What About Bing? A Guide to Understanding Microsoft Ads

Diversification is vital when it comes to long-term marketing success. Businesses that rely solely on one marketing channel are extremely vulnerable to competitors, shifts in customer preferences, and shifts in new technology. If all your eggs are in the Google Ads basket, then now is the time to consider Microsoft Ads.

Diversification is vital when it comes to long-term marketing success. Businesses that rely solely on one marketing channel are extremely vulnerable to competitors, shifts in customer preferences, and shifts in new technology.

If all your eggs are in the Google Ads basket, then now is the time to consider Microsoft Ads.

What Is Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising, formerly Bing Ads, is the Bing search engine platform for PPC ad placement. Target audiences can see your ads in three different search engines — AOL, Bing, and Yahoo. Advertisers can have their campaigns viewed across those outlets, any sites owned by them, as well as partner sites.

Incorporating Microsoft Advertising into your PPC strategy expands your reach. The platform accounted for 25% of searches done using a desktop computer during June 2019. The number represents an additional 11 million searches outside of Google.

Understanding the Microsoft Advertising Platform

Microsoft Advertising has vastly expanded the array of tools offered since rebranding its former Bing Ads service. Here is an overview of those features and how they can be used to enhance your current marketing campaigns.

Targeted Ads

Ads on the Bing network can be geared toward specific audiences, thanks to the following targeting features of the Microsoft Ads platform.

  • Keywords — You can place bids on specific keywords and make changes based on conversion rates.
  • Scheduling — Microsoft Advertising allows you to time the display of your ads each day in 15-minute increments. Advertisers can also schedule ads to show up during business hours for their brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Demographics — You can design ads targeted at specific age groups and age ranges.
  • Location — You can target specific locations where your ads will be displayed and/or block locations from seeing your ads.

Shopping Campaigns

Microsoft Shopping Campaigns allow you to manage your product catalogs housed in the Microsoft Merchant center store. Product Ads include information about the product itself, an associated image, and any promotional text you may want to add. You can build them from scratch or import any Google campaigns you may have already built.

You can enhance the catalog feeds in your Microsoft Shopping Campaigns using the following attributes:

  • Product Category (max of five per offer)
  • Brand Name
  • Product Type
  • Condition of Product
  • Merchant Product Identifier (or Item ID)
  • Customized label (up to five per offer)

Microsoft Search Network

The Microsoft Search Network includes sites like MSN.com, Yahoo.com, and all other syndicated Microsoft and Yahoo partners. All search and audience ads are distributed across the network, aimed at your specific audiences.

Advertisers can narrow or expand the focus of their ads based on their current needs. You can choose to have campaigns seen everywhere or target a single channel. Microsoft Advertising also allows you to exclude your ads from being seen on partner websites.

AI Capabilities With Microsoft Audience Network

Microsoft tracks audience behavior patterns and uses that information to come up with new enhancements for advertisements while giving you a brand-safe environment. The Microsoft Graph visualization tool allows advertisers to view datasets and other information for better insight into the performance of various campaigns.

Advantages of Microsoft Advertising

Ads displayed on the Microsoft Search Network tend to attract an older audience, with 40% of those responding in the 35- to 54-year-old demographic. It’s an essential factor, because that age group accounts for nearly 75% of Bing users. Almost half the audience in that network makes at least $75,000 or more per year, making Microsoft Advertising an attractive prospect for those targeting high-wage earners.

Microsoft Ads campaigns tend to spend only a third of the amount that they would on a Google Ads campaign.

Why Bing

Microsoft Advertising allows you to diversify your PPC campaigns. Like Google Ads, it gives you control over your target audience and ad placements. Plus, Microsoft Advertising tends to cost less than Google Ads and will get your ads in front of an older, higher-earning audience.

Want more tips to improve your ad campaigns?  Click here to grab a copy of our “Ultimate Google Ads Checklist.”

The Triple-A Approach to Succeeding at Digital Marketing in 2019

While it’s impossible to predict the new innovations advertising platforms will release in the year ahead, there are three trends and tactics marketers should be aware of that made a big enough impact in 2018 that are likely to be the cornerstones of digital marketing in 2019, and they all begin with “A.”

