If you aren’t seeing that success you expect from your paid search marketing campaigns, check to make sure you aren’t making these critical mistakes.
Have you ever noticed how often someone will complain that something “doesn’t work” if they don’t understand it?
It couldn’t be more true with PPC.
In my experience, a lot of the people who say that PPC doesn’t work are the ones making mistakes with the way their campaigns are conceived, set up, and managed. Their own efforts aren’t working, so they conclude that the whole exercise is folly.
But the “PPC doesn’t work” argument doesn’t hold up strongly against numbers.
According to Hanapin’s most recent State of PPC survey, 80 percent of marketing professionals felt good about their PPC success over the preceding year.
Other marketers are getting the results they want. If you’re not seeing that same success from your campaign, step back and look at your strategy to pinpoint where you could be going wrong.
Could it be any of the below mistakes?
1. Not Adopting New Ad Features
It’s been a long time since online advertising was just search and display, even though that’s still where the lion’s share of people’s energy is focused. These do remain potent ways to reach an audience, but newer options may be better for reaching the specific types of people you want to target in a given campaign.
For example, sponsored InMail on LinkedIn may be impactful, as well as other relatively new social media advertising options like Quora ads, Instagram Stories ads, AdWords call only ads, Facebook lead capture ads, or even Snapchat video spots.
Be on top of the industry trends and stay agile. You may find that you get the best results from an unlikely format or platform.
2. Overlooking Intent Signals
If you aren’t considering different intent signals in your campaign targeting, this can severely diminish performance. Understanding the different ways your prospects engage with you at different stages of the sales funnel, and aligning your campaign to that, is key to reaching them with the right offer.
Search marketers used to think of any search for a product-specific keyword was a quality intent signal. But in the age of the non-linear, self-serve buyer’s journey, that’s no longer the case.
Someone who watches the first 20 minutes of your hour-long Facebook video product demo is displaying somewhat different intent from even someone who Googles “where to buy [your product name].”
To maximize sales, focus on targeting people who’ve displayed intent signals pointing towards the bottom of the funnel. To capture self-warmed, qualified leads, focus on the middle of the funnel.
3. Advertising for One Device Only
Yes, “mobile first” is important. I know, I know.
But focusing too much on one gadget and neglecting others can cause you to lose out on customers and leads you could be reaching with your campaign.
Might you be giving up on desktop visitors by optimizing for mobile?
Experimenting with different CTA and conversion flows allows you to target a much wider audience and miss out on fewer people interested in your offer because of the device they’re on.
4. Ignoring Click Fraud
Could click fraud be tanking your PPC results? Some projections estimate that businesses could lose up to $16.4 billion this year because of it.
Search engines do what they can to combat click fraud and invalid traffic, but industry-wide protection will take time. You can’t rely on that when your viewability is hurting now.
Instead, you need to either use a third-party tool or start taking your own measures to protect your brand’s digital marketing.
By keeping an eye of your site’s activity logs, you can often identify IP addresses, referring websites and even geographic territories where the fraudulent activity is coming from and adjust your campaign targeting accordingly, thereby circumventing the issue altogether.
5. Serving Up Mismatched Messaging
Another mistake that loses you leads is failing to align the different assets of your ad campaign well enough. You need to optimize your campaigns for maximum message match.
Whether your targeting parameters, ad creative and landing page are poorly aligned, or your overall copy isn’t tapped into your customer’s’ needs, this can kill the ad’s overall experience and impact some of your other metrics by way of Quality Score.
Message matching has been proven to make a huge difference. For example, by using dynamic content personalization tools to align all the variables of one recent campaign for a client, Codeless Interactive was able to drive a 213 percent increase in conversion rate and a 69 percent decrease in cost per conversion.
Just don’t forget that message matching shouldn’t trump the basics – making sure that you’re targeting the right people with the right message.
6. Not Monitoring Campaigns Closely Enough
Next, don’t underestimate how hands-on active PPC campaigns can, and arguably should be. They’re anything but “set it and forget it,” and hands-off advertisers run the risk of wasting heaps of money over time if they continue to run ads that aren’t performing.
You should always have at least two versions of every campaign running: a test group and an experiment group. Document the variables of your experiments, measure their impact over a day or two or more, rinse, repeat.
Some campaign parameters you can experiment with include:
- Adjusting budget by impression share.
- Making bid adjustments.
- Optimizing ad copy.
- Changing the hours and days your ads are shown.
