Flip the Switch Episode 13: Black Friday
SOPHIA: Today on Flip the Switch. We find out that Amazon is, in fact, not killing Big Box retailers. Ad targeting might be following us to TV in the near future. Apple once again, delays the release of its Home Pod. And we discuss Black Friday and Cyber-Monday best practices for your business.
Our main discussion revolves around content as king of digital marketing and how it’s the main driver of your marketing efforts. WE cover the different types of content, common pain points, and how you can apply these strategies.
Let’s get into it.
01:03 PAT: All right everybody. Welcome to episode 13 of the Flip the Switch podcast presented by Power Digital Marketing. With me this week is John Saunders, Joe Hollerup. WE have a guest who will be with us on the main topic talking content. Miss Alexa Engelhardt. Everybody, how we doing today?
01:21 JOE: Doing great. Feel great in this new studio. It’s a little bit more echoey, a larger chamber, but I like it.
01:28 PAT: Yeah, in case you guys can’t tell, it sounds a little bit different in here right now. It’s because we finally got our own, dedicated podcast room. So thank you to all of you for making that happen.
Real excited to try this out. But nonetheless, everybody’s definitely feeling a little bit of that Black Friday/ Cyber-Monday stress. In a good way. And we’re going to jump into a couple best practices. Talking about how to seize some of that intensity during this crucial time during the holiday season.
But the first thing that we want to do is jump into a few business news and trends. So the very first piece of news that we wanted to go over is a little bit of a hot-take. We’re seeing a little bit of a hot take from Bloomberg. It’s about how Amazon might not be killing retail Big Box after all. Which is not a common story that we’ve been hearing about this.
02:10 JOE: Yeah, well why is that?
02:12 PAT: So basically what’s been happening is that large retail stores… like Walmart and Target… We’ve talked about how they’re starting to establish their online blueprint a little bit. And what they’ve been doing lately is employing a lot of these online opportunities, spending their marketing budgets predominantly in digital, and Walmart came out reporting year-over-year 2.7% revenue growth for this week last year to date. So what we’re seeing is growth in apples to apples comparisons in terms of overall revenue. Which is the exact opposite of what I think, we all anticipated was going to happen when Amazon started going into a lot of these verticals.
Couple other examples… Best Buy reported domestic comparable sales up 4.5% year-over-year. And Home Depot… I haven’t at a Home Depot in at least 4 years… delivered a 7.9% increase in year-over-year sales. And a big reason why this is happening is because of the online presence that these companies are establishing for themselves.
03:14 JOE: So its total sales are better, now? Or is it just that retail–like, in the store–sales?
03:20 PAT: I think its overall company revenue. It’s basically a measurement–and this is on Bloomberg, for anybody that wants to take a look at this after the episode today–but what you can see is that it’s called “comparable sales” year-over-year. Which is basically just year-to-date. So making sure that the time-frames are the same. And they’re seeing increases across 3 pretty big retailers.
This is actually Walmart’s 13th consecutive quarter of comparable sales growth. So it’s actually been acting in a direction that shouldn’t lead you to believe that Amazon is taking over every single industry. Which isn’t something that… we think that Amazon’s taking over everything. We literally have a segment on the show called “What’s Amazon taking over this week?”
So this is super-interesting. And what we’re seeing too is that a lot of Walmart’s efforts have been credited to its e-commerce strategy. One article that came out on Wall Street Journal last week actually showed that Walmart is setting its prices online higher than in store. So it’s actually incentivizing people to showroom around a little bit, and then find what they think is a deal in-store to drive their in-store sales.
04:22 JOHN: So basically what you’re saying with this piece of news is that rather than them losing to e-commerce stores, or losing to somebody like Amazon, they’re just augmenting their total sales with their e-commerce experience.
04:35 PAT: Exactly. They’re adding consistently more aspects of their inventory to their e-commerce stores. They’re making really big strides with their other integrated programs like email, online content… those have all gone up for some of the biggest retailers.
04:47 JOHN: So maybe Amazon isn’t as strong as we thought they were?
04:50 PAT: I wouldn’t go on record as saying that. (laughing) I mean, we saw a slight dip in Amazon share price today from $1200 down to about $1126. And Walmart is still on the increase and it’s only $100 per share. So I think there’s still a good amount of way to go before Amazon is not a threat.
But it’s some pretty interesting news. And I think that the biggest takeaway is that it’s being credited to their online presence. And the fact that they’re augmenting their online store as an actual revenue source in the big company scheme of things. Not just a total extra thing like it had been before.
