The Future of Paid Advertising Will Be Determined by Google

Google is the most frequently used search engine. The top three result spots for any given search are perhaps the most desirable spaces in digital marketing. While social media sites will come and go, Google will persist. It should come as no surprise then that Google exercises a bit of power over those that would like to be found online.

If digital marketing is the current standard for marketing then I would argue that the future of Paid Advertising will be determined by Google.

Google does not, currently, control the advertisements placed on billboards, posted on the side of buildings, or shown before a movie. Hopefully Futurama was wrong when it guessed that advertisers of the future will be able to reach you in your dreams.

What stands in the way of that advertising? Regulations, laws, and Google.

While Google was not required to by any existing law, it chose to crack down on doorway pages and Black Hat advertising practices. This is only the latest power play by Google that demonstrates Google’s power over the web and the web’s dependence on Google.

5 Ways to Ensure That Your Money Is Well Spent – Google AdWords

Google isn’t hurting for money. With something close to 97% of their revenue coming from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, a big reason for this comes from how costly Google AdWords can get. Below is an infographic from WordStream that breaks down the most expensive keywords in Google Adwords advertising.

Keep in mind that these keywords are expensive in part because the related industries are high-value and/or highly competitive. Not all keywords are as expensive as these.

Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, does an excellent job of breaking down how Google’s AdWords Auction works. Though he simplifies the process it’s easy enough to understand where the process might become a little more complicated or expensive.

So what does it take to have a successful AdWords Campaign? It is possible to have a very successful campaign without Apple’s budget. Take a look at these 5 steps you will want to utilize after you’ve made your free account.

  1. Set your goals. A Google AdWords campaign can only be subjectively successful without goals to measure against. Make these goals specific and reasonable. Just because you want to raise your website traffic by 100% doesn’t mean that will happen (Unless of course your viewership thus far includes one person).
  2. Use Google Display Network and/or Google Search Network to determine where you want to be seen.
  3. Assign a Paid Search budget, and decide on a bidding strategy that aligns with your overall budget, and enable you to meet conversion goals. You will need to discuss with a client what their needs, wants, and expectations are as part of step 1 and often this translates into to a budget ballpark. I encourage showing clients the numbers and past success stories to get them to buy into the Adwords ‘way’ and maybe earn yourself a higher budget.
    • 3 types of Bidding Strategies:
      • CPM: (Cost-Per-Thousand-Impressions) implement this strategy when trying to increase brand awareness and build brand equity, and are less conversion focused.
      • CPC: (Cost-Per-Click) Client wanting to increase conversions via clicks? This bidding strategy might be for them because it is likely to drive the most traffic to their site or landing pages.
      • CPA: (Cost-Per-Action) With this strategy you can measure direct actions that lead to conversions.
  4. Select a Content Strategy, ad type, format, extensions, and additional features that will enable you to reach your buyer personas.
    • What is your Keyword Strategy? Broad, Phrase, or Exact Match? One of my favorite piece of advice from Google’s Study Guide is to optimize common misspellings and plural forms (called Keyword Variations) of your brand name or product to increase ‘clicks’. Visit this page for a refresher on keyword strategy options.
    • What types of ads are you going to display? Text, Image, Video, or Mobile App ads? Different Ad formats offer different conversion advantages, and therefore should be selected based on what your specific goals are for the campaign. This might range from from increasing brand awareness to driving qualified leads. Have you considered extensions? Think about site-link, app, call and review extensions (see infographic for an example, but their are many more types.) Also, click here for 5 great examples of effective ad extensions. Remember, Ad Quality is one of the determinants of the Ad Ranking, and therefore should be high quality. If they aren’t up to par you should inform the client, and offer potential remedies.
    • Where do you want your ad to be seen, and by whom? You can set your campaigns to only reach specific geographic areas, demographic profiles, language preferences, and select devices to push your ads to ensure the intended audience gets exposure through targeting efforts.
    • Will you engage in remarking? Remarking is a type of sub-campaign option that allows you to target visitors who have previously searched for your offerings but didn’t complete the macro conversion. Remarking aims to recapture the consumers attention, and convert them through exposing them to ads on the Display Network sites.
  5. Launch & monitor Performance in Real-Time to make necessary changes for maximum effectiveness.
    Where are your ‘clicks’ coming from? (Referral Source) Where are the ‘clicks’ going once they arrive on your site? (Destination URL). Awareness of these two connections will help you determine which Landing Pages to improve and understand visitor behavior while on site.

