The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

What to Monitor with your AdWords Budget – Part I

“AdWords is a money pit”. I hear that a lot from people who are cynical about their experience with AdWords. They spend a lot of money yet do not see any sales as a result.  And I agree that it can be a money pit when it’s not monitored closely. Advertisers who set up an account, then barely look at it will find themselves maxing out their budget very quickly with little to show for those dollars spent.  But when your Adwords Budget is monitored and optimized, AdWords has the potential for great results for advertisers – both for online and brick and mortar store. The major concepts to learn and manage so AdWords does not become a money pit is the daily budget, bid strategy, keyword costs, and conversions.

Campaign Budget

The highest level is your campaign budget. A simple account for a small company may have only one campaign because they do not need to account for variation in geographic locations or language. Others may have a separate campaign for each country or each product or service. Note that you are setting a budget by campaign. If your total spend for the month is $5,000 and you have five campaigns, you might set each campaign at $1,000. If it was one campaign, then you set the one budget of $5,000 for that single campaign.  Start here when determining your maximum spend for the month.

Ad Group Budget

Next you can set a budget for each ad group within a campaign. In the below example for a florist, they bid slightly higher on their “Brand Name & City Name” ad group because it produces the most revenue. Less money is spent on RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) because the return is lower. If you are just getting started, there is no need to make edits yet at the ad group level. You may want to first collect data on how your ads perform in each group.

monitor adwords budget1

 

Keyword Bids

You can also manage bids for keywords.  Below you see a slighter higher bid for the keyword phrase marketing conference compared to a business conference so this advertiser is bidding based on the return each of these words provides. The expectation is that searches on the phrase marketing conference will result in more ticket sales than business conference.  If you are just getting started with AdWords, bidding at the keyword level may be more granular than you need initially.  Unless you are confident that some keywords will produce a higher ROI than other keywords, allow some time for your account to collect data, then come back and adjust bids at a later date depending on how the words perform.

monitor adwords budget2

 

Tracking Performance

Now that you have the basics of budgeting down, it’s time to track performance on your ads. While getting a click on an ad is generally a good thing, you do not know how good of a thing it is unless you measure what happens after the click. Previous articles on this blog talk about the importance of tracking conversions and how to set it up.

In Part II, we’ll review bid strategies which are a more advanced option for bidding.

How to Use Google Analytics to Optimize Your Website

Google Analytics not only provides a picture of the good things happening on your site which include sales and lead generation. It can also point out the things that are not working well that need to be changed. Below are five steps for optimizing your website based on data available in Google Analytics.

Identify pages with the highest bounce rates

In the Site Content section of Behavior data, you can view your landing pages. View which pages are the common entry points to your site. Are those pages designed to receive new visitors? In other words, will a new visitor know what your website is about if they land on one of these pages rather than the home page? If you see a high bounce rate, it could be that it is not a good introduction for people who are new to your business and there is some room for improvement. Pay special attention to landing pages with a large number of visitors and a significantly higher bounce rate than the other pages on your site.

Analyze goal performance

The easiest way to see how you are doing on your site is to look at your goals in Google Analytics. However, rather than looking at just the raw numbers or the absolute percentages, examine what’s been happening over time so you can see if there’s been an improvement in site performance. So yes, you will still want to look at conversions as a number on it’s own, but make sure you do watch for trends over time. And give extra attention to any spikes and conversions that may be related to a new marketing activity that you started or perhaps an update that was made to your website.

General site performance

The Site Speed section under Behavior is more relevant to the website developers then to the marketers. However if you are involved in decisions about the design, it is helpful to know if an image-heavy page seems to be causing a slow load time. With short attention spans, you are losing potential customers who lose patience and visit another site. The good thing is that this is one of those problems that can be fairly easy to fix and it’s very clear-cut.

Check the Reverse Goal Path report

In a previous article, I wrote about how the User Flow through a website might not be that meaningful for many sites. If there is not a clear path through your website to reach a conversion, it is hard to know what you are measuring other than the end result. However, you may still want to check the Reverse Goal Path report to see the pages a visitor navigated before converting on your site. It can be helpful to know which pages are the common steps followed by people who eventually complete a desired action

Look for drop offs in your conversion funnel

Once you set up goals you can see how people travel through your site to complete them with a Funnel Visualization report (found in Goals section of Conversions). With this report, you can learn which pages have a high exit rate in the funnel and brainstorm ways to improve them.

