Google has today made it easier than ever to get new bigger and better Google Sitelinks for your ads, which help people find information deeper in your site so they can get to where they want to go faster.
Previously it was already possible to specify clickable anchor text for all of your Google Sitelinks. And with today's update, AdWords is going even further by enabling you to designate specific text for your Google Sitelink descriptions from within your AdWords account. This will enable more granular control over the descriptions that display when your Google sitelink is shown to searchers.
Here’s what the new super-sized Google Sitelinks look like:
These huge new sitelinks are like the AdWords equivalent of the T-Rex Burger!
Google says that ads containing the new, larger Google Sitelinks with additional detail generate significantly higher click-through rates and were deemed to be more relevant and useful versus the same ad containing traditional 2- and 3-line Sitelinks.
New Huge Google Sitelinks Only Available in Enhanced Campaigns
The new Google Sitelink format containing extended descriptions is available only in enhanced campaigns. This provides a tempting incentive to search marketers who still haven’t upgraded to EC’s, just one month ahead of the auto-upgrade deadline of July 22.
All upgraded campaigns have the option of adding extra text to your sitelinks – to enable google sitelinks, just fill out both lines of the "Description" field when creating a new sitelink or editing an existing sitelink. It’s like turning your ad into 5 ads!
As expected, Google disclaims that your ads won't always show Google Sitelinks, and when they do, the format that appears could vary.
Google Sitelink Policy
The core guidelines and tips for sitelink extensions remain the same with the new larger ad format:
- Google site links cannot violate the duplicate sitelink URL policy
- Site link text cannot use keyword insertion
- Site link text cannot be the same as other sitelinks in the same ad group/campaign or the main ad that’s serving
- Site links show up in groupings of 2 and 4 at a time
Have you upgraded to Enhanced Campaigns yet? Do you plan to try out the new T-Rex sitelinks?
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.
[Editor's note: Today we have a video post, in the spirit of Whiteboard Friday. Check out the short video or, if you prefer, read the transcript below.]
How long should your video be? People all over the internet have been asking this for ages! For a long time, the idea was that shorter was better, but recent evidence suggests that long-form videos are now proving more popular, and even YouTube and Vimeo are prioritizing this video content in their search rankings.
However, Tout and Vine are looking to move the trend back to short video. And when I say short, I mean short. Tout offers 15-second video posts, while Vine (from Twitter) offers 6 seconds. The concept of the platforms is to allow only “clips” or video snapshots, rather than long-winded or over-produced content. It’s an interesting direction for video, but it could be the perfect synergy of video and the short attention spans of social networking.
So why now? Well, it’s an interesting one – Facebook, Google+ and YouTube already allow users to record videos straight to their social feed, without such short time limitations. So where do Tout and Vine fit in? Perhaps it is as simple as trying to encourage a new trend, and, by taking away the issue of time, push non-users into using video more and more. And people do say good things come in small packages...
The Popularity of Short Sociability
Perhaps the biggest reason that companies like Tout and Vine are looking to popularize short video social posting is down to the success of short social interactions. Given that Twitter is the bird behind Vine, they know all too well how successful short, simple social posting has become. This connection seems a pretty strong and sensible reason to introduce something like Vine, and Tout – with the might of WWE behind it – seems to be following the same route. Online video has been growing in popularity year after year, and maybe Tout and Vine seem an opportunity to bypass the noise of YouTube, and offer a specific short and sociable video platform.
Tout Vs. Vine
Image Credit: Glenn Zucman
Debating whether 6 seconds or 15 seconds is a more effective duration of online video won’t be clear until Vine has had enough time to generate some clear statistics. Although when you think about it, whilst still very short, Tout’s video duration is actually more than double Vine’s video duration. That may not seem like a lot, but given that the difference in duration is well over half we may find that there is actually a considerable difference between the two when stats are produced.
In terms of app popularity Tout has been around for some time, allowing it to whip up quite a considerable following so far, which certainly puts it ahead of Vine for the moment. But given that Vine is being backed by Twitter it may only be a matter of time before it completely dominates the short-form social video sharing field. However, it’s worth noting that despite the companies and funding behind the two platforms, both are still relatively unknown to a lot of online audiences, which means the battle for short-form social video is about to begin.
This is a guest post by Andy Havard, a Marketing Executive at Skeleton Productions, a UK-based corporate video production company.
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.
Last month, our team had the opportunity to visit Google’s NYC office for the Google Engage Catalyst conference.
The event was directed toward agencies and, to be perfectly honest, I expected to get an earful of Google’s typical agenda pushing. Pleasantly to my surprise, Google delivered on their promise to show us “what’s new and exciting in online marketing.”
Here are the top four Google and AdWords features I’ll have my eye on this summer:
Check out this new twist on Remarketing, one of the most popular Display Network strategies. Similar Audiences allows you to display your ads to users whose browsing behaviors are similar to those of people on your current remarketing lists. I think this is a genius idea, considering that it will give you exposure to a new, qualified audience that may not be aware of your brand. If you’re looking for a good way to expand your audience, this may be just what you need.
We had the opportunity to hear Google’s side of the story on Enhanced Campaigns, including where “the Googs” believe they have failed us. They recognized downsides like the poor ad scheduling UX, issues with App Promo ads, etc. and pledged to work on them. A number of participants requested the separation of desktop and tablet devices, but the Google reps made no promises. Oh, another tidbit—they warned everyone to take the plunge to Enhanced Campaigns as soon as possible. If you haven’t done so yet, I’d recommend starting to migrate soon. (The deadline is July 22.)
If you haven’t used it yet, I highly recommend heading to the Tools and Analysis tab to give it a whirl. On a basic level, the tool helps you to brainstorm new keyword/ad group ideas, view statistics and performance estimates for keywords specific to your targeting settings and create permutations of keyword lists. Still an advocate of the Traffic Estimator/Keyword Tool? You’re out of luck, as Google plans to sunset these tools in a few months. Start getting used to their replacement!
This is an “oldie but a goodie” that we revisited during our training sessions. This tool allows you to track how popular search terms have been on Google and YouTube based on time, region, demographic and a number of other factors. This is a great way to learn more about your popular keywords and compare the performance of different terms. But be careful, Google Trends has a tendency to suck you in with its stats. Steer clear of the Google Hot Trends section, unless you have some time to kill.
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.
A brilliant new feature has been added to the AdWords roster. Auction Insights now lets you see data across keywords and even up to the campaign level. Auction insights can be found in the Details tab under Campaigns, as shown below. You can get data for all or selected campaigns, ad groups or even keywords. Now you can see metrics such as impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate and top of page rate.
Auction Insights Explained
Auction insights gives you 5 great metrics to work with:
- Average position – This gives you an average ranking over your selected time period along with the associated domain. (See also: The Relationship of Click-Through Rate & Ad Position.)
- Impression share – Represents the amount of times you have appeared in search results when your ads were eligible to receive impressions.
- Overlap rate – Defines how often your competitors’ ads were shown in the same results as yours.
- Position above rate – Explains how often a competitor’s ad was shown in a higher rank than your own.
- Top of page rate – Finally, top of page rate illustrates how often that ad was shown in position one.
Going Once, Going Twice – Benefits of the Auction Insights Report
The best thing about the Auction Insights report feature is that you can compare your data with your competitors’ data, and this ability creates a lot of other benefits.
One of the simplest things we can extract from this data is who our key competitors are. By looking at the overlap rate, we can identify which competitor is showing ads next to our own. We can use the average position to decipher whether or not they are getting better rankings alongside the position above rate. It is important to make sure you aren’t losing any business to your competitors; something you can do is regularly check your keywords and compare text ads.
Now one question I know I receive a lot through our PPC customers is “How much are my competitors spending?” That’s always been a hard question to answer, but now we have a little more insight into those budgets. We can use our impression share stat – for example, let’s say it’s 50%, and our spend is £3,000. If our biggest competitor is on the list and they have an impression share of 90%, then we could guess that they are spending around £5,400.
The above is only really the case if the average position is the same, which is going to be pretty unlikely. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find out what your competitors are spending per click, which means you can’t find out the actual spend. What you can do is look at their average position – now naturally a higher position costs more and a lower position costs less. Finally you can compare ad text relevancy to that of your own to help estimate a Quality Score. With all of this information you should be able to determine whether your competitor has a higher or lower CPC than yourself.
One of the toughest challenges faced with PPC clients is persuading them to increase their AdWords budgets – despite the fact that we can prove a steady conversion rate, which we can use to estimate ROI. However, I think that by utilizing Auction Insights, we can compare our clients’ online exposure to that of their competitors, which will hopefully convince them to increase their budgets for PPC.
[MORE: Free Guide: PPC Budget Best Practices]
This is a guest post by Ben Austin. As the CEO of Absolute Digital Media, Ben has worked in the industry for five years, developing an in depth knowledge of all areas of online marketing, including SEO, PPC, content marketing and social media engagement. He is continually seeking ways to drive the business forward to compete with the biggest names in the sector.
The AdWords universe is forever expanding. Sure, some things get changed, demoted or taken away (like Pluto losing its planet status). But new PPC features are always being created, the latest being image extensions for search ads.
It’s therefore imperative for PPC professionals to stay on beat with the latest and greatest as their competitors will surely be the ones to try out anything new.
But what about forgotten and hidden AdWords features that you’ve never thought of?
