Jordan Burleson

About Jordan Burleson

Jordan is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Beacon. He specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, social media marketing and analytics to help businesses drive more online traffic. Jordan earned a B.S. in Communication (Broadcasting & Advertising) from Appalachian State University.
13 03, 2018

Remarketing & Enrollment: Why it Works for Colleges & Universities

By | 2018-03-15T15:01:43+00:00 March 13th, 2018|Categories: Higher Education, PPC|Tags: , , , |

If you’re reading this article, you probably have at least a basic understanding of how remarketing works. For those who do not, remarketing ads identify those with a predisposition towards your product and nudge them to buy (or take some action).

Here’s the scenario: A user visits the admissions page for AGU (Amazingly Great University). Since AGU runs a remarketing campaign through Google, a cookie is placed that identifies the user after he or she leaves said website. The ad may be an enticement to request a course catalog, arrange for a campus visit or any number of desirable actions. As they visit other websites, your remarketing ads remind them of their initial interest and what they found compelling about your school.

Conversion rates tend to be greater with remarketing ads as the subject or target has already shown a familiarity with your school or interest in your product (an education). And the numbers say that the reminder, the subtle nudge often does the trick. Ultimately, they come back for more.

What makes Remarketing more effective for Higher Ed?

In the world of Higher Ed, the sales funnel is a protracted one. Leads must be nurtured over time as the selection of a college or university is a decision of great magnitude and has so many moving parts. It’s not something we typically do impetuously.

Remarketing campaigns appeal to a more deliberate decision making process. They can tactfully remind the potential student of the things they may have found attractive about your school or even entice a prospect to look elsewhere if your ad strategy is faulty.

Segmentation & Remarketing Strategy for Higher Ed

Segmenting your audience is the first step on the way to developing a sound remarketing strategy. Since Google enables you to target viewers based on a number of behaviors (users who visited your site or just a specific page, took a particular action, etc.), you can develop a tiered strategy based on these audiences. For example, your remarketing pitch may have a different message for those who visit your tuition and costs page as opposed to those who spend time perusing the course catalog for your school of business. Intent based segmentation can yield great results.

You’ll likely want to target your prospects by geography, too. Campus visits are easier to get if the prospect is within a reasonable travel radius, for example. Facebook offers remarketing that enables geographical targeting, too. So Facebook remarketing becomes an option for this group.

For all groups, set frequency limits for your remarketing ads. Hit them too hard and you may alienate them.

Test Your Ad Copy

Use A/B testing to determine your most effective ad copy. Try using different copy, CTA’s, and ad placements. Even after settling on a successful campaign method and copy, change the design from time to time as ads can become stale or fade into the background after a while.

What You Need to Know About Higher Ed Remarketing

Still got questions? Beacon is one of the premier digital marketing firms for Higher Ed and we’d love the opportunity to show you why. Feel free to contact me directly or give the DMS team at Beacon a call to discuss your institution and enrollment. I’d love to talk strategy with you and suggest a course of action tailored to your specific student audience(s).

 

13 09, 2016

How To Create Remarketing Campaigns That Work

By | 2017-08-15T16:01:28+00:00 September 13th, 2016|Categories: PPC|

Remarketing-Tips

Whether you’re looking to drive sales, increase registrations, bolster applications, or promote awareness of your brand, remarketing can be an extremely effective component of your marketing strategy. Remarketing lets you show ads to people who’ve visited your website before or who have interacted with your site using their email. When people leave your website without taking action (register, buy, fill out a form, add to cart, etc.) you can show them targeting text or display ads to bring them back to targeted landing pages so they can convert. Below are just a few of the benefits of remarketing for your website:

Benefits of Remarketing

  • Large Reach Online: You can reach people on your remarketing lists as they use Google search and browse over 2 million websites and mobile apps that are part of the Google Display Network.
  • Branding Yourself: Because the cost-per-click is so low, you are able to run a large-scale and inexpensive branding campaign on popular websites.
  • Reach Visitors As They Are Ready to Take Action: Bring users back in the middle of their research/shopping process.
  • Remarketing Lists Are Tailored To Your Goals: Create unique lists for users that abandoned checkout/registration, users that have converted before and users that abandoned after one visit.
  • Low Cost-Per-Click: Because these users have visited your site before the cost-per-click is sometimes 2-3 times lower than search campaigns.
  • Simple Ad Creation: Produce multiple text, image, and video ads for free with Ad gallery.
  • Marketing Insights: See reports of how your campaigns are performing, where your ads are showing, and what price you’re paying.

Every website has a function. As a higher education site, your goal may be to drive more applications or showcase degree programs you need to fill vacant spots in. eCommerce sites have a goal of selling more products, seasonal goods or featuring sales/promotions that arise. Even normal content websites can get in on the action. Remarketing can be a crucial component or your website by bringing users back to download whitepapers, read new content or sign up for e-newsletters.

