9 Tips for Writing Great Headlines in 2017

If an advertisement or a content piece lacks a great headline, it doesn’t matter how good what’s inside is. You might as well toss out the effort you spent writing it and setting up your campaign.

There’s no sense in dedicating any time to creating content or running ads if your headlines aren’t compelling. It’s like writing a wonderful book and giving it an awful cover. Potential readers won’t click to read more if there’s nothing to pique their interest. (For example, if this post was titled “Headline Advice” you probably wouldn’t be reading it right now.)

tips for writing great headlines 2017

So what strategies work for creative, clickable headlines right now? Let’s take a look at nine powerful, reproducible ways to write a great headline this year, with plenty of examples. Let’s make sure your content gets the traffic it deserves!

Tip #1: Use Simple but Powerful Language

The language you choose naturally impacts the click-worthiness of your headline. When using words that are bland, uninspiring, or unknown by most, your potential readers are going to be turned off.

Instead stick with language that is simple, but powerful. For example, try turning your headline into a call-to-action with words such as “Try” or “Click,” or addressing the reader directly by using the word “You.” Transform a generic headline with a power word like “never.”

outbrain headline research

Positive vs. negative headlines

Keeping the language simple will be your best bet to getting more eyes on your post. Don’t use the word “utilize” when the word “use” will do.

Examples of headlines with simple but powerful language:

  • How to fix all your sleep problems with science – via Bright Side
  • NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try – via TechCrunch

Tip #2: Target a Keyword with High Search Volume

What use is running an ad or creating a video if people aren’t even interested in the topic? Every headline you write should target a specific keyword with significant search volume – this not only ensures that your headline is optimized to drive targeted traffic through organic or paid search, but it proves that people are actively looking for information related to the topic. Is the keyword you’re targeting something that people are actually searching for? If the answer is no, then it’s useless.

There are plenty of tools you can use to find high-volume keywords to use in your headlines, from WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool to paid tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer. If you have an AdWords account, you can use their Keyword Planner (under “Tools” > “Keyword Planner”).

Type in some potential keywords to get an idea of their volume, and target terms with medium to high search volume. Just keep in mind that for keywords with very high search volume, the competition is going to be much steeper, and your content will have to be that much more amazing to rank on the SERP.

keyword research for headline writing

Using Keyword Planner to research keyword volume for “tropical vacations”

Tip #3: Make a Bold Statement

Introducing a shock factor into your headline will almost always ensure high click-through rates. Think about ways to spice your title up, and word it in a way that instantly draws readers in. Making a bold, opinionated or controversial statement is a sure way to do this.

One brand that absolutely kills their headline game time and time again is Refinery29, an online publication that caters to women readers. I have to actively resist opening their email newsletters, since I’ll end up spending 30 minutes more then I planned to on my phone (but it’s hard because their subject lines are so enticing!).

The reason Refinery29 excels at this is because their headlines are typically very opinionated, and leave the reader wanting more. Check out the examples below – Chrissy Teigen had cosmetic surgery?! Why would I want to anger Beyonce’s publicist? You get the point!

extra bold headlines

Controversy!

Here are a few more examples of headlines that make bold claims:

  • Become a millionaire by age 30 – via Business Insider
  • There’s no such thing as a good Trump voter – via Slate

Tip #4: Include Numbers in Your Headline

This tip may seem obnoxiously obvious, but I couldn’t leave it out because it’s proven time and time again to be effective. People are inherently attracted to numbers and lists. They’re easy for the brain to process, and they ensure your future reader that the format is going to be easy to digest (like this post, and mostly every single post I write).

“Numbers work well in headlines because humans like predictability and dislike uncertainty,” says Buffer’s Courtney Seiter. Conductor also conducted a study where they found that headlines with numbers significantly outperform headlines without numbers.

headlines with numbers data

Headlines with numbers are 36% more popular

Examples of great headlines with numbers:

  • 45 Productivity Tips for Extremely Busy People – via The Muse
  • 9 Things You Should Never Say When Asking for a Raise – via Salary.com
  • 40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2017 – via this blog right here

Tip #5: Do Your Competitive Research

Have your competitors written articles or run ads around the same topic you’re planning to cover? What headlines did they use? What are the headlines of the pages that are already ranking in Google? How can you make yours better?

