Why We Need Control in PPC

Last week, Google announced that the option to exclude close variant match types was going away in September. The PPC community, predictably, went ballistic. But then some began to question why we are all going so crazy – after all, how many of us actually exclude close variants anyway?

That’s beside the point, though. The point is that we want, and need, the choice.

Google has gradually taken choice away from us: In 2012, we temporarily lost the ability to rotate ads evenly, although that came back after an outcry from the PPC community. In 2013, with enhanced campaigns, we lost the ability to have separate campaigns by device, something that was once considered a best practice.

Now Google is taking away close variant options. And there is good reason to be concerned.

Brad Geddes of Certified Knowledge wrote a good article on why forced close variants is a terrible idea. He shows, with actual data, that close variants do not perform at all the same as traditional matches; in fact, in his examples, close variations have much lower conversion rates and much higher CPAs than their actual match type.

Sam Owen at PPC Hero also showed actual data on close variants, and his data was similar to Geddes’, although the differences varied by account. For some accounts, the difference was minimal, and the residual conversions gained from using close variants were worth the slightly higher CPA.

But for some accounts, especially lead generation accounts, the difference was significant, with close variants resulting in overall CPA increasing from $91.01 to $111.76. As Owen points out, this difference could be enough for a client to get upset and even decide to stop advertising with Google.

Mike Roberts at the SpyFu blog points out another huge concern about losing the ability to exclude close variants: the fact that close variants essentially turn phrase match keywords into broad match keywords.

SpyFu’s data shows that “If you spend $100K per month on AdWords, and all of your keywords are Exact Match, then you can expect to spend about $102,400 after ‘Close Variants’ is switched on at the end of September. If your account is organized by Phrase Match, then expect to be spending $117,200!” Wow.

I didn’t just take these esteemed authors’ word for it – I ran my own analyses on some of our clients. I was able to validate their findings.

The first analysis I ran was for a very large lead generation client. For exact match close variants, we saw an 11 percent higher CPA than on the exact match search queries. For phrase match close variants, we saw a whopping 35 percent higher CPA.

cpa-increase-chart

We also saw a higher CPC for the close variants than for the matched keywords.

All that said, for this client we are getting 20 percent more conversions by using variants, at only a 5 percent increase in CPA. So, on the surface close variants seem worth it.

However, several of this client’s campaigns are budget-limited. It seemed to me that if we excluded close variants, we would get more conversions without sacrificing CPA. So I ran the numbers.

 Scenario Impressions  Clicks  Cost  Conversions CPC  CPA  Conv % 
Without close variants  201,583 11,937 $64,171.41  142 $5.38 $451.91 1.19%
With close variants  290,112 14,630 $80,441.72  170 $5.50 $473.19 1.16%
If close variants excluded  290,112 14,630 $78,648.55  174 $5.38 $451.91 1.19%

If we excluded close variants, we could get more conversions at a lower total cost by putting the entire budget toward traditionally matched terms. For a budget-limited advertiser, this is significant. Who wouldn’t want to get more conversions for the same cost?

The bottom line here is, we need control. As Sam Owen’s data showed, for some advertisers, close variants result in more conversions for little to no additional cost. In e-commerce, for example, casting a wider net is valuable, since it’s nearly impossible to bid on exact matches for every product you sell.

But for other advertisers, close variants are costing them money, especially on phrase match close variants.

Why not give us the control we need?

To further illustrate why we need more, not less, control, let’s take a glance at the impact ofcombining tablets with desktop for the lead generation client I profiled earlier.

Device  Impressions   Clicks Cost  Conversions CPC  CPA  Conv % 
Computers 5,225,330 39,808 $122,578.89 206 $3.08 $595.04 0.52%
Mobile devices with full browsers 213,322 1,255 $7,675.78 97 $6.12 $79.13 7.73%
Tablets with full browsers 1,178,831 11,312 $16,355.79 17 $1.45 $962.11 0.15%

This client is using mobile click to call, and they get a lot of calls. That’s why the mobile conversion rate is so good. But look at tablets. The CPA for tablets is a whopping 62 percent higher than the CPA for computers. Don’t you think I’d rather use that $16,000 to buy more desktop clicks?

An easy solution here would be to add a tablet modifier. We could still bid on tablets, but set a bid that makes sense.

And how about the data for search partners vs. Google.com?

