7 Ways to Stop Burning Your AdWords Budget

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/klLcs2smOQ4/stop-burning-your-adwords-budget

Every brand wants optimum visibility in the search results. Try though they might, most fail.

Because of the obvious value of appearing atop the first page of search results pages, the war to rank your homepage, landing pages and key pages of your website is furious.

burning money in adwords

The competition expands relentlessly while more often than not, the onscreen real estate you covet has shrunk to a piece of glass with dimensions roughly the size of a half slice of bread.

More bad news: achieving top spots on organic search generally requires owning one of the most authoritative website in your industry. Achieving as much now takes years of commitment to creating remarkable content and optimizing it better than the rest of the pack.

I’ll segue to paid search now, and ask you to realize one last hurdle: atop most Google search engine results pages (SERPs) users discover ads.

For searches such as these, the greatest blog post, ebook, study, video, infographic, or product page in the world does not outrank the AdWords listings.

Pay-per-click ads usually rule the top of search results.

Now for the good news…

You can pay for the privilege to get a link to your page to appear there. But don’t let the casual pay-per-click (PPC) proponent fool you. It’s not easy to justify continuously investing marketing dollars in the program.

You have to get good at it. You have to make more than you spend.

Let’s look at seven ways to avoid burning money on AdWords, so you can prosper from the world’s most used ad network.

1. Squash click fraud

If not contained, click fraud can murder your PPC budget. Last year, CNBC reported alarming stats on the matter:

Nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted due to click fraud in 2016. Click fraud will cost brands $16.4 billion globally in 2017.

Whoa.

Search engines tell you they do everything in their power to combat click fraud and invalid traffic, but you’d be foolish to rely on their measures only.

The way to protect your budget is to respond proactively with a tool such as ClickCease expressly designed to enable you to combat click fraud.

Fueled by insights from activity logs, AdWords buyers can identify IP addresses, referring websites and geographic territories where fraudulent activity comes from and adjust accordingly.

stop click fraud

You can also drastically reduce click fraud on the Display Network by using exclusions and managed placements.

2. Focus on buyer intent

All searches are not created equal. With CPCs rising every year, search marketers can no longer afford to think of all searches for specific keywords as quality buyer intent signals.

saving money in adwords

Ignoring signals can severely diminish performance. Understand the ways prospects engage with your brand at different stages of the sales funnel to align your campaign accordingly and make the most relevant offer at each level of search intent.

3. Bid on branded keywords

Is it wise to trim your budget by not bidding on searches for your brand or products? Many would say, “Yes, we’ll rank for those phrases anyway.”

But realize this: if you don’t control the ads that appear when your brand name is searched, one or more of your competitors will. That’s dangerous.

branded searches in adwords

“The number one reason to bid on your own brand name is to make sure your competitors don’t have an ad that ranks higher than your organic result and steal valuable clicks in the process,” writes Joe Putname of iSpionage. (Note: their service notifies you when competitors bid on your brand terms.)

Another thing to understand is branded clicks tend to be inexpensive. You can expect super high Quality Scores for branded terms, which keeps your click costs very low.

Your average CPC is likely to be just a fraction of the price you pay for other keywords. And they convert well too.

4. Beware of broad match

Understand the difference between broad match and exact match.

With broad match—the default setting for AdWords buys—your ads will be shown for searches that are related to your keywords, not specifically the precise keywords.

Broad match is the way to go when you want to reach the widest audience possible. However, “banking” on broad match hits your bank account harder.

save money with more refined adwords match types

You get more impressions that are less targeted. Inevitably, you wind up paying for clicks from people who don’t align well with your offer.

For example, you may be tempted to use a keyword like “guitar,” but because it’s so broad, you may generate clicks (and charges for those clicks) far from searches you covet, such as “learn how to play finger style guitar.” That’s not likely to result in a sale.

It should be easy to see how buyer intent enters into the formula and how the match type you select can affect your spend.

5. Use negative keywords

Choosing what not to target is another key to curbing costs and realizing superior ROI in AdWords.

Use negative keywords for your AdWords buys to eliminate unwanted traffic and the costs it incurs. With negative keywords, you dictate to Google specific words that appear in user searches for which you do not want to serve your ad.

adwords negative keywords

Negative keywords are one of the most commonly neglected areas in paid search

Look for search terms similar to your keywords, but likely to cater to customers searching for a different product, service, or content.

For example, if you sell birthday cakes, you might consider using negative keywords such as “birthday cake ideas” or “birthday cake recipes,” keywords that suggest searchers are looking to learn or DIY instead of purchase.

According to ClickCease, “free”, “cheap”, and “wholesale” are prime contenders for your negative keywords lists (unless your products are one of those things).

6. Aim lower

What I’m talking about here sounds odd, doesn’t it? Aim lower? Whether you’re learning paid or organic search, you’ve grown accustomed to gathering advice about ranking in the highest possible position.

With AdWords, you pay more to be number one. Consider NOT being number one.

This tip comes from Oribi, where blogger Asi Dayan writes, “Being in the first position usually requires a much higher bid compared to what it takes to be second or third, even if you have a high Quality Score, and in most cases will dramatically increase your CPA, up to the point that it is not cost-effective.”

Dayan goes on to explain by focusing on average positions lower than number one, your ads will still be seen and clicked on in high volumes, but your spending will be reduced.

7. Measure your results

A cardinal sin in the PPC arena—and a sure way to burn through ad dollars—is failing to closely monitor results. And please note, clicks do not equate to results; conversions do.

There are a number of nuances to conversion tracking over which you have extensive control. If the process sounds daunting you, check out this informative four-minute tutorial video from Google to understand the basics for getting started.