05:21 JOE: I think Amazon’s still a huge threat to Big Box retailers. It’s just others, like Walmart, that are almost equal in size if not bigger in that sense where they’ve always been competing directly with Amazon. They’re going to have the power to kind of make shifts as they need to litigate or whatever against Amazon to defend themselves or to keep growing.
The other smaller ones are probably still in peril.
05:46 JOHN: Yeah. I feel like specific brands that don’t have stores or sell mostly through e-commerce or… because that’s what we had talked about on a previous episode is Amazon starting a sporting goods line. I think that’s where people are going to be in trouble is if they own a certain line of clothing or a certain product, but aren’t as, like… these big retailers like Walmart or Target or something like that….
06:10 PAT: Yeah. I don’t think by any means that this means Walmart’s safe. And that Best Buy and Home Depot are also safe. I think that they’re just kind of fending off the looming threat as long as they can. You look at the lengths to which they had to accommodate the consumer just to even stay competitive. Offering in-store prices that are lower than their online prices. Incentivizing people to pick up their products in-store by offering crazy discounts. Having to integrate with Google Home just to have their inventory searched as often as Amazon.
And indicator to me that this isn’t a long-term fix… This is more of a Band-Aid so to speak. So it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. News just came out today too that Macy’s is really… this Christmas, is really make-or-break time for Macy’s. That’s another huge department–kind of everything–store. That hasn’t leveraged its online resources as effectively. And, you know, they’re going to be kind of gone by the wayside if they don’t have an absolutely phenomenal…
07:08 ALEXA: So basically unless they perform this is going to be the last Thanksgiving Day parade.
07:09 PAT: This could be the last one for a while, unless they perform especially well…
07:13 JOHN: Alexa drops in.
07:14 PAT: Oh, yeah. Huge debut for Alexa right there. So we’ll keep you guys up to date on that. Anything new that comes out about it. But for now, we’re turning some more of our attention toward the advertising world.
News came out last week on Bloomberg that ads might soon start talking to you on TV like they do on your Facebook feed. So the FCC is poised to approve a new broadcast standard that’s basically going to let broadcast advertisers do something that cable companies already do. And that’s harvest data about what you’re watching. So that they can customize their pitches to you.
This is something that is a really common practice with online advertising. But I don’t think that there’s ever been this much recognition around it. Because now this is trickling into broadcast advertising.
07:55 JOHN: So this is like cable television?
07:58 PAT: Yeah, this is cable television. They’re going to harvesting basically Nielsen type data–demographic data–about all their viewers and customizing their pitches for those specific audience segments. As opposed to just doing general, “Hey people who watch football probably like trucks.” type association.
08:13 JOHN: Right. Like a shotgun method with the Super Bowl. Just like, throw everything out there as fast as you can…
08:17 PAT: Yeah, exactly. It’s going to be a little bit more like, “Oh, this segment happened to engage 30 seconds longer with commercial time than another one. So we’re going to give them this, specific, pitch that talks about these USPs instead.
08:32 JOE: So when I first started reading up on this, I initially got apprehensive about it because I don’t like the whole idea of the listening and the tracking side of it. But then I thought about it… it has become pretty effective when I do get targeted online for certain types of ads, it’s usually things that I wanna see or might be interested in.
Whereas when I’m watching TV, I mean, a lot of times I’m not watching cable unless it is some sort of sports… I get served so many commercials about products that mean nothing to me. I keep seeing all of these car commercials that are the focus groups. And I see a million of them. But I have no interest in seeing that.
So if it’s something where I’m getting targeted with products or services or even companies that I have a personal interest in or maybe my friends or I do… I’m kind of on board with that, because it just gets rid of all that clutter and the mundane things that I don’t care to see.
09:21 PAT: That’s a pretty interesting point that you bring up though. And it has to do with the fact that customized ads and ads that really speak to your customer intent perform better online. But do you think that this is the right context with which to be providing that kind of specificity toward your viewer? I think that some of the reason that people… like, a lot of the debate that we talk about when it comes to ads and things like that is about context. That’s the reason that you use social platforms as your cold traffic, because people aren’t super-conversion oriented. They want to stay on the platform.
Like how are you ascertaining whether or not that’s the case with, I guess, broadcast viewers?
09:55 JOE: Yeah, I’m very curious because I know a lot of times it’s based off of how we’re clicking things. We’re being tracked with the pixels…
10:02 PAT: Right, so what’s it based on when we’re just watching TV.
10:05 JOHN: I think it’s the same thing.