Here’s an extensive look into the top 10 most underutilized AdWords features and how you can use them to your advantage.
1. Above-The-Fold CPM Bidding on the Display Network
Many studies have been produced regarding above- and below-the-fold ad placement, and it’s widely accepted that above-the-fold ad placement allows the best chance for clicks.
With all the different devices, screen sizes and resolutions, it’s never safe to bet that your ad will always show above the fold.
If you’re running a cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM) bidding campaign, then your goal might be branding, instead of direct response. So “eyeballs” is your key metric to track.
Why pay for impressions when no one will see your ad?
[MORE: See Our Facebook vs. Google Infographic]
Here’s how you do it:
While you’re at it, you can exclude other categories that meet your criteria. You do this by selecting your display network campaign, clicking on the display network tab, and then scrolling down to the bottom where you’ll find “exclusions.”
Then go ahead and click on “Categories” and then “Add exclusions” to the right.
2. Image Ad Creator
Have you ever used this thing? It’s incredible what it can create, and even if you’re not too hot on what it comes up with, you can use the idea to get some inspiration.
The image ad creator surely beats creating .swf files with Adobe Flash if you’ve never touched the program before.
And while it’s not the display ad builder, the image ad creator allows you to create rich media ads in different pixel dimensions in seconds.
You give it the headline, description, and a call-to-action and it’ll create several ad examples that you can use with the click of a button.
Here’s how you do it:
Click on the green “+ New ad” button within any display network ad group you have. Then click on “Image ad” and you’re ready to rock!
Here’s what it came up with for our company, KlientBoost.com:
3. +Broad +Match +Modifier
Regular broad match can be a killer for AdWords accounts. It’s no wonder that so many people that try AdWords for the first time see their budgets being depleted before they even blink.
Don’t get me wrong, regular broad match for keywords can be a good idea once you’ve maxed out all the other match types. But the flower shop owner who is just starting to understand AdWords selecting the keyword flower shop, believes that her ad will show for flower shop, and not flower girl dresses.
Broad match modifier allows you to add a “+” sign to words in your keyword that must be present when a searcher types in a query. Otherwise you won’t allow your ad to show.
Why is this different and sometimes better than regular broad match?
Because it allows you to be in control and not Google. Giving Google the option to show your ads for synonyms or unrelated terms can obviously be a bad idea (and a costly one).
Here’s a breakdown on how all the match types work:
The green check mark shows what search terms will show based off the ‘werewolf novels’ keyword and the match type you select.
4. AdWords Scripts
This might be a bit too techy for most people, but don’t let that scare you. AdWords scripts are usually used for reporting, account alerts, and bulk changes. But they can also be used to help automate your PPC tasks.
One of the more interesting uses I’ve learned over the past few months is tracking account, campaign, and ad group quality score (QS). As of right now, you can only see quality scores at the keyword level within the AdWords interface. With scripts, you can create a daily, weekly, or monthly report that tells you the overall account QS. Find the how-to here.
You can then use this benchmark to determine whether the changes you’re making are improving your account QS or not.
Are you getting healthier, or are you still struggling with that spare tire around your waist?
Aaaanndd, if you want someone to create custom scripts for you, try out Optmyzr.
5. Auction Insights
Want to know who is bidding on your keyword, and how much better/worse they’re doing than you?
Check out the auction insights feature located within the keywords tab. Select one keyword (or multiple) by checking the check box next to it, then “Details” and “Auction insights” in the drop down.
Here’s the data overview you’ll get: A breakdown of your ad in relation to your competitors for the keyword(s) you’ve selected.
Pay close attention to all the metrics, as they’re clear indicators on how you’re doing.
6. Search Terms Report
This is a report that should almost be used on a daily basis, and if not that, weekly.
The search term report allows you to see what people have actually typed in to make your search ad appear.
You can use this data to add new keywords that you’d like to bid on, or new negatives that you’d like to exclude from your campaigns.
You find the search term report right where you found the auction insights report, in the “Details” tab within the keyword view.
You can then select “Selected” (if you have checked off one or more keywords) or “All” to see the search term report for all the keywords in your immediate view.
7. Keyword Diagnosis
Are your keywords pulling from the correct search terms, or are other keywords in your account competing with others?
Using the “Keyword diagnosis” tool allows you to do a quick health check on your keywords, and the tool will tell you if your keywords are showing, and why they aren’t.
Use this tool to eliminate internal competition between keywords and make sure the correct search ads are showing for the correct search terms.
You’ll find this feature within the same drop down as the auction insights and search term report.
8. The Home Tab
I’ll be the first to admit that the Home tab is something I often overlook.
It’s found in the green horizontal navigation bar that runs across the top of your AdWords interface.
Within the Home tab you’ll find interesting insights like:
- Alerts and announcements (missed clicks due to budget, for example)
- Keywords below first page bid
- Good quality, but low traffic keywords
- All disabled keywords, ad groups, and campaigns
- Suggestions for increasing traffic by adding new keywords
You can make it your starting page instead of the Campaigns tab by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page and selecting the check box on the left.
Watch for Google to continually add new modules that can be toggled on/off.
9. AdWords Editor
Do you have tons of keywords and ads that need optimizations, but not enough time during the day?
Google AdWords Editor might not exactly be a feature within AdWords, but it’s a tool that I constantly find underutilized when it comes to making bulk changes to accounts. Some advertisers just don’t know it exists!
The AdWords Editor allows you to make offline changes to your account, which can then be uploaded at a later time.
Some neat features include the search function and filtering, advanced bid changes (like percentage increases/decreases), and the sharing of changes with other people working on the account (by adding comments).
And with a little messing around, you could become an editor genius within one day.
You can download the editor directly from Google here.
10. Time Lag Reporting
Are you selling expensive items or services? Do you know the buying cycle of your clients and customers?
The search funnel report will tell you exactly how long it takes the average visitor to convert on your site.
If a buyer takes 7 days to complete a purchase instead of one day, then that might be a good indicator that you should start remarketing (if you’re not already).
The time lag report is only available if you’re tracking conversions. Here’s how you find it:
Go to the “Tools and Analysis” tab and then click on “Conversions.” After that, select “Search Funnels” in the bottom left-hand corner.
After that, you’ll be shown some options on the left where you can select “Time Lag.”
One interesting thing you might find is that perhaps the majority of your conversions happen within the first 24 hours from a visitor’s first impression of your ad.
But you’ll see in this screenshot below that over 7% of conversions happen after 12 days from the first impression.
That’s a great indicator that your visitors are shopping around and taking their time to pull the trigger.
In this particular scenario, you can definitely benefit from using remarketing to stay “top-of-mind” as they continue to browse.
Do you have any other underutilized AdWords features? Share in the comments!
Johnathan Dane is the founder and leading captain of KlientBoost.com, a creative digital agency specializing in pay-per-click marketing with search and display networks. When he's not working hard on increasing client success, you can find him playing pick-up basketball at the local gym with the elders.
When trying to improve Quality Score across the board, it would seem intuitive that eliminating keywords with low Quality Scores would be a step in the right direction. However, blindly deleting all low-quality keywords in your account is not always the best solution.
Think about improving Quality Score the way you would think about eliminating a pest infestation. If you’ve ever had any problem with pest control, you know that killing off your unwelcome visitors is not enough. In order to implement an effective pest control program, you need to identify the variable sources of the problem and find ways to combat/change them. Why are the pests there in the first place? Is it climate-related? Is it material-related? Do they have a readily available food source? Is there a nest somewhere in your home? These are all important questions to examine when identifying a long-term solution to control an infestation. Let’s take that same principle and apply it to combatting/changing our keyword Quality Scores.
Find the source!
Here are four questions to ask when determining what to do with your low Quality Score keywords.
Is the Problem Really Your Keyword?
Google’s algorithm for Quality Score factors in everything from your keyword’s relevance to your keyword’s past click-through rate, your display URL’s past click-through rate, your account history, the quality of your landing page, your ad relevance, your geographic performance, and your targeted devices. Two very important parts of that algorithm that are easy to start with are landing page quality and ad relevance. If you need some help checking to make sure your landing pages are optimized, check out Ben’s blog post detailing landing page best practices.
Once you’ve checked for landing page quality and relevancy, check your ad text. Are you leading your searchers to the most relevant pages? Are you using high-volume keywords in your ad text? Make sure you are writing compelling ads that connect to your keywords and most importantly, test your ads against each other to continuously improve your ad copy.
Is Your Keyword Performing Well Despite its Low Quality Score?
It is very easy to get hung up on Quality Score and ignore other important metrics. Alongside monitoring Quality Score, you should be monitoring CTR, conversions, and cost per conversion. There are times when keywords with low Quality Scores will still have good click-through rates and convert well within their target CPA. In these cases, though your keyword has a low Quality Score it is still performing well! If your keyword has a Quality Score higher than 2 and meets these conditions, you should keep it around. Ultimately, a good return on investment should always trump a low Quality Score.
Are You Using the Right Match Type?
If you notice your keyword has a low Quality Score and a low click-through rate, you could be using the wrong match type. In general, less restrictive match types like broad match will pull in a lot more irrelevant traffic than more restrictive match types like phrase or exact. Make sure to test different match types before making any decisions about deleting a keyword. To find out which match type is the optimal choice for you, check out our match type guide.
How Long Have You Let the Keyword Run?
