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The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Campaigns

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The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Campaigns


From P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” to American Express’s “Small Business Saturday” to Dos Equis’s “Most Interesting Man in the World,” marketing campaigns have a way of sticking with us long after an impression or purchase. Why is that? Well, campaigns make companies memorable. They promote a focused effort that guides consumers towards the desired action. They also give brands an identity, personality, and emotion.

Marketing campaigns can do the same for your business. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide — to provide a clear, concise approach to your next marketing campaign.

Keep reading to get started or use the links below to jump ahead.

Marketing campaigns don’t include all marketing efforts for a brand. In fact, the word “campaign” is defined as “a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result.”

That’s why politicians campaign for a specific election and militaries campaign for a specific battle.

For example, every Nike advertisement you see or hear on the way to work probably isn’t part of a campaign. But, if you see a Nike billboard, scroll past a Nike-sponsored Instagram post, and receive a Nike email all promoting the same product, you’ve witnessed a marketing campaign.

You’ve also probably heard the word “campaign” used for both marketing and advertising. What’s the difference?

Marketing Campaigns vs Advertising Campaigns

Advertising is a component of marketing. Marketing is how a company plans to raise awareness of its brand and convince customers to make a purchase, while advertising is the process of creating persuasive messages around these broad goals.

In terms of campaigns, an advertising campaign might be a facet of a bigger marketing campaign strategy. For example, if Nike were campaigning about the release of a new product, their advertising would be one piece of its broader marketing efforts, which might also encompass email, social media, and paid search.

Now that we understand the difference between advertising and marketing campaigns, here’s a list of a few more types of marketing campaigns you might run.

Marketing Campaign Components

Multiple components go into the planning, execution, and benefiting from a stellar marketing campaign.

How to Create a Successful Marketing Campaign

Creating an entire campaign is a big task, but the process is pretty straightforward. Planning your campaign is just as important as designing the fun stuff, such as the creative advertisements and conversion assets, so take the time to do this important step.

Before you create what your audience will see, you must consider what you want them to do when they see it (or read it or hear it.)

I’ve organized this section as a marketing campaign template. All you need to do is answer the questions — as accurately and in-depth as possible — to ensure a thorough, successful approach to your next marketing campaign.

Planning Your Marketing Campaign

This step is crucial to the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. The planning stage will determine how you measure success and will guide your team and campaign when things (inevitably) go awry.

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1. Set a purpose and goal for your campaign.

Let’s start simple. Why are you running this campaign? What would you like your campaign to accomplish for your business?

If you’re having trouble defining your campaign purpose, start broad. Take a look at the goals below. Which one is most aligned with your own?

This is hardly a definitive list, but it gives you an idea of some general business goals that a campaign could help reach.

We’ll use the third option as an example: Gather customer feedback or content.

Let’s take this broad campaign purpose and turn it into a SMART goal. Here’s what that looks like:

“The goal of my marketing campaign is to gather user-generated content from 100 customers via a branded hashtag on Instagram featuring our new product line by December 31, 2020.”

The goal is Specific (user-generated content), Measurable (100 customers), Attainable (via a branded Instagram hashtag), Relevant (featuring the new product line), and Timely (by December 31, 2020).

See how this broad campaign purpose instantly transforms into an actionable, attainable goal?

Pro Tip: Setting SMART Goals is simple when you have the right tools. Check out the free SMART Goal-Setting template below to get started on this critical piece of your marketing campaign.

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2. Establish how you’ll measure your campaign.

This will look different for everyone. You might measure “email open rates,” “new Facebook Page likes,” “product pre-orders,” or all of the above.

These answers will depend on your overarching campaign goal. Here are a few examples of metrics based on the campaign goals I mentioned above.

  • For promoting a new product or service: Pre-orders, sales, upsells
  • For increasing brand awareness: Sentiment, social mentions, press mentions
  • For gathering customer feedback or content: Social mentions, engagement
  • For generating revenue: Leads, sales, upsells
  • For boosting user engagement: Blog shares, social shares, email interactions
  • For advertising an upcoming event: Ticket sales, vendor or entertainment bookings, social mentions

If your campaign involves multiple marketing efforts (such as social media, direct mail, and radio ads), it’s wise to define how you’ll measure your campaign on each medium. (Read more about these channel-specific metrics below.)

