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January 2015 archive

PPC Mistakes that Sink Beginners

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December 2014 Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

As a beginner in the world of pay per click (PPC) marketing, there are steps you must take to get up and running in a fast, efficient and effective manner. There are also things you have to avoid if you want to stay above water and continue to move in the right direction.

The good thing is just because you are a beginner now does not mean you will always be a beginner. As you spend more money on PPC, paying close attention to what is and is not working, you will gain knowledge and expertise. At some point, you will be well past the beginner stage and ready to dive into the most advanced tactics and strategies.

For those who are just getting started with PPC, there are some key mistakes that can sink your strategy before it ever has a chance to swim. Here are five mistakes that you should avoid:

Not tracking each and every detail. If you are going to spend time and money on PPC marketing, it goes without saying that you should know what is going on at all times. How are you going to stay the course if you are not tracking every detail, no matter how big or small?

Your goal is simple: track anything and everything associated with your PPC campaign. From the keywords to the cost to the conversion (and that is just the start), you need to keep a watchful eye on everything that is happening.

The more details you track the easier it is to make changes on the fly that will improve your chance of greater success the next time around.

Spending too much money during the learning phase. It is easy to believe that the more you spend on PPC the more traffic you will drive to your site. And it is also easy to believe that the more traffic you drive, the more money you will make.

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself by setting an astronomical budget during the early days and weeks of your PPC campaign. You have to experiment with a variety of strategies, learning more about what is and is not going to work.

Start with a small budget, track everything, and then ramp up when you are comfortable doing so. If you spend a lot upfront and get nothing in return, there is a good chance you will be scared away from PPC forever. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

Not realizing the key difference between click through rate (CTR) and conversions. Testing and tracking is a big part of your PPC campaign. As you do this, it is only natural to pay close attention to your CTR. This is the number of people who are clicking your ad and making their way to your website.

This is your goal, right? While a high CTR means you have created a successful ad, it does not necessarily mean you are going to be impressed with the conversation rate.

When you focus solely on the CTR you could falsely believe that your campaign is performing much better than what it is. Make sure you know how many of the people visiting your site are converting.

Traffic is good, but conversions are what really matter. Are you keeping track of both?

Getting stuck in your ways. This can happen for a number of reasons. If things are going well and your current ad is paying off in terms of CTR and conversions, you may feel compelled to stick with it for the long run. But how will you ever know if you can do better unless you try?

On the other side of things, you may not be getting the results you are after. However, you stick with an ad for one reason or another. There is a fine line between giving your campaign a chance to work and sticking it out for too long. The longer you hang around without achieving results, the more money you are throwing down the drain.

Forgetting about the power of geo-targeting. If you are using Google AdWords, for instance, the default setting is for the entire United States. If you don’t make a change, your ads are going to be targeted to people from one side of the country to the next (and everywhere in between). This may not be the end of the world if you have a product or service that is sold nationwide, but if you are a local company, such as a restaurant or service professional, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Use geo-targeting to your advantage, especially if you want to target a specific, local audience. This will improve your chance of people in the right location seeing your ad.

Tips to Remember

These five PPC mistakes sink beginners time and time again. If you avoid these, you know you will be in a better position moving forward.

Here are a few additional tips to implement:

  • Experiment with many traffic sources, regularly comparing the results to determine which one offers the best return on investment.
  • Test, test, and test some more. You may be surprised at which ad copy yields the best results.
  • Ad scheduling can save you a lot of time, while helping you avoid mistakes (such as forgetting to turn a campaign on at a particular time of the day). Here is some more information on this direct from Google.

With the right PPC campaign in place, you could find yourself driving high quality traffic to your site on a regular basis. If you master this strategy, you will always be confident in your ability to generate traffic that converts.

Content Marketing Campaign of the Week: Diamond Candles Ring Reveal


In general there is a misconception that to get more than a million followers or likes on Twitter or Facebook, you have to be a large brand. It’s somewhat easy to reach that goal if you’re Nike, Coca-Cola, Target or another household name. But what if you’re a start-up company in a commoditized industry? Diamond Candles literally put a ring IN it and upped the excitement surrounding their product to a fun purchase with their RINGREVEALTM garnering more than one million likes on Facebook. In the industry, that is second to the established Yankee Candle brand which has 1.3 million likes.

