Author Archives: Avi White

Why Slogans Matter

As the general election officially began, we set out to review the very basics - campaign slogans.

These short sound bites are designed, to sum up, the candidates’ overall positions and platforms in just a few easily repeatable words. The idea behind a campaign slogan is twofold: 1) convince voters to choose that candidate, and 2) create easy repeatability that can be chanted, repeated to friends, and maybe even go viral.

So how did the two major candidates do with their slogans? Without considering the issues, the candidates’ likeability, their platforms, or any other factor that will sway voters this November, let’s dissect just the actual slogans.

Hillary Clinton: We’re Stronger Together

With a lifetime of politics under her belt, including stints as First Lady, Secretary of State, and United States Senator, Hillary Clinton should be a master of campaign slogans, right? Yet an analysis shows that her slogan is not quite up to par. Here’s why:

1. Evoking Socialism: Hillary Clinton fought a fierce battle in the primaries against Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. The fact that she beat him indicates that perhaps her party, nevermind America as a whole, rejected that particular ideal. Presumably, Clinton’s team is hoping to draw in Sanders’ fervent supporters, but the vaguely socialist connotation of the slogan’s word choice could be a risk in the national election.

 

2. Copycat Branding: Donald Trump has run his entire campaign on the idea that he is the strong, tough leader that America needs. No matter what you think of him, the bravado some might say is the total of what he is offering. While the Clinton campaign appears to be trying to differentiate its candidate by pointing out that no one person is as strong as an entire community working together, that idea is a bit high-minded for a slogan. Using the word “strong” enhances the appearance that Clinton is responding to Trump rather than defining the narrative herself.

 

3. Possible Alienation of Voters: Studies consistently show that the word “together” evokes the stereotypically feminine ideals of cooperation and empathy. Its use in a campaign slogan also implies that we should all aspire to work cooperatively with others. That message resonates with those who embrace those ideas, but what of those who embody the stereotypically male traits of independence, stoicism – the refusal to ask for directions? It will be a tough sell to convince these voters that they should suddenly reject individualism and embrace cooperation.

 

Donald Trump: Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s brash, arrogant, dismissive manner has earned him rebukes and outright disdain from large segments of the voting public, and even key members of his own party. No matter what you think of him, the numbers show that he is a highly polarizing figure. Surely his campaign slogan is just as boorish and inflammatory, right? Surprisingly, he seems to have hit the mark with a slogan that will resonate with quite a few voters. Here’s how:

1. Aspirational Wording: Wherever your personal politics fall, and whatever your view of the issues, it is hard to deny that making America great is an excellent goal. The fact that the word “great” is so nebulous and non-specific makes this even stronger, as each person is free to project his or her unique vision of an ideal, ‘great’ America onto it.

 

2. American Identity: The inclusion of the word “America” suggests patriotism and national pride. We might all be wildly different from each other, but we all think of ourselves as Americans and are proud of that identity.

 

3. Loss and Hope: Notice that the slogan doesn’t tell us to make America great. It tells us to make America great *again*, suggesting that we were once great, but lost our way. However, the slogan assures us, we can make it right. Tapping into very primal emotions that acknowledge our individual and collective grief, and gives us hope for the future.

 

4. Nonthreatening and Inarguable Word Choices: While Clinton’s slogan uses a high-minded appeal to the power of collectivism, Trump’s slogan is intentionally so vague as to be all-inclusive. There is no direct way to disagree with the slogan’s content, it does not highlight any particular viewpoint, and it is simplistic enough to make an excellent soundbite.

Of course, elections are not decided by campaign slogans. Debates, press conferences, social media, and many other factors will play into the final results. Still, in a tightly contested race, every element matters. A slogan should provide a simple, tightly focused message in a compact package that is easy to remember and repeat. The power of a well-designed slogan should never be overlooked, as you never know when it might tip an undecided voter into one column or the other.