The video also explains how to use your conversion data to improve your cost-per-click (CPC) and overall results by raising your bids on keywords and ads that are more likely to convert.

Make AdWords pay

Clearly, buying into the Google AdWords program is a shortcut to appearing atop the search engine results pages that can contribute to the growth of your brand.

However, your pursuits in PPC won’t last long if your investments are not paying you back. You may have the luxury of having the budget to allow for some ramp time to achieve positive ROI, but the longer the time frame is, the more expensive and dangerous it is.

In the interest of cashing in on one of modern media’s most prominent channel, you need to learn how to avoid making costly mistakes, reduce customer acquisition costs and make AdWords pay.

About the author

Barry Feldman is the founder of Feldman Creative and author of several marketing books including The Road to Recognition. He’s a content marketing strategist, copywriter, creative director, podcaster, and speaker. Barry educates digital marketers on his blog, The Point, and many other sites across the web. Follow him on Twitter @FeldmanCreative.


Why You Should Never Run a Facebook Ad Campaign Without Ad Optimization Rules

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/crazyegg/~3/_4kjo1zUYYI/

After testing ads on many platforms including Google Adwords, Gmail ads, Reddit ads, Facebook Ads, Youtube Ads, and Pinterest Ads, Facebook Ads still yield the best ROI for me. This is also the case for many other businesses. For example, Andrew Hubbard generated $36,449 In revenue from an ad spend of $4,159. That’s almost a nine times increase from what that marketer spent to what they made. You can even get more creative. Take ecommerce brand Wee Squeak for example. They are able to generate more than 600 emails spending only $90 on Facebook Ads, then they drip those emails…

The post Why You Should Never Run a Facebook Ad Campaign Without Ad Optimization Rules appeared first on The Daily Egg.


How to Face 3 Fundamental Challenges Standing Between SEOs and Clients/Bosses

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/4XmecQQ4Upo/challenges-seos-clients

Posted by sergeystefoglo

Every other year, the good people at Moz conduct a survey with one goal in mind: understand what we (SEOs) want to read more of. If you haven’t seen the results from 2017, you can view them here.

The results contain many great questions, challenges, and roadblocks that SEOs face today. As I was reading the 2017 Moz Blog readership survey, a common thread stood out to me: there are disconnects on fundamental topics between SEOs and clients and/or bosses. Since I work at an agency, I’ll use “client” through the rest of this article; if you work in-house, replace that with “boss.”

Check out this list:

I can definitely relate to these challenges. I’ve been at Distilled for a few years now, and worked in other firms before — these challenges are real, and they’re tough. Through sharing my experience dealing with these challenges, I hope to help other consultants and SEOs to overcome them.

In particular, I want to discuss three points of disconnect that happen between SEOs and clients.

My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI.My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions.My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer.

Keep in mind, these are purely my own experiences. This doesn’t mean these answers are the end-all-be-all. In fact, I would enjoy starting a conversation around these challenges with any of you so please grab me at SearchLove (plug: our San Diego conference is selling out quickly and is my favorite) or MozCon to bounce off more ideas!

1. My client doesn’t understand the value of SEO and it’s difficult to prove ROI

The value of SEO is its influence on organic search, which is extremely valuable. In fact, SEO is more prominent in 2018 than it has ever been. To illustrate this, I borrowed some figures from Rand’s write up on the state of organic search at the end of 2017.

Year over year, the period of January–October 2017 has 13% more search volume than the same months in 2016.That 13% represents 54 billion more queries, which is just about the total number of searches Google did, worldwide, in 2003.

Organic search brings in the most qualified visitors (at a more consistent rate) than any other digital marketing channel. In other words, more people are searching for things than ever before, which results in more potential to grow organic traffic. How do we grow organic traffic? By making sure our sites are discoverable by Google and clearly answer user queries with good content.

Source: Search Engine Land

When I first started out in SEO, I used to think I was making all my clients all the moneys. “Yes, Bill, if you hire me and we do this SEO thing I will increase rankings and sessions, and you will make an extra x dollars!” I used to send estimates on ROI with every single project I pitched (even if it wasn’t asked of me).

After a few years in the industry I began questioning the value of providing estimates on ROI. Specifically, I was having trouble determining ift I was doing the right thing by providing a number that was at best an educated guess. It would stress me out and I would feel like I was tied to that number. It also turns out, not worrying about things that are out of our control helps control stress levels.

I’m at a point now where I’ve realized the purpose of providing an estimated ROI. Our job as consultants is to effect change. We need to get people to take action. If what it takes to get sign-off is to predict an uplift, that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s expected. Here’s how that conversation might look.

In terms of a formula for forecasting uplifts in SEO, Mike King said it best:

“Forecast modeling is questionable at best. It doesn’t get much better than this:”

Traffic = Search Volume x CTRNumber of Conversions = Conversion Rate x TrafficDollar Value = Traffic x # Conversions x Avg Conversion ValueTL;DR:Don’t overthink this too much — if you do, you’ll get stuck in the weeds.When requested, provide the prediction to get sign-off and quickly move on to action.For more in-depth thoughts on this, read Will Critchlow’s recent post on forecast modeling.Remember to think about seasonality, overall trends, and the fact that few brands exist in a vacuum. What are your competitors doing and how will that affect you?2. My client doesn’t understand how SEO works and I always have to justify my actions

Does your client actually not understand how SEO works? Or, could it be that you don’t understand what they need from you? Perhaps you haven’t considered what they are struggling with at the moment?

I’ve been there — constantly needing to justify why you’re working on a project or why SEO should be a focus. It isn’t easy to be in this position. But, more often than not I’ve realized what helps the most is to take a step back and ask some fundamental questions.

A great place to start would be asking:

What are the things my client is concerned about?What is my client being graded on by their boss?Is my client under pressure for some reason?

