The 13 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2018

The 13 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2018

Podcast statistics unveil a lot of truths about modern consumer behavior and the rise of audio as a content marketing avenue.

My friends at Edison Research have released their 2018 podcast statistics as part of their annual Infinite Dial study, conducted with Triton Digital. (Download The Infinite Dial 2018 report here—it’s worth your time, and it also chronicles the first-ever drop in social media usage in America.)

Edison uncovered several new trends and multiple continuations of podcast patterns that first started to appear in 2015. To see how podcast statistics have changed, visit my prior recaps:

2016 podcast statistics     2017 podcast statistics

2018 social media trendsThis year, I’ve pulled out 13 of the most interesting facts about podcasting from The Infinite Dial research. You’ll find even more in the full report.

This research was conducted of Americans, ages 12 and up, and was balanced to be a representative sample of age, gender, location, and ethnicity.

64 Percent of Americans Have Heard of Podcasts

If you’re a podcaster, this number may actually seem small to you. But, compared to 2017, millions more Americans are now familiar with podcasting. And more Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President is.

{new research} More Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President is.
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44 Percent of Americans Have Ever Listened to a Podcast

That’s 124 million people overall, and up 12 million in just one year. For reference, 124 million people is approximately the combined population of New Zealand, Ireland, Costa Rica, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Australia, Hungary, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Chile, and Hong Kong. That’s a lot of podcast listeners!

{new research} 12 million people listened to a podcast for the first time in the last year.
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26 Percent of Americans Listen to Podcasts Monthly

That’s up from 24 percent in 2017, and represents 73 million people. For context, 21 percent of Americans are Catholic. Thus, podcasts are more popular than Catholicism, in some respects.

{new research} 26% of Americans listen to podcasts each month. 21% of Americans are Catholic.
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One-Third of Americans Ages 25 to 54 Listen to Podcasts Monthly

32 percent of Americans in this age range listen at least monthly, slightly more than Americans 12–24 (30 percent), and quite a bit more than older Americans. Among people in the United States aged 55 and over, just 13 percent listen monthly. There’s still a lot of growth potential within this older segment.

{new research} One-third of Americans 25–54 listen to podcasts at least monthly.
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Podcast Listening Among American Women Jumped 14 Percent in One Year

Between 2017 and 2018, monthly podcast listenership among male Americans stayed flat, at 27 percent. The growth in podcasts in the USA is coming from females, showing an increase from 21 percent to 24 percent in monthly listenership. This is a 14 percent bump in one year.

2018 monthly podcast listening by gender

{new research} Monthly podcast listening among American women jumped 14% in one year.
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In 2018, Six Million More Americans Listen to Podcasts Weekly versus 2017

This is 48 million people total, and up six million from 2017. By any measure, it’s a lot of listeners. By way of comparison, approximately 20 million people watch NFL Sunday Night Football, routinely the highest-rated television program.

{new research} More than twice as many Americans listen to podcasts weekly vs. watching Sunday Night Football.
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Podcast Fans Listen to 40 Percent More Shows Than Last Year

In the 2017 version of The Infinite Dial report, Edison Research found that podcast listeners consumed an average of five different podcasts each week. In 2018, podcast listeners have increased their listening by 40 percent, as weekly podcast fans now listen to an average of seven shows.

{new research} Podcast fans listen to an average of 7 shows per week (up 40% from 2017)
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Listeners Are Slightly Less Loyal on a Per-Episode Basis

Last year, 85 percent of podcast listeners said they consumed “all” or “most” of each episode they downloaded. This year, that rate diminished to 80 percent. This is perhaps not a surprise, given the increase in number of shows listened to (from five to seven). Podcast fans are downloading more episodes, but listening to slightly less of each episode.

{new research} 80% of podcast listeners hear all or most of each episode they consume.
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23 Percent of Americans Have Listened to Podcasts in the Car

This is certainly how I listen to podcasts personally, and the number of Americans who do so moved from 19 percent to 23 percent in just one year. This is powered partially by the increase in mobile listening (see below) and a corresponding boost in the number of new vehicles that have streaming audio and podcasting integration included.

{new research} 23% of Americans have listened to podcasts in the car.
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49 Percent of Podcasts Are Listened to at Home

This statistic is similar to last year and continues to baffle people (like me) who habitually listen to podcasts in a vehicle.

{new research} 49% of podcasts are listened to at home.
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18 Percent of Americans Now Own Smart Speakers

Smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are skyrocketing in popularity and are being adopted even faster than smartphones were a few years ago. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of Americans owning at least one of these devices soared from seven percent to 18 percent.

This means that 51 million Americans now own a smart speaker, possibly contributing to the steadiness in podcast listening at home, given that these devices can play your favorite podcasts with a simple, verbal request.

{new research} Smart speaker (Alexa, et al.) ownership in America grew 157% in one year(!)
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33 Percent of Smart Speaker Owners Have More Than One Device

After I bought my first Amazon Alexa, I couldn’t figure out why you would need more than one. I now own three and am getting ready to buy another one. Once you start to get a feel for the tremendous number of potential uses for these devices, you find reasons to buy more, especially because the “mini” units are inexpensive.

{new research} 33% of American smart speaker (Alexa, et al.) owners have more than one device in their home.
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69 Percent of Podcasts Are Consumed on a Mobile Device

The ratio of podcast listening on a phone or tablet to podcast listening on a laptop continues to tilt toward mobility. In 2018, 69 percent of Americans who listen to podcasts primarily do so via mobile. In 2015, it was just 55 percent.

