What Is A Landing Page And Why Should You Care?

Dedicated landing pages are an important tool for your paid search and/or email campaigns. It’s amazing to me how many companies are still dropping visitors on their homepage, instead of creating a dedicated landing page to match the offer.

Whether it’s lack of time, lack of knowledge, or just laziness that is keeping you from implementing dedicated landing pages into your marketing mix, you should know that you are leaving money on the table.

A dedicated landing page, or a custom landing page, is exactly what it sounds like; a page that is constructed for a very specific purpose or goal. It is not meant to showcase a wide array of products, or to introduce a visitor to your company or service and hope they bookmark the site and return when they have time. The purpose of a landing page is to capture a lead, sell a product, and/or provide a download. It is generated to accomplish a ‘goal’- right here, right now.

Dedicated landing pages are the entryway into your site for visitors that you are actively targeting. They should be worked into all of your online marketing initiatives — from search to social, B2B, B2C, etc. When implemented correctly, a page that is created with a specific goal will likely produce dramatic results.

In a blog article from 2013, Kelly Lorenz from Bronto (a marketing automation service) estimated that in her experience, “…95% of online marketers who use email don’t use custom landing pages.” Too many companies are making this costly mistake; custom landing pages are key to conversions on a website. According to Hubspot.com: a dedicated landing page should convert 5-15% better than the main pages of your site. With some testing and tweaking, the improvement could be considerably higher. Who wouldn’t be interested in a potential 20% increase in conversions?

What Makes a Good Landing Page?

The concept of a landing page is simple: a page with one clear goal will likely be more effective than dropping a visitor on a general page or home page. However the creation and implementation requires tailored knowledge of how people interact with online information, and the ability to test various elements of the page to achieve optimal results.

There are plenty of tools and tests that can help you with constructing a page that conforms to best practices, but every industry is different, and understanding your visitor and how they process information is imperative. You can base your decisions on what has worked for other people, but that will only take you so far. A good landing page should be able to engage a visitor within the first few seconds, giving them what they need, and enticing them to give you something in return.

Regardless of your industry, a custom landing page should present a visitor with three immediate thoughts:

  1. Where Am I? - There should be no need for explanation here. A visitor should know exactly where they are when they see a custom landing page. You can accomplish this by consistent design and messaging that makes a seamless transition from the advertising medium to your site. If the visitor is coming from an email, the email should have the same look and feel as the website. This includes logos, colors, language, etc.  If a visitor feels disoriented, there is a good chance they will hit the back button. Make sure your page fits in with where they previously were – no surprises, no second guesses.
  2. What Can I Do Here? - This should be very clear, with limited options. The landing page has a goal, and hopefully that fits in with visitors’ agendas. Resist the temptation to offer multiple choices to appeal to different intents. Your marketing should already be heavily segmented by interest and intent; your past research will likely target the right person with the right offer.
  3. Why Should I Do It? - Or, ‘what’s in it for me?’ This is the most challenging of the three questions. There are plenty of other places offering something similar. What makes you stand out and worthy of winning the visitors’ trust and/or business?

Think of this interaction as a conversation between you and the visitors. If they feel disoriented, or you do not appear to be the best choice in an endless sea of options, it’s a simple case of hitting the back button and moving on to the next. It’s likely that you paid for this visit (click), so you don’t want them walking out the door. If they do, there’s a good chance they will not be back.

Psychology of Landing Page Design

Psychology of Landing Page Design - Clear Path Through the WoodsDesigning a custom landing page is not something that can be based on opinion or assumptions; it requires a very clear understanding of your target audience – what they need, what they know, and what they don’t know. It doesn’t hurt to have a basic understanding of how people interact with webpages and how they process information. A quick search in Google will bring up a wealth of results from landing page tests. Testing various elements is essential to the design process and it is a mistake to assume you know how your audience will interact with your landing page.

We can control the focus of our visitors using subtle or not-so subtle visuals. This example has been used before, but it’s worth repeating. If it is obvious, people will follow the path that is laid out in front of them.

By keeping the visitor moving down a calculated route, you can get them to the desired destination without letting them get side-tracked by distractions.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Landing Pages - Users Follow the EyesThe Department of Social Psychology at the University of Padua, Italy conducted a study demonstrating that people are unable to resist following the gaze of another person and similarly, the same goes for directional arrows. There is a reason you see so many landing pages with giant colorful arrows pointing at the call-to-action. A more subtle approach is the use of faces that are looking in a specific direction. If you were not aware of this until now, you will notice it immediately the next time you encounter it in an advertisement. A good landing page will take advantage of the brain’s subconscious habit of following visual cues that direct you towards a specific call-to-action.