Network  Impressions  Clicks  Cost Conversions  CPC  CPA  Conv% 
Google search 1,064,870 16,231 $97,734.20 211 $6.02 $463.20 1.30%
Search partners 1,045,007 4,015 $21,250.66 43 $5.29 $494.20 1.07%

Well, this isn’t terrible. The CPC for search partners is lower, but so is the conversion rate. CPA is only 7 percent higher for search partners. But the total spend is pretty high.

A bid modifier for search partners would be great here. We could bid just 7 percent less for this traffic and be in good shape.

In fact, there are times I’d be willing to pay more for search partners! Here is data from a different B2B client:

Network Impressions Clicks Cost Conversions CPC CPA Conv%
Google search 32,606 1,057 $2,024.69 132 $1.92 $15.34 12.49%
Search partners 23,458 262 $333.76 44 $1.27 $7.59 16.79%

Search partner conversions at half the cost of Google search? Give me more, please! In this case, I’d be willing to bid 50 percent higher for search partners. Google is leaving money on the table in this instance.

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New AdWords Scripts For Your MCC! Powerful Analytics Meets Simplicity

Wish you had an easier way to gather data on all the accounts in your MCC? Getting in the habit of monitoring key metrics before you start your daily routine will help quickly identify problem areas in your accounts and focus your marketing efforts on the right things at the right time. With Hero Pro’s two new MCC scripts you can pinpoint which accounts need attention first.

 

If you aren’t tracking your all your accounts KPI’s daily you are losing money.

 

If you see a sudden spike in impressions you might have an issue with keywords. If your spend spikes you might have inadvertently set the wrong budget. Whatever the reason, you’ll now have the tools in place to keep you informed and up to speed so you can fix a problem before it impacts your bottom line.

 

The Daily MCC Alerts script allows you to…

  • Identify any potential issues
  • Easily spot big swings in performance
  • Notify you of any drastic changes

Our Daily MCC Changes scripts lets you…

  • Monitor day to day performance
  • Quickly compare spend, conversions, and CPA to the previous day
  • Easily spot any abnormalities

 

Pay per click advertising isn’t a passive activity.

Hero Pro offers seven other tools and a library of 18 AdWords Scripts.

 

Protect yourself and your client.

Ad Guardian does the one thing you can’t, but should: It constantly monitors your website, detects when the site goes down, and then pauses your corresponding ad campaigns when the page goes down. When your site goes back up, Ad Guardian reactivates campaigns that were active before the site went down saving you thousands in wasted ad spend.

 

Build New Ads, Launch Multivariate Ad Experiments, Get Results.

As any PPC manager knows, ad copy testing can be a brutal, time-consuming investment, but Ad Automator let’s you Set up, execute and track a 26-round multivariate ad test down to the ad group level in only a few minutes. It then records, tracks and reports each round of ad tests each time one reaches statistical significance.

 

Tap. Swipe. View. It’s that simple.

3phonesWith the new mobile app from Hero Pro, you can keep your stats right in your pocket. PPC Headliner for iPhone and iPad isn’t the AdWords interface on a mobile, but you can use it to gain easy access to your metrics while on-the-go. With just a few clicks, you can see what your accounts are doing down to the campaign level ensuring you’re receiving the intelligence you need at all times.

– See more at: http://www.ppchero.com/new-adwords-mcc-scripts-power-meets-simplicity/#sthash.q63RIAVM.dpuf

5 Ways Social Data Can Enhance Marketing Data

Social Data

The nature of social media – public, real time, immediate – and the abundance of data collected on users, activity and engagement, provide a greenfield of opportunities to use social data to enhance and support marketing data.

Here are five ways social data can be used to enhance marketing data.

1. Use Social Data to Provide Added Value for Ad Selling

Online publishers have been selling ads based on data like visits, pageviews, subscribers, and impressions. But social data can be used to enhance the value of online publishers by proving larger circulation through social profiles, impressions on social networks and increased reach through shares.

Media kits should start to include social data as the added value the publisher provide to advertisers as well as post-advertisement reports that include impressions, reach, and engagement.

Additionally, publishers can add value by providing advertisers with the exact details on engaged-audience including the actual users who engaged with their content.

2. Use Social Data to Enhance TV Ratings Data

Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings

Nielsen recently add Nielsen Social as part of the TV rating offering by looking at people who tweet about TV shows and their audience. But social data can enhance more than just simple ratings and provide insight into the type of audience engaged with TV shows as well as the types of engagement.

Networks and cable TV can start looking at social data to make decision about the life or death of their programming beyond the traditional rating system and can provide the social data as an added value for advertisers.