If you’ve just added a new keyword to your account, it will take some time before for your keyword has racked up enough data to support a meaningful Quality Score. I’ve seen many cases where a brand new keyword with a Quality Score of 4 or 5 will induce panic within its first week running. Before getting flustered, take a breath and remember to give your keyword some time to run.
If you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, try waiting until your keyword has generated around 30 clicks before taking any action.
Unfortunately, deleting low Quality Score keywords is not a miraculous quick fix for improving overall Quality Score. Remember, even if you do decide to delete all your low quality keywords, the historical performance of your deleted keywords will continue to affect your account history and its impact will only be diminished with time.
Now that you know when to do a little more research to find the true source and long-term solutions for your problems with low Quality Score, you are ready to take on those pesky low quality keywords like a true pest control expert. To help with your research efforts check out Drew’s post on reasons why your keyword quality score is low.
Zina Kayyali works as a Customer Success Specialist at WordStream, conducting software training and consulting with clients on Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter. Originally from Belmont, Massachusetts, Zina returned to the Boston Area after graduating from Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college in Ohio. Zina is a big fan of good cheeses and the state of Vermont. When she’s able to take a break from PPC, you’ll probably find her planning her next visit to the Von Trapp Lodge in Stowe or munching on her favorite, the Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche.
Due to the popularity of last month’s post discussing the pros and cons of buying Twitter followers, we’re tackling another contender – Pinterest.
Pinterest has become the internet’s photo-sharing darling since its explosion onto the social scene in 2011. Pinterest has become a haven for recipe swappers, DIY enthusiasts, designers, and more. Some of the most popular Pinterest users get their content shared thousands of times a day, and a high number of followers serves as a green light for other users debating who to follow.
A user’s number of Pinterest followers is another internet glamour metric, similar to Twitter followers. Just as with Twitter, having an army of inactive followers won’t do you much good, since on Pinterest the real value comes from repins, comments, and liking.
Still, in a world where the number of your followers and fans matters more than it should (says the person with less than 100 Pinterest followers), most savvy social media moguls long for as many follower notches on the Pinterest-bedpost as they can manage.
Lucky for you, we’ve got plenty of smart alternatives to buying Pinterest followers. These techniques will get you real followers who will stay active, engage with your content, bring referral traffic to your site, and do your laundry! Alright, that last one’s not entirely true, but the others are guaranteed.
Top 12 Alternatives to Buying Pinterest Followers
1. Promote Your Pinterest Account on Other Social Networks
Connect your Pinterest account with your Twitter and Facebook profiles. You can set up your permissions to have newly pinned items show up on your other networks. While this should be used with discretion, since heavy pinners may overwhelm your pals on Twitter and Facebook (Farmville-style), this is a great way to drum up followers from your other social networks.
2. Plaster the “Pin It” Button All Over Your Content
Make it easy for visitors to share your stuff and follow you by adding the Pin It button to your content and the Follow Button. Also try integrating Pinterest’s nifty widgets if you’re feeling adventurous.
3. Make Competitors into Contributors
You don’t hear much about contributor boards, but they are an awesome feature on Pinterest that helps you gain exposure and pin collectively. Contributor boards let you and others you’ve invited to each add pins to a single board, creating a happy commune of collaborative pinning.
Invite followers to become contributors on certain boards, and when they accept the invite, the board will automatically be displayed on their Pinterest pages, meaning more exposure for you! Better yet, if users choose to follow all the boards on one of your contributor’s account, your contributor board is followed too!
Contributors can be added in the “edit” options connected to any existing Pinterest board you’ve created.
Invite customers, colleagues, and even competitors to become contributors to a few of your boards. You want to add contributors that share a similar audience to you. Adding competitors lets you gain exposure across their network – ingeniously sneaky!
4. Make Unique Boards That Stand Out
There’s likely to be thousands, if not millions of “Food” boards on Pinterest, but how many “Manna From Heaven” boards or “Drool-Worthy Dumplings” boards? Probably not so many. Get Pinterest followers by creating eye-catching board titles that demand a second glance. Don’t get too freaky though; make sure that a user will still get the gist of what your board is all about.
Also consider your audience – you should create more segmented boards within your industry. For example, it’d be smart for a bakery to have a separate board for scones, lattes, cupcakes, and muffins, but those would look a bit silly for a tech company. This doesn’t mean you should completely steer away from topics outside of your expertise – especially with Pinterest-popular topics like food.
Mashable does a fantastic job with their “Nerdy Desserts” board, creating a dessert board that still manages to relate to their knowledge base and appeal to their geeky audience.
Don’t be afraid to go over-board, as it were – the most successful Pinterest accounts have over 200 different boards!
5. Pin Often and With Purpose
Staying active is a golden rule of all social media sites. It’s important to pin often on Pinterest, but not all at once – no one appreciates having their home feed plastered with a single user’s overzealous actions.
Instead, spread your pins out over the course of a day. It’s good to shoot for somewhere between 3 – 15 pins a day. Make it easy for yourself by scheduling pins with a tool like Pingraphy.
More activity means you are showing up on more Pinterest users’ feeds, which naturally will increase your number of Pinterest followers.
6. Pin Original & High-Quality Content
If users see you pinning the same old stuff everyone else pins, they won’t be itching to follow you. New and high-quality pins will capture the most attention.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t repin other content – of course you should, but be sure to complement your repins with your own original content. If you’re pinning photos, make sure they are high-quality and look good – low-quality, blurry images aren’t nearly as appealing.
Also aim for rich, colorful content. Curlate has done a study showing that colorful pictures and images with minimal white space perform the best, with colors like red, orange, and brown getting twice as many repins as blue-dominated images.
Take Pinterest’s layout into consideration as well when pining content. Tall, long images look the best, which makes Pinterest an excellent space to share and promote infographics.
Quality content gets noticed – your pins should fulfill needs, answer questions, and inspire.
7. Comment, Like, and Engage
Though the commenting feature has been around on Pinterest for quite some time now, it’s undervalued and rarely used, which means commenting is the perfect method to get some extra attention! Users who see you commenting and interacting with their boards will be much more likely to follow you.
While “liking” content doesn’t spark the same kind of notice and conversation that commenting does, it’s still a solid practice.
How could you not like those slobbery beasts?
8. Write Solid Captions and Implement #Hashtags
I can’t begin to tell you how many Pinterest “love it” or “have to try this” captions I’ve seen. This is a poor practice if you’re trying to increase your Pinterest followers. Opt instead for curt but descriptive captions that will make your pins easily searchable. Also consider adding some #hashtags where appropriate. Don’t get too carried away – tons of hashtags and links in the description can come off as #spammy.
9. Get Creative & Try Something Different
Get Pinterest followers by experimenting with design and layout on Pinterest. Peugeot Panama made social media headlines when they hosted a contest in which users had to find and pin the missing car tiles.
Peugeot Panama took advantage of Pinterest’s unique layout to create something new – try implementing your own cutting-edge designs.
Middle Sister Wines also have fantastically creative Pinterest layouts, with each brand of wine represented by a character.
You can't image what they're like at Happy Hour.
While this is a creative design, it’s not terribly hard to implement – could your business do something similar?
10. Follow Others
Give a little, get a little – following others is a great way to get your own followers, as many users practice reciprocal following.
Don’t know who to follow? Click your name in Pinterest and you’ll see a drop-down option to “Find Friends.” Pinterest will then show your Facebook and Twitter friends that are on Pinterest!
When you pin something, you’ll also see the person and board you are repinning from. If it seems like a cool board, go ahead and follow that user’s board, or all of their boards if you really dig their style.
It’s also a smart idea to follow the most popular Pinterest accounts so you can see what the pros are pinning and think about how to emulate their Pinterest power.
11. Create “Cover Images” For Your Content
This is a serous gem, and is key in getting Pinterest users to click through to the referral links attached to your pins. Despite being an image-oriented site, it’s becoming increasingly more common to see quotes, text, and cover images appearing on Pinterest.
What do I mean by a cover image? A Pinterest cover image is a striking graphic that hooks in viewers to a piece of content offered on your site. Here are a few examples:
Cover images work great for sharing content like:
- White Papers
- (Best) Blog Posts
Using cover images promotes your persona as a trusted relayer of top-notch content, boosting your Pinterest following as a result.
12. Become a Featured Board
Having one of your boards featured on Pinterest’s “suggested boards to follow” section or on popular pin-aggregators like Repinly is a following gold mine. This kind of exposure can’t be bought, so your best bet is to set up your boards so that they have the best chance of becoming featured Pinterest boards. To increase your chances, make sure that your boards have a very focused subject, are well populated with plenty of pins, and get plenty of visits.
For more Pinterest tips, tricks, and strategies, check out our complete Pinterest Marketing Guide.
Should My Business Be on Pinterest?
As a image-driven site, Pinterest works better for some companies than others. Product, media, and e-commerce industries work well with Pinterest, whereas it's a bit trickier to use Pinterest effectively as a software or finance company.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't bother at all with Pinterest if your company doesn't implement strong visuals. Absolutely have a go, but don't become discouraged if you're not seeing the kind of traction that designers and fashionistas rave about.
A Reminder: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Pinterest Followers
Collectively the methods suggested above require much more effort than buying Pinterest followers, but with the alternatives listed above, you’ll be creating a lasting network of real users.
