PPC Can Do More than Get You on the Front Page of Google

When most people think of pay-per-click (PPC), they think of the ads that appear at the top of Google search pages, right? Here’s the thing – PPC offers so much more, and it’s not all about Google (sorry Google!).

Bing (including Yahoo! and AOL), YouTube, Facebook/ Instagram and LinkedIn all offer forms of pay-per-click that can help to build brand awareness, increase conversions and top your competition. And I know I said it’s not all about Google but, of course, some of it is. As well as Google’s Search Network ads, PPC leverages Google Shopping and Google Display Network too. Oh, and don’t forget about remarketing campaigns – they’re yet another type of pay-per-click that can really help to boost conversions.

Now let’s take a closer look at these platforms and how they can help you to meet your business goals.

Paid Search Engine Marketing (PSEM)

Google Shopping

Google Shopping is the ‘go-to’ platform for selling e-commerce products. Online shoppers are generally more likely to click on Google Shopping ads than other type of ad. So, if you want your goods to fly off the shelf, it’s the place to be.

What do they look like? Google Shopping ads comprise of an image of the product, and a small section of text: price, product description, seller, reviews and any sales promotions. So, for shoppers with slight shopaholic tendencies, it’s a sticky, sweet cobweb of temptation!

Unless you’re selling tech, items tend to be of low value on Google Shopping. However, this doesn’t mean that your product has to be the cheapest on the market – it just needs to remain within a medium band and have a convincing USP or price justification. If this fits with your products, Google Shopping can, therefore, help you to increase brand awareness, stifle e-commerce competition and increase conversions. Good work Google, good work.

Google Display Network (GDN)

Google describes its Display Network as being ‘at the right place, at the right time’. It works on the premise that when you show ads on websites that are relevant to what you’re selling, you are more likely to reach your target audience. Who knew?!

Made up of approximately 2 million websites (and apps), GDN reaches a whopping 90% of people on the internet. It offers a wide range of targeting methods including:

  • Demographic – location, gender, age and interests;
  • Placements i.e. specific websites; and
  • Contextual i.e. websites relating to a specific topic.

So how does it work?

The Google Display Network is a form of interruption marketing. It allows you to show ads to users passively searching for content related to your website. You know when you’re surfing the net and spookily relevant ads keep popping up? That’s GDN at work. It’s great for raising brand awareness.

As you’d expect with a Google product, the Display Network has powerful reporting capabilities. It has everything you need to help you optimise your campaign for increased sales and return on investment.

YouTube

People don’t tend to think of YouTube as a search engine, but it is, and it’s a powerful one. Smart use of it can spread your brand message far and wide, leaving your competition standing.

Running an ad on YouTube allows you to connect with potential customers in a meaningful way at the precise moment they search for a word relating to your business. With Google AdWords for video, you can easily develop YouTube video campaigns in a wide range of formats, including YouTube, Masthead and TrueView. With over one billion hours of YouTube videos being viewed each day, on every topic imaginable, it’s definitely a PPC platform worth considering.

Bing Search Network

The Bing Search Network includes Bing, Yahoo! and AOL search engines. It’s similar to Google’s version in that it shows text ads to users actively searching for terms related to your website. Bing holds approximately an 18% share of the UK search market and is generally used by an older demographic. If that’s your target market, it can be a useful tool for stifling competition and increasing conversions. It’s also generally a cheaper option for B2B as some businesses block access to Google’s search engine.

Bing isn’t as much of a bargain basement as Google Shopping either. Your product(s) can have a higher price tag with a USP that sets it apart or justifies the price. For example, a 5-year guarantee, or an award-winning status. Why is this? Bing Network’s searchers generally have a higher income range than Google searchers, and they also tend to spend more. Ka-ching!

 

Paid Social Media Marketing

Before we can move onto the types of pay-per-click offered by Facebook/ Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s important to be clear on the difference between organic social and paid social media marketing. Feel free to roll your eyes and skip forward if your granny knows how to suck this egg.

A quick definition:

Organic social – using the free tools available on a social network, such as posting, sharing, commenting on and liking, to help build a social community and engage with it.

Paid social – paying to display adverts or sponsored messages to social network users within and outside of your social community, based on specified targeting settings. Ads are generally charged on a cost-per-click basis.

And back in the room. Now let’s look at the types of campaigns available.