If you’re doing a good job with your experiments, you should see conversions rising and costs per conversion sinking as time goes on.
Remember, though, that what worked for you last week might have already stopped working for you, and you might never know why.You need to check in on all active campaigns frequently enough to spot performance issues before you spent too much money on them. That way you can make adjustments before your campaign goes too far down the wrong path.
7. Not Bidding on Branded Keywords
Yet another common mistake is not using your brand name as a campaign keyword. Many argue it’s not worth it or necessary, but even if you don’t need to use them, your competitors will. They can intercept your audience if you don’t try to outbid them.
When Growww Digital experimented with turning off brand name ads for an online marketplace client, they saw a 23 percent decrease in cumulative revenue, dropping more than $43,000, as well as a decrease in sessions. After turning the brand ads back on, their important metrics recovered back to where they were before the experiment.
8. Optimizing for Metrics Other Than Revenue
With all the fuss over Quality Score and pressure to drive a high volume of traffic with ads, it can be easy to forget that click-throughs aren’t your end goal – and neither are lead capture conversions. These are just signposts along the way.
At the end of your funnel, and what you’re really after with advertising, is sales, revenue, and ROI.
When you take your eyes off of the ultimate objective, the metrics that your PPC dashboard might be showing you can become misleading.
For example, optimizing campaigns around click-throughs is a bad idea when you have a campaign that’s getting clicks but not conversions. And even conversion rate can be misleading, and optimizing for it a potential mistake, if you’re generating low-quality leads as conversions.
You might not have your goal measurements set up for this type of tracking, and it might not even be possible, depending on your site’s tech infrastructure. This is why it’s key to integrate your ad performance data with other data, such as your Google Analytics dashboard (yes, those UTMs are useful).
At the very least, you should set up data pushes to your CRM for automatic logging of each customer’s pre-sale touches with your assets. This will allow you to identify the campaigns that send you the highest-value customers.
Everything in Its Right Place
Ultimately, most PPC mistakes happen when you don’t understand the best way to reach your audience given the specifics of your situation. By focusing on reaching your targets in the right place with the right message for the campaign’s particular goal, and tracking your results all the way through, you can stay in tune with what people want and optimize your campaign accordingly.
By thinking like a search engine marketer, you just might discover a powerful new marketing channel.
Pinterest is one of the most underrated social networks for lead generation and customer acquisition. But, in fact, Pinterest is one of the largest social media networks in the world. Used by 175 million people, it’s growing at a rate that’s doubling and tripling in some international markets.
Since Pinterest is also a platform that grows from organic search discovery via user-generated content, it can increase brand awareness among its users, and even non-users who stumble across a Pinterest page during a search.
Business owners who invest the time in optimizing their Pinterest exposure to reach prospective customers can create a reliable lead-generation machine without needing to invest large sums of money. Here’s how to leverage Pinterest to develop your own marketing channel to yield reliable results.
Think like a search-engine marketer.
In many ways, Pinterest functions like a visual search engine. The platform combs through board titles, pin titles, pin descriptions and pin tags to surface relevant content for users. The platform also relies on users to collect and compile this content, which ultimately makes the discovery process fun and rewarding.
Given this reality, those interested in using Pinterest as a lead-generation machine should think like a search-engine marketer. The first thing marketers must do is identify a series of target keywords. Tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, Uber Suggest and Keywordtool.io can help you to identify keywords your target audience is already searching.
Once you’ve selected those keywords, it’s time to create a search-optimized Pinterest profile. Make sure that your username and profile URL include a target keyword, if that’s possible. Once your profile is created, you should begin creating boards that include topically relevant information that prospects may be searching for.
It’s also important to optimize each individual pin within a board. The name of the pin and the pin description should use a target keyword to ensure that the content you upload surfaces when a user searches either on the Pinterest platform or a search engine.
Consider advertising on Pinterest.
About 30 percent of American internet users use Pinterest and nearly 80 percent of active Pinterest users say they use the platform to help make purchasing decisions. While Pinterest may not be the first platform you think of when it comes to digital advertising, given those numbers, the platfrom could be a highly effective digital advertising channel for you.
With that in mind, Pinterest recently announced a new option for organizations with smaller ad budgets. Now, advertisers have access to a self-service option that connects potential Pinterest advertisers with a host of creative professionals who are capable of producing compelling visual Pinterest ad content. While advertisers do need to pay for creating such ad content, Pinterest doesn’t take a cut.
This referral option can be a cost-effective means for marketers to test Pinterest without having to invest the time to organically optimize a profile and create or curate content in-house.