The answers to these questions should shine some clarity on the situation (the why or the motivation behind the constant questioning). Some of the reasons why could be:

You might know more about SEO than your client, but they know more about their company. This means they may see the bigger picture between investments, returns, activities, and the interplay between them all.SEO might be 20% of what your client needs to think about — imagine a VP of marketing who needs to account for 5–10 different channels.If you didn’t get sign off/budget for a project, it doesn’t mean your request was without merit. This just means someone else made a better pitch more aligned to their larger goals.

When you have some answers, ask yourself, “How can I make what I’m doing align to what they’re focused on?” This will ensure you are hitting the nail on the head and providing useful insight instead of more confusion.

That conversation might look like this:

TL;DRThis is a good problem to have — it means you have a chance to effect change.Also, it means that your client is interested in your work!It’s important to clarify the why before getting to in the weeds. Rarely will the why be “to learn SEO.”3. My client and I disagree about whether link building is the right answer

The topic of whether links (and by extension, link building) are important is perhaps the most talked about topic in SEO. To put it simply, there are many different opinions and not one “go-to” answer. In 2017 alone there have been many conflicting posts/talks on the state of links.

My colleague Tom Capper presented this deck at SearchLove San Diego last year which goes into detail about whether or not Google needs links anymore (accompanying blog post here).Malcolm Slade from Epiphany presented this deck at BrightonSEO last year which dives into brand influence on search, and what that means for the topic of links.Branded3 released an overview of ranking factors for 2018. The biggest factor? Links./r/BigSEO searches from the past month show that people have many questions still.

The quick answer to the challenge we face as SEOs when it comes to links is, unless authority is holding you back do something else.

That answer is a bit brief and if your client is constantly bringing up links, it doesn’t help. In this case, I think there are a few points to consider.

If you’re a small business, getting links is a legitimate challenge and can significantly impact your rankings. The problem is that it’s difficult to get links for a small business. Luckily, we have some experts in our field giving out ideas for this. Check out this, this, and this.If you’re an established brand (with authority), links should not be a priority. Often, links will get prioritized because they are easier to attain, measurable (kind of), and comfortable. Don’t fall into this trap! Go with the recommendation above: do other impactful work that you have control over first.Reasoning: Links tie success to a metric we have no control over — this gives us an excuse to not be accountable for success, which is bad.Reasoning: Links reduce an extremely complicated situation into a single variable — this gives us an excuse not to try and understand everything (which is also bad).It’s good to think about the topic of links and how it’s related to brand. Big brands get talked about (and linked to) more than small brands. Perhaps the focus should be “build your brand” instead of “gain some links”. If your client persists on the topic of links, it might be easier to paint a realistic picture for them. This conversation might look like this:

TL;DRThere are many opinions on the state of links in 2018: don’t get distracted by all the noise.If you’re a small business, there are some great tactics for building links that don’t take a ton of time and are probably worth it.If you’re an established brand with more authority, do other impactful work that’s in your control first.If you are constantly getting asked about links from your client, paint a realistic picture.Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, I’m really interested in hearing how you deal with these issues within your company. Are there specific challenges you face within the topics of ROI, educating on SEO, getting sign-off, or link building? How can we start tackling these problems more as an industry?


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How Omega Learning Improved AdWords Performance by 15% in Just 30 Days

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/DtHzyyQQ-s8/omega-learning

Back in September, we announced our second Grade and Get Paid contest, and folks, we have a winner!

grade and get paid contest

We couldn’t be happier to announce that Omega Learning – South Hills has taken home the grand prize. If you’re wondering what in the world I’m talking about, let me give you a quick run down…

We asked our audience of marketers and business owners to grade their AdWords accounts through our AdWords Performance Grader twice – first to get an initial score of how their account was performing, and again in 30 days to see if and how their account improved. Once these contestants completed the above tasks, we asked them two simple questions: “What did you learn?” and “What would you do differently?” The business that showed substantial improvement in this short 30-day window won a whopping $25,000 in free AdWords spent for 2018, as well as a year-long subscription to our WordStream Advisor platform to ensure their spend would yield strong ROI.

what would you do different in adwords

Some popular answers to the question “What would you do differently?”

Once the results came in, Omega Learning – South Hills stood out as a clear winner. Omega Learning was able to improve their score by over 15% in just 30 days! It was clear from hearing their story, and looking at their side by side reports, that Omega Learning put in some hard work to improve their score through increasing their account activity, adding targeted keywords, and reducing wasted spend by adding negative keywords.

I was excited to speak with Omega Learning’s owner, manager, and marketer (to name a few of the many hats he wears), Jim Valancius. Jim was kind enough to share his story of how this contest really spurred him into action to make some impactful changes to his AdWords account.

As a small business owner, not only is Jim’s bandwidth stretched extremely thin, he doesn’t have time to mess around with wasting money on AdWords, so he knew if he couldn’t get paid search to work, he would have to put his campaigns on hold. Luckily, the initial report really opened his eyes to some focus areas within his account.

Jim’s story is perfect for the busy business owner who’s looking to stretch a small budget. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Tell me a more about Omega Learning—what exactly do you guys do?

Omega Learning is a service that provides tutoring and test preparation for all grades. Whether studying for the SAT or a smaller quiz, we provide specific test preparation that students may need with personalized one-to-one instruction. We’re located in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, and have been in business for just over 2 years.

omega learning

That’s awesome! As a small business in such a niche space, have you found that your marketing strategy has changed since you’ve been in business?

Definitely. Our marketing has changed a lot over the last 2 years. It’s been a lot of trial and error. We’ve really done it all, from traditional marketing to digital, and we’ve had experiences that have worked and many that haven’t. We recently switched gears by adding a much stronger online presence.

