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2019 Is the Year of Page Speed. Are You Ready?

2019 is the Year of Page Speed

Page speed matters.

We’ve been hearing it for years, though any one of us would be forgiven for letting it slide.

There are other priorities, after all. Marketers have been busy ensuring content is GDPR compliant. We’ve installed SSL certificates, made sure that our pages are mobile-responsive, and conducted conversion optimization experiments.

Some of us have had kids to raise. (And others, dogs.)

But Google has been sending some serious signals lately that suggest sluggish loading is a problem you can no longer sleep on.

In fact, if we look at Google’s actions, it’s undeniable that 2019 will be the year of page speed, the year of the lightning bolt. It’s the year when the difference between fast and slow content becomes the difference between showing up in the search results (whether paid or organic) or disappearing completely.

If you’ve been putting off improvements to your landing page performance until now, chances are that slow content is already killing your conversions. But in 2019, slow content will kill your conversions… to death.

Not convinced? Let’s explore the evidence together.

Google has been saying speed matters since forever

One of the reasons marketers aren’t taking Google’s latest messaging about page speed as seriously as they should is that the company has been asking us to speed up for at least a decade.

Way back in June of 2009, Google launched its “Let’s make the web faster” initiative, which sought to realize co-founder Larry Page’s vision of “browsing the web as fast as turning the pages of a magazine.”

Let's make the web faster
“Let’s make the web faster” video posted on June 22, 2009 (via YouTube)

As part of this initiative, Google made a number of commitments, but they stressed that better speed wasn’t something they could achieve alone. On the same day, a post called “Speed Matters” on the Google AI blog contained a similar message:

Because the cost of slower performance increases over time and persists, we encourage site designers to think twice about adding a feature that hurts performance if the benefit of the feature is unproven.

These weren’t just empty words. The publication of the “Let’s make the web faster” and “Speed Matters” posts signaled a burst of activity from Google. This included:

  • making speed a ranking factor for desktop searches (2010)
  • releasing PageSpeed tools for Firefox (2009) and Chrome (2011)
  • adding the capacity to preload the first search result to Chrome (2011)

But that was nearly ten years ago, and Google followed it with… almost nothing.

Digital marketers and web devs thought they were safe to focus on other things.

Then, in February of 2017, Google returned to the subject of speed in a big way, publishing an industry benchmark report that’s been widely shared ever since.

You may have seen some of the results:

Mobile Page Speed Benchmark
Google’s benchmark revealed that as load times get longer, the probability of bounce increases significantly (via Think with Google).

The first version of the benchmark found that the average mobile landing page was taking 22 seconds to load. This average came down to 15.3 seconds in 2018, but it’s still a significant concern.

(If you’d like a visceral reminder of why a 15-second average wait is still a major problem, hold your breath for that long.)

While the core message that “speed matters” was the same in 2009, in the report Google was now warning that “consumers are more demanding than ever before. And marketers who are able to deliver fast, frictionless experiences will reap the benefits.”

The benchmark report sounded an alarm. And the 2018 update dialed up the volume: “Today it’s critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors.”

Google and Page Speed: A Timeline

Much like “Let’s make the web faster,” the 2017 benchmark preceded a flurry of activity from Google, this time laser-focused on mobile page speeds. Here are a few of the more significant moments that should concern you:

May 2017:
Google introduces AMP landing pages to AdWords

This update to AdWords (now Google Ads) makes it possible for advertisers to point their mobile search ads to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), an ultra-light standard for web pages that is designed to load in less than a second on a mobile device. It’s the strongest indicator yet that Google wants you to get behind AMP in a big way.


June 2017 to February 2018:
Google makes its tools more insistent

In this period, performance tools like PageSpeed Insights and “Test My Site” began making more forceful claims about speed improvements. In February, Google even announced two new tools. The Mobile Speed Scorecard lets you measure your domain’s load time against up to ten of your competitors. And the Impact Calculator produces an estimate of the revenue impact you’d see by speeding up your site. (They’re done with being subtle.)


July 2018:
Google’s “Speed Update” drops

While speed has been a ranking factor in desktop search results since 2010, the “Speed Update” applies stronger standards to mobile searches. Alongside mobile-first indexing, this places renewed pressure on site creators to ensure their mobile landing page experiences are speedy and engaging.


July 2018:
Mobile Speed Score is added to Google Ads

Though Mobile Speed Score doesn’t (yet) have a direct impact on your cost-per-click (CPC), loading times already factor into your Quality Score because they determine landing page experience. By isolating mobile load times, Google Ads now makes it “easier to diagnose and improve your mobile site speed.” Hint, hint.

Google is making mobile page speed mandatory…

It’s not a drip, it’s a monsoon. Looking at the full timeline of announcements, launches, and product updates reveals that Google has been more active than in 2009—and that this initiative is ongoing. Take a look:

Google Page Speed Timeline
Want a better view of this timeline? Click above to open a larger version.

Since 2009, one of the ongoing arguments that Google has been making—through releasing tools and metrics like PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, “Test My Site,” the Speed Scorecard, Impact Calculator, and Mobile Speed Score—is that speed matters.

Since 2017, though, that argument has gotten much louder. And while no single action or announcement on this timeline should send you into a tizzy just yet, it’s worth remembering that Google’s gentle reminders tend to become more or less mandatory.

The search engine’s previous drips about mobile responsiveness or, say, web security both manifested in concrete changes to their browser and search engine that forced marketers to prioritize.

