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10 Google updates you may have missed

Google rarely stands still. In fact, the search giant claims to tweak its search algorithms at least 3 times per day.

Some of these updates are bigger than others, and the past month has brought an unprecedented wave of newsworthy enhancements.

Just yesterday, for example, the industry was abuzz with the news that Google would officially be using page speed as a ranking factor in its mobile search algorithm from July.

Not all of Google’s updates make a huge splash, however, and as a result some of them might have slipped under your radar. To help out, we’ve rounded up the 10 recent Google updates that are most likely to impact search marketers.

1. 16 months of Search Console data(!)

Perhaps the most common request from SEOs to Google over the past few years has been to add more historical data to Search Console. The 3-month limit has always been a hindrance to SEO performance analysis, particularly as we have come to rely on Search Console for query-level data.

After a period of beta testing, Google has now released a new version of Search Console, replete with 16 months of historical data. It will be rolled out slowly over the coming months, but many are already seeing the changes live in their dashboards. The historical data will soon be available via the Search Console API, too.

To say this has been greeted positively in the industry would be an understatement.

There is more to the new Search Console than additional data, however. The new Index Coverage report provides insight into the URLs Google has indexed from your site, along with explanations of any indexation issues. The ability to filter and segment data to a much more granular level than before will be a hugely beneficial addition.

The Issue Tracking feature will also enable users to identify any indexation problems and share action items directly with team members.

Finally, Search Console is bringing all the functionality SEOs need to analyze and impact performance.

2. Real-world data in PageSpeed Insights

Google announced last week that its PageSpeed Insights tool will now use real world data, taken from the Chrome User Experience report. This move addresses perhaps the biggest drawback with PageSpeed Insights. Although the report’s intention (to reveal how quickly a URL loads) is an important one, its execution has been lacking, as its findings do not show how quickly a page loads for actual users.

That has led many in the industry to use other resources for their page speed checks, including the Chrome User Experience report API.

Google has made clear exactly how the new PageSpeed Insights improves on older iterations:

  • The Speed score categorizes a page as being Fast, Average, or Slow. This is determined by looking at the median value of two metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOM Content Loaded (DCL). If both metrics are in the top one-third of their category, the page is considered fast.
  • The Optimization score categorizes a page as being Good, Medium, or Low by estimating its performance headroom. The calculation assumes that a developer wants to keep the same appearance and functionality of the page.
  • The Page Load Distributions section presents how this page’s FCP and DCL events are distributed in the data set. These events are categorized as Fast (top third), Average (middle third), and Slow (bottom third) by comparing to all events in the Chrome User Experience Report.
  • The Page Stats section describes the round trips required to load the page’s render-blocking resources, the total bytes used by the page, and how it compares to the median number of round trips and bytes used in the dataset. It can indicate if the page might be faster if the developer modifies the appearance and functionality of the page.
  • Optimization Suggestions is a list of best practices that could be applied to this page. If the page is fast, these suggestions are hidden by default, as the page is already in the top third of all pages in the data set.

Given the importance of page speed for mobile users, particularly in light of Google’s upcoming Speed Update algorithm change, this update will be a very significant one.

It will also provide better awareness of the stages of URL loading, which will help SEOs to communicate their desired changes to other audiences.

This has felt like an area in need of more technical specificity for some time, with many page speed reports spitting out little more than vague platitudes about “reducing JavaScript”. The introduction of metrics like “DOM Content Loaded” to a broader range of marketers can only be a positive development.

3. Meta description character limit increased 

The humble meta description has been given its biggest update for a considerable number of years.

Google confirmed to Search Engine Land in December that the potential snippet length has increased to 320 characters, although this does not mean that all sites will receive this extra space.

Nonetheless, there is evidence that there has been a general increase across the board in snippet length.

Rank Ranger, a tool that can track search results page features, showed a very notable rise in the average meta description length in December:

meta length

Of course, this will lead marketers to question whether they should re-write their descriptions, and what the new character limit should be.

One answer comes from Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz, who recommends a limit of 300 characters based on his recent research. That seems a useful rule of thumb, as Google has provided little insight into exactly how it decides where to truncate a snippet.

meta moz

In essence, Google wants to provide meta descriptions that reflect the changed nature of search results pages, and the devices on which people access them.

The new character limit is not, in and of itself, reason to re-write descriptions across a website. It does, however, open up the possibility of some experimentation to try and gain a competitive advantage.

The fundamentals of crafting meta descriptions remain the same; we just have more space in which to apply these best practices now.

4. New custom intent audiences

Google made a host of AdWords-based announcements in the run-up to the holidays. There is rarely a shortage of new features within the AdWords environment, but the release of new custom intent audiences was of particular interest.

These audience lists allow marketers to add a much greater level of detail to their targeting of new customers via the Google Display Network (GDN), through the creation of audience segments based on topics or keywords.

Even GDN novices will be able to introduce new prospects to their brand, as Google’s machine learning technology will analyze searcher data and automatically generate lists of users that would be open to hearing about a particular brand or product.

Anthony Chavez, director of product management for AdWords, said of the new feature:

“There are two flavors of custom intent audiences. In one variation, advertisers can create their own based on topics and URLs that people who are likely to be interested in their products read about and visit. The second variation is machine-learning based and automated.”

This also chimes with the recent moves to make search advertising a more comprehensive discipline that encompasses upper funnel tactics, as well as the tried and tested lower funnel tactics that have driven its phenomenal success.

Due to the ongoing competition with Facebook (plus the emerging threat from Amazon and Pinterest) for digital ad dollars, Google is investing heavily in new ways to provide value for marketers.

5. Rich results testing tool

Search engine results pages (SERPs) have come a long way from their early, text-only iterations.

This has created opportunities for marketers to engage with their audience through a multitude of media formats in the SERPs, but it has created some confusion too.

Not only are there different ways to mark up data, there are also plentiful different types of information that can be shown in the search results. Google has moved to categorize all of these under the umbrella term ‘rich results’ and the new testing tool (currently in beta) will reveal whether a specific URL is equipped to display rich snippets.

rich_results

Admittedly, Google does offer the following, comprehensive set of caveats to the tool’s current form:

beta

The limitations are currently listed as:

This test currently supports only the following rich result types:

  • Job posting
  • Recipe
  • Course
  • Movie

Even with all of those points in mind, we should view this a step towards a much more accessible entry to rich results for all marketers.

6. Voice search raters guidelines

The Search Quality Raters Guidelines are one of the most fascinating and transparent resources if we want to understand Google’s methodology for ranking search results.

Published on the Google Research Blog, the updated guidelines now include pointers for evaluating results on what Google terms “eyes-free technology.” The core focus here is the growth in Google Assistant interactions, underpinned by a realization that this new way of searching needs a way way of assessing the relevance of results.

 

The dimensions that are considered to be of particular importance for voice results are:

  • Information satisfaction: The content of the answer should meet the information needs of the user.

  • Length: When a displayed answer is too long, users can quickly scan it visually and locate the relevant information. For voice answers, that is not possible. It is much more important to ensure that we provide a helpful amount of information, hopefully not too much or too little. Some of our previous work is currently in use for identifying the most relevant fragments of answers.

  • Formulation: It is much easier to understand a badly formulated written answer than an ungrammatical spoken answer, so more care has to be placed in ensuring grammatical correctness.

