Google decision to yank comments from webmaster blog highlights user-generated content challenges

If Google can’t filter spammy content from one of its own blogs, what hope do brands have when it comes to policing user generate content?

The post Google decision to yank comments from webmaster blog highlights user-generated content challenges appeared first on Marketing Land.

On Friday, Google announced it was turning off comments on its Webmaster Central Blog, the site that provides news and updates for website owners and search marketers.

“Sometimes they were extremely thoughtful, other times they made us laugh out loud, but most of the time they were off-topic or even outright spammy,” wrote Google’s webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes about comments often received on the blog, “If you think about it, the latter is rather ironic, considering this is the Google Webmaster Blog.”

Why you should care

Google’s decision to remove comments on its Webmaster Central blog puts a spotlight on the broader challenges marketers face when trying to monitor user-generated content (UGC). Google’s inability to effectively filter and block spammy or abusive comments from its own blogs drives home the time and effort needed to deliver an effective and worthwhile user generate content strategy. If Google can’t do it, does anyone else really have a chance?

And blog owners aren’t the only ones vulnerable to bad actors in the comments section. Publishers aiming to monetize website content via Google’s AdSense program are also impacted by spam and abusive comments. According to Google AdSense rules, publishers must ensure content on their websites — including user generated content such as comments — does not violate Google’s hate speech policies. If Google finds any content in violation of its rules, it will remove ads from the page.

Google’s choice to remove all comments shows that whatever benefits could have been gained from an open dialogue with readers were not worth the time needed to police the content. Google’s call to disable comments is worth taking note of for any marketers looking to launch a blog — or content marketing strategy — that relies heavily on user generated content.

More on the news

  • The “nofollow link attribute” Google introduced in 2005 as a way to prevent comment spam did not sufficiently deter bad (or annoying) actors.
  • Per Google’s announcement, the webmaster team will now use help forums and its Twitter feed to interact with its community.
  • In 2015, Marketing Land and our sister site Search Engine Land disabled comments after our research showed they were not driving beneficial conversations.

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Here’s why a disciplined story is so vital to digital transformation success

Content is what makes a digital transformation run, so telling a story across all channels that is clear and consistent is more important than ever.

The post Here’s why a disciplined story is so vital to digital transformation success appeared first on Marketing Land.

You must feed digital transformation or it dies. Once you’ve gone through the Herculean work of integrating the tech stack, designing and developing great new experiences, and shifting the processes and culture of the organization, it’s time to make that sleek new high-performance machine move as the salesperson promised.

So, you’ve got to fuel it, and that fuel is content. After all, how do you create a continuum of experience across all customer touchpoints without the content to fill that continuum? Where do you get the data to create a detailed picture of your customer if not through the content they access (or the content they ignore)? How do you maintain relevancy in the two most important digital channels, search and social, without content?

A digitally transformed organization is a content organization. With that much content, telling a disciplined story that is clear and consistent is more important than ever because the alternative is a big, blatant mess of a brand and an incomplete pool of data.

Your story moves at the speed of digital

Keeping a story accurate and consistent across a sales force and an ever-growing array of marketing channels has always been difficult. But digital transformation drastically changes the scale of both delivery and consumption.

Now, your story is going out; not just at the rhythm of a campaign, but continually across your marketing channels. Your social feeds are voracious, thought leadership constantly sought after in complex and changing industries, and you’re launching new experiences to stay competitive. And just as fast as it’s being delivered, it’s being consumed. To be top of mind with a customer is to be on top of your content game.

As your story goes out across all those channels at velocity, it’s also going out in numerous forms, from the few characters of a tweet to the pervasive language of an interface (yes, even your interface is telling a story) to the conversational interaction of your talking head videos. You need to ensure that your story not only can be adapted to those forms but that it is being done so appropriately all the time.

Finally, while your story is everywhere and moving at the speed of digital, so is everybody else’s. Your story needs to cut across the cacophony of competitor noise and the general digital deluge of information and experiences that your clients always face. That takes the continual distribution of an exactingly created, consistent story.

Your story is getting personal

Not only is the story spreading across more channels faster and more often, that story will probably have multiple versions. Digitally transformed companies are now set up to deliver and capitalize on personalized content, so a story needs to be more than just broadly relevant to a market and a field. It needs to speak directly to an audience segment and, more often than not, to a specific individual.

And even though these individuals and segments often differ in their challenges and how your organization can solve these problems for them, those messages cannot be at odds with each other. Those messages all need to serve the same brand with those individuals and segments being characters in a bigger, unified story. Otherwise, there will be confusion about your goals and priorities both externally in the market and internally in your organization.

