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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.

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.

How to Put Together An Effective Remarketing Strategy

Remarketing is an incredible marketing tool. Before the days of the internet, if someone came into your store, browsed, even picked up and really considered a product, but then left without purchasing, there was no way to guarantee you’d ever see them again.

However, remarketing allows you to reach out to those prospects who are on the fence. When someone browses your website but doesn’t convert, it’s now possible for you to pop up again in their field of vision through the power of remarketing! You can target them with your advertising on other websites, and hopefully staying top of mind will eventually lead to that much-desired conversion.

This already sounds like a pretty great marketing tactic, right? It is, but there are ways to build a remarketing strategy that can take your efforts to the next level and get even more conversions from interested prospects. Here’s how you do it.

1. Set Goals

As with any great marketing campaign, an effective remarketing strategy starts with goal setting. What are you trying to do with these ads? This will depend on the kind of business you run. If yours is an e-commerce shop, selling relatively inexpensive items, you might be looking to get someone to make a purchase.

However, for those who run businesses with longer sales cycles—for example, a B2B consulting firm—your ideal conversion might not be a sale. Instead, it might be getting someone to give their email in exchange for access to a free ebook.

No matter what kind of business you run, it makes sense to set really specific goals for each remarketing campaign. Rather than creating one ad that you hope will serve various audiences, it’s best to establish a handful of specific goals and then create different ads that speak to each goal.

2. Decide Where You Want to Advertise

Remarketing can be done via search engines like Google or through social media sites like Facebook. Once you’ve established your goals, you can begin to think about which platforms make the most sense for your ads.

The major benefit to advertising on social media is that you are likely to get likes, shares, comments, and reposts from interested people (and since you’re retargeting your messaging to those who have already been to your website, you know they’re already interested in your brand!). Search engine marketing, however, will follow your customers across any websites that are ad partners with the search engine you do business with. This means that your audience will be greeted with your advertising across the web, not just on the social media site you’ve selected.

There’s no need to limit yourself to one platform. There’s often a huge benefit to being seen multiple times by your audience. Most people need to see a brand seven times before they decide to engage with them, so the more times you can get your name in someone’s field of vision, the better.

3. Define Your Audience

Once you’ve come up with your set of goals, you can begin to define and segment your audience. Let’s say you own a clothing store that has both a brick and mortar and e-commerce presence. There are a number of ways, then, that you can and should break down your audience.

You can segment and target based on location. For those people who have visited your website and live within a certain radius of your store, you can target them with advertising about your brick and mortar location. These ads, of course, are not relevant to people living on the other side of the country, so those folks should instead be targeted with advertising specific to your e-commerce offerings.

Those who have visited your store and browsed your men’s clothing options, you can retarget with messaging specific to your menswear options (and you can target those interested in women’s clothing with those offerings). You can even retarget customers who have taken specific actions on your website. For example, you can set your campaign to only show to customers who have put items into their cart on your site and then navigated away without completing the purchase.

The goals you set for each campaign will inherently be aligned with a specific audience. Defining the audience for your campaign early on ensures that your advertising is only being shown to the most relevant people, meaning you’ll get the greatest ROI on your campaign.

4. Set Your Creative

Once you’ve set goals and decided on your target audience, it’s time to settle on your creative. A huge part of creating great content is understanding your audience and speaking to them in your brand’s voice and tone.

There are also tools that help you to optimize your approach when it comes to content. If you’re running your remarketing campaign through Google, you can use responsive ads. With responsive ads, you input your various creative elements—different headlines, copy, and images—and Google runs them in various combinations so that they can learn which ones are most effective. From there, they’ll run the best-performing ads on your behalf, to give your ads the greatest shot at success.

5. Run Your Ads and Track Results

The final step is to get your ads up and running! Fortunately, advertising platforms provide detailed analytics so that you can accurately measure the results of your campaigns. The analytics allow you to measure engagement and conversions on each ad. Armed with this information, you can tweak your strategy as you go.

If there are certain ads that aren’t doing well, consider changing up the creative. If there are certain websites where retargeting is not effective, you can ask that Google not show your advertising on those sites any longer. Being willing to pivot and change tactics along the way is a huge part of finding long-term success with your retargeting efforts.