In today’s DVR-heavy watching habits, ratings for live TV only give the networks partial information on how well their programming is doing with their audience. This data might have been able to save Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

3. Use Engagement Data to Test Messaging

Social media provides marketers with a cheap and quick way to test messaging with a highly targeted audience. By crafting several messages you can post to social media and measure the engagement levels each message generated with your audience.

Running simple A/B tests, poll questions, or even just asking your audience via tweets, LinkedIn messages, or Facebook posts, you can garner insight on the resonance of messages before you invest heavily in one message or another.

Companies that utilize social media as a testing field for messages, new product offerings, and validation of strategic direction can be better informed about their decisions by analyzing the engagement data in cross reference to the audience that engaged as well as to the way they engaged.

4. Use Social Ads Data to Test Creative

The emergence of social ads offers brands access to audience without the efforts of building that audience organically. In addition, most social ad platform include ad optimization as an integral part of the platform.

Marketers can utilize these platforms to test ad creative before they roll out major, expensive ad campaigns. Use engagement data to evaluate how well your ads are doing and what creative works better with your audience.

The hyper targeting the social platforms offer can ensure that your test is being done on a select, targeted audience without “tainting” your entire addressable market with test campaigns.

5. Use Social Trends to Research Keywords

Unlike in search, social media provides immediate feedback on keyword trends. Using data from the social networks you can uncover keywords and phrases that are on the upswing before they become completely apparent on organic search and this way create content that will get a head start on organic search.

Use tools like Twitter Trends, hashtag research tools, or social media measurement solutions to learn what keywords are getting more traction with your audience and what keyword trends are forming.

You can later insert these keywords into your editorial calendar and create content that will be optimized for queries and phrases that are already in use by your audience.

Summary

The integration of social data with traditional marketing data can enhance your understanding of trends and user behavior, and also can be used as an added value for publishers and advertisers.

The trend of incorporating social data into other data sources is only beginning; do you have any other ideas on how to use it?

Google Cracking Down On Bad Advertising Practices, Over 350 Million Ads Removed

Screen Shot 2014 01 17 at 9.55.56 PM Google Cracking Down On Bad Advertising Practices, Over 350 Million Ads Removed

Google released a report on their AdWords blog today detailing just how vehemently they are cracking down on “bad actors” who are abusing the online advertising services.

Mike Hochberg, Director of Ads Engineering at Google, states:

We’ve allocated substantial technical, financial, and human resources to stopping bad advertising practices and protecting users on the web.  Hundreds of our engineers, policy experts and others have dedicated their careers to this work.

Even with a team that large the amount of ads they managed to remove last year is still surprisingly substantial. Over 350 million bad ads were removed from Google’s systems in 2013. To put that in perspective, Hochberg says, if someone looked at each of the bad ads for one second, it would take them more than ten years to see them all. By comparison, 220 million bad ads were removed in 2012.

What’s also notable in this report is that the bad ads are coming from far fewer sources. Just 270,000 advertisers were banned in 2013 compared to 850,000 in 2012. Google attributes this decline to scammers being stopped by safety screens and moving on to less secure targets.

The Worst Advertising Offenders

Just what, exactly, are these advertisers trying to sell? Google lists the worst offenders in their report. They are as follows:

  • Counterfeit goods: 14,000 advertisers banned for trying to sell these.
  • Illegal online pharmacies: 2 million ads removed.
  • Copyright infringement: 5,000 AdSense accounts disabled for violating copyright.
  • Tech support scams: 4,000 AdWords accounts removed.
  • Malware: 400,000 ads disabled from sites hiding malware.
  • Get rich quick schemes: 10,000 ads disabled for sites promoting these.

Advertising offenders are relentless, but Google says they are just as relentless when it comes to stopping the offenders. Rest assured Google will continue working around the clock to maintain a healthy advertising ecosystem and keep users safe.

How to Build Links Using Expired Domains

Expired

Many people have had great success snapping up expired domains and using those sites for link building purposes. One of the main reasons for this was that it saved work, as you could grab a site that already had content and backlinks and at least a baseline established presence.

However, after the past year with all the Google changes that make link building trickier than ever, this process is no longer as easy and safe as it once was, but it can still be valuable if you think about what you’re doing and don’t just buy every domain that has your desired keyword in it then hastily 301 redirect it to your own site or trash the content with links to your main site, expecting miracles.

Affiliate marketers are also fond of expired domains to use for their work so while we won’t go into detail on that, we will cover some topics that are relevant for that specific use.

How to Find Dropped/Expired/Expiring Domains?

