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Facebook and Google Ads - The Keys to Small Business Paid Search

Facebook and Google Ads – The Keys to Small Business Paid Search

If you want to run a business today, you need to be advertising on Facebook and Google. These two tech giants dominate the online advertising market, and their reach is so incredibly broad (both have billions of users each month) that to leave them out of your strategy is to not have an online strategy at all.

However, if you take a look into how to approach advertising on these sites, you’ll find some conflicting opinions online. And of course the advertising approach for a large company is going to be very different from the one undertaken by a small business with a limited marketing budget.

Here, we’ll look at how to make Facebook and Google work best for you, the small business owner.

Determine Your Budget

Before you go off down the marketing rabbit hole, the first thing you need to do is set a realistic budget for yourself. It’s entirely possible to run an effective marketing campaign online with an outrageous spend, but you’ll need to understand what you’re willing and able to spend before you can develop an approach to using these tools effectively.

When you’re thinking about budget, it’s critical that you consider the budget for the year, not just month to month. Your online marketing campaign will not be successful if it comes in fits and starts—as one of our guest bloggers noted here, being a consistent presence online and in front of customers is a key component of building trust and driving conversions. That means that when you think about marketing budget, you need to think about your long game.

Have a Gameplan

After you’ve determined what you’re willing and able to spend, you’ll also want to set really clear objectives for your marketing campaign. Sure, you’re hoping to win more business, but how do you measure success? Number of conversions? Number of sales? Percentage of revenue growth?

Understanding what your expectations are for your marketing efforts will allow you to better understand the results of your campaign and refine your approach further in the future.

Understand Your Prospective Customers

Each small business is solving a unique problem, and therefore has their own unique cohort of prospective customers that could benefit from their good or service.

One of the key benefits to using Google and Facebook advertising is that they allow you to get really specific about the people who will see your advertising.

How to Find Your Audience on Facebook

I go into greater detail on this podcast about setting up your Facebook Business Manager account, but once you have that up and running there are a number of tools you’ll want to take advantage of to identify your most promising prospects.

  • Facebook Pixel is a line of code that you can install on your own company’s website. This code will allow you to track those who visit your site and send them targeted ads on Facebook based on their behavior. If someone’s already expressed interest in your business by visiting your website but hasn’t yet become a customer, you’ll want them to encounter you again on Facebook. The more consistently someone sees your brand across various channels, the more likely they’ll be to go and check you out in greater depth.
  • Creating lookalike audiences is another key component to optimizing your Facebook advertising. Facebook allows you to upload a list of your current customers, and then they generate a list of users who have similar attributes to those with whom you already do business.

How to Find Your Audience on Google

Google also provides business owners with a number of avenues to target specific users with their advertising.

  • Google Ads (formerly AdWords) allows you to target your ads by location and search words. There is some legwork you need to do up front to research the most effective keywords for your business. Putting in the time at the start to do the research phase correctly can result in really stellar results for your business and will get you the most bang for your advertising buck.
  • Google Local Services Ads are an important tool for tradesmen, technicians, or those who offer services to homeowners. Local Services Ads curates a list of providers of a particular service in a particular area (i.e. “electricians in San Francisco”). This puts your business front and center with those homeowners who are in immediate need of the service you provide. Your contact information is available, and so it’s a direct way to not only generate a lead but gain a new customer right on the spot.

Understand How to Best Use Each Platform

Facebook and Google both allow you to target your most promising prospects and to get detailed analytics about the success of your campaign, but there are some differences between advertising on the two sites, and so your approach to each should be unique.

Facebook’s ethos is all about creating community, so when someone searches for a business there, the first thing they see is how their friends are interacting with the brand. Once they head to the business’s page, they’re encouraged to invite their friends to “like” the page. The advertising is visually-driven, allowing you to paint a picture (literally) of what your business can do. The endorsements of friends and other Facebook users and the image-rich pages all allow you to present your business as one that’s trustworthy—you’ve earned the kudos of real people and you’re not afraid to share pictures and videos that show who your company really is.