These are the types of questions you should be asking in order to write more compelling headlines. If your headline doesn’t stand out from the millions that are laid upon us every single day, then the chances of grabbing high CTR’s are low.

headline writing

Buzzsumo research reveals popular headlines on the topic of “tattoos”

Google your keyword and see what pops up in that #1 ranking. Also, use content curation tools like Buzzsumo to search for your keyword/topic, and see which related articles have gotten the most shares. Why was that? A great headline often drives people to reshare it with their audience. How can you craft a headline that’s even more enticing? Research is critical!

Tip #6: Ask a Strange or Funny Question

Questions, especially weird ones, are the perfect way to grab someone’s attention in a way that leaves them wanting more, creating a so-called curiosity gap. Why? Because the instinct is to want to uncover the answer, which can’t be done unless they click on the headline and visit your website. If used right, this method guarantees high CTR’s.

perpexed emoji

“Questions appeal to reader emotions like few others can,” says Helen Nesterenko of Writtent. “It promotes that ever-important conversational tone vital to a good blog post. It makes readers want to know more.”

It’s important to be strategic about your question asking strategy. Copyhackers recommends never asking questions in a misleading way, which could turn potential readers away.

Examples of great headlines based on questions:

  • Why are you still using Microsoft Word? – via Gizmodo
  • Could you pass a 1954 Home Economics class? – via Buzzfeed
  • Is bloody pink chicken safe to eat? – via Epicurious 

Tip #7: Create a Sense of Urgency

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing, and it works tremendously well when writing headlines. Instill a sense of urgency by giving a date when a special offer expires and using urgent language like in the example AdWords ad below.

headlines with urgency

The description line reads, “Book Now & Get Extra $15 on JetBlue Airlines, Flights Tickets. Hurry!” By using the word “Hurry!” you’re urging your reader to click-through and take advantage of this limited-time offer. This can work even better when giving an exact deadline time, for example “3 hours left!” or “Limited Tickets! 20% Discount Expires Tonight.” Learn more about using countdown customizers in your ads to make this process automated here, and try this technique out in your headlines too.

Examples of headlines that build urgency:

  • Marketers: Are you ready for Canada’s July 1 spam law? – via Venture Beat
  • 19 Simple Tips to Reduce Your Bounce Rate Today – via ConversionXL

Tip #8: Leave an Air of Mystery

There’s an art to how much information you should divulge in a headline, but you should never reveal your main takeaway. If you do, the reader will have no reason to click-through and read the rest of your content.

For example, check out the three articles trending on Today.com below. All three of them are intriguing, and all of them leave the reader wanting to learn more.

great headline writing

For example, the first headline reveals that Jimmy Kimmel has an update on his baby, but we aren’t sure what that update is. The second headline implies that Chrissy Metz wore a tight dress to the MTV movie awards, but we can’t see the full dress, and we’re also not given the message she delivered to body shamers. Finally, the third headline doesn’t tell us whether talcum powder causes cancer or not. We have to click to get the answers!

There’s a fine line, though, between too much and too little information, so make sure you’re giving enough information to build interest, but not so much that the reader feels fully informed just by reading the headline.

Examples of great headlines that will make you oh-so-curious:

  • 17 Facts You Won’t Believe Are True – via Buzzfeed
  • Three Job Interview Mistakes You Think You Avoided But Actually Didn’t – via Fast Company
  • Earthworms are more important than pandas (if you want to save the planet) – via The Conversation
  • 7 Reasons the Best Employees Quit, Even When They Like Their Job – via Inc.
  • Here’s Why You Should Never Get Up To Pee In The Middle Of The Night – via Little Things

Tip #9: Write Multiple Headlines and Vote on the Best

This is a strategy I’ve used ever since I started writing headlines for articles and titles for presentations. Let yourself do a complete brain dump of all the headline ideas you have. Think about ways that you can mix and match them together. Then share the top three to five best headlines with your team and ask them to vote. You’ll likely come to a clear consensus in no time.

best headline writing tips

With these tips, your headline writing game has the potential to reach new click-through rate highs!

