What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus.

The sad reality is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while.

No one really knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away sadly), but it has caused the global stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you will be affected.

And because my ad agency works with hundreds of companies in all the major sectors and we have 7 offices around the world, we are already starting to see how it is impacting marketing (I’ll share the data below).

So what does this mean for you?

Well, before I go into that, let me be clear on what marketers should NOT do.

Don’t exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear.

What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… I am seeing marketers buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price.

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck.

Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted. Sure you may be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you are better off spending your time on anything that is long term.

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers?

Businesses are going to struggle for a while

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

For example, in China the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February.

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave.

The ports are also empty and the first rounds of layoffs have already started.

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

As I mentioned above, we work with hundreds of clients in different industries through my agency. On top of that, we also have tons of data because of Ubersuggest.

Before I dive into the data, note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to look at the traffic stats from a global perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with less than 5000 visitors a month as they tend to have drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are no global issues or algorithm updates.

We also don’t have data on every single industry, for example, we don’t really work with many restaurants nor do we purchase data for that category as local restaurants usually don’t have the biggest marketing budgets. We have data on most of the major ones, but again not all.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed.

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic.

Conversions were also down for most industries

From a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information.

For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this:

People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Pay-per-click data

We don’t have as much pay-per-click data as we do for SEO as Ubersuggest is mainly used for SEO purposes, but we haven’t seen big shifts in cost per click… even for things like the travel industry.

We don’t have a big enough sample size, but as I mentioned, costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though we saw big dips in the number of people searching for things like flights or hotels, we didn’t see a drastic drop in CPC but we did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you can still roughly pay the same amount per click, but the cost per conversion has been going up for most industries… unless you are selling necessities like toilet paper.

So what does this mean for marketers?

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”.

I didn’t come up with that saying, it’s actually a line from Warren Buffett.

You will see people cutting back because the economy is predicted to get hit by 2.7 trillion dollars and experts are saying that we are going to go into a recession.

You even have billionaire investors like Carl Ichan saying that the market has more room to go down and we should expect the sell-off has longer to go.

But what I’ve learned from going through two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others are not.

During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

Just think of it this way: out of all the publicly traded companies in the United States, if the market keeps going down, many of them will struggle to pay off their debt, which has exploded to $75 trillion.

This means some companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the government. Some may be able to cut costs enough to pay their bills, but for most, it will be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is the best time to buy out other companies. The ideal ones to buy are media companies.

The more eyeballs you control, the more power you will hold in the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the ability to sell anything you want in the future.

It’s the reason I bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000 a couple years ago. During their peak, they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month.

That’s a lot of traffic.

When I bought the site out, I was out a good amount of money for me, but the moment I merged it into the NeilPatel.com site, I increased my lead count by 19% and recuperated my investment in less than a year.

In other words, this is your opportunity to strike and gain market share.

So when you see your competitors closing down or slowing down on their marketing, the goal is to double down. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long term, you will.

Every time the market goes down by 20% or more it roughly takes 536 days to recover. And we don’t even know how far down we will go or when the bottom will be.

As we recover, you’ll see your revenue climb and the ROI from your marketing spend go through the roof.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the Coronavirus passes soon and it has minimal impact on lives. For the time being, try not to socialize with others too much or go into crowded places.

And as for your marketing, this is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful.

In other words, double down.

How have you seen the Coronavirus affect your traffic?

PS: Please be safe and, if possible, stay indoors.

Source: neilpatel.com/blog

Coronavirus impact on Marketing, Advertising and E-commerce

We bring you roundup of stats focused on the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ll be covering a range of topics including delays in marketing activities, ad spend, the travel industry, ecommerce habits and gaming and much more.

Netflix’s YoY subscription growth in US and Canada now expected to reach more than double previous estimates

Data from expert analyst Michael Olson of Piper Sandler, as NASDAQ reports, predicts that Netflix’s year-on-year subscriptions growth for the US and Canadian markets is now expected to reach more than double previous predictions of 1.6%.

Indeed, Olson expects this figure to reach closer to 3.8% as the public are encouraged to stay mostly indoors during the outbreak. Ttherefore resort to popular streaming platforms. The research also suggests that the growth of international subscriptions will rise to 30.9% year-on-year compared to previous estimations of 29.9%.

Streaming services are potentially one of the very few sectors that are set to withstand or even benefit from the coronavirus impact as it continues to spread. It will be fascinating to see what impact staying at home will have on major providers like Netflix, Prime Video, Now TV and Hulu once enough data has been collected.

Experts predict a 15% year-on-year decline in travel ad revenue

Expert analyst Rob Sanderson from Loop Capital Markets predicts that Google and Facebook’s ad revenue will be severely impacted by the decrease in ad spend by travel brands (as reported by Search Engine Land).

According to his research, Google could see a 15% drop in year-on-year ad revenue during Q1 from lower spending in the travel sector as customers hold off from booking holidays until the outbreak has passed. This drop could increase to 20% by the end of Q2 depending on the duration and scale of the outbreak in key markets around the world.

Google and Facebook are likely to take an additional hit from other industries who have been affected by changes in consumer behaviour since the Coronavirus spread globally. Analysts Laura Martin and Dan Medina from the Needham Research Institute claim there is already evidence that ad spend has decreased in several sectors. These are entertainment, retail and FMCG as cinemas and restaurants close, consumers avoid malls and people alter their spending habits.