Choosing to buy Pinterest followers isn’t a smart option for so many reasons – just browsing the sites that offer these services show how unreliable they are, reeking with a lack of credibility.
Check out this great advice from one of the top SERP entries for “buy Pinterest followers”:
“Pinterest Followers helps to increase the social signal to any of the activity in Pinterest. As simply if you have more number of followers in your Pinterest account it help to spread like viral to any of your activity in your profile.”
Hmm. Yes, that makes complete sense…
I mean, do you really trust a site like this? Do you want them at the helm of your social media accounts?
The guy was a moving, talking video. Pretty much the most annoying thing you can do on the web.
Even sellers who claim to offer “genuine” followers are far from reliable.
Often these Pinterest followers come from artificial accounts that are maintained, meaning every now and then someone logs in and pins a few things to avoid suspicion. Some do a pretty good impersonation, with bio pics and comments. There’s a chance that these fake Pinterest followers are real enough to slip by Pinterest’s spam filter, but don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re buying users who will truly interact and engage with your content.
Pinterest’s greatest value for marketers exists in generating referral traffic – Pinterest alone drives more referral traffic than Google +, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. It also drives more traffic than Twitter – yup, you heard that right!
Pinterest is a traffic-driving machine, and buying Pinterest followers simply means you’ll be missing out on that immensely valuable referral traffic. So do yourself a favor and dig into the Pinterest trenches for the long-haul – it’ll be worth it!
Google has revealed a new venture into ad extensions. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you image extensions. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then AdWords users have certainly got a lot more room to create compelling text ads now.
In Google’s announcement post, they talk about how this extension will be great to show off things like car models, jeans and even different shades of eye shadow. There is a lot more that we could use this extension for. Service-based companies will be able to highlight their work, and, as in the above example, hotels will be able to showcase their facilities. We may even see some companies using their logos – it would be very interesting to see the results of this in comparison to other methods of image ads.
Obviously any company with a visual angle will benefit from this – however, for e-commerce websites this feature will not work as well as product listing ads, purely because product listing ads display images based on the search query, whereas image extensions are likely to have the same usability as its peers, which means we will only be able to have images to represent an ad group, again reiterating the importance of tightly themed ad groups. PLA's also include price information.
But the image extensions could be great for non–e-commerce companies. Since lead gen businesses don’t have products to include in PLA’s, they can now at least include super-clickable images.
See No Evil – The Upside of Image Extensions
The best part of image extensions is that instead of telling someone how amazing your product is in 95 characters, you can just show them in one image. This way, users can decide for themselves whether they are interested or not and hopefully click through to your site, already sold on your image and description. It is also likely to reduce wasted clicks as you can show the user a lot of representative information about your product/service/company so if they aren’t interested they won’t click. Qualifying your visitors gives you better ROI from paid search.
Potential Disadvantages of Image Extensions
Even though there are all these great points for image extensions, there are also a couple of bad points. The first most noticeable bad point is it looks as though you have to trade in a description line to have an image extension. Seems like a fair trade, however there is less room to describe your site or product. We could potentially see a lot of ads that seem more like captions.
There is also the possibility that users are going to be unaware of what these new ad variations are, which could lead them to click onto standard ads. If this is the case then we could be scaring off of potential business. (But given the performance of PLAs compared to standard text ads, this is unlikely.)
The worst problem that I can foresee is for position 2 and 3. Position 1 will cost the most, however to a lot of people it will look as though all 3 images belong to the text ad accompanying it. This means that if you’re not paying top dollar, then you could be aiding your competitors.
I was also worried about the standard text ads, but they are said to still appear, just below the image ads. The image ad extension section will show 3 different images and they all have their own individual text ads that are displayed once you hover over the image.
The Low Down
The beta is now available for U.S. customers. Unfortunately us Brits will have to wait until the end of the year or beginning of next year to start using it, so happy experimenting, my American friends.
So since American customers have the honour of testing out this wonderful new feature, I will sit back and watch your findings. I myself can’t wait until I get the chance to experiment with image ads, but all in all it looks like a great addition to the extension collection and just another example of how paid search is developing for the better.
This is a guest post by Lewis Austin, the PPC & Social Media Manager at Absolute Digital Media. Working on a variety of campaigns within our paid search department, Lewis is currently studying to become a Google AdWords Certified Individual, extending his knowledge within the AdWords and Analytics platforms. When he’s not keeping up to date with Google’s latest blogs, news and webinars, Lewis loves watching comedies and relaxing with the odd video game.
If you’ve ever done a Google search, you know already that Google ads are occupying more and more space on the SERP. What you might not know is that the fancy Product Listing Ads you see are commercial intent-sucking monsters and are stealing all the conversions from both the organic and non-PLA search results.
Today, when someone searches for anything related to a product name, Google automatically populates most of the above-the-fold space on the SERP with PLAs and other blinged-out ads:
When I search on “keurig coffee maker,” about 80% of the screen is devoted to sponsored results featuring keurig products– I have to scroll below the fold to see more than two organic listings. All the ads you can see here make use of extensions (such as offer extensions, location extensions, etc.) but the PLAs are especially compelling because of the image and price information.
Last year, we did some research on ad-filled SERPS like this and found that about two-thirds of clicks on commercial searches go to the ads, leaving less than half of the clicks for organic results.
Here’s what you may not have realized before: The third of clicks that are left, after you take out the people that have clicked on ads, are significantly less valuable to your business.
Why? Because all the intent has been sucked out of the SERP. How exactly does this happen?
Commercial Intent in Search is a Zero Sum Game
When people execute a search like “keurig coffee maker,” some of those people are going to be further down in the funnel looking to buy now, while others are just looking to learn more about them.
The people with higher commercial intent who know exactly what they want – for example, a Keurig Elite single-serve coffee maker – are drawn right to the ad that shows them:
- The name of the product they’re looking for
- A picture of the product they’re looking for
- The price
- Where they can order it from
PLAs make it super-easy for people at the end of the funnel to go ahead and convert, because the ads show searchers exactly what they want and take them right to an e-commerce landing page so they can buy.
On the other hand, the people who are scrolling past those ads and clicking on organic results very likely have less commercial intent. They’re probably in the research phase of the funnel – they may be looking for reviews or just trying to figure out what a Keurig is – so they are less likely to buy during that search session, and may never convert to a sale at all.
It’s Not Just About SEO: PLAs Steal Intent-Driven Clicks from Other PPC Ads
Is commercial intent in search really a zero sum game? It would normally be difficult to prove a claim like I’m making – that PLAs are intent-vacuums, sucking all the commercial intent out of a SERP.
However, in AdWords, it’s currently possible to display two ads for the same keyword – both a standard text ad and a PLA. Companies that have just started running both kinds of ads have a rare opportunity to A/B test how the addition of PLA’s impacts their regular text ads.
At the Search Insider Summit in Florida last month, I attended a roundtable discussion on product listing ads with several big-brand PPC managers who all revealed the same thing: their PLAs were kicking ass but also sucking conversions away from their run-of-the-mill text ads.
Meaning, the increase in ROI from running PLA’s was at the expense of the other text ads they were running – you can’t double your sales by running both types of ads. As a result, all of the advertisers I spoke to were primarily shifting budget from vanilla plain text ads towards PLA’s as opposed to creating completely new budgets.
I believe this is because the PLAs are so information-rich. Prospective customers know exactly what they’ll be getting when they click on the ad, including the price. With a standard text ad, on the other hand, you run the risk of getting the click and then losing the sale, if people decide they don’t want to pay that much for your product or that it’s not exactly what they were picturing.
If You’re an E-Commerce Business and You’re Not Using PLA’s, Good Luck!
PLAs are just one more way that GOOG is sticking it to non-advertisers. Google is creating an environment in which you have to use AdWords to compete in search. You may still be able to rank on the first page for your product keywords, but those listings are not only getting pushed further and further down the page, they’re significantly less valuable since the commercial intent has been drained out of the SERP already by the competing Product Listing ads at the top of the SERP.
And it’s not just about SEO vs. PPC. It’s getting to the point where standard-issue text ads aren’t enough – you have to use all the bells and whistles that Google makes available to you. Otherwise you can’t hope to compete. If you’re an e-commerce company, it’s crucial that you set up a Merchant Center Account so you’re eligible for PLAs and dynamic remarketing.
If you’ve tried running PLAs and regular text ads on the same keywords, what were your results?
Do you remember the last television commercial you saw? How about the last radio ad you listened to?
Okay, here’s one you’ll remember for sure: What company was behind the last banner ad you saw online?
My guess is that you don’t remember any of those three types of advertising. But don’t feel bad about it. You’re probably suffering from “Horse Blinder Syndrome.”
It’s nothing serious, just a natural progression of how we humans have developed a tendency to ignore advertising. Especially online.
Display ad click-through rates have plummeted over the years, and according to DoubleClick research and HubSpot, the average CTR is now at a miniscule 0.1%.
So how do we brilliant marketers and creative advertisers improve? Well, there’s something called native advertising. And I’m 100% positive you’ve been exposed to it already. With native advertising showing better performance than banner ads, it’s no surprise that people in the industry are listening.
Native advertising is a way for your content (ads) to blend in with the overall user experience, so it doesn’t necessarily look like an ad.
