December 2011 -
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Archive for December, 2011

Response Design – Getting to the Thank You Page

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in web experience

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Let’s face reality – we judge AdWords performance based on the response, not the clicks. CTR and clicks are important to Google, but businesses are interested in the response they get.  Response creates value and it comes mostly from the web experience.  The right keywords and ad copy is what gets to the click and without the click there is no web experience. We have to remember however that there is a limit to what AdWords can really do with 95 letters and spaces.

After the Click Happens the Rest is Up to the Website

There are lots of different types of responses that businesses are after; the most popular are an online form completion, phone call, order or some other positive action by the visitor. Which one will be your priority is a decision you need to make before you design the website. Some people want the phone to ring, but in a smaller business where you do not have staff to answer the phone you may want to stress the online form.

Position Counts!

This might seem obvious, but regardless of the type of response you want it needs to be above the fold. This term actually came from the newspaper industry and it meant exactly what is says. In the internet world above the fold means that you can see it when you first land on the page without having to roll down. The challenge here is that not every computer has the same size screen so the fold is a concept not an exact physical position. The vast major of screens are 17” or above so using that as a standard to decide what is above the fold is a good general guideline. One of the classic problems with designers is that they fail to remember that not all the audience is using a 30” monitor like they do so they design response above the fold for their monitor not the masses. Make them test their designs on a 17” monitor.

It is Getting to be a Mobile World

There is no doubt that mobile devices are coming into this world quickly. If you think a 17” monitor is a design limitation, wait till you deal with this one.  Design for mobile delivery is yet another design challenge, and here you have to realize that people are responding to less and less information so you have to adapt to that. Gone are the days of long copy, now your message is being delivered on a screen where 5 inches is considered huge. Mobile devices current range 3.5 to 5 inches and to be readable you need to be brief and to the point. Most of the time mobile visitors want directions, phone numbers, or very small specific information. Rule 1.01 in response design is; Give them what they want!

Be Clear About What You Want

If you want a phone call then ask them to call and if you want a form filled out ask them to do that. We see websites all the time that just assume that the person knows what they want and the simple truth is that is a dangerous marketing practice. Ask for the order early and often and make it very clear what you want them to do.

Stay On-Topic

When a person goes to a search engine and puts a query in the box that is the start of a conversation. Your website should continue that conversation. If they started out with a search for Water Heater Installation, connect them to content related to that. You want to avoid just dropping them on your home page and expecting them to hold the conversation together by themselves. In this area there is a challenge and that is that we break traffic down to a very fine level and it may not be worth the expense to have a specific page for every ad group. You want to have refined content related to the keyword for the keywords that make your business work. If you’re a plumber and get lots of frozen pipe work in the winter, then talk about it. The more your landing page content matches the search the more it’s going to connect with the searcher.

If it’s Important, Measure it

We see websites all the time that violate this rule and most of the time it’s the phone number that is overlooked.  As a minimum get a phone number that is unique to your website and use it only there. There are several ways to implement this but one of the easy ones is that you pass your website a URL tag that says show the paid traffic phone number. Any good website designer should understand how to do this. On forms make sure that the design goes to a unique thank you page that confirms that someone will get back to them. For some reason some web designers want to reuse the same page and just rewrite a section of it. While this will work it makes tracking the response more difficult than it needs to be. A unique thank you page is not really an option.

Offer Choices

Some people like online forms and others like phones. If both are of value to your business then by all means offer both because the total response will most likely go up. Simply stated people like choices.  Forms get better responses during the off hours and phones get better response during business hours. There could be several reasons for this and the most likely is that people would rather email than leave a voice mail in a general mailbox after hours.

Get to the Point

People are in a hurry and yet most websites drift around and waste our time with lots of unnecessary words and details. The golden rule here should be: give them as much detail as they need to make an educated decision but no more than that. This is hard because different audiences will respond to different levels of detail but do the best you can. As a minimum tighten up your language and keep the words to a minimum. Use lists rather than paragraphs and use good highlighting to make scanning your text easier.

Do not ask for too much

We see this one all the time where the client wants much more than the market is going to give them on a first contact. We are often contacted by companies that just want the order and they want nothing to do with the early sales cycle details. The problem is that the market is only going to give you want you earn, and going from a first hello to a closed deal is rare in most situations. Now there are some products that this works with, but you have to ask yourself how often to you buy on the first exposure. The likely answer is not very often.

Remove Roadblocks to Your Response

I have seen hundreds of sites with unnecessarily complex response design and every decision you engineer into the process is an opportunity for the customer to leave.  We have seen errors on screens that issue messages that might make sense to some programmer but for an ordinary person might as well be in an alien language.  Make sure that a non-programmer reviews every error message given by the system to make sure it makes sense to mere mortals.

Nothing is Perfect

In closing there is no perfect response design and you need to experiment consistently to find the attributes that push your audience’s buttons. Remember that small things can make big differences and you never know what they will be until you test.

Why Can’t I Run AdWords Myself?