10:06 PAT: It’s going to be the exact same data
10:08 JOHN: Maybe. I don’t know if it’ll pull from the same source, but I know that I have an Apple TV and when I watch Hulu or when I watched Hulu when I didn’t have the “no commercial” package it would serve me ads behind things that I would visit. So, like, used to have a client–I won’t name them, but I was on their website all the time, and I would go home and start watching TV. And as soon as I started watching TV, they’d serve me a commercial behind that client.
10:32 PAT: No way.
10:33 JOHN: Yeah. So it’s already in the streaming services, but I don’t know how it’s going to work for cable.
10:38 PAT: And I think that that’s a really interesting… and the reason that I bring that up as a discussion point is because of all the controversy that’s surrounding the targeting methods around online in general. We saw a ton of unwanted publicity around online advertising because of the 2016 Election. We saw Congress question major online advertisers like Facebook and Google about how they got that kind of sensitive criteria. It seems like a time right now where everybody is super-hypersensitive to the fact that they’re being targeted. Even though they are engaging at a good rate. Is this a smart play to be rolling out right now?
11:10 JOHN: Yeah. It’s interesting to be rolling this out in today’s age…
11:14 PAT: Yeah, timing’s a little iffy…
11:15 JOHN: Maybe wait til 2018.
11:16 PAT: Maybe table that. Maybe parking lot that til 2018…
11:18 JOHN: Let 2017 cool down a little bit…
11:20 PAT: Exactly. 2017s real hot right now. I just don’t really understand the timing there, but regardless this is going to be rolled out… The Sinclair broadcast group and other TV station owners say that this is the new standard. It’s going to be rolled out indefinitely. It’s not like they’re beta testing it with 20% of broadcast networks. This is just how advertising is gonna be.
It’s going to provide sharper pictures, more video on-demand type features. It’s going to allow them to track viewers of their programming on tablets and other platforms. So cross-platform tracking. So they’re going to have really insightful data.
And that kind of answers our question too… if they have that kind of functionality moving forward, maybe a lot of what we’re going to be targeted for on TV is based on our online footprint.
So that’s another thing to keep in mind. But this seems like something that’s going to be a really kind of messy situation when it rolls all out.
12:10 JOE: This is just the world we’re living in now. Nothing we’re going to be able to avoid. We’re not going to have any control over it. If people want to get more refined with the way they’re targeting their customers. We have no control over that. I think the only solution would be you just don’t watch TV. And if you want to avoid it you don’t go on the Internet.
12:29 JOHN: Don’t click “agree” to any privacy policies and then you’ll be in the clear. But nobody does that.
12:34 PAT: Okay. Yeah, this seems like a very Color Orange scenario right now. But I was going to say… Do you think that this… and this is a real question that I was thinking about a lot today as we were prepping for the episode and whatnot. Do you think that this is TV advertising’s last chance to stay fully relevant? Do you think that’s why they’re doing that really specific targeted approach that’s been replicated online and proven to be more effective?
12:53 JOHN: Just grasp onto whatever’s left, or whatever’s working.
12:55 PAT: Yeah. Do you think that’s why or do you think that it’s actually in the spirit of providing better content?
12:58 JOHN: I don’t know. If they can provide the same sort of tracking as what you get with remarketing then why not?
13:06 ALEXA: I mean, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
13:10 PAT: That’s actually true. They could just be imitating the online advertising world. Alexa has the last word, there. You heard it here first, they are imitating and it’s flattering. But again, this is a developing story. We’re going to let you guys know what comes of it as more news comes out.
All right, our last piece of news for today. A company that we like to talk about a lot, Apple. Their Home Pod which is actually something that we covered on another episode earlier this year, has been delayed until 2018.
So the Apple Home Pod which is basically Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo, Google Home Smart Speakers. Also, not listed here… the Microsoft AI that was built on Cortana…
13:49 JOE: We don’t remember the name, and that’s a clear sign that it’s probably not going to sell…
13:51 PAT: Yeah, so you have these 2 major competitors… you have Echo and Home speakers and then you have Microsoft–Cortana’s blank…
13:59 JOE: Karmon, Karmon…
14:00 PAT: Where in the world is Amazon Karmon-Echo. And then you have this new one. This solution by Apple that’s supposed to be rolled out. That is not even going to make it to market.
So my questions are… without speculating too much… why are they going into this market? A. If it is saturated? B. Why… if they do decide to go into the market, what benefit does missing a deadline for release have?
14:26 JOHN: I think the only way… based on both of those reasons I think the only way that it could come out a success is if they have something in their back pocket that nobody else has. And that we don’t know about.