Facebook/ Instagram

The world’s favourite social networking site has itself an extensive range of PPC ad formats including slide show and video. Like the Google Display Network, Facebook can target certain demographics including job titles, likes and followers. This platform is a good choice for raising brand awareness, promoting events, and boosting sales promotion campaigns.

Facebook ads aren’t just a tool for the B2C marketer either. Research in 2017 revealed that in addition to 72% of B2C marketers reporting that Facebook was their top social advertising channel, 43% of B2B marketers said the same. That’s worth knowing, don’t you think?

And let’s not forget Facebook’s little sister – Instagram. She’s growing at quite a speed and has totally captivated the under 25s with her pretty pictures. If you’re market is young, it’s where you need to be.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is particularly beneficial for recruitment and B2B campaigns. As you’d expect from a professional networking platform, LinkedIn’s targeting methods are grown up and perhaps the most advanced out of all of the platforms. Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers multiple ad formats and targets location, age, gender, interests, followers and job titles. You can even specify companies, and job titles within a company e.g. ‘Director at 2C Digital Marketing’. With such accurate targeting options, you’ll have no problem hitting the bullseye.

Remarketing

Remarketing is not a platform but a type of campaign that can be used across Google’s Display Network, Facebook/ Instagram and LinkedIn. It targets users who have already clicked on your website using responsive ads (display remarketing) or a shopping ad of the last product they clicked on (dynamic remarketing). It’s another interruption marketing tactic that can have that ‘ooo spooky’ effect, helping to gently nudge interested users to re-visit your site.

You can also create remarketing lists – a nifty little tool that targets users who have taken a specific action on your site, rather than just visit it. It’s clever stuff. Take the outdoor clothing manufacturer, Craghoppers, as an example. They targeted their shopping cart abandoners list with a sales promotion ad that brought them a 711% return on investment – now that’s impressive!

Finally…

There’s no denying that Google’s Search Network is an important aspect of PPC, but it’s not where PPC starts and ends. In reality, there are a wide range of platforms where pay-per-click can be used to raise brand awareness and increase conversions.

As with any type of marketing, it’s a case of different horses for different courses. When you’re selecting your PPC approach, have a clear understanding of your target audience and which platforms they hang out on. Keep your over 60s ads off of Facebook, and your skateboard sales off of Bing! If you take the time to get this right, pay-per-click could become your new best friend.

For more information and support on PPC networks, contact our Director, Sara Toussi, at sara.toussi@2cdigitalmarketing.com or call 0117 973 0754.

Paid Search Audits – the good, the bad, the ugly

There’s a lot to consider when you start out on the road of paid search campaigns. How can you be sure you’re making the best decisions? Can you improve your ROI? What’s working? What’s not? If only there was a way of performing a health check – to identify problems and align budgets tightly with goals.

Enter the paid search audit. It’s time to interrogate your data. Before upping your game and flashing more cash, it’s wise to identify the good, address the bad and eradicate the ugly.

At 2C Digital Marketing, we regularly check our accounts to see how they can deliver better results. Taking the time to scrutinise and optimise your account can turn ‘average’ results into performance that exceeds expectations.

We’d like to share with you the key areas and questions that we ask ourselves when we perform a paid search audit.

The first task is to establish what you’d like the audit to achieve; the actions that you want to measure. Is it conversions – phone calls, contact forms, purchases or quotes? Perhaps your goal is brand awareness – impressions, clicks or subscription sign-ups. Remind yourself of your objectives and whether you’re meeting them.

Next up – crunch the data. There’s a lot of it, but don’t be put off. Break the job into small, focused tasks, and take your time. Begin with the basics and then root out the devils in the detail. You’ll find a few of the blighters in there!

The Basics

Tracking: This is mahoosive! Are conversions being tracked correctly? Are you sure that code is placed on the right button or page? Find out by performing a test run. Incorrect tracking is like Chinese whispers – what you see is so far from the real picture.

Campaigns: Does your account structure (taxonomy) mirror your website and your paid search objectives? Identify themes that reflect your campaign goal and stick to them. Get the taxonomy wrong and your data will be too, no matter how much of it you collect.

Budgets: Scrutinise your budgets to establish if they’re being managed effectively. It will be worth every second of your time. Are campaigns limited? Do the ad schedules, location and device bid adjustments need optimising? Are you focusing your budget on keywords with a high return on investment?

