8 awesome must-have tools for B2B startups

8 must-have tools for B2B startups

Building a successful startup can be a challenging task without the right resources. Considering that many young companies start off on a budget, and slowly build their way to the top with a careful investment, it is no surprise that many of them are struggling to keep up with the huge departments of other companies.

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Especially in the Business-to-Business world, where clients require a longer sales cycle and are worth more value, it is extremely important to distribute resources correctly. For this reason, I will show the must-have tools that each B2B startup should use in order to gain maximum efficiency.

  1. Factorial – automate the HR department of your B2B startup

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If you are a startup, you probably don’t have an entire HR department to take care of everything that happens in the office.

FactorialHR is a fully free tool that simplifies the management of holidays, absences, sick leaves, and long-distance work days of your B2B startup. You can use it directly to request an absence, or if you are a manager – to accept it or reject it. On top of that, Factorial allows you to safely upload and store documents like salaries, contracts and IDs directly on the cloud so you can access them anytime.

Price: 100% free!

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      2. Slack – create a digital workspace for you and your teammates

Are you still using e-mail, Skype, or worse – WhatsApp, to communicate with your colleagues and discuss important matters? If the answer is YES, you desperately need a tool to improve your communication and stop wasting time on sending endless e-mails.

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Slack is undoubtedly one of the best tools for B2B startups. It is a cloud-based tool that simplifies communication, organizes conversations through channels and groups, and lets you send direct messages to your colleagues. Some of its features include instant messaging, desktop notifications, task management, file sharing, tagging, and the best of all – it’s perfectly mobile-friendly!

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Price: It is free! The Premium plans start from 6.25 EUR per active user per month, and are billed annually. Additional information on Slack.

    3. Asana – track and manage your team projects efficiently

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How well do you keep track of your projects? In a B2B startup environment, it is easy to get excited with a lot of projects, and take forever to finish them because you are not distributing time and resources efficiently.

Asana is a great tool that helps you create projects, distribute tasks to your team members, share attachments, set due dates, and write down comments for your colleagues to see. It helps you visualize your goals, break them down into specific milestones, and see how well you are doing with your time management! Maybe you will find out that you could have completed a lot of your projects in less time if you had organized your team efficiently.

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Price: The basic version is free. The Premium versions start from $9.99 per member per month, and are billed annually. Additional information on Asana.

     4. KWFinder – when Keyword Planner just isn’t enough

Search Engine Optimization is extremely important for every B2B startup, especially when you are just starting to build your organic positioning. However, sometimes AdWords’ Keyword Planner just isn’t enough for a profound SEO research.

KWFinder is a keyword analysis and research tool perfect for B2B startup companies that want to enhance their SEO strategy. It helps you find long-tail keywords, discover hidden keywords that your competitors might be missing, obtain search volume and metrics, obtain Google SERP analysis, monitor your progress, and even perform local SEO. It is a great and extremely complete tool when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, and provides a lot of features that not many other tools offer.

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Price: Unfortunately, this one is not free, but they have! The prices start from 26 EUR per month, but it comes with 3 other tools – SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, and LinkMiner. Considering the variety of features it offers, the price is definitely worth it for any aspiring startup. Additional information on KWFinder.

     5.  Hootsuite – manage all your social media accounts in half the time 

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As a B2B startup, you will inevitably need to manage at least 2 social accounts, just like any customer-oriented company. The majority of your potential clients probably live on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and even Facebook – so you will need a tool to save you time and make account managing easier.

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Hootsuite is a Social Media Marketing tool that allows you to schedule your posts and publish them all at once across different social platforms, track and prove social Return on Investment through comprehensive reporting, as well as find and filter conversations related to your company. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on your social media positioning, this tool makes things much easier!

Price: There is a free plan that comes with a limitation of 1 user, 3 social profiles and 30 scheduled messages. The Premium plans start from 19 EUR per month.

Note: If you are willing to invest more on Social Media Marketing, Sprout Social is a great alternative that you might wanna check.

     6. HubSpot Manage the customer relationships of your B2B startup efficiently

In a company with B2B orientation, where the customers are other companies and each client has much more value than in B2C, a Customer Relationship Management tool is a must. img_mobile_friendly

HubSpot is a leading platform for Inbound Marketing that helps you automate a lot of Marketing and Sales processes. With their CRM tool, you can keep and manage all your contacts in one place, track interactions and conversations, schedule e-mails and appointments, and manage your entire sales funnel from a single, visual dashboard,

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Price: Their CRM is completely free! And if you want to experience all Marketing Automation features of the company, the prices start from 46 EUR per month. Another great CRM alternative is Salesforce, but it is significantly more expensive.

     7. Google Analytics – explore and analyze your web traffic  

Although Google Analytics is a tool that many digital companies can’t live without, it is surprising how many small businesses are unaware of its benefits – so I had to mention it on the list.

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Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool that helps you track and analyze the traffic that comes to your website. It collects data by tracking users coming from organic search, paid search, referrals, e-mail campaigns and direct search, and compiles it into meaningful reports that help you understand your visitors’ behavior. 

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Price: It is completely free! How awesome is that?

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     8. MailChimp – the complete E-mail Marketing Automation platform

If you are still sending e-mails the old-fashioned way, it is probably taking you a lot more time than it is supposed to take. Thankfully, there are ways to change that!

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MailChimp is an E-mail Marketing Automation tool that helps you create beautifully personalized e-mails and newsletters, launch segmented campaigns to your subscribers, create and manage contact lists, set automated e-mails, analyze audience engagement, and a lot more. By automating the majority of the e-mail processes, this tool is extremely helpful for saving time and interacting with your contacts.

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Congratulations! You are now packed with the essential tools to boost your B2B startup efficiently even if you are on a budget. Good luck!

The 5 Don’ts of E-mail Marketing

5 don´ts of e-mail marketing

Out of every branch of Marketing, E-mail Marketing has to be my absolute least favorite one. Even as a passionate Marketer, I have to be honest – if you are doing it wrong, it could easily be the most annoying thing ever. 

There are number of reasons why E-mail Marketing is quite efficient and really cheap method of capturing potential clients. I don’t doubt it. However, because a lot of gift-giving or promotional campaigns are designed around E-mail Marketing, it is easy to overuse it or take into an aggressive direction.

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Gif source: HubSpot

If a person subscribes to your blog or website because they want more from you, great! You can be relaxed that your content will arrive to people who want to receive it.

However, if you offered discounts, e-books or other e-gifts in exchange for a subscription or registration, there is a very high chance that people subscribed for the gifts – and will not be happy if you overuse their e-mail for constant campaigns. And many companies forget that.

So, here are 5 Don’ts to avoid in order to keep an E-mail Marketing campaign successful (and not scare subscribers away):

  1. Don’t abuse the subject line

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Photo source: Optinmonster.com

The subject line is one of the most important elements of any E-mail campaign. According to OptinMonster, almost 70% a company’s subscribers will consider an e-mail  a spam because of a too aggressive subject line.

With all the amazing ideas out there, it is extremely tempting to write catchy subject lines that will wake up the curiosity within your user, such as:

  • “We need to talk”
  • “Don’t open this e-mail”
  • “We have bad news…”
  • “There is still time…”

I have seen these as examples of catchy subject lines with high open rates. However, be careful with them, as you risk creating false expectations that your e-mail might not live up to. Just because they are proved to have high open rates doesn’t mean that they will actually provide any value – and why do you need people opening your e-mail, getting disappointed, and unsubscribing – or even worse, putting you in spam?

It means nothing to catch the user’s attention and lose it in the long run.

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On top of that, people receive various e-mails per day by many companies, so it is possible that these lines are not even original anymore.

Instead of using meaningless subject lines, try to sum up what your e-mail will be about in a creative way. Here are a few examples:

  • 10 Killer Content Marketing Tools;
  • Reach your audience…without their contact information.
  • Copy our 7 Best Facebook ads of 2016;
  • Here’s the REAL reason Amazon is buying Whole Foods.

If you need more examples, Digial Marketer has a long list of e-mail subject lines (try to focus more on the ones from the second type, and less on the first type!)

     2. Don’t go too far with e-mail frequency 

Exactly how often you will send e-mail updates to your subscribers can be a little bit tricky. If you rarely send any e-mails to your database, you are not really using it for the purpose that you gathered the information for. But, at the same time you don’t want to be the spammy, annoying company that seems to be spying on the user because they send him/her messages more often than their significant other.

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So, how much is enough?

Of course, there isn’t a magical number that fits everyone. According to SendGrid, send rates across industries range from 3 e-mails a month up to 25 e-mails a month (25??? This is insane!).

As always, the best option would be to test it out for yourself and your specific industry – there are tools like MailChimp that allow you to see how subscribers react to your e-mail (open rate and click rate). Obviously, if you see that too many users are unsubscribing, you might need to try out with another frequency.

Personally, I think that 1 or 2 times per week is more than enough to spread your message without annoying your subscribers.  Working in a B2B company, I like to stick to once per week, and I think that this is a reasonable number for many other companies.

    3. Don’t leave out the unsubscribe option

It might be tempting to exclude or hide the unsubscribe option in your e-mail template – obviously, you don’t want users to leave, right? The thing is, if they want to leave, they will, and making it difficult for them will only make things worse – for you.