Combining this with reduced spend in the travel industry, it could represent between 30-45% of Facebook’s overall ad revenue.

Furthermore, continued uncertainty could cause marketers in other areas to reconsider their ad spend. They may consolidate with the hardest hit industries to produce an even bleaker picture for the revenues of Facebook and Google over the coming quarters.

50% of Chinese and 31% of Italian consumers say they’re using ecommerce ‘more frequently’

While footfall in physical retail stores is understandably decreasing due to social distancing measures, this is an interesting time for ecommerce. According to Ipsos MORI, 50% of Chinese and 31% of Italian consumers say they’re shopping online ‘more frequently’ to purchase products they’d usually buy in-store. Other countries such as Vietnam, India and Russia have also seen their populations turning to ecommerce more often to shop. Increase of use is measured at 57%, 55% and 27% respectively.

Only 18% of UK respondents said that they were using online stores more frequently, with close to half reporting there was ‘no change’ in their ecommerce habits.

PC gaming platform Steam attracts record number of concurring global users this week

Coronavirus impact on gaming

According to data from SteamDB, Steam (the global PC gaming platform) attracted a cool 20.3 million concurring users on Sunday 15th March. The record is achived for the number of users online at any one time in its 16-year history.

Despite this record being broken on a weekend, when gamers have more time to play, it is likely that the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the steady increase in online activity as many more find themselves at home than usual.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a particularly popular eight year-old game available on the platform, also reached a record number of simultaneous players on the same date.

Graph via SteamDB

It seems that some of the global population have turned to online gaming as an attempt to relieve boredom (and to socialise) while stuck inside. This could be good news for the gaming industry in a time when other market sectors are struggling as the general public make significant changes to their lifestyles in order to help slow its spread.

However, in light of the vast cancellation of events, including eSports tournaments, and the uncertainty facing hardware-reliant games companies like Nintendo, it remains to be seen what the true impact of the virus will be on this industry going forward.

78% of UK organisations project that their business customers will have delays in spending decisions

Results from Econsultancy and Marketing Week’s COVID19 Business Impact Survey reveal that organisations project major changes in behaviour of their business customers in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Seventy-eight percent of marketers from large UK organisations expect that their business customers will delay their spending decisions. 55% expect delays in product/service launches from business clients. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a huge 91% said that their business customers are reluctant to schedule in-person meetings, which has the potential to affect relationships and collaboration if companies are not proactive enough to find alternatives.

Meanwhile, despite being further behind in the pandemic timeline than other regions, UK marketers are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their marketing activities. Sixty-two percent of UK respondents said that marketing budget commitments are delayed or under review. And a further 42% said that planned technology/infrastructure spending is also being treated in the same way. Even more worryingly, 45% said that any new hires have either been postponed or re-evaluated. This way is effectively pausing the procurement of much needed new talent in a time where businesses need to be agile and forward-thinking.

These statistics may ultimately result in significant lack of growth as top-level decision-making changes, spending slows and in delay of marketing activities amidst this new and ongoing uncertainty.

55% of frequent vacationers ‘may’ or will ‘likely’ book future holidays while confined to their homes during the Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus impact on travel

An unprecedented number of people cancelling pre-booked holidays and choosing not to travel. Despite that it doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped looking at holidays altogether, according to a report from Izea.

In fact, 55% of US consumers who usually travel five or more times per year say they ‘may’ or will ‘likely’ purchase a future holiday while confined to their homes during the Coronavirus outbreak. This likelihood rises to 61% for those who travel frequently for business purposes.

The data also reveals how future booking intentions differ depending on how far in the future they are. Thirty-eight percent of US consumers say that they ‘would never buy’ a non-refundable hotel or plane reservation if the required travel date fell within the next 1-4 weeks. The number declines steadily as the number of weeks pass. Once the travel date falls over nine months from now (around Christmastime), just over one-fifth still refuse to make non-refundable bookinga. Now, even more of them require increasingly higher discounts of up to 50% in order to buy.

This suggests that consumers will take a while to come back around to the idea of travelling abroad on a non-refundable basis once the coronavirus has died down; certainly longer than a timeframe of 9 months. As a result, holiday companies must look to the future and focus on targeting loyal, frequent customers (whether travelling for business or pleasure) who will more likely take the risk sooner than more casual vacationers.

Source: econsultancy.com

Coronavirus outbreak makes B2B turning to digital marketing

For example, a lot of people expressed great disappointment over the last-minute cancellation of Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The world largest cellular trade fair would have been the major industry event in which lot of company were planning to participate. Months of preparation and tens of thousands of dollars were lost as the Coronavirus panic led to the last-minute cancellation decision.

This is not 2008

We can still remember what happened during the financial crisis of 2008. Then most business-to-business (B2B) companies decided to play it safe and cut their marketing budgets.

Therefore, we were happy to hear that lot of companys has already adopted a new strategy. That means that they shift the funds allocated to participation in exhibitions/fairs/… to double the investment in online marketing.

On reflection, such a move makes perfect sense.

Add to this the fact that a growing number of organizations are these days minimizing all face-to-face meetings. Inevitable result is that they must change their digital strategy and turn it into their key source of lead generation.

Large organizations, such as the World Ban and International Monetary Fund have already announced that they drop all face-to-face meeting. Companies on the private sector are will follow.

