how your placement on Google is determined

The Role of Quality Score and Ad Rank in Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is more than bidding for relevant keywords. To be successful an advertiser needs develop quality landing pages and engaging content.


What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of advertising that that involves bidding on keywords so that a specific ad will appear on the results page. It is commonly referred to as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, and is popular on Google and Bing search engines.


Here is an example of search engine marketing from the searcher’s perspective:

pizza search query with sample ads from Pizza Hut and Dominos on Google AdWords


For this example, the search query was “pizza,” which also happens to be the keyword. If instead of “pizza,” a searcher entered “where can I buy pizza near me,” the search query would be that entire piece of text. Advertisers may bid for a single keyword (which may be a word in a search query), or a keyword phrase (which may match an entire search query).

When the keyword was entered into the Google search bar, an auction took place. In this example Pizza Hut and Dominos were two of the bidders competing for their ad to appear.


How Does Bidding Work in Search Engine Marketing?

To explain this process, it’s necessary to go back in time, to before the search occurred.

Well before the search for “pizza” began, Pizza Hut, Dominos and a number of other companies set up a Google AdWords account, and created a campaign targeting people searching for “pizza.” These companies can target people searching in specific geographic locations, by what type of device they were using to perform the search, or a number of other factors.

Within each campaign are a number of Ad Groups, which are commonly differentiated from each other based on advertising strategy, or the web page searchers visit when they click the ad (also known as a landing page). Each Ad Group contains a set of keywords and ads.


In Google AdWords, an Ad Group looks like this:

Ad Group example from AdWords

In Google AdWords, an ad looks like this:

ad example from Google AdWords


Keywords are words or phrases a company believes searchers will use when trying to find the product being offered. Essentially, an advertiser is attempting to guess (though it should more appropriately be called a well-researched, educated guess) what someone would search for if they knew what they wanted, but weren’t sure where to buy it. For each keyword, a bid is placed which represents the maximum amount an advertiser is willing to pay for their ad to appear when a person searches for that keyword.


In Google AdWords, keywords look like this:

keywords example from Google AdWords

Every advertiser performs the actions, which leads to an auction when multiple advertisers bid for the same keyword. If two or more advertisers bid for the same keyword, an auction occurs, but it’s not always the highest bid that wins.


How Does Google Determine Ad Placement?

Google, like most popular search engines, uses an algorithm and ranking system to decide which ads will appear on the SERP (search engine result page). The bid is only one factor that is considered.


Here is how Google determines which ads to show:

how your placement on Google is determined


There are two key metrics which are measured to determine where an ad will rank (Ad Rank). The CPC (cost-per-click) bid and the Quality Score are both evaluated when a search is performed. The keywords with the best combination of these two factors will earn the highest Ad Rank.

The CPC bid is the maximum amount an advertiser is willing to pay when a searcher clicks their ad. The Quality Score is a measure of multiple factors.


Here is how Google determines the Quality Score of a keyword:

how Google determines your quality score


A keyword’s Quality Score is measured by factoring in:

  • The relevance of the keyword, ad and landing page’s URL, to the search query.
  • The quality and relevance of the landing page to the search query.
  • The past performance of the campaign, including historical CTR (click-through-rate), previous Quality Scores and overall effectiveness of the campaign.

Based on these two metrics, Google determines the rank of every ad competing for the same keyword. Similarly, because both of these metrics have the potential to change from minute-to-minute, Ad Rank can constantly fluctuate.


Why is Ad Rank Important?

Ad Rank is important because people rarely view the second or third search results page; and they generally click the first result.

Based on one study by Chitka, the search result with the top position received nearly 33% of the total traffic. The second position received 18% and third result gathered 11% of the potential traffic. After that the results degraded quickly.

In total, the results on the first page received 92% of all the potential traffic, while the second page received less than 5%, and the third captured 1%.

From this research it’s clear that placement is critical, and explains why competition is tough for so many industries. Every business is fighting to gain the best Ad Rank because the top spot will often capture the most traffic.


What Determines a Good Search Engine Marketing Strategy?

Search engine marketing is more than choosing keywords and bidding more aggressively than competitors. The Quality Score is a measure of overall campaign performance, relevance and landing page quality. An ad gains the top placement because the advertiser addressed all factors that are measured by the Quality Score. This often requires the cooperation of multiple people within a business, or one person who knows how to do it all.


Search Engine Marketing is a mix of:

  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Keyword research
  • Market research
  • Advertising strategy
  • Web development
  • Web design
  • Content marketing


To be successful with SEM, an advertiser needs to:

  • Research and understand their target market, including how they search
  • Research and discover the keywords people will use to search for specific products or services.
  • Build an advertising strategy that targets the most qualified searchers at the exact moment they’re ready to make a purchasing decision.
  • Develop a high-quality landing page that is relevant to a specific set of targeted keywords.
  • Design a landing page that is engaging and clearly communicates its purpose and value to visitors.
  • Incorporate targeted keywords effectively and organically throughout the landing page.
  • Create engaging, interesting and valuable content for the landing page to keep visitors on page longer and encourage them to return.
Email Marketing for Noobs Part 2 blog header

Email Marketing for Noobs – Part 2

In Part 1 of the Email Marketing for Noobs series, I explained the benefit of permission-based email marketing, and how to stay within your recipient’s circle of trust.

The Circle of Trust

Part 2 goes one-step further and helps you get the most out of your email campaigns and efforts.