Scanning

Most people tend to quickly scan a webpage; they don’t read it like they would a book or an article. The use of bullets and headlines are going to get the reader’s attention. This is where you make it clear to the visitor: this is what you will get. List the benefits and features of your offer. Keep it simple and stay on message. Use only enough information to get your point across.

The Fold

This is probably the most contentious subject on the construction of a good landing page. Some people will tell you with the utmost confidence that ‘People don’t scroll’, others will tell you that ‘In this day and age, people are used to scrolling and above the fold is outdated’. We are living in a multiscreen world, one person’s fold is another person’s full screen. Perhaps your page requires more than four or five bullet points to provide the necessary information to help the visitor make their decision. The top of the screen is prime real estate, but do not feel that you need to cram everything into a limited amount of space. A cluttered page is far more distracting than having to move a mouse or swipe a finger. Make your case as quickly as possible and try to keep the call-to-action in view regardless of where the visitor is looking on the page.

Always Be Testing

If it seems like I have mentioned the importance of testing in every paragraph of this article, it’s because I have. There will undoubtedly be more articles on our blog that focus entirely on testing, but it’s essential to creating landing pages that convert, so it must be mentioned here.

Testing is a science. What might seem like the smallest, most insignificant element – when changed – can result in an astounding change in the conversion rate of your landing page. You should be conducting A/B and multivariate testing on every landing page that you create. Common elements that can have incredible effects are:

  • Headlines and header images
  • Form fields
  • Body content
  • Button colors, sizes, and text
  • Images and colors
  • Font color and sizes

Testing page elements requires more effort than simply making arbitrary changes to the page and hoping the conversion rate improves. Testing is a science and calls for a process. There are quite a few online tools that allow you to create multiple versions of your page and automatically divide your traffic between versions until a winner has been determined.

Test as much as your time or budget will allow, and then test a little more. Your landing page conversion rate can always improve.

And if you hit 100% conversion rate – please call me, because I would like to know your secret.

Summary

Dedicated landing pages are often one of the last tactics put into play with online marketing efforts, if they are put in play at all. In my opinion, this is a mistake and they should be taken into consideration at the start of a new website or marketing campaign. You would be hard pressed to find an example where landing page creation was a waste of time and money, so what are you waiting for? If it’s true that 95% of companies are dropping visitors on a webpage that they think is ‘good enough’, then there is still time for you to get a competitive edge. Find a partner that understands the importance of having dedicated landing pages and has the tools and experience to assist you in creating a beneficial tool for your website. There is money on the table, and you should grab it before someone else does.

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New vs. Returning Visits Showdown

New vs Returning Visits Showdown

How does Google differentiate “New” versus “Returning” visits?

Before I get into the nitty gritty details, I want to make sure that you have a Google Analytics account and have the analytics code implemented on your website. If not, then check out Getting Started with Analytics.

Here we go: When a user enters your website, a first-party cookie (aka: a unique visitor cookie which is used to collect Google Analytics data) is issued by the website being visited. This first-party cookie is set to expire after two years, and is stored on the user’s browser.

In other words, if a user has been to your site in the past two years, the visit will be counted as a returning visit. For users who have never visited your website or used it prior to the two years of the cookie being issued, the visit will be considered a new visit. Sidenote: it is possible that a user who has previously visited the site cleared their cookies. In this instance, a return to your site would be viewed as “new”. Unfortunately there is no way around this, and for the purposes of this post, we will take these users out of consideration.

What Are the Benefits of Returning Visitors?

Some website owners may think to themselves, “Why worry about returning visitors? They have already been to my website and they know that I exist. Shouldn’t my primary goal be attracting new visitors?”

If you agree to the statement above, I hope my knowledge and experience will change the way you way think about this subject.

First, let’s remember that over half of the visitors that arrive to your website for the first time are not ready to make a purchase. They are somewhere in the Customer Buying Process: researching, looking for options, or even investigating alternatives.

Let’s take a look at the Customer Buying Process:

  1. Recognition of a need – I would consider this the most important step in the Customer Buying Process as we know a purchase can’t take place without the customer recognizing the need for a potential purchase.
  1. Information/Research – Now that the need is recognized, the next step a customer may take is the Information/Research stage. This is when they investigate the best solution(s) to their problem. * Your potential customer will more than likely check out information you supply on your website, word of mouth, videos, news articles, etc.
  1. Analysis/Comparison/Options – As I’m sure you expected, consumers will now evaluate different options such as products and brands. * This is why the content you supply on your website is so important in the buying process. You need to be able to deliver information, answers, and benefits that the customers are seeking.
  1. Purchase Decision – Finally, we made it! After a lot of information gathering and research, the customer is ready to commit to a purchase. * Important: clear Call To Actions (CTA’s) are imperative. Don’t let your customers guess their next steps!