Unsubscribing is not that bad – the majority of the people might still love your company and your products. Only because they don’t want to receive e-mails any longer doesn’t mean that you have forever lost a potential client. So there is no need to panic.

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The easier you make unsubscribing, the better. Making users enter into their accounts, open different pages, or answer various questions before opting out will only annoy them, and you risk being flagged as a spam. E-mail service providers keep a blacklist of domains, so if too many people flag you as spam, you risk being penalized.

    4. Don’t make E-mail Marketing campaigns about you

Let me tell you a little secret: people love to hear about themselves. You already knew that? My bad – I just needed to let it slip.

Use this in your favor. Don’t send hundreds of e-mails talking about how amazing your company is, how wonderful are your products, and how you are far better than the competition – even if it’s true, nobody cares. People care about what you can do for them – which one of their problems are you solving?

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Instead, when you design your e-mail campaign, focus on what problem you solve for your clients. How much time your product saves them. How much money your amazing discount saves them. How they can sleep better using your product. How your service makes them gain more clients.

Many Marketing specialists recommend personalizing your e-mail campaign with the names of your subscribers – feel free to do it. Although from a customer’s perspective, I don’t care so much if a company calls me by my name – I care about what value it provides me. 

But, personalizing the e-mail can be really efficient, so don’t forget about it when designing your e-mail campaign!

   5. Don’t send your e-mails without testing them

Before you launch your E-mail campaign, it is essential that you test it with your team. MailChimp, among with other similar SaaS companies, allows you not only to pre-visualize your content before sending it, but also to send it to yourself for testing.

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Make sure that your e-mail template has a responsive design that will look equally good on all devices and screen sizes – after all, the way you see it on your mobile will not be the same as if you are opening the e-mail on your computer. Thus said, don’t forget about optimizing your campaign to be mobile-friendly!

Additionally, you must check whether all of your links function correctly, if there is no misplacement of words or segments, and that you don’t have any typos. 

There is nothing less professional than sending a badly written e-mail with links that don’t function.

And a bonus Don’t, but not less important:

DO NOT BUY E-MAIL LISTS. NEVER. Spamming people that didn’t even subscribe to you? Just DON’T.

Well, that’s all from me for now! I hope you enjoyed this article, and stay tuned for more!

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The 10 Commandments of LinkedIn networking

LinkedIn networking

If something clearly makes LinkedIn different from other social channels, it is the fact that is not a “fast-food” platform. It is a long-term commitment on creating and nurturing relationships with people who share similar interests.

Surprisingly enough, I still find a lot of people who still can’t grasp the concept of business networking. And it just boils my blood and chills my bones to see professionals who are treating LinkedIn like a sales pitch platform, or a place where they need constant validation to feel special.

So let’s clarify some things about business networking on LinkedIn, and maybe learn something from it to become better professionals and human beings.

The 10 Commandments of LinkedIn networking

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  1. Thou shalt not take the attitude “I only connect with people that I know”.

People with this attitude just blow my mind. I am sorry, do you not get the concept of networking? LinkedIn has more than 500 million members worldwide, and if only want to stick with the people that you know, just go ahead and use Facebook.

If the founders of LinkedIn had the narrow-minded idea of limiting users to their comfort zone, LinkedIn would have never even existed. This business-oriented network was created with the purpose of providing a virtual space where people can find others of their “species” and connect with them easily.

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Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean that you should go ahead and add everyone randomly. This is not what business networking is, and will not provide you with any value. But do the effort to connect with people who share the same interests with you, and where you see potential to form future business relationships. This is what LinkedIn networking is all about.

    2. Thou shalt not take the attitude “I only connect with people who give me a reason to”.

Another thing that I see way too often are people who feel so special and important that they will refuse to accept an invite because the person hasn’t provided any justification or valid reason for the connection.

Well, let me burst your bubble: nobody owes you an explanation on why they want to connect with you. They found you, they saw your profile, they saw your title, and they decided that you will be a good fit for their network for some reason.

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Luckily for you, LinkedIn provides you with great features such as “ignore” the invitation, “mark as spam”, “block”, between others. You are by no means obligated to accept the invitation.

Check the person’s profile, take a look at his experience and your mutual connections, and if you don’t see anything in common that might interest you, just don’t accept the invitation. There is no need to message him/her asking for an explanation like they owe you one. It is a networking platform, not an office.

    3. Thou shalt not connect with people solely for sales reasons.

Connecting and messaging someone just because you want to sales pitch your products? Just don’t. Nobody likes that, it is annoying, and is highly likely that you will be marked as spam – and LinkedIn can shut down your profile if you are marked as spam too often.

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As I said, LinkedIn is a long-term focused platform, so be patient and do not demand immediate results because they are probably not going to happen. Get to know your connections, interact with them, and publish posts and articles that provide value for them; sooner of later the results will come without having to annoy the people that you are interested in connecting with.

And if you are looking for short-term solutions, maybe you can try out other platforms.

   4. Thou shalt not expose other people publicly.

This one is kind of self-explanatory, but whenever you are unhappy with a connection, don’t expose them to the public even if you are in your right. It is just not professional.

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Mark them as spam, warn LinkedIn if needed, even call the police if you feel threatened ;but keep it professional and don’t shout out names in public. You are not on Facebook (well, you shouldn’t do that on Facebook either – these things are just not elegant).

   5. Thou shalt not register their company as an individual connection

It seems to be trending that some companies register themselves with a personal account for individuals, and send annoying sales pitch messages directly to the connections that accept them.

Well, for these companies LinkedIn created this special, magic feature called ”Company page”, where you can register – guess what– your company! There is a reason that you cannot send direct messages to other connections from a company page. And why would you do that?

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If you see a potential client, it is much more professional and personal to send him a direct message through your own account – he can see which is the company that you are working for.

There is no need to make an individual account for your business, and many people will not accept such connection anyway as they are here for networking with real people. It might be a different story for other social platforms, but LinkedIn cares about personal connections rather than companies spamming around.

    6. Thou shall avoid ignoring direct messages as much as possible

If you are a person who receives a lot of direct daily messages, you might be tempted to ignore the majority of them. I know that it can be stressful to be constantly engaged with your connections, but isn’t what LinkedIn networking is all about?

Don’t forget that there is another human being on the other side of the computer. Just a simple ”No, thank, I’m not interested”, or just ”Thank you!”, is not that time-consuming, and you will let people know that they should move on with other clients/recruiters/partners etc.

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And who knows, maybe one day you will need them as well! Even if you don’t, a little respect never hurt anybody – and yes, I try to respond with a simple ”Thank you” even to annoying sales pitch messages.

     7. Thou shall not be scared to do a follow-up with a connection

Whether you have contacted a recruiter, a potential partner or client, or just someone for an advice, it’s OK to follow-up if he doesn’t respond within a week or two. After all, people are not constantly on LinkedIn, and it is possible that they have forgotten.

Just remember to stay respectful and not act like the person owes you something. If they ignore you a second time (ah, breaking the 6th commandment!), maybe it’s time to move on.

    8. Thou shall always stay true to himself

Whatever you do on LinkedIn (and in real life), always stay honest and true to yourself. Don’t publish fake news, ads, exaggerated posts about your products and services. Your company does not need to be perfect and sell the best product there ever was.

After all, people want to connect with your brand on a personal level, and they can forgive you for not being perfect if you provide them with the exact value they need.

Stay true to your words and build yourself a solid reputation. In LinkedIn networking, it matters.

      9. Thou shall not share their whole personal life on LinkedIn

We have Facebook for that. Just kidding – don’t share your entire personal life on Facebook neither. Or on any social platform at all. Actually, on the Internet.

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   10. Thou shall not be afraid to approach third connections

Many people like to limit themselves to only adding people they know, or second connections at best. Well, third connections are actually human beings that want to network as well! Don’t be afraid to approach them if you consider that you can create a valuable relationship with them.

And most of all, remember that you don’t owe them an explanation on why you want to connect – sure, a personal message can definitely help, and feel free to write it if you want so, but it is optional! I am tired of people who feel so special and arogant that you need to pump up their ego before having the ”honor” of connecting with them.

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LinkedIn is a social media platform for networking, not the Sillicon Valley – so let’s not forget the purpose it was created for.

Introduction to SEM for beginners #GoDigital

SEM 2 TRIAL

Money can’t buy everything…but it can buy you ad space on Google. As advertising on TV has become rather obsolete for catching up with millennials, companies have smartly moved towards Digital Marketing and advertising in order to capture clients in their second home: the Internet.

Today, we are going to talk about SEM or Search Engine Marketing, aka the paid way to appear on the first pages of Google.

As I very briefly mentioned in my previous post on SEO, there are two ways to appear among the first results on a search engine:

  • SEO – the free way. By creating a good quality website and getting people to talk about you in their own webpage, you can get a high ranking on Google without having to spend a single cent at all. Getting clients and traffic to your website for free sounds great, right? It does! But what’s the catch? The catch is that it doesn’t happen overnight – it is a long-term commitment, and you have to develop a sustainable Marketing strategy that covers all aspects of SEO. Search Engine Optimization is often referred as organic, because people are interested in your services and naturally come to your website without clicking on an ad.

