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.”

3 Tips For Optimizing Your Ad Bid Strategy

The journey toward finding the perfect ad bid strategy for your PPC campaign can seem almost torturous at times. You continually test your CTAs, raise and lower your budgets, obsess over whether you are using the right keywords, images, etc.

The journey toward finding the perfect ad bid strategy for your PPC campaign can seem almost torturous at times. You continually test your CTAs, raise and lower your budgets, obsess over whether you are using the right keywords, images, etc. The constant fiddling can leave ad managers feeling like a hamster running on a wheel leading nowhere.

There is no magic formula for coming up with the perfect bid every single time. You can increase your odds of achieving your target KPIs for your ads by refining your tactics. Below are a few ideas you might want to incorporate into your PPC ad bid strategies, going forward.

1. Make Sure Automated Bids Are Right for You

Most ad bidding novices find it easier to use Google Ads automated bidding strategies. They set up bids based on varying factors and your set budget. That leads many new bidders to conclude that relying on automation for bids is a safer bet than trying to manage their accounts manually. There are instances, however, where manual bids can pay off in a more significant way.

  • When You Have Low Conversion Volumes If an account has low conversion volumes, there will not be a lot of raw data available. That means the automated bidding won’t have the information needed to make the best decisions. The algorithms can jump to conclusions that end up hurting your overall conversion rate. It is a much better strategy to place manual bids until you have at least 45 to 60 conversions under your belt.
  • When You Have a Limited Budget You need budget flexibility to maximize the benefits of automated bids.
  • When You Have PPC Experience Start doing your homework and gain experience placing bids. That makes it easier to respond to rapid changes with manual bids, instead of letting the automated bids take care of everything. You can end up gaining better results for campaigns that may be too complex for the current algorithms to process.

2. Go After In-Market Audiences

An in-market audience consists of those who have already done extensive research into a specific product. They know what they want and have moved further down the marketing funnel. Attracting clicks from in-market audiences allows you to collect more refined details around their behavior. You also have an advantage in that you know exactly what type of ads you must build to attract their attention.

Try out a few audiences to see how they perform. Once you gain a firmer understanding of the in-market audience, start testing out different ad variations. Then raise or lower bids depending on how well they end up performing when it comes to actual conversions.

3. Add Your Brand

With so much competition online today, it’s easy to lose out on business even when prospective customers are searching your brand name. That’s why most businesses should be bidding on their brand keywords.

You can enhance the effectiveness of a branded search campaign by making sure to feature your brand name in your ad headline. That puts your brand directly in the minds of consumers who are searching for you. Otherwise, they might end up scrolling past your ad to a competitor or a website from the organic search results.

Test out adding your brand to your ad Headline 1 vs. Headline 2 or in the body of your copy. You should start to see better clickthrough rates and conversion rates when you include your brand information front-and-center. It pays to put yourself forward in the minds of consumers as much as possible with so much digital competition for your audience’s attention.

Summary

PPC bid strategies can be confusing for both novice and professional advertisers. It might pay off more to manually place bids vs. relying on algorithms to automate your bids.

Research in-market audiences to find prospective customers who have already researched your product or service and are more likely ready to buy. Plus, complement your overall branding strategy by including the brand name in your ad headline.

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

SEO or PPC: Which Should Marketers Invest in First?

SEO or PPC? Both are both effective marketing strategies to send targeted audiences to your website. They are different, though. Understanding how they are different, and which one you should utilize first in your digital marketing campaign, is important to your success online.

SEO or PPC? Both are both effective marketing strategies to send targeted audiences to your website. They are different, though. Understanding how they are different, and which one you should utilize first in your digital marketing campaign, is important to your success online.

SEO vs. PPC

Let’s tackle SEO first. Search engine optimization is the process of making your website attractive to not only search engines, but to users, as well. When your website has an intuitive navigation, informative and focused pages, clean HTML code and keyword-optimized meta tags, then you signal to search engines that you have pages that deserve to rank high in the search results.

SEO also involves making sure your website performs efficiently enough for users. This includes making it fast enough, mobile-friendly and easily navigable. These website factors are important to users, so they are important to search engines.

The downside to SEO is that it generally takes months or even years to gain traction in the search engines.

PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is much different, in that you can see results from it in a matter of days. Like any advertising, it’s important to research the best targeting for your business, create engaging ads, and display those ads at the perfect times for your target audience. It’s not easy, especially when you first start, but as you collect and analyze your data, you start to figure out which combinations of keywords, ads, locations and times of the day bring the most qualified users to your site.

