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Foundries: What's your experience with digital marketing?
Have any of you tried keyword marketing? How many have tried banners? How did it go?
marketing and promotion
I tried keyword on google. It didn't really do much but it could be we gave up too quickly. We never tried banners, though I often think about it. Our main marketing energy (both digital and otherwise) in the last few years has gone to making fontinuse entries. It was already the case that it was one of our top referrers. Pre pandemic we were pretty close to publishing one a week for a long streak of time. It definitely helped.
edited October 9
Not-so-subtle pitch: Fonts In Use also offers a few ad opportunities. Thanks to
, Cargo, and DJR for being recurring
. That said, we gladly accept real-world uses of your typefaces. Just submit as a regular user of the site.
I do think about taking an ad out sometimes but I also feel like the use case entries are what really push traffic to us. My impression of customers is that they are only going to come to our site if they already know we have something they want.
How would you feel about me taking out an add soliciting your users to submit found uses of our less heavily used fonts for which we have trouble finding examples?
Hrant H. Papazian
A nice surprise to hear that Fonts In Use is a good place to draw in customers.
Now I'm wondering: how much better is having an ad versus just the real-world examples?
edited October 9
@Hrant H. Papazian
I think it depends on the buzziness of your examples. We first realized the power of fontsinuse when Bernie Sanders chose jubilat medium for his logo. That's when the referrals hit a level we couldn't ignore - because of a completely matter of fact post. We try to find use examples that are either beatiful or in some way likely to spark curiosity. That way when they ask Google "what's the font used by x?" they get told by fontsinuse and directed to us.
Fonts in Use has affiliate links to the big distributors, right? So could they theoretically work out how much a font listed there has sold, or are the affiliate royalties not broken down into enough detail for that?
Yes, some retailers provide product sales information to affiliates and some do not.
Hey, not a foundry owner here but a decent marketer.
In my experience, there are no quick wins in the keywords area. Still, if you're considering SEO/SEA, here are some of the things you can start with
The kinda free ones = SEO (Search Engine
Take care of your meta data. Web pages are full of opportunities where you can fit in some keywords (or metas). For instance, you can rename all your image files with a certain naming convention (fontname_fontstyle_foundryname), you can add alt text following the same philosophy, you can change the URL slug, title and description of every page according to the objectives you want to achieve on each. Those are the annoying things we typically neglect to do because
Well, Google cares. Quick warning though: do
try to outsmart Google by adding loads of keywords in your html and setting their opacity to zero or the color to white. They are very hard on cheaters.
Be careful with your HTML structure. You should always have one (and
one) H1 title, several H2s, H3s etc... Also, each page of your website should be linked to another = no dead ends, no broken links... If you want Google to avoid looking at some pages when "crawling" your website, remove their slug from the robot.txt file. If you change the URL of one of your page, make sure to set a redirection rule from the old URL to the new one (again, no broken link). Finally, generate and update the sitemap.
Focus on accessibility. Making your website responsive is paramount, you shouldn't try to optimize anything before that. Also, a website that loads quickly will obviously score more points (be cautious with heavy images, scripts, cms and plugins...). And having a decent level of contrast between text and background cannot hurt.
Write content strategically. If you think a lot of people will search for "font in Bernie's logo" that's the title of the article you want to write. Yes, it will be far less interesting than this other one you wrote about your research on [insert canonical font]. BUT it will significantly be more "Google-friendly." Sadly that's how SEO-content works. If you decide that the blog strategy is for you, write a lot (>1500 words), and often (>1 per month), add links to other pages, images, and update the content frequently.
Get backlinks. Anytime another website links towards your website, that acts as a proof that your website is "good." This is especially true if your referring site is a "good" website itself (lots of trafic, high authority...) a backlink in the New York Times will obviously have more weight than one in the blog of you nephew. So indeed, having links on Medium, Fonts in Use, Typewolf etc redirecting to your pages is a good strategy. Note that the more links you have on a given website, the less each new one will count. So no need to spam. A small warning finally: links on social media and newsletters rarely count as backlinks for Google.
Important: all of the above suggestions won't make a difference overnight. It's compound interest. You can wait six months before an article suddenly drives trafic.
The expensive ones = SEA (Search Engine
I don't think Google Ads campaigns are very suitable for indie type foundries. The reason for that is Google Ads rely on queries to serve ads. Since we can expect the number of queries related to type to be rather small, and the nature of each query to be very different from the other ones, you're going to have to bid on many many queries, each with a very small volume. This can be time consuming or become expensive — especially if bigger players placed similar targeted bets. A lot of effort for little results.
One circumstance in which paid Ads could be useful is when a big event occurs. For instance, let's say you're Jonathan Hoefler and the Abstract documentary is published on Netflix. That's the moment when you want to go all-in on words like "typeface, type, designer, netflix, documentary". Same if Bernie makes a tweet on the typeface used in his logo. You should react quickly to keep the snowball rolling when people search for "Type in Bernie logo" on Google.
