Can TikTok Change the Digital World?

Can TikTok Change the Digital World?

The digital world is always changing, and digital marketing agencies have a responsibility to change with it. Take TikTok, for example. Originally known as Douyin in China and launched to international audiences under its current moniker in September 2017, TikTok enjoyed rapid worldwide growth during the second half of last year. In Q1 2019, the short-form video-sharing platform was the third-most downloaded app in the world behind only Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

TikTok’s popularity is such that participants at last months’ VidCon in Anaheim, California, considered it a tangible threat to YouTube.

“YouTube has been a home for video creators for more than a decade,” explained eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “But it’s starting to see real competition from TikTok as well as other social platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. All of them want a piece of the massive audience for creator content that YouTube has built.”

Yet according to a February 2019 survey by Spout Social, just 4 per cent of US digital marketing pros had developed any type of TikTok strategy. This is due in part to the platform’s lack of formal ad business – TikTok streams and videos are ad-free – but is also emblematic of advertisers’ sluggish response to new media. TikTok is already experimenting with subtle ad units and trailblazing businesses are beginning to partner with influencers. Companies that embrace TikTok today will have unfettered access to a massive young audience once its ad platform becomes more robust.

This is not to say that TikTok is right for your business. But it should serve as a reminder that small risks on new media can yield outsize rewards.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media makes it our business to be well-informed about the latest trends in digital media consumption. We believe that businesses who stay ahead of the curve have an inside track on their competitors.

It’s Time to Develop an Online Review Strategy

It’s Time to Develop an Online Review Strategy

Online reviews have become critical to digital marketing success. When a customer is torn between two service providers, the one with the most positive reviews is likely to win out. That means your business needs a strategy for soliciting and responding to online reviews – both positive and negative. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

  1. Claim your pages on Google My Business, Facebook Business, and Yelp. Digital marketing is no longer a one-platform industry! Maintaining a presence on each of these important review platforms will make it easy for customers to find your business, leave reviews, and learn more about your services.
  2. Reach out to satisfied customers. Not every customer will instinctively share their experience with your business on Yelp, so you may want to develop a modest review outreach strategy. Follow-up emails, automated thank you pages, and discount offers are all good approaches, as long as they are not intrusive or manipulative.
  3. Always respond! Customers are more likely to leave reviews for responsive businesses. This is especially true for businesses that leave satisfactory responses to negative reviews. That means adopting a ‘customer is always right’ stance and offering meaningful, courteous answers to complaints. Turning a negative review into a returning customer is the ultimate example of great customer service.
  4. Consider paid strategies. If your business is struggling to attract positive online reviews, you may want to consider a paid review platform. In some cases, that can mean offering customers compensation for reviews, but more often it entails licensing a platform that automates review solicitation.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media can help you attract meaningful, sincere reviews that highlight your business’s customer service and encourage new customers to reach out for more information.

Microsoft Advertising was the Big Winner in Q2 2019

Microsoft Advertising was the Big Winner in Q2 2019

Merkle’s Q2 2019 Digital Marketing Report delivered an unusual piece of news last week: a rival search engine advertising business took a bite out of Google Ads dominant market share.

Total United States search advertising spend was up 14 per cent year-over-year (YOY, although growth continues to slow. However, it was the relative success of Microsoft Advertising that that caught Search Engine Land’s attention.

“Desktop spend on Microsoft Advertising had its strongest quarter in more than three years in the second quarter of 2019,” the digital marketing publication reported.

“Microsoft Advertising’s gain came in large part from its deal with Verizon Media to handle all search ad inventory across its properties, including Yahoo.”

Microsoft’s gain last quarter was unquestionably Google’s loss. Google had been serving Verizon’s Yahoo shopping ads since 2016 before Microsoft took over the business this year.

“Yahoo dropping Google’s ads in favour of Bing Product Ads at the end of Q1 appears to have had a meaningful impact,” the Merkle report read.

Overall, spending on Microsoft Advertising was up 8 per cent over combined Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini spend YOY, driven in large part by a 54 per cent YOY increase in shopping ad spend. Google Shopping also saw a 38 per cent YOY spending leap, although that lagged behind the 41 per cent boost it enjoyed in Q1.

Microsoft’s success in Q2 2019 doesn’t in any way threaten Google’s digital advertising supremacy. Google remains the world’s most popular search engine and largest advertising business. Digital advertising isn’t a monolithic industry, however. Savvy marketers use Microsoft Advertising, Facebook Ads, and other Google alternatives to reach the widest possible audience.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is equipped to guide your digital marketing strategy across multiple platforms.

Google Changes its Search System Every Day

Google Changes its Search System Every Day

The goal of any search engine is to quickly connect users with relevant and useful answers to their queries. Last month, Google’s Danny Sullivan briefly described on the company blog how Google sets about achieving this aim. His comments underscored some of the challenges facing search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search service providers.

Google’s search engine results page (SERP) has changed drastically since the platform’s launch. Where once it delivered a simple list of links to websites, it now offers a suite of useful features, including featured snippets, knowledge panels, and search autocomplete. In fact, Google makes more than 3,200 changes to its search system every year, or about 8 or 9 changes every day.

“Some of these were visible launches of new features, while many others were regular updates meant to keep our results relevant as content on the web changes… And some are also improvements based on issues we identified, either via public reports or our own ongoing quality evaluations,” Sullivan wrote.

While some of these changes took immediate effect, others were implemented slowly.

“Unlike with Search features where we are able to quickly correct issues that violate our policies, sometimes identifying the root cause of ranking issues can take time, and improvements may not happen immediately,” Sullivan continued.

The frequency of Google’s changes reflects the company’s massive growth – in 2009, only 350-400 changes were made.

Digital marketers know that search is always changing. Google has released regular updates for years and will continue to do so. Search engine optimization professionals must respond and adapt to these changes while also identifying trends and predicting the direction of Google’s future changes.

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is positioned to ensure your website remains visible and relevant throughout Google’s changes. Contact us today to learn more about our search engine optimization and paid search marketing services.

Local Businesses Don’t Take Advantage of Marketing Tools

Local Businesses Don’t Take Advantage of Marketing Tools

In July, business recommendation site Fresh Chalk and social marketing platform SOCi each released an important local marketing study. Fresh Chalk analyzed local business websites, while SOCi focused on localized social marketing. Last week, Search Engine Land mined both reports for insights on the state of local digital marketing. Here’s what they found.

In general, location-based businesses and local marketers fail to take advantage of the full variety of local digital marketing tools at their disposal. Many do not have complete business profiles on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, and those that do tend to prioritize one platform above others. As a result, businesses miss opportunities to improve visibility and engage with local consumers.

Claiming your business location on Google, Facebook, and Yelp is as basic as local marketing gets, yet just 78 per cent of total locations were claimed across the three platforms. While most businesses (75 per cent) post content on Facebook, very few do so on Google or Yelp. And many businesses fail to respond to online reviews, a critical misstep in the eyes of consumers.

The key takeaway from the studies is that most local businesses have room to improve their marketing strategies. Building a comprehensive Google My Business (GMB) listing should be the first priority, followed closely by attention to Facebook and Yelp. Soliciting and responding to reviews is also critical, especially when those reviews are negative. Customers want to patronize engaged businesses that care about the quality of their products and services.

As a Google Premier Partner local digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media has a wealth of experience helping local businesses get found by their preferred customers. From GMB optimization to social media management, our team will ensure your local online presence is robust and highly visible.