So if they have an actual product that’s better… that’s probably why they’re holding off. If they didn’t–if it was a similar product–I feel like they would have already dropped it.
14:42 PAT: And you wouldn’t want to release it during the holiday season.
14:46 JOHN: What the newer one?
14:48 PAT: Yeah, the one that has the better functionality… Are you saying that they’re waiting on it, so it has more of the spotlight? Or waiting on it to refine some of its functionality?
14:54 JOHN: I’m saying they’re waiting on it to refine some of its functionality. I have more of a comic-book approach to it, I guess.
15:02 PAT: I think that it actually has to do a little bit with the fact that it is such a saturated market though. I think that they can say that it’s because they have all these awesome features that they’re going to be adding into it. Making sure that it’s super-competitive with the other majority share-holders in the space. But I think really what’s happening is that Apple knows that during that Holiday season it is not going to do well in that market if it just releases…
And they’re scared of that. And they also have another device that’s on the market during Holiday season, so why does it matter as much?
But to me this seems like a little bit of a missed opportunity. It seems like, you know, either expectations were set unclearly from Tim Cook from the beginning–saying he would hit a Holiday deadline. And I don’t assume that shareholders are going to be very stoked about an Apple product not making it to market before the Holiday season. So we’ll see how their stocks respond. They’ve already dipped in the last week a few dollars per share.
It’s either that or there are some legitimate kinks that they need to work out. At which point the question is how different are those pieces of functionality going to be than their competitors?
16:04 JOHN: Maybe they’ll just put a touch-bar on it or something. I don’t know.
16:06 PAT: Just slap a touch-bar on it and retail it for 500 extra dollars
16:09 JOE: Even looking at this article… this isn’t the first time this has happened with Apple. They missed the launch of the Apple watch for the 2014 Holiday season. And they missed the launch of my personal favorite, the Air Pods last year during the 2016 Holiday season. So this is just the trifecta here.
And even to touch on that… it’s gonna be hard. They’re going to have to really be differentiating against Amazon’s Echo, because that starts at $50 price point for a smart home-speaker. Whereas this Home Pod is going to cost $350. So it’s going to have to come with some sort of functionality.
16:46 JOHN: Yeah, cause now there’s the Alexa, and there’s the Echo. There’s the Google Home and there’s the Google Home Mini now. So they both have 2 products. They’re lapping Apple.
16:57 PAT: Yeah, exactly. They’re just running circles around them at this point. Well it’s been interesting to see the response from not just speculators but investors on Wall Street too. Starting last week, before news came out about this, Apple was trading at 173 bucks a share. As of today… it’s been a steady decline trend. We’re seeing it at under $170 per share, which is the first time this has happened in some time. We saw a huge jump after the last Apple device hit market–which was the iPhone X. iPhone 10. Whichever you would like to call it.
That came out. The stock rebounded really significantly. To the point where Austin and I were stoked because we had talked about that would happen. That was one of the first things we were really right about.
This seems like another one of those trends though. This seems that people are a little bit let down, little deflated right now. “Oh man.” It’s not going to hit during the Holiday season which means that it’s not going to be incorporated into its Q4 earnings report. As somebody that follows Wall Street pretty closely, I’m actually pretty excited about this. Apple has a new product coming to market at a share price that does not reflect that right now.
And, yeah, it might not affect their Q4 earnings, but it’s going to do well no matter what because it’s the Holiday season. Apple’s going to make probably 35% of its revenue between now and December 31st. And then if they have another new product rolling out, say Q1 of 2018? It’s probably going to make their Q1 earnings report even better.
So from my perspective, it’s not all detriment. But it is a missed opportunity.
18:15 JOHN: I like your positive outlook on things…
18:18 PAT: I try to be more positive, John. That’s what it is.
Moving into our main topic discussion for today… we call this one “Content is King.” You know, this is a discussion I think we’ve been wanting to have for a long time. Not just because of how important content is. But I think that a lot of people don’t have a good understanding of why it’s that important.
So to help with that we brought in resident expert, Alexa Engelhardt. She works here at Power Digital. She is a Content Manager. She also runs a lot of our email campaigns, and she’s really well-versed in all the different aspects of content. So Alexa, welcome to the show.
18:53 ALEXA: Yeah, thanks for having me guys.
18:54 PAT: I think jumping right in might be a good place to start here. We hear, like I said, the term “Content is King” all the time. Could you do a little bit of explaining as to why it’s so important and not just from a high-level perspective? From a technical perspective, why does content matter at all?