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  • SEM – the paid way. If waiting for at least an year to start appearing on the first pages of Google is not your cup of tea, and you are okay with spending some money on advertising, this is the solution for you! Search Engine Marketing allows you to place ads on Google through a bidding system, but we will go into much more detail in a couple of minutes. For now, all you have to remember is that SEM is a short-term way to position higher on a search engine, but you will have to sacrifice some money to the god of the Internet, Google (just kidding, SEM is actually very effective!).

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Okay, great! So instead of focusing on both SEO and SEM, can I choose only one?

No! No, don’t do that. SEO and SEM actually complement each other, so unless you really don’t have any budget to spend on Google ads, in an ideal situation you should be doing both. SEO brings visitors interested in the content of your website, and SEM is in charge of those people who want to hear your best offers and discounts at the moment of searching.

In other words, try to get the best of both worlds in order to attract as many visitors as possible to your website.

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Awesome! Now that we clarified that, let’s move on the basics of Search Engine Marketing. But before we dive deep into the more technical part of it, I think it’s important to understand how it works from the perspective of the user and the perspective of the company (the advertiser):

SEM from the user’s perspective

Let’s say that you are looking for a new computer, but you have no idea where to start from. You know some brands, maybe some models, but you are not sure whether Dell, HP, or MacBook will be the best one for you. So, its time to do some search. And who knows everything about computers? That’s right – Google! So you sit down in front of your current laptop and go to google.com. Here, a few things happen.

  • Short-tail keywords – at this point of your search, you have no idea which computer brands look more appealing to you, so you type in some generic, short-tail keywords, like “laptops” or “best computers”. Google returns you some results, probably some articles with useful information, or even some shops that sell laptops, such as in the example below:

best computers - sem - google search

  • Mid-tail keywords – Unfortunately, you decide that the information you received from Google doesn’t really help you decide which computer is the best for you. It was too generic, and you need something more specific. You need a light, not too expensive laptop to take with you to the University, so you decide to type in “best laptops for students” or “best laptops for under $500”, which are mid-tail keywords:

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  • Long-tail keywords – you are getting closer to your next dream computer! Now that you have received more specific information that takes into account your personal needs (college student, price for under $500) by typing mid-tail keywords, you read through the articles and decide that HP will be your preferred brand. But you haven’t decided on the model yet, so you need to do some more search. At this point of the search process, you are deciding between various models and computer parameters, so you get even more specific with long-tail keywords such as “hp envy 13 inch 8G RAM”, or “hp envy 13 AB002ns Intel”:

google seo sem search engine results computers

Congratulations! After a bit more searching, you have finally found your next computer, so you run happily to the closest store, or buy it online while you are still in pajamas! And one additional achievement – you already know how the search process works! I am proud of you.

Generally, when people search on Google, they start with short-tail keywords, and build their way up to mid-tail and long-tail keywords. This is because as we read more and more information on the topic or product that interests us, we start making up our minds on what exactly is that we are looking for. As in the example that I just showed you, we started from researching on generic brands of computers, and ended up comparing very specific models. Of course, people are different and might do their search differently, but this is the most common behavior, and knowing well its patterns will be important on how we build our Marketing strategy.

SEM from the perspective of the company

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Let’s say that you are a company selling computers, and you want to do some advertising in order to attract more clients. However, you don’t want all kinds of people clicking on your ad, because every time someone clicks on your ad, it costs you money. You want people that are looking to buy a computer to click on your ad. But how do you filter them from the rest? How can you know who exactly wants to buy a computer?

The answer is: keywords.

Because your potential customers use keywords such as “best laptop models” or “best laptops for under $500” to find information and interesting offers, you need to use the same or similar keywords to the ones that they are using. Why?

Because if I am looking for “best discounts on HP computers” and your shop happens to offer “the best discounts on HP computers”, my search term will match your keyword, and we will find each other. In other words, I will get exactly the discounts that I am looking for, and you will get a potential client who wants to buy a computer from you.

Huh, this sounds complicated! I cannot read people’s minds! How do I find out what keywords are the best to include in my ad?

No worries; it is not that complicated. Google AdWords, the platform that you will use to create and publish your ads on Google, provides you with a free tool called Keyword Planner that helps you research keywords, and find the best ones for your business. Additionally, there are many other tools out there such as KWFinder.

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Keyword Planner allows you to research keywords, obtain ideas, and find the ones that best describe the purpose of your ad and the services that you offer. As a general rule, you want to strive for keywords that have a lot of average monthly searches and low competition. However, this can vary between sectors and industries.

What you need to remember is that you need to do a good keyword research before publishing your ad. Try to think from a customer’s perspective: “If I was a person looking for computers, what keywords would I use? How would I perform my search?“, and don’t forget to use the keyword tools that we already mentioned to support your research.

Obviously, each company, services, sector and industry are very specific, so there is not a unique and single answer – you need to try out different keywords and see which ones work the best for you. But, as I already explained in my previous post on SEO, try to get more specific with your keywords rather than going for generic ones.

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Google AdWords

Google AdWords is an online advertising tool that lets you create ads and reach the right people at the right time, in the right place. It is made up of two networks: Google Search Network and Google Display Network – together, they make up around 80% of Digital Marketing.

  • Google Display Network – it accounts for around 30% of your Digital Marketing efforts, and it allows you to showcase products in rich media formats such as images and videos.

Photo by: DigitalVerge.net

With Google Display, you can show your ads on all websites that partner with Google, such as YouTube, Blogger, and even G-mail.

  • Google Search Network – it allows you to set up your advertising campaigns via keywords, and get displayed on the top of search results. As you can see below, the first result is an ad with the keyword “best hp offers”, and the second result is coming from SEO efforts, so it is not an ad.

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Today, we are going to focus exclusively on the Search Network, because it accounts for more than 50% of your Digital Marketing efforts.

Google Search Network

Google AdWords allows you to create and publish text ads that will appear on the first pages of Google after a user has typed in the keywords that you have assigned to your ad.

Let’s go back to the computer shop example. Imagine that your shop sells only HP, Dell, and Apple computers, and you want to set up a campaign for each brand.

In this case HP, Dell, and Apple will be your ad campaigns, and the different categories for each brand will be your ad groups, such as tablets or ultrabooks. Of course, this is only an example, and you can decide for yourself how you want to categorize your services or products.

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To each specific ad group, such as Ultrabooks, Tablets or MacBook Air, you will assign ideally 5-20 keywords that best describe each product. Later on, you can remove some, modify others, and add new ones, but we are not going to enter into detail here – the goal is to get the general picture. After all, AdWords allows you to make changes to your campaigns in real time, so you can try different ads and see which ones work best.

After you have selected the keywords that best describe your product or service, you assign them to an ad. There are different ways to assign keywords:

  • Broad match – for example, “computers”. When a potential customer types in “computers”, Google will show all the results that contain the keyword “computer”, including synonyms and misspellings – however, it is dangerous because it is too generic, and you might attract the wrong people. After all, you want people who are interested in buying computers to click on your ad, not people who just want to read about computers.

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  • Broad modified match – it is almost the same as broad match, but excludes synonyms. So, if a user typed on Google “computers”, he will not receive results that contain the keyword “laptops”, as the search engine excludes synonyms. You assign a broad modified match by adding the (+) sign: +computers

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  • Phrase match – the search results must include the phrase that you’ve assigned to your ad. For example, if your keyword is “best laptops“, Google can show results including “best laptops in 2017″, or “tips on buying the best laptops“. Just add quotes (” “) around the term.

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  • Exact match – Google will show only the search results that include the exact keyword, without anything in front of it or behind it. If you assigned the keyword  “best laptops” to your ad, Google will not show “best laptops in 2017”, as it includes more words that you’ve assigned to the ad. Just add brackets [ ] around the term, such as [best laptops].

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  • Negative match – this option allows you to exclude keywords that you don’t want to be associated with your ad. Just add the minus sign (-) before the terms that you want to exclude.

You can make as many ads as you want, as many campaigns as you want, and as many ad groups as you want. You can assign one ad to a whole ad campaign, or ideally a different ad for each group – it is really all up to you. 

This is an example of an ad of the HP Store in Spain, and it appeared after I searched “HP laptops”:

HP ad

Before we move on to the next part, take into account these things:

  • The ads you will see after typing a keyword on Google will also be based on your previous searches and history, so you might see different ads than your friend who used the exact same keyword.
  • Google may not show any ads if it doesn’t consider it appropriate for the keyword that you used;

Basic terms for Search Engine Marketing 

After you start creating ads on Google, you will stumble across a few specific terms that might sound unfamiliar. Let’s decode them:

  • Impressions – the number of times your ad appeared on Google after someone typed in a specific keyword. In this example, I typed in ”keyword tool”, and two ads appeared – so each of them received 1 impression because of my Google search.

keyword tool

  • Clicks – one thing is to see an ad, and another one is to click on it. On the Google Search network, you only pay if someone clicks on your ad – if they saw it but didn’t click, you don’t have to pay.

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  • CTR (Click-through rate) – the ratio of clicks/impressions. In other words, if your ad appeared 100 times, and only 10 people clicked on it, your CTR is 10%. The more people click on your ad, the better your CTR becomes – and the less you have to pay per click, because Google considers that your ad matches well with whatever the user is looking for.