Be a Trusted Email Sender


There’s no better way to be successful with email marketing than to send emails recipients actually want to open, read and share. The best way to do this is to only send messages that provide some sort of value.

If you’re a small business without much to say or offer, sending an email once a month, or quarter, is enough. If you’re a business that regularly generates valuable content, or consistently provides exclusive offers or discounts, multiple emails a week or month may still be effective.

Don’t send emails just because it seems like it’s been a while since the last one was sent out. Instead, only send emails when there’s something significant to offer.

The recipient doesn’t care how often they receive an email from a brand. Their only concern is the value of each and every email.

Otherwise, you’re just sending something that will end up in their trash.


Personalize the Email Address

Hello my name is noreply

When someone views their inbox the first thing they’re looking for is names they recognize. These names can be friends and family, colleagues or brands. People know which people and businesses they enjoy communicating with (or receiving communications from), and open these emails first.

Names that recipients recognize stand out and prompt them to open the message. Names they don’t recognize are left unopened until later, or even ignored completely.

Email addresses like:

Don’t look personal. These are email addresses which often send out mass-messages. There’s nothing personal about these names and people are rarely persuaded to believe they are.

Recipients don’t have the time or desire to open these types of emails. If they don’t instantly recognize the email address they probably won’t open it at all.

When choosing the email address that’ll be used to send out marketing messages, pick one that looks like it’s from a real person; not some faceless, automated robot.




Write an Honest and Clear Subject Line

The most important part of every single email is the subject line. This single line often decides whether an email will be opened, ignored, deleted or marked as spam.

no spam

In 50 characters or less, a subject line must explain the purpose and intent of an email, invoke a reaction, stand out or detail its value; sometimes all four. A subject line is responsible for getting the recipient to open.

Don’t be too clever when writing subject lines; it’s often better to be straightforward than write something so witty it’s misunderstood. Five – ten words aren’t enough to explain context and it’s easy for a subject line to be misinterpreted if it isn’t direct.

Don’t attempt to hide the emails purpose or trick the recipient into opening the message based on a few words.

Homer Simpsons opening can of snakes

If the email is asking the recipient to take a specific action, requesting information, or attempting to sell something, make this clear. This is the difference between trying to capture leads by quantity over quality.

If the email is only for a small group of people interested in a very specific topic, use the subject line to be transparent. If only a handful of people open the email, but all are interested in whatever the email’s topic, this is far better than 1000 opens and only 5 interested recipients.

Effective subject line writing involves a practice that makes many marketers uncomfortable; honesty and transparency. Tell recipients what the email is about, briefly, and make sure to live up to that promise.


Write a Less-Formal Email

When people send and receive emails they typically don’t expect perfectly worded, eloquent and professional messages. Email is a quick-form of communication that is generally used for close friends, family and colleagues. Even inter-office email has a casual feel to it.

Don’t write emails that sound like they should appear below a company’s letter head.

Effective online marketing requires understanding how people communicate on different platforms, and adapting. A message on Facebook shouldn’t look the same as a brochure, and an email shouldn’t look like a sales-pitch.

Email is often quick, more relaxed and less rigid than other forms of business communication. As a brand, it’s important to recognize this difference and adapt.

Write emails like they’re to a close friend. Speak casually, without the need to sound so buttoned-up and professional.

This doesn’t mean a brand should always use emoticons or social media abbreviations, but it does mean they don’t always need to be avoided. What’s more important is that each message is written for the intended recipient.

The key is to learn, and then speak, their language.


Each Email Must Provide Actual Value

Don’t just send an email for the purpose of sending an email.

Emails should be sent every week, or month, ONLY if there is something new and unique to say every week or month. Emails should never be sent out for the sole purpose of reminding recipients the business exists.

The best time to send an email is when there’s something interesting or value to provide to recipients, and only if it’s unique and exclusive.

If a business has a coupon to give to recipients, this is an example of good value. However, sending the same exact email the next week is an example of a non-unique or non-exclusive message. The better strategy is to send out a different coupon, with a different offer.

While it is true that recipients occasionally overlook emails and may not have seen one the first time around, it’s more likely they did see it and just didn’t feel it was relevant.

If a brand created an amazing eBook and wants to send it to all of the email addresses they have, the brand shouldn’t send an email every week with the same wording, images and links. Instead, switch it up and make it appear like different messages.

Consider this strategy:

  1. First Email – Alert recipients to the creation of a new eBook and include an exclusive link only they can access (with the input of their email address).
  2. Second Email – Remind them about the eBook and let them know that if they Tweet the link and @mention the brand, they’ll be signed up for a special contest.
  3. Third Email – Update recipients about the value and success of the eBook and let them know other people are talking about it online and social media. Embed some reviews, social shares or testimonials.
  4. Fourth Email – Let them know the link will expire on a set date, but tell them they can request a PDF version of the eBook by sending an email to:


Only send messages when there’s something interesting to say, or don’t send anything at all.


Blog originally posted on “A Working Progress” @

Email Marketing for Noobs Blog Header

Email Marketing for Noobs – Part 1

Email Marketing for Noobs Blog Header



Congratulations, you have access to a potential consumer’s email address.

Shia LaBeouf Clapping

Now what?

Email addresses are like phone numbers, sacred pieces of personal information, and people don’t like giving out either to just anyone. When you’re granted access to someone’s email address, or phone number, you’re being invited into their circle of trust.