In 2016, for instance, you could have safely put SSL certification on your “nice-to-have” list because all Google promised was a small boost to encrypted sites in the search rankings. Nice, to have, but not critical. In 2018, Google Chrome began actively flagging non-HTTPS sites as “Not Secure.”

That’s how Google encourages change: first a carrot, then the stick.

…but what are marketers doing about it?

Unbounce wanted to know what, if anything, digital marketers are doing to meet Google’s new performance standards. So in the “Inside Unbounce” tent at this year’s Call to Action conference, we conducted an informal survey of attendees.

Participants could choose any landing page they wanted. (A majority of these participants weren’t Unbounce customers, but we were happy to measure pages created with our own builder as well.)

Together, we’d run the selected page through Google’s “Test My Site” tool and record the results.

An Inside Unbounce Attendee
An attendee uses “Test My Site” at CTAConf 2018. Unbounce wanted to know, how fast are you?

Our numbers beat the benchmark by a significant margin. That’s not shocking considering CTAConf is a digital marketing conference. The average load time was 10.27 seconds, five seconds faster than Google’s 2018 benchmark.

But it wasn’t all good news, and just how bad it got surprised us:

Only 1.6% of the 188 attendee landing pages we tested at CTAConf loaded in three seconds. Not a single one we tested loaded faster than that.

Ooof. That hurts, especially since Google says 53% of visitors bounce after three seconds.

This means even savvy marketers are not getting the opportunity to convert because a majority of prospects bounce before the content ever loads. Imagine stressing over the color of a button or the length of your headline copy only to discover most people who click on your ad will never even see the resulting landing page.

It’s no wonder, then, that Google is putting increased pressure on marketers to meet their standards in 2019. They can’t afford to be serving up a heaping spoonful of frustration with each search results. And neither can you.

Major players are already sprinting ahead

Even if Google weren’t forcing our hands, it’s hard to imagine a business that wouldn’t benefit from allocating resources to ensuring their website loads like lightning. Major web brands like Etsy and eBay have long been transparent about the importance of speed to their business, and many more companies are waking up to it.

TELUS, one of Canada’s largest telecommunication companies, committed to improving user experience across their web properties in a series of recent blog posts. According to the blog, this initiative to improve performance and speed is “aligned with what Google was really saying: Improving the customer experience is paramount.”

We reached out to Josh Arndt, Senior Technology Architect and Performance Program Lead at TELUS Digital, who explained why this move made a lot of sense:

Customers expect to be able to do what they want in a way that fits their life. While users come to our website for the content, speed – or lack of – may be the first point of friction in their digital journey. Our goal is to remove friction and make their experience effortless and rewarding. As such, performance and other web quality characteristics will always be on our roadmap.

TELUS recognizes that speed—or a lack of it—serves as the unofficial gatekeeper to their content. In this context, page speed is a natural priority, even if it’s one many of us have been collectively ignoring.

Our manifesto, or what page speed means to Unbounce

As the market leader in landing pages, Unbounce recognizes that being capable of extremely fast speeds represents a significant advantage for our clients. Turbo-charged landing pages result in more traffic and higher engagement, boosting conversions and helping PPC campaigns win increased ad impressions for less.

We’ve been happy to make it our priority into 2019. At the same time, though, we also want to remove some of the obstacles to building faster landing pages.

Technical challenges

Over the past few months, our developers have been optimizing Unbounce pages for the recommendations made by Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This bundle of technical improvements (we call it Speed Boost) automatically takes care of many of the technical details that can be a hurdle to improving performance, especially if development hours are tight or (let’s be realistic here) non-existent.

Speed versus beauty

Another sticking point when it comes to speeding up is that few marketers feel comfortable sacrificing visuals for faster load times. Image file sizes have increased to match the larger display resolutions and higher pixel density of modern mobile devices, one reason the average page size has doubled in the past three years.

With the addition of support for ultra-light SVG images and the recent integration of the free Unsplash image galleries right within the Unbounce builder, we’re helping marketers keep things looking slick without weighing down the landing page.

And we’re working toward creating even more optimization opportunities in the near future, including the Auto Image Optimizer, which automatically compresses the images on your landing pages. (You can decide how much or little compression you want.)

The result will be Cheetah speeds—no, scratch that, cheetah-with-a-rocket-strapped-to-its-back speeds—but without the need to sacrifice either visual allure or creative control.

We’ve taken the pressure off. Check out our plans and pricing for desktop and mobile landing pages that are always optimized with speed in mind. It guarantees a better user experience and less ad spend wasted on ads that don’t convert.

Unbounce + AMP Landing Pages

When it comes to improving page speeds on mobile devices, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) set the gold standard by offering load times that are typically much quicker on a 3G connection—and under a second on 4G.

AMP implementation also has a democratizing effect, which Facebook advertising expert Mari Smith points out:

If you wait too long to ensure speedy landing pages, your competitors will zoom right past you…It’s a total race right now. Specifically, with the pending issues around net neutrality, page speed could become far more important than it already is.

Considering that 70% of the world uses a 3G or slower connection—and that the repeal of net neutrality means more internet users in the US might find themselves in the slow lane—designing for older devices and slower connection speeds means connecting to more potential customers. AMP is a big plus in this regard, and that’s one reason publishers were among the first to adopt it.

But AMP can also be hard. As Unbounce’s Larissa Hildebrandt put it in a recent post, “the reason the AMP framework creates a fast page is because it is so restrictive.”

Implementing AMP typically involves learning the nuances of AMP’s specialized markup, including a restrictive version of HTML and a truncated JavaScript library. Pages are delivered the Google AMP Cache, a proxy-based CDN which helps them load even faster. And, all-in-all, to be validated requires closely following the strict design principles laid out by the AMP Project.