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  • CPM (Cost per Thousand/Mil) – this is a metric that refers only to Google Display Network (you only pay per click on search, remember?). In other words, this is the amount of money that an advertiser is charged per 1000 impressions of his ad.

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  • Conversion – when the user completes a specific goal on your website, such as downloading a pdf, subscribing to a newsletter, or filling in the registration form.
  • CPL / CPA – (Cost per Lead/Cost per Action) – the amount of money that the advertiser pay when the user completes a goal on the website, or performs a specific action previously defined by the advertiser.

How does Google decide which ads to show and on which position?

Have you noticed how incredibly fast is Google when showing you results? I just typed in the keyword ”adwords bidding”, and I received 476,000 results in 0.37 seconds!

adwords bidding

During these 0.37 seconds, there is a lot that happens behind the scenes that users don’t see. Let’s say that you are looking for cruises in Norway. You go to Google, type in ”cruises Norway”, and get your results almost immediately, in 0.58 seconds.

cruises norway adwords results

During these 0.58 seconds, Google managed to show me 4 different ads from 4 different companies. But how does Google decide which ads to show me, and in what order?

Every time you search for something and type in your keywords, Google runs an auction in order to decide the ads that will appear in the first search results. In this case, my keyword was ”cruises norway”, and because four companies have assigned this keyword to their ads, Google will make them compete between each other based on two factors:

  • Maximum bid – the maximum amount that you are willing to pay per click;
  • Quality score – your ad quality and relevance.

Because Google cares about showing users the highest quality ads for their search term (=keywords), the company willing to pay the highest price per click is not necessarily the one that will appear on the first result.

For this reason, Google decides in which order ads will appear on the first page by calculating the maximum bid and quality of the ad of each company in the auction:

Image result for max bid ad rank

If you are willing to pay a high price, but the quality of your ad is not good, your position will be worse. If your ad quality is amazing, but you are willing to spend much less than the others, your position will be worse as well. In other words, you have to find the balance between your maximum price per click and your ad quality.

What makes for a good quality ad?

A good quality ad consists of three components:

  • CTR (Click-through rate) – it allows users to vote with their clicks for the best ad. After all, they are the ones who decide which one of the ads delivers what they are looking for better than the others. The better your CTR, the better position you will get between the first results! If nobody clicks on your ad, try with a different version or keywords.

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  • Relevance – how well does the ad relates to the keywords? In other words, does the ad delivers exactly the information that the user looked for?
  • Landing page – a landing page is literally the page where the user ”landed” when he clicked on the ad. Was it helpful to the user? Did it deliver the information that he wanted to find? A good landing page provides useful and well-structured information, has a neat design, loads fast, and makes website navigation easy for the user.

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We are almost finished with the basics of Search Engine Marketing! Before you go away, I recommend you to watch this video where the chief economist of Google Hal Varian explains us how the auctions happen. And just a couple of very important things before you go:

  • If your maximum bid was $5 dollars per click, but the advertiser below you will only pay a maximum of $2 dollars, you will not pay $5 dollars for a click. You will only pay just enough to beat the competitor below you.
  • Your ad rank will be your position on the first page (or second in some cases) of Google.
  • If your ad does not have a good quality according to Google, it may decide to not show it at all until you improve it.

I hope you find this post helpful!

See you in the next article, and thanks for reading!

Ani

Introduction to SEO for beginners #GoDigital

Digital Marketing series for beginners

If you are new to Search Engine Optimization, it is not difficult to get overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. It is a lot, it is confusing, and you will probably get frustrated when trying to connect the pieces – I have been there.

confusion 1

If this is you every time you read the word SEO, welcome to the right article

So, let’s find out what is this SEO that is suddenly interfering with our lives, and what exactly are we supposed to do with it.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

It all comes down to one thing: search engines. And search engines all come down to one thing as well: Google. Now, I am absolutely aware that Google is not the only search engine out there, but let’s be honest – the only reason that people use Bing is to get to Google.

Resultado de imagen de search engine market share 2017

So, every time we want to search something, such as “how to cultivate potatoes”, or “why is Donald Trump president of the United States”, we go to a search engine. Because the Internet is really, really big, and exploring it manually would take us a few light years just to answer one question, search engines like Google have developed algorithms that deliver information in the matter of milliseconds.

Woah!”, you will say. ”And how do they do that?

I am glad you asked! As we already said, the Internet is a really, really big place, with billions of webpages, so in order for Google to search all of them and find the exact information that we need, it uses software programs called spiders.Image result for spiders google

As the engineer of Google Matt Cutts explains in this short video, when you are searching for something on Google, you are not actually searching the web – you are searching Google’s index (or copy) of the web. In other words, Google uses the so-called spiders to crawl and photocopy billions of webpages every day, creating a searchable library of relevant information.

So every time you go to Google.com and type in your search term, millions of spiders crawl this library of information to find and deliver the answer that you are looking for.

SEO search engine optimization

So, because Google processes over 40,000 searches every second, and 3.5 billion every day, every company wants to appear on the first pages of Google! But since there is no space for everyone there, Google gets to decide who goes on the first pages, and who are the unlucky guys to end up on the last pages where no one ever visits, and there is only darkness. And that’s where the magic of Search Engine Optimization happens.

So, are you going to tell me what is Search Engine Optimization or not?

Yes, we are getting there. Thank you for the patience. Basically, Search Engine Optimization is everything you do to prepare for the competition to appear on the first pages of Google. In other words, if you are a racing car competing in Formula 1, SEO will be equivalent to the construction of the car and the development of the racing strategy.

pumpkin spice latte

In your case, you will have to build your website and authority as a company in such a way that Google will want to place it on the first pages for free. (I am putting an emphasis on “for free” because there is a paid way to get there, but we will talk about in the next article).

I want to appear on the first pages of Google! How do I do that?

Yes, we all want that! I want it too. My blog isn’t even indexed by Google yet 🙂 (sigh)

However, optimizing your website for search engines takes time, effort, and commitment. Google, and of course other engines, they want to know that you are in for the long run. They want to make sure that when a user is looking for a piece of information, such as ”dank memes”, they will be be able to deliver the best dank memes ever.

Image result for memes marketing

So in order to tell Google that your website happens to offer the best memes ever, there are some things that you will have to do to call Google’s attention.

On-page vs. Off-page 

SEO can be summarized in two big dimensions (or factors, if you wish):

  • On-page – on-page actions are all about your website. Is your website easy to navigate? Does it load fast? Does it provide all the necessary information that users are looking for? Are you using keywords to let the search engine know what your website is about? On-page activities accounts for 30% of your SEO efforts.

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  • Off-page – off-page actions are all about your domain authority. It is determined by the external links pointing to your website. They are important because Google uses external links to decide how popular and trustworthy is your company and your webpage. So, if many people are talking about you on the web, and make a reference to you in their own websites, blogs, comments, etc, Google will trust you for being a credible source of information, and you will be positioned better on its  first pages. External links account for 70% of your SEO efforts, and I will explain them in detail in a few minutes.

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Great! So far, so good. We discovered that you can appear on the first pages of Google by offering good website quality + making others talk about you. Now let’s dig a little bit deeper:

On-page factor

As we already said, if you want to rank (=position) higher in search engine results, you will need a great website. What are the main factors that make a great website?

Content relevance 

Whether you are selling potatoes or propeller airplanes, you will need to provide useful and relevant content to your users – so when a person who searches on Google types in “best sorts of potatoes”, and you happen to be a potato consultant, he lands on your page instead of your competitor’s.

So, study your target audience, research what they are looking for, and deliver it to them. Instead of desperately trying to sell your product, try to provide value and relevance by sharing useful information and insights.

Nowadays, users are not satisfied with basic information. Make sure to provide meaningful insights not only about your company and its services, but also about the industry and the sector that you are operating in.

  • Find a niche or unexplored topics to write about in your blog;
  • Landing pages – When a user clicks on your search result, they should find exactly what they are looking for. Do your Landing pages provide all the necessary information? Are they mobile optimized?
  • Page layout – whether it is your blog or another page within your website, it should be well-structured, visual, and rich in good-quality content.
  • Ad placement – do not saturate your webpage with ads, and make sure that they are not too aggressive.

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Keywords

Keywords are the main ingredient of SEO. They are specific words (as if it wasn’t obvious) that describe the topic or the idea that you are writing about, and they serve to guide both users and Google towards the main message of your content.

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So, before you write and publish any content on your website, you will have to decide the keywords that best describe the message that you want to send to the audience. There are a lot of free and paid SEO tools such as Keyword Planner and KWFinder that help you find the best keywords for your content.

  • Short-tail – these are the keywords that you want to avoid focusing on. They are usually composed of only one or two words, such as ”phones” or ”mobile phones”, and because they are very generic, you won’t be able to target your audience correctly. For example, if a user is using the search term “Samsung Galaxy 7″ and your shop only sells iPhones, the keyword ”mobile phone” might bring the wrong audience to your website. After all, you don’t want users searching for Samsung if you are not selling any. Besides, because they are the most searched ones, they have a lot of competition, increasing the difficulty for you to appear on the first pages.

