Category

Digital Marketing

Alexa, How is Voice Search Shaping the Future of SEO?

Voice search is no longer the work of science fiction. It’s real, it’s here and it stands poised to transform the search game as we know it. What’s driving this trend? What does the future have in store for voice search? And how can businesses and marketers prepare themselves for the revolution?

The Rise of Voice

SEO Company

Voice recognition technology might seem like a modern innovation, but it’s actually been around in one form or another for more than 60 years. Back in 1952, Bell Laboratories designed a system known as Audrey, which could recognise spoken numbers. A decade later, IBM introduced Shoebox, a computer that could understand 16 basic words. And in 2008, the technology finally went mobile, when Google released the Voice Search app for iPhone.

Fast forward to today, and consumer adoption of voice search is skyrocketing. Between 2008 and 2016, the volume of voice searches increased 35-fold, according to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report. In 2016, about 20 percent of Google app searches were voice searches. And in 2018, 91 million people in the U.S used voice technology at least once a month, according to figures from eMarketer.

Looking at the timeline, it’s clear that voice search didn’t arrive overnight. So why are consumers only now starting to get interested in voice search? There are two main reasons:

1. It’s Everywhere

The explosive growth of voice search mostly comes down to the fact that the technology is now supremely accessible. Voice search has been successfully integrated into a huge range of mainstream consumer products, with smart speakers (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo) leading the charge. In fact, smart speakers sales grew 300 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to figures from Strategy Analytics.

Of course, it’s not only smart speaker manufacturers who are getting in on the action. Just about every major tech company is leveraging the power of digital personal assistants and voice search. You can ask Siri to send a text message for you while you’re driving, tell Google Assistant to read you the news, use Cortana to update your calendar and command your Xbox to start streaming Netflix. Voice search is no longer about the novelty factor; it’s a useful, efficient and convenient feature that is quickly becoming a normal part of everyday life.

2. It’s Getting Better at Understanding Us

The way we communicate verbally is very different from the way we write and type. We’re less formal, less specific and more verbose, which stands in stark contrast to the keyword-laden,  ultra-concise queries we’d usually type into a search engine. This has been a bit of a sticking point for voice search, as the technology has traditionally struggled to separate meaningless human chit chat from user intent (i.e. what we’re actually searching for).

Thankfully, this is (mostly) a thing of the past. The AI that powers voice search has become exponentially smarter in recent years and is constantly getting better at understanding context and user intent. In 2017, Microsoft’s voice recognition software achieved an error rate of just 5.1 percent, which put it on par with human error rate. Consumers are feeling more inclined to use voice search because they can use natural, conversational language and still get accurate results.

How Can Businesses Prepare for the Revolution?

    1. Use schema markup: Schema is a type of on-page data markup that helps search engines better understand your website and content, and therefore the services your company offers. This type of structured data can be used to increase the chances of your business being found for local voice search queries.
    1. Focus on long-tail keywords: Short-tail keywords fell out of favour a long time ago, and voice search may well be the final nail in the coffin. As we’ve learned, users are more likely to ask long, complex search strings when using voice search. With this in mind, focus on using long-tail keywords that are very specific to your business.
    1. Incorporate FAQS into your content: Voice search is conversational. An easy way to naturally replicate this style is to use FAQs to answer common questions that your audience might have about your business, services or industry.
  1. Rethink your SEO strategy: The world of SEO is constantly changing. This might be the perfect time to audit your current strategy and rethink your current digital marketing spend.

Curious about what you need to do to optimise your business for voice search? Book your free strategy session to get a better understanding of how the voice search revolution is going to affect you.

How do I know my marketing is working?

How do I know my marketing is working?You write a witty Facebook post.

You spend hours crafting the perfect promo email.

You retweet somebody influential in your space.

You do blogs. Ads. Google ads. Facebook ads. You attend various networking groups and wax lyrical about your company’s services to anyone who will listen. No rock is left unturned in your pursuit of marketing excellence.

