Posts by Geordie:

How To Plan Your Landing Pages

No Comments » Written on April 20th, 2010 by
Categories: Landing Pages

Whole books have been written about the ins-and-outs of landing page design.

Each element on the page, each word, graphic, block of text and link, contributes to conversion, or lack thereof. However, this complexity can be boiled down to six essentials.

If you’re designing a land page, or revamping those pages you have, make sure you cover these six points:

1. State Your Value Proposition

What is it? What value are you providing the customer? What is in it for them?

Your value proposition should be part of the ad text, and it definitely needs to appear on your landing pages. Whilst there are always exceptions, the value proposition generally comes first.

People will judge the overall look of your page to determine credibility and relevance, and next they will try to determine what’s in it for them. Craft a succinct value statement that conveys your value to customers, and if possible, let people know the positive, compelling attributes that separate you from the competition.

2. Use Appropriate Logo And Design

People judge by appearances.

This is not to say that complex graphic design is desirable, however landing page design needs to be of sufficient quality that it doesn’t put people off. Design is obviously highly subjective, so take a look at the designs your competitors are using, particularly those competitors who rank highly over time. Does your design standard mirror theirs?

3. Use Crystal Clear Calls To Action

Is it immediately obvious what action the visitor needs to take? Make your action buttons large and surround them with white space. Make text links bold, in that they stand out, visually, from surrounding text. Surround the calls-to-action with benefit statements that signal to a visitor what to expect after they click the link/button i.e. Click here to order [product/service] now! If you are asking a visitor for information, then keep your requirements brief. Deliver the visitor significant value over the time it takes for them to provide you with this information, and the risk in doing so.

4. Trust Elements

Cover the basics, such as contact information, security assurances, and privacy. However, trust elements need to be part of everything you do. Correct spelling and grammar, ensure fast load times, offer guarantees, state and answer objections, ensure terminology is aligned with your industry/visitor level, and your overall design quality is high.

Your aim is assure, and reassure.

5. Test The Steps Beyond Your Landing Page

After the visitor takes the desired action, what happens next?

Is the end-to-end experience a good one? Beyond the shopping cart process, are you providing a seamless back-end experience? For example, are phones always answered in a timely manner? Are shipping times met? Do you get back to customers when you say you will? Can you handle the load if you receive more orders than you were expecting? Have you planned for this (pleasant) eventuality?

6. Communicate

You may understand what your landing page offers, but do your visitors?

Do the “mom test” i.e ask “will my Mom understand this page/site”? Nothing against Moms, of course 🙂 Even if your audience is savvy, people don’t like to be faced with something they find cryptic. Everyone appreciates efficiency and clarity.

The way to ensure this happens is to test. Show the page to people and ask them about the five points mentioned above. Can they recite the value proposition? Can they order easily? What do they think of the design? Do they trust it? It’s important to ask people who will be honest with you. Even asking such questions can be leading, so keep this in mind.

The ultimate test, of course, is in the live environment. If you’re having problems with conversions, evaluate your pages and site against these six points.

Starting A PPC Agency: How To Position

3 Comments Written on April 19th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

We’ve been looking at how to start a PPC agency. Obviously, there is no shortage of competition. SEMPO lists over 700 members, and a search through Google reveals many more.

How will you differentiate your services from the rest?

Formulate A Brand

Typically, small companies don’t think much about brand. Brand is for the big guys. But whether we formulate a specific brand or not, everything we do – the way we talk, write, execute and interact with clients – is our brand. It’s how people will come to know and identify us. So we may as well give some thought to how to present a unified message.

When done correctly, brand is a powerful means of setting us apart from the pack.

Brand agencies charge a fortune for brand creation, but creating a brand is really just common sense.

A brand good typically has the following elements:

A Good Brand Must Be Truthful

A good brand is a truthful one.

A brand is about creating a sense of familiarity and identity in the minds of the customer. If that identity conflicts with who you really are, then your brand will suffer as a result.

For example, if you’re a small operator, don’t pretend to be a big one. Prospective clients will see through it soon enough. If you’re offering premium services, at premium prices, then all your communications with clients need to be exemplary, as does your performance. Take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself what you do really well? What genuine benefit do you provide? What sets you apart from the rest?

All clients want to find a provider they trust, so any brand message you’re sending out must be consistent with the way you execute.

The Rule Of Three

In The Invisible Touch, by Harry Beckwith, the author outlines the rule of three.
People will typically remember three, or less, things about you.