Disclaimer: Internal polling of First Source Interactive employees shows support for both candidates as well as neither. We will focus our election analysis on the branding and marketing aspects of the campaign and avoid political positions (which don’t matter anyway).

13 Points to Consider When Setting Up a Google AdWords Campaign

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus on drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but uses your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this issue too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that no single tactic or strategy gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the four steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is determining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the company aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as accurate as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google Analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goals should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to reaching them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This would be a reasonable SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is a major step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to achieve your goal eventually.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however, a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like how many sales were necessary for December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, is necneeded to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key issue is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be relatively straightforward. This move involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Determining the Key Driver of New Sales

Picture, if you would, that you needed to simply keep an eye on only one number when you wanted to know how successful your marketing was. Wouldn’t this make marketing much simpler than it is right now?

Today, we live in an era where ‘big data’ is king, with marketers able to keep track of almost any parameter they can imagine; however, it is possible that tracking metrics in this way causes many businesses more harm than good.

Of course, being able to get all the data relating to your marketing efforts is often a good thing, but it is also possible for a digital marketer to be confused and overwhelmed by the incessant flow of different numbers.

For this reason, I recommend taking a completely different approach: Instead of trying to wrap your head around everything, it is important to find out what is the key driver for the success of your business. You can then concentrate on this number when developing your marketing strategy for 2016.

At this point, you are probably thinking…

Is It Possible For One Number To Drive The Success Of My Business?

Surely, this sounds too easy to be true. Could one number or metric really determine the success of my business?

As an example, let us examine something that almost everyone can understand – real estate. Right from the construction of a property to its final sale, it is obvious that real estate development is a complicated process. However, among all the data points involved, one number stands out as it determines the appearance of the building, how much it will be sold for, as well as how quickly the developer will be able to sell it.

This important number is the address!

Depending on the address of the property, the options available to the developer with regard to the size of their building and the décor they would like to incorporate into it may be limited. In addition to this, the developer or their realtor would need to carry out research on sales of comparable properties within the neighborhood to find out how much the building is worth and how quickly it is likely to be sold.

As a property developer, when you have just this one data point at hand, you will have an insight into the final sale way before you even begin construction. This is not to say that the other factors should be ignored, but is an illustration of the butterfly effect that one number could have on a business.

So, what effect does this have on your digital marketing campaigns?

Your Key Driver toward Business Success

It took me many painstaking hours of reviewing our sales and marketing data before I finally figured out what the key driver for the success of our company is. Much to my surprise, and contrary to what many would think, it was not the number of leads that our sales pipeline had generated…

Strangely enough, it was simply the email subscribers that we had in our database. If someone had told me that this was the case only a few months ago, I would have laughed them out of my office. Back then, it was inconceivable to me that a marketing agency’s business could be driven by email subscriptions.

However, I will show you how I came to this conclusion. By following the same method, you can analyze your own business and find the key driver for the success of your business.

How Do Your Sales Actually Come In?

When looking for the key driver of your business, the first question you must answer is: Where do my sales actually come from? This question is a tough one for many businesses, and getting the answer to it means that phone calls, in-person visits and web forms need to be meticulously tracked. The idea behind this is to have a way to determine the first point of contact between your business and your customers up until you make a sale and to gain an understanding of the steps in between.

In the case of our company, the majority of sales are generated through phone calls. But where do the phone calls come from in the first place? Many of the calls are scheduled after a prospective client fills out a form on our website. Aha! We are getting closer to the answer, but we are still not there… Where were the prospects before filling out the web form?

As it turns out, most were people who subscribed to our email newsletter. From this study, it is clear that email subscriptions are the key driver of our business, not form completions or phone calls.

See How It Works?

To find what drives the success of your business, start with the sales and work backwards to figure out what the source of your prospects is. Although this process takes a lot of hard work and patience before you can identify the patterns in your data, the rewards are worth it. Once you have identified what the key driver of your business it, you can now focus your energies and budget towards boosting that number.