For example, let’s say I was running my user-generated content (UGC) campaign on social media, email, and on our blog.

First, I’d define my key performance indicators (KPIs) for each medium, which may look like:

  • Instagram engagements (likes and comments) and profile tags
  • Email open rates and click-through rates
  • Blog views, click-throughs, and social shares

Then, I’d define my primary campaign KPI: Instagram branded hashtag mentions.

While the above KPIs indicate how well my campaign is reaching and engaging my audience, my primary KPI tells me how close I am to reaching my SMART goal.

Lastly, let’s think about another question: What does “success” look like for your company? Sure, it’s exciting to reach a predetermined goal, but that’s not always possible. What (outside of your goal) would constitute success for you (or serve as a milestone)? What would make you feel like your campaign is worthwhile if it doesn’t involve meeting your goal?

Pro Tip: When determining how you’ll measure your campaign, consider setting up some checkpoints along the way. If your campaign involves boosting brand awareness and your goal is to reach 50 PR mentions by the end of the year, set up some benchmark notifications at 10, 25, and 40 mentions.

Not only will it remind you to keep pushing toward your ultimate goal, but it’ll boost morale within your team and remind you that your time and money investments are paying off.

3. Define your target audience.

Imagine constructing a bulletproof marketing campaign only to be met with crickets.

In that case, you might think you chose the wrong marketing medium or that your creative wasn’t witty enough. Regardless of what it might be, all of those decisions come back to one thing: Your audience.

The first step to resolving this problem is figuring out what stage of the buyer’s journey your campaign is targeting. Are you trying to bring in new customers, or are you attempting to gather feedback from existing clients? Are you marketing your brand to those who recognize it, or are you introducing a new brand identity altogether?

Your marketing message will vary depending on whether your campaign audience is in the Awareness, Consideration, or Decision stage. It’s important to note that a marketing campaign can include collateral for people in various stages of their journey. For example, while your campaign might target current customers, it might also bring brand awareness to new consumers.

Next, identify your audience’s interests and pain points. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to better understand your audience.

  • What are my audience’s general interests? What magazines do they read? What TV shows do they watch? How do they spend their free time?
  • Where does my audience hang out online? For what purpose do they use Instagram, Facebook, and other networks? Do they engage or merely browse?
  • What kind of content gets my audience’s attention? Do they respond to straightforward sales messages, or would they rather consume witty, humorous content? What cultural references would they understand?
  • What kind of problems do they have that my product, service, or brand could solve?

Becoming well-acquainted with your campaign audience will help you confidently answer these questions and any others that may arise during the campaign.

Pro Tip: Defining your target audience should be done with as much data as possible. Survey your existing customers as well as potential customers in your market. Then, use this data to create your buyer personas — you can even enter that data into a free buyer persona generator like the one below.

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4. Set a concept for your campaign and get in contact with the right team.

Marketing campaigns require a mission, vision, and visual identity. Great campaigns are an offshoot of their parent brand, both visually and creatively — they stay consistent with the business brand but maintain their own identity.

When creating their campaign assets, some businesses use an in-house team while others opt for an agency. Another alternative is hiring a freelancer or contractor to complete a specific portion of the project, such as the copy or design.

Pro Tip: Depending on your specific campaign goals, I’d recommend starting with your in-house team and moving forward from there. They are the experts of your business and can speak to what your campaign needs to succeed.

This step will likely take the longest since you’ll be creating your campaign concept from scratch. Next, we’ll dive into how you’ll distribute your campaign assets and connect with your audience.

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Distributing Your Marketing Campaign

This stage is all about the public-facing part of your campaign, including what your audience will see and when. If you’ve combed through the previous section, you should have all the answers you need to guide you through this step.

5. Choose the channels you’ll run your campaign on.

What type of marketing campaign will you use? This choice depends on your audience preference, budget, and brand engagement levels, among other factors.

Take a look at the current media channels you use to promote your company. Which ones perform the best? Which ones allow you to pay for advertisements? Which ones have the best engagement? Most importantly, where are your customers hanging out?

Need a few ideas? Take a look at the PESO model, which breaks up distribution channels into Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned.