Advertisers and publishers are quickly adopting this form of advertising, not just through ads, but also through sponsored articles. Here are two sponsored article examples of native advertising from Gizmodo:
Both Virgin Mobile and IBM do native advertising
If you go to Gizmodo on your phone and start browsing through the articles, you’ll notice that the sponsored articles blend in perfectly with other “native” content. It’s not trickery, I promise. It’s a smart way to offer interesting content that is relevant to what you sell.
Plus, if people find your content useful, they’ll be more likely to share through social media – something that regular ads have a hard time accomplishing.
Other examples of native advertising:
- Promoted Tweets
- AdWords & Bing Ads SERP ads
- Facebook news feed ads (sponsored stories)
- StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery
How You Can Create Native Advertising
As PPC enthusiasts, we’re always curious (and anxious) to find new ways to increase and improve client revenue and profits. Therefore, native advertising should definitely be in your arsenal of weapons.
You’re already creating text ads for the search network, so you’re covered there. But what about display?
Even though Google does not allow display ads to mimic site content, that shouldn’t prevent you from testing out several color combinations from your leading traffic generating sites on the display network. Be careful not to copy the publisher site colors exactly, as this is not allowed.
You can test out the same fonts or maybe one of the site colors and see the difference in CTR compared to your regular ads. Just make sure your logo is visible and not hidden as it wouldn’t benefit you to trick a visitor. Your initial goal should be to get eyeballs on your ad, then the click, and then the conversion.
I’ve seen positive results with this before, and yes, it’s a bit work intensive but it could work out very well. Start off with the placement giving you the highest display traffic, then lather, rinse and repeat from there.
If you’re looking to boost your paid search performance without working late in the office all summer or increasing your budget, try utilizing Ad Extensions. Not only do they require minimal set-up time, they are displayed at no additional cost.
It can be tough to decide which extensions to focus on, so I’ve created a cheat sheet to help you decide which ones will work best for you:
- What are they? As you can see above, Sitelink Extensions allow you to promote additional landing pages below your standard ad text. Applying a few more lines to your ad gives you more real estate on the SERP, helping your ad to stand out against your competition. Sitelinks also give the searcher an opportunity to go to a more specific page on your site. For example, in the ad above, the search is for Ray Ban sunglasses and the landing page goes to a fairly generic page. If the searcher knows that they want a particular style, such as aviators, they will be more apt to click on the sitelink and go to a specific page for that style. Google has shown that adding sitelinks to your ads increases your click-through rate, even if people aren’t clicking the sitelink links!
- Who should use them? Nearly every advertiser’s CTRs can benefit from sitelinks. If you’re skeptical, try implementing them for only one campaign or ad group to measure their impact. Keep in mind, Google will only show your sitelink extensions if you are in a top position, so you may not always see them.
- What are they? Call Extensions allow you to incorporate your phone number in your text ads, making it easier for customers to contact you directly. Depending on the device, the extensions will be displayed differently. On desktops and tablets, your phone number is applied alongside your text, whereas on high-end mobile devices, your ad will include a “call” button (see example above). With the advent of Enhanced Campaigns, Call Extensions have become increasingly sophisticated by allowing you to measure phone call conversions and view more extensive call reporting metrics.
- Who should use them? If you want to encourage searchers to call your business, because that’s the main way you generate leads or sales, make it easy for them to do so by utilizing Call Extensions. Keep in mind, Google no longer permits you to include phone numbers within ad copy, so this is the best way to ensure your phone number is visible to searchers.
- What are they? Location extensions allow you to incorporate your business address and telephone number into your ad. Don’t worry, you don’t have to waste any of your precious ad space! The location extension adds an extra line to your ad and often includes a map reference.
- Who should use them? If you have a brick and mortar business and your clients are likely to value their proximity to your physical location, you should be taking advantage of location extensions. To really kick it up a notch, link your Google Places account to AdWords so your star ratings will be eligible to appear alongside your location extension.
- What are they? Offer Extensions are one of Google’s newest ad extension innovations. They give advertisers the opportunity to present relevant offers within their ad text to drive searchers to click on their ads. When users click the “view offer” link, they are pushed to a Google hosted landing page that provides an option to print out the offer or “save it for later.” These extensions give clients an extra incentive to visit stores and complete a transaction.
- Who should use them? Advertisers who are aiming to bring more foot traffic into their local businesses. They are especially beneficial for places that provide products that don’t work well online. Ideally, once a user has visited the physical store, they will be more likely to return again in the future.
- What are they? App extensions make apps more accessible to searchers who are using tablets or mobile devices by providing a link to the app within the ad copy. This gives potential customers the opportunity to visit the app store to learn more about it.
- Who should use them? For advertisers who offer an app, this is a no brainer. Using these extensions will make it much easier for searchers to automatically download your app and get started! For current clients who already own the app, you also have the option to direct them to a relevant section of your app, based on their search.
**Keep in mind, Google will automatically apply some extensions, like Seller Ratings and Social Annotations, if you meet their criteria.
Now that you know which extensions are best for you, buckle down for a few minutes and set them up! Be mindful that the set-up process is slightly different for Sitelinks, Call and Offer Extensions, depending on whether you have upgraded to Enhanced Campaigns. If you have any questions, I’d recommend consulting the AdWords help center or your WordStream representative. If you're more of a hands on person, visit our AdWords sitelinks guide!
I realized long ago that journalism is 75% puns. I still remember the time in high school yearbook when my best friend Marisa was putting together a spread on international travel. She couldn’t think up a good caption to go under a photo of some student at the Eiffel Tower. I suggested “Get an eye-ful.” SHE LOVED IT! And into the yearbook it went, preserved for posterity.
Hence the unfortunate title of this post. I have to do these roundups once a month, guys, let me have my fun, OK?
Now, on to our top 10 awesomest posts of the month, in order of awesomeness, as determined by YOU, our faithful readers!
- Review of Mention, a Great Alternative to Google Alerts for Brand Monitoring – Google Alerts used to be the gold standard for brand monitoring, but they’ve fallen off of late. I took Mention for a spin and found it to be a much more robust offering for keep track of brand mentions and my “vanity search.”
- Buying Twitter Followers: The (Cheap) Price of Friendship – Should you buy Twitter followers? Is it worth the cost to see your numbers go up? Will everyone be so impressed? Megan Marrs debates the pros and cons.
- Should You Include the Same Keyword with All Match Types in AdWords? – Some PPC managers bid on the same keyword with all the different match types. Is this necessary? Lisa Wilkinson, one of our client services stars, investigates.
- News Flash: PPC Is Inbound Marketing – When SEOmoz announced its rebranding as just Moz this week, we couldn’t help but notice that they filed PPC under “inbound marketing.” About time!
- Persuasive Copywriting: 4 Tips for Higher Converting Websites – In this guest post, Smriti Chawla outlines some lesser-known persuasive copywriting techniques that you can implement on your website to subtly get the odds in your favor.
- Social Media Management Tools: What’s the Right Tool for Your Business? – If you’re looking for software to help you manage Twitter, Facebook and other social accounts, check out Meg’s reviews of HootSuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Social Bro.
- Why Tumblr Will Make Yahoo Billions: The Chronic Undervaluation of Display and Mobile – Many people felt that Yahoo’s billion-dollar Tumblr buy was a mistake, but Larry thinks it’s a brilliant move. Here’s why.
- Brooks Brothers' Gatsby Collection & Other Advertising Tie-Ins That Totally Missed the Point – If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, you know it’s not about the elegance of shirts. Looks like someone at Brooks Brothers never finished the book!
- PPC Campaign Structure Case Study: English Soccer & The 80-20 Rule – What’s the best way to structure a PPC campaign? Why not model it on the English soccer league system? Here’s how one client did it.
- How Not to Market to Women: Fashion Isn't ALL Women Care About – I get a little feisty about companies trying to sell me yogurt and house paint by showing me images of lipstick and shoes. Makes no sense!
Image via Moyan Brenn
What is Inbound Marketing? The Story of How PPC Became "In"
The industry is all a-buzz today with Rand Fishkin’s announcement that SEOmoz is relaunching and rebranding as simply Moz. They are distancing themselves from their history as an SEO company and positioning themselves as a provider of more general marketing tools, with a focus on “inbound marketing,” the phrase that local Boston company HubSpot and others made (relatively) famous.
I couldn’t help but notice that Rand’s blog post explaining the change included a revision of a diagram he had previously used when discussing inbound marketing. Here’s the new diagram, which distinguishes between inbound marketing and “interruption marketing”:
And here’s the old diagram, from Rand’s March 2011 blog post:
Notice anything missing? That’s right, PPC is mysteriously missing! In the new diagram, PPC is right next to SEO, at the top of the list - where I think it belongs! So what changed?
What (TF) Is Inbound Marketing, Anyway?
Earlier this year, there was a long thread at Inbound.org, started by our own Victor Pan, who petitioned for a PPC category on the site. Tad Chef responded by saying that “buying ads is outbound”:
Ian Howells echoed this idea, saying: “Not that I hate on paid search, but erm… the site is called inbound.org. PPC is paid media, which is the polar opposite.”
Martin McDonald then followed up on the topic in a post called “WTF is Inbound Marketing, Anyway?” at his blog, which drew another long chain of comments. Martin disagreed with both Tad and Ian:
Now frankly, I’m in disagreement with both of the above. PPC is absolutely a part of inbound marketing by my standards. My definition of inbound revolves around being somewhere with the answer when someone is looking for it, NOT sticking an advert for a product or service in front of their faces. That absolutely includes PPC!
