Marketing for Beginners

No matter how much of an internet advertising expert you are, you had to start somewhere. Well, if you're not an expert yet, we want to help you become one. In this section of our blog, you'll find all kinds of resources to introduce you to the worlds of PPC, Social Media, and Display advertising. And as you get better, we hope you check out our PPC, Social Media, and Display advertising software.

What I Learned about Paid Advertising – Reflections of a Newbie

what I learned about paid search

I’m no PPC expert, before I started working with Acquisio I didn’t even know that PPC stood for Pay Per Click – yikes – but by surrounding myself with Search Engine Marketers and PPC experts, like Acquisio Co-Founder, Marc Poirier, named one of the Top 25 most influential experts in PPC, I learned a few key lessons about excelling in paid search.

While I may not be able to teach Search Engine masters and Pay Per Click geniuses much in either department, I may be able to help campaign and account managers open their eyes to a few PPC truths they may be ignoring.

Here’s what I learned, in just two months at Acquisio, about Paid Search Advertising.

Automation is the only way to get ahead

The difference between a good PPC manager and a great one is insight, analysis and problem solving. But who has time to analyse and find insights from account data if PPC managers spend most of their time setting up, monitoring and generating campaign reports?

From my experience (albeit limited) it seems like too many PPC managers are going through the motions when it comes to campaign management without really building and growing their campaigns. It’s understandable considering PPC managers often have hundreds of accounts to run, but if PPC managers had the chance to step back, thanks to extra time saved by automation, they could revisit their accounts with fresh eyes and improve and optimize them.

Automation frees up PPC managers allowing them to analyse and solve issues they otherwise couldn’t address.

This isn’t a sales pitch to start using Acquisio’s automated system, it’s simply a recognition of the facts. Automation for PPC advertising exists, and it works, so if you are wasting your time when you could be optimizing, it’s time to consider automation.

It’s been the “year of mobile” since 2008, but marketers still haven’t optimized yet

year of mobile

It seems like the “year of mobile” never ends. It took digital marketers several “years of mobile” to set up mobile offerings, and it will probably take a few more “years of mobile” until those offerings are fully optimized. For now, at least, more and more companies are admitting the importance of mobile platforms and optimized mobile content – it’s just a matter of implementation.

With so many people using mobile and so few converting, mobile search, mobile landing pages and mobile content need a lot of work. There’s huge potential for improvement in order to boost mobile conversion rates, and now is the time to take advantage of it.

Facebook ads are a bust

I learned from experience that using Facebook for paid advertising is like throwing coins into a wishing well – a waste of money and hope.

Let me clarify, not all social media efforts are a bust (cross channel efforts and LinkedIn posts can be very effective), but paying to boost a Facebook post won’t get you very far. After a few tests here at Acquisio (which will be detailed in a future post) we learned that despite strict targeting guidelines, the people who saw our ads were not the people we aimed for. Results of our campaigns looked exciting – thousands of views and hundreds of likes, shares and clicks – but they were coming from people who had nothing to do with our field. The results meant nothing and we saw no real conversions from our efforts.

“Paid social media advertising should be like hitting the nitro button in the middle of a video game where you need that extra boost to pass your competitor to finish first. It is not a parachute string you pull after jumping out of the plane without any idea where you want to land,” explained Josh Roberie, from TekNarus.

With so many paid advertising options out there, there’s no use wasting your money on something that doesn’t deliver results. Work on strengthening content and building organic search before using paid ads as a crutch.

What I’m saying is…

If a PPC newbie like me knows all this, you probably should too!

Back to School Planning for Digital Marketers

back to school

Back to School is the second biggest consumer spending event of the year, right behind the winter holidays. While last year experienced a dip, things are expecting to bounce back. Is your business ready for it?

Hopefully you’ve already planned your company’s marketing strategy for back to school seeing as the spike in search has already started, but if not, there’s still some time. With almost 80 million students enrolling in high school or college this season in the US, according to Google’s latest ‘Back to School’ study, there is plenty of opportunity to capture.

Parents’ Journey to Purchase

As with any campaign, it’s especially important to keep the user’s path to purchase in mind. This means visibility and consistent messaging accross all devices. While users may not be converting on smartphones, they sure are using them to research. Capture your potential client on their mobile before they’ve made their decision, whether it’s on the road or while they watch a video on YouTube.

Some tactics you can deploy on AdWords would be:

  • Display phone number and relevant store locations to users searching on mobile devices (or computers!) to drive in-store sales. Increase bid modifiers around your store locations for maximum reach.

  • Generate awareness via Affinity audiences and Interest targeting on the Google Display Network. These features allow you to more precisely target the audience that is most likely to buy from your brand. For example “Bargain Hunters” or “Value Shoppers” are examples of Affinity audiences and “Shopping” or “Apparel” are good labels to use for interest targeting.

  • Remarket! Whether they’ve engaged with your website or watched a video of yours on YouTube, it would be unwise to not attempt to reach back out to potential clients.