What’s great about PPC is that you can use the information you gather from successful campaigns to boost your site’s SEO. The keywords that are the most effective in ads will also work for your website in organic searches, so it’s a win-win.

What to Do When You Have a Limited Budget

The best way to bring in targeted leads as soon as possible is to invest in PPC and SEO right from the start. However, if you do not have the budget to do this right away, there is an alternative that we recommend.

Start with SEO to get the basic foundation of your website in order. This means making sure your site functions well, existing pages are optimized for relevant keyword phrases, and you have the landing pages needed to convert visitors. Once you have laid a solid foundation, then invest money into PPC.

Putting your money into PPC while your website builds strength in the search engines is a great way to benefit from the people searching for your services and products each day. You will start getting leads faster, while still remaining in your budget.

Conclusion

So, let’s review. If you have the budget, invest in PPC and SEO right away. PPC ads will bring you leads quickly, while SEO will help you get your website noticed by the search engines and users for free organic traffic.

If your budget doesn’t allow investing in PPC and SEO, start by optimizing your website for relevant keywords. Once the site is optimized for search and users, you can switch gears to focus more on PPC. PPC ads can always be part of your campaign, and should be, as the results from your ads can be used effectively in your site’s SEO. With successful PPC and SEO management, you could end up having your site on search engine results pages twice for keywords, increasing the likelihood of people clicking through to your site.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

 

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.

What’s the Deal With Billboards?

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, did some hiking, and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

You know they’re going to have a decent snack aisle there. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Colin

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, showed my boyfriend one of my favorite places on earth, did some hiking, played in a ridiculous 3-inning wiffle ball tournament with my cousins and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

Now, don’t get me wrong … the billboards that alert you to an upcoming deluxe truck stop in 10 miles, or a brewery and restaurant two exits away are 100 percent okay by me. They provide travelers with quick information that is actionable 98 percent of the time. Good deal.

However, the billboard for a digital agency that I saw on 95 North? That is a billboard I question.

Now, I didn’t get a shot of the billboard because I was driving, and mentioning WHO it is also doesn’t really matter for this post. Why? Because I don’t know much about this company (though I just did a little googling), and I think I want to keep looking at this from a blind perspective. So let’s get back to that.

The billboard hails the company as an expert in SEO, PPC, social, Web design … all things that are digital, pasted onto essentially a huge sign by the interstate. And sure, we see display ads everywhere: bus stop shelters, inside train cars, on subway walls. But in most of those settings, the prospect is sitting or standing still, can take in the information, and if there is a call to action, can take it.

Because they’re not driving a vehicle 72 mph down the highway.

I’m not sure how many people are going to be able to take action on a billboard like that. Perhaps if they drive that way to work every day, the name will stick in their heads and they’ll remember to look the company up once they get in the office … maybe. Depends on how gnarly that inbox is.

But I certainly hope I don’t see someone looking this company up on their phone as they floor it to get to work on time.

So I ask: Why? What’s the point for this kind of advertising? On one hand you might tell me that this company sticks out among the Utz pretzel and various beer billboards (all brand exposure focused), and on the other hand I’ll say that I don’t know if I can trust a company who sinks cash into billboards. And don’t get me started on the billboards I’ve seen with QR Codes (thankfully, fewer and fewer nowadays).

That said, the digital billboards that Netflix had for the Santa Clarita Diet were pretty great.

So marketers tell me: Yay or nay to billboard advertising.

PPC: 8 Ways to Avoid Busting Your Advertising Budget

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords budgets if you’re not careful.

tight budget
PPC spending can get awfully fat if you don’t reign it in.

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords PPC budgets if you’re not careful.

If you just started using Google AdWords, then you might be overwhelmed by how quickly you blow through your advertising budgets. You might also be frustrated if this tsunami of traffic isn’t bringing you any actual customers. Sure, launching an AdWords campaign is significantly easier (and faster) than getting organic visitors through traditional SEO strategies, but what’s the point if you’re just throwing money away?

Worry not. Here, we’ll review eight ways to avoid busting your advertising budget with AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms. Follow these tips, and suddenly the rough waters of online advertising become far less treacherous.

