Instagram is launching a new in-app checkout feature for a limited number of brands which will let users make purchases without ever having to leave the app.

For now, the new feature is limited to just 23 big-name brands like Adidas, Burberry, and MAC Cosmetics, but the company says it will be expanding the feature to more brands in the coming months.

The in-app checkout is Instagram’s latest effort to make its service more retailer-friendly without hurting their own platform. While they have included several shopping-related features over the past few years, shoppers would ultimately have to leave the app to make a purchase.

With the new feature, users will now see a “Checkout on Instagram” button on product pages from brands’ shopping posts.

When tapped, shoppers will be allowed to choose from a variety of options like size and color, then taken to a payment page within Instagram.

Users who make purchases within the app will also receive shipment and delivery notifications within Instagram to keep them informed.

“The new technology gives Adidas’ audience the power to go from inspiration to purchase in an instant. Our consumer-obsessed approach to e-commerce focuses on simplified immersive connections with the brand and Instagram Shopping allows us to deliver a content-rich experience on a platform where our creators are exploring and curating their lives,” said Adidas SVP of digital Scott Zalaznik.

Google’s “Shopping Ads” will start appearing within Google Images search results by default, as the company announced recently in an email to advertisers.

In the past, it was possible to display your shopping ads in Google Images by manually opting-in to the Search Partner Network. This is because Google Images was previously a part of the Search Partner Network.

However, that has all changed. Google Images is now a part of Google’s own search network, which makes it a default placement for shopping ads.

Notably, advertisers cannot opt-out of the placement currently, which Google says is a good thing for advertisers:

“If your campaigns are not currently opted into the Search Partner Network – your ads will start showing on Google Images and as a result there may be a 3-10% increase in traffic at lower cost-per-click and comparable conversion rates.”

Meanwhile, many advertisers question whether this is actually a change for the better. While some shoppers may frequent Google Images for a variety of reasons, it seems logical that they would be less purchase-focused than users actively searching Google’s shopping results.

You can read Google’s full email announcing the change below:

Google Images is now a part of the Search Network for Shopping ads

Hello,

Google Images is a visually rich surface and a key part of millions of users’ shopping journeys every day. Users frequently turn to Google Images for idea exploration, how-to guidance, product discovery and visual imagery related to key shopping categories like fashion, home and beauty.

We are excited to announce that we will be integrating Google Images into our core Search Network in late March. This means Shopping ads, that you are already familiar with, will now automatically be eligible* to appear in Google Images results when users are searching for relevant keywords.

What this means for your Shopping campaigns:

All of your Shopping ads will be automatically eligible* to serve on Google Images. You will no longer have to opt into the Search Partner Network to show Shopping ads on Google Images.

*For Europe only: if you are unsure what surfaces your ads show on, please check with your CSS.

If your campaigns currently run on the Search Partner Network – you may see a decrease in traffic coming in from Search Partner Network and an increase in traffic coming from the Search Network. This is because Google Images was previously a part of the Search Partner Network. Note: Historical Google Images traffic will not be re-categorized from the Search Partner Network to Search Network.

If your campaigns are not currently opted into the Search Partner Network – your ads will start showing on Google Images and as a result there may be a 3-10% increase in traffic at lower cost-per-click and comparable conversion rates.

Sincerely,

The Google Ads Team

Pinterest is making it easier for brands and consumers to connect with a number of new tools aimed at getting more products in front of interested viewers.

“Shop a Brand”

The company announced a slew of new updates designed to improve personalized results for users and make browsing products and brands better than ever.

“These updates help retailers get in front of customers who are looking for related products, and Pinners to see items that match their unique style and taste,” the company said in its announcement. 

Personalized Recommendations

Here’s the quick breakdown of all the new features:

  • Shop a brand: “A new dedicated section from retailers is starting to roll out beneath Product Pins. You’ll soon be able to dive into a brand’s catalog by clicking ‘more from [brand]’.”
  • Personalized shopping recommendations: “Alongside style, home, beauty and DIY boards, you’ll see in-stock ideas related to what you’ve been saving, to match your style. Just click ‘more ideas’ then the shopping tag to start shopping ideas picked for you. Tap + to quickly add the Pin to your board, or click the Pin to go straight to checkout on the retailer’s site. “
  • Catalogs: “Brands can now upload their full catalog to Pinterest and easily turn their products into dynamic Product Pins, which means more shoppable Pins across Pinterest. A new dashboard allows businesses to organize their feed so their products can be discovered and purchased by Pinners.”
  • Shopping Ads: “We’re making Shopping Ads available to all businesses through our self-serve tool Ads Manager. Once products are on Pinterest, brands can easily promote items from their existing product feed with Shopping Ads.”
  • Shopping search: “With more in-stock Product Pins, there are more products to search. Just search for a product like ‘midi skirt’, ‘men’s watches’ or ‘outdoor furniture’ and shopping results appear on the top of home feed. To start shopping, click ‘see more’.”

