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The Key to Online Advertising Is Tracking Results

In the olden days, advertising was an expensive and risky prospect. Brands would spend lots of money up front on print ads, television commercials, or radio spots. Next, they’d hire an advertising firm to create and execute the concept. Then, they’d have to buy the air time or ad space. And they did all this without much insight into whether or not the concept would actually be successful.

Fortunately for today’s small business owners, tracking online advertising is possible! And it provides insight into exactly how each campaign performs. Armed with that information, you can tailor your messaging in future campaigns. You’ll lean into tactics that resonated with your audience and ditch those less-successful approaches.

If you’re advertising online but aren’t tracking your results, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Tracking online advertising empowers you to better understand your customers and boost your ROI on each and every campaign. Here’s what you need to do to effectively track your online advertising.

Create Conversion Goals in Google Analytics

The first step to tracking how your ads perform is defining your goals. Every ad campaign that you run should be driving viewers towards a specific action. You might create an ad designed to encourage someone to download your white paper. Or maybe it pushes them to sign up for your newsletter. Or perhaps it invites them to request a free trial of your product.

The ads should also be directing viewers to your website, where they can take the desired action. And that’s where conversion goals come in.

In Google Analytics, you’re able to define your conversion goals. A conversion is a desired action that someone takes on your website—something like filling out a form to request a quote or successfully completing check-out in your online store.

Google Analytics allows you to create up to 20 conversion goals for your business. Focus on the goals that make the most sense for your industry and business strategy. For example, a contractor might be more interested in getting folks to request a quote, whereas a clothing retailer might be more concerned with that successful check-out metric.

No matter what goals you define for your business, Google Analytics can help you track the steps that people take on your website to ultimately reach that conversion; this is called a goal funnel. Creating a goal funnel provides a visual representation of your data. That way, you understand where people drop off in the process towards completing a given conversion.

For example, if the ultimate conversion goal is a successful check-out in your online store, you can see if you lose people in the product browsing stage, or whether people are putting items in their carts and then abandoning them.

Check out this video from Google for a more detailed look at how to set up your goals in Google Analytics.

Link Your Ads to Google Analytics

Now that you’ve defined your goals in Google Analytics, it’s time to get your advertising and analytics metrics all on the same page (literally). By linking your Google Ads and Analytics accounts, you can keep all of the data on both your ad campaigns and website performance all in one place.

Google Ads allows you to track performance for each individual ad campaign, so you can see things like impressions and clickthrough rate. And when your two accounts are linked, you can then draw a direct line between how people interact with each ad and the actions they took on your site.

So let’s say you own a marketing consulting firm. You’re running an ad encouraging people to download your latest white paper on social media marketing trends for 2020. When your Ads and Analytics accounts are linked, you can see the CTR on the ad itself. Then, you can see how many people actually follow through with requesting the download once they get to your site. This gives you insight into how each piece of the marketing puzzle is working, and it can help you identify any weak spots in the conversion process.

Monitor From Click to Client

While it’s great to be able to see how ads influence visitors’ behaviors on your site, for most businesses that still doesn’t offer a complete picture of the ad’s performance. What about people that call your business to follow up on the ad they saw online? Or the people who stop by your brick-and-mortar location in person?

This is why it’s important to implement offline tracking methods to generate a full picture of your advertising campaign’s effectiveness.

Call tracking services, like CallRail, allow you to track how ads drive prospects’ behaviors on the phone. The service works by inserting a line of code into your website. That code allows you to associate online and offline interactions with your business. It integrates with your Google Analytics and Ads platforms so that you can determine your exact cost per lead.

It’s also a good idea to track in-person interactions you have with customers. Tracking purchases at your brick-and-mortar locations can help you see whether people who found you online ended up becoming customers in real life. There are a number of ways for you to bridge the gap between online and in-person interactions. If you’re a retailer, collecting an email at checkout to send an electronic receipt can help you put a face to the email.

