Dear companies that market to women: Stop trying to sell me stuff that has nothing to do with fashion by fashion-washing your ads. I hate this marketing trend! Much in the way that toy companies think little girls will only be interested if it’s pink, brands that sell everything from house paint to yogurt have decided that the only way to market products to women is via association with makeup and clothes. It’s sexist, it’s cynical, and it just doesn’t make sense.
Here are a few of the more egregious examples of this marketing trend I’ve seen in the past year.
The Fage Lipstick Ad
Mmm, creamy luxury! What a great ad for lipstick!
Wait, what? This is an ad for yogurt?
We don’t even need to get into the irrationality of yogurt being marketed solely to women – my husband eats 10 times as much yogurt as I do. I'm just trying to understand the connection between lipstick and yogurt. This picture doesn’t make me hungry at all. And if I just put on red lipstick, I sure wouldn’t want to smear it up by eating a container of yogurt afterwards.
What the hell are they thinking?
The GEICO Shoes Ad
A really good way to know that a book is written by a woman and intended to be bought and read by women? If it has shoes on the cover.
This one has an engagement ring too! Women like shiny, pointy things!
GEICO – whose ads are usually pretty great – seems to be taking a page from chick lit’s book with this ad:
“You spent weeks looking for those perfect pumps.” (No I didn’t.) “Fortunately, it only takes 15 minutes to see how much you could save with GEICO.” I just … don’t know. I have a vagina and feet but I like the caveman ad way better than this.
The Benjamin Moore “Life in Color” Commercial
In this commercial, you see a woman buying lipstick and clothes, piling up the shopping bags like a champ before she finally goes into a paint store.
It’s actually CONFUSING. It feels like a commercial for Marshall’s or Macy’s, not Benjamin Moore. And I sort of feel like the more likely you are to be a shopaholic, the less likely you are to be a do-it-yourself-er type. The more time I spend in Sephora, the less time I spend painting the family room.
The Lean Cuisine “All the Rage” Commercial
Here’s another example of a brand making a nonexistent connection between fashion and their product – this time they’re using clothes to (try to) sell frozen dinners:
“Fashion or food, it’s all about taste!” Oh look, the purple cabbage matches the suede platforms! This is just dumb. Nobody buys food because it goes with their outfit.
Crystal Light’s “Mix and Match” Ad
This example is more subtle – at least the imagery is of the actual product they’re selling:
This time it’s the language that’s borrowed from fashion: “I like to mix and match.” Because this ad appeared in a fashion magazine, I can sort of get on board with the subliminal connection. It’s the more blatantly obvious assumption that women won’t be interested in paint or car insurance unless you trick them with shoes and lipstick that I find offensive.
Have you noticed this trend? What do you think?
This post originated on the WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools for pay-per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) aiding in everything from keyword discovery to keyword grouping and organization.
We all know social media is a hugely valuable element of online marketing when it comes to building a customer base, search engine rankings, and brand recognition. As a major player, Twitter is one of the most important and popular social media networks frequented by users around the globe.
Obtaining a high number of followers is a landmark goal of many Twitter users. Getting those followers isn’t always easy though, which leads some innocent businesses to wander down the shady path towards the ominous castle black-hat, wherein lies the dark tactic of buying Twitter followers.
With a simple swipe of a credit card, you can obtain legions of your own mindless Twitter drones! To buy or not to buy? Let’s review the reasons for and against buying Twitter followers.
In this post, we'll be looking at:
- Why You Should Buy Twitter Followers
- Why You Shouldn't Buy Twitter Followers
- How to Buy Twitter Followers
- Where to Buy Twitter Followers
- How to Increase Your Twitter Followers Naturally
- Why Earning Twitter Followers Naturally is Best
Look Like a Boss: A Big Twitter Following Makes You Appear Important
Let’s face it, a lot of social media activity is already just thinly veiled narcissism. Those who give themselves a pat on the back when their newest instagram post gets 13 likes must certainly be temped by the idea of buying more Twitter followers.
Businesses have the advantage of labeling their self-promotion as branding, but ultimately it’s two sides of the same coin. There’s no judging here though – we’ve all felt the rewarding confirmation that comes with a retweet.
While boiling down the value of your online presence to a mere number on Twitter sounds ridiculous, there’s really no denying that one’s Twitter following, despite being a vanity metric, is often thought to correlate with a user’s importance. For clubs booking comedians or venues hosting bands, a high Twitter following can easily put you ahead of the competition. A large Twitter following shows promise and possibility - not just of a good show, but of bringing in more followers and fans in to see the show, and therefore bringing in more money.
Even if the followers are fake, the clout that comes with a high Twitter following is very much real. A boost in Twitter followers can transform a stand-up amateur into a professional comedian, a garage band into a rising star, a movie extra into fresh new talent, and a small business into an authoritative source. Individuals have even been hired for job positions as a result of their high Twitter following, since the number serves as a representation of how powerful your online word can be.
With fake followers it’s all a masquerade, so it really comes down to how long you can push the act or live the lie.
Related to the previous section, once real users see your Twitter numbers rising, they’ll be more likely to follow you as well. If someone claims to be an expert food critic but only has 23 followers, most will think that the only food they’re judging is their mom’s mac and cheese. If that number is more like 800 or 2,000, they become a considerably more reputable source – one that users will be much more likely to follow. This means your Twitter robot followers are actually generating real followers as a result of your imagined prestige.
Easier & Cheaper
It’s a heck of a lot easier to buy followers on Twitter than earn them. Gaining a real Twitter following takes time and effort – you need to consistently be sharing great content, posting hilariously witty remarks, or broadcasting the latest news.
You could put in all that effort… or you can grab your wallet and buy a militia-sized army of Twitter followers for less than a Starbucks Frappuccino. On Fiverr, where users provide various products or services (often web related) for only $5, marketers are promised as many 8,000 Twitter followers within 24 hours in exchange for an Abraham.
All The Cool Kids are Doing It
Start-ups, celebrities, and politicians alike have been known to buy more Twitter followers – it’s a fairly common practice for those who have something to gain from amassing a large number of Twitter followers in a short period of time.
According to the Fake Follower Check tool from StatusPeople, which claims the ability to determine how many of a user’s Twitter followers are fakes, 71% of Lady Gaga’s over 35 million followers are fake or inactive, along with 70% of President Obama’s nearly 30 million followers.
It’s Not All That Bad
If the President of the United States has fake Twitter followers, it can’t be all that bad, right?
While purchasing bot Twitter followers is against Twitter’s terms and white-hatters might scoff at the idea, it’s completely legal. One also has to question how corrupt buying Twitter followers really is compared with regular Twitter marketing practices like paying for a promoted hashtag – is it just a matter of splitting hairs?
Can You Even Call Them Followers?
You’re not really buying Twitter followers so much as mindless spam bots. You won’t have any interaction or engagement with these robo-accounts. Do you really want to be the sad kid who only has robots for friends – robots you had to buy?
It’s An Empty Number
All the fake Twitter followers in the world won’t do much to raise your Klout score. Social media influence scores tend to look at interaction and Twitter engagement rather than sheer numbers, so you won’t be getting any added SEO or influence bonus with the inflated metric. Those skewed Twitter numbers also make it much more difficult to properply measure social media ROI and the true affect of your social media efforts.
Is Buying Twitter Followers Safe?
There are a number of dangers associated with buying Twitter followers. Many of the sites that offer to sell you more Twitter followers are a scam – you may put up your hard earned cash and come away with absolutely nothing. Often these nefarious groups are simply looking to take advantage of businesses that don’t know any better, or are hoping to cash in on desperate marketers looking for a quick fix. Providing them with your credit card might not be the brightest idea.
Your fake followers could also end up doing damage against your real Twitter followers by hacking, phishing, and infecting real followers with link spam. Is it worth buying Twitter followers when you consider all the risks?
Public Humiliation & a Ruined Reputation
With tools like the Fake Follower Check tool, it’s pretty easy to discover who is desperate enough to buy friends.
While the high Twitter number may feel cool, your real followers aren’t likely to share your perspective, and you might end up a laughing stock and lose the few real followers you do have. Especially for businesses hoping to be viewed as industry experts, being caught cheating can do serious damage to your reputation.
While Twitter isn’t making huge efforts to clean up spam accounts at the moment, who knows what action they may take in the future. If Twitter does decide to clean up the spammers, it’ll be pretty embarrassing when your follower count drops by half.
All right, you understand both sides. If you’re still interested in buying…
There are a couple different approaches you can take for buying Twitter followers.
Buy Cheap Fake Twitter Followers: You can buy cheap Twitter followers, but the most economical Twitter services provide only fake bot followers. It doesn’t take Jack Dorsey to figure out that this profile isn’t real.
Buying Twitter followers cheap gets you faceless, bland bot accounts – these are referred to as generated followers. Pricier services provide Twitter followers with more finely polished profiles, with pics and bios filled out.
Buy Real Twitter Followers: If fake doesn’t float your boat, buying real Twitter followers is a preferred option, although it isn’t likely to be as cheap as buying fake followers.
You can buy access to real followers using Twitter follower software that searches through and finds Twitter users with interests similar to yours and automatically follows them, hoping that they will follow you in return. This process is referred to as buying targeted Twitter followers.
If you’re set on buying Twitter followers, here are some sites that sell them.
Fiverr: Search Fiverr for “buy Twitter followers” and you’ll immediately find a long list of sellers offering to provide you with anywhere from 100 – 15,000 followers in less than 24 hours. While the legitimacy of some offers is questionable, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this.
Fast Followerz: This group claims to provide real, active followers that regularly tweet, update, and are engaged. They also offer a Followerz Protection five-year warranty, guaranteeing the top-notch quality of the targeted followers offered.
FollowerSale: FollowerSale uses a credit system to encourage real users to follow their customers, providing live, active followers as a result.
Devumi: Devumi provides cheap followers, doesn’t require a password, and doesn’t make you follow anyone in return. They also offer credit card alternative payment methods like PayPal.
The best sites to buy Twitter followers from are those that provide targeted Twitter followers that are real and active. Stay safe by avoiding sites that ask for your Twitter password or unnecessary info.
If you’ve decided to take the moral high ground and not buy Twitter followers, don’t despair about missing out – there are plenty of ways to get Twitter followers naturally. These legitimate, earned followers are more valuable because you’ve built a relationship with them. These relationships will prove much more prosperous than those silly faceless egg accounts.
- Target Others in Your Industry: Getting the attention of big-name tweeters in your industry can do a lot for your reputation, so be sure to follow and interact with them. Just one retweet or mention from a well-respected industry leader can greatly increase your Twitter followers.
- Tweet During Peak Times: Tweet when your tweets are most likely to be seen – generally between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Link to and Promote Your Twitter Handle: Link to your Twitter handle on your blog, website, and other social media accounts. Put it on your business card, use it in your guest blogger bio, and announce it when you speak at conferences. The more you link to your Twitter handle and promote it, the more followers you’ll bring in.
- Share Something of Value: Make yourself a person of value by tweeting resources related to your industry, or just fun and interesting content. Also make sure to retweet the great content shared by others – this shows that you’re not just self-promoting and are actually interested in spreading quality information from a variety of sources.
- Hashtags: While you don’t want your tweets to be a messy glob of ###s, implementing some hashtags now and then makes your tweets easier to find and can help spread your scope while gaining Twitter followers.
Increasing your followers on Twitter naturally isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in the end. Just a handful of engaged, active followers is infinitely more valuable than hundreds of fake accounts that do nothing more than add to an ego-stroking number.
Buying Twitter followers harkens back to the old days of SEO, evocative of outdated black-hat logic that grows less fruitful and more damaging as an increasing emphasis is put on quality over quantity. Buying Twitter followers may provide some temporary sense of instant gratification, but the potential backlash of being found out as a liar or fraud can quickly undo any advantages and permanently destroy your reputation.
For small businesses, such growing pains are essential for character development –Twitter is a valuable space for businesses to test and hone their personality, be it humorous, technical, or offbeat. Brand persona and Twitter following grow together as a result. Discovering and becoming a power player in your niche is what really increases your Twitter following, and bypassing such steps results in a hollow brand trying to survive off a vanity metric.
So fight the good fight, earn your followers the old-fashioned way! Or don’t. It’s your call.
This post originated on the WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools for pay-per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) aiding in everything from keyword discovery to keyword grouping and organization.
Whether or not it’s fair to classify WordStream as a startup, we certainly still think of ourselves that way. And one of the challenges of startup life is the rapid growth – meaning our needs often outpace our hiring.
Lately, that’s the case with content creation, so we’re looking for a few good freelance writers to help us out. So if you love writing, Internet marketing, and extra money, we want to hear from you! Specifically, I’m looking for someone(s) who:
- Has hands-on experience with search marketing – WordStream is very meta in that we market about marketing, do SEO on pages about SEO, create PPC ads for our PPC software and so on. So if you’re going to write for us, you need to have experience with the world of search marketing – preferably both paid search (PPC) and organic search (SEO). General knowledge of other marketing channels, including email marketing, display advertising, webinars, social media, etc., is expected.
- Writes with personality and clarity – A great writer can communicate as clearly on the page as they do in speech, and has a distinct voice that sounds like a person, not the bland amalgam of a hundred voices you find on Wikipedia.
- Has written in a professional setting – I don’t have the capacity to do a lot of training for this position. I’m looking for someone who knows how to write in a professional setting. Ideally, you’ll have experience in writing copy for one or all of the following: websites, blogs, white papers, e-books, press releases, newsletters. Experience with videos or infographics is a bonus!
- Is immersed in the Internet – If you’re going to write about search marketing, you need to be tech-savvy. If you mourned the death of Google Reader, you’re a friend of mine. Being active on social media is pretty much a must.
- Can respond to email quickly – We won’t need your services every day, but we’d love to get a response within 24 hours on weekdays.
Here’s what we're not looking for:
- You don’t have to live in Boston! Heck, I don’t live in Boston. This is something you can do remotely and from home. Of course, it's fine if you do call BOS home.
- You don’t need to make WordStream your full-time job. In fact, you can’t. We’re not hiring a full-time writer right now. We’ll work with you on an hourly or per-project basis.
- This isn’t an internship. Those with no relevant experience need not apply.
If this sounds like you and you’re interested in writing for WordStream, shoot me an email at email@example.com with a brief cover letter, your resume and a few writing samples. I look forward to chatting with you!
[Similar Content: What's It Like To Start A Career In Online Marketing?]
This post originated on the WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools for pay-per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) aiding in everything from keyword discovery to keyword grouping and organization.
There is an age-old argument about structuring your account based on the match type of the keywords in each ad group. Should you add all keywords on exact, phrase, and broad (and don’t forget modified broad)? What is the right way to do it? If there are so many ways to structure, how do you choose? These are all questions that, so far, I haven’t seen definitive answers to. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to structure an account – do this, don’t do that, add this, follow this best practice, etc. But who is right?
Hard evidence seems to be lacking for one view or another, but is adding all these match types ever necessary? If you have a keyword on a broad match type, why do you need phrase and exact? Aren’t you already getting enough traffic? And this is where the problem lies; people don’t know the differences of the match types, when to use them and why. You don’t need all three match types for each keyword in an ad group if you understand the fundamentals of each match type. I find it unnecessary to add all three match types and costly if you do structure your account that way.