{new research} 69% of Americans podcast listeners primarily listen on a mobile device.
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There are your 13 critical podcast statistics for 2018. Definitely download the entire report.

Also, a reminder that I co-host the popular weekly Social Pros podcast, which covers how medium and large businesses handle social media marketing. Convince & Convert also produces The Content Experience podcast, which covers advanced content marketing strategies. And we produce The Experience This! Show, a chronicle of great case studies in customer service and customer experience.


How to Improve Online Sales with Social Media Content

How to Improve Online Sales with Social Media Content

Who doesn’t want to increase sales?

To increase sales most people tend to look at conversion optimization techniques. However, the idea of using social media content to engage with customers and drive sales is often overlooked.

In this post, we discover how to improve online sales with social media content. We also look at how we can streamline the buying process for your customers on platforms that they enjoy using to engage with others in a social environment.

How to Use a Facebook Messenger Bot for Lead Scoring Prospects

Are you using Facebook Messenger bots in your marketing? Wondering how scoring leads can help you deliver more effective messaging to your subscribers? In this article, you’ll learn how to add an automatic lead score system to your Facebook Messenger bot. What Is a Lead Score? Messenger bots are a great tool to capture new

This post How to Use a Facebook Messenger Bot for Lead Scoring Prospects first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Boost Bookings & Conversions with Google Posts: An Interview with Joel Headley

Posted by MiriamEllis

Have you been exploring all the ways you might use Google Posts to set and meet brand goals?

Chances are good you’ve heard of Google Posts by now: the micro-blogging Google My Business dashboard feature which instantly populates content to your Knowledge Panel and individual listing. We’re still only months into the release of this fascinating capability, use of which is theorized as having a potential impact on local pack rankings. When I recently listened to Joel Headley describing his incredibly creative use of Google Posts to increase healthcare provider bookings, it’s something I was excited to share with the Moz community here.

Joel Headley

Joel Headley worked for over a decade on local and web search at Google. He’s now the Director of Local SEO and Marketing at healthcare practice growth platform PatientPop. He’s graciously agreed to chat with me about how his company increased appointment bookings by about 11% for thousands of customer listings via Google Posts.

How PatientPop used Google Posts to increase bookings by 11%

Miriam: So, Joel, Google offers a formal booking feature within their own product, but it isn’t always easy to participate in that program, and it keeps users within “Google’s walled garden” instead of guiding them to brand-controlled assets. As I recently learned, PatientPop innovated almost instantly when Google Posts was rolled out in 2017. Can you summarize for me what your company put together for your customers as a booking vehicle that didn’t depend on Google’s booking program?

Joel: PatientPop wants to provide patients an opportunity to make appointments directly with their healthcare provider. In that way, we’re a white label service. Google has had a handful of booking products. In a prior iteration, there was a simpler product that was powered by schema and microforms, which could have scaled to anyone willing to add the schema.

Today, they are putting their effort behind Reserve with Google, which requires a much deeper API integration. While PatientPop would be happy to provide more services on Google, Reserve with Google doesn’t yet allow most of our customers, according to their own policies. (However, the reservation service is marketed through Google My Business to those categories, which is a bit confusing.)

Additionally, when you open the booking widget, you see two logos: G Pay and the booking software provider. I’d love to see a product that allows the healthcare provider to be front and center in the entire process. A patient-doctor relationship is personal, and we’d like to emphasize you’re booking your doctor, not PatientPop.

Because we can’t get the CTAs unique to Reserve with Google, we realized that Google Posts can be a great vehicle for us to essentially get the same result.

When Google Posts first launched, I tested a handful of practices. The interaction rate was low compared to other elements in the Google listing. But, given there was incremental gain in traffic, it seemed worthwhile, if we could scale the product. It seemed like a handy way to provide scheduling with Google without having to go through the hoops of the Maps Booking (reserve with) API.

Miriam: Makes sense! Now, I’ve created a fictitious example of what it looks like to use Google Posts to prompt bookings, following your recommendations to use a simple color as the image background and to make the image text quite visible. Does this look similar to what PatientPop is doing for its customers and can you provide recommendations for the image size and font size you’ve seen work best?

Joel: Yes, that’s pretty similar to the types of Posts we’re submitting to our customer listings. I tested a handful of image types, ones with providers, some with no text, and the less busy image with actionable text is what performed the best. I noticed that making the image look more like a button, with button-like text, improved click-through rates too — CTR doubled compared to images with no text.

The image size we use is 750×750 with 48-point font size. If one uses the API, the image must be square cropped when creating the post. Otherwise, Posts using the Google My Business interface will give you an option to crop. The only issue I have with the published version of the image: the cropping is uneven — sometimes it is center-cropped, but other times, the bottom is cut off. That makes it hard to predict when on-image text will appear. But we keep it in the center which generally works pretty well.

Miriam: And, when clicked on, the Google Post takes the user to the client’s own website, where PatientPop software is being used to manage appointments — is that right?

Joel: Yes, the site is built by PatientPop. When selecting Book, the patient is taken directly to the provider’s site where the booking widget is opened and an appointment can be selected from a calendar. These appointments can be synced back to the practice’s electronic records system.