Below are some great screen grabs of the importance of a returning visitor:

New Vs Returning Google Analytics Screencap 1

New Vs Returning Google Analytics Screencap 2

New Vs Returning Google Analytics Screencap 3

Images supplied by Marketing Results

It is important to remember that it can take several points of contact to make a sale.Now,after having a better understanding of the Customer Buying Process and considering the amount of time it may take to make a purchase decision, it sure is nice to have that returning visitor. Isn’t it?

What Are the Benefits of New Visitors?

Why do you want new visitors? This should be relatively obvious, but let’s elaborate just in case.

You want new visitors to your website for the following reasons:

  1. They become aware that you and your products exist.
  2. You can answer the questions and needs that they have when they are in the research stages.
  3. They return when they are ready to make a purchase and convert.

There are several ways to generate new leads such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Campaign – SEO is the use of techniques, tactics, and well thought out strategies to increase organic (free) visits to a website by obtaining high keyword placement in SERPs (Search engine results pages) resulting in high visibility.
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign – Online advertising using ads which generate leads to your website that is paid only if someone clicks on your ad. Here’s a great article on How to Beat Your Competition at PPC.
  • Submitting you website to major search engines like Google and Yahoo Directory – Friendly Tip – Google is free and Yahoo has a fee.
  • Word of mouth – I don’t think I have to explain.
  • Getting links on high traffic reputable websites – Take a look at your competition that rank well in the SERP for keywords that you are targeting. See who they are getting links from, focusing on high authority websites, and try to obtain a link from them as well.
  • Content creation – Creating blogs, videos, articles, etc.

Before you move forward and begin your showdown with any of these strategies, I recommend you do a bit of research on your own to get a good understanding of the depth of these tactics. Otherwise, feel free to contact a marketing firm who have experts waiting to help you accomplish your online goals.

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Assisted Conversions: Understanding Secondary Benefits of Marketing Initiatives

Think of the last high cost item you purchased. Did you know exactly what you were looking for? Did you buy it as soon as you saw it? Or did you search through multiple websites and stores to see which one had the better price? Or which one offered a better shipping rate? Online shoppers have multiple touch points with websites or stores before they decide to make a final purchase. The same phenomenon can be observed in website Goal Conversions; sometimes it takes customers multiple times to access your website before completing a Goal Conversion. Here is an example of an Assisted Conversion Channel Path as pulled from Google Analytics:

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Assisted Conversions track the multiple touch points customers make on a website before they complete a Goal Conversion. It is easy to get caught up in what closes the conversion, however it is important to monitor the process of Assisted Conversions because they help us look at what initiates, develops, and closes the conversion.

 

 

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Initiate

The first section tells us what initially brought customers to the site. In this case, it was a paid search ad (PPC) that had a meaningful message which resonated with the customer, ultimately enticing the click. What if that ad was not there when the customer was browsing? Would the customer have ever come to the site? This shows the importance of your first impression to customers.

 

 

pic3

Develops

The first time the customer went to the website, they were interested but did not complete a conversion action at that time. The next period, “develops”, is when the site is developing the user into a customer. In this example, the user went to the website five times before his last click of the Assisted Conversion; direct twice, then through an organic search, and then direct another two times. We can see that the website made an impression on the customer because after going through the PPC ad, the customer went directly back to the site. It is possible the customer did this by saving the website as a bookmark or going directly to the webpage by typing the URL into his browser.

During these multiple visits, customers could be comparing the information to competitors’ offerings, doing research, price checking, etc. The website is developing trust with the users and establishes itself as an informative company that offers what the need.

 

 

pic4

Closes

The final touch point in the channel conversion path is the last direct website visit in which the user completed the conversion. This session turned them from a user into a customer, but never would have happened without the assistance of all the other touch points along the way.

Understanding the customer journey through Assisted Conversions shows the importance of all channels of online marketing (paid search, direct, & organic) and how they work together to get you the quality conversions you want. The process of Assisted Conversions (initiating, developing, and closing) present visitors with multiple touch points on your website and assist in converting them into customers who see the value and trust of your brand.