What are they?

For example, when asked about Microsoft, most people say “big, techy, and rich”. Ask people about Apple and they’ll likely say “creative, fun and cool”. Harley Davidson – “male and rebel”. Or words to that effect.

Try to think of your brand in terms of three desirable qualities. Apples brand is stronger than Microsoft’s in this regard. Decide what those three terms are, and let them flow through every communication you have with people.

People Will Judge You By What You Look Like

In a study of website credibility, the study found an interesting, although not unsurprising, thing. People judged the trustworthiness of a website by what it looked like.

This may be irrational, but looks do count. You might feel that such irrational perceptions don’t distort your view of reality, which may well be the case, but it’s safe to assume that many prospective customers will judge you by appearances.

If your website looks authoritative, then that’s how people will perceive you. People will draw conclusions from your web design, your logo, how you answer the phone, how you write emails, and your copy. What clues are you sending out? What brand qualities do you want to get across? Are they consistent with how you act? They should inform all aspects of what you do. Style really does count.

Such matters of style don’t get talked about a lot in the tech business, but examples are all around us. Why is the iPhone such a hit when other phones do something similar, and at lower cost? The answer lies in design and positive brand values. Style shouldn’t matter, but it does.

Beauty and elegance do have a function. They make us smile. They make us feel a little better. When trying to serve your client, does it get better than that? Ask yourself how you can make your clients feel better about using your service. Anyone can offer PPC services, but how many can make clients feel good about using them?

Obviously, this is not just about face value, you also need to execute in line with your brand values, too. Let your brand values permeate everything you do, and you’ll set yourself apart from those offering typical PPC services, which are hard to differentiate in terms of function alone.

How To Be A Lot More Productive – Eat That Frog

1 Comment » Written on April 14th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

Building a PPC business from scratch is hard work. There are many demands on your time, so managing your time effectively is key to success.

Successful people tend to use their time more effectively than others. They are not gifted, and there is no mystery to how they do it, they just tend to organize themselves in a deliberate, calculated manner. Time management skills can be learned and copied.

I’ve just finished a good little book on time management called “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. To those who have read time management books, the content will be familiar, but if you haven’t given much thought to how you manage and plan your time, then it’s a good place to start. Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is another good read on this topic.

“Eat That Frog” does become a little repetitious in places, so I’ll summarize the main points. If you feel that you waste time, or could create more value by planning your day better, give these methods a try.

1. Focus Single-Mindedly On Your Most Important Task

What is the one task you do today that is the most valuable? We all have multiple demands on out time. Tasks build up constantly, and there isn’t enough time to do them all.

Decide which tasks are the most important – in terms of adding the most value, or have severe consequence if they are not done – and do those tasks first.

We procrastinate longest on such tasks, so it’s a good idea to take action on them as soon as possible. Leave the low-value, easy asks until after you’ve finished the high value tasks.

2. Set Clear Goals

Decide exactly what you want.

Sounds obvious, right. However, a lot of people “make busy”. They work for eight-ten hours a day, but only have a vague idea of where they’re heading in terms of their overall goal.

A long time perspective is important. If you set long terms goals, it makes it easier to make short term decisions. Each short term decision should take you one step close to the long term goal.

Set goals for the day. The week. For the year. Make a list of all the tasks you need to achieve your goal, and prioritize them. More on prioritization in step 7.

3. Plan On Paper

A day can be planned in ten minutes.

Without such planning, you can waste hours procrastinating or completing low-value or irrelevant tasks, so taking a few minutes to plan your day is time well spent.

It is important to write your plan down, as writing a list makes tasks more concrete in your mind. It is very difficult to keep a long list of tasks in your head.

So work from a list. Each task that comes up, add it to the list. Make the list the night before, so you mind can get to work on it while you sleep. Plan your coming week at the end of the each week. Also do it at the end of each month. Tick off the items on the list as you go. Steady, visible progress helps propels you forward.

4. Apply the 80/20 Rule

20% of your tasks will account for the 80% of your value. One task you do could be more valuable than all other tasks combined. Do you know what that task is?

You can probably identify it without having to think about it.

5. Consider The Consequences

What are the consequences of not completing a task?

The tasks with the highest consequences of not completing them are probably the most important in terms of providing value.

6. Practice Creative Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates. So allow yourself to procrastinate on the small, unimportant tasks, after you’ve completed your important high value tasks.