19:10 ALEXA: Yeah. Well, I mean, I might be a little bit biased. Having my life be dedicated to content. But if you really think about it, content drives everything we do online. So what do you go online for? To see content. Whether that’s a blog post, a video, a podcast, products, advertisements… anything like that is considered content. So whether you’re thinking about it from an engagement perspective. So creating ads around a blog post. Both of those pieces are content, so the ad itself and the blog post itself.
Thinking about it SEO-wise and a more technical standpoint… SEO… from more technical standpoint, content really does drive your SEO strategy and is one of the biggest contributors to driving people to your site in the first place.
19:58 PAT: Why is that?
20:00 JOE: Kind of jumping in here… So, content does support SEO in a lot of ways, just because SEO definitely does have its technical side of things in terms of optimizations you’re making to a website. Getting the page-load speed down, etc.
But when it comes down to the core value of SEO is the use of keywords. And Google and other search engines are getting a lot smarter and using semantic search. So in the beginning days, you could just stuff a page… Say you wanted to rank for “marketing podcast.” You could build pages on your website and just repeat the word “marketing podcast, marketing podcast, marketing podcast,” to the point where people were just spamming these websites, but they were always ranking first.
20:39 PAT: Right. Like overloading it. Just winning out based on keyword count.
20:43 JOE: Yeah, and over time Google has gotten smarter. They’ve picked up on those things. They’ve been able to refine how their algorithms work and everything. And so the more naturally you’re writing about a subject, or the more relevant it is to your business or the pages that you’re going after, or those keywords that you’re targeting. All the supporting content around those keywords–it’s becoming very, very important. Where you could kind of get very technical and hit a certain word count. And whatever it may be… but now it’s more going towards that natural side of things with the search engines. So it’s more so having people that have a well-versed background in terms of writing or creating or coming up with those topics or strategies. It’s becoming more important than ever because it is going to affect all different aspects of your business.
21:29 PAT: That’s interesting. So you’re talking a lot about kind of the on-page content there. Like the written content. What people think of when they associate content. They probably think of blog posts. Think of any type of written web-copy that’s on the web site.
But Alexa names a few of them right there. What else falls under that category and helps you get found more easily?
21:49 ALEXA: I mean, everything. So infographics. Videos. Podcasts. Any engaging imagery. Anything like that falls under the category of content. While a lot of those might not actually directly improve your SEO strategy, they all kind of work together to show Google that you are trying to create different forms of content that will resonate with different types of people. And that all kind of plays together to direct people back to your site.
22:18 JOE: And I think a good way to look at it too, from a marketing agency is where each of our departments that we have here have their specialization. Such as Web Dev. You have a very specialized skill set in there. Same thing with social media. Paid advertising, etc. They’re all specialization aspects of those departments.
But in a way, the content department is contributing and helping assist or be that base for a lot of those different types of services.
22:44 ALEXA: Yeah. Exactly. It’s so cross channel. So, for example, John in Web Dev., he wouldn’t be able to build a website if he didn’t have content from us.
22:51 JOHN: True. I wouldn’t be able to push anybody to significant enough pages without any content. My quality scores would go down…
22:58 JOE: You wouldn’t have a place to put your content is what you’re saying…
23:01 PAT: All right, I can see where this is going already. We’re going to get into a little bit of a chicken/egg debate here, so I would just nix that right off the bat.
I want to go back to something that you guys were mentioning earlier… So you said there’s a lot of different kinds of content. We went through some of the different types. But you said imagery, infographics, downloadable. things like that also help you get found in a sense and help people get a little bit better of a context to understand what their dealing with, what the offering is and things like that. Can you get penalized–and this is actually something I’ve always wanted to know–Can you get penalized for having too much written content as opposed to other types of content? Or is it just like your rank suffers and I guess, like, your how relevant it is to the search suffers? Have you guys ever seen that with a client before?
23:45 ALEXA: No. If anything it’s the exact opposite. So we see a lot of clients have all of this really helpful, valuable content and maybe it is packaged up as a PDF downloadable. Or a lot of clients like to make videos, which is great, but you do need… at the end of the day, you need that written content to really drive…
24:03 JOE: I will say on that point though–are you saying could you be penalized?
24:05 PAT: Yeah, like theoretically could that happen?
24:07 JOE: You could be because if someone gets to a page on your website… say you search for a blog post on something. You find what you’re looking for and you get to this page and it’s just a wall of 10,000 words. That person’s not going to stay on your website. They’re going to bounce right out. So if you’re increasing bounce rates, you’re not breaking it up so it’s digestible and it’s engaging, people are just going to leave your website and Google will pick up on those bounce rates. If you have say this URL of a blog post that’s ranking by far number 1. Because of the amount of content on it.
