The 11 Best Marketing Strategies We Tried This Year
I’ve tried hard to implement a bold and experimental culture when it comes to marketing at Mailshake. I don’t see failure as a bad thing; it’s fear of venturing into the unknown that I want to discourage.

Basically, my philosophy is this: Try it. If it doesn’t work, change your approach or do something different. Fail fast.

We tried a lot of different marketing tactics in 2018. Most failed, a few worked well, and a few more were home runs.

That's usually the reality of marketing. It’s also why I decided I needed to branch out and ask some of the best marketers I know to share some of their home runs in 2018.

Here’s the advice they gave me. I’m sharing it here so that you can implement these tactics for yourself in 2019.

1. Building relationships with tools in our space

Content is synonymous with digital marketing, to the point that nearly everyone is investing in it to some extent. This means standing out and getting results from content has never been harder. You need creativity, skill, and, perhaps most importantly, strategy. I learned this firsthand at Mailshake:

At the beginning of the year, we didn’t have a lot of traction in our marketing efforts, specifically around content marketing. Rather than fight that uphill battle alone, the first thing we did was make a list of all the tools in our space (SaaS for salespeople), organize them by categories (CRMs, proposal software, prospecting, etc.), and write an article featuring them. This gave us an excuse to reach out with some flattery and with a link to their site, which opened the door to other co-marketing opportunities, like guest posting, webinars, and even product partnerships. It really became the bedrock of our marketing efforts in 2018 and was a good reminder that marketing is all about relationships, both with your customers and with other marketers in your space.

You can implement something similar by strategizing and utilizing your content on multiple levels. Don’t just write an article targeting one head term and hit “publish.”

Decide who will read and benefit from the content. Include influencers, and leverage them to help distribute your content, build relationships, and open doors to other marketing opportunities.

2. Updating old content

It’s harder than ever to stand out from the competition when it comes to content, but that doesn’t mean we always have to keep...
Brick by Brick: Building a Google Ads Strategy for Construction Clients
Lorraine Cline is no stranger to hard work. Lorraine is the proud founder of Cline Design, LLC, a 30-year old advertising, marketing, and creative agency which specializes in website design, content creation, SEO, paid search, and social media services. The New Hampshire-based agency delivers strategic marketing plans to midsized commercial construction companies.

Lorraine has a long list of marketing accomplishments under her belt, including an award-winning marketing service newsletter, as well as being recognized as a national speaker on inbound marketing and social media. She is keenly aware that digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape that the modern-day marketer needs to keep up with in order to be successful.

When Lorraine noticed that a Yellow Pages campaign for one of her larger clients was not panning out as planned, she knew they needed to shift directions.

“Most of the leads coming in were for services my client didn’t provide,” says Lorraine. “It’s bad enough when you are paying to deliver unqualified leads, but my client’s time was wasted answering calls and talking to people who would never buy from him.” Upon reviewing these results, Lorraine knew they needed to adjust their paid advertising strategy, and that Yellow Pages was no longer the answer. She started to learn more about Google Ads and became familiar with WordStream’s blog.

Cline Design’s JumpStart

At HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing conference, she stumbled upon the WordStream booth, where she learned about the JumpStart Program.

WordStream’s JumpStart Program allowed Lorraine to work closely with one of WordStream’s experienced customer success representatives to build out her client’s Google Ads campaign from scratch, using the WordStream Advisor platform. Lorraine couldn’t be happier with the results.

“Since we began using WordStream, not only are we delivering more leads, we are delivering higher-quality leads,” says Lorraine. “My client is much happier and has even added more budget to the program.”

Here are the four key ways that WordStream’s JumpStart Program helped Cline Design nail Google Ads for its client.

#1: Get Up and Running with Google Ads FAST

Google Ads is not an easy platform to get up and running quickly. Not only is the learning curve extremely steep, but when working with clients’ budgets, the risk of not seeing a...
The 9 Biggest Online Advertising Stories of 2018
It’s that time of year again! Ugly sweaters abound. The eggnog is flowin’. That cousin you marginally know who lives in the woods and calls himself Wild Mike wants to talk about his hemi F-250. What are you going to do?

Slip off into the other room, curl up by fire, and reflect on the nine biggest online advertising stories of the year.

2018 was one hell of a ride. From major re-brands to data scandals to targeting cutbacks—let’s dig into the headlines that made waves this year.