Don’t let this happen:

The Circle of Trust

Don’t Send Emails Selfishly

This generous person is letting you know they trust you won’t abuse or misuse the information, and they trust you won’t annoy them. Your job is to hold on to the info closely, secure it from others, and only use it when you have something valuable to say.

Unfortunately too many businesses don’t agree.

Email marketing campaigns often overlook the level of trust they’ve been granted. When an email address is obtained, too often the first thought is to start sending messages asking for something.

This isn’t what trusted connections to and it shouldn’t be what your company does either.

Value People’s Emails

When you send emails to people that don’t offer any value, they get the impression you don’t actually value their personal information. They’re not happy you have their email, they just feel boo-urned.

Mr. Burns Saying Excellent from The Simpsons

People hold their inbox on a pedestal. It’s a special place that delivers messages from friends and family, sends important work-related communication, and keeps people up-to-date on their interests, hobbies and special events.

It’s not a place to be “sold.”

Permission Email Marketing

Seth Godin introduced the idea of Permission Marketing in his book by the same name.

Permission Marketing Book Cover by Seth Godin


Seth argued that the days of interruption marketing (such as advertising, TV commercials and other forms that interrupt an activity with brand messages) no longer work in the modern world. Instead brands must engage in permission marketing, which only delivers brand messages when a potential consumer grants a brand permission (such as Liking a Facebook page or signing up for newsletters).

To market effectively with email, permission marketing is the best strategy to use.

Email Marketing Without Permission

Buying email lists doesn’t work, and it’s also a waste of money and time. If you don’t know about the potential harm these lists can cause, consider these consequences:

  • Most email marketing vendors don’t allow the use of non-opt-in lists, instructing companies to only use lists that were obtained from people that agreed to receive emails.
  • The emails purchased aren’t of high quality, and are often completely dead. If you’re able to purchase an email, it’s likely others have done so as well, meaning these emails have already been bombarded with marketing messages.
  • The people behind these email addresses usually have no idea who you are, know nothing of your company, and don’t know how you obtained their email address. People are not often receptive to messages from people or brands they don’t know.
  • If too many recipients mark your message as “spam,” your brand can be damaged. In the best-case scenario, an email marketing vendor can refuse to work with you and drop you from their platform. In the worst-case scenario, your email address can be blacklisted and cause all of your emails to be caught by spam filters (even harmless ones).
  • It’s downright annoying. No one likes receiving emails from people and brands they don’t know. These types of unsolicited communication can lead to bad brand images and negative word-of-mouth referrals.

Did You Buy an Email List?

All is not lost, and there’s no need to overreact.

Ron Swanson Throws Out Computer on Parks and Recreation Gif


But you can probably throw away the list. If it works, you’re likely the outlier, not the norm.

How to Grow Your Email List

The best way to manage email marketing is to grow your list slowly, and send emails to potential consumers that actually want to hear about your brand. The best way to grow your list is organically.

Signups can be added to your website and social media pages. Calls-to-action can be added to other forms of communication (receipts, invoices, confirmations, business cards, and direct marketing collateral) to drive new sign ups.

Any time a customer makes a purchase there’s an opportunity to request an email address. This type of interaction works exceptionally well because the customer has already shown an interest in your brand, and is likely already interested in the things you have to say.

These methods are part of a permission email marketing strategy, and work because they give the power to the consumer, allowing them to make the choice about whether or not to invite you into their circle of trust (or inbox). When a customer is interested in what you have to say, they’re more likely to respond and engage when they receive it.

But once you’re granted access to their inbox, the job isn’t complete. The trust they’ve granted can be taken away with just a single poorly constructed, pushy or irrelevant email.

This is where the concept of email personalization becomes vital.

But that’s a topic for another blog.

Check back soon for Part 2 of the Email Marketing for Noobs series.


Blog originally posted on “A Working Progress” @ BecauseYouGoogledMe



Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content Marketing: The Art of Selling Without Selling


No one wants to see a sales brochure.

Nobody opens emails they know is going to sell them something.

Everyone hates getting an unsolicited sales call while they’re eating dinner.

People don’t like being “sold.” They probably never did, but in today’s world of spam filters, ad blockers and caller ID, it’s even easier for people to ignore a sales pitch.

People are busy, living their own lives, dealing with their own problems, and securing their finances. No matter how much a business owner believes their product or service will solve the world’s problems, it probably won’t; and people don’t have the time or interest to be told how much better their life will be if they spend their time or money.

The sooner businesses accept this reality, the sooner we as a business community can come together and find better ways to “sell.”


The Answer is Content Marketing

It’s the art of selling, without selling.

Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of interesting, valuable or relevant content, for free.

That’s right; it’s just given away, for free.

“Free” is the most beautiful word in the world to every consumer. It’s also the most hated word for every business owner. But businesses stay in business because of consumers, not because of business owners.

No consumers means no business, so if consumers want free, then free is what they should get.


Not Just Any Kind of Free

The idea isn’t to give away products or services for free, but rather to share valuable content. This content can be:

  • A blog which provides insights to a specific industry or market.
  • A case study, or white paper, with valuable data findings discovered through research.
  • An entertaining video that makes viewers laugh.

Not all content needs to be serious; some of it can be fun. The types of content that should be created are catered to the target audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.


Every Company Needs to Be a Media Company

What do RedBull, GoPro and Lego have in common?

They’re all media companies.

These companies, and plenty of others, are media companies in addition to their primary business. These brands create and share content that goes viral, and is enjoyed by more people than actually buy their products.

