Paid search made better: Dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of your paid search campaign

Paid search made better: Dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of your paid search campaign

A paid search campaign is a quick and powerful way to reach your customers and potential customers. With Google Ads and similar programs on other platforms, you can connect your brand and your message with what your customers and potential customers already are searching for and looking at.

Hop on board. Go with them. Consumers today want to partner with brands that care about what they care about and can help them complete what they’re working on and are interested in.

Sounds good, right? It can be. The following tips can help you get the most out of you paid search efforts.

• Do plan first. Before you jump into a paid search campaign, define your goals. Know what you want to accomplish, and research the best ways to reach those goals.
• Don’t use generic keywords in a one-size-fits-all approach. Be specific. Be targeted. Use strong keywords that can steer customers to your specific message and your specific goals.
• Do use the data. One of the great advantages of digital marketing is the vast amount of data it produces. If you’ve used paid search before, start with what already has worked. If not, you likely still have data about how viewers most often find your sites. Build on that information.
• Don’t stop using the data. The internet isn’t static, and neither are your customers. Use A/B testing on your keywords, your headlines, your landing pages and other data points to see what works and what doesn’t. And just because something works today doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. Keep testing and checking to see if something else could work better.
• Do use negative keywords. It’s not enough to direct your message and pages to words or phrases. Many words have multiple meanings. Use negative keywords to weed out the meanings you’re not interested in.
• Don’t be misleading. It’s never a good idea to be misleading, but with paid search, it can be costly. Attracting more people is not helpful if most are not interested in your message. Instead, be specific and clear, directing your message to the consumers most likely to be interested in what you’re offering.
• Do keep it local. Use geotargeting to direct your efforts to customers in your area.
• Don’t waste your clicks. Make sure your clicks are directed to the proper landing page and that they’re not sent to the wrong page or to your homepage.
• Do maximize your paid search results. Use text from your paid search ads in social media and blog posts to extend the reach of your efforts.

Raise the banner

If you’re looking to gain awareness of your brand or direct potential customers to your website, banner advertising might be what you’re looking for. Banner ads can be designed in various sizes, shapes, and styles and can be designed based on your industry and goals. The versatile banner ad is a utility player, able to handle most situations.
Also known as display advertising, banner ads typically feature a combination of an image and text. They can be static images such as a .jpg or .png file, or they can feature multimedia, such as animated gifs, flash or HTML5 animation. Perhaps overused at the birth of the internet with flashing, eye-numbing animations, effective banner ads today typically are much more subtle, designed to catch viewers’ attention while not distracting them from the advertisement’s message or goal. Finding that balance is sometimes harder than it sounds. How do you do catch a viewer’s attention without being overly distracting or obnoxious? Some banner ads include subtle animation, catching the viewers’ attention and directing them to the text on the ad. Perhaps only a small portion of the ad will be animated. Another strategy is to use color for the same objective. For example, a banner might be black and white, with one accent color designed to direct the reader to the advertisement.
Back in the day, banner ads were targeted by simply choosing websites on which to place the ads. Placement-based banner advertising still works in certain limited cases, depending on the industry. But much more advanced and higher-performing forms of banner ad placement and targeting have evolved. Now, banner ads can be targeted based on search history, website visit history, look-alike audiences, and even by matching to a customer or lead list, called CRM-targeted banner advertising. With demographic targeting, banners can reach prospects by age, gender or income. Geographic targeting can be done by country, state, city, distance from a point, IP targeting and even rooftop targeting for certain industries. Also called geofencing, rooftop targeting works well for certain industries that target specific locations, such as colleges that are targeting “feeder schools”.
Banner ads provide two benefits. Like print ads or billboards, they can promote a brand (company or product), a message or an idea. Viewers see the brand and eventually become comfortable with it. They take in the message and even if they do not interact further with the banner ad, it’s mission is accomplished. But because banner ads also are clickable and interactive, they are a form of digital direct response advertising. This is the second benefit. Clicks on banners direct interested prospects to a landing page that (if designed properly), will engage the visitor and in some cases, convert them to a lead or customer. These forms of engagement and lead generation can include a newsletter signup, download, live or animated chat, the Contact Us page or sales page. We’ll talk more about landing page design in the near future.
Like other online advertisements, banner ad performance is easily measurable. At a very basic level, advertisers can see how many prospects viewed and clicked on each ad and can compare performance between ads and websites that are delivering the best click-through rates. With Google Analytics in place, performance measurement is taken to a different level by crossing over to the website. With analytics, advertisers can tell which clicks are delivering the best value in terms of the amount of time clicks spend on the landing page, how many pages are viewed and whether or not clicks are converting to leads or sales.
Here at AdEdge, we run regular AB and multivariate tests on banner ads for our clients where we are constantly testing for the best performing images, copy, calls to action and depending on the business, offers and premiums. By running banner ads in a “test and control” environment, we are able to prove theories about what is driving ad performance within any given industry. Our unique research also gives us insights about ad format performance. For example, square banners perform better than leader boards and towers on most websites and for most industries. And static ads generally perform better than animated ads, again depending on the campaign goals, industry and demographics we are targeting.
Banner ads can be designed in various sizes and shapes and placed in various places on a website. Regardless of the dimensions or specific design, effective banner ads should include your company logo, name, product or service being offered, a unique selling proposition or value proposition and if the ad is to be dual purpose (branding and direct response), a call to action such as watch now, learn more or get started. The text should be easily readable and have a fair amount of white space to keep it uncluttered and “easy on the eyes”. Google Ads requires banner ad file sizes to be under 150k and in .gif, .png or .jpg formats.
Banner ads are a great way to build your company’s brand and attract visits to your website from good, prospective customers. Is your company using banner advertising to its best potential? If not or if you’re not sure, give us a call at (203) 682-4585 or contact us for a free evaluation and some great ideas. If you enjoyed this blog, sign up for our newsletter and get best practices and new tactics in digital marketing delivered straight to your inbox once a month.

