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How and Why to Conduct a Meaningful Content Audit

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Liz O’Neil Dennison – Enjoy!

Content AuditYou’ve probably heard that a content audit is essential for driving engagement and revenue with content. But what is it, exactly? Why do you need one? And how do you do begin to tackle such a laborious task?

Read on.

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative analysis of all the content your company has ever published online. It exposes where your content actually lives, how it’s performing, and where the thematic gaps are.

Before you can audit your content, you need to create a content inventory, a comprehensive list of the name, location, and description of each asset published by your brand.

Why Conduct a Content Audit?

If you don’t know what content you have, and how it’s performing, you can’t improve. The key to driving more leads, traffic and revenue through your content marketing is by identifying holes in your content deliverables.

With the content audit, you can understand which buyer personas and buying stages are poorly resourced, find and share content internally, access historical performance data, and identify what content should be archived or removed entirely.

Despite the clear values of the content audit, very few marketers actually conduct one. That’s because auditing content is a notoriously painful process. It can take weeks, or even months, to find, analyze, and document each asset your company has ever published online. But it doesn’t have to.

How to Conduct a Content Audit without Pulling Your Hair Out

Auditing your content isn’t rocket science. But there are critical steps all marketers must take to ensure their audit will be actually be useful. Here are the top five:

Step 1. Create Your Inventory

Before analyzing your content, you need a comprehensive list of it. Perform an inventory of all of your content across all of your brand domains, including social. If you’re going about this manually, document the name, URL, and description of each content asset in a spreadsheet.

If you have a significant body of content to manage, you’re better off just typing your brand URLs into a tool like The Content Auditor, which will automate this inventory process for you.

Step 2. Identify What Content Categories Matter Most

Get the most out of your audit by understanding what content categories are most important, both internally and externally. Your audit should provide a map of those attributes across your entire content library so you can see where the holes are.

For example, tagging content to buyer personas allows you to see what personas you’re ignoring. Tagging content to your buying cycle tells you if you need to dedicate more resources to building top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel content. Common content categories to tag include:

  • Author
  • Publish date
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Theme
  • Buyer-centric or product-centric
  • Product line
  • Blog category
  • Keywords
  • Content type
  • Competitor
  • Primary call to action
  • Content pillar
  • Social shares
  • Comments
  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT)

Include these categories in your excel spreadsheet and tag each asset appropriately or, if you’re using an automated tool, scroll through your online inventory to tag content.

Step 3. Map Your Content

When you’ve tagged all of your assets, you’ll end up with a pretty cool content map. You’ll be able to see which personas, buying stages, and themes you’re serving with content, and where you need to step up.

Sift through your content map and identify where the holes are. Then, brainstorm easy ways you can fill those gaps. Perhaps there’s a whitepaper or eBook you can repurpose to serve a different audience. Or you can plan to ramp up your social promotion to feed the top of your sales funnel.

Content Audit

photo creditcontentauditor.com

Step 4. Analyze the Performance of Your Content

What content is performing well, and what isn’t? Your audit should include key content KPIs so you can see what themes, content types, and messages are resonating with your target audience.

Track metrics like social shares, traffic, leads, and revenue. And align your findings around four key areas: production, engagement, performance, and content scoring. This way, you can make informed decisions about future content marketing efforts.

Step 5: Present Your Findings

Once you map your content through your audit, present your findings in a coherent way.

Don’t just include the data from your audit. Suggest what that data means for your company’s future marketing strategy.

Expose the content holes in your major themes, personas, and buying stages. Suggest how you’ll fill these gaps by repurposing existing content, archiving or removing irrelevant content, and producing more of the kinds of content that have proved successful. Propose new processes to support these changes.

Get Auditing

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are. And with tools like The Content Auditor, marketers no longer have an excuse for avoiding what Rebecca Lieb calls “the cornerstone of content strategy.” What you don’t know can kill you. Stop living in the dark, and get auditing.

Content Audit AuthorAbout Liz O’Neil Dennison – Liz is content marketing manager at Kapost, a software that allows marketers to develop, manage, distribute and analyze their content from one place. Prior to Kapost, she advised big brands like AT&T on their content strategy at Location3 Media, a digital marketing agency. And before that, she spearheaded global marketing campaigns for ONE, an anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. She loves beekeeping, running and exploring the mountains with her dog. Follow her at @lizkoneill

How to Build Your Marketing Hourglass

This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY – the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visit here 

The Marketing HourglassMarketers have long held to the idea of the marketing and sales funnel – a notion that suggests you start with a large target group and somehow squeeze a few clients down through the small end of the funnel.