Considering that companies allocate the largest chunk of their budgets to trade shows. Even a moderate change in preferences is likely to translate into higher investment in web marketing.

Billions of dollars lost

Figures published by data intelligence company PredictHQ indicate that in February alone, concerns about the coronavirus led to a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements of significant events.

The company said that more than 225 events ranked high impact were cancelled last month and the number of events canceled in March is expected to be significantly higher. The total cost of cancelations is estimated at billions of dollars.

Research conducted in 2018 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research indicated that B2B marketers who participate in industry events allocated nearly 40 percent of their budgets to exhibitions and industry shows, almost five times more than the 8% spent on online marketing.

Even if only a small fraction of the events’ budgets shifts to online marketing, it would translate into a massive growth in web marketing.

Good thing for Online marketing

The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI). And…of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy. Also, use it to redefine their marketing messages.

Marketing strategy – review it!

Marketing executives often complain that they have no time to update their websites because of their work overload. Well, this is exactly the time to revisit the corporate site. Make sure that your present your company well.

This is also the time to reset goals for your marketing campaigns. It is also time to take an in-depth look into the performance of past efforts. A close look will for sure indicate that there is real need to refresh much of the marketing materials produced in the past.

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune the following features of your company’s visibility and promotion strategy:

Website content – Ensure that it contains the right marketing messages with the right call for action.

SEO – Check your current website organic search rankings. Optimizing them for search engines to improve the quality and quantity of your web traffic.

Content marketing – Use this opportunity to generate ideas for new blog posts. Start writing the next newsletter for your customers.

Press releases and articles – Think of topics you can inform the media and your clients about and writing professional articles.

Marketing materials – Prepare presentations, brochures and other marketing materials.

Social media engagement – Strategize how you can improve social media engagement and writing new case studies, white papers and professional articles. Increasing the number of webinars you hold

Video – Draft the storyline for your next video

Strengthening your focus on web marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days. Also, it will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.

Hopefully, the whole crisis will end soon, but no matter how long it takes strengthening you online marketing efforts will minimize the risk and improve your overall position.

Facebook Blueprint Certificate

Is Facebook Blueprint Certification worth it?

Do you want to learn best practices for advertising on Facebook and Instagram? Do you want to be seen as more reputable to clients, your boss, or future employers?

Then you are in the right place to be considering taking Facebook’s Blueprint Certification exam and getting officially certified.

What is Facebook Blueprint Certification?

FB Blueprint is Facebook’s official courses on digital advertising on platforms owned by Facebook. It has over 75 mini-courses that are completely free to take.

By taking Facebook Blueprint courses, you’ll obtain a strong fundamental understanding of how advertising works on Facebook’s platforms, from mastering Facebook Audience Insights to how big brands measure lift in ad recall on million-dollar budgets.

You’ll also learn the latest changes Facebook has made to ads and the latest updates to Instagram ads.

In addition to the courses, Facebook Blueprint offers exams so people can get officially certified in certain areas of Facebook advertising. Currently, they have nine different categories you can become certified in. And when you do, you get a badge you can display on LinkedIn, your resume, website, and other marketing materials.

Facebook Blueprint Certification Badges

The three most popular Facebook Blueprint Certification badges

Current available certifications are:

FB Certified Digital Marketing Associate
FB Certified Marketing Science Professional
FBCertified Media Buying Professional
FB Certified Media Planning Professional
FB Certified Ads Product Developer I
Facebook Certified Ads Product Developer II
Facebook Certified Ads Product Developer III

How much does Facebook Blueprint certification cost?

The Facebook Blueprint Certification exams cost up to the equivalent of USD 150 per exam. The actual cost may differ based on your country. You’ll see the cost displayed during the checkout process. Regarding Croatia, latest prices are $49 for FB Certified Digital Marketing Associate and $75 for Facebook Certified Media Buying or Planning Professional.

How hard are Facebook Blueprint Certification exams?

Be aware, If FB lose connection with you, it’s an immediate fail.

Here’s how it works. You can take the exam online, but you need to be in a bare-bones office room, on the walls and on your desk except your computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. No paper. No pens. Nothing.

You have to install a program on your computer that ensures you have no other apps running while taking the exam. Also, you have to make sure nothing extra is running – including any helper programs that run in the background.

Your webcam must be turned on during the entirety of the test. As soon as you begin, you get connected with a person who asks you to show your surroundings with your webcam – a 360-degree view of the walls, under your desk, and even all four corners of the ceiling.

You must show them your phone is on the ground behind you. While you’re taking the test, you have to keep your webcam on so they can make sure you’re not cheating or writing down any of the questions. And if you lose connection, like mine did, it’s an automatic fail (but they will allow you to reschedule for free).

It’s a “little” extreme, but it also helps add to the legitimacy of the certification.

How much time do you have?

You’re allotted between 90 to 120 minutes to complete the exam and they have around 75 multiple-choice questions depending which exam you’re taking. Each question should be pretty quick to answer, except for questions that are scenario-based which ask for the best advertising approach for example company’s advertising objectives. This can be real pain in the ass especially if you are not fluent in English because you need time to read it and most importantly understand it well before you choose the answer. Note: multiple choice in some questions are also very long to read. So our advice is to be as quick as you if you want to reach all the questions on time.