But convincing every person that views their content to buy their product isn’t their goal. Instead, these companies focus on building brand awareness and creating positive brand images. These companies have a customer-focused content marketing strategy.

In return, these brands have some of the most loyal customers, and fans, in the world.

The reason is because they’ve provided free value to their audience, and in return only asked for them to tell a friend, or consider them the next time they make a purchase.

The Lego Movie was incredibly popular, and didn’t ask a single audience member to buy a Lego set; but because they created an entertaining and humorous movie, people went out and bought Legos anyway.

While most companies don’t have the resources to match what these brands are doing, the strategy still works for small and medium sized businesses as well. Create interesting content, and share it with people that may find it valuable; and then do it again, and again.


But Don’t Just Believe Me

I’m not breaking any new ground here with this blog, and the concept of companies becoming media companies has long been discussed in the marketing world.

Take a look at a few articles I believe explain it best:


The Competition is (Almost) Infinite

The internet is filled with content. The options to be informed and entertained are nearly infinite. Not only are brands competing with other brands in their industry, they’re competing with brands in other industries, along with people’s friends and family.

There are countless websites, platforms and applications which compete for people’s attention. Even within each of these exist a vast array of competitors.

On social media and email inboxes, brand messages can appear above pictures of a family member, and below an ad for a Fortune 500 Company.

The goal is to stand out, find a niche, and share something interesting. To do this, the amount, and quality, of content must continue to increase and improve. For businesses to stand out, they must create content quickly, regularly, and effectively.

This is why every company needs to become a media company.


In Other Words…

“Whether you like it or not, every person is now a media company. The tools are easy, free, and everywhere. More importantly, producing content is now the BASELINE for all brands and companies. It literally doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what industry you operate in, if you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist. So what’s your excuse?”

Gary Vaynerchuk

So what's your excuse Gary Vaynerchuk Quote


“It doesn’t matter if a company makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it’s neighbors. It needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc. And now with this emerging two-way Internet it also needs to learn how to listen.”

Tom Foremski

Tom Foremski Quote


Originally posted on “A Working Progress” @

Another Blog Answering ‘What is Content Marketing?’

Another Blog Answering

‘What is Content Marketing?’



The great marketing minds of today have long stressed the importance of content marketing, and encouraged businesses and brands to invest more time and resources developing effective content marketing strategies.

Countless books, articles and blogs have been written which describe the importance of content marketing. At this point, there’s not much new that can be said on the subject.

So this blog won’t try.

Instead, I’m describing content marketing, in my own words.

If you’re already well-aware of content marketing, there’s not much new here for you. But if this is the first time you’ve heard the term, let me be the first to try and explain.

For a more detailed explanation, simply Google “content marketing,” and you’ll have enough reading material to fill a very long weekend.

So let’s begin.


What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the creation, and sharing, of interesting, relevant and valuable content, given away for free to potential customers.

Or described another way,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

This branch of digital marketing is the art of selling, without selling. The purpose is not about asking potential customers to make a purchasing decision, or telling them to “Call Now!”  Instead, the goal is to reach new audiences, cultivate the potential lead, and build brand loyalty, through the delivery of free and valuable content.

Though the phrase, “content marketing” is relatively new, the concept has been around for quite a while.

Take a look at this video from the Content Marketing Institute to learn about its history.


What is Content?

Content can be almost anything a business or brand creates and shares, that provides some perceived value.

Common digital examples include:

  • Blogs
  • Online Videos
  • Emails
  • Newsletters
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Case Studies
  • eBooks
  • Landing Pages

Content is everywhere. It’s on every website, social media page and search engine result page. Content is what you’ll find on YouTube, in your inbox and within every mobile app.

What separates content from content marketing is that it is created, or curated, and shared, with value in mind. Give something away for free, and in return, gain a potential customer’s brand loyalty, contact info or positive impression.


What’s the Purpose of Content Marking?

The purpose of content marketing is to grow brand awareness and loyalty through the sharing of valuable content, to generate leads and hopefully gain repeat business.

The customer experience has changed. Customers are now more informed, conduct their own research, and don’t need to be told why they should buy. Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.

Content marketing is about providing value to a potential customer, so that they can become aware of, or feel positively about, a business or brand, and keep it mind when it’s time to make a purchase. By giving away value for free, potential customers don’t’ feel like they are being “sold.”

People hate advertising. People love good content marketing.


What isn’t Content Marketing?

Content marketing is not the sharing of sales-focused materials, which often attempts to “sell” potential customers on the business’s product, service or brand.

In truth, content is everything from a tweet and newsletter, to a business card and a coupon. But content marketing asks for nothing in return. Or if it does, it’s only after something of value has been provided first.

The idea of “value” is what separates content from content marketing. Without value, content is just another sales pitch. Value must be provided, first;

“Otherwise, what you end up with is a brochure, but you just call it content marketing.”

Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert.


How Does Content Marketing Work?

Through the creation of strategically targeted content, and sharing it on digital channels, potential customers can find valuable information and be introduced to, or nurtured by, businesses and brands.

Simply put, content marketing works by giving away something of value, for free. After a person receives this free valuable content, they are more likely to take an action, provide personal information, or remember the business or brand when it’s time to make a purchase.

By creating and sharing this content across digital channels, a business or brand can be discovered by potential customers; and these potential customers can also share this content with their friends, family or colleagues.

Content marketing encourages loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, to create brand ambassadors.


Why is Content Marketing Important?

All current online forms of marketing rely on content marketing to reach and find customers. Content is what is viewed online, shared by people, and used to communicate with potential customers.