How long have you been using Google AdWords? How has your experience been with it?

We’ve been using AdWords for about 6 months. I’d say our AdWords experience has been nice in terms of getting information, but it’s been very challenging knowing how to optimize everything we’re putting up. I enjoy seeing feedback on clicks, but the challenge is knowing what’s a good ad versus a bad ad. The set-up process felt very challenging since we were new to the platform.

How did you hear about the Grade and Get Paid contest? Had you heard of the AdWords Performance Grader before you entered the contest?

I was searching around and looking into different AdWords management services, and stumbled upon the Grade and Get Paid offer. I’d heard of WordStream, so I figured why not give it a try.

Let’s talk about your first “report card.” Did you come across any obvious problems? Did you learn anything new from it?

I learned a ton from our first report card, in terms of adding keywords and what was a good keyword versus what was a bad keyword. We were bidding on so many keywords that were not included in the search results, as well as getting clicks on irrelevant words. I realized we’d be wasting money on those clicks. There was clearly a misalignment of who we were trying to target versus who was clicking on our ads.

need to improve adwords

Like Omega Learning, about 1 in 6 contest entrants said they needed to work on negative keywords and ad optimization

It also opened my eyes to the fact that our headlines needed a lot of improvement.

It sounds like your initial report motivated you to get working on your AdWords account! What areas did you tackle first?

It definitely did! I started with the keywords, getting rid of ones that didn’t make sense at all. I also used the search query report to get a better idea of what was resonating and what wasn’t. It was helpful to see what people were actually searching for.

adwords negative keyword optimization

Many contest entrants realized they needed to add more negative keywords

Did your AdWords management process/workflow change during the month?

Yes. We started to spend more time on monitoring our account throughout the week, and Friday became the main tweaking day. We paid close attention to the changes we made, and what effect those changes had. Optimizing our ad text, headlines, and descriptions to include popular keywords has become a common part of our workflow as well.

Were you surprised by your second report after 30 days? What changes stood out to you the most? What improvements were you most excited about?

Definitely! Everything on the report stood out to me! Just seeing how much of a difference occurred in 30 days was motivating. Making some small changes like adding keywords, getting rid of broad keywords, etc., made such a big difference. We saw a lot fewer completely irrelevant searches, and it was clear that our ads were now targeted to our audience.

What are your top three tips for making the most of AdWords on a small budget?

For me, the top things that come to mind would be…

#1: Making sure everything is as targeted as possible – this will ensure you’re not wasting clicks on people who are likely to leave your website immediately.

#2: When you add keywords, know why you’re adding them (PRO TIP: pay attention to match types!).

#3: Optimize your ads with relevant and compelling language so people are more likely to click on them and visit your website.

quality score issues

Better targeting and more relevant ad text can have a big effect on Quality Score

How would you rate your current experience with Google AdWords, after entering the contest? Are you getting return on your investment?

Much, much better then it was previously. Everything makes much more sense, and we’re absolutely getting a return on our investment.

Would you recommend the AdWords Performance Grader to friends and colleagues?

Absolutely. It explains different aspects of AdWords, and really makes it easier to understand what everything is.

Congrats again Jim! We can’t wait to see where this year takes you.


Why Search Agencies Should Embrace the Adjacency of Email Marketing

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/qwK58hIEhME/why-search-agencies-should-embrace-email-marketing

Posted by davidmihm

As someone who’s spent virtually his entire career in local search, I’m by no means an early proponent of email. But in my interactions at marketing conferences, studies of industry research, and social media conversations, I get the feeling that many of my peers are even further down the adoption curve than I’ve been.

With this post, I encourage you to take a hard look at email marketing for yourselves, or an even harder look if you’ve already done so. If you’ve focused exclusively on offering SEO and SEM services to clients in the past, I hope I’ll convince you that email should be a natural and profitable complement to those offerings.

And if you’re a local business reading this post, I hope many of these points convince you to take a look at email marketing yourselves!

Making the case for email

High ROI

With a return on investment (ROI) of 44:1, marketers consistently rate email as the top-performing channel. According to Campaign Monitor, that ROI has actually increased since 2015, and it’s particularly true for B2B companies. Despite the supposed unpopularity of email among millennials, it remains far and away the most-preferred channel by which to receive communication from a business.

Just plain cheap

The fact that email’s so cheap helps the denominator of that 44:1 stat a bunch. Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, as are MailerLite and SendinBlue, and many other providers offer plans under $10/month depending on your number of subscribers.

It’s also cheap in terms of time cost. Unlike social media where daily or even hourly presence performs best, email allows you to duck in and duck out as you have time.

As far as the numerator, average open rates far exceed social media reach on most platforms. And even if they don’t open, ? of people report purchasing based on an email they received from a brand (!). Search provides better purchase intent, but the top-of-mind awareness and referral potential from email is unmatched.

Makes other channels more effective

Gathering customer email addresses is essential for other critical forms of local business marketing already — you need an email address to ask for a review, build lookalike audiences, and make customer intelligence solutions like FullContact most effective.

Actually offering something of value, whether that’s a discount code, loyalty program, whitepaper, or newsletter subscription, increases the odds of earning that email address for all of those purposes.

Last best option?

Frankly, the number of organic digital channels available to small businesses is shrinking. Facebook’s latest announcement signals a tough road ahead there for businesses without the budget to Boost posts, and Google’s expansion of its Local Service Ad program to verticals and locales across the United States in the next couple of years seems inevitable to me. Now is the time to start building an email program as these monetization pressures intensify.

Why agencies should offer email Your customers know it works.

Local businesses might be more aware of email’s potency than some of the agencies that are serving them. Email consistently rates among the top three marketing channels in industry surveys by the Local Search Association, StreetFight, Clutch, and more.

