Posts by PeterD:

How To Pitch PPC Services

4 Comments Written on October 10th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

If you sell your PPC services to others, or you’re planning to do so, you need to consider how you position your services in relation to other suppliers.

In a crowded market, it’s difficult to stand out, and even more so when you’re just starting out, as you can’t leverage an existing reputation.

You’ll give yourself a great headstart if you focus on the clients needs, so here’s a guide to positioning and proposal writing for the PPC market.

1. Pretend You’re The Client

It’s a cliche, but understanding the customer is critical.

Surprisingly, many web service suppliers make the mistake of thinking in terms of what suits them.

For example, a web designer may reason “I like designing, it’s very satisfying to craft websites, therefore I’ll be a web designer. People will pay for my design skills”. This is fine, but note that in this example, there is no focus on the web design customer.

Now think about what you would want from a web designer.

You may want a good job at a good price (quality and budget consideration), you want the designer to clearly identify and understand your requirements (needs consideration), you want the design completed in a specific time frame (time consideration), and you want your customers to respond well to the design (risk consideration). Whether the web designer enjoys crafting web sites is pretty much irrelevant.

Obviously, the same goes for any other service, including PPC.  So what does a typical customer want from PPC?

Here’s a common profile of PPC customers. Keep in mind that service provision is about solving problems:

  • They most likely have a traffic problem. They are short of traffic.
  • They see their competitors using PPC channels, so they feel at a competitive disadvantage.
  • They are probably short of time and/or resources, otherwise they would do it themselves, or hand the task to a suitable skilled person in house.
  • They are under pressure to show an improvement in their traffic numbers, and/or an improvement in the bottom line.
  • They may have experience of other marketing channels, and they are wondering if this channel is right for them.
  • If they are a company of any size, they will be risk adverse, especially when dealing with new suppliers, and or suppliers who are one-man operations.
  • If they are a small business, they are likely looking for someone who will work closely with them, on a personal level.
  • They want to see the campaign is working.
  • They don’t want to get locked into a contract that will come back to bite them, or embarrass them

Keeping the client profile in mind can help you position yourself, and create proposals that will land you work. You’ll certainly be ahead of the supplier who is doing PPC “because they’ve run a few ad campaigns and seen all Matt Cutts videos, and have mad skillz” 🙂

2. Design Backwards From The Clients Needs

In the typical PPC client profile I’ve outlined above, we can design web site copy, a pitch and proposal by “designing backwards” i.e. we start with the clients needs and objections, and address them.

Here are aspects the resulting pitch might contain:

  • We flood a web site with qualified traffic – starting today!
  • We track your competitors every move, and win using out proven, specialized bidding systems and competitive monitoring
  • We take care of all the hard work for you, and our specialists are certified in PPC management
  • We work with you and will custom design a campaign to deliver on your specific performance objectives
  • We’ll show you how PPC outperforms all other marketing channels
  • We’re focused on your individual needs, and we’re always only a phone/call or email away
  • Our clear, online reporting places all the figures under your finger-tips, 24/7. You’re always in control

Each phrase addresses a problem outlined in the client profile. Hyperbole aside, you can see how this approach is preferable to the mistake suppliers often make, which is talk from their own perspective.

3. Tone: The Personal Touch

The tone of a pitch is also important.

We live in a time where the faceless corporation is a dying breed. I’m not sure anyone, regardless of the size of the company they work for, wants to deal with “a company”. People want to deal with people.

This is especially important on the web, as direct personal contact may is likely to be minimal. Seek every opportunity to personalise communications and your pitch. Use photos and profiles, so people know who they are dealing with. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, or share details of what you had for lunch, but don’t hide behind the company.

Be open and approachable.

Good luck with your pitch! 🙂

Related Resources:

Mastering The Google Content Network

3 Comments Written on August 17th, 2010 by
Categories: Contextual Advertising

The Google content network has huge reach. It’s also a lot cheaper than advertising on the search network, yet the conversion rates can be much the same.

Whilst the content network has had a bad reputation in the past, this has often been due to poorly targeted campaigns. Marketers have simply copied their existing search campaigns to the content network, and failed miserably.

