Yes, you own or work for a business that sells products or services. However, you are also a consumer. For just a moment, take off your business hat and put on your consumer hat.
Every day, you research items from pet shampoo and carpet cleaner in your personal life to CRM systems and social media schedulers for your professional life.
Our world is filled with hundreds or thousands of items for anything your heart desires. With so many options, we become easily distracted, following the next shiny object to another site, another company, or another method of meeting our needs altogether.
Marketers know this, and so they’ve had to find a way to recapture our attention when we’ve been squirrelled by another option. Once they’ve got our attention, they have another opportunity to sell their products to us.
You can put your business hat back on. Isn’t it frustrating when you see how many people visit your website and look at a product, and leave without ever making a purchase? You’ve managed to attract them to your business, but what good is paid advertising and a beautiful website if shoppers don’t convert to customers?
Thankfully, marketers have a solution for this. It’s called “retargeting” and you’re about to learn everything you need to know about LinkedIn Retargeting.
If you own a business, work for a business, or are looking to be hired by a business, you know that LinkedIn is a necessary platform. While you may opt out of more “social” social media like Facebook or Instagram, employers look to LinkedIn to find new employees and vet potential candidates, and most professionals use LinkedIn as a networking tool.
In the third quarter of 2020, LinkedIn reported more than 690 million users. Like many types of social media, it could be considered a “necessary evil.” Fortunately, it can also present an opportunity to recapture the attention of prospective clients and customers.
Also known as remarketing ads, LinkedIn retargeting ads allow you to reach LinkedIn users who may have previously interacted with your brand in some way (so they have some level of interest), yet they haven’t purchased from you.
How to Retarget on LinkedIn
Retargeting through LinkedIn is a 7-step process (with a potential 8th step):
Users see an ad in their LinkedIn feed.
The user clicks on the ad.
They are brought to your website.
They interact in some way, perhaps filling out a form in exchange for an offer.
The user becomes a lead in your system.
Their history is stored in cookies and the data is sent to LinkedIn.
Retargeting ads are shown to the user.
The user takes the steps to become a customer.
You might be wondering how the cookies know how to communicate with LinkedIn. This is done through a piece of code called an Insight Tag that gets installed on your website. The pixel is able to track conversions, website audiences, and website demographics for all your LinkedIn ad campaigns. It then passes this data from your website to LinkedIn, letting it know that you’ve got someone interested who needs to be reminded you exist.
LinkedIn Retargeting Cost
Any smart business person is going to wonder if Linkedin Retargeting ads provide a worthwhile ROI. Before you learn how to create these ads, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know:
In their pilot study, Linkedin’s 2,000+ Matched Audiences campaigns reported an average of:
30% increase in click-through rate (CTR) with Website Retargeting ads.
14% decrease in post-click cost-per-conversion (CPC) with Website Retargeting ads.
37% increase in CTR with contact targeting.
Retargeting allows you to capture and convert leads that would otherwise be lost. Because of this, successful Linkedin retargeting campaigns will also increase your conversion rate and lower your average cost-per-lead (CPL).
Sound like something you could benefit from? Read on to learn the “How.”
Creating LinkedIn Retargeting Ad Campaigns
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a tech genius to set up a LinkedIn Retargeting Ad. They’ve made it fairly user-friendly so as long as you have access to your website code, and basic knowledge of how to navigate inside it, this is doable. With good directions (they’re coming, don’t worry), you can be well on your way in a short period of time. If you have access to a website designer who will help you, that’s great too.
Let’s take a look at the overview first and then we’ll dive into specifics:
Create a LinkedIn advertising account
Build LinkedIn Retargeting Audience
Use Matched Audiences in a LinkedIn Retargeting Campaign
How to Create a LinkedIn Advertising Account
If you are not yet using Linkedin Campaign Manager, start here and follow the prompts to set up your account.