PESO marketing model

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What type of marketing campaign will you use? This choice depends on your audience preference, budget, and brand engagement levels, among other factors.

Take a look at the current media channels you use to promote your company. Which ones perform the best? Which ones allow you to pay for advertisements? Which ones have the best engagement? Most importantly, where are your customers hanging out?

Need a few ideas? Take a look at the PESO model, which breaks up distribution channels into Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned.

6. Set a timeline for your campaign.

Establishing a deadline for your campaign (the Timely part of your SMART goal) gives you a much better idea of when, how, and how often you’ll promote it.

To begin, build a general campaign timeline. Then mark your campaign start date and deadline on a calendar.

Next, take a look at your marketing assets and chosen promotional marketing channels and work backward from the campaign launch date. Based on your resources, how often can you afford to post and promote your campaign content? With this information, you’ll create a promotional calendar for each marketing channel. Decide on a cadence for each channel and map out your scheduled posts, emails, etc. on your calendar.

Visually mapping your marketing campaign will help you evenly disperse your campaign promotions and publish equally on each medium. It’ll also give you an idea of where your time and energy are going so that you can look back when assessing the effectiveness of your campaign.

Pro Tip: If your promotional calendar seems full, don’t fret. Social media and email scheduling tools can alleviate the pressure of posting daily. Check out tools like HubSpot, Buffer, and MailChimp to help you schedule and manage your campaign promotions.

The promotional stage is all about getting your campaign in front of your audience. But, how are you supposed to get your audience to understand the purpose of your campaign? We’ll cover this next.

Converting Customers Through Your Marketing Campaign

This stage — the conversion stage — is all about how your campaign can lead to a specific result.

7. Ensure your campaign is driving users toward a desired action.

Even if your campaign is effective and drives a ton of traffic, it still needs to complete its desired action. By “the desired action,” I’m talking about that SMART goal you initially defined. Let’s take a moment and reiterate that goal.

For my sample campaign, my SMART goal was “to gather user-generated content from 100 customers via a branded hashtag on Instagram featuring our new product line by December 31, 2018.”

This step is all about calibrating your marketing efforts and channels to lead your customers to complete your desired goal. This is done through conversion assets like calls-to-action, landing pages, and lead forms.

Pro Tip: Lead conversion assets can be used separately or in conjunction with one another, such as featuring a lead form on a landing page, or creating a call-to-action asking your audience to fill out a form.

8. Monitor the right metrics.

The campaign effectiveness metrics you’ll monitor will depend on what type of marketing campaign you’re running and what channels you’ve chosen. This section merely serves as a baseline list to give you an idea of what to watch.

Also, it’s tempting to focus on vanity metrics like generated traffic, click-through rate, and impressions. A bump in these areas is definitely a good thing, but since they don’t necessarily indicate a bump in revenue, they can’t be the only metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Pro Tip: Bookmark this link to all the marketing metrics to watch. It’s organized by marketing channel so you can quickly scan the list for new metrics to track for your campaigns.

This may seem like a lot (depending ocn your campaign), but keeping an eye on these numbers can help you assess your campaign accurately and better understand how to improve.

Assessing Your Marketing Campaign

The post-campaign stage determines your success just as much as the planning stage. Measuring and analyzing your campaign data can provide unique insight into your audience, marketing channels, and budget. It can also tell you exactly how (or how not) to run your next campaign.

9. Establish success numbers and metrics.

The easy way to figure this out is to understand whether or not your campaign met the initial SMART goal outlined in step one. If it did, great! If it didn’t, there’s still hope.

For example, if your goal was to increase organic blog views by 100K, any bump in views would be considered successful. But there’s a difference between a campaign that works and a campaign that’s worthwhile. A worthwhile campaign gives you an ROI that’s proportionate to the time and energy you put into it.

Pro Tip: While it’s okay to celebrate any bump in pre-orders, leads, views, or engagements, don’t assume that’s enough. There’s a reason the very first thing to do is set a campaign goal. Sticking to that goal and calibrating your investment will ensure your campaign is worthwhile.

10. What will you do with the campaign data?

This step helps maximize your campaign’s business impact. When you analyze and apply your data, its value increases tenfold — not only did it help you measure and assess your campaign results, but it’ll also give you direction and clarity on your audience, marketing methods, creative prowess, and more.