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords, DIY

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The short answer is you can, but the real question is should you? Ask yourself, is your business better served by staying focused on the business of your business or learning and playing with AdWords? Are you really going to dedicate the time necessary to learn AdWords? Google has invested millions trying to make it simple enough for anyone to run. They’ve only been partially successful. Like any profession, the devil is in the details.  It seems easy enough – you create a campaign, write an ad, and select a few keywords and AdWords is running and money is going to Google. Unfortunately what is not happening with this basic simple set up is the creation of value for your business.

I have made my living as a search engine marketing expert since 1994. In all that time I have never had a client that did not know their primary keywords and more about their business than I do. However they rarely understand the issues involved in effectively targeting those keywords.

Plumber keywords are a classic example of this because the typical plumber should only target searches with “Intent to Engage Services” but many searches will be either non-specific or off topic.  The keyword Plumber Los Angeles is a good example. At first blush this would seem to be a great keyword but what if the real search is “Plumber Jobs in Los Angeles”? This search matches the Plumber Los Angeles keyword and most plumbers are paying big money for that search, and many others of questionable value. We often see incredibly broad terms like Plumber and that is an accident looking for a place to happen.

I own a pipe wrench but that in no way makes me a plumber. I can install a faucet and sometimes it does not even leak very much. However it takes me twice as long and it never lasts for a long time because I do this so infrequently that I never do it right. It always takes five trips to the hardware store to get all the right parts and most times I need to buy a few of the parts a couple of times.  Plumbing only looks easy until you have to actually do it, AdWords is the same way.

AdWords seems simple enough until you get under the surface. There are three major networks, seven types of keywords (Positive/Negative; Broad, Modified Broad, Phase, and Exact).  Matching is not just to keywords because you also have keyword themes, direct placement, and remarketing audiences in the Display Network. The keywords are a selection model for a system that has millions of searches per day and the system is an interactive auction with literally thousands of variables involved.  As a person that was trained as a computer programmer I can tell you without hesitation that AdWords is the most complex system I have ever worked on because you never know what a person with a blank search box will type in.

AdWords is very much like the old game show “Family Feud” except it happens millions of times per day and you have to guess the word, write an ad for it, and figure out the right bid. Marketing is an ecosystem and AdWords has a role that interacts with other parts of the process.  AdWords creates traffic to your website but to create value the website much bring the person to the action of contacting your business.

The question is not can you run AdWords, because you can. The question is should you? Or is your business better served by staying focused on the business of your business?

How to Pick an AdWords Partner

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords, adwords expert, google

Friday, December 16th, 2011

There are thousands of firms that list AdWords as one of many things that they do. The problem is the more they are about these other things the less they are about AdWords. Most web design firms and SEO firms will list AdWords and present themselves as experts but most of the time they are barely literate in the issues involved.

Experience Counts

Experience counts in AdWords, just like any other field. AdWords was launched in October 2000 with 350 customers and it was not until 2003 that AdWords was opened to the general market.

In 2005 Google launched their first Certification Program for Google Advertising Professionals. In 2009 the certification program was renamed “Google AdWords Certified Partners.” Look for the Google AdWords Certified Partner logo and click on it to see that the certification is current. This logo should send you to a Google site that will contain basic information about the partner. If the link is missing be very careful in checking references. Google lowered the requirements for the certification in the last few years so it does not mean as much today as it used to.

The Right Connections

When the challenges become tough the difference between success and failure often come down to whom you know. Look for a partner that has a positive relationship with Google and current certifications. Besides Google a good AdWords Expert will have connections to Web Design, SEO, Hosting, Ad Agencies, Graphic Artists, and many other areas involved in the professional management of a website.

Watch out for the common Tricks

Make sure that the services are affordable and that you own and control them. There are several tricks that happen in this industry and you need to avoid all the following:

Fixed Monthly Advertising Budget

AdWords is an auction so any form of fixed budget is probably not to your advantage. A fixed budget opens up a profit potential for the provider and they are probably better at this than you are.

Percentage of Ad Spend Fees

This is a conflict of interests because you are paying the person that sets the bids a percent of what they spend! The more of your money they spend the more they make and that is never going to end well.

Selling individuals keywords

This is usually a trick that revolves around the selling a word that has very low volume for a fixed price. The providers profit is driven by your loss and they know the volume of the words.

Programs where you do not own the website or phone number

These are the most horrible trick of them all in that you are trapped in the relationship and your organic traffic is at risk. Never run online advertising for a site you do not fully own.

Long term agreements – any more than month to month is a problem.

Advertising investments should produce results and if they do then you will never cancel them. If the provider needs you to guarantee more than month to month you really have to wonder why.

Check References

An AdWords Expert should be very easy to verify in this world of social media. Look for references on their profile and read the profiles of the people providing the references. Watch out for reciprocal references and friends rather than business relationships. AdWords is a business to business trade and the references should look like that. When in doubt connect to the reference and ask them more questions.

Talk to Them

By all means pick up the phone and talk to the people that will be supporting your account, not just the ones selling you services. Make sure you like the way they think and how they solve problems. If you cannot get past the sales person to the actual service providers then keep asking.