Your story is speaking for itself

Today, your customer is steps ahead of your sales force. They’ve Googled your company, they’ve checked your website, they’ve read your social media feeds, they’ve reached out to colleagues across their social networks.

They’re halfway through the book before your sales representative even has a chance to set up the story with them face-to-face.

Your story is going to be self-driven, so wherever it appears, it needs to be simple and clear, regardless of the complexity of your solution, the complexity of your organization, and the complexity of your market. Even as your story gets more complex internally, as it versions for different audiences and different media, the outcome of that story, the part that your audience sees and interacts with, still needs to be simple and clear.

Your story changes based on the data

You should be telling your story over and over and over until your audience is so familiar with it, they can pitch it back at you. However, there is one important exception: if your story isn’t working. The most disciplined, consistent, and clear story might be inherently flawed. It happens. Erroneous assumptions, bad generalizations, a misunderstanding of the customer challenges, a misreading of the data, a misprediction of the trends — all of that can innocently make it into a story.

But the beauty of storytelling for a digitally transformed organization is that you’re going to know relatively quickly if it’s not resonating.  It’s the same principle of a digitally transformed company quickly launching and adapting a product. That’s because you have a complete picture of your customer from data aggregation across channels.

In the past, you had the digital metrics to know that your white paper wasn’t being downloaded. You also know what your audience is searching for on Google thanks to AdWords and what they’re saying on social and through their content engines. But now those feeds are connected. The fundamental mandate of story writing is to know your audience. Digital transformation means you know more than analytics. You know the human beings behind those analytics.

And when you see that your story isn’t resonating and, more importantly, why it’s not resonating, you can change it. However, if even your erroneous story is not disciplined and clear, changing that story will be hard to do. Rebuilding a house on a badly built foundation is extremely difficult.

You are competing on the content experience

Anywhere you release a single sentence into the market, you face an opportunity to either strengthen your story or degrade it in public. With digital transformation, that opportunity is coming at you scores of times a day. The digitally transformed company is competing on its experiences, and that includes the content experience. Releasing undisciplined content across all of those many opportunities piles up and creates costly problems for the brand.

To ensure a high-quality content experience, you need to make sure there’s a story behind it, and that the story is accurate, consistent, tightly adaptable to both media and audience, and continually delivered. Being able to do that takes a lot of discipline in the marketing organization. And I mean a lot. It takes a process for creating the story. It takes an official, almost sacred, documentation for housing that story. It takes somebody in charge of that story at all times.

You must feed digital transformation or it dies. But you also must be careful what you feed it, else it can turn on you.

The post Here’s why a disciplined story is so vital to digital transformation success appeared first on Marketing Land.

3 inspiring campaigns that remind brands to be human during the holidays

Campaigns from Europe should inspire marketers everywhere to tell more empathetic stories during this season and in seasons to come.

The post 3 inspiring campaigns that remind brands to be human during the holidays appeared first on Marketing Land.

We’ve heard a lot lately that brands need to show empathy, that they need to make a “human connection” with consumers. While that has always been true, it’s recently become more important with consumer trust at a historic low. This development makes trust a vital trait for brands to build—more than one in three consumers rank “trust in brand” as among their top three reasons they shop at a particular retailer.

The holidays represent an unusually promising time for brands to show their human side. When it comes to branding, major American companies tend to focus a lot on the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, across the pond in the U.K., yuletide campaigns have long been valued as the best branding juncture on the calendar. During this moment in time when empathy and authenticity are seen as keys to branding success, U.S. marketers have an opportunity to reimagine their holiday season strategies as more inspirational and less transactional.

Sure, some leading U.S. brands have made a habit out of appealing to consumers’ humanity during the holidays. Take Lexus’ “December to Remember” tagline, which resonates with Americans like few other campaigns—in fact it’s the leading car name for brand awareness during the holidays. Budweiser has regularly had the Clydesdales in Christmas ads. And Coca-Cola practically made Santa Claus part of its logo for decades to tap into the holiday spirit.

There’s an opportunity for more U.S. marketers to adopt the holiday playbook. With that in mind, here are three campaigns from Europe that should inspire marketers everywhere to tell more empathetic stories during this season and in seasons to come.

The Tear-Jerker

Called “Love Is A Gift,” this video has made millions of folks misty-eyed. It chronicles a young man’s journey through the first 25 days of December, marking each successive day off of his kitchen calendar as if he’s a grade schooler anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. What he’s looking forward to is a visit from his deceased mother’s voice via an audio cassette tape that was made 13 years prior. This video suggests that the mother was terminally ill and made 13 recordings for her son—named Chris, or “Puppet” to his mum—to listen to every Christmas morning after she had left the world. It’s a slow build but packs an emotional wallop at the end.

