How dark UX patterns are ruining brand loyalty among UK consumers

30-second summary:

  • Even though brands have grasped the importance of UX, not all brands are doing it the right way.
  • A new report released by ecommerce design specialists Xigen has revealed that UK consumers feel they are being tricked by brands using what are considered dark UX patterns.
  • A huge 90% of people in the UK believe that it should actually be made illegal for brands to purposely make it difficult to unsubscribe to online services.
  • Insights on why brands are using dark UX patterns despite the negative impact, what consumers are really looking for, and how brands can improve the user experience in totality.

In this day and age, website functionality is bigger and better than ever. Sites and brands alike have grasped the importance of UX and understand the ability it has to transform their business. However, it seems not all brands are doing it the right way.

A new report released by ecommerce design specialists Xigen has revealed that UK consumers feel they are being tricked by brands using what are considered dark UX patterns. For example, have you ever found yourself subscribed to a newsletter you never actually subscribed to? Did you then have to jump through endless hoops in a bid to unsubscribe? This is just one example of a dark pattern, referred to as the ‘Roach Motel’ tactic.

How is using dark patterns affecting brand reputation?

Dark patterns such as these have varying impacts on a brand’s reputation as well as customer retention. The report reveals that 47% of people who have experienced issues when attempting to unsubscribe from a brand’s online service said that they would never deal with that particular brand again. Further to that, a huge 90% of people in the UK believe that it should actually be made illegal for brands to purposely make it difficult to unsubscribe to online services.

It is clear that by implementing dark patterns, brands are treading on particularly uncertain ground, as the result of doing so could have a detrimental impact.

Why are brands using dark patterns if the results are so negative?

The digital world is awash with dark patterns and using these tactics has been common practice for a long time, for many brands. These misleading practices were not born online however, as they have been used in the world of sales for years before the internet even existed.

Brands are employing these tactics as they are a sure-fire way for them to reach targets and hit KPIs. It gives them the upper hand by enabling them to lure their customers into taking specific actions on their site.

In short, money is the answer here. Brands will put these dark patterns in place to ensure they are converting sales and keeping customers exactly where they want them.

Which patterns are bothering consumers most?

There are a number of dark patterns that consumers will come across on a daily basis such as trick questions, price comparison prevention and disguised ads, but the report revealed which tactics consumers found the most infuriating.

  • Pop-up ads – 43%
  • No visible contact details – 31%
  • Poor returns process, for example, hidden delivery info
  • Convoluted submission process – 23%
  • Autoplay videos – 22%

So what is the consumer really after?

45% of people said that an easy user experience is the most important aspect when it comes to their user journey. Therefore it is clear that consumers are looking for honesty and simplicity when it comes to their online experiences.

Much like brands themselves, consumers tend to have one goal – to get on a site, find what they want, buy it and leave. If their time on the site is positive, there’s a far better chance they’ll return over and over again.

47 percent unwilling to return to brand after UX patterns issue

How can brands improve user experience (UX)?

User experience (UX) is so important for brands so it makes sense for them to always be improving and reviewing which tactics are working and those that aren’t.

Here are a few ways in which brands can improve their UX patterns

  • Be transparent, it is what Consumers want, if they feel like they are being deceived, they will simply look elsewhere.
  • Implement an easy user experience and open and honest terms and conditions as these feature within users’ top website features.
  • Develop the product on offer to ensure it’s of the optimum quality and always practice honest design.

If you’ve found these pointers and insights useful, don’t forget to drop a comment or share your views.

Xigen is a UK based ecommerce and digital marketing agency that specializes in design, development, testing, marketing, and support for high-performance ecommerce websites.

Programming Note: Offline Tomorrow Thursday & Friday For Passover 5780

This is a programming note that I will be 100% offline the next two days, Thursday April 9th and Friday April 10th, for the Passover holiday. This year I decided not to schedule any stories or videos. I won’t be back online until late Saturday night and I will catch up on things then.

This is a different year than any of us experienced, any of us could have imagined.

I am going to try not to worry about what is going on in the search community, the current world situation and more.