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How To Beat Your Competitors At PPC

archer aiming downward at target

When it comes to online advertising, one of the top points of frustration for clients and prospects is the visibility of their chief competitors. Whether the performance of other advertisers in the marketplace is due to skill, luck, or both, there are strategies that can maximize your returns no matter who is sitting at the table.

Perception is reality. Perception is the competition showing up “all the time” in the search engine results. The reality is that there are methods to overcome those obstacles despite your market being severely entrenched.

What makes you stand out? In sales and marketing, we call this your “unique selling proposition”, “USP”, or “value props”. In the pay-per-click advertising discipline, this ties directly into your ad copy. Assuming your keywords are well chosen, your bids are sound, and other targeted settings are optimized, you now have a potential customer and this is your chance to shine.

If you are concerned with keeping up with the Joneses, start mapping your competitors’ searches and ads. Examine how they market themselves. How can you use their marketing strategies for your benefit? What common themes do you see? What kinds of value props are they advertising? Short lead times? Low cost? Huge inventory?

If you partner with an agency, you will most likely have access to more sophisticated tools for your strategy. You will be able to see the paid keywords and ads your competitor’s websites are ranking for. Use this information to make decisions. This is more efficient than manually doing Google searches and recording the results.

Keep in mind that playing off of existing ideas seen in ads is a great way to get started and put yourself in the mindset for developing new ad copy for yourself. However, the real win is going to be differentiating yourself from the herd, especially in a case when Google is serving 10 text ads in the same results page.

When everyone else in the market is competing on the basis of price, take this as an opportunity to offer value that no one else can. Whether that comes in the form of education, quality, or customer service, you want to take your moment of truth in the search engine results and capitalize on the value that sets you apart.

To do some more advanced brainstorming, I would recommend generating a spreadsheet. Begin by mapping out features and corresponding benefits of your products or services. Ask for an outside perspective; it’s easy to have tunnel vision when you’re so close to your business every day.

From there, think about how people might find you on the search engines. What kinds of searches might lead them to your website? How might someone’s readiness to contact you or purchase influence the type of messaging they are likely to respond well to?

With this information prepared, you are ready to sit down and write ads that are contextual and relevant. Good ads speak to the user at the right moment in the right way based on the keywords they will show for. By taking the time to work through this creative process, you will already be steps ahead of most of your competitors.

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How To Develop A Successful Online Marketing Strategy

I’m going to start with a pretty big assumption: you know that you need to market your business online. You’ve read that online sales are expected to grow from $225 Billion in 2012 to $491 Billion in 2018.You are also aware that even when a purchase does not occur online that 81% of consumers research online before buying. “But Justin,” you say, “those are e-commerce and B2C driven statistics. You’ve left out the fact that 78% of B2B buyers start their research with search!” And you are absolutely right! Again, we’re all savvy business owners and operators so the question is not if we should invest in online marketing, it’s how we invest.

The majority of users will have their first impression of your business online, so make it count. Do it right and you will earn the new business you’re looking for. Do it wrong and your competitors will be writing you thank you cards for driving customers away.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

This may seem like an obvious step, but you’d be surprised how often defining marketing goals is overlooked or taken for granted. Business owners assume that their marketing department knows what they want for their business. Marketing Executives think their agency understands their business goals because they were alluded to over a series of five separate e-mails/phone calls/meetings. Hindsight reveals these obvious disconnects, but I get it: when you are in the thick of a project, goals and objectives can get lost. It happens to the best of us.

To avoid these disconnects, I focus on the SMART method for goal development. It ensures the goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific – Be specific with your marketing goals. Business owners are going to have the goal of growing their business/revenue/clientele etc… This is admirable and necessary for their business to succeed but it lacks the specificity needed to effectively market the company. Will the business grow through promotion of a new product line? Or acquiring international business? Or by expanding into new markets? Take the time to identify your specific objective.
  • Measurable – You should be able to measure how your efforts are performing in relation to your goal. This will help you keep track of the progress made while the campaign is running, and will also help you determine how effective your marketing efforts are at the end of the day.
  • Attainable – While everyone would love to have a site that drives millions of visitors a day, this is not possible for 99+% of site owners. While I applaud and encourage aggressive marketing goals, a healthy dose of reality will help you set the proper expectations and help you succeed in the long run.
  • Relevant – A relevant goal will be appropriate for your business, industry and your target audience. For example, reaching 1000 views of your YouTube video tutorial by the end of the month may be specific, measurable, attainable and time-bound, but it’s probably not relevant if your target demographic is 65+ years old.
  • Time-bound – Setting a time-frame can help keep your efforts on track as there will be specific deadlines around your marketing strategy. Grounding your goal in a time-frame will also provide you with boundaries to accurately measure the success of your strategy.

