Seven insights hiding in Google’s new Christmas shopping research

Earlier this month Google released a set of eye-popping statistics about the Christmas shopping season. It was hard for me to miss, I kind of work for Google, but if you’ve never seen that article I think you should take a look. As we get farther into the shopping season, it can start to feel like the season is close to wrapping up. Based on Google’s data, though, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are seven insights from that research that you can use to your advantage to make this your best December ever both online and in your locations themselves.

1. Black Friday and Cyber Monday get the hype, but people buy stuff throughout the entire month of December

What the research says: “We see 34% more shopping searches on Christmas Day than on Black Friday.”

What that means for you: We’re halfway through the month of December, but there’s still so much opportunity to be had. This research only affirms what I know to be true: people procrastinate. Finishing your Christmas shopping on Cyber Monday sounds like a great plan. And for so many of us that plan remains entirely theoretical. People shop all the way up to Christmas, then they continue to shop after Christmas. As marketers that may give you Black Friday flashbacks. But all of that work is definitely worth the effort.

2. Weekends are the ultimate battle ground.

What the research says: This year “retailers have an edge. With Christmas on a Monday, there are two full weekends (Dec. 15-17 and 22-24) in the 10 days before the holiday. This bodes well for store traffic with Christmas shoppers out in force on two Fridays and Saturdays.”

What that means for you: Make the most of these final two weekends of the Christmas season. You have to be present for all of the teeming hordes in shopping malls coast-to-coast. This makes the work-life balance appreciator in me quite sad, but plan to check in over the final two holiday weekends. You’ve got to be competitive with your bids on the weekends. It’s also crucial to avoid being limited by budget. The research and conversion cycle is incredibly compressed, so you’ve got to be there for every step.

3. Shipping cutoff date is a big deal. As big as Cyber Monday.

What the research says: “We see online conversions from the week before December’s shipping cutoff date on par with the week of Cyber Monday.”

What that means for you: The last big online shopping day is all about that shipping cutoff date. Cyber Monday has reached ubiquity and it’s undoubtedly a big deal. The week of shipping cutoff is also a big deal. There’s not a snappy name to go along with it, but that shouldn’t diminish its importance. Make sure the shipping info in your ads is prominent, accurate and up-to-the-minute. For frantic online shoppers, it’s the difference between a click and even more worried scrolling for a gift they hope their recipient will like.

2016 where to buy searches“Where to buy” searches in 2016

4. Once the shipping cutoff date has passed, focus on driving foot traffic exclusively.

What the research says: “Around Dec. 21, when the online shipping cutoff passes, Christmas shoppers increasingly turn to their hometown stores to get what they need.” AND “Searches for “where to buy” peak on Dec. 23 as last-minute shoppers grab their final gifts and stocking stuffers.”

What that means for you: Do everything you can to drive offline traffic. Just because you can’t ship them something in time for the big day, don’t exclude yourself from their options. They want to spend money with you, it’s up to you to tell them that you’re there for them (literally). Adjust bids for people close to your stores, ensure your location extensions are good to go, take advantage of local inventory ads, use your callouts and sitelinks to feature in-store pickup.

5. Prepare for the true last-minute shoppers.

What the research says: “Mobile searches for “open now” and “store hours” grow through December and peak on Christmas Day.”

What that means for you: Get into the mentality of a last-minute shopper. Either panic or delusion (based on personal experience). In both cases, you want to assure people that you’re there for them. Call and message extensions along up-to-date holiday hours are crucial. Nothing’s more immediate than a phone call. These shoppers know timing is tight, and you have to assure them that you’ve got them covered.

6. Christmas changes people’s mindsets, but they still shop like crazy.

What the research says: “The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just as busy as every other day in December (other than Christmas week itself).” AND “About 20% of all December store traffic happens in the six days after Christmas.”

What that means for you: Imagine that feeling of breaking through the tape at the finish line. Now imagine someone shoots off a starter pistol immediately for the next race. It’s sort of like that. Christmas doesn’t mark the end of the shopping season. It marks the date on which people open the stuff other people bought for them. Now it’s their turn to shop. Returning the crappy gifts, redeeming the practical-but-thoughtless gift cards, buying stuff to accompany the gifts they love most. Your job isn’t done once the presents are unwrapped. Write ads that mention return policies, use extensions with ideas of how to use gift cards, feature the products that go best with what you already know to be your top sellers.