1. Exact Match Gets Less Exact (Again).

In the good old days of AdWords lore, exact match was just that—it was exact. If you bid on exact match keywords, your ads would only deliver when prospects searched for those exact keywords. But Google has changed the definition of exact match in recent years to include misspellings, plurals, prepositions, conjunctions, and even out-of-order phrases. This year, Google announced that, yet again, exact match keywords would match to even more keyword variants. These could include synonyms, paraphrases, and any results that share implied intent. So, for example, if you’re bidding on the exact match keyword [yosemite camping], the queries yosemite national park ca camping, yosemite campground, and campsites in yosemite will also now trigger your ads.

Not ideal, right? Actually, not as bad as you might think!

WordStream clients saw an increase in click-through rates and conversion rates at a lower cost-per-click after the exact match changes took place. Something to keep an eye on in your own account!

2. Google AdWords Rebrands to Google Ads

Far and away the biggest news to online advertisers this year (and to SEOs generating organic traffic from AdWords-related keywords) was Google’s grand rebrand of Google AdWords to Google Ads.

The new Google Marketing Platform, Google Ads, and Google Ad Manager.

The change was more than an aesthetic one, though. Per Google, Google Ads “represents the full range of advertising capabilities [Google] offers today… to help marketers connect with the billions of people finding answers on Search, watching videos on YouTube, exploring new places on Google Maps, discovering apps on Google Play, browsing content across the web, and more.” And indeed, “Google Ads” better befits that extensive suite of advertising networks than the search-synonymous “AdWords.”

Our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2018
The time has come, friends: 2018 is drawing to a close. Maybe you feel like it flew by. Maybe you feel like it dragged on forever.

Either way, you’re wrong. As is the case with nearly every calendar year, 2018 was, in fact, 365 days long. Our planet went around the sun exactly once. Isn’t that right, Copernicus?


Regardless of how long or short this year felt to you, we can all agree on one thing: a lot went down in the online advertising space. Whether you specialize in paid search, paid social, SEO, or all of the above, there has been no shortage of trends, changes, and innovations to keep track of.

And that’s why we do our annual wrap-up: to give you a quick recap of the most important lessons you can bring with you into the new year.

Let’s get started!

1. 33 Instagram Captions That Will Break Your Like-Ometer

You’ll often hear people refer to Instagram as a visual platform—a place to escape the wordiness of Facebook and Twitter.

And that’s largely true. But, as Gordon points out in this post, the caption beneath (or to the right of) your photo can make a huge difference in terms of post performance. It’s with words that savvy Instagram users drive their engagement numbers through the roof.

In this post, Gordon walks you through four categories of Instagram captions—self-deprecating, “imagine what they would say,” wordplay, and “call out a friend”—and provides over 30 examples of posts that execute them perfectly.

Implement these strategies, and you’ll give your Instagram account the boost it needs to reach new audiences and grow your brand.

2. The 7 Best Free Social Media Management Tools in 2018

When you’re tasked with managing and optimizing several social media accounts, stress is pretty much guaranteed.

You have to keep track of different usernames and passwords. You have to create and keep up with various posting schedules. You have to assess the performance of each individual account over time.

Enter social media management tools. Although each platform is unique, the core selling point remains the same: spend less time managing your accounts and drive better results.

Take Hootsuite, for example. Within a single, easy-to-use platform, you can do the following for free: manage three social accounts in one spot, schedule up to 30 posts in advance, and leverage contest to drive quality leads....
The Top 10 Google Ads Innovations of 2018
As you know, one year is like a century in the world of Google advertising. There are many innovations, experiments, and new trends constantly developing to advance the way we target, reach, and speak to end users. This year was a big one. Google rebranded their advertising, changing AdWords to Google Ads, but that wasn’t all. Throughout the year, there were so many innovative changes to the ad platform and formats.

As 2019 nears, I want to highlight the top 10 most significant changes to Google Ads this year.

1. Video shopping ads

Earlier this fall, Google rolled out a different way for brand marketers to utilize shopping ads to further engage users. Instead of just serving image ads, there is now a video format that displays ads in the top featured image position. Clicking into the ad allows the user to watch the video in full, giving advertisers the opportunity to illustrate their offering in more depth.

