Take our Holiday Retail Survey & let us know how your search marketing strategy changed this year

Did you switch up your holiday digital marketing strategies in 2017? Maybe extend your search ad campaigns? Or sell on more marketplaces? If so, we want to know about it.
Please take five minutes to complete the SMX survey exploring what digital marketing strategies were put in place by search marketers this holiday retail season — the 2017 Holiday Retail Survey.
Responses are kept anonymous, and the data gathered from the survey results will be shared during the Holiday Retail Search Strategies webcast on January 18, featuring panelists Brad Geddes, the co-founder of Adalysis, Marketing Land associate editor Ginny Marvin, Elite SEM’s Aaron Levy and CommerceHub’s Elizabeth Marsten.
Completing the survey will help add to the conversation around this season’s best search marketing strategies and whether strategy shifts were advantageous. Also, survey participants are entered for a chance to win a copy of Brad Geddes’ “Advanced Google Adwords” search marketing guide.
Everyone is invited to register for the January 18 webcast

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Supercharge your email marketing with Google AdWords

I have a confession to make.
The odds of my instantly deleting one of the many marketing emails I receive each day are about as good as Tom Brady and the Patriots making the playoffs — meaning it’s pretty likely to happen.
Unfortunately for all you email marketers out there, I’m not alone. According to email marketing service MailChimp, the average email open rate across industries is below 25 percent, with a click rate of 2 to 3 percent. That means that, on average, you’d need to send 100 emails to get two or three people to take any action. All that time and energy spent crafting the perfect email marketing campaign will be wasted if you don’t create a complementary strategy to get more sales from your hard-earned email list.
The good news is that you can use Google AdWords as your complementary strategy by simply leveraging the existing data you have on your email subscribers. Let’s dive into

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Is holiday paid search more competitive in 2017 than 2016?

The busy 2017 holiday shopping season is now in full swing, and we’ve already witnessed impressive Y/Y sales growth on key shopping days.
As advertisers dig into their own performance, many are taking stock of the competition to get a sense for what other brands are doing. This was a key topic for a #ppcchat Twitter conversation immediately following Cyber Weekend, in which host Kirk Williams posed the following question to chat-goers.

As you can see, most brands felt they saw more competition this year than last year, though 39 percent felt it was about the same. Zero respondents felt that there was less competition this year than last.
Taking a look at Auction Insights reports from Google for a sample of large Merkle retail advertisers, we can get a sense for how many brands were bidding on paid search keywords this year compared to last. As always, the metrics found in these reports and the stories they tell will

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Omnichannel shoppers collide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, setting new records

Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to gain cultural significance across the US and the globe as shoppers and retailers deepen their relationships through enhanced technology, stronger/more personalized deals and a singular online-offline approach. As for 2017, all major metrics trended up, including click volume, mobile purchases, foot traffic and overall sales. Cyber Monday 2017 marked the biggest shopping day in US history, with over $6.59B in sales, including a record-breaking $2B in mobile sales.
Bing (my employer) also saw strong positive trends, with a YOY jump in clicks across Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the entire month of November. In the US, clicks were up 9 percent (cross-device) between Black Friday and Cyber Monday when compared with the same time period in 2016, and we also saw clicks up 12 percent YOY for the month of November. The rise in clicks is likely due to large retailers who extend Black Friday deals earlier and later — a

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PPC agencies will play these 4 roles when automation takes over

Earlier this year, I wrote about how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are driving automation in PPC and then again about how Google’s latest wave of AdWords innovations is driven largely by these same technologies.
As the move towards automation accelerates, how should agencies and PPC managers update their strategy? What processes will they need to remain competitive? And what can they really expect from automation tools in the market today? I’ll cover all these topics in a series of upcoming posts, so I’d love to hear your ideas. But today, let’s begin by looking at what roles humans and agencies will play in PPC. .
1. Agencies will teach machines to learn
Now that machines can learn, they certainly will surpass humans, right? The reality is that machine learning is still very dependent on humans. We program the algorithms, we provide the training data, we even manipulate the training data to help the machine get it right.
Machine learning often

