A summary of Google’s newer features aimed at improving paid search presented by Mark Martel, Head of Search Ads Marketing at Google, SMX East 2012, New York City
Google sees 100 billion queries every month – that’s over a trillion a year. As such, Google continues to engineer solutions aimed at providing better results for those searches. As with all things Google, the goal is a quality experience for the end user based on intent, and delivering relevant information quickly. Of course, improved ROI for advertisers is a major goal too. After all, they are the ones writing the checks. Here’s a summary of the features:
These links are displayed within your paid ads to help visitors dive deeper into your website. One of the keys to PPC success is to drive traffic to a relevant page that matches the user’s intent. But in this scenario, marketers decide where the user lands. With site links, more control is given to the visitor. Think about it – aren’t they really the best person to decide what they want? Up to six destination URLs may be added.
Seller Ratings Extensions
In line with their insatiable quest for quality results, seller ratings extensions help people identify how the public perceives merchants on Google. Presented as stars, Google uses multiple databases from around the web to pull the reviews. Adding these can give a 5-10% lift in click through rates. So, if you have good ratings, don’t be shy about integrating and sharing them!
In the past, these functions were only available through third-party bid management solutions. Now, you can automate changes to certain aspects of your account based on attributes you select. Here are a few examples:
- Change daily budget on peak shopping days
- Modify Max CPC bids based on click-through-rate (CTR) or conversion rates
- Enable ad text that directs users to specific landing pages at a particular time of day or the week
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads
Not to be confused with Ad Retargeting, this feature improves the relevance of search ads by allowing you to adjust keywords, ads, bids or landing pages based on pages visited on a website. Note that ad selection is not based on previous searches. For this feature to kick in, the search must match the keywords, and cookies must be enabled. One case study showed an impressive 315% increase in conversion rate; and a boost return on advertising spend (ROAS) by 250%
As you could guess, these illustrate the entire search path up to conversion, including ad clicks and impressions. These help you identify which phrases are working, and which need more love and attention. In theory, it’s pretty simple. In practice, it’s very effective. “Set it and forget it” programs don’t hold up over time. This function gives you a visual representation to focus your tweaking efforts and improve performance.
Dynamic Search Ads
This is way cool. Google will generate ads on the fly with a headline based on the query and matching content on your website. How does it know? Duh, it’s Google! It uses organic search algorithms to crawl and identify the appropriate content, then generates the highly targeted dynamic ad.
Product Listing Ads
These are AdWords ads that include product attributes such as image, price, merchant, etc. Again, the goal here is relevance. This function does require you to be up and running on Google Merchant.
Simply put, this allows you to share a daily budget over multiple campaigns. This function is designed to better allocate your budget, and improve your performance over time; both with minimized effort.
Above is just a sampling of the groovy features that were highlighted. Additional ones included:
Segments – split your data for easier comparison
Google Trusted Stores – a seal of approval that helps attract new customers, but requires integration with your internal customer service and shipping history databases
AdWords Labels – label certain aspects of your program to make it easier to find info and generate reports
Campaign Simulator – if you change your budget, what will it mean? This function does the modeling for you based on the campaign attributes you adjust.
Google Tag Manager – designed to save time, this allows you to put a single code snippet on your pages to manage monitoring for multiple platforms for analytics, conversion, remarketing, etc. Oh, yes, Google is playing nice – it is compatible with other service providers
At a time where advertisers and agencies are looking to improve campaigns and returns, it’s great to see that Google continues to innovate. You can learn more about these features, and others at Google’s blog http://adwords.blogspot.com/.
In the meantime, I’d like to know what you’re thinking: which features appeal to you most? Why?
For many years, my dear neighbors (we actually all refer to each other as “neighbor”), have had great success planting a garden on their front lawn. From July and deep into August and beyond, the kids and I are invited to help ourselves to plump tomatoes, sweet cucumbers, crisp string beans, and even an occasional pumpkin. For the last couple of years, they’ve been encouraging me to plant one on my side of the road. But I always thought, “Nah, too much work. Not worth the effort. The kids will destroy it.” Pretty much – any excuse NOT to garden was good enough for me.