1. Bid High, Budget Low

The first step toward not blowing through your budget is to keep your budgets low. Yes, you might still spend money inefficiently at first. But just because you can afford to spend $100 per day doesn’t mean you should. Start with a small daily budget until you know what you’re doing.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to bid high on keywords. Your fledgling campaigns will gain traction more quickly, and you’ll get better click-through rates (and higher quality scores) by driving traffic from your best keywords. With your budgets turned down low, this is a great strategy for launching campaigns on the right note.

2. Avoid Accelerated Delivery

When setting the daily budgets for new campaigns, you’ll have the option to choose Standard or Accelerated ad delivery. Standard is the default option; stick with that.

The Standard delivery option is designed to stagger your ads and expend your budget throughout the entire day. Meanwhile, Accelerated delivery will show your ads until your budget runs dry. By staggering your ad delivery throughout the day, you’ll eventually learn which times are most worthwhile to be advertising. You’re also less likely to burn through your entire budget in the early morning hours when few people actually buy.

3. Use Phrase- and Exact-Match Keywords

Only use phrase- and exact-match keywords when building your primary campaigns. Exact-match keywords will only display your ad when people search for that exact keyword. Phrase-match keywords offer slightly more flexibility — they’ll display your ads when people search for phrases containing your keyword.

Now, I’m not saying you should never use broad-match, but you need to be extremely careful. …

4. Create Separate Broad-Match Campaigns

We just talked about the importance of phrase- and exact-match keywords, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid broad-match keywords entirely. Broad-match keywords result in ads being shown whenever your keywords appear in any order within a search term. For example, if your broad-match keyword is “boys shirts,” and someone searches for “boys uniform shirts,” that person might see your ad. And unless your business happens to specialize in uniforms, that person’s click would be a waste of money.

However, what you can do is start a campaign with a small daily budget and only broad-match keywords. Eventually, you can review your search terms report to see all kinds of search phrases people used to trigger your ads. Some of those keyword terms will likely be irrelevant to your needs — but some might actually be unique or long-tailed keyword terms you hadn’t previously considered. This is how you can “fish” for more keywords, but limit your exposure by using a separate low daily budget campaign.

5. Grow a Negative Keyword List

Let’s go back to that “boys shirts” example. If your business doesn’t sell uniforms, why risk wasting money on that “boys uniform shirts” click? Add the words “uniform” and “uniforms” to your negative keyword list, and your ads will never be shown in response to searches for uniforms.

You should always build out negative keyword lists when launching new campaigns. Then, as you collect data about the exact search terms people use to trigger your ads, you can add to those lists with poorly converting keywords. You can also add terms such as “how to,” “what is” or “reviews” — terms people might use when they’re looking to do research, not make purchases.

6. Bid at the Keyword Level

Adjust your bids on individual keywords, not entire ad groups. Every keyword will have it’s own unique performance and will require it’s own unique bid.

You’ll need higher bids on your most competitive keywords, but you can often get cheaper traffic as you find more unique keyword terms. Adjust your bids accordingly and you can attract more visitors without spending more money.

7. Write Accurate PPC Ads

It’s tempting to say whatever it takes to get clicks on your ad, but a say-anything approach is problematic. For starters, Google can suspend ads (and even lock down campaigns) for dishonest advertising. In addition, people who click on your ads are more likely to bounce from your website if your landing pages don’t meet their expectations. In other words, it pays for your PPC ads to accurately (and honestly) represent what you’re actually offering.

Don’t even try to toe the line between reality and exaggeration. Keep it real and enjoy the stronger conversion rates.

8. Use Remarketing

The Remarketing feature of AdWords displays your ads to people who’ve already visited your website. That means you can limit your ads to only display if the person searching has already visited your website.

If you knew the prospect had already visited your website, then wouldn’t you want to increase your bids to ensure she saw and clicked on your ad versus your competitors? What if you knew that person had already added a product to their shopping cart or viewed a key page in your sales funnel? Chances are you could show a more compelling ad to get that person back to your website to complete the sale.

Conclusion

In the time needed to start a campaign — just a few minutes, if you already have an active account — AdWords can bring waves of visitors to your website. It’s up to you though to not get overwhelmed. Make every dollar you spend on advertising count by following the tips above. Any form of PPC marketing will quickly turn into a colossal waste of money if not properly done. Take the right steps, though, and reaching new customers will have never been easier.

