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Archive: Jun 2014

  1. 10 Ways to Boost Your Google AdWords Search Ads Right Now

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    by Jason Nelson
     

    Want to improve the performance of your AdWords search ads? In this article, we’ll provide useful tips and information to do just that.

    You’ll learn how you can set up, group, and create different versions of your ads; optimize your ad text and keyword selection; and improve your bidding strategy, location targeting, and ad extensions.

    Google AdWords is a relatively complex advertising interface. It’s less than intuitive for the average user, with dozens of options perplexing for the inexperienced.

    To make it easier on small business owners to get their ads up and running, Google introduced AdWords Express. However, this simplified version of AdWords doesn’t mean that a business’s ads are going to perform better.

    Even if you understand what keyword phrases drive sales to your business, setting up AdWords search networks ads for stronger performance with a solid return on investment can be challenging.

    Here are 10 tips you can use to boost your search ad results.

    1. Regularly log in to your account

    AdWords is not a set it and forget it ad platform. If you don’t have the time or desire to regularly monitor and optimize your account, you shouldn’t be advertising on AdWords. Regularly analyzing and review your performance and making keyword and ad adjustments can make a big difference in your campaign’s performance.

    2. Set up ad groups

    Unless you sell only one product or offer only one service, setting up ad groups is critical to get the results you want from your ads. Setting up an ad group specific to each product or service you want to advertise on AdWords is important for user relevance and serving the ads with the highest click-through rate.

    3. Optimize your ad text

    Google rates each keyword phrase you select with a Quality Score. Every time a user search is conducted with your keyword, your quality score is calculated in Google’s algorithm to determine the listings. It plays a big factor in how your ads perform. Having a high quality score means you can pay less for ads than your competitors and have a higher conversion rate.

    One of the factors Google uses in computing Quality Score is whether your ad text uses the phrases tied to your ad group. For example, if you’re advertising a car dealership and you have an Ad Group for “Cars” but your ads in your ad groups reference only “autos” in the ad copy, that could adversely affect the Quality Score of keywords with “autos” in them, since “cars” is not in the copy.

    4. Test ads

    It’s crucial to test different versions of your ad copy regularly and to track performance. Even subtle changes can make a significant difference in click-through rate. Take advantage of your best-performing ads in each Ad Group, use those ads, and continue to test and refine them.

    5. Eliminate negative keywords

    Negative keywords are phrases that may be related to the keywords you are targeting but they don’t benefit for your business. For example, if you were advertising for a bankruptcy lawyer, you would want to avoid keywords such as “divorce lawyer,” as that is a phrase that would be unlikely to result in a conversion.

    Negative keywords can be a real drag on campaign performance. It’s important to go through each of your keywords and minimize ineffective targets.

    6. Weed out lower-performing keywords

    If you have keywords that are too general or just aren’t performing well, it’s best to pause those keywords or to delete them from your campaign. Though it can be tempting to add as many keyword phrases as possible that may benefit a business, it’s also wise to eliminate low-volume keywords to keep campaigns manageable.

    7. Add extensions

    When you’re paying for search engine leads, you want the biggest parcel of space in the neighborhood. By enabling AdWords Extensions, such as location, sitelinks, reviews, and call tracking, you’re taking up more real estate for your ad. The extensions draw more attention to the ads from searchers, display more relevance, and help the ads convert better.

    8. Consider mobile versions

    If you go into each of your ads, there is a check-off box for mobile preference. If you select mobile, these ads will display and optimize for mobile devices. Thus, if you want to target desktop, laptop, and mobile users, it’s best to create different versions of your ads. If you don’t already have mobile targeted and wish to do so, you can copy and paste your individual ad groups and then go into the copied version of ads, select mobile, and make changes to the ads while maintaining the same keywords or adding new ones.

    When search ads are served, Google detects the browser and will serve the ads best optimized and most relevant to the user. Mobile ads also make using the Call Extension an even more valuable option.

     

     

    9. Increase bidding on high-ROI ads

    If a product or service proves significantly more profitable for your business, it can make a lot of sense to increase your bidding amount in the ads for the applicable ad group. Set your bidding to manual and increase the percentage for your most profitable ads.

    10. Target by location

    In AdWords, you can target specific user locations. If you have a local business that does business regionally or statewide, it may be wise to increase your bidding on search users that are closer to your business, as your conversion rate should be higher using the Location Extension. You could also set up additional custom targeting and bid slightly higher for users in a more medium distance—for example, a 30 mile radius from your business’s location—than your bid for searches statewide.

  2. When Are Consumers OK With Brands’ Collecting Personal Data?

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    by Ayaz Nanji
     

    US consumers are generally wary of companies’ collecting their personal data, but some are open to it—depending on their age, the transparency of the efforts, and what they get in return, according to a recent report from Software Advice.

    Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the 385 adult Americans surveyed say they prefer that their data not be collected or used at all by companies. Of those respondents who are open to their data being gathered, the largest percentages are comfortable with brands’ monitoring their likes/dislikes and collecting basic demographic information.