The content network requires a different strategy. There are two key aspects to doing well on the content network: distraction and demographics.

Distract Your Audience

When a person searches Google, they are actively looking for something specific. When a text ad matches their search, they are likely to consider it relevant, and click on it.

Contrast this activity with the content network.

On the content network, the reader is viewing a page of content. They aren’t necessarily hunting for something specific. The advertising, therefore, is peripheral. Advertising on the content network needs to distract visitors away from their activity.

The content network offers more formats than the search network. You can run text, video and graphical ads. They are also different sizes and shapes. Here’s a rundown on the formats from Google.

You should develop ads in a number of different formats to test which works best for you. I recommend you create ads for the most common first, which are the Leaderboard (728x 90), the Medium Rectangle (300×250) and the Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600). Move on to the other sizes if you need more reach, or to target sites that only offer specific formats.

Of course, if you’re only using text ads, you don’t need to consider ad format sizes, but I strongly suggest you do develop graphical advertising. It gives you more options to distract.

When advertising on the content network, don’t be afraid to be outrageous. Remember, you’re aiming to distract people. So use imperatives! Offer free stuff. Use all the hooks of the direct marketing trade. In particular, focus on strong benefit statements.

You have very little time to make an impression with people who don’t actually have your product or service in mind. Advertising on the content network is more like print and television advertising than search advertising. The search network is about seeking. The content network is about discovery. To create and drive demand.

Separate out your content advertising from your search advertising. Run two separate campaigns. Don’t simply run the exact same campaign you are running on the search network.

The two are very different beasts.

Identify Your Market…..Right Down To The Individual

Because the Google content network attempts to match your ads to pages it determines your visitors might read, it pays to know who you buyer is, and what they are reading.

For example, grab a celebrity magazine and flip through the advertising. You’ll likely find weight loss advertisements, grooming advertisements, etc. This is because the advertisers have identified their target demographic. They know that people who are interested in celebrities are also likely to be interested in products a, b & c. You can do the same thing online.

In the above example, the keywords in the ad group would need to include keywords related to celebrities, even though the advertisement is advertising weight loss products.

Specifically, use the Adwords placement tool to find sites that match your chosen demographic. Examine the copy those sites use and look for commonly occurring keyword terms. Use SEO keyword frequency analysis tools to help you.

Use the most common terms as the basis for your keyword list. This way, you’ll appear on sites that closely match your demographic. You’ve given Google the terms that would most likely appear in their copy. Remember to still use negative operators on keywords that don’t appear to fit.

Keyword terms should also be specific. Try to avoid using terms that have double meanings i.e. Apple could mean a fruit, or Apple computers.Use two or three word phrases, where necessary, to add clarity.

The Adwords placement tool is very powerful. Once you’ve established your demographic, you can drill down further by targeting specific sites. You can tailor ads and entire campaigns for just those sites.

Ask yourself: who is the customer? What are their favorite TV shows? What magazines do they read? What are their interests? What are their favorite websites? Seek out sites that fit the demographic. Use the same keywords in your keyword list as they do in their copy. Target you advertisements directly to the the most appropriate sites. Your job is then to distract readers enough so they click on your ads. At least you’re in front of the right crowd!

Identifying and isolating demographics, and learning the art of distraction, is key to success on the content network.

How To Position Against Competitors

No Comments » Written on August 16th, 2010 by
Categories: Marketing

Unless you’re lucky enough to be selling something absolutely unique, you’ll face competition in PPC. How you position against your competitors is crucial to your success.

Positioning is not simply a case of writing better ads, bidding higher, or occupying the top space. Positioning starts before you get anywhere near a PPC campaign.

It starts with research.

What Are Your Competitors Offering?

First, you need to get a sense of the market.

Whilst it’s possible to offer the same thing as everyone else, and win with great PPC chops, such a position is tenuous. Someone can make a more compelling offer. A competitor may offer something free whilst other bidders are charging for a service. They’ll likely win, even if their PPC skills aren’t great.

Start by making a list of what your competitors are offering. Conduct a keyword search and make a note of the text in their ads. What is their offer, and how are they framing it?