Understanding Search Intent

Search intent’ is what lies behind every keyword used in internet search. In order to get a clearer picture of this concept, it is essential for you to look at the search process from the point of view of the person who is searching for the term you are considering for SEO. This will help you to better understand what the person is really looking for.

By carrying out this exercise, you will discover that most keywords can be put under one of two main search intent categories, namely:

  1. Research intent

  2. Buying intent

It goes without saying that the keywords categorized under research intent are those that people type into a search engine when their sole aim is looking to gain more knowledge on the particular keyword. For example, due to spending long hours seated at my desk, I started to experience episodes of back pain. I therefore searched Google for ‘back pain.’ The search resulted in several articles that outlined the causes and possible cures for back pain.

On the other hand, the keywords classified under buying intent are phrases that people type into search engines when they are looking to buy a product or service. In my case, it only took me a short while to realize that there are several products that have proven to be effective remedies for back pain such as anti-inflammatory drugs. I did not require any drugs, but if I did, I would likely have searched for a term like ‘anti-inflammatory chemists NYC.’ It is easy to see that this example keyword has much more buying intent than the initial search for ‘back pain.’

Now that you have a grasp of the concept of search intent, we will investigate how you can tailor your SEO strategy to take advantage of this knowledge.

Focus Your Efforts on Buying Intent Keywords

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that SEO should aim to ultimately drive sales, not just help gain a higher Google ranking. Keeping this in mind, SEO efforts should be concentrated on buying intent keywords and phrases instead of research intent keywords.

If you fail to do this, you will end up wasting a lot of your time and investing a lot of money on keywords that boost your search rankings but do not drive any sales.

To be clear, focusing on buying intent does not mean completely ignoring research intent keywords; there is a lot of value to be found by ranking high for these types of keywords, but buying intent keywords should be your initial focus. In order for this to happen, your on-page optimization for the product or service should be relevant to buying intent.

Once your product or service pages have been fully optimized for buying intent keywords, you need to expand your focus to research intent keywords. However, this will need you to take a slightly different approach.

Using Research Intent Keywords to Widen Your Marketing Funnel

As I mentioned above, it is easy for you to target buying intent keywords because it is a matter of simply optimizing the relevant product pages on your website. In order to target keywords for research intent, it is likely that you will have to create new pages on your website. Often, the best way to do this is to create a completely new section of your website (for example, a Resource Center) which would contain pages that have information relevant to your industry and are optimized for the necessary research intent keywords. A blog also works as well as a Resource Center in this aspect.

Widening your marketing funnel in this way – through targeting of research intent keywords – ensures that you are able to capture prospective buyers much earlier within the sales cycle. For instance, I did not know anything about the various pain medications available when I was researching back pain.

After I had completed researching back pain, guess the product I would have bought if I felt I needed treatment for my back pain? You guessed right – I would be more inclined to purchase the product sold by the business that offered me the most useful information on the causes, symptoms and remedies for back pain. Put simply, publishing useful information that is optimized for people searching for research intent keywords helps you reach your prospective customers even before they know they require your product or service.

Of course, for this to be effective there is a catch…

A Lead Magnet Is Necessary

For effective conversion of traffic from research intent SEO to sales, it is vital to find a way to capture your visitors’ contact information and use it to follow up and pitch your product or service. Failing to do this will mean that you offer visitors to your website plenty of useful educational information, but they leave your website to purchase from a competitor.

A Lead Magnet is the most effective method of capturing visitor contact information. A lead magnet is valuable content that you offer to your website visitors for free, such as a checklist, guide, informational eBook or coupon in exchange for completing a form. Upon collecting the email address of your prospect, you will be able to do a follow-up message with more information regarding your product or service.

Your approach to SEO will mainly depend on the search intent of the phrases and keywords that you would like to rank for. The first step you should take is to optimize the pages that have details of your product or service for buying intent search phrases, and then optimize your general information pages for research intent keywords. You may then use a lead magnet, which is a tool to help convert researchers into buyers.