As long you thoroughly go through the mini-courses related to the exam you’re taking and do well on the practice exam, you should be able to pass. Also, our suggestion for practice is www.ipassexam.com. Here, you will need to pay access and we can tell you right away that it is good source for learning and passing FB Certified Digital Marketing Associate but it won’t be enough if you want to pass Facebook Certified Media Buying or Planning Professional exam. You have to learn from Blueprint Free Courses.

Facebook Blueprint has lots of mini-courses for free

Is the Facebook Blueprint Certification worth it?

The cost, the time involved studying, and the stressful exam environment are all things to consider before deciding whether the exam process is worth going through to get certified.

The fact is, the Facebook Blueprint Certification is the only accredited certification on Facebook advertising recognized by the industry. And with how big Facebook is, not only do many employers who rely on Facebook ads know about the certification, but many clients know about it, too.

Being Blueprint certified can give you an extra edge when applying to a relevant position over other candidates who aren’t certified. It can also give agencies the same edge when pitching clients compared to agencies who are not certified (and freelancers, too).

Will being Facebook Blueprint certified automatically get you that job or client?

Of course not.

In our opinion, if you’re trying to land a position as a Facebook Ads manager/planner/buyer at a company, we definitely think it’s worth the investment. If you’re applying to a more general digital marketing role, we don’t think it’s worth it unless specified in the job rec.

If you’re already managing Facebook ads at your company and want to get certified to prove to something to your boss, we would say it’s not worth it. You can take the mini-courses and learn all the material for free and the best way to prove something to your boss is through your work – by scaling Facebook ads efficiently and earning your company a good ROI.

If you’re a freelancer, getting certified could also be worth it, especially if you don’t yet have a lot of case studies in your portfolio.

If you’re an agency, it’s definitely worth having either yourself or at the very least your account managers get certified. Not only will it ensure your whole team has a solid foundation to provide a good experience for your clients, your clients will feel better their account manager is certified.

How to prepare and study for your Facebook Blueprint Certification exam?

If you decided to go through with taking the exam, here’s how to study to pass it.

Go through all the recommended courses

Facebook as a huge library of mini-courses, but they also have specific recommended courses for each exam.

Here are the recommended mini-courses for the three major certifications:

FB Certified Digital Marketing Associate Mini-Courses
Facebook Cert. Media Buying Professional Mini-Courses
Facebook Certified Media Planning Prof. Mini-Courses

Go through all the courses in the links above for the certification you want. When taking one of the professional courses, the exam will have questions on digital marketing associate courses so take those, too.

The questions on the exam are pretty similar to the practice questions on the quizzes that are sprinkled throughout the mini-courses. If you get some wrong, we recommend retaking them until you score 100% on the quizzes. You’ll thank yourself later.

Take the practice exam

The practice exams for each certification are 30 questions each. We also recommend to take it as many times as you need to score 100% before taking the real exams. Again, you’ll thank yourself later.

FB Certified Digital Marketing Associate Practice Exam
Facebook Certified Digital Media Buying Professional Practice Exam
Facebook Certified Digital Media Planning Professional Practice Exam

Prepare yourself

Once you feel you have a solid grasp on the knowledge aspect of the test, you need to decide where you’re going to take the test and do a device pre-check to make sure you know what you need to do to verify compatibility.

Remember you’ll need a private space to take the test. The person proctoring your exam will ask you to show them your workspace through your webcam. If they see any violations that can’t be quickly corrected, they will ask you to reschedule.

Find a place with a stable internet connection and preferably a small office space. You’ll need a completely clear desk besides necessary computer components. If the desk has dual monitors, you’ll need to unplug the second monitor’s power and show them it’s unplugged.

Running the device pre-check is a must. If you don’t pass the device test at the time of the exam, you won’t be able to take it. Luckily they provide a pre-check so you can check if your computer will pass the way it’s set up.

To access the pre-check, you’ll have the option to first run it when signing up for the exam. Just click the “Run pre-check” button during this step of the signup process. You should then be taken to this page:

Make sure you complete the system check before taking the Facebook Blueprint Certification

After passing the systems check, you should be good-to-go. Good luck!

Where and how to display Facebook Blueprint Certification badges?

Once you’ve passed one of the certifications, you’ll get access to the certification badges shortly after.

You’ll get access to it on Acclaim’s website, the tool Facebook uses to manage badges. From your Acclaim profile, you have a variety of options.

LinkedIn

Acclaim integrates with LinkedIn so you can add it to the certifications section of your LinkedIn profile in just a couple of clicks. Pro-tip: Don’t be that person who adds that you’re certified after your name (it’s not a doctorate).

Direct URL

You will have access to a special Acclaim URL to give out to people (or link on your website) that shows 3rd party-verified proof that you have earned the certification and it is not expired.

Embed

Acclaim provides an iframe embed code that you add to your website instead of messing around with images and linking them. And since it’s using the official embed code and file, it adds credibility and to the badge.

Everywhere else

And you can of course share that you earned it anywhere else you can think like to your social networks.

What to do after getting Facebook Blueprint certified?

Besides telling your mom, dad, friends, relatives and colleagues, there are a few things you can do now. First, you can join the unofficial Facebook Certified Professionals group on Facebook. You can join if you have passed Facebook Certified Digital Media Buying or Planning Professional Practice Exam.