7. The A, B, C, D, E Method

Write your tasks down and categorize them A, B, C, D and E.

  • A is high value task. A high value task has serious consequences if it is not done.
  • If you have multiple A tasks, mark them a1, a2, a3 etc.
  • B task is a task you should do, but it’s not critical. Answering an email, etc. Don’t start a B task while there is an A task pending completion.
  • C task is something that would be nice to do, but there are no consequences if you don’t do it i.e. a lunch meeting
  • D task is something you can delegate to someone else. Do so.
  • E task is something you can eliminate altogether, because it makes no difference. You may be doing this task out of habit.

After you’ve applied this method, your list will be up to date, prioritized and clear.

8. Focus On Building Your Core, High Value Skills

There is no-one who does things quite the way you do. There are things that you can do that are unique, and you can make yourself very valuable by focusing on those unique skills that create the most value.

What are your strengths? You might be great at sales, or management, or fine tuning PPC campaigns. Make a list of your skills and grade them, strongest to weakest. Decide which skill, if you did it to an excellent standard, would create the most value?

Focus on improving those skills.

9. The Law Of Three

This point seemed rather arbitrary, but it does have the ring of truth about it.

There are most likely three key tasks that present the most value. Everything else can likely be delegated, outsourced, re-scheduled or eliminated.

10. Have Everything You Need Before You Begin

A chef who has everything placed neatly in front of her doesn’t need to go riffling through cupboards for ingredients. Doing so would affect her productivity. Chefs are encouraged to keep their working tables clear, and good chefs are constantly cleaning and tidying.

Make sure you have a clear workspace, conducive to work, with everything you need right in front of you.

11. Break A Task Down Into Actions

A jo2urney of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Break large tasks down into single actions. Then do each action.

12. Identify Your Key Constraints

Identify the key constraints that prevent you completing your task. What holds you back from achieving the most value? What are the limiting factors?

Dedicate your energy to overcoming those constraints. A constraint might be a person, procedural, of financial.

13. Put Pressure On Yourself

If you had to leave tomorrow for a month, unexpectedly, what task would you do? Set deadlines for all your tasks and race against the clock. Make it a game. Resolve to beat your own deadlines. Develop a sense of steady urgency.

14. Ignore Technological Distractions

Twitter. Email. Text messages. Blogging. Facebook.

These tools can be a major roadblock to productivity. They interrupt your flow. They prevent you doing the tasks that are hard. They can be exercises in “busy-iness”

Make a time for them, and ignore them for the rest of the day, until your value producing tasks are finished.

15. Use A Calendar

Set aside a specific time to do a certain task. Set aside segments to do certain tasks in pre-prepared time slots. Get a planner, like Calender software, where you can see each hour. Slot something from your list into each time slot.

16. Concentrate Your Resources

Focus on single handling. If you pick up a task, do it to completion. We can waste a lot of time flipping between tasks as we have to figure out where we left off.

Multi-tasking is over-rated.

What are your best time-management tips? Please share 🙂

PPC Ads: Using 1st-Person Quotes in Your Ad Text

6 Comments Written on April 12th, 2010 by
Categories: Google Adwords

One of the PPC ad text techniques I feel is currently under-utilized is the “quote statement” approach.

If you look at the paid results from your competition on a given keyword and you need a way to stand out, consider using a quote statement in your headline.

Statements in quotes can really pop on a page full of ‘blah’ ads.  You have nothing to lose by getting creative…

Here’s some quick examples to get your ad-writing juices flowing:





What are some of your favorite headline techniques?  Share them in the comments!

Getting The Message Right

2 Comments Written on March 29th, 2010 by
Categories: Marketing

In the previous article, we talked about starting a PPC business, and a little about differentiating yourself from your competition. Let’s take a look at practical ways to do this.


Given that the PPC provider market is crowded, you first need to figure out a point of differentiation.

Points of differentiation include level of service, locality, knowledge of an industry, price, level of awareness, etc.

Take a look at your competition and work out what you can do better, or how you can slice up the market to find a niche you can own i.e. can you specialize in a vertical, like consumer shopping or travel, or focus on one particular region? If so, is there enough of a market to make such a specialization worthwhile? Estimating market size can be a little tricky, but look for relevant industry reports and studies to help you.

Why is differentiation important? Copying someone else’s approach leaves you at a disadvantage, because you’ll always be one step behind.