If all this sounds like a killer headache in the making, you’re right.

While Unbounce has been greatly interested in supporting AMP, we wanted to make sure it’s fast and easy for our customers to implement. So when Unbounce launches support for AMP landing pages in early 2019, you’ll be able to use our drag-and-drop builder to create AMP landing pages in no time.

We also didn’t want you to sacrifice creative control, so Unbounce allows the inclusion of AMP-compatible custom CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. As long as it passes validation, you can include it. Go nuts. We love how our community innovates on our platform.

Build an AMP page in Unbounce in our beta
Interested in seeing for yourself how AMP landing pages can accelerate your conversion rate? Join the waitlist for access to the private beta here. Explore how the builder makes creating AMP-ready pages quick and easy.

Speed up or disappear

No marketer can afford to ignore page speed in 2019. Mobile speeds can have a dramatic effect on paid advertising spend and your conversion rates, and Google’s actions so far show that the search engine is cracking down on the slow-to-load across all devices.

What does the future hold? I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball, but here are a few educated guesses:

  1. If mobile loading times don’t get much faster, then we can expect more pressure from Google. This could take the form of further changes to indexing or Google Ads, another round of benchmarks, or the addition of new features and tools.
  2. There’s a growing sense of urgency among marketers, and the major players are already moving to improve their loading times. Even if you’re in the small business space, these things tend to have a trickle-down effect. If you don’t work to improve your performance, chances are your competitors will.
  3. As development on AMP continues, the standard will gain new flexibility while maintaining optimal speeds. It’s already overcome early limitations, and it’s likely we’ll see adoption rates accelerate across all industries.

Since 2009, we’ve seen some remarkable developments in mobile technology, including widespread adoption of touchscreens, the rollout of 4G cellular capabilities, and voice-based search. But the web itself hasn’t always evolved to match—instead, it’s gotten slower and heavier. (Haven’t we all?)

In 2019, though, that will begin to change, for all of the reasons discussed above. The web will speed up and slim down, and those who don’t match the new paradigm will be left behind.

Thankfully, if 2019 is The Year of Page Speed, then you’ve still got opportunities to start speeding up in advance. Let us know your plans in the comments below.

Continue at source – 

2019 Is the Year of Page Speed. Are You Ready?

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AMP: The Easiest Way to Build Lightning-Fast Mobile Pages is Almost Here

AMP is coming to the Unbounce Builder
If you run paid ads, chances are you have a mobile campaign or two (or two hundred) live right now. Whether we like it or not, most of us live tethered to our smartphones, relying on them to entertain us, keep us connected, and guide us to the nearest bike repair shop. And as such, behavior on mobile is shaping how marketers need to operate.

Over the last four years, we were inundated with messages declaring it was finally “the year of mobile”, so much so that it felt like our industry was crying wolf. Then in 2016, it finally happened: Mobile surpassed desktop in terms of both usage as well as Google search queries. Today, more than 60% of the world is accessing the internet through mobile devices, and that number is expected to climb.

Mobile surpasses desktop in October 2016

image via Tech Crunch.

The problem with this change? 2016 was two full years ago, and even though we were all warned to think mobile-first, advertisers forged ahead, bloating our responsive landing pages with massive high-res images, and animations. We were simply shrinking heavy content for small screen sizes. In turn, everyone’s mobile pages loaded turtle-slow (leaving visitors bouncing).

But we can’t ignore proper mobile experiences any more.

This year Google made pagespeed an official ranking factor for mobile search, introduced mobile speed score, and perhaps most important—they’re backing the Accelerated Mobile Pages open-source project: a means of developing web pages that load in (approximately) half a second! In short, the search giant’s putting their foot down and demanding a better, faster mobile web.

So how you can ensure your ads continue to appear in the SERP (considering load time is a factor)? And how can you give your landing pages a better shot to convert? Let’s walk through this need for speed together.

There’s still some lag

Unlike on social platforms, search advertisers have been a bit slow to jump onto the mobile bandwagon (no pun intended). Despite more searches happening on mobile, most advertisers are currently spending about an equal amount on desktop and mobile. In the 2018 State of Mobile report, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins estimates that this gap represents about a seven billion dollar opportunity. In other words, the future is bright for mobile advertising and we’ll all likely adjust our spend accordingly very soon.

The question is, how will you prepare for this?

The shift to mobile advertising is underway

Image courtesy of slide 96 of the 2018 State of Mobile report.

It’s not about screen size, it’s about behavior

When mobile emerged as a hot topic, it was all about building mobile responsive, and then about building websites that were “mobile first.”

I distinctly remember being in the crowd at Unbounce’s first-ever Call to Action Conference back in 2014, when my marketing prayers were answered: Unbounce announced the ability to design mobile pages. But fast forward to today and we know that having a mobile version of your landing page is simply table stakes, as is splitting your campaign targeting by device.

Mobile responsive design was certainly a step forward, but now we can’t just reuse the same content across multiple devices.

To help illustrate why, just think about when you’re searching for something on your phone. You’re probably searching for something because you want it now. In the past two years alone, Google searches for “near me” (implying the intent to buy) have seen 500% growth.

When targeting these kinds of queries, you need to craft an experience that speaks to the searcher’s immediate need to find something locally—and fast. Every second your page lags, the more impatient the visitor.

Google Trends for search term "Near Me"

Looks like I’m not the only one looking for services “near me”. Image via Think With Google.