If yours is a business where it’s difficult to collect email at checkout (say, a restaurant or cafe), you can gather that information in other ways. Restaurants can use online reservations systems to capture email addresses. Cafes can create digital loyalty programs that collect email addresses at the point of sale in exchange for a free cup of coffee every ninth purchase.

Unifying this in-person and online data is easily achieved if you’re using a CRM to manage customer interactions. CRMs make assembling all customer data in one place simple. From contact information to every past interaction with your brand, it all lives in your CRM. This kind of click to client information is invaluable in understanding the performance of your advertising.

Learn From Your Campaigns

Once you’ve created a picture of your online advertising campaign’s effectiveness, you may feel tempted to kick back and relax. But really, you’re just getting started.

By tracking online advertising, you’re now at a huge advantage. This information can propel your future advertising decisions. Maybe in tracking your ads you found that the messaging in one campaign performed well, while another failed to result in conversions. Or perhaps you learned that your ad was driving folks to your website, but they were getting lost along the way and not reaching your ultimate conversion goal.

Every advertising campaign—whether a raging success or a big old flop—is an opportunity for you to learn and improve. You can recreate the tactics that worked well in your next campaign. For those less successful campaigns, you can try a new approach next time.

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

The Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting

You put a lot of effort into driving consumers to your website. Your site is where the magic happens—people get to learn more about your business and purchase your goods or services. But what happens when someone goes to your website but doesn’t become a customer?

This happens a lot. A full 92 percent of consumers do something other than make a purchase on their first visit to a business’s website.

And when you think about the customer journey, it makes sense. People want to get to know, like, and trust your business before they commit to handing over their credit card. So the real question becomes: How do you recapture the attention of those 92 percent of consumers? Their first visit to your website does you no good if they never return.

That’s where retargeting comes in. This digital advertising technique allows you to remind those consumers who might otherwise drift away that you’re still here! If you’ve never tried it before, this simple guide is exactly what you need to get an effective retargeting campaign up and running.

What is Retargeting?

You’ve likely undertaken some form of digital advertising before, but maybe you haven’t ventured into the world of retargeting specifically. Retargeting is different from other forms of digital advertising. It allows you to direct your ad content at people who have previously interacted with your brand.

If you’ve ever clicked on a product description on a website and then had photos of that product crop up in banner ads on other sites, you’ve experienced retargeting firsthand!

How it Works

Google and Facebook have created nifty tools to track consumers’ behavior on your website. Once they know someone has been on your site, the tool triggers your ads to display to those consumers on either Facebook or via Google Ads’ search or display network.

Retargeting on Facebook

Crafting retargeted ads on Facebook begins with the creation and installation of a Facebook Pixel. The pixel is a snippet of code which you can automatically generate in your Facebook Business Manager. You then copy and paste the code into the header tags on your website, and that starts feeding information about your website visitors into your Business Manager account.

With the installation of the pixel, Facebook now sees everyone who visits your website. Then, it’s up to you to tell Facebook which of those people you’d like to target with advertising. You go back into Facebook to define custom audiences for your retargeting campaign. You can select different behaviors and attributes for your campaign.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to reduce cart abandonment on your website. You can create a custom audience on Facebook that will show advertising to people who have been to your website, put items into their shopping cart, and then left before completing their purchase.

Next, it’s time to create your actual ad. Because the audience you’re targeting is shoppers who have abandoned their cart, you might want to show them an ad offering free shipping on items—something to entice them to come back to your site and complete their purchase.

It’s important to create advertising that has a specific call to action which speaks to the target audience. If you’re targeting folks who abandoned their shopping carts, it doesn’t make sense to show them an ad for an entirely different product. By tracking visitors’ behavior on your website, you have insider information on their wants and needs. Use that to create an ad that’s tailored to exactly where they are in their customer journey!

Retargeting on Google

There are a lot of similarities between the process of retargeting on Google and Facebook. On Google, you’re able to link your Ads account with your Google Analytics to track user behavior. Analytics allows you to create a tracking pixel, just like with Facebook, which can also be installed on your website between the header tags.