A developed, competitive market, like PPC, isn’t kind to late-comers offering very similar services, so it’s a better idea to find a point of differentiation and work it hard in order to carve out a name for yourself. Those who come after you might be able to ape your approach, but not your experience. So long as you keep adapting to your market, and refining your offer, you’ll always be one step ahead of the copyists.

It’s not enough just to be different, of course. Being different by charging ten times what the market is charging won’t result in any extra business, unless someone can demonstrate ten times the value. Therefore, be sure to link your point of difference to a genuine value proposition. Answer the question “Why should someone pick you, and not the other guy”?

Developing The Message

Once you’ve decided on one or two points of difference that add real value, you next need to develop your message.

The message is a simple outline of what you do and the value you provide. It is also referred to as the elevator pitch in that it is short, succinct and to the point. It can be difficult to reduce your message to a clear paragraph, so here are a few tips on how to do it. One useful technique is to think of it in terms of questions and answers.

Ask, and answer, the following questions:

What value do you provide your customers?

This value has to be real, not imagined. For example, a provider might imagine a PPC customer values a traffic report hand delivered each month, but that might not be something real clients place any value upon. To find out what potential clients value, it pays to do a little market research. This could be as easy as attending marketing events and asking people questions about the frustrations they have with online marketing. Where there are frustrations, there is money to be made.

What problem do I solve?

If clients tell you their frustrations and problems, you can formulate solutions. It might sound simple, but often clients will pose their problems in the form of a solution, which can be a bit misleading. For example, I client might say “we really need some SEO!”. What the client probably needs is more web traffic, at a low cost, and of course, there are many ways to solve that particular problem, SEO being but one.

Blend the answers into a tight, focused two paragraph explanation of the problem you solve linked to the value you provide. It’s great if you can work in an explanation of why you’re the best person to provide this value.

For example:

“We are We provide Pay Per Click services to the travel industry. Our services help travel companies boost visits to their web site, and increase booking rates. Typically, our clients have increased web site visits by over 300%, whilst lowering their overall PPC advertising costs, by using our specialized services. TravelClickMasters is run by Scott Jones, a marketer with 12 years experience in the travel industry”.

It won’t win any medals, but it’s a start 🙂

Note how we’ve emphasized the value we provide to clients. It often pays to be explicit i.e. “increased web site visits by over 100%”, as opposed to general i.e. “increased web site visits” because increasing site visits by a nominal figure isn’t something that screams value.

The rest of your copy should expand and support your key message. For example, use before/after case studies that demonstrate the value you create, in this case showing increased traffic levels and booking numbers. Use testimonials. Outline your experience and knowledge of your niche.

Next, test your message out on friends and colleagues. Are they crystal clear about what you do and the benefits your provide?

Note any word or term that causes confusion. For example, “Pay Per Click” is industry jargon. It is suitable to use such a term for people who have had experience of pay per click marketing, but you’ll need to recraft the message for a general audience. Decide who is the most likely audience for your website, and craft the message accordingly.

Web Design

Your web design needs to sync with your message.

First impressions really do count on the web. A study of website credibility factors found that people judged a websites credibility not by privacy policies, security, etc, but by how the website appeared. People will read further if your website looks and feels right.

Use the message as a key part of the the design brief. Web designers appreciate this detail, and will incorporate it into the design.

For example, if your brand is upmarket, then the website should look glossy. The same glossy design will not work for a brand based around low prices. The message would be mixed, and wouldn’t ring true.

Your Message Is Everything You Do

The way you answer the phone, the way you write emails, the way you present yourself should all support the message. If you specialize in, say, travel, you should be talking travel. You should use industry jargon and touch on industry issues.

So, the message is not just something you write on a webpage. It’s something you become. Going through this exercise is a great way of figuring out what it is you really want to become.

Thinking Of Starting A PPC Service Business?

6 Comments Written on March 25th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

Thinking of setting up a business providing PPC campaign management services?

Let’s presume you’ve got your PPC chops, have built up some practical experience and are now looking to make money out of your skills.

Let’s take a look at how to go about it.

Size Of The Industry

SEM spending is estimated to be worth $18 billion by 2011.

Most activity, in terms of spend, in the professional search marketing space is in PPC, as opposed to SEO. The PPC concept is easy to grasp, implement and measure, and as more and more advertising spending shifts online, it will undoubtedly find it’s way into PPC.