Step 2: Identify Your Assets

The key to success in an online marketing campaign is having a bevy of tools at your disposal all working in harmony. You cannot maximize marketing results by relying on one channel. Even if your goal is to raise your social following, you need your website to promote your social properties, specific markup to make sharing easy and interactive, or an incentive/giveaway for those that choose to follow.

Start by creating an inventory of the various assets that you have to support your online marketing campaign. This will be a mixture of digital assets, physical assets and manpower. Don’t limit this list based on your specific goals. This list should be comprehensive and a resource that can be updated/re-used for future marketing efforts.

Then evaluate each asset on a scale of 1 to 5 (5=I’ve got the best asset in town, 1=I sure hope that no one sees this…). This will help you identify opportunities for improvement as well as which assets are ready to promote your marketing initiative.

There are numerous assets that may be at your disposal but here are a few examples and what you should be evaluating. Also consider getting a third party involved for some of the more subjective criteria.

Website: This is the crux of any marketing campaign, let alone an online campaign. Make sure this is looked at with the most critical eye. Some things to consider during your evaluation:

  • Is my site responsive? Mobile usage is spiking and sites with a poor experience on phones and tablets will suffer.
  • Does my website appropriately represent my brand? You’ve worked hard to build a world-class business, does your website reflect that?
  • Is my site setup to convert? Depending on your goals, is your set built to guide users to your desired outcome (form completion, e-mail, social share etc…)?

Blog: A blog can be a great way to develop fresh content that users in your industry and marketplace are looking for, but only if executed properly:

  • Do you have a target audience in mind? You should have an understanding of who you are trying to speak to in order to develop appropriate blog topics.
  • Does your content have value? Make sure you’re developing content that there is demand for. An easy way to do that is talk to your sales or customer service team to brainstorm questions or concerns that customers have when buying your products/services. Then develop content to address those questions and concerns.
  • Do you post frequently? There is no magic number for the frequency of blog posts, however a blog that is poorly maintained or ignored can hurt more than it helps. Choose a posting frequency that is both realistic for your team, and often enough to promote confidence in users.

Social Media: Like a blog, social media can be a great tool when utilized properly. It gives businesses the ability to engage with their customers and promote their content.

  • Are you on the right social properties? There are many different social media outlets to choose from and not every one of them is right for your business. An understanding of your customers, industries and products can provide insights into where you need to be active and which media you can avoid.
  • Have you optimized/branded your social accounts? Social media can be used to search through their database of users/companies/pages so optimizing your account with keywords can help users find you. Also, make sure that the account is an appropriate reflection of your company and brand. Use similar color schemes, logos, and value propositions to maintain consistency.
  • Do you post frequently/appropriately? Each social media is different and has their own set of best practices. Take some time to learn about what those are before giving up on a social media channel.

Download our full Marketing Asset Evaluation Worksheet to complete a full assessment.


Step 3: Create your plan

Now that you have your goals and an understanding of the assets at your disposal, the time has come to create your master marketing plan. When creating your plan, make sure that you are setting deadlines, timelines and expectations for the various marketing channels. With all of the variables and uncertainty that come along with a marketing campaign, this allows you to take a modicum of control over the strategy. It also helps when you go back to analyze the plan to understand its effectiveness.

Step 4: Execute!

This may sound like a no-brainer but you need to put the plan into action. It’s easy to get lazy or overlook a part of the plan that you think is less valuable, but you took the time to develop an elaborate plan, now you need to see it in action.

Remember: your plan may be a work in progress. There may be channels that perform really well and you may want to allocate more time and budget sacrificing underperforming parts of the plan. I would advise that you be flexible while also being patient. Some marketing efforts take time to build momentum and yield results. Pulling the trigger too quickly could cost you in the long run.

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Top 3 Benefits of Combining SEO and PPC

There is a lot of controversy about whether organic or paid digital marketing channels provide the best return for businesses. This debate continues even within the search marketing community, and each side claims a number of well-known and respected proponents. Putting that all aside for a moment, ask yourself this clarifying question:

Are you thinking about search marketing in the way that makes sense for your business?

If there is one thing that both sides can agree on, it is that visibility in the search engines is a good thing, and we all want more of it. The scarcity of the top positions in search engines for valuable keywords is real, as is the opportunity cost of not playing the game at all. If you are not actively engaged in improving your visibility where it counts, the likelihood that your competitors will ultimately benefit is very high.