Personally, I have a bad habit of searching reviews and comparisons for an item while I’m in a store looking at the product in question. It’s hard to get me into a brick-and-mortar store in the first place, so you best believe I’m going to save myself a second trip, researching the best of the best, even in store aisles.

And I’m not alone: Between 2015-2017, the number of mobile searches including “best” on mobile increased by 80%, with consumers comparing products as simple as salt (likely right in the store or at point-of-purchase, like me):

image courtesy of Think With Google

Image courtesy of Think with Google.

Many of us shoppers are even completing the entire checkout process on-the-go. Last year, more than 40% of online purchases in the US were made on mobile during the months of November and October. So we’ve reached peak busy and are knocking out our Christmas shopping lists while we’re taking transit or waiting in line.

Why is this behavior so important?

Well, with so many using smartphones to search and browse on the go, slow-loading content is killing your potential conversions.

From a marketer’s perspective: for every second that a landing page takes to load, conversions drop by 12%—and 53% of smartphone users will abandon a page entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load.

These days, if your page isn’t anything but instant, visitors won’t stick around to convert, and you risk getting penalized by Google.

Maybe you’ve noticed the brand new Mobile Speed Score under the “landing page” tab in your account? This new column and ten-point score is another indication that Google is serious about mobile speed.

Example of Mobile Speed Score (image)

Have you been seeing any scores populate in your Mobile Speed Score column? Has it been helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Moreover, not all data connections are created equal

For those of us living in a metropolitan area, we spend a lot of our time jumping from our home wifi connections, to work, and back. For those times in between though, we’re in some kind of data limbo, with speeds ranging from 3G to LTE. A few times in my life, I’ve even gone to the dark place that is EDGE.

But what if I told you that 70% of the world is actually searching Google on a 3G connection or slower? Yup, you read that right. Even if you’re cruising on wifi or LTE, you might have potential customers living on the edge of data—or close to. On a 3G connection, the average mobile page takes a whopping 19 seconds to load, which means most of your visitors are abandoning your web pages before they’ve even seen them.

Curious how much traffic you’re actually losing to mobile pagespeed? Enter your landing page in this free Google tool to see the percentage.

So much for converting, hey!? You’ve paid for the ad click (sometimes quite handsomely, I might add), yet a portion of your visitors are leaving before they even see your content.

So it’s time to build faster landing pages somehow.

Not only will your visitors appreciate this, but Google will reward you. After all, they’re in the business of selling ads. As we mentioned, pagespeed is now factored into Landing Page Experience (one of the three core components of Quality Score). If you speed up your landing pages, you’ll see higher Quality Scores, an improved Ad Rank, and larger Search Impression Share (your ads will show more often).

You’ll basically give your landing pages a fighting chance to be seen and convert.

Faster mobile pages will produce a higher Google Ads Quality Score

AMPing up your pagespeed

Now, while you can implement a few manual fixes for faster landing pages—like compressing your images, reducing the amount of elements on your page, and even watching how many scripts are on there—even these methods produce diminishing returns at some point.

And this is where AMP can help.

If you haven’t heard of AMP (short for Accelerated Mobile Pages) it’s essentially a framework for coding simple, stripped down landing pages that load super fast (we’re talkin’ half-a-second-fast). It’s comprised of three elements: AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP Cache.

For us non-developers, AMP HTML is essentially a modified version of standard HTML, preventing us from creating pages that load slowly. Marketers can sometimes be guilty of designing beautiful pages with crisp, high-res images, parallax elements, and every tracking script under the sun. We love it, but that person looking for the closest place to fix their flat tire? Not so much.

AMP JS, on the other hand, ensures all of these elements load in an effective way. In my opinion, the third component, AMP Cache, is really AMP’s bread and butter. With AMP Cache, your landing page is cached by Google (or other third parties) so when a visitor requests your page from a platform like Google, it is served almost instantly. Which means the visitor isn’t stuck downloading every single image on their measly 3G connection before they can see your offer.

To implement AMP HTML and JS markup (to code a page from scratch), you’ll need to know a little bit more about web development, or know someone who does. AMP is only a few years old, and is an open-source project that is constantly being improved.

Every page on the framework also needs to pass through the AMP validator, which basically scans the page to make sure it adheres to all the requirements of AMP. If there are changes to the page that break validation, you might get stuck serving up your regular-ol’ too-slow mobile version.

Overall, it can become a burden on your development team if you’re constantly asking them to add a new AMP feature, keep pages validated, and build new ones for each campaign.

So we’re building AMP, the Unbounce way

I’ve always believed in keeping a strong relationship with the web developers at your company. They do amazing things and are typically working with a long backlog of website updates, some that you’ve probably requested yourself. And just like we don’t think you should be bugging developers for landing pages at all, we also want you to save them the headache of building AMP versions of all of your landing pages.

It’s been four years since I joined Unbounce’s mobile responsive beta at the Call to Action Conference, and later tomorrow I’ll be taking to the stage at CTAConf 2018 to share that we’ve entered closed beta for AMP in Unbounce. You’ll soon be able to create AMP landing pages in the same simple, pixel-perfect, drag and drop builder that you know and love. We hope you’re as excited as we are.

Build an AMP page in Unbounce in our beta

Get on the list: Unbounce’s AMP beta

If you’re ready to lower your bounce rates and stay BFF with your web devs, add your name to the early access list for the next phase of beta testing by following this link. You’ll be the very first to know as soon as we add spots or enter open beta, and you’ll be on your way to building lightning-fast mobile landing pages.

Are you as AMPed as we are? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!