Broad match keywords can bring in a lot of unwanted traffic, and you end up spending more time adding negatives and fighting with your low CTR’s than you do working on other important parts in your account. I don’t think broad match is all doom and gloom, but I do find it to be time-consuming, and they usually end up being the underperforming keywords in your account.
One good thing about having all three match types is the ability to test each keyword match type against each other to find out which one is cheaper, has a better CTR, and drives more conversions than the others. Usually, through testing, you can find out which match types work for you and which ones don’t.
Looking at the example above, you can see that in this case, the broad match keyword “Design your own favors” has the highest number of impressions, lowest CTR, and a pretty low cost per click. The same keyword on exact match has a high CTR, low impressions and a more expensive CPC. Then the phrase match version has a low CTR, decent amount of impressions and the lowest CPC.
This would be a case of what I mentioned earlier, where the broad match keyword now becomes one of your more time-consuming tasks to manage. It seems to be doing satisfactory but it is also the most costly keyword in the group. My suggestion, in this case, would be to stick with the exact match keyword. While it is a bit more expensive per click, you know that the searchers are looking for your keyword exactly. You should be willing to pay slightly more for those search queries that are the most relevant because the searcher is more likely to convert to a customer. Also, the exact matched keyword has the best average position and overall seems to be the best match type based on the historical data.
Knowing the different match types is vital to figuring out which ones to use in your account. As a rule of thumb, broad tends to be more expansive, phrase is great for those keywords that only make sense in that exact order or phrasing (typically branded terms), and exact is great for those competitive terms that may be a bit more costly but you know you always want to show up for, or those terms that don’t make sense in any other order. Everyone has a match type they like to stick with but knowing which works best for your business is the best and most efficient way of saving time and money. Testing your keywords on all three match types is always an option, but it is time-consuming, can be costly and may not be worth it for those who have a limited budget. If you can accomplish your business goals using an exact match keyword, then why add it on phrase and broad as well?
There are many ways to structure your account and everyone does it differently. Some think that adding all three match types will bring in traffic and clicks which will lead to conversions. Others think that having all three in an ad group will capture all audiences out there which they think is the best approach. Personally, I’d rather have less traffic if I know I’m bringing in the right traffic. However, everyone has an opinion on this topic and I would love to hear yours! If you feel differently or would like to weigh in, let me know by commenting below.
Enhanced Campaigns Are Here! Wait … Am I Making More Money?
When switching to Enhanced Campaigns – which will be required for all AdWords users within the next few months – I would advise all advertisers and managers to remember that any drastic changes that happen quickly and suddenly are most likely to go poorly. While there is certainly cause for excitement surrounding the ability to control bids at a targeting level, I would implement any of these changes at a gradual pace as opposed to all at once. Every account is different, but don’t go nuts implementing a ton of geographic and device bidding all at once – you could quickly lose control of the account. Unless your account is totally upside down, I would try to roll out advanced bid changes throughout the summer at a slow pace to measure results. This is especially true for e-commerce clients who are working with small margins.
Why Advertisers with Small Margins Will Be Most Affected
The people who may be most affected by these changes are small margin e-commerce companies who face MAP pricing or strict margin requirements. Many e-commerce advertisers are going to be fighting a battle on two fronts: one with their competitors and one with their suppliers. When you provide a similar or identical product as many other advertisers, you are often trying to remain competitive while still keeping in line with acceptable margins. With Enhanced Campaigns, there are many new variables that are going to make it easier to lose control. One of the most dangerous parts of this is not that your account goes haywire, but that your competition loses control and is unknowingly bidding you out. It would be comparable to a competent driver traveling down the highway at 90 mph. The most immediate danger is not you, it’s that someone else is driving next you that is not as seasoned as you. They can easily run you off the road.
There is going to be an “adjustment period” over the next 6 months that everyone should be aware of. You have two major changes occurring in the landscape that everyone must participate in. While the change in device targeting is the most talked about, I believe the other equally significant update is giving advertisers the ability to control bids on a much deeper level. This would be great assuming everyone is a seasoned expert (which most people will agree is not the case). The good news is you have access to all these tools, the bad news is so does everyone else.
Go Slow, Focus on ROAS
You may be asking yourself “OK, so what do I do now?” I don’t have the answer as every account is different. I would simply advise all advertisers to break all major changes out into phases and closely monitor results. The most important thing at the end of the day is ROAS (return on ad spend): Am I making more money in relation to expense? Sure, all of these changes sounds great. You can reach more potential customers through mobile devices. You can limit cost by focusing more specifically on certain geographic areas or times of day. All of these are great … on paper. Mobile traffic can be great, and geo-bid adjustments are a huge upgrade, but it’s very easy to get wrapped up and to use features just because they’re available.
This is by no means meant to send anyone into a panic. My intention is only to caution everyone to keep an even closer eye on their financials. It sounds obvious, but continue to ask yourself, am I continually making more money and spending less? Personally, I’ll take increased revenue with less cost over mobile impressions any day. If you don’t have a tight handle on this ROAS figure, I would focus right away on figuring out a way to report on this. The most important thing is the same as it’s always been. Money in, money out.
Image via j thorn explains it all
Our friends at Hanapin Marketing and PPC Hero need your help!
Pat East, the CEO of Hanapin Marketing, teaches a summer workshop at Indiana University that covers all aspects of Internet marketing, including a core module in PPC. Their grades are dependent on demonstrating their PPC knowledge by successfully creating and managing an AdWords account for a real business.
How You Can Help
Hanapin is looking for eight U.S.-based companies to participate in this program and help out the students. The companies must be willing to make a $250 investment in PPC to help a student out – as well as to see if PPC is a good fit for their business!
How to Get Started
If you want to do your part in building the future of PPC, contact Hanapin's Director of Paid Search Jeff Allen directly (Jeff.Allen@hanapinmarketing.com) to volunteer your business.
When you volunteer, a student will be assigned to your account and will hold a 30- to 60-minute call with you to get key information about your business. This will help them create and optimize an AdWords account on your behalf, making the most of your $250 in ad spend. And don't worry – the students will be working under the supervision of both Pat and Jeff.
Sounds pretty cool, right? Be a hero and head over to the PPC Hero blog to learn more.
There aren’t too many benefits to being an English major type – extra zeroes on your paycheck sure ain’t one of them – but we take our kicks where we can get them, and being self-congratulating and superior when someone misinterprets something literary is one of them. So in this post, I’m going to shame some companies that totally missed the point when it came to using a book, poem or song in their advertising campaigns.
And as long as we’re clearing up misconceptions? “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” doesn’t mean “Where are you, Romeo,” it means “Why are you named Romeo?” Now you know.
Brooks Brothers & The Great Gatsby: So Money
With Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby opening this weekend, various Gatsby-themed advertising tie-ins are all over the place, most focused on the glamour of the roaring '20s rather than the themes of the novel, as hilariously noted by Zachary M. Seward in a piece called “Did anyone actually read The Great Gatsby?” Case in point: this Brooks Brothers ad for “The Gatsby Collection”:
As Seward points out:
The full Daisy Buchanan quote is actually, “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.” She says it during one of the novel’s most famous scenes, as Gatsby, trying rather clumsily to impress Daisy with his wealth, flings his fine clothing across his bedroom. Daisy’s meaning is ambiguous, but the line is certainly not included as a sartorial endorsement.
Like so much of the novel, it’s really more a condemnation of empty wealth, status symbology, and meaningless excess. Taken as a whole, the novel denounces the culture that Brooks Brothers celebrates—one critic called it "a cautionary tale of the decadent downside of the American dream." Way to miss the point, guys. “It’s like throwing a Lolita-themed children’s birthday party,” Seward writes.
“Pink Houses,” “Born in the U.S.A.” & Other Not-So-Patriotic Theme Songs
John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” may include the line “Ain’t that America” in its chorus, but it’s hardly a celebration of traditional American values. It’s kind of about poverty and broken dreams. To boot, Mellencamp is a vocal supporter of progressive politics, so it was a pretty weird choice when John McCain used the song during political events for his 2008 presidential campaign. Later, the song was used again by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) at events opposing same-sex marriage. On both occasions, Mellencamp informed them that his own political views were antithetical to theirs, and that the song did not support their message.
Similarly, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” has often been interpreted as a patriotic anthem, but it’s actually a lament for the devastation of the Vietnam war. He has been offered endorsement deals from Ronald Reagan and the Chrysler Corporation, but pointedly refused them both.
One more political example: Rick Santorum using a variation on a Langston Hughes line on his website. In the poem, Hughes writes: “There's never been equality for me, / Nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free.’” Again, not sure that really supports Santorum’s political agenda.
This reminds me of people playing “Every Breath You Take” by the Police at their weddings – it’s about obsessive, stalker-style surveillance, not unconditional love!
Missing the Irony in “The Road Not Taken”
Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” may be the most misunderstood poem in the history of the English language. Its final lines, quoted out of context, are almost always taken to be a celebration of individuality: “I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” But in the context of the poem, those lines are spoken with irony. The poem begins with the speaker admitting that the two paths before him look pretty much the same – but later in life, he’ll probably end up justifying whichever decision he makes as being vitally important.
I’m willing to bet Frost’s lines have been misused in dozens of small marketing campaigns over the years; one of the biggest was a Monster.com campaign that ran during the Super Bowl in 2000. The campaign was supposed to “reinforce Monster.com's core mission [of] pursuing and achieving a fulfilling career path for everyone.” Good news, guys: If the Frost poem is right, any random path you choose will end up seeming great! Take a job, any job! Rationalize it when you’re 70!
Bonus Maybe-Gaffes: What Does Sex Have to Do with Operating Systems & Raisins?
Then there are countless examples of songs that are actually about sex being used to sell stuff that has nothing to do with sex – for example, the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” (“you make a grown man cry,” etc.) being used in commercials for Windows 95 and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (which is about a man finding out his woman is cheating on him) being used to sell raisins.
This seems a little like missing the point, but in reality I think companies will use sex to sell ANYTHING. So it's probably not a "mistake," just tacky (especially when trying to sell "nature's candy" to children...).
Can you think of other examples of songs, books, or other art being misinterpreted in marketing campaigns?
Back in April 2012 I wrote about how Google Alerts had pretty much stopped working for me. Recently, they clearly tweaked something, because Google Alerts are working better, as Danny Sullivan noted at Search Engine Land recently. However, they’re definitely not back up to the level they were at when I first signed up for a Google Alert years ago. Why not? Apparently, Google only sends you new alerts under these circumstances:
Google Alerts only sends you email if new articles, webpages or blog posts make it into the top ten Google News results, the top twenty Google Web Search results or top ten Google Blog Search results for your query. If the top results remain the same for a while, you won't receive email on your topic.
Perhaps this reduces the processing power they have to devote to Google Alerts. But it means that you’re only going to get alerts for a fraction of the actual mentions of the keyword or phrase that you’re monitoring, because most mentions aren’t going to break into the top 10.
So what’s the alternative? I recently signed up for a free trial of Mention, another brand monitoring service, and I’m finding it to be a much more effective tool than Google Alerts. Let’s take a look at how Mention works.
How to Get Started with Mention
Go to the home page and click the “Signup for free” button. You can sign up using your existing Facebook, Twitter, Google, or OpenID account, or just enter your name, email address, and a password to create a new account.
If you sign up using an existing account, you’ll be asked to enter an email address. Then you can choose how to use Mention:
You can download Mention for Windows, get the app for iPhone or Android, install a Chrome extension, or just use the web app. In this review, I’ll be focusing on the web app.
Creating a New Alert on Mention
Once you click through to the web app, you’ll a screen where you can create your alert (click the image to enlarge).
Then just fill out the form:
- Name your alert: I created a Mention alert for my name and called it “Selfie” because I’m cute like that. I also created a brand alert called “WordStream.”
- Include and exclude expressions: Type in the words or phrases that you want to get alerts for. You can include common misspellings or variations, and you can also exclude terms, i.e. tell Mention not to send you alerts for pages that include a given word or phrase.
- Choose your languages: English is the default, but you can choose to receive alerts in French, Spanish, German and a bunch of other languages too.
In the next step, you can manage and filter your sources. I chose to get alerts from all sources (the web, Facebook, Twitter, news, blogs, videos, forums and images) but you can exclude some of those sources if you want, or block a specific site.
On this screen you can also choose whether you want to use “Priority inbox” (a feature that flags mentions they identify as more important or influential) and “Anti-Noise Technology” (which removes mentions similar to those you have deleted).
Then click “Create my alert.” At this point, you can choose to share your alert other users. Anyone can then see the alerts, but you’ll be the owner with the ability to edit and manage settings, add or delete users as well as delete the alert.
Using the Mention Web App
Google Alerts are bare-bones emails with links to the pages that mention the word or phrase you’re monitoring. They look like this:
Mention also sends you an email when you have new results:
As you can see, the Mention email is a little more designed (with a look and feel somewhat similar to what you’d get from Pinterest, or the excellent Twitter emails) and it also has more options: Click the blue button to go to the page, or click one of the links below the entry to react to the mention, mark as a favorite or delete the mention. Clicking any of these links opens up the Mention web app, which looks a lot like an email application (again, click the image to enlarge):
In the far left column, you have a list of views. The default view is Mentions, which you can see in the next column over, with the most recent mention at the top.
You can filter the mentions column by source and toggle the view between all, unread, and priority. (The “priority” mentions have red flags.)
On the right, in the main view, you get a preview of the page with your mention. This is really cool because you can see the context of the mention without having to actually visit the page – it’s obviously much more robust than the little search-style snippet you get in the Google Alert email. From this view you can choose to click through to the original URL or the source, and you can also favorite the mention, block the source or trash it using the little icons at the top.
There’s also a Statistics section where you can get some basic reporting on your mentions, like your average mentions per day and what sources those mentions are coming from.
Similar to Google Analytics, you can adjust the date range and export your reports.
What I Like About Mention
I think Mention works about a million times better than Google Alerts. Here’s why:
- Way, way, way more results – My Google Alert on my name is still active, but I get maybe one or two alerts per week, whereas Mention usually finds 5-10 new results per day. Because this is all Mention does, they’re able to devote all their resources to crawling the web for your brand mentions. Google obviously doesn’t consider brand monitoring to be a priority for the company.
- Social results – Google Alerts never really picked up on mentions from Twitter and Facebook. It’s cool that Mention finds these too and shows me a snippet of what's being said about me on Facebook (even if I can’t see the actual Facebook pages, because I’m not on Facebook!).
- Email-style layout – I also really like the way Mention’s web app is set up like an Outlook-style email program, so all my mentions are housed in one place and I can refer back to them.
- Stats – Plus, reporting! This isn’t something I’ll get a lot of use out of on my little “Selfie” alert, but I think brands and businesses will find this really useful. It’s cool to be able to see big spikes in brand mentions and where those spikes are coming from.
What I Don’t Like or Am Unsure About
I’m not sure about the “Priority Inbox” algorithm – Mention seems to be flagging some pages that aren’t really substantial mentions; for example some of them are just static blogroll links. However, this feature may be more valuable if you’re a huge brand getting hundreds or thousands of mentions a day, like Coca-Cola or Demi Lovato or whatever.