At the very least, email requires barely any client education. Unlike the black box of SEO or the complexity of PPC, by and large, small businesses inherently understand email marketing. They know they should be sending emails to their customers, but many of them just aren’t yet doing it, or are doing it poorly.

It’s a concrete deliverable.

Unlike so much of the behind-the-scenes work that leads to success in SEO, clients can actually see an email campaign delivered to their inbox, as well as the results of that campaign: every major Email Service Provider tracks opens and clicks by default.

It leverages existing offerings.

I already mentioned some of the ways that email marketing complements other channels above. But it can tie in even more closely to an agency’s existing content offering: many of you are already developing full content calendars, or at the very least social content.

<pitch>(For those clients whom you’re helping with social media, their newsletter can be built using Tidings with no additional effort on your part.)</pitch>

Building email into your client content strategy can help their content reach a deeper audience, and possibly even a different audience.

It’s predictable.

Though you could argue that the Gmail and Apple Mail interface configurations are algorithms of a kind, generally speaking, email marketing is not subject to wild algorithmic changes or inexplicable ranking fluctuations.

And unlike Google’s unrealistic link building axiom that great content will naturally attract inbound links, great content actually does naturally attract more subscribers and more customers as they receive forwarded emails.

You can expand it over time.

Unlike SEO for local businesses, which generally includes relatively easy wins up front and gets progressively harder to deliver the same value over time, email marketing offers numerous opportunities to expand the scope of your engagement with a client.

Beyond fulfilling the emails themselves, there are plenty of other email-related services to offer, including managing and optimizing list sign-up, welcome emails and drip campaigns, A/B testing subject lines and content, and ongoing customer intelligence.

Tactical ingredients for success with email Use a reputable Email Service Provider.

Running an email marketing program through Gmail or Outlook is an easy way to get your primary address blacklisted. You also won’t have access to open rate or click rate, nor an easy way to automate signups onto specific lists or segments.

Be consistent.

Setting expectations for your subscribers and then following through on those expectations is a particularly important practice for email newsletters, but also holds true for explicitly commercial emails and automated emails.

You should be generally consistent with the day on which you send weekly specials, appointment reminders, or service follow-ups. Consistency helps form a habit among your subscribers.

Consistency also applies to branding. It’s fine to A/B test subject lines and content types over time, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot from a brand perspective by designing every email you send from scratch. Leave that kind of advanced development to big brands with full in-house email teams.

The other reason to be consistent is that designing for email is really, really difficult — a lesson I learned the hard way last year prior to launching Tidings. Complex email clients like Microsoft Outlook use their own markup languages to render emails, and older email clients can’t interpret a lot of modern HTML or CSS declarations.

Choose a mobile-first template.

Make sure your layout renders well on phones, since that’s where more than 2/3 of email gets opened. Two- or three-column layouts that force pinching and zooming on mobile devices are a no-no, and at this point, most subscribers are used to scrolling a bit to see content.

As long as your template reflects your brand accurately, the content of that layout is far more important than its design. Look no further than the simple email layouts chosen by some of the most successful companies in their respective industries, including Amazon, Kayak, and Fast Company.

Pick a layout that’s proven to work on phones and stick with it.

Include an email signup button or form prominently on your website.

It’s become a best practice to include social icons in the header and/or footer of your website. But there’s an obvious icon missing from so many sites!

An email icon should be the first one in the lineup, since it’s the channel where your audience is most likely to see your content.

Also consider using Privy or Mailmunch to embed a signup banner or popover on your website with minimal code.

The specific place of newsletters

Plenty of people way smarter than me are on the newsletter bandwagon (and joined it much earlier than I did). Moz has been sending a popular “Top 10” newsletter for years, Kick Point sends an excellent weekly synopsis, and StreetFight puts out a great daily roundup, just to name a few. As a subscriber, those companies are always top-of-mind for me as thought leaders with their fingers on the pulse of digital marketing.

But newsletters work far beyond the digital marketing industry, too.

Sam Dolnick, the man in charge of the New York Times’ digital initiatives, puts a lot of stock in newsletters as a cornerstone channel, calling them “a lo-fi way to form a deep relationship with readers.”

I love that description. I think of a newsletter as a more personalized social channel. In the ideal world it’s halfway between a 1:1 email and a broadcast on Facebook or Twitter.

Granted, a newsletter may not be right for every local business, and it’s far from the only kind of email marketing you should be doing. But it’s also one of the easiest ways to get started with email marketing, and as Sam Dolnick said, an easy-to-understand way to start building relationships with customers.

For more newsletter best practices, this ancient (1992!) article actually covers print newsletters but almost all of its advice applies equally well to digital versions!

A great option or a strategic imperative?

Facebook’s ongoing reduction in organic visibility, Google’s ongoing evolution of the local SERP, and the shift to voice search will combine to create an existential threat to agencies that serve smaller-budget local businesses over the next 2–3 years.

Agencies simply can’t charge the margin to place paid ads that they can charge for organic work, particularly as Google and Facebook do a better and better job of optimizing low-budget campaigns. More ads, more Knowledge Panels, and more voice searches mean fewer organic winners at Google than ever before (though because overall search volume won’t decline, the winners will win bigger than ever).

Basic SEO blocking-and-tackling such as site architecture, title tags, and citation building will always be important services, but their impact for local businesses has declined over the past decade, due to algorithmic sophistication, increased competition, and decreased organic real estate.

To grow or even maintain your client base, it’ll be critical for you as an agency to offer additional services that are just as effective and scalable as these techniques were a decade ago.

As a concrete, high-margin, high-ROI deliverable, email should be a centerpiece of those additional services. And if it just doesn’t feel like something you’re ready to take on right now, Tidings is happy to handle your referrals :D!