Yes, it’s time consuming, and yes, there’s a fair amount of spend involved, but it is driving traffic to your site, and that has to be considered a success… right?

Maybe.

Obviously, increased traffic is a good thing, but whether or not it is a true indicator of performance really comes down to how you define success as a business.

Defining success

In recent years, marketing has become less of an art and more of a science. The days of vague measurements of brand sentiment are long gone, replaced by an endless string of ones and zeroes that allow businesses of all sizes to calculate performance at an incredibly granular level.

Of course, being able to harvest this information is more or less pointless if you’re not applying it any meaningful way (i.e. using it to track performance and make business decisions), which means that marketers need to be mindful of their marketing goals now more than ever. Without clearly defined objectives, there’s ultimately no way of knowing whether or not your marketing is working. And the benefits are clear – marketers who set goals are more than four times more likely to report success than those who don’t!

So, what does marketing success look like for you? The answer to this question will naturally vary from company to company but, generally speaking, most businesses will have four major marketing goals:

  • Building a brand
  • Generating leads
  • Converting leads into sales
  • Establishing customer loyalty

After defining your specific goals, it’s a matter of setting KPIs to gauge performance and tracking whether your marketing efforts are moving your business toward your own unique definition of marketing success. This brings us to our next point…

Tracking performance

You might be surprised to learn that only 1 in 4 marketers are able to measure and report their contributions to the business. While there are probably a few factors at play here, one of the main reasons why so many businesses still struggle to gauge marketing performance is because they’re simply keeping track of the wrong things (or not tracking them altogether!). Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming part of this statistic:

1. Track everything that can be tracked

For marketing analytics to be useful, they need to be tracked and analysed over the course of months and years. A snapshot of data from a specific point in time can be useful, but it may not be an accurate representation of long-term trends.

With this in mind, it’s important to start tracking and monitoring everything that pertains to your marketing goals. Google Analytics is one of the simplest (and most affordable!) ways to track website and app analytics, and Google offers a variety of tools to help get you started. Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feature their own analytics tools, but there are also third-party tools that provide greater functionality.

At Harper Digital, we offer our clients a live reporting dashboard that combines data from all sources and gives a snapshot of activity, allowing visibility into what’s being generated by each medium.

2. Assign a value to each step of the funnel

As you are probably aware, the purchase funnel is a model that illustrates the customer journey toward purchasing a product. Something that is less widely known is that each step in this journey can be translated into a dollar amount, and should ideally be assigned a monetary value based on the conversion rate of each individual step.

For example, let’s say your company sells a product worth $100. Thanks to your analytics (remember step #1!), you know that your sales team can close 10 percent of people who download your e-book, which means you can assign the action of downloading an ebook the value of $10 (i.e. 10 percent of $100). Similarly, if you know that 2 percent of people who opt in to your newsletter will buy your product, you can assign that action the value of $2. Monetising each step provides crucial insight into which parts of the funnel are working, and where you should be concentrating your efforts.

3. Compare attribution models

An attribution model is a set of rules that determine how credit for conversions are attributed to different marketing channels. Credit is usually given to the Last Interaction (the last action a customer takes before converting), but that may not necessarily be the right model for you.

For example, if your company is relatively new and your marketing efforts are primarily focused around brand awareness, you may find that the First Interaction attribution model is more suitable. Alternatively, if you believe that your marketing efforts become less valuable as time goes on, you may find that the Time Decay attribution model is a better fit. It’s important to take the time to assess different models to see which one is most applicable to your business.

Using data to achieve defined goals

Successful digital is attainable for companies of all sizes and budgets. Essentially, it boils down to defining your marketing objectives, setting KPIs to achieve those goals, and using data to measure your progress. Marketing with intent and taming the power of big data are key for every business that wishes to make the most of its marketing efforts.