Is Running A Business Really What You Want To Do?

It seems a strange question, but there is a big difference between knowing how to do PPC and setting up a business to sell that service to clients.

When you start a business, you typically have to perform most of the varied business functions yourself. That means writing proposals, attending conferences, pitching presentations, cold-calling, selling and networking. All of these activities cost time and money and none of it is guaranteed to pay off. Once you do land work, you need to run the campaigns whilst searching for the next customer.

That’s the reality of most service-based start-ups. Your hourly wage must reflect that you are likely going to spend 50% of your time working on prospecting, learning, networking, and dealing with administrative issues. Ask yourself if you’d like to “do it all”, or would you be happier selling your skills to a business that is already established, so you can focus exclusively on PPC?

Most inhouse PPC managers with three years experience earn between $30-70K. If you have five or more years experience, that figure shifts up a gear, typically ranging from 50K to, in some cases, $200K (rare – but some people are doing that, and above).

When you’re doing your break even calculations – more on this shortly – keep these figures in mind. The effort involved in running your own business must pay off in relation to what you can earn somewhere else, unless monetary reward is not your sole aim. And an in-house job can gain you experience, help you build your network, and help gain exposure for your expertise.

Cash Flow & Break Even Point

If you’ve decided that your suited to running your own business, the first thing to do is run a few numbers.

One of the most important aspects of start-up bsuiness is cash flow.

Do you have sufficient cash reserves to live on while you’re waiting for your first client to pay up? Cash flow can kill a small business, even those businesses which have a a lot of prospective work in the pipeline. The bills will come in, and your clients may not have paid you yet. Without access to a line of credit or savings, cash flow issues can take you out very quickly. It’s a good rule of thumb to assume you’ll make a loss, or break even, in the first year, so make sure your finances can cope.

Next, you need a break-even analysis. A break-even analysis shows you the amount of revenue you’ll need to bring in to cover your expenses, before you make a profit.

  • What are your fixed costs? i.e rent, insurance,power and other set expenses and overheads.
  • What is your estimated variable costs? i.e. costs that will vary due to volume sold, such as staffing numbers
  • What is you the sales revenue required to cover all your costs?

A simple equation like this will show you how many sales you need to make in order to run your business successfully. It will also give you an idea of what you need to charge for your services.

It should only take you a few hours to make the numbers work, or to see that they don’t stack up. If they do work, then you can go ahead and form a business plan. If you can’t make the numbers work, then you’ve saved yourself a lot of time, money and effort creating a business that can’t possibly survive.

It doesn’t sound like much fun, I know, but business really does come down to a set of numbers. You either sell something for more than it costs to produce, or you don’t.


Try searching for PPC management services. As you can see, the world isn’t short of providers!

In an industry with such a low barrier to entry, how will you stand out from all the rest? You’ll need to give prospective clients a good reason why your service is better than the others on offer. How do you intend to match or better the credentials of established operators? How can you differentiate your service? Can you do it by geography? Price? Service levels? Performance? Focus on a business vertical / niche where you have established expertise?

Think about how you can pitch your services so they demonstrate real value to a client. If they can do PPC  in-house, they will – so you can’t just sell the benefits of PPC in general- , you need to give them great reasons to outsource to you. What advantage do you provide over doing the work inhouse?

Pricing Your Services

One strategy often used by those starting out is to undercut everyone else. Whilst it can be useful to get a cash flow going, there are problems with this approach.

Once you hook someone into a low price, they’ll come to expect it. And then they may ask for discounts too! A better way is to give someone a low price, but make sure they know this is a discounted price on your usual service. Why would you give someone a low price? This can be a useful tactic for building good references, recommendations and a client history. The advantage to you is that you gain marketing collateral and professional experience, and get paid.

Long-term under pricing isn’t a great strategy unless, like WalMart, you can do a lot of volume with low overhead by dictating the terms of the supply chain. But you are not WalMart (or Google), and you don’t have that pricing power. This creates problems in itself, especially for the start-up PPC business, as you need a management structure and personnel do deal with high volumes. If you can do high volumes at good prices, great! Ask yourself how you’ll manage to scale quickly – in terms of taking on extra staff and moving to bigger premises- if this happens. But beware that some of the easiest set and forget PPC models have a high churn rate, and Google has done beta tests that aim to service the low end of the market via automated technologies.