The best thing that you can do is to view search marketing as an investment that deserves a strategy. A partnership with a team of experts makes the breadth of this strategy more manageable and allows you to capitalize on more of the opportunities at hand. The best search marketing strategies do not favor organic over paid, but find ways to optimize the use of both channels to reap the greatest benefit.

Below are the highest impact ways that including both of these channels in your arsenal can improve your online marketing strategy and make you a better, more efficient brand evangelist:

  1. Keyword data. The #1 way to determine what works well in search is to battle test keywords in a pay-per-click campaign. This will reveal not only click-through rates for given terms in your specific geographic area, but also valuable insight into which keywords your audience is actually searching in order to trigger your ads. Once you have these insights, you need to make them actionable! Follow the market; map the best performing keywords to your website and do on-page optimization while continuing to develop content around them. These efforts will pay off by bringing in more organic traffic down the road. Additionally, they will help to improve your quality scores for paid search, which will provide savings and boost average ad position with time.
  1. Occupy more real estate in the search results page. There have been multiple studies done that suggest that click-through rates in the search engine results increase dramatically when multiple results for the same domain exist on the same page. With PPC & SEO, you can build strategies to try and rank highly for terms of great value to your business. By taking over spots both on top, in the side bar, through Shopping ads, local, and organic results, the opportunities for a strong brand to own SERPs for their key terms is higher than ever. Plus, having a plan in place for both disciplines will make you more resilient to changes in the ranking algorithms.
  1. Achieve greater spending efficiencies when you work with an agency that isn’t organized in silos. By sharing keyword data among teams within the agency, you can optimize spending by channel. On the paid side, you can review the “Paid vs. Organic” report in Google AdWords to see which terms perform better where – and adjust strategy accordingly. What used to work well in the past may not be working as well today. For instance, new advertisers are always entering the marketplace, and occasionally bid automation software will drive up the cost of individual keywords to a point that makes their paid ROI negligible. If that kind of situation arises, you can begin working on an organic ranking strategy to stay relevant for that term and save money in the process.

Working with someone that understands how your business objectives can be mapped to a marketing strategy and subsequently deployed through all of the tools available (such as search engine optimization and pay per click) will put you among the elite in today’s digital marketing world. A good strategy is comprehensive, integrated, and tied to the numbers. So if you haven’t been putting your website to work for you in as many ways as possible, ask yourself:

Are you thinking about search marketing in the way that makes sense for your business?

Follow the author of this post, Ben Page, at @Benjamin_Page.

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The Importance of Claiming Your Company Name on Twitter

Every company should claim their company’s name on Twitter – even if you don’t plan on tweeting. The biggest reason is to claim your company’s name before someone else does. But there are other reasons, which I will cover in this blog post.

It’s Easy

Setting up a Twitter account is easy and takes only a few minutes. There are many great tutorials that will guide you through the process. This tutorial is old, but I like it and find it is still very useful.

Creates Consistent Branding

As I mentioned at the outset, claiming your company’s name on Twitter is very important. All too often, we will help a client set up a new social media campaign only to discover that their company name is already being used on Twitter.Name Chck Image_revised

There are a number of platforms created to check the availability of Twitter handles. My favorite is NameChk, which is shown above. With this free tool you can check the availability of potential names on Twitter as well as more than 150 social media platforms.

Your company may not actively use Twitter now, but you may decide to in the future. Capturing your company name on Twitter helps maintain your company branding. In most cases, you don’t have to worry about your Twitter handle expiring. Even if your account remains inactive for longer than six months, which is when Twitter deems it as being an inactive account, it most likely won’t get claimed by another person. If you are concerned about your account becoming inactive, you can periodically send out a tweet to maintain the account’s activity.

Access to Monitoring Tools

One of the greatest aspects of Twitter is having access to information from respected authorities in various industries. Once you have a Twitter account, you can access tools like TweetDeck, which takes social media monitoring to a whole new level.

Tweetdeck image

TweetDeck is awesome because it allows you to set up multiple streams for following different data sets. TweetDeck allows you to track people who are mentioning you, your company or various brands, track your Twitter’s account activity, interact with different people; and manage all of your interactions. All of these things can be very helpful for managing your marketing activities.

Just Do It

So even if you don’t have immediate plans to start tweeting, take a few minutes out of your day and claim your Twitter handle. It’s simple, easy and will provide great opportunities for branding in the future.

