intent. 

Find the right timing when to reach out to them on specific channels for the best results. Make sure you don’t spam them with reminders, but send out messages at the right time and place.

Another advantage of having a comprehensive omnichannel marketing strategy is that you’re assured of a series of backups. Take this opportunity to learn how your shoppers behave online to keep improving your remarketing strategy and convey the right message to them through the most relevant channel.

See this example of an omnichannel remarketing strategy below as it retargets abandoners using different channels while perfectly timing the messages to deliver the best results:

omnichannel strategy for ecommerce

Key takeaways

Even if the cart abandonment rate dropped significantly during the pandemic, it doesn’t mean businesses should ignore abandoned carts. With or without the crisis, cart abandonment continues to be a challenge that the eCommerce industry is facing.

On the upside, there is now plenty of research and ways on how to reduce cart abandonment rate on your site. As long as you pay attention to how your customer behaves online and strive to keep improving your online properties, rest assured that you can systematically reduce cart abandonment.

4 Tools and Tips for Distributed UX Teams

Here are four tools and tips to help distributed user experience (UX) teams overcome some of the challenges of remote work.
The post 4 Tools and Tips for Distributed UX Teams first appeared on Loop11.

Here are four tools and tips to help distributed user experience (UX) teams overcome some of the challenges of remote work.

The post 4 Tools and Tips for Distributed UX Teams first appeared on Loop11.

YouTube Strategy Lessons from a Channel with 1.6 Million Subscribers

YouTube continues to be one of the best places to see organic growth, and the barrier to entry can be an advantage for companies and brands willing to put in the work. Whereas a blog post needs just a computer to type, a video requires an understanding of lighting, audio, storytelling, editing, and community building. […]

The post YouTube Strategy Lessons from a Channel with 1.6 Million Subscribers appeared first on CXL.

YouTube continues to be one of the best places to see organic growth, and the barrier to entry can be an advantage for companies and brands willing to put in the work. Whereas a blog post needs just a computer to type, a video requires an understanding of lighting, audio, storytelling, editing, and community building.

So, if you’re willing to fight through the learning curve and are patient enough to suffer through low viewership, you can generate significant exposure. In this article, I’ll show you how to turn YouTube into a core part of your marketing efforts. 

Beardbrand currently has two different YouTube channels, one with 1.6 million subscribers (Beardbrand) and one with 120k subscribers (Beardbrand Alliance). We launched the larger channel back in 2012 and the smaller channel in 2019. These channels combined are generating hundreds of thousands of views a day, none of which we pay for.

Because it’s so challenging to create engaging content, there’s a big opportunity to create fresh content and carve out your niche. 

YouTube fundamental content types you need to know

The first step of developing a successful YouTube strategy is choosing the right content types for your brand. 

You can break them up into three main types—education, entertainment, and self-promotional. The best performing content will include all three styles in one video. Those that focus on only one type have limited appeal and never see the type of organic growth you should expect.

1. Education

Educational content covers videos like how-to’s, tutorials, documentaries, product reviews, and many more. Some of my favorite examples of channels that think outside the box with this are:

Giant channel examples are Smarter EveryDay, Mark Rober, and MKBHD. The opportunities with an education-based channel are enormous. The ones that are crushing it have figured out the formula of how to blend education with entertainment.

2. Entertainment

Compared to educational videos, I believe pure entertainment videos are more challenging. To succeed in this category, you need to do something that people have never seen before. If you have an individual on your team with a magnetic personality, it may be possible to find success, but those types of people are uncommon.

Entertainment videos cover vlogs, sketch comedy, musicals, reaction videos, trick shots, etc. Some of my favorite examples of these are:

3. Self-promotion

This content relates strictly to the products and services you provide, and have a very limited audience. Typically, people who are going to watch these videos are already customers or at the very bottom of the funnel.

It’s a great way to bring value to your customers, but you’re missing out on the leverage that YouTube provides. If you’re creating videos only for your own content, then it might make sense to host it on Vimeo and drive people to a landing page (or product pages), and not try to build a community.