For example:

  • Are they competing on price? i.e. concepts such as cheap, discount, deal, sale etc
  • Are they competing on quality? i.e. concepts such as finest, luxury, exclusive
  • Are they competing on range? ie. concepts such as largest, widest, comprehensive
  • Are they competing on customer service?
  • Are they competing on free shipping?
  • Are they offering loss-leaders?
  • Are they competing on convenience?
  • Are they competing on security?

It’s likely your competitors will be competing on a number of these advantages at once.

This type of analysis can also hint at what works i.e. those bidders occupying the highest position over time most likely understand what their audience wants, else they would be unlikely to keep spending. Pay careful attention to their wording.

This analysis can also hint at what is missing. For example, you know that your audience is concerned about security, but none of your competitors mention it.

You should also look at the top SERP results. They are your competitors, too. Whilst some listings might occupy high positions based largely on aggressive SEO, as opposed to offering exactly what the searcher wants, you might find some great information if any of them provide a forum for user feedback. For example, forums, customer reviews, etc. Just by scanning customer review sections on the likes of Amazon, you can get into the minds of your customer, and find out the features most important to them, and/or the biggest problems they have with the existing offerings.

What Are your Strengths?

Now you know something about your competitors, make a list of your own advantages.

Think in terms of features and benefits. A feature is an aspect of your product or service. For example, “3G connectivity”. A benefit is the positive result of using that feature. i.e. “faster mobile browsing”.

Making such a list will help you craft your ads.

Be succinct. Not only is this forced on you by the format of PPC, but also by the environment. People scan the screen. You’ve got very little time to hook them in, especially when your listing is one of many. So make sure your features and benefits are stated explicitly, and match the intent of the search term.

Match Search Intent With Ad Copy & Landing Page

You should now have a list of a few unique benefits, or at least benefits that sound better than those offered by your competitors. You have crafted what is know in marketing as a “unique selling proposition“.

The beauty of search is that you can keep carving the market thinner and thinner until you find one. By crafting your ad to a specific keyword term, particularly one with little competition, you may appear unique, even if you’re not – it’s just that your competitors haven’t bothered to advertise against that keyword term.

Write your ad copy and landing pages around your unique selling proposition. You’ll be highly relevant and constantly reinforce your competitive advantage.

Re-check your competition to ensure you stand out, not just in terms of your ad copy, but your landing page copy and user experience, too. When a visitor lands on your page, they must be convinced you are not only relevant to their needs, but you offer something better than the advertisers surrounding you.

The Great Thing About Internal Search

4 Comments Written on August 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics

Search marketing is typically associated with PPC and SEO. However, there’s an overlooked aspect of search that can provide some very powerful data – internal search.

Internal searches occur, obviously, when a person doesn’t find what they need on the page they land on.

You don’t often see internal search boxes displayed prominently on PPC landing pages, however if users do not find what they are looking for on your landing page, they are likely to click back.

However, if they make a further search on your site, you have another chance to get in front of them and collect data about their needs. You can then feed this information back into your PPC campaign by adding these search keywords to your ad groups and by creating new landing pages to target them.

Jakob Neilsen has undertaken research on in-site search usability.

He found that:

Search lets users control their own destiny and assert independence from websites’ attempt to direct how they use the Web. Testing situations routinely validate this. A typical comment is: “I don’t want to have to navigate this site the way they want me to. I just want to find the thing I’m looking for.” This is why many users go straight to the home page search function.

If the user doesn’t find what they are looking for on your landing page, then it makes sense to offer them a search option.

This also provides valuable insight about what might be “broken” on your site i.e. the areas where you aren’t giving users what they want. For example, if your top internal search query is “contact details” you may have inadvertently buried this information.

If your analytics package is comprehensive, you can link the PPC keyword they clicked-thru on to their internal search activity. This gives you a valuable insight into what may really be on their mind when they use a particular keyword. You can then re target your PPC campaign accordingly.


