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by Mike Moran

Social media is free, but what's the catch? Time. We only have so much time to spend putting our message out there, but we don't want to limit how many people can hear what we have to say. This problem comes up in many ways, but the simplest is the dichotomy between Facebook and Twitter. Many folks decide to spend the bulk of their social time on one or the other, with relatively few people using both. If Google Buzz catches fire
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, this fragmentation might only increase. What's a marketer to do?

Image by luc legay via Flickr

Let's face it. There's no real difference between "friends" and "followers," nor between ""status updates" and "tweets." And why would you decide to spend all your precious social media time updating one venue and not the other, if your customers use both of them? But how can you double the amount of time you spend in social media updating both?

You don't have to. I decided that I prefer Twitter to Facebook so I have every tweet I send out mirrored as my Facebook status. And I do the same thing on LinkedIn. I haven't taken the plunge on Google Buzz yet, but I'll probably do the same thing there, also.

If someone wants to see what I am up to, they can use their favorite method to keep up and I only have to update once. I know people using FriendFeed to accomplish the same thing. In each of your social media lives, you can set up these mirrors to make sure that your customers can keep up no matter what network they are in, while you only need to update once.

Now, I find even though I update in only one place, that I still have trouble making time for more than a few tweets a day, but there isn't anything I can do to help with that.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.


by Mike Fleming

Now that you've created your keyword-themed ad groups and masterfully rolled out your display ads for those ad groups, your ads are running and collecting impressions, clicks and conversions. The next step is to allow a fair amount of data to collect so that you can then analyze how different sites are performing for you.

The most usef
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ul tool for this is the Placement Performance Report in your Google AdWords account. It segments your ad serving by domain or individual URL so you can see the performance metrics for them separately. This will allow you to find sites and categories of sites where your ads perform well and where they are struggling. The best, most important metric to analyze when looking at a site's Display Network performance? Cost Per Conversion.

Why? Google uses what they call smart pricing as their method for click charges on the Display Network. Basically, if your ad wins the auction and is placed on a site, Google determines if that page is more or less likely to end in a conversion action for you and they adjust the price of a click accordingly. This makes cost per conversion much more important than conversion rate.

Why? Smart pricing will very likely give you a scenario of metrics like the one below when comparing two sites:

If this scenario is true its because Google determined website #2 to be less likely to result in a conversion. So, they discounted the cost per click to advertise on website 2 to make up for this. But, as you can see, you are performing relatively well on this site because they've discounted your price enough to make your cost per conversion 25% lower than website 1 despite your lower conversion rate. Therefore, website 2 is working better for you despite the lower conversion rate. So, you can see how smart pricing changes the game and make cost per conversion your most important metric.

Once you run a Placement Performance Report, you will have data that you can use to make decisions about your ad's exposure. You will find sites that are both performing well and not performing well for your campaigns. If you want to block your ads from being shown on specific sites, you can use the Site and Category Exclusion Tool within your AdWords account to block these sites.

With the sites that are performing well, you may want to have more control over your bidding and targeting flexibility with them. In this case, you can take that placement and use it in a Placement Targeted Campaign, which we will talk about in my next post.

Here are some ways that you can block your ads from being shown to specific web traffic using this tool:

1. Blocking Domains - You can block top-level domains, subdomains and directories. Blocking one doesn't block the others, so you will need to enter them separately.

2. Undesirable Content - There are six types of content that you can block if you are concerned about brand protection.

3. Video Sites - You can block your ads from being shown as content ads within video.

4. Page Types:

a. Error Pages - these are displayed when a page does not exist. If someone attempts to navigate to a domain that does not exist, a page can be shown that has ads based on the mistyped URL instead of a "not found" error page.

b. Parked Domains - These domains are owned, but they have never been developed. So, all you see is ads when you navigate to these pages. This traffic comes from users mistyping a URL or using a domain name that does not exist.

c. User-generated sites - forums, image-sharing sites, social networks, video-sharing sites

In my next post, we'll take a look at targeting specific sites on the Display Network that you find through your gathered data and/or through a little research to take your online business to new heights...