Create a pinning workflow.
For those interested in committing to Pinterest long term, it’s important to create a pinning workflow so that you and your team regularly update your profile with relevant content. By enriching your Pinterest profile, you’ll be expanding the reach of your account. In time, increased reach will mean more leads produced from this social media channel.
Consider adding Pinterest as part of your content-production workflow. Each new blog post, ebook or infographic your team creates should be added to Pinterest as a form of content syndication.
Optimize the off-site experience.
ComScore found that social media users access their platforms via a mobile device 79 percent of the time. Marketers interested in driving Pinterest users back to a company website, therefore, should ensure that the website is mobile optimized.
Otherwise, you may be creating a poor experience for the visitor that will not result in a conversion. Alternatively, if you are able to create a pleasant mobile experience, website visitors will be more likely to convert into a lead.
Measure performance with tracking links.
In 1966, Peter Drucker wrote his famous book, The Effective Executive. In it he coined the phrase “What gets measured gets managed.” This was true over 50 years ago, and it’s still true today. A simple way to measure, and therefore manage, Pinterest performance is by using a simple tracking link. Platforms as straightforward as Bit.ly and as advanced as Marketo offer tracking links that can help marketers determine if Pinterest is working effectively, and which specific boards or pins are working better than others.
While most marketers are focused on optimizing social networks like Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest offers businesses an interesting collection of highly engaged users who are using Pinterest to find new products and companies. By thinking like a search engine marketer, or trying out some of Pinterest’s advertiser tools, you just might discover a uniquely powerful new marketing channel that could become your very own lead-generation machine.
Is paying for AdWords worth it? Well, yes and no.
To someone unfamiliar with pay-per-click (PPC), opening the Google AdWords dashboard might look like a seven-headed monster that no entrepreneur can slay. I saw this time and time again during my time at Google. It’s a big reason why my co-founder and I decided to start AdHawk in the first place.
AdWords is complicated and can be overwhelming, which means there is a lot of misinformation floating out there and plenty of myths that call for some debunking.
We at Adhawk have had thousands of conversations with clients and potential clients about these myths, so I’m going to put the most common ones to rest today. Let’s get debunkin’.
Myth No. 1: The top ad position is always the best.
It’s automatically assumed that the first results are going to give you the most return for your money, but that’s not necessarily true.
A study by Hallam Digital found that while the top position drove the most clicks, the second and third positions drove three to four times more conversions, respectively. They conclude that providing useful information, optimizing your landing page, adding extensions, using relevant copy and improving your overall quality score should always be a higher priority than anything else.
They further suggest that the second and third results receive more high-quality clicks because the first position draws in a mass audience, many of whom are not qualified to drive that coveted conversion.
If your ad is not in the first position and you’re still driving conversions, budgeting correctly and turning a profit, then so be it. This brings me to the next myth.
Myth No. 2: Every business needs to double down on PPC advertising.
PPC is more effective for some businesses more than others, but what it really boils down to is budgeting. Brett Farmiloebreaks it down into these three easy formulas:
- (Revenue / Sales Period) / Average Sale = Number of Customers
- Number of Customers / Conversion Rate = Number of Leads
- Number of Leads / Conversion Rate on Traffic = Amount of Traffic
What this means is that if the price to acquire a customer is greater than the customer’s lifetime value, PPC is not worth it for you.
This might be the case for low-traffic and high-competition industries, where PPC advertising may cut margins and not scale.
Myth No. 3: You don’t need PPC if you have high-ranking organic content.
Organic strategies like SEO, social and email go hand in hand with PPC strategies. If you have the bandwidth and resources to execute, do all of them.
Building organic traffic is a great strategy that will pay off in the long run. That being said, managing and updating your SEO efforts after every Google algorithm update can start to feel like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. The advantage of PPC advertising is how quickly it can be spun up to scale your business, and the relative stability it brings to the table.
The numbers speak for themselves. Paid search results drive 1.5 times more clicks than organic traffic, primarily because paid spots drive traffic to customized landing pages. Organic content is a great way to generate an audience, but if you want a predictable and direct method of acquiring customers or driving conversions, PPC is the way to go.
If you already have high-ranking content, you can double-rank on Google by creating paid ads for the same keywords your organic content ranks for. That’s double the real estate and double the chances for conversions.Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Myth No. 4: Google is far superior to Bing.
For the record, no search engine is going to beat out Google in the near future. But Bing is in second place in terms of market share and it’s starting to gain significant traction.