For years now I’ve been promoting something I call The Marketing HourglassTM, a much more holistic and increasingly effective approach in the “era of the customer” we live in today.

The marketing funnel suggests that the buyer’s journey is a straight one and the we as marketers are in charge of how they tread the path when in fact so much of the buyer’s journey today happens without our knowledge and participation.

Today we have to understand how the buyer wants to buy and put our businesses along that path – long before a prospect even knows they are looking for what we sell and long after we’ve transacted that sale.

A traditional marketing funnel might have stages such as Awareness, Consideration and Purchase, while our Marketing Hourglass consists of seven connected stages – Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer.

Here’s the thing that the marketing funnel neglects to address – when it comes to lead and referral generation a happy customer is your best tool.

By taking the marketing hourglass approach and giving equal attention to building trust and delivering a remarkable experience, you set your business up to create the kind of momentum that comes from an end to end customer journey.

In order to apply this framework to your business your must get a baseline on how your business interacts with prospects and clients currently, understand how your prospective customers make a buying decision and construct an hourglass journey that guides prospects through the logical stages of your marketing hourglass.

Audit your touchpoints

The first step is to take stock in the ways that your business comes into contact with customers and prospects.

Experience tells me that some of these ways are planned and scripted, while some are not. Some happen by accident, while some simply don’t happen at all.

For example, a very common gap in the businesses we work with exists in the transition from transaction to implementation. Marketing and sales got the order, but what happens next?

Another very common mistake is to believe that all you have to do is run ads and respond to requests when, in fact, many potential buyers want hand holding and nurturing and follow-up in order to know you’ll deliver on your promises.

Map the customer journey

One of the hardest things for many business owners to do is to put themselves in the shoes of prospective clients long before that client knows that you have the answer.

We often want to convince people we can solve problems they don’t even know they have.

In order to effectively build your Marketing Hourglass you must fully understand the questions your prospects are asking themselves before they are aware that you or you solutions exist.

For example, if you sell signage, you must start to build awareness through your marketing to prospects, not by explaining how great your signs are, but by addressing ways that businesses can build a stronger culture, attract more clients and make it easier for customers to find what they need – all great uses of signs by the way.

Construct your Marketing Hourglass

Now that you’re thinking touchpoints and journeys you can start to fill in the logical stages of your hourglass with the campaigns, process and touchpoints that will lead to a great experience.

Know – This is the awareness phase so articles that do well in search, advertising and even referrals need to start here.

Like – This is the stage where once you attracted them to your site you have give them reasons to come back, reasons to relate and even reasons to like your team.

Trust – In this stage, reviews, success stories and client testimonials are your currency.

Try – Now that they are wondering how your solution might work for them it’s time to shower them with eBooks, Webinars and very detailed how to information. You might also have an evaluation, trial version or low cost option to offer here.

Buy – For this stage the focus is on keeping the experience high. Think about how you orient a new customers, exceed their expectation and even surprise them.

Repeat – Perhaps the best way to get repeat business is to make sure your clients receive and understand the value of doing business with you. Here’s where you need to consider adding a results review process as well as additional upsell and cross sell touchpoints.

Refer – The Marketing Hourglass journey is ultimately about turning happy clients into referral clients. You do this first and foremost by creating a great experience, by being referral worthy, but you also have to build processes and campaigns that make it easy for your champion clients to introduce and refer your business.

A fully developed Marketing Hourglass is a thing of beauty, but it’s never really done and you can always go to work on adding to it and making it better. Monitor and measure the places where people don’t seem to move easily to the next step and make conversion of each step job #1.

Every time you enter a new market or develop new product or service you can use this framework as a way to make sure you create the perfect end to end customer journey for every offering.

Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!

Be Everywhere: Connecting Social Media to the Real World

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

duct-tape-be-everywhere

photo credit: flickr

Social media is a powerful set of tools for marketers to connect with prospects and clients, but social media has its limitations.