Miriam: Very tidy! As I understand it, PatientPop manages thousands of client listings, necessitating the need to automate this use of Google Posts. Without giving any secrets away, can you share a link to the API you used and explain how you templatized the process of creating Posts at scale?

Joel: Sure! We were waiting for Google to provide Posts via the Google My Business API, because we wanted to scale. While I had a bit of a heads-up that the API was coming — Google shared this feature with their GMB Top Contributor group — we still had to wait for it to launch to see the documentation and try it out. So, when the launch announcement went out on October 11, with just a few developers, we were able to implement the solution for all of our practices the next evening. It was a fun, quick win for us, though it was a bit of a long day. 🙂

In order to get something out that quickly, we created templates that could use information from the listing itself like the business name, category, and location. That way, we were able to create a stand-alone Python script that grabbed listings from Google. When getting the listings, all the listing content comes along with it, including name, address, and category. These values are taken directly from the listing to create Posts and then are submitted to Google. We host the images on AWS and reuse them by submitting the image URL with the post. It’s a Python script which runs as a cron job on a regular schedule. If you’re new to the API, the real tricky part is authentication, but the GMB community can help answer questions there.

Miriam: Really admirable implementation! One question: Google Posts expire after 7 days unless they are events, so are you basically automating re-posting of the booking feature for each listing every seven days?

Joel: We create Posts every seven days for all our practices. That way, we can mix up the content and images used on any given practice. We’re also adding a second weekly post for practices that offer aesthetic services. We’ll be launching more Posts for specific practice types going forward, too.

Miriam: Now for the most exciting part, Joel! What can you tell me about the increase in appointments this use of Google Posts has delivered for your customers? And, can you also please explain what parameters and products you are using to track this growth?

Joel: To track clicks from listings on Google, we use UTM parameters. We can then track the authority page, the services (menu) URL, the appointment URL, and the Posts URL.

When I first did this analysis, I looked at the average of the last three weeks of appointments compared to the 4 days after launch. Over that period, I saw nearly an 8% increase in online bookings. I’ve since included the entire first week of launch. It shows an 11% average increase in online bookings.

Additionally, because we’re tracking each URL in the knowledge panel separately, I can confidently say there’s no cannibalization of clicks from other URLs as a result of adding Posts. While authority page CTR remained steady, services lost over 10% of the clicks and appointment URLs gained 10%. That indicates to me that not only are the Posts effective in driving appointments through the Posts CTA, it emphasizes the existing appointment CTA too. This was in the context of no additional product changes on our side.

Miriam: Right, so, some of our readers will be using Google’s Local Business URLs (frequently used for linking to menus) to add an “Appointments” link. One of the most exciting takeaways from your implementation is that using Google Posts to support bookings didn’t steal attention away from the appointment link, which appears higher up in the Knowledge Panel. Can you explain why you feel the Google Posts clicks have been additive instead of subtractive?

Joel: The “make appointment” link gets a higher CTR than Posts, so it shouldn’t be ignored. However, since
Posts include an image, I suspect it might be attracting a different kind of user, which is more primed to interact with images. And because we’re so specific on the type of interaction we want (appointment booking), both with the CTA and the image, it seems to convert well. And, as I stated above, it seems to help the appointment URLs too.

Miriam: I was honestly so impressed with your creativity in this, Joel. It’s just brilliant to look at something as simple as this little bit of Google screen real estate and ask, “Now, how could I use this to maximum effect?” Google Posts enables business owners to include links labeled Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More, Sign Up, and Get Offer. The “Book” feature is obviously an ideal match for your company’s health care provider clients, but given your obvious talent for thinking outside the box, would you have any creative suggestions for other types of business models using the other pre-set link options?

Joel: I’m really excited about the events feature, actually. Because you can create a long-lived post while adding a sense of urgency by leveraging a time-bound context. Events can include limited-time offers, like a sale on a particular product, or signups for a newsletter that will include a coupon code. You can use all the link labels you’ve listed above for any given event. And, I think using the image-as-button philosophy can really drive results. I’d like to see an image with text Use coupon code XYZ546 now! with the Get Offer button. I imagine many business types, especially retail, can highlight their limited time deals without paying other companies to advertise your coupons and deals via Posts.

Miriam: Agreed, Joel, there are some really exciting opportunities for creative use here. Thank you so much for the inspiring knowledge you’ve shared with our community today!

Ready to get the most from Google Posts?

Reviews can be a challenge to manage. Google Q&A may be a mixed blessing. But as far as I can see, Posts are an unalloyed gift from Google. Here’s all you have to do to get started using them right now for a single location of your business:

  • Log into your Google My Business dashboard and click the “Posts” tab in the left menu.
  • Determine which of the options, labeled “Buttons,” is the right fit for your business. It could be “Book,” or it could be something else, like “Sign up” or “Buy.” Click the “Add a Button” option in the Google Posts wizard. Be sure the URL you enter includes a UTM parameter for tracking purposes.
  • Upload a 750×750 image. Joel recommends using a simple-colored background and highly visible 42-point font size for turning this image into a CTA button-style graphic. You may need to experiment with cropping the image.
  • Alternatively, you can create an event, which will cause your post to stay live through the date of the event.
  • Text has a minimum 100-character and maximum 300-character limit. I recommend writing something that would entice users to click to get beyond the cut-off point, especially because it appears to me that there are different display lengths on different devices. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that Google Posts are indexed content. Initial testing is revealing that simply utilizing Posts may improve local pack rankings, but there is also an interesting hypothesis that they are a candidate for long-tail keyword optimization experiments. According to Mike Blumenthal:

“…If there are very long-tail phrases, where the ability to increase relevance isn’t up against so many headwinds, then this is a signal that Google might recognize and help lift the boat for that long-tail phrase. My experience with it was it didn’t work well on head phrases, and it may require some amount of interaction for it to really work well. In other words, I’m not sure just the phrase itself but the phrase with click-throughs on the Posts might be the actual trigger to this. It’s not totally clear yet.”

