As a small business, local search is everything. Rather you understand it or not, your ability to thrive in the local search landscape will dictate your success. You’re reading this, so chances are you do understand! With that said, there’s big things on the horizon. Not just for big brands either, for every day businesses and even the mom-and-pop shops across the Metro. Here’s three things you need to know about upcoming AdWords changes:
One of the first applications of information in an IP database was targeting to specific geographic regions. Most commercial ad management systems have IP databases that can make geographic targeting possible. However, there are a couple weaknesses in this method. The first (and biggest) problem is that, for various reasons, not all IPs can be mapped to an accurate location.
Brands. They have so many advantages. Multiple locations, huge budgets, inventory. You name it. But as it was written and retold so many times before…David can slay Goliath. Small businesses can beat big brands with local SEO warfare.
If your small business could only spend time with one marketing vehicle, what would it be? A managed PPC campaign? Ongoing SEO for your website? Good old fashioned direct mail?
If Facebook advertising isn’t top of mind…maybe it should be. The targeting options available through Facebook are SO refined, that finding ideal prospects with targeted offers can yield incredible results without incredible spend. Using Google Adwords to get traffic to your website might cost you $10 or even $20 a click. What if I told you that you could get tens to even hundreds of real, interested visitors to your site for not much more than that using Facebook? Not to mention, you can nail down your online reputation as well. Check out some sample results below:
Let’s take a closer look at how this can work for your business. Getting targeted traffic from Facebook isn’t rocket science, but there’s some key considerations in the approach that will determine if this makes money for you, or just wastes your time. Of course, I want to help you do the prior, not that latter. First, let’s consider what you really want to do.
Traffic is KING. Choose wisely!
Right off the bat, there’s suggestions and options for what to do. Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Get people to install an app? Increase the number of likes to your page so that over time you have a larger Facebook community? All of these are key for a good website marketing strategy, as they lead to conversions on-site down the road.
If you’re looking for RGA (revenue generating activity), focus on clicks to your website. Then ensure the page you take them to is primed for conversion. Get remarketing code on the page so you can follow users with additional messaging. Make sure you make it easy for them to opt-in to your newsletter or take part in a Facebook-only offer (hint: this is a great conversion tool). Capture their address and phone number with a short from as part of the offer. This isn’t small biz marketing 101 stuff, but you need to know how to do it to make Facebook a lead driver.
The goal is traffic. Qualified traffic, with a real interest in what you’re selling, at a low cost. Making hay with that traffic comes in other ways. Don’t rely on Facebook to SELL for you, rather to SET UP THE SALE. See screenshot below for selection items:
Now, there are some outfits that have become incredible advocates for using Facebook in a different way. They suggest spending time and resources cultivating a cult-like following for your pages, and marketing over and over to people who already like your page, your brand, etc. My personal take is that unless you have a business that offers the chance or frequent repeat business, there’s a lot of wasted spend here. If you’re a service company (a roofer, house painter, locksmith, remodeling company, etc) and you may not see customers more than once every 3 years or so…this isn’t going to cut it for you. You need to generate leads with a fresh pipeline of prospects. That’s what I’m suggesting. If you need to outsource your Facebook advertising (or other digital marketing tactics), then do it.
Targeting demographics and psychographics…
This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of Facebook being a legitimate marketing tool for small business…getting interests and behaviors right. This is especially important in light of Facebook’s recent relevancy score implementation. If you can’t find target correctly, it will cost you. It may even make this vehicle worthless. If you do it right…you’ll be rewarded with impressions and traffic that vastly outperform the “estimated impressions” shown prior to starting.
This rabbit hole is deep. You can target so much on Facebook. The goal is getting as refined as possible while STILL having a large user base. (NOTE: This can be tricky for small businesses in a tight geographic area, especially if you only target people in a suburb or small town, or if your product is SO niche that layering in several interests or behaviors leaves you with less than 1,000 targeted users). Fear not. There is always a solution. Sometimes it just requires looking at the problem in a different way. Crafting a different landing page. Tweaking an offer just for Facebook (hint: as noted above, this is a REALLY good idea). Screenshot below of sample targeting:
Other key elements include the ad (promoted post) itself, and the budget selection. These are critical to performance as well, but for the sake of brevity we won’t dive right in. Long story short, if your small business isn’t using Facebook to drive more leads and sales, consider a digital marketing partner that can put you in this space quickly. Contact us today to learn more!