Remarketing Ad Types

Remarketing Campaign Types

  • Standard Remarketing: Used to show ads to previous website visitors as they visit. Display Network websites and use Display Network apps.

With standard remarketing, you are able to use AdWords remarketing code or your Analytics tracking code to start tracking every visit to your site and start building audiences. You can begin creating lists based on the product/content page they visited, based on visiting a certain page of your conversion process and even based on not visiting a certain page. The benefit of creating remarketing lists using Google Analytics is that your lists are much easier to build, just like narrowing down your audience using advanced segments or inline filters when navigating the Analytics interface. Standard remarketing relies on either text ads or image ads (we recommend using both) to maximize your chance of customers viewing your ads.

  • Dynamic Remarketing: Boost your results with ads that include products or services that people viewed on your website.

Dynamic remarketing is perfect for eCommerce websites or sites with products or service pages. These campaigns can be somewhat trickier to setup but are invaluable to your bottom line. You need a setup and verified Google Merchant Center account and remarketing code that tracks dynamic variables from your product pages. This step will need to involve a developer on your site or with an agency like Beacon. The beauty of these campaigns is that you can show users the exact products they viewed within an image ad on a popular site like CNN or Weather.com to bring them back to the shopping process. These campaigns have very low cost-per-click and high conversion rates.

  • Search Remarketing: Show ads to your past visitors as they do follow-up searches for what they need on Google, after leaving your website.

Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA) are simple to use and drive higher returns than standard search campaigns. After you have gotten visitors to your site through a search or non-branded campaign you can use search remarketing to bring them back as they continue researching on Google. For example, you may be selling ‘sectional sofas’ and bidding on those terms to bring people to your sofa pages. After they leave your site you can bid on ‘sectional sofas’ using a remarketing list to only show your ads to previous visitors. The same concept will work for users searching for ‘mba programs’ or ‘divorce attorneys’. Your cost-per-click will be much lower than the original one and the fact that they recognize your URL helps drive more clicks.

  • Video Remarketing: Show ads to people who have interacted with your videos or YouTube channel as they use YouTube and browse online.

Video remarketing works by linking your YouTube account to AdWords. You can start building video remarketing audiences by adding users who watched your videos, liked, commented or shared your videos and those users who subscribed (very qualified users) to your YouTube channel. By reinforcing your message with people who have already seen your videos or channel, you’re more likely to succeed in increasing your return on investment. Video remarketing also uses a different pricing model, known as CPV. With CPV bidding, you’ll pay for video views and other video interactions, such as clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, and companion banners.

  • Email-List Remarketing: With Customer Match, upload a list of email addresses that your customers have given you and show them ads as they browse online.

AdWords Customer Match allows you to upload your email list to begin remarketing to them on YouTube, Gmail or the Search Network. This can be extremely valuable to relay promotional offers, new products, and services and increase brand advocacy from your repeat visitors. AdWords even gives you the option to upload a plain text file of email addresses and will hash them using an algorithm for your client’s and user’s security. A great way to use this remarketing type is by segmenting your users by their email address so you can remarket to:

    • Higher Education:
      • Undergraduate students
      • Undergraduate parents
      • Graduate program students
      • Alumni
    • eCommerce
      • Repeat purchasers
      • Users who abandoned checkout
      • Users who have converted
      • Visitors interested in specific products/services

In Conclusion

Remarketing can sound confusing and overwhelming but in reality, some campaigns can be set up and begin running in hours. Whether you are interested in getting your brand name out their, selling more products and seasonally low sales periods, boosting your monthly promotions, enrolling more students or simply educating your visitors, remarketing can be that missing piece of the marketing puzzle. Contact Beacon, to learn how you can get started in remarketing for your website today.

16 08, 2016

How To Convert Standard Text Ads To Expanded Text Ads In Google Adwords

By | 2017-08-15T16:00:58+00:00 August 16th, 2016|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , |

Expanded Text Ads Are Available Now

The way users search for products, brands and services online have changed. Businesses can no longer avoid or ignore the shift to searching on mobile devices. Because of this Google and Google AdWords have rolled out both responsive ads and expanded text ads across their advertising platform. Earlier in 2016, Google changed the way search results display by removing paid ads from the right-hand side of search results pages, which helped pave the way for a better mobile search experience across all devices. The big news for advertisers… You now have 50% more advertising space in your text ads!