Let’s return to my UGC Instagram campaign. Of course, images shared by my customers are helpful because they help me gather user content for my social channels and they promote my product to my audience’s followers. But this “data” also provides insight into who my audience is, when and how often they post on Instagram, what language they use, and how they use my product (assuming it’s the same as in the shared photo).

See how my campaign “data” provides more value than simply reaching my campaign goal? The same can go for your data. Whether you collect lead information, pre-orders, social engagements, or offer downloads, your data can equip you to not only meet your campaign goal but also expand your marketing efforts as a whole.

Pro Tip: The campaign isn’t over once you’ve pulled that final report. Spend time with your team in a retrospective meeting. Ask yourselves questions like:

  • What could’ve been done differently?
  • How could we have saved money?
  • For anything that went wrong, why do we think it went wrong?
  • What did we learn about our audience or marketing channels?
  • What kind of feedback could we gather from participants or customers?

So, marketing campaigns involve a lot of information, decision-making, ideas, and observation. But the process of creating and running one isn’t as scary as you thought, was it?

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some great campaign examples below. Now that you know what goes into each one, you might have a better idea of how to build one for yourself.

Great Marketing Campaign Examples (and Why They’re So Great)

This wouldn’t be a HubSpot Ultimate Guide if I didn’t show you some examples from the pros. Sometimes it’s helpful to see concepts at work, and that’s why I collected some of the best below.

1. Meta (Formerly Facebook): “The Metaverse”

In Q4 2021, Facebook announced the rebranding of its parent company. The new name, Meta, comes with its own marketing campaign that introduces the world to a new concept called the “metaverse.”

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Meta The Metaverse

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The campaign is still in its infancy stages, but it has taken over social media networks, including the Facebook app itself. The video posted to the new @wearemeta Instagram account showcases an alternate reality in which people can interact in 3D.

Why Meta’s “The Metaverse” campaign is so great:

Reception of the campaign is still developing, but so far, it’s successfully stopped the world in its tracks — and that’s a recipe for success with just about any marketing campaign. The idea of a Facebook rebrand had been speculated prior to the launch of the campaign which piqued the public’s interest. That meant even if they didn’t like the change, they would still be interested in seeing what happens next.

2. Popeyes: “Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce”

If Popeye’s wasn’t sure that it hit the ball out of the park with the chicken sandwich marketing campaign, then it nailed it for sure with the Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce collaboration.

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce

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Arguably, Popeyes created one of the best chicken sandwiches on the fast-food market in 2019. At the same time, artist Megan Thee Stallion was becoming the hottest rapper in the industry. So, it made sense that in 2021, the two would join forces to debut a remix of the successful chicken sandwich.

Why Popeyes’ “Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce” campaign is so great:

This marketing campaign was intentional about targeting the younger crowd with not just chicken sandwiches, but merchandise, too. Popeyes was able to tap into this segment of the market and increase sales while continuing to capitalize on its success without the campaign coming across as stale.

3. Cheerios: #GoodGoesRound

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Good Goes Round

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General Mills ran a non-profit campaign called Good Goes Round via their Cheerios brand, lobbying to raise enough money to fund one million meals.

Why Cheerios’ “Good Goes Round” campaign is so great:

The campaign featured its own landing page, video marketing assets, and hashtag (#GoodGoesRound), separating it from its “parent” brand and making it shareable among its audience. It also paid to promote the Good Goes Round URL on Google, giving the campaign even more visibility.

4. Apple: “Shot on iPhone”

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Apple Shot on iPhone

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Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” series highlights the high-quality videography and photography that customers can capture on the iPhone X. It’s a product launch campaign that focused on one specific feature of the new Apple smartphone.

Why Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign is so great:

This campaign was unique, because it’s similar to a user-generated campaign but was also promoted heavily by the brand itself. Apple launched its own Instagram account to share the #ShotoniPhone content, collaborated with professional photographers and videographers, and ran official TV advertisements.

5. The General: “Re-brand”

When it comes to cheesy commercials, The General’s old marketing strategy fits the bill. The brand became synonymous with pixelated animations and low-quality production which inevitably had a negative effect on the way potential customers perceived the quality of service.