“Content marketing is dead because now it is simply marketing.”

Seth Godin, from his interview on HubSpot’s “The Rise to the Top” web series

Content marketing is what allows a business or brand be found online, connect with potential customers, and build loyalty.

People have become very good at ignoring advertisements, because they’re intrusive and pushy; their purpose is to convince people to spend their money or time. Content marketing, however, is a passive strategy, which provides free value, in exchange for the possibility of loyalty in the future.

Content marketing is more about branding and generating leads than making a sale. Gone are the days when a business or brand could simply pay to capture people’s attention.

Audiences no longer want their attention bought. They want it to be earned.




Originally posted on “A Working Progress Blog” @







The Art of Hashtag

Using hashtags is an art form.

The hashtag is one of the most misunderstood tools of social media. Though many people use them (often excessively), their true purpose sometimes gets lost.

There are no definitive rules for how, or when, to use a hashtag; but there are methods for using them effectively, depending on intention and purpose.

When used effectively, hashtags can connect people, across the world, and allow them to communicate. They can raise awareness for causes, ideas and brands. Hashtags have the power to prove we all have more in common than not.

But using them properly takes skill, forethought and creativity. There is an art to hashtags.


Hashtags are engagement tools.

When you break it down, Twitter is simply a group of people speaking to each other (sometimes themselves), in real time.

But from the outside looking in, Twitter can look like a lot of noise. It can be difficult to separate one conversation from another.

Unless you’re use a hashtag.

Hashtags are engagement tools which let people label their own conversation, and let others join. Placing a hashtag within a tweet makes it easy to find, through Twitter’s search bar. They can also start trends and movements.


What is a hashtag? How do I Use a Hashtag?

The most common question people have when the first create a Twitter account, is “what’s the @#$% is a hashtag?” It’s a confusing form of communication, that doesn’t easily relate to our standard way of speaking.

The closest comparison is non-verbal communication. The hashtag can sometimes put emphasis on a statement. Or it can add subtext.

Essentially, the hashtag adds context to your message. It’s like rolling your eyes, using air-quotes, or using hand gestures. In a static form of communication, like simple text, the hashtag adds flair.

But the first time you see it, the meaning is usually lost.


When Should I Use a Hashtag?

While new Twitter users may not understand the purpose of a hashtag, some social media veterans and millennials don’t fully get it either.

In my opinion, there are 3 main functional uses for the hashtag. Let me break it down.


Join the Conversation

A hashtag lets you connect with people talking about the same subject. Adding hashtags lets others discover a tweet through Twitter’s search bar. Once searched, every tweet that includes the hashtag is displayed.

For some hashtags, there may be a few tweets a minute, or hour. Other times, like during popular cultural events (the Super Bowl, The Voice season finale, or the police chasing a couple llamas across Arizona), several tweets per second can appear.

These popular cultural events, and the Twitter response to them, are called live tweeting, and involve a large group of people all talking about the same topic.

Live tweeting is the world’s largest, active conversation about the same topic.

Using hashtags lets people join the conversation, and connect with others (sometimes strangers) interested in the same subject.

When you want to communicate with others about a particular topic, hashtags can help you connect


Get Discovered

Twitter is a powerful two-way communication tool. Through the platform, people can speak directly to friends, strangers and public figures.

But sometimes people aren’t looking for a dialogue; instead preferring the soliloquy.

In 2010, Twitter reported performing 1.6 billion search queries per day. The current number is guaranteed to be higher, as there were only 50 million active Twitter users in 2010.  As of Q3 2015, there were over 300 million active users.

Twitter is one of the top search engines in the world, and it can be used as a source for sharing your message.

Hashtags can be used to help others discover a specific topic. Adding them to a tweet will allow it to appear when users search for that hashtag.

If you have a message to share, but don’t want to start a conversation, hashtags can help you categorize and store your message for future discovery.

However, there are many popular hashtags that are searched for regularly. Even more, some people track specific hashtags, and are alerted whenever a tweet is posted which includes it. While others have lists and filters which only show tweets using a specific hashtag.

Not only can a hashtag let you categorize your tweet for later discovery, it can be used to get discovered in real time.


Start a Trend

Most people and brands don’t have the type of influence, or clout, to start a Twitter trend without spending money on advertising.  But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible; just difficult.

A hashtag can become trending. This occurs when a large number of people tweet using the same hashtag. This often occurs during live tweeting events, but can happen naturally, or through persuasion.

People and brands with social influence often start trending hashtags. When celebrities, television shows, or other sources with large followings, encourage fans to use a specific hashtag, people generally oblige.

The most common reason to get a hashtag to trend is to raise awareness.

When people tweet with a specific hashtag, their Twitter followers see it; which in turn, can lead to them clicking the hashtag and discovering a large group of people using it as well. Out of curiosity, and fear of missing out (FOMA), these people will investigate and try to figure out what everyone is talking about. Before long, they’ll trace the hashtag back to its source, and possibly discover a new social influencer.

This is an effective form of branding and marketing, and can raise awareness through word-of-mouth.

But sometimes hashtag trends happen organically. If there is a cause that appeals to the masses, they may share the hashtag as well. This can often occur as a form of activism, but can be used whenever there is an idea or belief that unites people.

Starting hashtag trends are the best way to raise awareness, get discovered, and start a conversation. Not everyone has the power to do this, but when accomplished, the hashtag is at its most powerful.