Which brand is the advertiser? It’s an ad for the filmmaker, and his name is Phil Beastall. And it was made in…2014. But it went viral this holiday season. And it cost only $65. What a remarkable, creative story, and it should be viewed as one the best B2B ads of recent memory. It seems highly likely that Beastall’s phone’s been ringing off the hook with calls from marketers in recent weeks—after all, his 2-minute, 27-second video has been viewed nearly 12 million times on social media.

The Epic

Elkjøp, which is a Norwegian electronics retailer, tells the story of a young girl with her family at Christmastime. She meets an older relative she’s fearful of at first. They eventually become kindred spirits after it’s clear they share a common interest in flight. It’s a “show, don’t tell” kind of tale, leaving many dots unconnected. It could be even described as cryptic since there is no spoken dialogue, only slight narration. Called “To give more,” the four-minute video is epic by advertising standards, with a message that gifts sometimes mean more than words. Brands that capture deeper themes around the holidays like Elkjøp did strike a meaningful chord that enhances their humanity. The campaign was picked up by dozens of consumer-facing and advertising publications, receiving hundreds of thousands of views for ad vloggers alone.

The Elton

Back in the U.K., John Lewis & Partners’ TV spot goes through pop music icon Elton John’s life in reverse, ending with the poignant moment when he got an upright piano for Christmas from his mother as a young boy. The two-and-a-half-minute video concludes with the tagline: “Sometimes a gift is more than a gift.”

It’s been like another Top of the Pops hit for the Elton John and John Lewis, a company with a history of successful holiday ads. Similar to the other examples, it’s a brand using a novel storytelling approach to celebrate the deep connections that bring family together around the holidays. Nothing could be more human than that. The John Lewis brand, which operates a chain of high-end department stores throughout the United Kingdom, has garnered at least 25 million views on social media channels.

The season for empathy

Such view metrics make clear that consumers respond when brands show their humanity this time of year. Humanity builds a connection with customers and creates more trust. And even if measuring ROI is your end-all, be-all, note that nearly half of Americans (47 percent) get their holiday shopping information from TV ads. The fact that these spots can be shared by millions on social networks makes them even more impactful.

And as Beastall’s short film showed, it doesn’t matter if you are selling B2B creativity or high-end clothing. The holidays are an incredible opportunity for marketers to show their humanity.

The post 3 inspiring campaigns that remind brands to be human during the holidays appeared first on Marketing Land.

10 Effective FOMO Marketing Techniques to Increase Online Results

In case you’re allergic to social media and haven’t ever before heard the term, FOMO means “the fear of missing out.” But what is FOMO marketing? We’re all familiar with the fear of missing an amazing opportunity. We don’t want to look back on our live…

fomo-marketing-4

In case you’re allergic to social media and haven’t ever before heard the term, FOMO means “the fear of missing out.” But what is FOMO marketing? We’re all familiar with the fear of missing an amazing opportunity. We don’t want to look back on our lives and wonder, “What if?” Savvy marketers have tapped into this common anxiety among consumers to great effect. FOMO marketing can make a huge difference in how you structure your messaging to prospective and current customers. If you’re able to tap into this psychological construct, you can gently encourage your prospects to jump on an...

The post 10 Effective FOMO Marketing Techniques to Increase Online Results appeared first on The Daily Egg.

6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019

No longer are marketers focused solely on moving a customer through the funnel. Now, marketers are creating experiences that promote…Read blog postabout:6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019
The post 6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019 ap…

No longer are marketers focused solely on moving a customer through the funnel. Now, marketers are creating experiences that promote...Read blog postabout:6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019

The post 6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019 appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Measure Your Success

Business management consultant Peter Drucker is often attributed with the saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” By this he meant that you don’t know whether you’re succeeding unless your goal is defined and tracked. When it comes to DMO websites there are six goals we see tracked more often than others. They are:… Read More

The post Measure Your Success appeared first on Bound.

Business management consultant Peter Drucker is often attributed with the saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” By this he meant that you don’t know whether you’re succeeding unless your goal is defined and tracked.

When it comes to DMO websites there are six goals we see tracked more often than others. They are:

  • eNewsletter SignUp
  • Visitor Guide Download
  • Aggregate Bounce Rate
  • Aggregate Time On Site
  • Aggregate Goal Conversion Rate
  • Aggregate Pages Per Visit

Because it is the most commonly tracked, we covered eNewsletter Sign-up in more detail in this previous post. In this post, we’ll pull from our report State of Personalization for Destination Marketers, so you can see how you measure up to your peers.