Remarketing is an incredible opportunity for you to recapture the attention of consumers who have already shown interest in your brand. When you take things step-by-step and develop a real strategy for reaching out to various segments of your audience, you can create campaigns with a great ROI.

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

How to Improve Customer Retention Through Paid Search

A lot of marketers and business owners think of advertising as a tool to attract the attention of new customers. But the great thing about paid search is that it’s also a powerful way to improve customer retention.

Once you go through all the trouble of winning over new business, it’s worth your while to put in the effort to keep them coming back. Here are some ways to put paid search to use specifically in boosting customer retention for your brand.

Recapture Lost Customers

The great thing about digital marketing is that it puts a lot of data points at our finger tips. Using that data, we can get smart about where we’re spending our advertising dollars, and who we’re directing our advertising towards.

Remarketing allows businesses to show ads to people who have visited their website but not made a final purchase. This is effective in winning over new prospects who are further down the funnel, but it’s also a great way to recapture the attention of a return customer who might need one last nudge to make a repeat purchase.

There are any number of reasons they might have navigated away from your website. Maybe they got distracted before they could complete their purchase. Maybe they wanted to look up a competitor to compare pricing. Maybe they were at work and their boss walked past so they clicked out of the shopping tab! The possibilities are truly endless, but using remarketing allows you to direct your ad spend at people who have already expressed interest in your brand and may just need one final reminder in the form of a targeted paid search ad to get the job done.

Create Special Offers

Using data on existing customers to shape future advertising also empowers you to create tailored offers in your marketing campaigns. Search engines like Google allow you to create custom audiences for your ads.

This means that you can display certain ads to certain people based on prior interactions with your brand. If you haven’t seen a set of customers in a while, consider targeting them with a “welcome back” offer or discount, to hopefully bring them back into the fold.

Seasonal offers are also an effective way to create repeat customers. The holidays are a great time to engage retargeting tactics. If someone’s done business with you in the past, they might just need a friendly reminder about your brand to ensure that you’re the company they go to for their holiday gifts. Creating paid search ads that feature your business name front and center for these existing customer audiences is a way to reestablish that brand recognition at a time when most people are making lots of purchases.

Display Related Products

Defining your audiences in search marketing also allows you to show existing customers ads about related products and services. Let’s say you run an electronics company and someone just purchased a new air conditioning unit from you. It might make sense to target them with advertising for A/C replacement filters for the brand and model they just purchased.

A move like this not only allows you to make the upsell now, it helps to put you top of mind again and makes you likely to be the go-to store for their future electronics needs. The earlier on in your customer relationship you can establish a pattern where that consumer relies on you for all goods in your category, the better.

Think Visually

Back in the day, paid search was all about text-based ads. Now companies have a lot of options when it comes to the type of PPC ad they want to run, and a lot of them include visual elements. Depending on the industry you’re in, including a photo or video as part of your ad can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

If an image of your products—with you logo and brand name in brand colors—appears at the top of search results, you tap into that familiarity your customer already has with your brand and give your business an additional leg up in standing out in search results.

Reduce Cart Abandonment

It may shock you to learn that the abandonment rate on online shopping carts is more than 75 percent! It’s so painful to lose a customer’s attention when they’re so close to making the final purchase decision. That’s where retargeting can come in. Directing your ads about specific products to people who recently almost purchased that product from you is a way to prompt those relevant customers to head back to your site and finish what they started! This is a tactic that works on both first time and repeat customers who have abandoned their most recent shopping cart on your site.

Once you’ve done the hard work of winning over new business, you don’t want to have to start from square one again! Instead, focusing on customer retention can help you increase the overall lifetime value of each customer, and can help you generate revenue success for years to come. Using specific paid search tactics can boost customer retention and ensure the long-term health of your business.

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

What Does the Future of Paid Search Look Like?

Paid search has been an important channel in a comprehensive marketing strategy for years now. But we’ve also seen some major shifts in the way that PPC works, and as with most technological things, the pace of change isn’t slowing anytime soon.