Easter is this coming Sunday as well, so for those celebrating – happy Easter and happy Passover.

This week’s Friday video won’t be happening, I hope to pick it up next Friday. But if you want to watch the archives, check them out over here. You can also watch the vlog archives over here.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy and hope to report back on Monday, April 13th.

Again, I will not be online at all from Wednesday night through Saturday night for this holiday. I also go offline the following week, on Wednesday (Tuesday night) and Thursday (through Thursday night) for the last days of Passover.

If anyone asks if I am okay, share this post with them.

Pick up the phone, Neo. Why Call Analytics Is One of the Most Underrated Marketing Strategies.

With the explosion of digital marketing, and attribution, the phone is often relegated to second class status. But research suggests that 60 percent of US consumers prefer to contact a business by phone after finding them online – compared to just 16 percent who prefer email and 15 percent who prefer to visit the business location. Without a call analytics platform, optimizing campaigns across channels, allocating budget, and driving revenue are difficult, or impossible.

And because of the explosion in mobile (and mobile calling) getting a handle on tracking, analyzing and monetizing inbound phone calls is a marketing imperative that needs to be an integral part of your revenue strategy.

If you are considering an enterprise call analytics platform, this report will help you decide whether or not you need one. MarTech Today’s “Enterprise Call Analytics Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” examines the market for call analytics platforms and the considerations involved in implementation. The 48-page report, which has been downloaded more than 2,000 times, reviews the growing market for call analytics platforms, plus the latest trends, opportunities and challenges.

Also included in the report are profiles of 13 leading enterprise call analytics vendors, capabilities comparisons and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing.

Download the free guide now!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Marc serves as Third Door Media’s SVP Marketing & Experience. He is a twenty+ year digital marketer with a proven track record of revenue & digital fundraising growth. He’s led high-growth change at a wide range of organizations, helping companies ranging from startups to large enterprises.

Showcasing the value of SEO

Each year we attend dozens of events and reach thousands of people with our keynotes, talks, and Q&As. We go to conferences and meetups, because we believe that our talks can potentially help online businesses flourish and we get to help people with their search related problems, but sometimes also listen to their success stories. It’s really uplifting when we hear that, by following our advice, they achieved something great!

We want people to hear about these success stories, so we’re starting a new blog post series that features case studies. They may, for example, help with convincing a boss’ boss that investing in SEO or implementing structured data can be good for the business.
In this first blog post we’re going to start with the overall basics of investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and how investing in it helped a company.

We hope you’ll find this blog post useful. If you’re interested in contributing a case study, submit a talk proposal when signing up for a Webmaster Conference near you and we will consider featuring it. For more case studies and help content, head over to our developer site, help center, or YouTube channel. If you wanna get in touch with us, find us on Twitter.

Posted by Alice Kim and The Gary

Moon Tae Sung is a SEO Manager at Saramin, one of the largest job platforms in Korea. We had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the effects of his team’s work on Google Search after a presentation he did at a Webmaster Conference in Seoul.

Saramin offers job posting recommendations, company and salary information, AI-based interviews, and AI-based headhunting services. According to Tae Sung, “people come to the Saramin site not only to look for jobs and submit applications, but to also gain a variety of information related to job searches and receive high-quality AI-based services for interview preparation.”

Saramin’s SEO process started with Google Search Console. In 2015 they verified the site in the tool and spent a year identifying and fixing crawling issues. “The task was simple, but still resulted in a 15% increase in the organic traffic“, Tae Sung said. The ROI prompted Saramin to invest more in SEO with the aim of even greater potential success. But first they needed to learn more about what else makes a site search engine friendly so they can better look for help resources. “We studied the Google Search developer’s guide and Help Center articles. These resources continue to provide up-to-date information for issues that we run into“, he told us.

