How marketers can avoid poor customer service within the email industry

Customer service should be a core component of any business, but it has been on the decline in the email marketing industry.

A lot that can be attributed to trying to do more with less in terms of both time and money resources, but also looking to monetize customer interactions.

Not taking a wider perspective of customer service is both problematic and a mistake. Obviously a high-touch level of customer service is good business, but email marketers also need help because there are so many emerging trends and technologies.

For example, there is real-time content, retargeting, disruptive technologies, and social and optimization for mobile devices, just to name a few.

There are more marketing technology, data and tactical trends facing email marketers than ever before, and all the more reason why email marketers need more hand-holding and resources to answer questions and address their needs.

When a services company is no longer a services company

Generally, consolidation is seen as good for companies in terms of growth and gaining market share. Through the combined efforts and technology of the combined companies, market advantage is supposed to become more crystalized.

In the email space, this has had the opposite effect in that the acquiring companies at the Enterprise level are not services companies; they’re technology companies.

Many of these acquired companies were well known for their support and help for the email community, and with that loss, service has again ranked high on marketers needs outside of the requirements for technology.

This brings the topic of service and support to the forefront in light of acquisitions over the last 5 years.

A couple of key customer service questions

When asking marketers why they switch Email Service Providers (ESPs), the top of every list is, “I’m not getting the service I need.”

This customer lament illustrates that choosing an ESP is not just a technology decision, but also a decision on the people behind that contract who are on the other side of the phone.

Marketers should have specific questions to identify the level of customer service that they need to navigate today’s complex email marketing waters.

For example, marketers seeking answers on their own should have access to webinar replays, eGuides and whitepapers that offer solutions to common issues, and for more pressing problems they should be able to reach their ESP in a number of ways including by phone, email and possibly even via online chat within the vendor’s website.

Evaluate if the customer service you get is just marketing speak or it’s actually baked into your ESP’s approach from the start.

Can they really assist and understand the challenges that you face on a daily basis? Do they have the digital experience and industry knowledge to help you find the right solution?

Great customer service permeates an entire company

In the email marketing industry, there’s plenty of vendor options that are essentially just a pipeline that you can take advantage of to get your email sent and are little more than a technical solution.

When an ESP and client begin working together more as partners than just a business interaction, service can be taken to a different level.

And when the ESP’s entire team from customer support, to development, to the account director and even the design team, has a dedication to customer service, then everyone is working to make the client successful and turn them into a hero at their company.

Great customer service also comes from a certain approach to the vendor/client contract and relationship. For one, it should be a conversation, not just a set of rules.

Of course the contract is there to define the parameters of the relationship, and should be referred to when things somehow go wrong in some way, but just regularly referencing the contractual rules throughout the relationship is a mistake.

It’s important for marketers to trust the person on the other end of the phone or email because their inquiries have a direct impact on their job performance and maybe their email marketing goals too.

Here are some sample questions that marketers should be asking, and getting answers for:

  1. Will my ESP be there to answer the phone?
  2. Do they have any external validation by accredited groups of their claims of “great customer service?”
  3. What do their customers (references) say about them?

Many times speed and urgency is also important as a campaign needs to get out the door. For example, we would rather answer a question during a chat message within the application to cut down the time from someone asking a question and us getting them a response.

Knowing that time is money for our clients, we want to provide experts who understand email and understand the struggles marketers’ face so we can provide the best service possible.

A final takeaway?

Email marketing is ever more complex. Between constantly emerging trends and marketing technology options, it’s easy to fall into the trap of providing the minimum service level based on contractual rules.

To really be set apart, great customer service has to become something that’s ingrained as a core aspect of the business.

The long-term benefits are always worth more than the potential short-term savings from not providing the best customer service possible.

Source – ClickZ.com

 

12 Search Terms Local Business Owners Should Know

During a recent visit to a local flower shop, I visited with the owner about online marketing strategies, objectives, and tactics. She actively participates in social media marketing but finds search marketing too intimidating due to so much industry jargon.

This article covers some of the basic search and website terms that can help local business owners communicate with marketing staff, consultants, and website designers more effectively. Written in a more casual manner than most online glossaries, it includes images, tools, and resources.

1. Alt Tags

Example of alt tag in Web Marketing Today's HTML code.

An example of alt tag in Web Marketing Today’s HTML code.

Alt tags are descriptive information placed in HTML code related to photos, videos, and graphics that describe their content.

Alt tags serve two purposes: They enable people who use screen readers to understand what the image is. Search engines also rely on them for the same purpose (search engines can’t understand images; they understand text). Guidelines for alt tags include writing a description of the image and using keywords that pertain to it.

2. Citations

“Citation” is another word for a listing that contains a company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP). It is of particular importance for both search visibility and customer experience that the information be consistent and accurate. Businesses can update the information themselves or use services that perform such tasks on their behalf.

3. Claiming a Business

Listing that needs to be claimed.

Listing that the business owner needs to claim.

Search engines and local business directories ask companies to “claim” their listing by verifying that they have ownership. Verification involves a code given via a phone call or mailed to a business’s physical address.