7. Starting on Christmas day, there’s a strong focus on in-store shopping

What the research says: “For general shopping queries (such as “shopping near me” or “store hours”), we see 34% more searches on Christmas Day than we do on Black Friday.” AND “With searches for “clearance” spiking on Dec. 26, shoppers are likely looking to redeem gift cards, make returns and exchanges, find gifts for people they haven’t seen yet, or decide to “gift” themselves a little extra.”

What that means for you: That mindset shift after the presents are unwrapped starts about as soon as the presents are opened. What’s good news for you is that you already have a great plan to get people inside your store. Continue that plan after Christmas and through the new year. Factor in that post-gift-opening mindset in your messaging as you continue to drive people to your stores.


With Christmas season starting earlier and earlier every year, it’s only natural to feel like the holidays are pretty much through with. But recently-published research from Google confirms that there’s still plenty of meat left on the bone for hungry retailers. Ensure your digital plan makes the most of the sizeable opportunity that remains.



Stop Using Google’s First Page Estimates to Set Your Bids

Within the Google Interface there’s a super helpful piece of information called the First Page Bid Estimate.  This metric tells you, based on both quality score and competition for the exact match of your keyword (even for broad and phrase keywords), an approximation of where you should set your bid to ensure that you win as many auctions as possible to appear on the first page of the search results.

If you want to see where Google thinks you should be bidding on your keywords you can opt into the First Page Bid Estimate column following the directions here.  I’m sure you’ve also seen keyword statuses that say Below First Page Bid and then the estimated bid in there as well.

Below first page bid

You can filter your keywords to see which of them are currently below the first page bid estimate, and then via editing in a table directly in the interface, you can select an option to prefill all CPCs to first page bid.  You can even set up automated rules to ensure that your bids are on the first page and have that rule run every day to make sure you have top visibility.  It makes it extremely easy to follow this estimate and fine tune your bidding strategy.

You probably know all of this already.  And you should stop doing it.

I saw something in my account a while ago that forever changed how I viewed the Google first page estimate.

High first page bid estimate
The Spookiest Thing This October

This keyword was in an ad group with a good impression share (higher than 70%), its bid was set at $17.00, its average CPC was only $7.11, its average position was 2.2.  This keyword was on the first page.  Google was telling me to change its bid to $100.00.  It was terrifying.

Now I recognize that the estimated first page bid is only an estimate (it’s right there in the name).  But this was a glitch in the matrix that I can’t ignore.  It’s also a metric that directly influences the level of competition on keywords.  So if something is calculated based on quality score and competition, but that thing itself directly influences the competition, it needs to be questioned.

I’ve looked into my accounts and the data isn’t as terrifying as I thought it might be.  A small percentage of my keywords are below the estimated first page bid, and among that small percentage only a few are still displaying metrics of a keyword on the first page.  But I’m also keeping a close watch on my keywords and adjusting my bids weekly to ensure that we’re in the average positions that we want to be, which is going to limit how much this happens.

My warning is based on some anecdotal evidence, but also on logic.  If you are following Google’s recommendation, your competitors probably are too.  And if you’re all using an automated function to raise your bids to first page, the competition gets that much stronger and your bids will all be raised together.  Great for Google, bad for you.  Are you relying too much on first page estimates?  Don’t let Google take too much control of your bidding strategy.

It should be mentioned that Google openly acknowledges that their bids aren’t perfect (they say “meeting your first page bid estimate isn’t a guarantee of ad position”).  But as they see it, not every estimated first page bid is high enough.  The language contained within their help section focuses on making sure your ad appears, and the estimate allows you to see where your ad rank should be to appear as much as possible.  If you aren’t appearing, they tell you to improve your ad rank.  That can be done via diligent work on your quality scores, or it can be done the easy way by increasing your bids.  I wonder which route most advertisers take.

There’s also the problem of figuring out just what qualifies as the first page for Google.  According the AdWords help, 1-8 are generally considered first page, 9-16 are generally second page and on and on.  Some searches will show 11 ads, but if your average position is 11 for a keyword you are almost guaranteed to be considered below the first page.  I also can’t find any average positions below 11 in my accounts, so I’m not sure just how low they are willing to go across all industries.

Google’s changes to their results pages are on ongoing process, so just what is considered the first page will probably continue to be a bit of a moving target.  Figure out what average positions work for you and take back control of your bidding strategy.  Use the estimated first page bid as a recommendation, but don’t automate the process.  I know that Google’s not perfect (as the $100 estimate burned forever into my brain), so I’m not going to let them tell me where my bids need to be.