Domain Tools is one of the main places that I check but there are many sites that list expired or about-to-expire domains that are up for grabs. Network Solutions has custom email alerts where you can put in a keyword and get an email when domains matching that are expiring so that’s a nice option for those of you who like a more passive approach.

Network Solutions Expiring Domains

Snap Names is also good, as is Drop Day. You may find that there are certain sites that are best for your purposes (whether it’s keeping an eye on ones you want or getting ones that just expired) so look around and figure out what best suits you.

Want a domain that’s at least 9 years old and has a listing in DMOZ? Domain Tools is where I’d go for that, for example:

Domain Tools Dropping Names

Of course if you come across a domain that you like and it’s not set to expire any time soon, there’s nothing wrong with emailing the owner and asking to buy it.

Domain may be for sale

How to Vet Expired Domains

  • Check to see what domains 301 redirect to them. I use Link Research Tools for this as you can run a backlink report on the domain in question and see the redirects. If you find a domain that has 50 spammy 301s pointing to it, it may be more trouble that it’s worth. Preventing a 301 from coming through when you don’t control the site that redirects is almost impossible. You can block this on the server level but that won’t help you with your site receiving bad link karma from Google. In that case, you may have to disavow those domains.
  • Check their backlinks using your link tool of choice. Is the profile full of nothing but spam that will take ages to clean up or will you have to spend time disavowing the links? If so, do you really want to bother with it? If you want to buy the domain to use for a 301 redirect and it’s full of spammy links, at least wait until you’ve cleared that all up before you 301 it.
  • Check to see if they were ever anything questionable using the Wayback Machine. If the site simply wasn’t well done 2 years ago, that’s not nearly as big of a problem as if you’re going to be using the site for educating people about the dangers of lead and it used to be a site that sold Viagra.
  • Check to see if the brand has a bad reputation. Do some digging upfront so you can save time disassociating yourself from something bad later. You know how sometimes you get a resume from a person and you ask an employee if they know this Susan who also used to work at the same place that your current employee worked years ago and your employee says “oh yes I remember her. She tried to burn the building down once”? Well, Susan might try to burn your building down, too.
  • Check to see if they were part of a link network. See what other sites were owned by the same person and check them out too.
  • Check to see if they have an existing audience. Is there an attached forum with active members, are there people generally commenting on posts and socializing them, etc.?

How Should You Use Expired Domains?

Many people 301 redirect these domains to their main sites or secondary sites in order to give them a boost. Others turn them into part of their legitimate online arsenal and use them as a proper standalone resource.

Some people add them to their existing blog network and interlink them. Some people keep them and use them to sell links. Some people keep them and try to resell them. Some people use them to try their hand at affiliate marketing.

However that’s talking about how people use them, not about how they should use them, but how you should use them is up to you.

I once worked with an account where we used tons of microsites. They were standalone sites that each linked to the main brand site and we built links to them. It worked for a while (and still works for many people according to what I see in forums) but as far as I can tell, most of those microsites are no longer in Google’s index or no longer contain live links to the brand site. That’s because in that case, it stopped working and became more of a danger than anything else. They served no purpose at all other than to host a link to the brand site, and since they gained no authority, it just wasn’t worth the trouble of keeping them up.

I’ve also dealt with someone who successfully bought expired domains and redirected them to subdomains on his main site in order to split it up into a few niche subdomains. He didn’t overdo it, and each expired domain had a good history with content relevant to what the subdomain was, so it all worked very well.

As mentioned early on, affiliate marketers also use expired domains. One big benefit of this is that if you plan to just use PPC for affiliate marketing, you don’t have to be as concerned about the backlink profile of the domain as you might not care that much about its organic rankings.

Some Good Signs of Expired Domains

Some of these probably depend upon the purpose you have in mind, but here are a few things I like to see on an expired or expiring domain but please keep in mind that these aren’t discrete defining features of a quality domain; they are simply a couple of signs that the domain might be a good one to use:

  • Authority links that will pass through some link benefits via a 301 redirect (if I’m going that route.)
  • An existing audience of people who regularly contribute, comment, and socialize the site’s content (if I’m going to use it as a standalone site.) If I’m looking to buy a forum, for example, I’d want to make sure that there are contributing members with something to offer already there. If I want a site that I will be maintaining and adding to and plan to build it out further, seeing that there’s an audience of people reading the content, commenting on it, and socializing it would make me very happy.
  • A decent (and legitimate) Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) that is in line with where I think it should be. If I see a site that is 7 months old and has a TBPR of 6, I’ll obviously be suspicious, and if I found one that was 9 years old and was a TBPR 1, I would hestitate before using it, for example. I also have to admit that while I don’t rely on TBPR as a defining metric of quality, I’d be crazy to pretend that it means nothing so it’s definitely something I look at.
  • A domain age of at least 2 years if I was going to do anything other than hold it and try to resell it.
  • Internal pages that have TBPR. If there are 5000 pages and only the homepage has any TBPR, I’d be a bit suspicious about why no internal pages had anything.