In addition, I really can’t speak to the quality or usability of the mobile apps, because I don’t own a smartphone. (I know, I know, I work in technology, blah blah, but I don’t cover gadgets and WordStream ain’t payin’ my mobile bill.) For what it’s worth, Larry found the mobile app “unusable,” so "try before you buy."
A Note on Pricing
OK, so Google Alerts is free, but that’s part of the problem with it – it doesn’t make money so Google isn’t putting any resources into maintaining quality.
Mention also has a free tier, which gets you three alerts, 500 mentions per month, and 1 month of history.
The next tier is the Pro Plan. This is the plan I reviewed, as Mention comped me a month when they saw me say I was trying it out on Twitter. The Pro Plan is $19.99 per month and gets you unlimited alerts, 50,000 mentions per month, unlimited history, and access to stats and data export tools.
The highest tier is Team Plan, which is $99.95 per month and gets you everything the Pro Plan does plus ability for multiple users on the same account. This doesn’t seem like a great deal; to get five users on the team plan, you’re paying five times the amount of the Pro Plan. You’d think there would be a bit of a discount. But this might be a worthwhile option for bigger businesses with bigger budgets.
Mention vs. Google Alerts: What Do You Think?
Have you been looking for an alternative to Google Alerts? Have you tried Mention? What do you use for brand monitoring? Let me know in the comments!
How do you tap into the subconscious mind of your site visitors and make them click that call-to-action button? The moment you get a little salesy, you know they’ll run away before you even realize what happened.
With customers getting smarter by the day, subtlety is the key to success. In simple words, you have to persuade them to complete your conversion goal by making them think that they want to do it, and not because you want them to. Make your visitors achieve their goals first, before you bother them with your marketing goals.
But how do you do that? Some of you have probably heard about the principles of persuasive copywriting, like scarcity, urgency, authority, consensus, consistency, reciprocation, and liking.
Moving beyond the common wisdom of these persuasion tactics, here are some of the lesser-known persuasive copywriting techniques that you can implement on your website to subtly get the odds in your favor and be the proud owner of a high-converting website.
1. Appeal to Your Visitors’ Identity
Tweaking images or language so they relate with the identity of the majority of your visitors is known to have a higher impact in stimulating response from people. This article on psychologytoday.com provides explicit detail into how identity marketing works:
Do you think of yourself as a beer-drinker, or do you merely drink beer? Are you a Volkswagen driver or a Democrat, or do you just drive a Volkswagen or vote for Democratic candidates? The difference in how these notions are worded involves more than just splitting linguistic hairs. Phrases like drive a Volkswagen or vote for Democrats simply describe behaviors that you take part in. But if you assert that you're a Volkswagen driver or a Democrat, you're expressing something fundamental about who you are. Wielding the right language to tap into people's sense of identity, as it turns out, can make for potent persuasion.
Remember the “I’m a Mac,” “I’m a PC” ads by Apple? Try utilizing this concept to come up with an interesting identity-driven headline or value proposition for your website.
2. Give Them a Good Story, Numbers Can Come Later
Emotional appeal works best when you want people to take a desired action. Excitement, urgency ... whatever feeling might inspire them to take action, giving people hard-core data will usually not have the same effect.
A 2007 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University tested response to different appeals for donations for people in dire living situations in Africa.
The first appeal gave elaborate statistics on the dislocation of millions of people, food shortages, and the scarcity of rain in the region.
The second appeal talked about the story of a particular girl who was starving in Zambia. A picture of the girl was sent alongside, and students were requested to send donations directly for her.
While the fact-focused appeal got students to donate $1.14 on an average, the amount rose to an average of $2.38 for the story-based appeal.
A third appeal that contained both the story and the statistics collected $1.43 on an average.
This suggests that the predicament of the African population in general was overwhelming for people and made them see their contribution as only a drop in the bucket, so they were less compelled to help.
Instead of overwhelming your visitors with hard facts, try weaving them into an interesting story and see how they respond. Just be careful that you do not make them feel lost with all the statistics.
3. Show Them Both Sides of the Coin
People are not dumb. If you don’t mention an apparent drawback of your product, it doesn’t mean that your site visitors won’t think about it.
Now this doesn’t imply that you should fill your website with pages of what’s wrong with your product or service. But mentioning 1-2 minor weaknesses can many times favor your case more than hurting your business. Your visitors begin to recognize your brand as honest and trustworthy and may be more inclined to buy from you.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how Amazon shows both positive and negative reviews of products. But again, you must know how to maintain a balance in the two viewpoints. This PsyBlog article explains how balanced arguments can help in persuasion:
Daniel O'Keefe at the University of Illinois collected together the results of 107 different studies on sidedness and persuasion conducted over 50 years which, between them, recruited 20,111 participants … What he found across different types of persuasive messages and with varied audiences, was that two-sided arguments are more persuasive than their one-sided equivalents.
There's one big proviso to this: when presenting the opposing view it's vital to raise counter-arguments. Two-sided arguments which don't refute the opposing view can be significantly less persuasive than a comparable one-sided argument.
So consider mentioning a potential drawback, but providing a counter-argument. Similarly, encourage your brand advocates and happy customers to leave positive reviews on your site.
4. Open with “Yes” Questions
“Are you tired of manual proofreading?” “Have no time to learn Corel Draw for your designing needs?” Opening with questions that make your visitors say “Yes” draws instant attention, and the lingering effect of that affirmative attitude can carry forward until the purchase.
In one research study, some participants listen to a speech by Barack Obama while others listened to a speech by John McCain. All the participants then watched a Toyota TV ad.
Republicans who watched the John McCain speech were more persuaded by the ad. On the other hand, the effect was just the opposite on Democrats, who found the ad more compelling after seeing the Obama speech. The idea is that people were more receptive to the ad after seeing statements they agreed with.
So, when writing conversion-focused copy, try to open with statements that your target audience would agree with. Present a worldview they identify with when you wish to persuade them to complete your conversion goal.
Settling for a 3-4% conversion rate is plain mediocre. Top retailers constantly A/B test their sites and settle for no less than conversion rates of 10-15%. Now that you’re armed with these subtle persuasion tactics, use them to your advantage and aim higher.
Smriti Chawla is a Content Marketer with Wingify, the company behind the success of Visual Website Optimizer, one of the leading A/B split testing tools in the industry.
What’s your strategy for setting up your campaign budgets? One of our clients shared a case study with me about how he restructured his campaigns and budgeting strategy by combining the popular 80-20 Rule and the English soccer league system. Using this structure, he was able to improve his metrics across the board.
Let’s take a closer look at his account restructuring plan and execution to see what lessons we can learn.
The 80-20 Rule (more formally named the Pareto principle) states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Our client was seeing a similar ratio of cause to effect with the performance of his account: 20% of keywords and ad groups were bringing in about 80% of impressions, clicks, and conversions.
Soccer League Tiers
Our client also used the soccer league tier system in England as a basis for how the account would be structured. For those of you who aren’t familiar, there are several tiers of leagues for club teams. The top league in England, called the Premier League, houses 20 teams. These teams are the best of the best. Underneath the Premier League is the First Division (it’s actually called The Championship but that makes things more confusing). These teams are a step below the teams in the Premier League.
Also, every year the very best soccer clubs across a variety of European nations and leagues get together to play in a tournament called the Champions League.
The Campaign Organization Plan
Our client used these principles when structuring his campaigns. The account had three types of campaigns:
Premier League Campaign: Primary Campaign
This is a geographically targeted campaign that contains ad groups specifically targeting the 20% of ad groups and keywords that bring in 80% of impressions (and other PPC metrics). This campaign will have the largest budget – at an 80%/20% ratio with the First Division Campaign below it.
First Division Campaign: Secondary Campaign
This is a geographically targeted campaign that contains the rest of the ad groups and keywords outside the top 20% – this contained ad groups for the locations that did not receive as many clicks or conversions. In the real life soccer leagues, teams can move between the leagues by promotion and relegation. Our client used “promotions” and “relegations” to pause or enable keywords or ad groups between the two campaigns.
Champions League Campaign
As the Champions League in soccer pulls in teams from a wide variety of nations (as opposed to the Premier League and First Division which only draw teams from one nation), the plan for the Champions League campaign was to have a more general campaign that was targeted to potential areas not targeted by the other campaigns within the country. This campaign could pull in other potential queries from other locations not targeted by the other campaigns. However, the ad groups, keywords, and ad text that are part of this campaign will have geographic specific terms to let users know where the physical locations are. This campaign would have the smallest budget.
Execution of the Plan
Our client started implementing the plan he laid out, but learned that there were several factors to consider that changed his original outline:
1. Using the 80-20 rule, our client focused on setting his Premier League campaign to target the locations that had the best response rate and were generating the most business. The First Division campaign was used to target locations that were not performing as well.
2. Our client told me that geographic targeting in his country is not quite as effective as it is in the USA. To tackle this issue, he focused less on the geographic targeting options at the campaign level and used more keywords that had geographic terms to refine his ad impressions. If I were running a similar campaign in the USA, I would lean more on geographic campaign targeting than he did.
3. The Champions League campaign wasn’t quite as successful as originally planned. Realizing that, our client decided to use this campaign for other purposes, such as experimenting with new ideas, or running special offers through the campaign.
What are some key takeaways from looking at this account restructuring?
1. Use a Plan – Our client put significant thought into his campaigns before he even started touching AdWords. By documenting his plan, he was able to maintain solid organization as he was restructuring. Also, through documentation, he could easily bring other people (like the WordStream Customer Success Team) up to speed with his goals. Don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with your plan! Because our client got creative with his terminology, it made it easier to remember how things were structured and it also helped him explain the concepts to me as well. He also came up with a way to name each of the different groups and campaigns something unique, but stuck to a consistent naming pattern that made it easy to understand. These methods helped him reign in his large account structure.
2. Experiment – One of the main successes in the case study is how the client used experimentation to implement his plan – and to figure out when to ditch his original plan. In using a portion of his budget to test new ideas, our client was able to incorporate those successful ideas into the main structure of his account. One of the great aspects of AdWords as a marketing tool is the data that it provides. Everyone can use this data on some level – whether it’s A/B testing ads against each other or using a part of the budget to test new marketing concepts.
3. Know Your Environment – Make sure you understand the environment you’re operating in, in the “real world” and in AdWords. In the case here, our client found out that location targeting options weren’t sufficient for him so he needed to take control into his own hands by adjusting his keywords. Knowing your environment also means understanding features and options within AdWords that you can use to your advantage.
4. Don’t Marry Yourself To Best Practices – Best practices are there as guidelines, and oftentimes they will help you be more successful, but you don’t need to always follow them to a T. Our client could have followed a best practice of splitting his campaigns up by location and using location targeting, but by using data through experimenting, he found that he could target better, and manage his account easier, by using a slightly different structure where location was targeted through keywords on the ad group level.
5. Sometimes You Need a Big Overhaul – The complete restructure of this client’s campaign took significant effort, but it paid off for him with lower CPAs as he was able to improve and optimize his campaigns.
6. Use available tools – Here is a direct quote from the client: “The real game changer was Wordstream, without it the fine tuning would have been an enormous task. Indeed I suspect I would have had to produce my own Access/Excel solution to crunch the volumes of data.” If you're not a WordStream customer, take advantage of the tools available to you to make your restructuring easier.
Guess what happened this weekend? My four-year hiring anniversary quietly passed. Yes, it’s true, as of April 27, I’ve been working at WordStream for four years. I know, right?! Happy anniversary to me.
Nobody baked me a cake, so I had to draw one. (Don't feel bad, I'm actually allergic to cake. Wine's A-OK though. #sendwine)
Who else has been at WordStream four years or longer? Just three people:
Larry Kim, of course! (Employee #1)
Then Peter Swanston (hired on 10/23/2008) and Phil Stefou (2/24/2009) in engineering.
This photo of Peter is from an event we had back in 2009! We made a Mexican feast with help from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. We also had beer, that's why he looks so happy.
And here’s Phil at our recent winter event with ex-WordStreamer Cathleen Ellis. (If Cathleen hadn’t moved on to another role, she’d almost be at four years herself – I remember interviewing her back at our old office space!)
OK, enough nostalgia for one day … well, maybe just a little more nostalgia. Before we move on to May, check out our top 10 blog posts from April:
- Dynamic Remarketing Ads: The Future of Google Remarketing – Tony Testaverde, one of our expert client services reps, gives an overview of dynamic remarketing ads, an exciting new AdWords feature currently in beta.
- Meet AdWords Keyword Planner – The New Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator Mash-up! – Another new feature, coming to an AdWords account near you: Keyword Planner, a more robust tool for discovering keywords to use in your PPC campaigns.
- 7 Ways to Use Facebook for Marketing – So you’ve got a business page on Facebook. What else can you do there? Meg has seven ideas for you.
- What PPC Account Managers Say They Do vs. What They Really Do – Learn why Larry thinks account activity may be the most important metric for AdWords success.
- How to Create the Best Landing Pages for Your Google AdWords Account – Ben Cohen provides nine tips for better-performing PPC landing pages.
- Don’t Read the Comments: 10 Logical Fallacies in the Comment Stream – Just a fun one: I point out some of the logical fallacies you’ll find in blog comments – or won’t find if you don’t read them!
- Bing Says AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Not in Customer's Best Interest – Enhanced Campaigns limit “advertiser choice,” says Bing – while reminding us you can export your AdWords account to Bing Ads.
- What's the Best Ad Position in PPC? (Hint: Not Always #1) – Do you always aim for the top rank when bidding on keywords in PPC? That might not be your best strategy.
- 5 Big Brand PPC Ads with Critiques: What We Like, What We'd Change – Big brands often take that coveted top spot we just talked about – but is it because their ads are better, or are they just bidding with bigger budgets?
- How to Measure the ROI of Social Media (No, it's Not Impossible!) – Some of the value of social media is incalculable, but not all! Meg offers some tips on measuring sales and leads driven from your social marketing efforts.
See ya next month!
AdWords has just rolled out AdWords Keyword Planner, a new tool that combines two of the most popular existing AdWords tools, the Google Keyword Tool and the AdWords Traffic Estimator, and adds to it a wizard-like integrated workflow to guide users through the process of finding keywords for creating new Ad Groups and/or Campaigns.
I’m guessing that at some point in the future, the AdWords Keyword Planner may replace the Google Keyword Tool and AdWords Traffic Estimator – tools which have been in service for over 10 years and are widely used for both PPC and SEO. So if you’ve used either tool in the past, take note here – your process is probably about to change!
Getting Started With AdWords Keyword Planner
The AdWords Keyword Planner supports three key use cases:
- Search for keyword and ad group ideas
- Enter or upload keywords to get estimates
- Multiply keyword lists to get estimates
The functionality is exposed via a wizard-like interface, as shown here:
Searching for Keyword and Ad Group Ideas Using Keyword Planner
Adding keywords to your account based on Google suggested keywords is the primary use case. The Keyword Planner (illustrated below), provides a robust keyword workbench for researching and picking keywords to add to your AdWords account.
Using the Keyword Planner Tool you can:
- Look for keyword and ad group ideas: Brainstorm keyword ideas based on individual keyword ideas, or based on your landing page, a product category, or any combination of the above.
- View keyword statistics and performance estimates: Specify targeting options that you select such as country, language and search network to inform your keyword estimates.
- Filter keywords: You can narrow your keyword list based on various criteria, such as average CPC and average monthly search volume. You can also include or exclude keywords containing specific terms, and exclude keywords that are already in your AdWords account.