This was the final post in our series about numbers that should be questioned in PPC.  Check out our posts about AdWords and AnalyticsKeyword MatchingPlacement FraudCompetition Metrics and Search Query Reports.

Originally published in 2012 and updated by Cassie Oumedian, Associate Director of Services, Growth at Hanapin Marketing!


Your Guide to Getting Organized for PPC Success

Hello PPC Heroes! As 2018 draws near, your feeds may be inundated with talk of New Year’s Resolutions. While I tend to stay away from making a big to-do about resolutions myself, I do like to reflect on my year past and prepare for changes I plan to implement to make for a successful future. This year, my top priority is staying organized in the new-to-me landscape of PPC management. As I made my list, I took a holistic approach that I’d like to share with you. My strategies fell into four categories – organization of my space, my time, my resources, and my workload.


Organizing Your Space


1. Ensure you always have the tools you need.


Keep an organized space dedicated to an abundance of pens, paper, notebooks, et cetera. This way, you’ll never be on an impromptu call scrambling to find extra pens or paper around the office.


2. Make use of your physical assets.


I’m a visual learner, and one of favorite tools is a printed copy of the month’s calendar with my due dates and reminders highlighted. If you’re visually motivated, I recommend making a list of the things you most frequently reference, and keep a physical copy taped up at your desk!


3. Categorize and label those assets.


I suggest separate spaces for your notes, lists, and reminders according to whatever categories make sense for you. At an agency, for example, this could be physical organization by client/account.


4. De-clutter regularly.


Once a day, or once a week, go through everything you keep on your desk and determine whether you need to file it or toss it. A clean space gives you a fresh start and adds ritual to an often otherwise chaotic schedule.


5. Put physical reminders where you can see them.


Post-its are great for those quick notes that are pertinent in the short-term, especially when you’re on a call or in the middle of a conversation. Stick them somewhere on your desk that you look at frequently. Avoid keeping them for more than a few hours, putting your reminders in your calendar or to-do list when you’re able.


6. Give it a personal touch.


Lastly, your space should not feel impersonal and uninviting! Modify any of the above suggestions to fit your preferences, and bring things to your workspace that make you feel happy and comfortable. Decorate your space with photos, art, or whatever else will make the space uniquely yours.


Organizing Your Time


1. Make the most of the beginning and end of your day.


When I start my morning, I do a “morning check-in.” This involves checking emails, scheduling the tasks that I plan to accomplish that day, and gathering any resources I will need for the day’s meetings or workload. Then I put these things away for the morning and get to work.


2. Utilize your calendar and reminders.


Your calendar is not just a scheduling tool for meetings. I use my calendar primarily as a time-blocking and notification tool. Any task that I’ve determined I’ll do for the day in my morning check-in gets a scheduled slot on my calendar (set to private, so that only I can see it), and any deadlines coming up in the next week (or month) get two reminders scheduled – one for two days before the deadline, and one on the due date itself.


3. Prioritize your tasks.


This is also part of my morning routine, but it can happen as tasks come in as well. I use a very simple, 3-letter prioritization system. “H” for high, “M” for medium, and “L” for low. I determine task priority subjectively, but there are more quantitative methods.


4. Avoid back-to-back meetings.


While sometimes back-to-back meetings are unavoidable, I think it is important to try to take time before and after meetings to prepare and process. After every meeting, I like to have at least 10 minutes to organize my notes, set my calendar reminders for deadlines, and jot down to-dos resulting from the conversation.


5. Don’t break up [client] work.


The most helpful tip a coworker ever gave me was to dedicate a specific day of the week to just one client or project. While I may work on several other tasks on a Tuesday, if I dedicate Tuesday primarily to the week’s work for Client A, I get a sense of completion and a holistic idea of the progress I’m making in the account.


6. Set time limits.


Some tasks cause more head-scratching than others. If I know that I regularly get stuck in data analysis-paralysis for a task in a client’s account, then I schedule no more than the amount of time I think the task should take if I am working efficiently. This allows me to get more done in a day, and gives me the ability to get a fresh look at the task later if necessary.


Organizing Your Resources


1. Keep your computer desktop and files organized universally.


I immediately name my files with this naming convention: Date_Client_Account_Task. At the end of the day, I move any of these files residing in my downloads folder or on my desktop to a well-organized client folder.