Google AdWords: Search vs. Display Networks

A major gripe for me and many other advertisers online is the way Google pushes advertisers to target both their Search results and Display networks whenever they set up their AdWords campaigns. According to Google, when an advertiser first sets up their AdWords campaign, targeting both networks provides an opportunity for them to reach more customers.

While, technically, this is true, it is not a very good idea. In this article, we will examine why targeting both networks in the same way is a bad idea so that you can avoid the trap of targeting these two very different networks with the same AdWords campaign.

Understanding the Search and Display Networks and Their Differences

When most people think of Google AdWords, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the ads that are displayed alongside search results on Google.com. These ads are run on the Search network. The beauty of the Search network is that it offers advertisers the chance to show prospects highly targeted advertising when they are looking for a particular product or service.

The Google Search network is very similar to the old Yellow Pages. This is because prospects would ‘search’ for a particular item in the Yellow Pages when they were ready to buy, which meant that businesses could advertise whatever products or services they were offering alongside the regular listings. Today, most people use Google.com to search for the products or services they need, with the Search network acting as the new Yellow Pages.

On the other hand, Google’s Display network works completely independently of the Google.com search. The Display network is powered by a service known as AdSense, which places ads on a variety of independent websites whose owners are looking to earn money when people view or click on the ads. Any website owner can sign up to AdSense and place the Display network ads on their website. Advertisers can then target these web pages. Google’s statistics indicate that there are more than 2 million websites which use AdSense today, giving you an idea of just how large the network is.

To understand the difference between the two networks, it is essential to understand that when you advertise on the Display network, your campaign is not targeting people who may be looking for your products or services. Instead, you are advertising to the people who are visiting any one of the websites on the Display network. This fact leads us to the first point you need to understand when advertising with Google:

#1. Your Ad Message Should Match the Relevant Network

Whenever someone visits Google.com and searches for a particular product or service, you are almost guaranteed that they have an immediate need. For example, if a prospect searches for a ‘locksmith in Denver,’ it is fairly obvious what the person wants. This person clearly has an immediate need for someone who fixes or repairs locks in Denver, or else they wouldn’t have taken the time to enter that particular search phrase in Google.

With this in mind, you can then tailor your Search network ad copy so that it is a precise match for the keywords the person searched for. This will ensure that you offer them the best option. Because your prospect typed the search phrase ‘locksmith in Denver,’ the ad you place on the Search network should make it clear that you are a locksmith who operates out of Denver and have a call-to-action to encourage the person to get in touch with you.

On the other hand, let us consider a person who is surfing the internet and reading an article that explains how a deadbolt lock is installed. While it is clear that this person would like to know how locks are installed, you cannot be certain that they actually want or need a locksmith. Unlike the prospect who visits Google.com and types in a search phrase, there is no way to know if this individual has an immediate need – therein lies the difference! In this particular case, the ad campaign you place on the display network should be aimed at convincing the person that getting a locksmith is their best option if they would like to install a deadbolt correctly.

It is fairly obvious from the two examples above that the ad copy you choose for the Search network has to be different from that which you use to advertise on the Display network. It would therefore be impossible for you to effectively match your ad message to the network. As a result, it is therefore a bad idea to use a single campaign to target both advertising networks.

After we understand the importance of matching the ad copy to the relevant network, we can then move the concept to the next level:

#2. Ensure That Ads Match Contextually and Behaviorally

When we looked at the example of the Display network ad above, we were working on the assumption that the ad campaign had been targeted at a contextually relevant webpage that talked about how to install a deadbolt lock. This is the simplest form of targeting available when using Google’s Display network to match the keywords within your ad to relevant web pages on the more than 2 million websites that use AdSense.