List View vs. Grouped View and “Your Keyword Plan”
Keywords in the Keyword Planner appear either in list view or in grouped view, which is sort of analogous to the concept of keyword niches and keyword lists that we’ve long supported in WordStream’s own keyword tools.
Additionally, you can add individual keywords or keyword groupings to “Your Plan,” which is sort of a temporary storage area for saving interesting-looking keywords and keyword groupings for later.
The Keyword Planner maintains state for the duration of your session – keywords that you add are saved while you’re in the process of looking for keywords.
Finally, when you’re done finding keywords, click on the “Get Estimates and Review Plan” button.
Getting Estimates and Reviewing Your Keyword Plan
The next step of the Keyword Plan process involves setting a keyword bid and daily budget for your portfolio of keywords and keyword groupings.
Since keyword volume and CPC bid estimates vary wildly based on your budget, bid, location, and other factors, it’s important that you provide Google with some information to customize your estimates.
For example, you could enter in a bid of $40 and a daily budget of $1,000.00 and based on those settings, the Keyword Planner will generate detailed daily estimates for clicks, impressions, average ad position, and costs, as shown here.
Enter or Upload Your Own Keyword List in Keyword Planner
Sometimes in search marketing, you’re lucky to have your own analytics data, for example, a list of top keywords that generate conversions for your website. If you’re this fortunate, it would definitely make sense to use those battle-proven keywords rather than the generic keyword suggestions you get from the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool. Here’s what that looks like:
When you press the Get Estimates button, you’ll be brought to the same keyword workbench area; the only difference is that you’ll be looking at your own keyword list, rather than the generic keywords suggested via the Google Keyword Tool.
Multiplying Keyword Lists Using Keyword Planner
A completely new feature in Keyword Planner which isn’t available in either the existing Google Keyword Tool or AdWords Traffic Estimator tools is the ability to mash up and multiply keyword lists. For example, you might want to multiply a bunch of names of cities and towns with different action words to come up with all the different keyword permutations, as shown here:
You can add up to 3 lists to mash up, and clicking on the Get Estimates button brings you to the same keyword workbench area.
Summary: The AdWords Keyword Planner
The new Keyword Planner tool supports various workflows for building ad groups and ad campaigns either starting from scratch, or based on your existing lists, and provides a more cohesive user experience by integrating the keyword selection, keyword grouping, keyword analysis and filtering aspects of the keyword selection workflow.
The Keyword Planner is currently available in a small number of AdWords accounts today. To find it, I just loaded up my MCC and checked every account to see if it had the Keyword Planner (thankfully, we have hundreds of accounts linked up). I found an account with Keyword Planner on around my 67th account. Google tells me that they plan to roll out Keyword Planner to a broader audience in the near future!
Measuring the success of various campaigns is a core aspect of a marketer’s job. It’s essential to see how your marketing efforts are contributing to the business’s bottom line. Yet according to Social Media Today, 70% of online businesses that utilize social media don’t bother to measure ROI.
It’s pretty shocking to discover that the majority of online businesses are conducting their social media marketing completely in the dark, with no clues as to how social media contributes to the success of their businesses. To be fair, it’s not entirely their fault – social media ROI is a difficult beast to tame, the bane of marketers around the world.
Why is Measuring Social Media ROI Difficult?
Some say that measuring the ROI of social media simply can’t be done! Like traditional billboard advertising, some businesses throw up their social media campaigns and hope for the best, trusting that something good will come of their efforts.
Part of the reason that measuring social media ROI is so difficult is that many marketers try to measure social media success through the social channel, examining metrics concerning “likes” and “tweets” that aren’t easy to monetize, while businesses are primarily concerned with website visits, email subscribers, calls and sales. Throwing around foreign terminology that doesn’t relate to the bottom line confuses business executives and can often make marketers sound like snake oil salesman.
Feel younger, look better, and become better endowed with N.W. Dickens’ miraculous elixir!
When measuring ROI with social media, it’s helpful to take into account how you measure other advertising channels, and incorporate familiar business phrasing. If you use PPC advertising, try assessing social media in terms of cost-per-click or cost-per-impression. If you focus on lead gen, try measuring in terms of cost per acquisition, etc. This adds credibility to your efforts and makes it easier to compare social media marketing with other forms of online marketing.
What Social Media Does Best: Generating Soft Leads
Social media is a prime tool for developing brand identity and familiarity, building engagement, and creating “soft” leads. There is a good amount of confusion about where social media exists on the conversion funnel, and understanding how social media serves as a place to gather soft leads helps provide some illumination.
Soft leads exchange their email address for something of value. This item of value can be in the form of a white paper, ebook, or physical commodity like a coaster set or free sample pack. The hope is that eventually, with the help of email marketing, soft leads will develop into hard leads, which are customers or very qualified prospects.
The exchange of an email address for an online or offline good is common practice on social media sites like Facebook. It gets a bit tricky because you can’t get a user’s email addresses directly on Facebook, but must instead go through a third-party app. It’s fairly simple though – there are many third-party Facebook apps which help you build submission forms or contest pages that are then set up as tabs within Facebook.
Since most businesses use social media at least in part for lead generation, it can make sense to think about social media ROI in terms of cost per lead and/or cost per acquisition, especially if gaining new leads is a major goal for your business.
How to Measure Social Media ROI
We’ve talked a bit about why it’s traditionally difficult to measure social media ROI, and where social media fits in the marketing big picture. So, exactly how do we measure social media ROI?
Social Media Built-In Platform Analytics Tools
Many social media sites, understanding the need for marketers to measure their social media performance, provide built-in analytics tools for tracking engagement, likes, shares, etc. There’s Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Company Page Insights, and Pinterest Web Analytics to name a few.
Tools like these are handy at measuring your performance within the social media platform, but do little to show how your social media actions affect the bottom line or contribute to conversions, which usually happen outside that platform and on your own site.
If you are looking to get some glimpse into how online social media actions can affect physical offline sales, Facebook Offers provides some insight by offering online coupon offers than can be redeemed offline.
This lets marketers experiment with how social media actions can be monetized into in-store purchases. Facebook Offers operates similar to Google Offer Extensions for AdWords, which lets AdWords advertisers attach a discount coupon to a Google ad.
Google Analytics is the most powerful tool for measuring the ROI of social media. Google Analytics social reports can show marketers the impact of social actions, which social networks are yielding the best results, which content is most popular, and how social can result in conversions.
Google Analytics gets a fairly regular stream of facelifts, tinkering with where certain reports are nested. This is what the most current setup of Google Analytics’ social reports section looks like.
Let’s go through these reports step by step:
Network Referrals: This section shows how users get to your site from different social networks and how many visitors various social media platforms bring in. Marketers can also compare social referrals to the total number of site visits.
Data Hub Activity: The Data Hub Activity section shows an activity stream of how people are saving, liking, sharing, and commenting on your content across various sites. Some Data Hub Partners connecting to display activity through Google Analytics are Delicious, Meetup, Google+, and Reddit. You’ll notice that many larger social media platforms with their own built-in analytic tools aren’t included.
Landing Pages: The Landing Pages tab measures the popularity of your page content, showing which of your website pages are getting the most views from social media referrals.
Trackbacks: The Trackbacks report shows the sites that link to your content, what content is being linked to, and how many visitors are reaching you through that stream.
Conversions: The conversions tab shows you which social sites have brought in the most conversions and each conversion’s value in a dollar amount. This section helps to monetize social efforts and aid in measuring social media ROI.
Conversions must first be determined by the business, setting up conversion goals in the Conversions>Goals section. This allows businesses to decide for themselves what they want to be considered a conversion and the conversion’s financial worth. A conversion could be an ebook download, an online purchase, filling out a form – it’s up to you! Once these goals are set, Google Analytics can show you which conversions come from where across various social media platforms.
The Conversions tab is key for being able to measure social media ROI against other marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators are as important with measuring social media ROI as they are with other marketing efforts.
Plugins: This section deals with on-site engagement, showing which social buttons are being clicked on your site and what content is being shared.
Visitor Flow: Visitor Flow illustrates the path various users take as they click through to your site from different social media sites. Visitor Flow shows which web pages users arrive at coming from social media platforms, their next interactions on your site, as well as where drop-offs occur.
URL Tracking: Google Analytics also has a feature that helps users add custom URL parameters to their thank-you goal pages, enabling marketers to track the amount of traffic driven through any given campaign.
The Google Analytics URL Builder makes this process easy, letting you append the end of a URL with information that tells Google Analytics the campaign, the medium, and the source of where the link originated from or was posted. The resulting URL is usually pretty long, but it can easily be shortened and shared across social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. You can then see in Analytics when people have gotten to your site from a social network, by looking for the appropriate parameter.
The custom URL parameters work with Google Analytics to show how successful various campaigns are at delivering conversions. This data can even by synced with sales data when using marketing automation software like Marketo.
These Google Analytics social reports and features are huge assets that help marketers calculate the ROI of social media, helping businesses locate the value of social media and discover how social media marketing contributes to a business’s bottom line.
The Value of Social Media That Cannot be Measured
The flutter of a butterfly’s wings, dewy morning grass beneath one’s feet, the tender love for a Pinkberry sundae – these things can’t be measured. In the same vein, not all the rewards of social media can be measured. As corny as it sounds, social media serves as a powerful tool for building relationships – and relationships really are difficult things to measure!
As with many online actions, it’s often difficult to measure the offline benefits. Maybe a Facebook post today doesn’t drive a conversion, but a user may see that post and become more familiar with your brand by doing so. That familiarity later on might mean choosing you over an unknown competitor, or clicking your Google AdWords ad since your brand rings a bell.
Social media also aids newer businesses in developing their brand’s personality and building a voice. For companies that deal with dry topics relating to finance, insurance, and other yawn-worthy fields, social media can serve as a spot for introducing a more relaxed and casual demeanor of the company.
Hopefully you now understand a bit about how social media ROI can – and can’t – be measured. Do you have any other tools or methods for measuring the ROI of social media? Let us know in the comments if you have any ideas!
What big brands are able to do with their enormous marketing budgets is inspiring – though sometimes it mostly inspires jealousy. The typical small business can’t sponsor the Olympics or get an ad spot during the Super Bowl. You have to tinker around with more accessible campaigns that cost less but typically have smaller reach as well.
PPC is an example of an incredibly accessible marketing channel – it’s being exploited by tiny one-man shops and huge multinational corporations alike. But how much better is a big-brand PPC ad than an SMB ad – if at all? Is it like comparing the latest Pepsi commercial to what your local furniture store puts together?
Let’s look at five big-brand AdWords ads and see what they do well and what they could do better.
By the way, I fully admit to stealing the format for this post from Oli Gardner at Unbounce, who recently did something similar with big-brand landing pages. Thanks, Oli!
Big-Brand PPC Ad #1: LightingDirect.com
A Google search for “chandeliers” turned up these three ads in the coveted top-of-page ad spots. Let’s focus on the middle ad from LightingDirect.com (a Build.com network site), comparing it to its close competition.
What I Like:
- Seller Ratings – Both LightingDirect.com and LampsPlus are making use of the seller ratings extension available in AdWords. This helps them stand out a little more from the top-ranked ad. It’s working to the second ad’s advantage in particular because the company has over twice as many reviews as the third ad.
- Lots of Benefits – This ad manages to pack four different benefits (free shipping, easy returns, great selection, and friendly service) into a small amount of space. The other two ads only include two benefits in their message.
What I’d Change/Test:
- Punctuation – Putting punctuation at the end of the first line of descriptive text (a comma or period after “Easy Returns”) would have made this ad easier to read, since top-ranked ads often find their two description lines expanded into a single long line. They could probably also increase CTR by including an exclamation point.
- Call to Action – There’s no explicit call to action in this ad. (The first ad makes the same mistake; the third ad has the “Subscribe to newsletter” button to entice an action.) I might try losing one of those four benefits and turning one of the benefits into a CTA – for example, “Claim Your Free Shipping Offer” or “Check Out Our Great Selection.”
Big-Brand PPC Ad #2: Audi
Unsurprisingly, Audi owns the top spot for a search on “Audi.” (And yes, we think even small businesses should bid on branded terms.) So what are they doing with the prime real estate?
What I Like:
- Sitelinks – Sitelinks are an easy win: They make your ad bigger and give users many more places to click. In fact they increase CTR even when users aren't clicking the sitelines themselves, meaning you get a lift on the main headline link too.
- Verbs – Audi isn’t missing a call to action like LightingDirect was – in fact, the main description line as well as every single sitelink includes a verb, enticing the searcher to take action.
- Social Extensions – Audi has an insane number of followers on Google+, so they’re right to show that number off. (According to Google: “On average, search ads with annotations have a 5-10% uplift in click through rate and the AdWords Social Extension helps you show more of them.”)
What I’d Change/Test:
- Headline – Since this is the top result on a brand search, it probably has a super-duper high CTR, but nonetheless, I think the headline could be doing more work. All it really tells us is that this is the official site. Compare to this BMW ad that also tells us we can use the official site to build our own car.
Big-Brand PPC Ad #3: Olay
I know some of you dudes out there are thinking “What the %^&$ is BB cream?” Basically, it’s like gussied up tinted moisturizer … which is like a sheer foundation … never mind. The point is, it’s makeup, and you can buy it. Let’s take a look at the Olay ad and the other competition in the yellow box.
What I Like:
- Use of Symbols – Did you know that using symbols, like the registered trademark symbol, can boost your ad performance? Test this now! They’re also using that powerful exclamation point.
- Offers – I like the specific offers in the sitelinks, especially “Get a Free Skin Consultation,” which sounds like a great lead builder.
What I’d Change/Test:
- Shorter Headline – The headline is too long so it gets truncated. Instantly what? We don’t know. [EDIT: As some commenters have pointed out, the first line of the description appears to have been pulled up into the headline, so the real issue is that the description doesn't work when broken up into two parts; still something to be mindful of. It's probably not a good idea to end your first description line with an adverb.]
- Longer Description – On the other hand, the description line is throwing away its extra characters, space that could have been used for a call to action (Maybelline’s CTA in the third ad is awesome) or to repeat the keyword (“BB Cream”) in the text again. Remember, when the search query appears in your ad, it appears in bold face, so your ad stands out more.
Big-Brand PPC Ad #4: ULINE
ULINE is one of the top PPC spenders in the business and industrial category, spending over $35 million a year on AdWords advertising. Are they making the most of that big PPC budget?
What I Like:
………… <crickets> …………
I don’t like much about this ad. Let’s get to what I don’t like.
What I’d Change/Test:
- Better Keyword Matching – It looks like they’re broad-matching on “labels,” but they’re not using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), so the word “printing” doesn’t actually appear in the ad – not a great intent match. The ad is all about designing and customizing labels, not printing them. They should be keeping a better watch over their search query report and building out more targeted ad groups.
- More Benefits – The only benefit here is “Over 27,500 Products” – which, some might argue, is actually a shortcoming. Who wants to search through nearly 30,000 products? Paradox of choice, anyone? Sounds like a waste of time. Compare this to the other two ads, which offer lots of information on price and specific details about label sizes and other information that would help the searcher make a decision.
- Ad Extensions – ULINE’s ad doesn’t make use of any extensions at all. Can we get a sitelink up in this piece?