2. Make a running list of account changes and completed items.


I keep a word document with a master list of any changes I have made to each of my accounts on a given date. This is a great reference tool if there is ever question about when work was completed.


3. Record your notes from all [client] communication.


Similarly, always transfer your notes from calls or meetings to a master document that you can store digitally. I love pen-and-paper notes, but I consistently compile them digitally for future reference and reporting.


4. Organize your inbox.


Hanapin uses gmail, and I continually set my emails to be auto-tagged and categorized. I have a folder for each of my clients, platforms, etc. You can play around and come up with a system that works for you, but an organized inbox is another great reference tool when your other notes aren’t quite as robust as you need.


Organizing Your Workload


1. Make a to-do list, and keep it in one place.


There are many free apps and websites for task management and to-do tracking, and when I first started at Hanapin I tried to use them all. I found that keeping just one digital to-do list, no matter how simple the format, was the best option for me. I use a very basic spreadsheet with columns for the client, task, deadline, and status.


2. Checklists are rewarding!


A to-do list in a format that allows for marking things “complete” or checking a box is actually psychologically satisfying and can increase your productivity. I like to write my checklists down on paper from my to-do list each day – I break to-dos into smaller tasks that I can physically check off with pen and paper as I complete them.


3. Schedule (and keep a list of) recurring tasks.


Keep a PPC task list and schedule the ones that you need to do on a recurring basis. For example, I schedule my SQRs in my calendar as a recurring event for each of my accounts. Here is a PPC task list from ppchero that you can use for reference.


4. Accountability is necessary.


At Hanapin, many of us keep a Status Doc that we share with our team and/or our clients to hold us accountable for the work that we say we are going to do and when we are going to do it. Having a solid accountability system in place keeps you in check and ensures all parties are updated on the information they need.


5. Automate wherever possible.


There are so many tools for automating tasks that can save you tons of time throughout your week. Automation is not always the solution, but as these resources get more sophisticated, there are plenty of tasks that don’t need a manual touch.


Wrapping Up


Implementing solid organizational habits in your everyday work process is crucial for success in this industry, as there are so many moving parts to keep track of. This is a long list that could be broken down even further, but I hope it is a good start for those of us looking for ways to keep track of the myriad pieces to the PPC management puzzle!


B2B Lead Generation Strategies for 2018 Plus 5 Strategies to Kick to the Curb

With a new year fast approaching, now is the time to re-evaluate what lead gen strategies are worth keeping and which outdated habits should be kicked to the curb fast. Certain strategies, like content marketing and SEO, are enduring no-brainers that will continue to allow you to thrive in 2018. Others are pushing their way to prominence thanks largely due to shifts in how your audience desires to be engaged with on and offline.

The big secret to effective lead gen in 2018 is knowing when to adapt to newer trends that work and are increasingly relevant, and when to optimize those marketing strategies that may need a tweak or two.

In this blog, I’ll show you lead generation strategies you should adopt or hold on to for 2018 and the strategies you need to let go of to stay on top in the new year.

Do: Take a Second (and Third) Look at Mobile Marketing

As of 2015, most of Google users access the search engine via mobile phone. Therefore, it only makes sense to optimize mobile marketing efforts for lead generation purposes.

In addition to web page responsiveness, it’s very important to consider the mobile-friendliness of:

  • Content should be examined for font color and size, as well as paragraph size. Make sure it’s easy to read on a mobile phone.
  • Ads should be less intrusive and less ad-like—especially on your site.
  • Email should be mobile-friendly. At least 20% of your email list will be accessing their email on their smartphones. And don’t just create an email template that works and forget about it. Email clients are constantly updating and rendering of your email on mobile could change from time to time.

This may sound obvious, but in fact, a lot of websites, emails, and ads are not mobile friendly. And your audience is starting to notice. Content designed to generate leads is often making a first impression, so make it a good one on every device.

Do: Stick to Social Media Marketing via Business-Friendly Networks

Social media is a popular sales channel for B2C brands, but it can be just as effective for B2B lead generation. A focused strategy—especially on professional networks like LinkedIn—can target and get the attention of new leads.