Google’s paid search takes a different approach that’s more about immediacy. With a paid search ad, your company appears in line with results to a particular query. That means that if you’re a florist in San Diego, and someone is in desperate need of flowers in that geographical area, you can ensure you’re the first name they see when they type “florist near me” into their Google search. This allows you to become the immediate solution to their pressing issue. Google’s platform also incorporates ratings and reviews into some of its advertising (specifically as a part of Local Services Ads) and those with the highest ratings are often bumped up to the top of the results list. This means that reviews and trustworthiness are still a key component of the game on Google.

Two Advertising Tactics are Better Than One

While each platform has their own unique strengths, there is even more value in using the two together. Facebook cites a case study from the digital marketing technology firm Kenshoo, to illustrate this point. Kenshoo looked at Experian’s paid search approach and found that using Facebook and Google ads together helped to improve the overall effectiveness of their campaign.

Because users often turn to Facebook first and go there for personal recommendations from friends and other users, having advertising present on Facebook is a valuable first step to gaining a prospect’s attention. As I’ve noted before, 90 percent of consumers say they trust a recommendation from a friend or family member, and 70 percent say they trust a personal recommendation from any fellow consumer (even a stranger online).

In their case study, Kenshoo noted that when Experian advertised on both Facebook and Google, they saw a 19 percent increase in total conversions, while spending 10 percent less overall per acquisition. Using both platforms together allows you to get in front of prospects across multiple channels, build trust, and make the conversion.

Pay Attention to the Analytics and Pivot Accordingly

Both Google and Facebook ads provide you with a lot of information about how your ads are performing.

Do you have an ad that’s reaching the right people but isn’t resulting in leads or conversions? If you’ve put together an expensive television ad or print campaign that isn’t generating results, you’ve already spent the money and can’t take it all back.

Fortunately, with online advertising you’re able to quickly scrap ideas that aren’t successful and test out new approaches. And if you make tweaks to your advertising one step at a time, applying the principle of A/B testing, you’re able to see what change you’ve made that’s generating the most positive results from your audience. From there, you can hone in on that approach and expand it to other marketing and advertising efforts.

Facebook and Google ads are really great for small businesses because they’re a low risk and potentially high reward way to reach new customers. Both platforms make it easy to find those who are most likely to want to interact with your brand, which makes lead generation and conversion an easier task. And if you’re willing to go the extra mile and sort through the analytics that come back from your campaigns, you can use that information to further refine your approach in the future, thereby creating more and more effective advertising campaigns each time.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Advertising or our Small Business Guide to Paid Search.

24 How to Create a Social Media Conversion System


Image credit: anitakhart via Flickr

People often complain that social media is a giant time drain, but one that they know they must dive into because everyone says they must.

Of course this is exactly the kind of thinking that makes social media, or any business or marketing activity, a giant time drain.

Social media participation and integration is an important aspect of marketing and while the names, technologies, and tools may feel foreign, the fundamentals involved in making them pay are the same.

Marketing is about building trust and these days any effective conversion approach is steeped in building trust through engagement. This is true of selling, advertising, lead generation, and customer service – and it’s certainly true when it comes to building trust using social media platforms.

The trick, like all good inbound marketing, is to create value and a reason for someone that might encounter your business to want to know more.

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41 5 Ways to Guarantee Your Marketing Works

usertestingMarketing can, at times, be part art, part science, part intuition. Toss into that the fact that traditional market research produces results that are often misleading and sometimes flat out wrong because people don’t tell the truth in the traditional survey or focus group setting. It’s not that they are bad people, it’s that they don’t really know what makes them buy one thing over another. (Check out Buyology and my interview with author Martin Lindstrom for more on this.)

So, what’s a business owner, one’s who is constantly chasing the next brilliant marketing, product or service innovation, to do. Well, you can guess, consult a marketing guru or you can prove that you are indeed a marketing genius by testing every idea in the real world. (Marketing geniuses go with whatever wins the test, otherwise known as proof, and that’s the real genius part.)