About the Author:

Margot is a Customer Success Manager at Wistia. She loves all things digital, and spends her free time running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

Twitter: @ChappyMargot

Google+: +Margot da Cunha

Blog: http://www.margotshealthhub.com/

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4 PPC Experts on the Best New Features & Strategies of 2017 (So Far)

PPC is all about constantly innovating, testing, measuring, and improving. That means leveraging all the latest ad features and formats, exploring new ad networks, and implementing new strategies.

So what’s been working for PPC marketers this year so far, in Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and elsewhere? To find out, we asked four of the best to share what new things they’ve tried out so far this year and had success with.

best ppc

Less whining, more wining

These four leading PPC marketers were kind enough to share their secrets with all of us today:

New Ad Feature #1: AdWords Message Extensions

In October 2016, AdWords introduced Message Extensions, which made it easy for users to click to text businesses directly from the SERP.

message extensions

Aaron Levy called AdWords Message Extensions “our surprise success of the year.” Here’s what Levy had to say:

Aaron Levy

“We have a few clients whose conversion’s tend to skew mobile and toward phone calls. Implementing message extensions has led to a few surprising results. When the message extensions show, we’re seeing CTR nearly double in a highly competitive category.

Funny thing is we’re not seeing users click on the extension itself very often – slightly more often than we’d see for sitelinks, but not by much – maybe 15 percent of total clicks, albeit not necessarily on the extension itself. It may be the way that we’ve set it up (we say chat with a live expert rather than text us), so that may have skewed the behavior.

When users do click on the extension itself, their conversion to sale rate is strong and is far easier to track vs. recording a phone call or getting a rep to jot things down. Volume has been throttled so far (both due to limitations on our end and Google’s), but we’re excited to see what happens as more simple mobile options take hold.”

Pretty exciting results!

New Ad Feature #2: Account-Level Sitelinks

At the end of August, AdWords released account-level sitelink extensions.

Lisa Raehsler said she has been taking full advantage of this awesome new feature this year. This lets you create a single set of sitelinks that are applied to all of your AdWords campaigns:

Lisa Raehsler“This has enabled us to add a higher level of strategy to ad extensions where we can focus on more general, account-wide messaging as a default if we need it. It’s appropriate to use account sitelinks as a default in smaller to medium-sized accounts or in branding campaigns.

Since campaign and ad group level sitelinks override higher-level sitelinks, we have more options for detailed messaging. This is another big time-saver for my clients who prefer to use account-wide messaging.”

Now we’re rolling. But there’s still much more to go.

New Ad Format: Responsive Display Ads

The 2016 Google Summit will probably be best remembered for the launch of Expanded Text Ads. But another ad type announced that day – Responsive Display Ads – is really paying off so far this year.

responsive display ads

Raehsler calls these ads one of her favorite recent AdWords releases. Here’s why:

“They are appropriate for almost any advertiser and easy to implement. We now have more flexibility and opportunity to focus on the creative and messaging, not the technical hassle of creating ten different ad sizes as in the past.

It’s been a big time saver on ad management and I have found my clients using this ad type are seeing average-to-above average CTR, and a below average CPC on this ad type. Moving forward, we intend to get more granular with across the board with messaging and images on the responsive ads to further our testing on combinations that perform best.”

That covers the new ad types and formats. Now let’s talk strategy.

New Strategy: Voice Search

Voice search is becoming a big deal. Twenty percent of mobile queries are already voice searches, according to Google. And Gartner has predicted that by 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be screen-less. Clearly, adoption is going to continue soaring.

voice search

This is why Purna Virji has had one consistent message for her fellow PPCers this year: embrace voice search. Start testing now while the risk and competition is low. She even wrote a helpful step-by-step guide on how to get started.

Virji said there are several actionable steps PPC advertisers can take right now:

“My favorite part about voice search is just how clear the intent is in the query. For example, if I typed in ‘hotels in the Bahamas’, you’d have no idea whether I was looking for a romantic getaway, a singles trip or a family vacation. Chances are the results would be different for each. But if I asked Cortana, ‘which are the best family-friendly hotels in the Bahamas,’ then a far more targeted result could be served.

Purna VirjiIn this way, we could get clear insights into our audiences – in their own words. PPCs can expand their keyword lists, more accurately adjust their bids and budgets based on intent and work to show the right messaging at the right time.”

