But, We Wasted Our Money on AdWords

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I can’t believe that I am writing two blog posts in as many days. We tell our clients, “Don’t feel obligated to post every day or even every week – only when you have something that might interest your audience”.  Well, I think that this might be interesting, as long as you are not a Google Certified AdWords Professional…

The last four clients that have retained us were all using AdWords and felt that they were wasting their money – and they were: They were paying for Clicks and not Conversions/Acquisitions.

Google does a great job getting businesspeople to try their platform and they have a chance to be successful, if they get help.  Generally speaking, they only create Search Ads, use their home page as the ad’s Destination URL and Pay Per Click.  Not good.

What they should be doing is add something to their web site that acts as a Conversion/Acquisition.  Ecommerce sites are easy, track the “Thank You For Your Order page.  For a non-ecommerce site, they have to track the completion of a Contact Us form; a Schedule An Appointment form; Download A Whitepaper – you get the idea. One can also use Time On Site and other measures, too.

The AdWords Campaign then needs to be changed to a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) model, which is possible after 15 Acquisitions are accomplished.  Then, instead of bidding per click, you can bid by Acquisition, which is much more valuable.

But, how much more valuable? A good measure is determining the Life Time Value (LTV) of a Customer/Patient/Donor/Volunteer. It is not unusual to have clients who are willing to pay upwards of $30.00/acquisition – especially if the LTV is $10,000, as it is in Dentistry.

Once you understand Google’s mission (to create huge amounts of wealth by making the user’s experience highly relevant) you can see why their algorithms are designed the way they are. For example, when you change a Campaign to Cost Per Acquisition, Google figures out the “high converting” keywords from your mix and mostly serves your ads to the visitors using them. That way they accomplish two things: Better ROI for the Advertiser and more wealth for Google.

And that’s fine by me.

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Getting Google Display Ads to Follow Your Site’s Visitors

November 6, 2012 Leave a comment

We’ve recently been retained by two ecommerce clients to reduce their Cost Per Acquisition and increase their Conversion Rate.  They’ve had a pretty good start on their AdWords Campaigns and needed a bit of advanced help.  What I’ll discuss today is Remarketing.

Have you even wondered why you sometimes see the same ads for the same companies wherever you are on the web?  Might you want to use this technique in your business? Here’s what could be going on and a short primer of how to make it happen for your web site.  It’s good for AdWords practitioners to know this because it may appear that, if you have visited a competitor’s site, they are outbidding you because you see their Google adds all of the time.

When someone visits a site that contains a Google Remarketing Tag, a cookie is placed on their computer that identifies them as a site visitor (partly how Google determines who is New vs. Returning) and contains some information on where they have been on the site.  Google has recently upgraded their Tag Manager to make this process much easier, wherein, one tag can drive multiple Remarketing Campaigns.

Before we go farther you will want to read these two documents Google’s Internet-Based Advertising Policy and Restrictions for Sensitive Categories in Remarketing .  You will also need to consult this publication regarding Information to Include in the Privacy Policy on your web site.

Assuming that you are willing to comply with those documents, we’ll continue.

A common use by ecommerce site owners of Remarketing is to show Display Ads to:

Those who have visited the site and those who have visited the shopping cart and did not buy.  The first example uses a simple Remarketing List tracking all visitors, and the second, a list of those who have visited, let’s say, http://www.sitename.com/thankyouforbuying subtracted from those who visited www.sitename.com/shoppingcart.

Once the lists are set up in Google Analytics, it’s a simple matter to select a Display Network Campaign and connect it with the appropriate Remarketing list.

What’s particularly interesting about Remarketing Lists in Display Advertising Campaigns is that you can target your competitor’s sites (if they accept AdSense advertising) to display your ads to people who have visited your web site.  Since it is common for bloggers to accept advertising, it’s really handy to have your ads appear when your visitors are seeing related information from third-parties.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of these two new projects.

3D Printing: Déjà Vu All Over Again

October 3, 2012 Leave a comment

We were recently retained by a new client that sells desktop 3D printers.  Aside from becoming reacquainted with a totally cool technology, I’ve been able to immerse myself in the twittersphere in an attempt to comprehend what’s going on in this marketplace.

A couple of things popped into my head that I would like to share with you, all having to do with my past experience selling/marketing entry-level technologies.