  • Placing a search box in a prominent place on your landing page – Neilsen recommends top right hand corner, but also consider placing a search box at the end of your copy, or near your desired action.
  • Track keyword terms in your analytics – once you have a list of keyword terms over, say, a week, you should start seeing patterns. These patterns might point to content that you aren’t providing, lack of clarity in your web design, or poorly targeted keyword terms i.e. the user searches on a keyword, but their intent is unclear
  • Make sure site search is accurate – Neilsen also noted that poor site search is next to useless. Check out Google’s Custom Search offering. There are various alternatives, of course.
  • Use site overlays – Some analytics packages offer site overlays that tell you where on the page users click the most. If you’ve got your ducks lined up, users really shouldn’t be using the search box in great numbers. If you’re getting a lot of clicks on the search box, it’s time to tweak your landing page content and structure.
  • Examine the exit rate on your search results page – if it is high, it indicates people still aren’t finding what they need in your search results. Consider adding appropriate content to your site and reviewing the relevancy of your search results

Internal search can provide some great data. It’s especially useful if your landing pages are getting a lot of click-backs, and you’re not sure why.

Give the user an opportunity to tell you.

How To Make Great Presentations

6 Comments Written on July 27th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

At some point, most of us have to make a presentation.

Does the notion fill you with dread? Or perhaps you comfortable with presenting, but often don’t know what to say, or how best to say it? Do you think you might get more sales, or get your way more often, if you could made better presentations?

Making better presentations is a craft that can be learned. Let’s break the elements of a presentation down to an easy-to-use template.

1. Great Presentations Are About Planning

Great presentations are only partly about execution. Great presentations are mostly about planning.

Like a great play, or a great movie, great presentations are carefully planned and scripted. A play or movie has a moral to the story. The audience is taken through a series of acts that lead to a take-away point, or moral.

Presentations have a lot in common with theater and story telling. They have almost nothing to do with Powerpoint. No more so than a stage prop makes a play.

So before you touch Powerpoint, you should reach for a paper and pen, and create a plan.

A plan should consist of the following points:

1. What is the big idea you want to leave people with?

What is the moral of your story? This is not “buy your service”. This is why someone should buy your service. For example, “Pay Per Click will increase your brand reach”. Make it a headline. It should be short and easily understood.

2. Decide on three key messages that deliver your point. I’ll explain why three is a great number shortly.

3. Use comparisons, metaphors and analogies to support your key messages.

If a concept is new to your audience, then it is helpful to relate your concept to something the audience already understands. For example, “PPC is like your direct marketing, but with the advantage of instant feedback”

4. Demonstrate.

Show your product or service working. In terms of PPC, this can take the form of a case study. A case study is a story within a story. You should outline the problem, the method you used to solve it, and the positive outcome.

5. Share the stage.

If you can get your audience involved, do so. Use a Q&A session. Hand product reports/samples around and encourage participation. People will become more engaged with your message.

Share the stage with video and audio presentations. There are three types of learners – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most of us are visual, but try to incorporate something for each.

Aristotle’s has a five point plan for making presentations. He also based his approach around stories – problem, conflict and resolution:

  • Deliver a story that arouses the audiences interest
  • Pose a problem that has to be solved or answered
  • Offer a solution to the problem you raised
  • Describe specific benefits for adopting the course of action set fourth in your solution
  • State a call to action

Aristotle didn’t use Powerpoint, but he knew the benefit of a plan 🙂

2. Answer The Fundamental Question

“Why should I care”?

“I” meaning the person listening to your presentation.

It’s not about you, it’s about them. Why should the customers care about your service? What burning problem does it solve for them?

In terms of PPC:

  • PPC gets highly qualified traffic to websites – starting right now.
  • PPC delivers qualified customers.
  • PPC is more cost effective than channels X, Y and Z
  • etc….

In order to answer the question “Why should I care”, you first need to understand your customers needs. Put yourself in their position. Why would you come away from the presentation glad to have listened?

Get rid of buzzwords and other self indulgences unless your audience has a clear understanding of them.

3. Develop A Sense Of Purpose

It’s the old cliche – do what you love.

Is there anything more dull than listening to a presentation by someone who doesn’t really believe what they are saying?

It comes across well when people are enthusiastic, as opposed to just going through the motions. You’re selling yourself as much as selling what you say.

If you don’t really love what you do, you either need to find another job, or find something within that job that you can love.

Perhaps you enjoy the process of helping find solutions, you enjoy the game, you enjoy making peoples lives better, or doing business. Dig deep to find what you’re passionate about, and inject your presentation with a sense of genuine purpose.

