7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your PPC Guy: An Easy-To-Use Checklist

As a small business owner, you know your business. But do you have time to master PPC? If not, you’ll want to hire someone to do this for you.

That’s why I’ve created this checklist — to help you pick the right PPC person and make sure they get the ROI what you want.

There are 7 critical things I’ve learned in my 14 years of optimizing PPC accounts. Having these at hand helps you get what you need out of your PPC guy. Let’s get started…

#1: Make Sure Your PPC Guy Uses Your Adwords Account For Their Work

If your PPC guy doesn’t use your Adwords account, you may not “own” the work they do for you. If you change providers, everything they’ve done for you may be lost.

Before hiring any PPC expert, ask, “Are you going to upload the campaigns you create to my account?” “Yes” is the only right answer for two reasons…

  • You “own” the work they do.  This way, if you change providers, you can just remove their access and keep the work that’s been done.
  • And it increases transparency.  If it’s in your account, you can check on the status of the campaigns without having to bug your PPC guy. You just login and do a spot check.

Bottom line: get this or walk away.

#2: Verify How Much Work They’re Actually Doing

ppc1It’s crucial you confirm the work they’re actually doing. Here’s how…

Once a week, go to “Change History” in your Adwords Account and go to “Tools”, and click on “Campaigns”. Then, click on “Change History”.

A log of what work has been done will come up. Then you can confirm the changes are what you agreed to.

#3: Ensure They Avoid Broad Match Keywords (With One Exception)

Adwords has five “match types” you can use for the keywords you’re targeting)…

  • Broad match
  • Modified broad match
  • Exact match
  • Phrase match
  • Negative keywords (I’ll discuss this later in the post)

Make sure your PPC contractor is using some combination of modified broad match, exact match and phrase match only.

A campaign with just broad match keywords lets Google give you the “kitchen sink” approach to showing your ads. This will dilute your ROI and hurt results.

The exception is when you’re marketing to a small to mid-size geographic region. In this case, your market will be smaller and you may have to use broad match to generate enough views of your ads (impressions).

#4: Confirm They’re Adding Negative Keywords

Adding Negative Keywords should be added to curb unrelated traffic. It will:

  • improve the quality of your traffic
  • reduce wasted spend and
  • improve your ROI
  • and boost your click-thru-rate (CTR).

Make sure this is part of your PPC guy’s plan and then confirm he does it each week.

#5: Insist They Specialize In PPC Only

Change is constant in SEO and Adwords. That means an expert in either has to specialize in either one to stay current and provide value.

No one can be really amazing at both. The bottom line:

If you want an SEO guy, hire an SEO guy. If you want a PPC guy, hire a PPC guy. As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

#6: Verify Their Adwords Certification Is Current & Valid

When hiring a PPC guy, you’ll really want to make sure they’re Adwords certified. This means they’ve taken and passed a series of demanding tests from Google to prove their know-how.

So, before hiring someone, ask them for a link to their Adwords certification. Make sure it’s valid and current. This avoids problems down the road.

#7: Approve All Keyword & Campaign Creation Steps

No PPC guy will know as much about the intricacies of your business as you do.

This means that he’s going to have to rely on your expertise to guide his research and campaign creation. Therefore, make sure that you get to review and approve the keywords they’re going to use.

On top of that, make sure you get to look at and approve the campaign before it goes live (and you start spending money).

You’ll probably catch little things that they missed because of your industry knowledge. I’ve seen this save clients a lot of money.

What All This Means For You

Use this checklist and you can make sure of two things:

  1. you’ve picked the right PPC guy
  2. once hired, you can make sure he’s delivering on his promises

You’re ready to start succeeding at Adwords!
Tim GogginTim Goggin is the founder of recessionRebirth, Inc. – a PPC & Facebook consulting agency. They help small- to medium-sized businesses create money-making ads, generate & convert more leads and accelerate the growth of their ROI. Download his free supplementary checklist, “10 More Ways To Get The Most Of Your PPC Guy” here. Once signed up, claim a free Adwords audit (limited to first 9 businesses that apply).

 

Are Paid Content Distribution Platforms Cost Effective?