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  • Mid-tail – these keywords are usually the better choice, because they allow you to be more specific when preparing your content. For example, “Siberian husky accessories” or ”Buy video games”. They normally have less competition, although less people are typing them on Google search as well. But they allow you to describe your posts or other types of texts better, and portray successfully the right message.

Image result for short tail keywords

  • Long-tail – these keywords are extremely specific, for example ”laptop HP Envy 13 sn0001 model”, or ”Security regulations for hotels”. They have low to average competition and average traffic, but higher conversion rate. In other words, if you choose the right ones that define your business or services, you can expect pretty good results.

There is a lot more to say about keywords, but because this is only an introduction to SEO, we are not going to get into too much detail. The idea is to get the bigger picture. Let’s move on to other On-page SEO factors!

Navigation

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To have a higher possibility of scoring the first positions on Google search, your website should be fast and easy to navigate. If you are trying to saturate it with too much information that is chaotically scattered all over the website, you risk losing the attention of the audience (and Google).

Google expects your webpages to load in 2 seconds or less, so don’t underestimate this factor. Compress files and images when needed, order your information by categories, have a good website architecture, and structure your posts and Landing pages in a way that’s easily readable by users. Make sure to get rid of 404 error pages and fix links that are not working.

Other navigation factors:

  • Sitemaps – include a sitemap for your users, and another one for Google. Sitemaps guide Google through your website and get your content indexed faster.
  • Mobile optimization – make sure that your website is optimized for mobile phones. Nowadays, more than 46% of the searches are done via mobile.
  • Google Search Console integration – a set of tools that help your site get verified and indexed by Google faster;

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Blog

Blogs are extremely important for SEO. I have had people telling me that their website doesn’t need a blog because it’s self-sufficient, but the truth is, it isn’t. Maintaining a blog means that you will get fresh content regularly, and Google’s spiders love to crawl pages that are updated regularly.

If you only have static pages that don’t get new content, Google will crawl your website less often. Which is not good, because the algorithm of search engines is designed to seek the newest and most recently updated content for its users. If your content seems obsolete, you will have less overall authority.

These are the factors to consider when writing a blog:

  • Keep the titles of your blog posts under 60 characters – otherwise, when your post shows up on Google, users will not see its full title;
  • Try to use a different focus keyword for each post;
  • Keep a good keyword density – repeating a keyword too many times is considered a bad SEO practice by Google;
  • The keyword should appear in the title, the first paragraph, and at least one of your H2 headings; it should also appear in the meta description (a tag that summarizes your content).
  • Recommended minimum of a post is 300 words;
  • Add visuals (images, videos, gifs) and write short, well-structured paragraphs to make it more easily readable;
  • Include internal and external links; internal links are the ones that take the user to another place within your website, and the external take him to other websites.
  • Improve URL structure;
  • Use alt texts to help your images get indexed as well.
  • Anchor text – this is the clickable text within your link – it should include your focus keywords, but be careful when writing anchor texts for external links – you don´t want other websites to score for your keyword.

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Off-page factor

As we already mentioned, off-page SEO is all about the links and your domain authority. In other words, everything that has to do with building your reputation to make users and Google trust in you, and consider you a reliable source of information. Off-page factors account for 70% of your SEO efforts.

What are the Off-page SEO factors?

Link building

Search engines use an algorithm to decide which websites show up on the first pages, and one of the most important factors is link building. If you have a lot of diverse, high-quality links from external sources pointing to you website, you let Google know that people refer to you and rely on you as an important source of information.

When someone puts a hyperlink within his website or blog pointing to yours, Google considers it as a vote of trust. But of course, not all links are created equal, and some have higher power than others to position you between the first results.

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Which are the pages with the highest authority?

  • Government – the official website of the government is extremely valuable and will help you rank higher. Getting the government to refer to you via a hyperlink can be extremely challenging, but if you manage to do it, it will improve your authority significantly, because it will mean that a government institution votes for you as an expert on a certain topic.
  • Universities and other educational institutions – some of the pages with the highest authority assigned by Google. Same as the government – if you manage to get them pointing to your website, good for you!
  • Associations – if you are offering services in a certain industry, try to identify the associations related to this industry, and build your strategy around obtaining a link from them.
  • Good media – reputable magazines and newspapers are a great way to improve your authority.

However, the science behind link building doesn’t end there! Search engines also take into consideration the following:

  • Number of linking domains – how many unique domains are pointing to your website?
  • Number of linking pages – diversity is key, so try to diversify your sources. If only one domain or page is pointing to you, it is not a good overall sign.
  • Authority of domain – as we already said, we need high-quality links to refer to our content. Building your links from websites with high authority has much stronger power over ranking than spam or dodgy webpages.
  • Link anchor –  does the anchor text of the link include the keywords you want to be associated with?
  • Relevance – if you are selling Marketing services, getting a link from a website dedicated to truck manufacturing is not great. Try to get links from websites and companies that are related to whatever you’re doing.

Social engagement

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Being present on multiple social media platforms, and more importantly, engaging with them, is also another essential factor for building your authority and increasing your Google ranking.

Interacting with your followers on social media will not only get you the so-loved clicks, views, and shares, but it will provide value and take more people to your website. Whether you are B2B or B2C oriented, social media is key for building a community and creating relationships with your users – and essentially, building authority and trust.

Domain authority

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Domain authority is one of the most important factors when it comes to positioning yourself on the first pages of Google. It was first introduced by the analytics company Moz, and it is determined by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Spam score – if all external links pointing to your website come from the same domain or webpage, you are a large website with only a few links, or you have little to no content, the search engine might penalize you and decrease your domain authority. On the contrary, if you offer diversified links related to your industry, authority will go up.
  • Root domains – the number of unique domains pointing to you;
  • Inbound links – internal and external links pointing to a URL within your website;

…and others. I’ve already entered into detail in another post, so I am not going to dive deep in this one – but you can read more on domain authority here.

How do I get other websites to link to mine?

Image result for link building

Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks here! It can be challenging, and it requires some work. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Exchanging links – one technique is to trade links with another blogger, influencer, or company – in other words, if they place one about you in their website, you will do the same.
  • Exceptional content – writing in-depth content that provides value, such as an infographic or an extensive guide on a topic will make people share it around. It will not happen overnight, but building an exceptional content that covers a topic from head to toes will do wonders in the long run.

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  • Guest posting – you can write and publish articles for another person’s blog, and they can do the same for you in exchange! Reach out to bloggers and influencers, and make them an offer for guest posting. Just don’t copy and paste the same article on both blogs -Google doesn’t like that, and you will be penalized.
  • Press releases – preparing press releases and sending them out to magazines, newspapers, and other influencers, can definitely help you score some external links.

Of course, there are a lot more ways to do that! I recommend you to read this webpage for more information on that.

And remember: Search Engine Optimization is a long-term commitment, so be patient and prepare a good strategy to work on! I hope I managed to explain the basics of SEO in this article.

This post was inspired and based on the amazing Digital Marketing classes of Victor Magariño, a former Google director and current Associate professor at Universidad Carlos III of Madrid.

Thank you for reading!

How to check the domain authority of your website

fabian-irsara-92113

What is domain authority?

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, one of the most important factors that will determine how high you rank on the first pages of Google is domain authority. But what exactly is it and what does it say about your website?

Domain authority is a competitive metric that was first introduced by the analytics company Moz to determine the probability of your website ranking higher on Google. In other words, if you are trying to position yourself with specific keywords, and your competition has chosen the same ones, the one that has higher domain authority has better possibilities to score a better position.

How is domain authority determined?

It is determined based on a combination of metrics. To explain them better, I will use as an example the official website of Coca-Cola: http://www.cocacola.com

So let’s go ahead and paste the URL in the Moz Open Site Explorer tool:

moz open site explorer

The tool returns a variety of metrics, so let’s take a deeper look in what each one of them means.

cocacola moz

Domain Authority: this is the search engine ranking score used to predict your possibilities for ranking higher on Google. Obviously, the bigger the number is, the better. In this case, Coca-Cola has an authority of 68/100, which is a pretty good score, although it has a lot of room for improvement. However, it is important to know that the higher your score is, the more difficult it gets to increase it – it increases faster from 20/100 to 30/100 than from 60/100 to 70/100.

Page Authority: this score is determined by Moz in the same was as a domain authority, but it shows the ranking of a specific page within the website.

SPAM Score: this metric determines the probability of your website being penalized or banned from Google.

Moz determines the SPAM score via 17 unique factors called the ”spam flags”, such as:

  • Site Link Diversity – if all the external links that are pointing to your website come from the same page or domain, it looks suspicious and is usually a sign for fraudulent activities. Some people buy out external links in order to trick the search engine that their site is authoritative, but it is a practice that’s penalized by Google.
  • Large website with few links – if your website is big, but very few links are pointing to it, it arises Google’s suspicions for spam.
  • Domain Name Length – if the length of your domain name has way too many characters than average, it is marked with a spam flag by Moz.
  • Thin Content – your domain or subdomain has pages with little to no content.

You can check all 17 spam factors here.