  • Elocution: Spoken answers must have proper pronunciation and prosody. Improvements in text-to-speech generation, such as WaveNet and Tacotron 2, are quickly reducing the gap with human performance.

As we move towards new search interfaces, whether on the go or in the home, directives from Google make for invaluable reading. The full list of guidelines can be found here.

7. New rules for review extensions in AdWords

Google has been trying to find the right balance with its reviews in both paid and organic listings. Although genuine customer reviews are helpful for consumers, some third-party platforms can be filtered by brands to highlight only the positive scores in search results.

A lengthy list of restrictions has been published and Google made the following announcement:

Review extensions will no longer show with ads starting January 2018.
In February 2018, review extensions will be deleted along with their performance data. To save this data, download an extensions report by going to Extensions on the Ads & extensions page in AdWords. If you’d like to continue showing more information with your ads, we recommend using sitelinkscallouts and structured snippets extensions.
This is likely to affect the majority of paid search marketers and it follows the search giant’s attempts to clean up reviews in organic listings. The onus is on brands to provide a more transparent reflection of customer feedback if they want reviews to return to their PPC ads.

8. Google My Business allows video uploads

Google My Business now allows both merchants and customers to add videos of up to 30 seconds in length. Importantly, business owners can also flag videos that they deem to be irrelevant or unhelpful.

Image result for google my business videos

How it works:

  • Videos will appear in the overview tab of the Google My Business Dashboard
  • Customer uploaded videos can be found in the ‘customer’ tab
  • Merchant uploaded videos can be found in the ‘by owner’ tab
  • All videos can be viewed together in the ‘videos’ tab
  • After upload it could take up to 24 hours for the videos to appear. Once live, they will display where local photos do.

Google has also stated that native mobile support for this feature will follow in the near future.

9. Webmaster videos return

After a lengthy hiatus of about 3 years, Google has brought back its Webmaster Video series – now called ‘SEO Snippets’.

These short videos, hosted on YouTube, will tackle the most common questions from the Webmaster Forums. Within the last month, the series has already tackled topics including the eternal ‘sub-domain or sub-folder’ question, dealing with multiple H1 tags, and the impact of fixed penalties on SEO performance.

10. Google to vet premium YouTube content

Google has been under significant pressure to ensure that YouTube ads appear alongside relevant content over the last year. The controversy that followed the story of major brands’ ads appearing alongside extremist content damaged Google’s revenues and reputation, albeit not irreparably so.

Facebook has faced a similar struggle and it is one with no easy resolution. Monitoring the quantities of content uploaded to these sites every second is an uphill task, but Google is betting on the combination of people and technology to rebuild trust in YouTube ads.

All content that is promoted via the premium ‘Google Preferred’ advertising channel will be reviewed by a team of over 10,000 moderators and AI-driven technology that helps to root out inappropriate content.

There is a significant distance to travel before major brands trust YouTube to the same extent that they trust TV, but Google is taking measures to ensure that its highest-paying customers have some level of reassurance.

Related image

Although many of these headlines have made waves in the industry, even the most vigilant search professional would be forgiven for missing a few during such an increased period of activity.

Moving into 2018, the rate of progress in our industry is accelerating and marketers have more tools at their disposal than ever before to improve search performance.

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15 Visual Content Marketing Statistics That’ll Blow Your Mind

15 Visual Content Marketing Statistics That'll Blow Your Mind

With over 2 million blog posts published each day, you need to have something that helps your content stand out.

Honestly, just writing great content isn’t going to cut it anymore. There’s just too much content out there already for people to read.

You need to start creating exceptional and unique content that no other writer or brand can copy.

It needs to stand out from the noise on social media but also be useful to the user so they will come back.

I know that it’s a tough line to walk, but it can be done.

One of simplest ways to do this is by creating more visual content.

Content like videos, infographics, and posters that are visually appealing and easy to digest.

These are the things that will make people want to stop what they’re doing and read your post instead of the thousandth roundup of the best marketing quotes.

I can guarantee that creating more visual content is your path forward to success in 2018. Even for eCommerce businesses, visual content touches many aspects of your brand and bottom line.

And after you see all of these mind-blowing stats about visual content marketing, you’ll want to start designing ASAP.

1. Better recall: Up to 65% for visual content after three days

Studies have shown that people can recall 65% of the visual content that they see almost three days later. In comparison to about 10% of written content three days after it’s read.

Which means you should probably put your most important information or takeaways in a visual. You could summarize it in an infographic, like below, or just a simple graph or chart that shows the data.

2. 41.5% of marketers say that original graphics, like infographics, perform best

Using boring stock images as your visuals will not help your marketing efforts in 2018. You want to create something that is wholly unique.

Infographics are a great way to share information visually. And that is why 41.5% of marketers said that graphics like infographics are the most valuable.

Infographics even outranked the internet’s favorite file format, GIFs.

3. 30% of marketers create their own visuals

Only 30% of marketers create their own visuals, so it’ll be easy for you to get ahead of the pack.

And with design tools out there like Canva, Venngage, and PiktoChart, almost anyone can create a compelling visual. Whether it be a social media cover photo, a new video, or an infographic, there are tools for any skill level.

4. People share infographics 3x more than any other type of content

According to Hubspot’s research, infographics are shared 3x more than any other visual content on social media.

This is not surprising because they masterfully combine an interesting visual with useful content.

5. 30% more bloggers were using multiple images in 2017 than in 2016

In 2017, more bloggers were using multiple images in their articles than in any year prior. And it’s not a small increase. It’s over 30% more bloggers than in 2016.

Using multiple images or visuals in your blog posts is a great way to break up the content and make it easier to consume. I mean, look at all the visuals I have used so far in this article!

Plus, you can add some context or extra information to the written content with a well-designed visual.

6. People follow visual instructions 323% better than written instructions

One of the reasons that multiple images or infographics are so effective is that people follow them and can read them better. In fact, they can follow them 3x easier than strictly written directions.

Instructables is full of great examples of visual content that helps their readers:

If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you tried to put an IKEA table together with only written directions. I’m guessing that didn’t work out so well.

7. Visual content can make you real cash

If you’re a freelancer or a side hustle pro, you can also turn visual content into real cash. You can do it with a visually-driven course, a series of emails lessons, or a book. It’s really up to you!

For example, Jason Wong created the Holy Meme Bible, which did over $200,000 in sales in 3 weeks.

8. 74% of marketers use visuals in their social media content

If social media is more of your specialty, visual content marketing can help you as well.  With almost 75% of marketers using visuals on social media, it may seem that your content will not stand out.

However, as we saw above, most are sharing stock images or gifs that are not unique at all. And they are more noise than substance.

So share substantial and valuable content. The last thing Facebook and Twitter need are more commonplace pictures.

9. You get 37% higher engagement on Facebook if you use a visual

Facebook posts with images also drive more engagement than those without any images. In fact, they get almost 40% more interaction.

This makes a lot of sense. It’s a lot easier to see a post with an image than just a little block of text. Also, it takes up more of the screen, especially on mobile devices.

10. Tweets with visuals are retweeted 1.5x more

The pattern of more shares for visual posts continues with Twitter. In fact, the gap between engagement on visual shares and text-only shares is even more pronounced.

According to Buffer, Tweets that include a photo or visual should expect 1.5x more shares.