Getting the most out of your website

It’s not enough to just have a website. Websites in 2019 must be optimized and active to help companies attract and retain customers. A strong marketing strategy starts with setting up your website to reach the most potential customers and tailoring the message and presentation to attract attention from people most likely to be interested in and benefit from your services.

Just as it’s easy to start a company but hard to grow a company, it’s easy to build a website but hard to ensure that site is as effective as possible at reaching the people who need you most. So what is a company to do? One critical step is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

Search Engine Optimization refers to all the ways you can make your website attractive to Google and other search engines, which ensures people can see your website and its pages on search engine results pages, or SERPs.

Search engine traffic is essential. A 2014 study by Conductor looked at data from 30 websites in six industries. The study found that 64 percent of traffic was from unpaid search engine results. Only 12 percent was from viewers directly typing in the web address.

While search engines are critical, it’s not enough just be listed. A study from Advanced Web Rankings shows that it’s not enough even to be on the first page of a search result. In the study, the top five results hoarded almost 68 percent of clicks. Results six through 10 collected only 3.7 percent.

So how do you catch the attention of search engines? First, you must stay current. Search engines regularly update their algorithms, changing how they organize rankings by adjusting what they look for or prioritizing different techniques. SEO plans must be updated accordingly. You’re not going to get the results you want in 2019 if you’re still following the 2017 playbook.

Still, some steps are essential regardless of the algorithms. To make sure search engines register all your site and your company have to offer, be sure to use proper metadata titles, keywords and descriptions for your site. Images also must be tagged propertly. Pictures often are helpful to the viewer, but search engines need alternative text to “see” the image.

Another universal is the need for quality, helpful content. The old sayings “garbage in, garbage out,” and “putting lipstick on a pig” have become cliche because their truths are so universal. SEO can get you traffic, but all the traffic in the world doesn’t matter if no one wants to read your content.

The internet is an ever-changing space. To remain effective, marketers must keep up with changing consumer trends. One of the most profound changes in recent years is the proliferation of smartphones. Consumers increasingly are searching the internet and doing business on their phones. The trend has significant consequences for companies and marketers. Internet marketing was build around computer screens, which tend to be fairly large, horizontal and relatively uniform in dimension. Mobile devices, however, are much smaller and more diverse.

To address this trend, companies must design their websites to be universally compatible, optimized for both mobile and desktop formats. But the growing preference appears to be for mobile over traditional computers. Google in March acknowledged for the first time it is using mobile-first indexing, meaning the search engine only indexes pages’ mobile versions. So updating a desktop page without paying attention to the mobile version could leave you off the rankings.

Because viewers increasingly are relying on their phones and other mobile devices, it is even more important that pages are optimized for smaller, vertical screens. Fewer elements can fit on a smaller phone screen, so designers must choose wisely what is included and how it is presented.
Those decisions are critical not just for presentation, but also for page loading. Depending on the connection speed, pages often load more slowly on mobile devices than traditional computers. Large pictures also are less necessary and can be cumbersome. According to a 2017 study by Google, most mobile sites are painfully slow because they are crammed full of too many elements. The study looked at 11 million mobile advertisement landing pages. For 70 percent of the pages, it took more than five seconds for the primary visual image to load and more than seven seconds to load all visual content at the top of the page.

Viewers apparently aren’t that patient. The Google study showed that viewers were 32% more likely to leave the page if it took three second to load as opposed to one second. Viewers were 90% more likely to leave if the page took five seconds to load, and they were 123% more likely to leave if loading took 10 seconds. Pictures and graphics can catch viewers’ attention and lead them to other information on the page, but if those images take too long to load, they can do more harm than good.

If you are unsure of how your website or SEO effort is performing, feel free to give us a call at (203) 682-4585 or contact us for a free evaluation and recommendations.