While it’s impossible to predict the new innovations advertising platforms will release in the year ahead, there are three trends and tactics marketers should be aware of that made a big enough impact in 2018 that are likely to be the cornerstones of digital marketing in 2019, and they all begin with “A.”

The triple A approach to succeeding at digital marketing in 2019: Amazon, Audiences and Automation.

Amazon Advertising Reaches the Big Time

Rumors circulated for years that the online retail giant could become one of the biggest media companies, yet advertisers just recently started taking these rumors seriously and jumping on the bandwagon. After an initial uproar when Amazon began showing up in Google Shopping results in Q4 of 2016 causing competing advertisers’ costs-per-click (CPCs) to spike, many retails shifted gears, choosing to partner with Amazon rather than compete against it, making Amazon’s growth inevitable. In fact, Amazon has already become the third largest digital ad publisher behind Google and Facebook, and according to a recent survey, 80% of advertisers plan to increase their budgets on Amazon in 2019.

For those advertisers who haven’t yet dipped their toes into Amazon advertising, it’s time to explore the self-service Amazon Marketing Services. Sponsored Products are usually a good place to start since the ads go live immediately, appear organic, and don’t require images or custom copy. Automatic targeting that adapts dynamically to trends and seasonality is available, eliminating the need to manually select keywords. Combined, these options make for a relatively simple process. Of course, an agency can help fine-tune an Amazon advertising program; especially if they completed Amazon’s power training which grants them assigned dedicated support.

Audiences Become the Priority

Having been a hot topic for some time now, in 2019 audiences will become unavoidable. While many advertisers already applied audiences to their advertising programs, not many have done so strategically. Imagine if step one of any digital program was building an audience to target with your program rather than building a list of keywords. Keywords would be supplanted as the most important aspect for paid search, replaced by audience targeting to positively impacting a client’s bottom line with a much more refined approach.

Refining an audience approach will be the single most effective tactic to win at customer-centric marketing; by focusing on the right person at the right time, with the right messaging, marketers set themselves up for victory. By focusing on audiences, marketers can move beyond the all-too-common channel-approach that limits cohesiveness in campaigns and limits effectiveness. The audience approach enables refined targeting, eliminating waste and delivering deeper, more meaningful insights.

Both Google and Bing have already made advancements in this area. Google expanded its audiences beyond website visitors and customer lists to in-market, custom intent and detailed demographics. Bing followed suit and introduced its new Audience Network which uses artificial intelligence to connect Microsoft data insights with LinkedIn’s to deliver the right message to the consumer. Advertisers can then target these audiences on Microsoft’s premium properties such as MSN, Outlook and Microsoft Edge.

Automation Enables Marketers to Get Strategic

Marketing automation tools maximize efficiency and increase revenues; they also eliminate tedious tasks, freeing up marketers to focus on strategic growth for their clients. While bidding automation has been adopted by most marketers at this point, Google has taken automation a step farther, introducing multiple fully-automated campaign types that require very little, if any, intervention during its Google Marketing Live in July 2018. The first campaign type was automated feeds for Shopping campaigns that get products online faster and simplifies maintenance; second was Hotel campaigns that simplify management and optimization; third was smart campaigns for small businesses, that are designed for local and small businesses that might not have the staff to focus on management and need an easy solution instead.

This continues a trend for Google, which already utilized automation in Universal App Campaigns and Universal Shopping Campaigns; these campaigns do not allow for marketer intervention beyond creative asset upload and budget changes. With the continued deployment of new fully-automated campaigns that rely on machine learning for optimization and management, Google has established a clear direction. It seems possible, if not likely, that Google will eliminate its manual offerings for Shopping campaigns and text-based campaigns the way it did with App campaigns. After all, Google is already testing responsive ads, which dynamically combine headlines and descriptions based on performance and the advertiser’s goal. There’s a possibility that completely automated campaigns will be the new normal for advertisers sooner than we think, once Google works out the kinks.