But no one’s sticking around to see it. They’re going to pick up on that. And start penalizing you and dropping you in rankings.
24:39 PAT: That’s pretty interesting. So, you know, without it officially hurting your visibility and your visitation, it’s going to indirectly do that just by virtue of the fact that it’s not interesting enough to keep people there. Or relevant enough to…
24:51 ALEXA: And it all comes back to the quality of the content, which is what Joe is really kind of driving in earlier. It’s just you do need to touch on that topic and talk about everything that someone who is searching for that topic would expect to read about when they get to that blog post.
So, for example, if we’re trying to sell a refrigerator and we write a blog post about stainless steel refrigerators we better… you know… we better be writing about French doors, cubic inches stuff like that. Because that’s stuff that people are going to be expecting to learn about as well.
25:21 PAT: That’s pretty interesting. You talk a little bit about how people have expectations when they get to web-pages and that kind of dictate how engaging they find it. And it sounds like there has to be a pretty ingrained process. Like, a really detailed process from beginning of content creation and ideation to end. Could you explain a little bit of what that process looks like? Where do you start? Let’s say that you get a client and you’re on to do website copy for them. As like, your primary content deliverable and maybe some email. Like, what does the process look like in terms of building out the right strategy for them?
25:56 ALEXA: Well, it’s definitely a balance between for what we do. SEO and branding. So obviously a lot of clients want to keep their brand going strong. And sometimes our job involves helping craft that voice.
But we also want to have the SEO strategy in there. So using those key terms, making sure that we are writing enough content for Google to kind of deem us authoritative and trustworthy enough.
So I always like to write more content than we need to and it’s always easier to cut it than add more. But it’s definitely a balancing act there. And I definitely like to take my time and do research when I’m writing web-copy. See what the other competitors in this space are writing like. Really take the time to talk to the client and see what they really want to convey with their brand-voice. And then also work with the SEO team really closely to just see how much do we really need to take care of the SEO stuff?
26:51 JOE: And I think kind of taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. You’re trying to run a full marketing campaign, so say you need to build a landing page. You’re going to be wanting to have that’s relevant to that service or product. Then you’re going to be wanting to put together some sort of advertising campaign around that. You want to be pushing things on social media. You want to be pushing emails. All of those things are going to need to kind of coincide in some way or another. So you have to look bigger picture and then start picking things off one by one.
Like, “this is the overall strategy. This is how we’re going to approach it. This is obviously going to be taken care of differently on the webpage. The design is going to affect that. How are we writing the ad copy? Do we want it to be witty? Is it in the brand voice? Is it going to be informative? Is it going to be salesy?” Etc.
So it’s a matter of really taking all of those things into account to just have it all come full circle and be cohesive across all the different channels.
27:43 PAT: Right. And appropriate for whichever context it’s operating in, right?
27:47 JOE: Yeah. And that even comes down to the imagery you’re using. Any types of creative you’re doing. That’s all considered content. Cause you’re going to be pushing that across the channels. It’s going to be used as kind of a… used in a strategic way to break up the content. You know, the ads you’re running. If it’s coinciding with your ad copy, it all… just the word content, the biggest way to stress it is it is a huge umbrella term that touches on just about every channel.
28:13 PAT: Yeah. And we like it that way. So that you can actually… that importance can get conveyed. Right? It’s going to affect every aspect of your marketing…
28:21 JOE: Yeah. It is definitely… you’re walking a fine line on a lot of it because like Alexa was saying there’s the strategic side of it on the SEO side, but there’s also the branding side of it. And a lot of times people will be hesitant to get away from… leaning away from the branding side just for the sake of wanting to stick to that same image. But sometimes you do have to take those sacrifices because it will pay off in the long run.
28:41 PAT: Right. So if you’re giving…let’s say… cause we’re wrapping this up here. What’s like one piece of content advice that you would give? Let’s say I’m a small business proprietor. I’m starting a company that sells shoes in downtown San Diego. If I’m not doing anything besides content, what with content should I be doing to start?
29:00 ALEXA: Always set your goals before you create any piece of content. So whether you’re writing blog posts, writing web copy, creating a video–know whether you’re going to be creating that for engagement or for a more strategic purpose such as SEO.
So, you know, if you want to drive organic shopping to your site, you better be writing a 2000 plus word blog post. Don’t just write a 2000 plus word blog post if you don’t think anyone’s actually searching for that topic.
If you’re going to be driving Facebook ads to a video, make sure that you have an ad strategy in place to support that piece of content. Or else it’s just going to get lost in the woodwork of the Internet.