Website optimization is all about using data to make your website more attractive to visitors and make visitors more inclined to complete a desired action on your website. Looking for ways to improve your site using your analytics and qualitative data such as customer surveys is an ongoing process.

And always remember that no matter how great you may think your website is, you are not the customer. If you can stay curious about what it is your website visitors want, it’s easier to get rid of your assumptions and to be more open to creative ways for improving performance. There can be room to change your overall copy, your images, your navigation, your offers, your landing pages etc. The bottom line is if you adopt a mindset where your website is not a one-time project, you will increase the ROI with the channels used to send you traffic.

 

Inside View of Agile Marketing

Do you feel like your company doesn’t understand what you do? Do you have a constant stream of requests and ideas coming into your team? Are you expected to immediately act on all requests? Do you feel like you can’t say no or negotiate? First of all, you are not alone!

What I learned

I recently instructed the Agile Marketing Boot Camp, and this is what I learned from my students. This class was comprised of mainly management-level marketing professionals that realized it was time to make a change in the way they are doing their work. The industry is changing and becoming more technology dependent. Teams are becoming more cross-functional, and marketers are now expected to have a wider range of skills including some IT functions.

The common theme with the students was that they were overworked and misunderstood. Marketing teams typically have too many stakeholders to keep up with. Within the 30 minute break, one of the students said that she had already received multiple urgent requests. If you are not on a marketing team and reading this, you are probably thinking well that’s just business, right?

Let me paint you a picture. You have 10 people in your company who each have a very important project that month and that is their top priority. Each of these people also has three or four ideas on what they want to do to market or promote their project. This is where the flood happens because these people either cannot or do not want to execute on those ideas. That is what the marketing team is for. Meanwhile the marketing team is drowning because these 40 requests have all come into the department at the same time, all marked as “top priority.”  The last line of these emails is something usually along the lines of, “Can you get this back to me this week?” Of course they feel like they cannot just say no, and then weeks go by without any progress and stakeholders become frustrated.

5stepz

Because of the nature of the marketing industry, it is more common now that executives and stakeholders are not doing this intentionally. They are simply unaware of what truly goes into completing some of these tasks. Marketing has become technical, and with that there are a lot of misconceptions of what a marketer does. I for one can’t even explain to my friends what exactly it is that I do. Most other departments in an organization don’t really know what marketing does either.

How Agile Can Help

Marketers are seeking out Agile Marketing for these reasons. They want to find a way to help their team organize priorities, utilize their resources, and manage stakeholder expectations.  Most of the students were aware of Agile from what they had heard within the IT Teams at their organization. They understand that the Agile methodology can truly be applied to the marketing industry in an effective way because of the growing use of technology and the structure of the project teams. Some had even taken some steps to start building up an Agile framework within their department. The common pain points were lack of resources and lack of communication between teams.

Over the two days of class, we focused on how to set up a structure within the marketing teams to help them organize their priorities and create a way to become more transparent within the organization. Agile Marketing is based off a foundation of transparency within the team and stakeholders. Teams are able to use data and organized planning to communicate and justify the projects they are prioritizing and give a more accurate estimate of project completions to stakeholders.

I could tell that they were truly excited to get started on what they learned in class and they were able to walk away with tools and foundations for starting to implement Agile within their teams. If you are looking for a way to find some real solutions for your team, click here to find out more about the Agile Marketing Boot Camp.

5 Quick Tips on Writing Your First Professional Business Blog

5tips1

Writing professional blog posts for a company blog is a common task given to interns in the marketing, PR, and communications fields. But it’s not just busy work, it’s a cost-effective marketing investment in content marketing that helps drive web traffic, generate leads, and increases engagement.

It is important for newcomers to business blogging to note that writing a professional business blog is different than writing a personal blog.  Business blogging can be fun, but it’s still business, meaning content and voice can make or break the success, or failure, of your post.