By understanding and adopting these trends and tactics, digital marketers should be able to deliver an A across the board on their campaigns, keeping clients happy and budgets flowing.

Bing’s New Audience Targeting Tools: What You Should Know

Remember Bing? Although the SEM industry still runs through Google, Microsoft isn’t sitting on its laurels. And just this summer, Bing Ads launched two important audience targeting features that let marketers connect with buyer-intent consumers.

Bing logoRemember Bing? Although the SEM industry still runs through Google, Microsoft isn’t sitting on its laurels. And just this summer, Bing Ads launched two important audience targeting features that let marketers connect with buyer-intent consumers.

These features are in-market audiences and custom audiences. In-market audiences let marketers target people who appear likely to be on the verge of making purchases — more on that in a bit. Custom audiences, on the other hand, work similar to Google’s remarketing feature, letting marketers target people who’ve already visited their websites.

In marketing, knowing your customer is only half the battle. In fact, the hard part is figuring out how to reach your intended audiences. Bing Ads, Google and Facebook already offered expansive interest and demographic targeting, but the inclusion of intent makes the game that much easier. Now, in addition to writing buyer-oriented ads that click through to sales pages, marketers can tighten the funnel even further by closing in on those most likely to make purchases.

Let’s go over these new features of Bing Ads and what you should know to get the most benefit.

Bing for In-Market Audiences

Grabbing consumers’ attention when they’re ready to purchase is huge. Imagine you’re at a shopping mall with no intention to buy anything specific. Sure, you might not leave empty handed, but you’re far more likely to take your time window shopping. Now, imagine you’re at the mall with the goal of buying a new pair of running shoes. You probably know which stores to visit, and you might even have a specific shoe in mind. More likely than not, you’ll leave with a new pair of shoes.

That’s the power of buyer intent. And when marketers can connect with consumers in that crucial moment, they’re much more likely to close the deal — or, in digital marketing, to get conversions.

That’s in-market audiences in a nutshell. Bing Ads is now offering 14 different in-market audiences to marketers in the United States. The audience categories are quite broad; four categories are dedicated to finance, three focus on travel and two focus on automobiles. Others include things like “apparel/clothing” and “hobbies & leisure/toys & games.” However, Bing says that more in-market audience segments are on the way.

Optimizing Your Bing Ads Campaign: The Basics

Bing’s search engine market share has grown to 21 percent. Google is still your best bet for reaching the largest number of customers, but to neglect your Bing Ads campaigns is a mistake. Fortunately, optimizing campaigns in Bing Ads is similar to the process of auditing your Google AdWords campaigns. Read on to learn more about the basics of optimizing in Bing Ads.

Optimize - Improving ResultsThere’s no denying that Google is the undisputed king of search engine advertising, and the potential reach of Microsoft’s search platform pales in comparison. However, Bing’s popularity is rising.

In late 2015, Comscore reported that Bing’s search engine market share had grown to 21 percent (Google accounts for 64 percent), probably because of Bing’s incorporation into Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile and Surface devices. Google is still your best bet for reaching the largest number of customers, but to neglect your Bing Ads campaigns is a mistake — one that grows bigger by the day.

Fortunately, optimizing campaigns in Bing Ads is similar to the process of auditing your Google AdWords campaigns. Some of the reports and user options are different, but the general tenants are the same. Read on to learn more about the basics of optimizing in Bing Ads.

Running Reports — Know Your Options

Just like the first step of cooking is to gather your ingredients, the first step of optimizing is to collect your data. Bing Ads provides the following reports with uniquely beneficial information:

  • Performance reports: Track the overall performance of your efforts at the account, campaign, ad group, ad and keyword levels. See important metrics such as your CTRs and impressions.
  • Change history reports: Want to revisit how you’ve changed your campaigns over time? Just run these reports to see your change history.
  • Targeting reports: See which audiences your campaigns are reaching.
  • Campaign analytics reports: Designed to aid conversions, these reports help you understand how visitors are interacting with your website’s landing page.
  • Billing and budget reports: Good for accounting, these reports offer the nuts-and-bolts of your campaign spending and billing over time.