Business owners enter the code at a specified location on the search engine or local directory’s website. Sites that require “claiming” include Yelp, Google My Business, Bing Places For Business, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor.

Related article: Top 15 Local Directory Listing Services

4. Conversions

A conversion is an action that you want visitors to your site to take. It could be a purchase, phone call, download, donation, or filling out a contact form. A “call to action” is a button that leads people toward the conversion, such as “Learn More,” “Buy Now,” or “Download Here.”

5. Database Aggregators

Database aggregators are companies that collect data about businesses from public records. Businesses can also provide this information via a submission form.

Check your business’s name, address, and phone number on database aggregator sites, to see if the information is correct, missing, or needs updating.

6. Domain Registrar

Businesses reserve their desired website address (i.e., URL or domain name) from a company that acts as a domain registrar. The company can also be a web host, but these are two separate functions.

As a business owner, list your name as the registrant. The administrator can be someone else within the company. If one of these people leaves your company, update the information. Also, be sure to pay your renewal bill on time or you may lose your website address.

The WhoIs Database, found on most registrar’s sites, contains every domain name registered. If the domain name you enter is not listed, then it is available. Confirm the name and contact information listed as a Registrant, Administrator, and Technical contact for the site.

The WhoIs Database lists registered domain names.

The WhoIs Database lists registered domain names.

WhoIs Results page – redacted.

WhoIs Database results page – redacted.

Resource: ICANN WHOIS

7. Meta Tags: Title and Description

Meta tags are pieces of code placed into a website’s source code that tells search engines and visitors about the page’s content. The three most common meta tags are the title tag, description tag, and keyword tag (which is not used much due to abuse.)

Meta tags are visible to the search engines but do not show up on the website. They do, however, appear in the browser window and the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Creating a good title tag is one of the most important tactics a business can use to ensure visibility in search engines. The description tag is particularly significant to potential website visitors because it tells them why they should visit you versus another.

The title tag and description appear in search results.

The title tag and description appear in search results.

The title tag used on the website appears at the top of many browser windows.

The title tag used on the website appears at the top of many browser windows.

Tool: Pixel Width Checker for Page Meta Tags. While many say that Title tags should be no more than 60 characters, pixel width factors into the equation. Use this tool to see if your title tags could get truncated.

Pixel width checker for web page meta titles.

Pixel width checker for web page meta titles.

8. Optimized Images

Images used on websites or in social media need to be sized correctly both in dimension and file size. If they are too large, the images may not appear correctly or may load slowly.

Resource: 2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

9. Organic and Paid Search

People can find businesses in the search engine result pages (SERPs) by organic or paid search.

Search engine results page with organic and paid listings.

Search engine results page with organic and paid listings.

Organic search (or natural search) are the results found in the central column of the search results page. These listings can include your website, social media profiles, news, images, videos, and local search websites such as Yelp, YellowPages.com, or HotFrog. Niche sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, or Vitals are also included in these results.

Search engine algorithms that include site optimization, content quality, and the value of the site to the customer determine rankings.

Paid Search is when you purchase ads, such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads. These usually appear at the very top of the search results or on the right-hand side. Once you stop paying, your visibility in the search engines disappears.

10. Page Speed

Page speed is a calculation the search engines use to determine how fast a website will appear on a desktop or mobile device. Large, un-optimized images and unnecessary scripts can also affect page speed.

Tools:

  • Google’s Page Speed Insights measures the page speed performance of your website on desktop and mobile devices;Google PageSpeed Insights.

    Google PageSpeed Insights.

  • GTmetrix is a tool that provides an analysis of your website’s page speed using guidelines from Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow.GTmetrix: Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow page speed analysis.

    GTmetrix: Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow page speed analysis.

11. Responsive Website

Responsive Design: same site viewable on desktop, tablet, and phone.

Responsive Design: same site viewable on desktop, tablet, and phone. (Image source:Pixabay)

A responsive website is one that resizes automatically so that it appears viewable on all devices — desktop, tablet, and phone. Advantages of a responsive website include ease of updating and mobile-friendliness.

12. Web Host

A web host is a company that stores the various files that make up your website, including HTML, database, CSS, and image files, enabling them to be accessible via the Internet.

A variety of hosting options are available, including shared hosting, virtual private servers, and dedicated Hosting. Your technical needs and budget will determine which hosting plan will work best. Discuss the options with your web designer or IT professional.

Additional Resources 

Glossary of Local Search Terms and DefinitionsThis glossary, which is part of the Moz Local Learning Center, focuses on local search and the most commonly associated search terms.

Social Media Definitions: The Ultimate Glossary of Terms You Should KnowIn August 2015, HubSpot published a glossary of 117 terms used in social media marketing. Novice and experienced marketers alike will find this resource useful.

WordPress Glossary for Beginners — Terms and Definitions for WordPressWP Engine created this glossary of approximately 70 terms to help novice and experienced WordPress users understand the terminology associated with WordPress sites.