    • What device are the ‘clicks’ using? (Allows for Ad optimization for specific device platforms)
      Look for Time of Day/Hour for ‘click’ patterns. This may help you to optimize your bidding budget for times when you are most likely to have the greatest reach leading to increased conversions. Check out this PPCHero Article about understanding these effects.Adwords is fairly intuitive to reaching the right audience, at the right time, but you will need to specify that Adwords can do this.
    • Monitor your Search Terms Report for frequently used keywords that you should optimize or to discontinue using certain keywords if they are proving ineffective in converting traffic. This report might also offer insight into which negative keywords to add to your campaign to funnel out unqualified leads.

When Should You Invest in Paid Search? – Advice for Search Engine Marketing

Not everyone wants to pay to market their product and perhaps not everyone should. It’s a big market out there though, so why wouldn’t you want to get your chunk of it?

  • In just the United States alone Google Display Network, the websites that display Google Adwords Advertisements, reaches around 80% of internet users.
  • Google Adwords, Google’s Digital Advertising Program, allows you to set a budget, see analytics on Adwords performance, and select where/when/how your content is displayed giving you control of your Paid Search.
  • Paid Search offers you the opportunity to learn about users, the way they are search for your, and related, offerings in real time, as well as improve your SEO, Content, and Inbound Marketing Strategy. Don’t just take my word for it, experts agree, too.

Before starting your Google Adwords campaign there are some terms you’re going to want to be familiar with.

Keywords: Words or phrases that your Buyer Personas are likely to search when looking for your product or service. Awareness of frequently used, or under optimized, terms allows Google to display your Ad to users with a matching or close query on a SERP or other site. Find a few hints about the most profitable keywords from this Entrepreneur article.

Placements: This is the ‘where’ of Advertising. Google Allows you to select a preference for the locations your advertisement is displayed. You can select automatic or managed Display options to tailor your preference. For Example: you can designate an ad to display in a specific place on a particular site, prevent the ad from being placed on a particular URL, or allow Google to place the Ad anywhere they deem relevant based on keywords or phrases. Learn how to management these targeted placements here.

Ad Rank: making sure your Ad is displayed in a prominent position (ideally top 3) you will need to know your rank, and therefore how to improve it if it isn’t optimal. Your Ad rank is a combination of your bid ($) and your Quality Score (See below).

Quality Score: A metric calculated by Google Adwords that determines the quality of your ad, selections of keywords, and your actual site.

Campaign: This is what we will be discussing shortly. Your campaign is the strategtic lan that outlines your SEO and Paid Search plan.

Impressions: The number of times your ad is displayed on any platform (website, mobile app). This number helps you understand how many times its being seen and clicked.

Landing Pages: Check out my Blog post “UI/UX Cheat Sheet” for a review.

These 7 terms will be essential in understanding how to design, implement, and measure your Paid Search (Google Adwords Campaign). Now that you have decided, you’ve got to decide your budget, a keyword match strategy, and implement accountability for Google Adwords.

Whats your budget? Google Adwords doesn’t impose a minimum, or maximum, but you should select a budget that matches your intended reach, and ideal outcomes.
Pick a keyword strategy for Google Adwords to display your ad. You have 3 choices: Exact Match, Phrase Match (display ad if search contains the same order of words, and maybe extras), and Broad Match (ad is displayed if search contains ANY of the keywords). These are pretty self explanatory in term of the narrowness of the keyword match, but I suggest a hybrid strategy for maximum effectiveness. Although it may seem obvious to select Broad Match for maximum exposure, this strategy won’t necessary lead to more qualified leads. Some testing might be helpful for determining which strategy to use based on your buyer personas.
Measure your Adword Effectiveness:
Click-Through-Rate (CTR): 1% is a good rule of thumb
Quality Score of Ads: Aim for 5 or higher
Referral and Destination URL: This will show you which landing pages users are directed to once they click on your ad, and where their clicks are coming from.
Track brand Awareness & Equity: Via Impressions (Cost-Per-Click or CPC) (best practices for improving impressions found here, and longer explanation of impression types found here. It is also wise to look at customer Engagement on Social Media Platforms, and geographic reach of display ads.
A Paid Search Campaign is an important aspect of your Inbound Marketing strategy, and equally as valuable as organic search. Remember that QUALITY CONTENT is the meat of both Organic and Paid Search. The best Inbound Marketing strategy will fail without good content to back it up.