Want more tips to improve your Google AdWords performance? Click here to grab your copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

Top 10 Google AdWords Mistakes to Avoid

Google AdWords is a powerful tool for driving sales and reaching new customers — but when used incorrectly, it can quickly become a huge waste of money.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a powerful tool for driving sales and reaching new customers — but when used incorrectly, AdWords mistakes can quickly become a huge waste of money.

An ad campaign not properly configured may be shown to the wrong shoppers. Or, a campaign that isn’t compelling enough may simply get lost among the competition. Regardless of the mistake, the end result can be spending a lot of money to get very little return on investment. Fortunately, most of the mistakes made by business owners and online marketers are easily preventable.

Read on to see the top 10 errors to avoid when setting up new campaigns in AdWords.

1. Targeting Search and Display
When setting up new campaigns, Google urges advertisers to run their ads on both the Search and Display networks. Google’s reasoning for this is to put your ad in front of as many eyes as possible.

Don’t do it.

People interact differently with each network. Ads on the Search Network are presented to relevant customers who are searching for your product, while display ads appear on relevant blogs and websites to people who are likely not even shopping.

Rather than run single campaigns on both networks, you’re far better off creating separate search and display campaigns. Then you can optimize each campaign for different target audiences.

2. Wrong Keyword Match Types
Always start your campaigns with exact- and phrase-match keywords. It’s tempting to start with broad-match keywords, which are more likely to drive higher volumes of traffic to your ads. However, the traffic from broad-match searches is less likely to be relevant to whatever it is you’re selling, meaning you’ll end up paying for visitors who don’t convert.

Also, your ads will get higher clickthrough rates by using exact- and phrase-match keywords, and higher CTRs means better quality scores. And that can result in cheaper costs per click!

3. Missing Negative Keywords
Negative keywords let you block your ads from being shown when searches include certain words.

Why is this useful?

Imagine that you’re using AdWords to attract new customers to your auto mechanic shop. Unless you set “school” as a negative keyword, then your ad may be shown to scores of people who are searching for “auto mechanic schools.” This can sink your CTR, lower your quality scores and ultimately bring lots of non-converting traffic to your site. Always set negative keywords to preemptively exclude non-converting visitors.

4. Not Segmenting by Devices
Newly created campaigns in AdWords default to showing ads on all devices. This might seem advantageous in terms of sheer traffic volume, but people tend to behave differently online depending on whether they’re using desktop PCs, tablets or smartphones. Also, some landing pages aren’t designed to display or function properly on mobile devices, which can cause obvious problems.

The safe bet here is creating separate ads and landing pages for desktop and mobile users. Then, you can optimize your campaigns to get the best conversions from each type of traffic. And if your website isn’t mobile friendly, then you’re better off blocking mobile traffic completely.

Google AdWords Audit Checklist: How to Optimize Your Campaign

Google AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. However, like anything else, it must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. It allows you to focus your advertising budget on customers who are ready to buy, giving you a steady stream of eager new prospects. It also allows you to start with whatever budget you’re comfortable with, making it a tremendous resource for small businesses.

However, many business owners are not maximizing their campaign performance, so they are leaving money on the table month after month. Like anything else, your Google AdWords campaign must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Keywords
Keywords commonly trip up both new and experienced AdWords users because there are so many factors to consider. To optimize your keywords, I recommend using three distinct tactics, each of which addresses a common problem.

  • Pruning: The goal of pruning is to remove unprofitable keywords from your list, including those that are irrelevant and those that, for whatever reason, simply do not perform well for you. To start pruning, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report from the Keywords tab of your account. Any keyword that does not show solid performance should be removed or paused. Also consider adding negative keywords, which tell AdWords not to display your ad if a particular word appears in the search string.
  • Fishing: The goal of fishing is to find new keywords that will be profitable for your campaign. Again, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report and look for keyword phrases that are performing well, but are not yet in your Ad Groups.
  • Replanting: Replanting is a process to optimize your top performing keywords while limiting your budget for new or unproven keywords. Move your top keywords into their own campaign, and focus on tweaking your ad copy and landing pages to tightly match those keywords. Likewise, move unproven keywords to their own campaign and reduce their budget until you get more data on them. Replanting allows you to improve your quality score, increase your click-through rate, and maintain better control over your advertising dollars.

Ads
Your ad copy is an excellent place to optimize your AdWords campaign, since it is virtually impossible to write perfect copy on the first, or even the tenth, try. Here are a few ways to optimize your ads.