Once you’ve linked your Ads and Analytics accounts, it’s time to set up your audience lists. Using their retargeting platform, you can reach audiences in search, display, or video campaigns (via YouTube). Again, like on Facebook, you can define specific parameters for the behaviors or demographics you’d like your retargeting audience to display. These can be attributes like people who have clicked a specific call to action on a page or have previously purchased a specific item on your site.

Once your audiences are established, you move on to creating your ads. As with Facebook, it’s important to make sure that the content of your ad syncs up with the previous actions of your targeted audience.

Retargeting 2.0: Get Specific with Your Codes

You don’t have to settle for just one pixel on your homepage. In fact, you can and should customize the pixel for different pages of your website. If yours is an e-commerce business, you can add unique pixels to each specific product page. That will put those visitors to each individual page into a specific retargeting bucket, ensuring they’re seeing content that’s most relevant to them.

For example, if you own a shoe business that sells men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes, you can create different pixels for each product page. Someone who visited a page for men’s dress shoes will then be added to the men’s dress shoes retargeting list. That way, they’ll see ads for men’s dress shoes—rather than men’s sneakers or kid’s dress shoes—across other sites. Creation of specific audiences guarantees that every prospect sees retargeted ads that are personalized to their own behavior on your site.

The Secret to Retargeting

It’s this type of customization that’s the secret to successful retargeting. You want to use your retargeting to create a funnel. This funnel moves those who simply know your business to come to like you, and those who like and trust you towards the sale. You can even use retargeting to approach existing customers with cross-sell offers.

Let’s say you have a pixel on the “about us” page of your website. You figure that most visitors to this page are just getting to know you. Therefore, you might retarget these folks with more in-depth information about your business. Perhaps your ads show them links to your blog content or invite them to listen to your podcast. You’re greeting them with content that will help them to come to know and trust your business. And that’s the next logical step in the customer journey.

For those who already trust you and are moving towards the try and buy phases of the marketing hourglass, the messaging should be different. Let’s say you install a pixel on your “Get a Quote” page of your site. Anyone visiting this page is likely on the fence about reaching out to speak to your team in person. Presenting them with an offer for a free quote or trial offer might be just the nudge they need to give you a try.

Finally, you can retarget your existing customers. Displaying complementary products to those who recently bought from you is a great way to cross-sell to customers.

The key to great retargeting is to make the right offer at the right time. This approach eases prospects down the funnel towards becoming full-fledged customers. Retargeting allows you to create specific messaging. That way, you can personalize each message and greet your audience with exactly what they need to hear, no matter where they are in their journey.

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

How to Generate Leads for $100 a Month Using Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are an incredible way to generate exciting new leads for your business. There are nearly 2.5 billion monthly active Facebook users worldwide, meaning that you have the opportunity to reach a huge audience if you play your advertising cards right.

The other benefit to the platform is the relatively low cost of advertising. Across industries, the average cost per click for Facebook ads is $1.72. It’s entirely possible for a small business to get great results spending only $100 per month on Facebook ads.

But the secret to getting the most out of a small investment in Facebook advertising is creating really effective campaigns. And to generate leads using Facebook ads, you need to take a step back and revisit everything you think you know about advertising.

Reframe How You Think About Advertising

When you think about print, television, or radio ads—more traditional advertising media—you likely picture an ad that’s selling a specific product. However, this sales-focused messaging that’s worked for decades in other channels will not net results on Facebook.

People expect to be sold to by a television or radio commercial or in the direct mailers they receive. But they go to Facebook for an entirely different reason. People are on Facebook to build connections and community, not to be marketed at. So your Facebook advertising needs to be less about “buy my stuff” and more about creating content that builds awareness and trust of your brand.

When people see useful content from your brand on their feeds, they come to know, like, and trust your business. You establish yourself as a source of knowledge and become more like a trusted friend than a pushy, anonymous salesperson.

Start With Great Content

So the place to start on Facebook is not with a sales pitch, but with meaningful content. In order to identify content topics that will resonate with your audience, start with keyword research.

