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Tag Archives: Business Growth

Yeah, But… I Don’t Want To Grow My Business

Yeah, But... It's time to bring your business up to speed

Let me just start by saying that I have a few number of pet peeves. One that really gets under my helmet is when I’m trying to help someone who won’t let me help them!

Person: Can you help me do this?

Me: Sure, you need to click here.

Person: I tried clicking over there and over there.

Me: OK, but you need to click here.

Person: I’m so mad I can’t get this to work!

Me: I understand. Just click here.

Person: All I want is to be able to do this thing. This is so frustrating! Every time I try to do something, something else goes wrong. Why doesn’t this stuff work the way I want it to.

Me: I would like to unsubscribe from this conversation.

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The Dirty Little Secret of Conversions, Part 3: Give Customers What They Need

While it’s great to know what people want, when you give them what they want, you only give them a partial solution. The want is the symptom. But, when you address the need, you are addressing the underlying problem and providing a much more holistic solution.

In Part 2 of this series, I started discussing a customers wants versus their needs. I continue this list here.

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Who Needs Profits…When You've Got Good Rankings?!!

Search engine marketing is an intense game of strategy, analysis, and patience. But, it’s also a game with multiple, sometimes even conflicting, goals. Depending on who you talk to you, some will tell you SEO is about rankings, while others will tell you it’s about conversions. It’s a classic political struggle trying to answer the question, “what will bring in the greatest profits?”

You need exposure to get the traffic that leads to new business. But, you need to be user friendly in order to convert the traffic you’re getting into new business. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

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Using Paid Search Campaigns Correctly to Build Your Online Business

Last week, we talked about PPC trick #1 to building your online business for the long-term – using keywords correctly.  This week, let’s talk about another “trick of the trade” that will also help on the way to this goal.

Trick #2 – Using Campaigns Correctly

As the number of targeting options for PPC increases, so do the creative ways in which you can organize your campaigns to get the maximum effectiveness out of them.  As I mentioned last week, for example, you can create a “fishing” campaign and a “bucket” campaign in order to separately control budgeting, bidding and other targeting options to focus your efforts on dominating the locations (search queries) that really put food on the table.

The first thing we have to think about when deciding how to use each campaign is what the goals of each of them are.  As you move into being an advanced PPC manager, you will start to be able to use campaigns not just for the macro-goal of making sales and money, but for more micro-goals within each campaign that will contribute to making the lasting impact of the macro-goal bigger, better and more stable.  So, instead of just one goal (making leads, sales or whatever), your account may look like this…

Campaign #1 – Find search queries that work for my business

Campaign #2 – Maximize search queries that have worked for my business

Campaign #3 – Make search queries that aren’t working for my business, but should be, work for my business.

Why would you do this?  Again, it’s to make obtaining the different micro-goals that contribute to your macro-goal (making money) more efficient.  How do they become more efficient?  By utilizing the different features available for ad serving that are built for the different purposes.  Here’s a couple examples of what I mean…

Keyword Match Types

For example, the different keyword match types serve different purposes.  Broad match is a net that goes out and catches fish (search queries) to advertise on.  Then, you can see if these fish are worth keeping.  Phrase match is more like a fishing pole with specific bait on it to catch more specific kinds of fish.  But, still a fishing tool.  Exact match is the fish.  It’s the exact fish in the Search Engine Sea.


For fishing campaigns, the point is to go out and catch search queries to decide if they’re keepers or not.  So, you want to maximize the amount of search queries and clicks that you get on those search queries.  Remember, this campaign is not directly about ROI or profit.  Thankfully, AdWords has a bidding option called “Automatic Bidding” that serves just this purpose.  When you set your campaign on this bidding option, the AdWords system will maximize the amount of clicks it can get for your set budget.  By doing this, you are most efficiently accomplishing your goal for the campaign, which is finding search queries that will work for your business.

Then, once you find the search queries that work for you, you want to then bid differently because the purpose now changes.  It’s now about maximizing ROI or profit.  Different purposes, different bidding options; so different campaign.  In our “bucket” campaign, we’ll use Maximum CPC bidding or Conversion Optimizer (designed for those purposes) to test what bid levels will accomplish this while increasing performance through optimization.