 

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Conversion Tracking Within Google AdWords

Measuring the Effectiveness of your PPC Advertising

With the recent changes to popular naming conventions within AdWords, as well as the updates to the methods used for measuring conversions themselves, I thought a fresh look at the way we measure conversions within the dashboard was in order. A pre-requisite for tracking within AdWords is to make sure that:

  • AdWords auto-tagging is enabled
  • AdWords is linked to a Google Analytics view with goals set up
  • You have imported your Google Analytics goals into Adwords

Once you are confident you are tracking all of the goals you need to in your analytics view, you are ready to proceed. Note that I assume you are using call extensions with your ads for the rest of my article. If you need help with establishing any of the above, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@Benjamin_Page) for assistance.

First, you will want to be on the campaigns tab in the dashboard. From there, you will want to customize your columns [“Columns” dropdown > “Customize Columns”] and add the four following:

1. “Converted Clicks” – similar to the old one-per-click conversion column, which tracks unique conversions – because duplicates from multiple conversions via the same ad click are not included here. This column does include users who “clicked to call” using the ad’s call extension.

2. “Estimated Total Conversions” – this also happens to be an area addressed in the Google Partners webinar last week. This column represents estimated cross device, many-per-click, and manually dialed phone call conversions. With many-per-click conversion tracking, duplicates count (see #3).

3. “Conversions” – tracks many-per-click conversions. If one click leads to multiple conversions, all subsequent conversions (within the default 30-day window) are counted here.

4. “Phone Call Conversions” – tracks manually dialed phone call conversions that last over your specified threshold (default is 60 seconds). If someone sees your call extension phone number and manually enters it on their keypad, it is routed through the Google call center and subsequently tracked.

The best way to make this report more visually appealing and actionable is to segment by “Click Type” once you have these columns enabled. From there, you will be able to see clicks on the different parts of the ad, it’s extensions, and the call type.

In this example, there are 84 “Converted Clicks”, 3 of which are mobile clicks-to-call. There are 9 “Phone Call Conversions”, which were manually dialed. This would mean that we saw 93 total unique conversions for that campaign within the specified date range. Presently, this is my favorite (and arguably the safest) way to report conversions: adding “Converted Clicks” and “Phone Call Conversions”. With this, you will get all of the unique on-site conversions, and call conversions – whether manually dialed or click to call.

These two columns are probably the best non-trivial indicators of performance that are quickly available to advertisers. Other metrics like assisted conversions are not without value; they provide some context on the customer journey and help us understand how users interact with our brands post-ad-click. As the methods for offline & cross-device conversion tracking continue to develop, we will get closer to measuring the true impact of our campaigns. For now, though, I’ll leave the estimates alone, and work on improving what I can measure.

Posted in Analytics, Conversion, PPC | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

LinkedIn Removes Products & Services – A Guide to LinkedIn Showcase Pages

As of April 14, 2014, LinkedIn has disabled the products and services pages for businesses. GASP! How could they do that? LinkedIn is the social media platform for businesses and companies to showcase their business. LinkedIn states that, “A company page helps LinkedIn members learn about your business, brand and job opportunities.” So why get rid of listing products and services? LinkedIn aims to provide their users a product that is efficient and simple to use, and as a result they have moved in another direction to assist companies reach their audience with tools such as Showcase Pages and Company Updates.

Showcase Pages
Showcase pages allow companies to extend their presence by creating dedicated pages for products and services. The goals behind these pages should be to build long-term and in-depth relationships with members who follow your products and or services. For more information on what a showcase page is visit Hubspot’s Blog on Showcase Pages.

Follow These Steps to Create a Showcase Page.

Step 1: Get started!

Click the down arrow next to the blue Edit button on the Company Page and select “Create a Showcase Page”.

Step 2. Create your Showcase Page

Choose a Showcase Page name that is specific to a product or service.

Step 3. Upload an image and write a description

Be sure the image you choose is consistent with your website and your other social media pages. Your description should be 200 characters or less, and should include strategic keywords and a link to your website.

Step 4. Upload logos

Include a standard logo (100x60pixels) and a square logo (50x50pixels).


Step 5. List Featured Groups

You must either be an admin or a member of each group to list them.

Step 6. Add a URL and select your industry

On the right side of the page, be sure to add a Showcase Page Website URL. Choose a landing page that relates to the product or services you are showcasing. Also, choose a Main Showcase Page Industry. Finally, make sure the showcase page is listing under the company parent page.