Successful PPC Campaigns Are Earned, Not Created
We’ve been managing Google Adwords and Bing Ads campaigns for a long time. Most of our clients found their way to us after they’d tried, unsuccessfully, to get a positive ROI from pay per click advertising on their own. Over the years, the campaigns we’ve reviewed shared many of the same tell-tale signs of under performance. Some mistakes that novice PPC managers make are easy to overcome. Other times, it requires blowing up the whole account and starting fresh. Better than starting fresh is doing it right the first time. With that in mind, you”l want to check out our guide to running a successful PPC campaign laid out below:
#1 Avoid Adwords Express: We’re putting this first. If you selected this option, reconsider that move and start over. This “gets you in the game” quickly, but scoots past all the important stuff you have to consider for your campaign to really work. This is an important marketing decision. Treat it like one!
#2 Make Sure To Separate “Search” And “Display”: If you go with the default of search and display combined…congratulations! Google loves you, because every 2nd and 3rd tier publisher in their network will show your text ads, eating up the bulk of your budget and driving down CTR’s. Save display campaigns for display ads, especially retargeting (which we’ll get to later).
#3 Set Up The Right Geographic Targeting: The default setting for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns is targeting the entire United States (and Canada). If you only have reps in 15 states, this isn’t going to work for you. If you are a local business, this REALLY isn’t going to work for you. You must assign the geo-targets at the outset of building your campaign. You’d be surprised how many times businesses are advertising where they have no business advertising (pun intended).
#4 Create A Tight Keyword List: Many business owners are surprised to learn that broad matched key phrases will pull in traffic for every word in the phrase. For example, using a broad match phrase for the term used construction equipment will result in your ad showing for terms pertaining to construction and terms pertaining to equipment. Imagine your ad for construction equipment showing for queries around construction companies, construction jobs, construction paper, farm equipment, sports equipment and equipment manufacturers. Yep, that’ll happen. It’s no wonder that many businesses waste as much as 30% of their PPC campaign spend without ever knowing it.
#5 Always Maintain A Negative Keyword List: Negative keywords can help you filter out all the junky, worthless clicks that eat up budget and lower your conversion rates. As you monitor the keywords that are bringing you clicks and impressions, make sure you understand how to maintain this tool, both at the campaign and ad group level. It’s estimated that as many as 25% of AdWords accounts don’t use any negative keyword list whatsoever. That’s a big no-no if you want to make money.
#6 Proof Your Ad Copy: The old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And if that first impression is a typo? Goodbye customer. Measure twice and cut once. Or in this case, proof twice and submit once. It’s worth noting here that best practices are to capitalize every word in the body copy. It helps it stand out. It’s also worth noting that ads with a strong point of differentiation or at least a call to action get more than 15% more clicks than ads without them. Consider that.
#7 Test Multiple Ads: From the very get-go, you should write two or three ads for each ad group. Over time, as enough impressions, clicks and conversions rack up, you can determine which ad is the strongest. Knock off the weaker ad(s) and test a new one. This is a simple and underused method of optimizing your PPC campaign.
#8 Log In Daily: The absolute number one thing you can do to ensure the success of your PPC campaign is to check in daily. Published reports of small business advertisers show that only about 1% sign in to their AdWords account on a weekly basis. Not even daily. Weekly. If you don’t have capacity to have eyes on your performance daily, find someone who does. This thing isn’t going to manage itself.
#9 Focus On Your Quality Score: Some people consider this “voodoo” that is hard to calculate. But if you know how to manipulate the columns in your Adwords or Bing Ads account, you can see it’s calculated – or at least estimated – from inception. Average Quality Score is a great indicator of how your campaign will perform, as it directly affects both your average ad position and the cost you’ll pay for each click. Lower CPC’s (Cost Per Clicks) save you money. Period. Anything below a “6” needs some love. Anything below a “5” needs to be paused or have other action taken.
#10 Have Great Landing Pages: This is the easiest concept to grasp, but the hardest to accomplish. It requires having a well-built website (or at least a set of well-built pages) that works well across all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) and gives the reader what they want. If it’s information, the page needs an easy and noticeable form to submit. If it’s e-commerce, make sure the checkout process is clearly defined and that users don’t have to wander around a page to find the product they’ve searched for. Don’t be the business that sends all their traffic to your homepage. Understand the importance of landing page strategy and optimization. And if you DO send all your traffic there…at least make sure that the page gives users what they want – regardless if they’re looking on an iPhone or an old desktop.
#11 Be Okay With Being Second (Or Third): Often times, clients will come to us bemoaning how expensive it is to run their PPC ads. One of the first questions we ask is “what’s your goal for this campaign?” More than once we’ve heard a response along the lines of “being first in the search results!” A-type personalities are great. We fully appreciate them. But being first at all costs isn’t a sound business strategy. No keyword is worth an insane bidding battle. Conversions matter. ROI matters. Being #1 ion the page…well…it matters (but not at all costs!)