If you’d like to explore this further, hit us up for a complimentary digital strategy session where we’ll work with you to come up with the best approach to measuring your business’s marketing activity.

Integrating SEO and PPC to maximise results

An age-old question in the world of digital marketing is “Which is better: PPC or SEO?” And our response is almost always “It depends, but usually both.” While this may sound like a bit of a cop out, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer – it all comes down to what will work best given the unique factors that make up your industry, company and product or service.

What we can say is that a two-pronged approach will offer the best results most of the time for most businesses.

Why?

Digital Marketing Analytics

Well, SEO and PPC are complementary marketing models, each with their own pros and cons. When used in conjunction, they can effectively bolster the other’s weak points, maximising your chances of hitting all your business goals in the short as well as the long term. Read on for a quick primer on the basics principles of SEO and PPC and find out how you integrate them into your marketing strategy.

 

What are the benefits of SEO?

SEO is the practice of raising the visibility of your website via organic (unpaid) search engine results. About 67 percent of all clicks on search engine result pages go to the top five listings, while the first page receives around 95 percent of web traffic. To get in on this action, you need your brand to appear as high up the results page as possible when a prospect types a business-related query into a search engine.

  1. Long-term visibility

Perhaps the great advantage of SEO is its longevity. Unlike PPC, there’s no expiry date on SEO content, making is sustainable and – if executed correctly – very profitable over the long term.

  1. Strengthen brand

Smart SEO content not only helps clients find your company on search engines but can also play a key role in positioning your brand as an authority in your space. Blog posts, FAQs, and how-to guides all lend credibility to your brand, which can increase your chances of conversion.

  1. Cost effective

It does take a while to start seeing results with SEO, but after the initial groundwork has been laid the clicks are more or less free. SEO traffic is organic, meaning there’s no direct cost per click or lead as there is with PPC, which makes SEO more financially sustainable over the long term.

 

What are the benefits of PPC?

Whereas SEO is more of a long-term investment, PPC is geared toward getting results in the here and now. PPC allows you to immediately get eyeballs on your product or service, and highly customisable targeting options ensure your efforts are focused in all the right places.

  1. Instant visibility

Launching a new product? Need instant feedback? Running a flash sale? Sometimes you simply don’t have the time to build up a marketing campaign. PPC excels in these situations, giving your brand an instantly visible platform.

  1. Better analytics

Search engines do a pretty good job of concealing organic search metrics in the name of user privacy. However, the same rules don’t apply when it comes to PPC, giving analytically savvy marketers deep insight into which keywords are converting, ROI and more.

  1. Budgeting consistency

While the leads generated by PPC do come at a cost, the ability to cap daily spend ensures the marketing budget doesn’t get out of hand. Combined with smart, localised keywords, PPC really can deliver fantastic ROI.

 

A case for using both SEO and PPC

As you can see, SEO and PPC have their own strengths and weaknesses and work best when used in synergy. PPC offers instant results and the information you gain from PPC campaigns (whether it’s A/B testing, analytics information or keyword data) can be used to fuel deeper SEO strategy. Using a combination of SEO and PPC also strengthens your contact points, allowing you to more effectively guide prospects through the funnel from initial awareness all the way to conversion.

So, SEO and PPC should be used in tandem. But how can you start applying them to your business?

While SEO is a pretty deep field, the good news is that there are many things you can do yourself to start optimising your website. Applying the fundamentals of on-page SEO (keywords, meta tags, SEO-friendly headlines and more) are critical for helping search engines understand what your website is about, which in turn can help you climb the results ladder.

In addition, creating a Google My Business listing, maintaining a Facebook business page and establishing your company in local online directories can add more authenticity to your brand, which can further boost visibility. Finally, working toward developing a backlink strategy (that is, links on other websites that point to your website) can also do wonders for your search engine rankings.