Not all of your customers are active on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And not all of your customers are allowing social media to affect their buying decisions.

Go beyond social media. Engage your customers on all fronts, and create the impression that your brand is everywhere.

Make your brand highly visible

Marketing sets the condition for the sale to happen.

As John Jantsch says, “Marketing is essentially getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust you. Of course then you must turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat and refer.” This is what he calls the Marketing Hourglass.

Moving a customer through the Marketing Hourglass is accelerated and enhanced with repeat exposure. An experience with your sales team can be heightened and reinforced with social media, and vice versa. Each interaction with your brand builds upon itself and moves the customer through the seven stages of the Hourglass.

Create the impression your brand is everywhere

Let’s move beyond theory and consider a company example from my upcoming book, Sticky Branding.

Brilliant is a rapidly growing staffing firm with offices in Chicago and Southern Florida. The company specializes in recruiting accounting, finance, and IT professionals for mid-sized companies.

The firm’s marketing strategy is to be everywhere. Jim Wong, CEO of Brilliant, says, “I want us to be everywhere, or I want people to think we’re everywhere.”

To create the impression the brand is everywhere, the firm employs three core programs to engage its customers:

  1. Sponsorship: Brilliant sponsors events and associations that serve small- and mid-sized companies in its geographic markets.
  2. Content Marketing: Brilliant publishes weekly email newsletters that are tailored for its audiences. The company has four business units, and each one has corresponding email programs.
  3. Social Media: Brilliant places the most emphasis on Facebook and LinkedIn, because these are the social networks that both employers and job seekers are actively involved in.

Sponsorship is Brilliant’s primary vehicle for participating and supporting its communities, while content marketing and social media are designed to reinforce and enhance that investment.

Jim says, “It builds confidence in our brand. It’s like, ‘I saw them online, and then I saw them sponsoring our conference last month. They’re everywhere.’ Popping up everywhere leads prospects back to us, and it sets the condition for a sale.”

Promote with purpose

To move customers through the seven stages of the Marketing Hourglass — know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer — requires marketing with purpose.

The question, or the challenge for your business, is what else can you do?

Where can you engage your customers with purpose? Facebook and LinkedIn are a great way to engage your clients online. What about in person?

Like Brilliant, develop three to five recurring programs that engage your customers over and over again to create the impression your brand is everywhere.

When your customers see your brand again and again they will think of it first when they have a need. And being considered first is a powerful position for your brand.

JeremyMiller_150x150Jeremy Miller is a Brand Builder, Keynote Speaker, and president of Sticky Branding — a brand building agency. After rebranding his family’s business, Jeremy embarked on a decade long study of how small- and mid-sized companies grow incredible brands. He knows what it takes to grow a Sticky Brand and how you can do it too. His upcoming book, Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers and Grow an Incredible Brand, will be published in January 2015.

How to Future-Proof your Company’s Social Media Strategy

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

Remember when Snapchat was simply known as that weird “sexting” app?

I do. I was the first person in my circle of friends to download the app. When I started inviting my friends to join me the primary reply I received was:

‘Isn’t this for sending naked pictures?’

snapchatFast-forward two years later, and now everyone’s on it. Even companies have joined the party.

McDonalds, Taco Bell, General Electric, they’ve all invested heavily to turn Snapchat into an effective marketing channel.

The lesson here?

When it comes to new social media channels, today’s punch line may soon be impacting your bottom line.

Before Snapchat, people made fun of Facebook and Twitter. Before that, SMS. As we’ve seen again and again, dismissing new communication platforms comes with an opportunity cost for brands, businesses, and consumers.

How do I keep up with Social Media as it evolves?

If you want to live long and prosper on social, the first thing you should know is: DO NOT BET THE HOUSE ON A SINGLE CHANNEL.

Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are just tools. If you’re serious about future-proofing your social media ecosystem, improve the organizational structure that surrounds it. Instead of buying another wrench, invest in a better toolbox.

The Multi-channel Marketing Arms Race

image2_wrenchesAccording to Gartner, 50% of tech spending outside of IT comes from marketing, and this number is expected to rise to 80% by 2017. Unfortunately, much of this money is being wasted.

Today’s brands are trapped in a competition to see who can build the biggest social presence.Thing is, when it comes to driving revenue and tracking ROI on social, it’s not the size of your presence that counts, its how you use it.