Expanded Text Ads Mockup

How To Get Started With Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

 

 

unnamed - Copy

Expanded text ads now feature two headlines at 30 characters each and one 80-character description line that will help advertisers reach a broader audience on mobile and create more room to promote your brand. Expanded text ads have removed the display URL and now use the domain URL from your final URL and give you the option to add keywords in two new optional “path” fields. It is important to transition your ads as quickly as possible because you may have the opportunity for your ads to showcase 50% more text than competitors that haven’t made the switch. Google has provided an Official Guide To Optimizing Expanded Text Ads for those of you that manage your paid ads internally. Agencies like Beacon, have a paid search team to assist you in getting the best bang for your buck so you don’t have to.

Should I Convert To Expanded Text Ads?

According to Google, starting on October 26th, 2016, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads. This means you’ll only be able to create and edit text ads using the expanded text ads format after this date. Existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads. Keeping the old format will mean losing 50% extra advertising space and potentially huge losses to competitors using the format. 

How To Convert Standard Text Ads To The New Expanded Format

Now we come to the tricky part. If you are like me and manage hundreds, if not thousands of ads, converting these ads to a new format manually can take an impossibly long time. If you add up ad creation times for most ads (let’s say 1-2 minutes) multiplied by an account with upward of 100 ads, you are looking at investing 3-4 hours in converting to expanded text ads. If you manage multiple campaigns for multiple accounts, like Beacon does, this conversion time can add up to over 2-3 weeks time easily. Fortunately for you, Beacon has a quick solution.

If you download the most recent version of AdWords Editor that supports expanded text ads, you will be one step closer to expanded ads. Once in AdWords Editor’s Ads panel, select all the standard text ads you would like to convert and right click your selection and select ‘Export as expanded text ads’.

2016-08-15_11-14-37

Once Editor exports the selected ads you will find all of your standard text ads with the updated expanded text ads format in the downloaded .csv file. All you need to do from there is to fill in the two new optional path fields if you choose so and create a new headline #2 to complete the transition.

Expanded Text Ads CSV

Remember that when you import the .csv file back into Editor your headlines, descriptions and paths may exceed the recommended character lengths and you may have some edits to make before all the new ads will be approved.

More Questions?

If you have more questions on how to utilize the new expanded text ads in your AdWords account or need new management of your brand’s campaigns, please contact us today.

1 04, 2016

Microsoft Names Kevin Bacon New CEO

By | 2017-06-16T13:11:32+00:00 April 1st, 2016|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , |

kevin-bacon-ceo

In a momentous move by the search giant, Microsoft has named Kevin Bacon as their new chief executive officer (CEO), succeeding Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer. After increasing pressure from the likes of Google, Yahoo and upstarts AskJeeves, DuckDuckGo and DogPile, Microsoft has made a historic move to land Bacon and push the company to new heights, especially in the search space for its floundering Bing. The move is timely as Microsoft’s largest competitor in search, Google, continuously rolls out new algorithms and experiments to make users’s total search 1-2 clicks away. Currently Bing offers search functionality where users must traverse 1-2 pages, an average of 12 clicks, to find the results they need.

Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates gave insight on why Kevin Bacon makes a logical successor to the Bing throne,

“We have all heard about the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Heck, Kevin is actually only two steps away from Melinda’s best friend and sorority sister at Duke University’s Kappa Alpha Theta. Our hope is that Kevin will personally know what users are searching for in 6 answers or less and cut our current search time for users in half.”

Bacon was interviewed after the announcement as CEO and stated,

“I am excited to start this new chapter in my career. When I was told Bing would need my help immediately, I quickly Googled what Bing was and I am now confident in my task that lies ahead.”

The news out of Redmond, Washington has Silicon Valley buzzing with excitement and intrigue with this unconventional appointment from Microsoft. Alphabet CEO, Larry Page could not be reached for comments but fellow co-founder, Sergey Brin, had this to say,

“I appreciate what the folks at Microsoft are trying to do. Even as a competitor we were all excited to see the next new game-changer over there. We can’t all put out products like the Zune or Windows Vista. But these guys keep on doing it year after year, God help ’em. I personally can’t even type up a memo anymore without help from Clippy or signing off my salutation in Comic Sans.”

It is uncertain, at this point, where Kevin Bacon will lend his expertise after revamping Bing Search. Several insiders have alluded that we may see a bold face-lift of Bing Ads, where Kevin live-chats via video advertisements trying to answer every individual users’ question until he finds an aunt or foster brother he may have ran into at Starbucks. Kevin himself has even hinted that he may bring Internet Explorer and other nostalgic products back to life,

“We all know that Internet Explorer was the number one browser to download other browsers. I want to harness that gift and create a permanent icon on users’ desktops called ‘Get Chrome’ with ads serving on 99% of the page to boost revenue this quarter. Also, let’s bring back HotMail! Everyone knows when you get an email from bacconator@hotmail.com, you mean business.”