#12 Consider Your Optimal Schedule: Chances are your landing pages or website includes a phone number. What happens if people call after hours? Or on the weekends? If you aren’t staffed, don’t run your ads. Failing to consider the best ad schedule for your business can really cost you. Also, it’s a great tool to “stretch” a budget. If your budget is $3,000/month, that’s roughly $90 a day (Google especially will blow past your daily budget by 10% on any given day). But what if you only run during the week since you’re closed on the weekends? That $90 a day goes up to more than $135 a day. Something to consider.
#13 Set Up Retargeting: This is especially important if you are running an e-commerce site, or have a longer sales cycle with your customers. You can target visitors who didn’t actually convert to a lead or a sale with display ads that follow them around for the next 30 days. This also requires some extra, you’ll want to create a solid ad that follows best practices…but if you’ve clawed and fought to target the right customer, why not buy some insurance and stay in front of them in case they weren’t quite ready to move forward when they first visited your site? At the very least it’s fairly inexpensive brand impressions to a target prospect. At the most, it’ll net you additional leads and sales that otherwise would fall through the cracks.
#14 Always Track Your Progress: If you aren’t tracking your weekly, monthly and quarterly success, you’re missing an opportunity. Detailed performance reporting can be complex, but looking at the basics isn’t. Take the time to know what is improving and what is declining. “Fish where the fish are” and you’ll be able to optimize the good parts to new heights, while lopping off weaker segments of your campaigns.
We hope you’ve found this valuable. If so, please share it or link to it as a resource. Or, if you’re a business owner or decision maker looking for professional help with your campaign, drop us a line today. We’d love to hear from you! Finally, if you’re a PPC professional…tell us what you think about this list in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you too : )
All Leads Are NOT Created Equal
If you’re in an industry where buying leads in bulk is possible, chances are you’ve either tried it or considered trying it. The concept seems almost too good to be true…you pay someone, and they deliver piping-hot leads right to your inbox. You even get a fancy “portal” to log in and monitor progress, see totals, etc. I mean, why even hire a sales staff? Just sign up, slap down your cold, hard cash and let the leads flow in, right?
Well, if you’ve bought leads in bulk in the past, you know that’s not the case. Often times you can’t connect with these purported “interested” parties. Or when you do, they tell you that they aren’t interested right now. Or worse, they’ve already bought – possibly from one of your competitors. Ugh.
If only you knew a little more about what you were buying and who you were buying from. That’s where this post may help in your quest for affordable lead generation. If you’re about to buy leads, especially non-exclusive leads, here’s the 3 questions that you HAVE to ask before moving forward:
1) How are the leads acquired? The best leads will be acquired from solid PPC campaigns, and then call-verified on the spot. Once it’s confirmed that A) they’re a real person and B) they really are interested, the leads are sent out asap. If lead aggregators are mixing in leads that they cultivate from email lists or from outbound cold calling, that’s a red flag. People who click on PPC ads are hand-raisers. They are self-identifying their interest. If they’re being “pulled” from outbound calls or emails, they may not be that interested. Make sure you know how the leads you are buying are cultivated, and shy away from aged leads.
2) What’s the average resale rate? Most of the leads you are buying are also being bought by other parties. That’s how this game is affordable for the sellers…they spend X amount generating a lead, but recoup 2 times X by selling the lead to multiple parties. Make sure you know their average resale rates! A lead that is being sold eight times is far less attractive than a lead with a resale rate of three times. Look for low average resale rates or exclusive leads whenever possible. Not all leads are created equal!
3) How are lead credits handled? Most companies have a very clear policy on when leads can be credited. If they are come in with valid info (name, phone, email), normally you pay for them. But what if a number is disconnected? What if some of the names are “Just Looking” or “Ima Freak”? How are duplicate leads handled? If you are buying these at a very large scale, it’s definitely important to go back and check before paying an invoice. It’s possible to save 10% of your monthly bill or more just by understanding and working the lead credit angle. It’s also an easy way to check out the quality of the leads you’re buying.
This list is far from exhaustive. Other considerations include how leads are delivered, what sort of volume is available, how selective their targeting options are, etc. However, if you just ask these three questions, you’ll weed out weaker lead providers pretty quickly.
Not sure if your lead generation program is what it should be? Thinking of jumping into the lead buying game? Let us help with a one time, up-front digital marketing consultation. An outside 3rd party with no skin in the game is always the best route for analyzing operations. Contact us today to learn more.