Another option available to advertisers who use Google ads is behavioral targeting. This works by showing your ads to individuals whose internet browsing history indicates that they may be interested in purchasing your product or service. For example, if I visit many home décor and home improvement websites, with time, the Google search engine figures that I am interested in this particular area and will put me within an audience group that may be called ‘home improvement.’ Behavioral targeting allows advertisers like interior decorators, painters, plumbers or locksmiths to easily select an audience of people that will be more likely to be interested in the products or services they have to offer.

Now that you are suitably armed with knowledge of how contextual and behavioral targeting works, all you need to do to ensure that your campaigns are more effective is to ensure that your ad copy matches your targeting options. The better you get at matching your copy to your targeting options, the higher the number of clicks your ads will generate.

The 4-Step Guide Toward Success in Digital Marketing

When I was a kid, I loved to solve puzzles. In fact, I still keep plenty of puzzles from my days in elementary school all over my apartment. However, it is not just about puzzles; what I love is getting to understand how many different pieces fit together to provide a solution to a problem. This was a major factor in my decision to take up an engineering course in college.

Even as an adult, I still love to solve puzzles, though it has been a while since I solved a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

Instead, I now spend a large part of my time and most of my energy solving the different pieces that come together to create successful digital marketing. When you look at the process of creating a digital marketing campaign as a big puzzle that needs to be assembled, it is easier to get your head round the entire process.

However, when compared with a jigsaw puzzle, digital marketing has one big and important difference: You do not have a box with the completed picture to offer a guide on how the pieces fit together. This certainly makes the process of digital marketing significantly more difficult.

The point of this article is to try to give digital marketers a glimpse of the finished picture. It contains a detailed walkthrough of a tried, tested and proven digital marketing framework in four simple steps which are the essential pieces that form a successful digital marketing plan.

The Foundation

Before looking at the components of the marketing framework, it is important to analyze the workings of digital marketing. When broken down into its most basic components, any successful digital marketing strategy follows the same basic formula:

(Marketing Revenue) = (Conversion Rate) x (Traffic) x (Customer Value)

What this formula means is that the revenue you earn from digital marketing is a function of how many visitors you get to your website, how many of these visitors you are able to convert into paying customers and the value that these customers offer to your business.

Another way to look at it is that there are three distinct ways to increase the revenue you earn from digital marketing: Increase the traffic you get to your website, raise the rate at which you convert the traffic and increase the value that you offer to your customers.

A vital point to remember is that the revenue you earn from your website will be nil if any of the three important digital marketing aspects is zero. It is basic math; even if you are able to drive millions of unique visitors to your website but cannot convert them into paying customers, your revenue will still be zero!

Once you have an understanding of this marketing formula, you can now move up to the details of the framework, which we will call ‘The 4-Step Guide toward Digital Marketing Success.’ These 4 important steps are what every business with an online presence must work on continuously to ensure they remain competitive online.

1. Website Traffic

The first of these steps is building up enough website traffic. Clearly, if you are unable to get enough people to visit your website, you are unlikely to find any success with digital marketing. This should be your main area of focus when you get started with digital marketing.

You should think of your website traffic like fuel for your business.  Your business needs a consistent supply of this ‘fuel’ to ensure that your marketing efforts have a base to build upon.

2. Website Conversions

As we mentioned earlier in this article, it does not matter if you are able to get all the traffic in the world coming to your website if you are not capable of converting the traffic into leads and sales. If you already have an established business and your website has a continuous stream of heavy traffic, the conversion of your visitors is likely to be the key to increasing your sales.

Let us examine an example that explains this point. Let us say you are able to get 1,000 people to visit your website every month and are subsequently able to convert 5 of these visitors into sales. Your conversion rate is then 0.5%. What would happen if you find a way to increase the rate of conversions to 1%? You would, in effect, double your sales figures while having the exact number of people visiting your website! This doubling of your sales would happen without necessarily having to increase your investment in traffic building through SEO, social media or advertising.