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Pay Per Click search engine marketing is simply the fastest way to test campaigns for profitability - and to keep them profitable. The only problem is that it can be incredibly intimidating to get started. Even those who have been in the game for quite some time are often seeking advice on how to earn more money and stop bleeding unnecessary cash. Adwords pay per click is definitely the top PPC engine in the business. People love to search on Google, and for that reason this is what most peopl
Pay Per Click search engine marketing is simply the fastest way to test campaigns for profitability - and to keep them profitable. The only problem is that it can be incredibly intimidating to get started. Even those who have been in the game for quite some time are often seeking advice on how to earn more money and stop bleeding unnecessary cash. Adwords pay per click is definitely the top PPC engine in the business. People love to search on Google, and for that reason this is what most peopl
Once a month? (Source) Currently, 27.9 million US Internet users have a blog they update at least once per month, and they represent 14% of the Internet population. By 2013, 37.6 million users will update their blogs at least monthly. If you’re updating your blog monthly it isn’t enough. Consider this: Each blog post is a separate web page that can obtain its own individual search engine rankings for the keyword(s) around which it is optimized and/or content contained within the blog po
Filed in Funny on Apr.16, 2009 In this rapidly evolving world of online marketing it is sometimes hard to remember what all the terms mean, let alone how the strategy works.  As such I have broken down the various services as applied to the bar scene. Brandon walks up to the cute girl at the bar and says “I’m great in bed”. Direct Marketing Brandon asks waitress the cute girl’s name looks up her phone number, calls her cell phone and says “I’m great in bed”. Cold Calling Brandon has 100 stran

by Mike Moran

Question mark

Image via Wikipedia

Frequently asked questions are a staple of the Internet--even predating the Web. And the idea makes sense. If people are continually asking the s

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ame questions, why not answer them once on your Web site so then you won't have to answer them over and over again? That's the theory, anyway. But, in practice, getting the same question over and over again might point you to some other ideas besides updating your FAQ page.

Now, it's not bad to have an FAQ page, necessarily. I check them out when I am looking at a small Web site and really trying to understand the company. But, increasingly, they are not the sign of a professional Web site--many companies have eliminated them.

The idea of collecting up customer questions and answering them is a good one, but an FAQ page is not the only place to answer questions. Let me give you an example.

I am a crazy baseball fan, so much so, that whenever I have a business trip, I try to sneak away one evening to a ballgame. And I always have the same question: "Can I bring my briefcase with my computer to the game?" Some ballparks are OK with this and some aren't. And they hardly ever answer that question anywhere on the site except at the FAQ page, along with eight million other questions. And I rarely know what words to use to search for it on the page.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the FAQ page except that those questions ought to be answered in other places, too. I am a big proponent of task-based information. In this case, the task is "going to the game" (as opposed to "checking the schedule" or buying a ticket"). Every ball club's Web site could have a page about going to the game, where it listed the driving and mass transit directions, the parking fees, the time the gates open for batting practice, what you are allowed to carry into the park, special accommodations for the disabled, and whatever else someone going to the game might need to know.

Instead, check out this typical A to Z Guide for the Baltimore Orioles. (I'm not picking on the Orioles--most of the baseball team Web sites look the same.) This is a variant of a frequently asked question page--it just lists topics in alphabetical order rather than as questions. First, give the Orioles some credit--at least they have some kind of organization, while many FAQ pages list the questions in random order, even when there are dozens.

When you first look at the page, you are struck by how long it is. You obviously can't scroll down through it and read it all, but all you have to help you is the A to Z navigation, which would be fine if you had any idea what letter your topic was under. Where would you look for "What am I allowed to carry into the park?" Turns out that you look under "Bags" if you want to know how big your briefcase can be (which I did) or you look under "Container policy" if you want to know whether you can bring a bottle of soda. You might need to refer to the "Camera/Video Equipment" and "Banner/Signs" topics depending on what else you wanted to bring.

And if all of the A-Z topics pertained to going to a game, maybe it would be OK, but these topics are all over the map, ranging from the location of defibrillators to requests to sing the national anthem to nearby hotels. Again, I have no issue with the A to Z Guide except, "Why is that the only place for this information?" It should also be presented in other places where it might be more natural to find it.

I wish this was an isolated case, but I see it all the time. The Web site owner has good intentions by parking the answers to questions on the site so that someone can find it, but this seems like a lazy way to do the job. If it is really an important question, I'd think that you'd want to place that answer in as many places as make sense so that the most people can find it. I've seen sites that relegate their hours of operation to their FAQ page. I have no problem with it being there, but couldn't it be on your home page, too?

That is the problem with FAQ pages. They make it easy to be disorganized with your information. It is easy for the site owner to throw a few more questions up there, but it's not so easy for site visitors. Site owners need to think about how they are organizing the information they put out there. A long list of questions or topics (even alphabetized) is not good enough.

So, the next time you think you have a new frequently-asked question to answer on your site, go ahead and do that. But also ask yourself a couple of questions. "Is this a question I could eliminate by changing or simplifying a policy rather than constantly answering it?" And, "Where else should I be answering this question on my site besides the FAQ page?" If you ask yourself those questions before posting a new frequently asked question, you might find that your customers aren't questioning you so much.

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by Stone Reuning

websites are more complex than ever before. Many contain a wealth of
information visitors can use to answer their questions and learn what they need
to know before contacting a company or making a purchase online.

with all the information and features packed into many of today's websites, it
can also be more difficult for site visitors to first of all determine wh
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or not a website will contain the information they need and then find it on the
website. Installing a site search box can offer several advantages to help your
site visitors--and also benefit your marketing function in the process.