According to a CMO Council report only 15% of marketers believe their companies are doing a very good job of integrating disparate customer data sources and repositories.

It’s a lot like owning a dozen wrenches but never being able to find the right one when your sink is leaking.

Brands are spending tons of cash to establish a huge suite of channels, but they can’t really operationalize the social media process because they lack the ability to move between channels and keep track of each customer’s overall brand journey.

This channel fragmentation creates two big problems:

  1. If your channels are fragmented, personalization is difficult. Your biggest social media advocates are not going to feel like VIPs, and potential customers are less likely to convert. (According to Ovum/Datamonitor U.S. retailers lose nearly $100 billion dollars each year from poorly executed cross-channel marketing efforts.)
  2. When a social platform implodes (or just isn’t cool anymore) all your customer data and marketing assets go down with the ship.

The solution?

Limit the fragmentation of your social media channels by adopting a marketing strategy that accounts for cross-channel mobility.

A customer-centric omnichannel approach improves retention and maintains lifetime loyalty because it establishes a singular ‘record of engagement’ with each and every customer.

The Omnichannel Advantage.

Are you serious about being inducted into the social media marketing hall of fame? Well now’s a good time to start proving your awesomeness.

We’re in a transitional period. Success in social marketing is no longer about being the earliest adopter or the biggest spender. It’s about being the most customer-centric.

It’s about being omnichannel.

While your less organized competitors are waiting weeks for their social media data from each silo to be collected, analyzed and (hopefully) shared, your brand can initiate highly personalized conversations in real time, and have full confidence that the messaging fits with the customer’s overall journey.

This doesn’t just mean following up a positive tweet with a Facebook message – it means connecting all your marketing channels. Social activity can trigger a highly relevant email message that will only be sent when a customer walks into your store.

This combination of timeliness and authenticity will drive loyalty and deliver a more holistic brand experience to your customers. At the same time, it will decrease your dependency on any single marketing channel, and lay the groundwork for a healthy and wealthy marketing future.

profile_150pxReagan is the Head of Content Marketing at Bridg, an L.A. based start-up that helps retail brands make their marketing simpler and more efficient. Follow Reagan on Twitter at @Reagan_Charles and make sure to visit www.bridg.com/blog for more awesome data driven marketing hacks.

How to Make Your Competition Irrelevant

Competition

photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc

Lots of companies come to me for advice on ways to grow their businesses massively.

I start off by telling most that if you have big growth objectives you better have big marketing vision.

You can grow 10% by adding some features, doing a better job with SEO or mining social networks for potential leads, but 2X or 3X growth calls for something a little bolder.

In order to achieve incredible growth you must change the context of how the market sees what you offer and in doing so make your competition irrelevant.

To achieve this you can create a never imagined product or innovate an entire industry. These are generally accepted ways to achieve growth, but let’s face it, not everyone has that in them.

A far simpler way is to better understand the market you are trying to serve and move your business into the position of leadership.

You do this by understanding where your market is headed, even before your market knows it headed there.

Most businesses try to focus all of their attention on selling, servicing and talking about where their market is today. They create products and services to sell to people who are already demanding those products and services.

Nothing wrong with that, money to be made there, but that’s where everyone else is playing too.

If you want to make the competition irrelevant you have to start having conversations with the market about the things no one else is telling them they need to consider.

Now, having said that, it doesn’t mean drop everything and bet the farm on a future trend.

You need to break your market into three kinds of customers – I’ll call them Hunters, Catalysts and Trailblazers.

Hunters are probably your customers today. They had a quantifiable need and found you and your solution through some sort of search.

Catalysts offer the greatest near term growth as these are business and individuals that will have a need triggered soon by some type of life cycle change, calendar event, budget refresh, office relocation, etc. (Hint: focusing on identifying what these triggers are with your current hunter clients is the best way to immediately grow share of wallet.)

Lastly, Trailblazers are those odd freaks that are very, very passionate about all things related to where your industry is headed. They buy early, they evangelize, they go to great lengths to have things before others. It’s easy to call these folks early adopters, but it’s more than that – they have passion for anyone and anything that helps them validate their journey.

Okay, now that we have the labels, let me tell you how to use this information.