There are exceptions to all rules. The folks over at Vat19 have generated over 7 million subscribers by highlighting the products they sell, but the products they sell are newsworthy.

Beardbrand’s marketing strategy

We’re a bootstrapped company that started with more time than money. So, from day one, we invested heavily in YouTube, our blog, Tumblr, and Reddit. This wasn’t necessarily strategic; it was simply the only option we had.

As we’ve grown, we’ve generated more cash, which has allowed us to diversify our marketing strategy. We follow the traditional funnel strategy—top, middle, and bottom—when thinking of content to create.

Top-of-the-funnel is where you bring awareness to your brand. Middle-of-funnel tries to build trust. Bottom-of-funnel seeks to inspire action.

Top-of-funnel awareness

For the awareness stage, the goal is to reach a wide range of people. If you try to accomplish this through paid efforts, you’ll find it’s quite pricey, and it’s been unprofitable for us. Fortunately, organic content is a great way to generate awareness profitably. 

Our top-of-funnel strategy is to create content that will engage with the most potential customers. We do this by creating barbershop content that focuses on clients getting haircuts. This appeals to people who like to see transformations, barbers who want to better their craft, and people who want to get cool haircuts.

Barber playlists.

Trust building

The middle of the funnel is where people start to learn about your core values, brand mission, and products. You aren’t able to ramrod this information into all videos, so it’s important that each video has a little bit of your soul ingrained into the content. This is how you start to build trust; otherwise, you’re creating generic content that can be duplicated by anyone.

Staying in front of our audience

This part is the hardest. Your content has to evolve to stay relevant and fresh—but in a way that doesn’t alienate subscribers.

To further diversify, consider strategies to drive viewers to join an email newsletter or Facebook community. 

Your organic YouTube strategy

To understand the YouTube Algorithm, you need to understand YouTube’s strategy. Ultimately, they want to keep people on the platform as long as possible—so they can show as many ads as possible. 

Many creators over the years have complained about how their channels have fallen or stopped growing because of algorithmic changes, but the reality is that you’re in control with how you adapt to those changes.

It’s easy to become consumed with the in’s and out’s of the algorithm, but, as a general rule, I won’t look into what’s going on with the algorithm unless we start to see red flags (e.g., lower views) in our data.

I lean on these YouTube channels for info on the YouTube algorithm:

As of November 2020, the two most important things are:

  1. If viewers click on your video when they see the thumbnail and title, how long do they watch the video?
  2. Do they watch more videos after watching your video?
Roberto Blake YouTube.

The strategy, then, is to create content that:

  1. Your subscribers want to click on and watch.
  2. Will appeal to people similar to your subscribers.

The more content you create, the more data you acquire and changes you can make. If possible, create up to three videos a week and, at worst, create one video a month. If you can’t create a video a month, then you will inevitably fail on YouTube, and your resources are better spent elsewhere. The fewer videos you create, the higher quality each of those videos must be. 

Key metrics (90% of your focus)

The wonderful thing about YouTube is that they have specific metrics to help you hit the above strategy. The downside is that they have data on pretty much everything, much of which is distracting. The two major metrics you need to look at are:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR), which tells you how engaging your thumbnail and title is.
  2. Average View Duration (AVD), which tells you about the quality of your content.

Every audience and content strategy has different metrics. It’d be great to say that a 10% CTR and 6 minute AVD will make you a million-subscriber channel, but you might just have a super engaged niche market without large growth potential.

Your best comparison is to your previous data—and finding ways to improve it.

Click-through rate (CTR)

To improve your CTR, you need to tell a story with your thumbnail and title and create a sense of curiosity.

We do a lot of haircut transformations and have learned that if we show the final cut in the thumbnail, we’ll get less engagement. Viewers already know what the haircut will look like, so they don’t have an incentive to watch the video. So we’ve found that a back-of-the-head shot about halfway through the cut performs better than other styles. 

