Setting Your PPC Budget – OR NOT

One of the most common pay per click (PPC) misconceptions I come into contact with is the budget capping vs cost per acquisition (CPA) approach to bidding strategy.

Can PPC seem scary if you don’t cap spend at a particular amount?

Of course it can. But if you manage the bidding process correctly (or have a decent PPC agency to do this for you), spend can be as great or as little as the business you convert.

Let’s break this down.

When you allocate a low PPC budget to a campaign, Google will either show your ad sporadically for short periods throughout the day, or use the entire days advertising budget in the morning. As most online shoppers tend to browse before committing to a purchase, this approach is unlikely to improve your conversion rate as when prospects come to buy, lack of budget could mean that you’ve dropped off the edge of the ‘Google’ Earth (figuratively speaking).

earth, spaceman

A much better way to approach your PPC strategy is to focus on measuring your advertising efforts based on the business you acquire and the cost of acquisition. YOU CAN’T LOSE!

Ask yourself; “how much am I willing to spend per customer/client?”

Every business and/or marketing department should invest in regular research and analysis to determine the lifetime value of each of their customers. From this, one can determine the maximum CPA (or maximum amount we can afford to spend to win a new customer) to ensure all marketing efforts are profitable.

It’s amazing how many companies don’t have this information to hand!

Once you have calculated your CPA you should set your monthly PPC budget to suit the volume of enquiries/sales you expect to gain. It’s really quite simple.

Approaching your PPC budget setting strategy in AdWords

Now we have the CPA, we can further research the keywords in our chosen Ad Group.

Using the Keyword Planner tool in Google AdWords (which combines the functionality of Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator) you can find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them, and find the bid and budget to suit you.

If estimated spend based on your existing keyword list is higher than expected, you may have to delete some keywords from the group.

e-card ppc

If your company is bidding on too many non-specific keywords, this can result in rapid budget consumption and low conversion rates.

As soon as an account goes live, very generic keyword phrases can generate high numbers of impressions that don’t result in clicks. This will immediately have an adverse effect on the click through rate (CTR) of your entire account – an element that will be detrimental to your Google quality score (we will come on to this). It is therefore essential that any phrases with high numbers of impressions and a CTR of less than 1% are deleted as soon as possible.

NB: once the campaign is live, you should be closely reviewing and/or deleting any phrases with low click through and conversion rates on an ongoing basis.

Once we have our definitive (and affordable) keyword list, we can focus on refining our AdWord bidding technique to reduce the relevance of budget in favour of conversion rates and CPCs.

Time to add conversion tracking.

Once a customer completes an online sale or registration, they will typically land on a thank you page.

We will need to add a tracking code (generated by AdWords) to this page which will feed data back to the PPC account so we can identify best performing keywords and the corresponding conversion rates.

Conversion tracking will also enable us to optimise conversions through testing of keywords, landing pages and search v display testing.

Now keep your eyes on the prize! Your account needs to be nurtured…

keep your eyes on the prize

It is essential that you closely manage your new PPC account to optimise your bidding strategy and ensure you are working profitably. Here are some great free Google Tutorials that go into more detail on how to manage your bids.

It is also important to review your account to continuously improve your Google quality score. A good quality score is determined by the relevancy of your keywords to landing page, and the overall quality of ad copy (with close consideration given to historical and current click through rates).

A good quality score will result in a higher SERP ranking and a lower cost per click – both of which contribute towards the reduction of your CPA. To translate…your boss will love you.

Hopefully this post has got you thinking about PPC a little differently and introduced new ideas and considerations to ensure you maximise your paid advertising efforts.

How to create a successful integrated marketing campaign that gets results

I’d like to share with you details of a recent campaign I created for a company called Cobia. This post was written with the intention of helping guide fellow marketers in their campaign planning approach, and show how quantifiable results in marketing can now be easily achieved using integrated online reporting and measurement tools.

Project brief/introduction

Cobia is a professional services outsourcing provider specialising in accountancy, employment tax, expenses & benefits management, payroll and pensions auto enrolment solutions.

The government were due to provide a pensions auto enrolment staging date to companies with between 1 and 25o employees by April 2014 . This SME market is Cobia’s primary client base, and the fact that Cobia already specialise in payroll meant that they could conveniently remove the administrative burden of auto enrolment by adjusting payslips in accordance with new pension law as they passed through the payroll process.

For a small fee of £1.50 per payroll per month, the hassle of auto enrolment could be confidently taken away. Cobia were also working in collaboration with Scottish Widows to offer a bespoke auto enrolment platform for typically low salary transient workforces – an undesirable market for many pension providers due to low margins.

