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7 Pay-Per-Click Advertising Options That Are Not Google or Bing

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC), when used correctly, is a very powerful way to drive traffic and conversions.

pay per click advertising options

photo credit: alles-schlumpf via photopin cc

The used correctly part includes effective targeting and testing, writing compelling ads, creating compelling offers and managing the bid and budget process in the most cost effective manner.

While the Google and Bing PPC ad networks are the most popular options, smart advertisers also choose to round out their offerings with other options to both capture viewers that aren’t captured by these networks and lower the overall cost per conversion through other channels.

The following seven options should be considered and tested as you build your lead generation platform online.

1) Reddit ads – Reddit is currently the hottest social news sharing site and their ad offering is somewhat unique. You target your ads based on interest and not demographics and ads include user engagement features such as voting and comments. Get your ad right and this network can generate targeted leads.

2) YouTube Video Targeting– Okay I guess this one really is Google, but not exactly AdWords. With the YouTube Video Targeting Tool you can put your ads in specific video channels or even specific videos. You can choose from a variety of formats.

3) StumbleUpon Paid Discovery – StumbleUpon is a unique social sharing site that offers visitors without a click. StumbleUpon users simply stumble to your chosen page. The service delivers lots of low-cost visits, but the trick has always been to convert with a very simple and engaging call to action.

4) Twitter Promoted – Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of Twitter users. They are clearly labeled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. The Tweets can be targeted to search terms and specific hashtags. Advertisers have been reporting good results in terms of targeted conversions, but also in terms of social metrics such as increased followers and influencer scores.

5) Facebook Advertising – Facebook’s targeting is as effective as any platform and for that reason offers some unique opportunities. If you’ve built a large fan following the sponsored updates option can be a good buy with a compelling call to action.

6) LinkedIn Advertising – LinkedIn advertising isn’t for everyone as it’s predominantly a B2B platform and if used too broadly gets very expensive. The most effective use I’ve seen is narrowly targeting user niches based on keywords or titles in profiles.

7) 7Search – 7Search is a 2nd tier network and does not act as a replacement, but rather a great addition to help advertisers gain traffic from the 10% of traffic that Google and Bing don’t have. Savvy PPC bidders can find some real bargains here for long tail kinds of terms.

Once you’ve created content that converts, compelling calls to action that get people to click and an ROI on bids on the big networks, it makes perfect sense to start exploring other options to lower your cost per acquisition and gain greater exposure.

One Simple Tactic That Can Give You an Unfair Advantage in Local Search

Showing up in local search results is a pretty big deal if you’re any sort of local business. When people search online locally, but plan to buy offline locally, being the organization they find first and find when mobile could mean the difference between growth and death.

While lots of people publish tips about Google Places pages, local web content, address citations and the sort, not enough people are talking about the power of local video when it comes to gaining an advantage in local search.

Many people are talking about video from a content standpoint and I agree, but what about locally optimized video for SEO. I’ve seen this intentional tactic produce some pretty incredible results in a very short time – particularly when it comes to a Google and YouTube combination.

See, here’s the deal – Google wants to give people interesting search results and as often as possible that includes a mix of local Places pages, videos, products, images and blog posts all mashed together on page one for specific search phrases.

Local businesses that get good at producing and optimizing video can find their YouTube videos zapped to page one for highly competitive search terms with very little effort.

I did a little test over the weekend to prove this theory. Granted there may be other factors at play here, but here’s what I and I believe you can do it too.

I am hosting a couple workshops in Kansas City in June. Since this is for me a rare local play I wanted to see what could do to get some local search results. So, here’s what I did.

  • I created a very brief video recorded directly to YouTube.
  • I even did a little bit of editing using the new YouTube Tools
  • I named the video Kansas City Marketing Workshop and Training
  • I added a description with this term
  • I added keywords that related to the term
  • I saved the video
  • I embedded the video on a page on my site.
  • I pointed to the video on YouTube from my Facebook page

Total time invested was about 15 minutes. About 30 minutes later this video showed up on page one for the search term – “Kansas City Marketing Workshop”

Kansas City Marketing Training and Workshop video

A day later it moved to the #2 position for the search term and #4 position for the term Kansas City Marketing Training. I conducted these searches logged out of my Google account and even received the same results using private browsing in Safari.