Get Ahead of the Game

Since we’re a little late for this one, consider it an early tip for the 2015 season. Last year, 20% of shoppers began purchasing in mid-July. Each year, search interest grows around “back to school” keywords, and more specifically “back to school sales [year]”. Another early tip would be to make sure you’re ready for “back to school sales 2015” based on that data. You can see that “back to school sales 2014” (seen in green) is already starting to peak in the chart below.

 

back_to_school.png

There’s even growth for just “back to school” each year too. What’s interesting to note here is the mini-spikes during January which is likely folks heading back for their spring semester of college.

back_to_school_genereal.png

 Highest Spending Days

Plan around the highest spending in-store and ecomm days, maybe even more so if you’re strapped for budget. Typically, offline sales occur during the weekend while online sales are up early/mid-week throughout July and September. Considering this when bidding could help ensure you get the best ROI.

Complement Offline Marketing

Consider complementing your offline marketing with online campaigns. If you’re running a specific ad in a region or DMA, also have an online campaign counterpart, especially for mobile devices. If I’m reading a magazine or I see a billboard that interests me, I’m likely to pull out my phone to research. Hell, I may even do some research on my phone while I’m in the actual store itself. Note that this also aligns with our suggestion to think about the user’s journey to purchase. Getting in front of your audience at all times could be an easy way to increase sales and conversion rates, online and offline.

What are some tips and tricks you’ve tested in the past that helped create a successful back-to-school campaign?

 

Social Media Spring Cleaning

SpringClean

It’s that time of the year again!

While spring technically arrived last week, most of us are only now starting to notice the first signs of grass and wildlife (and if we’re lucky some warmer temperatures).

It’s the perfect time of the year to spring clean your social media accounts.  We are sure many of your accounts have been active for a while and perhaps haven’t seen the love and care you had hoped for.  Taking a step back, re-evaluating and making a game plan for the future will only strengthen your online activities.  Go ahead, you know you want to!

Audit Current Accounts

  • Frequency of posts: This will vary depending on your company, industry and goals. However, what is important is consistency. Followers expect to receive communication from you on an on-going base. Also, when potential followers visit your social media page they want to see recent, relevant posts.
  • Quality of content: Quality should be the main focal point of your social media content strategy. However, it’s  an area where so many falter.  Social media is much more than a soap box to stand on, the content you create and share should speak to your audience.  You should be able to answer the questions “why should my followers care about this?” and “do they actually care?”
  • Images and Branding: Each social media channel, while different, should be recognizable as your organizations’.  This means that colors, logo and messaging should be in-line with your organization’s brand.  Sites are always updating their layouts and image details.  Below are a few popular social media sites and their guidelines to optimize your images.
Facebook Cover Photos:  851px wide x 315px tall
Twitter Header Photos: 1252px wide x 626px tall
Google Plus Cover Photos:  2120px wide x 1192px tall
YouTube Desktop Banner: 2560px wide x 473px tall
YouTube TV Banner: 2560px wide x 1440px tall
LinkedIn Company Page Cover Photo: 646px wide x 220px tall

 

  • Sign up for new ones: The online world is constantly changing and social media is no exception.  Since your last audit, there may have been new and relevant social platforms for you to get involved in.  For example, search for LinkedIn groups related to topics of interest, look into Pinterest or Instagram for business or investigate localization tools such as foursquare.

Take stock of competitors

If you haven’t started a competitor list, the time is now!  Paying attention to what is happening in your space should always include what and how your competitors are doing.  Your competitor database should include info such as Competitor Name, Website, URLs to social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), how engaging are they (Facebook posts per month, tweets per week, etc), overall messages they are trying to convey.

Facebook is rolling out a new tool called Pages to Watch.  Via the admin Page Insights (on your own Facebook page), you can add pages similar to your own and compare performance.

PagesToWatch

 

Goals

Setting and tracking goals is one of the most important aspects of your social media plan.  There’s no point in putting in all the effort if you can’t prove its success.  The best place to start is with your organization’s big picture goals. Is your goal to sell 1,000 shirts per month, get $10k in donations a quarter or provide 100 leads to your sales team per week?  After these questions are answered, social media’s role can be determined.

Tracking of social media interactions can happen through the platform you are using, ie Facebook Insights or through a tool such as Google Analytics which can integrate social media interactions into its platform.

Remember that goals will be different across channels and there will more than likely be multiple goals in order to cover the desires of each of your business units.