Step 7. Publish Your Post


How to use your LinkedIn Showcase Pages with Company Updates
Showcase pages should be used for a specific product or service your company offers. These pages are linked to your company’s LinkedIn page and are an extension of your website. Here are a few tips on what to post on these pages:

  • Product announcements
  • Relevant company and industry news
  • Previous posts you made to the company page or on other platforms.
Posted in content marketing, LinkedIn, Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is your marketing plan scoring ROI points, or are you just playing defense?

Readers of this blog, by and large, are marketing people. You understand that marketing is an investment that can pay significant returns. However, many of you report to non-marketing people who may regard marketing as an expense. This post is for you. It’s going to help you explain to your boss why investing in marketing is a really profitable idea.

Let’s do a little thought experiment.

Imagine a company that spends absolutely nothing on marketing. Now imagine another company that spends 100% of its revenue on marketing. Neither of these companies is going to be around for very long. The first company won’t have any marketing-related expenses, but they also won’t have much in the way of sales. The second company might get a lot of sales, but their marketing expenses will wipe out all their profits.

Obviously, these are extreme, hypothetical examples. However, as we move away from these opposing ends of the spectrum, we can create a picture that illustrates the “right” amount of marketing investment.

The point of increasing returns

Everyone understands the concept of the point of diminishing returns. It’s the point where spending more money begins to result in smaller and smaller gains. We don’t talk about it as often, but it stands to reason that there’s also a point of increasing returns.

Are you playing defense or offense?

Now let’s put some numbers on that curve and consider how it relates to ROI. As you can see, in this hypothetical example, an investment of $30,000 results in a return of $30,722. Increasing the investment to $32,500 yields a return of $49,248. A further increase to $35,000 results in a return of $74,057.

Calculating the ROI of these investments, we find that the $30,000 investment has an ROI of 2%. Pretty much a wash. This is what I consider “defensive marketing”. Defensive marketing doesn’t significantly increase sales; it simply gets an organization “in the game” and allows it to conduct business. At $32,500, the ROI increases substantially to 52%. Increasing the investment by another $2,500 more than doubles the ROI to 112%. At this point, the marketing effort has gone on “offense” by bringing in profits that significantly exceed the marketing expenses.

Incremental ROI

Here’s where things get really eye-opening. When we increased our hypothetical marketing investment from $30,000 to $32,500, the return increased by $18,526. The incremental ROI of that $2,500 increase was 741%. And it continues to get better. Our next $2,500 bump will increase the return by $24,810, which means its incremental ROI will be 992%!

So what does this mean?

Most digital marketing investments are scalable; we get to choose how much or how little of them we want to do, and how much we want to spend to do them well. This is true of SEO, pay-per-click advertising, social media, blogging, and video. Similarly, if you’ve been through a website redesign, you know that costs can range from less than $10,000 to well over $100,000. It all depends on what you want to accomplish and how important marketing is to the overall success of your business.

The point of this exercise is to illustrate how important it is to invest the right amount of money in your marketing efforts. As the graphs above show, a small increase in your investment can have a dramatic effect on your ROI. On a related note, we can also see how important it is to invest in the right number of marketing tactics. Spreading our investments thinly across a large number of tactics keeps us down on the defensive part of the ROI curve. Instead, we should focus on a core set of integrated marketing tactics and invest enough resources in them to go on the offensive.

Putting it into practice – with a caveat

I have a dilemma. I want this post to contain some practical application advice. At the same time, I don’t want to get too “salesy”. So, if you get what I’m saying and you have a clear idea for how to put it into practice, stop reading right here.

I’m going to be real frank with those of you who are still reading. Too many of us settle for defensive marketing, especially when it comes to our websites. I’ve been guilty of it myself. A website build or re-build is a major undertaking, and it usually costs a sizable chunk of our marketing budgets. We get a lot of pressure from the well-meaning holders of the purse-strings, so we try to keep the cost to a minimum. But when we do that, we end up with a website that doesn’t do a good enough job at attracting traffic, creating a favorable brand impression, giving visitors a really good experience, and making it easy and rewarding for them to take a step forward in the buying process.

So here’s my advice to you: use this article as a tool to demonstrate the value and the necessity for things like search engine marketing, digital advertising, user testing, social media, and content marketing. Although these things add cost to your marketing budget, they will quickly accelerate your results up the steep part of the ROI curve. Ultimately, those results will help your fiscally-responsible stakeholders understand and appreciate how marketing truly is an investment that helps increase your profits, not just an expense that diminishes them.

Posted in content marketing, Conversion, Marketing, PPC, ROI, SEO, Social Media, Usability | Tagged , , | 1 Comment