Since ULINE’s ad is relatively weak compared to the #2 and #3 ads, they’re probably bidding higher and paying a lot more than their competitors per click.
Big-Brand PPC Ad #5: SelectQuote
Here’s an ad that follows a lot of the best practices we’ve already mentioned – clear call to action, using the search query in the text, sitelinks, etc. What are they doing that’s new?
What I Like:
- The Local Connection – SelectQuote has localized their ad to recognize my location. I’m in Colorado, so I might want to deal with a local agent.
- Communication Extension – Including a phone number means that your ad could lead to conversions even if they don’t click the ad. (That means it’s free, yay!)
What I’d Change/Test:
- Numbers – The top-ranked Metlife ad gets specific with numbers: “Pay as little as $1/day for up to $500,000 coverage.” If I were SelectQuote’s PPC manager I’d test out concrete dollar amounts in my text too.
- Appeal to Emotions – People looking for life insurance might be driven by some strong emotions – fear, compassion, concern for one’s loved ones, etc. An ad that speaks to those emotions could really do well here. I’d test something like “Take Care of Your Family. Get a Free Quote Today.”
Do you steal from the big boys when it comes to writing ad text? Or do the little guys do it better?
In the past, Erin covered how celebrity-related keywords can screw up your traffic: Help, My Search Query Report Has Bieber Fever! Now I would like to talk about new queries which can appear instantly because of new viral content and interfere with your existing PPC campaigns.
Last year, a Denham Springs woman set up a “middle finger” made of Christmas lights on her roof to upset neighbors. (NSFW?!) Of course the media attention as well as the offensive Christmas lights disappointed some residents in Denham Springs, but companies who sell Christmas lights and run PPC campaigns on Google and Bing were furious about unrelated queries popping up during the busiest time of the year.
Those advertisers who worked hard on their negative keywords weren’t able to predict a query like “middle finger Christmas lights” or “middle finger light display” and add it to their list of negatives. As the story became viral, millions of people around the world began to search for it, causing hundreds and thousands of dollars in loss for the advertisers.
In today’s world almost anything can become viral and attract millions of people to use new search queries that didn’t exist before. One day you are getting a great CPA selling trips to the Gangnam District in Seoul, the next day millions of people are searching for an addictive music video.
It is impossible to predict how a new product, celebrity, news story, or viral video can trigger your ads. But it is important to detect unrelated traffic early and save your account before it runs out of money. Here are five tips we recommend when working on your AdWords or Bing Ads account:
- Don’t leave your account on autopilot. I know a lot of business owners who built their PPC account a long time ago and left it as is. Over time some of the targeted keywords become obsolete, change their meaning, or attract unrelated queries. Even today potential clients ask me if it’s possible to have a one-time account build-out and leave it as is. (The answer is no!)
- Pay close attention to your metrics such as cost per click, click-through rate, and cost per acquisition. Viral queries normally have lower cost, lower CTR, and no conversions. Go to the query report if you see an unexpected increase in traffic and decrease in cost and click-through rate.
- Make sure your top queries perform roughly equally day by day with no interruptions or sudden drops. Viral keywords can “eat” your daily budget and leave no room for normal queries to perform.
- Check your search queries at least twice a week. I highly recommend checking your queries regularly using QueryStream. Our software helps to detect new queries, unrelated queries, and new negative keyword candidates.
- Set irrelevant viral queries as negative keywords. If you’re a WordStream customer you can use the 20-Minute PPC Work Week to add the negatives our software suggests to you. WordStream software can detect new keywords which are affecting your account. New viral phrases will be picked up and brought to your attention when you log into the software.
Have you ever been burned by a sudden spike of viral keywords in your PPC campaign?
On the Q1 2013 earnings call last week, Larry Page spent a lot of his time taking about the future – a future that will not be social, as Page might have had us believe in the past. He didn’t mention Google+ once on the call, and social media only came up insofar as YouTube is social. That’s a switch!
So what does define the future of Google? The unifying theme just might be laziness. Almost every Google venture that Page spent time talking about is designed to cater to our increasing laziness and impatience as a society.
The web used to be a playground for tech nerds, but now it's for everybody, including people who know nothing about technology. As tech gets easier and more accessible, 5% of people mourn the loss of the control, but the rest of us lazy bums love it.
Talking Is Easier Than Typing: Voice Commands and Google Glass
Larry Page opened the call by reiterating the basic mission statement of Google, as represented by Google Now: “Our goal is to get you the right information at just the right time … without you having to ask first.” And what’s the right time? Instantly, if not yesterday. One of the ways that Google is trying to get
ads “answers” to you faster is by aggressively pursuing the world of voice commands. “Voice commands are going to be increasingly important,” Page said. “It is much less hassle to talk than type.”
With voice recognition technology in mobile devices – including phones, tablets and Google Glass devices – Google is hoping to shorten the time between question (the thought in your brain) and answer, by creating environments with “no typing needed.”
“In the future, we'll all be amazed that computing involved fishing in pockets and purses,” Page said. Pulling your phone out of your pocket? Typing a query into a search box? What a waste of time! In the future we’ll be way too lazy for that.
Faster Is Better: The Real Reason for Google Fiber
Another venture that got a lot of air time on the earnings call was Google Fiber, Google’s foray into providing high-speed Internet service at speeds up to 100 times faster than typical broadband. It’s not the first time Google has gotten into a business line that is barely related to its core search product – Larry Page himself cited Gmail as a project that was way outside its core strengths when they launched it.
But, Page said, Google pursues these crazy speculative projects because “incremental improvements are guaranteed to be obsolete over time, especially in technology.” Companies that only incrementally improve a single technology tend to eventually be replaced by more radical innovations made by other, newer companies. Google is trying to bet against that kind of obsolescence by entering new spaces where there is little competition.
But wait – so, why fiber? The competition there is very entrenched. CFO Patrick Pichette seemed to reveal why they are pursuing the Google Fiber project on Thursday’s earnings call:
Speed matters today. When you wait for 3 seconds to get your YouTube video today with your current provider, that is a terrible answer. And we think that fiber, and the services we offer in Kansas City today actually goes a long way to solving a lot of today’s frustrations, independent of tomorrow’s.
Load times are Google’s problem right now, and in order to keep growing revenues, Google needs to bet on a future where its content and the accompanying advertisements load very fast, because that is what its increasingly impatient user base demands. Google doesn’t want to have to depend on third-party Internet service providers to deliver its offerings. So it’s stepping in to ensure that Internet speeds are as fast as possible. (As AJ Kohn pointed out earlier this year, increasing Internet use is Google’s master plan.)
Self-Driving Cars: K.I.T.T. in Real Life
Then, of course, we have the specter of the driverless car. The point is safety – get drunk at the bar? Your car is your designated driver! But you can’t deny that being chauffeured by your own car will also make your life much easier. No more pesky navigating, steering, or checking of mirrors. You can just sit back, enjoy the ride and play with your phone – maybe check Google+?
Automatic transmissions were one step toward making driving easier, and some people prefer a standard transmission precisely because they prefer that greater sense of control. As always, greater ease of use tends to be coupled with loss of control. You can bet those folks aren’t lining up for the beta on the Google car.
Unbreakable Phones That Don’t Need Charging?
There was also a weird aside from Larry Page about how, when it comes to mobile, “battery life is a challenge for most people – you shouldn’t need to carry a charger around with you to make it through the day.” He added, “And when you drop your phone, it shouldn’t shatter.” Charging your phone? Replacing it when you break it? Annoying inconveniences! Sure, nobody likes doing that stuff. So is Google developing an unbreakable phone with superpowered battery life? Sign me up.
Enhanced Campaigns, Making Advertising "Really Simple"
As Google’s main cash cow, AdWords needs to adapt to an ever lazier user base as well. Speaking of Google Play, Larry Page said “It’s really important that our products work seamlessly, whatever device you are using at the moment.” He then transitioned into talking about AdWords:
In the same way, we need to make advertising across devices really simple for our customers. With separate campaigns for desktop and mobile, this makes arduous work for advertisers and agencies, which means mobile opportunities often get missed. So in February, we launched Enhanced Campaigns, a significant upgrade to AdWords. Our goal is simple: to enable advertisers to focus on their audience and their message while we dynamically adapt their campaigns across multiple devices.
Again, the story is fast and easy. The vast majority of advertisers don’t want to deal with the extra work of setting up multiple campaigns for different devices and environments, even if separate campaigns give you finer tuning and more control. So Google is catering more to the lowest common denominator than to its power users on the more advanced end of its user base. Similar to how WYSIWYG’s make web publishing more accessible because you don’t have to know HTML, Enhanced Campaigns make AdWords easier for people who don’t have the expertise to handle multiple, hyper-targeted PPC campaigns.
The Future of Google: Yea or Nay?
Do you like the direction Google is moving in, making everything easier and faster? Or are you more the old-fashioned type, preferring to take things slow?
Last week was a tragic week. And Friday was an exciting day, in that it's not every day that the entire city gets shut down and there's a massive manhunt going on in your own backyard!
On Friday morning the FBI found out that the bombers lived on Norfolk street in Cambridge, which is just 3 blocks from my place, so I walked outside and snapped a few pictures. Here's what it looked like:
These bad-ass FBI agents were planning a "controlled explosion." I counted over 50 agents.
There were about 20 news trucks parked outside, pretty much every news network!
Cambridge Police and the FBI asked residents to evacuate and closed off the street.
Bomb sniffing dogs checking out the getaway-car.
I usually watch the runners at the finish line on Boylston Street but this year I was stuck at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recovering from the H1N1 virus and other complications. Here's a photo I snapped from last year.
Here's the view from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dozens of news trucks and reporters camped out at the front entrance. Around a dozen bombing victims were treated here, and both bombing suspects were sent here.
And here's CNN reporting from Copley Square, just 3 blocks from the WordStream offices on 177 Huntington St.
And that's me on TV! Wearing the red jacket behind CNN's Don Lemon!
... OK, enough manhunt stuff. Thank you to our friends and clients for all the emails. Everyone here is fine, and our crazy week is over. But our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by the tragic bombing last week.
We will now return to our regular PPC and Internet marketing programming!
During Google’s first quarter earnings call for 2013, Patrick Pichette – Google’s Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer – seemed to reveal the real reason behind Google Fiber, Google’s attempt to provide connection speeds “100 times faster than today’s broadband.”
Google Fiber, currently active in Kansas City and coming soon to Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, is a newer venture outside of Google’s core product stack, and the kind of “speculative product” that Larry Page said is vital to growing and surviving as a technology company. “Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they’ve always done,” Page said on the call, but “incremental improvements are guaranteed to be obsolete over time, especially in technology.” This is why they’ve taken leaps into new areas like email (Gmail), mobile platforms and devices (Android), and even self-driving cars.
So is Google Fiber just another big leap into a brand-new area? How does it fit into their product stack?
Google Fiber Will Reduce Google’s Dependence on Internet Service Providers
During the Q&A session, a caller asked:
“Setting aside the user experience for those who get it, how do you expect Fiber to have major impact, given that it could take many billions and several years to pass something like 20 million US homes, and after all of that time and money you would be at best a midsize provider?”
“On fiber, I think it’s really simple. It’s very early days. We’re totally excited about delivering a great user experience with faster Internet speed. And think of it as Larry said with Sergey’s quest a few years ago – if you can get speed over 100 times faster than the average American, I mean, that is a great user experience, and it’s really about pushing for speed, and writing the new chapter, the next chapter of the Internet. So for us, I think we really are excited about this, and that’s really what we’re focused on.”
At this point Larry Page interjected:
“We look for places where we can provide products that make a really big difference in people’s lives, and we can make a lot of money.”
LOL – he started off so inspirational. He went on to say:
“The reason we’ve been so successful at advertising is we view that as another source of information. The better job we can do at providing you information, the better we can provide commercial information to you.”
A little later on the call, there was a followup question on Google Fiber: “On fiber, I had a follow-up, if maybe you could go beyond the obvious … if you could maybe help us think about the types of services or offerings that you guys see as being possible as this becomes more broadly deployed?”
Pichette responded (and this is the big reveal):
“I think that the thesis is not only about the future but it’s really a lot about today. Speed matters today. When you wait for 3 seconds to get your YouTube video today with your current provider, that is a terrible answer. And we think that fiber, and the services we offer in Kansas City today actually goes a long way to solving a lot of today’s frustrations, independent of tomorrow’s. In addition to that, our Kansas City offering that we have is already a quite differentiated offering … it’s just laying the path for what should be the next change of the Internet.”
Pichette here mainly focuses on the value to the user, in terms of speed and storage, but he also reveals that Google sees the typical Internet service provider, providing only average Internet speeds, as a hindrance to its success. Currently, Google is dependent on other Internet providers delivering its products, including advertisements, to users, and if they fail to deliver those products fast enough, Google loses revenue. (Notice how Pichette uses the Google rhetoric of information as "answer" – advertising is information, ads are just answers.)
So essentially, with Google Fiber, Google is cutting out the middle man of the third-party Internet provider, stepping in to ensure that users receive its products and advertisements at maximum speed. After all, if YouTube videos load faster, more users flock to the site, viewing more ads, and making YouTube that much more valuable as an asset to advertise against.
Google’s Q1 Earnings Summary
To briefly summarize the earnings report, Google reported consolidated revenues of $13.97 billion for the first quarter of 2013, representing an increase of 31% compared to the first quarter of 2012.
Average cost per click (CPC) decreased by approximately 4% quarter over quarter and 4% year over year. However, total paid clicks increased by approximately 20% over the first quarter of 2012.
The below chart illustrates consolidated revenues by source:
Read more in the official Google press release.
Guess what WordStream readers?
Our own Larry Kim is scheduled to speak at the upcoming 2013 Interactivity Digital Conference in South Beach, Florida! Larry’s session, “Reeling Customers in with Remarketing,” will cover the advantages of remarketing and top techniques for conducting a stellar remarking campaign. (Check out the full agenda here.)
The Interactivity Digital Conference 2013 runs through May 15 & 16, hosted at The James Royal Palm luxury hotel in downtown South Beach, Florida. The conference features 14 sessions with over 25 industry-leading speakers covering a range of marketing topics, such as SEO, analytics, PPC, email marketing, social media, and more.
Tickets are on sale now, and for a limited time, WordStream readers get a special discount – just use Discount Code: WordStream to save $400 off your Interactivity Digital Conference ticket purchase!
Your ticket includes entrance to all sessions, speakers, and discussions, meals and snacks, and access to three open bar events to provide valuable networking opportunities. This is an exclusive event – only 150 tickets will be sold to ensure an optimal experience for attendees, so sign up today!
Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to learn from top industry marketers and join in valuable discussion about the online marketing industry!
Creating Quality PPC Landing Pages
You can have an SEM account with hundreds of thousands of keywords that each have fantastic click-through rates (CTR) but without quality landing pages, you will never fully optimize your CPA and never reach your true money-making potential.
Landing Page Layout via Unbounce
I have put together some guidelines to help you create the best PPC landing pages for your AdWords account.
1. Establish your goals.
The first step in creating quality landing pages is to establish your marketing goals to decide what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want sales, form fills, mailing list registrations, sign ups, etc.?