We had our USP. We could target the security and facilities management sector – already a substantial proportion of our client base – and offer them an affordable and easy solution to pension auto enrolment that no other company could at the time; a simple service bolt on that could prove considerably profitable for Cobia.

Objective

To increase awareness of new pension auto enrolment service offering and increase sales conversions within 3 months.

Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning

Identified B2B target markets:

  • Cross selling to existing clients with up to 250 employees
  • Targeting new clients within the security and facilities management industry with up to 250 employees
  • SIA (security industry association) members with up to 250 employees
  • HR Managers and Financial Directors

By segmenting the above data we can produce tailored, personalised campaigns to ensure a unique approach to individuals at different stages of the sales cycle.

My integrated approach

Existing clients – cross sell

Existing clients were presented to face to face by sales teams who already had established relationships with point of contacts. Cobia Account Managers were supported with sales collateral and auto enrolment guides created in partnership with Scottish Widows. Personalised e-marketing campaigns were sent to those ‘warm’ clients who expressed interest but did not formally commit to the sale.

Prospects

Wider audience – web focus

  • Create landing page – positioned as a pensions auto enrolment ‘mini guide’ on what SME’s should expect regarding the impending implementation
  • PPC campaign – tailored ad groups to drive traffic to page. Measurable Ad Goals: visits to landing page & request an information pack download
  • Content marketing – tailored blog content to feature 2 pension specific articles per week and 1 link building post distributed to third party sites
  • Social media promotions – daily posts promoting snippets of the landing page guide and blog posts

Advertising

  • Professional Security magazine – monthly circ 25,000, 85% SME’s and readership demographic – HR Managers, Managing Directors and Financial Directors
  • Historical data proved this Title had best ROI for Cobia
  • Paid quarterly full page advertorial
  • Rolling banner ad on Professional Security site with link to Cobia pensions landing page

SIA Members

Member data segmented and e-marketing mailers sent from SIA on behalf of Cobia to introduce services. Power of association through strong partnership with industry body,

Webinar

  • To provide a dynamic introduction to auto enrolment and what it means for SME’s, and position Cobia as experts in field
  • Keynote speaker from Scottish Widows
  • Recorded and available to download after session

Results

The webinar was a huge success with approximately 200 registered and 122 attendees. Further downloads after the event supported this and positive feedback in surveys and social media polls proved it was a successful way to position Cobia as reliable advisors in this area.

Face to face meetings were arranged with 6 SIA members. These are still in progress but considering the low cost of e-marketing and based on the annual earning potential of just 1 client with 250 employees @ £1.50 per head per month, the return on investment from just one client will be substantial and enough to justify the annual SIA membership fee (not to mention additional benefits e.g. access to information).

Within 1 month, overall website traffic increased by 18%, of which 80% can be attributed to the pensions landing page. We can see traffic sources range from third party websites, social media platforms and paid for advertising. There was a total of 98 goal completions within 1 month for the PPC element of the project.

Marketing Explained – B2B Marketing Online

B2B Marketing – Should you be Online or Offline?

Think you know what works for your business? I’m sure you do to a large extent. But when did you last test existing versus new marketing approaches?

In my experience, most B2B businesses believe offline marketing techniques such as relationship marketing campaigns, face to face meet and greets, networking opportunities, industry events and word of mouth, present the only real way to win new clients in a business to business environment.

All this ‘online marketing talk’ about SEO, PPC, social engagement and content marketing is for fluffy businesses with big budgets and time to waste, right?

Wrong - marketing

It’s no longer about using offline and online channels as separate entities, but combining the best of both to generate positive return on investment for your business. This applies to both B2B and B2C marketing strategies.

How to Approach Your B2B Marketing Strategy (it’s actually easier than B2C)

Despite my observation above, B2B and B2C must be treated as distinct market categories. Certain channels or techniques that work for one won’t necessarily work for the other.

At first glance, B2B can seem the scarier of the two because more often than not, a client is worth much more to a business than a consumer, and traditional offline marketing approaches are generally more expensive and harder to measure. This is largely why in B2B marketing, the emphasis is on quality of leads not quantity. B2C companies tend to lean in the direction of very high volumes and low revenue per purchase – so enormous demand is usually necessary.

We generally understand more about potential clients than consumers, i.e. who they are, what their job is and typical buying behaviours. Therefore B2B marketing activities can be highly targeted, reducing the influx of unqualified leads thus increasing attraction/conversion rates.