It’s a good idea to regularly generate each type of report. Each report type can be customized to highlight the most relevant data for your needs, and you can also schedule automated reports that hit your email as attachments.

Pump Up Low Impressions

Is your campaign getting unusually low impressions? This could be happening for several reasons, most of which relate to your keywords. Open the keyword list for your underperforming ad group and look for keyword disapprovals and low keyword bids. Bing’s reviewers sometimes disapprove keywords based on landing page relevance or various compliance rules. And sometimes, you just need to bid more.

Negative keywords might also be hindering your ad’s visibility. Negative keywords can save you lots of money by filtering out visitors who wouldn’t be likely to convert on your landing page, but misusing negative keywords can have the opposite impact.

Or it could be that people who are seeing your ad just aren’t interested. Try changing up your ad copy, and run a targeting report to make sure you’re reaching the right audience.

Reverse Low Clickthrough Rates

If your ad is getting plenty of views but not many clicks — which you can see in your performance report — then you must make your ad more compelling. Define what makes your business special, include an irresistible offer and give a call to action (i.e. “Contact Us for a Free Estimate”). Compare your ad with competing ads for insights about what you’re missing. You can also experiment with dynamic text, which plugs the actual terms people search for directly into your ads.

Capturing Conversions

The whole point of online advertising is getting conversions on your landing page. If visitors are reaching your site but not taking your desired action — whether that’s making a purchase or filling out a contact form — then that’s a problem.

The Universal Event Tracking tool is Bing’s version of conversion tracking. This tool generates a pixel that you place in the code throughout your website — then, you can run a campaign analytics goals report to see how visitors move through your site. From this, you can get invaluable insights about who converts versus who bounces.

Bing Ads lets you include dynamic text in your destination URLs, sending visitors to landing pages that specifically target their needs. The findings in your campaign analytics goals report might also reveal keywords or ad copy variations that aren’t capturing the right audiences.

Prepare for Editorial Reviews

Bing Ads has several compliance regulations enforced through its editorial review process. The purpose of this process is to maintain a high degree of quality across the Bing Ads search network. You may see real-time alerts requiring you to change your ads and keywords as you optimize, or a recently revised campaign may be tagged with an editorial disapproval. Most disapprovals are easily correctable and not a cause for long-term concern. As an advertiser, though, you should periodically familiarize yourself with Bing Ads’ policies.

Summary

Optimizing Bing Ads campaigns can result in greater revenues and fewer losses — and in business, both outcomes are great for your bottom line. Resist pouring all your efforts into Google Adwords, and remember that Bing Ads is actually growing at a faster rate. Microsoft is committed to integrating Bing into its latest computing and smartphone products. You can capitalize on that by reaching a sizeable audience with economical costs per click, but only if you put in the effort.

Want more digital marketing tips? Click here to get the Internet Marketing Survival Guide.

5 Reasons to Add Bing Ads to Your Search Campaign

Put simply, you shouldn’t ignore Bing Ads just because it’s dwarfed by Google AdWords. Microsoft has invested heavily in Bing’s success and those efforts are paying off. Bing Ads offers a viable alternative option for connecting your business with new, potential customers. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to make Bing Ads part of your long-term marketing plan.

bing logoIt’s easy to overlook Bing Ads when planning your online marketing efforts.

Google is the undisputed king of search with more than $67 billion in ad revenue in 2015 — by comparison, Bing finally achieved profitability in the first quarter of this year with just $1 billion in revenue. To describe Bing Ads as Google’s little brother might be too much of a compliment. Search is Google’s world, and Bing is just living in it.

Still, Bing has proven itself as a viable upstart in the search business. In April 2015, Microsoft renegotiated its contract with Yahoo to allow Bing’s ads to appear on 51 percent of Yahoo desktop searches — a nice boon for Bing’s bottom line. Microsoft also sold Bing’s display network and map data assets, streamlining the platform’s approach toward search. And now Microsoft is broadening Bing’s potential by incorporating it in several emerging products and technologies. You’ve heard of Cortana in Windows 10? Yep, that’s powered by Bing.