More here – 

AMP: The Easiest Way to Build Lightning-Fast Mobile Pages is Almost Here

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Google Marketing Live: An Advertiser’s Take on the Highlights

Updates from the Google Marketing Live keynote

For advertisers, the Google Marketing keynote is a hotly anticipated annual event where we get to hear about all of the new features coming up in Google’s suite of marketing tools. It’s also a great indicator of what’s top of mind for Google, and what betas you can expect to roll out (or bug your Google rep to let you into early).

Yesterday’s presentation kicked off with consumer trends, then covered improvements and launches across a range of Google ad platforms. Throughout the event we heard data control and privacy come up often, reminding us that privacy is still a major theme of 2018. And while professional paid media managers may have found the keynote a bit of a bore, there were some decent things to get excited about too.

If you don’t have an hour to watch the full recording, read on for our key highlights (or skim ‘em, if that’s more your thing).

AdWords is no more

Whoah whoah, don’t panic. The ad platform that you know and love (and rely on for your business) is still intact. In fact, if you follow PPC news or read the Google Ads blog, you probably already heard about the shift from Google AdWords to Google Ads that’s coming at the end of this month. Like the old Google Ads interface, you’ve probably already forgotten about ‘AdWords’, right?

the new Google Ads rebrand takes effect July 24th

What’s actually changed?
Here’s a breakdown of what this rebrand means, and what terms to use so you sound smart in front of your boss and clients:

  • AdWords will become Google Ads.
  • DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 will now be combined into Google Marketing Platform.
  • DoubleClick Search is now Search Ads 360.
  • The rebrand becomes official July 24th, 2018.

Page speed is critical (and more visibility means more control)

We recently shared that we’re close to launching a beta program for Accelerated Mobile Pages at Unbounce, and that page speed is a top priority for us as a leading landing page builder—so naturally we were nodding along yesterday morning as Anthony Chavez, Product Management Director at Google Ads, explained the impact that page speed can have on conversion rates.

Chavez opened his speed segment by reminding us that:

“even the best ads may not perform if your landing pages aren’t up to par, especially on mobile.”

Chavez admitted that landing page speed is often a lower priority for advertisers, who are focused on optimizing keywords, bids, and ad copy. When that’s not enough, “one of the best ways to get better performance on mobile is to improve the speed of your landing pages,” says Chavez. And we couldn’t agree more.

This is why we were giddy when he announced that Mobile Speed Score is now available in Google Ads. Mobile Speed Score is a new score telling you how fast your ad’s resulting landing pages are. This score is on a ten-point scale (ten being the fastest) and includes secret-sauce factors visible to Google—like the relationship between your mobile landing page speed and conversion rates. Plus, it’s updated daily, so you won’t have to wait weeks to figure out if your speed optimizations are working for you.

New from the Google Marketing Keynote: Landing page speed score

Since it’s a column built into your Google Ads account, you’ll be able to sort and filter the landing pages that could use some love. You can find this new column in the Landing Pages tab of your Google Ads account:

Access your landing page speed score in a new column

Chavez went on to suggest using AMP landing pages as a “powerful and easy way to supercharge your site speed,” something we can definitely agree with. By using AMP landing pages together with Mobile Speed Score, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

Want to get even further ahead of your competition? Sign up for early access to Unbounce’s AMP beta program right here.

Search ads are going responsive

For a while now Google has been integrating machine learning and automation into its ad platform, and it looks like the future is no different. Much like last year’s launch of Smart Display campaigns, Google dedicated quite a bit of time to explaining Responsive Search Ads. However, this may not come as news to you as the Responsive Search Ads beta has been available to many advertisers for months already.

Similar to how Smart Display campaigns combine images with text on the fly, Responsive Search Ads combine headlines and descriptions from variations you’ve inputted to create an ad that’s deemed “most relevant to the searcher.” Ideally this means your ads will be more catered to each user and query, instead of serving up a rotation of generic ads.

This is a step forward in more personalized search results, but also means less control for advertisers, and makes it complicated to test ad copy. One big benefit, however, is that these ads can show up to 90% more copy than Expanded Text Ads, meaning you take over more real estate on the SERP. If this is the future of search ads, SEOs should be worried.

Your ad could show up to three 30-character headlines (vs. just one) and two 90-character description lines (compared to one 80-character description line). And PPC-er’s seem to be on board with this extra space, with the reaction mostly positive, if not a little hesitant:

Not seeing Responsive Search Ads as an option in your account? The beta is still rolling out to English-language advertisers and will be rolling out to more advertisers and languages throughout 2018.

Also, if you still prefer man over machine, you can continue to use Expanded Text Ads in your campaigns.

Even more assorted product updates & improvements

Better cross-device tracking

Tracking users across devices has always been a pain for paid advertisers, but this has been improving over the years. Google reaffirmed its commitment to solving this pain by announcing cross-device reporting and remarketing in Google Analytics (to what sounded like the largest applause of the keynote).

Google Shopping updates

If you’ve ever launched Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping, you know that it can be a whole other beast. Starting this year, Google will be rolling out Automated Feeds which create a feed by crawling your website (no more troubleshooting feeds). Keeping with the theme, Google also talked about the recently launched Smart Shopping campaigns that automatically optimize around a goal.

These changes will make PLAs a lot more accessible to advertisers, but oppositely could increase competition for those of us already advertising on Google Shopping. In fact, Smart Campaigns will soon be integrated with Shopify, meaning Shopify merchants will be able to manage their Smart Shopping campaigns without leaving the platform. This reduces barriers for the 600,000+ Shopify users that may have been previously intimidated by the Google Merchant Center.