SEO is a process that may take time to bear fruit, so they “started following the SEO guidelines more closely and implemented more changes. The goal was to make changes to the site so that Google Search would better understand it”, Tae Sung shared. They removed meta tags that were cluttered with unnecessary and unhelpful keywords, they used rel-canonical and removed duplicate content, and they explored the search gallery and applied applicable structured data, starting with Job Posting, Breadcrumb, and Estimated salary

In addition, they used various Google tools offered as they worked on improving their site. “Errors on our structured data are dealt with by checking URLs on the Structured Data Testing Tool. Other tools like Mobile Friendly Test, AMP Test, and PageSpeed Insight provide us valuable insights for making improvements and helping us offer a better experience for our users,” said Tae Sung.

Over time, Saramin saw the red-colored errors on Search Console’s Index Coverage report gradually turning valid green, and they knew they were headed in the right direction. The incremental changes reached a tipping point and the traffic continued to rise at a more remarkable speed. In the peak hiring season of September 2019, traffic doubled compared to the previous year.

“We are very happy about the traffic increase, but what’s more exciting is it also accompanied improvement in the quality of the traffic. We saw a 93% increase in the number of new sign ups and a 9% increase on the conversion. We believe this means Saramin’s optimization work was found delightful by our users,” said Tae Sung.

Saramin continues to invest in achieving their SEO goals. They’re trying to enhance their users’ experience by implementing more technologies and features from Google, and Tae Sung is enthusiastic about their work ahead: “This is only the beginning of our story.”

Australian couple with ‘pneumonia’ evacuated from stranded liner

An Australian couple suffering from a deteriorating COVID-19 condition were evacuated from a cruise ship stranded off the coast of Uruguay and taken to hospital, the Uruguayan navy said on Wednesday.

Eight people out of the more than 200 aboard — 128 of whom have tested positive for the new coronavirus — have now been transferred to hospitals in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo.

The navy posted a picture on Twitter of the raft that took the tourists, “aged 59 and 60, both with pneumonia and coronavirus,” ashore.

Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi had said on Tuesday night that two more people aboard the Australian-owned Greg Mortimer would need to be brought ashore.

“Their health is deteriorating and they’re going to need to be taken to hospital in Montevideo,” Talvi said.

The liner, owned by Aurore Expeditions, has been anchored 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the port of Montevideo in the Rio de la Plata since March 27.

Uruguay, which is assuming that everyone aboard has contracted the virus due to the lack of isolation measures deployed on the liner when the first cases emerged, has said only those whose “life is at risk” will be allowed off the ship.

The six people previously taken off the ship — three Australians, one Briton and two Filipino crew — are in a stable condition in hospital, Health Minister Daniel Salinas told AFP on Tuesday.

Uruguay has authorized a humanitarian flight to evacuate Australian and New Zealand passengers to Melbourne via a “reinforced sanitary corridor” following “intense conversations and very close cooperation with the Australian government,” Talvi said.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed on Wednesday that authorities were working together to try to repatriate as many Australians as possible.

“The Greg Mortimer is a very difficult situation,” said Payne.

“So we are working very closely to try to finalise this charter flight as soon as possible and to ensure that the maximum number of Australians who are on that vessel are able to fly.”

That includes both those to have tested positive and negative. Once arriving in Melbourne they will all be required to stay in isolation for two weeks.

The Airbus A340 plane contracted to fly the Aussies and Kiwis home “is configured with medical facilities aboard… to look after the health and security of everyone,” said Aurore.

However, there are no plans yet to repatriate European and American passengers.

They must “wait until they test negative” before organizing their repatriation via Sao Paulo, Brazil, the ship’s owner said.

Those to have tested negative could be evacuated in the coming days “subject to a second test and permission from the Uruguayan government,” Aurore said.

The cruise ship was originally due to tour Antarctica, South Georgia and Elephant Island but the expedition was called off on March 21 after South American countries and Australia started closing their borders and imposing strict lockdown regulations.

With ports all along the Atlantic coast of South America closed, the Greg Mortimer was forced to sail to Montevideo, more than 2,600 kilometers from South Georgia.

Should You Discount Your SEO Services Because of Coronavirus? via @5le

The Coronavirus pandemic is wreaking a horrific toll on all citizens of the world.

When the final tally is in it is unlikely that anyone will not be impacted in some way or another.