Content Distribution img3_BK_HoCCreating great content is only one aspect of digital marketing. In order for that content to be effective you need an audience, you need eyeballs and traffic.

Generate enough traffic and that content will drive a steady uptick in conversions and a return on your marketing budgetary spend. Finding that audience is often the hardest challenge.

Social and Guest Blogger Networks

Social media is becoming an increasingly pay-to-play environment, especially on Facebook. Organic traffic to Pages is below 2%.

With over 100,000 factors influencing who sees your content on Facebook, if a post isn’t popular enough it may only reach a few hundred unless you put some ad money behind it.

An alternative is to target bloggers and media outlets directly. Ask to be published as a guest blogger. Get enough outlets in your network, and you could have hundreds of thousands of new readers and fans of your content, which ultimately leads to conversion upticks. This approach does take time, but it works. Buffer, a popular social media sharing tool, leveraged a guest network to generate millions in revenues.

Paid Content Platforms: A Distribution Alternative?

Not unlike creating a sponsored post on Facebook, a range of content distribution platforms have emerged over the last few years, aiming to automate the challenge of finding an audience for your content.

They broadly work in the same way: you upload the content (which is published locally, on your blog), set the budget and timescale, then launch the campaign. Anyone familiar with online publishing and managing ad campaigns should be fairly well accustomed to the technology and processes.

The following are some of the most popular distribution platforms on the market.

Outbrain

Content Distribution img2_BK_HoCCost-per-Click (CPC) $0.25–$0.35

Outbrain boasts a global reach of over 560 million (as of September 2014, comScore), with 80% of the world’s leading brands already working with them. They have a distribution network (which is ultimately what you are paying for) which includes real estate on some of the most high-profile media outlets, including CNN and ESPN.

Nativo

The Outbrain link appeared at the bottom of an article on the Independent websiteViewable CPM rates (vCPM): $10–$18

Rather than just an iteration on the Outbrain model, Nativo has two key differentiators: Firstly, it charges vCPM rates rather than CPC rates, which means you know people have seen your content. Secondly, content is published within media outlets and blogs, like Entrepreneur.com.

They work with over 1,700 publishers and claim a 300% increase on the performance of native ads. It is like having an external content network, with all the heavy lifting taken care of.

Taboola

CPC: $0.25–$0.30

Similar to Outbrain and other competitors, such as Disqus, Taboola provides a content distribution platform on a CPC model.

How to implement (while factoring in downsides)

With all of these you can target using geography. None will get you as close as a sponsored post on Facebook, so all come down to trial and error. Have a budget and timescale that will allow for some fine tuning. Most also provide detailed analytics, which allows you to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Depending on your budget and resources, doing a side by side comparison (depending on your audience and the content) with promoted content across social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr – where the average promoted post gets reblogged 10,000 times). See which works best for your brand, which results in the highest upticks in traffic and conversions.

Winning the distribution game is key to making the most of your content marketing. As Gary Vaynerchuk noted, content may be king, but without distribution you have no queen and your household will be a mess.

Benjamin+KerryBenjamin Kerry is Managing Director of Precise English, an SEO copywriting agency in Stockton on Tees, England.  He specialises getting businesses set up online, from well-written content to designing and developing a beautiful & functional website.

 

How To Avoid the 3 Most Costly Mistakes When Using Google AdWords

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Adam Lundquist– Enjoy! 

photo credit: Red X  via WikiMedia Commons
photo credit: Red X via WikiMedia Commons

Do you ever feel like your small business would get a better return on investment by literally lighting your money on fire than using Google AdWords?

You began your AdWords campaign for your small business with high hopes and launched it, excited to fulfill orders from your new customers. Except those orders never came.

You attempted to fix it with different keywords, ad copy, and the newest techniques from self-proclaimed “experts”. However, with each new “fix” you spent more of your time and money – but added no new revenue. You are low on advertising budget and even lower on patience.

If this is your experience then you are not alone, almost all small businesses make costly mistakes when they start using AdWords. This is because the AdWords system penalizes you for mistakes you do not even know you are making. Even worse, in some cases AdWords even encourages these mistakes. The more you mistakes you make the more money AdWords earns from extra clicks you don’t want.