In the below charts, the Non-Targeted numbers represent website visitors who were not served personalized content. If you are not serving personalized content, you should compare your own performance against this group.

If you are serving personalized content, you will be in the higher performing group and should compare your performance to that of the website visitors tracked under Targeted.

How does your website compare to your peers on these key metrics? Does this bring up questions about what you’re measuring and managing? A simple but well organized measurement strategy is critical to managing a successful website. If you have any questions about best practices, please feel free to contact the Bound team here, and we’ll be happy to chat.

If you would like to download the  Free Guide: State of Personalization 2018 Report from which we pulled these metrics, click here. In the report, you will learn how destination marketers like you are leveraging:

  •      Website personalization benchmark statistics
  •      Strategies for implementing personalization
  •      2018 trends in content and personalization
  •      Real case studies from successful destinations

Related Posts

The post Measure Your Success appeared first on Bound.

Images and Stories Inspire Us to Travel

Photo courtesy of Tupelo.net When you see an image of a beautiful location or hear a great story about a destination, your natural response is to want to experience it yourself. The first step in that experience is often looking at the pictures of other travelers and reading their thoughts, opinions and narratives of their… Read More

The post Images and Stories Inspire Us to Travel appeared first on Bound.

Photo courtesy of Tupelo.net

When you see an image of a beautiful location or hear a great story about a destination, your natural response is to want to experience it yourself. The first step in that experience is often looking at the pictures of other travelers and reading their thoughts, opinions and narratives of their experiences. We respond strongly to this user generated content because we can relate to the creators and we can relate their experience to what ours could be like.

In our 2018 State of Personalization Report, we identify user generated content as a major driver in online engagement. That’s the difference we see between user generated content and advertiser or marketer generated content. Travelers trust other travelers over advertisers. According to a study by Elon University, 65% of consumers trust word of mouth on the Internet more than content produced by advertisers.

Incorporating user-generated content into your destination’s digital marketing campaigns is a great opportunity to include an undeniable level of authenticity. In the report, we look at how leveraging local audiences to create content creates three benefits:

  • Modern consumers are visual decision makers.
  • Real people don’t feel like an advertising campaign.
  • User generated content establishes credibility.

As part of a bigger initiative to turn all marketing directives from professional photos to user-generated images taken by real visitors, Bound customer, Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, started their #MyTupelo campaign. While Elvis’ hometown draws crowds from far and wide, many visitors only come for one specific attraction — so the challenge for the marketing team at Tupelo CVB was to increase overnight/weekend stays. Tupelo realized that it could take its marketing goals and initiatives to another level with a strategy that involved leveraging their locals.

“With UGC it’s not just us telling you to use our hashtag; it’s us saying there’s another traveler who stood in the exact same spot you’re standing in right now, and telling their travel story with a level of authenticity we just can’t provide on our own,” said Will Crockett, Online Content Manager at Tupelo CVB.

San Francisco Travel Association launched their “I am San Francisco and You Are Always Welcome” campaign as part of an initiative to let international travelers know that all people are always welcome. The first phase addressed the visitor directly in a dedicated video and #AlwaysWelcome hashtag. Phase two involves a nine-feature campaign leveraging locals with the goal of showcasing San Francisco as a diverse and welcoming destination. Titled “I Am San Francisco,” it’s an online series sharing the stories of both natives of the city and those who came to visit and found a home.

“We wanted to tell stories that are real and authentically San Francisco,” President and CEO of SF Travel Association, Joe D’Alessandro said. “This is what San Francisco is all about–not just acknowledging diversity but celebrating and defending it around the world.”

User generated content is just one of the topics we cover in our annual report. You can download the Free Guide: State of Personalization 2018 Report to learn how destination marketers like you are leveraging:

  • Website personalization benchmark statistics
  • Strategies for implementing personalization
  • 2018 trends in content and personalization
  • Real case studies from successful destinations

Related Posts

The post Images and Stories Inspire Us to Travel appeared first on Bound.

Use Your Customer’s Voice to Create Powerful Content that Converts

With the use of social media and web access at all-time highs, it’s more important than ever to create powerful content that converts and makes sure that you engage with your customers. With the 2018 marketing trends in mind, leads and potential …

With the use of social media and web access at all-time highs, it’s more important than ever to create powerful content that converts and makes sure that you engage with your customers. With the 2018 marketing trends in mind, leads and potential customers are looking for a personal touch. They want an account of how...

The post Use Your Customer’s Voice to Create Powerful Content that Converts appeared first on Conversion Sciences.