When you think of candles, they aren’t an item you typically make a priority on your shopping list (unless you’re a bachelor, have a lady-friend coming over and think, uh-oh, my apartment smells terrible). Candles are typically items you grab off the shelf because you think it smells nice and you have some spare cash or need a last-minute gift. Most people don’t have a candle brand preference. But Diamond Candles had a unique idea:  put a ring in every candle that could be worth up to $5000. Amazing idea, right? Yes, but only if it catches on.

This is a prime example of why companies need content marketing in today’s market. The goal of Diamond Candles has been to make home fragrance fun. For the first three years, all customers received rings in their candle worth $10-5000. Customers, by the hundreds, began posting photos to the Diamond Candles Facebook page, modeling the gorgeous rings they discovered in their Ring Candles. This was proof that Diamond Candles had a great idea, but saw an opportunity to take it one step further, because customers who won rings worth $100, $1000, or $5000 had to accept the style and size of the ring embedded in the candle.


ASPE-ROI Course Developer Phil Buckley to Speak at High Five Conference


Triangle American Marketing Association announced their speakers for the 2015 High Five Conference and ASPE-ROI Instructor and PrecistionLender Director of Marketing Phil Buckley was selected to speak. He will present pbuckleya break out session during the conference, which takes place in Raleigh, NC, at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel on February 25-26, 2015.

Phil’s breakout session, Content Marketing in a Seemingly Boring B2B Vertical, will focus on how to make content marketing exciting and shareable, even for the least interesting industries. By breaking down content marketing to its core of storytelling and relationship building, Phil’s insights will leave you with plenty of ideas for your next content marketing campaign. For a full description of this breakout session, visit the agenda page.

Phil is well-known among marketers in the Triangle area (and nation-wide) as an expert in SEO, as he has cultivated the largest SEO Meetup group in the country. However, his nonchalant insights into content marketing and social media allow those who listen to him have multiple “A Ha” moments. He is also the course developer for ASPE-ROI’s Content Marketing Boot Camp. Be prepared for engaging imagery, videos and a few corny jokes during this presentation.

Registration for the High Five Conference is currently open.

How to Build Your Audience

An audience can make or break a brand.  With a core audience of people who love the work you do, you have resource for ongoing revenue and a fanbase who will tell other people about what you.  A solid audience is not built overnight or in a one-shot deal.  They must be found, communicated with (not to), and nurtured over time.  There is no one source for an audience.  They are obtained through the hard work of marketers using some of the following channels.

content_is_kingContent Marketing

Content marketing stretches beyond the blog on your website.  With the low costs involved in producing content, you can reach audiences with webinars, white papers, videos, and podcasts.  People want to learn through different mediums which is why visual, audio, and written mediums are all important to consider in a comprehensive marketing strategy.  Whichever medium you choose for content distribution, remember that quality is important.

Email Opt-in

Email is not dead so wise marketers continue to spend time building up their email list.  The key lies not only in simple forms to encourage sign-ups, but also making it clear what users will receive in return for their email.  Being clear about an offer decreases the amount of opt-in form abandonment.  There are also a number of creative ways to encourage email subscribers beyond the pop-up form.  For example, consider including an email subscribe option as a sitelink extension in your AdWords campaign.


Agile Marketing: Sprint 6

Many Hands Make Light Work

In the sprint retrospective for this sprint there seemed to be a general feeling of content and enthusiasm. This was a pleasant surprise as I was half expecting that stating “Happy workers. Happy management. Happy stakeholders.” last week was going to jinx us.

We discussed how the team is continuing to do a great job of helping each other out and focusing on the most important team needs and tasks, and not our own individual ones. This is especially evident in one team member who had shed many of her previous role-based siloed tasks and made a sacrifice to the team. She has set a wonderful example and the rest of us need to reciprocate that.