Once you have established what you are trying to accomplish with your campaigns and ad-groups, do some competitive research. Check out your competitors’ landing pages and look up some templates to see how you can design your pages.
2. Consider your target market …
Think about who is coming to your landing page. Consider their demographics, location, interests, etc.
3. … And how they got there.
You should not use the same message to target viewers from PPC that you would use if they came from social media or email nurturing campaigns. Considering how your viewers got to your page should influence and change the messaging you use to close them.
4. Create dedicated landing pages for each ad group (if possible).
In a perfect world each ad group would have its own dedicated landing page. However not all of us have the time or resources to do this. My advice is to do your best.
Start with one landing page per campaign. As you have the time to build a new page, add it in and slowly convert your ad groups to all have specific targeted landing pages.
5. Don’t lead traffic to your home page.
People are inherently lazy. The more hoops you force them to jump through the less likely they will convert. That means less leads, less sign-ups, less sales, less $$$$. Instead of leading people to your homepage, test out driving traffic to a more targeted, conversion-optimized landing page (see below).
6. Optimize your landing pages for conversions.
- Keep the page clean and easy to read. Don’t overload your visitors with all the information in the world. Keep it short and sweet and give them exactly what they are looking for.
- Make it easy for your traffic to convert and give them multiple ways to do it. The goal of a landing page is to build trust and have your traffic convert.
- You don’t need your visitors’ entire biography. Instead try asking only for the information you need most. This will appear as less risk to your visitors and will lead to higher conversion rates.
- Use clear calls to action along with arrows and catchy text while avoiding a “scammy” look. Depending on your marketing goals you should consider putting your phone number at the top of the page, adding a form directly to the page, or allowing a purchase to be made directly from that page.
7. Always Be Testing – “Coffee is for closers”
If you have ever been in sales or seen the movie Glen Gary Glen Ross you will surely remember the acronym “A.B.C. – Always-Be-Closing” and the Alec Baldwin quote, “Coffee is for closers.”
Take these two sales terms to heart. Your landing page is your last chance to close the sale. But unlike traditional sales you do not have the flexibility to try different angles like any good salesman would.
Your solution: “A.B.T. – Always-Be-Testing”. In the same fashion you would test out ad text, A/B test landing pages using Google Experiments (the tool formally known as Website Optimizer). This will allow you to change and test single variables such as headlines, imagery, body text, and calls to action evenly over time.
8. Avoid Common mistakes during testing.
The biggest mistakes I see made in regards to testing are not allowing your tests to run for significant amounts of time and stopping after one test.
Stay patient and pull in as much data as possible before declaring a winner, then use that data to set up ongoing tests against the winner to find and display the best possible advertisements and landing pages you can.
9. Allow visitors to share.
Finally, you are not in this alone. The strongest messages will not come from you; they will come from your customers. Make it easy for them to brag about their purchase and share their experiences by adding links to all types of social media. The most successful companies in the world do it, why shouldn’t you?
Creating excellent PPC landing pages can be tough. If you follow my best practices above you will lower your CPA and increase your cash flow.
Every industry is different which makes it difficult to put together the perfect guide. So I ask you, what is the best landing page you have seen? What has worked for you? Join the conversation by sharing your experiences below!
Facebook continues to be the reigning champ of social media sites, as the #1 spot where friends connect and share online. More than just a meeting place for friends, Facebook has grown into a venue for businesses to market themselves through interaction with customers and self-promotion.
In this post we will be looking at seven ways you can use Facebook for marketing.
Whether you’re a big corporation or a small local biz, Facebook is a powerful marketing tool – it’s a great space to keep customers informed, develop brand identity, and broaden your reach.
1. Making the Most of Your Facebook Business Page
A Facebook page is a great free marketing tool for businesses. These pages let businesses identify themselves – not just through listing product offerings and services, but also by sharing links, images, and posts on a customizable page to give a better sense of a business’s personality and character.
Your Facebook business page is a great spot to develop your brand identity and show your human side. Facebook is where you can loosen the tie a bit – don’t be afraid to be funny. If you’re a local footwear store, you might consider posting a video like this little gem:
Ultimately you should consider what your key audience would want to see. Share images, links, videos, anything, as long as it is connected to your business and it seems like something your target audience would enjoy.
In addition to hilarious videos of dogs walking in tiny shoes, a store specializing in footwear might also post an article about how to measure your foot size accurately, what kind of shoe inserts are best for different sore feet woes, etc. A nice mix of humor, educational resources, and posts about your store updates is ideal.
2. Facebook Advertising: Classic Ads
Facebook offers its own form of advertising with Facebook ads, which appear in the side columns of the Facebook site. These classic ads are referred to more specifically as Marketplace Ads. They include a headline with copy, an image, and a click-through link to either a Facebook page, a Facebook app, or an outside website.
Image borrowed from Site Reference
Implementing Facebook advertising into your Facebook marketing strategy is one possible technique for increasing likes or driving website clicks.
Facebook advertising features include:
- Demographic targeting by Facebook user data on age, location, education, and interests.
- The ability to set ad budgets.
- Ad testing, in which multiple ad versions can be run simultaneously in order to compare ad designs and setup.
- Built-in ad performance measurement tools.
Facebook doesn’t release information about their ad CTRs, so it’s difficult to know how successful Facebook ads really are. In our Facebook Ads vs Google Display Ads Infographic, we found that Facebook ads generally have a CTR of 0.051%, and an average CPC of $0.80; however, a business’s Facebook advertising cost can vary a lot depending on the targeting options set and competition.
Using Facebook advertising to increase your “Likes” can be very beneficial – once a user likes your page, they essentially become followers of your business page, and your posts will appear on their Facebook news feed.
This results in more users interacting with you and your brand, forming relationships that may end up translating to conversions in the future.
3. Hosting Facebook Contests
Running Facebook contests, sweepstakes, or promotions is another Facebook marketing tactic that can increase fans and brand awareness.
When conducting a Facebook contest, be aware that contests can’t be hosted through Facebook itself (meaning you can’t ask for likes as entries, have people write answers in the comments, etc.) Businesses must use a third-party app for creating their Facebook contest, then direct users to the app from their Facebook page.
There are plenty of paid tools to help you do this, as well as some free ones. Shortstack offers a number of free contest templates, so long as your page has under 2,000 likes. Pagemodo also has a free option. Many third-party Facebook contest apps offer free versions, but your options with them are limited.
4. Facebook Promoted Posts
Facebook Promoted Posts let Facebook page owners pay a flat rate in order to have a single post reach a certain number of users, increasing a specific post’s reach and impressions.
Some businesses have asked – why should I have to pay to ensure that my post is seen by users who are my followers? If a user has liked my page, they should always see my posts on their news feed, shouldn’t they? The answer to this question is no, because it assumes that users spend every waking moment of their life on Facebook’s news feed. For the health and safety of your Facebook fans, we hope this isn’t true!
If a fan of yours happens to be looking at their news feed when you post your story, they are likely to see it, but even then there is no guarantee if their news feed is swamped by other posts. That’s where Promoted Posts comes in – it ups your chances of being seen on a user’s news feed. Facebook Promoted Posts are shown to existing fans, with an added option to reach friends of fans.
Promoted Posts are easy to set up – just click the button beneath any of your page posts.
While the flat rate simplifies the process, Promoted Posts lack the targeting options offered by other Facebook ads.
5. Sponsored Stories
Sponsored Stories are a type of Facebook ad that shows a user’s interactions, such as a Facebook like, to the user’s friends.
Sponsored Stories seeks to capitalize on the “word of mouth” concept. If a user sees that three of his friends like a certain page, he is more inclined to pay attention. The goal of Sponsored Stories is to have a user take the same action as their friends. Advertisers can choose to show friends “likes” if they want more page likes, show friends who have “claimed this offer” if a business wants more users to claim offers, etc.
While the action performed by a friend liking a page or claiming an offer is automatically posted in a user’s news feed, these posts easily get overlooked. Sponsored Stories get preferred positioning, capable of appearing in news feeds and the right side bar. Sponsored Stories is also the only ad format available on mobile devices.
Sponsored Stories don’t only apply to likes or offers – they can be used with any Facebook Open Graph app. If a friend has just installed Scramble With Friends on Facebook, Sponsored Stories can show users that their friend has just played the Scramble game, with an invite to “challenge them,” “play with them,” or any similar variation.
Facebook claims that Sponsored Stories have 46% higher CTRs and 20% lower CPCs than regular Facebook ads, making them a very serious strategy for marketing on Facebook.
Facebook Sponsored Stories can be created easily through the Facebook ad create flow. Open Graph Sponsored Stories with a customized call to action require advertisers to use a third-party provider.
6. Facebook Open Graph
Facebook Open Graph lets businesses label a user’s action with their app. Billions of interactions are posted with Facebook Open Graph every day.
Businesses can create third-party apps that connect to a user and post a notice on Facebook when a user performs a specific action with the app. Facebook’s Open Graph allows for creative interactive options outside of the standard “like” and “comment.” Posts can suggest that users “listen,” “taste,” “read,” – it’s up to businesses to get creative.
Virtually any time a site or app prompts users to sign in to Facebook, it has something to do with connecting the user with the Facebook Open Graph.
Spotify is a great example of how Facebook Open Graph becomes a powerful Facebook marketing tool.
It all starts with a Facebook login prompt.
This is followed immediately by a permission request, which many users click through with little thought. I actually discovered that I had given permissions to 130 apps, 95% of which I don’t recall the reasoning behind.
Once permission has been obtained, Spotify is able to stream what songs a user is listening to on a friend’s news feed.
Pic borrowed from Justin Lafferty of AllFacebook.com
Notice that users are given a variety of options – they can like the song their friend is listening to, listen to the song themselves, or star it as a favorite in Spotify.
Open graph actions like these are unique enough to stand out from the cluttered craziness of a user’s news feed.
Many Facebook games make frequent use of Facebook open graph actions, posting a notice when a user has completed a level or won an achievement.
Farmville. Oh joy.
Open graph actions are being categorized as a new type of consumer story, taking advantage of the word of mouth phenomenon. Open graph posts are more meaningful to users because they are being generated by a familiar friend, not simply a brand, making them the latest and greatest of Facebook marketing tools.
7. Facebook Exchange (FBX)
Facebook Exchange lets advertisers take advantage of ad retargeting on Facebook through real-time bidding. Advertisers can target audiences based on web history data – when a user visits a product page on a retailer’s website, but fails to make a purchase, the retailer can then display an ad for that same product on Facebook with FBX.
While Facebook retargeting ads were only relegated to the side columns, recently these ads have been allowed to appear in news feeds, the most valuable Facebook real-estate. This is great news for FBX advertisers, since response rates for news feed ads are 10 to 50 times higher than that of ad placements in the right column.
So how do Facebook Exchange ads perform? The CTR for Facebook Exchange ads is 40% lower than for other web retargeting ads, like those offered by the Google Display Network. Other retargeting ads are also cheaper, with price per unique clicks costing 80% less than Facebook retargeting ads. Still, in terms of cost-per-impression and cost-per-click, FBX ads are considerably cheaper, so the monetary benefits depend on your business’s needs. These numbers are also subject to change as FBX ads begin to appear more often in the news feed.
Earlier this week Google announced some upcoming changes to Enhanced Campaigns. Soon, advertisers will be able to set mobile bid adjustments at the ad group level:
To provide more control and precision over bids in an enhanced campaign, advertisers will soon be able to set a mobile bid adjustment at the ad group level. This functionality will be available to all advertisers in mid-May. We think this may be useful if you’ve been operating large scale campaigns and found that your optimal bids for some keywords would require significantly different mobile bid adjustments within an enhanced campaign.
When Google originally announced the shift to Enhanced Campaigns, mobile bid adjustments were only available at the campaign level, a detail that AdWords power users were especially unhappy about.
Oh look, a cave. I wonder if Google has been here.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease? Advertisers’ Top 3 Complaints About Enhanced Campaigns
Since the big announcement in February, a lot of AdWords advertisers have been very vocal about their disappointment with Enhanced Campaigns, to the point that I’m one of the few people who see the bright side (LOL):
Most of the complaints around Enhanced Campaigns have had to do with loss of control. I see the top three most common complaints as being:
- The bundling of tablet and desktop devices – Matt Umbro tweeted at the time of the release “The lack of tablet vs. desktop segmentation I believe is the most WTF feature of #enhancedcampaigns.” Most advertisers believe that ads perform differently on tablets and desktops and that they should be able to segment these out. I argue that it’s really user context that matters, more than the device, and Enhanced Campaigns give advertisers more ability to tweak bids depending on context (location and time).
- Loss of device targeting – Enhanced Campaigns give us mobile bid adjustments, so we can bid up or down when an ad appears on a mobile device, but this removes the option of creating mobile-only campaigns.
- Loss of keyword-level bidding for mobile – As mentioned above, at the time of the original roll-out, mobile bid adjustments were only available at the campaign level.
The additional flexibility that Google has just announced goes far in addressing complaint #3 – starting in May advertisers will have the ability to set mobile bids on a per-adgroup basis as opposed to per campaign. What we don’t know is whether Google was planning to release this more granular targeting all along, or whether they caved in response to overwhelming user outcry.
What do you think?
Whether or not you’re one of those angry SEM’s who isn’t happy with the changes in AdWords, do you think Google will cave in other demands? Will mobile-only campaigns be back in our arsenal? Will Google admit that tablets and desktops aren’t the same after all?
Over 10 years ago I fell in love with PPC because it was the most measurable and optimizable marketing channel.
If a keyword wasn’t working out, no problem! I could change the ad, or optimize the bids, or chose entirely different keywords. I could measure and optimize anything and everything, which enabled me to create very sophisticated and profitable paid search campaigns.
Yet as PPC has become more and powerful and thus more optimizable, sadly, the average AdWords account manager is optimizing less stuff in their account – to the point where I believe that today, most AdWords accounts are dying of neglect.
Very low PPC account optimization activity means that many advertisers are missing out on what I believe to be the best part of PPC. Should you be concerned?
Exhibit A: Self-Reported Weekly PPC Activity
Last month at my WordStream webinar, we asked a non-scientific poll of approximately 200 AdWords advertisers the following question: How much time do you spend doing PPC work every week?
Respondents painted a very rosy picture. The overwhelming majority of respondents (87%) reported doing some activity every week, as illustrated in the following screen capture:
AdWords Account Managers Claim to be Very Busy Optimizing their PPC Accounts
Exhibit B: Actual PPC Account Activity
I wanted to see how the self-reported account activity compared to the actual AdWords account activity in advertisers’ accounts. I can do this by looking at the Change History log in AdWords – I’ll explain in detail how to do this later.
In a nutshell, I manually looked at several hundred recent customers and set the date range to the 30 days prior to signing up as a WordStream customer. Here’s what I found:
In this chart, the “Activity Index” on the Y-axis is a measurement of how active an advertiser is in terms of doing PPC account optimization. The Activity Index is based on manually counting up the number of changes in the exported change history report using Excel, then applying a weighting for each type of account change.
For example, because creating/editing/deleting a new campaign is a more time-consuming and more significant optimization than changing a single keyword bid, campaign changes are given a higher activity weighting.
I then plotted the activity scores against the advertisers’ monthly spend to see how the activity level varies based on how much an advertiser is investing in paid search.
Here were some of the highlights (or “low-lights”?) that I found:
- Approximately 20% of AdWords account managers do nothing at all within a month.