Then, you can set up your campaign:
If you are new to Linkedin ads and would like some assistance creating and managing campaigns, consider using a program like Rollworksto help.
Assuming you’ve done all of that and are already running LinkedIn Ads, let’s look at how to set up a Linkedin pixel.
How to Install a LinkedIn Advertising Pixel
Earlier, we mentioned the Insight Tag. This is the most important piece of the retargeting ads puzzle because, without it, your website and LinkedIn won’t communicate.
Check the box next to your business account and then look at the Campaigns tab.
From the Account Assets tab dropdown, click on Insight Tag.
Select Install my Insight Tag.
Choose I will install the tag myself.
Copy all of the tag code.
Choose I’m Done.
Go to your website and paste the Insight Tag code at the end of the <body> tag in the global footer.
Once this is done, it’s time to check each page to make sure the Insight Tag has been installed properly.
Head back to the Campaign Manager and look for the Insight Tag under Account Assets. When a tag has been installed correctly, it will send a signal from your website to Linkedin. Whenever a LinkedIn member visits that page, the domain name will appear here.
It may take up to 24 hours for a page visit to verify, so you may need to come back and check the connection later.
Check the Status column for all verified domains (they’ll show up as active/green).
LinkedIn Advertising Pixel for Google Chrome
The next step is necessary to ensure that this system works with any users on Google Chrome. They have more safeguards in place to prevent third-party cookies, so you’ll need to do an extra step to make this work.
Make the SameSite attribute ‘None.’
Add the Secure label to your cookies.
If you’re not sure how to work with SameSite attributes, it may be good to bring in a developer for help. Once this step is done, Google Chrome users will join the party.
Linkedin Retargeting Options
With the Insight Tag installed, we can begin Building Linkedin Retargeting Audiences. All the options are on one page, so it’s fairly easy to do.
If you’re not already there, log into your Linkedin Campaign Manager and select the account you’ll be working with.
On the Campaigns page, find the Account Assets tab and select Matched Audiences.
Click on Create Audience on the right side of the Matched Audiences page.
Select the audience type you’d like to build.
Follow the rest of the page’s flow and then choose Create to build a new audience.
Keep in mind that it takes 48 hours to build an audience. You also need at least 300 members before you can send retargeting ads to those users. Different audience pages will look slightly different so we’ll review these next.
Website Audience Set Up
This variation will retarget users who visited a page on your website using Website audiences. You’ll need the Insight Tag for this audience.
Name your audience. You’ll have to remember this name later in your campaigns, so be specific.
Add key pages from your website under Match a URL that… You can add multiple links to one audience.
Pay attention to page rules:
Equals – this is the exact URL you list and is great to use when you want to restrict subpages.
Starts with – includes all pages starting with whatever you enter.
Contains – you’ll be asked to type in a word or string. This option would make it easy to group URLs in a pattern, like related products, service offerings, or blog topics whose URL string includes the same keyword or phrase.
AND/OR: Use AND to retarget users who both visit a page URL and visit another URL containing a word you specify. Use OR to group URLs and retarget people who visit any page listed.
Video Audience Set Up
To retarget users who viewed a video ad, follow these steps.
Name the audience.
Choose viewing percentage (25%, 50%, 75%, or 97% of the video).
Select lookback period (30, 60, 90, 180, 365 days in the past).
Click the checkbox next to the video campaigns you want to include.
Lead Gen Form Audience Set Up
Follow these steps to retarget audience members who opened or submitted a lead gen form.
Name your audience.
Choose the engagement level. This can be anyone who opened your lead gen form (including submissions) or only people who have submitted your lead gen form.
You can specify how long ago the audience members engaged with this form: between 30 days to a full year.
Check the box next to the campaign(s) you want to retarget.
Choose an engagement type. Engagement on a company’s Linkedin Page includes a page view or a click on your page’s header CTA.
Select how recently audience members engaged.