A Few Red Flags of Expired Domains

  • Suspicious TBPR as mentioned above.
  • The domain isn’t indexed in Google. Even if you look at a recently expired site and see it has a TBPR of 4 with good Majestic flow metrics, is 5 years old, and has been updated in some way until it expired (whether through new blog posts, comments, social shares, etc.), it’s safe to ssume it’s not indexed for a good reason and you probably want to stay away from it.
  • Backlink profile is full of nothing but spam.
  • All comments on the site’s posts are spammy ones and trackbacks.

Bottom Line: Is Using Expired Domains a Good Idea?

As with almost anything in SEO right now, some tactics aren’t really great ideas for the long-term but since they work for the short-term, people still use them. Some tactics that won’t work in one niche will still work well in certain other niches and some sites seem to be able to weather just about any algorithmic change in Google.

That’s why it’s hard to say that you shouldn’t do this, or you should do that, because every case is different, every webmaster/site owner has a different idea about risk, and a lot of people have made a lot of money off doing things that I personally wouldn’t do.

I don’t have time to keep up the blogging on my own site so I would never expect that I could keep it up on five sites, each devoted to a specific area of my industry, but with the right manpower and the right people, this can be a successful strategy for many.

If you plan to use them for affiliate marketing and you’re going to use PPC for that, you don’t have to worry about some of the things that you would have to be concerned with if you planned to rank well.

In the end, it depends on what you want to do, how much time and effort you have to put into doing well, and how much risk you can handle, just like everything else.

New AdWords Estimated Total Conversions Tracks Consumer Purchases Across Devices

Starting today and over the next few weeks, Google AdWords will roll out a major reporting update to conversion tracking called Estimated Total Conversions. This feature provides estimates of conversions that take multiple devices to complete and adds this data to the conversion reporting we see today.

Following the launch of enhanced campaigns this year, search advertisers have combined mobile and desktops with the ability to further modify bids by mobile and other targeting factors. One gap in reporting and comprehension of the campaigns effectiveness has been the limited data on how consumers are navigating and converting via multiple device options.

What is a Cross-Device Conversion?

What is a Cross-Device Conversion

Consumers constant connectivity has enabled them to browse, shop, and interact with businesses on the go and from multiple devices.

A September 2013 Google study found that more than 90 percent of multi-device consumers move sequentially between several screens like mobile to desktop, or mobile to tablet to complete a transaction online. Google found that a high percentage of converters actually jumped from desktop to desktop too, presuming a work desktop to home desktop computer.

How Estimated Total Conversions Works

Measuring AdWords Conversions in a Multi-Screen World

Google calculates cross-device conversions for a particular advertiser based on how their customers convert when they are logged in. They then use this as the basis for extrapolating out to the complete data set to form an estimate of what total conversions that cross devices might look like. This data is only used in aggregate and not personally identifiable.

What’s Next?

Estimating conversions across devices (estimated cross-device conversions) is only the beginning and one conversion type Google intends to measure.

In the future Google plans to incorporate other conversion types such as phone calls and store visits where advertisers are hungry to gain new insights into how their advertising is working.

Excellent Tips To Manage Facebook PPC Campaign

General Questions

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How to Run Like Incentive FB Campaigns, Part 2: Construction Tips

Last month, I shared with everyone that the strategy of combining “Like Incentives” with advertising campaigns is a super-successful formula for acquiring a large number of fans – but only if things are planned and executed wisely!

Even if your brand is not one of the “known entities” or social media darlings (like Coca-Cola or Old Spice), you can still grow a significant raving fan base. Part 1 of this series provided some tips for setting up your Like Incentive campaign: Clearly define strategic objectives up front; set the right tone and back it up with a long-term campaign road map; and align your landing page with those goals.

The second part of this series, in turn, will focus on best practices of constructing “Like Incentive” campaigns – namely, to define the “right fans” to fit the goals you have already established, to construct the actual incentives accordingly, and to ensure that the elements that make up your ads are aligned with the above.