Virji added a tip for those who want to minimize the risk associated with testing high CPC keywords:

“Across many verticals the CPCs on Bing Ads can be lower than on the competition. As a result, it can often be a safer and more strategic idea to conduct your tests on Bing Ads first and then scale them out across channels.”

More: OK Google: How Do I Optimize My Site for Voice Search?

New Network: Quora Ads (Beta)

PPC marketers are known for boldly going where no marketers have gone before. Such is the case for Kirk Williams, who has been intrigued by Quora Ads, currently in beta.

What’s he seeing from Quora ads so far this year?

“We’ve been experimenting with Quora Ads in a few client accounts and have been intrigued by the (limited) results thus far. One of our clients is an online platform for learning data science. Their marketing director approached us about Quora Ads a few months ago, and we decided to give it a shot. To be fair, we are still in the middle of the trial run, so the traffic is fairly low, but what we have seen come through is enough to get us excited about it as a new channel. 

quora ads

The two main things that I’ve come to appreciate about the Quora Ads beta are:

  1. The personal intent targeting is nearly as strong as search, which is really saying something! The Q&A format of Quora lends itself to fairly specific intent (e.g., “What is a good program for learning data science online?”). That question is loaded with high-quality intent potential for my client, and anyone clicking on it likely wants to actually discover the answer.
  2. Quora has such a strong organic presence on search engines. You can end up appearing in front of people you otherwise would not have had the budget to reach in your AdWords campaigns.

Quora Ads isn’t without its quirks, though.

For instance there is no way to currently target ads on a question level…only a topic level (in which the Quora Ads system chooses the best question within your targeted topic to display on).

kirk williamsThere are also stricter text requirements in your ads. For instance, you can’t use title case in the ad to make it stand out. Quora will disapprove it unless it is in sentence case (a Quora Ads rep told me at Hero Conference that this is to maintain branding and aesthetics within the platform itself).”

Despite these minor flaws, Williams is excited and looking forward to seeing how the Quora Ads platform matures.

What has you excited in the world of PPC right now?

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Google Releases New & Improved Quality Score Reporting

Is Quality Score some sort of pseudoscientific Google voodoo? Debatable.

Is it important for AdWords users attempting to gauge their PPC success at a granular level? Mm-hhhm.

Did something important happen recently with Quality Score or something? You betcha.

That’s right: Google just updated its reporting on Quality Score.

google adwords improves quality score reporting 

The new Quality Score reporting in AdWords

You see, back in the day (yesterday), if you wanted to learn more about why your Quality Scores were sucking or soaring, you had to rely on a silly little floating bubble. It was inconvenient, and without the aid of scripts and external spreadsheets, gleaning, well, anything useful was a chore.

Operative word: was. Yesterday, Google announced some changes to Quality Score reporting, changes that will afford you a more compelete understanding of the elusive QS metric and allow you to act on new insights with ease.

Let’s dig into the details.

Quality Score Reporting Update: Constituent Components Can Stand Alone

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the silly little floating bubble mentioned above…

google adwords quality score status bubble i 

Quality Score reporting: old version

As you can see, previously, Google would show you whether you were performing above or below average in three areas.

Now, in their announcement, Google acknowledged that these three bits of information (expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience) are crucial for advertisers. If one is out of whack, it can detrimentally impact performance (or, in some cases, put a stop to impressions entirely).

To make your life easier (woo!), Google has decided to add three new status columns to the Keywords tab reflecting—you guessed it—the individual components of a given keyword’s Quality Score.

The aim here, from Google’s point of view, is to give you “a comprehensive snapshot of your keywords’ current scores.” This will make it much easier for you to identify low-hanging fruit (improving ad relevance en masse by injecting targeted keywords into generic ad copy, for example) and complex issues (landing page and ECTR issues) that might be blocking your path to PPC success.

In addition, the new and improved Quality Score reporting gives you four columns’ worth of historical data to work with.

Historical Performance Is of the Utmost Importance

For Quality Score-obsessed advertisers out there (and I’m certain you’re out there somewhere), historical data is everything. Piecing this data together by either manually comparing change history with changes to Quality Score over time has long been prohibitively difficult.