The Detail

Your campaign, ad groups and keywords should be themed around a business objective. Check your journey isn’t going off-piste.

Keywords: There’s no getting around it – you MUST constantly evaluate your keyword strategy. Use search query reports and analyse data in the keywords tab to review your bids, bidding strategy, position and conversion data. Check that keywords with high impressions or conversions also feature in high average positions (at a low cost-per-conversion). If you’re bidding on brand terms, consider whether competition is sufficient to warrant this. If you’re not bidding on brand terms, should you be?

In a nutshell, interrogate granular data at keyword level to determine if budget is being spent efficiently.

Negative Keywords: Prevent erroneous traffic and wasted clicks by striking the right balance with regularly adding and monitoring negative keywords. Check that all campaigns have a sufficient number of negatives in the correct match type and at the correct level. Data can be skewed, and budgets seriously dented when this is overlooked.

Locations: Are you bidding where you should be? Are your inclusion and exclusion settings correct? Are you bidding by location and overlaying device? Remember to layer – focus your budget and bid higher in profitable areas on profitable devices at profitable days of the weeks/ hours of the day.

Delivery Methods: An important one to check. Fine-tuning is often necessary, particularly if you see problems with under-spending budgets and low traffic. Review rotation too. You might want to rotate your ads to show the most clicked, or divide exposure to support A/B testing. Work out the tactic that best fits your goal.

Bidding: If you’re using multiple bidding strategies, make sure they reflect your campaign’s goal. To achieve ROI, trial the applicable strategy before you apply it to multiple like-minded campaigns. Analyse the granular data and when you’re happy it’s working, roll that master plan out.

A word of caution – there’s no winning formula when it comes to bidding. What works for one campaign may not work for another.

The Market: Love it or loathe it, you need to benchmark your efforts against your competitors’. The Auction Insight tool is great for this. It allows you to identify your AdWords competitors and measure how you stack up in key areas such as:

  • Impression Share Overlap Rate – how often another advertiser’s ad received an impression in the same auction that your ad also received an impression.
  • Positive Above Rate – how often another advertiser’s ad in the same auction is shown in a higher position than yours.
  • Top of Page Rate – how often your ad appeared at the top of the page.
  • Outranking Share – how often your ad ranked higher in the auction than another advertiser’s ad.

Ads: Ad evaluation should be constant. Depending on the type of campaign you’re running, things to consider include the ad type, messaging and imagery. Remember to theme each ad to the keyword behind it, and the landing page in front of it – this will also help to improve the Quality Score factor in your ad rank. A/B testing is crucial here, as is measuring Lost Impression Share – the estimated percentage of impressions that your ads didn’t receive due to a poor ad rank. You can improve (i.e. decrease) your share by increasing bids and quality score. Don’t forget to implement enough ads to gain meaningful insight into what works and what doesn’t. This is key to understanding what images and tone of voice your audience engages with.

Extensions: Extensions give the user fundamental information to prevent wasted clicks. There are many types of extension to choose from, so it’s important to check that you’re using them effectively. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Location extensions – an obvious choice if you have multiple locations, but make sure your locations are set correctly. Check that the extension has been applied at the appropriate level – account, campaign or ad group.
  • Sitelink extensions – these increase your CTR by directing users to specific pages that relate to their search query. A few basic checks are needed here. Test that your links are working, and make sure linked pages are as UX-friendly and inviting as they could be.
  • Call extensions – a simple but effective extension type…if you’ve provided the right phone number! Seriously, it happens. Don’t forget to give mobile users the option to click-to-call, and make sure your answer machine is on. Missed calls equal missed opportunities.
  • Call out extensions – great for highlighting USPs, special offers or promotions. Each ad can have 2 – 6 callouts. Are you using yours effectively? Don’t forget you can change the text at any time so keep callouts relevant and review those that aren’t performing well.

Whichever extensions you’re using, be vigilant. Mistakes are common, especially with mobile usage.

Scripts: We’re a huge fan of scripts here at 2C Digital Marketing. They’re incredible tools for making all sorts of optimisation practices quicker and more efficient, such as:

  • Alerting you to crawl errors;
  • Identifying which ad was the ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ in A/B testing; and
  • Preventing your budgets from overspending.