29:36 PAT: Great stuff. Again, Alexa Engelhardt joining us for a little bit of content insight. If you have any more questions for us around content strategy or anything else from the content side of things, feel free to shoot us a message on our social media handles. That is @flipswitchcast for both Instagram and Twitter. Alexa thanks so much for jumping on…
29:53 ALEXA: Yeah, thank guys.
29:54 JOE: Was it fun?
29:55 ALEXA: Very.
29:56 PAT: Perfect.
29:57 ALEXA: Everything I imagined…
29:58 JOE: We like to have a good time here…
30:00 PAT: Cool guys. So last thing we wanted to do with you today is go through a quick discussion around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’ve been getting so many questions about these from our social media handles that we felt it’d be best to just give you a Best Practices segment all in one. Keep this to about 6 or 7 minutes and then as always you can just hit us up if you have any questions on social.
30:20 JOHN: You’ll just wrap it up for them like a gift…30:22 PAT: A Holiday season gift. Timely. We are timely.
All right, taking a look here. So Black Friday this year–long story short, if you don’t have a strategy in place already, get one. This is going to be the biggest online… essentially online festival of spending that we’ve ever seen in our entire life…
30:39 JOE: (laughing) Festival of spending…
30:40 PAT: That’s an extravagant way to put it, but here’s what the projections are looking like… Black Friday, we’re going to see about 3.52 billion dollars in purchases. On Thanksgiving Day we’re going to see 2.05 billion dollars in purchases. And if you look at how that compares to last year. Last year, there was about 3.34 billion dollars in purchasing power that was evoked during this time. It’s a 5.39% increase this year. And on Thanksgiving Day, we’re going to see about 6.22% increase. The combined spend there is just over 5 and a half billion dollars.
And really, I think the biggest thing that I want to stress with these trends… I’m getting these off bestblackfriday.com by the way… the biggest thing that I’m stressing here is that the people are going to be at their computers. They’re already… All the cold prospecting that you would normally have to do for an event like this, it’s nil. It’s nixed. It’s done. Everybody’s already going to be in front of their computers. And they’re going to be in front of their phones.
So we’re going to go through a few ways with you right now that you can capitalize on that visibility and some of that traffic.
So the first one from the ad side–I’ll speak to it. You want to make sure that you have… if you don’t have an exact Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer as well… This is a total sidebar… that’s fine. You don’t need to have a promotion in place. I think it’s Best Practice to, because you always want to do something to stand out against everybody else. All of whom are giving some kind of discount.
Even if you’re not, what are you’re going to want to do at minimum… if you’re running AdWords, Facebook, Instagram ads. YouTube ads. Anything. You’re going to want to increase your bids on Black Friday, over the weekend, and Cyber Monday.
And what I mean by that is implementing what’s called an ad schedule. You can do that within your settings.
We just… we want to make sure that we are ranking as high as we possibly can for keywords on those days because of how high traffic… how many people are going to be online. This is a number that we’ve never seen before.
So that’s one thing. The next thing that I would do to, from a promotions perspective, if you are running some kind of promotion, your advertiser or whoever handles your PPC, if that’s in-house, they should have not only already swapped out some ad copy that calls that out in the headline. But if it’s an agency, they should have run it by you for any kind of messaging Best Practices, or things like that. Because the Holidays–especially Black Friday/Cyber Monday–this is the time when we know we see clients get a little bit nervous because of how much they have riding and expecting on some of these sales. Especially some of our CPG companies, we see about 50% of their revenue coming through between the beginning of October and the end of December.
So the pressure’s on. People are really hot right now. It’s a really hot time of year. So you need to make sure that if you are… if you do have an agency doing your PPC for you, that you’ve spot-checked what they’re going to be doing. Where they’re going to be targeting. And essentially signed off on everything at least a week in advance. This is for next year’s reference too. At least a week in advance, you need to be doing that. Just to make sure that everything is in line.
And the last thing that I would say… bid adjustments. This is the first year ever where we’re going to see more purchases come through on tablets and mobile than on desktop. It’s never happened before. And the reason why this is happening is because the mobile shopping experience has definitely gotten better, but because people and their purchasing behaviors have gotten savvier. So we know that people are going to be showrooming a lot. Price checking on the go.
If they’re somewhere for a Black Friday deal and there’s a 30% discount on an Amazon Echo, they’re going to see if there’s a 40% discount for Amazon Echo at another retailer nearby. And that’s why it’s crucial that you’re bidding up on all of your initiatives too, because mobile has less advertising space.