This article helps you identify these mistakes – and more importantly learn how to correct them to put you on the path to AdWords profit.

Mistake One: Keywords In Broad Match

AdWords is set by default to have your keywords in broad match, and this causes your keywords to match for a huge variety of searches you never intended.

For example, if you are a pizza store in Philadelphia and use Google AdWords, you might bid on the keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia. You assume that a hungry user has to type in the phrase Pizza delivery in Philadelphia into Google to view your ad and order your delicious pie. However, that is not the case and it costs you money!

By default your ads shows for a huge variety of searches that you never intended. If not changed from default, your keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia actually signals to Google to show your ad for searches such as how to cook a frozen pizza, and when clicked, you still have to pay for that irrelevant click.

The discrepancy between the searches you intend your ad to show for and the actually searches that trigger your ad is because the AdWords system uses different match types for keywords. There are four main match types: broad, broad match modifier, phrase, and exact. The different match types allow you (the small business advertiser) to match for a broader or narrower range of actual search queries that users type in. Broad is (as it sounds) the most broad in terms of what searches trigger your ad, and it is ALWAYS set by default in Google AdWords. This means that it is at Google’s discretion to decide that a user’s search is “close enough” to your keyword. Since Google gets paid on every click, they have a broad view of what is close enough.

When beginning your account change the match type of your keywords. Make sure your keywords are either in either phrase match or broad match modifier. These match types ensure that the words you use as your keywords have to be the ones the users searched for in Google. Here is a handy chart to visually see the differences as well as the special symbols that change the match type:

photo credit: chart via PPC HERO
photo credit: chart via PPC HERO

Mistake Two: The Wrong Industry For An Immediate Sale

A common mistake when beginning AdWords is to immediately go for the sale. In some industries an immediate sale makes sense, but in many industries users are not ready to make the purchase at first interaction.  In these industries, the user needs to trust your company before they even consider making the purchase. If the user clicks on an ad and is taken to a site where the only option is a sale, if the user isn’t ready to purchase they have no choice but to leave your site without providing your business any valuable data.

Rather than throw money into the AdWords abyss a, try a different approach. A better way to run AdWords in these industries is to think of a longer sales cycle, and change your goal (called a conversion) from getting an immediate sale to getting their contact information. You can use your ads to send users to a page that asks for their contact information in exchange for a small incentive, build trust by marketing to them via the email they provided, and finally sell to them when they are ready to make a purchase and already trust your company. Incentives can include:

  • Free eBooks
  • Samples
  • Free consultations

This approach works best for industries where trust is key, such as an expensive physical product or a long-term service provider.

Mistake Three: Sending Users To The Homepage

Once you decide on your goals in AdWords, you need to send users to a page that matches the users search and makes it as easy as possible for them to convert. All too often I see new AdWords campaigns send users to the home page. The homepage doesn’t match the users search and conversions are unlikely to happen.  A homepage often has a variety of items and is designed for navigation deeper into the site rather than a conversion.

For example, let’s say you are in the right industry for an immediate sale, like a winter clothing retailer that sells winter hats amongst other items. If you are just beginning to use AdWords you may send all of the users to your generic homepage. If you buy the keyword winter hats and the user is sent to the homepage, which is crowded with all of your items, the user has to search to find the specific sales page for winter hats. This means the user had to spend additional mental energy to search more through your website and click again. The majority of users will not expend this mental energy– they leave your page without making a purchase.

You want to make it as easy and friction-less as possible for the user to convert by sending them to specific high-converting sales pages. If the user type in winter hats send them to the exact sales page for winter hats.

What is your biggest AdWords obstacle?

Adam LundquistAdam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the CEO of Nerds Do It Better, an Internet advertising agency for small businesses. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, KISSmetrics, WordStream, PPC Hero, Certified Knowledge, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz. Visit his site today for a free eBook: Make Internet Advertising Work For Your Small Business. 5 Steps To Find, Cultivate and Market To New Customers.

 

How to Add Serious Value to Your Online Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jamie Thomson – Enjoy! 

According to research carried out by social media experts, Socialnomics, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals?

Developing an online community is all about engagement. As a small business owner, you want people to participate in your forum discussions, leave comments on your blog posts and recommend your products and services to other people. But how exactly do you go about achieving this?