  • Split testing: Never allow just one ad to run in an ad group. Always run at least two ads so that you can compare their performance.
  • Offer: No matter how good the rest of your ad copy is, a weak offer can sink your AdWords campaign. Remember that a great offer minimizes customer risk and overcomes the tendency for procrastination. Review your competitors’ offers, think through what would appeal to your ideal customer, and split test different offers in your ads.
  • Extensions: Ad extensions factor into your quality score, and also play a role in improving your click-through rate, so make sure you are taking advantage of all of them. The Review extension, with a third party endorsement, is particularly useful in building credibility.
  • Other factors: Other areas of your ad copy that should be audited include your headline, display URL, and description. Make sure that each section is clear and succinct, focusing on how you can solve a problem or fulfill a need for your prospect. Ensure that your entire ad is internally consistent, easy to follow, and has a strong call to action.

Landing Pages
Your landing page is your opportunity to close the sale, turning visitors into leads and customers. It must be laser-focused to match the ad, reassuring the prospect that she is in the right place and explaining what to do next. Optimizing your landing page is not easy, but it’s critical to your campaign performance.

  • Dedicated landing pages: One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is using their homepage as a landing page for ads. A secondary mistake is using the same landing page for lots of unrelated keywords. Make sure your landing page is 100 percent congruent with the keywords and ads in each Ad Group.
  • Congruence: As mentioned above, your landing page must be fully congruent with your ad. This means that the landing page copy should match the keywords, and the landing page offer should repeat the offer made in the ads.
  • Call to Action: It sounds crazy, but I have reviewed countless landing pages that do not explicitly explain what the visitor needs to do to start the buying process.  As a consumer, it’s frustrating when it’s not clear what to do so most prospective customers will leave rather than try to figure it out.  So make sure your landing page has a clear call-to-action, ideally above the fold so the visitor does not have to scroll to find it.

Tracking
Tracking is the only method you have for determining how well your AdWords campaign is performing. Make sure that each of the following forms of AdWords tracking is set up properly in your account:

  • Webform conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete your webforms
  • Shopping cart conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete online orders
  • Website call tracking to measure how many visitors call after clicking on your ads
  • Call extension tracking to measure how many people call using the number displayed in your ads
  • Offline sales import conversion tracking to measure how many sales are generated offline via phone calls or in-person

Optimizing and maintaining your Google AdWords campaign is an ongoing, never ending process. A regular audit procedure will determine which portions of your campaign are working well, and which need some attention. Although it may seem lot a lot of work, following an audit checklist like this can be completed quickly if you break up the tasks over the course of a week or two.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my complete Google AdWords checklist.

The War on Beards

I belong to the Marketers With Beards group on Facebook. Earlier this week one of the members noticed that another proudly bearded member’s newsletter featured an ad for Harry’s razors! Then I looked at my copy of our Today @ Target Marketing newsletter for that day, and saw this …

Andrew Luck tells Abigail, "That's how The Beard Wars began.
“Dearest Abigail, we have been besmirched by the pernicious propaganda of whiskerless marketers …” — Col. Andrew Luck

I belong to the Marketers With Beards group on Facebook. It’s something Lee Odden started a few years ago as an experiment in using Facebook groups, and it’s hung around ever since (apologies if the link doesn’t load, it’s a closed group).

Earlier this week, one of the members noticed that the Marketing Tech Blog e-newsletter, from proud marketer with a beard Douglas Karr, featured an ad for Harry’s razors!

“I was shocked this morning when I opened my email and in your newsletter I saw an ad for a RAZOR!!!! OMG … Have you joined the dark side? What’s going on, Doug? Tell me it’s not so.” —Chad Pollit, Relevance, marketer with a beard.

Then I looked at my copy of our Today @ Target Marketing newsletter for that day, and saw this!

Harry's Ad in Today @ Target Marketing
LiveIntent threaded a Harry’s razor ad into multiple newsletters and websites going to marketers with beards.

Come to think of it, I’d been seeing Harry’s ads all over Facebook and other websites. Were they targeted at members of the Marketers With Beards group? It was a cross-channel assault on beardedness!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1Y73sPHKxw

Now, I noticed both of our e-newsletters carry ads powered by LiveIntent. So those are essentially network ads targeted at the individual e-newsletter recipients. When I see Harry’s, you might see Dot & Bo or Caribbean vacations — or, in an ideal world, something more marketing focused. (I’m sure Chad, Douglas and everyone else in the MWB is aware of that too.)

