Are the rumors really true? Google gives $10k a month in free advertising to eligible nonprofits just for asking?
Yes, it’s true. But are there limitations? Yes. How can you get your hands on this money and make the most of it? Read on.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first back up and explain a few key elements about Google’s generosity.
“Are pay-per-click ads beneficial?” This may be a question you have asked yourself many times when thinking about starting a PPC campaign.
Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Paid search allows you to pay a fee to have your website be displayed on search result pages when someone types in a specific keyword or phrase to the search engine. You only pay when someone clicks.
You may not even recognize a pay-per-click ad when you see them in the search results. If you are a native to the web, you have certainly seen them. PPC ads can be found across the top of a search result page, as well as along the side.
Here are some top reasons why PPC may be beneficial to your business.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably already aware that there are a huge number of business benefits to being on Google+. It’s great for your position in Google’s results and to increase word-of-mouth. But have you heard of Google+ Hangouts?
This casually-named video conferencing feature is more than just a web-bound version of Skype. Host a video conference with up to nine other people (or 14 others if you activate “premium features”) or broadcast your conversation to the world. Use multiple cameras to capture your Hangout exactly how you imagined it. Screen share or pass documents back and forth. There’s even an API with which developers have built tools to use Hangouts in new ways.
If you’ve been on Google+ you know it’s a better SEO tool than social network. Google integrated many factors into their social platform that play a role in their search engine algorithm. Vic Gundotra, the Senior VP at Google, explained that Google+ is “the unification of all of Google’s services, with a common social layer.” Once again, Google has changed the face of social networks and their influence on rankings.
Companies need to understand how Google+ affects their rankings in Google’s search engine. Since Google seems to give preference to their properties in their SERPs (search engine results pages), it’s vital for companies to create a Google+ business page. Are you still asking “Should my business be on Google+?” Here’s a look at the reasons Google+ is far more than a social network and why your business should be actively using the platform.
Hanukkah came to a close on Sunday evening and Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. The malls are packed, shoppers are scrounging around for last minute deals and steals, and marketers are ready to give their holiday messages that final conclusive push.
In the world of online marketing, timing is king as companies follow suit of the most popular online shopping days in Q4 – a period where carefully crafted messages can either make or break the chance at a last minute sale before year’s end. Because the online medium provides companies and advertisers the ability to capture consumers at the heart of the buying process, oftentimes before they’re ready make a final decision, tailoring the message to their needs must be done with clear intention and extreme caution.
If your holiday marketing campaign includes tailoring messages through a PPC management in Google Adwords, allocating enough time to devote to maintaining and optimizing your account throughout the final week before the holiday rush can feel overwhelming and, oftentimes, impossible. Alas, in the spirit of holiday giving, the following tips provide a framework on utilizing an overlooked tool within the Adwords interface that can help you step away from the campaign and devote more time to enjoying the holidays with those you love.
So, What’s Automation?
Automated rules is a feature within the Adwords interface that gives you the ability to make changes to your account automatically, based on settings and campaign performance conditions that you choose. Automated rules can be set within the campaign, ad group, keywords, and ad text levels of your entire campaign, and provide versatility in delegating action upon tasks that are usually done manually by the advertiser. So before you sit back and wonder how in the world you’re going to get up at midnight to set a special promotion ad group to go live, worry no more – automation has got you covered!
How to Set Up Automated Rules
Setting up automated rules within the Adwords interface is relatively straightforward and requires no more than 2 minutes of your time. The time you spend now to set up a couple automated rules within your campaign will inevitably save you 1-2 hours a week that you would have spent optimizing your PPC campaigns during the holidays, so it’s worth the investment!
To find the Automation settings in Adwords, click the Automate drop-down menu on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads, or Keywords tab.
Depending on the campaign level that you’re planning on implementing rules under, the options available for selection in the drop-down will be different:
- Within the Campaign level, advertisers can make adjustments to the daily budget, campaign status, and receive email updates when an automated rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad group level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC, ad group status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad text level, advertisers can make adjustments to the ad status and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Keywords level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC bids, raise bids to top of page CPC, raise bids to first page CPC, keyword status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
When thinking about all of the changes you implement to your PPC campaign manually, it doesn’t seem so difficult to put together a comprehensive list of the work that automated rules can do for you.
The Meat and Potatoes of Automation
In order to help you better visualize how automation works, the examples below are good starting blocks to reducing the amount of manual tasks associated with your holiday PPC campaigns.