The Facebook Certified Professionals group is available once you’ve passed

If you’re not in any other Facebook group about Facebook ads, we recommend joining. If you’re already in a couple good groups, we don’t think you would be missing out on anything to be frank.

Second, you can start learning more advanced strategies to scale Facebook ad campaigns. It’s one thing knowing how Facebook ads work; it’s another thing to make them work.

WhatsApp ads are coming this year or not?

WhatsApp is introducing a new and controversial feature this year: adverts. The world’s most popular messaging service has more than 1.5 billion users. But, so far company avoided monetising this loyal userbase by showing them commercials. Facebook, owners of the app, stands to rake in vast sums of cash. How so? Very simple – by allowing companies to market their products on WhatsApp. However, there’s a chance the new strategy could backfire. When WhatsApp announced the new feature last year, some users threatened to delete their accounts.

Matt Navarra sparked a Twitter storm

Well-known social media industry commentator, tipster, and leaker, Matt Navarra, sparked a Twitter storm in 2019. Last year he shared pictures of the new feature on his Twitter account after they were shown at the FMS19 conference in Berlin. The ‘Status Ads’ will launch in 2020 and mark a huge change for WhatsApp. Remember, previously WhatsApp famously vowed to never introduce advertising before it was snapped by Mark Zuckerberg for $19 billion in 2014.

WhatsApp ads

After Navarra shared images from the conference, WhatsApp users immediately threatened to delete their accounts. ‘Nice. I’m sure half the users will switch over to Telegram,’ one person wrote. Another Twitter user added: ‘Alright, well, goodbye WhatsApp. ‘Why the heck does Facebook think this is a good idea? People use WhatsApp for professional contacts and Facebook for pleasure. ‘I don’t want ads. I’d rather pay $50 a year to use it ad-free, same as always. Idiots.’

The rumor is the advertising plan have contributed to a dramatic split between its founders and their Mark Zuckerberg. Brian Acton and Jan Koum, two former Yahoo employees who founded the app in 2009. Nowadays they’re massively rich after selling their app to Facebook. They have both left the company after Zuck and his team embarked on a business strategy which directly contradicts one of their long-standing promises about the company.

WhatsApp ads
Mark Zuckerberg

The promise

Way back in 2012, WhatsApp vowed it would never introduce advertising on the app or gather vast amounts of data on its users. ‘Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product,’ it wrote in a blog post. ‘Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. ‘At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data. They are upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out.’ ‘And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.’

WhatsApp added: ‘These days companies know literally everything about you, your friends, your interests, and they use it all to sell ads. ‘When we sat down to start our own thing together three years ago we wanted to make something that wasn’t just another ad clearinghouse.’

This is all about to change. Soon, the app will introduce ads which will appear in the Status section. This section we (users) use to to post text, photos, videos and animated GIFs that appear to our friends and then disappear after 24 hours.

Ads in STATUS

WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels spoke about the plans earlier this year and said: ‘We are going to be putting ads in “Status”. “That is going to be primary monetisation mode for the company. Also it is an opportunity for businesses to reach people on WhatsApp.’ Founder Brian Acton has previously said he does not agree with the way Facebook works.

In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, he said: ‘Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy.’

He said Facebook ‘represents a set of business practices, principles and ethics, and policies that I don’t necessarily agree with’. ‘At the end of the day, I sold my company,’ he went on. ‘I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit.’

Update

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has halted its plans to introduce ads in WhatsApp’s Status feed. Talk of advertisements in WhatsApp, and specifically interspersed among ephemeral statuses, has been going for over a year. Their service’s VP confirmed that in October of 2018. But those plans seem to be paused, for now at least.

WSJ cites “people familiar with the matter” who reported that the team responsible for finding ways to integrate ads into the service has been shut down. Also, its work has been deleted from the app’s code. This was confirmed by renowned WhatsApp code sleuths WABetaInfo who said that all mentions of Status ads were removed from the app with beta version 2.19.356. This version dates back to December 4, 2019.

Facebook’s plans to bring ads to WhatsApp aren’t completely dead though, they’re just on pause. Instead, the focus will be on monetizing WhatsApp Business. They’re and hoping to scoop back some of the $19 billion paid for the messaging service back in 2014.

No one expects 1.5 billion people to keep benefiting from the messaging platform for free and without them being profitable in some way, but charging for a free and beloved service or adding ads to it isn’t the smartest move and can risk alienating many users. Providing paid add-ons, offering a premium tier, and especially charging businesses for professional features could be great alternatives.

social media likes

Do we need to kiss and say goodbye to social media likes?

Facebook and Instagram users in the UK can expect to see major changes following the latest controversial change from everyone’s favourite social media platforms.

Instagram was bought by Facebook back in 2012 for $1 billion. Since then, both platforms have begun testing out hiding likes. The trial started by hiding likes from selected users in Canada in 2019. Afterwards it was expanded to more countries. That included Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. So it was only inevitable that it would eventually hit the UK and to the rest of the world including Croatia.

How do the counts work?

Instagram is testing the recent change with a limited number of UK users so, at the moment, not all users will recognise this.

However, the pool of selected users may have already noticed the changes when scrolling through their feeds. Instead of a post highlighting the total number of likes it has received, it now shows that an account and ‘others’ have liked the post, without any numbers being displayed. Clicking on ‘others’ will display the full list of users who have liked the post but again, no numbers will be displayed.