Like with any other social network or news feed, the posts with images take up more screen real estate than those without. It’s much harder to miss a share with an eye-catching or unique visual accompanying it.

11. 51% of B2B writers put visual content at the top of their list of priorities

It’s not only bloggers that are seeing the potential of using more visual content in their marketing.

More than half of all B2B writers are wanting to create more visual content in the next year. They want to create more engaging content as well, and better visual content can help them succeed.

12. Articles with images get 94% more views

Omitting images from your articles will only cause people to ignore them from the beginning. Articles with images get 94% more views than their visual-lacking counterparts.

The images in an article are a simple way to judge the quality of the content before you even read it.

You can make some great assumptions about how much effort a writer put into an article if there is an absence of visuals or if the author found the most generic stock image to add.

If I see articles like that out in the real world, I skip them immediately. And I know there are a ton of other people like me.

13. Video will be part of 80% of all internet content by 2019

Video is about to take over the content marketing world. Are you ready? If you think that some of the types of visual content that I have listed aren’t for you, then this section is for you.

In two short years, over 80% of all content that is shared on the internet will be in video form. And that percentage is likely to increase each year after that. It’s the way that the internet is moving, so why not get ahead of the other creators?

And the following stat should help you recognize why video is about to become king…

14. Facebook and Snapchat generate 15+ billion daily video views

In a single day, the two new titans in online video receive more than 15 billion views across their networks. That’s double the total human population on Earth, which makes this stat almost unbelievable.

But when you think about the number of videos you watch throughout your day, it makes a little more sense.

15. 4x more people would rather watch a video review of a product than read a review

This stat doesn’t surprise me at all because I watch product review videos on everything I buy. There is something about seeing the product in a video that a photo or write-up can’t match.

Also, you can get it in front of a million or so more people like Unbox Therapy did below:

Plus, when you’re watching a real human review something, it feels a lot more genuine on the whole. And you can use that to add a little something extra to your content marketing this next year.

Conclusion

And there you have it! These stats demonstrate the enormous power of visual content.

Do you want your content to stand out in the midst of all the noise online? Do you want to see better results with your content marketing?

Visual content is the answer.

Neglecting images in your content or using basic stock photos aren’t viable options. You won’t be able to compete with the competition even if your writing is top-notch.

Visual content is quickly dominating the internet world. Don’t fight it, and don’t get left behind. Start including original images, infographics, and videos in your content.

That will help you walk the fine line between standing out from the rest of the social media hype and producing useful content. You’ll find greater engagement with your audience, gain more recognition online, and yield better results with your content marketing strategy.

Are you ready to thrive in our rapidly-changing internet world? Visual content might just be the key ingredient you need to succeed.

Guest Author: Brad helps SaaS startups create actionable long-form content for a fraction of the price of a content writer. Give him a pug and a pencil and he’s off to the races!

The post 15 Visual Content Marketing Statistics That’ll Blow Your Mind appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

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What does Google’s “Speed Update” mean for mobile?

Yesterday, Google announced a major upcoming change to its mobile ranking algorithm.

In a short blog post entitled ‘Using page speed in mobile search ranking’, it explained that starting in July 2018, page speed will officially be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

The catchily-named “Speed Update” (a feat of inventive naming on a par with “Assistant”) is set to only affect “pages that deliver the slowest experience to users” and, in Google’s words, will only impact a “small percentage of queries”.

However, given that Google processes around 3.5 billion search queries per day (per Internet Live Stats), a “small percentage” can still amount to a lot of websites.

So for any website owners and SEOs who might be concerned about how this affects them, let’s examine what we know about the update so far, and what it means for mobile SEO.

Speed as a ranking factor: coming to a mobile update near you

Google has used page speed as a ranking factor on desktop since April 2010, but although having a fast mobile site has always stood companies in good stead for ranking well in search, it hasn’t been an official ranking factor in Google’s algorithm until now.

However, this announcement is far from coming out of left field. As far back as June 2016, Google webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that the next mobile algorithm update from Google would use page speed as a ranking factor.

Google has also frequently emphasized the importance of speed in mobile user experience in its advice to webmasters, and Google initiatives like Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps have aimed to furnish site owners with the tools to make their websites fast and streamlined on mobile.

The “Speed Update” announcement doesn’t give all that much new information about how website owners should improve their sites in order to rank well on Google, but here’s what we do know:

  • Speed Update will mainly impact the websites which deliver the “slowest experience” to users, although Google hasn’t given a benchmark by which webmasters can judge whether or not their site falls into this category.
  • It applies regardless of the technology used to build the page – so it would still apply to, say, AMP websites. If an AMP website for some reason delivers a slow experience, this would impact on its ranking.
  • Content relevance still trumps speed. In Google’s words, “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”
  • Google wants developers to “think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.” This means user experience matters as well as speed – we’ll come back to that in a bit.
  • There is no tool or notification that will tell webmasters whether their site is being affected by the update, but Google recommends using Chrome User Experience Report, Lighthouse or PageSpeed Insights to evaluate a page’s performance.

Spotlight on mobile user experience

As highlighted earlier, the language used by Google in its blog post indicates that the search engine is looking at not just speed, but overall mobile user experience with this update.

Google went so far as to spell this out in a Q&A with Search Engine Land, saying that, “The intent of the signal is to improve the user experience on search.”

In other words, site owners who want to score highly here need to pay attention to more than just page load time. This is underscored by Google’s recommendation of the Chrome User Experience Report as a tool to evaluate webpage performance in light of the update.

A lot of improvements to mobile page speed also improve the wider user experience on mobile – for example, videos and audio set to autoplay are annoying and inaccessible to users, and also slow the page down by loading unnecessary content – meaning that site owners can kill two birds with one stone.

Other steps that site owners can take to improve mobile UX include disabling annoying full-page pop-ups and interstitials (which Google is liable to penalize anyway) and implementing a slimmed-down, task-based design that allows users to quickly navigate to the functionality they need.

Above all, a mobile website should enable users to efficiently accomplish what they came there to do, without being bogged down by unnecessary bells and whistles. If you achieve this, you should be able to stay on the right side of the Speed Update algorithm both in terms of page performance and in terms of mobile experience.

Here are some more guides we’ve published that will help you get to grips with mobile SEO, site speed and UX ahead of the July update:

Mobile SEO

Mobile site speed

Mobile UX

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GhostTeam Adware can Steal Facebook Credentials

by Kevin Sun (Mobile Threat Analyst)

We uncovered a total of 53 apps on Google Play that can steal Facebook accounts and surreptitiously push ads. Many of these apps, which were published as early as April 2017, seemed to have been put out on Google Play in a wave. Detected by Trend Micro as ANDROIDOS_GHOSTTEAM, many of the samples we analyzed are in Vietnamese, including their descriptions on Google Play.

Their command-and-control (C&C) server points to mspace[.]com[.]vn. This, along with the considerable use of Vietnamese language, may indicate that the apps were from Vietnam. For instance, GhostTeam’s configurations are in English and Vietnamese. English will be the default language if the malware detects the geolocation to be outside Vietnam.

The apps pose as utility (flashlight, QR code scanner, compass) and device performance-boosting apps (file transfer, cleaner), and more notably, social media video downloaders. The use of video downloaders as social engineering hooks — enticing users with features that allow them to download videos for offline viewing — concurs with our detections for GhostTeam. India, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, and the Philippines, reported to have the most Facebook users, are also the most affected by GhostTeam.