Updates to YouTube

On the video side of things, Google announced that later this year they will be bringing a new option to TrueView for Reach ads. In addition to a call to action button, the new Form Ads will allow you to collect leads through a form directly on the ad. Because we didn’t see any examples of how these would look in the wild, I’ll say it sounds like this feature won’t be released very soon. For now though, I can guess it will be something similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, maybe even more simple.

They also kept YouTube on the machine learning bandwagon, announcing Maximize Lift Bidding. They describe this as a bidding strategy to help you “reach people who are more likely to consider your brand after exposure to an ad.” Google added a bit more context to this feature—currently in beta—on its blog, saying, “it automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey.”

We’ll have to wait until it rolls out officially later this year to learn even more.

Machine learning for small business

If you run a small business, Google used a small slice of the keynote to remind you that you’re still an important customer. They announced the upcoming launch of something called Smart Campaigns, and—you guessed it—it involves machine learning. Google Ads is a sophisticated platform, but can still be intimidating for a small business, or a non-marketer.

Using information scanned from the company’s website and their Google My Business listing, the Smart Display campaign automatically generates ads on both search and display. The goal is to get small business owners up and running with ads as quickly as possible and to help them overcome the learning curve that can come with online advertising (or the cost of hiring an agency). After launch, the campaigns automatically optimize themselves.

Going further, the campaigns automatically generate quick and simple landing pages for small businesses, for when you’re running without a website. While these landing pages include super basic information like your location and phone number, you don’t get any control over brand messaging or even the images that get selected.

As a paid advertiser by trade myself, I’m wary of handing this much control over my ads to Google’s machine learning, but that doesn’t mean this can’t work for a small business customer. The audience for Smart Campaigns is an advertiser starting from scratch (as in, no website-from-scratch) so there would be no historical performance to compare to.

What all these updates mean

While not everything was technically fresh news at this year’s Google Marketing Live, we still had some interesting key takeaways.

What stood out the most to us at Unbounce was the critical need for fast landing pages, especially on mobile. Undeniably though, the strong thread throughout the keynote was the shift toward machine learning.

My prediction is that—over the coming months and years—Google will shift to more and more “Smart” features and campaigns until eventually machine learning becomes so intertwined that we drop the “Smart.” I’m not quite ready to give Google the wheel on all of my ad copy, bids, and optimization just yet, but I’m curious to see the data and hear the results as we move into this new era of online advertising.

Excerpt from:

Google Marketing Live: An Advertiser’s Take on the Highlights

Monthly Web Development Update 1/2018: Browser Diversity, Ethical Design, And CSS Alignment

I hope you had a great start into the new year. And while it’s quite an arbitrary date, many of us take the start of the year as an opportunity to try to change something in their lives. I think it’s well worth doing so, and I wish you the best of luck for accomplishing your realistic goals. I for my part want to start working on my mindfulness, on being able to focus, and on pursuing my dream of building an ethically correct, human company with Colloq that provides real value to users and is profitable by its users.

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Monthly Web Development Update 1/2018: Browser Diversity, Ethical Design, And CSS Alignment

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How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

Black Friday, seasonal sales, and post-holiday blow-outs: Throughout the year, marketers rely on deals and discounts to get rid of…Read blog postabout:How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

The post How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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How to use pricing psychology to motivate your shoppers

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We Want to Put You on a Plane to Call to Action Conference [CONTEST]

Image via Shutterstock.

If you’re an active social networker, you already know that travel photos and social media go together like… aerial shots of brunch and social media.

So when we decided to throw a social media contest together for our upcoming Call to Action Conference, it seemed only fitting to make it travel themed. Not just because we like taking 10-second mental vacations by staring at pretty pictures of pretty places. But because Unbounce has done a little travelling itself.

After expanding to the German, Brazilian and Spanish markets over the past year, we opened an official Berlin office in January. Four walls, front door, ever-flowing kaffee and all. We’re thrilled that this year’s conference is the first we’ll host as a truly international company — and we want to celebrate by putting you on a plane with a free ticket to Call to Action Conference 2017.

The details

What we want to know is:

What’s your favourite place in the world?

Tweet and/or Instagram a photo of wherever that may be (be it from your iPhoto gallery or Google Images, we can’t tell and we don’t care) with the caption:

“Fly me to #CTAConf @unbounce and make me love Vancouver as much as I love [insert location]”!

The winner will be announced at noon PST on Friday, June 3rd and receive a $1,000 flight voucher as well as a free ticket to Call to Action Conference, worth $999.

Click below for more contest details if you want them. And if you’re thinking, “What is CTAConf and why do I want a ticket to it?” then see what all the hoopla’s about.

Originally posted here – 

We Want to Put You on a Plane to Call to Action Conference [CONTEST]

Glossary: Influencer Marketing

glossary Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is the activity of engaging with influential people in order to obtain press and/or get content disseminated to large audiences. Influencer marketing leverages the influence or reach of leaders in a particular industry, field, or even sub-culture. For example, a renowned surgeon is an influencer in the field of medical science and an athlete is an influencer in the sports/fitness industry. Companies encourage relevant influencers to recommend their products or services to their followers. Examples of Influencers Marketing An example of influencer marketing is the promotion of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Millions of people have read them…

The post Glossary: Influencer Marketing appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Glossary: Influencer Marketing

Design & UX Trends to Boost Conversions in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

As more of our interactions — both business and personal — migrate online, intuitive design and user experience have never been more important.

The fast pace at which the digital world is changing means there’s always a new trend on the up and up promising to skyrocket our results.