Once you find a formula that works, there is no shame in sticking to it. For example, look at these thumbnails from DOPEorNOPE. Ever since one is Mattias’s face to the right in an interesting expression, with the products held close to the camera on the left.

DOPEorNOPE YouTube.

The other vital thing to understand is the difference between a thumbnail with a hook and one that’s clickbait.

Clickbait is fraudulent. It has images and indicators that are designed to mislead and trick the viewers. They’re photoshopped images that don’t actually happen in the video. An effective hook is something that gets people to click on your video because they’re curious, not the result of false or misleading promises. 

Some things we’ve learned:

  • If you have a face in the thumbnail, make it as large as possible with an appropriate expression.
  • Text generally takes away valuable real estate from images. Use it sparingly.
  • Make sure that thumbnail content is in the video.
  • All audiences are different, so find channels that appeal to a similar audience and create thumbnails in that style.

Average View Duration

Increasing the average view duration is the hardest part. The intro needs to help viewers understand what they’re going to get out of the video, then the content needs to keep them engaged to not skip to the end, and the conclusion needs to satiate their curiosity.

In most cases, new creators are making videos that are too short. Don’t be afraid to create content anywhere between eight  minutes and 30 minutes. At the eight minute mark, YouTube allows for creators to put extra ads in the content so they’ve got an incentive to show those longer videos and generate more ad revenue.

We’ve found that if a video has a six minute AVD and a high CTR, there’s a good shot of it outperforming most videos. Most of our videos are in the three—four minute range.

Vanity metrics

One of the problems I think most entrepreneurs and online marketers run into is getting wrapped up in vanity metrics. They’re looking for quick wins that will elevate their content. The biggest ones I see are focusing on keywords for search optimization, tags, and descriptions.

Now, there is opportunity in search optimization, however it pales in comparison to the recommendation engine from YouTube. The recommendations from YouTube are based on your CTR and AVD, so it’s a big reason to prioritize the title with a hook and related thumbnail design.

Below, you can see the traffic sources of our large channel and small channel. The larger channel gets approximately 20% of its traffic from search, and the smaller channel is only getting 5.7%.

For viral growth, you want most of your traffic coming from “Browse features,” which consist of YouTube’s home screen, subscriptions, and other browsing features. The “Suggested videos” is when your videos are recommended next to (or after) a video being watched.

YouTube traffic.

Best practices for creating titles would be something that includes keywords and still has the hook. A bland, keyword-stuffed title won’t do as well as a title with a hook.

For the description, you’re in luck. YouTube has built comprehensive tools to scrape video content. You can see how close it gets to your content in regards to transcription. So, tags and descriptions might help with the first hour or two of views, but, beyond that, YouTube knows what your content is about. Trying to “game” the system is a waste of time. 

Optimizations (10% of your focus)

So, most of your attention needs to be on optimizing your thumbnail, title, and content.

The next most important optimization is thinking about how you can get viewers to spend more time on YouTube. A lot of marketers want to drive users off YouTube through a hard CTA. These techniques are counterproductive to growing organically on YouTube and don’t align with YouTube’s core strategy.

Occasionally, you’ll need to promote a product off YouTube. We’ve found that pinning a comment with the link is far better than including it in the description.

Playlists and cards

There are a few ways to increase time spent watching your videos. Playlists are a great tool to take advantage of this.

Beard grooming playlists.

On days you’re not creating and uploading videos, take time to build playlists and organize content. As you build a robust playlist inventory, you’ll want to link videos from within those playlists. We organize our playlists by barber, hair style, beard style, transformation, and a few other categories.

You can have the same video in multiple playlists, and you can include video content from other creators if you need to build out deeper playlists.

To promote other videos and playlists, use YouTube’s “cards” feature. Cards are call-outs that happen on the video and at the end of the video. You won’t get super high click-throughs, but it’s better than nothing.

Community engagement

Speaking of comments, you’ll want to interact with viewers who comment on your videos. When you do this, it gives them a reason to come back to the video as well as the incentive to comment on future videos.