How Keywords Can Make or Break your Paid Search and SEO Efforts

Building a Paid Search campaign with Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is easy. Select a few keywords, write an ad, set a budget and whamo, you’re in business, right? It depends. If you want to be in the business of paying Google then yes, you’re in business but if you’re looking to build leads and sales, not so fast. Google makes it very easy for you to build a campaign – and the easiest of all is Google Express. But don’t expect it to perform. Why? The primary reason is poor keyword selection. “Come on, a keyword is a keyword, right?” Wrong. There is far more to keyword research and selection than you might think, especially in a competitive environment.
Identifying keywords to use for a Paid Search campaign starts by thinking about terms your customers will search from their perspective, not yours. Let’s say you sell corporate accounting services. Your top keywords should be corporate accounting services, corporate accounting, accounting for companies and so on, right? Maybe, maybe not. You need to think about this from the customer’s perspective. What are they going to search for? Possibly corporate accounting but consider the myriad other options such as, accounting firms, accounting companies, business accountants, best business accounting firm in Hartford, among others. After doing the research, you’ll often find hundreds of potentially winning combinations of terms used to find a single type of business. A strong effort starts with a core set of terms, adds similar terms and then adds adjectives to modify the base terms. Terms with three or more words are considered “Long Tail Keywords”. Coming up with a good and relevant set of long tail keywords has three benefits: 1) Your competition is less likely to have thought of them making the terms far less costly, 2) long tail keywords are specific and when paired with equally specific ads and landing page within a tightly-themed AdGroup, will perform better for the simple reason that you are presenting an ad and a landing page that answers a specific need or solves a specific problem. 3) Starting with a robust set of keywords gives you more data about which keywords are performing well and which are performing poorly. This allows you to more easily optimize the keywords by adjusting maximum bids at the keyword level based on performance. The two other things to consider when building keywords is Match Type and Negative Terms. Match Type sets the rules under which keywords will trigger your ads to show. Broad Match keywords gives Google carte blanche to modify the term with what they think is a match. Using the example above, Google may substitute jobs for companies which means when someone searches for “accounting jobs” your keyword for “accounting companies” will trigger an ad to show. Google’s logic is that some people searching for accounting companies are actually searching for accounting jobs …but what good does that do you? Long story short, don’t use Broad Match keywords. The opposite problem happens with Exact Match keywords where the exact term needs to be searched with nothing before, after or in-between. The problem with Exact Match is it leaves out plenty of good terms like, “best accounting companies”. Since this does not match exactly with “accounting companies”, your ad will not show. The happy medium is Broad Match Modifier and Phrase Match terms which allow additional terms before, after and in some cases, in the middle of the keyword but will not allow keyword replacements. If you are running either of these match types, Negative Keywords are very important. For example, if you are not a tax accountant, you may want to run a negative term for tax so that when someone searches for “tax accounting companies”, your ad doesn’t show. Other common negatives are free, cheap, jobs, sucks and other non-performing terms. Here at AdEdge we’ve amasses a list of hundreds of negatives terms by reviewing performance of hundreds of clients over our 12 years at this. By limiting irrelevant searches, a robust list of negative terms improves performance a great deal.
The process for selecting keywords for SEO is similar, but not the same. Before embarking on an SEO campaign, we often advise our clients to run a paid search campaign first so that we can see how suspected keywords are performing in their market, in the real world. We look at three things: 1) Search volume, 2) click volume and most importantly, 3) post-click performance. Post click performance is an evaluation of what website visitors did on your website after clicking your ad. How long did they stay on the site, how many pages did they view, which pages did they view, did they engage with the site and did they convert to a lead or sale? By aggregating performance of each keyword over time, we can identify a definitive list of keywords to push for your SEO. But we’re not done just yet. Before committing to these top keywords, we run them through a competitive analysis to see who else is ranking for those terms and how powerful their SEO is. Why? Because we don’t want to fight any big battles that we can’t win. Here’s a super short case study to prove the point. A real estate broker in Manhattan came to us in frustration with their SEO effort that was managed by a previous agency. They paid big money to rank for “NY Real Estate Broker” and other popular, relevant terms that describe their services. Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately, their agency failed to complete a competitive analysis that would have shown that page one of Google was crowded with some very big players like Realtor.com, Yelp and Zillow. These companies have very hard-hitting SEO that can be displaced only with a very substantial effort and six-figure+ budget. Instead, we researched our client’s top performing keywords, netted out against highly competitive terms and got them to rank on page one for several excellent keyword terms. The SEO work we did had a significant impact on their rank, website traffic and ultimately, leads.
Here at AdEdge Digital Marketing, we’re all about campaign optimization and performance. If you’re not sure how well your Paid Search or SEO effort is performing (whether it’s being managed internally or through an agency), feel free to contact us for a complimentary evaluation. Contact Anthony at 203-682-4585 or email [email protected]