You also can’t price too far above the market, unless you’re bringing something truly unique to the market that clients can’t get elsewhere – additional exposure on other key properties, press coverage, organic search traffic, a strong focus on improving conversion rates, a business model where you absorb most the risk but keep a bigger share of the profits, etc.

Take a long hard look at the existing PPC service market and try to imagine what is not there. Could reporting be better? Could you add value by focusing on achieving increased conversion i.e. getting involved more deeply with a clients business strategy? Could you specialize in one particular market, like say travel, and become very well known in that market segment?

Often, larger PPC management campaigns are based on a percentage client spend, with some form of retainer for reporting. If you do get paid a percent of spend, it helps to focus where the click volume is decent and clicks are expensive. Legal and hotels are typically far more lucrative than a local shoe repair shop. 😉

Smaller campaigns tend to be a fixed price for establishment, with on-going retainers. When deciding on how to price, look at what your competition are doing, and consult industry research and surveys. While recurring income sounds compelling (we always add up the income before thinking of the costs), if you under-price the cost of maintaining the relationship (as well as the PPC account) then that passive income can easily start flowing in the wrong direction, and end up as a passive expense. A well executed one off deal can be far more lucrative than an under-priced ongoing relationship. If a relationship consistently loses money consider firing the client and spending more time improving the performance on your best accounts.

Your Turn:

What are some of the business lessons you learned the hard way? If you were to start a PPC consulting business from scratch today what would you do differently than you did when you first started?

Fascinating New Adwords Placement Test

Google announced on their LatLong (Maps) blog today that they’re experimenting with placing pricing for hotels directly next to the hotel listings in Google Maps.

At first glance, it looked like another Google-internal affiliate marketing initiative, but it’s actually quite clever.

Here’s the official sample screenshot – Look closely at the price listing drop-down box in Adwords yellow:


If nothing else, it’s an innovative way to roll in Adwords results directly into the organic SERPs.

Paid Placement With a Twist

Interestingly, Google’s post points out explicitly that these listings are not traditional paid placements:

This new feature will not change the way that hotels are ranked in Google Maps. Google Maps ranks business listings based on their relevance to the search terms entered, along with geographic distance (where indicated) and other factors, regardless of whether there is an associated price.

So the blur between paid and organic continues it’s inevitable march forward.

It’s also of note that Google has chosen affiliate sites like Expedia and Priceline as their preferred advertiser testing partners for this experiment, not the hotels themselves…

It will be interesting to see how this progresses, and what other verticals it shows up in.

Establishing Credibility & Maintaining Trust

2 Comments Written on March 22nd, 2010 by
Categories: Marketing

Constructing a winning landing page has a lot to do with establishing credibility in the mind of the visitor.

You need a compelling offer, of course, but you also need to frame that offer in a way your audience will listen to, accept, and want to respond.

Let’s look at ways to optimize landing page credibility.

Trustworthy Design

A website credibility study in 2006 undermined lot of traditional thinking about website credibility metrics that were taken as given. For example, only 1% of respondents thought a privacy policy was important in terms of establishing trust. People didn’t care about sponsorships. Or the identity of the site owner.

The overwhelming credibility metric was in fact site design – typography, graphics and overall look and feel.

The data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

Start with a checklist:

  • Do you have a reliable, fast host?
  • Is your web design professional, as opposed to amateur-looking?
  • Are your pages usable?
  • Is your copy compelling?
  • Is your visual identity unique?

This checklist, I’m sure you’ll agree, is common sense.

If you’ve managed to get someone to click through, you don’t want to lose them to basic problems, such as a slow host, or poor usability. To achieve every item on this checklist will cost less than what many advertisers would stand to lose in back-clicks.

All these aspects help to establish trust, but that’s only the beginning.

Why Is Trust Important?

It sounds like an obvious question. Few would argue that it is better not to be trusted.

In terms of PPC, one of the most important benefits of establishing trust is financial. If you can retain visitors, by engaging with them in such a way as they want to bookmark your site, or buy from you again, then you save in PPC costs in future. If you build up a user base, then you may not need to advertise via PPC much, thus saving you money.

Trust is the essential underlying ingredient for relationship marketing to work.

Compare this strategy with a typical approach to PPC, which is to convert the new visitor to a sale as soon as possible.

Granted, this approach suits some products and services, but this approach will always suffer from a strategic flaw: the constant need to attract new customers. As we looked at in our relationship marketing post, attracting new customers can be five times as expensive as maintaining existing customers. As your niche gets more competitive, and copy-cats move in, your PPC costs are forced up.