- There’s very little consistency. Only 10% of advertisers consistently do optimization work in their account every week over a 90-day period.
- Agencies do only slightly better than advertisers when it comes to regular account activity.
- The more you spend on AdWords, the more likely you are to be optimizing your account – however as you can see in the chart, there are many companies spending lots of money (hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars) doing nothing at all in their accounts.
It’s Probably Much Worse
I have no way to prove this but I suspect that there’s probably some survey bias happening here and that low account activity is actually a far bigger challenge. My data was taken from WordStream customers, immediately prior to working with WordStream – meaning those advertisers had already realized they could be doing more with their accounts.
I suspect that businesses who reach out to companies like WordStream are agencies and advertisers who care deeply about their account performance and are taking action to improve their accounts, and thus are more likely to have been historically active in their account.
I think there’s probably a large number of advertisers out there who are completely asleep at the switch and thus aren’t even showing up on my radar screen, and are likely to have even worse account activity.
Why PPC Account Activity Matters
While PPC can work for just about any kind of company, I’ve found that it almost never works on the first day. Furthermore I’ve never seen a successful “set it and forget it” strategy. The reality is that no matter how good your account is, you can always do better.
Here’s a summary of different types of PPC account optimization activities and why they matter:
Thoughtful and consistent PPC account optimization activity is the path to achieving ROI from paid search. On the other hand, a “set it and forget it” strategy is a bit of a death spiral that generally results in a cycle of lower Quality Scores, which results in higher cost per clicks and lower ad position, which results in lower ROI, and ultimately failure.
For this reason I believe that PPC account activity even trumps Quality Score as the single most important PPC metric in your account. Thoughtful and consistent PPC optimization experiments is the path to doing well on all the other PPC key metrics.
If I’ve convinced you in the importance of measuring and tracking your PPC account activity, here’s how to do it.
Figuring Out Your Account Activity in AdWords
To figure out your account activity levels in AdWords, find the Change History Tool, located in the Tools & Analysis tab, as shown here:
Set the date range to the time period you’re interested in, then click on the Download button to export the report in a CSV format. AdWords groups together different changes by campaign and ad group; for example in the screenshot you can see that there were 39 bid changes within a single ad group. So, to process the exported data, you’ll need to do some manual data manipulation in Excel to decompress the change history log.
An Easier Way to Determine Recent AdWords Account Activity
Another way to quickly visualize your recent AdWords account activity is to just grade your account using the AdWords Performance Grader. This free tool will do an instant audit of your PPC account across 8 different key performance metrics, including Account Activity.
The report will calculate and display your Account Activity in the last 30 and 90 days and break it out by types of account optimizations are happening in your account. Here’s an example of what the Account Activity section of the AdWords Grader report looks like.
So in this example, you can see that the advertiser has created/deleted or modified 2 campaigns in the last 90 days, made 10 ad text changes in the last 30 days, etc.
In addition to automatically calculating you’re your account activity, the WordStream AdWords Grader also gives you a score of how your account activity stacks up against a WordStream PPC best practice benchmark for account activity.
Slow and Steady Wins the PPC Race
Given the anemic activity levels in the typical PPC account, I believe that PPC account managers should be embracing the concept of PPC activity as a success metric. When asked for the most important PPC metrics, PPC marketers tend to think of things like CTR, cost per conversion, conversion rate, etc. – yet it is only our ongoing PPC experimentation and optimization activities that enable us to do well in all of these metrics.
Ultimately the key to success in maintaining a healthy amount of PPC account activity is to make it regular. For example, set aside at least 20 minutes a week for PPC optimization, spending a few minutes on each of the most critical PPC optimization tasks, like keyword expansion, negative keyword research, bid optimization, and ad text optimization. While this might seem like a lot of work, the use of PPC tools can add a ton of leverage in terms of time savings and ROI.
Like with a diet or fitness plan, don’t overdo it by doing thousands of changes in one sitting and then not revisiting for 6 months, but don’t get complacent and fall into a sedentary PPC lifestyle either.
The good news is that the PPC account activity bar is very low. Just 20 minutes of PPC work every week would put you ahead of 90% of the other accounts out there.
#1 Is the Best Ad Position! … Or Is It?
A common assumption about paid search is that position #1 is the ultimate goal. Advertisers clamber over each other to ensure their ads make it into the top position, because they think that’s what’s necessary to be successful for their campaigns.
However, I’d like to go on the record and make a bold statement: Position #1 isn’t always going to be the best ad position for your business. Yes, while position #1 certainly can’t hurt from an impression/visibility standpoint, it might not be the optimal position from a conversion/ROI standpoint. Google’s bid auction ensures that the higher you bid, the more likely you are to appear in a higher position. (Notice I said more likely, not guaranteed – the Quality Score system offers discounts for relevance.) But, are you bidding (and ultimately paying) too much to appear in those premium positions? It’s possible. That’s why shooting for position #1 isn’t always the best strategy.
If your business is a mom and pop store selling hardware supplies, and your competition is a big corporation like Home Depot or Lowe’s, chances are they have a much larger wallet and can easily bid as high as you without even breaking a sweat. You don’t want to exhaust your budget trying to compete with the big kids – you’ll never turn a profit!
Just because your ads aren’t appearing in position #1, doesn’t mean they aren’t being clicked on or that potential customers aren’t coming to your website and considering your products or services. Remember that the top of the search results page contains three ad positions, so even if your ads have an average position of 2 or 3, your ads will more than likely receive clicks and you will generate website traffic. Even if your ads appear in position 4 or 5, they will still be close to the top of the search results page; on the side of the search results page. So there is a solid chance your ads will be seen. People using paid search are typically in more of a research stage, so they are probably going to click on more than one ad before making any serious purchase decisions.
Something else to keep in mind is the industry that you are advertising in. The more competitive the industry, the more expensive the clicks will be (think of the insurance or legal industry). This goes back to my point just above about shopping around. You can feel pretty confident that if your ads are in positions 3, 4, or even 5 in a competitive industry, they will be clicked on.
Ultimately, it comes down to maintaining and hopefully growing your profitability. You don’t want to bid too much, to the point where your ROI is being negatively affected. Only you know where that line is though. It’s important to play around with positioning. If your ads are in a position that is providing profitability, but you still have some budget to spare, try increasing your bids a bit to land in a higher position. Conversely, if you can spend more, but are not seeing the desired ROI, trying decreasing your max CPC bids.
If you are unsure how much to adjust your max CPC bids by, start with 25%. As with any change in paid search, the adjustment should be relatively small, for the sake of monitoring; this applies for bid adjustments as well. Something else to keep in mind is that you can view the first page bid estimate and the top of page bid estimate for each of your keywords. This will also give you an idea as to how much you need to bid for your ads to appear in the desired position of the search results page.
It all comes down to defining the point at which you will become profitable or not.
Google’s Enhanced Campaigns are here, and with them came new bid adjustments. While they may seem straightforward at first, bid adjustments can get a bit tricky when they are applied together. For example let’s say you have three bid adjustments set at -60%, +20%, +30%. Google combines those to reach an overall adjustment of -38%. What’s the math behind how Google comes up with that final adjustment? Is it a miracle?
Google does provide a calculator that allows you to select your adjustments from a drop-down menu to see how they are applied together, as shown below (click the image to enlarge):
But being a PPC nerd, I wanted to understand the math myself. Let’s break it down.
One Bid Adjustment
When one bid adjustment is set, that’s the amount the bid will be adjusted when the condition applies. For example, let’s say you know your ads don’t do as well on the weekends, but you do still want to get some clicks. You can decide to apply an ad scheduling adjustment of -60% on Saturdays and Sundays, and on those days your bids will be reduced by 60% – for example a $1 bid would become a $0.40 bid. Seems simple, right? It gets a little bit trickier once we add in a second and third adjustment.
Two Bid Adjustments
When more than one bid adjustment affects a keyword, they are applied together and you effectively end up with a “final” bid adjustment from the combination that gets applied to your bid. Continuing with our previous example, let’s say mobile advertising has been doing well for us, so we want to be more aggressive with it. We’ll set the mobile bid adjustment to +20%.
On weekdays, where we only have one bid adjustment, your bids on mobile will simply be 20% higher on mobile devices versus their normal amount. On weekends however, we also have the scheduling bid adjustment to take into account. If someone searches on a Saturday from their iPhone, your bid adjustment will be -52%.
How did we get to that value? To do the math to find my total adjustment, I find it easiest to convert the percentages to decimals, make them all positive numbers, and find out how they would affect a $1 bid.
- Our -60% scheduling adjustment really means that the bid will be at 40% of its value, so it becomes 0.4
- Our +20% mobile adjustment really means that the bid will be at 120% of its value, so it becomes 1.2
- Let’s multiply that out with a one dollar starting bid. $1 x .4 x 1.2 = $0.48
- That’s $0.52 less than our original bid of $1, so if we flip that back to percentages, we have an overall adjustment of -52%.
Three Bid Adjustments
Let’s get wild and put in a third bid adjustment. Adding on to our example, let’s say our ads perform better in the city where we’re based, so we’ll set a location bid adjustment of +30% for searches in the city of Boston.
The +30% would become a 1.3 in our formula, so let’s plug that into our equation to see what happens when all our adjustments apply:
$1 x .4 x 1.2 x 1.3 = $0.62
That’s $0.38 less than our original $1 bid, so as a percentage, that would end up as -38% if someone in our city searched for us on a Saturday from their iPhone.
Special Case: -100%
Let’s say you want to completely turn off your keyword bid for a certain device, location, or time – there’s a special case for this. If you use a bid adjustment of -100% on any of the three possible adjustments, your adjustments won’t be averaged together when this case is met and your keyword will turn off. It's like throwing in a multiplier of 0.
Still confused about how the bid adjustments in Enhanced Campaigns work? Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
In a bid to capitalize on widespread discontent and outrage in the SEM community over Google AdWords enhanced campaigns, Bing today reiterated their view that EC’s are essentially a bad move and indicated that they will not be following Google’s lead as far as their product development efforts are concerned.
Bing Champions “Advertiser Choice,” Implies that Google Doesn’t Care
While Bing’s announcement itself is pretty straightforward, they used a 1200-word blog post to indict Google of not providing “advertiser choice.”
The blog post enumerates a litany of complaints that have been leveled against Google in recent months, including the notion that:
- Bundling of tablet and desktop advertising as a single target is worrisome given that there is research that shows tablets convert better than PCs with a lower cost-per-click (CPC)
- Eliminating of mobile device targeting removes choice from sophisticated advertisers, because a mobile campaign must now always be a subset of a desktop search marketing campaign
- Losing the ability to create specific campaigns for mobile devices going forward has led to the creation of complicated and impractical workarounds by advertisers.
We’re committed in giving advertisers the tools to control their spending, target the most relevant audience, and ensure they can get the best return on investment. Thus, we do not believe bundling together mobile, desktop and tablet advertising in an opaque manner is in the best interest of our customer base or the industry at large. The Bing Ads team wants to ensure you, our customers, have maximum transparency.
Bing Reminds Us that You Can Still Export Your AdWords Account to Bing
I had to laugh a bit when Google announced enhanced campaigns on February 6 and then only 2 weeks later updated their AdWords API terms to comply with FTC Antitrust Settlement to allow easier exporting of AdWords Campaign data into Bing. Why?
Because with such a radical change in campaign structure, it meant that campaigns cannot be brought over to Bing if there aren’t concepts and constructs that mirror those in enhanced campaigns.
Nevertheless, Bing now says they’ll update their AdWords to Bing account conversion tools to ensure advertisers can continue to seamlessly transition between both products. For example, in the updated account converter which will be available in a few months, advertisers who import enhanced campaigns from AdWords, Bing will support the ability to mark ads as being mobile optimized, etc.
Kowtowing to Search Marketers' Concerns Is a Brilliant PR Move
In a recent WordStream webinar poll of approximately 200 search marketers on March 21, 2013, AdWords enhanced campaign detractors outnumbered supporters by roughly a 5:1 ratio, when excluding those who are indifferent, as illustrated here:
It appears that Bing is piling on the bandwagon, hoping to pick up some market share among upset search marketers by providing “advertiser choice.” The strategy may be working based on a sample of enthousiastic anonymous blog comments on the Bing Ads blog, as shown here:
However, some other blog commenters at Search Engine Land were less convinced:
Have Your Say
Does Bing’s announcement not to follow Google Enhanced Campaigns make you more or less likely to advertise on Bing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!.
There’s a brilliant Twitter feed called @AvoidComments whose sole purpose is to remind us not to read comments on the Internet:
This is excellent advice when it comes to newsy sites like Salon, which seems to be where repressed rage goes to
die seethe indefinitely. And even Justin Bieber knows not to read the comments on YouTube: “I don't read YouTube comments because those can get you sad.”
Seriously though. I have a love-hate relationship with comment streams. The quality can vary so widely and it usually depends on what kind of atmosphere and community the blog owners cultivate. I love sites with upvoting systems that allow the best comments to rise to the top and which encourage regular commenting and conversation – see SEOmoz, Reddit, and XOJane, where I’ve lost hours of my life poring through user-generated magic.
But no blog or website is immune to comment stream idiocy. Allow strangers to plaster their thoughts on your Internet space and some of those thoughts are going to be variously dumb and outright offensive. Much like lukewarm casseroles at a potluck are breeding grounds for bacteria, comment streams seem to be breeding grounds for obnoxious and illogical arguments. That’s why we have Godwin’s Law, which states that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
When entering any argument or debate, it’s always good to be armed with a solid knowledge of logical fallacies – those nefariously common pitfalls of the human mind, patterns of thought that we all slip into that are nevertheless dead wrong. Being familiar with these fallacies makes it easy to call out your opponent when he’s making a right fool of himself. This is especially true in the battlefields of comment streams, where people are approximately 200% dumber than in real life. (Science fact.)
With that in mind, here are 10 logical fallacies (blogical fallacies? no?) to know and avoid, commonly found in a comment stream near you.
#1: Appeal to Authority
The appeal to authority hinges on a naïve trust that important people always know what they’re doing. You know how when you were a kid, you thought your mom was some kind of magical genius who could fix anything? Then, you grow up and realize they let anyone be a mom.
The appeal to authority fallacy frequently pops up when you criticize an authority figure – for example, a famous writer or a powerful CEO. For example, see this comment on Larry’s post about eBay’s lousy paid search strategy:
Just because eBay is a big company with a big marketing budget doesn’t mean that whoever’s in charge of their PPC knows what they’re doing. Big companies – whole empires even! – fail all the time. The history of the world is a catalog of failures. Authority doesn’t equal competence.
#2: Argumentum ad Hominem
A commenter is resorting to an ad hominem attack when he gets personal, otherwise known as “being a dick.” See the examples below. Both – coincidence? I think not – on posts where I was writing about sexism. When I complained about the Google Doodle for International Women’s Day, one friendly commenter accused me of PMS’ing:
Then there was the time I “bitched and moaned” about a literary journal that only published men:
The editor of that journal didn’t like my post and didn’t like my forehead either. (I’ve edited some of these comments for language.)
Protip for comment writers: Leave people’s body parts and functions out of your arguments and you look way more credible.