The importance of Website Design in Engaging with and Converting Customers

With any new digital marketing effort, your website is one of the first things you should evaluate. Presuming that your digital marketing is going to do its job of sending good, prospective customers to your website, it’s your website’s job to engage with them and convert them into customers. Is your website up to the task? Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your website and its ability to convert visitors into customers.
Let’s start with the basics. Make sure your website is correctly branded with your name and/or logo prominently displayed on top. Does your website “look and feel” like your company? If you have a dedicated marketing resource, have them share your company’s Style Guide with your website developer. A style guide specifies colors, fonts, design elements, guidelines on the use of images and the tone of your copy. Even if you don’t have a style guide, using the company’s familiar colors and fonts maintains your company’s brand consistency and personality. Consistent brand helps to create a better connection between all of the marketing you do. It makes more impact and helps website visitors recognize that they have arrived at the right place.
Once you’ve got an attractive, correctly branded website in place it’s time to think about your visitors and their experience on your website. If you are running a digital marketing campaign, visitors are likely coming to you in search of answers to their questions or solutions to their problem or opportunities. Does your website answer these needs quickly and simply? Does your website explain how your products and services satisfy their needs? One of the best ways to address customers’ specific needs is to create landing pages that relate specifically to the products or services they are looking for. For example, if you sell excavating equipment don’t send all prospects to the same home page or products page. Instead, send those who are looking for a bulldozer to your bulldozer page and those looking who are looking for backhoes to your backhoe page. The two rewards of highly relevant, tightly-themed marketing groups are 1) those searching for a particular product or service will find exactly what they are looking for and are more likely to purchase and 2) Google Ads rewards relevance between the keyword search, the ad and the landing page with a higher quality score. A high-quality score is one of the factors that impacts a higher ad position and lower cost. Having explained what you sell, your next job is to explain how your product, service, or company is different and better than alternate choices. This is known as your unique selling proposition. Put simply, your website should answer the question as to why a customer should buy from you vs. someone else. Give your prospect a reason to choose your solutions over similar solutions offered by competing companies. A SWOT analysis can also help you to figure out where you are positioned in the marketplace against competing firms. Simply list your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This will further help you to identify solutions or benefits that are unique to your company.
By the time a website visitor has spent at least 15 seconds on your website, they should “get” your brand, know your name, what you sell, and why your solutions are unique or better than what your competitors offer. With that done, your next goal is to engage with visitors and “reel them in”. Engagement tools encourage visitors to interact with you and/or your website. Establishing a relationship with visitors builds trust and gives them a vested interest in continuing the conversation. Engagement tools also provide “jump off points” for prospects to interact with company representatives, bots or apps and these interactions convert prospect to leads. On the landing page or home page itself, make sure your phone number is prominently displayed at the top and frequently within the content. [Contact Us] buttons should be placed strategically as well so that when a prospect decides to take next steps, there is always a button or phone number within easy reach. Live chat is a great way to engage with website visitors, answer their questions and explain the advantages of your products or services. Remember, your visitor arrived at your website solve a problem, answer a question or explore an opportunity. And if you answer those needs via chat or other means, they will have very little reason to leave. You may also consider an automatic appointment scheduling app. These apps integrate with your existing calendar and allow visitors to schedule time with you (by phone or in person) for 15 to 30 minutes time slots based on available time in your calendar. If the product or service you are selling has a short sales cycle (like a book or paid consultation), make sure to add [Buy Now] buttons and keep the buying process quick and simple. These website engagement tactics will help you develop an online relationship with prospects and convert them into leads and sales.
The last important piece of any digital marketing effort is analytics. Make sure to have a good analytics tracking tool installed on your website. Google Analytics is one of the most popular apps of its type, enabling you to track the source, volume and traffic patterns of all website visits. In other words, Google Analytics allows you to track where your website visitors are coming from and what they are doing once they get to your site. Do they bounce, do they stick, do they engage, do they convert to leads or sales? Where do they drop off? A website tracking tool like Google Analytics is critical to the evaluation of your digital marketing efforts. It allows you to compare performance between advertising channels, ad groups, ads and even individual keywords. A Google Analytics Qualified Agency (like AdEdge) will be able to “round up” all of your website traffic and tell you where your paid and unpaid efforts are getting the most traction. With that information, you can make shifts in your marketing investment and optimize remaining channels for even higher performance.
If you need help with website design, digital marketing or Google Analytics, make sure you’re speaking with an agency who has extensive experience and current certifications in Google Ads and Google Analytics. AdEdge Digital Marketing has been offering expert digital marketing management to small and medium-sized businesses for 12 years and we’ve been a Google partner agency for six; and we maintain advanced Google certifications in Paid Search, Banner Advertising and Google Analytics. If you would like a complimentary website evaluation or digital marketing audit, please contact us at 203-682-4585, email [email protected], or schedule a call.