In 2020, the company changed its marketing campaign to target a more rational customer who appreciates a little humor. Shaquille O’Neal became the face of the brand, appearing in commercials alongside other notable celebrities like Montell Jordan and Ernie Johnson.

Why The General’s “Re-brand” campaign is so great:

The General listened to its customers’ opinions of the brand before moving forward with the new campaign and saw great success as a result. The tone of the marketing campaign remained light-hearted but took a more mature approach to the humor — toning it down and letting the key selling points of The General shine through.

6. Airbnb: “Made Possible by Hosts”

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel companies such as Airbnb saw unprecedented losses in profit. Well, how did the company respond? It created a series of videos called “Made Possible by Hosts” that shows appreciation for the hosts who have continued to accept guests on the platform.

 

What’s most curious about the campaign is that it doesn’t put Airbnb customers at the center. Instead, it spotlights the hosts who accept customers in the first place. In doing so, Airbnb focuses on the human aspect of its platform. You’re not renting an Airbnb property; you’re renting someone’s home.

Over to You

Marketing campaigns aren’t easy, but they’re valuable and integral to growing a successful brand and business. Campaigns set apart certain deliverables from general promotional efforts and touch your audience in creative and exciting ways. If you’re not sure where to start, consider what would be valuable to your audience, and go from there. Your audience is, after all, the lifeblood of your campaigns and company.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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SEO in Real Life: Harnessing Visual Search for Optimization Opportunities

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SEO in Real Life: Harnessing Visual Search for Optimization Opportunities


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

The most exciting thing about visual search is that it’s becoming a highly accessible way for users to interpret the real world, in real time, as they see it. Rather than being a passive observer, camera phones are now a primary resource for knowledge and understanding in daily life.

Users are searching with their own, unique photos to discover content. This includes interactions with products, brand experiences, stores, and employees, and means that SEO can and should be taken into consideration for a number of real world situations, including:

Though SEOs have little control over which photos people take, we can optimize our brand presentation to ensure we are easily discoverable by visual search tools. By prioritizing the presence of high impact visual search elements and coordinating online SEO with offline branding, businesses of all sizes can see results.

What is visual search?

Sometimes referred to as search-what-you-see, in the context of SEO, visual search is the act of querying a search engine with a photo rather than with text. To surface results , search engines and digital platforms use AI and visual recognition technology to identify elements in the image and supply the user with relevant information.

Though Google’s visual search tools are getting a lot of attention at the moment, they aren’t the only tech team that’s working on visual search. Pinterest has been at the forefront of this space for many years, and today you can see visual search in action on:

In the last year, Google has spoken extensively about their visual search capabilities, hinging a number of their search improvements on Google Lens and adding more and more functionality all the time. As a result, year on year usage of Google Lens has increased by three fold, with an estimated8 billion Google Lens searches taking place each month.

Though there are many lessons to be learned from the wide range of visual search tools, which each have their own data sets, for the purpose of this article we will be looking at visual search on Google Lens and Search.

Are visual search and image search SEO the same?

No, visual search optimization is not exactly the same as image search optimization. Image search optimization forms part of the visual search optimization process, but they’re not interchangeable.

Image search SEO

With Image Search you should prioritize helping images to surface when users enter text based queries. To do this, your images should be using image SEO best practices like:

  • Modern file formats

  • Alt text

  • Alt tags

  • Relevant file names

  • Schema markup

All of this helps Google to return an image search result for a text based query, but one of the main challenges with this approach is that it requires the user to know which term to enter.

For instance, with the query dinosaur with horns, an image search will return a few different dinosaur topic filters and lots of different images. To find the best result, I would need to filter and refine the query significantly.

Visual search SEO

With visual search, the image is the query, meaning that I can take a photo of a toy dinosaur with horns, search with Google Lens, then Google refines the query based on what it can see from the image.

When you compare the two search results, the SERP for the visual search is a better match for the initial image query because there are visual cues within the image. So I am only seeing results for a dinosaur with horns, that is quadrupedal, and only has horns on the face, not the frill.

From a user perspective, this is great because I didn’t have to type anything and I got a helpful result. And from Google’s perspective, this is also more efficient because they can assess the photo and decide which element to filter for first in order to get to the best SERP.