Would you “Like” to jump right in?

1. Target the “right” prospects to fit your overall strategic goals

Essentially, “targeting” is the most foundational aspect of any campaign. It’s not enough to just attract eyeballs and likes. You want to ensure that they’re the right kinds of fans – those who are excited to like your page, constantly engage with your brand, subscribe to your email list, purchase your products, share your content, visit your store, etc. (whatever your goals may be). While people have written detailed volumes on targeting practices themselves (Marty Weintraub is my personal favorite!), I’m going to keep this discussion fairly high-level for simplicity.

If you are a small business consultant wishing to incentivize business owners to “like” your page to gain access to the latest, greatest search marketing strategies, make sure to keep your campaign target numbers to around 200,000 at most for the greatest effectiveness. This may involve segmenting your campaigns by vertical.

For example, let’s say your firm provides search marketing services for an array of businesses – chiropractors, in this case. You have to be very careful that when you’re pinpointing your audience, you are not marketing to those who simply LIKE chiropractors; rather, you aim to target chiropractors themselves (even better – those who own their own practices). Therefore, do some research and use the precise interest categories to find, say, chiropractic associations or journals. This allows you to truly narrow your search and can definitely help ensure you’re reaching the rightaudience with your “incentive.”

 

facebook smb targeting

 

If you’re targeting small business owners in a different sort of vertical (say, the veterinary industry), this approach may still produce a large audience size (over 200K). In that case, consider using the broad categories section as a supplement to pinpointing professional veterinary associations. You can possibly further target those who are veterinarians but who also own their own practices (i.e. the decision makers regarding whether or not to use your company’s search marketing services).

2. Create an “appropriate” targeted incentive for your potential customers

The corollary statement here is – avoid offering unrelated and/or unrealistic incentives. In business terms, ask yourself, “Is the incentive I’m offering aligned with the types of people I want as customers and what their needs are? Is this incentive consistent with the types of offers we will run in the future?”

 

ipad giveaway

Well, sure. Everyone likes these.

I see giveaway promotions or “enter to win” contests all the time, aimed at getting “Likes” – however, many times, these ads are clearly non-targeted. The most notorious example is “Click LIKE for a chance to win a new iPAD!!!” Now, let’s consider…

If I own a chain of specialty running stores, advertising a contest to win a FREE iPad may attract a large number of new fans. But they may not be the rightfans, the types of fans who will continually engage on the page and, most importantly, visit the stores (become a customer). A better, more targeted example may be to give away an expensive, state-of-the-art running watch with GPS capabilities – a product the stores actually sell!

I’m not saying that a FREE iPad is not a draw – I would probably enter to win myself! However, if I’m not really that into the brand/company itself, once I entered, I would most definitely either drop-off (unlike!) or ignore anything from this page in the future. Several online studies have also confirmed that the “unlike rate” after promotions like these can be as high as 50%!

Also consider that incentives do not have to simply be giveaways or promotions. Rather, the value your brand provides, if offered consistently, in many different forms (e-books, webinars, infographics, tips, etc.) could represent the “draw” that attracts andcontinually engages the right customers. Companies and brands like Hubspot,Fooducate, and Kim Garst are constantly offering value in a way that can easily be viewed as incentives to LIKE (and subscribe, and buy…).

3. Ensure the your ad’s elements are in sync with your goal & incentive

Finally, once you’ve mapped out the right target and incentive, the actual ad(s) must be designed in a way that resonates with and attracts your potential audience. The headline (in the case of external landing pages), body, image, call-to-action, destination page – and the alignment of your offer with your overall goals (which we touched upon in Part 1) – must all be considered.

As mentioned previously, Sephora is a great example of goal alignment from start to finish! One featured ad campaign explicitly states the benefit (15% off exclusively for Facebook fans); the customer encounters a Like Gate and clicks LIKE to reveal the offers that were promised.

Amy Porterfield, a FB coach/trainer, is a wonderful example of someone who constantly provides value and is always giving potential fans compelling reasons why they should “LIKE” and follow her. Her ad tone, design, and copy are consistent, on message, and tied seamlessly to the landing page.

In the following example, Amy appears to be incentivizing potential customers, primarily, to opt-in via email. She addresses her audience with an engaging question; if the answer is “Yes,” browsers will hopefully follow the “Click here” call-to-action for incentives they are already told they will be getting – weekly, FREE Facebook updates.

 

fb like incentive ad

 

As you can see below, the internal landing page is completely in sync with the ad – not just its look and feel, but also with its promise. Literally, what you see is what you get.