The answer lies in the value that you add to your members. Here’s how you can inspire your online community and create a small army of brand catalysts.

Encourage Press Release Sharing

According to press release experts, PR Web, 80 million of us read our news online every day and amongst those 80 million people are your community. If you’re not already in the B2B marketplace, get other businesses in your industry involved in your community by encouraging them to share their press releases on your site. Not only will this improve your brand authority but it’ll also add huge value to your existing community members as they’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest movements in the marketplace without having to look elsewhere.

Create a Classifieds Board

In the same way that Gumtree enables people to post classified ads in their local area, enabling people to promote their services within your industry is a great way to add value to your community. A classifieds board will encourage people to visit your website regularly to see what promotions and offers are available. Consider allowing other businesses to post job vacancies on your site too as this can help improve your authority in the marketplace and establish your brand as a market leader. This in turn, will add value to your community as your members will associate themselves as being part of a successful network.

Initiate Collaborations

‘Hi Linda, have you met John?’ Much like a business version of Match.com, your website can become a hub for people in your industry to find collaborators with whom to create new projects. Actively promote new members who join your community and encourage existing members to introduce themselves. By creating business opportunities within your community, you’ll add significant value and encourage people to increase their presence on your website.

Develop a Forum Thread Specifically for Beginners

We all had to start our business careers somewhere, right? Why not make your online forum the place that those new to the market go to for advice on getting started in your industry? Developing a thread specifically for newcomers will help expand your community and recruit new members. It’ll also give more experienced users the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. Your thread may even lead to successful mentorships for your members.

Review Related Products and Services

The chances are that your industry isn’t limited to the types of products and services that your business offers. One way to add value to your community is to review related services that your website visitors will find useful. This can help establish your business as a trusted brand and will expand your community out with your own particular niche. Writing reviews will encourage people from all corners of the marketplace to visit your site for impartial information about the latest products in your industry.

Adding value to your online community will help you retain existing community members, attract new users and position your business in such a way that you’ll benefit from having an army of loyal fans spreading the word about your brand.

 

Jamie ThomsonJamie Thomson is a freelance copywriter at Brand New Copy where he writes about small business and content marketing on his copywriting blog. He’s also the founder of The Tutor Website, an online hub for small business owners in the private tutoring industry.

 

How to Get More Customers for Free This Week Through Google

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Erik Larson – Enjoy! 

You’re getting frustrated.

You see neighboring businesses, competitors, and everyone else get customers through their door, and you’re getting nothing.

So you ask around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

You keep hearing your friends tell you “My customers keep telling me they ‘saw me on Google’ or they ‘found me through their smartphone’”.

You have a website! That one guy you paid way too much money to put up your website said you would be found on Google! What gives?

So you type your name into Google, and sure enough, there’s your website, right where it was. And you remember that supposedly, you were going to be on the first page of Google for [whatever your industry is, let’s say plumbing]. So you type in plumbing, and you’re nowhere to be found. But you do see this:

PlumbingMaine1Large

‘Wait, how come I’m not on that map?’ You ask. ‘This must be why the other plumbers are crushing me!’

Welcome to Google My Business, a free service provided by Google.

I know it can be frustrating to see your competitors looking really good on Google, and you’re nowhere to be found, I understand that. I also understand the idea of getting your business up on Google can be intimidating, the idea of going through a huge elaborate process, jumping through hoops, and not understanding any of it is scary.

But guess what, it’s surprisingly easy.

Using the built-in Google My Business tutorial, you will usually be able to get setup and going in an hour or less. Anyone that has a basic understanding of how to use the Internet can do this, so by the sole reason that you are reading this blog post, I believe in you.

Let’s get started so we can  get you some more customers, shall we?

First off, there are some important things you need ready and at your fingertips:

  • A Google or Gmail account
  • A nice picture of the front of your building
  • Your address
  • Your logo

Once you have these things ready, go to http://www.google.com/business/, and click on the “Get on Google” button. Follow all the directions exactly, make sure to fill out as much as possible. Once you’ve got your account setup and verified, it could take a couple days to get your business in the results.