While we haven’t seen active cybercriminal campaigns that use the stolen Facebook credentials so far, it’s not farfetched to think they would. As other cyberattacks and threats like the Onliner spambot showed, these credentials can be repurposed to deliver far more damaging malware or to amass a zombie social media army that can proliferate fake news or a cryptocurrency-mining malware. Facebook accounts, which can contain a wealth of other financial and personally identifiable information, are also peddled in the underground.


Figure 1: Top countries most affected by GhostTeam

Another clue pointed to the apps’ developers: The string “ghostteam” appears in the early versions of the malware’s code. The ghostteam package contains code that urges users to install a payload (GhostTeam_Demo.mp4). These are disguised as a package name spoofing a legitimate internet and technology service provider.


Figure 2: Icons of the Facebook account-stealing apps


Figure 3: Code structure containing the ghostteam package

How GhostTeam steals Facebook credentials
To ensure infection, the malware will only retrieve the payload after confirming that the device is not an emulator or a virtual environment. The payload disguises itself as “Google Play Services”, pretending to verify an app. If the unwitting user opens Google Play or Facebook, it displays an alert urging the would-be victim to install the fake Google Play Services. After installation, the payload will also prompt the user to activate/enable device administrator.

As exemplified by various Android mobile ransomware, adware such as TOASTAMIGO, and the GhostCtrl backdoor, device administrator privileges are abused as a persistence mechanism to put off users from uninstalling apps.

GhostTeam targets Facebook accounts. Once the user opens the Facebook app, a dialog will prompt him to verify his account. The verification process is a typical login procedure. Behind the scenes, however, it executes a WebView (responsible for rendering web pages in Android apps). The malicious code injected in the WebView client will steal the email and password used to log in to the Facebook app, which it sends to the C&C server.



Figure 4: Code snippet (encrypted above; decoded below) responsible for stealing Facebook credentials

Figure 5: GhostTeam sending the stolen credentials to the C&C server

GhostTeam also pushes ads
Besides stealing Facebook credentials, GhostTeam aggressively pops up ads. It keeps the device awake by showing ads in the background. It will display full-screen ads on the home screen if the user is interacting with the device.



Figure 6: GhostTeam posing as a video downloader

Best Practices
While advertisements from apps aren’t inherently bad, it becomes a perennial problem when they become intrusive, collect more information than necessary — or even become doorways for other malware. Users can significantly mitigate GhostTeam by disabling the device administrator feature, which is typically reserved for helping develop security-aware applications like homegrown enterprise, BYOD management, and antivirus apps.

Being security-aware also helps. Keep the device’s OS and apps updated and patched. Check the app’s reviews first before installing them, as they can help raise red flags if they show suspicious behavior such as requesting superfluous permissions. And more importantly, manage what you share online. Even a seemingly innocuous bit of data such as an email address can be used against you.

We disclosed our findings to Google, which promptly removed all the malicious apps in Google Play. Updates have also been made to Google Play Protect to take appropriate action on apps that have been verified to have violated Play policy. Google Play Protect has implemented expanded protections to ensure robust and scalable protections across the ecosystem. We also coordinated and shared our findings with Facebook. In an official statement, they said, “we are blocking the distribution of these apps where we can and we have systems to help detect compromised accounts and credentials.”

A list of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) comprising related hashes (SHA256), package names and app labels, is in this appendix.

Trend Micro Solutions
Trend Micro™ Mobile Security for Android™ (also available on Google Play) blocks malicious apps that may exploit this vulnerability. End users and enterprises can also benefit from its multilayered security capabilities that secure the device’s data and privacy, and safeguard them from ransomware, fraudulent websites, and identity theft.

For organizations, Trend Micro™ Mobile Security for Enterprise provides device, compliance and application management, data protection, and configuration provisioning, as well as protects devices from attacks that leverage vulnerabilities, preventing unauthorized access to apps, as well as detecting and blocking malware and fraudulent websites.

Trend Micro’s Mobile App Reputation Service (MARS) covers Android and iOS threats using leading sandbox and machine learning technologies. It can protect users against malware, zero-day and known exploits, privacy leaks, and application vulnerability.

Post from: Trendlabs Security Intelligence Blog – by Trend Micro

GhostTeam Adware can Steal Facebook Credentials

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21 Decorative vector elements edition #8

This a free decorative vector set edition 8 of our ever so popular vector series. This set contains 21 unique vector elements perfect for a variety of various uses, from illustrations to constructing unique seamless patterns.

I hope you like the vector set, and please do check out previous sets within this series, which are all free to download and use as you please.

License Details

The design resources distributed on Creative Nerds may be used in commercial and personal design projects, but may not be redistributed or modified for resell. Any further question or queries don’t hesitate to contact us.

Preview

decorative-vector-set-8

Download

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Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff

Most readers here have likely heard or read various prognostications about the impending doom from the proliferation of poorly-secured “Internet of Things” or IoT devices. Loosely defined as any gadget or gizmo that connects to the Internet but which most consumers probably wouldn’t begin to know how to secure, IoT encompasses everything from security cameras, routers and digital video recorders to printers, wearable devices and “smart” lightbulbs.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, attacks from massive botnets made up entirely of hacked IoT devices had many experts warning of a dire outlook for Internet security. But the future of IoT doesn’t have to be so bleak. Here’s a primer on minimizing the chances that your IoT things become a security liability for you or for the Internet at large.

-Rule #1: Avoid connecting your devices directly to the Internet — either without a firewall or in front it, by poking holes in your firewall so you can access them remotely. Putting your devices in front of your firewall is generally a bad idea because many IoT products were simply not designed with security in mind and making these things accessible over the public Internet could invite attackers into your network. If you have a router, chances are it also comes with a built-in firewall. Keep your IoT devices behind the firewall as best you can.

-Rule #2: If you can, change the thing’s default credentials to a complex password that only you will know and can remember. And if you do happen to forget the password, it’s not the end of the world: Most devices have a recessed reset switch that can be used to restore to the thing to its factory-default settings (and credentials). Here’s some advice on picking better ones.

I say “if you can,” at the beginning of Rule #2 because very often IoT devices — particularly security cameras and DVRs — are so poorly designed from a security perspective that even changing the default password to the thing’s built-in Web interface does nothing to prevent the things from being reachable and vulnerable once connected to the Internet.

Also, many of these devices are found to have hidden, undocumented “backdoor” accounts that attackers can use to remotely control the devices. That’s why Rule #1 is so important.

-Rule #3: Update the firmware. Hardware vendors sometimes make available security updates for the software that powers their consumer devices (known as “firmware). It’s a good idea to visit the vendor’s Web site and check for any firmware updates before putting your IoT things to use, and to check back periodically for any new updates.

-Rule #4: Check the defaults, and make sure features you may not want or need like UPnP (Universal Plug and Play — which can easily poke holes in your firewall without you knowing it) — are disabled.

Want to know if something has poked a hole in your router’s firewall? Censys has a decent scanner that may give you clues about any cracks in your firewall. Browse to whatismyipaddress.com, then cut and paste the resulting address into the text box at Censys.io, select “IPv4 hosts” from the drop-down menu, and hit “search.”