It’s important to note that content publishers will be able to view the total number of likes they receive for a post. But, it will no longer be made public. Of course, you can scroll through the list of likes to calculate the number for yourself! But, do we have time for that? We think not!

So why the recent change?

At the heart of the change is the mental wellbeing of teenagers and young people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the change won’t affect adults. But, we can see that the younger generation have been the driving force behind the decision. The feature is designed to remove the ‘pressure’ of gaining as many likes as possible. Also it is designed to prevent the competition that has developed amongst social media users.

The UK has seen an increase in reported mental health issues. Reports say that 1 of 4 people is experiencing a mental health difficulties each year. The topic of mental health has become less taboo in the past few years. As a society, we’ve become much more open and honest with our issues. This has also helped to raise awareness of the challenges that come with mental health illnesses.

Over the past few years, psychologists have started to look into the effects of social media on mental wellbeing to assess whether there is a connection between the two. A recent University of Pittsburgh study of young adults found that people who frequently checked social media were almost three times more likely to be depressed than occasional users.

Social media likes
Social media likes

Three of the main problems surrounding social media use and mental health problems are:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Using the platform as a life comparison tool
  • Chasing likes on the platform to build self-esteem

Facebook and Instagram have taken these matters into their own hands and have recognised the need for change. Being too active on social media has been linked to anxiety, poor body image, and diminished mental health, particularly in teenagers. This has forced social media giants to make big changes to their platforms. They had to act, and quickly!

Is this the future?

Whilst nothing has been set in stone, the outcome of the trial will no doubt determine the future of visible social media likes on both Facebook and Instagram. Whilst some believe it won’t make a difference because other factors that are to blame for poor mental health, others believe it’s a step in the right direction.

We all know that social media platforms are making continuous changes to their networks to improve the overall user experience. Among other things, this relates to algorithm updates, the introduction of a new features or the removal of likes. The progress that Facebook and Instagram have already made from 2010 to date is extraordinary and uncomparable. So who knows how they will function in another 10 years? What about social media likes?

digital marketing

Chief marketing officers plan to spend more on digital marketing in 2020

Chief marketing officers expect to spend on organic search, content marketing and email marketing, according to Chief Outsiders‘ “Market Trends 2020” report. Plus, marketers say tariffs and the ongoing U.S./China trade war will only have a negligible or a slightly negative impact on company goals.
Spending on digital marketing is expected to increase for 80% of chief marketing officers. Chief Outsiders is strategic marketing and management consulting firm specializing in executive insights.

The February 2020 report

The February 2020 report surveyed more than 50 chief marketing officers Chief Outsiders works with. All of them had experience with Fortune 500 companies and are now working at mid-sized businesses.

Marketers said they will prioritize their digital marketing spend on organic search, content marketing and email marketing, according to the report.

CMOs say organic search, content and email marketing will be prioritized for digital spending!
What are your spending priorities across these digital marketing channels? (Rank-ordered where higher figures represent a higher priority)

Source: Chief Outsiders, “Market Trends 2020” report

E-mail marketing?

Dollars allocated to email marketing specifically is a familiar trend. February 2020 survey of 105 online retailers by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights stated the importance executives and advertisers place on email marketing as a method of reaching shoppers. 82% of retailers are saying that email marketing was in the two top most important strategies for improving conversion rate.

When it comes to what kind of emails are successful for brands, personalization is key, says Deana Thornton. She is director of commerce marketing for marketing automation and email marketing provider Mailchimp.

“Email marketing continues to be a consistent, driving force in conversion due to the low barrier to entry and high return on investment,” Thornton says. “With an average ROI of $52 for every dollar spent, email marketing allows any retail business to drive visibility of their brand and build customer loyalty with a one-to-one conversation.”

The Chief Outsiders study also found that “growth-minded” CEOs are using new technology. They try to innovate and begin to outsource marketing in an attempt to beat economic headwinds. This is one of the most important takeaways of their findings, says Pete Hayes, chief marketing officer and principal of Chief Outsiders.

“Marketing is not just about solving customer engagement problems anymore, but it’s about overall company growth,” Hayes says. “And for private equity, one of the biggest challenges—even bigger than a recession—will be finding growth-minded executives focused on strategy.”

CMOs plan to innovate and use new technology to beat any economic headwinds
What are growth-minded CEOs doing to beat economic headwinds? (Rank-ordered where higher figures represent a higher priority)

Source: Chief Outsiders, “Market Trends 2020” report

Deploying digital marketing strategies

According to Chief Outsiders, some of the greatest challenges chief marketing officers are facing when it comes to deploying digital marketing strategies include following. Technical knowledge of in-house teams, resource constraints in implementation and organizational inertia, which Chief Outsiders describes as “changing the way things have always been done.”

Resource constraints and organizational inertia marked as top challenges for digital marketing!
The greatest challenges to deploying digital marketing strategies in client companies are (rank):

Source: Chief Outsiders, “Market Trends 2020” report

AI

The survey also found that chief marketing officers believe advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) will help them target and segment customers. Also, AI could assist them in the qualification and prioritization of new leads.

CMOs say AI will affect their marketing campaigns by helping them qualify/prioritize leads and assist in customer targeting!
What is the most important way AI (predictive analysis) will affect your marketing campaigns?

Source: Chief Outsiders, “Market Trends 2020” report

AI and automation are helpful when it comes to digital marketing. Reason? These tools can increase conversion rates, Thornton says.