There’s no telling how long this video will stay at the top of the results for my search term, but it certainly reinforced the idea that this is a powerful way to gain additional local search results while creating useful content.

Below are tips to keep in mind as you explore this tactic:

Do the keyword research

Use a tool like WordTracker or Google Keyword Tool to hunt for some search phases that make the most sense. You’re not looking for hyper competitive terms like “Marketing,” you’re looking for longer, less searched phrases that you can quickly impact.

Also keep in mind those frequently asked questions. Focus on making videos that address those issues.

Create multiple videos

The idea behind this approach is to create dozens of simple videos that allow you to build a library of content that addresses many of the things your prospects are searching for.

Make the videos sell

Make sure you add URLs and annotations to your videos so you can send people to pages that give them even more information.

Optimize for specific terms

Use the search phases you uncover as your video titles, in descriptions and as keyword combination. Do a search on YouTube for the phrase you are trying to win and see what comes up. Once you find the top videos in your search term make note of the keywords and borrow liberally.

Point to the videos

Google loves it when other sites point to videos that are hosted on YouTube. You can give your videos even more juice by linking to them from your web site, Facebook and other video hosting sites.

Experiment with the intriguing little tactic and you may uncover some pretty fantastic results for frequently searched terms that might not otherwise stand a chance of competing for.

My Video Toolbox

I sat in on a session at the BlogWorld Expo led by Steve Garfield, author of Get Seen and long time advocate of video use.

Canon EOS 5DSteve mostly shared the low cost set of tools he employs to create his video and it got me thinking that I should do the same.

Video use in marketing is growing by leaps and bounds and while you do need to join the movement, you don’t have to drop thousands just to get good educational videos, customer case studies and trust building video overviews.

There are thousands of passable tools that you can use in the pursuit of video and here are a few that I use.

Camera

Canon EOS 5D – This DSLR is a professional grade video and has a 21 megapixel camera and digital processor that is far beyond most of my needs, but shoots such high quality that you can create laser sharp HD shots and output the video as large as you like. – $3000

Canon Vixia S30 – Camcorder that has some great features – external mic jack (a must) twin 32 gig memory card slots (these cards go right into my mac and make it very easy to shoot and edit away.) $799

iPhone 4 – the video ability on this device is pretty phenomenal and for me erased all need for the Flip camera – the only hitch had been an external mic. I have a great little mic that plugs into the power port, which is great for audio, but not so much for video. See below for the answer to this. – $399

Microphone

Sennheiser MKE 400 – this directional mic sits on top of my Canon Vixia in a mic shoe on the camera and is a great set-up for point and shoot interview settings at things like conferences. – $349

iRig – this is a stereo condenser mic that plugs into the iPhone headphone jack and makes the iPhone a great tool for doing video interviews. – $149

Audio-Technica ATR-35S Lavalier Microphone – this is the mic I use to do my own videos for training and product videos. It’s powered by a small battery and clips right on to make sure we get clear audio. It’s also pretty good at not picking up outside noise. $29

Editing

iMovie – this program ships on all Macs and does pretty much everything I need it to do so it’s hard to recommend any other software.

YouTube – believe it or not YouTube recently added some basic video editing functionality to its service. There are time when this is all you need.

Hosting

YouTube – YouTube is free and has a huge audience. There are many reasons to use this for your marketing videos. Simply upload and grab some code and run the video on your site. There are some downsides too though.

Amazon S3 – For all of my product videos, ones that are only available to my customers, I prefer to host and stream from Amazon S3. This gives me total control over size, privacy and steaming. There is a cost for this service, but it’s very low and with addition of something Amazon calls CloudFront my videos play every time no matter how large.