And of course, the Harry’s ads I’d been seeing all over were the same. I’m in a demographic Harry’s is targeting.

Beyond that, I have no idea how these ads are being aimed. I stumble around some websites that I could definitely see them targeting based on cookies. But I’m also in this Marketers With Beards group on Facebook.

In reality, Harry’s is probably advertising to a bunch of attributes in different model combinations and just keeps catching me, and the other Marketers With Beards, in those personas.

But it’s really easy when you’re seeing those ads incoming to draw other conclusions. “Hey, we’re all part of the Marketers With Beards group, Harry’s is taking a shot at us and telling us to shave! Arrrrrghhh!”

Rollo from Vikings w/ Axe
“Bring me my axe!”

We’ve seen a few examples of this kind of advertising being received poorly. Remember Denny Hatch’s “Zappos.com Is Chasing Me All Over the Internet!” and “Son of Zappos.com Is Chasing Me Around Europe!“?

in fact, while I was searching up those articles, I saw this:

Harry's razor ad on TargetMarketingmag.com
“Resistance is futile. You will be depilated.”

This is another example of how marketing is different today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. When 90s folks saw your advertising plastered across TV, radio and print ads, they may have gotten annoyed, but they didn’t take it personally.

Today, with all the targeted — but still saturating —  advertising options, prospects take that annoyance personally. Because it IS personal — you did aim those ads at them, after all.

And it’s really easy for a prospect in your target lock, even a savvy marketing prospect, to interpret that extra attention with a tinfoil hat.

Keep that in mind when you’re setting up your digital campaigns. Make an impression, just don’t make the wrong one.

PPC Shockers and Secrets

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales. I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now. Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google AdWords, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales.

I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well as marketing consultant, for over a decade now.

Though the years, I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share—especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

First, I’d like to clear the air about a big shocker … or actually a fallacy … that you need a big budget to run an effective PPC campaign.

You don’t. If you happen to have a large budget, your ads will be shown more and you can spread out your ad groups and test different types. With a smaller budget, you do need to be more judicious with your efforts. But if you market smarter, not broader, your campaigns can still produce positive results.

I have run PPC campaigns with total monthly budgets of $1,000. I have run campaigns with total daily maximum budgets ranging from $25 to $50. These campaigns brought in both sales and leads, despite their limited spending. But they do require active management, strategic thinking, deep PPC knowledge and refinement/optimization.

The PPC Tri-Pod
What is going to determine the cost and return of your campaign are three simple things I call the “PPC Tri-pod”, as it supports your entire PPC efforts:

  1. Keywords
  2. Creative (or banner ad, if it’s running on the display network)
  3. Redirect URL

So in order for you to get the most bang for your buck with PPC, you should be aware of a few things regarding the PPC Tri-pod:

Keywords. The more popular the keyword, the more cost per click (CPC) it’s going to have. So it’s very important to do your keyword research before you start selecting your keywords as you’re setting up your campaign.

I like to use Keywordspy.com. The “lite” version is free, but you can also upgrade to the full version and see more results and have more capabilities for a monthly fee. Google used to have its Keyword External Tool, which has since morphed into Google AdWords Keyword Planner. You need a Gmail account to access this free tool.

Either of these tools will allow you to enter keywords or keyword phrases and then view popularity (actual search results), as well as what the average CPCs are. This is important for your keyword selection and bidding. You can also type in your “core” or focus keywords and get additional ad group/keyword ideas. To help refine your search terms, you can also choose broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match.

If you pick a word that is too vague or too under-searched, your ad will not see much (or any) action. Impressions will either not be served, or if they are served (in the case of a vague word), it may cost you a high CPC. In addition, a vague keyword may not be relevant enough to get you a good conversion rate. Because you pay by the click, your goal is to monetize that click by getting an instant conversion. And conversions, my friends, will be the role of the landing page. I’ll talk about that more in a moment.

