Is a print or online directory listing a wise investment for your business?

In a word, no. For some industries printed directories are still profitable, e.g. plumbing. But for the vast majority of businesses they are a wasteful use of marketing money that could be better invested online in either a improved website presence or by directly buying search traffic.

Even for the few businesses that can make directories work, the format requires a savvy copywriter who understands Yellow Pages advertising to ensure the ad pays for itself.

A new wrinkle

As the sun has set on the printed directory business, many of the large directories (I’m not going to name names for fear of being sued) are now in the business of buying Google AdWords traffic en masse and then directing it towards they pages and pages of online directory listings. Businesses like yours then pay for the privilege of being one of these listings, with your rank being solely determined by how much money you are willing to spend.

To me this seems like a tragic waste of your advertising dollars as there is now one more person to pay and the customer has a poor experience wading though outdated and unhelpful directory listings with scant information on them.

The directories will counter this by saying that there are thousands of people using their directory each month that are not brought to the site via AdWords. This may be true, but in all my experience with clients the leads coming from these directories via the free listings are few and far between. They can’t recall the last time they received a lead from a directory but they can remember the last time they received a lead from organic search.

Here’s what to do instead:

Learn Google AdWords. Buy Perry Marshall’s book, The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords and either learn it yourself or find a nerd to do it for you. Invest your own advertising dollars directly with Google rather than giving it to a middle man who has little interest in the success of your business.

The very best people to hire to manage your AdWords (note, they are rare), are people who have learnt AdWords by investing their own hard earned cash advertising their own business. These people have a finely tuned appreciation for the value of each click and are very careful with your money.

Avoid hiring someone who uses a ‘platform’ or ‘algorithm’ to manage your campaign. This simply means they have automated software that tries to optimize your campaign but is no match to someone who understands the hidden motivations and fears of your customers. Google wants human eyeballs looking over your campaign, so find someone who is willing to be transparent and show you exactly how they setup the campaign and what they are doing to improve it.

Hire someone who is AdWords savvy and who understands your market and you will automatically be three steps ahead of every one of your competitors paying for directory listings.

LinkedIn for Business Advisers

 

How to market to your hottest prospects around the web

Think about all the different ways people arrive at your website. AdWords, email marketing, your email signature, radio, organic search and a plethora of others. Then imagine if you could follow your website visitors around the Internet with targeted ads so when they do decide to buy they think of you first.

Known as remarketing or retargeting, this strategy allows you to get another ‘turn at bat’ after first spending money to attract prospective customers to your website only to have them leave without buying. When someone visits your site a cookie is downloaded by your browser that can not only track your visit to a website, but the individual pages you visited as well.

Here’s some examples of remarketing ads found on Finda.co.nz. Your ads could be there too within a matter of days.

Remarketing-Ad-Examples

The advantages of remarketing are:

  • For some advertisers the search network does not generate quality leads because they are in a specific niche, but remarketing does generate the right type of enquiries
  • You only pay Google when someone clicks on your display ad
  • Display network traffic can be as cheap as 5 cents per click and convert at a higher rate
  • If your business sells a consumer product or service that has wide appeal you can get more traffic from the display network than from search.
  • There is no quality score on the display network so you can get away with marketing messages not allowed on the search network.

Only fraction of AdWords advertisers in New Zealand use remarketing as part of their online marketing efforts. This means remarketing is an under utilised strategy that savvy marketers can take advantage of while everyone else ups their bids prices on Google search.

How to setup remarketing for your website

There are countless articles around the web explaining in detail how to setup remarketing for your website. The internet doesn’t need another one.

The steps in brief are:

  1. Setup an AdWords account
  2. Setup an Google Analytics account using the same email address or Google account
  3. Link your AdWords account to your Analytics account
  4. Setup a remarketing list within Analytics and give it a name such as ‘Website Visitors’
  5. Setup a new AdWords campaign for the Display Network only
  6. Create a new ad group and choose ‘Interests and Remarketing’ and your sole placement targeting option. Leave all others empty.
  7. Under ‘Remarketing Lists’ you should now see the list you created in Google Analytics ”

I recommend you find a friendly geek who is HTML savvy to handle this for you. The best use of your time is to create compelling image and text ads because you know your customer better than anyone.

8 Helpful hints to maximise your remarketing efforts

1. Image ads can outperform text ads 10 to one.

A picture is worth a thousand words because it can rouse up much more powerful emotions that words can. Start by creating image ads to test and then create text ads. A quick way to do this is take your best performing ads from your search campaigns and simply copy them into your display campaign.

2. Quality score doesn’t matter. Its all about Click Through Rate (CTR).

Google isn’t as fastidious about grammar and punctuation as it is on the search network. Google normally frowns on words like free, guarantee and testimonial on Google search but not on the display network. CTR is all that matters. If you have a high CTR then Google will find more and more places where it can show your ad until your CTR drops.