How to Select a Great Digital Marketing Agency

As most savvy business owners know, digital marketing has become is a very important piece of one’s marketing mix and overall growth strategy. Some businesses work with an agency, some do it in-house, but sadly, some aren’t doing digital marketing at all either because they’ve tried and failed, are uncertain about how to select a reputable agency or are just too baffled by the whole thing. If you’re among the group of business owners who is not doing digital marketing currently, or are unsure about your agency’s performance, below are some tips on how to select and manage a digital marketing agency.

With so many agencies coming at you with so many messages with so many claims in so many formats, it’s not surprising that business owners are confused and frustrated about moving into digital marketing. How do you know who’s the best? Who’s the real deal? Do they even care about digital marketing, or is it just another revenue stream or at worst, a get-rich-quick scheme? These are all valid concerns because many agencies are either brand new at this or have recently added digital marketing to their mix of services. You might be surprised at how many big names are jumping into the game without bringing in experts to do the job… but we won’t name names here!

In banking, loan officers evaluate credit risk by their clients’ willingness and ability to repay loans. In marketing, we evaluate agencies by their willingness and ability to deliver expert digital marketing solutions. The industry is filled with entrepreneurs anxious to get into the digital marketing game. Most have good intentions but some do not. Even among the agencies who are truly interested in doing a good job, many have little to no experience. So how can you identify the agencies who care enough and know enough to do a good job for you? Here are a few tips and if you questions you can ask to help identify agencies that will be looking out for your best interest and will have the capabilities to drive good performance for your business.

First and foremost, find out how long the agency has been in business and research all claims relating to certifications, partnerships and awards. Make sure that any agency you work with has experience in your industry. If they do they should be able to provide you with references, ad examples, and more detailed data like keyword performance for similar clients. Ask about service levels including the frequency of reports and scheduled calls. Many agencies operate with a “set it and forget it” plan. That is, they get your contract, launch the account and then set it on autopilot, freeing up their time to chase new accounts… because in many cases, spending time getting new accounts is far more important than optimizing and managing existing ones. So, always ask how often your advertising accounts are going to be optimized and ask for a list of tactics that they utilize to improve performance on a regular basis; with regular being at least weekly. Ask if the reports are customized according to what you need to see. Are they fully automated or is there a narrative that spells out what they are doing to improve your performance on a regular basis? Does the agency you work rely on contractors or overseas help? This can be dangerous for lots of reasons not the least of which is inexperience with your market. Don’t get me wrong – there are lots of talented people all over the world but when it comes to marketing in the US, especially if your business is local or regional, an overseas resource is not going to understand the finer points of effective marketing including ad creative, demographic and lifestyle targeting, and geofencing high-performing neighborhoods. Find out exactly who will be managing your account and research that person’s level of experience and qualifications. Some of the largest agencies are the worst offenders when it comes to delivering quality account management. They bring in one big gun with great experience, plaster those qualifications all over their website and in their marketing collateral and even task that big gun to help close your account. But once they have the deal sealed, you may find yourself working with an ever-rotating set of newly minted college grads who really have no clue about digital marketing or marketing in general. So again, ask specifically about who will be working on your account. Last but not least, avoid one-year commitments; six months is plenty of time to fully optimize a digital marketing effort.

If you do your homework when researching potential digital marketing agencies, you are far more likely to have a good experience and excellent results. If you are unhappy or unsure about your current digital marketing efforts please give us a shout and we would be happy to evaluate your efforts and give you some suggestions …on the house.

LinkedIn vs. Facebook

Advertising Battle of the Social Networks:

If you’ve been tracking performance of your social media advertising campaigns or that of your clients, you’ll know that LinkedIn has gotten more expensive in terms of simple cost per click while under-performing other social networks. LinkedIn’s biggest challenge for marketers is it tends to be a place for “Hunting” rather than a network like Facebook which is a site for “Gathering”. In a gathering situation like Facebook, users are more open to exploring possibilities with an open mind such as reading about their friends’ meanderings, checking in on a favorite restaurant, reading about weekend activities, catching up with friends and family, and so on. LinkedIn on the other hand, tends to be a place where visitors have a more singular focus whether it’s connecting with an individual in a particular industry, looking for a job or finding a networking event for a certain industry or topic. Being hunters, LinkedIn visitors are less distracted… and that’s not a good thing for marketers.

The other advantage of Facebook advertising is that ads appear directly in the news feed of targeted individuals, to the extent that they are often indistinguishable from organic posts. It’s not the same on LinkedIn where most ads appear in the right rail and on desktop only. Being in their line of site, Facebook users notice and read news-feed ads on desktop and mobile devices. Users are far more likely to notice and read ads if you’ve done a good job of targeting for relevance by geographic, demographics and specific areas of interest or lifestyles. Add to that, Facebook’s latest and greatest targeting tactic, Re-targeting which allows marketers to present Facebook users with ads based on their search history. This breakthrough gives Facebook ads the relevance of Google Search, the visual appeal of banner ads and a platform that already commands a great attention span. Add video, and engagement with Facebook ads can rival that of Google Paid Search and YouTube advertising.