  • You can preview your post before you hit the publish button.
  • Your post will stay live for 7 days. After that, it will be time to post a new one.
  • If you need to implement at scale across multiple listings, re-read Joel’s description of the API and programming PatientPop is utilizing. It will take some doing, but an 11% increase in appointments may well make it worth the investment! And obviously, if you happen to be marketing health care providers, checking out PatientPop’s ready-made solution would be smart.

Nobody likes a ball-hog

I’m watching the development of Google Posts with rapt interest. Right now, they reside on Knowledge Panels and listings, but given that they are indexed, it’s not impossible that they could eventually end up in the organic SERPs. Whether or not that ever happens, what we have right now in this feature is something that offers instant publication to the consumer public in return for very modest effort.

Perhaps even more importantly, Posts offer a way to bring users from Google to your own website, where you have full control of messaging. That single accomplishment is becoming increasingly difficult as rich-feature SERPs (and even single results) keep searchers Google-bound. I wonder if school kids still shout “ball-hog” when a classmate refuses to relinquish ball control and be a team player. For now, for local businesses, Google Posts could be a precious chance for your brand to handle the ball.

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What Are the Most Effective SEO Tactics for 2018?

What Are the Most Effective SEO Tactics for 2018

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving how specific web pages rank in a search engine’s unpaid results. But what tactics are companies using to achieve their important SEO objectives?

To find out, Ascend2 fielded the Search Engine Optimization Survey, and a total of 279 marketing professionals participated. The results of the survey are available free of charge in the Search Engine Optimization Tactics Survey Summary Report. Here are a few noteworthy findings from the survey that will help you this year.

1. Most Effective SEO Tactics

There are many tactics used to achieve important SEO objectives effectively. For a 57 percent majority of marketing professionals, on-page content development is effective. Keyword research, link building, and website structure are also effective tactics for 50 percent, 46 percent, and 43 percent of marketing influencers respectively.

Most effective SEO tactics

2. Most Difficult SEO Tactics

Link building is considered the most difficult tactic to implement by a 52 percent majority of marketing professionals. The tactical degree of difficulty is a primary factor in determining the implementation resources to use.

Most difficult SEO tactics

3. SEO Implementation Resources Used

The implementation of some SEO tactics, such as link building, may require skills and capabilities not always available in-house. That’s why 84 percent of marketing professionals say they outsource all or part of their SEO implementation tactics to specialists.

SEO implementation resources

84% of marketers outsource all or part of their SEO implementation tactics.
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4. SEO Budget for 2018

The trend is to increase the SEO budget in 2018 for a total of 91 percent of marketing professionals, with 38 percent describing the increase as “significant.” That’s a very promising outlook for this proven marketing initiative.

SEO budget

For more research to help you determine your marketing strategy this year, visit the Ascend2 Research Library for research on content marketing, email marketing, marketing technology, data-driven marketing, marketing automation, landing page optimization, account-based marketing, and more.

5 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid [Revised for 2018]

5 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid [Revised for 2018]

Anyone can dabble in content marketing, but not everyone gets it right. It’s easy to make a mistake on social media that can burn you in a very public manner.

Not every mistake is a going to sink your company, so what’s the harm? The answer to that is that is if you don’t do content marketing right, you will not be able to drive conversations, interactions, or ultimately, conversions. In fact, many social media sites have begun to penalize you if you’re simply posting without true engagement (think Facebook in particular). And really, what’s the point of content marketing if no one cares enough to read your content and then take action?

Remember, the goal of using content is to get your audience to become fans and from there, to support your offerings. If you start by avoiding the five content marketing mistakes listed below, you’ll at least have a fighting chance of gaining traction, loyalty and respect – and getting seen.

How to Create a Facebook Ad That Works With WhatsApp Business

Do your prospects and customers prefer WhatsApp to Messenger? Wondering how to create a Facebook ad that integrates with WhatsApp Business? In this article, you’ll discover how to set up a WhatsApp Business account and use Facebook ads to let WhatsApp users call or message your customer support team with a single click. Why Combine

This post How to Create a Facebook Ad That Works With WhatsApp Business first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up and Growing Your YouTube Presence

Posted by AnnSmarty

When was the last time you saw a video on YouTube? I bet you’ve seen one today. YouTube is too huge and too popular for marketers to ignore.

If you don’t have a YouTube channel, now’s the time to start one.

If you have a channel and you never got it off the ground, now’s the time to take action.

This article will take you through the process of setting up your YouTube presence, listing steps, tools, and important tips to get you started and moving forward.

1. Define your goals

If your goal is to become a YouTube star, you might be a bit late to the party: it’s really hard to get noticed these days — too competitive. Stardom will take years of hard work to achieve because of the number of channels users have to choose from.