Player

EZS3 – One of the nice things about using a service like YouTube is that they create the player for your videos as part of the service. Of course you have little control over how the video displays and little ability to brand your player.

I use this service so I can create completely branded, iPad and mobile friendly videos that also have thumbnail control, forwarding functionality, form embedding and fully functional buy buttons right in the video. $20/mo

So, there you have it – that’s my toolbox – how about you?

 

 

5 Ways to Get More From Online Video

video

fredcamino via flickr

The use of video to tell your story, put a real live face on the company and showcase your products, services and customer testimonials is a very foundational online tactic these days.

As cameras become more sophisticated and cheaper to buy and services such as Vimeo and YouTube provide free and low cost hosting and streaming, small business owners are embedding video in blog posts and web pages with increasing ease.

There is one aspect of this tactic that is often overlooked however, and that’s taking proper care of how you place your videos on the hosting site,  in particular YouTube.

While many businesses seek to draw attention to the video placed on a page on their site, millions turn to YouTube to find information and getting your videos to rank well there may be an extremely important way to get visitors to your site.

Here are a couple facts that you should consider when it comes to your YouTube video strategy:

  • YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine – that’s right more people turn to YouTube to find information than Yahoo and  Bing.
  • According to Compete.com over 25% of YouTube’s traffic comes from Google – people are turning up lots of video in Google searches.
  • Google is committed to something they called Universal Search – this is the act of returning more than textual information for many searches. This includes video, blog posts, images and even near real-time Twitter streams. In some cases getting your videos to rank well can be easier than getting your pages to do so.

Below are five things to consider as you begin to optimize your video assets on YouTube.

Do your research – Use the YouTube Keyword Tool – Most people are familiar with Google’s keyword research and related search tools, but did you know that YouTube has the same tools?

By visiting and using these tools you can find some great insights about video topics that are hot and ways to optimize your video content to take advantage of what people are searching for on YouTube.

Describe and Tag Well – One of the first things you can do is make certain that you do all you can to help YouTube know what your video is about. (Of course you’ve got to make it public first) This includes the file name (don’t use newmovie.m4v use importantkeyword.m4v), description, tags and categories.

Make sure you pick the right category – there is no business category, but I’ve found HowTo and Style to be the best for my videos.

Use your description to describe what is going on in the video. You’ve got lots of room here, but don’t cram keywords in, make it a thorough description and include a link back to you site. Use all of tags that work and include a few variations. (Get your keywords in the description within the first 20 or so words too.)

Annotations and Transcripts are Key – YouTube allows you to annotate or add notes to your video that show when people watch. This is a great way to emphasize content, show links that you mention, or point out other related videos you’ve made. It also adds content that Google may index in some cases.

You can also create and entire transcript that is used by hearing impaired viewers using Closed Captioning. CaptionTube makes it easy to do and the transcript can go a very long way towards helping your video rank well.

Call to Action – One of the things I notice quite often is that people spend a great deal of effort creating videos that simply end. I think this is because the videos are created to go on a web page that has lots of information and a call to action.

If your video is to stand alone and ranks well on YouTube, the video itself must contain a verbal and visual call to action. End your videos telling and showing what people should do next.

Spread the Love – Once you’ve done your work on YouTube it’s time to spread your video to other places. Here’s a list of video sites beyond YouTube for starters, but many people find that using a tool like TubeMogul to automatically submit to video sites and track traffic is the best way to go.

The Easiest Way to Create Videos Right Now

Creating video for blog posts, landing and other web pages has become an important way to communicate a personal message and showcase your brand.

While there are many ways to get started using video the key, I think, is to simply get started. So, while you may end up investing in HD cameras, condenser mics, editing software and green screens, today I would like to describe the easiest way to get started producing your own videos.

Facebook and YouTube both have direct record video options and, while it may not be the most high tech way to create a simple video, it surely is the easiest. The only thing you need is a camera. You can use a digital camera that you plug into your computer or a built in camera common on most laptops these days.