Event Audience Set Up
Do you host events on LinkedIn? Retarget LinkedIn members who RSVP to your event (you can do this for past and upcoming event registration).
Name the audience.
Check the boxes next to Event names to include the events you want.
How to Use Matched Audiences for LinkedIn Retargeting
Want to use a matched, or lookalike audience for LinkedIn retargeting? Here’s how to set it up:
Create a Linkedin Campaign.
Use Matched Audience in Campaign.
Scroll to Who is your target audience.
Select Audiences > Retargeting.
Select from one of the options of Matched Audiences.
Choose the Matched Audience under that type.
Finish the campaign setup.
Create your ads and launch the campaign.
LinkedIn Retargeting Best Practices
You’ll want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to LinkedIn Retargeting Ads. Follow these best practices to make sure your advertising dollar stretches as far as possible.
Refine your ad content over time. If you notice certain pieces of content aren’t resonating with your audience, don’t be afraid to refresh it until you figure out what works. Images and ad copy should reflect the retargeting audience you’re trying to reach.
Create multiple ad formats depending on the stage your prospective customers are in. Continue testing formats and use the format that will best move them towards your objectives.
Be flexible. You’ll be learning what works and what doesn’t as you go. When you discover something isn’t creating the results you want, change it.
There’s no need to accept lost leads. When someone heads to your website, downloads content, or interacts with your brand in any way, it’s because they are interested in what you offer and how you can help them.
Rather than counting them out if they don’t immediately convert, focus some of your advertising dollars on recapturing their attention and gently guiding them back to your company and what you can do for them. You have the solution to their problem — make sure they know it.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
During my time in search, there are certain ranking factors that I’ve changed my perspective on. For instance, after coming to Go Fish Digital and working on internal linking initiatives, I started to realize the power of internal links over time. By implementing internal links at scale, we were able to see consistent success.
Freshness is another one of these factors. After working with a news organization and testing the learnings gained from that work on other sites, I started to see the immense power that content refreshes could produce. As a result, I think the entire SEO community has underrated this concept for quite some time. Let’s dig into why.
Reviewing news sites
This all started when we began to work with a large news publisher who was having trouble getting in Google’s Top Stories for highly competitive keywords. They were consistently finding that their content wasn’t able to get inclusion in this feature, and wanted to know why.
Inclusion in “Top stories”
We began to perform a lot of research around news outlets that seemed quite adept at getting included in Top Stories. This immediately turned our attention to CNN, the site that is by far the most skilled in acquiring coveted Top Stories positions.
By diving into their strategies, one consistent trend we noticed was that they would always create a brand new URL the day they wanted to be included in the Top Stories carousel:
As an example, here you can see that they create a unique URL for their rolling coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Since they know that Google will show Top Stories results daily for queries around this, they create brand new URLs every single day:
This flies in the face of traditional SEO advice that indicates web owners need to keep consistent URLs in order to ensure equity isn’t diluted and keywords aren’t cannibalized. But to be eligible for Top Stories, Google needs a “fresh” URL to be indexed in order for the content to qualify.
After we started implementing the strategy of creating unique URLs every day, we saw much more consistent inclusion for this news outlet in Top Stories for their primary keywords.
However, the next question we wanted to address was not just how to get included in this feature, but also how to maintain strong ranking positions once there.
Ranking in “Top stories”
The next element that we looked at was how frequently competitors were updating their stories once in the Top Stories carousel, and were surprised at how frequently top news outlets refresh their content.
We found that competitors were aggressively updating their timestamps. For one query, when reviewing three articles over a four-hour period, we found the average time between updates for major outlets:
USA Today: Every 8 Minutes
New York Times: Every 27 minutes
CNN: Every 28 minutes
For this particular query, USA Today was literally updating their page every 8 minutes and maintaining the #1 ranking position for Top Stories. Clearly, they were putting a lot of effort into the freshness of their content.
But what about the rest of us?