Even back in 2014, when I was reading about YouTube celebrity bloggers, one quote really stood out to me:

“We think, if we were coming to YouTube today, it would be too hard. We couldn’t do it.”

That’s not to say, however, that you cannot achieve other, more tangible goals on YouTube. It’s an excellent venue for business owners and marketers.

Here are three achievable goals that make more sense than fame from a business perspective:

1.1. YouTube for reputation management

Here’s one thing about reputation management on Google: You’re never finished.

Even if your reputation is fabulous and you love every single result that comes up in the SERPs for your business name, you may still want to publish more content around your brand.

The thing is, for reputation management purposes, the more navigational queries you can control, the better:


YouTube is the perfect platform for reputation management. YouTube videos rank incredibly well in Google, especially when it comes to low-competition navigational queries that include your brand name.

Furthermore, YouTube videos almost always get that rich snippet treatment (meaning that Google shows the video thumbnail, author, and length of the video in the SERPs). This means you can more easily attract attention to your video search result.

That being said, think about putting videos on YouTube that:

  • Give your product/service overview
  • Show happy customers
  • Visualize customer feedback (for example, visual testimonials beautifully collected and displayed in a video)
  • Offer a glimpse inside your team (show people behind the brand, publish videos from events or conferences, etc.)

1.2 YouTube videos for improved conversions

Videos improve conversions for a clear reason: They offer a low-effort way for your customer to see why they need your product. Over the years, there have been numerous case studies proving the point:

  • An older study (dating back to 2011) states that customers are 144% more likely to add products to a shopping cart after watching the product video
  • Around 1 in 3 millennials state they have bought a product directly as a result of watching a how-to video on it
  • This Animoto survey found that almost all the participants (96%) considered videos “helpful when making purchasing decisions online”
  • Wistia found that visitors who engage with a video are much more likely to convert than those who don’t

That being said, YouTube is a perfect platform to host your video product overviews: it’s free, it offers the additional benefit of ranking well in Google, and it provides additional exposure to your products through their huge community, allowing people to discover your business via native search and suggested videos.

1.3 YouTube for creating alternative traffic and exposure channels

YouTube has huge marketing potential that businesses in most niches just cannot afford to ignore: it serves as a great discovery engine.

Imagine your video being suggested next after your competitor’s product review. Imagine your competitors’ customers stumbling across your video comparison when searching for an alternative service on Youtube.

Just being there increases your chances of getting found.

Again, it’s not easy to reach the YouTube Top 10, but for specific low-competition queries it’s quite doable.

Note: To be able to build traffic from inside your YouTube videos, you need to build up your channel to 10,000 public overall views to qualify to become a YouTube partner. Once approved, you’ll be able to add clickable links to your site from within your videos using cards and actually build up your own site traffic via video views.

2. Develop a video editorial calendar

As with any type of content, video content requires a lot of brainstorming, organizing, and planning.

My regular routine when it comes to creating an editorial calendar is as follows:

  1. Start with keyword research
  2. Use question research to come up with more specific ideas
  3. Use seasonality to come up with timing for each piece of content
  4. Allocate sufficient time for production and promotion

You can read about my exact editorial process here. Here’s a sample of my content roadmap laying out a major content asset for each month of the year, based on keyword research and seasonality:

Content roadmap

For keyword and question research I use Serpstat because they offer a unique clustering feature. For each keyword list you provide, they use the Google search results page to identify overlapping and similar URLs, evaluate how related different terms in your list are, and based on that, cluster them into groups.

Keyword clustering

This grouping makes content planning easier, allowing you to see the concepts behind keyword groups and put them into your roadmap based on seasonality or other factors that come into play (e.g. is there a slot/gap you need to fill? Are there company milestones or events coming up?).

Depending on how much video content you plan to create, you can set up a separate calendar or include videos in your overall editorial calendar.

When creating your roadmap, keep your goals in mind, as well. Some videos, such as testimonials and product reviews, won’t be based on your keyword research but still need to be included in the roadmap.

3. Proceed to video production

Video production can be intimidating, especially if you have a modest budget, but these days it’s much easier and more affordable than you’d imagine.

Keeping lower-budget campaigns in mind, here are few types of videos and tools you can try out:

3.1 In-house video production

You can actually handle much of your video production in-house without the need to set up a separate room or purchase expensive gadgets.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Put together high-quality explanatory videos using Animatron (starts at $15/month): Takes a day or so to get to know all the available tools and options, but after that the production goes quite smoothly
  • Create beautiful visual testimonials, promo videos, and visual takeaways using Animoto ($8/month): You don’t need much time to learn to use it; it’s very easy and fun.
  • Create video tutorials using iMovie (free for Mac users): It will take you or your team about a week to properly figure out all its options, but you’ll get there eventually.
  • Create video interviews with niche influencers using Blue Jeans (starts at $12.49/month)
  • Create (whiteboard) presentations using ClickMeeting (starts at $25/month): Host a webinar first, then use the video recording as a permanent brand asset. ClickMeeting will save your whiteboard notes and let you reuse them in your article. You can brand your room to show your logo and brand colors in the video. Record your entire presentation using presentation mode, then upload them to your channel.


3.2 How to affordably outsource video production

The most obvious option for outsourcing video production is a site like Fiverr. Searching its gigs will actually give you even more ideas as to what kinds of videos you might create. While you may get burned there a few times, don’t let it discourage you — there are plenty of creative people who can put together awesome videos for you.