B2B companies have been slower to embrace online marketing because of reliance on pre-existing knowledge and understanding of their clients and what has/hasn’t worked in the past. But things are changing.

its-what-you-learn-after-you-know-it-all-that-counts

B2B businesses are starting to incorporate online activities into their marketing plans. These businesses are casting the net wider; identifying new opportunities and exploring new markets, whilst ensuring that they are catering to the ever-changing needs of existing markets where target audiences are moving online to justify purchasing decisions.

Getting Started with B2B Online Marketing – Top Tips

Tip 1 – Get Blogging!

In a B2B environment, you’re communicating with like-minded professionals so it’s essential that you establish yourself as a thought leader. By providing interesting, relevant content you will position yourself as an industry expert and gain respect from your followers.

Blogging is probably the fastest way to build traffic and inbound links to your company website. It’s simple – the more a company blogs, the more new customers it attracts. Switch from monthly to weekly blog posts and see the impact for yourself. By building a portfolio of good content on your blog, you become more searchable online and are more likely to appear on results pages when a potential client looks for information on your services.

animals_working

To start with, look at industry trade magazines to see what’s topical and monitor your competitors to follow what they’re blogging about. Why not write an opinion piece on new legislation, conduct an interview with a key industry influencer or put together a ‘how-to’ article that answers frequently asked questions.

And lastly, ensure your posts are topically diverse and be sure to get exposure across all social channels – get it out there!

Tip 2 – Get Linking In!

LinkedIn is the number one B2B channel. Every professional should have their own LinkedIn account irrespective of industry, and from this account, you should create a company page and/or group to encourage engagement and display your content.

Traffic from LinkedIn is generally considered to be of higher quality than traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are mass audience exposure platforms where volume is achieved over quality, and the audience is far more diverse in terms of what people are expecting to get from that particular platform (namely for fun, personal use).

LinkedIn is a professional network for business people, meaning that you are capturing an audience focused on corporate information sharing, networking and employment/partnership opportunities.

Remember to reply and engage with every group comment daily and include a link back to your website. Regularity of content promotion is key, whether it’s created or curated, and focus on addressing the needs of your client rather than selling your brand or product –the shift from self to consumer focus is paramount.

Linked in

Marketing Explained – Integration is integral

 Part 1 – Explaining Integrated Marketing

As a marketing professional, I am as guilty as any when it comes to using acronyms, phraseology and jargon to explain what is really, a very simple concept.

So I’m making it my mission to dispel the mythological language of marketing and explain the core meanings behind key industry terms.

Are you plagued by a particular marketing topic or expression? Send your queries to amy_haddow@hotmail.com and I’ll explain.

What do we mean by integrated marketing?

Simply put, it is the use of multiple marketing disciplines and channels to promote a brand or campaign. This is based on the belief that adopting different approaches will weave together the strengths and weaknesses of each format, and reach different audiences in their preferred ways, thereby increasing success rates.

integrated marketing quote

This can mean taking one piece of written content and turning it into an infographic, video, blog post, whitepaper or press release. Using one core piece of work and converting it into different formats is not only an efficient use of time (as the core content has already been created) but it also takes into consideration the fact that different audiences digest information differently. You are catering to a diverse online audience.

Tip: content should never be duplicated verbatim. Google penalises duplicate content which means it won’t contribute towards improvement of your search ranking position. So post one blog piece in one place only, and then tailor the content for the press release and turn it into a PDF for the whitepaper (for example).

Promoting your content

Let’s take the infographic. You can create these for free using easelly.

Firstly, host the infographic on your blog and upload to your Pinterest account like this, remembering to include alt tags.

infographic on infographics

Now promote the infographic using integrated marketing techniques. Using Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In, create a summary sentence detailing the core message and where appropriate, use hashtags and include the image as a thumbnail. Use Yammer to promote the infographic internally and ask colleagues to share with friends and followers.

You should promote any new piece of content daily for around 2 weeks in my opinion. Schedule two posts a day for one week, and then reduce to one for the next. Measure the success of each channel in terms of click-throughs, page hits (on your blog) and shares.

Tip: The use of Google + is essential in improving online presence and increasing brand/product exposure. Be sure to create an author profile and links to your content to ensure it is indexed and wins those all-important search engine optimisation points. Check out my profile as an example.

So there’s a basic overview on how to ensure your marketing efforts are integrated. Create consistency and maximise your communications by adopting a multi-channel approach.