When your channel is very small, this is probably one of the best investments of your time. Often, the comments give you valuable feedback on how to improve your videos.

Advertising

In most cases, you’ll want to turn on advertisements for your videos. If you have concerns about competitors buying ads on your videos, you can block their websites through AdSense.

By monetizing through ads, you’re giving YouTube another reason to recommend your videos—they can make money on them. 

Meta work

Above, I said that tags, keywords, and descriptions aren’t top priority, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in them. Fortunately, YouTube allows you to have a default template for your description, so you can add links to your company, social media properties, and other relevant information.

Don’t use more than 10 tags, and really focus on the most relevant one. In addition, you can transcribe your videos and have detailed descriptions. While helpful, these efforts aren’t likely to have a significant impact on the success of your videos. Don’t overthink it. 

New opportunities

YouTube’s platform is continuously evolving, and new features are added (and taken away) all the time. Most of YouTube’s traffic is on mobile, and they’ve been highlighting their Stories feature, as well as shorter videos under a minute.

In our early testing, we’ve seen pretty significant views on these short videos; however, we aren’t getting a lot of comments and engagement. If you’re in a saturated market, there may be opportunity to focus on these shorter videos as a differentiator for your channel.

Your paid YouTube strategy

As with organic, there’s a ton of opportunity and scale if you find success with your creative, but it does take a lot of time and effort to get there. 

Master organic YouTube first. Once you do that, you’ll better understand the in’s and out’s of the platform and be able to use the same techniques that increase AVD with your ads. This is vital for success.

One secret to success on YouTube is that you can generate ad views without paying for them. The first five seconds of a video will play, and if a viewer decides to skip the rest, you’re not responsible for that ad.

If too many people do it, however, your cost per ad will be higher. If you have a great performing ad, you’ll get a lot more impressions within those first five seconds to boost growth.

How YouTube Ads fit into our marketing strategy

As a bootstrapped company, profitability is one of the highest priorities for our paid marketing. This presents an issue because a lot of your performance on YouTube happens after a person watches a video. Expect to see lower CTRs than other mediums. (I’ll dig into other metrics below.)

We look at our paid strategy similar to our organic one. We break it up by top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel. We also have an additional “testing” category to try new audiences or creative.

Your biggest challenge with YouTube paid marketing is how to create an advertisement that people want to watch more than the video they clicked on. 

Another key component of our strategy is to exclude current customers (for 180 days) so we can focus purely on customer acquisition, not remarketing. While there are opportunities there, we use our email list and organic social media channels as our remarketing channels.

We focus exclusively on pre- and mid-roll advertisements (the ads you need to hit “skip” to get past). We don’t do any banner advertising, driving people to subscribe, or search marketing.

YouTube account structure

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with YouTube marketing is to use your existing Google Ads account to manage your ads. Create a separate account so that you have a better grasp on attribution. 

Campaigns.

In addition to creating a new Ads account, create a separate YouTube channel to serve your ads. Our channel, Beardbrand Products, is where we upload our advertisements, and we make public our successful ads in the event people want to share them.

We do this because we don’t want to hinder the growth of our organic channel by Google seeing the resources we’ll put into paid. I know Google claims they won’t dock your organic channel’s performance, but I’m skeptical. 

The different funnels

The paid funnels are focused based on where the audience is when they’re exposed to Beardbrand. So, at the top of the funnel, we’re doing broad customer targeting (e.g., just men), or a large custom affinity (e.g., sports, coffee, etc.)

In the middle of funnel, we leverage custom intent audiences to get more specific with our targeting—people interested in grooming, DTC brands, or with product-relevant keyword searches. The awesome thing about having a large organic channel is that we can also target viewers of those videos.

The bottom of the funnel is for people who visited the Beardbrand website, whom we retarget.

Key metrics and performance indicators

Your most important metrics vary depending on the conversion rates on your website, price of your products, and margins. These are the metrics we strive to hit (with exceptions, of course). 