Source – Webmarketingtoday.com

Blogs: Starting Point for Effective Communication

Recently, I wrote about four content ideas to help improve your local SEO, one of which dealt with adding a blog to your website. After the article had published, a question came from a reader about whether or not Facebook counts as a blog.

In my response, which you can read here, I advised that it would still be a good idea to set up a blog on his website, and then distribute the posts to Facebook and other social media. Let’s address that issue here as well, in greater detail.

Blogging Basics

Generally speaking, adding a blog involves incorporating a section into your website where you can regularly publish relevant posts about your business. Most content management systems contain a blog component, so “adding” may equate to little more than clicking a button to turn it on.

A post could consist of a how-to tip, a feature about a customer’s experience with your services or products, or a news item related to your business. You could also highlight a particular service, function, or department from time to time.

When I think of the blog post itself, what comes to mind is an article with a snappy headline, written on a topic of interest to readers, accompanied by a few photos or images, to illustrate the central point.

Don’t Fret Over Technical Issues

At this stage, don’t worry too much about the technical issues involved in adding a blog to your site. Doing so raises all sorts of questions, such as:

  • How will I add the blog to my website?
  • Do I need to hire a developer to set it up?
  • Will people even bother to read the articles?
  • What will I post?
  • Do I need to hire a professional writer?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How to I find the time?
  • What’s the ROI?
  • Can I just copy and paste articles from other sites?
  • Is there a way to “auto-post” so I don’t even have to write them?

These questions may constitute the very reasons why you haven’t already added a blog to your site. But even if you have thought about them — and they are all valid questions that will need to be answered — in focusing on the technical aspects, you’re missing the real point.

It’s not just about adding a blog in the technical sense that’s most important but finding an effective way to communicate with customers and prospects…

It’s not just about adding a blog in the technical sense that’s most important but finding an effective way to communicate with customers and prospects so that when you have something to say, you have a means by which to say it — and a blog can be a very useful vehicle for communication.

Example: Mother’s Day Promotion

For the sake of illustration, let’s say you own a restaurant and Mother’s Day is approaching. You need to get the word out that your restaurant is hosting a special promotion: Bring mom to eat with you on Mother’s Day and she eats free.

How can you use a blog as a starting point for communicating the promotion with customers and prospects? Consider these ideas:

  • Write about it in a blog post. In the post, explain the details and say something about its popularity in the past, perhaps including photos of last year’s event. When published, a unique URL (called a permalink) will be created;
  • Share the URL on social media. Share the link on your social profiles, along with a description of the promotion. Consider sponsoring the post on Facebook as an ad that targets users located in your city. Also, create an image-based ad for use on Instagram and Twitter, and include targeting there as well (create a hashtag associated with the event, too);
  • Send an email announcing the promotion to your subscribers that includes the link and post summary;
  • Set up a Google AdWords campaign specifically targeting keywords related to the holiday, restricting it to users within your geographic location.

The concept here is that you use the blog post as a starting point for marketing the promotion. Not only will search engines crawl and index the post, but it provides content to share on social media, send to newsletter subscribers, and advertise on search engines and social networks.

You don’t need to wait for a holiday or special event to benefit from a blog; you can begin anytime. If an effective way to communicate with customers and prospects is what you’re looking for, start with a blog.

Source – Webmarketingtoday.com

10 Ways to Learn About Your Target Audience

10 Ways to Learn About Your Target Audience

It astonishes me how many businesses don’t have a clue who their target market is. Sure, if you ask the head of sales who the target audience is, he or she may have an answer, but does this sales exec know why this is the target market? What problems this market faces? What this market trusts and distrusts? What its members love and loathe, fear or anticipate?

Related: Who Is the Target Audience for Your Business Plan? Hint: More People Than You Think.

Unless you’re intimately familiar with the psychology of your target market, any demographics you claim are mere semantics. If you want your messaging to be effective and your brand to be enticing, you need to go a step further and get to know your customers better. How do you do that? Here are 10 ways to know your target audience:

1. Challenge your assumptions.

The first step is the most important, since it may even help you redefine your target audience. Don’t assume anything. Let’s say you’ve decided your target market is middle-aged women. Why? You may have gone even further, assuming certain styles or directions of messaging appeal to them.

But don’t take any of this for granted. Unless you have more than anecdotal evidence backing up your claim, ditch it.

2. Learn from what others have found.

This is entry-level market research at its finest. Read up on some case studies, examples and psychological analyses by marketers who have come before you. Sources include industry reporters, general market researchers and, in some cases, sociologists. Filter your data to ensure the research is as relevant and as recent as possible.

3. Create a customer persona.

Once you’ve collected enough objective data to start forming solid conclusions, you can start crafting a customer persona. This persona is basically a fictional character who exhibits all the traits an “average” member of your target audience is expected to have.

Include hard factors like age, sex, education level and income, as well as disposition factors like temperament, sensitivity or curiosity.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

4. Conduct large-scale quantitative surveys.

Now it’s time to back up your assumptions and conduct some primary research (rather than the secondary research described above). Start with large-scale quantitative surveys, covering the widest cross-section of your audience possible. Your questions should be multiple-choice, giving you hard statistics that can teach you about your audience’s habits.