“Automating marketing campaigns or messages based on factors like behavior, demographics and interests increases brand exposure and drives sales while decreasing the time business owners have to spend managing marketing,” Thornton says.

Automations specifically have helped marketers increase their average monthly revenue, according to Thornton.

Finally, the Chief Outsiders survey found that chief marketing officers were not worried about the impact of tariffs and the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. Most respondents are saying that any effects would be negligible.

Google My Business

Image Guide for Google My Business (GMB)

What is Google My Business?

GMB is a free and simplified dashboard that helps business owners manage and update business listings across the Google Ecosystem. It is a program that was developed by Google for over ten years before its inception in the year 2014.

With several upgrades and tweaks, Google built this CRM feature to help businesses build an online presence that will help users conducting searches to receive not only the basic NAP (name, address, phone number) details, but other kinds of information such as business hours, and specifications as to the availability of facilities such as parking and so on.

This is not only an attempt on Google’s side to better its user experience, but it is also focused on helping business owners reach their target audience on online searches.

Is your Google My Business profile optimized?

If so, then you must be aware of the fact that having professional quality images is essential.

Hi-res photos attract more online visitors and make a strong first impression.

This guide walks you through the steps to add, remove, and optimize your GMB images.

Three types of Google My Business photos:

Profile photos: Help your customers recognize your business on Google.

Cover photos: Showcase your page’s personality. Adding a cover photo automatically sets it as your listing’s preferred photo. This action doesn’t guarantee it populates as the first image for your business, but it does tell Google you prefer to display this photo. Individuals often mistakenly believe the profile photo is the preferred one. This is not the case!

Additional photos: Add different photos to spotlight features of your business that customers consider when making purchasing decisions.

How to Add Google My Business Photos

First, claim your Google My Business listing.
Then log into your GMB.
Navigate to the Photos tab in the left-hand column.
Click on the type of photo you wish to add and walk through the wizard.

Your photos will look best on Google if they meet the following standards:

Google My Business Profile Photo Size: 250 x 250 pixels (minimum 120 x 120; maximum 5200 x 5300)
Google My Business Cover Photo Size: 1080 x 608 pixels (minimum 480 x 270; maximum 2120 x 1192)
Format: JPG or PNG.
Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB.
Minimum Resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide.
Quality: The photo should be in focus and well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. In other words, the image should represent reality.

How to delete photos from Google My Business

Both admins and visitors have the ability to add images to your GMB profile.

You can easily remove any photos you uploaded yourself under the Photos tab in the left-hand column. However, if you wish to remove photos that visitors/customers uploaded, you will have to flag them.

You’re only able to flag the photos if they violate GMB’s strict guidelines.

According to the guidelines, the photos must be relevant and taken by users at the business location. Stock imagery is not allowed and may be removed.

If you notice that a photo uploaded by a customer violates the Google Maps photo policies, you can request for it to be removed. If you have additional questions, you can always contact us or contact Google My Business directly.

Note: If you’ve come across content on Google that may violate the law, let Google know here. They’ll carefully review the material and consider blocking, removing or restricting access to it.

Flag photos in your Google account

Desktop

Sign in to Google My Business.
If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
Click Photos from the menu.
Find the photo you’d like to flag, then click the flag icon in the top right corner.

Mobile

Open the GMB app.
Tap the menu Three dash menu, then tap Photos.
Find the photo you’d like to flag.
Tap the three dot menu icon in the top left corner, then tap Report photo.

Google My Business Photos Best Practices

Businesses invest a lot of time and money into their website. The same principles should be applied to your Google My Business profile!

Within Google photos, highlight your building, office, and people, which adds a personal touch. Remember that it’s worth investing in professional-quality headshots. Low-quality photos do not reflect well on your business or services. A team photo is also a great idea.

Important: Your Google My Business photos are often the first thing customers see when searching online. Remember that online visitors may not even make it to your website. Your Google profile may be your only chance to shine and make a lasting impression so make it count with high-quality images.

Once your Google photos are optimized, it’s time to take a closer look at the rest of the profile.

Is your Google profile filled out completely and accurately? Most importantly, how are your online reviews and ratings? After all, low ratings and a low count of reviews often deter prospective customers from your business.

Inbound marketing

What is Inbound Marketing and Why Can’t You Do It Without It?

Digital marketing, as an industry, has seen significant periods of growth over the last few years. It has been projected that there will be an estimated industry-wide spend of close to $121 billion by 2021.

Maybe you’re coming from a traditional marketing background, or maybe you’re just completely new to marketing altogether.

Either way, if you’re entering the digital marketing world, you’re going to need to have a strong understanding of the Inbound methodology.

While digital marketing tends to be an umbrella term to refer to any kind of marketing tactic on a digital platform, Inbound is what is taking center stage.

Here’s why

Inbound marketing

How effective is inbound marketing?

Did you know that inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound leads?

Did you know that 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive return on investment for Inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing - effectiveness

Reasons Why You Should Start Using Inbound Metodolgy

  • Effectiveness
  • Two-way communication
  • It provides added value
  • Measurable results

Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a term that integrates marketing strategies and tactics (activities) in connection with the publication and distribution (sharing) of content. The aim is engaging existing and potential clients. The goal of Inbound is to provide quality, relevant and valuable information that is tasked with leading to profitable user action. So, the point is that potential buyers come alone, that is, their affection should be earned, not bought.