In school, the only way that you could get computer time was when you plopped your deck of punch cards in a slot, and then a nameless/faceless operator would run your program and return the output on “green bar” paper.  In my case, the resulting document was mostly error messages, but I digress.  The lesson was that computing was expensive and not for the masses.  Many of us resented that, and in some cases, the people who controlled the access.

This resentment was manifested by “The Computer Guy” character popularized by Saturday Night Live, who was the guru or desktop computing.

Here’s my journey:

– My first job out of college was selling mini-computers for a long-since deceased manufacturer.  Back in the day, if you worked for the right company, you could literally walk in the door of any business an would likely be escorted to the owner’s office.  The computers were $70,000+ and were deemed to be “affordable” by many mid-sized businesses.  They were also a badge of success.  Heck, people would name the darn thing and invite me back each year for the computer’s birthday party!

– Next job was selling mini-computers ($20,000) to small-town accountants and their clients.  This was a game changer because many of accountants were hand-writing their client’s transactions on input forms and mailing them off to a service bureau, that would mail back the resulting financial statements.  The computing power was now in their offices and they could expand their practices with minimal variable cost.  Soon, they were able to buy PCs at their local electronics store.

– Later, since there was little margin selling computer hardware I got a job selling maintenance for large printers, which were the domain of the “hated” IS department.  Many of the end-users wished that they could have their own printers attached to their terminals so they could print what they wanted, when they wanted.  When desktop printers were available they literally flew off the shelves.

– I became interested in 3D printing about five years ago a friend of mine got a job with at large 3D printer manufacturer.  At the time, the equipment was $50,000+ and could only be afforded by large companies.

Now, we are seeing really good models with high resolution selling for $2,500 or less.  Some kits can be had for $500.00.  It looks like 3D printing is available to just about everyone.

I’ve read some articles about 3D printing being “overhyped”.  In my mind, overhyped is a phrase used by someone who has not yet seen the potential of a new idea.

So, will desktop 3D printing become as popular as 2D desktop printing?  I think so.  Tens of millions of us thought 2D printing was cool and didn’t have a problem spending a couple thousand dollars to get (Holy Cow!) a COLOR printer.  I think that 3D printing is WAY more interesting.

So, please excuse me while I print a replacement knob for my synthesizer…


How to Reduce Your Google AdWords Expense and Increase Conversions

April 4, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the great things about being a Google Certified AdWords Professional (aside from the nifty glass water bottle they sent me) is you really, really have to know your stuff.  I spent eight hours taking tests on a Sunday last October and qualified.  Then, when you are in the bowels of the AdWords Machine you find out how much more there is to know.

In my travels consulting with potential AdWords clients I’ve noticed a few common threads:

1) All of them are using Cost Per Click (CPC)

2) None are advertising on YouTube

3) None of them are managing their Display Network ads

I’ll take a few moments discussing what this means and why you should consider changing your account to take advantage of these AdWords features.

Cost Per Click advertising in the Search Network is where Google AdWords started.  You know, the text ads that appear at the top and right-hand side of the screen when you search a particular topic.  Advertisers’ ads are positioned via an algorithm that Google changes from time-to-time and pay a certain amount each time someone clicks on their ad.

Typically, advertisers control their ad position by bidding on each click and adjusting their daily budget.  There are a number of other factors, that I won’t go into in this post, that are also significant.  Cost Per Click advertising sends traffic to their site irrespective of what happens when they get there.

Without going into detail about Landing Page Optimization and related topics, suffice it to say that advertisers should consider using a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) strategy.

It’s pretty simple to set up on non-ecommerce sites, and is usually implemented by setting up a Goal (in Google Analytics) that is also called an Acquisition.  Counting when someone arrives at the “Thank You For Contacting Us” page which shows after a visitor submits a Contact Us form is one of the common ways to do this.

So, how does one get from CPC to CPA (usually a 12 – 15% savings)?  After the CPC program generates 15 Acquisitions you can use the Conversion Optimizer, which automatically changes the CPC bid to show your ads in situations where historical trends show you have a greater chance of an Acquisition.  You are really setting a maximum amount that you will pay for an acquisition, which is easier to calculate than what you should pay for a click.

For example, if 10% of the folks who send you a Contact Us form bring $100.00 in pre-tax profit an Acquisition is worth $10.00.  If your ad spend has to generate 300% ROI, then you would probably pay $3.00 for an Acquisition.