3. Customer Value

Although there are many businesses that ignore it, customer value is considered the X-factor that can make or break a digital marketing campaign. Once again, I will use an example to show how offering value to your customers could play an essential role in the success of your marketing effort.

Let’s say that you have a conversion rate of 0.5% and the average value per customer is $100. What this means is that, generally speaking, every visitor that views your website is worth $0.50 to you. By this calculation, it makes no sense to spend more than $0.50 to market your website to each visitor, since it would mean that you are losing money.

However, what happens if you have your main competitor with a similar conversion rate, but with a higher value per customer of $150? Your competitor will be able to afford to spend up to $0.75 per visitor, which means they can attract much higher traffic than you do. Even though they may offer the same product or service, have a similar website and convert visitors into customers at the same rate, their higher customer value means that your competition will dominate your market.

4. Tracking

The final thing you need to consider is tracking. If you do not implement a proper tracking system for your website, you will have very little data to refer to when trying to improve on the three other steps.

When carrying out digital marketing, you should think of visitor tracking and statistics as you would the dashboard of your car. Driving would not be the same if you did not have a fuel gauge or speedometer. It would be harrowing to drive without knowing whether you should slow down or accelerate. Also, without the warning signals that your fuel gauge gives you, it is likely that you would suddenly run out of fuel.

Implementing a proper tracking system will help you to make better decisions since you will know where to place your focus.

In the same way that you would need to complete a puzzle in order to see the final picture, following through each of these 4 steps will assist you in creating a complete plan of action in achieving digital marketing success.

3 Steps to Success in Social Media Marketing

One TV ad that has always been a favorite of mine is the commercial for the Banjo Minnow, which may be familiar to people who like fishing as a popular type of lure. Because I liked the ad so much, my father eventually decided to buy the Banjo Minnow kit for me.

During the commercial, there are constant references made to the ‘genetic response’ of the fish; this basically means that the design of the lure is such that it triggers a natural response mechanism in the fish that compels it to bite the lure. The ad is very convincing and utilizes plenty of strong direct-response triggers – little wonder then that the product’s sales have been so strong.

 

As the owner of a Banjo Minnow lure kit, one thing I can tell you is that all the hype is justified – it DOES work! I cannot forget the excitement of driving to my parents’ cabin after receiving the kit, using it for the first time and seeing it at work. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, the pond next to the cabin has lots of pickerel with very sharp teeth, so most of the day was spent getting the Banjo Minnow out of their mouths while being careful not to lose any fingers!

However, since then, I have come to one conclusion after using many other types of lures – the Banjo Minnow on its own wouldn’t be much more effective than any other lure available. What I forgot to mention from the start is that the kit is delivered along with a video tutorial that shows you how the lure can be used most effectively. In other words, the lure itself is only effective when paired with the information available in the Banjo Minnow kit.

This is the key point of this article – a system is only effective when all its component parts are working together. This is explained in more detail below in this walkthrough of the 3 main steps to success in Social Media Marketing. As you will see, one step in isolation will do little to enhance your business, but all three – when working together – create an extremely powerful strategy.

  1. Build Up An Audience

This may sound obvious, but selling your product or service using social media is heavily reliant on building up your audience. There will be no one to read any of your posts if you do not have an audience.

Starting a social media marketing campaign without an audience can be compared to trying to fish in a pond which has no fish. Regardless of how experienced or skilled you are, or how great your fishing gear is, you will leave empty handed!

If you are starting from scratch, you must be ready to adjust your goals as you begin to implement your social media marketing strategy. Anyone who expects to be able to drive massive sales numbers right away is going to be very disappointed. You must first focus your strategy on ways to build your audience.

  1. Find Ways To Keep Your Audience Engaged

Engagement is the real secret behind the success of the Banjo Minnow. Watching the training video that comes along with the kit, you get to learn how the line is cast correctly and how the lure is reeled in to produce the lifelike action that is advertised in the TV commercial. If you cast the line and reel it in normally, the lure does not work! I have tested both ways and concluded that it is best to use the technique provided in the training video.