  • Fill up the business page. Make sure your company profile is complete and robust, so users who are unfamiliar with the brand can quickly understand who you are and the unique value you offer.
  • Post awareness-stage content. Brands frequently post in-depth content to LinkedIn—either directly on the platform, or by linking to the company blog—but include a balance of entry-level content as well.
  • Participate in different LinkedIn Groups. Many marketers are intentionally involved in LinkedIn Groups that relate to their industries, but preaching to the choir doesn’t generate new leads. Follow your buyer personas to Groups related to their industries, and offer genuine, unbiased help.

Do: Convert to HTTPS

Effective October 2017, Google Chrome has started adding a label on forms, on HTTP sites. Users will now see a “not secure” warning if your site hasn’t been converted to HTTPS.

Which means that the amazing resources you’ve created, and the strategic landing page you’ve designed, might be showing errors to visitors. It’s too soon to tell, but the coming months may provide insights on dropping numbers of download—and conversions—because users were scared away from “not secure” forms.

Do: Up Your Content Marketing Game

The importance of quality content marketing is a well-beaten drum going into 2018, but that doesn’t mean you should walk away from it. It’s true that 89% of B2B marketers rely on content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, but that’s because more and more B2B decision makers look to content for making important buying decisions.

It’s just time to up your game. The internet is flooded with content marketing, but it’s by no means flooded with outstanding content.

Kick it up a notch to make sure you’re standing out:

  • Use video. If you haven’t started with video yet, it’s time.
  • Make it fast and mobile-friendly. Mobile is only going to continue to grow, attention spans are only going to continue to shrink.
  • Marry it to SEO. Google is the average person’s portal to the internet. If they can’t find your content, it might as well not be there.
  • A/B test everything. Don’t guess what your audience wants, test it. From subject lines to video ads to content length, to the color of a button: test and tweak.
  • Make it relevant. Don’t ruin your content strategy with irrelevant content. If your audience is looking for something, give them what they want.

Do: Embrace Automation

Users increasingly expect unified brand experiences across all their channels, personalized communications, and individual attention—even before they give you an email address. A smart engagement platform is the only way to deliver that kind of communication at scale, especially as your company continues to grow.

Recognize visitors by IP address, master the art of retargeting, deliver answers to questions when they need them, and more. One marketer can do this for a handful of potential leads, but a good system can make everyone feel like one of the favorites.

As you focus on what’s working, it’s okay to let go of what is not. Here are 5 things to stop doing in 2018.

Stop: Using Social Channels That Don’t Work

Most social channels provide their own analytics, so make them part of your regular routine. Examine which of your networks are getting the best engagement and compare those with industry averages. Don’t keep a social channel that isn’t working for you simply because you feel like you “have” to be there.

The channels that are best to engage B2C consumers may not be the best channels for B2B customers. Continually test, measure, and check your engagement levels as social channels are never a set-it-and-forget-it strategy.

Stop: Gating the Wrong Content

It’s possible that website visitors will casually offer up their name and email when prompted, but highly unlikely. Further, even if some surrender their email addresses for a white paper, most expect to access lighter content, like infographics, without the form. Make sure you’re offering a real incentive in exchange for a name and email address.

And don’t hesitate to gate really good content downloads. Lighter pieces and end-of-journey content such as pricing sheets should be ungated but research and meaty content should not be free! Too many marketers are missing loads of lead gen opportunities because they’re shy about gating their best content.

Stop: Isolating Marketing Strategies That Work Well Together

It’s time to tear down the silos. Traditional marketing doesn’t have to be entirely replaced by digital marketing. Combining SEO, PPC, ABM, email, web, social and more can maximize your lead generation possibilities. When reviewing successful (or even unsuccessful) strategies, consider whether or not there might be any benefit to combining marketing strategies into a single, cohesive, integrated campaign.

Stop: Cold Calling and Email Blasting

Still cold calling in 2017? Research shows that the call back rate for prospects is below 1%! That percentage is deflating enough on its own without the revelation that it takes an average of 18 calls to get through to a potential lead in the first place. Compare that outcome to stats that show a good subject line is enough to convince 33% of recipients to open an email.

Whether it’s cold calling, buying mailing lists (say hello to the spam folder!), or keyword stuffing, certain lead generation attempts are obvious no-no’s in 2017. Can we expect them to be anything else in 2018? Probably not.

Stop: Creating Content That is Redundant and Behind the Times

When it comes to content marketing, nobody likes a parrot. It may feel convenient to merely repeat what other B2B authority brands have stated, content that only repeats but fails to offer a new perspective is ultimately useless.