This sparked another thread at Inbound.org, with people continuing to debate whether PPC, being a form of paid media, qualifies as inbound marketing.
The answer, as Ed Fry points out, really depends on how you define inbound marketing. Is it about cost of distribution, or context?
Free vs. Paid, Interruption vs. Flow
Some people in the web marketing space have suggested that PPC shouldn’t be included in “inbound marketing” because you have to pay for placement. But we take a different view.
Inbound marketing is any kind of marketing that reaches customers when they go looking for something to buy.
The whole point of introducing a term like “inbound marketing” is to create a more nuanced distinction than just “free marketing” and “paid marketing.” Any marketer who manages a budget knows that no form of marketing is truly “free.” Our friends at HubSpot and the newly dubbed Moz, sell products that helps you manage and execute on inbound campaigns. They know that if they called what they’re selling – a platform for blogging and SEO – “free marketing,” it would be a contradiction in terms. Of course, you can do inbound marketing without paying for software to help manage the process, but you’re either going to be paying someone or a team of people to do it (a blogger, a social media manager, an SEO specialist, etc.) or you’re going to be doing it yourself. And if you’re like many of our customers, business owners, any time you spend on inbound marketing is time you can’t spend on other business activities. All those activities have a cost. That’s why “free marketing” doesn’t cut it.
It makes much more sense to think of “inbound marketing” as the opposite of “outbound marketing,” or “interruption marketing,” than as the opposite of “free marketing” (which doesn’t exist). By this definition, inbound marketing is any kind of marketing that reaches customers when they go looking for something to buy.
For example: if you own a local pizza joint and you go around stick fliers and menus under people’s windshield wipers and rubber-banding them to their doorknobs all the time, that’s outbound or interruption marketing, because you’re coming to them and getting in their face, even though you have no idea whether they want pizza or even like pizza.
But if someone in your area searches for “pizza” on their mobile phone at 5 pm, and they get an organic local listing or a mobile PPC ad from your businesses, that’s contextual. Neither option is interrupting the flow of what they’re doing. Either way, you’re giving them information they were already looking for. Because PPC, like SEO, is contextual and query-triggered, it’s inbound marketing. Clearly, Rand and the Moz team realized this sometime in the past couple of years, and that’s part of why they’re changing their position.
No Marketing Channel is Free
All marketing channels are paid media. SEO requires tremendous effort. Thousands of new websites are launched every day, but the first page of the search results isn’t getting any bigger. In fact, if we look at the trends in mobile search, if anything, the SERP is getting smaller! That means the competition to get on the first page of Google is getting exponentially greater all the time.
I’m glad that more marketers including Rand Fishkin and I realize that PPC is inbound marketing, it is sustainable, and it does work. Hopefully over time more will come to the same conclusion.
Are you on board yet? And if not, why not?
Over the past six months or so, I’ve been conducting an informal survey before all of my PPC webinars. I ask attendees to tell me how much time they spend doing PPC every week, as well as which task is the biggest time sink in PPC management. For the first question, answers vary from less than an hour up to 40 hours a week. For the second, they’re a bit more consistent. I averaged the answers from the past several webinars and found that PPC managers find keyword research to be the single biggest time sink in PPC (wow, you guys really spend a lot of time on keyword research). This was followed closely by reporting and analysis:
Why do advertisers spend so much time on PPC reporting? Because the available PPC reporting tools are often too complex. You go into AdWords or Analytics to check on a metric and end up falling into a rabbit hole. Two hours later you can’t remember why you logged on in the first place. And the reports you deliver to your manager – or, if you’re an agency, to your clients – are dense, bland, and incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t live and breathe Excel.
WordStream has always made tools that aim to make keyword research faster, easier, and more effective. Now we’re tackling the second biggest time sink in PPC with our new PPC Success Report. Our new reporting tool creates intuitive visualizations of your PPC results so you can:
- Save time on reporting and analysis.
- Better understand your PPC results.
- Communicate PPC success to your team and your clients.
You can get a quick overview of how it works in the video below:
Where to Find the PPC Success Report
Customers can access the PPC Success Report by clicking on the "Success Report" tab at the top of your PPC Advisor screen. This instantly generates a beautiful, easy-to-read report full of insight into your account performance.
The PPC Success Report contains three sections, which I’ll talk about in more detail below.
Search Performance Funnel – The Big Picture on ROI
The first section in the PPC Success Report is the Search Performance Funnel.
The Search Performance Funnel is a visual representation of key stats including:
- Budget Spent
- Conversion Rate
The funnel illustrates how your PPC costs are translating into clicks, conversions, and your bottom line. You can also see the percent change from the previous month and some quick analysis on your numbers – so it’s ready-made to deliver to your manager or client.
Account Health and Trends – Track Progress on Key Metrics
Next is the Account Health and Trends section:
This section includes some charts and graphs that show you how your impression-weighted Quality Score, click-through rate, average CPC, total cost, and cost per acquisition are trending month over month.
We’ve selected these key metrics to highlight to help you avoid analysis paralysis – too many PPC managers get bogged down in overly complicated AdWords reports and miss the big picture. The PPC Success Report quickly shows you the most important PPC metrics that provide the clearest view of how your account is performing. Used in conjunction with the 20-Minute PPC Work Week, you’ll be able to visualize your progress, then take fast action where your account needs it most, all in about half an hour.
Top Performers – What’s Working Now
The final section is Top Performers, where you can see your best-performing keywords and text ads.
The Keywords subsection includes a word cloud so you can instantly see which keywords are driving the most clicks and impressions.
You can also see total conversions, CTR, CPA and total cost for your top 5 keyword performers.
The final subsection shows you your top performing text ad and provides some quick analysis on how you can improve keyword and ad performance.
Faster, Easier, More Beautiful PPC Reporting
WordStream’s new reports make PPC management and analysis even easier for small and medium business advertisers and agencies. Let’s review the benefits:
- Generate beautiful reports with one click – WordStream aggregates all of your account data and constructs a visually stimulating, infographic-quality report that is easy to read and beautiful to behold. No more boring reports filled with Excel charts and tables!
- Gain fast insight into your account performance – The software reviews the most important aspects of your account and presents that data in an intuitive format so that you can easily understand how your PPC account is performing, and easily communicate that performance to other stakeholders.
- Quickly identify areas of success and failure – You’ll instantly see where you are succeeding or failing in your account and get actionable advice to ensure future success.
I know our customers are going to love the new reports. I think you’ll love them too! If you want to see them for yourself, sign up for a free trial of PPC Advisor, connect your account and click “Generate Report.” Let me know what you think!
We’re very happy to announce that we made the short list of finalists in the 2013 MITX Innovation Awards! Last year, our AdWords Performance Grader won the award for the “Best Customer Engagement Driver” category. This year, the 20-Minute PPC Work Week is among the finalists for “Best B2B Innovation”:
Otherwise known as “innovative online tools that make employees whistle while they work” (well, not literally). In all reality, innovative technologies have made it easier for the business to do business, making our work lives easier and more effective and our customers happier. This category recognizes innovative B2B web, social and mobile technologies that are fundamentally improving how organizations get it done.”
The 20-Minute PPC Work Week is workflow tool inside our PPC Advisor software. It's essentially a customized to-do list that helps PPC marketers take action in their accounts. The software recommends high-impact optimizations, such as adding a new keyword or creating a negative keyword, that can save you money or increase your profits. By following the recommendations each week, clients can make a real difference in account performance in 20 minutes or less. We designed the 20-Minute PPC Work Week with busy SMB marketers in mind, and "easier" and "more effective" are what it's all about.
We’re honored to be named a finalist in this category along with Content Raven, Account360, and Skyword. Finalists in other categories include Acquia, ion interactive, and Hubspot.
The 2013 MITX Innovation Awards Ceremony will take place on Monday, June 3, from 6:00-9:00 pm at the Westin Copley. The Innovation Awards are intended to:
- Celebrate the innovations powering the future of marketing and revolutionizing the way we work and play
- Recognize innovations developed in New England
- Connect the next generation of start-up success stories with resources and people to help create their stories sooner
Boston startups, we hope to see you there!
Why is Social Media Management Important?
With so many different social media sites to post, share articles, and track engagement on, finding a reliable social media management tool to help streamline your social media tasks is pretty essential.
Social media managing tools can help marketers save time, stay organized, and optimize their efficiency.
Today we’re looking at some of the top contenders for social media management systems. While some overlap, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. This guide should help you determine which tool is the best fit for your business.
Social Media Management Tool Reviews
The pricing design of these social tools is fairly consistent – there’s usually a set of plans ranging from the cheapest and most basic, to the more expensive and advanced. Cheaper plans usually have a limit on the number of social media profiles and pages you can hook up to, while pricier plans allow for more accounts and bonus features.
For each tool I’ll give a quick checklist of the tool’s feature highlights, followed by a more in-depth look.
There's a lot of material in this post, so feel free to click a link below and jump ahead. In this post we’ll reviewing:
And then we'll continue the discussion with:
Price: Free, $8.99/month for Pro Version
Nutshell: Manage all your social networks in one spot, in a multi-columned design that lets you see several feeds at once.