We also see the intern thriving, which makes me very excited for the next crop of folks who will hopefully be joining the team soon. I love the idea that we will be able to get these folks ramped up quickly and contributing much like she has. Our intern program has always pushed them to be doing the same work as the marketing specialists and it is awesome to see her doing just that.

In general, the team continues to churn out work and there is a great team dynamic at the moment. I could not be happier.

For those keeping score at home, this week we completed 337 points worth of tasks.


Web Seminar Recap: Advanced Analytics – Next Step with Google

Do you feel pretty savvy when it comes to Google Analytics and are ready to take it to the next level? On Wednesday, January 21st, Tina Arnoldi discussed Event Tracking and Virtual Pageviews, which are advanced features for measuring user activity on your site, in a one-hour presentation. Tina also talked about using Regular Expressions to report on data. This web seminar is open to everyone, though it is best suited for users who have an intermediate understanding of Google Analytics.

Missed this web seminar? You can find the slides and recording here.

Social Media Marketing: These Lies will Kill you

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

Social media is booming. Hundreds of millions of people around the globe use one or more social site every day, with some jumping from service to service to get their fill.

This alone should be enough to excite you about the future of social media marketing. If you take the right approach and are willing to tweak your strategy when necessary, the sky is the limit.

For a better idea of just how big social media has become, consider this information shared by Mediabistro earlier this year:

“Did you know that Twitter has 255 million active users who collectively send 500 million tweets each and every day?

What if I told you that there are more than 50 million Facebook Pages, that 20 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram or that 5 percent of all selfies on social media are shared on Snapchat?”

Now that we have that out of the way, there is no reason for your business to ignore social media marketing any longer.

If you have come to the conclusion that now is the time to focus more time and resources on this part of your business, there are steps you should be taking. There are also things you should avoid at all costs.

Here are five common social media marketing lies that could kill your momentum before you ever get started:

1. More followers is always better. There is nothing wrong with wanting to increase your number of followers, as this will give you a solid sense of accomplishment.

But did you know that higher numbers do not always pay off when it comes to social media marketing? Your goal should not be to increase your follower count as quickly as possible. Instead, you should focus on those who are interested in engaging with your brand.

Think about it this way – you aren’t going to generate much interest from people who don’t care about you, your business, or what you have to say. On the flip side, there are people who are interested in your brand and the messages you promote. These are the types of followers you want and need.

2. Social media can generate traffic, but it does not convert well. This is one of the biggest lies circulating. It is also a lie that has sunk many social marketing campaigns over the years.

Do you think the biggest and most reputable brands in the world would be using social media if the traffic didn’t convert? Do you think Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would be publicly traded companies if all these services were unable to provide high quality traffic?

This does not mean that every person who comes to your site from a social media service is going to convert into a buyer or client. What it does mean is that you can most definitely generate interest through social media. From there, once these people make their way to your site, you can use a targeted approach to increase conversions.

Not sure if this is true? Do this:  use Google Analytics to set up goals associated with your social media traffic. This can help you determine what you are getting out of traffic from each site.

3. Social media marketing is the right strategy for every company. There is no denying that this is a big lie. There are companies that can leverage social media time and time again, using it to generate traffic and increase profits. And then there are companies that have no chance of succeeding, either because of their industry or other constraints (such as a lack of time).

If your company does not typically generate income from the internet, there is a chance that social media will be a waste of time. Of course, you will never know for sure until you give it a try.

4. Daily participation is a must. One of the primary reasons people shy away from social media is because they are afraid of the time commitment. They don’t want to get started because they are scared of missing a day of updating their accounts.

If you have something unique to share every day, good for you. If you don’t, however, it is not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Let’s put it this way:  it is better to share high quality information on a semi-regular basis than to push daily updates that don’t offer any real value.

Don’t feel pressured into updating your social media properties every day. If you have something to say, say it. If you don’t, there is nothing wrong with taking a step back for the time being. Just don’t let too much time pass between updates, as you don’t want to turn off your followers.