 

Curious about how SEO-friendly your website currently is and how you could improve? Register for a free SEO site audit and we’ll give you a comprehensive report revealing how you can better optimise your website, as well as a free 30 minute strategy session.

Top 3 benefits of Facebook advertising for Kiwi businesses

Facebook Advertising for Business

Facebook was once little more than a junkpile of pointless memes, poorly framed selfies and needy updates from your attention-starved friends. Okay, so if your feed’s anything like mine, Facebook is definitely still home to all those things, but it has also evolved to become one of – if not the – most powerful digital marketing tool for New Zealand businesses.

Regardless of which industry your company operates in, there are very real benefits to leveraging the power of the most popular social media platform on the planet. Here are three of the most important:

 

  1. Marketing AudienceHighly targeted audiences

With almost 2 billion users (and 2.5 million users in New Zealand alone), there’s no denying Facebook’s potential for getting eyeballs onto your brand. However, while these figures are impressive in their own right, I think it’s important to note that the real power of Facebook advertising lies in its ability to segment audiences right down to the nitty gritty – and I do mean nitty gritty!

For example, Facebook advertising enables you to target your campaigns by:

 

  • Location: Ensure your messages are reaching relevant markets by targeting your audience by country, city and post code. You can also choose to exclude certain locations.
  • Demographic: Further refine your audience by age, gender, relationship status, education, career and income.
  • Interests: This is where Facebook advertising really starts to get good. Define your ideal audience according to their hobbies, interests and pages they engage with on Facebook.
  • Behaviours: Get a more complete picture of your customers by diving deep into their buying habits, travel preferences and more.

 

These segmenting options allow you to really drill into your market base and create tailored campaigns that are targeted towards a very, very specific audience. For instance, a jewellery company could target Auckland women aged 18-54 who are in a relationship, earn $40,000-$100,000, have an interest in beauty and fashion, and have recently shopped for fine jewellery. When executed correctly, this type of highly targeted advertising can drastically boost your chances of conversion.

Brand Influence

  1. Enhanced brand influence

Social media has democratised marketing in many ways. In years gone by, building strong brand influence was often only possible with million dollar marketing budgets, but thanks to Facebook and other social channels, businesses big and small can now cultivate long-lasting, meaningful relationships with their audiences.

How?

Well, Facebook advertising removes many of the layers of traditional marketing, allowing you to connect with customers in a way that is transparent, honest and human. With some strategic planning and a healthy dose of empathy, Facebook advertising allows you to establish your company not only as a thought leader in your niche, but as a brand that customers actually like and want to engage with.

In this regard, Facebook advertising is less about cramming your product down people’s throats and more about fostering trust and loyalty through honest communication.

 

  1. Visual nature creates demandVisual

Humans are highly visual creatures, and few things resonate with our sense of desire as much as a well-placed image or video. Consequently, visual content is very much the name of the game in the modern marketing world. In fact, 95 percent of marketers say their visual content is at least twice as effective as their text content, while almost 1 in 10 report it be 10 times more effective, according to figures collated by Chute and Digiday.

Simply put, bang for buck, there is no better platform for your visual content than Facebook. More than 350 million images are uploaded to Facebook daily, while 100 million hours of video are watched every single day.

How can you get in on the visual action?

 

  • Images: Create demand and strengthen your company’s brand. Image carousels can be used to showcase new products, while infographics are an effective way of condensing data-heavy reports into easily digestible tidbits.
  • Videos: Take your storytelling to the next level. Educate your audience with how-tos and demonstration videos, create excitement for new products or take your customers behind the scenes. Facebook’s algorithms tend to favour video content, so a well crafted video can have excellent results.
  • Live videos: Candid and spontaneous, Facebook Live gives customers a transparent window into your business that can further build trust.

 

Proof!

I’ve worked with a number of Kiwi businesses across a variety of niches, all of which have seen fantastic results from Facebook advertising. Get in touch today to discuss how targeted Facebook advertising could work for your business.