4. Create Twitter-like Headlines

140 character sentences will help you sell your ideas more persasively. Short sentences rule.

There’s another advantage.

If you can reduce your main points to Twitter-like headlines, it helps control your message. People will recite your headline when they talk about you. “Google organizes the worlds information”.

Repeat your headlines through your presentation, and through your media. There are many words in a presentation, but only so many messages – typically three – you want people to take away. Make sure those messages are short, sweet and repeated often.

5. The Rule Of Three

Create a list of three main points.

These are your Twitter-esque headlines. Under each of your three headlines, use story, metaphor, and third party endorsements to reinforce your point.

Why three? Three works. Drama has three acts. Songs have an intro, a verse and a chorus. There’s something very human about three. Also, it’s difficult for people to remember many points. Three is certainly a comfortable number for presentations.

6. The Role Of The Antagonist

All stories have a villain.

Who is your villain? What is the force (problem) you oppose (solve)?

For example, the computer industry often uses the David vs Goliath story. Microsoft once positioned as the underdog against IBM. Apple positioned against Microsoft.

Characterize the antagonist correctly. It doesn’t need to be as obvious as a David vs Goliath battle. In PPC, that antagonist might be overpriced old-media channels that no longer work well for the customer. Or the fragmentation of audiences.

Establish the antagonist early in your presentation. Movies typically do this in the first 20 minutes i.e. in the first act.

First describe the pain, then go on to provide the solution. Go into sufficient detail about the “pain” until your audience clearly recognizes it. Your solution should obviously counter the pain. It should be demonstrate-able.

7. The Heroic Solution

Once the villian is established, you then need a hero. That’s you. Or more accurately, the solution you propose.

Let’s take a look at this in action:

Describe the status quo. Establish the villian. Introduce the hero. Describe in plain English how your company, product service, offers a cure for that pain. Given the short time frame, Apple didn’t quite get to the last bit – they implied it, however you should have ample time to do so in a presentation.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. Remember, tell a story. Outline the problem, then propose a solution. A presentation is about them, not you.

Google Adwords: Search Funnels

1 Comment » Written on April 15th, 2010 by
Categories: Conversion

Most pay per click performance measurement has been at the keyword level i.e. which keyword resulted in conversion.

The problem is this is a blunt measurement tool. It would also be great to know what steps led up to that keyword. For example, did the visitor search on a number of different keyword variations before s/he arrived at that particular keyword. Up until now, this type of tracking has been painful to implement.

However, Google has just released Search Funnels in Adwords, which should make things a whole lot easier.

Search Funnels are a set of new reports describing the search ad click and impression behavior leading up to a conversion. Currently, conversions in AdWords are attributed to the last ad clicked before the conversion. Search Funnels gives advertisers data on how “upper-funnel” keywords are assisting conversions before the last click. It also enhances basic conversion reporting for AdWords.

So, advertisers can see which searches led up to the purchase, and can bid on these terms, too. Also helps Google’s bottom line, of course, by driving up the cost of keywords that may not be obvious 😉

For example, someone might search on “Ford lights” and visit your site. They don’t buy anything. A while later, they return to your site after having searched on “Fiesta parts”. They finally convert, purchasing a Ford Fiesta tail light. The funnel would show that the keyword term “Ford lights” assisted in the conversion, even though it didn’t directly lead to the sale.

How is Google tracking this data?

When someone clicks on an ad at Google, Google starts a funnel, although you can’t see it at this point. Search activity is tracked for 30 days. If the user conduct other searches, even if they don’t click on the advertiser’s ad, Google will add those searches to the funnel, so long as the advertisers ad was displayed.

If the user clicks on the advertiser’s ad and converts, then a funnel report is created, and this data is shown in your Adwords account. You need to use AdWords conversion tracking code for this to work. Google is logging the time and date of every search by that user prior to a conversion, and once a conversion occurs, all that data is available in your Adwords account. If no conversion occurs, obviously you won’t see any search funnel data.