    Very few consumers think it is appropriate for brands to collect their current location or contact information.

    Respondents 25-34-years-old appear to be less opposed to data collection by companies, with only just over half (52.5%) saying they are opposed to it in all situations.

    Conversely, older respondents appear to be far more averse to any type of data collection, with 81% of 55-64-year-olds saying they prefer none of their data be stored or put to use.

    Below, additional key findings from the report.

    Awareness 

    78% of respondents say they believe it is either “extremely common” (54%) or “somewhat common” (24%) for companies to collect customer data such as purchase history, age, and likes/dislikes.

    Transparency

    • Asked whether they would be less bothered if companies would tell them exactly what data they were collecting and why, 30% of respondents say that they would be “a lot less bothered” and 16% say they would be “slightly less bothered.”
    • 25% say they would still be “extremely bothered” by a company’s data collection practices regardless of transparency, and 16% would still be “somewhat bothered.”

    Rewards

    • 71% of respondents say there are no acceptable ways for companies to use data they’ve gathered about customers.
    • However, younger consumers are less likely to be adamantly against all uses: 44% of 18-24-year-olds believe there are acceptable situations for it.
    • 25% of 18-24-year-olds say personalized customer rewards are an acceptable way for their data to be put to use, and 23% say offering personalized deals and discounts is acceptable.

    About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 385 randomly selected adults living in the United States.

  3. Hospitality: The Impact of Tech on Customer Loyalty

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    by John Fremont
     

    It’s a tough time for those in the airline, hotel, and cruise industries. Customer loyalty is eroding—and with good reason. Many brands aren’t anticipating and answering needs at the level that travelers desire. What was once considered a perk is now simply expected.

    So how can companies win back customer preference? By making key aspects of travel more convenient.

    That shouldn’t be as daunting as it sounds. In many cases, the enabling technology is already there: Most of us own at least one mobile device. All that’s missing is the software that connects people to wherever they are, whether it’s an airplane cabin, a hotel lobby, or the lido deck.

    That’s why we at Chaotic Moon Studios have partnered with writers from Wired, Fast Company, and ReadWrite to create a series of articles that’ll show you how mobile technology can help you raise your company’s standard of service:

    Chaos Theory | Tech In Hospitality Issue from Chaotic Moon Studios

    In this issue of “Chaos Theory”:

    Mobile tech can improve the flying experience, in the air and on the ground. Getting on a plane is like getting on a bus now, with dreary security procedures, indifferent service, and chaotic itineraries that make even the most experienced travelers weep. Push notifications and touch screens are just the beginning for turning this dire situation around.

    To earn millennials’ loyalty, hoteliers will have to offer something meaningful. Traditional loyalty programs are failing to secure a following among choosy younger travelers, which leads to the question: What else they can do? The answer lies in relevance and more attainable rewards.

    Can tech give guests a better experience with less face time? The rise of the self-check-in hotel feels like a long-awaited inevitability. Self-service machines dominate supermarkets and airplane terminals—so why not hotel lobbies as well? We take a look at Marriott’s initial effort (and how it didn’t go far enough).

    Why better mobile experiences are key to last-minute bookings. Many hoteliers worry that last-minute deal apps are retraining customers to stop booking early in hopes of getting a better deal. But what hoteliers need to keep in mind is that such bargain hunters are a different customer altogether, and they rarely overlap with the “brand loyal” base.

    These and other “Chaos Theory” articles will examine how technology is improving operations, shifting business objectives and redefining customer service. (Download a PDF of this “Chaos Theory” issue.)

  4. How to Engage With Facebook Fans to Build a Successful Nonprofit

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    by Melissa Hannon
     

    There are scores of articles out there about how to gain a Facebook following, but what about the organizations that have already achieved that goal? How do those groups, particularly nonprofits run by skeleton crews, stay engaged with tens of thousands of social media fans?

    That’s the dilemma we faced at Peace & Paws as our Facebook fan base grew to more than 73,000 active participants.

    Our mission is to match the world’s best dogs with the world’s best people. We have established solid relationships with southern US rescue partners, enabling us to transport, foster, and adopt out dogs from states that have numerous high-kill shelters. All of that is done with minimal staff and the assistance of volunteers. Facebook has become our primary platform for communicating with past adopters, donors, and dog lovers, as well for providing exposure to available dogs for prospective adopters.

    Our Facebook community is vital to our organization, and we had to find a way to cultivate it without adding employees or taking time away from dog-rescue activities. Here are some ways we’ve learned to engage our large social media following to build a more successful organization.

    Remember your mission, and reflect it in your posts

    We founded Peace & Paws after adopting a dog from Alabama and learning about how many unwanted pets are euthanized there every year. Our organization’s goal is to find forever homes for rescue dogs and support the foster families and adopters who love these animals. We want that to be clear in our social media communications when people “like” Peace & Paws on Facebook.