Schedule Ads for Holiday Specials/Events
Let’s say you plan to schedule ads for special promotions or events on Christmas Eve, arguably one of the largest shopping days of the holiday season, and have them end the day after Christmas. Instead of camping out next to your computer until the clock strikes midnight, how about you set up an automated rule for it and rest easy?
First, create the ads and keep them set to pause. Then set up two automated rules: one for the day the ads are set to go live on Christmas Eve and the other to pause the ads at midnight on December 27th.
To create these rules, go to All online campaigns within your Adwords dashboard, then click the Ads tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Enable Ads When… and customize your campaign options closely mirroring the screenshot below.
Next, create your second rule, this time following the options under the Pause Ads When… selection, and change the frequency to December 27th at midnight. And then you’re done! Your ads will run between midnight on Christmas Eve through midnight on December 27th.
Pause Campaigns that Spend Certain Budget Partway Through Month
Create a custom automated rule for campaigns to better track your spend throughout the busy periods of the month. For example, if you want to check the status on a campaign that is likely to exhaust its budget relatively quick into the month of December, run an automated rule to check the spend daily at 6 am and pause if it has spent over half the monthly budget, say $200.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns and select the Campaigns tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Pause Campaigns When… and tailor your options mirroring the example image below:
Because this rule deals primarily with optimizing the campaign budget, it would be a good idea to set up an email alert to inform you if this rule has been triggered. That way, if and when you do receive notification, you can go into your campaign, better allocate your budget spend and re-enable the campaign for the rest of the month.
Pause Low-Performing Ads Based on Metrics
Because you’re advertising for the holiday season, shoppers want to see carefully crafted and attention grabbing ads that will make them want to convert. In turn, shoppers are happy because they can find what they’re looking for, and you’re happy because you made a sale. But not everyone is a literary genius when it comes to writing PPC ads that drive conversion; so if such is the case for you, no worries, there’s a rule for that, too!
If, for example, you’re looking to test out and pause any ads that don’t perform as desired within the holiday season, you can use a daily rule to look for ads with less than a 0.1% CTR and over 2,000 impressions in the last day.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns in your Adwords account. Click the Ads tab, then select the Automate drop-down menu. Choose the Pause Ads When… option and customize your options to mirror the example below:
This rule helps better track your keyword/ad group/ad performance by honing in on the ads that aren’t driving significant traffic to your website. When you begin weeding out the low performers, you’re able to understand what phrases, products and calls to action don’t stack up to the needs of your target audience. Plus, it also greatly influences the overall CTR of the campaigns that are performing well.
Next, Try Advanced Automation Techniques
While the examples mentioned above cover very basic, yet important campaign optimization techniques, try researching online for tips setting up more advanced automation rules. Examples:
- Raise bids for keywords below first page bid to ensure holiday ads are secured in the top positions;
- Raise bids during high performance hours or days of the week; lower bids during low performance hours or days of the week; i.e., Raise bids by 25% on Christmas Eve to move ads to higher ad positions;
- Change the max CPC keyword bids to control your average ad position of holiday ads.
The options are virtually endless when it comes to creating rules, so drive right into Automation and explore the many ways in which you can increase the level of control you have over your campaign.
Wrapping it Up
If automation is no longer applicable to your holiday PPC campaigns (either because they’ve run out or you haven’t set any up this year), consider the major takeaways from these tips and begin positioning yourself ahead of the competition for next December. Or better yet, start testing today. Automation certainly is not limited to any specific time of the year, so if you’ve got a major event coming up and want to devote more time to that, use automated rules to take care of the manual labor and spend more time enjoying the event, knowing that your campaigns will be taken care of.
Do you have any other actionable tips for optimizing your PPC campaign this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
The Golden Rule of SEO
“Think like your customer.” If your company has even the faintest working knowledge of SEO and its best practices, then you have probably heard this statement a thousand times before — and justly so. The key to breaking through to quality rankings in Google SERPs involves thinking like the customers do when they conduct a basic Internet search.
But sometimes thinking like the customer can be a difficult task, especially for those deeply involved in the business. While you may think it’s possible to rid yourself of any recollection of your business, sometimes you might not even be sure what your customers know and don’t know about your products or services. This can make customer engagement a challenging task and make it a lot more difficult to improve your SEO efforts. There are a number of things businesses can do in terms of influencing customer engagement for SEO purposes, but crowdsourcing can be a fun and exciting way to tap into the minds of your target market.