How to Nail Your Next Press Release

Picture it now. You walk into a crowded room – hundreds of people are shouting about their ‘fantastic company news’ all at once.

A sea of chaos – nobody can be heard or understood by the one person on stage – the object of all this commotion.

How do you stand out? You need to grab attention in a unique way.

Approach your press release writing and submission with this in mind.

Press release must stand out in crowd

First things first; who are you writing for?

  1. Research and identify your target audience, i.e. the people searching for your business, products or services
  2. Search for industry websites, national and local news websites and other places that would potentially host your press release
  3. Investigate the search engines that will find and display your content and research how they operate in terms of keyword optimisation; monitor competitors for guidance

What do you write about?

Be inventive, be relevant. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • New product or feature
  • A ‘though piece’ relating to current trends, events, studies or social issues
  • Events and awards
  • Employee promotions/new hires
  • Launching a new partnership
  • Survey results

Bruce Lee quote - to hell with circumstances, I create opportunities

Format

All the important stuff comes first. Remember that information should be succinct and attention grabbing. You have just seconds to engage.

1.       Headline

  • Provide interesting information and entice the reader to find out more
  • Include your primary target keyword
  • Demand attention – shock, be controversial, play with words

2.       Summary paragraph

  • Serves as a brief introduction to your business and topic
  • Include your company name
  • 1 or 2 lines maximum

Tip: By writing the headline and summary last you will make sure you capture the overall theme and don’t miss out important keywords.

3.       Dateline and lead paragraph

  • Who (main focus, person, group), what (event or project), where (location in question), when (day, date, time), why (the purpose of the event)
  • Keep it compelling, simple and factual. Provide critical information. Get your audience interested.

4.       Body

  • Elaborate on lead paragraph and explain how this event sets you aside
  • Include supporting information and proof in the form of quotes, stats, charts etc
  • Include relevant links

5.        Boilerplate & Contact

Always include a brief paragraph on standard company information, i.e. what your company does, its purpose and USP. Be sure to include company name, telephone number, website and email address.

what's your story

Unlike a press release, we save the best ‘til last

Follow these tips to ensure your release stands out:

Do…

  • Ensure that your headline and first paragraph stand out. Be relevant, engaging and informative. Evoke questions and offer a unique perspective.
  • Write professionally and clearly. Plain English means you won’t alienate readers.
  • Pick an angle – what is your ‘hook’? Articles that relate to current trends, events, studies or social issues will be snapped up by online media.
  • Use real life examples to illustrate how your company or organization solved a problem – position yourself subtly as a solutions provider.
  • Attach logos, head shots, product shots, photographs, audio files, video files, PDF documents or any other supplemental materials to support your release – as long as they are relevant.
  • Use anchor text and hyperlinks to point readers back to your site where relevant.
  • Be factual. Avoid fluff, embellishments, hype and exaggerations. Command respect and authority through honesty and back it up.
  • Use active voice to bring your press release to life. Don’t be afraid to use strong verbs.
  • Eliminate unnecessary adjectives

Don’t…

  • Use slang/jargon unless it is relevant to a niche audience that will understand and relate to it.
  • Use exclamation marks excessively – nobody wants to be shouted at excitedly (remember the crowded room).
  • Use clichés or overly ‘salesy’ text. Readers will see through this and your content will not gain their respect.
  • Give away all the secrets – give readers a reason to click through to your site
  • Use “you”, “I” or “we” outside of a quoted statement
  • Include an email address or excessive links in body text. Be conscious of spam filters and the risk of being penalized by Google.

And lastly, always remember to proofread your work before you submit it for publication.

Travel Blog: Visit Mexico

A perfect example of a place caught somewhere between old and new. A country that has something to offer everyone. Where party-goers meet backpackers in search of unspoilt land. Welcome to Mexico.

It’s 8am and I am woken by the lively sound of birds and brilliant sunshine beaming across my room, illuminating the whitewashed balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Having spent an evening with a group of American fun-seekers dancing the night away in the bustling party capital Cancun, I am in need of a return to the sublime.

I leave my hotel and wander along the stunning white sands to the Beach Cafe for coffee and pancakes. A rustic, family run tavern situated close to, but out of sight of the multimillion dollar hotel complexes that line this part of the coastline. The view is breath-taking. Situated adjacent to a fresh water spring meandering down into the sea – this is worlds apart from the theatrical night scene of Coco-Bongo I was experiencing just hours ago.