Last year we saw the rise of mobile-first design, full-width hero images and user-driven storytelling. This year we’re seeing a big push toward hyper-personalization, bots and even (shameless plug) targeted overlays.

Ultimately, though, we marketers are most interested in trends that make the most impact where it truly counts… conversions.

The brilliant folks at The Deep End Design have whittled down the ever-growing list of design and UX trends to bring you only the most promising ones.

Of course, as with all trends, we don’t truly know their worth until we can test them out for ourselves. So don’t take this list as gospel. Rather, use it as a jumping off point when planning initiatives for the upcoming quarter and beyond.

design ux trends 2017 blog

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Design & UX Trends to Boost Conversions in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Design and UX Trends to Boost Conversions in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

As more of our interactions — both business and personal — migrate online, intuitive design and user experience have never been more important.

The fast pace at which the digital world is changing means there’s always a new trend on the up and up promising to skyrocket our results.

Last year we saw the rise of mobile-first design, full-width hero images and user-driven storytelling. This year we’re seeing a big push toward hyper-personalization, bots and even (shameless plug) targeted overlays.

Ultimately, though, we marketers are most interested in trends that make the most impact where it truly counts… conversions.

The brilliant folks at The Deep End Design have whittled down the ever-growing list of design and UX trends to bring you only the most promising ones.

Of course, as with all trends, we don’t truly know their worth until we can test them out for ourselves. So don’t take this list as gospel. Rather, use it as a jumping off point when planning initiatives for the upcoming quarter and beyond.

design ux trends 2017 blog

Embed this infographic on your site

Read more: 

Design and UX Trends to Boost Conversions in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Strategies You Need To Try in 2017, According to 13 Digital Marketing Experts

marketing-resolutions-2017-650
Image via Shutterstock.

Has anyone in the history of the world ever kept a New Year’s resolution?

I know I haven’t. But that doesn’t stop me from making them year after year and convincing myself that this will be the year for life-altering change. And then my credit card gets charged for my monthly gym membership and I realize I haven’t been in three months… (Where did the time go?)

The problem is, New Year’s resolutions are frequently impulse decisions — we take on ambitious goals without considering how they fit into our day to day lives.

Similarly, it’s easy to walk away from a marketing article with the intention of implementing X tactic. But without taking a step back and seeing how it fits into your overall strategy, you’re about as likely to actually do the work as I am to actually do my workout.

When we spoke to 13 of North America’s most influential digital marketing experts about their plans for 2017, a lot of them shared plans to take a step back and rethink their marketing strategy from a new perspective — rather than take on more tactics.

Here’s some of what they shared.

Scrutinize then optimize your current channels

You may be open to experimenting with new channels, but how often do you take stock of the ones you’ve been using forever? Why did you start using them in the first place?

The answer may be that you’re using them simply because you always have and don’t know anything else…

When we spoke to our digital marketing experts, many of them shared their plans to pull the plug completely on certain channels so they could focus on experimenting with new ones.

Larry Kim, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Wordstream and Inc columnist, spoke of his experiments with using LinkedIn Ads for lead generation:

larry-kimUnfortunately it didn’t work because the cost per click was around $10 and very limited ad targeting options (e.g., no remarketing or custom list support).

But there were other channels that worked well:

There were many new channels that we tried out or doubled down on that worked spectacularly well for us – and I wrote them all up, including our approach and the results – the new channels included the use of RLSA, Facebook and Twitter Ads, posting content to Medium, changing our SEO tactics, and experimenting with off-topic content.

John Rampton, CEO of Due, was disappointed in the results from Facebook advertising campaigns, but it’s worth noting that he suspects it may have had more to do with targeting oversights:

john-ramptonIn 2016, the most underwhelming marketing tactic we tried were Facebook ads, but I think this was because our target audience of small businesses was not on Facebook searching for business solutions.

Similarly, Moz last year experimented with pumping more money into paid advertising, according to co-founder Rand Fishkin. Moz nearly tripled its advertising budget with Facebook, AdWords and retargeting on various platforms.

Rand’s big takeaway from it all?

rand-fishkinBroad targeted advertising is nearly useless. Unless someone has already been to our website, is familiar with our brand and/or is specifically searching for us or a handful of tightly connected search phrases, digital ads produce very little lift in new signups.

Moz has since cut back spend massively and is focused on optimizing its targeting instead.

Jay Baer of Convince and Convert experimented with some free marketing channels in 2016 – notably, cross-posting from his blog to Medium. And while the effort for posting to Medium is minimal, so too have been the returns:

jay-baerSo far, the readership just hasn’t been there. Curiously, I have 53,000+ followers on Medium now, but generate just 3,000-4,000 views across four different posts per month.

These channels may or may not be effective for your audience, but the lesson here is to survey what’s working for you and what’s not.

And then don’t be afraid to kill your darlings (the channels that just aren’t working).

Out with the old, in with the new.

Build genuine relationships with a small group of influencers

It’s easy to get caught up in the dozens of tasks you have to do each day, but if you’re not currently making time to network and build relationships with your peers, 2017 is a great time to start.

It’s the secret sauce of Aaron Orendorff, prolific blogger and Forbes Top 25 Marketing Influencer. Here’s what he told us:

aaron-orendoorfMarketing is not a single player sport. I dug deep on collaboration this year and combined it with unique story angles. This approach created Unbounce’s [highest traffic] post of the year: Clinton vs. Trump: 18 CROs Tear Down the Highest Stakes Marketing Campaigns in US History.