What does this mean for you, a small business owner?

Put simply, you shouldn’t ignore Bing Ads just because it’s dwarfed by Google AdWords. Microsoft has invested heavily in Bing’s success and those efforts are paying off. Bing Ads offers a viable alternative option for connecting your business with new, potential customers. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to make Bing Ads part of your long-term marketing plan.

1. Bing Ads Are Often Cheaper and More Effective

As you could probably guess, most advertisers turn to Google. AdWords is really your only option for reaching the largest number of consumers with the least amount of effort.

Bing is much smaller than Google in terms of reach and revenue — which also means there are far fewer advertisers on Bing’s search network. And that means less competition for marketers who want a piece of Bing’s action. And less competition means cheaper costs per click — up to 33 percent less, according to some studies.

Not only is Bing usually cheaper, but advertisers also get higher ad positions than they would on Google’s more crowded search network. And higher ad placements usually result in higher click-through rates and conversions! Even though Bing doesn’t reach nearly as many people, these benefits are enough to make Microsoft’s ad platform attractive.

2. Bing Ads Let You Effectively Cut Off Tablets

Google caused a collective groan from PPC marketers by taking away the ability to block traffic from tablets. In Google’s eyes, tablets are the future of home computing and should be treated the same as desktops. For everyone else, tablets are giant smartphones both in how they function and how people use them — and that means lower CTRs and conversions than desktop searches.

Similar to Google, Bing has altered its device targeting options so tablets and smartphones can’t be completely turned off. However, Bing allows for incremental bids to be set on both types of mobile devices. Want to turn off tablets? Simply set your incremental bids on tablet traffic to decrease by a substantial percentage. It’s not a bulletproof way to ensure you’ll block all tablet traffic, but at least you won’t spend much money on the few clicks that slip through.

3. Bing Ads Let You Choose Your Partners

Want to choose between advertising on Google or its search partners? Well, you can’t. Google doesn’t let you choose one or the other. Either way, you’re stuck with Google’s primary network. You also don’t get to see which search partners might be running your ads. This is a problem because, while search partners often provide cheaper clicks, sometimes that traffic drastically underperforms.

Bing, on the other hand, gives you complete control. You can advertise only on Bing and Yahoo, or only with search partners — or you can run your ads on all platforms. Also, if you choose to target search partners, you can run reports to see exactly who those partners are. You can then take the additional step of blocking underperforming partners from running your ads. It’s a fantastic benefit that can make search partner targeting so much more worthwhile. And you can’t get that with AdWords.

4. Bing Ads Give You More Control Over Demographics

AdWords allows plenty of demographic targeting options for the Google Display Network, but demographic targeting isn’t an option for search network advertisers by default. Note that it’s possible to get demographic targeting for Search, but you need to go through a Google rep to get it turned on in your account.

Bing Ads, on the other hand, offers both gender and age targeting options by default. This is handled similarly to device targeting — rather than completely block certain demographics, you can decrease bids to specific demographics to effectively exclude them from your campaigns. These adjustments are made at either the campaign or ad group levels, giving you the ability to split test different ad groups with unique demographic targeting settings.

5. Bing Ads Are More In Tune With Social Extensions

A strong social media following is a strong indication of being an online authority — and that’s why Bing started testing social extensions back in 2014. If your business has a large Twitter following, then Bing’s automated social extensions will display your number of Twitter followers alongside your ad. It’s a meaningful extension that can boost your ad’s credibility and help drive conversions.

AdWords also has social extensions, but only for Google Plus. And who uses Google Plus? It’s no secret that Google has bent over backward pushing its social media platform, but Bing’s social extension provides a much more meaningful and socially relevant benefit.

Want more Google AdWords Tips?  Click here to get the Ultimate AdWords checklist.   

Back to Basics: 5 Simple Tactics to Improve Local SEO You Can Do Right Now

The Internet offers unprecedented reach to connect with far-away customers, but shoppers often prefer to buy goods and services from local merchants. Think of it this way: If you owned a plumbing business, a shoe store or a car dealership, would you rather rank high in search results all over the country, or primarily in the area where you live?