*if you made it this far and haven’t looked at the nearest calendar yet, April Fools! This is of course, total non-sense and you should in no way, shape, or form believe anything mentioned above (except that we are all, indeed, 6 degrees away from Kevin Bacon)

1 03, 2016

Google’s New SERP Layout: How It Affects You

By | 2017-07-20T09:10:42+00:00 March 1st, 2016|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , , , |

What Happened With The SERPS?

Starting February 18th, Google issued a worldwide roll-out of a ad placement format: 4 paid ads will now display on top of desktop SERPs (search engine results pages), instead of the usual 3. In addition, they are also removing paid ads on the right-hand side of SERPs with the bottom of the SERPs featuring 3 paid ads. These changes, once fully rolled out, will be active across all languages. This change isn’t completely unexpected as Google has been testing their four-ads format for months now, but we should be seeing the changes take a more permanent effect in the next few weeks. The one constant amid all of these changes are the Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which will remain atop the SERPS or on the now free right-hand side.

How Does The SERP Change Affect Me?

In the industry, speculation abounds as to what effect these changes will have on:

search-cps-after-serp-change

  • Paid Search Cost: One of the main concerns from the change has been how much more expensive will clicks become with fewer ad spaces. Will advertisers with smaller budgets not be able to compete and fade away? SO far, the results don’t show this is the case. According to different early case studies, CPCs haven’t shown any increase and some industry experts argue that the increase in ad inventory at the top of the page will drive down CPCs.

new organic results

  • Organic Visibility: Another cause for concern has been that organic listing #1 is now paid ad #4. This means organic results and organic top-performers have been pushed down the page and lose visibility. Organic real estate has been shrinking for years, thanks to features such as news, images, videos, local/map packs, the Knowledge Graph, new ad formats and features like hotel/flight search. The conclusion is that results have not changed enough to start worrying or make drastic changes but if you have third-party tools or SEO management platforms to monitor position changes, you should make use of them to stay ahead of any new changes.

shopping-ads-ctr-lift

  • Product Listing Ads: One of the biggest gains from the SERP change came in the form of Google Shopping Ads. Product listing ads and the knowledge panel are the only listings that will appear in on the right, beside the top four paid search ads. Early results suggest that the retained position on the right-hand side is helping the PLAs attract a slightly higher CTR as well as a larger share of the paid clicks from the SERP. If you currently have PLAs, take advantage of them by expanding your product groups and enjoy the new exposure until competition creeps in. If you aren’t taking advantage of PLAs and have shopping feeds, work with your developer and/or marketing team to create a Merchant Center account and tap into this prime retail space. 

paid-search-volume-changes-after-serp-change

  • Search Volume: Many marketers have been concerned that fewer ads above the fold and SERPs would translate into decreased impressions and search volume. Although some paid search users have complained of fewer impressions and clicks it seems to be more of an issue of seasonality and normal shopping cycle than the SERP change. For marketers that focus on the spots 3-4, most have been the biggest winners from the SERP change as impressions and clicks went through the roof especially at the 3rd position (some are seeing CTR double or triple). The good news is the right-hand ad positions and bottom of the page ads accounted for less than 15% of click volume before the new changes so the true impact isn’t as great as some marketers will lead you to believe.

In Summary

The SERP change in February 2016 shook up the digital marketing world as do all global changes Google makes with search engine results pages. The biggest winners from the SERP change were most paid search advertisers especially those advertisers in position number 3 followed distantly by those in the brand new position 4. Position 3 advertisers saw click-through rates increase over 20% while position 4 saw increases up to 15% in click-through rate. The biggest losers were advertisers in positions 5-11. Those unfortunate enough to remain in these positions or to be bumped down to positions 5-11 have seen significant loss of impression share and total click volume due to be evicted from the right-hand SERPs.

It is still unknown whether organic results will win or lose as data is inconclusive and more case studies need to be performed. Due to just moving down one more position and possibly moving under the fold, organic listing businesses may see drops in search volume and website sessions. If you are high-ranking in organic currently, look to your digital agency or marketing team to find third-party tools or SEO-management platforms to help monitor position increases and decreases over the next 30 days.

 

24 08, 2015

A Man Wrote Content To Get Clicks…What Google Did Next Will Blow Your Mind

By | 2017-08-08T08:33:00+00:00 August 24th, 2015|Categories: Social Media|Tags: , , , , , |

jordan-blog-click-bait

I’m sure by now most of you have seen, clicked, heard about and even hidden clickbait articles from your social feeds, emails and search results. The prevalence of articles that use emotion, sex, animals, quizzes and worst of all, tragedy, to get clicks has prompted search engines and social networks to crack down and even penalize these content providers.