Ask questions relevant to your brand and product, such as, “How important is X to you?” or “What is your biggest consideration for purchasing a X?”

5. Conduct small-scale qualitative surveys.

Complement your quantitative research with qualitative research — the data won’t be as objective, but you’ll learn more detailed insights on your audience’s psychological makeup. Target a small sample of audience members, and use open-ended questions to get long responses you can interpret.

Again, ask questions relevant to your brand and product like, “What does the following phrase mean to you?” or “What do you feel when you see this image?”

6. Look to your competitors.

Your competitors may have already done such market research and put it into action. If they target the same audience you do, observe and learn from the way they write and advertise to their potential customers.

If they don’t, look for ways that you can distinguish yourself.

7. Look to other popular products and services.

Look for products and services that your target audience is already using — unrelated to your industry. How do these brands position themselves? What kinds of messaging do they use?

8. Listen to social conversations.

Use social listening software in combination with targeted social lists to zero in on what your customers are saying online. What trending topics are they following most closely? Whom do they usually interact with, and why?

Again, you can look for other brands that may emerge as successful messengers.

9. Examine interactions with your brand.

You can use social listening software again, and tap into Google Analytics to examine user behavior on your site. Evaluate how your target demographics are interacting with your brand: Do you get lots of blog comments and social shares? Use this data to fine-tune your approach.

10. Allow some room to grow.

You’ll never have a perfect understanding of your target audience. Even if at some point you did, your audience members would evolve and change as soon as you figured them out. Allow some breathing room in your strategy, and always strive to understand your audience a little bit better.

None of these methods can, by themselves, give you a perfect portrait of the “average” customer in your target demographics; populations are too diverse and too unpredictable for any one set of assumptions to hold true.

Instead, you need to collect your findings from multiple sources and merge them into one comprehensive, multifaceted vision. From there, you’ll be able to better shape everything you create for your audience, from blogs to headlines to calls to action.

Source – Entrepreneur.com

8 Psychological Insights Into the Brain That Will Improve Your Marketing

8 Psychological Insights Into the Brain That Will Improve Your Marketing

The better you understand the human mind, the better you’ll be able to persuade customers to convert. And, if you think about it, marketing is really about applied psychology.

Related: The Incredible Way Your Brain ‘Sees’ a Logo (Infographic)

What this means is that buyers act in certain ways because they’rewired to do so. The mind’s cognitive biases, tendencies and proclivities all play a role in the marketing process. When it comes to the psychology of purchasing, here are eight actionable tips to improve your own company’s marketing ability.

1. The brain is wired to make sudden, impulsive decisions and purchases.

According to data from Chase, Gallup and Harris Interactive, most people make impulse purchases. Regardless of the demographic, every type of person at some point will make a sudden and unplanned purchase.

As the entrepreneur offering the products or services under consideration, you can capitalize on the “impulse buy” phenomenon by asking customers to:

  • buy now
  • try it now
  • shop now
  • get it now
  • subscribe now

According to psychological research, “the reptilian” brain (the neocortex) expresses itself in: people’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies, the flight-or-fight response and the actions people take in response to urgencies. These are precisely the factors that inspire impulse purchases.

Now is the powerful word here that can trigger an impulse buy.

2. The brain processes images faster than text.

It’s widely accepted that the brain processes visual content faster than text. And, here, images are one of your greatest marketing assets. Do whatever is possible to amplify your visual content, create powerful product images and front-load images within your website.

Sites with a powerful visual impact have greater marketing success. And improving product images can improve sales.

As an example, the Best Made Company, a New York-based retailer selling axes, knives and camping clothes, uses large, detailed, and multi-angled images to feature its products.

Image Credit: Best Made Company

Related: This Simple Technique Trains Your Brain to Conjure Your Best-Ever Ideas

3. The mind associates the color blue with trust.

If you’re still deliberating over your color scheme, you can’t go wrong with blue. A lot of sites opt for this color. Facebook is one of them:

Facebook - Log In or Sign Up 2015-07-30 10-07-04.png

PayPal, meanwhile, uses a blue color scheme:

Send Money, Pay Online or Set Up a Merchant Account - PayPal 2015-07-30 10-07-39.png

Even Microsoft injects its color scheme with a lot of blue.

Microsoft - Official Home Page 2015-07-30 10-07-19.png

There’s a reason why some of the world’s leading brands and websites use blue. Sure, it’s a nice color. But it also stimulates a sense of trust in people.

There’s a whole branch of psychology associated with color. Just be careful with it. Color does not affect all minds universally. The impact and association of color depends largely on experience, culture, and context.

4. The brain is more likely to trust when it associates the product or website with appropriate words.

Some marketers and conversion optimizers point to the impact of trustin marketing. Jeremy Smith, a conversion optimization expert, calls trust the “functional center for all of conversion optimization.”