Getting the HUGE boost in traffic we talked about

Alright, so now that your account is setup and verified, here’s the tricky part, making your business stand out on the search page.

I typed “Plumbing in Portland, Maine” and I got these results.

PlumbingMaine2Large

Which result do you think gets the most clicks?

As you might have guessed by the lack of reviews on the front page, getting a Google Review can be kind of tough. I’ve seen a lot of companies with Google profiles that have been up for a long time, and still don’t have any reviews.

So, how do we go about getting these elusive reviews?

Here are three really easy steps to getting a Google review:

  1. Type your company name and city into Google. [For example: “Joe’s Plumbing, Baltimore”
  2. Find the “Write a review” link, right click it and copy the link.
  3. Send that link to 30 of your best and favorite customers, and ask them to write a review.

In the email, make sure you thank them for being an amazing customer, and make sure to thank them again after they wrote the review. If you are a customer of theirs as well, you can offer to do the same thing for them.

Once those reviews start rolling in, you’ll likely notice a bump in traffic to your site, your Google+ page, and your business.

Getting even MORE customers

Wait, you want even more customers?

Well, if you have the money, there’s a way to boost the amount of people coming to your website dramatically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, Google Adwords Express let’s you show up in Google Maps results, and you’ll show up in the yellow bar in Google search. It’s pretty easy to setup, and it’ll run automatically.

If you want to go more in-depth, you could run a campaign in Google AdWords, there are tons of great tutorials out there to help you out.

Now, the next step is to get your business set up in Bing Places, to take advantage of all of the Siri and Windows Phone users out there.

How many of you have used Google My Business? How has it helped your company?

150portraitErik Larson is the founder of RunTheMarket, a small business marketing blog. He is also the SEO specialist for Lendio, a free online tool to find business loans, and writes on small business topics on the Lendio Blog. He can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

 

In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late

… or why the biggest sales problem businesses think they have isn’t the one they actually have!

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network – Kurian M. Tharakan– Enjoy!
Zero Dark Thirty

Photo Credit: Zero Dark Thirty – IMDb

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty* would be thirty minutes too late!

Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as a marketing problem and not a sales problem. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 15 – 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!

All of these clients were closing their fair share of the leads they were generating. They just weren’t generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.

Lead Generation is a Marketing Function

In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their “spare” time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams’ skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but their company’s marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.

Now, Here’s the Big Problem

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person. Today’s customer has numerous resources available to them, usually just a few mouse clicks away. By the time that they arrive at your sales desk the majority already have a preferred direction to go and are now seeking confirming or dis-confirming evidence to support their decision. If you have not positively biased their decision PRIOR to this contact point, YOU ARE AT A SEVERE DISADVANTAGE!

This is Time Point Zero Dark Zero

A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates qualified leads to HAND OFF to sales. Let’s name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a “primed” prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!

You Don’t Have a Sales Problem, You Have a Lead Generation Problem!

So, these clients don’t have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!

If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden’s exact location. The seal team’s actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.

The First Step to Improving Sales is to Improve Lead Generation!

So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem (marketing), what are some things you can try? Here’s a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?

Website

  • Pay per click (e.g. Google Adwords)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Social Media

  • E-Mail marketing
  • Facebook
  • Industry specific social sites
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Etc.

 

Content Marketing

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • How to guides
  • Newsletters
  • Special reports
  • Video
Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Catalogs
  • Classified ads
  • Direct mail
  • Fax advertising
  • Flyers
  • Magazine
  • Radio
  • TV

 

Other

  • Joint Ventures
  • Press Releases
  • Pro bono work
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Speaking
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Webinars
  • Workshops

*technically, in military terms zero dark thirty does not reference a specific time of day, but is slang for the very early morning.
StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors

 

 

Kurian M. TharakanAbout the Author – Kurian M. Tharakan
Kurian Mathew Tharakan is a Sales & Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Facilitator, and founder of the marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors. Prior to StrategyPeak, Mr. Tharakan was vice-president sales & marketing for an Alberta based software firm where his team achieved notable wins with several members of the US Fortune 500. Previous to his software experience, Mr. Tharakan directed the sales and marketing programs for the Alberta practice of an international professional services firm.