Google’s call-only ads are an incredibly powerful tool for companies who primarily do business through the phone. Not only can they get your phone to ring when nothing else will, they are entirely trackable so you will know when your ads drive calls and where those calls come from.

Now, Google is making the ads even better with expanded headlines and descriptions.

Specifically, call-only ads will now include two 30-character headlines instead of a single 25-character headline.

Descriptions for call-only ads will also be expanded from 80 to 90 characters.

Another small tweak is the placement of business names in the ads, which are being moved to the description line.

“We noticed it was tough to fit both your business name and a compelling call to action in the headline, so we moved business name to the beginning of the ad description,” Mike Russo, a Google Ads product manager, said in the announcement.

The change makes headlines even more important than ever, as your brand name will no longer be the first thing included in the ad. The upside, however, is that a great headline can help you break past the competition and find success with your ads no-matter how well-known your brand is.

The new format is currently rolling out, though it may take a few weeks for the change to reach all advertisers.

In mid-2018, Google’s web browser Chrome made a small tweak to help users know how safe a specific site was. Specifically, it added a tag in the search bar flagging any site that had not updated to HTTPS as “not secure”.

Now, with the help of a new survey from the agency John Cabot, we are finally getting insight into how this little notification affects people’s perception of sites.

Based on a survey of 1,324 people in the UK, the survey finds that nearly half of all people respond negatively to sites which are flagged as “not secure” and many are less willing to give personal information to these sites.

According to the findings, 47% of respondents said they “knew roughly what the warning meant.” Similarly, 46% said they would not give their names or financial information to a site flagged as “non-secure”. Even more, 64% of that group say they would immediately leave non-secure sites.

The survey also found a few other fears and concerns when users come upon a non-secure site:

  • Their device was exposed to a virus — 14%
  • They had arrived on a fake version of the intended site — 12%
  • The content was “unreliable and not fact-checked” — 9%
  • Being signed up for spam email — 8.4%

Notably, the survey found that a brand’s existing perception appears to play a role in determining how people respond to a non-secure site. For example, retailer John Lewis experienced significantly less negative reactions to their site, despite being tagged as non-secure. This suggests widespread name recognition could potentially counter the warning.

Still, the findings of the survey show that a huge number of users are taking note any time they find a business website which has not implemented HTTPS encryption and many are even changing their behaviors based on this warning. If you haven’t updated your business site, these results suggest you could be losing up to 50% of your potential customers to something that is easy and affordable to implement.

Unless you are regularly keeping an eye on your site’s analytics, you might never know when you suddenly lose a ton of traffic or clicks. That is somewhat changing, however, as webmasters can now be notified to sudden drops in clicks through Google’s Search Console.

Search Console is now sending alerts to webmasters when it detects a “substantial drop” in clicks compared to your past week’s data.

Google is doing this by reviewing your week-over-week data in the Performance report for your site. If this week’s data is drastically different, it will send a notification to verified property owners in Search Console to alert them of the problem.

The new notification was first noticed by Vance Moore III who shared a screenshot of the notification on Twitter:

It is unclear exactly how large of a drop it takes to trigger the notification. In the case above, Moore experienced nearly a 50% drop in clicks.

Of course, the tool has some obvious limits. The first is that it only compares week-to-week data. That means slower downward trends will likely not trigger a notification. Additionally, the notification appears to only be triggered by clicks but does not account for traffic or bounce-rates.

The best course of action will always be to regularly check your analytics data to properly assess your site’s performance. There, you will find everything from your click performance, to conversions, traffic, and even demographic info about your visitors.

Still, it always helps to have an extra alert in place for when sudden changes happen to your site. That way you can respond to any new issues and quickly remedy any issues that could have led to your drop in clicks.

Google My Business has released a new way for business owners to respond to online reviews, giving increased flexibility to when and where you can reply after a review.

Now, you can reply to your business reviews from your listing in Google Maps from any desktop device.

In the past, replying to reviews was only possible from the GMB app or website.

Of course, you will still have to verify your listing before you may be able to respond to reviews. Still, the release of the new way to respond to reviews makes it easier than ever for business owners to reply to reviews as soon as they see them.

Along with the new way to respond to reviews, Google has also updated its help document on the subject by adding tips specifically for responding to negative reviews.

How Google Says to Respond to Negative Reviews

First and foremost, Google encourages business owners to remember that negative reviews are not always reflective of a bad business. For instance, some customers may have mismatched expectations. In this case, replying to the review can help other customers set their expectations appropriately and provide more customer satisfaction in the future.