Find Out Which Historical Figure You Are…

Copywriters have been using catchy headlines or intriguing headline copy to draw in audiences from as early as the 19th century. Not coined ‘click-bait’ in the 1800s, newspapers and editors utilized what was called ‘yellow journalism’ to bait readers into buying papers and increasing circulation. Early clickbait came in the form of cartoons featuring the ‘Yellow Kid’ by Joseph Pulitzer’s, New York World, which was winning the read-bait battle against rival owner, William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal.  What is shocking is that these tycoons are remembered today as pioneers and visionaries for taking part in what was back then, yellow journalism. More recent examples include Vinnie Musetto, a former editor at the New York Post who wrote the famous headline “Headless Body In Topless Bar.” He is affectionately called the godfather of click-bait as old New York Post front pages resembled very closely today’s Buzzfeed or UpWorthy, with catchy and cheeky headlines stacked one on top of another. 

What is scarier still, is that in half a century we may look back in the history books at the creators of UpWorthy or Buzzfeed with admiration and as pioneers in the field of online journalism. Imagine journalism students learning the basic s by using the ‘Distractify Principle’ or the ‘Viralnova Theory’ in future classrooms where the Internet has swelled to an-ever bloated capacity that the need to go viral outweighs the need for truth in journalism. All this to say that clickbait is nothing new, but more annoying and distracting as ever when more and more people use social media and news-aggregator sites to stay informed.

Why Does ClickBait Work? You Gotta See This!

The Oxford English Dictionary defines clickbait: “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.” That definition doesn’t seem harmful or convey the emotion most people experience when they see these headlines. Most of us feel guilty within a fraction of a second of clicking one of these articles in our Facebook feed. We get this dirty feeling that we fell prey to some trap that a caveman should instinctively know to avoid. So why do we keep doing it? Why do we click an article to find out which Disney character defines us based on 10 meaningless questions? Why do we go down a YouTube rabbit hole to watch bloopers for every season of every television program on CBS? Why do I read wiki articles and forum articles on Lord of the Rings (nerd flag rising…) until 1:00 a.m. in the morning so I can better understand the difference between the Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri elves? As my wife would say, “Not to get a girlfriend.”

The reason we all fall prey to suggested YouTube clips, Facebook articles shared by your aunt or quizzes that your annoying co-worker sends you are because of something called the ‘curiosity gap.’ The curiosity gap is the principle that articles, headlines or thumbnails show just enough information to get you interested in taking action, but not enough information to help you fully understand what the piece is about. This is why YouTube creators use thumbnails of attractive women that don’t even make a cameo in the video you just clicked. This is the reason you click on an article to find out “Why You Should Never Shop At Grocery Stores Again” or “These 8 Celebrities Had WHAT Job Before They Got Famous?” instead of spending time with your child who is next to you reading “10 Time Justin Bieber Proved He’s The Real Prince Charming.” The curiosity gap helps to show us how we all are becoming compulsive clickers, clicking from one un-informative article to the next without considering the consequences. In a world of abundant and never-ending information at our fingertips, American’s attention spans have dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in just a decade. With the amount of emails and websites read every day, getting a message through to anyone is becoming an impossible task.

This Paragraph Will Change Your Mind About Click Bait In Just One Sentence

jordan-blog-image-thumb-psd

Clickbait is a great quick-win for traffic but a terrible lose-lose strategy for retaining readers/viewers and staying relevant in a saturated Internet. (This was the sentence I was referencing. Not to say the one immediately following this one isn’t bad, but…yeah) Here is the trouble with clickbait; Print and online media’s job is to express, educate, persuade and entertain. Most articles that fall under the definition of clickbait do not complete the job of any of the aforementioned purposes of the media. Sadly, the most interesting thing about the clickbait article is the headline itself. This is why we are beginning to see a revolt against clickbait. Late last year Facebook began cracking down on clickbait by penalizing content sources that don’t hold readers attention. If a reader clicks on an article and within seconds returns to Facebook, this suggest they didn’t find what they wanted and the article is not useful. Facebook realizes the power it has with brands and brand publishers who strive to have relationships with readers/consumers by posting engaging news, photos and articles that get users to click and stay on their website for a lengthy period of time. These brands spend money with Facebook, they advertise within the NewsFeed and these clickbait sites are clouding the message. This is the reason for the options to now hide “posts like these” or “posts from this page” from your own news feed.

This trend isn’t limited to just Facebook. Google has also joined the queue. Google launched a phantom update earlier this year that largely impacted sites that employ how-to content such as HubPages or Answers.com. Some of these sites saw an almost 25% drop in search traffic in one week. The algorithm isn’t only limited to how-to content. Similar sites with thin content targeted by an earlier Panda update also were targeted. This was true for sites with clickbait articles, an abundance supplementary information, pages of stacked videos, and content that was difficult to navigate. These types of updates from Google will keep coming as well. With more and more clickbait articles showing up in Google News, users are complaining by the thousands and Google is responding in ruthless fashion by penalizing whole sites for thin content on even a small percentage of a site’s pages. This begs the need for better written content Internet-wide and a chance to re-evaluate search engine optimization’s role in getting clicks without the bait.