30 Tips for Great Digital Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Tara Banda – Enjoy!

Tips-great-digital-marketing-ducttapemarketingA man walks into a bar/restaurant/hotel/car repair shop. Chances are, he found it online. That’s because today’s consumers, 80% according to Google, rely more on the Web to find and choose local businesses.

So how do you make sure that these consumers find and choose your local business? By using a mix of these four strategies for great digital marketing: search advertising, webSite, search engine optimization, and social media. Here are 30 tips to get you going.

 

Search Advertising Tips

1. Identify and follow the rules of Bing, Yahoo!, and Google search ads before running your campaign as all have slightly different formats.

2. Optimize the URL displayed in your search ad so that it’s relevant to the product or service you are promoting.

3. Include target keywords in your headlines and copy that either match or closely match the keywords you bid on in order to boost the chance that your ad appears for those terms.

4. Write strong calls to action for your search ads that directly state what you want consumers to do. For example “Contact for a Free Estimate” or “Get a 50% Coupon.”

5. When using a click-to-call extension, consider using a tracking number so that you can identify and measure which ads perform the best.

6. Don’t spend precious text ad character count on your business name. It should already be in your optimized URL.

7. Do capitalize the first letter of major words in your ad. Don’t (read “NEVER”) go crazy with all caps.

8. Should you use correct punctuation in text ads? Yes! It just makes good sense.

9. Using trademarks in text ad copy is a no-no unless, of course, you own them. You can, however, bid on terms relevant to your business.

10. DUUA (don’t use unknown abbreviations). While it could pique the interest of a few searchers, why take that chance?

Website Tips

11. If you haven’t updated your website since 2010, do it now. A clean, modern design is key in digital marketing, plus it ensures that you meet today’s best practices and Web standards.

12. Make your website mobile-friendly! The 2014 Local Search Study results indicate that nearly 80% of local mobile searches end in a purchase. This is a big audience you shouldn’t ignore.

13. Accurately complete your site’s metadata (title tags, descriptions, alt text, etc.). Not doing so can negatively impact your visibility on SERPs.

14. A business blog is a winning addition to your website. It can help boost your site’s SEO, set you apart from the competition, and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation.

15. In order to get found by local consumers, you need to optimize your site with local information like your address and geo-targeted keywords.

Search Engine Optimization

16. Having a business blog is useless if you don’t regularly create and promote original and sharable content to help prove relevance and therefore rank in search engines.

17. Enable share buttons on your blog so that readers can easily post your content to their social media pages and drive visitors back to your website.

18. Optimize your Google+ Local page to help your business name, phone number, location, and even opening hours show up in Google Maps and Google’s local search results.

19. Much like Google+ Local, Yelp is platform to complete and post information about your business. More importantly, it helps feed Apple Maps with local business results.

20. Include geo-specific keywords, such as your city, neighborhood, and zip codes, in your website, blog, and even social media copy to appear in search results for these terms.

19. Don’t only promote blog posts once. Repurpose them as engaging images, quotes, or questions in order to generate additional views, shares, and subject relativity.

21. Getting backlinks from influencers and other industry-related websites that have already established credibility are great for building your own authority and driving more visits back to your site.

23. Enable Google Authorship to help build your personal brand. By establishing yourself as a subject matter expert, you can share your own content, generate more shares, and drive more website visits.

22. Since positive reviews rank in search engine results, generate positive reviews with high rankings to help persuade consumers to choose your business.

26. Once you receive positive reviews, promote them on your website and social media sites so that consumers who search for you business on social sites or local directories see the great things others say about your business.

25. Images can help sell your business, and they also rank in search engines. Don’t name your images “photo.jpg,” and instead name them more descriptively, add alt text, or captions on your website to help images show up in search results.

Social Media

27. Think, review, and review again before you make a social media post or comment. The ability to easily take screenshots makes it difficult to take back a social media mistake.

28. Since your employees also represent your brand, both in person and online, implement a social media policy that at the least permits them from sharing internal information.

29. Before you jump on a trending hashtag, make sure you know the origin of it. Not doing so can potentially cause social media regrets.

30. Like it or not, you “share” your brand on social media. And since consumers can start good and bad conversations about you, make sure to set up alerts that notify you of new mentions, comments, or messages.