Additionally, stop auto-generating content. Several platforms cropped up in recent years offering to automatically generate content based on a keyword, but these programs—by necessity—can only find and rearrange content. It can’t generate new ideas and insights, which means it will never produce outstanding content.

Research your competitors to see what they haven’t said or what trends they’ve overlooked. Leads are looking for fresh content, not info they’ve read several times elsewhere.

Start 2018 With Your Best Foot Forward

Make 2018 the year that you fill the funnel with the RIGHT leads. Every brand, industry, and audience will work differently, so keep your eyes glued to those metrics and A/B test all the things.

Start by reviewing the lead gen strategies you’ve been using this year. Determine what has worked, how well it has worked, and what hasn’t worked at all – and stay honest. This will set you up to kill the things that aren’t working, and create some benchmarks for new strategies in the coming year.

What plans do you have for 2018 when it comes to B2B lead generation? What strategies are on your list to cut? Tell me about your planning in the comments!

The post B2B Lead Generation Strategies for 2018 Plus 5 Strategies to Kick to the Curb appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


A Reminder About Work-Life Balance

Do you ever find yourself hanging out with friends, eating dinner with family, or doing something other than work and get an itch to check performance on your accounts? Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that but I don’t think anyone will really understand if you slink off to make some bid changes while everyone else is having fun.


It can be a stressful time of the year for online marketers. Depending on your client, these few weeks will likely have been some of the largest sales days of the year and a lot of work goes into that! We sometimes need reminders to inject a little fun into our workday, keep our motivations up, and help prevent burning out.


Inject Fun Into Your Work Day


While I am no expert on this topic, I’ve generally found myself to be someone who is significantly less stressed than average. That ability to separate work from the rest of my life has a large role to play in that. Consider this a friendly reminder that it’s okay to have a life that doesn’t revolve around PPC!


Work-Life Balance, PPC, and You


Work-life balance is a term I’m sure you see tossed around all the time and the definition is likely different from person to person. Some people don’t mind getting client emails at all hours of the day while others don’t check their email once they’re off the clock. If you think the time spent working on your accounts is a linear relationship to performance, well, that realistically probably is not the case.


Finding the work-life balance that is optimal for you is critical. Establish those boundaries early on in your AM-Client relationship and you’ll all be happier because of it. Know when you work best and prioritize that time. If the client knows they can’t reach you at 8 pm on a Friday, hopefully, they won’t be working and be happier because of it! Look at all that positive change.


Happy Dancing


By achieving close to your optimal work life balance, you’ll come into work fresher, more creative, and have the ability to tackle problems better. You may spend less time working but get higher quality work done. Less work, better performance for your client, and having more time to do you; sounds ideal to me!


Sometimes fires do happen so I’m not advocating dropping off the grid when you’re off work but finding a manageable balance between work and your life can do wonders.


What Can You Do To Unwind?


If you’re asking this question with no idea, well, that is a whole different set of problems. Taking time for yourself or your family can have profound effects on your mood and well-being. You could even go to the extreme and turn off the computer, put your phone down, and go do something without looking at a screen. Crazy, I know.


In no particular order, here are some ideas that will give you a nice break and let you focus on something other than your broad match modified performance over the last 21 minutes.

  • Dive back into a hobby that you’ve been neglecting. Find some blogs that will give you inspiration and carve out time in your schedule.
  • It seems like everyone spends more time driving than actually seeing family or friends during the holidays, why not make it more tolerable? Make a throwback playlist of stuff you used to listen to or give a few new artists a spin (Do yourself a favor and check out the Avett Brothers & Sturgill Simpson).
  • Find a recipe on Pinterest and make it this weekend. Not only do you concentrate on something other than work but you get delicious food at the end of it.
  • Find some podcasts to listen to at work, while commuting, or whenever you have time. These are perfect for tasks that take a lot of time but are relatively mindless (writing ad copy, extensions). If you have an interest in it, I’m betting there is a podcast out there dedicated to it. Spotify has a great selection of podcasts or you can take to the internet and search for something interesting.
  • Take your dog for an extra-long walk or go to the dog park.

Monkey Walking Dog


Final Thoughts


Taking the time to disconnect from work can be difficult for some people. Stress is bound to happen when you’re busy and performance comes back to you. You can try these tips for Stressed-Out PPC Managers to maximize your time at work and make the most of your time away too.