Take a look at your existing content, and see which search terms are leading people to find that content. Using Google Search Console, you can access a list of the real-world search terms people are using to discover each page on your website.

Look for patterns in the types of queries that are leading to your content. And look for intent in those queries. Understanding the intent, or the why, behind a person’s search term can help you craft new content that speaks to the needs and wants of your prospects.

Competitive research can be helpful in this pursuit as well. Identify gaps in your competitors’ content offerings, or find ways to expand upon the successful content they’ve created. That’s a great way to give your audience what they want.

Make Sure the Right People See It

You know that old saying about the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it? The same principle applies to your online content. If no interested parties are around to see your Facebook ads, it won’t move the needle and generate leads.

Let’s say you own a home remodeling company. No matter how great your content about preparing for a remodel is, if it only gets seen by a bunch of renters who aren’t in the market for your services, you might as well flush your advertising dollars down the (newly installed) toilet.

Once you’ve created meaningful content, you’ll turn to Facebook to share it with the world. Start by sharing your content organically on the platform by posting on your Facebook page. For your advertising purposes, you’ll want to focus on those pieces of content that get the greatest organic engagement. When a noteworthy portion of your existing audience likes and comments on a particular piece of content, it’s a sign. You know you’ve hit upon something that really resonates with your ideal audience.

From there, you can boost the post with Facebook via their advertising platform. Using their custom audiences tool allows you to show your content only to people who are likely to find it relevant. Meaning, if yours is a remodeling business, you can direct your ad spend at people in certain neighborhoods, age groups, and even those who Facebook knows recently purchased a home.

By boosting your posts, you expand your reach beyond your existing followers. And by boosting to a custom audience who looks like your existing best customers, you ensure you’re getting the greatest ROI on your advertising investment.

Follow Up With Your Best Prospects

Once you’ve boosted your content, it’s time to track how it performs with the broader world. Facebook provides detailed analytics that allow you to see how people react to and interact with the content. They’ll show a breakdown of organic versus paid reach. Plus, you can see likes, comments, and shares on the post.

You’ll also want to create and install a Facebook pixel on your website. This tool allows you to track customer behavior on your website. Adding the pixel enables you to see how your advertising on Facebook is affecting prospects’ behaviors on your site.

With these analytics in hand, you’ll want to follow up with those prospects who are showing the greatest promise—the people who are interacting with your content and exploring your website. Once someone expresses that interest, provide them with a next step towards conversion.

This should be advertising content that invites them to try. Show them an ad for a free trial or evaluation. By reserving these ads for those who have already expressed an interest in your brand, you’re boosting your advertising ROI once again. Save your serious advertising offers for your serious prospects, and you’ll be more likely to get a higher conversion rate.

Facebook advertising doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get results. If you’re smart about the content you create and the audience you target, you can generate impressive returns with a small monetary investment.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Social Media.

Why Paid Search Must Be Part of Your Mix

Digital advertising isn’t a novel idea. From Google and Facebook ads to sponsored content on LinkedIn to banner ads on other websites, advertising online has been around for a while. Just because it’s an established marketing channel, though, doesn’t mean it’s lost any of its relevance. If anything, the importance of advertising in general, and of paid search in particular, has increased in the past few years.

So let’s take a closer look at paid search. Why does it matter for your business? How can paid search assist in lead generation? And what can you do to get the most out of your campaigns?

It’s Not Just for Retailers Anymore

Some business owners have written off the concept of paid search because they’re not a retailer or B2C. The fact of the matter is that while certain industries, like retail, have already learned how to harness the power of paid search, businesses in any field can benefit from it.

Increasingly, Google is where people head to find information about businesses. And it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is—B2B or B2C, retailer or service provider—people are opening up a search browser to find you online.

This is true of prospects who are looking for new solutions to their problems. But it’s equally true for existing customers! Have you ever wondered what time your go-to coffee shop closes, and typed their name in on Google search or Maps to scope their hours? Or maybe you’ve searched for your regular hair salon to find their number to call for an appointment? Searching for businesses we already know and love has become common practice in the Google age.