If that sounds too complicated (or if your ISP’s addresses are on Censys’s blacklist) check out Steve Gibson‘s Shield’s Up page, which features a point-and-click tool that can give you information about which network doorways or “ports” may be open or exposed on your network. A quick Internet search on exposed port number(s) can often yield useful results indicating which of your devices may have poked a hole.

If you run antivirus software on your computer, consider upgrading to a “network security” or “Internet security” version of these products, which ship with more full-featured software firewalls that can make it easier to block traffic going into and out of specific ports.

Alternatively, Glasswire is a useful tool that offers a full-featured firewall as well as the ability to tell which of your applications and devices are using the most bandwidth on your network. Glasswire recently came in handy to help me determine which application was using gigabytes worth of bandwidth each day (it turned out to be a version of Amazon Music’s software client that had a glitchy updater).

-Rule #5: Avoid IoT devices that advertise Peer-to-Peer (P2P) capabilities built-in. P2P IoT devices are notoriously difficult to secure, and research has repeatedly shown that they can be reachable even through a firewall remotely over the Internet because they’re configured to continuously find ways to connect to a global, shared network so that people can access them remotely. For examples of this, see previous stories here, including This is Why People Fear the Internet of Things, and Researchers Find Fresh Fodder for IoT Attack Cannons.

-Rule #6: Consider the cost. Bear in mind that when it comes to IoT devices, cheaper usually is not better. There is no direct correlation between price and security, but history has shown the devices that tend to be toward the lower end of the price ranges for their class tend to have the most vulnerabilities and backdoors, with the least amount of vendor upkeep or support.

In the wake of last month’s guilty pleas by several individuals who created Mirai — one of the biggest IoT malware threats ever — the U.S. Justice Department released a series of tips on securing IoT devices.

One final note: I realize that the people who probably need to be reading these tips the most likely won’t ever know they need to care enough to act on them. But at least by taking proactive steps, you can reduce the likelihood that your IoT things will contribute to the global IoT security problem.

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How to Write an Actionable Email Newsletter

Every business needs an email marketing strategy.

You constantly need to try to grow your subscriber list so you can engage more and more customers.

But what kind of content should you be sending to the people on your email list?

Currently, you may be focusing on coupons and other promotions.

That’s great.

But you can take your email marketing strategy one step further by adding newsletters to your arsenal.

Some of you may already be emailing newsletters to your subscribers.

However, if you’re not writing actionable newsletters, these messages could be doing more harm than good.

Subscribers want to hear from you. That’s why they joined your list.

But they don’t want spam, nonsense, or anything else that wastes their time.

If you’re sending newsletters just because you haven’t contacted your subscribers in a while, it’s not an effective strategy.

Fortunately for you, I’m an expert in this space.

Whether you’ve never sent a newsletter or need help improving your current approach, I can show you how to write newsletters that convert.

It’s all about eliciting specific actions from the recipient.

Here’s what you need to know.

Make sure you’re emailing subscribers who actually want to hear from you

People won’t open your messages if they didn’t sign up for your emails.

That’s why I recommend creating a double opt-in process for new subscribers.

Take a look at how this affects your open rates:

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You might have a huge list of subscribers.

But that doesn’t mean anything if they’re not reading your content.

Getting your subscribers to open your message is the first step.

That’s why you need to seed your lists with people genuinely interested in your brand.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying subscribers.

Only contact those people who signed up for your newsletter.

How often have you received an unwanted email from a company?

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend this message doesn’t go to your spam folder and you actually open it.

Maybe you’ll even skim through some of the content, which is even more of a stretch if you’re not a subscriber.

Are you going to follow through with whatever action they’re asking you to complete?

I doubt it.

Well, then you can’t expect recipients of your newsletter to follow your instructions if they never opted in to receive it in the first place.

Give your subscribers options when they are signing up.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot:

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HubSpot lets their subscribers decide whether they want to receive messages on a daily or weekly basis.

If customers want to hear from you every day, give them what they want.

These people are more engaged with your brand and will be more likely to act in response to your newsletter.

Start with a clear goal in mind

Why are you sending a newsletter?

You should be able to answer this question for each message you send.

With coupons or promotional campaigns, this question is a little bit easier to answer.

But newsletters usually have an underlying message within the content.

Stick to one goal per newsletter.

Including too much information in your message will confuse the reader.

Here are some popular examples of actionable goals:

  • getting downloads
  • selling something
  • driving traffic to a landing page
  • promoting an event
  • subscribers sharing content with friends or family

Here’s a great newsletter from General Assembly:

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Right off the bat, it’s clear what the goal of this message is.

They are trying to promote an event in Boston, MA.

The newsletter shows the date of the event and has an option for the recipient to RSVP.

This goal is consistent throughout the entire newsletter.

General Assembly doesn’t try to promote products, get downloads, or drive traffic to their website.

Instead, they continue providing more information about the event.

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It’s an effective newsletter.

The message won’t confuse the reader, and the goal is apparent throughout the entire message.

In this case, the action is clear.

They want subscribers to come to their event.

It was successful because they started with a goal.

Don’t overlook the subject line

I see people make this mistake all the time.

They take their time to write awesome content for their newsletter, but then come up with a subject line in 2 seconds.

It ends up being something boring like:

  • June Newsletter
  • Weekly Update
  • A Message From Company XYZ

Boring.

Nobody is going to open that.

As I said before when I talked about only emailing subscribers who want to hear from you, the newsletter is useless if the message doesn’t get opened.

A strong and actionable subject line is arguably more important than the content within your message.

This data shows just how important email subject lines really are:

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Based on this information, your newsletter might even get marked as spam before the recipient has a chance to read it.

Come up with a subject line that generates curiosity.

Hint at a topic or question that may get answered if the message gets opened.

Including information about news or recent topics in the subject line is another great way to generate opens for your newsletter.

Make sure your timing is spot on.

Nobody wants to hear about news that broke last week.

About 40% of Americans get their news from online platforms.

If your subject line is highly relevant to something current, your subscribers will want to open it.

Be personal

Approach your newsletters the same way you approach promotional messages in terms of personalization.

Continuing with my last point, you can even use this tactic in the subject line.

In fact, personalized subject lines increase open rates by 50%.

Clearly, it’s an effective approach.

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But don’t stop at the subject line.

You can personalize your newsletter by addressing the recipient by their first name.

Use the first person perspective when writing so your subscribers know exactly from whom the message is.

Your personal email address should be displayed in the sender’s field.

Always sign newsletters with your name.

It will give the message a personalized touch.

But remember, you’re trying to get the recipient to act, e.g., to click.

Recent data shows that personalized newsletters improve both click-through and conversion rates.

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Another way to get more engagement through personalized content is by segmenting your email lists.

Not every recipient should get the same newsletter.

As you saw with the HubSpot example earlier, you can segment lists based on delivery frequency.

But you can take this idea one step further and segment the content as well.

For example, let’s say you have a website that sells sporting goods.

Your newsletter could cover various topics based on different sports.

When a subscriber opts in to receive your newsletter, you can have them select which sports they want to hear about.

That way, your newsletters that cover golf or swimming topics won’t get sent to someone who would rather read about snowboarding and mountain biking.

Your subscribers are much more likely to act if they’re interested in the content.

Have a clear call to action (CTA)

Your CTA should align with the goal you set for your newsletter.