Google is driven by Wall Street and publishers (the websites that publish ads on the display network like Finda) to maximise revenue from their page views. If you have a ad that garners clicks then Google will try and show your ad everywhere.

3. Continually test and measure

Like the search network you constantly need to monitor your display campaign. Exclude irrelevant websites that aren’t good hunting grounds for new customers to maximise your CTR. Manage your bid prices so you’re not overpaying. Tweak your image ads and create new sizes so you can get more placements.

4. Find websites that convert and approach them directly about placement.

If you are tracking your conversions within AdWords then you will know which ads are performing and on which websites they are attracting customers from. You now have the confidence to approach these websites directly and negotiate with them on a CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) basis. Because you have real data you can negotiate for better placements on the website at better rates than Google can ever offer you.

Ask for a direct (do follow) link out to your website to aid with your SEO efforts. Do not, under any circumstances pay the advertisers rate card. Do not commit long term either. Start on a month by month basis and keep them on a short leash. If you seem to be getting a lot of impressions and click but no conversions then start investigating. Find out where the traffic is coming from.

This is not to say all digital publishers are going to swindle you. Its just best not to look like fresh meat if you can avoid it.

5. As a general rule, CTR’s are much lower on the display network.

You may be used to 2, 3, 4 or even 10 percent CTRs on the search network. If you can get about 0.50% then you are doing well.  Your remarketing list will perform at a much higher CTR compared to the rest of the display network. This is because they have already visited your website and somewhat trust your brand. Many on your remarketing list will be existing customers so its hard to make another sale from them.

6. Avoid using stock images in your ads. Make that everywhere.

Many display advertisers use stock images not only on their website (a cardinal sin), but also in their display ads. Stock images do not engender trust because they scream ‘fake’ and devalue your brand. Use real customers, yourself or your team members. At a last resort, use New Zealand stock images that are a touch more authentic.

7. You can get ultra advanced and remarket to those who have visited a specific page on your website. You can become scary good at this.

Some smart marketers can even target their display ads dependant on which page within their website that you visited.

Here’s an example from Trade Tested after I viewed a page about pet beds on their website:

Advanced-Remarketing

8. The ‘boombox’ 336×280 sized display ad is the most common size available for placement. Create an ad for this size first.

338x280-display-ad

Isn’t remarketing a little ‘stalkerish’?

If you feel remarketing is a little ‘creepy’ and somehow big brotherish then you can shorten the remarketing window to a few days rather than weeks. You can be smart about the ads you show to ensure they add value rather than annoy your prospects.

One suggestion is to acknowledge the fact that these people have visited your website before. An ad saying “Hi, its us again” is going to attract attention just because no one else is doing it.

Final thought.

Advertising can be seen as an intrusion into your life or it can be seen as useful information. For someone who is driving on an empty gas tank, that obnoxious roadside billboard sharing that the next gas station is 5km away would be very useful information. For someone who just filled up, the billboard is just another commercial message they have to filter out. It just depends on your perspective.

How to outsmart your competition with a fraction of their online marketing budget

If you have tried AdWords and search engine optimisation before, only to become disillusioned by Google extracting large sums of money from your business for little in return, then I have some good news for you.

In this post I will share with you the fastest and most effective way that I’ve found to generate a continual flow of new enquires with the minimum amount of waste. The strategy is to identify which keywords and phrases are actually converting into leads and then focus your AdWords spend and search engine optimisation efforts on them.

I’ve been honing an perfecting this technique for years with clients and it has proven surprisingly effective at increasing leads without increasing spend, even when every other competitor appears to be emptying their wallet into Google’s fireplace.

The steps in a nutshell are:

  1. Setup a Google AdWords campaign.
  2. Install the AdWords conversion tracking code on your website thank you page, the page visitors are taken to after they make an enquiry.
  3. Identify which keywords are resulting in enquiries from AdWords over a 90 day period.
  4. Focus your search engine optimisation efforts on these proven keywords.
  5. Repeat steps three and four.

Here’s how you would apply this strategy to a real business.

Let’s say you are dentist with a clinic on Remuera’s medical mile. Competition is fierce for new patients. Your competitors are spending $2-3,000 a month on AdWords alone and have dedicated people manning the controls.

You may guess that patients discover your clinic by searching for “Dentist Remuera” because they want a dentist who is close to home or work. Sounds logical. But how can you find out for sure?

Step #1: Setup a AdWords Campaign.

Google offers an endless array of options when setting up your campaign. For anyone new to AdWords I recommend you read Part 1.1 of Perry Marshall’s Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords for excellent advice about setting up your campaign. Its a 15 minute read that will save you thousands.