Proper work-life balance can lead to you being more productive, healthier, and ultimately happier. The best part is, it’s something you generally have a lot of control over. Don’t wait and make it your New Year’s Resolution because over 80% of people fail those by February. Start now and get in the habit sooner rather than later. I have a feeling everyone will thank you.


How to Avoid the “Not Secure” Warning with Google Chrome Browser Changes

Earlier this year we all saw the first of a series of planned changes to how Google’s Chrome browser will display HTTP web pages without TLS/SSL encryption. To move towards a safer web, Chrome began displaying a “not secure” warning in the address bar of websites that collect passwords or credit card information. Now, the second step of Chrome’s changes is upon us. And this one is expected to have a much broader effect.

In late October, Google released version 62 of Chrome browser with two significant updates. First, Chrome began labeling all non-HTTPS pages in incognito mode as “not secure;” and, most importantly, Chrome also began adding the “not secure” warning in the address bar when visitors start typing any information on HTTP pages.

Here’s what this now looks like:

HTTP Google Warning

According to Google, “Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the “not secure” warning when users type data into HTTP sites.”  Not surprisingly, this change has been getting a lot more attention, and site owners have been rapidly adding certificates for TLS/SSL to secure their pages from HTTP to HTTPS.

In addition to this, we know that a third step is coming—we just don’t know when. At some point, Google has said that Chrome browser will add the “not secure” warning for any requests to HTTP pages. That’s huge! Google is making it clear that a safer web is one where unencrypted web connections are discouraged. That means we’re moving towards a future where HTTPS page encryption is going to be a standard requirement for web pages.

In this blog, I’ll share some web security fundamentals and give you some ideas on how you can plan to avoid the “not secure” warning coming with Chrome browser changes.

Let’s Start With the Basics

Before we dive right into what you need to do, let’s start with some basics. I’m going to keep it at a pretty high level in this post, but there’s a ton of information online—even some Web Security Fundamentals from Google.

What is TLS/SSL?

Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor Secure Socket Layer (SSL) are security protocols that encrypt the exchange of data between web servers and clients. This data encryption is vital to help prevent malicious parties from sniffing or eavesdropping into data as it traverses the web—which is especially important when it’s personal data, like passwords, credit card numbers, or other personally identifiable information that is shared. To secure those communications while in transit, companies purchase and apply TLS/SSL certificates, enforcing that requests to the site are made via HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol); essentially encrypting the data exchange and providing authentication to ensure that communication is happening only between the intended parties.

Why is it important?

With unsecured sites, i.e., those serving up HTTP pages, it’s possible for hackers or other parties to see the information shared between you and the site you’re visiting.  While this may seem farfetched or like the plot of an episode of Mr. Robot, it does happen! That’s why Chrome is making moves to encourage HTTPS—a move that will likely make HTTPS the new de facto web standard—for data security, increased search ranking (yes, page security is a ranking factor), and ultimately better conversion rates.

What Should I Be Doing to Secure My Pages?

If you believe as I do that HTTPS is going to be the new standard, then I bet you’re thinking about what you actually need to do to ensure your corporate web pages and your Marketo landing pages are secured. The three steps below are meant to get you started on the right path.

STEP 1: Check if your Corporate Domain is Secure

While the title of this step sounds like you need to have mad technical skills—you really don’t. All you need to do is to type your corporate website URL into any browser. For me, it’s opening up Chrome and typing, You’re looking to see if the address bar says HTTP: or HTTPS: and/or if using Chrome, you’re looking for the green lock and word “secure” when your page loads. If you see HTTPS, your corporate site is secure. It’s that easy.

If your corporate site is not secured, you may want to do a quick audit of your pages. You’ll want to note the address of any page that has a form or collects information. With the recent update to Chrome 62, it’s those HTTP pages that collect data that will display the “not secure” warning in the address bar. This list will also give you a starting point for the discussion you’ll need to have with your IT and web teams in the next step.

STEP 2: Meet with your IT and Web Team

It’s now time to enlist your experts. Schedule a time to meet with whoever is responsible for your corporate website. You’ll want to be sure they know of the changes to Chrome browser, and you’ll want to know of any plans that may already be in place to secure your corporate pages. The good news is that they may already be aware of the changes to Chrome. In mid-August, Google emailed notifications via Google Search Console to site owners who have HTTP pages with data entry. This notification explained that these pages will be marked as “not secure” in Chrome 62, and it even provided a list of affected page URLs (SearchEngine Land did a nice write up on this communication if you want to learn more). If your webmaster received this message, that would likely make a much smoother conversation with them.