Something you can also do is just bid on your own name. For example, let's say your foundry is called Prototypo. Typing this in Google will probably not return your foundry's website. Google might assume you meant "prototype". Or there might just be another company with this name and more authority than you do. In this situation, if you want to make sure to appear on top, you can pay for it. A warning though: if millions of queries contain your foundry name, you might end up paying a lot of cash to appear in those searches, and it might not bring good leads (people who are indeed interested in finding
not the Wikipedia definition of prototype).
Lastly, you can bid on your competitors name. It's a practice which I personally don't like, but that is sadly common in certain sectors. Careful though, the competitor might enter a SEA battle with you and bid on your name.
Important: keep in mind that those ads do not always go through ad blockers. Also, the internet is full of crappy trafic.
To conclude on SEO: it's a real investment in either time or money. But it can bring positive results in the long run. The sooner you start, the sooner they will appear hopefully!
As for banners: I've only had bad experiences with them. But it was in the context of mobile apps, not type. So I would advise to just try and find out if they work for you
That's my 243 cents. Sorry for the long text.
I hope this helps!
Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.)
edited October 12
I have been advertising with Google AdWords since about 2007. It's been a mixed bag. I somewhat hit the jackpot in 2008: the economy crashed, a lot of big advertisers pulled back, and online ads were cheap. I made mint to the point where I considered quitting my day job. But as the economy recovered, ads became more expensive again. To maintain my level of sales, I threw money at the problem until my Google bill averaged $40k/year. But with shrinking sales, that was not sustainable, so since then I've dialed it way back. Now I rely on the targeting/optimization tools Google offers. However, keeping on top of that could easily be a full-time job; there's a lot of potential I can't tap because I don't have the time - I can either make type, or do marketing, not both, while also juggling a full-time job and a family.
As to ad formats: Display ads, i.e. banners and such, work best for me. Search ads did almost nothing. Makes sense, we're selling visual goods, after all. I couldn't get the responsive ad format to work for me - the automated layout is just always wrong, and you have no control over text formatting, etc.
Some other things to be aware of:
AdWords is very fickle - you have little direct control about how many impressions you get; an incorrect or inappropriate setting can send your account into a tail spin that is extremely hard to recover from. Changes work over time, so after you change a setting, you have to not change anything else for at least two weeks to see the effect. A silly mistake can cost you a lot of money.
Every once in a while, a major website sucks up all your placements, but sends you nothing but junk traffic. You have to manage your placements.
Ads on mobile platforms were getting me a lot of traffic, but no sales. Adwords lets you turn that off. Same with demographics filtering. The 18-24 segment will love your work all day long, but they ain't got no money to spend.
Also, I'm based in the US, and 99% of my sales come from US customers, even when I was advertising to the whole world. Not sure what causes that, but I ended up restricting my advertising to only US locations.
Lastly, you need to use AdWords and Google Analytics together to make good decisions.
From what I'm reading in this thread, fontsinuse.com is a good venue for exposure. I have a pretty extensive library of client projects, so I'll give that a shot.
Thanks, Raphaël and Oliver.
As for material eligible for Fonts In Use, how you get it? Stumble upon it, search the web, ask clients to send you examples of use, all of this?
for the longest time I just watched our orders, which I still do. If there's no use when I first see the order I set an alarm to check in a month. If the order is from a design studio and I see nothing after I few months (because it could be for their own use) I email them to ask if it's a client project and if they would tell me about it when it's public. This method worked some of the time but was labor intensive and had a high failure rate.
Web crawlers are great but the tend to come and go so I've only used them sometimes. Besides, they only crawl high ranked sites. These days I get fontsninja reports, which you can receive if you participate in their testing fonts program. The data is much more organic and very useful.
Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.)
edited October 16
Over the years, I've collected a
sizable gallery of customer projects
. I ask folks to send me pictures of their projects, and many do. Sometimes I know in advance what projects my fonts will be used in (for example, most movies and TV shows require me to sign a specific release) Sometimes, just knowing who the client is lets me google their projects and spot my fonts that way. Sadly, some of the biggest feathers in my cap won't let me mention that they use my fonts.
Other times I run across my fonts in stores - on bags of meatballs at Trader Joe's, book titles at Barnes and Noble, Whole Foods shopping bags, and so on.
Seeing my fonts in the Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts movies is intensely gratifying. But finding them in unexpected places always makes my day. Like this poster I found a few years ago, on the backdoor of a tiny bookshop in Stowe, Vermont, where we stopped off while on vacation.
edited October 16
@Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.)
I'm not an attorney but it's probably worth asking one about the projects that aren't allowing you to name them.
Usually confidentiality clauses expire when a project becomes public. We've had a few clients try that with us with retail fonts. They claim that the name of the font isn't part of their marketing and so therefore not public. We've been able to argue back that the since the font itself is available elsewhere, and therefor identifiable, their thinking is nonsense. One might worry about alienating the client over a "little thing like credit" but in my experience usually none of the real decision makers actually care – it's just some attorney who doesn't have a clue.
Oliver Weiss (Walden Font Co.)
Thanks, Joyce, that is a good point. I wouldn't have the budget to see something like that through, so I generally remind myself which side my bread is buttered on, and roll with their wishes. They tend to make large and regular purchases, since antarctic sea birds, mice, and clown fish all have voracious appetites for fonts.
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