Step #2: Install the AdWords Conversion Tracking code

Once setup and your ads are running, you need to install the AdWords tracking code so Google can track what enquiries come via AdWords versus all other traffic visiting your website. Find the conversions section in the green top navigation menu inside AdWords and click on Tools and Analysis > Conversions.

Conversion-Code-Navigation

Add a conversion and give it a name. Choose “Webpage” and click continue.

In the next screen you will be given a range of options. Choose the type of conversion that best suits your business. For service businesses it will be leads. If you sell products online then ‘Purchase/Sale’ is best. You can have both types of conversion tracking setup on one website as you may sell both products and services.

Choose a 90 day conversion window. This means that any enquiry that occurs up to 90 days after someone has clicked your ad will count as a conversion. Choose HTML as your markup language and use ‘one’ for your conversion value.

Under advanced options choose a view through conversion window of 30 days, the maximum possible. This means that visitors who arrive at your site via AdWords but don’t enquire are tracked for 30 days. If they return by organic search within 30 days then this is still counted as a conversion within AdWords.

If you are HTML savvy then you can install the tracking code on your website. Place the code on a page that a visitor will only see after they have made a successful enquiry or purchase. To test if the code is working click on one of your ads and then go through and complete the enquiry form. AdWords should pick up the conversion within hours, if not minutes.

Step #3: Rank in organic search by finding winning keywords and create content around them

Converting-Keywords

This screenshot of the AdWords interface shows there have been 28 conversions over the last 90 days with 16 of those conversions coming from these top nine keywords (N.B. To preserve client confidentiality, I haven’t shown the top nine keywords in this screenshot, but a different set). None of the top converting keywords were for ‘Dentist Remuera’ by the way. You now have nine keywords that are the absolute best to focus on for when optimising your website.

It also means you can now focus your AdWords budget, ads, keywords and landing pages towards these keywords for higher conversions. By focusing your energies on these nine keywords, or even better, just the top three, you will come to dominate your market. You landing will speak to visitors in a way that no other website does. You will learn what the top concerns and questions that prospective customers have and be able to answer them on your landing page. You will be able to find tune you bids and find similar keywords.

By following this method you can outsmart your competition who have three times the marketing budget that you have. Powerful stuff.

Step #4: Optimise your website and landing pages for these converting keywords

The fastest way to optimise your website and ranking in organic search for these keywords is to create a specific landing page for each keyword. You should do this for AdWords anyway to maximise conversion of AdWords clicks into enquiries.

Lets say the one of the top converting keywords was “Dentist Remuera”.

To rank organically for this keyword, here are the most effective things you can do:

Create a landing page with the URL: http://yourwebsite.co.nz/remuera-dentist

Create content that helps visitors to solve their problem, e.g. How do I find an affordable, gentle and trustworthy dentist in Remuera?

  1. Create content that solves a problem. Fastest way to do this is with video.
  2. Create internal links from other pages on your website to this new page
  3. Create unique images that are relevant to the keyword and use the image alt tag of “Remuera Dental Clinic” or similar
  4. Find related keywords by doing a Google search for ‘Dentist Remuera’ and seeing what other keywords Google suggests. Sprinkle these keywords throughout your page.
  5. Avoid over using the focus keyword of ‘Dentist Remuera’. Write for humans rather than Google and Google with love you for it.
  6. Research the top ranking websites for ‘Dentist Remuera’. What do they have in common?
  7. Perform a back link search using OpenSite Expolorer to see where they have earned banklinks to this high ranking page. See if you can acquire similar links for your new page.
  8. Provide unique and valuable content. Answer frequently asked questions that no other website is answering about finding a dentist in Remuera.
  9. Share your new page on Google+ so Google immediately indexes the content. Share the page to other social networks to drive social traffic page to your new page.

There are tens of things you could do to optimise this page, but these nine are the best, most effective SEO strategies. Once you have implemented these nine ideas then its best to move onto the next keyword and go after more low hanging fruit.

Step #5: Repeat. Find more keywords that convert and prune the rest.

From the broad match keywords you bid on within AdWords you can find the actual searches performed by users of Google to reach your website. This information is powerful in finding numerous long tail keywords that keyword research tools cannot dig up for you.

To find these keywords, go to: Campaigns > Keywords > Details > Search Terms > All

Actual-Search-Terms

In this report you can find the actual words and phrases searchers used to find your website from AdWords. Now imagine if you created a specific page on your website for each of these keywords. Imagine how well that page would convert visitors into enquiries and your AdWords dollars into leads.

Another way you can find highly converting keywords is by asking phone inquirers what they searched for to find your website before they called you.

Good luck in applying this strategy to your website. If you have any questions about how this strategy would work for you, feel free to ask me in the comments below. I will personally reply.