Page Link Metrics:

cocacola moz

Just-discovered – this metric shows you the recently identified links and URLs that are mentioning your brand. They are really helpful for keeping track of the conversations involving your company, and you can use them to identify spam as well.

You can go to the left column to see all the just-discovered links found in the last 60 days, and you can filter them by target, link source, and link type.

just-discovered

Established Links:

  • Root domains – this is the number of unique domains (the highest hierarchical level of a site, such as google.com, or zara.com), that contain at least one link pointing to your website. In this case, Coca Cola has 1,196 root domains, meaning that 1,196 unique websites are mentioning the brand at least once. You can read more on root domains here.
  • Total links – all the links pointing to your website. From this example, we can see that 108 000 external, internal, followed and nofollowed links (not necessarily unique) are taking the user to the website of Coca Cola.

Inbound links  – all links from internal and external sources pointing out to a specific URL within your website. It might be a page or a sub-page, and not necessarily the home page. You can see all of them under the main metrics on the first page of Open Site Explorer:

inbound links

Top pages – this report shows the top performing content of your website. You can see which subpages have the highest Page Authority, and use this information to analyze why they are performing better than others. You can only see the first 5 results if you are not a subscriber, but the paid plans unlock up to 10,000 links and unlimited reports.

Moz Open Site Explorer

Linking Domains – in this section, you can find additional information and helpful data on the domains that point to your website, ordered by Domain Authority.

Anchor Text – if you are unfamiliar with the term, an anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink – for example, the anchor text in mymoid.com will be “mymoid.com”. In the context of authority, it can help you see the keywords that websites are using to refer to you. This section is ordered by the linking root domains that contain the anchor text.

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Compare Link Metrics:

This section allows you to compare metrics between different URLs. In this case, I decided to do a comparison between the website of Coca Cola, and the one of Red Bull (you can add up to 5 URLs at the same time):

MOZ Domain Authority Checker

This report is a great way to see how your page and domain authority compares with that of your competition, and analyze your strengths and weaknesses. In this case, we can see that Red Bull performs better when it comes to Page Authority, MozRank and total internal links, while Coca-Cola has a stronger position when it comes to external links and linking root domains.

Naturally, both companies present a room for improvement when it comes to ranking, but each one of them displays different weaknesses that should be taken into account.

In this report, you can also find page-specific metrics, subdomain metrics, and root domain metrics.

Premium Features unavailable without subscription:

The Open Site Explorer of Moz Pro provides extremely helpful insights when it comes to authority and ranking, but you will need a Moz Pro Subscription if you want to explore its full potential. In additional to the features that we just talked about, with the Pro version you can also find the following:

  • Spam Analysis – a tool that helps you identify bad quality links by determining their spam score.

  • Link Opportunities – with this feature, Moz makes it easier for you to discover new opportunities and get more high-quality links pointing to your website.

  • Advanced Reports – as we already mentioned, Open Site Explorer provides you with meaningful insights even if you are not a subscriber; however, upgrading to a paid version is a must if you want to explore the full potential of the metrics. With Moz Pro, you can create and download advanced reports  containing more than 100,000 links.

Working towards a higher Domain Authority should be a priority goal for every company that wants to improve its ranking. If you haven´t checked out yours yet, just click here, type in your URL, and start analyzing!

Important: as of April 2018, Moz will be no longer updating the index of its Open Site Explorer tool as they are switching to a new tool: Link Explorer. You can still use Open Site Explorer, but I will make sure to update this post to the new version as soon as possible.

The power of exclusivity: would you spend $300,000 on this purse?

Hermes-Birkin-Bag

When quality loses its ability to justify price, the power of brand exclusivity takes its place. Sure, the quality of a $30 T-shirt is probably much better than the quality of a $3 T-shirt. And how about a 300-dollar one? It can’t be that much better, right?

At this point, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying a brand. When it comes to buying exclusive items or brands, you will be surprised (or not) to find out how much money people are willing to spend to obtain them. And what does a smart company do when there are customers ready to pay an obscene amount of money on something exclusive? That’s right – they create exclusive products just for them! 

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Today, I will tell you about a unique collection of purses created by the French brand Hermès, and we will analyze the concept of value perception successfully used by many companies.

Hermès Paris: a company founded in 1837

Hermès is a French high-fashion luxury goods company established in 1837. True to its traditional business model that rejects mass production, the brand is famous for its high-quality manufacturing performed by hand in specialized French workshops.

The company produces a variety of luxury goods categorized in 14 product divisions that include watches, fragrances, jewellery and ties. But today, we will focus on their famous purses, and no, not the ordinary ones (which, by the way, rarely drop below $5000) – the exclusive ones that drive celebrities absolutely insane.

The Hermès Birkin bag – a symbol of wealth

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The story of the famous Birkin bag can be tracked down to an iconic encounter back in 1983, when reportedly the chief executive of the company, Jean-Louis Dumas, was seated next to the actress Jane Birkin on a flight from Paris to London.

As she was trying to fit her travelling bag in the overhead department of the plane, it fell down, spilling its whole content around the seats. Later on, Jane Birkin complained to Dumas that she was unable to find a comfortable leather bag she liked, and it served him as an inspiration to design one especially for her. 

Nowadays, the Birkin bag is a symbol of wealth, and is highly appreciated by many celebrities.

What makes this bag so desired?

  • Price

As we already mentioned, the most obvious reason for representing a wealth status is the price (but definitely not the only one). While a regular Hermès purse can cost you around $6,000, the simplest Birkin bag starts from $11,900! These costs depend on the type of leather and whether there were any exotic skins used in the process.

The most expensive Birkin ever sold was a rare Himalaya crocodile diamond bag, handmade from the skin of an albino crocodile with more than 240 diamonds on it. It was sold on an auction for $379, 261!

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  • Exclusivity

Even if you have the money, you can’t just go to the shop and buy a Birkin bag. You need to have a history with the brand before that, so if you have never purchased any bag or another luxury item from Hermès, don’t even bother asking them for a Birkin. In many cases, you will have to wait to be offered the honour of buying this purse by the company itself.

Hermes Atelier Sacs

In fact, for a long time, the bag was rumored to have a waiting list of up to 6 years! Would you wait 6 years for a bag? I would have personally forgotten that I even purchased it in the first place!

Additionally, the bags are distributed to the boutiques of the brand in limited quantities and on unpredictable schedules, making them even rarer to the public.

  • Hand-crafted

The bags are handmade in France and each one of them has the company’s signature saddled stitching as a symbol for exclusivity. According to the purseblog.com, all brand’s purses and handbags, including the Birkin, are handmade by one artisan in a process that takes 48 hours. Despite the pressure for mass production and automatization, Hermès is still using its traditional production processes, which gives additional value to customers.

 

Okay, so far, so good! But from a Marketing and Business perspective, what conclusions can we draw from Hermès and the Birkin bag?

The power of exclusivity: a lesson given by Hermès

Let’s be honest – regarding design, the Birkins are not the most jaw-dropping bags that you can find out there. Of course, it depends on the style of each person, but generally speaking, they have a pretty simple and even boring design. So what exactly makes them so special?

In order to make the right conclusions, let’s sum up the reasons for the popularity of the Birkin between celebrities and other rich people:

  • Brand reputation and history: the company was established 180 years ago, and it has managed to build up a solid and authentic reputation for itself;
  • Craftmanship – handmade bags produced by artesans;
  • Exclusivity – rare and unique bags that not everyone with money can afford;
  • Price – that makes the Birkin a status of wealth for people.

Image result for birkin bag price

Fun fact: Hermès Birkin bag is considered a solid investment tool, having increased in value by 500% over the 35 past years. According to Baghunter, an annual return on one of these goods is 14.2%, exceeding even gold on the scale.

So how would you apply all this information to your own business? Of course, if your strategy is based on low prices instead of differentiation, the following approaches might not work for you. But if you are in the high-end business, here are 2 lessons that the Hermès’ strategy teaches you from a Marketing and Business perspective:

  • The illusion of scarcity

It is a concept that creates additional perceived value for customers. When a product has the reputation of being unique, people are willing to spend more money in order to be only one of the few who have it. Obviously, possessing a mass-produced item doesn’t give the same experience as a luxury good that only the ”chosen ones” have. So if you are selling high-quality products and want to differentiate yourself, you might consider designing an exclusive collection or a single product for your loyal customers. Or you could use the scarcity principle on your existing products by adding unique elements that make them rare and exclusive.

  • Price

Remember, you can set any price on a product or a service as long as it is justified. Producing a regular bag or a pair of jeans and adding a 1000$ tag to it without the right branding will not make people flock to you. Brand reputation is not something that you earn overnight, and unless you are using extremely rare quality materials that no one else does, you will need to establish your company as an authority brand to justify prices. Hermès justified their prices with a combination of factors such as history, reputation, exclusivity, exotic and rare materials; so you will need to work on building your brand the right way in order to justify your prices. Not all companies that put high prices on their products are successful.

If you are interested in more Marketing lessons, make sure to check my latest post on Starbucks!

Thanks for reading!

Ani

3 Marketing lessons from Starbucks

Who doesn’t know Starbucks? Yes, the coffeehouse chain that you stumble across every street corner, with its bizarre mermaid logo, and its huge coffee cups. The same brand capable of attracting flocks of girls worldwide simultaneously with their fancy Pumpkin Spice latte around Halloween.