Now that Google has decided to make historical Quality Score data accessible via columns in the Keywords tab, your life’s about to get easier.

These new columns will allow you to better understand how ad and landing page optimizations are impacting Quality Score (and subsequently everything from average CPC to CVR).

 google adwords quality score historical data

Now, there are three important things to know about these columns:

  • They reflect the last known score for the date range selected.
  • Historical data won’t be available for dates earlier than January 22, 2016.
  • Applying the “Day” segment to your Keyword reports will show daily values that reflect scores at the end of each day.

To help you understand what this looks like, let’s look at an example.

Let’s say it’s May 15 and you want to see what the Quality Score was for your keyword “Google AdWords” from March. 17 to April. 9. You navigate over to the Keywords tab, alter your date range to reflect the right timeframe, and pull in two columns: Qual. Score and Qual. Score (hist.).

By pulling in the Quality Score column (the one you’re familiar with) you can see how your Quality Score looks today. The Quality Scores (hist.) column, on the other hand, will show you what the Quality Score the chosen keyword was during the selected period (in this case, 3/17/2017-4/9/2017).

Note that if there aren’t enough impressions or clicks to accurately determine a keyword’s Quality Score for the historical date range you’ve chosen, you’ll see a null Quality Score (“—”).

New Quality Score Reporting: The Bottom Line

As you well know, Quality Score matters. A lot. And this new and improved reporting means you can use past (and current) performance to ensure future success.

If used correctly, this new QS data should make it simple for you to uncover specific areas within your account where, say, landing page experience needs some love. This means you don’t need to waste time guessing and potentially optimizing for the wrong Quality Score components, freeing up both time and money. 

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Industry Report: State of the Internet Marketing Agency in 2017

Little-known fact: about a third of WordStream’s customer base consists marketing agencies that use WordStream Advisor for Agencies to better serve their clients.

We got to thinking – wouldn’t it be great if we could tap this group of customers to learn more about what makes the typical agency tick these days, then share that data with our customers and other readers?

marketing agency survey results

So that’s just what we did! We sent a survey to our agency clients and collected data from almost 200 marketing agencies from all over the world that offer paid search marketing services. These agencies answered 10 questions about what industries they serve, what services they offer, how they structure pricing and fees, their greatest challenges, plans for growth and more.

Below you’ll find the results of our State of the Industry report – here’s how agencies are getting it done in 2017!

How do agencies price their paid search services?

marketing agency pricing structures

About half of responders base fees for paid search services on a flat fee or retainer. Less than a third (28%) base pricing on a percentage of spend, while only 12% use billable hours. (Billable hours may undersell the value you’re offering if you use agency software to improve efficiency.)

What percentage of spend do you charge?

percentage of spend agency pricing

For those that price based on a percentage of spend, most agencies (39%) charge 15-20% of client spend, while a quarter (25%) charge 10-15% of client spend. Only 5% of agencies charge less than 10% of spend.

Does your agency charge a setup fee for new clients?

agency setup fees

About two-thirds of agencies charge a setup fee for new clients. This makes sense, because setting up a new account or restructuring an inherited account can be one of the most time-consuming and difficult parts of paid search management. If you’re not charging setup fee, it might be time to start.

Does your agency have full-time employees dedicated to paid search?

paid search agency

Very few of our agency clients have more than two full-time employees dedicated to paid search, meaning most reps are wearing multiple hats and doing more than one thing. About a third of respondents only have one full-time employee dedicated to paid search, while another third have none at all that are purely dedicated to paid search.

What other services does your agency offer?

marketing agency services

The vast majority, about 85%, of agencies that took our survey offer SEO. Web development, social media, and content marketing services are also very popular, at 83%, 81%, and 77% respectively, followed by email marketing, display marketing, and creative services. “Other” responses varied widely, with services including video, conversion rate optimization, local advertising, branding, PR, reputation management, managed chat/texting, sales coaching, and print advertising.

How much time does your agency spend on paid search?

online agencies paid search

We’re happy to say that our software helps most of our customers spend less than a quarter of their time on paid search management!

What are the biggest challenges your agency faces this year?

agency challenges

Digital marketing agencies’ biggest challenges in 2017 are managing time (39%) and getting new clients (38%). Less than 10% of agencies are struggling with client retention, lack of training, or keeping up with changes in paid search.