If you want subscribers to download something, make sure the CTA directs them accordingly.

Refer back to the example I used earlier with the General Assembly newsletter.

They were promoting an event. Their CTA was a link through which subscribers could RSVP to that event.

Here’s another great example from Litmus:

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This newsletter is promoting an email checklist guide.

Rather than including the checklist within the content, they embedded a downloadable link as the CTA.

Be professional

Just like everything else associated with your name and brand, your newsletters need to be professional.

It’s OK to write in a conversational tone, but I recommend staying away from slang and profanity.

In some circumstances, it could be acceptable, depending on the image of your company. But it’s definitely safer to avoid this approach.

You also need to check your newsletter for spelling and grammar mistakes and typos.

If your newsletter has lots of errors, your subscribers won’t think you care about your company.

Don’t rush through this procedure.

Have an editing process.

You can even run newsletters through an editing software like Grammarly to assist you with this.

Here’s another editing tip.

After I’m done writing something, I read it out loud.

I find it’s easier to catch mistakes or poorly written sentences when I’m speaking as opposed to reading.

Depending on who writes your newsletter, you could even have the content checked by another set of eyes before it gets sent out to your subscribers.

Tell a story

I’ve said before you can increase sales by mastering the art of storytelling.

Apply those storytelling skills to your newsletter.

Stories are a great marketing tactic because they are a source of entertainment.

Nobody wants to read a boring newsletter, so talk about something exciting.

Look at the positive impact storytelling has on conversion rates for B2B and B2C companies:

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What kind of story should you tell?

Get creative.

You can tell your own or someone else’s story.

It all depends on your goal and the tone of your newsletter.

As I said earlier, you want your content to be relevant to your subscribers’ needs or current times.

If you have some sort of breaking news to discuss, write an engaging story instead of just stating facts.

This will captivate your audience and increase the chances of eliciting the desired response from them.

Conclusion

Newsletters are a great way for any company to engage and connect with their customers.

For starters, make sure you’re only contacting people who want to hear from you.

But if your message doesn’t have a purpose, your recipients won’t respond in a way you would like them to.

That’s why for every newsletter, set a clear goal before you start writing.

This will keep you on track so the rest of your content, including the CTA, focuses on this goal.

Nobody will read your message if they don’t open it.

Your subject line is just as important as the rest of your newsletter.

Your newsletter should be personalized based on the topic and delivery frequency.

Make sure your newsletter doesn’t have any spelling or grammar issues. It’s OK if you want to be conversational, but keep it professional.

Stories are one of my favorite ways to capture the attention of an audience.

Follow these tips, and you will increase the rate of desired responses from your newsletter subscribers.

How often do you send newsletters to the people on your email lists?

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Search advertising vs. display advertising: Which delivers the best returns?

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned vet, determining if you should use search advertising or display advertising for your marketing campaign is tough.

Use the wrong channel and you potentially ruin the maximum success of your whole campaign.

Thankfully, there are ways to decide which is the best for your business and which will generate the most conversions.

Display advertising

Display advertising is everywhere online. Every website you visit has ads that showcase products for sale. But have you ever noticed you keep seeing the same ads on your social media feeds and the like?

That’s because display advertising tracks a user’s behavior in order to put the right ads in front of the right customers. Display ads are also sometimes known as banner ads, like this one:

Major advantages

Brand awareness

In order to properly utilize display advertising, you need to understand its purpose. In short, display ads are great for driving brand awareness because, generally, these types of ads are found in a place a potential customer may be found.

For example, if a customer is on a website for vegetarian recipes, a display ad that may show up would be an advertisement for a health food store. The customer may not be aware of this type of store, but the ad would drive awareness. Marketers generally gather this information by studying customer behaviors, demographics, and previous search histories.

Retargeting

Let’s say a user has visited your website but hasn’t converted. Display ads give you the opportunity to pull those users back in with retargeting. Your display ad reminds the user about your brand; thus improving the chance of them converting. Check out our ‘5 remarketing strategies to prep for Q4‘ to learn more about retargeting as a whole.

High volume

Display ads may promote your brand to the right people, but they also have high visibility. When you use display ads, they’re also being shown to customers who may not have thought to look for your products or services (even if they’re not part of your demographic).

Even if you’re not targeting an audience, they’ll still see your business in front of them.

Search advertising

Search advertising, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is an easy, low-budget way to reach the right audience. You’re able to control who sees the ads with nearly instant results. The PPC ads are shown directly on search engine websites after a keyword or phrase has been searched.

For example, here’s two PPC ads that might show up at the top of a Google search:

Major advantages

Qualified leads

A PPC campaign, done effectively, boosts traffic to your website and drives higher conversions. This is because customers are actively searching for keywords that result in seeing your PPC ads, so long as their keywords match your product or service. PPC ad campaigns generally drive higher click-through rates than display ads because of qualified leads.

Measurable data

Google AdWords is not only the place to setup your search advertising campaign, but it makes it easy to track how well your PPC campaign is doing. Simply pull up your AdWords account, choose the Campaigns tab, and choose “Keywords.” This shows you exactly how well customers are responding to your keywords and phrases.

Budget-friendly

If you’re just starting out or starting your campaign on a lower budget, PPC may be the best bang for your buck. With a PPC campaign, you’re not paying for the ads unless a user has clicked on them—hence their name.

This means, if you’re choosing and bidding on keywords that are relevant to your product or service, the users are most likely qualified leads, resulting in higher conversion rates.

It’s a great way to test what works before moving on to more time-intensive marketing strategies like SEO and content.

Determining factors

Now that you’re aware of the major differences between search and display advertising, consider some of the factors that you should take into account before making a decision.

Search volume

What are your potential customers searching for? Are they already actively looking for the products you’re selling? Here’s where Google AdWords helps yet again. Use this tool to determine if the keywords you’re using are high volume.

If relevant keywords for your business are showing as high competition keywords, your best bet is to start with a PPC campaign. Here’s an example using the keywords “health foods.”

Awareness

Brand awareness is another determining factor when deciding. The first question you should be asking: How many people are aware of your brand already? If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, display ads are your best bet. However, a search campaign can also benefit from brand awareness, especially if your campaign focuses on brand-specific keywords.

Type of services or products

Certain ads may not bring you the highest ROI right away depending on the type of product or service you’re offering.

For example, services like towing, locksmiths, and doctors (also known as “urgent” services) are all services that users will specifically look for, and need, quickly. Using a display ad to advertise may not be the most beneficial if your service is something potential customers may need immediately.

However, this doesn’t mean your services wouldn’t benefit from a display ad—it just won’t be as beneficial to the customer in their time of need.

Mobile first

Did you know that almost 60% of searches are done on a mobile device? Typically, search ad campaigns are better equipped at handling mobile searches.

For example, a user may search for a service on their mobile device, which means they won’t be scrolling through a website. They’ll choose the first ad that comes up, and that’s generally going to be a PPC ad.

The takeaway

When you’re starting a new campaign, it’s not always easy to identify which type of advertising to use. Factors such as your budget, your search volume, and your main goal are only some of the things you should consider before choosing one.

Sometimes, it’s in your best interest to utilize both platforms to maximize your ROI. Using both at the same time means you’re reaching customers at different points in the customer journey, which may be a huge payoff for you in the end.