The Banjo Minnow works because the reeling action that results in the lifelike movement of the lure catches the attention of the fish and keeps it engaged. This is the simple secret to success in fishing – you must use a lure and combine it with the correct action so that the fish will bite.

This simple principle also holds true when marketing on social media. You should always ensure you provide a stream of the best content at the right intervals in order to gain the attention of your audience and to keep them constantly engaged.

  1. Convert Your Target Market

Finally, we look at the step most social media marketers focus on – conversion. I mentioned in the first step that it would be highly unrealistic for you to expect to convert your audience through social media marketing when you are just starting out because you do not have an audience yet.

You should also not expect much in the way of conversions if you do not yet have ways to gain your audience’s attention and hold it as I have explained in step 2. As it is clear to see, each of these steps follow a certain order and are dependent on each other.

To return to my fishing analogy, when you are first starting out, you must select a spot that is known to have plenty of fish – this is step 1. Step 2 involves finding the best type of lure and the appropriate action to ensure you keep whatever fish you are targeting engaged. In my example, the Banjo Minnow proved perfect for catching my fish! Finally, after the fish bites, the next step is to reel them in: This is step 3 – conversion. This is also the most fun part of fishing.

Everything that you do until reeling in / conversion is a matter of putting in hard work and has an element of trial and error until you find what works best. In social media marketing terms, you must first focus on building up your audience and engaging them through the right content which could be inspirational, informative, entertaining or educational. Once you are able to do this, conversion will be much easier and more fun.

Duplicate Content Will Kill Your Online Marketing

Many webmasters wonder why duplicate content is such a huge problem when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). While all the information available on the internet regarding duplicate content can seem overwhelming, it makes perfect sense when seen from Google’s point of view.

To illustrate this, let us look at an example that most people can relate to. You may have just watched a good movie and would like to find another similar movie. One way to do this would be to tweet or to send an email to some of your friends, asking them to recommend a film that they liked.

In this case, the result you expect is that your friends will reply with a number of different titles that they think you would enjoy watching. What you definitely do not want is for all of your friends to recommend the exact same movie, which you then decide is not what you are looking for. What you expect to get is a wide variety of movie titles, which increases the likelihood that you will find something you will like.

This is very similar to how Google’s search results work; the people at Google know that if a user keys in a search term and gets 10 web pages full of almost identical results, the chances of the searcher finding the information they require, are drastically reduced. The user experience also suffers, because it is extremely frustrating to click on different search results only to get the exact same information.

In order to get round this problem, Google has developed advanced search algorithms that prevent duplicate pages from being displayed for a particular search phrase. The result is, if you have a page on your website that has the same (or very similar) content to another page online, Google will only rank one of them.

How to Find Out If You Have Duplicate Content on Your Web Pages

There are plenty of tools available online that can help you find out if your web pages contain duplicate content. However, two of the most popular with webmasters and content developers are:

Both of these tools only require you to paste the URL of your webpage into the search box and click the ‘Go’ button to start checking your content. In many cases, some duplicate content will be found, so let us look at ways to fix your content in order to avoid penalties by Google.

Fixing Duplicate Content

Many webmasters and online content developers often try in vain to find the one ‘magic bullet’ solution that will easily solve the problem of duplicate content. Unfortunately, there is no simple, ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that will work for everyone; how you fix duplicate content on your website depends on your own situation. However, there are 3 solutions that are common, and every webmaster should find at least one that would be a good fit for their website. These are:

  1. 301 Redirect: This works by automatically forwarding visitors to your website from one page to the other if they are duplicates. For all intents and purposes, a 301 Redirect effectively eliminates duplicate content on the website because only one of the 2 pages is accessible online.
  2. Rel=canonical: A second option is to place the rel=canonical tag on the duplicate web pages. By using this tag, it tells Google which URL among the duplicate pages should be displayed among the search results. The tag’s format would look like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.mydomain.com/the-url-you-want-listed-in-Google.html” />.
  3. No Index: When you would like to tell Google not to add a URL to its indexed search results, the No Index tag comes in handy. This is different from the previous methods because it removes a page from consideration as a search result instead of redirecting traffic. The tag is added to your web page HTML as <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />.