Tara Banda Duct Tape MarketingTara Banda is a brand-builder, copywriter, and social media marketer in Dallas, TX. She has worked with businesses of all sizes — from Fortune 500 companies to local non-profits to startups — to define their voice, promote their brand online through digital marketing, and build lasting relationships with fans and advocates.  Tara is a currently a Content Marketing Manager at ReachLocal. In her spare time, she is obsessed with learning recipes for international cuisines. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Karon Thackston – Enjoy!

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand

photo credit: BigStock

While there are hundreds of definitions of the word “brand,” my favorites come from the World English Dictionary. As a noun: “a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.” And as a verb: “to give a product a distinctive identity.”

Most of us keep our brands in mind as we develop product packaging or choose color schemes for websites. However, all too often, we arbitrarily pick words when writing marketing copy and content without so much as a thought about branding. Generic word choices fail to evoke an emotional connection and attachment to our brands that, in turn, can actually harm recognition and growth.

Good Examples of Brand-Oriented Words

Let’s watch a couple of videos and I’ll show you what I mean. Have a pen or keyboard handy and jot down the words that catch your attention or make an impression on you.

Video #1 – Gillette Body Razor

Did your list contain these words/phrases?

  • Terrain
  • Rugged
  • Control
  • Off-road razor
  • Take you where you want to go
  • Confidently

What do they all have in common? They are words commonly classified as masculine/manly. They give a visual impression of a man’s body that this target audience will want to be associated with. Sure, Gillette could have written video copy that said something like, “Trying to shave your body is way different than shaving your face, dude. You’ve got all those curves and you can cut yourself if you aren’t careful. Our new body razor pivots and makes it easier to shave across uneven surfaces.”

That would be accurate, but it wouldn’t live up to the brand. That type of copy also wouldn’t get anywhere near the same reaction as calling a guy’s body “rugged terrain” that requires an “off-road razor” for shaving. The copy is specific to the brand as well as the precise target segment for this product.

Video #2 – USAA Insurance

Right away, from the first words spoken, I picked up on the phrases:

  • Mine was earned
  • Handed down
  • Generation to generation
  • Superior level of protection

 

To wrap it up, the voiceover copy used “begin your legacy…”

What do those phrases say to you? For me, I get the message that USAA insurance isn’t just bought, it has to be warranted. Because USAA only provides insurance to military families and their dependents, you have to be part of a somewhat exclusive club. That immediately adds value to any brand because it separates the company from the mass marketplace.

In addition, the terms “handed down,” “generation to generation” and “legacy” show that this product has value and is worthy of being considered an inheritance of sorts. That boosts the perception of this brand instantly.

Is this practice just for video copywriting? Absolutely not! It’s for writing website copy, social media posts, blog articles or any other type of content you produce. Your brand, and the words that represent it, should stretch fully across the entire landscape of your marketing efforts.

Do This Before You Kill Your Brand

Performing this quick exercise will help you discover the best words to support and promote your brand. Once you have a good idea of the communication style you want to use, you can boost all your marketing copy and content with more power to persuade, engage and remember.

1. Determine How You Want Your Brand to Be Known

Create a list of words/phrases that should come to the minds of your target audience when they hear the mention of your brand.

2. Get a Copywriting Thesaurus

Books like “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan are excellent for giving you different, enticing words to use, so your copy doesn’t sound ordinary.

3. Ask Yourself Questions

How do your target customers perceive themselves? Are they stereotypical manly men? Are they power women who kick corporate butt? Whatever it is, add to your list words/phrases that relate to their world in the areas of work, play, relationships, goals, self-perceptions, etc.

As you discover more about your customers, expand your list of words so you have a never-ending source of nouns and verbs that capture attention and remembrance for your brand.

Karon-black-150pxKaron Thackston is President of Marketing Words helping businesses convert better, rank higher and sell more. Having worked with companies including Gorton’s Seafood, American Boating Association and others, Karon builds success through copywriting, SEO copywriting and conversion techniques for businesses of all sizes. Download Karon’s “Copywriting Makeovers” ebook for real-world case studies that can equip you to boost the performance of your website.