The time has come, friends: 2018 is drawing to a close. Maybe you feel like it flew by. Maybe you feel like it dragged on forever.
Either way, you’re wrong. As is the case with nearly every calendar year, 2018 was, in fact, 365 days long. Our planet went around the sun exactly once. Isn’t that right, Copernicus?
Regardless of how long or short this year felt to you, we can all agree on one thing: a lot went down in the online advertising space. Whether you specialize in paid search, paid social, SEO, or all of the above, there has been no shortage of trends, changes, and innovations to keep track of.
And that’s why we do our annual wrap-up: to give you a quick recap of the most important lessons you can bring with you into the new year.
Let’s get started!
You’ll often hear people refer to Instagram as a visual platform—a place to escape the wordiness of Facebook and Twitter.
And that’s largely true. But, as Gordon points out in this post, the caption beneath (or to the right of) your photo can make a huge difference in terms of post performance. It’s with words that savvy Instagram users drive their engagement numbers through the roof.
In this post, Gordon walks you through four categories of Instagram captions—self-deprecating, “imagine what they would say,” wordplay, and “call out a friend”—and provides over 30 examples of posts that execute them perfectly.
Implement these strategies, and you’ll give your Instagram account the boost it needs to reach new audiences and grow your brand.
When you’re tasked with managing and optimizing several social media accounts, stress is pretty much guaranteed.
You have to keep track of different usernames and passwords. You have to create and keep up with various posting schedules. You have to assess the performance of each individual account over time.
Enter social media management tools. Although each platform is unique, the core selling point remains the same: spend less time managing your accounts and drive better results.
Take Hootsuite, for example. Within a single, easy-to-use platform, you can do the following for free: manage three social accounts in one spot, schedule up to 30 posts in advance, and leverage contest to drive quality leads.
Check out Margot’s full post to get her inside scoop on six more budget-friendly social media management platforms!
Simply put, pain points are the problems your prospects experience. As a marketer, you want to convince your prospects that your product or service is the solution to their pain points.
To do that, of course, you have to know what your prospects’ pain points are.
That’s why qualitative research is so crucial. By giving your prospects the opportunity to vocalize their frustrations and challenges, you deliver to your marketing team the insights they need to develop more focused and effective campaigns.
Customer insight round tables are a fantastic way to uncover pain points.
After breaking down the different approaches you can take to conduct solid research, Dan discusses the four types of pain points: financial, productivity, processes, and support.
A common financial pain point is spending too much money. Similarly, a prospect experiencing a productivity pain point feels that he or she is wasting too much time. When someone seeks to resolve a processes pain point, he or she needs help with the inner workings the business. Finally, support pain points refer to those instances when your prospects feel as if they’re not getting the help they need.
To get Dan’s advice as to how you can navigate your prospects’ diverse pain points across paid search and paid social, check out the full post!
Facebook Ads is an exceptional platform for many reasons. The biggest one: it gives you the extra-granular targeting options you need to serve your ad creative to the most valuable audiences possible.
For real estate marketers—whose target demographics range everywhere from newlyweds to grandparents—this ability is huge. Facebook Ads is the ideal place to deliver visually engaging property advertisements to perfectly crafted audiences.
Without well-informed strategies, however, you’re not going to drive the ROI you’re looking for.
Accordingly, Margot uses this blog post to provide seven expert Facebook advertising tips specifically for real estate marketers.
Here’s a sample: be transparent with your prospects. As you know, selling an apartment or a house is nothing like selling a pair of sneakers—it’s a huge decision. That’s why it’s particularly important for you to cultivate a reliable, trustworthy brand through your Facebook Ads.
So how do you do it? With honesty and directness. If your ad involves pictures—and it probably should—make sure they’re realistic. When you’re describing the features of the property, be as simple and as accurate as possible. Your prospects will truly appreciate the authenticity.
For the rest of Margot’s insights, head over to the full post!
Back in May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the European Union. In a nutshell, the GDPR requires the utmost transparency from businesses that sell products to and/or collect data from European consumers.
You may wonder: transparent in regard to what? Per the GDPR, after obtaining the consent of the consumers, businesses must make accessible 1) the kinds of personal data they collect and 2) they ways in which they use those personal data.
Basically, the GDPR allows consumers to demand access to the data that’s been collected on them AND to outright block attempts to collect such data in the first place.
Facebook, of course, is one of the businesses that must comply with the GDPR. Given their past scandals involving breaches of user data, they took it seriously. And that affects those who advertise with Facebook Ads.
Check out Allen’s full breakdown of the GDPR and what it means for your Facebook Ads account.