That’s why it’s important for marketers and business owners to be forward-thinking. Noting the current trends and predicting how they’ll shape the future is the best way to stay a few steps ahead of your competition. Here, I’ll share some of my thoughts about what to expect from the future of paid search.

Automation Will Rule

Automation has become an increasingly critical part of paid search. We’ve seen Google Ads offer marketers the ability to create multiple headlines and descriptions for ads as a part of its responsive search ads program. Over time, Google pairs different headlines and descriptions together to find the combination that gets the best results.

Additionally, marketers can use automation on their own side to take the manual work out of handling bidding and budgeting for ad campaigns. This used to be a tedious part of the job, and with automation, you’re now freed up to spend more time on creating effective ads rather than fiddling with numbers.

I anticipate that the role of automation in PPC will only increase as technology becomes more advanced. This will help marketers to focus more on the strategic elements that go into creating a great ad campaign, and will help businesses maximize their ROI by automatically optimizing their advertising approach.

Amazon Will Move into the Space

Google has long been the gold standard for search engines, and so it’s long been the place where advertisers first turn to with their PPC spend. However, recent studies have shown that more consumers are starting their searches on Amazon now, rather than Google. And with this shift in consumer behavior, we’re also seeing a shift in marketers’ focus.

More marketers are beginning to purchase ad space on Amazon. The audience there is broadening, and it’s currently cheaper to market on Amazon than it is to advertise on Google. Now is the time for you to consider making the shift for your own business. Particularly if you offer goods or products that consumers might be searching for on Amazon, there’s the potential for you to get a lot more value from your ad spend on the e-commerce site.

Video Will Continue to Gain Ground

Text ads have long been the focus of paid search advertising. However, video has been gaining ground across all marketing efforts, and paid search is no exception.

More and more consumers are indicating that video is their preferred medium for learning more about a company. Why not give the people what they want? Plus, video is a great way to stand out in a sea of text. A colorful video with appealing music and engaging voiceover will catch the eye of searchers. And as we continue to see more marketers turn to video to tell their stories, if you don’t embrace the medium, you’ll get left behind.

New Ad Types Will Enter the Scene

Each year, we see Google expand and change their ad offerings. It seems like not so long ago that Google ads were simply the blue links that appeared at the top of search results. Now we’re seeing ads that incorporate images and video, plus ad types that are specific to certain industries, like Google Local Services Ads.

Plus, rumors that Google is thinking about charging for enhanced features on their Google My Business platform indicate that expanded offerings may be coming by way of that particular platform, which will be tailored to local business owners.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how and where Google will expand their efforts, it’s always worthwhile to keep an eye out for news about changes to their advertising offerings. When you’re able to stay on top of changes, you can get ahead of trends and get in on the ground floor of new paid search tactics while the investment is still low.

Marketers Will Think in Audiences, Not Keywords

The final major shift that I see in how paid search will operate moving forward is in the central focus in creating campaigns. Up to this point, it’s been all about finding the appropriate keywords for your ad campaign.

Audience data and segmentation tools have been continually evolving over the years. And search engines are making it easier than ever for marketers to target their ad spend at people with the right behaviors and attributes. Why do keyword research, hope you’re picking the term that will resonate with your desired audience, and then measure and refine your approach, when you can instead target ads at the audience that you know is most likely to find it relevant?

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds for paid search, by looking at recent trends, savvy marketers are able to infer what changes are coming and how best to capitalize on them for their business. Things like automation, Amazon, and audience segmentation aren’t going anywhere, so it’s best to figure out how to make these trends work for you so that you can outpace your competition.

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

Why A Solid Landing Page is Key to Effective PPC

Some marketers choose to send prospects who click on their paid search results to their website’s homepage. While this will certainly get them to a page with relevant information about your company, it is not the most effective option when dealing with search marketing.

Instead of sending people to a generic page, it’s far more effective to design a custom landing page with information and an offer tailored to the verbiage in the paid search ad. While landing pages serve a number of other purposes, one of my favorite techniques is to create one for PPC ads. Here, we’ll look at the many benefits to creating a solid landing page for PPC, and what elements go in to creating a winning page.