#3: Ignoratio elenchi
Doncha just love Latin? Ignoratio elenchi is otherwise known as the irrelevant conclusion, missing the point. People who “just like to hear themselves talk” (or see their comments in print, as the case may be) are especially prone to the ignoratio elenchi comment that has nothing to do with anything.
An extra-special brand of this is the irrelevant spam comment – years ago I wrote a (highly ironic, of course) post called “How to Start an SEO Business in 3 Ridiculously, Impossibly Easy Steps,” based on a stupid eHow article, and we still get comments from people who obviously haven’t read the post, thanking me for helping them start their SEO business. For example:
Sigh. (I stripped the link out and published it to make him look silly, natch.)
#4: The Thought-Terminating Cliché
From Robert Jay Lifton’s book on brainwashing and mind control, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, we get the concept of the “thought-terminating cliché”:
A commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance. Though the clichéd phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.
In other words, as some Wikipedia editor put it, “end the debate with a cliché—not a point.” “It is what it is” is the ultimate thought-terminating cliché of our time. It adds no value. Don’t engage with commenters who refuse to engage with you.
#5: Appeal to Tradition
The appeal to tradition fallacy, otherwise known as “argumentum ad antiquitam,” insists that we keep doing something simply because it’s the way it has always been done. Tradition, damnit! Popular among commenters who fear change. Used to justify slavery, war crimes, and so forth.
#6: The Just-World Hypothesis
Some people have a tendency to believe, or to want to believe, that the world is fundamentally just and people are fundamentally good. So if you try to point out something evil or unjust in the world, this conflicts with their worldview and they get defensive. “Oh come on, things aren’t that bad!” “Nobody is hurting you on purpose, etc.!” This is also used to rationalize bad things happening – see the tendency for some SEOs to assume that if a site gets delisted or takes a hit in rankings, it must, ergo, have done something bad to deserve this. We can call this the “Just-Google Hypothesis.” But sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it’s entirely possible that a website could get screwed by Google unjustly and for no good reason. “It is what it is,” right?
#7: The Google Effect
More a cognitive bias than a logical fallacy per se, the Google effect refers to the tendency to forget information that can be easily found online. Then there’s the cell phone effect, which leads to people having no idea what their spouse’s actual phone number is. You can see a similar effect in comments when a reader asks a question that either:
- Is already answered in the post they are commenting on, i.e., see above, doofus, or
- Could be answered with a simple Google search, cutting out the middle man.
This is what the acronym LMGTFY is for.
#8: Fallacy of Composition
Assuming that something true of one part of the whole must be true of the rest. You see this when people say stuff like “But a buddy of mine works at Amazon and he’s real cool so they couldn’t possibly be bad for small businesses!” Similarly, when someone gets burned by a shady “SEO” firm and then goes on to assume that all SEO’s are selling snake oil. Just because part of the “industry” is corrupt doesn’t mean that SEO isn’t a legitimate field.
#9: The Chiller-Than-Thou Fallacy
OK, I made this one up. But I see it ALL THE TIME. Chiller-than-thou commenters are always telling you to relax, get a grip, calm down, be cool, etc. For example, this one directed at my friend Carrie Murphy:
Joke’s on them, because inevitably the chiller-than-thou commenter ends up looking very unchill. I mean, if they’re so calm and relaxed, why are they leaving aggressive comments on your blog instead of just closing the tab and stepping out onto the patio for a smoke? Would a chill person bother to comment at all? I think not.
#10: The Dunning-Kruger Effect
The Dunning-Kruger Effect is the name given to the phenomenon where incompetent people fail to realize they are incompetent because they lack the ability to distinguish between competence and incompetence. That’s part of being incompetent! Put in blog comment terms, the worst blog commenters fail to recognize that they are the worst blog commenters because they’re so bad at blog commenting they can’t distinguish between good comments and bad comments. That’s why they’re always leaving bad comments. This leads us to a troubling conclusion: Some trolls don’t even know they’re trolls. Frightening, isn’t?
Get in on the fun – let me know what logical fallacies you’re tired of seeing in blog comments. Or, just leave a comment with a glaring fallacy of its own, intentionally or unintentionally. That’ll be fun and self-referential!
As new digital ad formats surface in the industry, advertisers must adapt to the trends and evaluate new media channels to work into their budgets. The biggest issue with this is, what if there is no increase in budget quarter over quarter, year over year? Is there a way to still capture profitable traffic without breaking the bank?
Mobile ads already have a handful of ad formats that can be tested out, but can they be optimized? How will mobile search ads perform over mobile display ads? Mobile in-app ad inventory is widely available, but will they work for your audience? How will an offer wall perform compared to an in-app banner ad?
With so many mobile ad options to choose from, this blog post will focus on which mobile ad formats are best used for limited ad budgets. All ad campaigns, including traditional and online advertising, must have a specific goal in mind: branding or performance. For branding campaigns, these typically do not directly impact ROI, but raise awareness, and the main goal of the ad is to be seen, rather than acquire converting traffic. On the other hand, performance campaigns are measured and optimized to directly acquire leads or customers. So, because we’re working with limited budgets, this blog post will primarily be geared towards performance advertisers.
Here are just a few pros and cons that should be considered when investing in mobile ad formats.
Mobile Search Ads: Pros & Cons
Pro: The smaller screens limit what the user sees, so they are more likely to click on the top result. Position 1 or 2 will get you more clicks.
Con: In order for your ad to appear in position 1, you may have to bid more. (However, currently, mobile ads are still less expensive on a CPC basis than regular paid search.)
Recommendation: For local advertisers, you might consider testing mobile search ads, as this could be a great way to gain some additional traffic and customers who are searching for storefronts or services nearby. Paid search is a proven advertising channel to acquire highly relevant traffic whereas display advertising isn’t as lucrative for local advertisers. However, upon launching your campaigns, make sure you’re bidding on long-tail keywords that include your city/location. Include this in the ad copy as well to weed out irrelevant clicks or impressions. Constantly monitor and track the performance closely, and don’t be afraid to shut these ads off if the performance is short of amazing.
For e-commerce or B2C lead gen advertisers in competitive markets, your limited ad budget may not be able to compete with the larger advertisers, so consider trying a different mobile strategy to ensure your ad budget is best spent on the highest quality traffic.
Mobile Display Ads: Pros & Cons
Pro: Mobile CPMs are $0.75, which is significantly cheaper than web display or paid search prices.
Con: The banner ad on mobile devices is harder to see on the small screen. With the tiny print, are your ads even getting the visibility you’re paying for? Additionally, studies have shown that up to 50% of clicks from mobile ads are accidental.
Recommendation: Whether you’re generating profitable returns from display campaigns already or just getting started, mobile web display, although cheap, has some serious cons that probably outweigh the pros, and does not suggest a compelling reason to test mobile web display when there are other types of mobile ads to try. Consider holding off for now.
Mobile In-App Ads & Offers: Pros & Cons
Pro: You can acquire in-app traffic with highly customized pricing models such as CPC, CPM, CPV, CPA, or CPI. Additionally, there are a variety of ad formats you can work with such as banners, offers, videos, large full-screen ads, or rich media. As mobile ad inventory is also growing with the growth in mobile devices, this media channel is slightly cheaper than other online ad channels and you’ll reach sophisticated engaged audiences.
Con: As with any digital ads, figuring out the right targeting and creative that will entice users to click is an extremely time-consuming process that typically starts out with unprofitable ad spend to test.
Recommendation: Test out in-app ads while the inventory is still highly available and less expensive. Some of the popular mobile ad networks include AdMob, Flurry or Tapjoy. I’d recommend CPA or CPI-based bidding for performance advertisers on a budget. This way you only have to pay for specific conversion events that are directly tied back to your ad spend.
These are just a few advantages and disadvantages to consider when allocating your ad budget into mobile. As every industry and business is different, you can and should optimize mobile ads for your business. Have you had any successes or failures with mobile ads? What formats have you tried and how did they perform for you? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author
This is a guest post by Jana Fung, the Marketing Manager of MixRank, a spy tool for online ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. Jana has managed successful marketing programs for over 6 years and has a passion for helping online marketers with their campaigns. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, she’s interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter: @jana_fung.
Google’s new dynamic remarketing feature – currently in beta – is hands down the best release from Google I’ve seen in a long time. As far as I’m concerned, this will be a MUST DO for all e-commerce websites that are advertising with Google.
I’ve recently had the opportunity to try out the new dynamic remarketing ads, and in this post, I’ll explain how they work, why they’re better than traditional remarketing, and why you should care.
Google Remarketing: The Old Way
For any e-commerce website, it is becoming more and more important to have a Google Merchant Account set up. Merchant accounts are becoming extremely valuable within AdWords, as they feed your PLAs (Product Listing Ads), Product Extensions, and now your remarketing efforts. As most of you know, remarketing is important because not all potential customers that come to your site purchase right away. You need to continue to influence them not only through Google search and from your website, but also across Google’s display network, as people spend 95% of their time away from Google.
Most people I’ve worked with have remarketing set up, but it is generally too simplistic, in that it catches ‘All Visitors’ to their website, and serves them one generic message. Those that I’ve spoken with that are ahead of the curve, are segmenting visitors to their site, and remarketing to those that have ‘Abandoned the Shopping Cart’ or ‘Visited A Product Page.’ If you’ve gotten this far, bravo, you are doing a much better job than most of your competitors. However, this strategy has always been a HUGE undertaking. What if you have 50,000 products? Are you going to create 50,000 audience segments, and 50,000 unique image ads?
How Dynamic Remarketing Is Different
I know the biggest pain point in my remarketing efforts has always been getting image ads generated for all of the products for sale. With Google’s new Dynamic Remarketing feature (still in beta), Google will dynamically create ads for you that include your price, image, and text of your choice, all based on the behavior of your website visitors. Pretty sick, huh? No more dealing with creative, and more importantly, you can reach your customers with laser-focused messaging based on the products or content they were interested in when they visited your site.
If you were ShoeMe.Ca, an e-commerce shoe site, and your potential customer looked at a specific pair of Converse sneakers, wouldn’t it be best to serve an ad with the image and price of the Men’s White Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars he was viewing, and throw in a free shipping offer to entice him to come back? Or maybe cross-sell him with a pair of High Tops in case they are going for the Lil Wayne look? It’s all going to be possible through Google real soon, and you will see solid gains in performance for your e-commerce website.
How Dynamic Remarketing Works
Here’s how it works:
You will be required to set up a customized Remarketing Tag on your site that will pull down Product Identification numbers from your merchant feed and pass them on to Google. Google will then match these Product IDs to your Google Merchant Center feed and use those characteristics to power your ‘Dynamic Ads.’
Once the coding is implemented properly, you’ll need to get things set up in AdWords. Just like any remarketing campaign, you’ll need to set up some audiences to target. To do this, navigate to your Shared Library, Audiences, and then select ‘Remarketing list’ from the ‘New audience’ dropdown as seen below.
From there, create a ‘List Definition,’ meaning select who you want to contain in the audience. In the example below, I’ve selected ‘pagetype equals product.’ This means I’ll be cookie-ing those that have visited any page on my site that contains ‘product’ in the URL string. I’ve then chosen a ‘Membership duration’ of 15 days. This basically means the number of days a visitor’s cookie will stay on my remarketing list.
You can then assign the audiences to the ad groups you think will work best.
Within ShoeMe’s account, you'll see four ad groups:
- Product Viewers: Matches dynamically generated ads based on specific product pages visited by the user.
- Shopping Cart Abandoners: Dynamically generates ads based on product pages visited by users who added items to their cart, but did not make a purchase.
- Buyers 3-60 Days: Targets users who made a purchase in the last 2 months for the purpose of strategically upselling related products.
- Non-Product Viewers: Targets users who have been to a page on the site other than a product page, and generates ads based on the content of the pages that the user has been to.
I would encourage you to bid more aggressively for Shopping Cart Abandoners and for Product Viewers (who are further down the buying cycle). I tiered the bidding below with highest bid for Shopping Cart Abandoners, and lowest bid for Non Product Viewers (visited homepage, blog, etc.)
Creating Your Dynamic Remarketing Ads
After assigning the appropriate audiences to each ad group, you’ll need to set up your ads. This is the cool part. The ‘Display ad builder’ will soon have a dynamic ad option as seen below, with each banner size offering over 15 dynamic ads formats to choose from.
In the ad seen here, your potential customer would have likely viewed these products, and is now being served the same product again, or a different style. They can then click on that specific product within the ad and be will be directed to that specific product page. How’s that for qualifying your clicks? The ads will also rotate products, and generally be much more dynamic than static image ads.
Why Dynamic Remarketing Is So Awesome
There are companies out there that offer similar remarketing options, but now you can do it all yourself within AdWords without any additional fee on top of your clicks. You’ll have much better control on your remarketing efforts, and I’m suspecting huge returns. ShoeMe.ca knows that 50% of its business comes from returning visitors. Of these returning visitors, the average order value is $6 higher than new visitors, and the average conversion rate is 30% higher! Reengagement is a data-proven key to their business, and the dynamic remarketing is reengagement on steroids.
Dynamic remarketing will be a key factor to any e-commerce website’s future success, and if you don’t get in the game, you will fall behind.
So, I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks, and we’ve entered the eye twitching stage of stress. It feels kind of like this:
But it probably doesn't look like I'm trying to wink badly ... right? Guys?
Anyway. Today marks the last weekday in March, which means it’s time to review our top 10 blog posts of the month. ICYMT (In case you missed them), check out the awesome:
- Dear eBay, Your Ads Don't Work Because They Suck – Far and away our most popular post this month – this year, actually! – in which Larry takes eBay to task for saying paid search doesn’t work, when eBay has always been the laughing stock of the PPC community.
- How Google Makes Money from Mobile – This infographic illustrates Google’s mobile play in terms of apps, advertising, devices and content – and we’re just scratching the surface. We also grade each product and explain how Google makes the moolah from it.
- 3 Reasons Your Keyword Has a Low Quality Score – Why, oh why does your Quality Score bite so hard? Here are three possible reasons.
- Revisiting the Economics of Quality Score: Why QS Is Up to 200% More Valuable in 2013 – Larry digs into some numbers and finds that average Quality Score has fallen over the years – which means that having a high Quality Score is more valuable than ever! Find out why.
- AdWords Targets Mobile App Market with New Mobile App Promotion Ad Format – Wanna advertise your mobile app? There’s an ad for that! We explain how Google’s new smart mobile app format works.
- Content Marketing vs. PR: What's the Difference? – Larry talked to an analyst recently who wanted to know the difference between these two marketing techniques. There’s overlap, but the goals and metrics are still quite different.
- Stop Unsubscribers in their Tracks: A Lesson from Fab – Meg tried to unsubscribe from an email list recently, and the clever confirmation screen caused her to reconsider. This case study offers some tips for preventing newsletter dropoff.
- Be Certifiably Awesome at Paid Search – Tips on Getting AdWords Certified – Billy McCaffrey, one of our customer success specialists here at WordStream, offers some tips for preparing for the big exam.
- Five Reasons to Bid on Branded Terms in PPC – Branded terms: worth it or not? Our own Erin Sagin says yes, it’s worth it! Here’s why.
- Why Your Click-Through Rates Suck – Remember Greatest Hit #3? One of the main reasons for low Quality Scores is a low click-through rate. So what do you do about it?
See you next month!