The first thing we do is set our pixel to a 30-day conversion window. On Facebook, we do a 7-day window, but because this is more “brand building” (and there’s less direct tracking), we’ve found that a 30-day window is acceptable—if you exclude customers. 

From there, our primary metrics in Google Ads are View Rate, Cost Per View (CPV), and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Our target View Rate is 30%, with the exception of a high-converting ad. Our target for CPV is $0.02 or less. For our ROAS, we factor in all conversions and look to get at least 2X our spend.

Typically, we’ll know within a day whether our $20 investment in ads will hit our 30% View Rate goal and be successful. There’s no point letting ads continue to spend in the hopes they’ll improve. The first couple hundred views are sufficient indicators to ad performance.

One last metric we look at is brand search on Google Trends. Dr. Squatch is a brand that has had incredible success with YouTube paid marketing. They’ve generated over 100 million views for their ads, which—if you do the math—means that they’ve spent seven figures on ads in a short period of time. 

Dr. Squatch Google Trends.


Look at their brand name growth in Google Trends as an example of the power of YouTube. This technique is a lag metric, and another reason you want a longer window into the success of your channel.

Content is the key

So what does it take to make sure your advertisements are profitable? It comes down to two areas of focus:

  1. The first five seconds of the video have to be the most engaging content you can imagine. Go back to the hook. How can you convince the viewer to stick around and watch your ad—over the video they want to see?
  2. Get the viewer to watch at least 30 seconds of the video. This will help your metrics and drive down the CPV of your ads.

Just like organic YouTube, you need engaging content for your ads. Remember, engaging doesn’t mean “highly produced,” but it does mean interesting, unique, and like nothing else on the Internet. 

Our best-performing ads tell a story and keep people hooked to the end. You can see examples of our content on our Beardbrand Products YouTube channel. The reason we’re able to get millions of paid views is because the views perform so well that the CPV will be below $0.01. These videos are also top-of-funnel videos with the intent to build awareness.

Dr. Squatch has found success because their videos are top- and bottom-of-funnel content in one video. Where we need to expose our audience to two or three ads, they can do it in one.

Many firms offer creative help, but we’ve found that producing videos in house is far better. We’re able to create more versions, test quickly, and keep costs down. But this could only happen because we invested in our organic YouTube channel and have core competency in video production.

Conclusion

It’s incredibly difficult to find success on YouTube. But if you have the vision and commitment to learn and improve, you’ll see the impact on your business.

YouTube has been a big part of our strategy. We do a post-purchase survey, and about 40% of our DTC customers first heard about us through our organic YouTube channel. This drives multi-million dollars of revenue for us. When you factor in the ad revenue we generate from our YouTube channel, the cost of production is effectively $0. 

So, to put it bluntly: We’re being paid to generate revenue for their business. That, my friends, is the power of YouTube.

The post YouTube Strategy Lessons from a Channel with 1.6 Million Subscribers appeared first on CXL.

Best Standing Desks

I’m going to give you an aha! moment so big that you’ll never forget it. It’s so well known that the happiest, most powerful, and most successful people on the planet have shared it freely in interviews and biographies. Sadly, this simple secret is oft…

I’m going to give you an aha! moment so big that you’ll never forget it. It’s so well known that the happiest, most powerful, and most successful people on the planet have shared it freely in interviews and biographies. Sadly, this simple secret is often overlooked, hiding in plain sight. Or just not taken seriously.  […]

The post Best Standing Desks appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Social Networks “Optimize for Engagement.” What Does That Mean for Marketers?

I’m a firm believer that incentives and systems govern behavior at scale. If you want to understand why companies make the decisions they do, look at how their executives and boards are rewarded. If you’re trying to grok an unfamiliar sport…

I’m a firm believer that incentives and systems govern behavior at scale. If you want to understand why companies make the decisions they do, look at how their executives and boards are rewarded. If you’re trying to grok an unfamiliar sport, see how points are scored and wins are tabulated. Follow the incentives, and you’ll understand the system. If you’re…