Which means less… there’s less positions for you to rank at. Which means that you need to be willing to pay the most just to show up. CPCs on mobile are a little bit lower, but not by much anymore. Because there’s enough competitors on there for it to matter.
So those are a few of my things, that if I’m a business owner, these things needed to have been done about a week and a half, 2 weeks ago for me to feel comfortable about it.
34:37 JOE: Also, to kind of jump in here… I think that when you are running your Black Friday and Cyber Monday campaigns–because you should definitely be doing that as an e-commerce client. Or even for just any type of offer that you’re giving as a company. Have your campaigns very exclusive to this actual sale. Have your ads and your ad copy set up. Have all of your ad or ad creative ready to go. And it doesn’t have to be some big, crazy campaign. It can just be very straight-forward. It’s things that are specific to this sale. There’s messaging about this sale. And testing whether or not you need to be running ads that have the actual percentages or the promotion or whatever it may be. Or pointing out the fact that it’s Black Friday. I know a lot of times that, when you’re trying to run ads on paid platforms that you get reduced reach based off of how much text you have on your ad creative.
But I think just making sure it’s distinct, it’s straight-forward. People don’t really care to be wowed. They would rather just be wowed by the offer. So make that the focal point of what your campaigns are running with.
Updating the hero page on your website for that couple of days–it depends on how long you’re running this promotion. Just being ready for that quick turn-around. Get something up. Churn and Burn. Get your sales. And then revert it back to whatever you need it to be.
35:54 JOHN: And then the last thing… it’s going to sound pretty simple. But from a technical standpoint, your website should probably work on Black Friday and Cyber Monday…
36:02 PAT: Why?
36:03 JOHN: I can’t tell you, I mean… it’s part of my job. But I’m actually on call working on Black Friday and Cyber Monday because of how many people’s websites either crash or there’s an issue with their automation process or whatever it may be. On those big days. So I can’t tell you how much the prep to make sure it works is… how widely important that is for the success of the day. Because if you’re website goes down, who knows how many purchases you’re going to lose within that hour. However long it takes.
36:32 PAT: Yeah, every single offer that you have. Every single product that you’re trying to sell… doesn’t matter anymore. And, guys, this can’t be stressed enough. What John says might sound simple, but you gotta think… if you’re already a little bit unstable as a website… you have consistent problems already. That’s only going to be accentuated and highlighted further on a day that’s heavy, heavy traffic. So that’s one thing to keep in mind.
36:56 JOE: And I would say finally, make sure you’re recording and getting all the data you can for this year’s sale. Because Black Friday and Cyber Monday is only going to ever get bigger. So you’re just going to be able to benchmark for next year’s sale. Because it is such a big weekend that you’re going to have a bunch of historical data that you could test, compare and then improve for the following year.
37:15 PAT: Very last piece of advice. I gave this a little bit out of timeline because I would like to obviously talk about this with the ad stuff, but I didn’t see it til right now. The top retailers are obviously going to be Walmart, Amazon, and Target. And what you’re going to want to do if you’re running ads too, for the same products that are sold on those 3 platforms. You’re going to want to put what’s called a Target outrank share as your bidding algorithm for those specific keywords. They might be stealing some impression share away from them.
People are going to buy through Walmart or Target or Amazon if they’re prompted to. If they’re looking for your product. So if you’re a BtoC company that’s selling through your e-commerce store, you need to make sure that you’re outranking them, because that’s the only way that you’re going to garner enough of those Black Friday sales for it to really be significant.
37:58 JOE: I just hope people have, like, no pets. And are scribbling down algorithm and impression share and everything like that.
38:06 PAT: Well, luckily our episodes are available for download…
38:09 JOE: Good plug. I like that plug.
38:11 JOHN: And you can also find us on Twitter and Instagram @flipswitchcast.
38:18 PAT: All right. That’s a lot of self-promotion. But we’re wrapping up the episode right there, everybody.
Thank you again so much for joining us for lucky number 13. Have a great Thanksgiving. Have a great Black Friday and Cyber Monday if you’re a business owner. We will back the following week with some great new content.
38:32 JOE: From Josh Volen. He’s coming in and we’ll get a nice fresh interview to you guys.
38:37 PAT: Yup. Can’t wait to get you guys that content. Josh Volen is an outstanding… he’s an entrepreneur, he’s in commercial real estate. He really knows a lot and he has some pretty interesting takes about the Amazon dynamic as well. So until then everybody, thank you for joining again. This has been Pat Kreidler, John Saunders and Joe Hollerup with Alexa Engelhardt signing off.