On the other hand, if your IT or web team is unaware of the recent Chrome browser changes and the impact on collecting data from your pages on your site, below is a list of links that should help brief them before you meet.

To have a productive meeting with your IT or web team, here are some topics we recommend that you cover:  

  • What is your company’s policy for securing web pages?
  • Who is your point of contact for web projects like creating, updating, securing pages?
  • Does your company have any projects or initiatives already in progress to secure pages?
  • Who’s responsible for purchasing TLS/SSL certificates to secure pages?
  • How are certificate renewals handled?
  • Are there any steps that marketing needs to take when creating new pages on your corporate site?
  • When adding new technologies to your technology stack, is there an audit to determine if pages/content/data needs to be hosted or served securely.
  • What other platforms might serve your forms, landing pages, images, or content?

Be sure to really dig into that last item on the list. While your corporate website serves pages from your servers that your IT/web teams can secure, many third-party platforms may also serve your pages from their servers. In fact, this is so important that it deserves to be its own step, leading us to Step 3.

STEP 3: Consider 3rd Party Platforms That Serve Your Pages

So far, you’ve checked your corporate website to see if it’s serving up secure pages, and you’ve met up with your IT/web teams to be sure they know that the recent changes to Chrome may require avoiding “not secure” warnings. Now, it’s time to consider all the 3rd party platforms you’ve got integrated with your technology stack that might host or serve pages, content, or assets. You may need to work with those vendors to secure the pages they serve. Third party vendors could include your marketing automation tool, email service provider, or content management system.

While the changes to Chrome will affect all landing pages across the web, when it comes to your Marketo landing pages, you have two options. The first is to do nothing. Your landing pages and forms will continue to be served over HTTP and will work as before. The only difference will be the “not secure” notification that Chrome will add in the browser’s address bar when a visitor enters data on your page.  The second option is to add Secured Domains for Landing Pages to your Marketo subscription. This will create a secure landing pages server on our side to serve your landing page requests via HTTPS.

Marketo Secured Domains for Landing Pages

Marketo’s Secured Domains for Landing Pages secures any and all landing page domains defined in your instance to serve via HTTPS. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

On the Marketo side, we’ll install a new server endpoint and install the necessary security certificate(s) to create a secured landing page server for your instance. This will allow us to serve page requests for all your landing page URLs over HTTPS. In the past, our secured services required you to provide a TLS/SSL certificate and private key to Marketo, but we now we manage this process for you—as well as certificate renewals—making it easier than ever to secure your pages.

On your side, you’ll need to review and update any hardcoded links on your landing pages and unapproved/reapprove your landing pages before the cutover from HTTP to HTTPS. Once you’re ready, we’ll coordinate a time for the cutover, and enable your instance for secured landing pages. From that point forward, your pages will be served via HTTPS.

Moving your pages to HTTPS—whether it’s your corporate pages, your Marketo landing pages or other pages serving your content—helps to ensure that you’re providing critical security and data integrity to help protect your visitors’ personal information.

Want to learn more about Secured Domains for Landing Pages? Please see our Marketing Nation Community post on Secured Domains for Landing Pages, or contact your Marketo customer success representative.

How are your IT or web teams addressing the Chrome browser changes? Let us know if you have tips to share for adapting to these changes!

The post How to Avoid the “Not Secure” Warning with Google Chrome Browser Changes appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.


DIY Lifestyle Product Photography For Ecommerce Sellers

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, whether you sell on Amazon or any other platform, something you will definitely need is good product photography. There are two main types of photography: studio lit product photography, and lifestyle product photography. The problem for small businesses is that the costs to hire a professional can soon add up. Now, of course the best option would be to pay a pro to take some kick-ass photos of your products. But sometimes this isn’t financially viable, there isn’t enough time, or maybe you just need a few extra images to highlight a product update, or to split test which images bring in the most sales. I previously wrote a post about taking your own product photography on a white background using nothing but a smartphone and a few household items. Sellers got in touch and said this was useful, but what comes at the highest cost is usually the lifestyle photography. These are the images showing a product in use with a model, in a specific location, or using some props. Since I have been appearing on the Million Dollar Case Study: Europe, and launching my own product, I have been thinking it was time to … Read More

The post DIY Lifestyle Product Photography For Ecommerce Sellers appeared first on Jungle Scout: Amazon Product Research Made Easy.