What You Get (with Pro) for $10/month:
- Unlimited Number of Social Profiles
- Access for You +1 Team Member
- Analytics Reporting
- Advanced Scheduling (Manual & Auto-Scheduling)
- Monitoring & Publishing Tools
- Unlimited Apps (To connect with other social networks like Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and Evernote) & RSS Feeds
- Mobile Apps
NOTE: Free users get 5 social profiles and most of the Pro features, but no options for collaborating with team members and no advanced scheduling. (EDIT: Free does have post scheduling and drafts, but only Pro has bulk scheduling and auto-scheduling for what HootSuite calculates as best times to post.)
HootSuite is probably the most well-known social media management platform, letting users manage Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, and many other social accounts.
What sets HootSuite apart from the ever-increasing number of social media management tools is its multi-columned design. In HootSuite, each social media account is designated its own tab, and within each tab, users have the option of setting up streams. Streams can be customized to monitor any number of social media segments. The functionality of streams is most apparent when used in conjunction with a Twitter account – HootSuite’s streams make it possible to easily monitor Twitter mentions, private messages, retweets, and the home feed, all side by side on one screen through a multi-columned design. You can even have a stream updated with a chosen keyword or phrase you want to be tracked.
HootSuite also lets users assign tasks to other team members for collaboration efforts and enables users to schedule posts. With HootSuite Pro users can do bulk scheduling and also have access to HootSuite’s Auto Schedule feature, which uses its own custom algorithm to determine the best times for posting to your social media networks.
As with other social media management services, HootSuite offers an analytics feature, where users can generate analytic reports using pre-created templates or custom built reports. These reports can be generated with data from Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc., or users can mix and match to create their own custom reports.
Herein lies a shortcoming of HootSuite – analytic reports cost money. There are some free reports available, but more advanced reports can cost you as much as $50 per a report. That’s not to say they aren’t worth it – some of these reports are truly fantastic, letting users create custom reports for just about every social media metric imaginable, but having access to that data can end up being a big expense for small businesses. If you’re using the Pro version, you automatically get 1 free report each month, but any additional reports will come at a cost.
HootSuite’s versatility with its feeds and streams, along with its deep reporting capabilities, make it a stand-out contender. It’s worth noting that HootSuite is not quite as pretty as other social tools, choosing functionality over aesthetics. The bleak grey background makes it the saltines & ginger ale of social media management platforms. A great tool, but not exactly a joy to look at it – a little splash of color could go a long way.
- Multi-Columned Streams: The multi-columned design makes it easy to monitor many social media components on one screen.
- Apps to Connect with Other Social Media Networks: HootSuite seems to be the only social media account management tool really giving you tons of app add-on options.
- Costly Analytic Reports: Many of HootSuite’s analytic reports cost money and can get quite pricey, with some hitting the $50 mark.
- No Content-Grabbing Extension: Some other social media management tools have browser extensions that make it easy to bookmark and queue articles across the web for sharing, but not HootSuite.
- Ow.ly-Only URL Shorter: As Ian Gray points out, HootSuite uses ow.ly for link shortening, which may not be an issue for some users, but ow.ly shortening means that those URLs can’t really be tracked with anything outside of HootSuite.
Price: Free, $10/month for full version.
Nutshell: Queue & Schedule Content With Ease
What You Get with Full Version (aka the “Awesome Plan”)
- 12 profiles (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn)
- Advanced Post Scheduling
- Schedule Retweets (NEW)
- 2 Team Members
- Simple Analytics
- Buffer Extension Button for Chrome and Firefox to easily share articles
- Link Shortening Capabilities
- No Limit on Buffer Posts
Buffer features a crisp, clean, and easy to manage interface for queuing up articles to share across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
While Sprout Social and HootSuite are multi-purpose tools for publishing, listening, and measuring social media efforts, Buffer is designed for social media content management, primarily concerned with making it as easy as possible to share cool content you’ve found across your social media networks when and where you choose.
Buffer lacks the powerful dashboards and deep reporting of other social media tools, but it’s truly a master at what it does, making it simple and easy to spread and meticulously schedule content.
The Buffer button can easily be integrated into RSS readers, Twitter, Chrome, SocialBro, Wordpress, and other tools for discovering content. Buffering content is supremely easy – just click the Buffer button, choose which accounts you want to post on, and Buffer will post the content based on your pre-selected posting schedule.
Buffer’s scheduling options are fantastic – choose three, four, five or more specific times when you want to do a post, and Buffer will grab something from your assigned queue and post for you. As of a few days ago, Buffer lets you schedule retweets too! These schedules can be changed and adjusted for each day of the week (so long as you have the Awesome plan).
Even Buffer’s free option makes life significantly easier for content-sharing social media users.
Buffer’s no-nonsense analytics are simple compared to other social media management tools, but still offer important information regarding the retweets, mentions, likes and comments on your various social media posts.
Buffer has some handy little extras too, such as link shortening (bit.ly, buff.ly, or j.mp) and the option of adding team members that can access your Buffer account. You won’t be assigning tasks and chatting inside the platform as you can with other social media management services, but it’s still a nice additional feature.
If you‘re looking primarily for easy and powerful scheduling options with the core social media platforms, Buffer is your main man.
- Easy & Simple Interface: Clean presentation and easy to use.
- Great Segmented Scheduling: Schedule times to repeat throughout the week or adjust according to different days.
- Buffer Button Integrates Easily Across the Web: Extensions make Buffering a breeze – you can use the Buffer button in your web browser, on Twitter, or on content pages.
- Simple Analytics: Bare-bone analytics offer only the essentials.
- Not an All-Encompassing Social Media Management Solution: Again, I’m not sure this is a fair “con” since Buffer isn’t trying to be a one-stop social media management spot. However, if you’re looking to better manage your social media accounts, Buffer provides only one piece of the puzzle, albeit a valuable corner piece.
Price: Starts at $40/month
Nutshell: Sprout Social is pricier than other social media management software, but advocates rave about its gorgeous design, advanced discovery and contact management options, and great customer support.
What You Get with the Standard $40/Month Plan
- All-In-One Social Inbox
- Real-time Brand Monitoring
- Advanced Publishing & Scheduling for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Google Reader RSS
- Social CRM Tools
- Comprehensive Reporting Tools
- Complimentary Training & Support
- Manage Up to 10 Profiles
- Sprout Social Browser Extension for Easy Article Queuing
- Mobile Apps
Sprout’s setup consists of a main Home dashboard, offering a quick snapshot of your social accounts, and several tabs that help users monitor, publish, schedule, and report on social media campaigns.
The Messages tab shows engagement, such as @ tweets involving you, while the Feeds tab is where you can access all your social media feeds in one spot. In this sense, the Sprout setup could be more compact – I’d prefer to see Messages and Feeds tabs combined, rather than having to go back and forth to see mentions and interactions in a separate section from my feeds.
Publishing lets you post and schedule messages across social media platforms, and also allows you to access and edit your Sprout Queue of articles and content bookmarked with the Sprout Queue Extension for Chrome (or Firefox).
Users also have the option to take advantage of Sprout Social’s ViralPost feature, which analyzes your audience’s engagement patterns and other factors to determine the best time to post the content in your queue.
Sprout’s Discovery tab helps users find new followers and review who converses with you on Twitter most often. It also assists in trimming the Twitter fat – the cleanup function makes it easy to remove spammy or inactive accounts from your Following list. The Smart Search function lets users conduct a keyword or user search across Facebook and Twitter, and even includes location filters to target by area.
Sprout Social’s reporting options allow for broad reports of overall social media activity and segmented Facebook, Twitter, Team Progress, and Twitter Comparison reports. The colorful and stylish reports aren’t as customizable as HootSuite’s, but provide all the data expected and valued most by social media strategists.
What really separates Sprout Social from HootSuite and other social media profile management tools are Sprout’s Social CRM Tools. Sprout Social allows for some handy contact book customization, letting users add custom notes and view past interactions with specific users.
- Gorgeous Interface: Sprout is the most attractive social media management tool, with a crisp, clean, and clutter-free layout. While aesthetics may seem like a shallow and irrelevant factor, if you are spending every day working with a tool, you can bet you want it to look sexy.
- Mega Customer and Tech Support: Advocates rave about the helpfulness and friendliness of Sprout Social’s customer and tech support.
- Headache Free: Sprout Social isn’t as customizable as other social media management tools, but that also means it isn’t as complicated. Sprout’s interface is natural and intuitive – you won’t have to spend hours figuring it out.
- Scheduler Not as Advanced as Buffer: While Sprout Social has a nice queue system and scheduler, they don’t allow for the same kind of deep, repeated scheduling as Buffer.
- No Facebook Liking: Sprout Social lets you reply and comment on Facebook, but the interface doesn’t yet allow you to “Like” content – a strange hiccup that will hopefully be fixed soon.
- No Google+: Another significant issue is that Sprout Social doesn’t have Google+ integration, although they’re likely to change that in the near future.
Sprout provides everything you need and then some, but if you’re big into customization, HootSuite might be more your cup of tea.
Price: $6.95/month for Premium, with three higher options
Nutshell: A super-powered social media community management tool for Twitter
What you get with Premium Plan:
- 10K social contacts
- 5 Twitter accounts
- Assortment of tools for understanding & engaging with Twitter community
- Twitter monitoring through hashtags, URLs, or tweets
- Analyze Competitors feature
- Twitter Insights Reporting
“Do you even social, bro?” SocialBro allows for deep exploration of your Twitter community, letting users dig deep into information about their Twitter followers and friends.