Businesses of all stripes and sizes need to be easily searchable on Google because that’s where everyone goes to find the information they need about your business.

Paid Search is Taking Up More Real Estate

So you understand that having a presence on search engines, particularly Google, is important. But why not just focus on SEO and call it a day?

With each passing year, we’re seeing the expansion of Google Ads. Google now offers dozens of types of ads, from traditional text-only ads to photos and carousels to map listings. And with all of the various ad products available, they’re giving paid search results more and more space at the top of SERPs.

I recently did a search for a local business: I Googled plumbers in my hometown of Kansas City. And I discovered that the first page of results on Google was filled with paid search and aggregator results (things like Angie’s list and Yelp). In fact, the first organic result for an individual company didn’t appear until page two!

Research has shown that the listings at the top of Google SERPs capture an outsized share of all web traffic. In fact, only five percent of websites found on page two of results get any clicks at all! Even businesses with an incredible SEO strategy can still be completely overlooked by searchers who click on one of the many ads that appear ahead of any organic results.

Get Involved in the Process

By now I hope I’ve convinced you that paid search is an essential element in any small business’ marketing strategy. But if you’ve never run a Google Ads campaign before, you may feel overwhelmed. There are a number of technical elements to consider when it comes to building out a campaign—from bid strategy to identifying audiences—not to mention the creative side of crafting your ad content.

While it might be tempting for you to hand over full control to a PPC firm, that’s risky. Even if you don’t have the technical know-how to handle the whole process on your own, you want to be sure you understand the concepts behind paid search so you’re able to be a smart consumer. Do you research on PPC firms. Speak with a number of them about your needs, and then select the one that understands your goals and has a clear roadmap to help you meet them.

And that means focusing on something beyond the number of clicks they garner for you each month. Many PPCs will proudly report to their clients that they generated X number of clicks. But the reality for the business owner is that the number of clicks means nothing if those clicks don’t ultimately result in purchases. The right PPC firm will understand that distinction and look to prove results beyond that one metric.

Focus on Purchase Intent

How do you ensure that those clicks are actually resulting in revenue for your business? Focus your paid search efforts on people that are actually looking to make a purchase.

SEO is great for those long-tail searchers. They’re seeking information about your industry and may make a purchase from you at some point in the future. If you maintain a strong, content-focused SEO strategy, you can dominate in those long-tail searches and build a relationship with prospects who will come to know, like, and trust you over time.

To connect with prospects in need of immediate solutions, however, paid search is the way to go. If a homeowner is looking for a plumber to repair a burst pipe, they don’t have time to read through page after page of thoughtful content from a dozen different providers and carefully narrow things down to their number one choice. They need a solution right now, and they’re going to go with one of the first names they come across.

When you position yourself well in paid search, bidding on keywords and search terms that indicate an urgent need and high purchase intent, you set yourself up to be one of those first names they encounter (and you’re that much more likely to be the business they ultimately hire).

Keep an Eye on Local Services Ads

Which brings me to the topic of Google’s Local Services Ads product. While Local Services Ads started out with a narrow focus—in only a few major cities and specifically for providers in the home services realm (think: plumbers, contractors, and housekeeping businesses)—their reach is rapidly expanding. The categories of businesses listed in Local Services Ads continue to grow, and the ads are now available in even more regions.

I only expect the reach of these ads to expand further. Soon, I anticipate that we’ll see everything from law offices to hair salons being listed in the Local Services framework. My advice here, then, is to sign up with Local Services right now if you can. And if you’re in an industry that’s not yet in the Local Services universe, keep an eye on that space and be ready to dive in when your field does become added to the platform.

Paid search has always been an important tactic in any small business’ overall marketing strategy. But as the Google landscape continues to shift, it takes on an even greater significance. Following the advice above can help you to build out a paid search approach that facilitates lead generation and gets the greatest possible ROI.

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