Improve Your SEO Without Clickbait…In 60 Seconds Or Less

(Unless it takes you longer to read. And in that case this anecdote isn’t helping your case) 

Brands, marketers and small business can all write content that will be read, shared and help improve SEO. Even using catchy headlines that peak interest can be effective. The difference between a catchy headline in a well-written article and a clickbait article is the content itself. Some of the most successful blogs that Beacon writes are purely informational. They provide resources, analysis and engaging content that readers use, share and bookmark so they can come back later and consume more. Clickbait articles make you feel hollow inside and even though they get millions of views, don’t keep users on the site for longer than a minute. The likelihood of someone returning to your site again goes up dramatically when you keep them on your page for over 3 minutes. The other key difference is that when we feel cheated by a thinly-written clickbait article is that we don’t share it with others or start a conversation. Most news organization’s sites most-viewed articles concern hard-hitting content about war, race, politics, religion or social issues that can span 3-4 pages. They don’t make for catchy titles but they start a conversation, and in some cases a revolution.

Google and Bing pay attention to good content. Almost every algorithm in the past two years has been focused on content. The content cannot be thin, misleading or irrelevant enough from your title or you will be penalized. When it comes to writing content for your website, blog or social media, focus on creating content that expresses and idea, that educates the masses, persuades the reader to your side or to your products and entertains with quick-wit, wonderful photos and video content. On social outlets be clear with your hyperlinks where you are sending people, make your titles and descriptions enhance the content and see your engagement soar. Don’t write with the intent on stuffing keywords in every sentence, to copy every page and change content slightly to double your exposure or get into black-hat or grey-hat search engine optimization. Write with the passion a journalist does with engaging and informative headings, meaty paragraphs and visuals that do more to reinforce the text than get a click. The end result of well-written, deeply-researched and engaging content is the start of a relationship with a potential consumer. That consumer now has buy-in and will come back for more, will share content to their friends and followers and help increase traffic the right way…Instead of  making illiteracy seem like a preferred option.

23 02, 2015

How To Create A Custom Google Map With MyMaps

By | 2017-06-16T12:48:32+00:00 February 23rd, 2015|Categories: Digital Marketing|Tags: , , , , |

Often Forgotten, Google MyMaps Makes It Easy To Create & Share Maps Online

Google's New MyMaps

We all know the power behind Google Maps. We know that it is crucial in helping new businesses get found, getting everyday directions to home or work and places in-between. Google Maps can even be leveraged to find your way around a city on your mobile phone whether you are online or offline. I mean you could use another service like Apple Maps or Bing Maps but, for me, that is like saying “I am switching to Zune because I Pods don’t work for me.”  As a big Google reviewer, I also love that I can do a quick search for new places to eat or new shops and get an idea on how the public received it before trying myself.

Why MyMaps?

 

I am going to be completely honest. I had totally forgotten about Google’s MyMaps until recently, which is shocking because I use Maps every day…and they never stopped reminding me of its existence. I also saw great applications that I assumed were done with MyMaps; for corporate sites where they made searching a local area or finding franchises super simple and fun. I have used custom maps with Google before to plan trips to New York or create a shared map for friends who were visiting from out of town for my wedding. But with MyMaps new features I can see myself using these maps more often and in a wider scope.

Google’s MyMaps is now fully-integrated into Google Drive which helps show how they plan  to used their cloud-based service to better connect products and Google users. This helps differentiate their Maps from those like Microsoft’s Office 365 which serve in a more limited business role and not open for all users to take advantage of. They have even created a MyMaps application on Android devices that makes it easy to access, manage and create maps on the fly. The features added to this version of MyMaps are great too. You can:

  • Choose different icons, colors and markers to your map. (Even add your own custom images)
  • Create multiple layers to better organize your places. (One layer for each day of an event, or one layer for friend’s addresses and another for the restaurants you eat at together)
  • You can import and edit your maps in bulk through the use of spreadsheets and data imports.

How Do I Create My First Map?

 

My Maps

Getting started couldn’t be any easier.

1.  Simply go to MyMaps and click ‘create new map’.  2. Once there, you can start by giving your map a title, naming your first layer (similar places you want to keep together) and start searching for the locations you want to add by name and address.

Creating A Custom Google Map

     3.  Once you complete this step you can start customizing your map with icons, descriptions, adding photos to each marker and even adding Youtube videos.