It is clear that all the above methods of dealing with duplicate content are fairly technical. It is therefore necessary for you to discuss the one that would fit your website best with your web developer.

Are Other Issues Preventing Your Site From Ranking In Google?

Besides duplicate content, there are many other issues that could hurt your website’s Google rankings. If you suspect that there are problems, the best action to take is to carry out an SEO audit. We have an affordable and comprehensive SEO audit service which offers:

  • An in-depth SEO analysis that includes both on-page and off-page factors, as well as mobile, social and analytics that affect your Google rankings.
  • A comprehensive SEO report that grades each factor, allowing you to see areas where your SEO needs improvement.
  • Consultation with one of our SEO experts, who will answer all your questions on optimizing your web pages.

Duplicate content can hurt your rankings with Google so take the time to make your site content stand out from the rest.

Online Video – The Diamond of Digital Marketing

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a phrase credited to Frederick R. Barnard commenting on the addition of graphics to advertising in 1921. The concept of a picture giving the viewer an image in a second that might take any length of time to describe in writing, is even more applicable to the modern internet age lifestyle. An image remains in the mind for much longer than the spoken word, while very few people have the time or inclination to read written advertisement in today’s rushed world.

Moving pictures have been around since 1890 when the first films were made which lasted for a minute or even less. The motion picture industry has gone through amazing changes and developments since then, all the way from the big reels to the CD and DVD concept. The computer and internet revolution has turned every computing device, from the smallest mobile phone upwards, into a receiving and viewing device and subsequently, into a shop window.

The use of this online video technology as an advertising medium makes it possible for the smallest business enterprise to reach a previously unheard of number of potential customers. Using the new technology in combination with Google, the world’s most popular search engine, you can have exposure to over a billion viewers monthly according to the eBizMBA ranking on 1st June 2015. The second most popular search engine is YouTube, owned by Google, which processes over 3 billion searches every month.

Putting Google and YouTube together and then factoring in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) criteria employed by Google, the exposure your brand or advertisement receives can be mind boggling. We will take a look at some the factors around Google and YouTube to try and make you aware of the virtually unlimited advertising mileage and exposure you get by making use of YouTube.

  1. YouTube processes more than 3 billion searches every month with the number   growing steadily. Statistics show that YouTube is the fastest growing video sharing website in the world.
  2. With one out of every two internet users on YouTube, there are 1 billion unique visitors viewing 6 billion hours of video every month. In addition to this, 100 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute.
  3. Mobile YouTube viewers make up 25% of the global time that YouTube is being watched with more than 1 billion daily viewers. Your shop window is even open to viewers on the move in today’s non-stop world environment.
  4. In the same way that your website content and format determines your Google ranking, there are similar factors that rank your YouTube advertising video. Some of the factors that can affect the ranking are the number of views, the video title and description as well as the viewer ratings feedback that YouTube receives.
  5. E-marketing is the sales tool of the future with an almost unlimited number of potential clients out there waiting for you to connect with them. YouTube is the most cost effective advertising medium you will find.

The entire business community is continually searching for ways to increase market share and sales. The old days of putting your merchandise in the shop window or advertising your services on billboards and waiting for customers are long gone. Utilizing the internet and the modern online video and YouTube approach for business and service advertising, can have tens of thousands of potential clients passing your ‘shop window’ every single day. The vast numbers reduce the ratio of the cost of advertising to sales dramatically. To look into the future of advertising, all you need to do is to look into online videos.