In simplest terms you need to practically give away what the hunters want in order to gain market share, understand and sell to the triggers that turn hunters into rabid catalyst buyers.

Then, move your content, brand, positioning and thought leadership towards helping the trailblazers flock to your community. It doesn’t matter that you’re not seen in this light currently. That’s the point really, you must move away from your competition by being and communicating the things they are not. The key lies in understanding how to move your brand where the trailblazers reside.

This is how you change the context of brand. It’s how you rise far above the commodity sellers fighting for profit in the hunter space and it just might allow you to attract opportunities for innovation and leadership that don’t currently seem available.

Nobody said this was going to be easy. What I’m suggesting is a business strategy as much as a marketing play, but bold growth only comes from equally bold thinking.

How to Use Cialdini’s Principles and A/B Testing to Increase Sales and Conversions

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

There is arguably no more important book in the world of persuasive selling than Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. With the rise of online marketing, it was, therefore, only a matter of time before the principles of influence that Mr. Cialdini talked about began to be used by online business owners and marketers to increase sales and conversions on their websites. Specifically, in the world of A/B testing, many successful testers have used them to construct variations which employ one or more of these principles. These principles have been used on major eCommerce and SaaS websites to run tests that result in more and more visitors driven into a conversion funnel or tempted to click on that ‘Add to Cart’ button.

In this post, I’ll be giving an overview of each of the 6 principles before demonstrating a successful A/B test that was conducted on this principle and how you can use this principle to increase the persuasive power of your website. Let’s get started!

Principle#1: Reciprocity

People tend to return favors. The reason why you get free stuff (newsletters, eBooks, guides) all the time in your inbox is because of some marketer wanting you to return the favor by either trying out their product, subscribing to their stuff or sharing their stuff on social media.

Artsy Editor, a premium WordPress WYSIWYG editor, tested 3 combinations of Call-to-Action(CTA) buttons on their homepage. Let us take a look at each of the variations in turn.

Variation 1

Image1

Variation 2

Image2

Variation 3

Image3

The goal of the test was the number of people who clicked through to their demo and pricing page. Variation 1 increased their CTR by 47%, Variation 2 by 17% and Variation 3 resulted in no improvement.

What does this show? If you push too hard at the beginning, the visitors may feel uncomfortable and leave the site. Especially for a SaaS product, the primary CTA should be demo/trial.

Principle#2: Social Proof

People see what they see others are doing. We are more likely to put money in a collection jar which is half full and buy a product recommended by someone known to us. FietsPunt.nl, a Dutch online biking solutions store, used this principle to run an A/B test on their website. What they did was adding a customer testimonial widget to their product pages. This is how the control and the variation looked.

Control

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Variation

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Comparison Image

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The variation recorded a 36.73% increase in orders and had a 99% chance to beat the original. Needless to say, this was a hugely beneficial test.

Principle#3: Scarcity

The fear of losing out is much more than the joy of winning. This is why salesmen are quick to point out that the ‘special discount’ they are offering is only for a ‘limited period of time’.

RIPT Apparel, an online retailer of designer tees and wearable art, make a new design available every day starting at midnight. This design is available only for 24 hours, post which it is retired for posterity. They tried to use this ‘scarcity hook’ by including it in the text on their CTA button. This is how the control and the variation looked.

Control

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Variation

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The variation resulted in a 6.3% increase in sales. So what do we see here? A company increasing sales – not by changing business models, adding products, giving offers – but just recognizing a persuasion hook and using it to drive more conversions. This is the power of persuasion.

Principle#4: Authority

People tend to believe in figures that exhibit some sense of authority or leadership. This is why pharmaceutical companies use doctors in their marketing campaigns. Or why we are likely to believe a ‘stock market expert’ even though most of what he/she says turns out to be made up.

Bag Servant decided to use this principle in setting up an A/B test on their product pages. In the variation, they replaced the Twitter Followers badge in the header with a relatively rare WOW badge that was presented to them by a renowned business woman.

Control

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Variation

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Comparison image

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As a result of this test, product exploration increased by 60.42%.

Trust badges like the one seen above can be used to radically improve the trust factor of your website.

Principle#5: Liking

Many marketers tend to overlook the fact that people are more likely to be persuaded by people who they can relate with, and therefore, like. That is why advertisements of household appliances prefer to show moms and not celebrities.