Is your agency anticipating growth in paid search spend under management this year?

marketing agency growth plans

61% of our agency clients are planning to grow the amount of paid search spend they manage this year by more than 25%. About a third are planning for growth of less than 25%, while only about 5% of marketing agencies are not planning for growth in the paid search channel.

What industries do your clients work in?

marketing agency client industries

The industries that are using agencies to manage their online advertising run the gamut. Popular industries in these agencies’ client bases include e-commerce, home services, real estate, auto, and legal. “Other” responses again varied widely, including verticals such as food/restaurants/hospitality, tourism/hotels, education, fitness, healthcare, finance, nonprofits, and construction.

What percentage of paid search accounts you manage were not created by your agency?

marketing agency data

Fewer than 10% of agencies are managing inherited paid search accounts that they did not create. 63% of agencies who responded say that less than a quarter of the accounts they manage were not created in-house.

State of the Agency in 2017: Key Takeaways

Based on these survey results, we’ve noticed a few overarching trends:

  • Agencies are incredibly busy! Agencies are offering a ton of different services to businesses in a ton of different industries, and rarely have reps who are dedicated to one activity full-time. That means time management can be a struggle, and growth depends on finding ways to get client work done more efficiently without sacrificing quality.
  • Retainer pricing with a set-up fee is the top pricing option. Agency pricing structures vary, but almost twice as many agencies use a flat-fee or retainer structure compared to charging as a percentage of spend. Further, about twice as many agencies charge a set-up fee compared to agencies that don’t.
  • Growth is its own challenge. Most agencies want to grow the amount of paid search spend they manage this year by more than 25%, but they also cite landing new clients as one of their biggest challenges. Again, efficiency is key, so agencies can carve out time from their busy schedules for client prospecting.

*

Were there any surprises in the results? Other burning questions about agencies you’d love to know the answer to? Let us know!

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Can You Trust SEO Tool Proprietary Metrics, How SEO Has Changed & M embers Speak on Latest Advertising Changes – Weekly Forum Update

On a strategic angle this week, members discuss to what degree you can trust proprietary link metrics in SEO tools.

Also, members talk about how the SEO game has changed from the 1990s to present.

In the tactical realm, members react to changes in Adsense, Facebook Algo, and consider a of if a site should roll back HTTPS if Google drops your traffic after the migration.

Does increase in a website’s traffic increase Domain Authority of that website?

Members provide insights on what exactly Domain Authority metric means.

For context, Domain Authority refers to a properetry Moz metric to try to gauge the “authority” of a link. This metric is typically used for backlink analysis. Member prof.stan states that the DA metric very often does not match Google algorithms.

Members discuss the overall value of such a metric with the consensus being that such metrics are created by SEO providers and are not reflective of how Google may valuate links. In one of our episodes of the Jim & Ann Show, which you can check out here.

On the top, Jim says that you can’t trust Domain Authority (DA) metrics or “toxic link” metrics because none of the available tools have as deep of an index among other reasons.

What makes someone an official SEO?

In this thread, Kim Kruse Berg muses on what makes someone an official SEO, referencing Gary Illyes naming of what he thought was top SEOs.

Kim muses if much like software developers that now work from libraries, if SEOs are now just a form of Google marketer.

Ever Increasing Monetization Of Google Local And The Experts That Love Google

Member earlpearl, shares an account of how he is observing increased aggressive monetization of local listings. Member EGOL, shares that the same seems to be true for universal search but seems to imply that we cannot fault Google for seeking to maximize profits for shareholders.

Earlpearl continues on to share accounts of several SMB’s he works on and experience trying to drive leads on the organic and paid search front.

Facebook Changes Algo to Cut Back on Low Quality Content and Ads

According to member Engine Facebook has been taking action to control low quality ads in the newsfeed, stating that some actions taken include

“using artificial intelligence to identify pages and sites that have similar characteristics”.

How will this affect advertisers overall?

Google AdSense “Ad Balance” Gives Publishers Greater Control Over Ads

Engine shares Googles new “Ad Balance” feature for collapsing unfilled ad units.

Publishers share their thoughts on the feature and their experiences from trying it out.