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Google’s New Campaign Total Budget vs. Daily Budget Setting: Which Should You Use?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/MRWToMEhw7E/adwords-campaign-total-budget

The first question most advertisers must answer when planning any advertising campaign is, of course, what budget they can dedicate to their ads.

AdWords is no exception to this rule, and managing your campaign budgets can seem like a full-time job at times. Especially after Google began allowing campaigns to serve up to twice their daily budget in October, many seasoned experts admitted that they need to spend even more time monitoring their budget pacing.

Luckily, Google’s newest budgeting feature should be a relief for busy advertisers. As of late last week, advertisers now have the choice between setting up a daily budget or a campaign total budget when managing their campaigns in AdWords.

adwords campaign total budget type

Daily budgets will allow advertisers to specify how much on average you’d like a campaign to spend each day – with actual spend fluctuating up to double each day.

Campaign total budgets, however, allow you to specify the maximum amount of budget you’d like for your campaign to spend over the period in which it runs, much like Facebook’s lifetime budgets. Google will serve your ads through your campaign end date so long as your campaign has remaining budget, meaning that you won’t need to change or monitor your campaigns budget daily. Currently, this new setting is only available for video campaigns.

Per AdWords’ official explanation of campaign total budgets:

AdWords will try to spend your total budget evenly over the duration of your campaign while taking into account higher and lower traffic days to optimize your campaign’s performance. For example, let’s say your video campaign gets fewer views on Mondays and Tuesdays and more views on weekends. AdWords will optimize performance by spending more on days when your video is likely to get more views, while keeping your overall budget goals on track.

With a campaign total budget, you’ll only be billed up to the amount you enter for a campaign, even if AdWords serves more views or impressions than your budget allows.

Lifetime budgets pose an opportunity for advertisers, but now you’ll have to choose between using daily budgets and lifetime budgets.

Let’s review some of the advantages and disadvantages of both campaign budget types.

Benefits of Campaign Total Budgets Easier management of fixed budgets.

Sometimes your budget is your budget and you can’t spend more, even if your ROI is positive. If you’ve got a very fixed budget for the run of your campaign, AdWords campaign total budgets may be right for you. AdWords campaign total budgets will respect that hard budget cap and won’t overspend your budget like daily budgets will occasionally.

Less time managing your budget, more time managing your campaign.

None of us became marketers because we wanted to also become accountants, but sometimes managing budgets can take up a lot of our time. AdWords lifetime budgets frees up all the work and intricacies of managing budgets with a simple set it and forget it solution, so you can spend more time testing ads and adjusting targeting.

Disadvantages of Campaign Total Budgets Your campaigns must have an end date.

In order to set up campaign total budgets, your campaign must have a start and end date. Although your ads can run as soon as they’re approved, even the same day, your ads will stop running on the campaign end date. While your campaign is running, you can always adjust your end date, but doing so will potentially stretch your remaining budget thinner. Make sure you’re prepared for your campaigns to end, otherwise you may be in for a surprise to see your ads not showing!

Campaign Total Budgets can’t be shared budgets.

A campaign total budget must be dedicated to a campaign and cannot be used as a shared budget across campaigns. If you’re trying to juggle spend across multiple campaigns, you may need to monitor a shared budget across campaigns or revisit your campaign structure to find a better way to manage your campaigns.

Campaign Total Budgets are only available for Video campaigns.

At the moment, only video campaigns may use campaign total budgets.

Benefits to Campaign Daily Budgets More flexible budget management.

Daily budgets remain the default budget setting and used by many for the control they provide. You can adjust your budget every day and invest so long as your ROI is positive, or decrease your budget on under-performing campaigns. Your campaigns can run on any network and can run indefinitely or have a set end date.

advantages of adwords daily campaign budgets

Shared budgeting options.

Daily budgets can be shared across multiple campaigns, even if they’re running on different networks. This could potentially allow you more control over how much money your entire account or different groups of campaigns spend each day.

Disadvantages of Campaign Daily Budgets Daily budgets can vary a lot and spend up to twice their daily budget.

If your daily budget is the absolute maximum you can spend in each day, you may need to be cautious using daily budgets. Spend can vary a lot depending on the day of week or breakout searches, so you shouldn’t expect your campaigns to spend the same amount day to day. Campaigns can also spend up to twice their daily budget on any given day, which can make controlling a budget over a period difficult.

Depending on how your advertising budget works, you may find using daily campaign budgets or total campaign budgets easier. If you plan to run your AdWords campaigns indefinitely and adjust your investment so long as they’re profitable, you’ll likely want to continue using campaign daily budgets.

However, if you’ve got budget dedicated to running a temporary video campaign for a few weeks or months or if you’re just looking to create some brand lift with a set budget, campaign total budgets may be a great option for your campaigns!

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.


Selling SEO to the C-Suite: How to Convince Company Executives to Support SEO

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/sUmcVJrC09M/selling-seo-to-executives

Posted by rMaynes1

The implementation of a solid SEO strategy often gets put on the back burner — behind website redesigns, behind client work, behind almost everything — and even when it is taken seriously, you have to fight for every resource for implementation. SEO must be a priority. However, convincing the company executives to prioritize it and allocate budget to SEO initiatives can feel like scaling a mountain.

Sound familiar?

Convincing company executives that SEO is one of the most critical elements of a holistic digital marketing strategy to increase website traffic (and therefore customers, sales, and revenue) won’t be easy, but these steps can increase the chances of your program being taken seriously, and getting the budget needed to make it a success.

Before you start: Put yourself in the shoes of the C-Suite and be ready to answer their questions.