The standard image optimizations form part of what Google considers in order to surface relevant results, but if you stop there, you don’t get the full picture.

Which content elements are best interpreted in visual search

Visual search tools identify objects, text, and images, but certain elements are easier to identify than others. When users carry out a visual search, Google taps into multiple data sources to satisfy the query.

The knowledge graph,Vision AI, Google Maps, and other sources combine to surface search results, but in particular, Google’s tools have a few priority elements. When these elements are present in a photo Google can sort, identify, and/or visually match similar content to return results:

  • Landmarks are identified visually but are also connected to their physical location on Google Maps, meaning that local businesses or business owners should use imagery to demonstrate their location.

  • Logos are interpreted in their entirety, rather than as single letters. So even without any text, Google can understand that that swoop means Nike. This data comes from the logos in knowledge panels, website structured data, Google Business Profile, Google Merchant, and other sources, so they should all align.

  • Knowledge Graph Entities are used to tag and categorize images and have a significant impact on what SERP is displayed for a visual search. Google recognizes around 5 billion KGE, so it is worth considering which ones are most relevant to your brand and ensuring that they are visually represented on your site.

  • Text is extracted from images via Optical Character Recognition, which has some limitations — not all languages are recognized, nor are backwards letters. So if your users regularly search photos of printed menus or other printed text, you should consider readability of the fonts (or handwriting on specials boards) you use.

  • Faces are interpreted for sentiment, but the quantity of faces also comes into account, meaning that businesses that serve large groups of people — like event venues or cultural institutions — would do well to include images that demonstrate this.

Visual Search Element

Corresponding Online Activity

Priority Verticals

Landmarks

Website Images

Google Maps

Google Business Profile

Tourism

Restaurants

Cultural Institutions

Local Businesses

Logo

Website Images

Website Structured Data

Google Merchant

Google Business Profile

Wikipedia

Knowledge Panel

All

Knowledge Graph Entities

Website Images

Image Structured Data

Google Business Profile

Ecommerce

Events

Cultural Institutions

Text

Website copy

Google Business Profile

All

Faces

Website images

Google Business Profile

Events

Tourism

Cultural Institutions

How to optimize real world spaces for visual search

Just as standard SEO should be focused on meeting and anticipating customer needs, visual search SEO requires awareness of how customers interact with products and services in real world spaces. This means SEOs should apply the same attention to UCG that one would use for keyword research. To that end, I would argue we should also think about consciously applying optimizations to the potential content of these images.

Optimize sponsorship with unobstructed placements

This might seem like a no brainer, but in busy sponsorship spaces it can sometimes be a challenge. As an example, let’s take this photo from a visit to the Staples Center a few years ago.

Like any sports arena, this is filled to the brim with sponsorship endorsements on the court, the basket, and around the venue.

But when I run a visual search assessment for logos, the only one that can clearly be identified is the Kia logo in the jumbotron.

This isn’t because their logo is so distinct or unique, since there is another Kia logo under the basketball hoop, rather this is because the jumbotron placement is clean in terms of composition, with lots of negative space around the logo and fewer identifiable entities in the immediate vicinity.

Within the wider arena, many of the other sponsorship placements are being read as text, including Kia’s logo below the hoop. This has some value for these brands, but since text recognition doesn’t always complete the word, the results can be inconsistent.

So what does any of this have to do with SEO?

Well, Google Image Search now includes results that are using visual recognition, independent of text cues. Meaning that for a Google Image Search for the query kia staples center, two of the top five results do not have the word kia in the copy, alt text, or alt tags of the web pages they are sourced from. So, visual search is impacting rankings here, and with Google Imagesaccounting for roughly 20% of online searches, this can have a significant impact on search visibility.

What steps should you take to SEO your sponsorships?

Whether it’s major league or the local bowling league, in order to get the most benefit from visual search, if you are sponsoring something which is likely to be photographed extensively, you should:

  • Ensure that your real life sponsorship placement is in an unobscured location

  • Use the same logo in real life that is in your schema, GBP, and knowledge panel

  • Get a placement with good lighting and high contrast brand colors

  • Don’t rely on “light up” logos or flags that have inconsistent visibility on camera phones

You should also ensure that you’re aligning your real life presence with your digital activity. Include images of the sponsorship display on your website so that you can surface for relevant queries. If you dedicate a blog to the sponsorship activity that includes relevant images, image search optimizations, and copy, you increase your chances of outranking other content and bringing those clicks to your site.