The most powerful way to create trust is through words. Although images are powerful, as explained above, words play a significant role in deepening a customer’s trust.

Which words? Here are the five that work well consistently:

  • Authentic – Authenticity has a ring of truth and power.
  • Certified – Something that is “certified” has some level of endorsement, presumably by a neutral third-party.
  • Guaranteed According to Kissmetrics, “60 percent of consumers feel at ease and are more likely to buy a product that has the word ‘guaranteed’ associated with it.”
  • Loyal – Loyalty is seen as a virtue, and therefore something to be desired in a product or service.
  • Official – The word “official” conjures up images of process-oriented offices and dependable people. If it’s official, it’s more likely to be trusted.

5. When the mind says yes once, it is more likely to do so again.

One yes leads to another yes. If you can get a customer to say “yes” to a small request like an email sign up, then you can probably get him or her to say yes again — perhaps to a subscription, purchase or trial. This is called the foot-in-the-door technique, or FITD. Salespeople have been using it for generations.

So, start by asking for something small, and follow it up with a larger request.

6. The first number seen will affect the customer’s evaluation of the price.

According to the “anchoring” effect,” people rely on the first piece of information that they see when faced with a decision.

If a female customer walks into a store and sees “Jackets — $549,” her mind has associated the price of $549 with jackets. The situation isframed. Then, later, when browsing for a jacket, she may see that the actual price of a jacket is only $349! She feels like she’s getting a good deal on the $349 jacket. Again, it’s the framing effect in action.

According to famed psychologist Daniel Kahneman. “If you can walk into a negotiation and be the first one to say a number or offer a price, you’ve gained an advantage. Likewise, if you can help the customer on your website to anchor [his or her] expectations on a certain price, you gain a powerful advantage.”

7. Every decision is an emotional decision.

Some decision-makers like to think of themselves as rational and unswayed by emotion. In reality, as neuroscience has shown, every decision depends on the role of emotions. If emotions weren’t involved, it would be difficult to make any decision at all.

Everyone makes decisions based on the input of various cognitive functions. Emotions play a hugely significant role.

Don’t hesitate to play to your user’s emotions. Those who make decisions with the aid of their emotions are likely to make a better decision.

8. If you label people in a certain way, they are likely to act according to that label.

In one study, a group of participants were told “that they were much more likely to vote since they had been deemed by the researchers to be more politically active.” The control group participants, by contrast, were not informed why they were chosen.

When the two groups were compared after the voting date, the “politically active” label group had a 15 percent higher turnout rate.

Why? It’s about the label, and the way that the mind responds to it. The mind is constantly seeking cognitive equilibrium. If someone is identified as politically active, he or she will subconsciously seek to act according to that label or expectation.

The message here is that it’s okay to tell your customers who they are, what they believe and how they will act. Your labelling will impact their decision to buy or not buy your product or service.

Conclusion

The more you know about the mind, the better you’ll be able to sell.

But it’s not psychology alone that can improve your marketing, it’s the specific psychology of your target audience. Every niche is different. Something that works for one group may backfire on another group.

The best psychological insights that you can gather are those that come from your target audience. So, research, learn, test and take action on what you know.

What psychological insights have you discovered that have improved your marketing?

Source – Entrepreneur.com

Is Your Paid Search Account Leaking Money? The Importance Of Query Mapping

It’s time to dig below the surface of your PPC account to see if relevant search terms are wasting money. Columnist Amy Bishop shows what to look for and how to use the data to your benefit!

money-dollars-spending-cash-ss-1920

There’s never a bad time to look for efficiencies within your account. Of course, there are the obvious things to look for: keyword bids, dayparting, geography and device performance and so on, but sometimes inefficiencies stem from issues below the surface.

One of the ways I like to dig into an account’s structural and economic health is by taking a look at query mapping.

By that I mean filtering through the search queries to see which ad groups and keywords queries are being paired with and subsequently adding negatives to ensure that queries are matched most appropriately. (I’ve heard query mapping called by other names such as negative keyword sculpting, negative keyword funneling and keyword mapping. I use these terms interchangeably.)

Query mapping isn’t really a new concept, but a lot of advertisers aren’t familiar with it and/or don’t see the value in what might seem like tedious work.  The most common anti-query-mapping arguments that I hear are:

  1. It’s time consuming.
  2. The engines do a good job of matching keywords.

I don’t entirely disagree with either of the arguments above. I don’t find query mapping to be particularly time-intensive, but it does require some time — as does any other optimization. The engines do a generally decent job of matching queries to terms, but they aren’t perfect, as you’ll quickly see if you review your query mapping.

But the bottom line is this: If you don’t partake in query mapping, your account could be wasting money.

Performance Gaps

The art of keyword mapping is great for taking terms that are already performing and pushing them to perform a little bit better.

Take a look at the chart below. This chart includes actual numbers, although the search queries, ad group names and campaign names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

query-sculpting-issue

The search term “pink puppy collar” is matching to keywords in two ad groups: Puppy Collars General and Puppy Collars – Pink. Why does this matter? It matters because if you look at the conversion rate and the CPA, you’ll notice that they vary pretty widely.