The Prep was Daunting
This year, I finally decided to take the plunge. The prep was daunting – hand pulling wheelbarrows full of weeds on an unusually hot and sticky Memorial Day weekend. Several trips to the store for compost, seed, starter plants and miscellaneous goods. Then the seemingly endless digging and shleping of mulch from the backyard woods. Once everything was in the garden bed, Neighbor Bob came over and roto-tilled the soil and mulch. When done, I had beautiful, rich black dirt that was ripe for planting. I cheated with the tomatoes and cucumbers – using starter plants, but dropped in string been and watermelon seeds. My youngest ambitiously helped.
This Gardening Thing Isn’t for Me!
Within a few days, we were encouraged to see a few bean sprouts break the dirt. But the joy would soon turn to sorrow. One tomato plant had mysteriously snapped – either it was the rain, or, more ironically, Neighbor’s dog. Another tomato plant snapped. Then a few of young bean plants were trampled. It was over. I was so discouraged. “This gardening thing isn’t for me!” I yelled into the ether.
Neighbor Susan came over and explained that I could actually replant the broken tomato – just dig the hole and plant it deeper, which I did. Then, two of the watermelon seeds started growing. The cucumbers vines started to spread out, while the tomatoes and beans were growing up. With continual weeding and watering, the garden was beginning to flourish. There were many hot days in June and my nephew Tom was kind enough to water the fledglings for me.
On Independence Day weekend, just five weeks after the initial prep, I plucked three beautiful full-sized cucumbers and we enjoyed garden fresh cucumber salad at our BBQ. These were unlike any that I have ever tasted – sweet, juicy, and MINE! We’ve harvested 15 or so more since then. I’ve lost count. Oddly, nobody is sick (yet) of cucumber salad! A few weeks ago, the string beans were ready for picking. Just snap and eat. Yum. Just last week – our first ripe red tomato was ready.
As a gift to Neighbors for helping, I’ve been sharing cucumbers with them. See, they don’t have any ready to eat yet. And I am not quiet about my garden coup. It felt good to give them some fresh veggies for once! (And to rub my victory in their faces. Sorry, Neighbors.)
Was the purpose of this blog to brag about my beginner’s green thumb? Yes, absolutely. Oh, wait, no. This is a marketing blog for manufacturers. Seriously – if you haven’t figured it out yet – my point is that social media is just like a garden:
At first, it’s easier to ignore and to fight it, especially since you survived so long without it. But once you get over the initial prep, and jump a few hurdles, with a little help, it becomes fun. It takes time to nurture, there are setbacks, but in time, you reap the glorious harvest.
The harvest does not come without the garden. The garden will not grow unless you prep the soil and plant the seeds, then nurture them continuously.
I have to run – several more cukes are ripe for the pickin’. I am going to pickle this batch.
Apparently Atari and I have something in common that I never knew – we’re the same age. Atari turns 40 this year, and so will I. When I think Atari, I flash back to Pong. That amazing Pong. Then, of course, my first 2600 game console.
The Land Before Pong
See. Before there was Pong, there was nothing. No video games, just Wiffle® ball, and two-hand touch football in the streets. Maybe “Mother, May I?” or “Red Light, Green Light” – actually, we had countless ways to kill our time. Then our generation was blessed with the simple brilliance of Pong. Soon enough we had chunky graphics with bleeping sound effects on our bloated television sets. Often in color; sometimes, black and white. We destroyed boulders and aliens, explored ancient ruins, caught exploding bombs, munched mazes of pellets and even hunted and killed each other.
This was around the same time when our parents still dragged us to the bank to get cash. No convenience of ATMS nor their debit card ilk. Good luck if you ran out of money on a Saturday night. TV’s dished out about 13 channels if you had a good set of rabbit ears. (Sorry if you don’t know what “rabbit ears” are. Ask your parents if you don’t.)
I remember being about 10 when a spontaneously-affluent neighbor showed up with his Timex Sinclair mini personal computer. He was shamelessly boasting about some new cool thing it had. It was called electronic mail, or e-mail. “What’s e-mail?” I snottily and dismissively asked. “It’s an electronic version of mail.” I said, “Well, that’s stupid. Nobody’s gonna use it…”
Soon afterward, Commodore hit the market with their PETs and Vic 20’s – being smart enough to give us control with a keyboard and “memory”. Even though the memory was a cassette (again, ask your parents if you don’t know what this is). One of the drawbacks of being an early adopter in this technology: hardly anyone was using it, or even knew what it was. Nobody to send e-mails to, nor receive them from. I was right, but not for long. Eventually, society would catch up and we all know how that story ends.