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Creating and Using Web Video Never Easier

Video on the web has simply grown to become an expectation. Sites these days feature video for every imaginable use and visitors and users have grown to anticipate this engaging medium.Small business videosThe good news is that creating and using video on your websites and blogs has never easier or more affordable. (One disclaimer: Professional videographers can help you produce very high quality, engaging videos, just like a graphic designer can help you produce high quality print materials. Consider a professional option like TurnHere as well, but arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to get it done right either way.)

    Some reasons to use video

  • Interview customers and capture testimonials and success stories (Here’s a fun idea – hold a testimonial party)
  • Interview employees as they discuss what they do and how they help customers
  • Record a greeting from the CEO – don’t sell, just let them know your story
  • Use video as a call to action in your email campaigns (Here’s how)
  • Add video to your Google Maps profile, Facebook Fan Page, and LinkedIn profile
  • Create product and service training videos showing customers how to succeed
  • Record FAQs with real prospects or customer posing the questions
  • Interview your key strategic referral partners
  • Create all manner of “how to” video and screencast to help demonstrate your expertise

Getting started with web video

This is not meant to be the complete online video tutorial, but the following items will help you get started as you consider ways to enhance your online presence with video. (Some resources for that: ReelSEO, MakeInternetTV and Online Video Toolkit)

Capture

Recording video has become fairly simple. High quality digital video cameras have dropped below $200. Highly portable options, such as the Flip cameras make it easy to pack a camera anywhere and most new phones, such as the iPhone 3Gs, feature video recording capabilities.

Determining the best option for you depends a little on your objective. If you want to grab lots of impromptu shots out in the field a Flip is a nice option, if you are doing interviews or product demos the digital video camera is probably a better choice.

    A couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Get a camera with the ability to add an external microphone so you can get a lavaliere mic for interviews. The sound will be much better.
  • Use a tripod – you can’t hold a camera very still no matter how hard you try.
  • While HD cameras produce higher quality output, they also produce much larger files. Ask yourself if your use requires the higher quality

Don’t forget screencapture software for recording tutorials or capturing slide presentations in video. Camtasia Studio from TechSmith is the leader here (new Mac version) but Adobe’s Captivate is an alternative. Mac users also use ScreenFlow Pro

Another emerging option is live streaming video. Creating and capturing live video, much like a live reality show, is another possible outlet. USTREAM.tv and Livecast.com offer nice platforms.

USTREAM also offers a live streaming video app (this is an iTunes store link) for the iPhone 3Gs – you can point your phone now and stream live video.

Edit

Once you’ve recorded your videos you probably want to edit them in some fashion to make them more engaging, logical or professional. This is an area that can way technical, so I’ll just point out a few ideas.

Video editing software such as the very basic Windows Movie Maker and the more robust iMovie on the Mac are both standard and free. More robust programs such as Adobe Premiere Elements and Pinnacle Studio for PC and Final Cut Pro for Mac are also good options.

Publish

Video sharing sites offer an incredible service for the small business video publisher. Sites such as YouTube allow you to upload, host and stream your videos for free. Video files are large and demanding so hosting and streaming them on your own can get technical and costly. Video sharing sites make the process very easy. You simply upload your videos, create some setting and then copy the embedding code to publish the video, with player, right to your site. While most of these sites offer free versions, consider the pro versions if you intend to use this medium often. Pro versions give much more control and more professional end product.

    Popular sharing sites include:

  • YouTube – the Google owned grandaddy
  • Viddler – standard feature set and more flexible than YouTube
  • Vimeo – offers a paid version that gives you much more control
  • Blip.tv – focus is show format
  • Brightcove – more focused on creative video

Promote

Video promotion is one of those odd topic, because it can get lost in the whole viral conversation. If you’ve found a logical way to create a video that millions want to watch and share and that video supports your brand and marketing objectives, go for it. But, it’s probably not a great idea to sit around thinking of ways to create funny viral type videos unless they make sense for your brand.