As much as we find scripts useful, we’re mindful of how we use them. Leave everything to a machine and you’re asking for trouble – scripts can be unreliable, or at worst, break. Used in conjunction with manual techniques, however, and scripts can rock your world. All things in moderation, right?

What Next?

It’s time to take your accounts to the next level by turning intelligence into action. Take EVERYTHING you’ve discovered and work out what changes you need to make. Be sure to weave your tactics into your overall marketing strategy. Put everything into an action plan and voila, you have yourself a set of campaigns that will work harder for you.

Finally, book your next audit for 6 months’ time and do it all over again. Yay!

Before You Go…

Performing a paid search audit might seem daunting at first but being thorough and getting it right is worth the effort. Sometimes the smallest adjustment can pay the greatest dividends.

At 2C Digital Marketing we find it useful to begin an audit with a list of key questions. You guessed it, they’re all about nailing the good, the bad and the ugly! Try our checklist out for yourself and take your campaigns to the next level:

  • What are your paid search goals?
  • Does your account taxonomy and website mirror these goals?
  • Are your conversions being tracked correctly?
  • Are your campaigns targeting the correct audience?
  • Is your budget being spent efficiently?
  • How do you compare to your competitors?

If you would like more information about your paid search account, please contact info@2cdigitalmarketing.com or apply for a free audit today!

SEO SOS – Help me!

So, you’re a digital marketing rookie. You’ve got as far as deciding to implement search engine marketing (SEM) but you don’t really know what that means. As for SEO, you can just about remember which order to say the letters in, but you don’t know what they stand for. You certainly don’t know what to optimise or how. So, what do you do?

You try to educate yourself. Off you trot to Google, because it knows everything, right? Perhaps it does, but SEO still confuses the hell out of you. Every online guide, forum and blog post has something different to say. How do you decide what advice to take and what to ditch? Is it even worth the effort?

Aaaaaand breathe. Grab yourself a coffee and get ready to understand the essentials of SEO. We hear new clients battling with the concept every day, so here at 2C Digital we have written this simple article to introduce you to SEO and help you to become friends.

So, what do those three letters stand for?

OK, grasshopper. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the position that your website appears at in the “organic” (free) search results returned by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! and AOL. Organic search results are the results that appear below pay-per-click (PPC) ads, as shown in the image below:

That’s the definition nailed. Now how do you go about SEO?

Types of SEO

There are three ways to go about optimising your search engine position.

1. Technical optimisation

This is for the HTML geeks and involves keeping your website running smoothly from the back-end. Your website will climb up the SERPs if it is easy for users to navigate, well coded and free of errors.

2. On-page optimisation

You can build the following things into each web page to improve search engine optimisation:

  • Relevant keywords and key phrases — words and phrases that people use to search for services relating to that web page.
  • Building keywords into:
    • Meta descriptions — the short description of your page in your search listing.
    • Alt tags — the name labels that you give to images on your website.
    • Title & header tags — the coded tiles and subheadings on a web page.
  • Content — High quality blog articles that includes keywords, videos and images.
  • Internal links — linking to other pages within your website.

3. Off-page optimisation

  • Inbound links/ backlinks — featuring your website and specific web page links on other relevant and reputable websites via blog articles, social media posts, directory listings etc.
  • Map listings — listing your business location and website on Google Maps etc.
  • Google Plus — having and actively using a Google Plus page that links to your website.

What’s good about SEO?

Well, first up — it’s free. You don’t get charged for clicks on your organic search, whereas you do for a pay-per-click (PPC) listing that appears above organic search results. Some people also prefer the look of an organic listing over a paid ad.

It can form part of a blended approach to increasing conversions. SEO can be used in unison with PPC to help secure a dominant position in search engine results pages (SERPs).

It can help increase brand awareness and reputation. Building quality links is a form of SEO that gives you positive exposure.

It gives your website visitors a better user experience. Technical and on-page SEO ensures that you have a well-functioning and easy to navigate website that contains high quality content. Your website visitors will thank you for this.

What’s not so good about SEO?

It’s not a quick fix. It can take a long time before you see the impact of your SEO efforts and once you start, you can’t stop. SEO is a long-term strategy that ceases to work when you cease to feed it.

Which brings us on to…

It’s time consuming. SEO requires careful analysis and a clear, dynamic strategy. Implementing this takes time, week after week.