Another great idea is to reach out to YouTube bloggers in your niche. Some of them will be happy to work for you, and as a bonus you’ll be rewarded with additional exposure from their personal branding and social media channels.

I was able to find a great YouTube blogger to work for my client for as low as $75 per video; those videos were of top quality and upload-ready.

There’s lots of talent out there: just spend a few weeks searching and reaching out!

4. Optimize each video page

When uploading your videos to YouTube, spend some time optimizing each one. Add ample content to each video page, including a detailed title, a detailed description (at least 300–500 characters), and a lot of tags.

  • Title of the video: Generally, a more eye-catching and detailed title including:
    • Your core term/focus keyword (if any)
    • Product name and your brand name
    • The speaker’s name when applicable (for example, when you post interviews). This may include their other identifiable personal brand elements, such as their Twitter handle
    • Event name and hashtag (when applicable)
    • City, state, country (especially if you’re managing a local business)
  • Description of the video: The full transcript of the video. This can be obtained via services such as Speechpad.
  • A good readable and eye-catching thumbnail: These can be created easily using a tool like Canva.

Use a checklist:

Youtube SEO checklist

5. Generate clicks and engagement

Apart from basic keyword matching using video title and description, YouTube uses other video-specific metrics to determine how often the video should be suggested next to related videos and how high it should rank in search results.

Here’s an example of how that might work:

The more people that view more than the first half of your video, the better. If more than 50% of all your video viewers watched more than 50% of the video, YouTube would assume your video is high quality, and so it could pop up in “suggested” results next to or at the end of other videos. (Please note: These numbers are examples, made up using my best judgment. No one knows the exact percentage points YouTube is using, but you get the general idea of how this works.)

That being said, driving “deep” views to your videos is crucial when it comes to getting the YouTube algorithm to favor you.

5.1 Create a clickable table of contents to drive people in

Your video description and/or the pinned comment should have a clickable table of contents to draw viewers into the video. This will improve deep views into the video, which are a crucial factor in YouTube rankings.

Table of contents

5.2 Use social media to generate extra views

Promoting your videos on social media is an easy way to bring in some extra clicks and positive signals.

5.2.1 First, embed the video to your site

Important: Embed videos to your web page and promote your own URL instead of the actual YouTube page. This approach has two important benefits:

  • Avoid auto-plays: Don’t screw up your YouTube stats! YouTube pages auto-play videos by default, so if you share a YouTube URL on Twitter, many people will click and immediately leave (social media users are mostly lurkers). However, if you share your page with the video embedded on it, it won’t play until the user clicks to play. This way you’ll ensure the video is played only by people who seriously want to watch it.
  • Invest time and effort into your own site promotion instead of marketing the page: Promoting your own site URL with the video embedded on it, you can rest assured that more people will keep interacting with your brand rather than leave to watch other people’s videos from YouTube suggested results.

There are also plenty of ways to embed YouTube videos naturally in your blog and offer more exposure. Look at some of these themes, for example, for ideas to display videos in ways that invite views and engagement.

Video sharing WordPress

5.2.2 Use tools to partially scale social media promotion

For better, easier social media exposure, consider these options:

  • Investing in paid social media ads, especially Facebook ads, as they work best for engagement
  • Use recurring tweets to scale video promotion. There are a few tools you can try, such as DrumUp. Schedule the same update to go live several times on your chosen social media channels, generating more YouTube views from each repeated share. This is especially helpful for Twitter, because the lifespan of a tweet is just several minutes (between two and ten minutes, depending on how active and engaged your Twitter audience is). With recurring tweets, you’ll make sure that more of your followers see your update.

  • A project I co-founded, Viral Content Bee, can put your videos in front of niche influencers on the lookout for more content to share on their social media accounts.

5.3 Build playlists

By sorting your videos into playlists, you achieve two important goals:

  • Keeping your viewers engaged with your brand videos longer: Videos within one playlist keep playing on autopilot until stopped
  • Creating separate brand assets of their own: Playlist URLs are able to rank both in YouTube and Google search results, driving additional exposure to your videos and brand overall, as well as allowing you to control more of those search results:


Using playlists, you can also customize the look and feel of your YouTube channel more effectively to give your potential subscribers a glimpse into additional topics you cover:

Customize Youtube channel

Furthermore, by customizing the look of your YouTube channel, you transform it into a more effective landing page, highlighting important content that might otherwise get lost in the archives.

6. Monitor your progress6.1 Topvisor

Topvisor is the only rank tracker I am aware of that monitors YouTube rankings. You’ll have to create a new project for each of your videos (which is somewhat of a pain), but you can monitor multiple keywords you’re targeting for each video. I always monitor my focus keyword, my brand name, and any other specific information I’m including in the video title (like location and the speaker’s name):


6.2 YouTube Analytics

YouTube provides a good deal of insight into how your channel and each individual video is doing, allowing you to build on your past success.

  • You’ll see traffic sources, i.e. where the views are coming from: suggested videos, YouTube search, external (traffic from websites and apps that embed your videos or link to them on YouTube), etc.
  • The number of times your videos were included in viewers’ playlists, including favorites, for the selected date range, region, and other filters. This is equal to additions minus removals.
  • Average view duration for each video.
  • How many interactions (subscribers, likes, comments) every video brought.