Creative. This is your text ad (or banner ad, if you’re running in AdWords’ display network). For Google to rank your ad favorably, and more importantly, for you to get the best conversion results possible—there needs to be a relevancy and synergy between your keyword, text ad and landing page. Google will let you know if you’re not passing muster by your ad’s page position and quality score. Once you’ve carefully researched and selected your ad group keywords, you’ll want to make sure those keywords are consistent across the board with your ad and landing page. Your text ad has four visible lines with limited character count:

  1. Headline (25 Characters)
  2. Description Line 1 (35 Characters)
  3. Description Line 2 (35 Characters)
  4. Display URL (35 Characters)

Your keyword must appear in your text ad, as well as follow through and appear in the content of your landing page.

This will give you a good quality rank with Google, but also help qualify the prospect and carry the relevancy of the ad through to the landing page. Why is this important? It helps maintain consistency of the message and also set expectations with the end user. You don’t want to present one ad, and then have a completely different landing page come up.

Not only is that a “bait and switch,” but it’s costly. Because you’re paying for clicks, a great ad that is compelling and keyword rich, but not cohesive to your landing page, will not convert as well as one that is. And your campaign will actually lose conversions.

Redirect URL. This is your landing page. Different goals and different industries will have different formats. A lead generation campaign, which is just looking to collect email addresses to build an opt-in email list, will be a “squeeze page.” This is simply a landing page with a form asking for first name and email address in return for giving something away for free—albeit a bonus report, free newsletter subscription or similar. It got its name because it’s “squeezing” an email address from the prospect. Some retail campaigns will direct prospects directly to e-commerce sites or catalog pages (as opposed to a sales page). Direct response online marketers will drive their traffic to a targeted promotional landing page where it’s not typically a Web page where there’s other navigation or distractions that will take the prospect away from the main goal. It’s more streamlined and focused. The copy is not technical, it’s compelling and emotional, like promotional copy you would see in a sales letter. The anatomy of your redirect URL will vary on your goal and offer. It will take optimization and testing to see what’s working and what’s not. And that’s par for the course. If you’re testing, I suggest elements that scream and not whisper, such as long copy vs. short copy, or headlines and leads that are different themes. However, no matter what your goal, whether it’s going for the sale or the email address, you still need keyword consistency between all creative elements.

Tips And Tricks For Maximum ROI
Whether you have a big or small budget, there are a few things I’ve learned during the years that help the overall performance of a PPC campaign. Some of these are anecdotal, so if you’ve seen otherwise, I suggest testing to see if it makes a difference to your particular industry.

Ad and Landing Page. In general, I have noticed that shorter, to the point, landing pages produce better results. And the rationale is quite obvious. People searching the Web are looking for quick solutions to a problem. This means your creatives have to not only be keyword rich, but compelling and eye-caching. You have seconds to grab a Web surfer’s attention and get them to click. In the same sense, the landing page has to be equally relevant and persuasive, and typically shorter in copy. Keep in mind Google has many rules surrounding ad copy development. So write your text ads in accordance to its advertising policy.

Price Point. Again, in my personal experience, most Web surfers have a price threshold. And that’s items under about $79. When running a PPC campaign, think about price points that are more tolerable to “cold” prospects; that is, people who haven’t built a relationship with you or know anything about you. They have no brand loyalty. They don’t know you from Adam. So getting a sale at a lower price point is an easier sell than a product you have that costs hundreds of dollars. Luxury items or items with strong recognition and brand loyalty are the exception to that rule. As a direct response marketer, I urge you to price test and see for yourself.

Campaign Set-up. There are a few tactics I notice that help with ad exposure, clicks and saving money. When you’re setting up your campaign you can day-part, frequency cap and run ad extensions. Day parting allows you to select the hours of the day you’d like your campaign to run; ad extensions allow you to add components to your text ad to help visibility and call to action—such as location, site links, reviews and more; And frequency capping lets you set a threshold on how many times you’d like a given person to see your ad (based on impressions).

PPC Networks. It’s smart not to put all your eggs in one basket. In addition to Google AdWords, try running campaigns on other PPC networks, such as Bing/Yahoo, Adroll (retargeting through Facebook), Advertising.com/AdSonar.com, SiteScout.com (formerly Adbrite.com), and Kanoodle.com. Then see where you get the best cost per click, cost per conversion and overall results.

I’ve only touched the surface here. There are more tactics and features that can help a PPC campaign’s performance. So get yourself familiar with it, read up on the best practices, and don’t be afraid to put your toe in the water. As with any marketing tactic, some channels will work for your business, and some won’t. But you won’t know unless you test. Just remember the foundation of success hinges on the PPC Tri-Pod. The possibilities are endless.