In order to deliver worthwhile results, follow these 5 tips for writing your first professional blog:

Tip #1: Know Your Audience

After you settle on a topic, visualize different personas that might find your blog interesting. Knowing who your audience is will help you shape the tone of the blog post and the type of language you use. Variables like age, profession, industry, education, and experience-level will greatly affect what the appropriate tone of your blog should use.

Tip #2: Read Other Company Blogs

I challenge you to find a great writer who is not also an avid reader. And even though you’re likely not aiming to win a Pulitzer Prize for your business blog, the same applies to you and your professional blogs. You should subscribe to successful blogs in your industry and read them as much as possible. Reading other company’s blogs will provide you with a wealth of inspiration and will help you develop your own writing style.

5tips2

Tip #3: Incorporate Relevant Images

Posting a blog that’s just a large block of text will lead many readers to hit the backspace button, no matter how well written the blog may be. Adding images that are relevant to the topic and the tone help break -up the text, and improve the readability of a blog. To avoid copyright issues, only use images that your company owns, or from free stock websites like pexels.com.

Tip # 4: Create an Eye-catching, Yet Informative Title

This may just be the most important part of your writing process. The title is going to be the first thing readers see and will ultimately determine whether they click/read your post. You want to come up with an interesting title that immediately grabs your readers’ attention. However, there is a fine line between an interesting title and clickbait. So make sure your title is still relevant and informative.

You also want to come up with a title that speaks to a topic your readers might be searching. There are a few tools you can use to help with this process. The first is just Google search. Start typing your topic or keywords relevant to your topic into a Google search and see what topics autofill suggests. Another fun tool is the Blog Post Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule.

Tip # 5: Proofread…..and Then Proofread Again

Everyone makes mistakes, but posting a blog with glaring spelling and grammatical errors will hurt your credibility as a writer and the credibility of your company as well. Running your blog through online tools like gingersfotware.com and grammarcheck.com will help you catch common mistakes that we often overlook. Having someone peer-review your blog will also make sure it is ready to be seen by the masses.

5tips3

Regardless of what business industry you are in, these tips will help you develop a voice for your company through blogging.  And as long as you remember to always write with your audience’s benefit in mind, you will be on your way to becoming a great business blogger.

How to use Self-Referrals and PayPal Referrals in Google Analytics

A self-referral in Google Analytics means that your website is indicated as a referral source to your website which could have something to do with your installation.  Like with spam referrals, it’s frustrating to site owners if it happens a lot because it throws off your data as a whole.  You don’t know the true source of that great conversion traffic.

 

A lost referral is similar and occurs when there is a third party tool involved, such as PayPal for collecting payments off your website. Once you send visitors off your site to complete a task, like a purchase, the website where they complete the action is the one that receives credit for the conversion. I call it a “lost referral” because you don’t know if the originating traffic source was organic, paid, email or something else because Google sees the visitor coming back to your site from PayPal and assumes PayPal should get the credit for the conversion. Google Analytics also records that return visitor as a new session even though they only left your site for a moment to process payment.

 

You use the Referral Exclusion List as seen below when you do not want traffic from an external site to be a referral source or record a new session when the visitor returns from that site. Using the PayPal example, you would add http://www.paypal.com to your Referral Exclusion List.

 

But this isn’t a perfect solution, although it does at least prevent a new session from being created when the situation described above occurs.  Simply adding a website to exclude list does not enable you to see what site visitors do on the third party site.  You want to see the full journey the user took which is when you would set up cross-domain tracking AND add the site to your exclusion list.

paypal-exclusion

 

To have a picture of the full user path, you need to implement cross-domain tracking if the back and forth happen across website properties where you can implement tracking code. Cross-domain tracking then would allow you to track your website visitors to the third party site and requires assistance from your web developer for this set-up.

 

Note that once cross-domain tracking is set-up, you may still have conversions credited to your own website because of cookies. Returning visitors who were tagged with a cookie before you set up the exclusions and cross-domain tracking will still have conversion credit given to the original referral.  Expect to see this in the short-term after making this change, but this shouldn’t be a problem long-term.