YouTube Advertising

In my opinion, YouTube advertising is one of the most underutilized online customer acquisition tools.  When people use YouTube to search for businesses they, I believe, are farther down the decision path than when they are using text-based search.  We’ve found that the conversion rate of people who potentially saw our client’s YouTube ad to those who have clicked-through runs 24%.  When you compare that to 1 – 2% on search ads, that’s pretty impressive.


Display Network Advertising

When people set up their text-based search advertising campaigns they usually leave the Display Network option checked.  Google decides which AdSense sites (those under contract with Google to accept their ads) most closely match the ads context with the context of the site.  Usually, the text ad designed for search advertising is shown on the Display Network, which is underutilizing the tool.

Google has a nifty Display Ad builder that allows you to add graphics, fonts and other more engaging content to the display ads.  When you see which Display Network sites perform the best, you can customize the display ads to match the color scheme of the site.

Should any of these topics be of interest to you, I’m easy to find!

Categories: Uncategorized

Git Yer SEO/SEM/PR/Analytics/Social Media for $995/mo!

February 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I met with a client yesterday who was contacted via email and phone by a company that offered a large number of germane services for a flat monthly fee.  Our client mentioned that he was having a hard time understanding exactly how the services were going to be delivered and was getting techno-speak instead of answers.

The other firm’s offer consisted of the following (this is quoted verbatim):

1) Set up and management of Google Places

2) Set up and management of Google AdWords

3) Set up and management of Google Analytics

4) Set up and management of Search Engine Optimization

It seemed to be a bona fide offer and they asked us to have a look and propose similar services.  Here’s what we found out by talking to the folks who made the offer, and our recommendations:

1) Google Places is something that most people set up once and rarely change.  You can certainly upload photo and video content.  Not a lot of management needed.

2) The company that proposed to set up and manage Google AdWords was not a Certified Google AdWords Partner and the person who would have done the work was not a Certified Google AdWords Professional.  They also did not know about all of the Google AdWords-related properties.  They were going to put the program on auto-pilot using rules, without having a human performing a regular review.

3) Google Analytics is something that, once set up correctly, is not usually changed.  The vendor was going to charge extra to have reports emailed.  This can be done automatically.

4) Search Engine Optimization can have a fair amount of initial setup and usually doesn’t require much on-going support unless that nature of the business changes.  Legitimate back-links are few and far between.

We put together a proposal that was a better value, one that provided regular, human review, and our client decided to have us do the work.

We spend a fair amount of time educating our clients on what the techno-speak means.  Sometimes they work with us, sometimes not.  A lesson learned is that if a service provider can’t explain what they will be doing with each platform in ten words or less, they either don’t understand the platform or they don’t know how to apply it in the Real World.

I’d like to think that our approach as a Marketing Firm that uses these platforms as one of many tools to accomplish business objectives is superior to a technically-oriented firm that doesn’t understand marketing.

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Long-Form TV Commercials are More Cost-Effective Than You Think

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment

We have a client for whom we have been running TV commercials on our local CBS affiliate and Univision. During a conversation with a salesperson we had a discussion about long-form commercials, or infomercials, as some of us call them.

Producing a 30-minute piece could turn into a major project unless you have plenty of germane content that can be knit together with custom footage. That’s the approach the we will take.

Our client also suggested a call-in format where he can answer questions. We’ll solicit questions ahead of time and pose them during the segment. We’ll also have phone, email and social media channels available should viewers have questions.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Collaborative Outsourcing

We recently were engaged by a client who wants us to expand their influence via B2B Social Media.  As part of the BEG process (Build, Engage, Grow) I spent a fair amount of time reading their White Papers and Case Studies to see how we could Engage potential clients with their content.

One of the pieces was on Collaborative Outsourcing, which I thought hit the nail on the head with regard to how service providers and service consumers should view a potential relationship.

The key point is that Collaborative Outsourcing is an additive, not subtractive process.  Usually, outsourcing is considered to be something that subtracts cost.  Someone outside the entity provides a service at a lower cost than it can be provided from the inside.  Collaborative Outsourcing has cost advantages.  It also adds value to internal functions due to the quality of outside individuals and their knowledge “rubbing off” on the entity’s employees.

We have several clients that initially considered hiring a high-level marketing professional.  After a number of detailed discussions they determined that it would make more sense to use Collaborative Outsourcing to create a functional marketing platform and then hire a less-senior individual to maintain and grow it.  The advantage is that a high-level marketing professional can get things started on an a la carte basis and then mentor and develop the new employee for a period of years.

We now have a term for what we do.

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