Unsurprisingly, the keyword performs much better within the Puppy Collars – Pink ad group. The ad copy in that ad group is very specific to the query, and it delivers users to a highly relevant landing page — whereas the other ad group is more generic, with generic ad copy and landing pages. The generic ad group is meant to grab less-specific queries.

Without any changes in the account, the ad group Puppy Collars General would likely continue to grab the lion’s share of the traffic for the search term “pink puppy collar.”

However, since it performs better in the Pink ad group, I added it as a negative in the General ad group so that it would push the traffic to the Pink ad group. In this case, the keyword “pink puppy collar” already existed in the Puppy Collars – Pink ad group — but if it hadn’t, I would add it.

The Keyword Is Paused, But The Query Remains

Part of growing an account means testing and adding new keywords, but those keywords don’t always work out. The problem is that sometimes when you pause that keyword, the corresponding query will just begin to match to a different keyword instead, which means that you’re still getting that poor traffic — even though you didn’t intend to.

(As noted in the previous example, the data below is real but the ad group name, campaign name, and search terms have been changed for the sake of anonymity.)

query-mapping-problem

In this situation, the term “purple puppy sweater” was coming through the Puppy Sweaters ad group and mapping to the best appropriate keyword; however, it wasn’t performing very well. The keyword had been paused, but the term continued to come through a different keyword. It hadn’t spent much before it was caught and added as an exact match negative, but without having reviewed the search term report, it could’ve continued to spend money at an exorbitant CPA.

Isolating Keyword Performance

Ensuring that poor search queries aren’t continuing to seep into the account is a pretty big benefit in itself, but there are additional benefits to negative keyword mapping.

A major benefit is that you can see a truer snapshot of keyword performance. In the first example that I used above, you might not have expected the keyword “pink puppy collar” to be a very valuable keyword. After all, it had only driven about six conversions. After looking at the search term report, though, you could easily see that keyword has a lot of potential.

The query “pink puppy collar” may also have been dragging down the performance of the modified broad keyword in the general ad group that it was mapping to, even though it was driving conversions; the CPA isn’t necessarily favorable.

To truly isolate keyword performance, it’s important to review query-to-keyword mapping, as opposed to query-to-ad group mapping.

Other Use Cases For Negative Keyword Sculpting

Query mapping is important for all of the reasons above, if not just for the pure and simple fact that it can help you to ensure that you’re putting your best (and most relevant) foot forward with ads and landing pages. But there are a few other situations where negative keyword sculpting is important.

If you build out campaigns or ad groups by match type, negatives should be added to make sure that the appropriate query maps to the best possible keyword. Otherwise, the value of your match type structure is essentially nullified.

Also, if you have dynamic search campaigns, you’d likely want to do some keyword sculpting to ensure that you aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul. DSAs are great for picking up queries that might be missing in your account, but they’ll also compete with your regular search campaigns if you don’t add negatives to ensure that they don’t.

Last but not least, query mapping can be incredibly valuable within shopping campaigns, but that’s a whole post in itself. Luckily for you, Kirk Williams has already written said post and you can (should)check it out here.

Final Thoughts

It’s usually a good idea to start by reviewing which queries are mapping to multiple ad groups and resolve those issues first. Then you can go through and begin to get more granular by looking at which queries are mapping to which keywords. This is extra valuable if you have different destination URLs for different keywords, but even if not, it’s still valuable to isolate keyword performance.

If you haven’t reviewed your query mapping before, you might be a little surprised to see how many queries you have that are mapping to multiple ad groups, and it may even lead to some small structural changes, such as ad group buildouts. You’ll tend to find that the more frequently you review, the less time-intensive the task will become over time.

Plus, as this becomes top-of-mind, there are a lot of great opportunities to do so at the outset. If you have a generic ad group, it’s good to add the descriptors that make up your more specific ad groups as negative terms to help funnel terms to the most appropriate ad group. Still, as your account grows, you’ll likely continue to find some to be added ad hoc as you review the reports.

As with any other account changes, I always suggest monitoring performance after making optimizations. In situations like the first example above, we’re inclined to believe that the keyword will perform better if forced to map to the most relevant ad group (and with good reason), but we can never be completely sure until we see how it performs after the negative is added.

Keyword mapping can take a bit of time, but the return on time invested can be more than a little valuable.

Source – SearchEngineLand.com

10 Skills Online Marketing Teams Must Have to Succeed

10 Skills Online Marketing Teams Must Have to Succeed

Whether the goal is leads, sales or brand awareness, the task of every online marketing team is to significantly scale up results. Over the past couple of years, I have worked with over 6000 businesses and some of the best online marketing teams in the world. There is a pattern of how those teams are put together and one of the most important aspects is the variety of skill sets.

Online marketing teams need a number of different skills to be able to grow campaigns effectively and this article lists ten of the most important skills every online marketing team should have.

1. Web designing.

The designer of online marketing campaigns has to create visuals that sell and represent the brand at the same time. Web design is frequently outsourced but even then, the person who manages the outsourced design tasks has to judge the quality of the design and have a general overview of what to look for.