 

When you don’t have access to the outside website property and cannot implement cross-domain tracking, with as a solution such as PayPal, you will instead edit the Website Payment Preferences on their website. In these preferences, you will turn ‘Auto Return’ to on and enter the URL of your ecommerce post-purchase page, such as http://www.website.com/ordercomplete.php.  A the end of the URL for your post-purchase page, include ?utm_nooverride=1. Doing this gives credit to the original source of traffic rather than giving PayPal the credit for the purchase.  This Website Payment Preferences screen was a bit tricky to find in PayPal’s help files, so go directly to this link to make this change rather trying to hunt for it.

 

You can start addressing referral issues by going to the Admin area of Google Analytics and adding relevant sites to the Referral Exclusion List.  Then, if you have web properties that you can add tracking code to, you will want to use cross-domain tracking to properly record the shopper’s journey. With PayPal, follow the above steps. Every vendor is going to be a bit different so check their help files or contact customer support to ensure you have this set up right. Especially if you are using multiple digital marketing channels to sell products or services, you want to give credit to the right place so you know what to do more or less of.

December Only! 2 for 1 Self-Paced eLearning

BOGO elearning banner 5 918x200

2 is always better than 1, right? For the entire month of December, buy any self-paced, on-demand eLearning course and get a second one for free. Or, buy two licenses to the same course for the price of one.

On-demand, self-paced eLearning courses from ASPE are delivered exclusively online in short, easy-to-absorb video based modules with exercises, required readings, and assessment questions to enhance your comprehension along the way and are available around the clock. Study at your own pace and access your course when it is convenient for you.

Enroll with code BOGO16 before December 31st, 2016 to buy 1 self-paced eLearning course and get a 2nd one for free.

(more…)

How to Optimize Your YouTube Campaigns

youtubeAfter your YouTube ads run for a while, you have access to valuable data about their effectiveness.  You can measure views and clicks as well as actions that happened at a later date but were initiated by your YouTube ad. Using these available metrics, you can measure performance and make decisions about what to optimize in the campaign moving forward.

Below are some considerations in optimizing your YouTube campaign.

Start with automatic placements

When selecting a targeting method, such as the topic, Google will select the relevant placements for you. Give this some time to run before adding managed placements to the campaign.  This gives you time to learn which types of sites perform well for you.

Remove low performing placements

After a period of time, compare your views and conversions for the different placements where your ad is viewed. If there are some placements that do not do well, you may want to exclude them from your campaign. Even if a particular site seems relevant to your business, it does not guarantee your audience is there.

(more…)

The Power of Thought Leaders in Social Media

thoughtl1

A thought leader is a person who provides innovative and unique ideas, instead of simply reiterating other people’s content and thoughts. They’re often very influential in their field, and may publish books or articles about their industry. They’re considered experts or authorities in their particular field, and people often turn to them for opinions or advice. Thought leaders start conversations, solve problems, lead discussions, and contribute to the development of their industry through their knowledge and influence.

(more…)

How to Create Your First Video Campaign for AdWords

More people are on YouTube than any cable segment in the United States, which means there is a huge audience there that will only continue to grow. And when you create your campaign, remember that mobile is just as important with video as it is for other AdWords ads since more than half of video views are on a mobile device.

Video presents such as a unique way to connect with the right people. Since they can like, share, and subscribe to your videos – rather than simply click – it’s a much different experience than user behavior on a typical Google.com search. With keywords, demographics, and topics, you can connect with the right customers at the right time.

(more…)

Facebook Messenger Now Has Sponsored Messages – Should You Use Them?

This blog was originally posted by RSO Consulting and can be found here

Last week, Facebook opened up sponsored messages to advertisers within its Messenger app. With one billion monthly users, Messenger is a tempting place to reach more customers…but are Facebook sponsored messages right for your business?

facebook-sponsored-message-300x238

Facebook’s sponsored messages open up in the Messenger app.

What is a Facebook Sponsored Message?

Sponsored messages take place right in the Facebook Messenger app. They activate once a user clicks on a News Feed ad, and then directs them to the Messenger app, where the sponsored message appears. If you’ve used Messenger before, then it looks just like a conversation you would have with another Facebook user.

If your business already uses Facebook Ads, then sponsored messages is a pretty neat tool for engaging your customers on a more personalized level. Instead of pointing to a website page, the Ad points to Messenger, where users can interact with the advertiser (you) directly.

(more…)

css.php