Like any year, search and social marketing in 2018 was fluid with frequent changes to rules, strategies, and tools. If you’re on top of things, this becomes an opportunity.

If you’re putting off those optimizations, know that your competition most likely is not.

Digital Marketing Takes Intelligent Effort

A while back, a client came to us to review their digital marketing. Sales were barely trickling in on their website. We recommended a quick test. We built some targeted digital ad campaigns, launched and studied the results.

We then told them to halt everything they were doing and redesign the site. We did that for them. Then they relaunched the same campaigns and sales started flowing. As their sales grew, we added multiple marketing channels, studied the data and optimized. A couple years later, they are now netting $500,000 more in profit with a rapidly growing customer base. This changed absolutely everything for them.

Momentum like that in digital marketing takes intelligent effort, staying on the cutting edge and adapting to continual changes. What are some of those changes?  

Let’s take a quick look at some of the more recent major updates and see how they may improve your bottom line

Big Changes From 2018

Here’s a quick recap of major changes in 2018. Since we’re a Google Premier Partner, we’ve had the advantage of being  in early on the beta testing for many of these features and seen some fantastic results. Of course, not all changes were positive for advertisers.

“You may think you just updated your ads to the latest, greatest formats, but Google alone has gone through several iterations in the past few months.”

In 2018, Google cracked down on ads for politics, cryptocurrency and rehab/addiction search advertising. With these changes, it sometimes effects legitimate businesses not in that specific sector. Google’s reaction after finding problem industries is sometimes to shut the entire vertical down, then slowly find a solution for legitimate companies to re-engage the platform.

In the end, the effect is the same. It’s a painful process for ethical businesses to endure, and requires savvy business to keep up to date with these sweeping changes.

Another move by Google in 2018 was to rebrand Google AdWords as Google Ads in order to reflect their entire advertising experience. From Display, Video, Gmail, Retargeting…all tools beyond their original pay per click AdWords, are all available within Google. Expect the synergies between these tools to continue to grow (more on this later).

Another big change is that Google brought out new search ad copy options from beta testing and into the market, creating larger and more effective ads. More search real estate is now being taken up with each ad placement.

This is good news for digital marketing savvy companies, but can be debilitating for non-savvy companies. Read on to see the 5 tips we recommend you implement to keep up with your digital marketing efforts.

5 Pro Tips for 2019 Digital Marketing Success

Tip #1 – Implement Larger, More Effective Ads.

In 2019, the recent changes to new search ad copy options will become widely adopted. It should positively impact CTRs and ROI for those who plan to implement it and have tools and experience to master its nuances. You can serve up a massively wider variation of different ads — more than 40,000 different variations from a single ad block.

As part of this, for instance, Google will now automate some ad extensions by default. Meaning Google comes up with additional elements of ad copy to automatically show with your ads, make them larger and improve CTRs.

While this can be useful, it’s actually a big problem if you are in a heavily regulated industry where you just can’t say certain things. To find out if your account has these, click on “Ads & Extensions,” then “Automated Extensions.”

You may think you just updated your ads to the latest, greatest formats, but Google alone has gone through several iterations in the past few months. Those who adopt quickly, will pull more traffic from their best performing campaigns.

For instance, use the new Responsive Search Ads format. These allow for multiple headlines, multiple descriptions and you can “pin” certain lines to always appear in your ad tests.

Tip #2 – Actively Manage Your Ad Accounts to Keep ROI Up

Last year, Google implemented more changes to exact match keywords. Advertisers now have less control in exact match with Google keywords. The result is that there needs to be more continual and active account management to keep ROI trending in the right direction – ROI for you, not just Google.

We recommend ongoing monitoring of your exact search queries and making adjustments to your negative keyword lists. We save clients thousands of dollars every year with continual negative keyword list building.

It’s got to be a habit. Something you check on with a very regular basis. Don’t put it off for days, which turn into weeks, which quickly turn into months of wasted ad spend.