While it’s no doubt frustrating that your executives don’t understand the importance of SEO, put yourself in their shoes and consider what is important to them. Have solid answers ready to questions.

CEOs are decision-makers, not problem-solvers. They are going to ask:

Why should we invest in SEO vs. [insert another strategy here]? Is this going to be profitable? Do you have proven results? What does success look like? What are your KPIS?

CIOs and CFOs will fixate on cost reductions. They are going to ask:

What will this cost us? Can similar results be achieved at a reduced cost? What level of spend will maximize ROI?

CMOs want to ensure the organization’s message is distributed to targeted audiences in order to meet sales objectives. They will ask:

How many more qualified leads will this bring us? What will this do to increase our brand exposure? What is our competition doing?

CEOs are unbelievably busy. In the nicest way, they don’t care about details, and they don’t care about tactics (because they simply do not have time to care). What do they care about? Results.

For example, the CEO of a large insurance broker sits in his office and Googles the term “Seattle insurance.” Success for him is seeing his company listed at #1 in the organic results. He doesn’t want to know how it was achieved, but for as long as that’s the result, he’s happy to invest.

Getting the support you need for your SEO strategy can be tough, to say the least, especially if there is no understanding, no interest, and no funding from the C-level executives in your company — and unfortunately, without these, your SEO plans will never get off the ground.

However, executive-level buy-in is crucial for a successful SEO campaign, so don’t give up!

Educate your stakeholders1. Start at the beginning: Define what SEO is, and what it isn’t

It might sound like a no-brainer, but before you even start, find out your C-Suite’s SEO expertise level. Bizarre as it may sound, some might not even really fully understand what SEO is, and the concept of keywords might be entirely alien.

Start from the very beginning with examples of what SEO is, and what it isn’t.

Include:

How people search for your business online with non-branded industry keywords. Use analytics to show that this is what people are actually searching for. Show what happens when you conduct a simple search for a related keyword. Where does your business rank and where do your competitors rank?

If you want to go into a bit more detail, you can show things like where keywords appear in your page content, or what meta-data in the titles and description fields look like. Gather as much valuable insight as you can from the CMO to help tailor your presentation to fit the style the CEO is used to. It will vary from CEO to CEO. Same story — but a different approach to getting the message across.

Remember, keep it high-level. When talking to your C-Suite about SEO, it’s important to talk to them in a language they’ll understand. If your presentation includes references to “schema,” “link audits,” or “domain authority,” start again, scrapping the technical jargon. Instead, talk about how SEO helps businesses connect directly with people who are searching online for the products and services that are being offered by the company. Highlight how it’s a powerful business development tool that aligns your business with customer intent, one that targets potential customers further down the sales funnel because it attracts traffic mostly from people who are in the market to convert. Focus on the purpose of an SEO program being to build a sustainable base of monthly quality potential customers by generating additional traffic to the website.

Use hard facts to support your points. For example:

72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics) 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics) Conversion rates are 10 times higher on search than from social on desktops, on average. (Source: GoDaddy 2016) Half of search queries are four words or longer. Not including long-tail keywords could mean losing potential leads. (Source: Propecta 2017). Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0–4 monthly posts. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

2. The meat of your presentation: Why SEO is so important

Once you’ve shown what SEO is, you can move onto why it’s so important to the organizational goals. Sounds simple, but this is probably the most difficult part of convincing your executives of the need for an SEO strategy.

C-Suite executives are not interested in the how of SEO. They want to know the why (the value, the return on investment), and the when (how long it will take to see the results and the ROI of this endeavor). It’s almost guaranteed that they’re not going to want to know the minute details and tactics of your proposed strategy.

Outline the project at a high level, and don’t get bogged down in the details. If the CEO is well-educated in other channels (like paid search, offline marketing, print marketing, or display advertising), try to use SEO examples that can be understood in a relative way to how these other channels perform.

Note: To sell SEO to the C-suite doesn’t necessarily mean you’re committing to doing all of this work yourself. You might be pitching for the budget to use an SEO agency to do all of this for you.

Break out the proposed project into 4 sections, each with a “what” and a “why.”

1. SEO audit:

Your website is a business development tool, and so the SEO audit is focused on assessing how well the site is performing currently. Talk about how you’ll assess the website in several areas to understand any problems impacting site performance and identify any potential optimization opportunities to make it more search engine-friendly, and to align it to business objectives both from a technical and content perspective.

2. Recommendations:

From the audit, determine what needs to be done and when. Not all tactics will work for all organizations, and as an SEO expert, you’ll be able to review the business and draw on your past experience to determine what’s going to earn the highest ROI. Prioritize recommendations and have a case to present for each, proving how it’s more important than another recommendation, and how it will impact the overall business if implemented. Ensure that those critical SEO components that will expedite the results are implemented first. Be sure to address these questions:

What combination of tactics is going to work best for this organization? What is going to have the biggest impact now, and what can wait? What should be a top organizational priority? Do you have access to the internal resources and knowledge to be able to implement the recommendations, or do you need to consider using an external agency? 3. Implementation:

Whether this is an internal project or you’re engaging an SEO agency, the project lead should be very hands-on, making SEO recommendations and guiding the IT team through the successful implementation of as many of them as possible so as to have the biggest impact on organic search. At times it can feel like you have to jump through hoops to get the smallest recommendation implemented, and that’s understandable. However, if you endeavor to understand the internal IT processes, you can customize recommendations to fit the IT team’s schedule. You’ll see more success that way.

This is one of the biggest obstacles that Mediative, as an agency, runs into. We conduct SEO audits and provide recommendations for success, in priority order — but getting access to internal IT resources and getting your SEO recommendations into the implementation queue can be incredibly challenging.