Local information is growing in importance when it comes to ranking highly in Google results.The Internet offers unprecedented reach to connect with far-away customers, but shoppers often prefer to buy goods and services from local merchants. Think of it this way: If you owned a plumbing business, a shoe store or a car dealership, would you rather rank high in search results all over the country, or primarily in the area where you live?

That’s why local SEO is such a big deal.

A website that implements local SEO best practices will be easily found by nearby shoppers. Also, the rise of mobile search technology is making local SEO even more important considering the hyper-local searches in Google for “[product/service] near me”. Depending on how much competition you face, a poor local SEO strategy could render your business invisible to folks who are seeking your goods and services.

Want your business to appear on top of the rankings when local customers search for relevant keywords? Improving your position in the search engines doesn’t happen overnight, but these five changes to your local SEO strategy can start you in the right direction.

Tip 1: Create a Local Business Page on Google
Each of the three major search engines — Google, Bing and Yahoo — offer places to create pages specifically for your business. For example, on Google, you’ll want to create a page using the Google My Business service.

Why is this important?

Take a look at the search results for “dentist near me” and you’ll see a big map at the top of the search results, along with relevant information for local dental offices listed below. These listings are not websites!  They are Google My Business profiles.

That means if you don’t have a Google My Business profile, then your business will not rank high in Google when prospects are searching for you.

Tip 2: Add Location Pages to Your Website
More people now search for goods and services on their mobile devices — often while out and about — and Google is returning more hyper-local results to fulfill their needs. For example, if you need a nearby plumber, then you might search “plumber near 10011.” Or if you need a hardware store, then you might search “hardware store in flatiron nyc.”

Google’s goal is to rank the most relevant websites high in the results so the businesses that have specific, 100 percent relevant pages have an advantage.

What’s the key takeaway?

If you serve multiple locations, then consider creating dedicated pages for each location. These location specific pages will naturally be more relevant, so Google will be more likely to rank them high in the search results when prospects are searching keywords that include the respective location.

Tip 3: Get Reviewed
Online reviews can be a bit frightening — the last thing you want is a scathing review that turns potential customers away. However, Google gives search ranking boosts to businesses that get more reviews.

Plus, most prospective customers now want to see reviews before reaching out to a business to avoid wasting time. Think about your own shopping experience — why would you buy from an anonymous business when you could choose a merchant that’s been thoroughly reviewed?

There’s no silver bullet solution when it comes to getting online reviews. The best approach is to create a system for requesting feedback and ask every happy customer for an online review. Not everyone will do it, but as you gain more and more reviews, your rankings will start to improve.

Tip 4: Build Citations
A citation is simply a mention of your name, address and phone number, and Google uses citations in their local search engine algorithm.

Long story short, you need a lot of citations if you want to rank high in Google’s local results. Essentially, that means creating accounts on business directories. As you list your business information in these directories, you’ll gain more of Google’s trust, which translates into higher rankings.

For a quick snapshot of your citations, use the Moz Local tool. This tool will list any important citation opportunities that you are missing, as well as highlight duplicates and/or inconsistent information across existing citations. Start by fixing all the problems listed in this tool and then work on building even more citations to boost your rankings.

Tip 5: Get Social
Social media is taking over. Although Google is still the most popular search engine, Facebook has become a major source of information for many of your prospective customers.

In addition, David Mihm’s recent research about the local SEO ranking factors suggests that social media activity is one of the many signals Google uses to rank businesses.

Regardless of whether Google directly uses social media signals in their algorithm, there is no denying that social media marketing is a huge opportunity to get your business in front of your target audience. Facebook alone reaches all age brackets, all income levels, and spans urban, suburban and rural areas.

It’s no longer a question of whether or not your customers are using social media. The only question is are you using it to effectively get in front your customers?

Want More Local SEO Tips?
Click here to get the Ultimate Local SEO Checklist.  In this checklist you’ll get 79 expert tips to improve your local search rankings.