Game systems, home computers and graphics evolved incredibly since the simplicity of Pong. In fact, today I am often fooled by my son’s video games – convinced I am watching TV. He plays with his school friends whether they are in the room, or across town. Sometimes he “verses” in real time, in living color, the youth of Argentina or the Ukraine.
We are Finally Living in the Jetson’s Era
Today, we have pocket computers (some still call them cell phones), that allow us to watch TV, take pictures, organize our lives, and, yes, occasionally make phone calls. We are finally living in the Jetson’s era. (Well, mostly, I’m still waiting for my flying car.) Not only has the digital era made everyday things more portable, cooler and convenient – it’s changed the way we communicate. Way beyond email now, we have social media, instant messages and video chat. We are snapping pictures, editing them, and sharing them worldwide with strangers in seconds. We are paying our bills without picking up pens. The revolution is killing newspapers, TV, traditional telephones, orchestras, downtowns and even the simple ability to socialize. Yard sales are vanishing.
My nieces and their associates don’t talk when sharing a couch. They text. We’re losing the ability to verbally communicate while within arm’s reach. This generation doesn’t even bother with email. OMG. That’s sooooo last century. Instead, they, like, barrage each other with IM’s, pics and vids – in a language all their own.
Well, Atari. It’s been an amazing ride. We’ve witnessed the world morph – from humans to machines, paper to pixels, analog to digital. Banktellers and TV announcers still have jobs, trees are still falling for paper, so we’re not fully there yet. We’re still amidst this evolution, left only to imagine what will happen over the next 40 years. We’ll wait and see.
In the meantime, it might be a good day to dig through the shed, dust off that 2600 and blast some aliens.
LinkedIn. Isn’t that where nieces and nephews go to find jobs? Well, with two new members joining per second, it is now the preferred social channel for professionals – an inescapable juggernaut. This status yields unique opportunities for collaboration, customer service, branding and much more. This includes unprecedented mingling and marketing opportunities with targeted executives and decision makers. Further, it turns out that these professionals do fun things besides career harvesting – like vendor sourcing, product/process research, problem solving through crowd sourcing and much more. Here’s why you should care:
Users are Professionals
You won’t find many pictures of puppies, babies, BBQs or the high school reunion dinner on LinkedIn. Instead, you’ll find professionals, many of whom make purchasing decisions for their respective companies. The LinkedIn community includes executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies. I can’t think of any other avenue that allows you to easily reach so many industry-specific decision makers and power players.
Since the LinkedIn community is comprised mostly of professionals, it should come as no surprise that active, genuine participation generates leads over time. A study conducted last summer by ThomasNet indicated that over 53% of 2,800 companies surveyed were leveraging LinkedIn. More significantly, almost a third of them are using it as a prospecting tool.
The essential lead generation process is no different than the traditional one: prospects learn about you and your company, if you offer the products and services they require and they like you or your company, they will request quotes or buy from you.
It’s a Key to the Future
As of this spring, students and recent college graduates are the fastest-growing demographic on LinkedIn. Why is this important? These are the executives and decision makers of tomorrow. One of the most common challenges I hear from industrial business owners and marketers is, “How do I reach the younger generation?” LinkedIn, in conjunction with other social efforts, is the path to reach them.
Let’s face it – the world is shrinking by the minute. More and more US companies are exporting and doing business on a global scale. I have good news for current and future exporters: LinkedIn is used in over 200 countries/territories! It is available in seventeen languages: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. While a soft dollar isn’t something we are particularly proud of, it does make our products and services much more appetizing for the international market… so why not make sure the world knows what you have to offer?
It Keeps Growing, and Growing
Earlier this year, LinkedIn negotiated to take an entire floor of the Empire State Building. That’s 31,000 square feet in one of the world’s most prestigious business addresses. Why? Status. Prestige. But think about the bigger implications – the expansion reflects LinkedIn’s phenomenal growth. Ten years ago, it didn’t exist. Today, is has more than 161m professionals worldwide growing at 2 members per second.
Readers, Act Now!
There are many facets of LinkedIn that you can leverage. The more you do, the better off you will be:
- Your Profile – If you haven’t yet – start with the basics and create your own profile. Fill out all required details. Encourage others at your company to do the same. Keep your profile up to date. Seek out people that you know and connect with them to grow your network.
- Company Page – After the people are on board, build your company page. Over 2 million companies already have! Be sure to fill out as much as you can. Write up a good, concise company profile. Take advantage of the ability to add your products and services as well.