We worked with a Fortune 500 company for four years on SEO, covering the major areas of site architecture and site content, with the ultimate goal of increasing site traffic. At any given time, there were 40+ active SEO initiatives — open tickets with the client’s IT department — all of which had an impact on the SEO of the client’s website. However, they represented only about 20% of the total open tickets for all IT service requests in this client’s IT department; as a result, vying for precious IT resources became a huge challenge. A great SEO agency will learn to adapt tactics to fit in with whatever sort of IT procedures your company already has in place.

4. Goals and measurement of results:

HubSpot has presented the core metrics that CEOs care about the most; you should address these metrics with benchmarks and informed predictions (not vague guesses) for how SEO can improve them. Unlike channels such as paid search, it can be difficult to give the exact cost and the exact number of leads or revenue SEO can generate. The key here is to get the understanding of the CMO to help present your case to the CEO. SEO or organic search traffic (when measured properly with analytics) can be the biggest driver of low-cost traffic and quality visitors to your website.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – This is the total cost of acquiring a customer in the organization. If you can show how SEO acquires customers below the company average, you’re already winning. Time to Payback CAC – This is the number of months it takes you to earn back the CAC you spent to get a new customer. Again, if you can show that SEO reduces this number, it will increase the likelihood of your program getting the thumbs up. Marketing Originated Customer % – This ratio shows what percentage of your new business is driven by marketing efforts, a sure-fire way to secure more SEO budget if you can prove exactly how many new customers it’s driving.

Look at simpler metrics as well, such as:

Traffic to your website. Number of leads generated. Decreased bounce rates.

Inform your executives that you’ll be measuring these metrics in conjunction with other metrics, such as average ranking position, to see the overall impact of your SEO efforts.

Use industry research to put a monetary value on ranking higher. For example, the fictional company Acme Shoes sells shoes online. The company website recently ranked #4 on a desktop Google search for [women’s shoes]. A #4 ranking sends the website 20,000 unique visitors per month. The average value of a website visitor has been calculated at $20, therefore ranking at #4 is valued at $400,000/month. Research has shown that, on average, the #4 ranking gets 7.3% of Google results page clicks, and the #1 ranking gets 32.8% of page clicks — 4.5x more. Therefore, it can be estimated that increasing ranking to #1 will lead to 90,000 monthly unique visitors. The estimated revenue from ranking #1 for [women’s shoes]: $1.8m/month. Present different scenarios. For example, what would happen if no SEO efforts are made over the next 12 months? Now in contrast, what do you predict will happen with $X of investment, and how that would increase even further if doubled? Be sure to have a few options available, not just all-or-nothing. Be very specific about the goals at each level of investment. Find examples of SEO strategies that have had great results. Best case would be results from your own tests in preparation for a larger project, but sometimes even small SEO tests are not approved until the C-suite has bought in. In this case, find case studies from your industry, or research/results of similar tactics to those that you want to implement. The C-Suite want tangible, real-world solutions that are proven to work, not vague ideas.

Tip: A lot of SEO is “free” — it just takes time, knowledge, and resources (which is where it gets expensive) to make it successful. Use the word “free” as much as you can. For example, an online listings component of an SEO strategy may utilize free directory listings.

In summary, an SEO project may address all 4 sections listed above very well, but the key is communication. Great SEO agencies are strong communicators with all stakeholders involved — the marketing team, IT teams, content writers, designers, code developers, etc. It’s important to remember that following best practices, executing SEO tactics in a timely manner, and measuring the results all require clear and concise communication at different levels of the organization.

Congratulations! You’ve perfectly pitched SEO to your C-Suite. You’re almost guaranteed to get the green light! So what now?Manage expectations from day one.

Basketball player Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life, too.”

He could have been talking about SEO.

SEO is a commitment. To reap the long-term benefits, you have to put in the effort with minimal gains at first. Make sure your C-Suite knows this. They might get frustrated that after 3 months of effort, the results are not prominent. But that’s how SEO goes. SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” tactic. It’s an ongoing program that builds successes with time and consistency.

By setting realistic expectations that it will take several months before results are seen, there won’t be pressure to try other tactics, like paid search or display advertising, at the expense of SEO. Of course, these tactics can complement your SEO efforts and can provide a short-term benefit that SEO can’t, but don’t be swayed from SEO as a core strategy. Stay the course, and keep focused on the long-term benefits of what you’re doing. It will be worth it!

Continually measure and track performance

You should be ready at the drop of a hat to provide up-to-date results with performance measured to key metrics (to the last month) of how your SEO efforts are stacking up. You never know when cost-cutting measures might be implemented, and if you’re not ready with solid results, it might be your program that gets cut.

Show how your SEO efforts compare to other programs in the company, such as social media marketing or paid search. Search is always evolving, so keep up and be seen keeping up. ?Never stop selling!

In the case of our Fortune 500 client, we were able to implement all of the key SEO initiatives by prioritizing and building cases for implementation. After several months, organic search traffic and revenue was leading all other digital marketing channels for this client — more than PPC and email marketing. ?Organic search generated approximately 30% of all visits to the client’s site, while maintaining year-over-year growth of 20–25%. This increase was not simply from branded traffic, however — year-over-year non-branded traffic had increased approximately 50%.

These are the kind of results that are going to make the company executives sit up and take SEO seriously.

To conclude:

?As the proponent for SEO in your organization, you play a critical role in ensuring that the strategies with the quickest and biggest impact on results are implemented and prioritized first. There’s no magic bullet with SEO – no one thing that works. A solid SEO strategy — and one that will convince stakeholders of its worth — is made up of a myriad of components from audits to content development, from link building to site architecture. The trick is picking what is going to work for your organization and what isn’t, and this is no mean feat!

For more SEO tips from Mediative, download our new e-book, The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Google’s Search Engine Results Page.


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