If you walk away with anything be sure that you can intelligently talk about PPC, CPC, SERP, SEO, and CTR. Acronyms are the bread and butter of business, so know them or be prepared to look a bit foolish.

Follow the Spiders – Getting Familiar with SEO and Link Building

When someone uses Google or some other search engine to search for themselves the results compiled may not be what they expected. Searches for common names often result in pages related to most famous, or most recently relevant, person of that name popping up first.

John Smith

Why does this happen? For a little explanation we turn to Matt Cutts.

So how does one take advantage of the way that spiders work? If you’re going to do it yourself then you’ll want to start with Search Engine Optimization and Link Building.

Definitions:

  • SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, refers to several different approaches to helping a website rank more highly in search engines.
  • Link building refers to the steps taken to establish inbound links to your website. These links help improve your website’s placement in a search engine’s results for any given keyword or keywords.
  • Spider: Also known as a web crawler, ant, or automatic indexer, a spider is a program that automatically fetches web pages.

To turn yourself into a true master of SEO and Link Building I recommend starting with The Beginner’s Guide to SEO and Beginner’s Guide to Link Building from Moz, but for some insight into the basics this is a good place to start.

Getting Started:

When someone searches a term, keyword, or phrase your website may or may not be a top result. Whether or not your pages earn a top spot is highly dependent on factors such as the relevance and usefulness of the content on that page and popularity of the content.

Search Engines utilize algorithms to select and display results based on previous run searches and their outcomes. Click-through-rates (CTR) and the number of pages an individual visits while on a site helps the search engine determine a page’s relevance. Most users trust that Google will provide the most useful results and won’t look past the first page. As such making sure your page is part of the top results, if not the top result, is paramount.

Here are some of the basis steps to take to increase your chances of being found by a search engine.

  • Ensure your site has high-quality information
  • Check to ensure you are indexed
  • Encourage others to link to you (whether you ask politely or publish content they want to share)
  • Identify keywords that you would like to be found for
  • Identify keywords users are likely to search for
  • Place keywords in meaningful locations. (Headlines and section titles, link text, page text, and page URL are good places to start)
  • Keep your website up-to-date

Now that you have a basic idea of SEO lets delve into Link Building.

Links contribute to how the quality of the content on your website is perceived. More links tend to signal to users that you have a higher-quality of content than other sites. Your links also help search engines determine if you’re worth showing in the top results of a given search. Remember that your goal for Link Building is to create inbound links. Your site must be worth being linked to or provide some value to the potential link-sharer.

Remember that Moz has a Beginner’s Guide to Link Building if you want to learn how.

Do not forget to measure the results of your SEO and Link Building efforts. Implementing these strategies is great, but you want to ensure that they are working. Here are a few measurements you might use to determine if your SEO practices are helping your organization.

  • Number of new visitors since implementing SEO.
  • Where your visitors are coming from. (Direct, Referral, Search)
  • If referral, which Search Engines are referring visitors? (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  • Keywords, terms, or phrases visitors used to find your site?
  • Conversion rate (specifically by search query term)

I’ve mentioned Moz in a couple different places throughout this blog. In order to get an idea of what Moz actually does, and what they have done in the past, take a look at this 10 Year Anniversary video or this interview with Ran Fishkin from 2014.

Email isn’t dead! – Inbound Sales and Email Marketing

emailsend

Emails are still very much alive. Maybe that’s because almost every site expects you to sign up with an email address or connect with a social media account. Maybe that’s because MailChimp and Constant Contact are keeping it alive. Or maybe it’s because it’s cheap, legal, and provide excellent returns.

MailChimp and Constant Contact help guide you through the laws surrounding email marketing, but the Federal Trade Commission has a page explaining the CAN-SPAM Act; the law you need to know before entering into email marketing.