Increase Conversion Rate

Designing a custom landing page is one of the keys to increasing conversion rates on ads. Your ad copy should be for a specific product or offer. When a reader clicks on the link, they want to learn more about that certain thing, not be taken to a page that’s more generally about your business.

When visitors are driven to your homepage, it’s now up to them to root around for information that’s relevant to what they saw on the ad. Even if you have a great website, it’s easy for them to grow frustrated and impatient, looking for the information they wish they had right in front of them in the first place. That makes them more likely to give up their search and return to the SERPs.

A custom landing page, however, that addresses the messaging from the ad directly, presents the reader with everything they want to know. This is a lot more likely to generate an immediate positive response from viewers.

Keep Cost per Click Low

A landing page with a high conversion rate also works to keep your cost per click low. When more people convert, you’re generating more revenue from the ad campaign, which means that you’re getting more bang for your marketing buck along the way.

Earn a Higher Ads Quality Score

There is yet another bonus to creating an effective landing page for PPC ads. When you achieve higher conversion rates and keep visitors on your site for longer, Google takes notice. They infer that the content on your website must be highly relevant to searchers, and so in turn improve your standing on their site. They reward good ads with better placement and show them more frequently.

How Do You Build a Great Landing Page?

So now that you understand all of the value that a solid landing page can bring, let’s talk about how to create one. (And if you’d like a look at what not to do when creating a landing page, check out this post.)

Focus on One Call to Action

Visitors to the landing page are coming there because of the offer you made or product you cited in your PPC ad. Your landing page should contain just one call to action, and it should be directly related to the offer or product from the ad.

Let’s say, for example, that you own a plumbing company. Your PPC ad touts your same-day service. People clicking that ad are probably not interested in the work you do installing environmentally-friendly plumbing systems as part of home renovations. They likely have an emergency situation and are in need of immediate assistance. Your landing page should have a call to action that drives them directly to your online booking system so that they can get on your calendar ASAP.

Keep the Page Clean and Simple

Because visitors are coming there with one express purpose in mind, they don’t need a whole lot of information to convert. Instead, a simple headline; one big, bold, relevant image; and a clear description of the details of the product or service you’re offering will do.

Going back to the plumbing example, start with a headline that says something like “Same-day plumbing services, 365 days a year.” The image should be a hero image—one of your plumbers in front of his truck, striking a bold pose that says, “I’m ready to solve all your plumbing problems!”

Then the description of the service should include what you’re offering (licensed plumbers for same-day service) and what is expected of consumers (there’s a flat-rate fee for your service).

If you’re looking for inspiration when it comes to designing your own landing page, check out these examples, gathered together by Instapage.

A solid landing page can help your PPC ads perform better, rank better, and generate more revenue for your business. By keeping your messaging narrow and targeted, you speak directly to the immediate needs of your prospects. And by building a simple, visually engaging page, you guarantee that you’ll catch their eye and hold their interest.

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

Google Ad Changes Affecting Small Businesses

Google Ads Changes Affecting Small Businesses

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Changes to Google Ads

Google has recently made some drastic changes to their ads program—starting with a name change, from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Some of the changes are technical, like tweaks to the interface. Others represent fundamental shifts in the way Google views advertising. These will affect more than just your Google advertising efforts, but also how you approach other marketing tactics, SEO, and content.

Google is the dominant force in online advertising, so you can’t afford to ignore what they’re doing. Here, I’ll walk you through the most important changes and new features that small business owners need to be aware of.

Goodbye, AdWords

The biggest change is that we have known the primary Google ad tool as AdWords. Now, they’ve dropped Words, and it is just Google Ads. This is more than just a technicality, I think it signals a fundamental shift in the way they’re viewing advertising.

When Google originally launched their ad product, advertising was all about keywords, but times have changed. Google is so much more than just a search engine at this point, and the change in name reflects their omnipresence on the web.

The new name indicates a move towards a more comprehensive approach, one that will incorporate machine learning and behavioral tracking to better understand the true intent behind people’s actions online.