Tip # 3 – SEO Is Now Mobile, but Still the Same

So much of SEO and the algorithms are about the mobile experience these days. Traffic has dramatically shifted over the years to mobile, and Google has made that more and more a part of their algorithms. If you’ve neglected your mobile experience , your SEO is most likely swimming against the current.

We recommend checking your mobile site speed periodically with Google’s tools. Focus on improving load time. This will help not only your SEO, but any other marketing channel. According to Google, site conversions drop 12% for every second of load time.

We also  recommend using their mobile friendly site checker to see what they think of your site. Additionally, make your site a responsive design instead of having a separate mobile version.

Mobile search is often “local search.” Mobile users frequently search for products and services in their area. We recommend auditing your site content (or adding to it) to improve that local content.

There are still tried and true, white hat practices in SEO that will likely never go away.

Surprisingly, we see few marketers making this a continual practice. Not only are people falling behind with the mobile changes that took place in 2018, even best practices (like continual content development) are typically a low priority. Our clients that have seen the most growth either produce consistent content themselves or have us do it.

Tip #4 – Programmatic Ads Will Rule 2019

This, is a BIG one. In 2019 search will be more programmatic. This is the future of search.

What is programmatic, you ask?

According to Google, programmatic is ad buying that focuses on “combining data, machine learning, and automation to drive better performance.”

With machine learning, Google now understands user intent and behavior more. Combine these audiences with search and you have something new and more effective.

What does this mean? In the past, you could manually refine your search bids by basic demographics (income, gender, age) and get better results. Recently, they’ve started to roll out audience targeting for search. Google, for example, looks at a user’s search and browsing history. They look at whether someone is in-market to purchase a type of product or service and now they allow you to target that intent when someone also searches keywords.

Additionally, if someone has been showing a variety of signals that they are in the market to buy new kitchen counters, this is now an audience that you can target on search. Maybe they do a more generic search like “home contractor,” something a company that sells granite countertops might never bid on because it’s too broad. But now that you know they are in-market for kitchen countertops, this type of keyword now suddenly becomes viable.

Or, perhaps, you get good results on your existing keywords, but you observe that these same users are twice as likely to become leads when searching a good keyword “buy kitchen counters,” you can edge up your bids and be even more aggressive to win that moment in search.

Adding this type of targeting to search is showing improved ROI.

We recommend observing different audience combinations before making bid modifications. In side the Audience tab in your Google Ad account, you can set this up:

These more advanced demographics and psychographics will expand in 2019. This will make creative search marketers more effective, and these tools will only improve as Google’s algorithms improve.

Programmatic is the future.

Tip #5 – Improve Your Remarketing

First off, if you aren’t doing remarketing, you should. Secondly, if you tried it and it wasn’t ROI positive, you probably did something wrong. It’s easy to mess up. Default settings in accounts can often water down your results.

If you aren’t sure what remarketing is…simply put it’s following previous site visitors with ad campaigns to remind them to purchase or return to your site. Often, the first visit to your site, isn’t the one to make the sale.

Keeping your brand front of them can help you win that moment of truth (Google refers to this as the Zero Moment of Truth) – when they are ready to make a decision online. You want to make sure it’s your company in front of them when that moment arrives.

We typically start our remarketing/retargeting campaigns within Google. Using both display and search remarketing as a best practice. But did you know you can also expand your remarketing efforts onto Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels? This omnichannel approach to remarketing can be powerful.

Strategies for this also can get pretty technical, but that’s what we’re here for!

What’s Your New Year’s Marketing Resolution?

Maybe it’s to do more of the above. Maybe it’s to get a better idea of what you should be doing in 2019.

We can help you take your digital marketing to the next level. If you want to help build a better blueprint for your 2019 marketing, schedule a phone meeting with one of our strategists now.

Currently we are offering the first 20 companies a FREE 1-hour deep dive to review your digital marketing.. Contact us today and help get 2019 off to the right start!