5. You shouldn’t take the time to interact with your audience. Whoever started this rumor was probably somebody who didn’t want to take the time to interact and converse with their followers.

If you are going to use social media, you should expect people to engage with you on a regular basis. There will be times when you are praised. There will also be times when you receive negative feedback. Either way, it is your job to respond. It may be more enjoyable to respond to positive feedback, but if somebody has something bad to say, or disputes your update, don’t be shy about stepping in.

Note:  some companies have dedicated Twitter accounts for customer care and support, such as Nike.

There is a lot of good that can come from social media marketing, but if you believe these lies to be true you could find your company missing the boat.

Agile Marketing: Sprint 5

The Classic Marketing Request: “We Need a Last Minute Push Out This Week. Make It Happen!”

As I started typing that first line, I started to ponder whether these opposing forces our team faces are the norm every week or if I’m just more acutely aware of them because now that I am documenting them every week.

Either way, sprint 5 (which ran 1/13/2015 to 1/19/2015) was no different and may have actually been the biggest challenge we’ve faced since taking on this transition, but facing it with Agile actually made things relatively painless.

We’ve all heard those words before

It really is the classic marketing challenge. The month is half over and product and/or management comes to marketing with an “emergency request.” Someone is not in love with some metric for the month and must have a last minute push put out as fast as possible. We’ve all received this request before…and will receive it again.

Mid-week, so January 15th exactly, we received that exact request. In the past, we would have looked at our already ridiculous to-do list, commiserated and reluctantly got something out, usually with some individuals bearing more of the burden than others. Other projects would suffer and other stakeholders would be neglected.

But this time we tackled it with Agile

The request came mid-day halfway through our sprint, so our tasks and velocity had already been set and was already well underway, not to mention, our stand-up for the day had already occurred. There was never really any previous discussion of how to handle this kind of a scenario, and adding this project was clearly not doable with our velocity and current workload, so something had to give.

We created a sprint within a sprint

So, using the Agile marketing methods that were already working for us, we created a kind of sprint within a sprint. The marketing manager and I met with the stakeholder and devised a plan. We outlined what we thought were the tasks needed and outlined them on a separate whiteboard while the team was at lunch.

We rallied the troops and had an abbreviated Agile planning meeting as a team. We talked through the situation and what was needed and solicited their input on anything we were missing. Everyone got on the same page and we tasked out this mini-sprint. From there we whipped out the Planning Poker cards and estimated everything that was now going to be added to our plate. After some negotiations and clarifying a few tasks further, it came to 120 points of new additional work that we had to complete.

Our new Agile estimating points were the key to our success

It is really interesting to actually be able to quantify this project in those terms. That’s something we were not able to do in the past, so the amount of work needed was very subjective and differed from the team and stakeholder perspective. When the campaign ends, we are excited as a group to actually be able to put the revenue produced against the points for the project and compare that to other tasks and campaigns.

Another exciting outcome is that as a team we were able to collectively decide what points no longer made sense. Each team member didn’t go back to their desk and make their own call about what from their to-do list needed to get bumped. Instead, as a group, we looked at the tasks already in place and put these new tasks wherever they fell in the team’s overall priority. Everyone could see everything that needed to be done and where it was in our team’s priorities with a quick glance at the taskboard. Things shifted and we were all on the same page in minutes. Time was not wasted on things that weren’t an absolute priority for the team and everyone was able to band together to collectively tackle this new project.

And by quantifying the points needed for this new project, it was fairly easy to identify an appropriate amount of tasks that now probably weren’t going to be completed within the sprint. They were going to be sacrificed. We could all see that and we all agreed that they were the right ones to go. This helped make us more productive because we simply swapped some tasks for others. Our to-do lists for the week didn’t grow. Collectively, they were the same, so the team didn’t waste time reconsidering priorities as tasks were completed. They saw the whole picture and attacked. They weren’t worried about whether the right things were getting done or how they were going to get everything done in a limited amount of time. It also gave the marketing managers plenty of insight into this new project as it progressed, but also what was going to be sacrificed. For tasks close to certain stakeholders’ hearts, we were able to be upfront and honest with them about the pivot being made in this week’s sprint.