Additionally, Google says to follow these tips when leaving a negative review:

  • Do not share personal data or attack the reviewer personally. Instead, suggest that they contact you directly.
  • Investigate the reasons behind the reviewer’s negative impression of the business.
  • Be honest about mistakes that were made, but do not take responsibility for things that weren’t your fault.
  • Apologize when appropriate. It’s best to say something that demonstrates compassion and empathy.
  • Show that you’re a real person by signing off with your name or initials.
  • Never lash out. Never get personal. Always be polite and professional, just as you would be face-to-face.
  • Respond in a timely manner to show that you pay attention to your customer’s experience.

It is important to keep in mind that negative reviews will not automatically hurt your business. How you respond can be just as important in shaping the public perception of your brand.

A new survey sheds some light into the real reasons why consumers like, share, and follow brands on social media.

As Yes Marketing reports, their survey of 1,000 consumers reveals:

  • 63% of consumers follow retailers on social to learn about sales.
  • 60% follow retailers to keep up with new products.
  • 29% follow to show support for the retailer.
  • 23% follow because the retailer shares funny and interesting information.
  • 23% follow because the retailer has a positive reputation
  • 16% follow because they agree with the retailer’s stance on social and political issues.

When it comes to specifically why customers engage with content from retailers on social media, here’s what people had to say:

  • 36% engage with content because the retailer promises a discount for sharing the post.
  • 36% engage in order to share a product update or sale with their followers.
  • 35% engage because they agree personally with the content of the post.
  • 30% engage because the post is funny or interesting.
  • 29% engage in order to share positive feedback with the retailer.
  • 20% engage in order to share negative feedback with the retailer.

As for which demographics are active on which social networks, the respondents broke down as follows:

  • Gen Z consumers are more likely to have YouTube (77%) and Instagram (77%) accounts than a Facebook account (74%).
  • Millennials (89%) and Gen X (88%) are most likely to be on Facebook.
  • More Gen Z consumers (56%) are on Twitter compared to Millennials (50%) and Gen X (39%).
  • Snapchat is the least used social network among all respondents (30%), followed by Twitter (36%).
  • Only 11% of respondents are not on any of the major social networks.

Get the full report here to learn more.

LinkedIn has released a new ebook aimed at helping social media managers market their businesses across the platform. It also contains some very interesting stats that make a strong case for why you should consider including the platform in your array of social media channels.

Specifically, the ebook includes the following statistics across three categories:

Traffic and Engagement

The company says engagement is “booming” across the platform, citing these numbers:

  • LinkedIn now has 610 million registered members
  • 40% of users visit every day
  • Comments, likes, and shares are up 60% year-over-year
  • Views in the LinkedIn feed are up 60% from last year
  • Mobile sessions are growing 57% year-over-year
  • Over 130 thousand articles are created on the platform every week

Business Leaders

LinkedIn isn’t content to just have a big user base. Rather, they have focused on building “the right audience”:

  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members
  • 61 million users are senior-level influencers
  • 40 million users are in decision-making positions
  • About 45% of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions (managers, VPs, Directors, C-level)

Generating Results

The previous two areas have helped LinkedIn create a platform with users who are highly engaged, meaning marketing efforts are more successful and generate more meaningful results:

  • 45% of all social media traffic to a company’s homepage comes from LinkedIn.
  • 71% of people use information from LinkedIn to inform business decisions
  • LinkedIn is the most trusted social platform globally, according to Business Insider’s Digital Trust report
  • 50% of users are more likely to buy from companies when they have engaged in their social channels

LinkedIn’s ebook contains lots of other interesting data and recommendations for how you can leverage this information to create effective marketing strategies for the platform. Check it out here.

 

Facebook is making a major change to how it handles advertising budget optimization. While it may lead to better ad performance, it also gives you less control over your ad campaigns.

Starting in September, Facebook will make all ad campaigns use campaign budget optimization. In plain English, this means that you will only be able to set the overall budget for your campaign. How much is distributed to each ad set within that campaign will be determined by Facebook’s algorithms and analytics.

The main goal of the change is to automatically emphasize the best performing ad sets while minimizing wasted ad-spend on underperforming ad sets.

Currently, campaign budget optimization is available as an optional setting. However, in September it will become mandatory for all campaigns.

The implementation of campaign budget optimization across Facebook will likely have a significant impact on how brands choose to advertise, but it may pay off in the long run.

Facebook claims this form of optimization not only lowers costs but improves ad results at the same time.

In the announcement, Facebook mentions several specific benefits of campaign budget optimization:

  • Capture the most results for your budget and lower your total cost per result.
  • Save significant time with an automated process that eliminates the need to manually shift budgets between ad sets.
  • A simplified campaign management process with fewer budgets to track and re-allocate during optimization.
  • More efficient spending across audiences with a process that finds the lowest cost opportunities across all ad sets and the markets they target.

Facebook is announcing the change early to give both brands and advertisers time to begin adjusting to using campaign budget optimization. I would recommend trying it out for yourself now so that you can be prepared for when it becomes mandatory.