Direct marketers have always been great testers, but I’m suggesting that even the smallest of businesses can test just about everything they do and practically guarantee better business and marketing decisions using a few simple tools.

Below are five ways to use some form of testing to make better decisions.

1) Google AdWords

Google’s fabulously popular advertising tool is actually one of the greatest test beds ever created. Any business write ads, bid on keywords and have those ads shown to prospects searching for something. The key though is that you can write multiple ads and have Google rotate showing the ads while recording which one gets clicked on the most. If you want to test a headline or even a product idea, you can have some incredible research from prospects, showing real intent, in a matter of hours for less than $50. I’ve used this method for years as a way to test ad copy that I might use in a print ad. Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek told me he used this method when deciding on the title of his mega-best seller.

2) Google Website Optimizer

This free tool from Google allows you to test countless elements of a web page to see what gets the desired result. You simply create multiple versions of a web page, changing out an image, headline, call to action, or size of buy now button. Then you load the experiment into your Google Website Optimizer and let Google rotate the pages while keeping track of whatever the desired action is. You can test many variations at once, but keep in mind that the more variations the more traffic you will need to see a result. I’ve seen sites double the number of newsletter sign-ups, for example, by moving the sign-up form on the page or simply adding a more provocative headline. Now you can know for sure what works and keep testing to make it work better. Bryan Eisenberg’s Book – Always Be Testing – is a good place to learn the ins and out of this tool.

3) Marketing Board

This isn’t a technology tool as much as an idea. Go out there and find eight to ten folks in your community who could be convinced to help you grow your business. Clients, vendors, lenders, other small business owners all make great prospects for your board. The only real qualification is that they understand your market and they are motivated to help you.

Put a marketing plan in front of them, ask them to review it, comment, give suggestions on your marketing plans and materials and, most importantly promise them that you will accomplish a set list of marketing goals pertaining to the plan that you will give them an update at your next quarterly meeting.

Feed them some really good bagels or wine and send them home. Then get to work on revising and refining your marketing ideas based on their input and get ready for your next meeting.

4) User Testing

Web folks have been employing something called  usability testing for years. Essentially this is putting a prospect in front of your site and having them talk their way through navigating towards whatever your goal is. This is a very powerful, and frankly, necessary step for any website to be truly successful. The problem for the typical small business is that it can also be rather expensive.  One inexpesnive online solution is usertesting.com For just under $100 you can get some tremendous feedback about the user experience of your website.

Here’s how it works:

  • You sign up for user testing, specifying the  demographic profile of your target audience and how many user testers you want (one user costs $19, five users cost $95).
  • Users record their screen and voice as they use your website, speaking their thoughts as they browse.
  • You watch and listen to them use your site. Each user’s session – mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, and spoken comments – is saved as a Flash video for you to watch.
  • You read their review and make improvements based on real-time experiences.

You could also apply a similar approach to marketing materials and product packaging.

5) Beta Launch

The software industry created the idea of launching products before they were finished, in a “beta” mode, with the notion that users would agree to provide input, bug fixes and feedback for the right to try it first or free.

You don’t need to be working on a web application to employ this powerful tactic. If you are creating a new product or service, why not build beta launches into your plan. By advertising a service, for example, as a test you can launch quicker, spend less getting going and gain insight and marketing research that can tell you

  • If there is a demand for your offering
  • If you’ve explained how to use it well enough
  • If you’ve got the right price
  • If you need to add or remove features
  • If test subjects get the desired outcome

In addition, this approach can create a bit of demand for a product or service from those early adopter types that like to play this role. If you create a product or service that’s a hit, you’ll also get needed testimonials, buzz and success stories from these early users. The community building and collaborative nature of this approach is something that I’ve seen a great demand for and something that social media participation has fostered as a bit of an expectation. It’s also a great way to get a product rolling. By giving the first buyers a chance to get a special price you build some momentum with the product or service.

I applied this approach to a recent product launch and I can’t tell you how much better the product became from the suggestions of a handful of early beta testers.

Image credit: Jose Kevo