GA-social-overview

Tweak Social Media Game Plan

  • Update any bios, product descriptions, company boilerplates or mention of company executives.  While these should be done regularly, there are bound to be things that slipped through the cracks.
  • Schedule some social media time.  Daily participation in discussions, staying on top of competitor or industry news and content sharing is a million times easier if you do it on a regular basis. Schedule 15-30 mins each day to browse your feeds and engage with followers!
  • Connect with new people. Go through that stack of business cards sitting on your desk, peruse your CRM software or think back to that networking cocktail hour you attended last week.  Either way, there are sure to be lots of new people to connect with.
  • Align yourself with others in your organization. You may be the one spearheading social media participation but chances are others in your organization have great content to share or networks they can leverage.  For example, many HR departments love platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn for recruiting purposes.  Posting updates about career fair presence, new job postings or to answer questions about what it is like at your organization are great ways to get them involved.

PPC for Consideration, Part 3 of the Top-to-Bottom Strategy Series

Over the past couple of months, I’ve discussed paid search strategy for reaching prospects at the beginning and middle of the buyer’s journey. Now we’re to the really fun part: conversion, or the purchase phase.

new-funnel-for-blog_0 Image credit: Forrester Research Blog

Here are a few tips for using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to reach prospects at the bottom of the funnel and entice them to convert….

PPC for Awareness, Part 1 of the Top-to-Bottom Strategy Series

As digital marketers, we have a wealth of data at our disposal, affording us the ability to measure our successes and failures in real-time. With the ability to measure, track and chart our performance, though, comes a tendency to hone in on the things that can be measured, tracked and charted. That can lead to a tunnel-vision focus on conversion. While conversion is typically the end goal of a digital marketing program, it can be easy to forget that it is the end goal. Even in conversion-driven tactics like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, it’s important to reach consumers at all stages of the buyer’s journey, starting long before conversion.

Your prospects’ journey to conversion probably looks something like this:

top-funnel

New to Online Marketing? Walk Before You Run

New to marketingThroughout my career, I have reviewed countless PPC, display and social media advertising campaigns and often come away completely shocked. How could that campaign have been launched in its current state? How can you justify spending so much money without conversion or revenue tracking? Did NO ONE review this campaign?!?! After I pick my jaw up from the floor, I am forced to remind myself that not everyone lives and breathes online marketing like I do. For many, the flaws and oversights that I find are merely a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

So, if you are green to the world of PPC, display, and social advertising, my recommendation to you is to “tread lightly.” While I don’t say that with the malice and foreboding that Walter White did on this season’s Breaking Bad premiere, I do mean it. If you can’t afford to hire an experienced marketing manager or partner with a qualified agency, then approaching your campaigns with caution is a must. Here are some tips to help you walk before you run….

Email Marketing Under Pressure – 3 Ways to Beat the Clock and Keep Your Readers Happy

You’re a busy marketer, whether for yourself or for your clients. You don’t have time to write a weekly email newsletter that’s compelling and thoughtful enough to keep all your readers happy every time they get something from you/your client. So what do you do? Where does the content come from? Who is in charge of writing that stuff anyway? Do you just scrape your most recent blog posts/new products/left over spaghetti salad?

Reach, Social Reach, Frequency and Connections in Facebook Advertising

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if Facebook advertising is right for your business, there’s no time like the present to jump in and give it a try. As with any performance based advertising campaign, you won’t know unless you test it, then measure and optimize accordingly.

Before you get started, there are a few campaign performance terms you’ll need to be familiar with. If you have experience with display advertising, you’ll recognize a couple, but others are specific to Facebook ads….

SEO Supercharging Your Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Magnetic Marketing

We spend a lot more time on this blog talking about “outbound marketing” rather than “inbound marketing”. Sure, we sometimes touch on how to sync the two, such as using PPC to find SEO opportunities and support SEO efforts, but even then we’re focusing on using ”outbound marketing” to support or enhance “inbound marketing”. The focus is still on the outbound side of things.

Well, what about planning a comprehensive and self-contained “inbound marketing” campaign from the get-go? In this post, we’re going to look at how to do just that, as well as how to infuse it with SEO every step of the way….

Beginner’s PPC Guide: 5 Tips to Simplify Your Paid Search Campaign

Managing an effective paid search campaign is daunting for even the most experienced PPC expert. And for us mere mortals, it can seem almost impossible, especially if it’s one of twenty other marketing activities you’re managing. Here are a few tips that can help you simplify your PPC campaign to make day-to-day management easier.

1. Clean Up Your Ad Groups

Credit: clogwog

When you’re feeling strapped for time, it can be tempting to toss hundreds of keywords and dozens of ads into one large ad group and let them run. After all, it seems logical that managing a few uber-ad groups would be far simpler than a dozen or more smaller, tightly coupled ad groups, right? Wrong.

Taking the time to set up several, tightly focused ad groups with highly relevant keywords, ads and landing pages will be simpler and save you time in the long run. The data you collect on these ad groups will be far more relevant and actionable. You’ll know quickly which keywords and ads are working well and which aren’t so you can more easily optimize your campaign to improve performance.

What’s more, you’ll see better campaign performance from tightly coupled ad groups. Google will award you with higher Quality Scores, which will lower your Cost Per Click (CPC), and you’ll see a better Click Through Rate (CTR) and Conversion Rate….