Having said that, getting your video viewed by prospects is usually a good thing.

    Some video promotion tips:

  • Make your videos sharable – add social media links or tools like AddtoAny so people can pass you videos on
  • Optimize your videos – when you upload a video to a sharing site make sure you use keyword rich titles, descriptions and tags (getting your videos to show up in Google search is a good thing!)
  • Optimize the video pages – Search engines aren’t great at knowing what’s in a video (although they are getting there) so make sure you thoroughly describe what your video is about on the page or blog post where it resides on your site.
  • Publish your videos on social networks – Facebook Fan Pages, LinkedIn profiles and Biznik profiles are great places to run some video
  • Push your video to lots of places – video distribution services, such as TubeMogul, allow you to upload your video once and distribute to many sharing sites. TubeMogul also offer tracking as part of the service.

The New Marketer’s Toolbox

toolsMore than once those that follow what I do have asked me how I seem to get so much done in a day. I have to admit that I get a lot of help from the man behind the curtain and from you my readers and subscribers. That’s the part that many don’t see, but the rich set of, often free, tools out there now make it much easier to run your business and increase your productivity.

I use a power set of tools throughout the day to write, collaborate, bookmark, filter, find and conduct commerce. Here is my current list of favorites, although like so much on the Internet, some of these could change in the blink of an eye.

Google Alerts – Free service from Google allows you to conduct customer searches for your brand, competitors, industry mentions, and journalists and have any mention of these terms online sent to your email inbox on a daily or as it happens basis. Key tool for monitoring your reputation in real time but it can also serve as a great client relationship building tool as well.

Central Desktop – I use this tool to collaborate with providers and clients alike. The set of features and flexibility from this tool is incredible. I was a hard core Basecamp fan, and still am, but Central Desktop just does so much more. You can manage projects, teams and schedules, but my favorite use is the built in WYSIWYG wiki editor. I use this to build web based operations manuals and document processes for my team.

Google Reader – I subscribe to and scan and read about 100 blogs and think you should too. I get some great ideas, hear about the next new thing, and find tools like I ‘ve listed here by adhering to this practice. Google Reader puts them all in one place and is very mobile browser friendly so I can jump on the site and read a few blogs any time I’m standing in line.

TweetDeck - This desktop application makes it very easy to keep up with what I want to follow on twitter. I create searches for key terms and form groups of people I want to follow closely. The tool also allows you to RT, tweet, DM, follow and unfollow directly from the interface. A mobile app is available as well.

Firefox – Firefox is, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, simply a browser, but it’s so much more due to the fact that you can extend its functionality through plug-ins and add-ons. I use it subscribe, blog, bookmark, filter and aggregate much of what I find online all day. I use it to help with web design, SEO and competitive analysis.

Flickr -In addition to optimizing and sharing images online I use the Creative Commons Licensing of images on Flickr to grab great photos for my daily blog posts. (I wrote about how to use Flickr for blog images here)

Snapz Pro X – This $29 software sits in the background and allows me to do screen grabs and video screencasts with the push of a few keys. There are free programs that can do some of this but the added editing and file format options of this program make it worth the money. I’m always adding screenshots in my blog posts and PowerPoint presentations.

Adium – I’m a pretty big fan of IM for internal office use as well as to use with my key collaborators. Adium is nice as it allows me to communicate with people using IM no matter if they are on Yahoo, AOL, Skype, or GTalk.

ScreenFlow Pro – Another paid program but this is simply the easiest, yet feature rich, video screen capture program I have ever used. I use it to turn many of my web and offline presentations into short movies to share on YouTube.

su.pr - This is a my tool of choice for much of my tweeting. When I use su.pr to post a tweet with a link it shortens the link bu also sets up a rich set of tracking so that I can view how many view, retweets and mentions the tweet received. In addition, because the tool is part of the StumbleUpon network it gives me the opportunity to receive or send traffic from this network to the pages I link to.