Bing has its shortcomings (like less-advanced ad options), but it provides options that Google doesn’t, like being able to share budgets among all your campaigns.
Bing’s future is entertained by the fact that more than 50% of all search queries are now done through mobile. With Bing powering AOL, Yahoo, Amazon and Siri, things are looking bright.
This means Bing has a different user base than Google, which can provide a profitable opportunity to reach a new audience. For Search Engine Watch, driving conversions on Bing proved to be 63.23% cheaper than on Google.
The next time you hear one of these myths, share your newfound myth-busting knowledge with a friend, or tweet at me @AdHawk.
These tools will help your business grow, generate leads, develop customer loyalty, and make more money – all while keeping your clients and teams happy.
Working with hundreds of clients and projects on a daily basis, digital agencies and SEO professionals with a lot of projects spend an enormous amount of time estimating, developing strategies, analyzing, and reporting.
Simultaneously, the business has to grow, generate leads, and develop customer loyalty. And, of course, make more money.
How in the world can you make all of these things happen while making your clients and teams happy at the same time?
Certainly, there are many ways for agencies and SEO pros to increase their revenue and customer loyalty regardless of whether it’s generated through new technologies or via enhanced internal processes.
Working close with agencies, though, we’ve identified five of the most common pain points they are struggling with:
- Finding solutions on how to personalize and enhance relationships with their clients,
- Finding new ways to generate leads.
- Building better value proposition.
- Accelerating strategy execution.
- Creating more accurate forecasting.
Automation, new widgets, and tools are often the cure for the problems.
Below is a collection of tools and options that can help with reaching these objectives to the best satisfaction of all parties involved.
1. Generate More Qualified Leads Using Lead Generator Widget
Lead generator is a great tool that helps attract qualified leads using instant SEO audit as an attraction.
It’s a widget (or a webform, if you will) installed on your website that provides your potential clients with a detailed report on how well their webpage is optimized for a certain search query.
In exchange, you are getting their contact information along with their report ending up with a “hot” lead and a list of their problems at hand to start the conversation going.
There are some widgets on the market to choose from.
SE Ranking offers this option within their top plans. It looks very sleek and can be customized to reflect your unique brand styling.
The popped-out form:
Here is how easily (as simple as 1-2-3) you can customize and install the webform and start generating leads today:
Step 1: Select the widget type and install it: choose the form, the color, the budget, the text and where you want to place it on a site.
Step 2: Add a small piece of the HTML code to your website pages.
Step 3: Get alerts on new leads and convert them into your potential clients.
2. Build Trust & Personalize a Client-Agency Relationship
White Label is quite a popular option in SEO platforms as it is aimed at presenting your SEO services as your own technology. Not all of the SEO platforms offer White Label as part of the subscription. So, look for services like SE Ranking that has this option within their pricing plans.
The value of White Label in building trust and credibility with your clients is indisputable. With minimum development work, you can use your domain or subdomain to provide personalized SEO services to your clients. Let’s look inside the system to see how it works, using SE Ranking as an illustration.
By employing White Label option, you can customize the system to reflect your own interface and login page, change the header and footer of your own domain and adapt the look of email templates to fit your agency styling.
The reports you’ll be sending to your clients will look like they’ve been generated via your own SEO technology. Moreover, all your SEO reports can be sent via your own SMTP server.
It is easy to add and manage users with custom access to other SEO features like rank tracking, backlink monitoring, website audit, etc. There is never a hint of connection between your agency and SE Ranking and since the platform is cloud-based, there are no hosting or maintenance issues.
3. Use Marketing Plan to Speed up Estimation & Enhance Accuracy
Regardless of how many times you’ve provided the estimation and developed a strategy for your clients, more often than not it takes an arm and a leg to create a document that’s both impressive and accurate.
What if you could automate this process and come up with a personalized plan built based on the best practices in the field – with the simple click of a mouse?
Tools like Marketing Plan from SE Ranking do just that.
Automating the estimation and preliminary strategy within the initial stages of your sales cycle effectively cuts the time it takes to execute while ensuring accuracy.
Also, the beauty of it is in how easily you can customize the plan, add your points, get a complete list of tasks, and disperse these tasks among your team members. It’s like a mini project management tool at your fingertips with an SEO twist.
4. Develop Ambassadors Using Top-Notch Reporting
Beautiful, detailed and comprehensive reports are the base of making your customers happy and thus, loyal. It’s also the most painful part for agencies since reports take so much time to develop.
