A Trustpilot study shows 9 out of 10 users will read online reviews before making a purchase. Another study from BrightLocal reveals that almost 80 percent of users value online product reviews as much as word-of-mouth or personal product recommendations from friends and family.
That being said, reviews are only meaningful if they convey reliable and trustworthy information. Therefore, if you’re an e-commerce store or intend to publish reviews on Google, you need to take notice of Google’s product review update to help shoppers learn more about your products before purchase. Understanding these updates is highly important for any digital marketing agency in South Africa.
Last month, Google published revised guidelines for writing product reviews that meet the search engine’s quality standards.
According to Google, product reviews should now meet the following criteria:
Detailed and useful information about the item, including its pros and cons, how it performs, and how it differs from previous versions.
Testimonials from people who have used the product. This can include a detailed explanation of the physical attributes of the product and how it is used.
Provide information that cannot be found in the manufacturer’s manual, such as audio, videos, and links to other content that demonstrates the real-world value of the product to the reviewer.
A comparative evaluation on how the product is different from similar items within the same category or industry .
Should your reviews meet these guidelines, it’s more likely that Google will rank them at the top of search results, while pushing to the bottom content that simply summarises products or have little to no value to the user.
When the first product algorithm update was announced, it was unclear if it applied to reviews of single products only or if included lists of multiple products as well. Google has since confirmed that the updated product algorithm will recognise ranked lists and comparison reviews.
“Yes. Product review updates apply to all forms of review content. The best practices we’ve shared also apply. However, due to the shorter nature of ranked lists, you may want to demonstrate expertise and reinforce authenticity in a more concise way. Citing pertinent results and including original images from tests you performed with the product can be good ways to do this.”
As a digital marketing agency in South Africa, this is great news for us. The product algorithm update can guide our SEO specialists and content creators to produce content that not only ensures users are getting trustworthy advice but also helps our clients’ websites to rank higher and attract traffic organically.
Content marketing is an essential part of any marketing mix. Not just because it works for…
improving search engine rankings
drawing traffic to a website
building trust/customer loyalty
…but because it’s an added value that consumers expect from the brands they interact with.
We’ve experienced these rewards first-hand because content marketing is a core offering of our digital marketing agency in South Africa.
Content marketing – “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing relevant content to attract and retain an audience to ultimately drive profitable customer action.”
-Content Marketing Institute
If you want to learn more about how you can succeed in content marketing, this case study is for you.
Case study summary
Creating valuable content was at the centre of our strategy to boost organic search
Content marketing helped to increase community engagement and traffic for the client
As our client continued to expand its product offerings, it needed to cement an identity that would make the company stand out as a total workspace provider. The client called on TMI to help transform it from a product-focused brand to a solutions and outcomes-focused total workspace provider. They wanted to win over businesses seeking one-stop-shop for their goals and needs.
TMI created a content strategy that would connect with the client’s audience and showcase the lifestyle the company wanted to represent.
To meet the client’s objectives, TMI developed a strategic plan for onsite content that helped guide the design and development of a new blog section to boost search and user experience.
We based our content strategy on topics that speak directly to the client’s most important audiences. More specifically, we delivered insights on how the tools & services can help solve common business challenges and bring productivity benefits to organisations.
This process involved:
Sourcing new content topic ideas
Creating a content calendar with a publishing schedule
Optimising content to boost organic visibility
Boosting content on social
Optimising older blog posts with meta titles and descriptions.
This has enabled us to produce consistent, fresh content that connects with the client’s audience like helpful workspace tips and advice and industry news.
After a year of concentrated effort, during which we published 120 blog articles, the payoff was an increase in session duration and pageviews. Users spent an average of 01:55 reading our blog articles.
When a blog post was promoted on Facebook, we targeted a tailored audience that is more likely to engage with the promoted post, versus a generic audience. The results for Facebook were as follows:
What made the difference?
The biggest factors that contributed to the increase in blog traffic were:
A consistent production, optimisation and publishing schedule.
A collaborative approach with the client to plan evergreen and trending topics.
Optimising old blog posts to make them appear more frequently on SERPs.
There’s no doubt that the restaurant industry is a very crowded space. Consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining and takeout. As such, restaurants need to build massive attention around their offerings and generate interest to stay top of mind.
Such was the case with our client, a South African health food franchise operating more than 150 restaurants nationwide. The chain gives customers the option to order meals at a restaurant, directly from their app, or via delivery services Uber Eats and Mr. D.
While they weren’t unaffected by the pandemic, the client saw it as an opportunity to foster a stronger relationship with their customer base and adapt their message to the current climate. The key concept was #DontGoBackToAbnormal, which was aimed at rebuilding a better post-COVID normal. The goal of the campaign was to get people to make the choice to eat healthy easier, by offering a once-off 50 per cent discount to any South African during October via their app.
The client required a digital marketing agency in South Africa with the expertise needed to leverage paid media activities to amplify the reach of their campaign. This was where TMI came in.
The client wanted to make their brand and offering known to audiences in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban, and ensure it was at the forefront of their minds as they consider their eating habits post-COVID. Our task was to help generate buzz around the campaign, drive app downloads, and motivate users to buy something “Normal” with a 50% off voucher on the app. This had to be achieved in a highly measurable way (clicks, post shares, page likes, app downloads, and comments and reactions) that could be tied directly back to the client’s marketing investment.
With a brand concept already in place, TMI developed a multi-channel campaign focused on YouTube, Display, and social platforms. The campaign targeted an interest-based audience, as well as an audience that showed an interest in fast food but had not yet engaged with our client.