Whether you love it or hate it, Starbucks operates in more than 70 countries with almost 24, 000 locations worldwide – according to Statista, the company was worth 2.9 billion dollars in 2016. In the last 10 years, Starbucks’ revenue growth almost tripled, reaching the mind-blowing 21.32 billion dollars last year.

So what Marketing lessons can we learn from one of the largest coffee chains in the world, visited by 35.7 million people monthly only in the USA? Let’s find out:

1) Your name on a coffee cup

Image result for starbucks coffee cup name

Have you ever wondered why Starbucks baristas always for your name at the checkout? The technical reasons are various: to keep better track of the accumulated orders of the queue, to avoid confusion with the drinks, and to reach you out faster if you had to wait more for your order. However, these are not the only reasons.

Starbucks discovered that when you really appreciate the experience of a brand or a product, you will share it all over social media. Especially if it has your name on it. People love hearing about themselves, and personalized products are their favorite.

And the best part? When you get their name WRONG, the coffee cup becomes even MORE interesting for social media sharing. In fact, you are more likely to share a photo of something with your name written the wrong way – because it’s fun, and you can laugh with your friends about it. Free advertising and social media engagement for Starbucks just by getting their clients’ name wrong!

Lesson: get personal with your customers! Whatever your product or service is, find a way to personalize it. People will love it, and share it with their friends without your intervention.

2) Starbucks Rewards

starbucks rewards

According to Business Insider, Starbucks’ Loyalty Program holds more money than some banks (!), which is pretty impressive for a coffee chain. Let’s look at the stats:

  • In 2014, the company had $621 million in customer funds loaded onto Starbucks cards…
  • …a number that doubled to $1.2 billion in only 2 years, as of the first quarter of 2016.
  • The program has 12 million members only in the USA;
  • 41% of all Starbucks transactions in the USA and Canada came from a Starbucks card;

The incentives program provides instant benefits to loyal members, and even more exciting prizes if you obtain the so-called Golden Status.

starbucks rewards benefits

starbucks rewards benefits gold status

As a result, people have strong incentives to get their Starbucks card and enjoy the benefits of the loyalty program, which ends up in more sales for the giant coffee chain. You can get more information on the benefits here.

Another reason for the success of Starbucks’ Rewards is the Mobile Order & Pay system, which allows customers to order and pay remotely before reaching the coffee shop, and just grab their food and drinks already prepared for them at the right moment.

Lesson: Many companies don’t see the power of having a loyalty program, but it works especially well in B2C companies where customers can easily switch to another product in the matter of seconds. Maintaining a system that prizes them for being loyal and making frequent purchases really pays off in the long run, because they feel compensated for their loyalty.

3) Experience

Image result for starbucks coffee shop

From the interior design of their coffee shops to the design of the cups themselves, people enjoy the full experience of Starbucks, and they make sure to share it with the whole world. How often do you see people sharing a photo of a coffee cup from a regular bar? Probably not very often. Because it doesn’t make them feel anything. 

Lesson: Having a great product is essential, but it is not the only important factor on your way to becoming successful. Make people feel something. Do you know why most controversial campaigns actually work wonders? They make people angry, frustrated, disappointed, but they work, because they make them feel something towards this campaign.

Of course, always try to wake up positive emotions and feelings in people. But don’t focus  your efforts solely on designing a great product if it’s not going to make them feel anything – make it a part of a real experience that they would like to share with their friends.

Big companies don’t become successful by coincidence – so always keep an eye on what they are doing, and try to learn from it. And Starbucks definitely knows what to do to keep its customers happy – and happy customers are the best customers! 

Photo source: Pinterest

Check out these 10 awesome Facebook Ads from AdEspresso

Are you on Facebook? You probably are. According to Statista, there are about 2.07 billion of active Facebook users worldwide, which is around 29.5% of the whole world population. How impressive is that?

But, while I am wasting time getting impressed by these numbers, companies are not wasting theirs. Facebook is the top ad channel both for B2B and B2C marketers, accounting for more than 72% of the social advertising channels share. According to Klientboost, it even surpassed LinkedIn as the top social platform for B2B Marketing with a 29% difference.

Social media has a considerable impact on customer behaviour, and whether you love it or hate it, its power is undeniable. Today, I visited AdEspresso, a Facebook Ads management tool with a gallery of 72 000+ real Facebook ads (active or inactive), and I selected 10 of the best ones to serve you as an adspiration:

 

  1. The Luxe Lens

adespresso photographers

Company: TheLuxeLens provides high-quality adjustable presets and actions for Photoshop and Lightroom that speed up the editing process of photos for professionals.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: Click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: The target of the ad (photographers) becomes clear from the very beginning, which filters out the people who might not be interested in the product. Strong call-to-action (Stock up today with our Black Friday countdown!). The packs are extremely visual, displaying the promotion with a call-to-action button Shop now.

Room for improvement: The text of the ad could be shortened and better optimized. The current length can make people continue scrolling without reading the ad.

   2. Pasta Evangelists

pasta evangelists

Company: PastaEvangelists is a London-based company that delivers pre-made pasta dishes that you can finish cooking at home in the matter of minutes.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: Click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: It is short, visual, and straight to the point. The business model of the company, which is quite unusual, is explained through bullet points, without saturating the ad with too much text. Strong call-to-action (Try us today!), and attractive discount are included.

Room for improvement: The ad is rather generic, as it doesn’t become clear who is their main target. They could try to make it more target-specific.

   3. Hostinger

adespressohostinger

Company: Hostinger is a website hosting provider operating since 2004.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: Click here

Target orientation: B2C and B2B

Strong points of the ad: Message straight to the point, the discount is displayed both in the text and the image. Various call-to-actions: “Get 58% off”, “Start Your Website Now”, and “Sign up for Premium or Business web hosting plan”.

Room for improvement: The ad inclines a bit too much on the technical end. Could include a more personal message among the discounts and call-to-actions.

  4. Zenva

zenva adespresso

Company: Zenva is an Australian company that creates educational content and software for programming, game development, and web & app development.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: Asking a question is always a great way to engage the target with your brand. The ad effectively communicates a personal message, making the audience answer from their own perspective. The image is also a great addition to the overall feeling of the ad, making the product even more exciting.

Room for improvement: It is not very clear what the ad is about. When you click on it, the Landing pages definitely explains it better – Zenva offers you a pack of 15 Virtual Reality games that you can develop yourself. Considering that no previous programming experience is required, the target might not be what you would initially think – but it doesn’t become clear whether the target is beginner programmers, or people outside of the field.

  5. Proper Cloth

Proper Cloth

Company: Proper Cloth is a company that makes custom shirts combining fashion and technology.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: I personally love that ad. The image catches the attention immediately, the text is not your boring, written-by-book, standard one – it literally describes the target and puts him in the place of a satisfied customer. You can perceive the experience you are getting through the ad, which not many companies achieve.

Room for improvement: Where is the call-to-action? Oh, there it is, buried in a tiny text at the bottom of the ad. It should definitely be more visible.

  6. Hubspot 

hubspot ad

Company: There can’t be a good Marketing list without Hubspot in it! The company that develops Sales and Inbound Marketing software is definitely one of the best examples for B2B Marketing.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2B

Strong points of the ad: The 3 most important ad questions answered in one single sentence – What problem do I solve with this product? – Save time. How? – By using these beautiful e-book templates. When? In your content-creation process. Great job!

Room for improvement: The only thing I seem to be missing would be a sentence dedicated to the benefits that companies get by offering e-books to their customers.

  7. Flare Audio

flare audio

Company: Flare Audio is an innovative audio technology company that produces patented products, such as loudspeakers and headphones.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: The ad is simple, not saturated with too much text, and visually beautiful. The images do a great job in transmitting the right message, even better than the text itself.

Room for improvement: Although publishing prices doesn’t fit the Marketing strategy of every company, I think it could be really helpful in this case. It feels like this information is missing, and it will also help to filter out the target. Call-to-action is missing.

8. eShakti

AdEspresso eShakti

Company: eShakti is an online fashion retailer that sells clothing, jewelry and shoes for women.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C

Strong points of the ad: The target is clear, the message is clear, their value proposition (the personalized touch of their products) is emphasized. Testimonials are a great idea!

Room for improvement: No call-to-action. Other than that, I think the ad is visually and textually really good.

9. Engadget

AdEspresso Engadget

Company: Engadget is a global multimedia organization that covers technology, gaming, and entertainment industries.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C & B2B

Strong points of the ad: Great visual elements, the image is catching the attention right away. The message is clear, and wakes up your curiosity to go and check the prices.

Room for improvement: Mentioning the benefits that the design training resource gets you could be useful, although not necessary.

10. Moo.com

adespresso be square

Company: Moo.com is a USA-based company that offers printing services for businesses.

Ad Placement: Desktop Newsfeed

Landing Page: click here

Target orientation: B2C & B2B

Strong points of the ad: Visually striking, the ad spikes out curiosity, and makes you want to see more examples of square business cards. The image makes transmits a clear message without the need for much text.

Room for improvement: The phrase on the bottom “Show the world how unique, creative and unforgettable you are” could be placed as the main text in the beginning.