Hashtags can be fun, or they can be powerful tools. They can add flair to your sentence, or unite a nation.

When used effectively, hashtags can spread a single message further than any other form of communication currently available in the world. A single hashtag can connect people of all beliefs, lifestyles and cultures, and can pass through borders with ease.

Their power is unmatched in communication, but too few people understand how to use them effectively. Using hashtags properly combines science and artistry.

To get the most out of them, you must learn the art of hashtag.


This blog was originally posted on “A Working Progress” @



Is Twitter’s Proposed 10k-Character Limit a Good Idea?

Is Twitter’s Proposed 10k-Character Limit a Good Idea?


The big Twitter news, beside the possibility of being banned in Turkey, was that the 140-character limit may go extinct.

First reported by Re/Code, the news comes as Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, continues to figure out how to make Twitter profitable.

Instead of a 140-character limit, Tweets will have a 10,000 character-limit.

And of course Twitter reacted the way Twitter always does; with an overreaction.

Join the fun. Search for #Twitter10k.


Apparently Twitter has a new logo.


As you can see, anger is at its typical Twitter level.


My personal favorite.



But is this (potential) Twitter change really that big of a deal?


Yes (but mostly no). Here are a few (possible) consequences.


A “Read More” Option

If this change occurs, the heart-and-soul of Twitter won’t change. Twitter has always been about brevity and creativity. 140 characters forces users to pick their words carefully; and sometimes make them up (see: BAE & NSFW).

But Tweets won’t suddenly be long-winded ramblings. Instead, a “read more” option will be implemented.

Tweets will stick to their 140 character roots, and give readers an option to “expand” the tweet. And if the first 140 don’t interest them, they’ll just keep on scrolling.


Even More Clickbait

File this under “annoying,” but not necessarily “bad.”

This 10k change is being considered more for advertisers, than it is for users. Many advertisers find the 140-character limit too, well… limiting.

Brevity and creativity are not something many businesses can accomplish. Instead, they prefer multi-sentence sales-pitches, and long-winded promotional copy. The best social media marketers may not have this issue, but those slower to adapt to digital marketing, have trouble.

Insert more clickbait.

We’ve all seen them, and we’ve all been tricked.

8 things you should never feed to cats and dogs

I Left My Husband & Daughter At Home And THIS Happened! I Can’t Believe It!

Advertisers will stop trying to sell you something creatively; instead, they’ll use more clickbait, encouraging you to click “read more” on their Tweet.


Twitter Users (kinda) Asked for It

I can’t imagine anyone tweeted CEO Jack Dorsey, asking for more characters. But what Twitter did notice was an increase in tweets with screenshots of longer text messages.

It’s clear some users have more to say, and need a way to fit it all in a single tweet.

For those verbose Twitter users, the option to say everything they want, in a single tweet, would be a nice addition.

The only alternative is to send out multiple tweets, in rapid-fire succession, that pick up right where the last tweet ended. This is already more annoying than a possible “read more” icon.


The Biggest Twitter Complaint Still Wasn’t Addressed

Spend half-a-minute looking through all the #Twitter10k tweets, and you’ll notice one, consistent trend. There’s still no edit option for tweets.

Twitter users aren’t looking to say more; instead, they just want the ability to edit tweets. A way to fix a typo, or alter a URL mistake.

Twitter announcing this potential change illustrates it isn’t listening to users; instead, focusing on advertiser’s demands.

Which, as a business, isn’t always a bad thing.

But, as many social media platforms are discovering, their popularity came from the unique experience they provided regular people. It wasn’t until they tried to appease advertisers, that people start moving away.

Go ahead and ask a millennial how much time they spend on Facebook.

The success of a business often depends on its ability to gain repeat customers; which is cheaper than acquiring new ones.



It’s no guarantee that Twitter will implement this change, as multiple possible changes have been suggested by the company. But if these do occur, it’ll be a sign that Twitter is more concerned with appealing to stockholders, than to users.

Will this change cause people to find an alternative social media platform? Let me know what you think, in the comment section of this blog.


This blog was originally posted on “A Working Progress” @

2015 Digital Marketing Stories That’ll Make Headlines in 2016

2015 Digital Marketing Stories That’ll Make Headlines in 2016



As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at a year that provided a few great advancements, and changes, in digital marketing.

But reliving the past should never be something we do too often; instead, it’s time to start looking forward to the future.

2016 has the potential to bring incredible changes, not just to digital marketing, but the world. With new technologies gaining popularity, older forms of media being forgotten, and the way we search changing, the next year is sure to affect how we market online.

Here are a few of the biggest digital marketing stories from 2015, which will continue to make headlines in 2016.


The Rise of Digital Assistants

Digital assistants, like Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and the new Amazon Echo, will change the way we search. Voice commands will trigger information, websites and services to launch automatically. These technologies adapt to the way you speak, and learns about you; to provide the best result for your command or query.

The implications of this on SEO have yet to be discovered. The long-tail keyword has long been promoted as the optimal way to optimize a page or piece of content; and this will likely remain. But additionally, more informal, conversational keywords may gain importance. The purpose of SEO has always been to describe web content in a way that matches search queries. As search queries become more specific, and more conversational, SEO that focuses on the niche, may gain priority placement. It will also become even more important to write for people, not search engines.


Google & Twitter Partner

2015 was the year that saw Twitter partner with Google, to provide Tweets within search engine result pages.