Site search satisfies the customer's
"I want it now" attitude

an internal site search box can help visitors find what they need more quickly.
With web users still looking to find what they need as fast as possible, confusing
navigation and cluttered design are more likely than ever to prompt an "on-to-the-next-site"

Site search is undoubtedly the
quickest way for someone to find what they're looking for on a large and
complex site. An internal site search helps visitors get around navigational
structures that may be confusing to them. This is especially important for
sites that are constantly adding new content. As the site continues to grow,
many users will find the site search function to be a valuable tool in helping
them find what they need.

Site search makes a website more customer

an internal site search also means you can transform your website from a static
"one size fits all" style to a more "customer-centric" approach. More and more,
websites need to simultaneously cater to different types of website users -
knowledge seekers, prospects, buyers and long-term customers. Internal site
search helps you do this, as it helps those seeking knowledge find and assess
your resources more easily.

Site search appeals to the
"searcher" type of site visitor

people prefer different types of navigation tools. For example, if someone uses
a search engine like Google to arrive at your website, they are more likely to
prefer the same search method for finding information within your website. It's
not uncommon for site visitors to look immediately for the site search box when
they arrive at a website.

search arms marketers with data

Marketers can benefit tremendously from installing an
internal site search function. With the right analytic tool, internal site
search can provide a wealth of information about who visits your site and how
they navigate around it.

Site search data can provide insight into customer desires, intent,
and behavior. While a customer might tell a different story if asked for
feedback in a focus group or online survey, for example, site search data can
reveal exactly which pages they looked for and found, which searches intrigued
them to continue reading as well as those that prompted them to leave the site.
This will contribute to the conversation when analyzing conversion rate
performance across content and site sections.

search provides insight into personas and usability issues

Site search can provide usability data without the expense
of setting up testing facilities. When the usage data and click path from real
users is saved and available for viewing and analysis anytime, a marketer can see
where searchers encountered difficulty. Looking at this data across multiple
users can give clues to areas of the site that require updating and expansion,
for example.

Adding typical searched on phrases to flesh out descriptions
of the various personas using your site can also help enrich the entire web
team's understanding of the types of people using the site. This information
will be particularly helpful to any copywriters who are preparing content for
selling pages and product descriptions, etc.

search brings ideas for new products

Users' searches can even inspire new product offerings. If
you see that many visitors are searching your site for a particular type of
product or service that you don't yet offer, it may be time to consider
developing an offering to fit that underserved need. Especially if your site is
already bringing traffic for those particular searches, your company may do
well to act on this informal market research.

search reveals new keywords

You may end up finding new keywords you were never aware of,
allowing you the opportunity to tweak your content so more users will find the
information they need on your site. Perhaps some of your pages that you feel
are relevant to a specific topic are missing a few of the terms people are
actually searching on. In that case, you'll have the opportunity to add them as
appropriate and further refine your content, making it even more targeted to
your users.

In addition, those keywords can be added to your search
marketing campaigns, perhaps offering a chance to reach a wider audience on the
Internet than originally anticipated.

summary, for your company to remain competitive online, you need to be open to the
new ways people are finding and disseminating information. Site search is an
exciting utility for websites looking to evolve their websites according to
user demands. We recommend beginning with an offering such as Google custom search, which can be
readily adapted to your needs.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.


by Jennifer Laycock

 Earlier this week, I explained the concept of micro goals in regards to social media and why it's so important to track such a large collection of seemingly insignificant numbers. I walked you through both the universal micro goals and how to establish campaign specific micro goals. Today, it's time to look at how those numbers can be of value to us over the

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span of a social media campaign.

Looking for What Works and What Doesn't

The single biggest benefit of tracking things on the micro goal level is the ability to quickly identify the areas of your campaign that are performing well and the ones that aren't. Micro goals are all part of the wonderful world of metrics and each of them acts as a clue in the mystery of campaign results.

Making sure each of your metrics lines up carefully with your campaign efforts and goals will go a long way toward equipping you with the information you need to refine your campaigns.

Finding Problems within a Campaign

Let's say you've just launched a new piece of viral content on your blog and you've pushed it out via social networks. The content is aimed at educating your target audience about a new product offering and does it via a creative and entertaining video you've hosted on your blog.  You launch the content, seed it with influencers and watch the traffic start rolling in.

Traffic spikes and sales don't just stay flat, they drop. What happened?

If you have established and kept tabs on a set of micro goals for your blog, the story may tell itself. On the surface, the campaign looks strong. Traffic, links, social mentions are all up, leading your team to celebrate with nice graphics like this:

goodmetrics.gifBut if you dig a little deeper and look at all of your micro goals, a different picture begins to emerge:

blogmetrics.gifDespite the uptick in traffic and links, we see a distinct decline in engagement related metrics. Time on site has dropped, the number of pages per visitor has dropped, comments are down and less people are converting. Each of these micro goals matches up with a drop in sales.