Have you moved back from HTTPS to HTTP?

Given the news across the forum-scape that moves to HTTPS have resulted in a loss of organic search traffic, Webmaster world members weigh if its worth going back or not.

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From RepPilot.com/info: Small Business Trends Presents: Pam Dierks of Dierks Farm

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How a Travel Consultancy Goes the Distance with WordStream

For some businesses expanding their online marketing, the best way to bridge the knowledge gap is to leverage award-winning software.

For others, though, turning the keys over to the experts makes more sense.

That’s exactly what Travel Nation did in 2014 when they signed on with WordStream as a Managed Services client.

wordstream managed services case study travel nation 

The UK-based travel and tourism company, which specializes in creating fully customized holidays to destinations all over the world, was growing too quickly for the in-house marketing team (of one!) to keep up with both customer demands and manage a successful paid search account.

Travel Nation used WordStream Advisor for a year, saw promising improvements, but ultimately determined that, due to some pretty unique business challenges (more on that in a moment) and the limited number of hours in a day, outsourcing their paid search efforts made sense.  

They decided to make the leap from WordStream Advisor to our Managed Services offering. This is their story.

Origin Story

“Travel Nation has been arranging bespoke, ‘round-the-world holidays since 2001,” says George Mirabelli-Montan, the company’s Digital Marketing Manager. They curate everything from fully bespoke round the world holidays to multi-stop gap years with a singular goal in mind: to give each client the trip of a lifetime.

wordstream managed services travel nation marketing team 

Unfortunately, travel can be a fickle vertical, prone to seasonal fluctuation and at the mercy of an ever-growing suite of DIY vacation options. From a PPC perspective, hedging against search queries that lack commercial intent, developing remarketing lists, and generating compelling ad creative can be a huge ask, especially for a small, resource-strapped marketing department.

George manages all of Travel Nation’s marketing, the overwhelming majority of which is digital, with the help of her coworker Adam. This means just two people were responsible for:

  • On-site and off-site SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • And of course, PPC

And, as if that wasn’t enough to leave even an Einsteinian head swimming, here’s the kicker: Travel Nation operates in 3 different languages. “I also supervise our French and German marketing with support from our French and German web editors and a little PPC in those languages too,” says George, “The role itself is quite diverse.”

Understatement of the century.

Challenges on the Horizon

To optimize PPC performance (and alleviate some of George’s workload), Travel Nation decided to use WordStream Advisor, which is designed to make account management is painless as possible for busy marketers. And whatta ya know: it worked.

“We saw promising improvements in our PPC account after 12 months of using WordStream Advisor’s 20-minute work week,” recalls George.  She attributes a lot of this early success to the “supportive fortnightly calls from our account manager, which helped me make informed choices and gradually optimize the account.”

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While the software itself offers prescriptive, account-specific advice, it was the educational and strategic advice from WordStream’s in-house experts that sold George. “My account manager essentially provided training on how to use AdWords more productively,” she said. “I could see the impact we were making.”

Despite finding success, though, after a year of working like this, George’s role became more demanding. It was, at this point, that she decided outsourcing would be beneficial.

“I wanted to free up more of my time and get more done inside the account. I’m a strong believer in taking the long view with PPC and not implementing ad hoc changes without the strategy to back them up or to test them. I simply didn’t have time to do this.”

After entertaining the idea of hiring a digital marketing agency or bringing the role in-house, Travel Nation ultimately decided to switch to WordStream’s Managed Services offering.

The Conundrum: In-House vs. Agency

Aside from continuing to optimize performance, improve lead volume, and save time, Travel Nation was in search of a PPC option with little to no ramp-up required.

“It can take quite some time for whoever is managing our account to understand the nuances of our business and what we’re trying to achieve through PPC,” says George, “and training a new employee would have taken months.”

 wordstream managed services offering

While other agencies were an option, WordStream’s Managed Services appealed to Travel Nation because they’d already proven themselves adept. “Not only did WordStream already understand our business, they had a hand in helping us develop our strategy, too. Between that and the year of positive results we’d seen using WordStream Advisor, it was a no-brainer.”

WordStream paired Travel Nation with a strategist on the Managed Services team who had found success with travel-industry clients in the past. Together, George and her new strategist developed a set of hyper-specific account goals aimed at reducing CPA.