In the end, both sides win, as Google receives access to the most revolutionary real-time communication platform that’s ever been created (seriously, think about it – how else can you receive breaking news, contact the President and order a pizza, all at the same time?). There are over 7,000 Tweets sent out every second (as of this writing), and this amount of up-to-date information is vital to Google remaining at the top of the search world.

Twitter, in return, gets massive exposure, which is exactly what it needs. According to Pew, only 19% of adults in the U.S. use Twitter. Facebook has 58%.

Partnerships like these can only continue. Facebook is already trying to become a search engine competitor to Google and Bing, offering Search FYI as an alternative. The race to provide relevant search results to users will intensify, as real-time updates, information and content continue to be shared at light-speed. We live in a culture of immediacy, and the search engine that provides the most updated content will reign.


The Cord-Cutters are Growing

According to Forrester Research, 24% of U.S. adults don’t pay for television. Instead, they’re opting to stream content from their computer, mobile device, Roku, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast and video game console. TV is no longer the only way to consume video entertainment, or watch your favorite show. The consumer has options more options than ever. Cable companies, like Comcast, are already implementing data caps for subscribers; hoping people will keep paying, every month, for channels they never watch (though they a very different corporate response).

As more people ditch cable, streaming services will rise. But currently, there are very few ways to brands marketing on these services. Netflix doesn’t have commercials (thankfully), and Hulu goes traditional, showing the same commercials as shown on television. But as more people make the switch, more streaming services will be born. Savvy marketers already see the future, and opt to spend some of their time, and budgets, on lesser-known, but growing, streaming services, such as Twitch, Yahoo Screen and Newsy.


Online & Streaming Video Capture Eyes

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook Live Video, Video on Instagram and Vine are dominating our attention, and eyeballs. More people are watching video on these platforms than primetime television. According to Cisco, 69% of all consumer internet traffic will come from video, by 2017.

Marketing is about appearing in front of consumers, wherever they are. It used to be television, but now it’s more often coming from online videos, and streaming sites. Video content is more engaging and keeps user’s attention longer. Creating and sharing videos about your business, and your industry, are great ways to build brand awareness.

As demand for video content grows, so will the need for brands to invest in talented, and creative, content marketers. These digital marketing underdogs are the lifeblood of marketing in the future. As the cliché goes, “content is king.” But the truth is, it’s so much more than that. Content represents marketing in the 21st century.


Don’t Forget, Mobile is (still very) Important

It may feel like ages ago, but “Mobilegeddon” occurred in 2015. Has your website survived? Is it thriving? Or are you still working with your development team to optimize your site?

A new year may be upon us, but t’s the same story as last year (and the year before that, and the year…). Mobile is important. Very important. For the first time in Black Friday history, over half of all online shopping came from mobile devices. Google confirmed that more searches come from mobile devices, than desktops.

If you don’t have a mobile marketing strategy, and a mobile-friendly website, what are you waiting for?


Overall, 2015 was a mild year for digital marketing changes. There were a few new platforms, devices and developments, but for the most part, it was much of the same.

2016, however, has the potential to see massive changes.

Along with many of the topics listed above, advances in technology are expected to change the way we connect, the way we interact, and the way we live. We’re getting close to finally having virtual reality and self-driving cars. Wearable devices are getting more popular, and cheaper. Traditional media will continue to decline, as new online sources continue to gain viewers.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016? Share your thoughts in the comment field below, and let me know what, in digital marketing, you’re most excited to experience next year.


Originally posted on “A Working Progress Blog” @ 




What’s in a Creative Brief?

A creative brief should be a stand-alone document, which speaks for itself. Often, briefs will be passed from one creative person to another, without any background, context or explanation. If you’re lucky, you may receive an email, or a call, asking for clarification; but there is no guarantee.

This single document can be used to design entire campaigns, or provide direction for a single graphic. All of the research that’s been performed, conversations with the client, and market analysis, must be translated into a 1 – 2 page brief.

But just like getting to Carnegie Hall, all it takes practice (practice, practice).

Here’s an overview of the key components to any effective creative brief. Feel free to use this as a template for your own creative briefs.

Timing and Deliverables

Desks get messy, and sometimes things get overlooked. Putting the most important information at the top will make it easier to set priorities. A quick glance at any creative brief should remind you of deadlines and expectations.
Answer the question, “what and when?” This is where you put the most basic of requirements, and place it prominently.


People are busy at work, managing multiple projects, answering emails, and attending meetings. Don’t force people to re-read an entire brief every time. Instead, summarize the most important information in the overview section. This section, along with the timing and deliverables section should provide enough info to remind them what’s required.
Explain the work needed and provide only the most important information. This section should summarize the entire brief, for quick reference and recollection. Save this section until the very end; after you know exactly what the rest of the brief contains.


Every marketing piece has a purpose. Most often, it’s to encourage a consumer to take a specific action. It’s important to know what you want a consumer to do before you start working on it. If you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s easier to stay focused.
Know what you want the consumer to do, and state it clearly. If there are specific calls-to-action, include them. It’s important to understand the goal of each creative piece before starting the work.

Most Important Thing(s)

Similar to the objective, understanding the primary goals is essential. Where the objective details the purpose, the most important thing(s) lists mandatory elements, specific rules or essential things to include.
If there are elements or considerations which must be used, communicated, or included, list them in order of importance. The purpose of this section is to let the creative person know, that any work missing these thing(s) will be considered incomplete.