Google Ads on Your Desktop

One of the other significant changes small business marketers will see is that there is now an application you can download to your desktop: AdWords Editor.

Similar to the Facebook editor, the idea here is that you can now download your campaigns, work on them offline, and then upload them again. This means that you’re not stuck sitting on the platform the entire time, and can now get more work done if you’re offline and on the move.

Google Sheets Integration

If you’re not already familiar with Google Sheets, it’s essentially a free, online version of Microsoft Excel. The integration with the new ads program allows you to pull reporting from Google Ads and into Google Sheets.

Doing so allows you greater flexibility in parsing the data. You can filter by your own criteria, create reports, and track data more easily. This will be particularly useful for agencies or consultants who need to create reports for multiple clients.

New Comprehensive Campaigns

With their new advertising program, Google is providing additional support to small business advertisers, allowing those who don’t have the time or energy to create their own campaigns to leave that all in Google’s hands.

The skeptic in me feels that there is a tradeoff between convenience and value. They make it very easy for you to give them a budget and they’ll do the legwork, but you’re also handing over control and the appropriate measures to monitor and adjust how that money is spent. Without visibility into what’s actually being done to market your business, how can you understand how to get better results in the future?

  • Google Local SearchLocal Ads: Google allows you to create one campaign that will propagate against search, maps, places, pages, display, and even YouTube. This means you only have to design one campaign to be used across all of their many platforms, while Google makes the decisions about how to best tailor the approach in each place.
  • Lead Ads: A new unit on YouTube, Lead Ads allows you to collect an email address through an ad message. This is similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, which have been around for a while.
  • Responsive Search Ads: You create a pool of headlines and descriptions, and Google tests each of those possible combinations to determine which is most successful. Depending on how many concepts you create, you can end up with thousands of possible combinations—it’s A/B testing in hyperdrive. This is designed to help you lift click-through and conversion rates significantly.

Responsive Search Ads

What About Organic Search?

While these new campaigns are great for those who are taking advantage of the Google Ads platform, what about those marketers or small business owners who are putting all of their faith in the power of organic search?

These new ads will drive up conversion rates, as Google continues to do the analytics on what makes the most successful campaigns for its paid advertisers. In addition to being successful, these ads are also huge. They still contain extensions, and so they are going to take over. This will only serve to force organic results further and further down the page. Those users searching on a mobile device will have to scroll for a very long time before hitting the first organic result.

The message here for small business marketers is that you can’t ignore Google Ads. You still need to have a comprehensive marketing system with other tactics, including social media and content, as a means to get into organic search. But at the same time, you can’t ignore paid advertising.

Google Local Services Ads

The last item, which does not impact everyone yet, is Local Services Ads from Google. Formerly known as Home Service Ads, Local Services Ads are currently focused on tradespeople, technicians, and providers of other services to homeowners, with plans to expand to additional categories.

Business owners must apply to be in this program and become “Google Guaranteed,” which means that they’ll have to clear a background check and Google will provide a money-back guarantee to anyone unhappy with the company’s services.

Google Local Services Ad

This comes at a price: Google does not send users directly to a website when they click on this type of ad. Google uses a tracking phone number so that they’re able to see which leads are generated from these ads; the business owner is then charged for those leads. And rather than charging a nominal fee per click, Google will now ask for $25-$100 per lead, depending on category and competition, because they’ve delivered a verifiable lead.

This new approach allows Google to be fully involved in the lead generation process, which gives them valuable information about the way people are searching for services and also allows them to charge small business owners a greater fee than they would for pay-per-click advertising.

As we see advertising moving more towards a focus on intent, a shift that is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, we will see Google Ads encroach more and more in the search space. Google has created a system that encourages you to give them more of your ad budget, and while you certainly can’t ignore Google Ads as a part of your overall strategy, I would argue that there’s still great benefit in attending to your other marketing channels.

If you are struggling with managing the rapidly-changing online advertising landscape, Duct Tape Marketing can do an audit for you. Our Total Online Presence Audit is a comprehensive review of your assets online, including your ads. We can assess your strengths and weaknesses, and point you in the right direction.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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

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.