Having the ability to track keyword paths across time is going to open up some fascinating data. As Google points out:

Search Funnels also show the “Path Length,” or average number of clicks and impressions prior to conversion, which can help you understand and target repeat visitors. Additionally they show “Time Lag,” or the amount of time it takes a customer to convert after seeing or clicking on your ads for the first time, which can help you determine lead time for seasonal campaigns. These breakdowns can help you understand your customers’ behavior and create strategies around that information.

Now we can track (roughly) how long non-impulsive purchasers take to arrive at a buying decision.

While this shines more light on the keyword research process, there will still be chunks missing. Any search that doesn’t result in an advertisers ad being displayed won’t be tracked. If the user searches elsewhere, using another engine or uses bookmarks or other navigation methods, obviously this won’t show up in the conversion funnel either.

There’s also the problem that assist clicks might not count for much. It might be difficult to establish repeatable patterns when multiple keyword searches are involved. High volume advertisers will probably receive the most benefit, as there is more chance of repeatable patterns showing up.

Here’s a Google walk-through of the reports:

Twitter Promoted Tweets Ads

No Comments » Written on April 15th, 2010 by
Categories: Contextual Advertising

Twitter have announced a new advertising model, called Promoted Tweets.

Promoted Tweets are paid tweets that appear at the top of Twitter’s search results. The promoted tweet is much the same as a normal tweet in that you can retweet it, reply to it, or mark it as a favourite. The only difference is that it is sponsored. The sponsorship is marked.

Promoted Tweets work much like a banner ad – for now. Advertisers pay per thousand views, however the ads also have a type of quality score. Twitter rewards ads that “resonate” with the audience. Presumably ads that don’t resonate get downgraded or dropped.

You will start to see Tweets promoted by our partner advertisers called out at the top of some search results pages. We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate”

Pilot Testing

This advertising isn’t available to the public yet, but it pays to watch the system in the pilot stage, so when it does open up, you’ll have a good idea of how to work it. We’ll be watching and reporting on it, too.

That’s if it succeeds.

It will be very interesting to see if this type of advertising translates to social media, especially a service with such narrow functionality compared to, say, Facebook.


Does Twitter have the depth/volume? Obscure topics on Google can be worth a few cents. How about obscure topics on Twitter? Do they have the volume?

And another question:

Will The Ads Stay Relevant? If you don’t have the volume, then advertising is either not going to display much, in which case the advertisers won’t put much effort into the channel, or Twitter may show ads across broader topics, which may increase page views, but decrease relevance. One way they could get around this is by using demographic profiling, as opposed to keywords. i.e. we know these people are interested in X, no matter what they happen to be talking about at the time, so we’ll show them advertising for X.

And another question – perhaps the biggest issue: will the social media user base go for it?

It is smart of Twitter to stage the roll-out on their search function first. Users who are conversing with one another won’t (I assume) see the ads. People who search have become accustomed to advertising in Google search, so will be more likely to accept it. Once enough people accept advertising as being a part of Twitter, it becomes easier to gain acceptance when rolling it out across other functions.

But this would be a big departure in terms of how Twitter works. People follow people they have chosen to follow. How will they react to seeing Tweets from people they haven’t chosen to follow, namely paid advertisers? No doubt Twitter have considered this. Perhaps they will make a clear separation.

Like with Google Adwords, this is all going to come down to relevance. Or resonance. As deemed by the user.

Interesting times for advertisers. Stay tuned!

Barriers To Persuasion

No Comments » Written on April 9th, 2010 by
Categories: Copywriting

If our landing pages aren’t converting as well as we’d like, it might be a good idea to look at how we’re trying to persuade visitors.

We need to make a compelling offer, but we also need to pitch that offer in a way that persuades a person to take action. There are many barriers to taking action, even if the visitor really wants what we have to offer. Once we identify barriers to purchase or take a desired action, and break them down, conversion rates will rise.

Let’s take a look at the most common forms of resistance, and how to persuade visitors to overcome them.

Will I Be Alone?

People are social creatures, and most people prefer to run with the herd than stand apart. It might be irrational, but people feel that there is comfort in numbers.

Social proofs are indicators that other people have taken this choice, and that they’re happy with the choice they have made.

Look at how Apple uses social proof. The launch of the iPhone and iPad are social events. Images of people lined up around the block abound, and when someone makes a purchase, they typically hold it aloft! The crowd cheers.