I hope you enjoyed the ads archived by AdEspresso, and if you want to see more, here is the right place to go! Check out the companies that are in the same industry as you, and use their examples to get inspiration for your own ads. After all, you can always get ideas that you have never thought before, but actually work! It’s all in the imagination.

Also, you can check the following tools to help you further with social media positioning:

LinkedIn Learning: How to get started with Digital Marketing

linkedintrainingweek

Are you considering a career in Digital Marketing, but you are not sufficiently familiar with the topic in order to make a decision? In the past few weeks, I had a few friends asking me whether switching to a career in Digital Marketing will be the right choice for their professional development, so this one is for you, guys. 🙂 Today, I will show you a great course from LinkedIn Learning that will introduce you to the basics of Digital Marketing, and will hopefully help you decide whether it is the right career path for you.

Photo by fstoppers.com

LinkedIn Learning: the educational corner of LinkedIn

If you are already an active user on the business-oriented social media platform, you are probably familiar with LinkedIn Learning. In 2015, LinkedIn bought the American company Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, and started offering its high-quality educational video courses on its own LinkedIn Learning platform.

linkedinlearning

Getting started with Digital Marketing on LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning comes with the Premium plans, and it offers an extensive variety of courses covering Marketing, Business, Advertising, Software Development, Graphic Design, and Technology. However, if you are trying to get started with Digital Marketing and just watch all the videos that are out there, you might get confused when trying to connect all the information by yourself. For this reason, I recommend you the course Become an AMA Professional Certified Marketer in Digital Marketing, a collection of videos that covers all the basics to get you started with Digital Marketing. 

amaprofessionalcertifiedmarketer

Wait! So I have to pay in order to take this course?

Although all the courses from LinkedIn Learning come with your Premium account, LinkedIn offers a 30-day free trial, which is more than enough for this course. Just remember to cancel the free trial before the 30-day expiration, otherwise your subscription is renewed automatically, and you will be charged 27 EUR – which is the price for the Premium plan. In other words, you can take this course for free during your 30-day trial.

After you have finished your 30-day Premium trial, LinkedIn offers an additional 7-day free trial only for LinkedIn Learning with no credit card required. For some reason, it doesn’t give you this option if you haven’t consumed your 30-day one first.

However, I think that the 30-day trial will give you more time to watch the course without stress and worries on whether you will finish it before the expiration date.

linkedin7dayfreetrial

While you are trying out the Premium plan, make sure to check the rest of the Premium features as well. If you are wondering whether they are worth it, I wrote an article about it that you can read here.

premium-linkedin-free-plan

Become an AMA Professional Certified Marketer in Digital Marketing 

This course was created in collaboration with the American Marketing Association, which was one of the first organizations to define the concept of Marketing in 1937.

It includes 20 videos with a total duration of 44 hours, and after you’ve finished, you will receive a Certificate of Completion that you can easily add to your LinkedIn profile. You don’t have to watch them in the order they appear, you can watch them in the order you want.

The course include the following basics:

Online Marketing Foundations – 3 h 48 min duration, 11 chapter quizzes

An introduction to the absolute basics of Online (Digital) Marketing, laying out the foundations for effectively developing your company’s Marketing strategy.

Skills you can add to your profile*: SEO, Digital Marketing, E-mail Marketing, Web Analytics, Social Media Marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC)

*This refers to the skills that the course offers you to automatically add on your LinkedIn profile once you’ve finished watching the video.

Content Marketing Foundations – 2 h 1 min duration, 6 chapter quizzes

An introduction to Content Marketing. Basically, Content Marketing refers to the generation of written and visual content such as blog articles, social media posts, etc.

Skills you can add to your profile: Lead Generation, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing

Mobile Marketing Foundations – 3 h 35 min duration, 7 chapter quizzes

This course introduces you to the basics of Mobile Marketing, such as web optimization for mobile visitors, SMS campaigns, mobile advertising, QR code programs, mobile app development, etc.

Skills you can add to your profile: Mobile Marketing, Brand Management

Google AdWords Essential Training – 3 h 28 min duration, 10 chapter quizzes

Learn how to get started with Google AdWords, Google’s online advertising program. In this video course, you will learn how to set up your first ad campaigns, and how to optimize them to get more clicks.

Skills you can add to your profile: Google AdWords, Lead Generation, Advertising, Pay Per Click (PPC)

AdWords and Analytics: Remarketing – 57 min 19 s duration, no chapter quizzes

This course is labeled as Intermediate by LinkedIn, so I recommend you to watch the AdWords Essential Training and Analytics Essential Training videos first. It introduces you to the concept of Remarketing, or the techniques you can implement to target the users who have already shown interest in your company by visiting and interacting with your website.

Skills you can add to your profile: Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Advertising, Web Analytics

Content Marketing: Staying Relevant – 18 m 8 s duration, no chapter quizzes

A really short video on Content Marketing that explains how to write and prepare relevant and personalized content for your specific audience.

Skills you can add to your profile: Digital Marketing, Web Analytics, Content Marketing

Content Marketing: Blogs – 1 h 5 min duration, no chapter quizzes

Another short video that introduces you to blogs, and how to plan and write your content in order to get the maximum of your Content Marketing strategy.

Skills you can add to your profile: Content Marketing, WordPress

SEO Foundations – 3 h 27 min duration, 10 chapter quizzes

I personally think this was one of the best courses I watched on LinkedIn Learning. It explains extremely well the basics of Search Engine Optimization, and it is suitable even for people who have never heard about it before.

Skills you can add to your profile: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO: Keyword Strategy – 4 h 21 min duration, 8 chapter quizzes

After you have been introduced to SEO by the previous course, you are now ready to start your first keyword search with SEO management tools like Moz and SEMRush.

Skills you can add to your profile: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing: Managing Online Communities – 50 min 56 s, no quizzes

This course introduces you to Marketing on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and teaches you how to build an online community for your brand.

Skills you can add to your profile: Twitter, Small Business Marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn, B2C Marketing, Public Relations

Facebook Marketing: Advertising – 1 h 45 min duration, 6 chapter quizzes

Learn how to design and publish Facebook ads, target specific audiences, create budgets, and which are the best ad types for your business.

Skills you can add to your profile: Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Facebook

Marketing and Monetizing on YouTube: 3 h 10 min duration, 7 chapter quizzes

As the largest video platform, YouTube is a really important channel to advertise your content and earn money from it. This course will teach you how to get started with YouTube, and how to optimize your videos for search engines.

Skills you can add to your profile: YouTube, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Brand Management

Social Media Marketing: Facebook and Twitter – 1 h 36 min duration, no quizzes

This course focuses on social media Marketing specifically on Facebook and Twitter, and it goes in depth on which platform is better depending on your company’s goals.

Skills you can add to your profile: Twitter, Small Business Marketing, Facebook, Social Media Marketing

Optimizing Marketing Emails – 1 h 6 min, 6 chapter quizzes

In this course, you will get started with E-mail Marketing, and you will learn how to design e-mail campaigns and newsletters, create lists based on the specific characteristics of your audience, and how to monitor its behavior.

Skills you can add to your profile: E-mail Marketing, B2C Marketing

Content Marketing: Newsletters – 12 m 1 s duration, no chapter quizzes

This really short crash course will introduce you to the basics of newsletter campaigns, and how to prepare your content to fit the needs of your audience.

Skills you can add to your profile: Digital Marketing, Content Marketing

Introduction to Web Design and Development – 3 h 38 min duration, 5 quizzes

An introductory course to get you started with Web Development. If you have no previous experience in the field, you will understand it better if you practice along with the videos by using the exercise files provided by LinkedIn.

Skills you can add to your profile: Small Business Management

Learning Conversion Rate Optimization – 1 h 30 min, no chapter quizzes

Conversion Rate Optimization is the fancy way of talking about the conversion of your potential customers into actual customers. You will get the basics in this course.

Skills you can add to your profile: SEO, Web Analytics, Content Marketing, PPC

Google Analytics Essential Training – 3 h 9 min duration, no chapter quizzes

The course that will get you started with Google Analytics. I do recommend to watch this video collection before moving on to the more advanced Analytics courses.

Skills you can add to your profile: Google Analytics, Web Analytics

Advanced Google Analytics – 3 h 45 min duration, no chapter quizzes

An advanced course on Google’s analytics platform that will show you techniques and methods to understand the customer behavior on your website.

Skills you can add to your profile: Google Analytics, Web Analytics, SEO

Content Marketing ROI – 1 h 2 min duration, no chapter quizzes

Estimating the Return on Investment can be sometimes difficult for Content Marketing. In this course, you will learn how to prove the ROI from blogs, videos, podcasts, and other Content Marketing activities.

Skills you can add to your profile: Content Marketing

certificatecompletionlinkedin

After you have done watching all the courses, you will receive a certificate of completion that you can add to your LinkedIn profile. I was a little bit disappointed that it was just an ordinary certificate like any other from LinkedIn Learning – I was expecting something different due to the fact that it is a full AMA course of 40 hours. However, this doesn’t reduce its value – it is still a great introduction to the basics of Digital Marketing, and it will help you see whether this is the right career path for you.

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