Using reporting tools in an SEO platform makes this tedious task so much easier.
For example, the Report Builder from SE Ranking helps create professional reports and impress even the most demanding clients. You can add a personalized look to your reports by adding your logo and contact info in the header.
Additionally, make them easily accessible with the option to download them in different formats: .pdf, .xls, .html, .csv. You can send and get reports automatically to selected e-mails on a regular basis.
The tool works in a manual, automatic, or scheduled mode. A nice touch is the Drag and Drop. These modules help make your SEO reports look comprehensive and elegant.
5. Budgeting Is a Science – Treat It Accordingly
Forecasting and the estimation of your SEO potential is a crucial puzzle piece for generating greater revenue while simultaneously making your clients happy.
You can still use Excel files and guess how much return on investment you might get from your SEO efforts. Or, you can use tools such as SEO Potential from SE Ranking to forecast and justify your budgeting.
This feature uses a sophisticated formula to predict the results of your SEO investments.
For example, by using this tool, you can easily predict how many clicks your client can get based on their search rankings. Alternatively, assess the expected traffic volume, quantity of clients and traffic cost via Google AdWords. You can then generate the reports and export them into different formats to present them in detail to your clients.
In the modern business environment, making more money is not just about increasing your rates or advertising budget. It’s also about value proposition, business processes, and technologies. These are the factors that really affect the bottom of the funnel in the long run, as well as the overall health and business efficiency of your organization.
Using platforms such as SE Ranking, which offers basically everything that you need to successfully operate your digital agency or provide freelance services, might help eliminate unnecessary clutter and complexity while helping you grow a prosperous business and long-term client relationships in the tough field of digital marketing.
Structuring campaigns based on personas is can effective, but what happens when you have keyword overlap that dilutes your messaging?
Keywords and search queries can mean different things to different people. That’s where intent comes in. You might, for example, have one keyword that serves multiple personas.
So the work that you need to do to qualify those leads in a PPC environment typically happens at the ad creative and landing page level, not necessarily with the PPC campaign structure.
My agency recently inherited a PPC account that was building campaigns based on personas, and the strategy didn’t prove itself. (By the way, if you’re interested in the cabinet of curiosities we discovered when we got into the account, check out my column from last month.)
Using this account as a case study, I’ll share with you some important lessons on understanding keywords, what to do when they serve more than one audience type in PPC and what results you can see when you reorganize based on the moneymakers.
The Situation: Misguided Campaign Structure
The business in question runs on licensing and continuing education for a particular industry. So the company wanted to target two distinct personas based on those two different groups.
The previous PPC account managers had separated the campaign structure based on audience personas: continuing education seekers and new licensees.
That sounds okay at the outset, except the keywords that were in the continuing education campaign were some of the same keywords that were in the new licenses campaign — and frankly, any of them could cater to either audience.
Here’s an example of how it was structured:
Continuing Education Campaign
dog walking continuing ed
dog walking renewals
dog walking licensing
New Licenses Campaign
dog walking licenses
dog walking courses
dog walking license tests
For the continuing education ads, searchers landed on a page that catered to that side of the business, and for the new license ads, they landed on a page with info specific to that.
But the thing is, it was a crap shoot. Any new licensee or a person seeking continuing education could come in via “dog walking courses,” for example.
So in the off chance they did convert on a particular landing page, in my opinion, it was pure luck.
The Fix: Follow The Money
When we dug into the account, we rolled up our sleeves; we had work to do. And we did what we always do: Follow the keywords that are making the business money.
The client was at first hesitant and wanted to continue the way they had been: campaigns based on personas. (We did get past that.)
Once we restructured the campaigns with the keywords that drove traffic and conversions, we refocused the ad creative and the landing pages (our messaging strategy catered to both possible personas), and let those do the work of qualifying the personas:
The Results: 123% Lift In Revenue
With a little love, the account experienced a huge lift in conversion rates, transactions and revenue for the client year over year. We suspect this will only get better, as we are still testing our strategy and adjusting it as we go.
From the report, we see:
- A 39-percent lift in conversion rates.
- An 84-percent lift in transactions.
- A 123-percent lift in revenue coming from PPC.
The moral of the story is this: PPC managers and online advertisers need to do the work to understand the intent behind the keywords, and then work that insight into various steps in the funnel.
That starts with ensuring the account structure is sound, following the keywords that are showing the most ROI, and then using marketing insights to make the ad messaging and landing pages guide the audience down the path to conversion.