Classic Outbound marketing strategies and tactics focus on finding leads. It is based on buying the attention of consumers in various ways. This is marketing that is aggressive. It interrupts the consumer in some actions (such as watching a movie or listening to music). It imposes a specific message hoping that the consumer will become interested.

InboundOutbound
– it seeks to win, not buy, the attention of consumers
– two way communication
– adds value
– it does not burden the consumer
– it is more efficient
– has measurable results
– aggressively imposes products or services on consumers
– one way communication
– provides little to no added value
– marketing rarely entertains or educates
– it’s expensive
– it cannot be optimized for your target audience

Are Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing the same?

In short, they are not!

Content marketing is a single tactic, while Inbound marketing is a complete methodology that focuses on drawing in customers with multi-channel traffic sources.
The inbound methodology actually uses content marketing as one of its methods; under its umbrella are ALL of those content methods (online, offline, hybrid) plus more.
While content marketing covers a wide range of tactics and ideas – both online and offline content – it isn’t the full horsepower behind the inbound machine. Other missing puzzle pieces may include SEO, PPC campaigns, interactive tools, and hosting physical events, which fall outside of the content marketing realm.

A major piece of the inbound methodology puzzle is, in fact, the strategy of content marketing. So if you are asking which is better, it’s our belief that content marketing as a stand-alone strategy is simply not as effective. Yet when it’s utilized in the complete inbound methodology, we often see great business growth.

AI

What role will AI have for Digital Marketing in 2020?

Being a digital marketeres in 2020. it is crucial to be attentive to the trends and technologies which can affect digital advertising and marketing. A well-known saying is “time flies,” and this is equally applicable to consumer interests. These interests are constantly changing and are getting harder to understand inherently. Previously, voice search optimization, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and machine learning were considered new but not yet impactful technologies. Today, these technologies are at the top of the priority list of marketers.

So, how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to affect digital marketing in 2020?

AI with Voice Search Domination

Conversational AI does it all! Voice search and digital assistants are two sub-areas of AI. Google uses machine learning, where the engine uses pattern detection and other methodologies to teach itself and generate the best possible search result, getting better every time based on new information. Machine learning is what’s behind conversational AI. It makes search engines more intelligent and powerful, too. That’s the reason why we are seeing ads about the things which we just said or talked about but haven’t actually searched for yet.

So, now is the time to optimize your campaigns for voice search. You can start with basic SEO by targeting long-tail keywords, optimizing Google My Business, and adding a FAQ page to your website. Assemble your content as query-based (Who/What/Why/Where/How) and see how your performance changes.

AI with Data Analysis Domination

As human beings, our decisions are not always based on logic. The decision-making process combines intuition, emotion, trust, culture, and inner soul satisfaction. All of these play an important role when we make any decision or make a purchase. AI is smart and it has the ability to identify these key emotions and collectively generate effective insights for the potential buyers. Without AI, if we have a look into our data, we’d find rows after rows of complex data with customer and product details which lead us to exactly nowhere when it comes to predicting a customer’s buying journey or their interest.

How could AI’s data analysis be applied to marketing? As one example, AI can recommend the best time to send your next newsletter by analyzing conversion rates and clicks from an email marketing campaign. With AI, you can get more precise and analyzed data which helps you increase your conversion rate, which will translate into more leads and sales.

AI with Content Creation Domination

By adopting AI, marketers can satisfy the emerging content need and ensure targeted delivery. You can generate a stock update or a sports/event news easily with AI. In fact, we are already reading content written with AI, probably without noticing it. Companies such as Yahoo and Fox have been using it for quite some time, now. Creating quality content is difficult and time-consuming. But, AI can be trained to deliver engaging, personalized content that is optimized for conversion.

AI personalization

As a marketer, it is not feasible to manually personalize your content for each customer. Artificial intelligence will be a saviour in this case. You can try ai-writer.com (if you want to test). Also, consider how AI chatbots are handling customer relationships these days. Chatbots are getting smarter and carry out quasi-conversations with potential customers to deliver real-time solutions.

AI bot

AI with Modern Advertising Domination

As we have seen earlier in this article, data analysis and customer relationships are growing together and improving day by day. These factors together affect today’s digital advertising. AI is capable of reading huge sets of data about consumer interaction and uses this analysis to create meaningful insights to optimize campaigns. The advertisers also have more control over campaign features and how it runs on the network. Artificial intelligence can also apply to ad creation. It is already in use on some of the social platforms and other third-party tools are actually using two appreciable AI-powered technologies – natural language generation (NLG) and natural language processing (NLP). For example – Socialbakers, which is an AI-driven influencer marketing & social media management platform.

Socialbakers

So, at last, we can say, the domination of artificial intelligence is a blessing for marketers. You can gain a deeper knowledge of your consumers, deliver personalized content, and benefit from AI-powered algorithms. Isn’t this exciting? Artificial intelligence is becoming ingrained in our digital marketing world and we should be ready to implement it in all ways in order to get the benefits. This fine domination of artificial intelligence into digital marketing will help consumers have a better experience and give your business a boost it needs to succeed. So, get ready to have a satisfied customer base with this advanced trending technology – artificial intelligence. All you need to do is ask yourself, “what are my needs?” and AI will do the rest. In brief, we can say that artificial intelligence is the new face of efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Source: business2community.com