Happy workers. Happy management. Happy stakeholders.

As you can imagine, we got the emergency request filled and are starting to see the results come in as I write this. Time will tell whether the numbers will justify the amount of time and effort and the opportunity cost of the tasks that were sacrificed. But positive is the team took to the change well, despite the impact the project had on the week, and it helped bring us all together. Most exciting though, overcoming this sprint 5 challenge helped everyone buy into Agile even more. It helped reduce stress for everyone, showed the power of our new processes and is giving us a tool to better justify work and return with stakeholders.

Even in this firestorm, we have happy workers, happy management and happy stakeholders.

Social Media Trends for 2015

Social media is a constantly evolving media with new trends and changes in how people use it.  For some, their social media channels will remain the eternal time wasters while others will capitalize on the relationship building nature of it to bring in new business.  Although no one can predict the future, here are some expected trends based on what has been happening in the social media world.

New networks will keep popping up… and dropping out

elloIt is no surprise that new networks will continue to pop up as we saw some new ones in 2014, like Ello which promises to not sell user data and and Yik Yak  which allows users to share anonymous posts.  Most people are pretty concerned about their privacy so a channel that claims to not collect data can be appealing to people who are pretty uncomfortable yikyakwith the information they provide to certain channels (Facebook) every time they connect.  With the shared challenges of gaining and keeping users though, we will likely see even more new channels proliferate in 2015 and drop out of the game in 2015.  And some of the newer guys will find their 15 minutes of fame coming to an end.

Money will be involved (more…)

Why Facebook Social Media Advertising for 2016

This post was originally published on

If you think 2015 was a banner year for social media advertising, then just wait until you see what is on tap for 2016. These paid advertising opportunities from Facebook are more prolific and more targeted, and could be just what you need to step up your profits in the next 12 months.

Why Facebook

Facebook still has the largest social media audience, so it retains extremely valuable demographic and interest-based data businesses can leverage for social advertising.

It also has a number of ad programs. Rather than just one or two ad formats, Facebook offers a greater variety of options, which makes it possible to customize an approach based on your audience, your products and services, and your resources.

Our Top 3 Facebook Ad Types

As specialists in paid social advertising, we use Facebook ads for many of our clients. While there is not one strategy that works for every business, we think these ad types deserve a closer look in the coming year.

Carousel Ad

facebook-carousel-ad-188x300One of the more popular – and now most effective – ad types on Facebook is the Carousel ad. This type allows you to show 3-5 images in a single unit with each image linking to a different page on your website.

Carousel ads help businesses better engage Facebook users with more options, with the opportunity to upsell to prospective customers. While carousel ads have been around since 2014, we now have the numbers to prove it works. Advertisers have seen this ad type drive 30 to 50 percent lower cost-per-conversion and 20 to 30 percent lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads.

Dynamic Product Ad (DPA)

Another Facebook ad type to watch in 2016 is the Dynamic Product Ad (DPA). Primarily a retargeting tool for social media advertising, it shows ads to users who visited your website but did not make a purchase.


DPAs can encourage shoppers to make a purchase even after they leave your site. You can consider using these ad units to show the same product they were looking at on your site, or to show similar products, add-ons, or more expensive items in the same category. There are a lot of possibilities with DPAs, so businesses may want to try them out in 2016 and measure the success.

Lead Ad

The third, and perhaps most intriguing, ad type is Facebook Lead Ads. When users click a lead ad, it takes them to a contact form right in Facebook, rather than your business website.


Lead ads address a main concern of Facebook users, which was the slow load time of a website once the ad was clicked. While it does keep users inside the app, the lead ad can be a valuable tool for capturing potential customer information. Consider this as part of your overall social media marketing spend in 2016.

While Facebook is not the only social media advertising option available (Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr have recently stepped up their advertiser programs), we think the sheer volume of user activity on Facebook combined with its first-party data presents incredible opportunity for your business. Consider these ad formats as standalone units or try combining them to reach your audience in new and different ways.