SocialBro can feel overwhelming and even downright frightening when you log in for the first time, as you’re bombarded with columns, graphs, and tools. Thankfully, SocialBro eases the learning curve with video tutorials and helpful mouse-over pop-ups that offer explanations for each metric and tool.
SocialBro is a true heavy-lifter when it comes to Twitter management. Naturally this Twitter machine makes it easy to post and view your tweets, mentions, favorites, etc., but it goes way past what most tools offer. While many other social media management tools let you browse through followers, SocialBro goes beyond, letting you analyze followers with a startling range of metrics. You can sort by those with the greatest influence, those that you influence, reciprocal followers, new followers, new unfollows, famous friends, inactive friends, and many more.
SocialBro’s real-time analytics lets you see who has been active on Twitter in the last five minutes, so you can interact with users that are currently online and see your immediate tweet reach. It can help you discover when is the best time for you to tweet based on your followers’ activity, and can help you sort through and analyze your Twitter lists.
SocialBro is packed with lots of advanced filters for discovering users and tweets by location, interests, keywords, and more. This Twitter management work horse also lets users analyze a competitor’s Twitter account, making it easy to stay up to date by continuously monitoring a hash tag, URL, or specific tweet. Newest features include a Collaborators option to share your account with other team members for social media project management and a DM Campaigns tool for sending mass direct messages (this feature is only for the Professional version, a more pricey option at $40/month).
Insight Reports provide a pretty intricate set of features for assessing your Twitter community. You’ll see the standard bar graphs, maps, and pie charts, but one component I especially liked was the “bio tagcloud” that shows the subjects and interests of your selected Twitter group.
If you’re a Twitter power user, you’ll likely love SocialBro.
- Built-in Learning: SocialBro’s tutorial videos and mouse-over instructions make the platform easy to learn.
- Just Twitter: Not compatible with other social media accounts outside of Twitter. Then again, it’s not trying to be a complete social media management solution, so maybe this isn’t a true con.
Which Social Media Tool to Choose?
If your business is primarily focused on Twitter, Social Bro is the ultimate Twitter tool. If you’re looking for an easier way to share content, Buffer is where it’s at. The ultimate decision for many ends up being between HootSuite vs. Sprout Social, the two social media management platforms looking to be your business’s social media activity headquarters.
HootSuite and Sprout Social have a lot in common, but there are differentiating factors to consider.
What Sprout Social Has (that HootSuite does not)
- Sprout Queue button for bookmarking and sharing content (similar to the Buffer button)
- Social CRM tools for keeping better track of contacts
- Gorgeous design (sorry HootSuite)
- 100% free analytics
What HootSuite has (that Sprout Social Does Not):
- Bulk scheduling that lets you can upload from a CSV file and schedule up to 50 posts at a time.
- Unlimited social profiles/apps (for Pro)
- A free option
- Unlimited social profiles/apps (for Pro)
No, you don’t need glasses, I put the “unlimited social profiles and apps” twice in my list because this is a HUGE deal. With HootSuite, you can have multiple Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages monitored PLUS with apps you can manage accounts on FourSquare, MySpace, Wordpress, Vimeo, Instagram, Stumble Upon, Tumblr… and more. Sprout Social is hugely limited in comparison, dealing only with the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. HootSuite also allows for more customization, so if you’re somewhat controlling, you might prefer HootSuite over the competition.
The other huge advantage of HootSuite is that it has a great free version. It’s a limited option, and likely will only really work for individuals who simply want to monitor some of their social media accounts, but even the Pro version at $10/month is at a considerably lower price point than Sprout Social’s lowest $40/month plan. Businesses on a budget will likely find HootSuite an obvious choice.
However, if you have enough cash to splurge a little, Sprout Social has a superior UI and enough other great features that the price can easily be justified.
When deciding to choose between HootSuite or Sprout Social, it’s also smart to keep in mind the layout – these two tools have very different approaches to monitoring feeds. Sprout Social relies on a single column layout, letting users click between accounts to see feeds. HootSuite, on the other hand, goes with a multi-columned layout, allowing you to see multiple feeds and streams at once.
I prefer Hoot Suite’s multi-column design, which lets you take in more information at once on a single screen, but many others prefer the single-column layout, since with the multi-column you sometimes have to scroll across horizontally, which can be a pain. Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference.
The best thing you can do when deciding on which social media management software to choose for your business is to jump in and try the tools yourself, taking into account your business’s individual demands and needs.
HootSuite and Buffer provide completely free social media management tools via their $0/month plans, while Social Bro and Sprout Social have free trials.
Here’s an overview of how you can get down and dirty with these tools:
- HootSuite: Try the Free Plan or do a 30-day trial of Pro [Pro trial requires credit card].
- Sprout Social: 30-Day Trial for any of the three plans [no credit card]
- Buffer: Try Free Plan
- Social Bro: 15-day free trial [no credit card]
Hopefully this social media management guide has helped you consider what features and tools are most important for your business as you choose between social media management platforms.
Have you ever used any of these tools, or others, for social media management? What did you think of them?
In this article, I’ll explain why I think they’re all wrong.
But first, let’s address the critics, who in general, seem to be focused on two main points:
1. Yahoo Sucks at Integrating Companies (See Flickr)
In 2005, photo sharing site Flickr was at the forefront of the social media revolution. But, as some critics have pointed out, Yahoo’s reign has brought with it a complete lack of innovation, and as a result the company failed to do anything interesting with the huge audience Flickr had.
All this is true – however, it happened under Yahoo’s previous management, before Marissa Mayer took over the helm. This is backwards-looking, not forwards-looking. Yahoo has vowed “not to Screw up [Tumblr]”, and I even expect to see stunning changes to Flickr in the near future as the company looks to re-invigorate its core products.
2. Yahoo Overpaid for Tumblr
According to Quantcast, Tumblr gets about 60 billion U.S. page views per year. Using current prices for ad inventory those page views will spin off $108 million per year if a net $1.79 RPM (revenue per thousand page views) is achieved – so Tumblr’s $1B price tag works out to be rougly 10x this year’s revenues, which is rich because it’s not clear what the monetization model is or how users will react to more ads on their blogs.
Now here’s why the critics are wrong (ha ha).
1. Display ads will not automatically ruin Tumblr.
Yes, it’s true that showing stupid ads for weird weight loss tricks and finding singles in your area could potentially destroy Tumblr, but who says that Tumblr needs to adopt the Facebook model of ad serving? Google showed that serving relevant ads at the right time not only make them boatloads of money, but also add value to the user experience.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promises platform monetization will be done in a way that will follow the form and function of the platform “in a way that’s meaningful” for users and their expectations. She and Tumblr CEO, David Karp, share a mutual love of pop culture and both desire to deliver online ads that are “as great as the content”.
2. Display ads are way undervalued.
A few months ago, WordStream did a study on average AdWords conversion rates, cost per actions, etc. Google asked us to unpublish the study results, however you can still see the data on third-party sites, like this one.
Basically what we found was that the average Cost-Per-Action for direct response marketing on the Google Display Network was lower than the average CPA for advertising on Google Search in certain industries, like Automotive and Travel.
You read that correctly – display ads were actually beating out search ad performance in certain verticals, when you took into consideration the entire purchase funnel including cost per click and post-click conversion rates.
What’s driving this monumental shift are two things:
- Ridiculously expensive CPC’s like $50+ for “auto insurance,” which makes search marketing pretty pricy in lucrative verticals. Advertisers are getting stretched to the limit here and what's happening is that advertising budget is being shifted towards other options – stuff like display and mobile ads.
- Big advances in display ad targeting, like remarketing to deliver the right ad to right person at right time; this does wonders for advertiser ROI. We work with a bunch of vendors in the space including Google and display ad tech has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last year. I’m talking about stuff like:
- Search Remarketing (Search Companion)
- New Mobile Ad Formats for Display Ads
- Remarketing Lists for Search (RSLA)
And if Google can do this, all YHOO has to do is build-in better ad serving intelligence to increase CTR from the average 0.1% and improve post-click conversion rates by more than the industry average of around 0.4% which is already being done by Google Display Network.– if they build it, advertisers will pay for performance. Just achieving similar numbers could increase the average revenue per page view by 4x, and who says they can’t do better.
3. Mobile is Worth Way More than Desktop
Approximately half of Tumblr users access the site content via mobile. Wall Street is completely confused about the value of mobile. Conventional wisdom is that because companies like Facebook and Google have struggled to monetize mobile, that mobile is somehow less valuable.
Here at WordStream, we’re finding the opposite to be true: mobile clicks and calls are worth way more to advertisers. We’re seeing that:
- The time between “searching” and “taking action” (like buying or ordering something) is much shorter on mobile
- Calls from mobile devices are over 4x more likely to convert to a sale than someone filling out a standard “contact-us” form
While historically, mobile CPC’s have lagged desktop CPC's, we believe that within the next 12 months, this situation will be reversed.
So in summary – billions more eyeballs and better display ad targeting monetization and more valuable mobile clicks = huge value to advertisers = big bucks for YHOO and that perspective is why it makes sense that Yahoo would want to pay over $1B to acquire Tumblr.
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?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?]
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.
(Read More on the Debate: Google AdWords Mirrorred Campaigns)
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 companies 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 ROI in 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 the ROI of social media 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!