Editing Your Google Map

That is all it takes to create your first custom Google Map. Start creating your own!

What Kind Of Maps Can I Create With MyMaps?

 

Collaborative Event/Club Maps

Most people have friends or colleagues that they meet up with often and go out to eat, get drinks or check out the nightlife in their neighborhood. Others are part of a civic/fun club or organization that plans events or meets at different locations. Helping ease this process is MyMaps. With MyMaps you can add your meeting places, favorite restaurants and bars or even one-time events with locations to a custom map that makes organization simple. Several of my co-workers and I started enjoying breakfast biscuits together recently and I used MyMaps to keep track of the places we try and jot down notes as well. Note that I am able to use custom image markers using a URL upload.

Informative/Educational Maps

To further prove its awesomeness, MyMaps allows anyone to leverage the marking, embedding and editing tools to create rich tapestries of information for educational and informative purposes. You can embed text, charts and even YouTube videos into the map to showcase stats, dates or events that help tell a visual story to your audience. Google already has some great examples of these like the one below that details the Battles of The Revolutionary War. They have a plethora of others too that show you just how far you can take your creations.

Embed Maps Everywhere!

Once you find a map you like or create one that you want to share on your community group or website, Google make sit easy for you to set sharing options (private versus public) and gives you the ability to embed your map anywhere. Doing so is simple. Just make sure your map is set to public and click the menu icon on the left-hand side of your map. Once there, select Embed on My Site and you are good to go!

Embed Google MyMap

Distance/Driving Instructions

One last feature that you can use on your map is sharing or displaying driving directions to different locations on your map. This sounds straightforward and a task most people can already do, but these maps make it even easier to visualize how far your markers are apart and for shared maps, how far the locations are from all connected users.

In Summary

 

To most people, Google MyMaps is nothing new. But, like me, you may have missed out on some great new features you were not aware of or lost sight of how simple and fast it is to create a map that can serve so many purposes. I hope you try out MyMaps for yourself and start exploring, learning and collaborating in your neighborhood.

 

14 05, 2014

Beacon to Participate in 2014 Piedmont Triad Business Showcase

By | 2017-06-16T12:34:16+00:00 May 14th, 2014|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , |

business showcaseThe Beacon Sales Team is excited to take part in this year’s Piedmont Triad Business Showcase. We love showing our support to our home Greensboro area businesses and this year is no exception as we are setup at booths 1403 & 1404 right in the center of the Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center. The crowds at this event are fantastic as it draws over 2,100 attendees and over 140 vendors and exhibitors from every industry.

Please stop by and speak with a member of our sales team, who are committed to answering any question you may have about website design, development, digital marketing, hosting and IT services. We will be there representing both our Beacon Technologies and Beacon IT Services service lines so no matter if you are interested in digital web solutions or managed services we will be able to help.

Piedmont Triad Business Showcase

CEO, Mark Dirks, at last year’s event

We will also be giving away some great prizes during the exhibition hours from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Not only will we be raffling off some great Google giveaways like bags and blankets, but we are also giving one lucky winner a great disaster and backup recovery device and service package, from our partner Datto, for an ENTIRE YEAR!

So, we hope to see you tomorrow and get to know you and your business in the process!

30 04, 2014

Great Google Analytics Dashboard Shortcuts

By | 2017-08-08T08:18:29+00:00 April 30th, 2014|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , , |

If you are like most people who are new to Google Analytics, you have not yet broken the surface of possibilities that Google’s dashboards can provide. Google Analytics can help shine light on your website’s traffic sources, seasonality, Google AdWords spend and revenue, social media impact and user behavior. The most difficult art about Google Analytics can be sifting through the mountains of information and metrics and gleaning important trends and risk factors that help your business adapt and grow.

What Are Google Analytics Dashboards?

solutions-galleryDashboards help give you a high-level overview of your properties by displaying multiple reports as widgets on a single page. With one dashboard, you can monitor many metrics at once (such as traffic sources), so you can quickly check the health of your site’s traffic, popular referral sources, organic traffic growth and user engagement by traffic medium. With another report, you can view the impact of your paid search campaigns by tracking revenue, eCommerce conversion rate, keyword data and spend analysis…all on one page.

Each profile in your Google Analytics account displays a default dashboard that is pre-populated with a few widgets. You can add new widgets to a dashboard by clicking Add to Dashboard at the top of any report, or by clicking +Add Widget from the dashboard menu. Click the gear icon in the top corner of each widget to see these customization options. To view and manage your dashboards, use the Dashboards menu on the left, found under the Home tab.

You can create up to 20 dashboards for each of your profiles, and each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets. Dashboards are available only in the view in which you create them.

But What If You Don’t Know Where To Get Started?