Time Isn’t on Your Side, But We Are

When you own or work for a small business being behind the eight ball is inevitable.

For Travel Nation, even though KPIs were solid, routine account optimization like A/B testing and developing campaigns on new channels had to be put on the back burner.

That is, until Managed Services took over.

wordstream managed services travel nation holiday planning 

“With Managed Services there is far less procrastination and much more is achieved,” says George. “Work on the account is no longer dependent on me carving out time.”

This improved efficiency isn’t limited to day-in-day-out account work: it goes for high-level strategy, too. Thanks to a streamlined, in-depth onboarding process, Travel Nation has played a pivotal role in developing goals and expectations. Because there’s a clearly defined roadmap in place, improvement and optimization are never hindered by George’s hectic schedule.

Managed Services affords Travel Nation (and a slew of other clients) the ability to apply maximum effort in the arenas where they’re equipped to succeed; WordStream handles efficient account growth, strategy, and optimization so you can focus on what matter most: building your business.

Focus on Growing Your Business, Not Your AdWords Account

Achieving peak efficiency is the best. Knowing that you’re pulling down leads or sales at the right price for your business is second only to them falling into your lap free of charge. But once you’ve whittled away your bad ads, pared back superfluous keywords, and further segmented your remarketing lists, the logical next step is maintaining this newfangled efficiency at scale.

 wordstream managed services case study travel nation bespoke travel UK

Unfortunately, achieving affordable growth—implementing new strategies without seeing your CPA balloon—can be a real challenge. Travel Nation learned this first hand.

“The genius of the 20-Minute Work Week software is what originally attracted us to WordStream. We chipped away at the seemingly mountainous task of account management with an element of strategy and productivity and everything was great. Until the mountain started to grow.”

After switching to Managed Services, though, the feeling of staying on top of everything soon returned. “The time saving is enormous,” says George.

“I’m able to keep up to date with the strategy side and suggest new campaigns to support new endeavors, but the burden of implementation falls on our account manager. It’s like having a specialist on our team!”

Well, sort of.

While Managed Services account managers work closely with clients, their status as a literal outsider offers a unique vantage point. “We knew the value of the continued, weekly input of an expert could pay dividends,” says George. “When our focus becomes too narrowed, our account manager is there to keep our successes grounded and correct the course if need be.”

Our Relationships Are Your Relationships

WordStream’s relationships with Google, Facebook, and Bing are second to none. While this has helped us establish a strong foothold as PPC industry thought leaders, the real benefit is to our clients.

“While we considered appointing someone internally to run our PPC account, we ultimately decided that WordStream’s relationship with Google represented a level of support and access we simply couldn’t replicate. Every time I read about a new release or change to AdWords, I can speak to her about what that means for our account and work towards implementing it.”

wordstream managed services cuba trip travel nation 

Outside of relationships with advertising networks, which affords clients access to Betas and allows issues to be escalated to internal review teams post haste, clients form personal relationships with their account managers, too.

And sometimes, those relationships turn into valuable assets.

George told us that Travel Nation’s account manager “is passionate about travel, which is subtly helpful as she understands our business from a commercial perspective, but also from a customer’s perspective. She’s both proactive and well informed. She’s as excited as we are about improved metrics in the account, which just makes managing the account together more rewarding.”

Winning Together

It was a huge step for Travel Nation to fully outsource their PPC account but, per George, using WordStream Managed Services has resulted in:

  • More leads
  • Improved lead quality
  • Lower CPA
  • Incalculable time savings

“They’ve helped me overcome the inertia of ‘I’m-too-busy-to-think-about-all-of-this’,” says George, “which can become pervasive in small, busy marketing teams.”

This allows George and her growing team (in addition to Adam, the team also includes French and German translators and editors) to focus their efforts on creating great on-site, social, and email content while ensuring Travel Nation’s PPC campaigns are “always monitored, always being improved, and continually striving towards a stronger ROI.”

Learn more about how Managed Services can help your business.

from Wordstream Blog Feed http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/05/12/travel-nation-customer-spotlight
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from Blogger http://barrymilton.blogspot.com/2017/05/how-travel-consultancy-goes-distance.html
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