Whatever your view of Apple, social proof doesn’t get any more powerful than that! People everywhere desperate to purchase, and there is validation from the crowd once you have made a purchase. The message has a flip-side that reinforces the message of social proof: you’re alone if you DON’T have one of their devices.

Social proof is such a powerful means of persuasion that it trumps convenience. Lining up around the block to purchase an item that might not even be available once you reach the counter isn’t exactly convenient.

Think about ways you can provide social proof on your landing pages. Recommendations from past customers, photos of groups of people using your product or service, mentions in popular media, etc. Think of your site as a place “populated” by real people engaging in a relationship, as opposed to a set of pages.

I’m Confused

How many options can you keep in your head at any one time? Three? Seven? Twenty?

Most people become confused when presented with too many options. If they become confused, they will tend to disengage from your message.

On the one hand, giving options gives a sense of completeness, but this has to be weighed against the risk of creating confusion. Limit your desired actions to three or less. If you stock a wide range of goods or services, take a tip from Amazon. Highlight the most relevant products up front, and let people dig down if they want to find something else.

Your pages should be simple. Be bold. Clutter adds to confusion, and doesn’t work on landing pages. Keep taking things out of your web design until the choice people need to take is obvious. Test on family and friends.

No Jeopardy

In the Apple example above, there is jeopardy at work – a buyer might miss out.

If people land on your page and feel no sense of jeopardy, then they are more inclined to shop around, or make no decision at all.

Some sites use tired cliches to create jeopardy like “if you don’t order now, you’ll pay more later!”. The problem with these approaches is that they can undermine trust if not handled carefully. There really must be genuine scarcity for it to work.

This is why time limited sales work, but only if the buyer sees that prices do indeed rise afterwards, and those prices are higher at other vendors.

You can also use emotional jeopardy. If people don’t buy, then they are not part of the group. If people don’t buy, they won’t receive on-going benefit. Again, this has to be handled carefully, else it can cross over into the realm of the manipulative. People who sense they are being manipulated are likely to back off.


Do you give something way? Can you?

Reciprocity is a strong human need. We want to give back to those people who give to us. The flip-side is also true – we don’t feel the need to be generous to people who aren’t generous with us.

If there is something of value you can give away, do so. View it as a marketing cost. It helps build a relationship and a sense of reciprocity. You could give away a detailed study, a white paper, product samples, etc. Indirectly ask for something in return – like say an email address so you can contact them later.

Being Remarkable With PPC

2 Comments Written on March 31st, 2010 by
Categories: Landing Pages

A lot of PPC advice is focused around direct marketing strategy i.e. you identify an audience and deliver them what they want. You convert at rate X. Repeat.

For the most part, this works well. However, you may be missing an opportunity to spread your message to a wider audience, and this benefit could come free.

Try to make your offer truly remarkable. Is your offer worth remarking upon? If not, could it be twisted so it could be, or put in a form that makes it easy to repeat?

Become A Purple Cow

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable is a book by Seth Godin. The central theme is that offering me-too products and services is boring. Such goods and services won’t be remarked upon. Since we live in a world of saturated media, to be unremarkable is to go un-noticed. To not be noticed is the death of a business. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do – it’s a great read, and it’s short and to the the point.

The lesson of being remarkable translates well online. Online marketers have picked up on it, using remarkable qualities of a message, or format of that message, to help ensure a message gets spread.

The same tactic can be used in PPC.

Landing Page Competition

Take a look at your competitors landing pages. Do any of them stand out? Do they stand out in the sense that the message would be worth you repeating to someone else?

That quality of being remarkable, or being repeatable, is a valuable marketing tool. Sometimes, all it takes to become remarkable is to twist your existing message into something unexpected. Like turning a typical cow into a purple-colored cow. It’s still a cow, but the way it appears makes it stand out.

However, this isn’t just a cosmetic concept. Not only should you have a remarkable angle, but it’s best if you also need a remarkable, unique product or service.

If this sounds familiar, it is – it’s a riff on the old concept of a unique selling point.

The unique selling point has three specific components:

  • Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.
  • The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
  • The proposition must be so strong that it can pull over new customers to your product.