- Get Social – Next step is to start getting social. Publish routine posts relating to your industry. Resist the temptation to talk about your business, focus on thought leadership by sharing your knowledge to help other community members.
- Group Participation – Group participation is one of the best ways to meet people in your industry, and grow your network. Through group discussions, you can share your knowledge, solve problems, follow top thought leaders and keep abreast on what’s new. If you stay at it long enough, you will establish yourself as a go-to person for your industry – which is exactly what you want to do!
- Advertise – Consider paid advertising on LinkedIn. The tools allow for precise targeting, and keep in mind that you are reaching an influential professional audience.
As with most things social, success is not immediate. It will take time to build your audience and earn their trust. Regard the other golden rule: make sure participation is at a consistent pace. And, of course, resist the temptation to talk only about you and your company. Focus on your industry, applications and expertise – perhaps sharing best practices. Become a problem solver. Help community members with their challenges and eventually turn some into customers. Most of you are doing these things already with clients and prospects, but it’s time to share your expertise with new audiences, and allow your brand and business to grow.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Do you remember those cereal commercials… with cute animated characters bouncing around convincing you that their cereal was the only thing you needed for breakfast? Yet, at the very end to showed a picture while the announcer claimed, “Sugary Puffs are part of this complete breakfast.” The photo showed a meal with eggs, fruit, whole wheat toast, orange juice, and whatever else the food lawyers told them to include. While it was a quick flash, it was the most important part of the message: although tempting and convenient, you can’t get balanced nutrition from a bowl of sugar. You must ingest more to satisfy your body’s needs.
As it turns out, the same exact principle holds true for industrial marketing. Over the years, I’ve heard so many claim that they didn’t need “more marketing”, since they already had a website and/or a whatever. Well, you can’t just eat your SE-O’s and call ‘em breakfast! A company’s digital marketing appetite is much bigger. The keys to satisfaction? Variety and balance. Just as the mix of foods provides different benefits to your body, so do the various online marketing channels. Let’s take a look at the menu:
Your Website – as the centerpiece of your complete breakfast, this benefits you the most. It’s critical to have a protein-rich website that’s informative, user friendly, fresh and encourages visitors to connect with you by requesting quotes/info, or buying now. But remember, the website alone will not satisfy the hunger, you still need to drive traffic to that site.
SEO – time tested and mother approved, organic SEO is a delicious way to “supplement” your website. Moms love SEO since it drives traffic while prospects are ACTIVELY SEARCHING for your product or service. Searchers type in a service or product along with a few descriptive words, your company comes up and they click – you now got a live one on the line.
Social Media – rich in vitamins and minerals, this tasty dish helps keep you fit for the long run. Social is about making impressions and improving brand exposure to targeted audiences. Although it takes time and consistency to strengthen your social media muscle, it pays off long term. Manufacturers are adapting to social media at impressive rates. LinkedIn is signing on one new professional every two seconds. Twitter is making it relatively easy to expose your brand to thousands of targeted people, including those at Fortune 500 companies. Social is becoming indispensible as a tool to connect with people, inform them, earn their trust, and ultimately get their business.
Email Marketing – like whole grain toast, email is tried and true, particularly the retention based variety. Here, you are reaching out to your existing customers on a regular basis to keep your name and messaging in front of them. This is something you know you need to do, but never have the time to, right? Do avoid that gluey, soft white bread variety though – email blasts to rented or borrowed lists. These do not convert well and will leave you very hungry. All of that bleached flour does a better job at harming your reputation rather than improving it. Nobody likes junk mail. People want to receive emails from people that they know.
Directories– listing your website with online directories is another yummy way to attract targeted traffic. Directories tend to attract quality visitors that stay on sites longer and view more pages content. They typically stay on longer and drill deeper than traffic driven directly from search engines. As a result, conversion rates are higher – they are much more likely to request a quote, give you a call or hit that buy now button.
SEM/PPC/Online Display Ads – Pay-for-play can get pricey, but when properly tweaked, can be an excellent source of quality site traffic. PPC strategies, where you pay search engines to come up for certain words, should only be implemented when you can’t succeed organically. When placing display or banner ads, be sure to target your exposure. If you make pumps, there isn’t much value for exposure when someone is looking for cable assemblies.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a well balanced one is the key. No short cuts, no sugar puffs. Plan a well balanced digital diet so your company can be energetic in the short term and remain healthy for the long run. Mothers everywhere will approve.