So, here’s a very simple general layout of how campaigns could be organized differently because of their differing purposes…

There are many more features that make creating campaigns with different purposes possible.  It’s up to you to learn them and then get creative as to how they will help your account.  But hopefully, above and beyond the specifics, the couple of examples I’ve given here will enlighten you to the ways in which you can be creative with targeting/organizing your account to more efficiently accomplish long-term growth.

Using Paid Search Keywords Correctly to Build Your Online Business

In my last post, I shared using a fishing metaphor to talk about stepping your PPC game up to the point where you know how to use it to build your online business for the long haul.  So, let’s start looking at some of the “tricks of the trade” to do just that.

Trick #1 – Use Keywords Correctly

A great misnomer among PPC advertisers is the belief that the foundation to success for an account is found in picking the right keywords.  While picking good keywords is important, it’s not the foundation.  The foundation is knowing how to use keywords to find search queries that you can use to attract customers to your website.  That’s right, keywords are different than search queries.  Search queries are the phrases that real users actually type into the search engines.  Remember, keywords are like nets that you throw into Search Engine Sea to find the fish (search queries) that you will then use to prepare dinner.

How do you build your account around search queries?  Well, an easy way is to make sure to separate your winning search query catches from your nets.  Once you catch a fish, you don’t leave it in the net, right?  That will just get in the way of catching other fish when you throw the net back in.  Therefore, we’ve got to use the organizational features that the paid search interfaces give us to put the fish in a bucket so that we can skin and fillet (optimize) it.

This is easily accomplished by separating your nets and your fish into separate campaigns.  Your “net” campaign will contain keywords that use match types effectively (we’ll get to this soon) to go out and catch the fish.  Your “bucket” campaign will contain the search queries you have found to be winners.  You will set these search queries on “exact match” so that they will only be matched to the exact query that you found works for your business.  Yes, I know that once you add the query to your account that it (technically-speaking) becomes a “keyword,” but since it will only be matched to the exact query, we can view it as such.

The bucket campaigns is where you will build your account from what you caught in the net campaign.  This separation allows you to separately control budgeting, bidding and other targeting options to focus your efforts on dominating the locations that really put food on the table.

For example, if we create a “fishing” campaign that uses the keyword “red shoes” on broad match, it will be matched to thousands of real search queries like “red nike tennis shoes” or even “purple slippers” (broad match can be very broad).  Yes, you may find that the exact query “red shoes” works for you and meets your advertising goals.  But, long-term business growth against your competition requires that you go fishing for as many queries as you can make work for your business.

So, let’s say your main keyword theme is “red shoes.”  Through keyword research, you add many relevant keyword phrases to your “net” campaign.  As ads run on these keywords, they will be collected and you are able to view them in your account. Here’s an illustration of what it’s like.  The keywords you add to your campaigns are in the middle.  The actual search queries that users are performing are in the small bubbles…

Now, what do you do with these?  You take a look at their relevance and statistics to decide whether to continue advertising on those terms or not, and whether or not they’ve performed well enough to be implemented into your net campaign for different treatment.  There will be a lot of terms to add as negatives, some to throw into the bucket, some will need more time, and some may need special attention to figure out why they are not performing as well as you might think.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how you may treat these groups differently.

PPC for a Day or For a Lifetime?

One of the great things about PPC advertising is its immediacy.  You can start running ads right now and see almost instantaneous results; whether good, bad or just ok.  But, the trap that we don’t want to fall into when running our accounts is limiting our thinking just to what can be gained right now.  The fact is, PPC is a great way to help build all areas of your online business long-term.  And with the continuous expansion of features and avenues being offered in this channel today, the possibilities continue to grow.

But for this series of posts, I want to focus on keyword advertising.  I want to take you through a theoretical progression of how solid PPC search campaigns are started, developed and used to build a foundation for the long-term growth of your brand and website.