But don’t throw the towel in on LinkedIn just yet. They recently came out with a new targeting capability that combines LinkedIn targeting (by company information, industry, professional title, etc.) with Bing’s search engine. Thank Microsoft who owns both companies. This new capability now allows you to run a Bing Paid Search campaign with additional filters based on users’ LinkedIn profiles. This can come in very handy when you are running a national campaign or one with a limited budget that benefits from targeting by search combined by company industry or title. For example, you may want to reach people searching for “Cloud Storage” or “Cloud Backup”. But your solution is built for larger enterprises, not consumers or small businesses. Not a problem. Just add LinkedIn filtering to reach only those individuals affiliated with companies with over X number of employees or further target by the title or level of the individuals you are trying to reach.

Like all digital marketing, your industry, goals, audience and length of your sales cycle all play a very important role in determining which channels of marketing you should pursue and which targeting tactics you should utilize within. If you’d like some insights on how to most effectively reach your targeted audience with digital marketing, give us a shout and we’d be happy to chat. Contact [email protected] or give us a call at 203-682-4585.

 

Online Branding

The chronology of any effective marketing campaign is branding, engagement and conversion otherwise known as “the sales funnel”. While there are various version of the funnel, building awareness with branding is always the place to start. Digital branding generates recognition of your logo, name, colors, and your industry or specifically, the products or services your sell. Your brand can come into play at every touch point a customer has with your business online including your digital banner ads, social media presence, website and blog. Effective branding is consistent between digital channels and the message and images you put out create a feeling or personality about your company that begins to connect with prospective clients. While banner advertising is the most widespread tool for digital brand building, social media and blogging can be effective as well.

Social media is an excellent place for brand building due to the more engaged and open state of mind people are in when surfing their social channels. Messages that appear in social news feeds are consumed with more focus and attention than banner ads. While many companies are getting smart to brand building, engagement and direct response advertising on the social networks, many fewer are utilizing blogging. While the brand-building benefits of blogging is more subtle than social media or banner advertising, you may think of it as a “step two” in branding. With awareness created, visits to your blog from social accounts can be a great way to educate prospective clients about your company and affirm your expertise and leadership in your industry. Many clients we speak to avoid blogging due to the additional time required in writing a piece every week or month, but doing so can help to keep you thinking about and up to date on industry trends, competitive pressures, new technologies and other things that may be important to your prospects. Don’t worry about educating your competitors via your blog because the benefits of educating your prospects and competitors outweighs the cons of educating neither.

A side benefit of blogging is it helps your organic rank in the search engines. Google rewards frequent, relevant content updates on your website and inbound traffic to your blog from popular relevant sites and is an effective SEO strategy. If you’re struggling to come up with topics for your blog, start with your customers point of view. What do they care about most? What problem can you or your product/service help them solve? What insights do you have about about your industry that isn’t common knowledge? Answering these questions illustrates value to your clients and builds you up as an expert in your field. Take a bike shop for example. While it may be tempting to write just about new bikes that are coming out for sales purposes, think a bit deeper about why your customers may be buying a bike and what they care about. People may want a bike for fun, adventure, exercise or camaraderie. Talk about these things in your blog to connect with your prospects in a more personal way. Creating a virtual personal relationship with prospects is a great way to de-commoditize the bike industry and create preference for your brand, regardless of price. For example, you can write about biking club trips you’ve taken, personal biking adventures you’ve been on, cool places you’ve been with your bike, and fellow bikers you’ve met on the way. Your customers are people first, who connect with great stories and great content, so make that your goal whenever you write a blog post.

Social Media is another digital channel where brand building can be extremely effective, and the opportunity to build brands on the social networks has grown substantially in the last few years. In addition to stories, you can use photos, illustrations and now, video. Take a look at the social media pages of some of the most successful brands like Go-Pro, Mercedes, American Express and Adidas. Notice that they all focus on personal customer experiences that create excitement about their brand. Go-pro shows us the best athletes in the world with amazing footage created wearing their cameras. Mercedes builds brand by showcasing the amazing interiors of their cars from a customer’s perspective in various driving settings. American Express tells success stories of all the businesses that use their services, and Adidas showcases their brand by posting about the athletes that love their products and perform better (apparently) because of them. No matter what industry your business is in, the focus of any social branding campaign is most effective when illustrated through customer experiences. Since blogging and social media branding doesn’t cost anything but time, even small businesses with some spare time or budget to hire a digital marketing firm can get involved.

If you’d like to get some ideas about how to build an effective sales funnel for your business or which channels of brand building will be most effective for your company, give us a call at 203-682-4585 or shoot us a note at [email protected] For regular monthly tips on best practices in digital marketing, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Website Importance For Business

Website design is a key part of your online presence. You don’t get second chances at first impressions, so it’s important to put your best foot forward. Looks aside, why is your website so important? What makes one website better than another? How can you improve your current website? We’re here to answer these questions and give you some insights regarding the importance of your website as it relates to digital marketing.