What has worked for you when it comes to search versus display advertising? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comment section below!

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for No Risk SEO, an all-in-one reporting platform for agencies. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out her content services at amandadisilvestro.com.

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How to Amplify Your In-Person Events with Lead Nurturing and Marketing Automation

How to Amplify Your In-Person Events with Lead Nurturing and Marketing Automation

In marketing, in-person events like workshops, seminars, product launches, and tradeshows, present a fantastic opportunity to find potential clients while interacting in an environment that, for once, doesn’t involve a computer.

However, they are also an important way to nurture a variety of existing leads. The key to maximizing ROI with what, all things considered can be a pricey investment, is a thoughtful strategy. And in the digital era, it’s inevitably tied to marketing automation.

Nicole Pereira, CMO of Campaign Creators and Co-Founder of SD Inbound, believes that every business planning an in-person event needs to develop a game plan that covers three distinct phases: pre, during, and post-event. She also says that it’s important to distinguish between two types of events: ones which your company attends, and ones which it hosts independently. For each kind of event, the three aforementioned phases are oriented around slightly different goals.

Attended Events

Offline events attended by a company include trade shows, conferences, expos, and the like. If you come prepared to enable your company to stand out in what can be a fairly competitive environment, and develop a thorough follow-up strategy (which only 47% of companies do!), you will be rewarded.

Pre-event phase

During this phase, nearly all of the marketing being done is to existing leads in your database, often acquired at previous events. In this way, it’s the loop-closer of the event marketing strategy, which can in some ways be considered a cyclical process. The pre-event phase is centered on nurturing and is commitment-focused.

Segment your list

Your first step should be to segment your contact database to prioritize those contacts that would most likely be interested in a particular event. It is even possible to further sub-segment those top contacts into different categories, to which you will cater different promotional material. Then begins the process of using content on various channels, including email, blogs, and social media, to advertise the event.

Promote the hell out of it

A short promotional drip email campaign works very well for event advertising, as you can continue sell your contacts on its value as details emerge. Many companies begin reaching out to potential attendees around 4-6 weeks beforehand; early emails can be somewhat ambiguous teasers, while later ones will mention details and include a call-to-action, with a registration link if possible. Your goal is to get leads excited enough to show up!

Below you can watch a fun video we created to promote the Campaign Creators booth at HUG17 that tied into our superhero theme. We included a link to it in promotion emails, posted it to social channels, and embedded it on an event landing page.

During the event

This phase is all about lead generationAs a guest/attendee of the event, you need to understand your place in order to determine the best approach. If your company will be setting up a booth, your focus should be on meeting leads from your attendee list here during the event, potentially even with a specific time to meet.

Grab the spotlight

As you are sharing the space with other companies, some of them direct competitors; generating interest in your booth is imperative. You can get creative to accomplish this task: consider an interesting booth design, a theme with interactive elements, a contest, swag giveaways, etc.

At one event Campaign Creators raffled away a t-shirt an hour to anyone who shared a picture from our superhero photo booth (also a huge hit!) on social media.

Connect

Don’t forget to have one or multiple ”elevator pitches” rehearsed for a conversation with a prospect, as these can make or break a first impression. In short, find as many ways as possible to make leads feel welcome, valued, and engaged.

Be sure to collect their contact information, either by collecting business cards, or even better – digitally. You can create a landing page designated for the event for just this purpose.

Post-event phase

It’s time to redirect your goals toward nurturing once again, and once again, segmentation is needed to sort the hot leads from the lukewarm ones. Contact your leads promptly after the event – optimally no more than a day or two later. To be well-prepared, your nurturing campaign should already be fully ready to launch when the first lead enters the system.

Reach out immediately

As your company’s name is one of the dozens your lead encountered, don’t be put off by the idea that they may not be keeping you at the top of their mind. Instead, try to remind them of some outstanding element of your presence or interaction with them at the event. In your initial email, explain how you attained their name, with a personal reference if possible. Mention the details of the event, and reference a specific conversation with a representative if one took place.

Make an offer they can’t refuse

A great use of a follow-up campaign is to qualify leads by offering a range of options for further engagement, but Nicole considers the most direct goal to be encouragement of leads to attend similar events in the future.

Provide several content options that appeal to prospects at various stages of the marketing funnel while also throwing in a reference to an upcoming event they may find interesting; essentially, sell them on the same product in different events.

Be persistent

The lukewarm leads will, of course, require more patience and a non-intimidatingly paced drip campaign, while hot leads will be able to handle a bit more energy in your offers. Additionally, you can find use in sending out an email with a “sorry we missed you” sentiment to even those leads who did not attend, with highlights from the event and a few links to related content inside. The call should be made based on whether you consider the lead to have gone entirely cold, or simply have been unable to attend.

Hosted Events

When you are the one hosting an event, your strategy needs to be modified for the idea that the event itself IS the product that you’re trying to sell. Such an event can be anything from a workshop to a seminar or a mixer. The main difference between hosted and attended events is that, when hosting, you have a considerably greater amount of control over your leads’ attention – but a lot more responsibilities.

Pre-event phase

A hosted event can be a lead generation or a lead nurturing opportunity, or even both simultaneously, depending on which clients you choose to target.

Marketing to get new leads will obviously require lead generation practices, while loyal past attendees of your events can (and deserve to!) easily be rewarded with a nurturing campaign. Develop distinct drip campaigns for both groups, and recognize that public platforms like social media are probably better for the generation, while the customization factor of emails is best suited for nurturing.

During the event

As your own company is single-handedly running the event, your work is in some ways cut out for you. From the moment they walk in the door to the moment they exit, your priority should be the engagement of your leads.

Devote resources

Remember, you will also need to delegate a larger team toward running the event than if you were attending since you will be responsible for setup and maintenance of everything. Leaving attendees feeling neglected is the worst thing you could do!

Provide media coverage

Consider providing live updates throughout the event by uploading social media content and encouraging those attending to do so. This will not only document the event for participants and make them feel engaged, but will show those who couldn’t make it what they are missing and potentially motivate them to attend the next one.

Add a caring touch

You can also set up automated emails to deliver the event agenda, or even a simple thank you note, to attendees the instant they check in. The rules are practically the same as those that apply to any instance of interacting with leads – provide value and make it personal. So use common sense!

Post-Event phase

As with attended events, the last phase is one focused on lead nurturing or business development; that is, the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers and relationships. Because the spotlight is on your company, however, Nicole believes that these kinds of events provide more opportunity for long-term lead nurturing – which makes it all the more crucial to start your strategy early.

Complete the cycle

Again, segmented content and outreach to qualified leads regardless of attendance is recommended. Keep in mind the background goal of “completing the cycle;” as important as it is to generate interest in your product/service, there is also great value in ensuring simply that your attendees come to the next event you host. For example, after each Inbound Education seminar we co-host with SD Inbound, we send a follow up email the next day recapping the event, providing the presentation slides, and a link to sign up for the next event.

Don’t forget to assess

Finally, to measure the success of your event, there are multiple relevant marketing metrics to examine, some of which, like email click-through rates, you may already be tracking with software. I also suggest conducting a debriefing session with your team to discuss what went well and what could use improvement. Then compile all this information into a post-event report. Use the insights uncovered to sharpen your strategy going forward and make every event a learning opportunity.