We focused on raising brand awareness and user engagement with a video featuring a message from the client’s CEO, as well as a competitor billboard creative, and a creative that spotlighted an upcoming product.
The CEO video was promoted in the three major cities in South Africa. After two weeks of running the ad, we analysed the data and determined that Cape Town was the best-performing city in terms of engagement. We then created a separate campaign with its own budget, which showed the ad to people in Cape Town and in areas where Kauai was more prominent.
The competitor billboard creative — which highlighted the #DontGoBackToAbnormal by means of comparative advertising — proved to be highly engaging. The ad showing the client’s billboard in front of a McDonalds, resulted in the biggest post shares for the duration of the campaign.
To build excitement about the client’s new burger, we suggested a teaser ad. This ad showed only the outline of a burger, with a caption that invited users to comment and guess what will be coming to the restaurant chain. This creative was well-received, while also providing us with insights on what customers want from the brand. Many commented that they hoped it was a vegan burger – which was subsequently launched by our client.
The campaign produced above average results and exceeded the brand’s expectations as we were able to generate strong returns in brand awareness and engagement.
Over the last couple of months, the team at TMI has been hard at work retaining our spot in the highest tier of the Google Partners programme. We are happy to announce that we’ve met all requirements and have been named a Premier Partner in 2022 alongside an exclusive group of agencies worldwide that has achieved this status.
The designation comes amid amendments to the programme, which raised the bar even higher for partners wishing to receive the esteemed accreditation from Google.
The Google Premier Partner programme is designed for advertising agencies and third parties that manage Google Ads accounts on behalf of other brands or businesses. Its mission is to empower companies by providing them with innovative tools, resources and support to help their clients succeed and grow online.
Premier Partners have to satisfy a range of criteria: they must meet spend requirements, deliver the desired revenue growth, and continually grow their client base.
Achieving Premier Status once again is great news for us, but even more so for you, as our client, or future client. The verified badge beside our name is an indication that you can get the most out of your Google Ads investment, as we have access to:
Product betas – we receive ongoing access to the most current product betas.
Advanced Google Ads support – 24-hour advanced ads support to help us quickly and efficiently resolve clients’ issues.
Executive experiences – we attend invite-only industry events, such as roundtable discussions with Google leaders, sessions with other Premier Partners, and opportunities to hear from industry thought leaders.
Premier Partner Awards – The Premier Partner Awards highlight excellence in digital marketing and showcase Premier Partners that help drive results for clients with Google Ads.
Newly redesigned 2022 Premier Partner badge – this signals to clients and the industry that we’re recognised as a leading partner with our 2022 Premier Partner badge.
High-value incentives – we help our clients get a better start with their campaigns with Google Ads credits.
Commendation from Davang Shah, Senior Director, Google Ads Marketing:
“Congratulations to our Premier Partners for being among the top 3% of Google Partners in South Africa. These companies stand out based on their commitment to developing product expertise, building new client relationships and helping their current clients to grow. We look forward to supporting them as they help their customers succeed online.”
Edward Spearman, Operations Manager for TMI, said: “Having buy in from a company like Google is second to none – that personal collaboration that gives us an edge to stay on top of the latest product developments, not only access to but also quick turnaround times on support for our clients accounts, deeper insights to get the most out of our clients accounts as well as working together to drive new business.”
“That is what having the Premier Partner badge means to us. A symbol that Google trusts and supports us in being a custodian for their products.”
We’re exceptionally proud of our team, who continually works to meet Google’s highest standards while maximising campaign success for our clients
While the world as we know it was changing around us, it became clear that people’s motivation for fitness would be affected as the pandemic brought the industry to a standstill. It is against this backdrop that our client, a fast-growing fitness franchise, needed a fresh approach to its lead generation strategy.
Our client’s fitness brand had been exploding in popularity prior to the pandemic. However, the new normal offered them a new-found opportunity to increase investment in ad spend and maximise qualified leads.
To get potential franchisees to take the first step towards owning their own fitness studios, we previously launched a small set of continent-specific bid strategies to better reflect local challenges.
This approach didn’t bear as much fruit as anticipated: the continent-specific bid strategies were not gathering sufficient data points to effectively optimise themselves and were therefore underperforming in terms of securing the best qualified leads.
So, it was time to switch up our game plan.
Our Action Plan
The team at our digital marketing agency in South Africa focused their efforts on a universal bid strategy within SA360 that followed Google’s recommended best practices. Auction-time bidding was selected as this extends the bid strategy analysis to contextual signals such as device, browser type, location, time of day and remarketing list.
A Data-driven attribution model was created and then included the new bid strategy as this is the best way to allocate click value down the conversion funnel, as opposed to last-click attribution which only assigns credit to the final interaction.
We were therefore able to collect as many relevant data points as possible and allow the algorithm to make sense of the big data. With this angle, we could see which of our clicks were the most impactful, and use the data points to efficiently spend the budget whilst increasing quality qualified leads.
Soon after implementing the universal bid strategy, we saw compelling results. This is significant because lead generation campaigns usually take about six months to build steam and pay off. We were able to shorten this timeline to an estimated two months.
Qualified leads from December 2020 to February 2021 (the timeframe when we implemented the updated Universal DDA bid strategy) increased by 8.6% compared to the period September 2020 to November 2020. While there was an uptick in qualified leads, unqualified leads simultaneously saw a decrease of roughly 8.1%.
Even though the universal bid strategy did not generate a sizeable lead volume, it was more effective at securing qualified leads. For our client, lead quality stands out as the single largest factor driving the real ROI of their lead generation campaigns. With qualified leads almost doubling compared to the previous period, the client ended up with truly sales-ready opportunities.