Marketing Tool: First and foremost, your website is a marketing tool. When a user visits website, it’s usually because they are interested in your products or services. How you engage with first-time visitors, capture their attention and begin to develop a relationship is critical. Everyone knows that marketing is about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time; and there is no place more important to practice this than your website. Make sure that your website has an attractive and correctly branded design, uses clear and engaging language, and navigation that allows visitors to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Make your unique selling proposition known early, above the fold on your home page and landing pages so that visitors know how you are unique and better than competing companies.

 

Website design: Good web design goes far beyond aesthetics. Yes, a great looking website helps glue visitors to your site but what else do you need to think about? Website load speed is very important for SEO and for a positive user experience, especially if you’re sending traffic from a paid search campaign. Even a slight delay will cause many visitors to turn tail. We all know mobile friendly is important but considering that around 60-70% of all traffic is now mobile, it should now be your primary focus with desktop design being secondary. Fast mobile is critical for SEO and an attractive, easily navigated site will reduce bounce rates. Remember, the [back] button is just a finger’s flick away. What about content? Again, good content with appropriate keyword density improves natural rank and interesting content with compelling calls to action encourage visitor engagement and lead generation.

 

Engagement and Lead Generation Tools: When a customer arrives on your site, what are some ways your can improve their experience? How are you going to cater to their needs, and make their online interaction with your brand memorable? Some examples of great engagement tools include live appointment scheduling, live chat, free e-book downloads, and pop-up forms/leadflows. If unfamiliar with these tools or how they work, don’t worry, we’re about to dive in! Live appointment scheduling is a great tool that allows visitors to book appointments with you without having to call. The “appointments” can be calls, visits, webinars, tours, etc. You set the times you are available and prospects can book time with you at their own convenience. Appointment scheduling can integrate with your Outlook or Google Calendar or you can create a new calendar. Live chat is an amazing tool that can either be manual (live) or automated via chatbots. Chat is especially effective in competitive industries where prospects to bounce in and out of websites, looking for the best solution. It also works in industries involving more complex products or services, or those involving long sales cycles so that customers may ask questions or get assistance from an expert. Offering free e-books or downloads is another way to provide value to website visitors. They also build you up as a trustworthy authority in your field. Website pop-up forms and leadflows are another great tool you can use to capture leads at a higher rate then your competitors. During the time you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably seen the pop-up form on our website inviting you to join our monthly newsletter. Give it a try and let us know what you think! Pop-up forms are also useful for presenting an offer in front of prospects or customers while they’re browsing your website. Sales, special offers and notifications about upcoming events all work well. The beauty of pop-up forms/leadflows is that they are completely customize-able.

 

Landing Page Testing: Even if you’ve done a great job on your website, it’s still important to test what’s working best to convert customers. Your home page or landing pages are the first thing visitors see when they arrive on your website. Landing pages are especially important for paid traffic both because 1) paid search visitors are more fickle or flaky than those who arrive organically and 2) you are paying for those visits. Testing landing page performance can be difficult without the right tools …which is why Google Analytics is so valuable. Google Analytics allows you to evaluate what happens after the click from all sources of website visits. It tells you where your website visitors are coming from, what pages they view, how long they spend on your site, whether or not they become a lead and, where they leave your site. More advanced tools like heat maps show where the visitors tend to place their cursors on the screen so you can see what they are interested in, and what they tend to avoid. These analytical tools will help you test various landing pages and elements of landing pages such as design, graphics, copy, titles, calls to action and more. Testing landing pages side by side gives you insights into what is connecting with your prospective clients and what is driving lead and sales conversions.

 

Site-Map: One crucial element of a website is a site-map. Think of it as a tree that shows the organization and flow of your site. The homepage is the trunk that holds it all together, with branches containing the major navigation to services, about us, contact us, etc, followed by the leaves which you can think of as content on each page. It’s up to you to create a site-map that guides the user to where they want to go, even if they may be unaware of it. Without knowing it, website visitors are controlled by the website’s site-map. Something as simple as a well organized site-map can direct visitors to visit pages you’d like them to see and take actions that lead them to engage and convert. When building or redoing your website, create a site-map that illustrates the top-level pages, sub-pages and what the ideal user experience or path should be.

 

Conclusion: Your website should be simple, attractive and to the point. Too many links or images can be confusing and too much copy, boring. Make sure your site leads visitors to goals. If you’re an established business, you probably have a website …but is it great? Use these tips to help you improve your website design, usability, and most importantly, it’s effectiveness as a marketing tool that converts visitors into leads and leads into customers. If you would like a free evaluation of your website and some quick and simple tips and ideas to improve it’s impact on your digital marketing performance, give us a call at 203-682-4585 and speak with one of our experts (not a hard-hitting salesperson). If you’d like to get monthly tips on the latest and greatest tactics in digital marketing to help grow your business, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Re-marketing & Re-targeting

What is Re-marketing?