Wrapping up

Hopefully, this breakdown of the stages of event marketing has provided you a better understanding of the potential of automation and nurturing in maximizing the ROI of your events. The extra work will prove worthwhile; it certainly has for us!

Guest Author: Tammy Duggan-Herd, Ph.D. is the Marketing Manager at Campaign Creators, a conversion focused digital marketing agency in San Diego, CA. She is a psychology researcher turned marketer.  Since her transition, Tammy has excelled rapidly in the digital marketing space, contributing industry-changing ideas utilizing her background in applied social psychology and data analytics.

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Facebook kills off news: Publishers panic, try to remember how to do SEO

By now you’ve no doubt heard the news that’s been shaking up the internet since late last week.

But in case you just came back online after a week-long internet blackout, here’s what’s happening: on Thursday 11th January, Facebook announced a major change to the way posts are ranked in News Feed.

In order to promote more “meaningful” interaction with friends and family, Facebook said that it would “prioritize posts from friends and family over public content … including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses”.

In general, brands have not tended to rely on Facebook for traffic since it dramatically reduced the organic reach of branded content a little over three years ago, forcing brands to pay for reach or go elsewhere for traffic. However, publishers have long been the exception to that rule, with Facebook acting as a huge – and vital – source of referral traffic to publishers’ websites.

This has led many publishers to plan their strategy and output directly around Facebook (see: the much-derided media “pivot to video”, which was driven in large part by Facebook). But Facebook’s announcement of Thursday has put paid to all of that – or at least, put a big dent in the potential traffic that publishers can earn from its platform.

Deprived of referral traffic from Facebook, will publishers be turning en masse back to SEO to restore their fortunes? Let’s look at some of the broader industry shifts underpinning this change, and what it means for the importance of search for publishers.

Trading places: Google is back on top for referral traffic

The truth is that Facebook’s referral traffic to publishers has been in decline for some time now. According to data from digital analytics company Parse.ly, the percentage of external traffic that Facebook provides to publishers decreased from 40% to 26% between January 2017 and January 2018, while Google’s rose from 34% to 44% over the same period.

This means that in a direct reversal of 2015, when Facebook rocked the industry by overtaking Google as a source of referral traffic for publishers, Google is now back in the number one spot. And this all happened before Facebook’s News Feed announcement even took place.

Publishers have also been seeing more traffic from Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) than Facebook equivalent Instant Articles, another situation that reversed itself over the last year. According to Parse.ly, publisher traffic from AMP increased from 4.72% in January 2017 to 11.78% in November 2017, while Instant Articles declined from 10.31% of publisher traffic in January down to 8.54% in November.

When Facebook overtook Google for referral traffic back in 2015, this seemed to herald the dawn – or perhaps the zenith – of a new age of social sharing and publishing, in which social media was the new search.

At a Content Marketing Association Digital Breakfast in June 2016, veteran digital journalist Adam Tinworth remarked that social networks had taken over the search engine’s traditional role of “finding something to read” online. As a result, Google and other search engines moved into more of an “answer engine” role, moving away from search towards a single, definitive answer to users’ queries.

So with Google back on top for referral traffic, are we seeing a return to the status quo?

The Google-Facebook merry-go-round

In fact, Google and Facebook’s continual back-and-forth is the status quo. They have been chasing each other around in circles for years now, each taking it in turns to try their hand at the other’s specialist area.

Google experimented with social networking; Facebook became the go-to place to find content. Both launched lightning-fast takes on the mobile web – Accelerated Mobile Pages and Instant Articles – in 2015 with a global roll-out in 2016. Now, Facebook is returning to its “roots” of showing you what your family and friends are up to, while the latest updates to Google’s smart assistant indicate that Google is moving back into surfacing content.

Google and Facebook: Destined to chase each other in circles for eternity
(Image by monstreh, available via CC0)

In other words, this is just the most recent step in a dance that has been going on for more than 10 years. Facebook might have ceded some ground to Google in the realm of referral traffic to publishers, partly in a bid to rid itself of the fake news scandal that has dogged it since mid to late 2016.

However, the two continue to vie for dominance in countless other areas, such as artificial intelligence, smart home hubs, digital assistants, and advertising. Facebook continues to drive its investment in online video, encroaching on Google-owned YouTube’s territory, while Google recently announced a new foray into social publishing with Google Stamp.

At the height of the fake news controversy, Google and Facebook’s names frequently appeared side-by-side, with both companies accused of peddling false information to their users and perpetrating the “filter bubble” that allows fake news to thrive.

As a result, some have speculated that Google might now follow in Facebook’s footsteps and take steps to distance itself from publishers.

However, Google is already taking action – or at least appearing to take action – against fake news on its search engine by implementing ‘fact-checking’ labels, partnering with the International Fact-Checking Network to combat misinformation, and purging questionable overseas websites that mask their country of origin from Google News.

Unless there is another significant wave of backlash over fake news to force Google’s hand, it seems likely that Google will take the “win” over Facebook and avoid jeopardizing its relationship with publishers – particularly given its recent moves to become more publisher-friendly by supporting paywalled content.

Meanwhile, publishers need to work out how to reconfigure their online strategy with Facebook much less in the picture. Will we be seeing a newfound reliance on SEO and search marketing?

Publishers: time to learn from SEO

Publishers are about to find themselves in the very same position that brand marketers found themselves at the end of 2014, when Facebook announced that it was killing off organic reach for brand Pages. Just like publisher referral traffic now, brand Page reach had been in steady decline for some time, and the Facebook announcement only confirmed what many already suspected was coming.

At the time, brands were forced to abandon a marketing model that relied on free promotion from Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of Likes, and instead pay for advertising or go elsewhere for their traffic. Sound familiar?

The situation with publishers is therefore nothing new, but is still a huge blow for media organizations who have developed a “social-first” strategy over the years and rely on Facebook as a primary source of traffic.

Following the news that Google had overtaken Facebook as a source of referral traffic, Adam Tinworth blogged: “Business models dependent on Facebook growth are dead in the water, unless you can afford to buy that growth.

“Publishers will need a renewed focus on SEO — especially those that have been social-first.”

Writing for The Drum, founder and managing director of 93digital, Alex Price, observed that Facebook was following Google in “placing its long-term bet on quality [content]”, singling out Facebook-driven publications like 9GAG, Unilad and The Lad Bible as most likely to suffer from the change.

“If I were them, I would be thinking hard about the teams of people I employ to churn out social media content and how sustainable that now is.”

He added that publishers would need to focus on retention and repeat visits to drive long-term value, and optimize the experience of their website, particularly on mobile, in order to build a sustainable source of revenue in the post-Facebook age.

Publish quality content, increase engagement, optimize for mobile… if you’re in SEO, this list will be starting to sound very familiar. It’s a mantra that the search industry has been repeating for years.

High-quality publishers are likely doing most of these things already, so their task will be to ramp up those efforts while diversifying their sources of traffic beyond Facebook. This will stand them in good stead on the search engine results page and beyond.

For lower-quality social publishers, things might not be so easy. After all, these publications evolved specifically to cater to a social sharing environment, which will soon no longer exist.

Much like the brand Pages of yore with hugely inflated Like counts, publishers will need to figure out how to deliver a message of real value to consumers, or risk disappearing altogether.

Source: http://ift.tt/1JcVoR1




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