Google has made this process easier through its powerful Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. More proficient Google Analytics know how to effectively create their own custom dashboards, with key metrics and comparison data while newcomers to Analytics don”t know where to get started. The new Solutions Gallery takes custom dashboards created by Google Analytics experts and expert marketers and release them (for FREE) to the masses.

Whenever you find a shared dashboard that you think would be helpful, all you have to do is click on the link while logged in to your Google Analytics account, choose the property you want to add the dashboard to, and you now have a pre-built and powerful dashboard!

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2014-04-30_13-42-55There are 16 different filters that you can apply to the Solutions database so you can easily find the dashboard or bundle that is right for your business. This includes acquisition, conversions, display advertising, organic search, engagement and many more. You even have the ability to find pre-made segments, custom reports and goals to make tracking your success and analyzing your data even easier.

2014-04-30_13-44-52Make sure to look at the reviews from each importable dashboard or bundle to see how successful they have been and use customer satisfaction to drive imports. The gallery will keep track of dashboards you have previously used and imported as well which makes it easier to re-use dashboards that work well for your business or clients.

Save Time With Bundles

A couple of great finds in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery involve bundled sets of dashboards which can be helpful to use right out of the box or customize to your liking. One such great example is the “New Google Analytics Starter Bundle” which incorporates over 20 reports, segments and dashboards that give even new Google Analytics users a leg up on the competition.

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Another great bundle is the “Device Segments” bundle which includes custom advanced segments to see how traffic sources, campaigns and pages perform depending on devices (tablet, mobile, desktop). All of these bundles can be easily by simply searching for “bundle” in the “search for solution” search box.

Customize, Customize, Customize…

The last step to help fully utilize these new dashboards in your account is to customize them so they are right for your business. Some of the dashboard’s widgets may contain dimensions or metrics that don’t apply to your business. If you cannot track revenue in Google Analytics, you can edit the widget or dashboard to focus on tracking conversions such as registrations, signups or contact form submissions.

Customizing each dashboard and segment is super simple.

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From your dashboard, mouse over the “edit” pen in the upper right corner and click to open up the “widget settings” pane where you can customize each widget to only show dimensions and metrics you want to see or care about. The same thing applies for advanced segments.

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Open the Segments drop-down at the top of your analytics window and select one of your imported segments, then click the cog in the upper right, then click edit and voila! You now can customize your custom advanced segments. The same is true for custom reports to help alert you to drops in traffic or revenue or erratic behavior on your site.

In Conclusion

The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery makes diving deeper into Google Analytics easier and more painless. Almost every option of analysis and trending can be found in the gallery and the option to import your own exists if you wish to share your own knowledge and give back. Save time, energy and frustration and make use of this wonderful and free feature today! If you are working on a very complex Google Analytics setup or configuration don’t hesitate to contact Beacon today!

6 06, 2013

Day 2 at IRCE

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:43+00:00 June 6th, 2013|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

IMG_20130605_070249Day 2 at IRCE was extremely busy and full of breakout sessions from notable guests like Al Gore and Beacon clients/partners Bronto & Delta Apparel. The exhibit hall opened at 9:00 a.m. and after a quick breakfast Beacon team members manned the booth and started meeting attendees and giving away prizes. Our team member Annette, was helping out at our partners booth, AspDotNetStorefront, to talk about how Beacon and Aspdotnetstorefront can help businesses succeed through e-commerce.

As the day wore on, we gave away our first set of Google giveaways with some Google backpacks and laptop sleeves. Our last team member arrived in the morning as Brad Henry showed up to talk digital strategy with IRCE attendees. Around lunch time all the exhibitors begin to hit the wall and the food court starts beckoning from afar. But at Beacon, we say “When in Rome…Do As The Romans Do.” So we ordered some wonderful Lou Malnati”s pizza for some excellent local deep dish taste of Chicago. It was huge and wonderful and kept the crew moving all afternoon. Coincidentally, later on that afternoon an attendee from Lou Malnati”s picked up another great Google prize.

Beacon had wonderful opportunities to hang out with some of our wonderful vendors at IRCE. Nextopia members were able to stop by to say hello, along with our wonderful clients Delta Apparel, , Burton & Burton and Annette was holding down the Aspdotnetstorefront booth most the day. Our Sales Director, Rick Boccard, had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a breakout session by Delta Apparel and Bronto that helped give insights into holiday email marketing for eCommerce.

As the day winded down, Beacon was able to award our grand prize of the day, a brand new JAMBOX to our lucky winner, Tabi. After the social hours at the end of the day the Beacon team headed back to the hotel and down to dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant just a short walk away that helped cap off a wonderful day at IRCE. Thursday is the last day of IRCE for us before we head back home to Greensboro.

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