2. Managing social media.

Integrating the organic presence of the brand with paid campaigns is essential. Potential customers frequently visit Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and other social media pages before making a purchasing decision.

Related: 5 Ways to Optimize Local Search Results and Compete With the Big Guys

3. Knowing Google AdWords and Bing.

Paid search is still top priority for businesses that serve an existing demand. People actively searching for a product or service are much more likely to purchase than people who are passively exposed to an ad.

Serving existing demand in real-time is the very basis of digital marketing and a must know for online marketers.

4. Effectively analyzing data.

Tracking what websites people visited before coming to their website and how they behave once there allows marketers to know customers and scale up campaigns quickly. Whether it is knowing advanced Google Analytics or data retrieval from other third party tools, data analysis is always needed to measure performance and optimize campaigns.

5. Being familiar with SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is widely believed to support paid search, in particular when it comes to Google AdWords. One part of SEO is to strategically insert relevant keywords on website pages. The price of Google AdWords is influenced by something called the “quality score,” so the higher the score, the cheaper the ad. How relevant the ad is for the search query people type in and the page of the website people land on is influenced by keywords. Well done SEO will result in cheaper ads.

6. Competent project management.

I have found that the size of online marketing teams has significantly increased since 2011. I now often see teams of 125 people per account, working on campaigns for just one platform. This is good for the marketing industry. Marketers who have gathered experience in campaign creation have one more way to take their career to the next step by keeping large specialized teams on track.

Related: 4 Project Management Tips to Keep Your Virtual Team on Track

7. Know the many facets of content marketing.

We have all heard the phrase “content is king.” In the past, content marketers were frequently confused with professional copy writers. Content marketing nowadays involves much more than writing. It includes infographics, infomercials, videos, and podcasts.

Additionally, content marketers are expected to be familiar with best practices to distribute the content. That touches upon the field of online PR.

8. Programming.

A minimum of basic programming skills is essential, especially for companies with multiple physical locations and ecommerce businesses. One examples of a situation where programmers are needed is to automatically insert the name of the closest city on the landing page based on the IP address of the website visitor.

Additionally, making landing pages load faster typically increases conversion rates. While some ads are more likely to lead to conversions than others, the landing page is what converts in the end. There are very few exceptions to this such as Facebook lead ads where the ad converts but even then web developers come in handy to customize fields.

9. Seeing the vision.

Whether I work with small businesses or the largest advertising platforms in the world such as Bing Ads, everything we do has to fit into the bigger picture of the company.

Seeing beyond short term goals and understanding the long term repercussions of marketing activities and decisions is an important aspect of scaling a business.

10. Being proactive.

Proactive online marketers experiment with ad strategies, jump on trends, develop fresh ideas and explore new sales funnels. Many online advertising platforms boost traffic during private beta phases and shortly after the launch of new tools. By staying on top of updates, businesses can beat competitors by getting the first mover advantage as soon as tools become available.

Source – Entrepreneur.com

Facebook in India: Can’t give it away

“WHO could possibly be against this?”, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, asked in an editorial in the Times of India on December 28th. The “this” in question is “Free Basics”, a programme that gives its users free access to Facebook and a handful of other online services on their smartphones in 36 poor countries. According to Mr Zuckerberg, Free Basics acts as a gateway drug to the internet: half of those who first experience going online through the service start paying for full internet access within a month. Though the programme is promoted by Facebook, its costs are borne by the mobile-telecoms operators it works with—in the case of India, Reliance Communications, the country’s fourth-largest.

As it turns out, plenty of people are against Free Basics. They include everyone from India’s internet-and-mobile-industry body (of which Facebook is itself a member) to a ragtag group of volunteer activists who mustered almost 400,000 people to write to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as part of a public consultation on whether mobile operators should be allowed to charge different amounts for different forms of data. At stake is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing internet markets outside China, which bars foreign digital services such as Facebook from entering. Around a quarter of the Indian population—or 300m people—were online at the end of 2014, and the number is expected to double by 2020.

Critics of the programme say that Facebook’s generosity is cover for a landgrab. They argue that Free Basics is a walled garden of Facebook-approved content, that it breaches consumer privacy by sucking up all the data generated by users of the service, and that it is anticompetitive to boot. Moreover, critics fear that if new internet users are merely Facebook users, other online businesses will have no choice but to operate within Facebook’s world. Nandan Nilekani, an Indian tech luminary opposed to Free Basics, suggests that, instead, the government subsidise a monthly allowance of free mobile data for each user.

Facebook counters that the programme is open to all-comers that meet certain technical requirements, that user data are stored for only 90 days, and that there is no profit motive: the service does not include advertising. As for suppressing local competition, Facebook argues, “there is no greater threat to local innovation than leaving people offline.” If, as Mr Zuckerberg says, Free Basics users quickly graduate to paying for full internet service, India’s ferociously competitive mobile operators should provide it cheaply. And if Free Basics proved popular there would be little to stop India’s big media and e-commerce groups from creating rival services to attract new surfers to their web offerings.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has run an extensive campaign with full-page ads in Indian newspapers touting Free Basics. Newspapers, blogs and television channels have presented arguments and counterarguments every day. Even All India Bakchod, a popular comedy collective, got into the act. The group’s video arguing against Free Basics has been watched 800,000 times on YouTube—and another 350,000 on Facebook itself.