Where Does Advertising Play Into The Customer Journey?

The Central Role of Advertising In The Customer Journey?

When you think of advertising, your first association might be with attracting new customers. Ads are supposed to reach out to audiences unknown, introduce them to your brand, and bring them on board.

But in reality, advertising can be used effectively throughout the customer journey. It’s not only a tool to reach prospective clients; it can also keep those you’ve already converted around for many years to come.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the marketing hourglass, and while you’re undertaking that approach to marketing on the whole, you can incorporate advertising into each of the seven key steps along the hourglass.

Advertising to the Know and Like Crowd

Before someone ever becomes a customer, they will first need to come into contact with your brand and decide that you’re offering a product or service that’s unique and that will serve their specific needs in a way that no one else can.

If you’re looking to reach prospects, you want to target people who are similar to your current customers. It stands to reason that those who will have similar needs and wants to your current clients probably also have other similar attributes (age, location, budget, etc.).

Online advertising tools have become increasingly advanced and allow you to direct your ad spend only at those who are most likely to want to know and like your brand. Facebook offers a service called lookalike audiences, where business owners are able to upload the contact list of their current customers, and Facebook in turn identifies people with similar attributes for you to target with your ads. Google Ads offers business owners the ability to target users by geographical location and by those who are searching for specific keywords.

The key to advertising to prospects is knowing and understanding your current clients. The more data you have on them and their habits, the more likely you are to be able to hone in on a similar audience who would be more than happy to stumble across your business.

Advertising to the Trust and Try Crowd

Once someone becomes aware of your company, they move a bit further along the marketing hourglass to the trust and try stages. Here, you’ll want your advertising efforts to help users build confidence in what your brand can do, and to give them an opportunity to take what you’re offering out for a spin.

A key part of a prospect developing trust in your business is seeing you around consistently. The mere exposure effect in psychology says that people are more likely to trust someone or something that they see over and over again. Advertising across various channels (both on- and offline) will help to keep your brand front and center in prospects’ minds.

This also means that part of your advertising strategy is just about hanging in there. If you don’t see results right away from your advertising spend, don’t throw in the towel. Sure, it’s fine to tweak your approach, but scrapping the entire thing will take your business off the radar screen of those who might have been interested in giving your product or service a try if it had only popped up on their screen one or two more times.

Once prospects have seen you around and you’ve piqued their interest, they might want to take your product or service out for a test drive before committing and converting. Providing offers for free, advanced content like an eBook or access to a webinar, or giving prospects a free trial option can be the final step before converting. While I’d suggest that you take a more personalized approach to your interactions with prospects, it’s also possible to include offers in more general advertising. Just be sure that when you’re targeting specific people with personalized messaging, you’re offering something that isn’t generally available to anyone coming across your advertising.

Advertising to the Buy, Repeat and Refer Crowd

Congratulations! Your earlier advertising efforts were successful, and you’ve now gained your newest customer. But your work is far from over—now your focus needs to be on keeping the customer experience high.

Once someone has converted, your contact with them can be much more specific and personalized through other marketing channels, but it’s still possible to use advertising to keep current clients happy, have them coming back for more, and (most importantly) telling all their friends about you.

One of the most important things for creating repeat business is staying on-brand in your advertising. You’ve worked so hard to get in front of these customers and to win their trust, so you want to continue to hammer home your mission statement and keep your messaging and voice consistent so that your customers feel like they really know and understand your company. This helps to reinforce your trustworthiness, and will make those customers all the more likely to come back themselves and to become a referral engine.

You can also use these loyal customers as a part of your advertising efforts. Including testimonials from those who are already brand-loyal in your advertising campaigns can help to win over those who are still in the trust phase of the hourglass. Indeed, 70 percent of people say that they’re influenced by other consumers’ opinions shared online.

Advertising can be a powerful way to reach your customers and prospects alike. Advertising can be seen by and have an influence on people no matter where they are in marketing hourglass. Identifying the proper audience for your advertising efforts, creating a consistent message that builds trust, and staying top of mind with both prospects and current clients will ensure that you get the most out of your advertising dollars.

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