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Four brand-building activities that lay the foundation for SEO

At Google’s inception, one innovation differentiated it as a search engine: It used information gained from off-site sources to inform its estimation of the relevance, importance and quality of pages in its index. Originally, this source of off-site information was the network of links found by crawling the web.
Nearly two decades later, in 2017, with countless other rich data sources at its disposal, Google uses a more diverse and sophisticated set of data to determine just how big a deal you really are in the marketplace. In my experience over the past 10 years working in SEO, Google has always been pretty good at making this determination, and the signals have become harder and harder to fake over time.
At this point, the most efficient and sustainable path to making your company look like it is a significant player in the marketplace is to become a significant player in the marketplace. What does that mean for SEO folks?

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2-step methodology for dealing with PPC performance downturns

The most important thing I’ve learned from my 15 years of PPC experience is that sooner or later, account performance will take a downturn. When that day comes, we must be prepared to deal with the consequences of performance not meeting expectations. These consequences could range from stakeholders losing trust in your abilities to receiving ultimatums to “fix performance or else,” and worst-case scenario, someone else being brought in to take over the paid search program you’ve spent so much time and energy building.
Performance downturns can be very stressful and put you on the defensive. However, having a solid methodology for responding when performance is bad can help instill confidence that you have what it takes to turn a negative performance situation into a positive one.
This article discusses a two-step methodology for confronting underperformance in a way that helps you garner trust with your stakeholders and instill confidence in your ability to manage PPC accounts through the

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Are you changing keyword bids too often?

The AdWords advertising system utilizes an auction-like process to decide which advertisers’ ads get to show and in which order. By bidding higher or lower, you can appear at higher or lower positions — depending on what your competitors are bidding.
Account managers use many approaches for setting and tweaking bids over time, and bid optimization is one of the oldest features in the SEM software industry. Automated bidding can work great, but many account managers (particularly agencies and consultants) have neither the budget nor the inclination to pay for an additional system to help them manage their AdWords account, so often the account managers must set bids themselves, which can be a daunting task.
I recently audited a large enterprise account and saw that the account manager had been very busy making bid changes, every three days or so, for the same keyword in many cases ($2.00 –> $12.00 –> $8.00 –> $15.00). Frankly, it looked pretty crazy.

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Four key holiday paid search trends to keep an eye on

During the holidays, there are a million different data points advertisers can look at to see how paid search is performing throughout this crucial shopping period. Depending on business goals and the type of products sold, which of those data points are most important for a particular site can vary widely from one brand to the next.
That said, there are a few overarching trends that apply to many advertisers and which help to set the stage for performance expectations over the coming weeks. Here I’ll outline four interesting paid search trends I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Will Black Friday continue to close the paid search sales gap on Cyber Monday?
Black Friday is for doorbusters. Cyber Monday is for online deals. That’s the way this thing is supposed to go, right?
The lines are blurring on those distinctions, with Black Friday Google paid search sales growth far outpacing that of Cyber Monday last year.
Paid search sales growth from 2015

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9 reasons why search marketers have been at the cutting edge of marketing technology

As marketing functions increasingly rely on technology, Scott Brinker, aka “Chief MarTech,” laid out nine reason he believes search marketers are poised for leadership as marketing becomes increasingly technology-dependent in a keynote presentation at SMX East in New York City last week.
Search marketers, of course, employ any number of tools and technologies in their work, and the industry has spawned hundreds of products and solutions. Brinker outlined how the work of search marketers touches 22 of the 49 categories he has identified in the Marketing Technology Landscape infographic he has been compiling to track the growth in marketing technology companies.
Search marketers engage with the marketing technology categories circled in blue.
Brinker, program chair for the MarTech Conference series and editor VP platform ecosystem at HubSpot, highlighted the core functions of search marketing — testing, analysis, conversion optimization and so on — that encompass the overlap of marketing, technology and management.

With more and more companies creating the role of chief

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