Build Your Net

When first starting your keyword advertising, you probably have some sort of idea about what your main keyword themes will be.  For our fishing metaphor, these themes are like the areas that you choose to go fishing.  They are what you believe to be the hot spots.  Once you identify them, you then choose the type of tool that you will use to fish.  Nowadays of course, this would typically be a pole, line, hook and bait.  But, because it fits the metaphor better and we want to catch lots of fish at once, we’re going to use a net :).

The keywords you choose during your keyword research act as little nets that are thrown out into the Search Engine Sea to catch all of the billions of fish (search queries) swimming around out there.  You rake all of the fish in and then sort them out to decide which ones are keepers and exactly where you want or don’t want to toss your nets into Search Engine Sea in the future.

Time To Go Fishing

You put some gas in your boat (your monthly budget), you fire it up and go out to cast into Search Engine Sea.  You’ve scoped out your location (keyword themes) and loaded your boat (campaign) with your nets (keywords).  You arrive at your location and cast your nets into the sea.  The problem with many fishermen (advertisers) is that they are not using all of the “tricks of the trade” (AdWords features) that are available to them these days (bait, gps, etc.) in the correct ways to make them as good at fishing as they could be.

Having and knowing how to use the right tools really helps!

This is exactly why I can’t stand fishing.  I simply don’t know how to do it or how to use all of the right tools available to get better at it.  If I entered a fishing competition right now, I wouldn’t know what to do and would be wasting my time, energy and money.  Yeah, I know how to bait a hook, cast and reel.  But, I really don’t KNOW how to fish.  I don’t do it enough and don’t care enough to make it work for me.  The last 3 times I’ve gone, I haven’t caught anything.  Guess what?  Not wanting to fish anymore.  Good thing for me, Chipotle is right around the corner :).

And therein lies the rub.  Advertisers go out on the “Search Engine Sea” alone to catch their “fish”, but they don’t know what they’re doing or how to compete.  Yeah, they know how to “bait, hook and reel,” but they really don’t KNOW how to “fish.” Then, when things aren’t going the way they want, they quit, aren’t motivated, decide its overrated or that it’s not worth their time, money and energy.  So, they go to Chipotle.

The problem is that they heard some talk about people catching fish or someone even gave them a fish, or they caught a TV show that made it look easy and enjoyable; and they got excited.  But, since they really don’t know what they’re doing, they “eat for a day” (if even that) and fail to lay a stronger foundation to “eat for a lifetime.”

Good PPC involves becoming an expert. It’s about knowing how to use it to find out what works and what doesn’t online so that you can keep getting bigger and better.

In my next post, we’ll start looking at some tricks of the trade that you may not have known about for long-term growth so that you can become a better fisherman.

PPC Testing Made Easier with AdWords Campaign Experiments

If you take your PPC campaigns seriously (why wouldn’t you?), you’re always testing.  Always.  It’s the only way to accomplish long-term growth and gain insights that will translate into all of your other marketing channels.  One problem that has been inherent since the beginning of PPC is the inability to do true A/B split-testing with variables like keywords, bids, ad text, ad groups, match types, dynamic keyword insertion, etc.

Yes, you could test them, but only by comparing metrics from different time periods (except for ads).  For example, you’d have to run ads at a certain bid price for a while, change it, and run them at the new bid price for a while.  Then, you’d have to compare the results from different time periods.  The problem? When you would compare the results, you would be likely to assume the differences in those key metrics to be the result of the changes.  But fluctuations in demand, shifts in competitor tactics, and uncontrollable circumstances (special events, etc.) can complicate things.

Google’s example of this involves advertising for soccer balls.  “Let’s say you’re advertising soccer balls, and you decide to increase your bids to get more traffic. Two days later, the World Cup starts, and your clicks and impressions increase substantially. If you had simply raised the bids in your campaign without running an experiment, you wouldn’t know how much of the increase in traffic is due to the World Cup, and how much is a result of you increasing bids.”

Let’s say you raised your bids at the beginning of June and noticed this trend when doing analysis in July….

Alright, looks great.  Let’s go ahead and keep that new bid.  What?  What’s that?  That might not be the best thing.  Well now, why would that be?