2. TrueView For Reach

Back in April, YouTube launched a new way for advertisers to purchase skippable TrueView ads. Before this launch, advertisers had to pay on a cost-per-view (CPV) basis for users that watched 30 seconds or more of the TrueView ad. Now, advertisers are empowered to pay through a CPM method, or cost per thousand views. This is a great innovation for businesses focused on brand awareness rather than engagement. Six-second ads? I want more of those!

3. Smart Goals

This summer, Google introduced a new way to leverage machine learning for advertisers to quickly identify which site visits are likely to convert and help campaign priorities to reflect this. Some of these goals include Location, Device and Browser, Pages Per Session, and Session Duration. This is a great option for larger advertisers that do not currently have conversion tracking, as this new method of optimization brings more automation to help measure value. After all, this strategy is, well, smart!

4. Ad Position Metrics Beyond “Average Position”

Previously, advertisers could only see average position as a metric to understand the order their ad appears in the ad auction compared to the other ads. A misconception of this metric was to think that seeing “1” for average position meant that you showed up in the top spot. Having a “1” average position could still mean that you are showing up at the bottom of the page, because...
The Pros & Cons of Every Automated Bidding Strategy in Google

This is the third and last post in our series about automating Google Ads. We’ve covered automated rules and keywords and ads, and today we’ll be closing out with automated bidding strategies.

“Should I automate my Google Ads bidding?” – Just about everyone who has a Google Ads account.

Automated bidding is a hot topic in our industry. There are always articles talking about the need to use automated bidding, quickly answered by posts warning you should never automate your bidding.

When it comes down to it, the real answer isn’t so simple: it depends.

There are a variety of automated bidding options in Google Ads. Some may be great for your account, but others might be terrible. You might find you have a use for every bidding strategy somewhere in your account, or you might not be able to use any. Until you understand how each bidding strategy works, this is impossible to determine.

In this guide to automating your bidding strategy, I’ll walk through each of the options available to you, and I’ll point out what you need to watch out for with automation.

Let’s start off where every new account starts: manual bidding. 

Manual Bidding

Manual bidding is the easiest bid strategy to grasp on the Google Ads platform. Advertisers set their bids manually at the keyword level, and the bids stay where they are until the advertiser changes them.

Despite the friendly warning from Google, this is the best place to start for folks starting out in PPC or using their spare time to manage their account but has its drawbacks.

Cautions for Manual Bidding

First, it can take precious time away from other tasks. When it comes down to it, manual bidding still requires a time investment to look at performance, judge if the keyword bid needs to change, decide what that change needs to be and then actually making that change.

Second, manual bidding can be underinformed. When advertisers review performance metrics, we’re at the whim of the metrics Google allows us to see for our campaigns.

With automated bidding strategies, Google is able to take data points into account that we don’t even know exist.

These two downsides don’t mean all automation is good and that manual bidding isn’t the right solution for you. But these are something to consider when determining bid strategies.

If you’re interested in moving away from manual bidding to...
How to Get High-Quality B2B Leads with Facebook Ads
Allen Finn already wrote the definitive piece for WordStream on why Facebook ads can be great for B2B.

But at the time I write this, only 39% of marketers say they've even tried using Facebook ads to create conversations with B2B prospects, according to Zoominfo.

If Finn's piece wasn't enough to convince you, I’m going to share my own experience about why I think it’s insane that Facebook is so underrated for B2B, and I’ll tell you three ways to generate high-quality B2B leads.

The Case for B2B Facebook Ads

According to Marketing Charts' summary of a Hubspot report, the average cost-per-B2B-lead for agencies in 2017, from all channels, was $172.72.

By contrast, when we run Facebook campaigns for our agency clients, it's not unusual to see it as low as $50. In fact, here's a screenshot from a real campaign we're running for an agency client.

(And, as I’ll explain below, we’re excluding a lot of the cheaper leads because we focus on quality.)

What's more, the average cost per click on LinkedIn, the most popular social channel for B2B (the source of over 80% of B2B leads) was $6.50 in 2017. On Facebook, those same clicks are available for $1-$2.

So it's clear there's a gap between Facebook's utility as a source of bargain B2B leads and how business owners and marketers perceive the platform.

Facebook's reputation as a recreational network – in contrast to LinkedIn’s as a place where "serious business people" congregate – is doubtless responsible for some of the misunderstanding.