A fairly new concept in the online marketing world, crowdsourcing is the term to describe the act of reaching out to members of the Internet community to contribute to a campaign or project. Crowdsourcing involves appealing to a wider community whose advice and opinions matter most, and it is usually up to the party in question as to whether or not the consumer input is rewarded. Campaigns can take the form of a themed post, a custom landing page, a discussion board or any type of unique, shareable content that fosters a sense of community within the brand.
If this concept is still not ringing a bell, “My Starbucks Idea” is a great example of how crowdsourcing consumer information has produced an interesting marketing campaign.
In 2008, My Starbucks Idea started out as a community website intended to collect suggestions and product feedback from customers, but evolved into something much bigger than that. Unlike most crowdsourcing campaigns that are centered towards improving the business’s products and services, Starbucks created a campaign that instead focuses on the entire customer experience. Ideas have stretched way past the development of better products and entered into the realm of establishing and maintaining Starbucks’ corporate social responsibility. Users are heavily involved in the voting process and have put many well-known ideas into action. That plastic reusable cup you drink your frappe from once originated as a My Starbucks Idea back in 2008.
The power of the crowd is already being utilized by many businesses and is serving as an initiative to replace current customer service models. Crowdsourcing taps right into the core line of support and information for a business’s model: its market. The information can be perceived as honest and invaluable in terms of consumer engagement on a more personal level. And what can be better than getting feedback from the decision makers in your industry?
Okay, So What About SEO?
A recent SEO case study conducted by a photo identification products vendor, ID Wholesaler, took a glimpse into the world of crowdsourcing by creating a unique campaign intended to increase customer engagement for the B2B retailer. Their efforts didn’t stop there; the campaign also aimed at improving various SEO tasks that the company had yet to target including increasing their inbound links and Google SERP rankings.
So what did they do? A lanyard design contest prompted a niche target market (graphic artists, fashion designers, etc.) to submit design entries to a custom landing page that served as the central hub of the campaign efforts. Much like My Starbucks Idea, visitors could submit, view and vote for their favorite entries until a winning design was selected. ID Wholesaler received over 80 entries, 7,000 votes, and nearly 1,000 Facebook “likes” following the campaign launch.
Lanyard Design Contest Custom Landing Page – Source SEO Moz
Although they chose to pay the winning designer, the campaign proved to be well worth the investment. Because the campaign required some initial outreach, the company was able to dig deeper into social networking, an area of online marketing that proved to be an ongoing challenge for the B2B retailer. The campaign spurred a large volume of blog articles written about the contest, as well as a spike in social mentions and inbound links. Crowdsourcing has the potential to turn your online “focus group” into a great source of links back to your site.
Crowdsourcing campaigns can also help your website show an increase in non-paid traffic and rankings, which can be traced through Google Analytics. For ID Solutions, their results were quite eye opening and provided them with fresh information regarding keyword opportunities they were not previously targeting. Keyword variations for the term “lanyard” saw a 90% increase in non-paid traffic and the company jumped to the number 2 position in Google for the search term “ID badge lanyards.”
Ranking History – Source: SEOmoz
If creating a fresh campaign from scratch is too intimidating for you, crowdsourcing can also be as simple as creating an ongoing forum that could be promoted through social networks. A couple intriguing questions is all it takes for decision makers within your industry to want to respond, which can prompt relationship building with industry authority figures, a wider scope of input, more links, more site content and increased brand exposure. If you’re a small restaurateur, decision makers could include a food reviewer or even your local food distributor. Whatever the case, igniting the conversation within key influencers can set you up with the perfect opportunity to understand how viewers interact with your brand, and with a little testing, can point out flaws in your site’s usability and conversion data (Source: http://www.submitawebsite.com/blog/2010/03/crowdsourcing-websites-and-seo.html).
But Before You Go Crowdsourcing Crazy…
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to crowdsourcing. I think this article from Mashable does a nice job of explaining some key tips for your next campaign, but here are the main things to be cautious of when it comes to crowdsourcing:
Understand that crowdsourcing campaigns involve some type of initial or post-investment.
- People want to be rewarded for good ideas. Don’t damage your brand reputation by just soliciting people for what you want – reward those ideas which you want to make use of!
Set Campaign Rules and Have Them Handy.
- Be very clear about what you’re looking for from your visitors, the time period of the campaign and how/when you will select winners. And make sure to have these rules posted on your site to prevent any disasters from occurring.
Keep It Professional.
- Some call crowdsourcing “a solicitation for free ideas.” However, if you keep your campaign professional and rules clear, there is no reason why your brand cannot foster some interesting conversations to produce a change for a mutual benefit. Your consumers are telling you what they want… what could be easier than that?
Has your company had any experience with a crowdsourcing, or have you participated in one? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.