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of ensuring that the landing page is aligned with campaign goals. Amy’s primary objective was to collect emails. Though I’m sure generating a “Like” is also important to her, she did not choose to put up any sort of Like gate here – that would have been asking too much. Most likely, if people opt-in, they will probably hit “Like” anyway, especially if they are confident in the value she will provide. In some cases, companies may still ask for the LIKE (e.g. “Like Our Page” text with an arrow pointing to the LIKE button) – but putting up a gate, when the objective is to collect emails, is too much. Bravo, Amy!

 

fb ad landing page

 

In sum, targeting the right customers to match your overall goals, creating appropriate incentives for this target demographic, and aligning the ad elements with these goals are all integral steps for constructing an effective Like Incentive Ad strategy. In short,know your (potential) customers. Understand what makes them tick – and CLICK!

How to Run Like Incentive FB Campaigns, Part 1: Set-Up Tips

One of the biggest lies of social media is that if a ‘business’ builds a Facebook fan page, the fans will inevitably follow – in droves. Unless you are one of the BIG GUYS (or, my personal favorite – Boo the Dog), this just won’t happen.

Smart businesses give people really good reasons – or ‘incentives’ – to LIKE their pages. A retail chain offers frequent discount coupons through Facebook. A search marketing consultant gives away a PDF with the secrets to Google ranking success. A grocery store runs a contest for a $300 giveaway in-store. A musician provides exclusive clips of new songs to Facebook fans first. These are things any brand MUST do to grow – but your fan page won’t achieve exponentialgrowth without advertising.

Combining “Like Incentives” with advertising campaigns is a great formula for acquiring huge numbers of fans (according to Brian Carter of The Like Economy, it can convert up to 80% of visitors into fans), but only if things are planned and executed wisely.

Over the next few months, I will examine the Like Incentive ad strategy from start to finish, with this first post providing tips for setting up your Like Incentive campaign – namely, clear goals and objectives; setting the right tone and backing it up with a long-term campaign plan; and aligning your landing page with your campaign goals.

Would you“like” to get started?

1. Set clear goals up front – and plan entire ad strategy accordingly

First, it is important to ask yourself, “What is our ultimate objective?”

Perhaps you want to build your fan base, grow your email list, generate sales, etc. Let’s say you decide you want to generate as many LIKES as possible. This decision must dictate all future actions of resulting campaigns – from conceptualization to landing page. In the end, every step of the ad strategy should be aligned with this overall goal.

Sephora is a well-documented success story for building a fan base with Like Incentive ads. As you can see, the below ad explicitly states the benefit someone will receive by clicking LIKE (15% off exclusively for Facebook fans). The ad directs the customer to a custom landing page – in this case, a “Like Gate.” All the customer has to do is click LIKE to unlock the exclusive offers on the “Reveal Page.” Pretty straightforward – great alignment from start to finish!

sephora fan offer

sephora fan gate

sephora deals

 

It is important to note that Sephora did not ask for anything else at this stage besides the LIKE. The goal was to bring in new fans – NOT to collect emails, at this point.

Many companies run into trouble when they ask for too much up front from potential fans. They push the limit – asking for the LIKE… and THEN the email, both before providing the value. You may think the value customers will receive exceeds the “lesser” expense of making them take an EXTRA step in the redemption process. However, I argue that it is better NOT to risk alienating the customer altogether. If you want the LIKE, then don’t try to get the email. Ultimately, you cannot maximize campaign successes if you have conflicting strategic goals.

2. Set the right tone with your ad and make a plan to back it up

Before launching a Like Incentive campaign designed to grow your fan base, it is important to consider the effect of your ad(s) – and the actual offering – on customerexpectations moving forward.

For instance, let’s say you’re a donut shop striving to entice new fans. You’re offering a dozen free donuts (ok, so this is my own little dream world now!) as an incentive for LIKING the page.

If you were planning on making this a one-time deal, think again! If this type of incentive is what drew new fans in, now they likely have high expectations that you will continue to run such offers in the future. NOT doing so will only get customers’ hopes up and is a sure-fire way to turn off your new “fans.”

However, if your company does plan on running consistent offers, you should set up and build your Like Incentive campaigns into a promotional calendar for efficient organization and communication. This way, any future events or offers could be scheduled – and your advertising efforts will be dictated by this pre-launch set-up.