Optimizing merch & uniforms for search

When creating merchandising and uniforms, visual discoverability for search should be a priority because users can search photos of promotional merch and images with team members in a number of ways and for an indefinite period of time.

Add text and/or logos

For instance, from my own camera roll, I have a few photos that can be categorized via theGoogle Photo machine-learning-powered image search with the query nasa. Two of these photos include the word “NASA” and the others include the logo.

Oddly enough, though, the photo of my Women of NASA LEGO set does not surface for this query. It shows for lego but not for nasa. Looking closely at the item itself, I can see that neither the NASA logo nor the text have been included in the design of the set.

Adding relevant text and/or logos to this set would have optimized this merchandise for both brands.

Stick to relevant brand colors

And since Google’s visual search AI is also able to discern brand colors, you should also prioritize merchandise that is in keeping with your brand colors. T-shirts and merch that deviate from your core color scheme will be less likely to make Visual Matches when users search via Google Lens.

In the example above, event merchandise that was created outside of the core brand colors of red, black, and white were much less recognizable than stationary typical colors.

Focus on in-person brand experiences

Creating experiences with customers in store and at events can be a great way to build brand relationships. It’s possible to leverage these activities for search if you take an SEO-centric approach.

Reduce competition

Let’s consider this image from a promotional experience in Las Vegas for Lyft. As a user, I enjoyed this immensely, so much so that I took a photo.

Though the Viva Lyft Vegas event was created by the rideshare company, in terms of visual search, Pabst are genuinely taking the blue ribbon, as they are the main entity identified in this query. But why?

First, Pabst has claimed their knowledge panel while Lyft has not, meaning that Lyft is less recognizable as a visual entity because it is less defined as an entity.

Second, though it does not have a Google Maps entry, the Las Vegas PBR sign has had landmark-esque treatment since it was installed, with features in The Neon Museum and a UNLV Neon Survey. All of this to say that, in this context, Lyft is being upstaged.

So to create a more SEO-friendly promotional space, they could have laid the groundwork by claiming their knowledge panel and reduced visual search competitors from the viewable space to make sure all eyes were on them.

Encourage optimized use-generated content

Sticking to Las Vegas, here is a typical touristy photo of me with friends outside the Excalibur Hotel:

And when I say that it’s typical, that’s not conjecture. A quick visual search reveals many other social media posts and websites with similar images.

This is what I refer to as that picture. You know the kinds of high occurrence UGC photos: under the castle at the entrance to Disneyland or even thepink wall at Paul Smith’s on Melrose Ave. These are the photos that everyone takes.

Can you SEO these photos for visual search? Yes, I believe you can in two ways:

  1. Encourage people to take photos in certain places that you know, or have designed to include relevant entities, text, logos, and/or landmarks in the viewline. You can do this by declaring an area a scenic viewpoint or creating a photo friendly, dare I say “Instagrammable”, area in your store or venue.

  2. Ensure frequently photographed mobile brand representations (e.g. mascots and/or vehicles) are easily recognizable via visual search. Where applicable, you should also claim their knowledge panels.

Once you’ve taken these steps, create dedicated content on your website with images that can serve as a “visual match” to this high frequency UGC. Include relevant copy and image search optimizations to demonstrate authority and make the most of this visibility.

How does this change SEO?

The notion of bringing visual search considerations to real world spaces may seem initially daunting, but this is also an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to consolidate brand identities in an effective way. Those working in SEO should coordinate efforts with PR, branding, and sponsorship teams to capture visual search traffic for brand wins.



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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter


The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.

Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.


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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Work smarter, not harder, to give customers what they want

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Work smarter, not harder, to give customers what they want


Personalizing your marketing campaigns for one customer is easy, but how about one hundred or thousands of customers across multiple marketing channels?

Work smarter, not harder, by using artificial intelligence (AI) as part of your martech stack and giving your customers the unique experiences they crave.

Register today for “Use Data to Create Next-Level Customer Experiences at Scale,” presented by MoEngage.


About The Author

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries.



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