The Facebook team kicked off 2018 with a bang when they announced a massive change: the prioritization of social interactions over businesses’ paid and organic content in the News Feed.
According to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the drive to deliver users more meaningful, positive experiences inspired him and his colleagues to initiate the change. They want, in other words, to make Facebook more about engagement between friends and less about engagement between consumers and brands.
As Allen emphasizes, this change does not mean that promoting your business through paid ads and organic content is useless. What it does mean is that you have to legitimately engage Facebook users—by delivering valuable information, by catalyzing discussions, and so on—if you’re going to have any chance of driving ROI.
That’s an entirely attainable goal. But, as is the case with all forms of digital marketing, it requires strategy and forethought.
Dive into the full blog post to get all of Allen’s advice.
Although Google Marketing Live makes a splash in the online advertising world year in and year out, the 2018 conference—conducted in mid-July—was uniquely important.
Why? Three words: Responsive Search Ads.The best way to describe Responsive Search Ads, believe it or not, is describe its older sibling: the traditional search ad. When creating a traditional search ad, you write your headlines and descriptions together, thus generating a single static text ad.
Responsive Search Ads, on the other hand, are far more dynamic. With this new Google Ads format, you can write up to 15 headlines and four descriptions for a single ad. Then, Google uses machine learning to test the tens of thousands of possible combinations and determines which mixes of headlines and descriptions drive the best results for your business.
That’s not all—Responsive Search Ads are bigger, too. Thanks to a bonus headline, a bonus description, and more characters per description, this new format gives you up to 300 total characters to work with. That’s double the size of an Expanded Text Ad.
Evidently, Responsive Search Ads are powerful tools. Check out Mark’s complete list of features and best practices!
Frankly, people tend to blow the scope of the ecommerce revolution just a touch out of proportion. No—traditional, brick-and-mortar retail outlets aren’t dead in the water.
That being said, ecommerce has certainly become a force to be reckoned with—and it’s growing at a stunning rate. As Dan points out in this blog post, total global ecommerce sales are expected to surpass $4 trillion in 2020. For reference, that’s one-fifth of the U.S. economy.
Demonstrably, there’s never been a better time to sell products online. At the same time, however, the breakneck speed at which ecommerce is expanding may leave you feeling out of breath and overwhelmed. That’s normal.
Luckily, Dan is here to help. With this post, he provides in-depth analyses of the seven biggest trends in the online retail industry. Thanks to his expertise, you can leverage his insights to better prepare your business for the developments barreling towards us.
For example, take his thoughts on trend #6: Research Online, Purchase Offline (ROPO). Of the consumers who do purchase goods in physical stores, 39% still do their research online first.
Dan’s advice: use the suite of tools at your disposal—geolocation tracking, POS systems, targeted advertisements—to build detailed shopper profiles. With that kind of information, you uncover the extent to which your prospects are participating in ROPO.
I’m going to tell you something you likely already know: voice search is a big deal. Increasingly, consumers are choosing to seek information by speaking to smart devices rather than by manually typing into search engines.
And the implications for search marketers are real. For years, you’ve been attaching snazzy text ads and informative blog posts to the keywords consumers include in their traditional, basic searches. Now, they’re turning to their phones, tablets, and speakers and asking them full-blown questions. Paid search experts and SEOs alike are scrambling to figure out the best strategies they can adopt.
The problem, we find, with conversations about voice search is that they’re seldom grounded by data. Everyone wants to vocalize their opinion on the matter, but nobody wants to back up their bold claims with cold, hard statistics.
Gordon refuses to participate in such alarmist culture. That’s why he put together the comprehensive list of voice search statistics that you need to make informed decisions about your search marketing strategies going into the new year.
We began with Instagram, and we will conclude with Instagram. Considering the platform’s recent achievement of over one billion users, this seems appropriate.
Instagram, like its parent company Facebook, is a hybrid—it’s a platform people use to engage with both the people and the brands in their lives. As such, when you post a photo (with a stellar caption!) from your business’ account, you’re not only competing with the other firms in your industry—you’re competing with prospects’ friends, families, and pets, too.
This makes it rather difficult to stand out against the clutter and make meaningful, lasting impressions on consumers.
Fortunately, thanks to years of experience in the field, Margot knows a thing or two about social media marketing. In this blog post, she walks you through seven proven strategies you can implement to reach more consumers, earn more likes, start conversations, and drive returns.
If that’s not enticing enough, here’s a sneak peek: there are free tools you can use to make your photos look better.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your photos with sleek text-based messages or to simply expand the range of editing capabilities at your disposal, there’s a tool out there for you.
Head over to the full post to get the rest of Margot’s tips!