Re-marketing, also known as re-targeting, is defined as a type of online advertising that shows ads to people who have visited your website, or a specific web page, and may have exhibited a specific behavior (e.g., not converting into a site conversion goal). For example, let’s say you were browsing on Amazon but didn’t make a purchase. When you go to another website, you will see an ad for that product from Amazon. Re-marketing, using Google Ads and Facebook, is a great way to reach previous website visitors and make your digital marketing more successful.  It is a second chance to advertise, an opportunity to cross-sell, up-sell or nurture your audience with your content marketing efforts. Rather than having to rely on targeting customers that have filled out a form for an e-book, call, blog, or newsletter, you can re-target ones that have interacted with your site. You can engage with visitors even when they leave your website and work to convert them at their own pace.

Why Re-marketing?

Studies show that, 96 percent of visitors that land on your website will not convert into a sale or new customer.   No matter how attractive or creative your ads, getting a  first time conversion is unlikely, happening about 4% of the time on average. Currently, most clients do not use re-marketing and approximately 63% digital marketing campaigns on Google and Facebook do not use re-marketing tactics.   This is a big opportunity to businesses to reach the 96% interested viewers who did not yet convert. When browsing the web from a desktop or a smartphone, it is easy to get distracted. So re-marketing is a great way to keep your brand front and center in the minds of your customers and potential customers. It has been proven that returning visitors have a higher chance of converting. This is because returning visitors recognize your brand and, with each subsequent interaction, their recall increases.

Types of Re-marketing?

Google

Google began re-marketing offering for display advertising in 2010, with Google Search following in 2013.  Google’s Display Network works with some of the most highly trafficked sites at a much more affordable price than working directly with the site.  Through Google Ads, you can re-target visitors with ads that show the products they viewed on your website. For the search network  you can also use something called re-marketing lists for search ads (RLSA). Basically, you can reach people searching for specific keyword terms who have previously visited your site.

Social media

Facebook launched custom audiences in 2012, its version of re-marketing. In re-targeting ads on Facebook, not only are you seeing a special offer with a clear call-to-action (CTA) – you also see how many of your friends “like” the fan page.. This is often called the herd or pack mentality – when people mimic the behaviors of those around them. This adds credibility to your brand, which can help boost conversion rates for people who are on the fence.  The average click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook display ads is 0.07% when the CTR for re-marketing ads is 0.7% – 10 times higher. Studies show that people are 70% more likely to convert with a re-marketing campaign than with an initial campaign.

Email

Using your current email list, it’s possible to show ads specifically to people on your email list.    The email mailing lists can be uploaded directly to Facebook and Google. But you can also use re-marketing to create audiences using email addresses you’ve collected from your current customers or through lead generation. Also, anyone who opens your email can be served a follow-up advertisement related to the email.

How it works?

The most common type of re-targeting is known as pixel-based re-targeting. This works by placing a piece of JavaScript on the browsers of visitors to your website.   This pixel is a snippet of code that will be able to track users for the campaign to serve ads when the time is right. After they leave your site and continue to surf the web, they will be served ads based on what they viewed on your website.    In some cases, initially you may find that re-marketing volume is actually small. Keep in mind as time goes on you can build up a larger list with historical data.  The typical 30-day window to build an audience could be too small to reach an audience.   It’s possible to go up to 180 days from the last time a user visited the website. The minimum list size in Google Ads is 1,000 users, based on your typical CTR (click rate) and CVR (cost per view)  you may need a higher threshold. For example, if you typically see a 5 percent CTR and a 2 percent CVR, 1,000 impressions will produce up to 50 clicks with the minimum list size.    

What should my message be for re-marketing ads?

A common assumption is that someone who did not convert may need an extra incentive in the form of repeated and/or more compelling messaging. Many users in their discovery phase are not only researching potential solutions but also confirming that the problem they are looking to solve is indeed the right problem to be solving. When setting up re-marketing, test both a sell message and a cross-sell or up-sell message. Give users more reasons to keep you in mind, particularly if your site offers products that are common supplements or complements. The sell message entails saying the same thing users heard before in a different way: with a more direct call to action and/or an exclusive, one-time offer. It is important to note that you must notify all visitors to your site that you will be using cookies, i.e., the Facebook pixel, to track them for advertising purposes.  This is typically done on a privacy policy page.

Conclusion

Re-targeting can seem overwhelming or confusing at first, especially with all these terms, platforms and information overload. In simple terms, It’s just like trying to bring window shoppers into a physical store. , It is the digital version of selling to a customer after you’ve already met and had a conversation with them. To learn more about re-marketing and how it can help your business you can contact us at 203-682-4585 or sign up for our our newsletter to receive monthly updates about the latest digital marketing tactics.