It's also enough data to make us go back to our campaign and ask ourselves what might have led to this combination of metrics.

Match What You Know with What You Planned

In this instance, we can go back to the original campaign idea and look at it from the perspective of the metrics. There was clearly interest in the video because we see a rise in traffic. The content clearly resonated in terms of word of mouth, because we see strong numbers of social shares and a nice increase with links.

When we take a second look at the content, however, we might realize the $250 price point and the fact that it's an add on accessory to a $700 piece of electronics gives us a naturally small target audience. That means that while the video we've created has broad appeal, we're not focusing in on our targeted audience. For our next campaign, we'll want to focus more on the specific needs of our target audience and focus less on getting a broad launch and more on reaching into targeted communities.

Variations in Metrics Tell us Different Tales

Of course different metrics on your micro goals might help you come to different conclusions.
Let's say the video was for a brand new cell phone battery extender that cost $20, fit on a key ring and delivered an extra hour of battery life to a phone. This is the type of product nearly anyone can use and the price point qualifies it as an impulse buy. In this case, perhaps our metrics look something like this:

blogmetrics2.gifYou'll quickly notice our metrics are up across the board with the exception of our conversion rates. We've got moderate increases in links, traffic, social shares and comments. We've got zero movement in our conversion rates. We've got a very strong increase in time on site and pages viewed per visitor. This tells us something. On the surface, everything looks good.

The problem here is that a huge jump in pages per visitor and time on site simply does not mesh with zero change in sales. There's simply no reason why an increase in targeted traffic that has demonstrated an interest in the product via their use of the site wouldn't result in conversions. This means we need to go back and look more closely at the site itself.

More than likely, the issue here is about usability. Ask a friend to watch the video and take action. You might be surprised to find out they can't locate an order now button or they're hunting for shipping prices and giving up in frustration. A few quick fixes to your interface may result in a sudden jump in conversions and a slight decrease in time on site and pages per visitor.

You Can't Fix it if You Don't Know it's Broken

Of course the above examples are only looking at the micro goals for your blog. This same type of examination in other social media outlets and even across the board for your campaign can often give you a completely different perspective on the success (or failure) of your campaigns.

Stop looking solely at traffic or conversions to determine the success of your campaigns. Sometimes it's a lack of RSVPs or a dramatic increase in social shares on a specific network that clue you in to the changes you need to make. Either way, if you aren't gathering data, any decision you make will be based on your best guess rather than supported logic. Take a look at your campaigns and dig deeper into the metrics of you campaign. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.


by Mike Fleming

OK, we got rid of some wasted clicks from our PPC campaigns. Now, let's do some more.

Let's say we have an ad group that is dedicated to selling something specific like "Gibson Guitars." We've got keywords and targeted ads directed to a targeted landing page dealing directly with guitars that are made by Gibson. And let's say we've got a decent
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amount of money to work with so we decide to use the broad match term "gibson guitars" in our ad group. Well, with broad match, we will get our keyword matched to all kind of queries, even as simple as "guitars."

Or how about this one. Let's say we're selling batteries for ATVs. If we use the broad match term "atv batteries," a search engine is likely to match our ad to the search query "batteries" very frequently.

The problem with this is we don't want our ad for "gibson guitars" to be showing on the query "guitars" do we? Who knows what kind of guitar or what kind of budget this searcher is looking for. We don't want to pay for the click unless that person is specifically looking for a Gibson. We'd rather send that searcher to a more general landing page where they have the freedom to filter by what they're looking for. Therefore, we want to keep our ad for this ad group from showing on a term as general as "guitars."

A searcher who searches for as general a term as "batteries" is most likely looking for double or triple-A's. So, that's even a worse situation to have our ads show in. And imagine getting curiosity clicks from those impressions! What a waste of money!

Therefore, we want to make sure that our ads are only showing on queries that include searchers looking for specifically what our ad offers.

Now, of course we don't want to add the terms "guitars" or "batteries" as negative keywords to our ad groups because then our ads won't show up on any terms containing these words.

So, how do we keep from showing up on the general terms while still showing up on targeted terms with those specific keywords in them? We add the specific phrases that we don't want our ad to show on to our ad group or campaign as negative EXACT match keywords.

By adding "guitars" or "batteries" as negative exact matches, our ad will not show up on the general queries "guitars" or "batteries," but will still show up on the queries "gibson guitars" and "atv batteries" like we originally wanted them to.

Once again, we've eliminated more wasted clicks from the mix. Therefore, we should see our conversion rate and cost per conversion metrics in these ad groups improve as we continue to focus on getting only the most relevant visitors to our website and more intelligently spending our precious PPC budget.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

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