But I've also spoken to plenty of small businesses who have tried Facebook, and many believe it simply doesn't work.

"We can drive clicks all day," they'll tell me, "but we never close any of them. They'll almost all unqualified."

One business owner I spoke to had gotten more than 50 leads in the last month, and only one was qualified.

Again, that contrasts with the results we've seen firsthand. For instance, here are some stats for a client campaign from the last ten days: 18 leads* for a total of $691.73 in ad spend. After an audit, we determined that seven of them appeared “qualified” (full-time entrepreneurs, legitimate websites).

That's just under $100 per qualified lead.

All of which begs the question: if many business owners and marketers are only generating unqualified leads, what are the successful marketers doing differently...
3 Shockingly Common Google Ads Account Issues
As a digital marketing specialist here at WordStream, I spend a large portion of my day auditing Google Ads accounts. Luckily, I enjoy doing it because it gives me the opportunity to help people who are passionate about their businesses see better performance out of their marketing.

While every audit is (and should be) unique, I’ve noticed a number of issues that seem to come up in the majority of underperforming accounts. Nine times out of ten these issues arise simply because people are so busy with other responsibilities that they don’t have time to work on them. However, if you know what to look for, it’s easy to identify these areas of opportunity and take advantage of them.

To help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your Google Ads account, I’m sharing three of the most common issues I see when auditing a Google Ads account – and I’m going to tell you how you can fix them.

Issue #1: Not Turning Good Search Terms into Keywords

Keywords are the heart and soul of Google Ads: they determine what searches your ads are showing up for, which determines who is seeing your ads.

One of the most important things to understand in PPC is the relationship between keywords and search terms: people type in search terms, which match to keywords, which show your ads. However, it’s really important to remember that your keyword and the search term it’s showing up for are not always the same. In fact, depending on the match type you’re using, the majority of the searches your ads show for will be similar to, but not the same as, the keywords you typed in.

The good news is that these searches that we’re matching into provide us with a massive collection of new potential keywords. By going through the searches that your ads are showing up for, either in the Google Ads Editor or by using a tool like WordStream’s QueryStream, you can see exactly what people are searching for and use that as the basis for new keywords.

These search terms are much longer than the keywords that this person is currently bidding on and would work great as keywords.

Why is this helpful? Well, you have to remember that Google Ads is an auction. The shorter the keyword phrase, the more people are bidding on it. If your audience is searching for something more specific than you’re bidding on, it means there’s a much less competitive auction where you could be winning...
WordStream Employee Spotlight: Patrick Henry Carrera
WordStream has some impressive employees in our ranks: from industry influencers to marathon runners, from analysts to authors. The Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the talented individuals who work here. Each month, we’ll be featuring an interview here on the blog and on our social accounts.

For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we talked with Patrick Henry Carrera. As the marketing analyst here at WordStream, Patrick Henry tracks our metrics daily and helps provide the data processing power behind projects, like the Google Ads Mobile Benchmarks.

Originally from the Boston area, Patrick Henry graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce in marketing. He joined WordStream about a year ago, bringing his data analysis expertise, his enduring loyalty to David’s Tea, and his unparalleled sneaker game.

How did you hear about WordStream? Why did you want to work here?

I hadn’t heard anything about WordStream before applying, but I saw this job posting and it seemed perfect. Then I visited the offices and heard so much about the business. I thought the industry was really cool and I thought what WordStream was doing was great. The size of the company, the culture, and everything, it seemed like kind of a great place to work. The interview was nice. I loved all the people I interviewed with. We talked for a long time, and recently Laura has said to me, “You know, you said some weird things in your interviews.” I don't remember all of it exactly, but I kept telling everyone I wanted to have a dog the same size as me. I forgot I told everyone that in the interview. They asked me to share a personal dream. That is my personal dream.

What's your favorite project that you've worked on here at WordStream?

My favorite project was redoing the website reporting. When I first came here, it was a document and a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was filled with individual rows of data, and the document was just a written response to the individual rows. It was very old fashioned, but I had a lot of freedom in improving it. I really liked expanding it and creating a more automated online system full of visualizations that are interactive and looked into more of the data at our disposal.

Everyone told me to try what I thought was best -- they said they’d tell me if they didn’t like it but to try. And that was really great. I remember at...

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15 Jan 2019