Again, Sephora offers a FanFridays page that highlights exclusive deals every TGIF. If you wanted to do something similar, you could schedule your offers and build your ad campaigns to drive new fan growth every week, etc. (You could even promote the offer to existing fans for less money! But that’s another strategy for another post).

sephora fan campaign

 

 

 

3. Ensure ad landing page is aligned with campaign goal

If your company seeks to increase LIKES through incentive ads, the landing page should be constructed with that goal in mind. For example, the Sephora example above set up a Like Gate that, once clicked, opened up a Reveal Page with the exclusive discounts the original ad promised. Super!

Reveal pages like this are great ways to spur people to LIKE your page. The greater the incentive offered, the greater the chances of “conversion” to LIKE. According to allfacebook.com, “By implementing the reveal tab, you’ve effectively cut your cost of Facebook advertising in half.”

However, a Like Gate and Reveal landing pages must be properly executed. Again, this tip is very closely tied to the importance of goal-setting mentioned in tip #1, above.

Let’s say a local restaurant chain ran a LIKE incentive AD, taking people to a Like Gate. The promise is that the person will receive a free coupon for an appetizer IF s/he LIKES the page….

 

FB coupon with gate following

However, what customers encountered next was an email form, requiring a full name and email address – NOT the promised free appetizer coupon….

extra gate to coupon

 

If the ad itself promised a deal after a LIKE, no one will be really happy. The customer has to take an extra “required” step to receive what s/he was promised after the initial LIKE. Here, the restaurant is trying to do too much on the back end, which does not optimally support its goals (getting good likes) on the front end (i.e. consider customer unlikes or future disengagement).

A better option in this format would have been to “reveal” a printable coupon (or link to coupon), after the LIKE.

If the restaurant’s goal is really to collect email addresses, this will alter the entire campaign strategy. (In my next blog, I will compare how to design actual incentive ads with your unique goals in mind – and highlight the mistakes to avoid!)

In sum, defining objectives up front, setting the right tone throughout the campaign series, and aligning implementation with strategy from start to finish are all crucial steps to setting up an effective Like Incentive Ad strategy.

Stay tuned to learn how to build your Like Incentive campaigns (Part 2) and how to quantify and measure your successes (Part 3). Thanks! Leave comments!

Google Now A Personal Assistant? Adds Search For My Things.

Google announced a new feature rolling out to U.S., English-speaking users on desktop, tablet and smartphone that makes Google act as your personal virtual assistant. Yes, you don’t have to type, you can even talk to it. Update

Google will now answer personal questions such as searching for your upcoming flights, reservations, package delivery info, appointments, photos from your album and more. Google calls this My Answers.

The feature is not live for me yet but here are some screen shots showing off what it can do.

Upcoming Flights:

 

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Upcoming Reservations:

 

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Recent Purchases:

 

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Upcoming Appointments:

 

click for full size

 

Photos I’ve Uploaded:

 

click for full size

 

How does it work:

  • Flights: Ask Google “Is my flight on time?” to get info on your upcoming flights and live status on your current flights.
  • Reservations: Ask for “my reservations” to see your dining plans or “my hotel” to get your hotel name and address. With one tap, you can get driving or public transit directions straight there, saving you lots of steps.
  • Purchases: Ask for “my purchases,” and you’ll get the status of your current orders, so you know whether your mom’s birthday present will arrive on time.
  • Plans: Ask Google “What are my plans for tomorrow?” to see a summary of upcoming flights, hotels, restaurant reservations and events—very useful when you’re traveling.
  • Photos: Say “Show me my photos from Thailand” to see the photos you uploaded to Google+. You can also ask for “my photos of sunsets” if you want to show off the shots you’ve taken over the year; Google will try to automatically recognize the type of photo you’re asking for.

This is a feature Google has had with Google Now for a while now and reminds people it is secure and can be turned off if it is not wanted.

Here are some FAQs:

(Q) Who can see these results?
(A) As mentioned above, this information is just for you—secure, via encrypted connection, and visible only to you when you’re signed in to Google.

(Q) How do I see these results?
(A) Right now, we have a few time savers for flights, reservations, purchases, plans and photos. Check out this site for more details on how to make the most of them.

(Q) I can’t see these results. Why?
(A) These results are only available in the United States while searching on Google.com with English as the display language. If this matches your configuration, and you’re still not receiving results, please let us know below what type of result you were looking for, the company or service provider, and the query you used.

(Q) How do I opt out?
(A) To turn it off for one set of searches, click the toggle in the upper right corner. To turn it off for good, simply disable “Private results” at google.com/preferences.