Email Center Pro – This tool allows me to create mailboxes for departments of information, such as sales, service, media requests, etc. and then, if I choose, assign emails to those addresses to various internal and external resources to address. I can create responses to many common questions and allow anyone to interact from that department. In addition, I can see the entire archive of any of the discussion threads that might occur in any conversation from a dashboard. Great customer service tool.

Jott – This tool allows me to use my phone to “jott” a message that is transcribed and sent to my email. I use this all of the time when I am driving along and am hit with a thought for a blog post. Additionally, you can set-up groups and contacts on Jott so you can send anyone you set-up emails via your voice messages. You can post appointments to Google Calendar and, if you speak very slowly and use simple words, post tweets.

SimpleNote – Every morning I make a to-do list based on what I want to get done that day. I’ve been doing this for years and it keeps me productive. I started using note pads but now I use SimpleNote on my laptop because it is simple (duh) and it syncs to an online page and my phone so I can have access to my daily list no matter where and how I choose to access it.

WordPress – There are many ways to create web sites and blogs but I just love WordPress. In addition to being one of the simplest ways to create and manage all your web pages and content, the developer community that creates add-ons, themes and tutorials is hard to beat. I encourage most businesses to use it for their entire site, it’s that good.

Google Analytics – Tracking traffic, trends, searches and conversions is a necessary and basic marketing tactic if you want to grow your business. Google’s free analytics package is a no brainer and can give you so much feedback you’ll wonder how you lived without it. Take the time to read and understand everything it can do and you will get even more. Combine it with Site Optimizer and you can begin to do the slightly more sophisticated A/B split testing and find out how to really fine tune your web site.

InfusionSoft – I use Infusionsoft to run the CRM, ecommerce, email marketing and affiliate tracking aspects of my business. There are individual tools that do each of these functions quite well (In fact I also use ACT!, SwiftPage and Vertical Response), but Infusionsoft is the one tool that brings all of the functions under one roof. It’s not for everyone, but it is a nice tool that keeps getting better.

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Video in Email Creates Higher Clicks and Conversions

Adding video to email is a powerful way to double and triple the click your call to action in an email campaign might receive. Obviously, this will vary with other elements, but it’s a pretty accepted and tested tactic.

Of course the trick you can’t simply slap a YouTube video in an email and send it out. To date, none of the traditional ways of creating and viewing video are compatible with email sending. A host of services are cropping up to try to create turn-key platforms that make using video in email much easier, but there are two methods today that many small business folks can take advantage of without too much technical expertise. (I believe you should be testing this right now)

1) Click to view – this isn’t really video in email but it creates the allusion of it and the video call to action is a very strong incentive for people to click through. (Who knows this may lose it’s effectiveness as many things do, but for now it’s more effective than a text link.) All you need to do to create a click to view call to action is capture an image of your video in what looks like a video player, complete with play button. When people click on the image it takes them online to the URL embedded in the image.

Video in email

You can host your video on YouTube, Vimeo or Viddler and send people directly to one of these sites to view, but I would take the extra step of embedding the video on your site or in a blog post. It’s terribly easy to do and that way you keep the brand experience going and can offer additional information and offers on the page.

2) Animated gifs – Animated gif files are pre 2000, you remember the days of the spinning chicken on your website, right? They have become much more sophisticated and can be used to deliver a richer, animated experience in an email. One downside is there is no audio, just motion. They also currently have issues in Outlook 2007 and show only as an image. You can create animated gifs in Photoshop and most email service providers allow you to embed them in your HTML templates like you would any other image.

Both of these approaches can only be delivered via an HTML email and the precipitant must enable images to view.

There are signs on the horizon that a true video in email experience is not far away – Google Gmail now allows a setting that will show YouTube video preview in Gmail. (You have to enable this setting in the Labs tab) Other 3rd party systems like GoodMail are trying to push for a certification system that would allow you to send video in formats such as flash as long as you were a certified sender in good standing.

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