Of course, it’s obvious how this would apply to news sites. There is certainly no other vertical where the concept of “freshness” is going to carry more weight to the algorithm. However, this got us thinking about how valuable this concept would be to the broader web. Are other sites doing this, and would it be possible to see SEO success by updating content more frequently?
Fortunately, we were able to perform even more research in this area. Our news client also had many non-news specific sections of their site. These sections contain more “evergreen” articles where more traditional SEO norms and rules should apply. One section of their site contains more “reviews” type of content, where they find the best products for a given category.
When reviewing articles for these topics, we also noticed patterns around freshness. In general, high ranking articles in competitive product areas (electronics, bedding, appliances) would aggressively update their timestamps on a monthly (sometimes weekly) cadence.
For example, as of the date of this writing (May 25th, 2022), I can see that all of the top three articles for “best mattress” have been updated within the last 7 days.
Looking at the term “best robot vacuum”, it looks like all of the articles have been updated in the last month (as of May 2022):
Even though these articles are more “evergreen” and not tied to the news cycle, it’s obvious that these sites are placing a high emphasis on freshness with frequent article updates. This indicated to us that there might be more benefits to freshness than just news story results.
Performing a test
We decided to start testing the concept of freshness on our own blog to see what the impact of these updates could be. We had an article on automotive SEO that used to perform quite well for “automotive seo” queries. However, in recent years, this page lost a lot of organic traffic:
The article still contained evergreen information, but it hadn’t been updated since 2016:
It was the perfect candidate for our test. To perform this test, we made only three changes to the article:
Updated the content to ensure it was all current. This changed less than 5% of the text.
Added “2022” to the title tag.
Updated the timestamp.
Immediately, we saw rankings improve for the keyword “automotive seo”. We moved from ranking on the third page to the first page the day after we updated the content:
To verify these results, we tested this concept on another page. For this next article, we only updated the timestamp and title tag with no changes to the on-page content. While we normally wouldn’t recommend doing this, this was the only way we could isolate whether “freshness” was the driving change, and not the content adjustments.
However, after making these two updates, we could clearly see an immediate improvement to the traffic of the second page:
These two experiments combined with other tests we’ve performed are showing us that Google places value on the recency of content. This value extends beyond just articles tied to the news cycle.
Why does Google care?
Thinking about this more holistically, Google utilizing the concept of freshness makes sense from their E-A-T initiatives. The whole concept of E-A-T is that Google wants to rank content that it can trust (written by experts, citing facts) above other search results. Google has a borderline public responsibility to ensure that the content it serves is accurate, so it’s in the search giant’s best interest to surface content that it thinks it can trust.
So how does freshness play into this? Well, if Google thinks content is outdated, how is it supposed to trust that the information is accurate? If the search engine sees that your article hasn’t been updated in five years while competitors have more recent content, that might be a signal that their content is more trustworthy than yours.
For example, for the term “best camera phones”, would you want to read an article last updated two years ago? For that matter, would you even want an article last updated six months ago?
As we can see, Google is only ranking pages that have been updated within the last one or two months. That’s because the technology changes so rapidly in this space that, unless you’re updating your articles every couple of months or so, you’re dramatically behind the curve.
The concept of freshness also makes sense from a competitive perspective. One of the biggest weaknesses of an indexation engine is that it’s inherently hard to serve real-time results. To find when content changes, a search engine needs time to recrawl and reindex content. When combined with the demands of crawling the web at scale, this becomes extremely difficult.
On the other hand, social media sites like Twitter don’t have this issue and are made to serve real-time content. The platform isn’t tasked with indexing results, and engagement metrics can help quickly surface content that’s gaining traction. As a result, Twitter does a much better job of surfacing trending content.
Thinking about the web from a platform based perspective, it makes sense that most users would choose Twitter over Google when looking for real-time information. This causes a big threat to Google, as it’s a reason for users to migrate off the ecosystem, thus presenting fewer opportunities to serve ads.