It’s very difficult for a competitor to duplicate a long-term trust relationship. Once a trust relationship is established, which starts with the credibility of the page and extends to the quality of the interactions the visitor has with you, it becomes harder for a competitor not focused on building trust to emulate you.

It Helps If You’re Interested

Whilst you can sell if you’re not really interested in a product or service, it’s much easier if you do genuinely believe in what you’re doing.

It certainly helps with building trust, because in order to make a connection with people, you need to understand how they think.

People who have spent a lot of time in a niche naturally talk the customers language, because they have constant exposure to it. Compare this with someone who writes for a niche with which they are unfamiliar. The writing, and approach, typically feels clunky. The same is often true of translations, or when marketing in a culture that is not similar to your own.


Establishing visitor trust has two parts.

First, the initial impression must be good. So invest in good design, good copywriting, and usability.

Secondly, the ongoing interactions you have with visitors. Respond to inquiries promptly, be consistent, be user-focused and adapt to user requirements.

Relationship Marketing & PPC

3 Comments Written on March 17th, 2010 by
Categories: Marketing

Pay-per-click strategy tends to focus on direct sales and transactional marketing techniques. An advertiser bids a certain amount, achieves a CTR of X, and sells X number of goods and services.

Let’s take a look at another strategy, relationship marketing, and how it can be rolled into your PPC and web strategy.

What Is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is the process of building customer retention and satisfaction by leveraging the existing contact you have with customers. It is a strategy based around the long-term value of repeat customers, as opposed to a strategy whereby you constantly seek to get in front of new customers.

The benefits are obvious.

It’s easier to sell to someone who already trusts you to deliver, and it’s cheaper to talk to them than it is to talk to new customers. You don’t need to spend much time educating these customers, as they are already familiar with you, and what your provide. The occasional email offer might be all that is required to get ongoing sales.

Relationship marketing is suited to competitive business environments where businesses sell a variety of goods/services, have repeat periodic demand, or businesses that want to build an audience/subscriber base.

Why Is Relationship Marketing important?

Relationship marketing is a powerful way to build value, for both the customer and the merchant.

Let’s say you periodically use home services, such as gardening services. Initially, you hire a person to mow your lawns, which the provider undertakes diligently.

Because there is a relationship established, it is reasonably easy for the lawn mowing service to offer the customer a range of related, personalized services – such as yard clearing, tree pruning, and other home maintenance – because the trust/familiarity relationship is already established.

The gardening service supplier knows your layout, and has a good idea of what needs to be done in future. He can plan and tailor a customized service for you, at little extra marketing cost. This is good for you, the customer, too, because it means you don’t have to go hunting and screening suppliers to carry out each task. The value of the service is increased, because the relationship adds value.

All from one marketing spend.

Relationship marketing can also be seen as a defensive form of marketing. i.e. holding on to the customers you already have.

In mature, competitive environments, other businesses are trying to gain customers, typically at the expense of their competitors. If you build in relationship value, then it is difficult for clients to switch away from you, without losing value.

Industry studies have shown that to attract a new customer costs five times what it does to retain an existing one. It is therefore worth taking time away from tweaking PPC minutiae focused on acquiring new customers, and spend some time looking at the overall strategy, and how you can keep those customers you already have.

How To Integrate Relationship Marketing

The integration of relationship marketing happens at your strategy stage. Use PPC to gather new prospects, then ensure that you back-end customer acquisition with a means to enhance three key areas:

  • Customer Qualification
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Retention

In many areas a 3% conversion rate is fairly strong, which means that there is little to no value delivered by the other 97% of the traffic. Rather than trying to make the sale off a cold search click, you can offer something free of value they can download in exchange for their information. A quick guide, a cheat sheet, an autoresponder series, etc. Build trust and then make the sale. Give people multiple paths to convert.

In terms of customer satisfaction, pay close attention to what makes people happy. Consider under-promising and over-delivering, personalization, and on-going discounts for repeat business. There is software available that you can use to track customer habits, likes and dislikes. Look for any opportunities where you can develop one-on-one marketing.

For example, Amazon and other online retailers use sales history as a means to personalize their offerings to repeat customers. The value to both parties is increased, as Amazon is more likely to be in tune with a customers preferences than another book retailer who knows little or nothing about them.