Youtube Analytics

You can see the stats for each individual video, as well as for each of your playlists.

6.3 Using a dashboard for the full picture

If you produce at least one video a month, you may want to set up a dashboard to get an overall picture of how your YouTube channel is growing.

Cyfe (disclaimer: as of recently, Cyfe is a content marketing client of mine) is a tool that offers a great way to keep you organized when it comes to tracking your stats across multiple platforms and assets. I have a separate dashboard there which I use to keep an eye on my YouTube channels.

Cyfe Youtube


Building a YouTube channel is hard work. You’re likely to see little or no activity for weeks at a time, maybe even months after you start working on it. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s a big platform with lots of opportunity, and if you keep working consistently, you’ll see your views and engagement steadily growing.

Do you have a YouTube channel? What are you doing to build it up and increase its exposure? Let us know in the comments.

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The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads

The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads

As organic reach dwindles, social media ads are becoming more and more appealing to marketers. In fact, social advertising budgets doubled from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

I predict this trend will continue to rise in 2018 and beyond. The question is, how can you ensure your campaigns generate clicks and revenue?

After analyzing over 30,000 paid media accounts, we’ve learned the difference between a campaign that gets ignored and one that captures attention. Here, I’ll distill these lessons and apply them to social ads. You’ll learn how to optimize your ad creative, targeting, and format for the best results.

1. Hyper-Focused Audience Targeting

Using social ads to reach your entire audience is a huge waste of budget. Each audience is unique, with its own set of interests, demographic segments, and preferences. Targeting the right portion of your audience while maintaining your brand voice can be challenging, but getting this right leads to more success with your social ads.

Facebook’s Ad platform provides a great environment to reach your core audience. Here are just a few ways to do this:

  1. Use Interest Targeting to reach users based on brand affinity and the content they share on their timelines.
  2. Audience Behaviors allow you to target users with a specific intention, like travel plans, purchasing activity, etc.
  3. Understand the demographic and psychographic makeup of your audience to ensure you’re serving the right content to the right people.

Save your custom audiences to optimize settings and recycle for future campaigns. Custom audiences will also assist with your A/B testing efforts later.

Audience targeting with Facebook ads

Start with a broad audience and refine later. For example, if you’re targeting yoga moms in North America, then save an audience based on those parameters. Refine and tweak specific subcategories after testing ad creative.

2. Two-Cent Video Ads

Video ads are far more memorable than static images and plain text. Furthermore, they can drastically improve your relevancy score. By paying per impression, you can optimize your CPM to just $0.02 per view. But to achieve this low cost, your video must abide by a few principles.

First, focus on the story, not the sale. Create value for the user instead of another sales pitch in their news feed.

Appeal to your audience’s needs and seek to elicit an emotional response. Ensure you’re contributing to your strategic marketing goals by including tracked URLs in the description and end of your video.

Make it fun! Videos that rely solely on facts do not generate shares. Your customers want to laugh, feel moved, and entertained. No matter what industry you’re in, video marketing doesn’t have to be conservative. Make your videos fun to watch.

You have 10 seconds or less to capture attention. Make them count. Create punchy videos that quickly get to the point. If you’re creating a long-form video, use these ten seconds to set expectations.

Ask questions that pique the viewer’s attention, making them anticipate what’s about to happen next. Is your video educational or entertaining? Make it clear why they should watch. Adding subtitles will capture attention when devices are on mute.

Finally, allow your best videos to shine on multiple platforms. For example, if a long-form video performs well on Facebook, upload it as a YouTube video to capture attention there.

For inspiration, watch this example from UNICEF. Here, the non-profit brand has brilliantly humanized a pressing political issue using the power of storytelling:

3. Experiment with Other Social Channels

Many marketers fixate their advertising efforts on Instagram and Facebook. But did you know Twitter’s targeted ad features allow you to tap into 316 million monthly users?! And it doesn’t stop at Twitter. Reddit, Snapchat, and platforms like Outbrain all provide platforms to reach your audience.

When evaluating whether or not to advertise on a platform, take these factors into consideration:

  • Are your competitors advertising there?
  • Do you have content that supports the format of the platform?
  • Are your customers there? What are the user demographics?
  • Are you already seeing success on this platform organically?

Repurposing content from Facebook to other platforms (e.g., Pinterest or LinkedIn) will expand its reach with little effort. For example, you can take a promoted Instagram post and repurpose it into a story, just like J Crew did here:

J Crew sponsored post

4. Optimize Quality Score

The term “quality score” is a broad term worded differently for each platform. For example, on Facebook it’s known as “Relevancy Score,” while on Twitter it’s “Quality Adjusted Bid.”

Regardless, these are factors that make or break the success of your advertising campaigns. A great quality score leads to more impressions at a lower cost-per-engagement, while a low quality score will lead to less impressions for a higher cost.

This is why it’s important to promote your best content. By promoting content that has been proven to perform well, you can run tests that are more likely to succeed.

Use A/B testing to uncover which campaigns perform best. Post content organically and see what generates the most likes, shares, retweets etc.

5. Combine Remarketing with Customer Segmentation

Remarketing on social media allows you to reach website visitors who haven’t taken action on the platforms where they spend the most time. Using social remarketing campaigns, you can double your conversion rates while reducing your overall costs. These are users who have already interacted with you. Serve messaging that encourages a purchase, demo, or consultation.