Right now, is a time of great uncertainty on many fronts.

At the same time that we are worried about the health of ourselves and loved ones, there is also a tremendous amount of financial instability.

The economy is on pause in an unprecedented way.

Formerly secure jobs don’t seem so reliable anymore.

Those with the luxury of a full-time job are motivated to put in extra effort to make sure they remain employed.

For full-time consultants or service providers, things can be a bit more tenuous.

During a time like this, anyone whose income (whether personal or company) will go further to retain existing customers and sign new ones.

This is especially applicable to SEO consultants and agencies at a time when marketing budgets are one of the first to be axed.

Economic uncertainty could lend to the temptation for consultants and agencies to slash their prices to close deals, but the question remains.

Is Discounting Ever a Good Idea?

As a digital growth consultant, I am opposed to ever discounting even in a tough economy.

Here’s why.

Consulting pricing is based on a calculation of value provided which is contingent on the potential returns to the business but general economic winds are not a factor.

The value of SEO now is the same as it was a month ago.

Therefore, discounting sends a signal that somehow that has changed.

In addition, I believe that now is the best time ever for people to invest in a long-term strategic SEO effort.

With so many marketing channels like paid, display, events and even brand efforts on pause, now is a great time to regroup and build an SEO strategy that might have been deprioritized for a quicker effort in the past.

In fact, the value of SEO consulting is higher than ever before because smart leaders know that now is the time to make investments that will allow them to leapfrog competitors who pause all their efforts during this time.

I didn’t want to just leave this to my opinion alone, so I posed the question to my network to hear their thoughts.

Peep Laja, CEO, CXL, said:

“You might feel an urge to lower your prices. It’s recession after all. However this is short-sighted (obviously depends on your cash reserves).

If you’re not competing on price to begin with, cutting prices is likely to harm your brand and profits for good, even when the downturn ends.

Studies have shown that in many cases, the more people pay, the more value they ascribe to their purchase. Price anchors perceived value. If you discount prices during tough times, customers may begin to question the original value.

Last financial crisis showed that lots of consumers never wanted to go back to paying ‘real’ prices. Instead, create new downmarket offerings. New products/services that cost less, but have no comparison to your existing products. That way you can avoid discounts, but still offer folks the price cuts they might need during tough times.”

Nigel Stevens, CEO, Organic Growth Marketing, gave me a similar perspective for earlier stage companies. He said:

“If you work with early stage companies who haven’t reached product market fit, then your only option may be to cut prices – or be out of work. I focus on companies who are post-product market fit, where the long-term value proposition of the business is unchanged by current events.

If the long-term value is unchanged, why should prices for SEO (making the most of that value prop) change? And if the long-term value proposition is harmed by these events, then SEO isn’t going to save them! Instead of lowering your prices, think about ways to get creative with terms and compensation models.”

Ethan Smith, CEO of Graphite, a boutique growth agency, echoed the idea of value and investing.

“I think it’s always best to price work based on the value created (aka “value-based pricing”).  This is especially true for consulting.

For SEO consultants, we should ask whether we are creating more, less, or the same value as before.  Given that many companies are shifting their resources away from paid marketing and toward organic growth, SEO is arguably more valuable now than it ever has been.

Furthermore, if anything, the market would suggest an increase in resources for SEO, not a decrease.”

However, I did find one outlier that recommended discounting (with a catch), when I talked with Will Erlandson, VP of Strategy for Adogy, a PR firm that works with small businesses to fortune 100 companies.

Adogy also does value-based consulting – it’s just that their value is one of building relationships first and profits later. He said:

“We approach pricing and discounting as a way of connecting and helping our clients.

We have prided ourselves on lowering prices whenever a client hit a rough patch. This pandemic is no different and we are adjusting our prices as a way of building long term good will with our customers.

This allows them to dedicate more of their budget to their employee and customers which has overall contribution to making the world a better place.”

The theme echoed between all four of these agencies is one of value, and pricing should only be adjusted when the value changes.

What If Things Changed?

To be clear, if the realities of the economy indicate that an agency or consultant’s prices are currently outside the range of what they should be, prices should be adjusted.

The new price should be presented as the current going rate and not as a discount, like for example, a 25% reduction in pricing for a limited time.

This could be perceived as cheapening the value of the offering.

Aside from lowering the value perception, an advertised discount opens up the door to negotiation for further discounts.

It could then put the agency or consultant in a price war with any of their competitors who might offer even lower pricing.

Going down this road could cause significant issues for the sustainability of the agency or consultant’s practice that could take a long time to dissipate.

Discounting as Way to Give Back

One of the silver linings in the current global pandemic is the way people all over the world are coming together to support each other.

Agencies or consultants that want to do their part in giving back to support businesses that have been harmed by COVID-19 might be tempted to discount their services.

This is admirable and should not be avoided by those in a position to do so.

When offering this discount, it is again important to not diminish the value being offered or to open the door to a price war.

One way to avoid this is to include a caveat in a pitch that there are discounts available to those that qualify.

This condition would align the price of services at a standard rate but allow for a reduction in pricing only for those that truly deserve a lower price.

Ideally, this might eliminate clients who are simply looking for the lowest priced offering rather than those looking for the best value.

The criteria for qualification can be set as loose or as tight as necessary, it is just important that there be a threshold that needs to be met.

An obvious advantage to this approach is that when the pandemic ends, there is no need to step back into higher pricing with a staggered approach.

Essentially the pricing itself has never changed, rather there was a specific scenario that might have entitled a set of clients to different pricing that now is now thankfully no longer necessary.


Should you discount SEO services during this pandemic?

It really depends.

But it should always be based on value.

If you have determined that something has changed both up or down in the value calculation, then the pricing should be adjusted.

For those that are looking to offer their services for free or discounted to support those in need, Lily Ray has set up a matchmaking service to connect consultants with businesses.

If you have extra bandwidth this is a great way to give back.

Finally, for businesses that understand that now is the best time ever to invest in digital marketing, this is the time to hire that consultant or agency you have been doing that engagement dance with.

Or even better, go all in and hire a full-time employee.

Michael King, CEO of iPullRank, put together a list of the most comprehensive talent one could ever hope for.

This may be a time of unparalleled uncertainty, but it is also a time where we will likely look back and realize there were extraordinary opportunities to get ahead.

More Resources:

The best-kept secret to maintaining and defending the top spot with paid search

30-second summary:

  • Let’s admit it, the line between paid search and organic search is getting blurred.
  • A lot of businesses simply assume that paying more than the competition assures a piece of the most trusted real estate in Google and Bing’s SERPs.
  • While an aggressive paid strategy can certainly get you a piece of it, too often brands overlook the equally important defensive strategy of paid search monitoring.
  • CEO of BrandVerity, Dave Naffziger, helps you learn the essential techniques for maintaining your position one in paid search listings.

What’s the best way to ensure your brand is at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a branded search? For many, the answer seems pretty straightforward — simply pay more than the competition. And while an aggressive paid strategy can certainly get you a piece of the most trusted real estate in search, too often brands overlook the equally important defensive strategy of paid search monitoring.

With brands investing unprecedented amounts into paid search, and the line between organic and paid listings becoming even more blurred, it’s more important than ever for organizations to keep a watchful eye over their campaigns in order to defend them from unscrupulous third parties, infringing ads, poor customer experience and resource drain.

Understanding the basics

On the surface, paid search monitoring is what it sounds like. It involves actively watching to see who is bidding, how often they are advertising, and when infringing ads are identified, removing them by notifying search engines or contacting the party responsible for the ads. 

However, unless you are well-versed in search engine trademark rules, it can be tricky to tell the difference between an infringing and compliant ad. And in many cases, an ad may be allowed by search engines but can run counter to a brand’s partnership and affiliate agreements.

All major search engines allow brand bidding — where a partner or even a competitor bids on your branded terms. The search engines also permit trademark use in paid ads that go to legitimate resellers or informational websites.

The two main rules that limit trademark term use in paid search

1. Trademark terms may not be used in the text or title of an ad

Trademark terms may not be used in the text or title of an ad if the ad takes the user to a site where it is unclear if the advertiser is a reseller or an informational site.

In the example below, the Yahoo search engine is using the VRBO trademark to divert traffic. Someone could easily click on the ad thinking they are going to VRBO. But the ad takes you to a Yahoo search engine results page, with more ads, thus providing a poor user experience for the consumer looking to book through VRBO. 

paid search example VRBO

This is a textbook example of search arbitrage, which happens when an ad primarily leads to additional ads. The arbitrager pockets the difference between what they paid for the traffic and what they get paid for the ad clicks. This type of ad should be submitted to the search engine for a take-down.

2. You can’t use trademark terms in ad texts or titles in a competitive way

In the example below, Joss & Main, a competitor to homeware brand Restoration Hardware, bid on the term “restorationhardware.” Customers looking for Restoration Hardware’s homepage may mistakenly click on the ‘Joss & Main advertisement’ at the top of the SERP and find themselves on a different website than they intended.

paid search example Joss Main

This is the type of competitive use of a trademark that Google and Bing don’t allow, and this ad would also be subject to removal.

Taking steps to protect your position

Once you understand what trademark infringements look like, you need to establish a process to find them. Teams can do this manually by searching a list of priority keywords across several search engines once a week, and then contacting the trademark abusers directly or submitting take-down requests manually to search engines.

While this is certainly a good step to take, since many infringers use evasive techniques like geotargeting (running ads in locations where the advertiser believes the merchant won’t see them) and dayparting (setting ads to run during times of day when they believe the merchant won’t monitor them), manual monitoring can be time-consuming and ineffective. This is where automated solutions can help find and take action on trademark infringements at scale.

Another critical step that can help you defend your numero uno spot

Another critical step that teams can take is establishing and enforcing clear partner and affiliate agreements. Documenting what you will and won’t allow these various parties to do will help you stay consistent in how you handle violations and will reduce trademark infringement and affiliate abuse.

Protecting your investments and relationships

Branded keywords are the most valuable and highest converting search traffic, making them a tempting target for partners, competitors, and third parties to run ads on. However, when they don’t play by the rules bad actors can drive your cost-per-click through the roof and run your clickthrough rate into the ground. Aside from impacting your campaign ROI, these actions also negatively impact your customer experience. 

Search is the front door to your brand online. How customers find you on the SERP impacts the overall customer experience, and ultimately, your bottom line. It’s simple. Customers who can easily find your brand after a branded keyword search are more likely to buy your products and services, while those that unwittingly click on a competitor or partner’s website at the top of the page are less likely to buy directly from you.

By taking the appropriate measures to defend their SERP position, brands can optimize online investments, strengthen relationships with good partners and safeguard their customers’ online experiences.

Dave Naffziger is the CEO of leading online brand protection company BrandVerity.

Google Search COVID Announcements Will Be Live Soon

A week ago we we reported that Google has new structured data named SpecialAnnouncement that some sites can use to markup their Google search results. Well, Google didn’t write a blog post about it until Friday afternoon and it isn’t live yet. Danny Sullivan of Google said it should be live soon.

So if you are wondering why your markup here doesn’t work, it isn’t fully live yet. Danny said it should be soon, here is that tweet:

If you are wondering what it looks like, here is a sample screen shot from Google:

click for full size

Forum discussion at Twitter.

COVID-19 stories: At-home marketers shifting focus, adjusting goals

The massive disruption of COVID-19 is forcing many of us to rethink everything we do. Our community has been sharing their ideas on how to manage this overwhelming situation.

Here is another installment (read the first here) of encouraging stories from marketers who have been adapting to our current reality.

How connecting with colleagues has taken new dimensions: The digital party

The Challenge: This is approximately the fifth week of working from home, which is something unprecedented for our full team. The most time we have spent without seeing each other has been two weeks and that was due to a nice vacation – which is totally different that what we are currently experiencing. Although we moved fairly quickly to digital, increased the number of digital meetings (with the camera ON) in order to feel more present and shared our project updates more often than ever, something was still missing. That was the fun while working. Fun you can only have in a physical environment, where you can chit chat in the hallway, grab a coffee or share a quick funny story – or so we thought.

The Solution: One of our directors gave the idea for a “Digital Party.” The party took place through Microsoft Teams with 21 people joining. Although at times awkward, or at times slow due to Internet congestion in the EU, I suggested to play a game.

To play, each person mentions one word as fast as possible. With a cap of 5 words, a person in the group (whose word did not get picked) has to create a short story using these 5 words. The rest of the members grade her/his story.

Needless to say, there are a lot of internal jokes based on our crazy words that were mixed together with work-related abbreviations. I never knew that “SEO went for a trip to Paris” or “Covid-19 saved Marketing from Chuck Norris” etc.

The Impact: Lots of laugh, fun and openness. In a world of unknowns, the power of digital was clear: although apart we could be closer than ever at the same time.

Now this Digital party will be a regular activity while we are preparing for future physical meetings — which will be an equal blast!

– Dimos Papadopoulos is the marketing analytics assistant manager at adidas

Shift marketing tools to collect data to inform planning

The Challenge: We’re a PR agency and quickly realized that COVID-19 is impacting the media landscape. With so much information swirling around this topic, it can be hard to know what to do from a media relations perspective.

The Solution: To better understand what the media is covering, we shifted media monitoring tools — typically used solely to monitor media coverage — to collect data on what different trade verticals are covering week-to-week.

The Impact: Our media monitoring provided data that our team can use to make outreach more impactful and to assist in advising our clients. We also used it to develop a weekly report that clients can use in planning larger marketing initiatives.

– Anna Julow Roolf is the VP of BLASTmedia

Don’t lose sight of goals, consistency in delivering solutions customers need

The Challenge: Our new normal has required everyone to pivot, from the working moms who are now home school teachers, to the automotive workers who are assembling ventilators instead of carburetors – which we are grateful for! But, this pivoting can come with its own set of challenges, and as a business leader, I’m also working to ensure my teams and customers don’t over pivot to the point of losing sight of our goals to keep our economy strong.

The Solution: While need to change our working environments and access new tools to interact virtually, we need to remember that our purpose hasn’t changed. For me, that’s to help organizations transform into experience businesses by engaging with customers along each moment of their buyer’s journey. This is especially critical now when customer engagement is more important than ever before. I get up each day with the intention to provide consistency in delivering solutions our customers need to keep business going, with thoughtful consideration of the changing environment.

The Impact: Engagement through frequent touchpoints, goes a long way and shows the receiver that you are listening, empathizing, and acting on their needs. I’m already seeing impactful results, both from my team and the customers we serve, each day.

– Paula Hansen is the SVP Chief Revenue Officer of SAP Customer Experience

How to capture an engaged audience

The Challenge: People around the globe are practicing social distancing, leading to a 60% increase in media consumption. Marketers need to consider how they can pivot planned activities in a way that is meaningful and true to their brand.

The Solution: Be focused on building your database.

The Impact: By focusing on building your database, you will engage customers and keep them interested, as well as gather data that will help you understand motivations and personalize marketing efforts later in the year.

– Richard Jones is the CMO of Cheetah Digital

Do we all need to dwell inside of the crisis?

The Challenge: How to be relevant in the face of an overwhelming, unprecedented situation.

The Solution: We have challenged ourselves as an organization to think forward and offer up solutions about how to help our clients prepare for coming out of the crisis. Instead of overcommunicating and sending out email blasts or posting on our martech portal’s website that we are managing business as usual during the pandemic, we have chosen to just quietly focus on offering value to the brands that we service.

The Impact: We have imparted a sense of calm to our employees, while many of our clients are laying off huge portions of their staff. And because of our steadfast consistency, clients are then turning to us for thoughtful insights to solving their problems, which are now greater given reduced budgets and manpower. Focusing on the future and not the immediate bottom line, has freed us from being bandied about by the panic and be a place of refuge.

– Jennifer Moore is the Chief Marketing Officer at Silvercrest

Translate guidelines into a language our partners will understand

The Challenge: Our video production marketplace provides a constant stream of jobs to thousands of independent production teams around the world. Stay-at-home policies and general safety concerns have challenged these creators’ ability to produce live action shoots for brands and publishers in need of content. While creators are able to access the safety advice published by the CDC and state and local governments, we realized they needed some interpretation of how it applied to their production businesses.

The Solution: We translated these CDC guidelines into production-specific terms and recommendations that spoke their language, which was turned into a video and shared with the community. For example, avoid communal Craft Service snacks like bowls of trail mix or pretzels. Additionally, we helped our network understand the opportunities for no-shoot, remote-friendly solutions such as animation and post-production, so they could adapt their offerings to the times.

The Impact: First and most importantly, our creators—all of whom are small, independent businesses – are continuing to receive paying jobs. Second, our brand and publisher clients are able to get high-quality video that effectively engages audiences during this time when customers are looking for answers and authenticity.

– Lucas Loeffler is the CEO and founder of QuickFrame

A small gesture to keep the wheels of commerce turning

The Challenge: Shifting to a work-from-home environment is already starting to feel like the “new normal” for our company and our customers. We offer response management software that our customers use to help them win new business, and we’ve heard that many are struggling to adapt to the sudden shift to a 100% remote workforce. Yet keeping the wheels of commerce turning is critical during times of crisis. Throughout this uncertain time, our team has been encouraged by the community coming together to support one another, each offering what they had that could help someone else. We wanted to help too.

The Solution: Our team banded together and outlined all the ways we could help our customers shift to a fully-from-home workforce with ease. Marketing quickly produced materials to help our customers navigate the transition. The product team adapted the roadmap to expedite new features relating to remote productivity. Everyone agreed that one of the strongest enhancements our customers could have were the integrations between our product and collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. But as paid add-ons, not all customers had them. We knew there was only one thing to do, make them free for six months – no strings attached or automatic charges.

The Impact: Customers are already starting to leverage the integrations. The feedback has been very positive so far. We hope this small gesture can ease the communication and collaboration challenges our customers are facing and allow them to focus on taking care of their teams and businesses during such unprecedented times.

– Angela Earl is the Vice President of Global Marketing at RFPIO

About The Author

Wendy Almeida is Third Door Media’s Community Editor, working with contributors for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. She has held content management roles in a range of organizations from daily newspapers and magazines to global nonprofits.

Looking back at last year’s Webmaster Conference Product Summit

As a part of the Webmaster Conference series, last fall we held a Product Summit at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. It was slightly different from our previous events, with a number of product managers and engineers from Google Search taking part. We recorded the talks held there, and are happy to be able to make these available to all of you now.

In the playlist you’ll find:

  • Web deduplication – How does Google recognize duplicate content across the web? What happens once a duplicate is found? How is a canonical URL selected? How does localization play a role?
  • Google Images best practices – Take a look at how Google Images has evolved over the years, and learn about some of the best practices that you can implement on your site when it comes to images.
  • Rendering – Find out more about rendering, and what it takes to do rendering of the web at scale. Take a look behind the scenes, and learn about some things a site owner could watch out for with regards to rendering.
  • Titles, snippets, and result previews – What’s the goal of titles, snippets, and previews in Search? How do Google’s systems pick and generate a preview for a page? What are some of the elements that help users decide which page to click in Search?
  • Googlebot & web hosting – Starting with a look at the popularity of different web servers, and the growth of HTTPS, you’ll find out more about how Google’s crawling for Search works, and what you can do to control it.
  • Claim your Knowledge Panel – Knowledge Panels are a great way for people and organizations to be visible in Search. Find out more about the ways you can claim and update them for yourself or for your business.
  • Improving Search over the years – Are dogs the same as cats? Should pages about New York be shown when searching for York? How could algorithms ever figure this out? How many 😊’s does it take to get Google’s attention? Google’s Paul Haahr takes you on a tour of some changes in Search.

We hope you find these videos insightful, useful, and a bit entertaining! And if you are not subscribed to the Webmasters Youtube channel, here’s your chance!