Look to retain customers by providing them value they don’t get elsewhere. Again, consider loyalty discounts, customization and personalization, and other customer-centric services. Customers do change suppliers, often out of boredom as opposed to any deficiency on the part of the supplier, so try to keep your offering fresh and updated.

One simple way to provide both satisfaction and retention is to enhance your communication channels. Encourage your customers to talk to you. Answer emails promptly, use a blog/RSS/forums and any other channels you customers use. People like to be heard, and will often volunteer a lot of information if simply given the opportunity to do so.

Once the conversation starts, much value can emerge.

Facebook Conversion Tracking: Now With Extra Impression Sauce

11 Comments Written on March 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Local Search, Marketing, PPC Tools

Facebook has lagged behind MySpace when it comes to conversion tracking, but they’re catching up, releasing their conversion tracking beta program to select advertisers.

Until now, to track which campaign or particular ad was converting you had to tag your ad destination URLs with a tracking ID or parameter, then go back and reference that manually to figure out if a given ad was converting or not…Ugh.

Conversions Without Clicks

Facebook has put their own spin on conventional conversion tracking however by allowing advertisers to track conversion events that happen on their site even if the user didn’t click any of their ads, tracking on an ad impression alone.

Similar to Google’s reasoning behind implementing “View-Through” conversion tracking, under the “Post-Impression Data” heading in Facebook’s PDF ‘Conversion Tracking Guide’ they point out the motivation for this level of tracking:

“The ability to track Post-Impression…enables you to measure conversions from users who saw your ads without clicking them and so gives you insight into the true value of your ads.

i.e. “Keep buying display ads from us even if your CTR sucks…”

It’s hard to imagine the amount of data crunching and storage they’ll have to do to be able to reference what ad you’ve simply seen and successfully tie it back to conversion pixels firing on vendor sites’ everywhere. But hey, if Google can do it, they can too.

They appear to hold onto that impression-recording data for at least a month as their new Conversion Time reports can tell you how far out the conversion was from the time a user saw an ad.

Nice Metrics You Have There

In addition to allowing advertisers to count conversions as they come in (FB says to expect roughly a 24 hour delay on conversion data), advertisers can dynamically add additional parameters to the FB tracking scripts included conversion values in dollars (“VALUE”) as well as “SKU” to let you figure out what exact product the user ultimately bought or signed up for.  Definitely a nice touch.

Configuring Facebook Conversion Tracking

If the tracking beta has been enabled in your account, you’ll see it in the sidebar of your Facebook Ads interface:


Next, select the type of action you’d like to track and give the a “tag name”, or an easily-referenced nickname.  You can also add the conversion value amount to help evaluate ROI later on:


That’s it, you end up with a small piece of javascript to insert before the ending </body> tag on your landing page:  (sorry for the tiny image)

Facebook Conversion Tracking Code

Conversion Reporting – Apps, Fan Pages, & Events Now Included

When you run the conversion reporting, or “Conversions by Conversion Time” report, you can drill down to the account, campaign, or individual ad level, viewing how many conversions took place during given time frames and/or how long after impressions or ad clicks conversions happened.

If you’ve been using the ‘VALUE’ and ‘SKU’ parameters, you’ll be able to see revenue figures as well as particular sale or lead type data.

Conversion metrics (conversion counts, rates etc…) have also been added to the regular campaign and ad reporting, adding the big piece that’s been missing from these regular campaign reports.

Another nice touch to the new system is that if you are running ads with ‘Inline Actions’ such as “Become a Fan” or “RSVP to this Event”, you’ll automatically see “Conversion by Impression Time” and “Conversion by Conversion Time” reports including how many users responded inline by becoming a Fan of a Page or RSVPing to an Event from the ad itself.

These conversions show up in your reports associated with SKU values like “fan_page” or “rsvp_event”.

App developers can add their FB conversion tracking codes on any Facebook apps hosted on your Page the same way that you would place tracking tags in the application independently where you have control over the page code.

A Great Addition, Lots of Data to Crunch

Facebook has taken conversion tracking up a notch here, particularly with the impression-only tracking capability.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of custom reporting can be crafted from the huge amount of data points Facebook’s allowing advertisers to empty out of their reporting.

It has been pretty difficult getting Facebook ads to convert without advanced demographic and keyword segmentation, not to mention the reams of ads you need to continually load to beat user ad-fatigue and keep them clicking.  This new Facebook Ads feature will make that job much, much easier.