Ouch.  That’s web search volume trends for that keyword phrase.  Not so fast my friend.

Enter the newest “seedless watermelon” in the AdWords system called AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE).  With ACE, you can run simultaneous split tests with most of the key variables in your campaigns by splitting traffic between you “control” group (original) and your experiment group…AND…you can analyze the results of your tests before you apply them to all auctions.  This lowers the risk of diving into new, unproven strategies by enabling you to control the amount of traffic you send to your experimental groups; which ultimately helps you make better decisions in your optimization efforts.  You can split your traffic in 10% intervals from 90/10 all the way to 10/90.

The cool thing about this is that if you want to run a low-risk experiment  and send 80% of your traffic to your control group and 20% to your experiment group, you can analyze the results and find if the changes performed better.  If they did, then you can run what is called a holdback experiment before you fully applied the changes to your campaigns.  A holdback experiment involves running the exact same experiment again, but this time with the control at 20% and the experiment at 80%.  This way, you confirm that the positive effects of your experiment are truly there as the experiment is exposed to a larger amount of traffic.

When you go to analyze an experiment, you want make sure that the statistical differences in your numbers is meaningful rather than the result of random chance.  Statistical significance is calculated based both on the number of auctions your campaign participated in, and on the size of the differences in metrics. Google AdWords provides icons in your campaign when the math indicates that you can be 95%, 99%, or 99.9% confident that differences are meaningful, and not just due to chance.

The icons are arrows that show you whether a particular element you’re experimenting with has achieved statistically significant results, and how confident you can be that those results will carry over to your campaign if you apply the experiment (one arrow meaning there is a 5% probability your results occurred due to chance, two arrows means there is a 1% chance, and three arrows means there is just a 0.1% chance these results are due to chance).

The introduction of this new feature saves the account manager time and makes testing in your AdWords account much more accurate, efficient and profitable.

How to Deal with Criticism Properly

The only way to avoid hearing criticism is to be deaf or dead.

The only way to avoid being criticized is to never have been alive.

As history books have shown, even the dead can’t escape criticism. So, those of us who are alive must simply learn to deal with it; even as we often try to avoid it.

As much as we hate it, criticism isn’t all bad. Criticism, regardless of how it was intended, can help us adjust and adapt to situations. It can provide useful insight, justified or not, into our lives and give us the opportunity to become a better person.

Rarely do we enjoy hearing it, but criticism is a needed component for growth as a person.

There is an old Arab proverb that says, “if one person calls you a donkey, forget it. But if five people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.”

Or, take a lesson, and perhaps try a different approach.

In most circumstances, you can freely ignore criticism coming from a single source, or perhaps a few dubious sources. But be careful about ignoring criticism from someone who knows you pretty intimately and is likely point out things that other people won’t–or can’t.

Regardless of the source, if you find yourself hearing similar criticisms from multiple avenues, it might be a good idea to take stock in what’s being said. Failure to do so will only result in the same mistakes being made time and time again.

Of course, not all criticism is justified. Sometimes we get criticized for things that other people don’t understand. Often ignorance or lack of information, combined with a healthy dose of bias, can bring someone to criticize something that they really don’t get. I have recently found this to be true of myself. People just don’t know the full story of what is going on in other people’s lives, but they often find it easy to criticize anyway.

Preacher, Henry Ward Beecher stepped up to the pulpit one Sunday morning to deliver his sermon. As he put his bible on the pulpit there was a paper with the word “fool” written on it. He lifted the paper for the congregation to see then announced, “Generally I receive letters from people who write letters and forget to sign their name. This letter is different. The person signed his name but forgot to write the letter.”

There is nothing you can do about unjustified criticism other than to let it roll off your back. Don’t let it get to you, don’t let it bother you or change you. But take note of what you hear; if the same criticisms keep coming up from multiple and trusted sources, then it may be justified. In which case you need to accept it, learn from it, and change what is necessary to become a better person, employee, business owner, spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, etc.

Criticism is a part of life. But, what we do with it makes us who we are.