The key to this approach, Aaron explained, is twofold:

First, you have to have killer idea (and, no, “What’s the best blogging tip?” doesn’t count). Second, roll contributions into each other. What I mean is, start with who you know and once you get initial buy-in use their name to get the next one… or just ask if they’ll connect you.

While this personalized approach has worked for Aaron, many marketers are still taking a cold approach, without much success.

Peep Laja of ConversionXL explained that reaching out cold won’t cut it:

1v26cpfbI myself get bombarded many times a day with all kinds of requests (“we linked to you/we mentioned you/give me feedback”), and I totally ignore them.

How do you avoid getting ignored? For starters, quit it with the canned messages.

Sujan Patel of digital marketing agency Web Profits explained that if you’re going to reach out to influencers, you should be doing it for the right reasons — to start relationships:

sujan-patelBegin with just five to ten people… choose people who appeal to you on a personal level – people you think you will genuinely get along with. Look for signs that you share the same interests (outside of your work) and sense of humor.

In other words, reach out only if your intention is to build genuine relationships. You wouldn’t ignore an email from an actual friend, would you?

Pair great content with great (dynamic) visuals

Since 2015, the content marketing world has been abuzz with Rand Fishkin’s concept of 10x content — the idea that you pick a topic and set out to create something 10x better than anything currently out there on the subject.

But with marketers everywhere striving to create 10x content, how then can you continue to stand out from the crowd?

For Sujan Patel, the marketers who will stand out in 2017 are those who pay special mind to design:

10x content isn’t new, but what will differentiate content in 2017 and beyond is content that directly incorporates design and formatting, instead of relying on great content in a long-form blog post.

As an example, Sujan shared a piece of content he created for a client: a guide to building a personal brand, where the content is inextricable from the design. He’s found that the time they spent on visuals is really paying off:

We see email optin rates over 25% and huge share numbers and backlinks from this type of content.

Ian Lurie of digital marketing agency Portent has similar plans to emphasize aesthetics in the New Year:

ian-lurieIn 2017, I’ll be leaning more towards complex layouts and a greater emphasis on graphics. I’ll also be segmenting by screen resolution.

If the prospect of dialling up your visual content production feels daunting, Nadya Khoja of Venngage has some advice:

nadya-khojaI recommend starting out by visiting your top performing content and repurposing it into engaging visuals. You can do this by pinpointing the main takeaways and tips that are highlighted in that content. Use a tool to create the animated graphics or finding a freelancer on a site like Upwork who can quickly transform that information into a compelling video or motion graphic.

Devote more time and tools to understanding your customers’ motives

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

Abe wasn’t a marketer, but he would have been an excellent one — in this blog post, Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce, explained why: you should never start a marketing campaign (chop down a tree) without doing your research (sharpening your axe).

That’s why Michael spends so much of his time conducting customer research and understanding the psychology of decision making. But this year, he took it a step further by socializing his findings to the team:

vubr6m3I spent a good deal of time sharing the insights and results internally so more of our employees could see the value in conducting real customer research rather than relying on assumptions or trends.

And Aagaard can’t stop, won’t stop:

In 2017, I’m going to ramp this up even more – both in terms of the hands-on CRO work I do at Unbounce and in relation to educating our employees and our customers.

Steve Olenski, Sr. Content Strategist at Oracle Marketing Cloud, urged marketers to look into mobile data management platforms (DMPs). He explained that they’re a critical part of the modern marketer’s stack because they enable us to better understand customer behavior:

steve-olenskiWith a mobile DMP, brands can harness and analyze the massive amount of customer data generated by mobile devices — including intent, geolocation, and purchase behavior to better target ads across multiple mobile devices and platforms, from in-app ads on smartphones to mobile web ads and tablet-specific campaigns.

In 2017, commit to collecting more customer information. Because at the end of the day, understanding your audience empowers you to give them more of what they want.

And that keeps them coming back for more.

Be part of the AI and AR conversations

Okay, this one’s a tall order, but it’s one that can’t be ignored for much longer.

Some of the digital marketing experts we spoke to emphasized the importance of keeping your finger on the pulse of cutting edge technology — notably, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Today, machine learning systems are being applied to everything from filtering spam emails, to making recommendations for what you should buy or watch (or who you should date).

Unbounce has been investing in applying machine learning to our product — here’s what CEO Rick Perrault had to say:

rick-perrault2016 marked the launch of our effort to apply machine learning to improving conversion results.  We’ve now built machine learning models that can predict conversion rates with reasonable accuracy, and our efforts to create models that provide actionable advice on improving conversion rates are coming along.

Jayson DeMers, CEO of AudienceBloom, has been keeping a close watch on augmented reality, especially after the breakout success of Pokemon Go this year:

jayson-demersxqAR print ads are starting to catch on, with Macallan Whiskey in Esquire Magazine, and Vespa Scooter ads being standout examples here. Axe/Lynx even took things a step further with an interactive “fallen angel” ad in a busy public location. This is a technology in its infancy that’s finally starting to take off.

Whoever innovates here – and does so quickly, early in 2017 – stands to win big.

While you may not necessarily be able to invest in this cutting edge stuff, the least you can do is keep your finger on the pulse of what others are doing. As these technologies progress, they become increasingly affordable and accessible — and you don’t want to be playing catch up when they become ubiquitous.

Down with New Year’s resolutions

I’d like to encourage you to not make a New Year’s resolution this year.

In 2017, make strategic decisions that will actually bring you results.

Over to you — what new things will you test at work in the New Year?

See the article here:  

Strategies You Need To Try in 2017, According to 13 Digital Marketing Experts