Activists in India won early victories in 2015, leading Facebook to change the name of its service from internet.org, which they said was misleading, and forcing the company to accept more services than those it handpicks. In December the TRAI suspended Free Basics in India pending the results of its consultation. The TRAI has received 1.4m notes of support for Free Basics as part of this process, driven largely by an automated response tool Facebook used to gather support from its Indian users. But the regulator says it may have to disregard them, since they do not answer the question it is asking. The TRAI itself will deliver its verdict at the end of this month.

Source – Economist.com

The Online Marketing Myth That Hooks Every New Entrepreneur

The Online Marketing Myth That Hooks Every New Entrepreneur

Marketing is a practical necessity for all businesses — big, small, new or old. But, unlike other business needs that are fairly cut-and-dried (think accounting), marketing is a bit more qualitative in its approach.

In fact, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different strategies to choose from, and conflicting information can sometimes be an issue in trying to make sense of them.

As a result of this somewhat imprecise and less-than-predictable nature of marketing, there are several myths about it that persist in the entrepreneurial community. There are big myths — like the idea that marketing is only a tool to increase sales — and small myths, like the one that says paid advertising is the only way to get seen on social media.

But there’s one myth that stands out among the others, because almost every new entrepreneur falls for it: the myth that somewhere out there, there’s a guaranteed formula for success.

Why the myth hooks so many entrepreneurs

It should be fairly obvious why the myth is appealing. If there’s a guaranteed strategy out there to earn you more visibility and sales, it gives credence to your marketing efforts and reduces any perceived risk of investing in it.

If, sooner or later, you stumble on the “right” marketing strategy, you’ll make money no matter what. The reality, that marketing is often unpredictable and rarely works the same for any two different businesses, is scary and intimidating.

Sources of the myth

There are a few reasons the myth persists today. Part of it is its raw appeal, assuming it were true. If there isn’t a guaranteed method for success, that makes marketing scary and unpredictable, so some entrepreneurs hold on to this myth out of necessity. The myth also persists due to the sheer number of marketing agencies that have peddled their services under the false pretense that they have the “magic formula” for results.

Some agencies guarantee their results; and although this isn’t inherently bad or deceptive, it can be misleading to a new entrepreneur. For example, an agency might use different strategies, adjusted carefully and frequently along the way, to get those promised results for every client.

Related: The 10 Traits of Successful Online Marketers

This is also a dangerous myth to spread by word of mouth. When a new entrepreneur hears from a more experienced entrepreneur about a successful marketing strategy, he or she may assume the strategy works for everyone. Similarly, if a new entrepreneur finds a specific strategy to be successful, he or she may genuinely believe it will be successful for everyone.

Why the ‘myth’ is a myth

So, having established that there is no guaranteed formula for marketing, let’s tap into the reasons why this belief is a myth:

  • Different companies have different needs. You know, for example, that the sales cycles for B2B and B2C businesses are extremely different. Brands, industries, structures, demographics, competitive environments, technologies and geographic locations are just a handful of the factors that can influence which marketing strategies “work” — and those are different for every business.
  • Consumer behavior is unpredictable. First, let me clarify that market research is valuable (and, I would argue, necessary). The more you know about your customers’ demographics, the better you’ll be able to communicate with them. That being said, nothing is set in stone, and consumer behaviors will often defy your expectations: Even a simple change of fonts or colors can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
  • Technology and trends change constantly. Had there been a single marketing strategy that could guarantee success in 2005, there’s no way it would still be relevant today. In the digital age, consumer trends and available technologies change so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up — and that means that the roster of effective marketing strategies is always evolving as well.
  • Experiments are what drive results. Ask any successful marketer how he or she achieved results, and you’ll hear back something about experimentation. All successful marketers are unsure of themselves at first, but they experiment, run tests and make adjustments until they see the results they want.
  • If there really were a magic formula, more people would be using it. It’s a simple statement, but an important one. If there really were a strategy that worked for everyone, the secret wouldn’t be kept for long, and every business in the world would soon be using it.

Key takeaways for new entrepreneurs

If you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship, your biggest takeaway should be obvious: Don’t fall for the myth that there’s a specific marketing strategy (or set of strategies) that works 100 percent correctly in 100 percent of situations. Every business, brand and entrepreneur has different needs. And even if they didn’t, consumer behaviors, trends and technologies would still be too difficult to concretely predict.

The only way to be successful in marketing is to learn from others, take your best shot, then experiment and tinker with your approach until you come up with something that works for you.

Don’t let any false promises of “guaranteed” or “magic” formulas get in the way of that process for you.

Source – Entrepreneur.com