Target Audience and Insights

When you attempt to target everyone, you end up reaching no one. Know your audience, their pain-points and interests. Messaging should always communicate with audiences the way they communicate.
Briefly define the target audience. Reference market research or reports which can more thoroughly describe the demographic. Explain who the creative is for, and how communicate with them.

Messaging and Copy

Words can be persuasive. They can be controversial. Words can provoke reflection, initiate action, or make a person smile. Know what you want to say, and how it should be said.
If there are specific phrases or keywords that should be included, add them here. Provide direction to the copywriter, by defining communication styles, and the brand’s voice. If the creative will be used online, be sure to add SEO keywords and anchor text.

Design and Graphics

In the marketing world, looks are everything. In a rapidly refreshing environment like the internet, visual elements must stand out, or risk being ignored.
Describe the look and feel of the creative. If there’s a theme, make sure it’s explained. Any required elements, such as logos, trademarks, or product images, should be included.
Try to avoid telling an artist how to design, but give enough information and direction to get them on the right track.

Considerations and References

The structure of this brief places the key information at the top, and provides enough specific details to get started. A brief should be formal and consistent, since this one document may be seen by multiple creatives, who may or may not have context.
However, this is where you should break free from the formalities, and give any other information that may help get the work completed.
If there are previous marketing materials that are similar, reference them. If the client wants the piece to match something they’ve seen from a competitor, add a link. Anything else that can help, add it here. The more information you can provide, the better the final product.



LinkedIn Tips for Salespeople

LinkedIn Tips for Salespeople

LinkedIn is the professional’s social media platform. A great tool for salespeople.

As of Q1 ‘15, LinkedIn had 364 million users; 107 million in the U.S. alone.

The old, tried-and-true, sales techniques, of cold-calling, networking and prospecting still work. But with LinkedIn as an additional sales tool, these techniques can be improved.

Curated below are a few tools, tips and tricks that salespeople can use to optimize their lead generation skills. Included are some resources LinkedIn provides to members looking to get more out of their social media experience; along with tips from several successful online marketing gurus.

Sales Navigator

LinkedIn offers a (paid) service, called Sales Navigator. LinkedIn describes the service as follows:

LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you find the right prospects, fast. With LinkedIn’s sophisticated algorithm, this sales tool gives you lead recommendations that are tailored to you. Easily save leads and follow updates of your prospects to turn cold calling into warm conversations.

An investment in this LinkedIn tool will greatly expand a salesperson’s, network and pool of potential leads. With advanced search features, lead-building tools and analytics, the Sales Navigator can enhance a salesperson’s tried-and-true techniques. The potential ROI for this tool makes worth consideration.

LinkedIn eBook

LinkedIn offers its very own free eBook, titled, 7 Social Selling Tips to Drive Revenue and Crush your Quote.

Portions of the eBook, its Table of Contents, and a brief introduction, can all be found in the link above.

The free eBook provides tips, such as:

  • Addressing Changing Buyer Behavior
  • Identifying the Right People in Target Organizations
  • Taking Advantage of Team Buying
  • Identifying the Right Topics to Talk About

The entire eBook can be downloaded, for free, simply by providing some personal information (most of which can be uploaded/auto-filled directly from your LinkedIn profile).


The 3 Step Approach

Jeff Molander is an adjunct digital marketing faculty member at Loyola University’s business school, and a self-proclaimed authority on social selling. Across Jeff’s website and social media profiles, are valuable social selling tips, tricks and techniques; most of which can be incorporated by salespeople across industries.

Jeff offers many tips for Using LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting and Leads, on his website. In addition, you can find multiple blogs, articles and online courses published on his site.

Much of the advice Jeff provides is helpful, especially to salespeople; and I suggest reviewing as much of it as time permits. But I’d like to concentrate on one specific tip Jeff offers:

Start using LinkedIn to:

  1. Answer: Answer your target customers’ common, everyday questions in ways that bring them toward your product.
  2. Provoke: Design interactions with prospects in ways that get them to ask you for MORE answers relating to their ultimate goal.
  3. Exchange: Provide comprehensive answers and solutions to prospects in exchange for their email address and/or other qualitative information.

Lead Generation

For the salesperson, LinkedIn can be a valuable a tool; with a very specific, and functional, purpose. But like all tools, with just a little creativity, it can be helpful in ways that go beyond its intentional function..

It is extremely important to fill out your entire LinkedIn profile. Not only will this provide a clear picture of your history, experience and abilities, but will make it easier for others to discover you via search.

Still, there are many more tips for finding LinkedIn success.

In an article written for, 13 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council were asked to provide creative tips for generating leads on LinkedIn.

The article is titled, 13 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation, and offers these tips and more:

  • Participate in discussions: “There are targeted discussion groups on LinkedIn for almost every niche imaginable….Give your expert knowledge freely, and start relationships in these groups.” – Patrick Conley
  • Research profile views: “LinkedIn has a feature that shows you people who visited your profile…Someone who spent time on your profile is likely a lead worth reaching out to.” – Devesh Dwivedi
  • Publish articles: “If you utilize LinkedIn to educate leads, you’ll provide more value and ultimately form stronger relationships.” – Kelsey Meyer

These tips provide a blueprint for how and where to start improving sales via LinkedIn. As the professional’s social media platform, LinkedIn can be an asset, in terms of networking, gathering prospects and nurturing leads.

Contact Me

If you’re interested in additional tips for improving your LinkedIn profile, increasing connections, and being discovered, connect with me on LinkedIn. Follow me on Twitter: @CuzYouGoogledMe and visit my website: