How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When was the last time you really thought about your perception of a product brand or service? Sure, we might use online brands every day in our work or at play, but do you think about how you perceive a brand? You should.

Brand perception is important. It's the sum of our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a product or service. Brand perception is what moves the needle for companies, taking a common product and giving it elements that evoke emotional feelings. Every car ad during football season is appealing to a viewer's emotions about the brand. Every skincare ad seeks to sway a consumer's emotions into creating a favorable brand perception.

Ultimately, the customer is the one who decides their perception of your brand. Whether you're marketing a consumer commodity like clothing, or a high-level B2B web application, how consumers view the brand can make or break a product.

Let's break down exactly what brand perception is, why it matters and how you can measure its impact in your daily work.

What Is Brand Perception?

Put simply, brand perception is the sum of feelings a consumer has about a brand. These thoughts and feelings happen when a consumer is aware of the brand, and what follows when that consumer hears, sees, or interacts with the brand and its product.

Brand perception incorporates a multitude of areas that touch upon the brand's customer interactions. From product development and packaging to public relations and social engagement, brand perception is a top-level measuring stick of a product's visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All of these can play into the product's success.

Think about Facebook, for example. Last year Facebook's brand perception fell out of favor with many because of privacy issues and the platform being found to be the conduit of false or misleading news stories. Brand perceptions of Facebook were significantly changed in 2018, which is why the company is now making moves to make public opinion of its brand more positive.

Even for small companies, brand perception is one part of a larger marketing equation. How does your product or service resonate with its target audience, why does it matter, how do consumers feel about your brand, and how can you measure this?

Why It Matters

Brand perception is important because it reflects what consumers think about a company's culture. We've mentioned Facebook, but this affects even emerging online brands such as Fashion Nova and Everlane.

You might see a branded TV spot, read a review, or catch a pre-roll YouTube ad. These brief interactions can quickly change a consumer's perception of a company from negative to neutral, or from neutral to positive. That's the power of brand perception, and that's why it matters.

Once consumers formulate a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral, it's hard to change their beliefs. That's why companies are trying hard to measure brand perception on their own.

Measuring Brand Perception

How can companies measure brand perception? There are agencies that would be glad to charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for the privilege, but your own team can scout the web to get a fairly reliable reflection of consumers' perceptions of your brand. Some ways your research and marketing teams can do this might include:

●       Setting up Google alerts to track online mentions.

●       Reading online reviews. (This is critical for all brands. Efficient customer response can also help with brand reception.)

●       Social listening, which means monitoring social media comments, hashtags, and other mentions.

●       Measuring metrics for pay-per-click brand search and dwell time.

Overall, companies need to work hard to measure brand perception. A brand owner must measure the brand from the outside to truly understand how people view it. To do so, companies can try a variety of methods to gauge brand perception:

●       Track metrics in your target audience around your brand.

●       Use custom research among primary and secondary target audiences.

●       Conduct a brand audit on your company's brand perception against that of your leading competitors'.

●       Track customer sentiment through each stage of the purchase cycle, including information search, product evaluation, comparison research, buying decision, and post-buying feelings.

Brand perception is a critical part of your company’s marketing effectiveness. Getting a handle on it and putting your resources into knowing how to use it will help your company better plan its marketing campaigns.

Driving Your Digital Presence with Video

We live in a world of convenience at every turn. Information and entertainment is available on demand. Thanks to streaming video and Connected TV, you can view the content you want when it fits in your schedule with the click a button or voice command.  The landscape for viewing has changed immensely having not only an enormous effect on traditional television advertising, but also how marketers are adjusting their budget to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape.

With Connected TV users expected to exceed 190 million in 2019, the need to adapt to this growing platform as another vehicle to tell your story is becoming more imminent by the day.  Digital video now accounts for an average of 25% of a daily video viewing for the average person, which is only projected to increase. However, many marketers are not adjusting their budget distribution accordingly and are missing a valuable opportunity to get in front of their target audience.  Auto dealerships specifically have been one of the slowest adapters to this increase in video consumption, many of which are still spending 100% of their video advertising budget on traditional television versus digital video.

So what makes it different and why should dealerships care?  Unlike cable ads, Connected TV (CTV) and video campaigns can be measured and optimized as part of your overall digital strategy.  Ad effectiveness can be tracked by views, clicks and video completion rates (VCRs). This data enables more insight into the customer journey and car buying experience.  In addition, the power of view-through data can help you attribute users who saw your ad and later took action to get more information or contact the dealership, furthering your ability to measure your return on investment.

Interested but don’t know where to start?  We have broken down the basics to help you better understand how video and Connected TV can help your dealership accelerate past traditional television and begin transforming your market presence.

Download our white paper on Digital Video and The Rise of Connected TV

Study: Super Bowl Streaming Viewership To Increase 160% from Last Year

Plus: 61% of Americans Would Give up Cable Television and Never Look Back

—Adtaxi Unveils New Data on Super Bowl Viewership and Streaming Trends—

DENVER (January 16, 2019)Adtaxi—one of the nation’s fastest-growing digital marketing agencies—today announced the 2019 results of its annual Super Bowl Viewership and Consumer Streaming Trends Survey. According to the new data, substantially more viewers will tune in to Super Bowl LIII via streaming services this year (21%) compared to last year (8.1%), marking a staggering 160% leap.

“As new streaming services and content options emerge left and right, consumers are increasingly finding that their television needs can be met entirely through digital platforms—including watching live sports,” said Chris Loretto, EVP of Adtaxi. “Based on the exponential shift in our data, we may well see a day when Super Bowl streaming overtakes traditional TV viewership completely.”

Among Adtaxi’s additional Super Bowl findings:

·         Secondary Media: 68% of viewers will simultaneously use another media platform to engage with Super Bowl-related content while watching. Most of them (78%) will use social media, while 30% will use group chats, 28% will visit sports websites and 15% will turn to online forums.

·         Anticipated Elements: 53% of viewers are most looking forward to the game itself, while 27% are looking forward to the commercials; 20% are most eager to watch the halftime show.

Adtaxi also examined consumer streaming habits more broadly, revealing the following:

·         Cutting the Cord: 61% of Americans would not miss cable television if forced to give it up forever. In addition, 64% of cable subscribers have plans, at some point, to cancel their subscription in favor of streaming content digitally; 41% say they will do so within the next year

·         Reasons to Stream: 60% of those moving away from traditional cable in favor of streaming say their reason is to save money. Meanwhile, 43% want to watch on their own schedule, 43% like the option of binge watching, 36% want to avoid traditional TV commercials, and 27% prefer the content options on streaming platforms

·         Platform Popularity: Netflix is the most popular streaming platform (76%), followed by Amazon Prime Video (58%), Hulu (41%), YouTube TV (25%) and HBO Now (16%)

·         Device Popularity: Smartphones/mobile devices are the most popular way to stream (68%), followed by streaming devices connected to the TV, such as the Roku (60%), laptops (48%) and tablets/iPads (36%)

“With Connected TV on the rise, offering unparalleled audience visibility and targeting options across devices, now is the time for advertisers to adapt their strategy for the digital age—or risk falling behind,” Loretto said.

Methodology
The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand participants were polled, spanning across the United States. The demographics of those polled represented a broad range of household income, geographic location, age, and gender.

4 Ways to Make Better Decisions With Marketing Data

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Effective digital marketing campaigns are built on data. Conversions, cost per click (CPC), traffic sources — with so many potential variables to analyze, it's vital to identify the data that is most important to your business. Data-driven marketing decisions can increase spending ROI and provide better, faster results. We've outlined four effective ways to make better decisions with your marketing data.

Use data to answer business questions. Where can we get the most value for our ad spending? How can we better reach our target demographic? By using marketing data to answer business questions first and provide insight second, marketers can speak the language of business with data-driven evidence. Individual statistics, such as the highest converting traffic channel or the lowest CPC ad campaign, work together to give insight into overall business goals.

Combine marketing and sales data for a complete consumer view. Remove the silos that separate marketing and sales data to form a clear view of the complete customer journey. Which traffic source produces the highest sales? Which ad campaign results in the lowest return rate? Data can tell the story of the customer's complete journey to product satisfaction, from the first ad view to a positive product review.

Use data to find new opportunities. Data can help you look outside your current campaigns for indications of new opportunities. Is there a surprising new source of traffic with high conversions? A new market may be revealing itself in your analytics data. After combining marketing and sales data, is there an ad campaign that produces high product return rates? Drill down on the advertising messages that resonate best with your customers. 

Make every marketing decision with data. Including data analysis as part of every marketing decision (rather than as an occasional addendum) ensures the process becomes a habit. Data-driven decisions can produce better, faster results than trial-and-error methods, and provide a mathematical basis for marketing campaign effectiveness.

A digital marketer has a mountain of analytics data at his or her fingertips. To use data efficiently and effectively, it's important to align your analysis with the goals of your business. From finding new business opportunities to increasing product satisfaction, marketing data has the potential to impact every facet of digital business.

Integrating Search and Social - The Perfect Combination for Your Ad Campaign

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Digital advertising pros have a great opportunity in 2019 to integrate social media into their Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns to help boost conversions and revenue.

Social media strategies have grown to be a key part of marketers’ advertising campaigns. Marketers are seeing higher results when they create great content for adaptable use across multiple channels. For instance, juice drinks company Bai reached 15 million people and increased its ad recall by 17 points by running a video campaign on Instagram and Facebook. And using Twitter for ads around its Mayochup campaign in 2018 helped Heinz increased its brand awareness by 28%, with over 1 billion impressions in just 48 hours.

Adding social dollars on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other networks have many benefits to marketers, including higher brand awareness, more personalization opportunities to consumers, stronger data capabilities and better audience targeting. Some marketers have reported seeing a faster ROI from social media ad activity, compared to traditional organic search and content marketing techniques, which build online momentum over time.

For your agency to do this right, it makes sense to get your social and SEM teams on the same page. For instance, task the social media team with learning about how consumer search behavior affects social media results. Use your client social media insights and search analytics to create a more targeted ad campaign. Digging through the data will open up areas for collaboration for social campaign effectiveness.

Benefits of SEM/Social Integration

Here are some of the clear benefits to integrating search and social into your digital advertising campaigns:

  • Raising brand awareness

  • Increased personalization opportunities

  • Stronger data capability

  • Better audience targeting

Raising Brand Awareness

Integrating search and social brings a great deal of brand awareness to your target audience. These consumers can learn about your brand through social media, and then utilize search once they are ready for additional details or in need of your product.  The trick to raising brand awareness is to find, nurture, and reward your avid followers. By consistently offering engaging content on social media channels, brands can boost their follower count using tactics such as exclusive offers, contests, and giveaways.  

Increase Areas for Personalization

Social media can be used to build trust, and brands can build this trust with personalization efforts. One example might be to nurture top-of-the-funnel consumers on social media for your brand's products and services. In capturing these consumers' attention with your content, you can drive them to your site(s) for data capture and the high possibility of conversions.

Stronger Data

Integrating social into your search strategies can produce better data for your marketing teams. Social media success can help to fill any gaps in search data. You can also create opportunities to mine social data and evaluate audience habits. This new wealth of data can be useful in your existing analytics, and you will be able to use these gained insights in your upcoming SEM campaigns.

Targeting Audiences

You can also find new ways to target audiences by combining the strengths of both SEM and social media. There are various ways to integrate these strategies, such as by creating lookalike audiences, utilizing search landing pages (with social URLs as the bait), and targeting different demographics with a variety of messages in search.

If your SEM strategy isn't incorporating elements of social media, you should rethink your overall marketing strategy. Today, social is much more than just having accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Use these channels to build your brand image, personalize your interactions, engage with your local consumer base, and gain followers.

Adtaxi Takes a Top Spot in Built in Colorado’s “Best Places to Work 2019”

–Leading Digital Marketing Agency Recognized in Midsize Companies Category–

DENVER (January 10, 2019)—Built in Colorado today released its 2019 rankings for “Best Places to Work in Colorado,” with Denver-based digital marketing agency Adtaxi securing a top spot in the midsize companies category. Presented annually, the award recognizes businesses that go out of their way to provide employees with the support—both financial and non-financial—they need to thrive.

Companies are rated algorithmically based on compensation and employer benefits information. Benefits—such as corporate discounts, health and wellness incentives, financial planning and stability, flexible work environment, professional and social impact—are weighted according to which offerings are most important to employees. Adtaxi earned its ranking thanks to a host of standout perks, including 401(K) matching, an onsite gym and company outings.

“I love working at Adtaxi because we are immersed in a thriving environment, with dedicated and ambitious people, and are steered by strong leadership. I have never enjoyed my coworkers more than here,” said David DeHart, Director of Advertising Operations at Adtaxi.

“We are thrilled to be honored among Colorado’s top tech employers this year—particularly in such a competitive landscape—and are incredibly proud of the cooperative, mission-driven culture that our team members have cultivated,” said Chris Loretto, EVP of Adtaxi. “Investing in our employees has made Adtaxi the nimble and successful company that it is today. We believe that fostering a welcoming and team-oriented environment—while encouraging a healthy work-life balance—ultimately yields the innovative ideas and technologies that make us a stronger marketing partner.”

Built in Colorado is the online community for Colorado startups and tech companies, offering information on the latest tech news, events and job openings. The full list of “Best Places to Work in Colorado 2019” is available here: https://www.builtincolorado.com/companies/best-places-to-work-colorado.

5 Key Ways to Leverage Snapchat Marketing for Millennials

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It may not be Facebook or Instagram, but Snapchat has its rightful place in the marketing arena. This may be especially true when it comes to brands' engagement with millennials. From the app's simplicity and its easy integration with social media browsing to the appeal of its impermanent nature, Snapchat has captured millennials' attention for a number of reasons. That's why marketing to this generation via the app has so much potential. Here are five key ways brands can market to millennials via Snapchat.

Create Customized Geographical Filters

Millennials use geofilters to set their content apart from others. Brands can implement the same strategy to promote products and services, promotions, events, and location. Think of it as a step up from traditional text-based tagging. Geo-filters add more expressive content to snaps, giving viewers immediate access to your brand's activities and current location. Snapchat is the ultimate organic method for users to promote your brand to their followers, and a terrific way for users to become brand advocates within their networks.

 Exclusivity is one popular feature of geofilters. When Snapchat users activate location service on their smartphones, the app identifies if the user's location is within the boundaries of the geofilter. If it is, the user can apply exclusive geofilters based on location. As a result, content is more freely shared. Another popular feature is Snapchat's variety of geo-filters for streamlined customization.

 Here's where you can personalize brand messages and quickly get them out there to your followers, and to the followers of your brand's followers. There's also the success brands gain through sponsored geofilters. Remember, people trust the opinions and experiences of those they know, which makes word-of-mouth a powerful tool for targeted ads. This is the perfect opportunity to connect your ads to the user experience, which is what Snapchat's geofilters do best.

Taking Advantage of the Geofencing Feature

When you want your followers to be where you are, geofencing does just that. It tells Snapchat where a filter can be used geographically. When drawn right, your geofence gives the right audience access to your brand's filter. When promoting an event, for instance, your filter's exposure depends entirely on your geofence.

 Snapchatters snapping within the boundaries of your geofence are more likely to see and use your filter, post the snaps as stories, and expose you to their followers. Opportunities for engagement abound further if a user creates a geofenced story from your location. This will inevitably encourage others to add their stories, and to do so with your filter!

 To get the most out of this feature, consider these tips:

●       Ensure your filter is a minimum of 20,000 square feet, as 50,000 square feet is where geofencing tops out.

●       Avoid excessive use of circular points or shapes with small areas to ensure proper coverage.

●       Purchased filters aren't viewable, and an email usually follows once they're approved.

Placing Video Ads in Live Stories

With nearly 200 million daily users viewing about 10 billion videos per day, Snapchat paves the way to connect with millennials on a grand scale. Delight your audience by highlighting activities or events as a day in the life of your brand unfolds. If it's a captive audience you want, implementing video ads in live stories on Snapchat is the place to be.

 Your Snapchat ads can either be vertical video ads or full-screen, and last about 10 seconds. These are ideal to drive traffic to your site or to motivate them to watch long-form videos. Entice followers to interact with your brand, and encourage photo shares of the interaction or their use of your products. Promotions or contests are great incentive boosters to get engagement rolling. Say you decide to run a challenge each week for a few months; you can later repost the content in a Snapchat video story when advertising to expand your reach.

 What's more, video ads always play with sound. You want your following to pay attention to your brand, right? Why not generate video ads with a great audio track? Your following will not only watch, but also listen intently. There's even the option for users to drag the video upwards to see additional info, like entertaining content or informative articles.

 Also, the more your audience can relate to your brand, the better. Talk with your audience, not to them. Tell good stories, because more people are turning to video for stories than ever before. Keep things fresh and share news or customer videos with the latest industry happenings. Be casual, funny, and even a little silly. Snapchat is where brands get to foster endearing relationships with potential customers, so be real. The more you relate, the more you can sell.

Using Longer Videos and Direct CTAs

Snapchat makes it easy to link a snap to long-form media to quickly play when users swipe up. It's a great teaser for use in a 3- to 10-second snap to present a commercial or new trailer. Direct calls to action (CTAs) are strongly encouraged because Snapchat allows viewers to quickly act on ads. This, of course, is a more valuable commodity to marketers when results are key.

 When designing your video, take both the orientation and length into account. Why? Well, there's only a small window of time to make an impression. Besides, once the video is played, it disappears forever. Consider one of these two paths: Either create amusing or memorable long-form videos to impress in a limited time span or aggressively drive conversions to encourage viewers to take swift action. Mind you, the action is to invite a "Swipe Up" to follow your CTA.

Using Snap Ads Templates to Create Video Ads

Brands can also take advantage of Snapchat's gallery of templates to create compelling ads. The selection is diverse, and offers several options to dazzle viewers. There's even a wide range of customizations for animations and to have fun using various creative studio and design tools.

 Every template shows well, whether on mobile or vertical videos. Campaigns can always be managed manually if ad spend needs to be adjusted throughout campaign duration.

 Snapchat can prove to be the right medium for direct response marketing, especially for B2C marketers. To reap the rewards from its popularity, focus on its plethora of attributes to generate brand awareness. Brands simply can't go wrong with Snapchat, and will find it easy to create ads — and a lot of fun, too.

Digital Video Is the Future of Advertising. Here's How.

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Traditional network/cable/satellite TV viewing numbers are on the decline, with more consumers (especially younger ones) preferring to stream content on their devices and smart TVs.

In a recent Nielsen survey, during this past October, the number of younger viewers age 18 to 34 watching traditional TV was down 16 percent from the same period a year ago, and 36 percent from 4 years ago. Digital research firm eMarketer predicted that by the end of this year some 33 million people will cut the cord and stop their traditional cable or satellite subscription services, a 32 percent increase from the previous year. 

If fewer people are watching traditional TV, how can marketers use the medium to reach viewers? TV hasn't gone away from most American homes, it's just that the content being watched is coming from internet connections. That's why it's important for marketers to understand the switch in viewing preferences.

In the digital video/digital advertising industry, we feel this situation creates opportunities for smart marketers. Digital video advertising offers interactive, visual opportunities to connect with consumers and inspire new relationships with brands.

Here are some of the reasons why video will continue to have a significant impact on digital advertising in 2019.

Video Is Engaging

Nearly all millennials are consuming video content on a daily basis with their mobile devices. As a result, it's likely they are seeing digital video ads on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and other video-centric channels.

Interactive digital video advertising will dominate the US advertising landscape in 2019. Another recent eMarketer report shows US digital video ad spending will show continued growth from a mix of mobile and social media video ads, and will eventually take up half of top marketers' budgets in the coming year.

A Customized, Personal Experience

Younger viewers (and some older ones, too) are no longer watching what's on TV. Instead, they are using their smart TVs (with YouTube, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast leading the way) to deliver content the way they want it, when they want it. TV is becoming a personalized, customized viewing experience. That opens the door to personal engagement with advertising.

Video Is Memorable

Thanks to being able to pick and choose what consumers want to watch, the experience of massive (or binge) video watching (such as an entire season or two of a favorite program in one evening) becomes more memorable and shareable as well.

No More Prime Time?

How does this new viewer reality square with marketers still spending more of their money on "prime time" advertising? Does the concept of "prime time" still warrant the higher values? With a plethora of streaming outlets available, more younger viewers are clearly not pressured to watch TV at any particular hour.

 New Video Formats

Because of the new types of viewing, video ads have been taking on new forms. There are native outstream video ads used in social and online media feeds, live videos from social media channels, and an emerging class of online TV shows being sponsored by major online marketers.

With these changes in the way people (and particularly younger people) watch their programs, brands now have fantastic possibilities for standing out by using creative combinations of personalization, user experience interaction, and hot spots/outstream/native video formats.

Refining Your Marketing Strategy with Google Analytics Data

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Google Analytics is a gold mine for marketers — a very large gold mine that can provide vast amounts of data to analyze. Breaking down that data and applying it to data-driven marketing decisions can have a big impact on business goals. We'll show you how to use the three main Google Analytics sections — audience, acquisition, and behavior — to identify your customers, discover what brought them to your company website, and understand what they do while they're there.

Google Analytics Audience: Who Are Your Customers?

The Google Analytics Audience section provides information about who your customers are — including basic demographics such as their gender, age, and location, as well as more detailed information including their interests, engagement, and accessing devices.

Audience data can confirm if your campaign is reaching its target demographic, as well as provide opportunities for growth. Marketers can use this information to identify the campaigns that produce conversions within a demographic and optimize advertising to deliver higher return on investment (ROI).

For example, a small, local boutique without e-commerce capability would only need to advertise to a local audience. An effective digital marketing campaign would optimize location data to increase views by potential customers within this single location.

Google Analytics Acquisition: Where Do Your Customers Come From?

The Google Analytics Acquisition section provides information about where your customers come from, whether it's organic search, referral, direct, social, or paid search, and how customers from each of those sources interact with your website.

Acquisition data can help identify the sources of your best customers. In this analytics section, each source is broken down by behavior (such as bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration), as well as by conversation rate, number of transactions, and total revenue.

By breaking down each traffic source, Analytics offers the opportunity to focus marketing dollars and effort on the channels that produce the highest conversions. For example, a social media campaign may produce high traffic statistics but low conversion rates. This analytics section can help separate the effective from the ineffective and deliver higher campaign ROI.

Google Analytics Behavior: What Do Your Customers Do on Your Website?

The Google Analytics Behavior section provides information about how your website visitors interact with your website. How many pages do they typically view before leaving or purchasing? How much time do they spend browsing? Which pages are the most popular?

Digital marketers can utilize this information to develop more engaging content, improve website flow, or increase the number of events per session. Each of these improvements could result in increasing the overall conversion rate and improving marketing ROI.

By refining your digital marketing strategy with Google Analytics data, a savvy marketer can improve many aspects of the customer's online experience, as well as increase conversions and have an impact on your business's bottom line.

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

How Can Machine Learning Boost Your Brand? Check Out These Key Ideas

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Artificial intelligence is now playing a greater role in capturing and developing relationships with consumers, and machine learning is one field of AI that has marketing potential to harness. To truly understand machine learning's potential, deeper insight is required to fully execute its impressive applications.

Building Trust and Improving Experiences With Chatbots

Conversational interfaces continue to improve consumer relations, which ultimately opens the door for marketers to use chatbots in an array of applications. An intuitive form of conversational AI, chatbots are used across sales and customer support to provide customers with 24/7 self-service on their own terms. Not only does this machine learning technology align with the millennial mindset, but it's also hailed by industry research firms as a dominant force amongst decision makers in the purchase process.

Chatbots extract and sift through data quicker than humans can. The result? Better delivery of more personalized consumer experiences. This is especially true for customers desiring self-service. As such, the need to fulfill a task independently now outweighs the need for another person when technology is the desired choice. Instead of being instructed to "press three to speak with a representative," chatbots are quick to extract details to direct prospective customers without delay. This allows users to naturally communicate based on personal preference. 

Brands can effectively implement chatbots to serve as the first point of contact for engagement. What better way to drive up interactions and generate leads to funnel into the appropriate channels? Moreover, it's a definitive resource with which to operate more efficiently, add value, and build brand loyalty.

Prioritizing Personalized Care

Top brands are adopting machine learning practices to identify, predict, and take action on trends affecting product or service development. With more insight into leveraging machine learning, brands are better equipped to improve upon existing products and services.

Savvy brands use machine learning to launch innovative strategies for better customer experiences. It's the orchestrated efforts to attract, sell, and serve that win out when enhancing customer satisfaction. Another competitive strategy for market leadership hinges on customer intimacy — provide unique methods to personalize service and customize products to meet differing needs. AI is better at learning what's effective for prospects and consumers.

Improving Targeting Accuracy

As with any marketing strategy, there's always room for improvement. An investment in machine learning allows marketers to create targeted advertising effortlessly and effectively. The value of doing so (besides giving marketers valuable data on consumer behavior) is that advertising decisions are carried out in real time. With an AI-based model in place, the decision on when to display targeted ads is entirely up to you.

There's a heavy reliance on data, but as it increases, so does the challenge to manage data effectively. Machine learning streamlines the processes of data analysis in advertising. AI is the go-to process when brands want to target potential customers with precision. For example, Facebook Business Manager is an important advertising tool. When a target audience is created based on interests, machine learning enhances the strategy. The targeted interests are all generated via machine learning, which is the same algorithm that analyzes data users voluntarily input into their profiles.

Optimization of Pricing

For brands struggling to set appropriate prices, machine learning can help. Since consumers have a wealth of options with which to compare prices, brands must factor in specific competitor criteria to accurately set prices. Machine learning's algorithms generate data to better detect emerging trends or new demands. Brands benefit most from predictive models to best price products and services.

Next to autonomy and speed, the biggest advantage of using machine learning to optimize prices is globalization. Imagine manually inputting pricing parameters into multiple channels. Then there's price changing, which can impact product sales in other areas. Machine learning crunches the numbers more accurately. It even anticipates market trends when brands need to make appropriate decisions to adjust prices.

Lastly, when competitive pricing strategies are paramount to success, it is possible to use machine learning to crawl the web and social platforms to collect essential information about competitor prices for identical or similar products. You can also analyze customer feedback, popular deals, and pricing history over a period of days or weeks. An intelligent system like this will constantly learn the digital landscape to give brands more leverage over the competition, which leads to wiser pricing decisions.

Determining Incentives and Sale Offers

Brands can further optimize marketing efforts by defining which sale offers, promotions, and incentives to present to prospective customers. This is accomplished through the use of multiple channels, which is yet another machine learning strategy that's transforming marketing.

Specialized sale offers are created through contextual information, offers, and incentives. Each is systematically structured using machine learning. In turn, AI regularly predicts the best possible combinations of marketing elements to generate an upsell, cross-sell, or new sale entirely.

As brands work vigorously to ensure products are exposed to the right consumers, advances in AI continue to emerge to help reach marketing goals. With proper planning and execution, machine learning has the potential to have an exponential impact on advertising.

3 Ways to Promote Your Business Using the New Year's Holiday

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During the holidays, consumers have the spending spirit. Americans' holiday spending in November and December (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants) has risen between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent in 2017, for a total change of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. The forecast, according to the National Retail Federation, compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past 5 years.

To capitalize on the expected spending frenzy this holiday season, you should consider these three ways to promote your business during New Year's: 

1. Position products as "resolution solutions."

A new year means a fresh start. As a result, many Americans make resolutions as a way to improve their lives or reach new goals.

While up to 40 percent of Americans make resolutions, just 8 percent actually keep them, according to the Huffington Post. Why not help more people achieve their goals this year? Market your product as a tool that helps people keep their resolutions.

Your product or service might help people lose weight, improve time management, or limit stress. Think of ways your company can sell ''resolution solutions'' during the new year. 

2. Have a "fresh start" sale.

 As a new year rolls in, many people have an ''out with the old, in with the new'' mentality. You can capitalize on this concept by hosting a ''fresh start'' sale. Maybe you're looking to bring in new products and need to clear out some of your old inventory. New Year's is the perfect time to do it.

Promote your sale on social media, hang in-store banners, and create postcards you can add to shopping bags as a reminder.

3. Create content that helps people start new habits.

Since consumers are looking to learn something new or focus on improving certain habits, you can create content surrounding that idea while subtly promoting your product or service. 

Content marketing is big right now. It costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads.

A company selling cookware, for example, might offer online cooking classes to help people learn something new. An investment company might create an eBook that offers wise investment tips for the coming year.

By using these three promotional ideas, you'll start your new year strong. Even hosting an impromptu New Year's sale or an online flash sale promoted via email can give your company a financial boost heading into 2019. 

5 Tips for Creating Native Ads That Drive Engagement

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Since 2016, native ads have been the darling of the online publishing industry, showing double-digit growth year on year. Digital research firm eMarketer forecasts that spending on native ads will eclipse $33 billion this year. That's about a 30 percent increase from 2017, and a healthy expansion of this dynamic ad category.

Have you heard of native ads? Perhaps you've seen them in your social media feeds, on phone app news feeds, and on publisher sites on the web. Native ads are sponsored content pieces that are designed for, and live in, the environment on which they are published. Native ads follow the form and function of the publishing environment, and the content of the ads is often aligned with the publisher's look, feel, and style. 

Here are some key reasons for the explosive success of native ads in recent years:

  • Native ads significantly affect conversions and brand awareness. One study showed an 18 percent increase in purchasing intent by consumers after viewing native ads, and a near 10 percent uptick in brand affinity, compared to online banners advertising.

  • Consumers are more likely to check out a native ad than glance at a display ad banner.

  • Native ads reach digital consumers in ways that feel natural, not invasive. But striking that right balance is tricky. You need to create targeted native ads that have the look and feel of the sponsoring social platform, website, or publication, while standing out and positioning a brand in the right light.

Let's walk through some of the ways that digital marketers can create great native ads. For example, in your news and information feeds on your mobile device, alert users can see sponsored native ads fairly quickly. But to the untrained eye, they look like another story from a favorite publication. Therein lies the beauty of native ads: They blend into the environment with a marketing-sponsored message and call to action.

1)    Know the publisher's look, feel, style, and demographic audience. This is number one for your native advertising success. Know the culture and design of the site or platform on which you're aiming to place your native ad. Reflect the values, style, look, and feel of the content there in order for the audience to embrace your native ad with open eyes.

2)    Add value with useful information. Be the voice your audience wants to read. Show you know what they want. Do your research to make your sponsored content stand out. Bring some insider knowledge to the table, and share that info in your native ad to grow impressions.

3)    Include a brand logo to increase recognition. You can use the brand logo in your native ad, but be careful not to turn your content into a public relations piece for the brand. Native ads are all about showing value for the readers, not trumpeting your brand and assets.

4)    Choose supply partners that limit native ad space. Native ads will work better when they are used sparingly. Publishers and brands both know this. If a publisher oversells a platform or site with native ads, the tangible impact of those ads will decrease. Brands should look to partner with platforms and publishers that limit the number of native ads.

5)    Integrate your call to action seamlessly. In native ads, brands can discuss the value and opportunity of their products, and follow up that information with calls to action. But it's imperative to integrate that CTA so effortlessly into the content that the viewer may not even be aware it's a CTA. You want the reader to be so excited about the brand that moving ahead with a conversion is inevitable.

Other qualities involved in creating great native content include shareability and quality. Native advertising success can grow by imbuing the content with a viral nature to enhance the prospect of web shareability. By being distinctive in the quality of their native ads, brands will potentially attract more viewers with great content.

Here's How to Get Your Digital Marketing Holiday Ready

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Holiday season is upon us, and in digital marketing circles, it’s seen as the busiest and most competitive time of the year for marketers.  Now is the time to make sure all your planning and implementation strategies for holiday marketing are in sync and locked down.  

Here are some of the ways to make sure you're fully prepared for the 2018 holiday marketing season.   

Are You Using the 45-Day Rule Strategy?

If you've got content marketing as a key driver, then you need to know about the 45-day rule. Essentially, this rule states that an online business must look ahead and intentionally plan its web and social content 45 days ahead of important activities and promotions to drive user activity and search traffic. If you get your content posted later, it can hurt your overall search traffic. Adding your content two weeks before a significant event might result in only 25 to 50 percent of the traffic needed on your site. Think more long-term to 45 days, and you might achieve up to 90 percent of your intended traffic.  

Determine the Right Channels for Your Focus  

Choosing the right marketing channels for your product or service is something you've likely been thinking about for a while – make sure that you have determined the right course of action by reviewing and analyzing past performance and incorporating into your overall strategy. It starts with your product, its uses, its benefits, and how it impacts your target audience. Are you selling to consumers or businesses? How do you reach this target audience? On which channels are they receptive to your product?  

Create a Detailed Schedule of Campaign Activities

By now, your marketing team will have put together the range of your planned activities, including the timeline/schedule of promotions, in-store rollouts, online advertising campaigns, and other activities. This schedule must be detailed and exact. Your public relations team must be in sync with your product team, your customer success team, and other entities in the organization.

 

Developing Holiday-Specific Landing Pages

Your web development team should be offering frames for landing pages by early November. It should have already noted which year-round landing pages achieve high ROI so you can use that information as a jumping off point for your holiday landing pages. Some tips include:

●      Make sure your landing pages are optimized for mobile.

●      Make sure your page loading speed is high.

●      Use graphics to tell your story; make them high impact.

●      Use a strong, clear CTA; offer a premium to gain more attention.

●      Measure the journey of page visitors and follow up with retargeting efforts.  

Start to Build a Larger Retargeting Pool for November/December

The holiday season brings marketers a great opportunity to broaden reach and audience targets with retargeting. Your brand might be targeting a certain audience most of the year, but now you can retarget to others with a gift option. For instance, if you market golf clubs to mostly dedicated golfers for most of the year, you might be able to expand that with retargeted ad efforts to a broader audience that may include non-golfers who are comparison shopping for the golfer in their life.

Even though your company is putting its efforts into holiday season selling, remember that customers will look to your product or service during the following year too. So make that important first impression count.

Don't be afraid to increase your frequency of emails or social posts about special holiday sales during these weeks. By now, most customers are more engaged with your promotions and might actually be looking for your promotions.  

Lastly, track your results, define your success measurements, and keep a log of how your efforts are working for this year in order to replicate the same for next year or switch the offerings.

Creative, Collaborative Campaigns: How Adtaxi Fuels Innovation

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Collaboration results in creativity. That's an important facet of every advertising campaign — it's not all about data. Adtaxi knows that a healthy dose of creativity is integral for campaign success, and that's why the company culture facilitates cross-team collaboration and communication that result in fresh ideas. We work with advertisers and businesses across industries, managing roughly 2,600 campaigns monthly, and use historical campaign knowledge to build and optimize successful marketing strategies.

Improving Campaign Performance with Creative Systems

The Adtaxi search team recently developed an automated email flagging system to alert campaign managers of potential performance issues such as pacing concerns, disapproved ads, broken URLs, site suspensions, etc. These emails provide an additional line of defense in monitoring and help boost campaign performance.   by eliminating more manual checks.  This also allows more time for what our campaign managers do best — strategic optimization.

This process was identified and created by one of our own search team members which was then implemented across our organization, where it was quickly adopted and adapted by Adtaxi's social and programmatic teams as well.

Collaborating Across Disciplines to Get Results

Adtaxi's Quantum optimization platform started as a collaboration between our veteran sales and ops team members as a method of applying an algorithmic approach to optimizations that had previously been done manually. It started small but brought early success which lead to expanding the solution to a larger subset of campaigns demonstrating tremendous results.

Our product and development teams utilized the initial concept to create a full-fledged optimization tool that's critical in driving results across our organization.

Incentivizing Innovation with Quarterly Stretch Goals

Adtaxi's culture of collaboration encourages cross team creativity to further enhance ideas and education.  We support our team members with a quarterly incentive stretch goal program that rewards successful innovations which result in revenue growth, operational savings or contribute to driving brand awareness.

Each quarter, any team member can submit a proposal which is then reviewed by our management team. Approved submissions then must be proved and executed by the end of the quarter. If the goal is met and successful, team members are rewarded with a bonus, as well as recognition throughout the organization for their efforts.

By cultivating creativity in each of our employees, Adtaxi has fueled the innovations that now lead our campaigns. Each day, we combine data-driven insights with professional collaboration to produce maximum results.

7 Tech Tools Every Marketer Needs to Know

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Today's digital marketers need help on all sides to achieve their goals, and marketing services providers offer that support. In order to reach consumers online more effectively, you'll need the best tools for the best engagement. Fortunately, we've got you covered.

The tech companies below all have tools that can be utilized to refine and improve your marketing strategy. We've skipped a few of the obvious ones, such Google Analytics, because it's likely already entrenched in your marketing toolkit. There are other tools that help streamline a variety of tasks for marketers and increase the effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns.

1. Pardot for B2B Marketing Automation

If your company uses Salesforce, you've likely heard about Pardot, a marketing automation tool for Salesforce users. Pardot can be used to reach clients via social media, email campaigns, or paid marketing. Pardot's email templates are used in mobile responsive campaigns and custom drip campaigns, among others. Pardot is a great way to streamline your marketing efforts and track results from lead generation to client nurturing in one system.

2. Zapier for Automating Connections in Platforms

Zapier helps customers automate and connect apps during the workday. Imagine your workday when you receive an email filled with attachments of ad proofs that must be reviewed. Instead of opening these individually, Zapier performs a number of processes that use trigger actions to shorten your time spent on these tasks. Zapier can detect when emails with vital information come in and automatically transfer the attachment images into Dropbox for easy sharing with your team. If you need to start workflows multiple apps or finish routine tasks automatically, try Zapier for speedy automation.

3. SimilarWeb.com for Tracking Competitors' Site Traffic

SimilarWeb.com is a web software analytics company whose employees help thousands of clients with competitive website analysis. If you're looking for top-line analytics on your competitor's websites, then SimilarWeb is for you. You can view and analyze exactly which sources are generating traffic to your competitor's site. But SimilarWeb does more than that; it analyzes industry data and apps for clients and provides reports that mix marketing stats for export use.

4. Kickbox for Email Verification/List Maintenance

Kickbox is an email technology company that utilizes software products to help customers verify email addresses and prevent fraudulent user information to a company's applications. It verifies that an email address is valid and deliverable. If you're working in a field that needs official email address verification, then use Kickbox in your email platform.

5. Marketo Digital Marketing Automation Software

Marketo has taken marketing automation to new heights in recent years, warranting its market-leading position in digital marketing. Now, with its sale to Adobe for nearly $5 billion, Marketo's tools will be available to many more marketers. Marketo's account-based marketing tech tools and lead management will join with the Adobe Experience cloud tools for a powerhouse B2B-B2C digital marketing engagement experience.  

6. Buffer for Managing Social Posts and Accounts

If you're running several social media accounts across brands, it helps to have tech tools like Buffer to help improve your game. Buffer is an social media management platform used by more than 80,000 companies for managing social media content. The company operates in a crowded vendor space that includes Zoho Social, Sprout Social, and Crowdfire.

Besides its primary task of helping users share content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other leading social sites, Buffer lets users distribute content from one primary log-in. There is also the ability to create seamless integration with Chrome, WordPress, and other tools to find shareable content.

7. Marchex for Call Analytics

If you're doing any kind of online advertising, from display to mobile, working with Marchex for your call analytics is a no-brainer. The company helps analyze, quantify, and measure the performance of mobile, online, and offline advertising for small to medium-sized businesses, resellers, and advertisers. Marchex helps you identify what's really driving new customers to call? Which ads? Which keywords? When they call, what type of consistency is in place? Marchex ad tech products help you to measure and analyze calls for quality, origination, and how to measure call trends.

 

You Shouldn't be Scared of Programmatic Advertising. Here's Why.

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Programmatic advertising automates spending and helps determine the types of ads that run and where they're placed, which all gets done using cutting edge technology like artificial intelligence (AI).

Sounds great, right? But there seems to be an overarching reluctance to embrace programmatic on the part of brands and advertisers alike. Although programmatic has experienced some bumps in the road, there's nothing to be afraid of. In fact, today's programmatic advertising can help you reach your audience for less money.

Before we highlight its benefits, let's debunk some common fears of advertisers and marketers to help you widen your marketing horizons. Once you realize there's nothing scary about it, you are free to explore the real benefits that programmatic advertising offers.

Common Fears

Feeling scared? You're not alone. Fortunately, we've gathered some of the top fears and debunked them for you right here:

●      Poor Placement: Misplaced ads are among the top concerns for advertisers and brands.Previously, advertisers simply bought space on a page or on a section of a website. Today's savvy marketers use programmatic platforms, which allow them to reach their target audience everywhere on the web using invaluable first- and third-party data.

●      Fraud: Have you heard that programmatic advertising puts you at risk for fraud? Ad fraud is nothing new, but when you move to a more tech-savvy, automated solution, you minimize the risk. . Artificial intelligence and various algorithms can identify ad fraud and avoid it. Of course, that's no replacement for doing your own due diligence to stay on top of things.

●      Lack of Control: Although it's true that this format automates a lot of the advertising process, it doesn't take the control entirely out of your hands. Instead, it lets you work within a real-time environment that allows you to optimize at any time for amazing results. It automates, but it doesn't replace the need for a great strategy and a great team.

●      Complexity: Oftentimes, marketers fear that programmatic advertising is overly complex. While it’s true that it is a complicated, intricate process, the heart of how it works is simpler than you might think. A consumer clicks on the page, the page's publisher puts the ad impression up for auction, advertisers bid for the space, and the ad is delivered to the prospective customer. The ability to adjust in real-time allows advertisers to target, retarget and optimize along the way to drive results.

Benefits of Programmatic Advertising

By 2019, experts estimate that programmatic will account for about half of all advertising. And there's a very good reason for that — as more marketers and brands overcome their fears, they begin to embrace the benefits unique to this format, including:

●      Cost efficiency: Using programmatic advertising strategies, brands and advertisers can track the performance of their campaigns beyond simple clicks and impressions. This provides the architecture necessary to design and optimize campaigns to achieve the metrics that matter most. And that is priceless for gaining spending efficiency.

 

●      Real-time data: With this format, marketers no longer need to wait until the campaign is complete to make adjustments. Instead, they receive real-time insights from the moment it launches, enabling them to adjust along the way for improved performance.

●      Bullseye: All the data that goes into programmatic advertising improves your targeting, allowing you to reach a wider, more accurate audience.  For example, Adtaxi uses top-notch tag management to collect actionable data, leverage the power of predictive modeling and use first- and third-party data to target the consumers most likely to act on your message. We also employ cross-platform targeting to make sure the messaging is seamlessly delivered over every device and channel to provide the best experience for your target audience.

Programmatic has the ability to change the face of advertising and empower marketers and brands to better reach their audiences. Once you overcome your fear of the unknowns of programmatic, you will begin to see how it can take your marketing strategy to the next level. 

 

 

Leverage Google Shopping to Drive Holiday Results

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Ask anyone how Google Shopping has performed in 2018, and you're likely to hear how it is dominating the retail search marketing arena. Combining Google shopping with your current digital strategy can only enhance performance in sales. With consumers spending over $19.6 billion online during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2017, now is the time to prepare your campaign strategy for this year’s shopping season. 

How can you leverage Google Shopping? Check out a few tips to increase efficiency, gain user engagement, and boost conversions on your Google Shopping holiday campaigns.

Set Your Budget and Key Performance Indicators Early

Before doing anything else, Google recommends reviewing historic holiday campaigns and evaluating campaign performance and necessary budget adjustments. Note any days where your click share decreased but retail query volume increased, and budget more for those days to avoid missing potential customers. Flexibility in budgeting can help your campaign survive the fluctuations in holiday shopping.

Prep Your Feed

It also helps to take some time before heading into the holiday shopping season to make sure your product feeds are looking good. Get those product photos on point, upload promotions, and fill out product attributes with as much information as possible to minimize disapprovals from the outset. Also, enable Content API, automated item updates, and automated feed deliver to keep your product pricing and availability fresh.

Plan Promotions

Holiday shoppers love getting good deals, and many shoppers are swayed to make purchases based on the promotions available. Make use of merchant promotions to highlight your special offers and to schedule price changes ahead of time. Giving shoppers plenty of special deals during the holidays can boost the amount of clicks you get and ultimately drive your conversion rate.

Don't Overlook the Omnichannel Approach

Mobile remains king when it comes to retail at any time of year. In fact, Google tells its users to "double down on mobile shopping" because of the importance of maintaining visibility on mobile devices. We think it's critical to create a seamless experience over multiple platforms. After all, omnichannel marketing using innovative tools such Adtaxi's Quantum is essential for giving consumers the experience they expect and maximizing performance during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

4 Ways to Bring Waze Into Your Digital Marketing Playbook

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Part navigation app and part social media, Waze has the potential to help advertisers reach consumers at critical moments. As marketers navigate options and platforms to increase exposure and connect with consumers in new ways, Waze may be the right fit to amplify a brand's digital footprint, drive storefront traffic, and promote their business.

Waze Defined

A Google Maps overlay, Waze is a crowd-sourcing and mapping technology used mainly for auto navigation. Its huge social network - nearly 90 million strong - allows motorists to share information on traffic, road construction, or accidents including live route updates, ETA status, and more. The app also learns preferred routes, destinations, and commuting hours for well-rounded travel experiences.

Why advertise on Waze? Waze transforms the way advertisers target consumers and connect with audiences on the move. Brands can effectively use the app to track and analyze real-time data related to user engagement in the form of impressions, navigations, and button clicks.

Ads are purchased on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis and served based on a user's proximity to your location, with user history playing a critical role in determining which ads to display. A combination of individual user data, search history, and social data gives Waze the ability to offer brands powerful targeting recommendations to drive advertising performance.

If location-based advertising appeals to you, these ideas give marketers the play-by-play on how to incorporate Waze into campaign strategies.

1. Branded Pins With Links to More Information

In this direct-response style ad, pins mark a business's location on a map, mimicking the digital billboards drivers see as they're cruising along highways. The pins pop up on a Waze map when the driver is on or near the business's route. Once a pin is tapped, your ad appears with location details. A second tap puts drivers en route to your location.

Advertisers can add options for drivers to save offers or videos, set reminders, or change the app's voice. Links to more information about a specific location, calls to action to reroute drivers to a destination, and the ability to save places to travel to later are added perks as well.

Pins allow brands to target drivers based on whether they are tourists or locals, their intended destinations, and current events including weather, traffic patterns, and time of travel, right down to language and operating system use. You get a clear picture of marketing efforts through report statistics to analyze reach, frequency, impressions distributed by distance, or the number of saves and website visits.

2. Geo-targeting With Voice Integration

Voice integrations allow users to choose a voice to replace Waze's standard option. Advertisers even have the ability to geo-target locations to spotlight calls to action when users are in or near specific locations.

Brands not in the entertainment industry can join in on the fun of voice-overs. Users can swap Waze's standard navigation voice to that of a favorite celebrity, for instance. There's power in a user listening to a celebrity's voice reading directions to them instead of a computerized version.

3. Zero-speed Takeover Ads

Not everything comes to a complete stop when a vehicle does. Unlike the branded pin where the user has to click a brand's logo, this ad format pops up automatically as a "takeover" of the screen. The big takeaway? Drivers are more attentive to a navigation app when at a full stop, which allows you to target these moments.

When a user reaches "zero speed," three seconds or more of non-movement, Waze reveals high-impact ads and promotions about your brand. Action-oriented displays range from "Download App" and "Drive There" to "Download Coupon" for later use. As a precaution to ensure driver safety, ads drop from view once a vehicle is in motion again.

For marketers, this is another approach to the digital billboard model to offer exclusive discounts during promotional offers. According to Waze, Zero-speed Takeover ads reach drivers that are 3.1 times further from a business than Branded Pins.

4. Promoted Search and Ad Timing With Nearby Arrows

Besides Waze's aforementioned core ad formats, pinned locations give brands priority ranking in search results in Promoted Search. It's an effective ad format to reach users when they're actively searching, even if you're not directly on their current route. Since users can add favorite businesses or locations, Nearby Arrows is a huge advantage when combined with Promoted Search.

When Nearby Arrows is deployed, your brand's logo appears when the app is activated, letting the user know you're nearby. Just a click on the arrow directs the map to the closest pin and triggers your ad to appear on the navigation screen. Identical to the Branded Pin and Zero-Speed Takeover ad formats, the "Drive There" feature provides immediate access to your location.

When vetting your digital marketing options, Waze is the way to go. Think about it: An intuitive platform with the analytical know-how to assess when someone might want something — to fill up, a drink, or food — is a powerful marketing weapon. Use it to drive awareness and reach new audiences on a global scale.