Amazon remarketing

Here are three social retargeting techniques you can test immediately:

  1. Retarget your blog readers. At the top of the funnel, a user’s first visit is often their last. By retargeting them on social media, you can recapture their attention and get them back into your marketing funnel.
  2. Reach past buyers. Segment your customers by purchase frequency and last transaction. For example, create a retargeting campaign that markets to those who haven’t purchased from you in the last three months. Use special offers and limited discounts for scarcity and exclusivity.
  3. Recycle from other channels. Visitors may already engage with you through other paid campaigns. Retarget visitors to a specific landing page with an offer higher up the funnel. For example, if they visited a landing page offering a free trial, tempt them with an ebook instead.

You’re already spending thousands of dollars to generate visitors to your content and landing pages. Invest a little further to capture lost opportunities with remarketing.

6. Only Pay for What Matters

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the “Like” button is a huge waste of budget. It’s a common reason why marketers see such a low ROI from their social advertising efforts. Instead, focus on the activities that matter most to your business. If you’re promoting an ebook, then pay for leads. If you want more readers to your content, pay for clicks.

Have a proper understanding of your goals. Don’t go in blindly. Prioritize your objectives and choose the leading metric on which you’ll base your budget. Here are five common goals that social ads can help you achieve:

  1. Impressions: If you’re trying to get your message seen by as many people as possible, pay per CPM (impressions per 1000 people).
  2. Engagement: This means likes, retweets, shares, and comments. While these metrics contribute little to revenue, they can be indicators of how well your content resonates with your audience.
  3. Traffic: Aiming to get more eyeballs on your landing page or blog? Then make sure you’re operating on a CPC bidding model. This way, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  4. Lead and Conversions: This is ideal for gated content and lead magnets. If it’s conversions you’re after, make sure you’re paying on a CPA basis.
  5. Sales: This goal looks straight to the bottom of the funnel. This will contribute directly to ROI.

Remember, a promotional campaign will still generate impressions and visits to your social profiles. But it won’t cost you anything, as you’re bidding for the end result.

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the Like button is a huge waste of budget.
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7. Create Contextual Content

Like each social platform, not all content formats are created equally. As we discovered earlier, the Facebook algorithm favors video content, but will the same video fly on Pinterest?

It’s important, therefore, to create content that works within the context of your target platform. For example, Instagram stories tend to be off-the-cuff in nature. Consider, then, shooting a message directly to the camera, keeping video dimension sizes in mind.

Look at your organic content to see if you’re striking the right balance. Which of your posts generate the most engagement? Reverse engineer your top performing posts when setting up new campaigns for the best results.

8. Advanced A/B Testing Ideas

You won’t always hit a home run from the beginning. And you’re not going to know if you’re getting the best results without testing. Running A/B tests can quickly improve results with a degree of certainty. By experimenting with different variations of the same ad, you can discover new ways to reach your audience and persuade them to act.

To wrap up this guide, here are three A/B techniques that you can test today.

A/B Idea #1: Different Ad Formats

You know who your audience is. But do you know what kind of content they like best? Once you’ve nailed down your saved audiences, test different ad formats on them. Facebook, for example, has over 10 ad types. The format you use will depend on your objective.

If you’re promoting a product, try testing static images versus carousels. Carousels are ads that serve the user with several images, each with a call-to-action. This is popular among e-commerce brands promoting several products to customer segments at once.

A/B Idea #2: Illustrations versus Photography

While testing ad formats can yield better results, don’t forget about the imagery used in those formats.

One example is to test illustrations over photography. This is what Eventbrite did when attracting new users to run events:

Eventbrite AB testing

The principles work the same for video content. Test animations over videos that feature landscapes, people, etc. Compare the two to see which generates a higher engagement rate and ROI.

A/B Idea #3: Copy Length and Emojis

With so much focus on visual content, it can be easy to forget the text that goes with it! Emojis, for example, can attract more attention to your ads. Try placing them in the ad copy, as well as the headline. Use Emojipedia to search for relevant emojis and apply them to your ads.

Emojis in ad copy

Finally, see what effect long copy has over short copy. Facebook allows you to include 500 characters in your ads, but it’s not always necessary to write copy that long.

Short copy tends to require less effort to read. It grabs more attention and generates more engagement. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test the two. Test long and short copy to see which generate the best results. You may find that, while long copy doesn’t generate as much engagement, it does attract more leads.

Now it’s your turn. What are you doing to ensure more people click on your ads? Which A/B tests have proven to be most effective?

Everything You Need to Know About Newsletter Infographics

Everything You Need to Know About Newsletter Infographics

Infographics are a type of content—visual content. Which means that like all other content types you can think of—except maybe software or tools—they can be shared directly in newsletters to your email subscribers. And yes, a software is a type of content. But I won’t digress.

Infographics are useful because visual content is easily remembered. In one study, 65 percent of people will remember an information three days after they see it if it contains images.

However, the nature of infographics makes it important to follow some best practices while sharing them to your email subscribers. It’s not just like sending a text-based newsletter. What are these guidelines? Read on to find out.

1. Pick Your Email Marketing Platform

Currently, there are hundreds of email marketing software—312 are listed on Capterra at the time of this writing. As obtainable with most marketing-related tools, you’re spoilt for choice.