Medalia Art, an online art store tried to trigger this principle by replacing the images of the painting with images of the artists themselves. This resulted in an increase in conversion rate of more than 95%.

Control

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Variation

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One way of using this technique is advertising your product through your consumers. Customers today are skeptical and they are more open to word-of-mouth than clichéd advertisements.

Principle#6: Commitment and Consistency

Human beings, in general, have a deep desire to be consistent with their actions. If you’re able to show people that not using your product/service will negatively affect what they most want, they will be more likely to buy from you. This is why you see headlines like ‘Do you want to have 6 pick abs?’ or ‘Do you want a Mercedes in 2 months?’ (Yeah, right)

I have to admit something here. I lied at the beginning of this article. No good test has yet been conducted to see whether Commitment and Consistency really result in increased online conversions. I want to give you this opportunity to show us how you conducted a test based on one of these principles and whether it worked or not. Feel free to comment below.

Author PicAnand Kansal is a Marketer at VWO. He is involved in VWO’s lead generation activities. He’s also responsible for creating content offers, including eBooks and blog posts. Passionate about helping websites increase leads and revenue, he loves to read about behavioral psychology and decision science. He can be found on Twitter at @anandkansal88

 

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 Use Your Expert Knowledge to Build Authority Online

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

photo credit: 123rf

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. – John Donne

The internet is a living continent that depends on community contribution to thrive. Without input from participating members, the internet would cease to be relevant. However, the biggest strength of the internet is also its biggest weakness: with almost three billion users, the internet is an enormous global stage, and as participants, we are all competing for a bit of spotlight. However, in our fight to get a moment of glory, too many generate content that is useless and irrelevant. So how do you create important content? Use your expert knowledge to benefit the online community.

First, realize that the online community doesn’t care about you.

Like any other consumers, online audiences are seeking to consume relevant, valuable knowledge. Luckily, you have the power to give them exactly what they want. But first, you need to stop contributing only to benefit yourself. Creating content simply for your own marketing benefits will never get you the same results as contributing genuinely for the benefit of the community.

Ask not what the online community can do for you, but what you can do for the online community.

If you are consistently putting the audience’s needs above your own, you will benefit. The key to being a valuable participant is knowing what you have to offer, why it sets you apart, and how to get it out properly. The most important input you can give to the existing online community is expert knowledge that only you have by contributing content that is unique to your specialty to genuinely help others.

Give fresh perspectives.

A core necessity of any content is that it is valuable and high-quality. However, even the best content can easily be overlooked. A constant challenge is creating fresh and interesting content that offers value to visitors. It’s easy for a great post or infographic to become buried under other online content, so how do you catch the attention of an ever-distracted online audience? Know how the element of surprise can attract attention. A moving graphic, interesting color scheme, or dash of humor in a forum post are all real ways to keep audiences on their toes and interested in what you have to say.

Choose appropriate methods for delivering knowledge.

There are as many topics to contribute about as there are ways to get your insights out there. Informative online presentations, guest blogging, webinars, and active participation in online forums are just a few of the many ways to help the community at large and, if done correctly, can drive long-lasting community engagement. Identify why each method would benefit you, and ask yourself if it’s relevant to your niche. The owner of a medical technology company is probably better suited to contribute knowledge to forums than webinars, but either method works if the owner understands his strengths. A great writer but bad public speaker is probably not suited for a live presentation and should choose an online slideshow with great taglines instead. Know how to play up your strengths and invest in the appropriate methods to benefit the most.

Strive to start conversation.

Putting out content that doesn’t generate audience feedback is like delivering a presentation with zero engagement. Before any post or comment, ask yourself if you are just adding your two-cents or actually participating and driving a conversation. One of the best ways to see this in action is by rephrasing your comments as questions. See how much more participation you get from asking your audience their opinion?

There you have it – to be an authority on your niche, deliver genuine content for the purpose of contributing, not benefitting. The most engaging content – that great TED talk, memorable article, or viral website – was created because of a passion of to share, not benefit. If you can do this successfully, you will not only establish yourself as an authority in your field, but will also draw an engaged audience to you naturally.

08c4341Daniel Glickman is the CMO of emaze. He loves analyzing marketing data and building strategic and tactical plans.