Recently in Top Stories, you now see a lot more “Live Blog Posts”. These articles utilize LiveBlogPosting structured data, which signals to Google that the content is getting updated in real-time. While looking for real-time URLs across the entire web is daunting, using this structured data type can help them better narrow in on content they need to be crawling and indexing more frequently.
Google seems to be aggressively pushing these live blogs in Top Stories as they often see strong visibility in Top Stories results:
This might be a strategic move to encourage publishers to create real-time content. The goal here could be increased adoption of content that’s updated in real-time with the end result of showcasing to users that they can get this type of content on Google, not just Twitter.
Utilizing these concepts moving forward
I think as an industry, sometimes there’s room for us to be more creative when thinking about our on-page optimizations. When looking at how to improve pages that have lost traffic and positions over time, we could take freshness into consideration. When looking at pages that have lost prominence over time, we might want to consider checking if that content is also outdated. Through testing and experimentation, you could see if updating the freshness of your content has noticeable positive impacts on ranking improvements.
Build-A-Bear is remaking itself for the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This means using its experience and its data to appeal to older customers and create stronger online connections.
“The goal that was stated for us was to diversify our brand, evolve our retail portfolio and build stronger relationships with our consumers,” said Ed Poppe, Build-A-Bear’s vice president, loyalty and performance marketing for Build-A-Bear, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.
That’s why they launched HeartBox, an e-commerce play which the company says will let it move into “the adult-to-adult gift-giving and gift box market which has been meaningfully expanding over the past few years.” This goes along with its new Bear Cave line of “adult” bears (in this case adult means they have alcohol in hand). The brand has also expanded through partnerships with film, entertainment and streaming TV properties like Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Matrix and the Marvel series WandaVision.
These efforts are designed to give more options to customers who buy online, and increase options for engagement. This has required integrating new teams and new sources of data.
Connecting customer data and teams
“Over half of businesses now say that they expect the majority of their revenue to come from digital channels,” said Loretta Shen, senior director, product marketing, marketing cloud intelligence for Salesforce. “To meet changing consumer behavior, marketers are adopting digital channels like video, social media and digital ads across search and paid media. But it’s not just adopting these channels, but how you use them, and in particular how you use them in tandem.”
Build-A-Bear adapted to customers’ increased digital use by adding new digital experiences while also reorganizing customer data to better understand what customers want.
“We have to understand our guests at Build-A-Bear,” said Bryce Ahrens, Build-A-Bear’s senior analyst, CRM, loyalty and performance marketing. “How do they engage with our email, our websites, our advertising and, of course, how do they engage and experience our in-store environment?”
They keep a large CRM database made up of loyalty program members, website customers, retail customers and sales prospects. Additionally, through access to the CRM, the organization is pulling together different teams: web development, analytics, marketing and also data privacy people.
These teams have to remain connected because data is coming through different systems. Build-A-Bear has a first-party data warehouse, a commerce cloud storefront, an order management system, marketing cloud, an email platform and different analytics solutions, not to mention ad platforms for campaigns.
“We need to be able to bring this information together, prioritize what we look at, and identify strategies to move quickly,” said Ahrens.
Data and digital experience come together in an ongoing Build-A-Bear effort called “Count Your Candles.”
The promotion is a special offer for customers to order a discounted bear (regularly priced at $14) that costs a dollar amount that matches their age.
The dedicated webpage for this promotion also allows customers and gift-givers to buy gift cards and become loyalty members. Additionally, there are a number of other ways that customers can celebrate birthdays, including in-store birthday parties and special birthday gift boxes that can be ordered and delivered.
These strategies came from marketers looking at the data and seeing what sparked their customers’ interests. In this case, it was birthdays.
“We’re lucky to have a team up here who wants to jump in and help drive our business forward,” said Poppe. “But it also brings us back to where it’s important to aggregate data, identify patterns, see your opportunities, and pick your path forward.”
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Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.
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