Riviera Maya - paradise - Mexico

I am staying in Playa del Carmen; just 30 minutes from Cancun and isolated enough to make me feel shipwrecked at times. Pure paradise.

Buenos días! Juan arrives with breakfast, smiling and regaling me with stories of his son’s wedding – a traditional celebration of food, music and dancing that had been held on this beach 2 days previous. Everyone is welcomed by Juan at the Beach Café.

Mexico - tavern - beach

I finish my food and leave to catch a boat to a nearby uninhabited island where the sea is as warm as bath water and crystal clear. Locals call me over to meet ‘Maria’ – the resident stingray – completely devoid of fear for humans; she ripples along the shore terrifying unsuspecting tourists and intrigued by the splashes of fishermen reeling in lunch (its ok – she has had her sting removed as locals couldn’t dissuade her from visiting).

Maria - stingray - Mexico

We dine on the sands – a feast of BBQ chicken and fresh fish accompanied by salads, beans and local beers. Before long, it’s back on the boat and we are on our way back to the mainland; but not before stopping off for a spot of snorkelling to take in the wonders of the coral reef. Here you are likely to meet a variety of sea creatures, including sharks and dolphins. We don’t spot any sharks today but on our way back into the harbour, the captain shuts off the engine and points out to the horizon. Dolphins.

Back at the hotel, I prepare for a trip to the authentic, less tourist-infused town of Playa del Carmen. A feast of fresh lobster awaits.

Lobsters - Mexico

Tucked away down a side street overlooking the beach is an understated seafood restaurant. I choose my lobster and relax with a marguerite to the faint beat of steel drums as the sun sets; signalling the end to another day in paradise.

Mexico; a Mayan metropolis with something to offer everyone.

Sunset - Mexico

The Essential Guide to International Domain Names

If you are reading this, chances are you already understand a bit about International Domain Names (IDN) or at least the concept of fully localising your website to suit local market needs. Perhaps you are wondering how important they are for your business. Do you really need to worry about IDN’s? Do other companies similar to yours have them?

To clarify, IDNs are domain names represented by local language characters. When a user types out a URL address in local language characters, an IDN resolution process is required to locate the corresponding website or e-mail address. The goal of IDN’s is to improve the international accessibility and functionality of the Internet by allowing users to register domain names in non-English languages.

Here are three examples (UX Magazine):

country-domains

Domain names in general are hot property. Securing even a local one in your brand name can involve high costs and negotiations with existing proprietors, and most start-ups will need to consider available domain names before deciding on a brand name.

People are growing increasingly aware of the importance of international domain names. Once ‘.com’ (the world’s most popular top level domain) goes multilingual, it is safe to assume costs for IDN’s will soar and availability reduce.

Securing an IDN in your brand name now could be the best investment you make this year.

I’m not operating an international business – why would I need an IDN?

The internet opens us all up to a global market, whether we intentionally target overseas or not. Ensuring your brand ‘translates’ in international markets is essential in maximising the online success of your business.

A new European Union study – Born Global: The Potential of Job Creation in New International Businesses, supports the opinion that start-up businesses should look to tackle overseas markets regardless of how established they are in home markets. The study suggests that start-ups driven to do more business abroad in the early stages of development tend to be more profitable and innovative than those that don’t, showing faster growth and incremental work hires.

English currently dominates the number 1 position for languages used on the web, but Chinese and Spanish are not far behind. We tend to forget that most of the world’s population is non-English speaking. Globalization and the adoption of technology by indigenous and less developed countries means that the web is now more multilingual than ever before, and we can expect this sociographic trend to continue.

LC Top languages

China now has 564 million internet users and an internet penetration score of 42.1% according to the China Internet Network Information Centre. Populations will naturally perform internet searches in their native language – this is where localisation plays an essential part in your online success. Adoption of an IDN is just one element of localisation, but an essential one. Without ensuring your site is as searchable as possible, additional localisation efforts will come to nothing as traffic will not be driven to your pages.

Who else has made the move towards international domain-ation?

Russia

In 2010, Russia opened its own top-level IDN, .Рф (which is the Cyrillic abbreviation of Russian Federation) for registration. In less than a year, nearly one million IDNs were registered, making .Рф the most popular IDN and one of the world’s most popular country codes.

India

With over 20 official languages using a range of scripts, India now boasts seven approved IDNs.

So what next?

By registering all international domain names you think you may need for your products and services now, you will ensure you are at a distinct competitive advantage in a global marketplace.

Businesses have already started paying above market value for IDN’s currently owned by other companies so get researching and secure the global future of your brand.