    When people join our Facebook community, we want them to see posts that will help them care for their own dogs, as well as give exposure to dogs in need and celebrate those who are involved in rescuing them. We try to do that in a fun and engaging way without losing the thread of what we’re about.

    For example, some of our most popular posts involve the Tips of the Day with our dogs Giddy and Twinkle. These dogs show their personalities through the tips, which often involve a little sibling-like bickering. Often, we dress the dogs up in theme-appropriate costumes. While we want it to feel fun, the tips are often serious subjects that dog owners need to know. (If you look at this image we shared on Facebook for Valentine’s Day, you’ll get a sense of how we approach the goal of having fun while also serving our community.)

    Communicate, don’t broadcast

    When we share a story of a dog that has been rescued or adopted, our Facebook followers often want to talk to us about that story. During these posts we try to engage as much as possible with our community.

    Our recent posts about Luna, a dog being fostered by one of our partners in Alabama, are an example. Over the past few months, we’ve shared how Luna came to us from an abusive situation, how she was dumped at a shelter when she was pregnant and then delivered a litter of puppies on her second day in foster care. Luna was also treated for heartworms and she is participating in training to address her severe fear and aggression issues. A single post in February has received  2,500 likes, 150 comments, and 55 shares. That’s not an unusual level of activity for our page. We try to arrange our posting schedule so that someone can respond to the comments in the thread.

    We want our community to feel engaged in the work we’re doing, because their involvement is critical to our success and they are an integral part of the journey. Commenting within an active Facebook conversation is one way we can show our supporters that we saw they were there, we read what they wrote, and we appreciate their involvement. To make sure that happens, we arrange our posting schedule with the need for engagement in mind.

    When you need to grow, let people know

    For a long time, we struggled with what to do with the number of dogs in need of rescue that were not yet ready for adoption or even fostering. Our partners in Alabama would alert us to dogs we wanted to help, but often we couldn’t for lack of space and experienced foster homes. We decided to turn a barn on our property into a rescue facility for these dogs, where we could prepare them for eventual foster care and adoption. We estimated that we would need a minimum of $70,000 to make the Ruff House Retreat a reality, so we kicked off a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.

    The Indiegogo campaign got off to a solid start, but we weren’t sure how our Facebook community would react to donation requests. Midway through the fundraising campaign, however, donations began lagging a bit, so we decided to try to leverage our social media success to help us reach our goal. After incorporating Facebook into the fundraising strategy, we boosted donations by $35,000 in a single weekend and eventually surpassed the campaign goal by more than 40 percent.

    The thousands of people who read and responded to our Facebook posts wanted to support our organization and the dogs we help; all we needed to do was ask. With their help, we raised almost $104,000.
     
    Tell your story in a variety of ways

    We have only a few people managing our Facebook efforts, but even with a small team we’ve been able to deliver a variety of content types to keep followers engaged. We share a lot of photos of our own dogs, dogs meeting their new families, and previously adopted dogs thriving in their new homes. We also post videos, share news articles related to our mission, publish letters from adopters, and update our cover photo to reflect what’s new with the organization. We try to make sure we’re sharing not only interesting, useful, and engaging posts but also a variety of material to keep people coming back.

    It isn’t easy for a small nonprofit to manage a social media program, but it is worth doing and worth doing well. Our social media efforts align closely to our strategic goals, and the work it takes to sustain these social communities is as satisfying as it is essential to our overall success.

  5. The State of B2B Search Marketing

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    by Ayaz Nanji
     

    Marketers are steadily moving away from many traditional search tactics, and they are becoming increasingly content-focused, according to a recent report from Regalix.

    Nearly three-quarters (73%) of marketers surveyed say they now create content as a part of their organic search marketing efforts, surpassing the number who engage in practices traditionally held to be the core of SEO, such as metatag research/deployment (68%) and link-building (52%).

    Below, additional key insights from the report, which was based on data from a survey of 376 business leaders, senior marketing executives, and search practitioners from around the world (78% B2B-focused and 22% B2C-focused).

    Paid Search vs. Organic Search

    • Paid search marketing is used by most respondents at the top of the sales funnel, especially to boost awareness, consideration, and intent to purchase.
    • Organic search tactics are used throughout the sales funnel, though they are employed more frequently during the latter informational, engagement, and follow-up stages.

    Keywords

    • 76% of the marketers surveyed use generic informational keywords to enhance awareness around their brands/products/services and to direct prospects to their website.
    • 52% use keywords to direct prospects to comparison pages to help compare their solution with those of their competitors.
    • 43% use keywords that illustrate specific features, such as product cost and benefits.

    Social Media

    • 76% of B2B marketers surveyed use social media to support and boost their rankings on search engines.
    • LinkedIn is the most used social channel by B2B marketers; it is also considered the most effective.

    2014 Trends

    • 69% of respondents say the rise of content creation is a highly significant search marketing trend for 2014.
    • 33% say the increase in video searches is highly significant.

    About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 376 business leaders, senior marketing executives, and search practitioners from around the world (78% B2B-focused and 22% B2C-focused).