91% of Consumers check their email account(s) on a daily basis. 

71% of consumers prefer to get Marketing material via email versus other communications media.

Anyone viewing these stats should be fairly convinced that email marketing is still very much alive.

Email Marketing can be defined as a targeted message that is sent to potential, current, or previous customers with the intention of awareness and engagement, which ideally manifests into a conversion (whether that be a sale, sign-up, or other form)

Here are some key reasons why Email Marketing matters:

  • Email marketing is relatively inexpensive
  • High Exposure Rates lead to Inbound Sales
  • Easy to Measure
  • Easy to segment by relevant information (Demographics, Psychographics, etc.)

Writing our your emails for your Email Marketing campaigns can be time consuming and draining, but unsurprisingly there are businesses that will help you help yourself. Whether you are looking for complete outsourcing, stock design templates, or email list management, here are three resources that don’t require a coding background (In no particular order):

  1. Mail Chimp
  2. SquareUp
  3. Constant Contact

Several things are important to remember when implementing your Email Marketing Campaign:

  • If you have the time and resources, use A/B testing to ensure your best email is sent out.
  • Use strong Email subject lines. This directly translate to your email open rates an important metric in evaluating the effectiveness of your campaign. Here are 18 of the best Email Subject lines according to Hubspot.
  • Write for your intended audience. Segment your messages and content based on your Buyer Personas.
  • Personalize whenever possible. Adding a name or business name in relevant spots can forge a relationship between sender and recipient. DO NOT MESS THIS UP. “Hello User” instead of the actual name of the person or business makes you look ridiculous.
  • Measure 4 key metrics: Delivery Rate, Open Rate, Click Rate, and Link Rate. More information on these metrics can be found here.
  • Optimize for Mobile readers.
  • Define a clear goal for the email.

Email Marketing is still a powerful means of marketing and is critical to Inbound Sales. It is also has one of the highest ROI at 4,300%. This simply means that every $1 spent can provide $43 in return. Remember that Email Marketing is about building relationships that will lead to a transaction. Emails might be designed by the Marketing Team, but your goal is connect the recipient with your Sales team. Hubspot refers to this as ‘Smarketing’, and ‘Smarketing’ is definitely something you will want to keep an eye on.

Your Guide to UX, UI, and Landing Pages

What you need to know


UX = User Experience: How the product feels. The overall navigation of the website.

  • Attempts to identify who the user is and satisfy what the user wants.
  • Ensures that the product flows and flows logically.
  • There is never only one right answer. UX Professionals may try several ideas before deciding.

UI = User Interface: How the product is laid out. The overall look of the pages.

  • UI professionals are often responsible for design consistency.
  • UI professionals ensurer that the interface effectively communicates, through visuals, the path that the UX designer put in place.
  • Make no mistake. You can be both a UI and UX professional.

SoundCloud, Spotify, and Pandora provide excellent examples of landing pages aimed at signing people up for a new account. Contrasting colors help draw the attention of the potential users to the signup menus. SoundCloud may be the least appealing of these landing pages because the white background doesn’t allow the signup menu to pop. Pandora most closely follows the tips I recommend for creating Landing Pages, but Spotify has its reasons (such as promoting a sale).

When deciding what you want your landing page to look like, or which landing page you choose from your designer. keep in mind some of these tips.

Start with the basics:

  1. Apply consistent design schemes.
    • Fonts and colors should match your other pages unless you have a really good reason to stray.
  2. Make the design attractive.
    • Remember that your opinion isn’t the only one that matters. You want it to be attractive to your users and potential users.
  3. Use high-quality images that match your offerings.
    • No stock photos.
  4. Add your Call-To-Action and make it the obvious next step for your visitors.
    • Visitors who are unsure of what to do next are more likely to drop out.
  5. Remove the clutter.
  6. Ensure the information you are trying to convey is above the fold.
    • Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll down to find what they’re looking for or what you’re trying to show them.

Follow up with these:

  1. Add endorsements and testimonials.
    • If you’re going to use testimonials make sure they are relevant to your current offering.
  2. Tweak your design with eye tracking in mind (infographic below)

101 on eye tracking