It’s difficult to measure. Unlike PPC, the results aren’t tangible because search engines don’t collect specific results about the SEO techniques that you implement. Instead, marketers tend to use multiple third-party platforms in an effort to collate results.

How to monitor SEO

Two aspects of SEO that you can monitor are link-building and the back-end operations of your website. The tools described below are some of the market leaders. They tend to come with a price tag, but without them it’s almost impossible to measure the success of your SEO.

Link-building tools:

These tools provide insights such as traffic channels, referrals and keyword statistics for both your website and your competitors’ websites.
These provide insights into your social media strategy, such as the % change in likes, followers, shares and mentions etc.
Buzzsumo provides insights such as social media shares, engagement metrics and backlinks for your competitiors’ websites as well as your own.

Back-end tools:

These tools provide insights into the back-end of your website, such as duplicate content, meta descriptions, title tags, image alt text and pages indexed etc.

SEO v PPC – which one should I choose?

In a world of perfection and fairies, you’d use both SEO and PPC to bag a dominant share of the search engine results pages (SERP). Perfection comes with a sizeable price tag however. If your budget is tight, we’d recommend starting with PPC as it yields quick results. You can then determine whether search engine marketing is right for you and accumulate a budget to spend on SEO.

If SEO is now starting to make sense for your business, we’d love to help you get your show on the road. Contact us to discuss your SEO needs.

6 Steps to Effective Social Media Marketing

Social media is an essential marketing tool for any business. Managed effectively, social marketing can spread your reach to:

  • Increase brand recognition;
  • Improve brand loyalty; and
  • Create more opportunities to convert.

This impressive range of benefits can only be realised by taking a strategic and structured approach to feeding and managing your social media platforms. Some businesses achieve this in-house, whilst others hire a digital marketing agency to look after it for them.

Whichever route you take to managing your social media, here at 2C Digital we use six key ingredients for turning your communications into revenue:

1. Sharing meaningful content

Social marketing requires that you understand your audience’s demographic. How old are they? Are they male or female? Where do they live? What lifestyle do they lead? What tone of voice will engage them? When you understand these things, you can appeal directly to your audience with posts that are relevant and interesting to them. Use images to capture attention and hashtags to increase visibility.

It takes time to build a picture of what your audience will respond to and you won’t always get it right. Refine and develop the content you share with the help of trialling and historical analysis.

2. Being an influencer

Positioning yourself as an expert within your industry can go a long way to building trust in your brand. Keep up-to-date with the latest industry trends and techniques and share your thoughts on them with your audience.

3. Content mix

Every social media post needs to have a marketing goal, such as raising brand awareness, increasing leads, building relationships and providing good customer service. It’s important to always keep these goals in mind and share a mix of posts that support each one. A good way of planning and keeping track of this is to run a social media publishing calendar.

4. Staying current

When a business doesn’t keep its information up-to-date it can damage brand loyalty and conversion rates. Tell your audience when you move offices or change phone number. If your products or services change, let your audience know what’s changing, why and how it will benefit them; this includes new product lines and special offers. It helps to keep existing customers stimulated and can bring new visitors to your website. Helping your customers to find you, contact you and keep up-to date with your services will keep relationships sweet.

5. Social engagement

Social media presents an opportunity to engage with your audience directly and build authentic relationships. We all like to be noticed, right? Show your audience that they matter to you by reaching out with more personal responses. Be the person behind the screen – it’s a great way of building trust in your brand. Try regularly liking, sharing and commenting on others’ content, and answering questions raised within your online community. This is a time-consuming aspect of social marketing, and it does require certain skills, but the return on investment can be significant.

6. Analysis and review

Repeat after me, “Launch. Review. Adjust. Repeat.”

This is your marketing mantra. Stick to it and good things will happen. Social media marketing can only become targeted if you analyse what has and hasn’t worked. It’s a dynamic process of testing, revising and testing again. You need to know, for example, what types of imagery, wording and offers gained you likes and followers. Metrics provide intelligence, and intelligence is a beautiful thing. It gives insight into the customer journey, allows you to measure success, and informs your wider digital marketing strategy. Keep a close eye on your competitors’ social channels too. Observing what has and hasn’t worked for them can save you valuable time and learning.

If you would like 2C Digital Marketing to help you to implement and manage your social marketing strategy, email us at info@2cdigitalmarketing.com.