The modern twist is that your message should also be repeatable. People should want to spread your message, and be able to do so easily. The benefit is that your message reaches a wider audience than it otherwise would.

Obviously, this will not suit every product or service. For example, it’s hard to imagine toilet paper ever being truly remarkable, and being unremarkable has hardly affected toilet paper sales!

However, it’s an interesting way to think about what you do. Is there some aspect to your service that you can twist in order to make remarkable and memorable? Could you promote it in such a way that people will be “forced” to remark upon it? For example, you could use a quirky YouTube video on your landing page and encourage people to embed it in their site.

What does this have to do with PPC?

There’s no reason your landing pages can’t have a viral component to them that encourage people to remark on your product of service.

You have people’s attention – you paid for the click – and you still need to convert people to a desired action. One of those desired actions could be to have people run with your message and repeat it in other channels. You could embed social media components, like video and Facebook groups, that facilitate people repeating or remarking upon your message.

The pay off is that you create attention in other channels, and if the message does go viral, then you get a whole lot of extra marketing value for free.

Tips For Mobile Search & Adwords

5 Comments Written on March 4th, 2010 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Local Search

We may be in a recession, but one area is booming.

Smart phones.

As handset costs are driven down, more people are switching to smart phones, such as iPhones & BlackBerrys. Internet usage on mobile phones is increasing, and may well displace much PC and laptop usage.

There are already phones on the market using 1 gigahertz chips, says Andy Rubin, who works on Google’s Android platform. Soon we’ll have mobile phones with 2Ghz processors, which is more than in a lot of laptops,” he predicts, pointing out that a PC is no longer necessary to access emails, to quickly check the net or to update your Facebook page

Google even goes so far as predicting the desktop will be irrelevant within three years:

In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant,” sais John Herlihy, Googles vice president of Global Ad Operations. “In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs. Mobile makes the world’s information universally accessible. Because there’s more information and because it will be hard to sift through it all, that’s why search will become more and more important. This will create new opportunities for new entrepreneurs to create new business models – ubiquity first, revenue later.”

Marketing-speak perhaps, but we do live in interesting times when it comes to new opportunities in search. Google bought mobile advertising network, AdMob, last November for $750m, so expect much integration and new features this year.

Usage patterns are also changing. Because smartphones were more expensive, they tended to be used mainly for business. Now, usage patterns are becoming increasingly consumer oriented. If more people do adopt smart phone usage, what does this mean for PPC advertisers?

A modified approach is needed.

Think Ergonomics

The biggest change will be in terms of ergonomics.

Factors such as small screen real-estate, lack of keyboard, and different modes of interaction will mean whole new search and interface paradigms will be adopted for mobile. Expect a lot more voice commands, and point and click driven functionality. People probably aren’t going to be doing a whole of typing, such as form filling, and they aren’t going to be reading long screeds of text.

Optimize Landing Pages For Mobile

Create pages specifically for mobile users.

Think old-school. Think small and resource-light. Don’t assume Flash or other fancy graphical scripting capabilities. Pages should be short and lean, and code should be optimized and basic.

Avoid making the user scroll too much.

Mobile usage tends to be search dominant.

Make your call to action crystal clear, and easy to tap with a finger. Include your phone number, so people can tap it to call you. Google are also rolling out a click-to-call feature (again) which displays a phone number next to your mobile ads.

Bullet point lists work well on mobiles. Dense text – not so much.

Here are a few helpful tools for testing landing pages on mobile devices:

Testiphone: web browser based simulator for quickly testing your iPhone web applications.

Opera Mini’s Simulator: live demo of Opera Mini 5 beta that functions as it would when installed on a handset.

Run Through Google’s Help Files & Data Options

Google is pushing mobile advertising and will be encouraging existing PPC advertisers to migrate their activities. Check out their official tips.

Also sign up to their Official Mobile blog. Not strictly Adwords related, but may provide insights into their broader global strategy, which is, of course, driven by Adwords.

Another useful source is Mobile Marking Watch, a blog that covers the mobile marketing community.

Google is also now splitting out stats for mobile devices. Here’s how to find them.

Adjust Bid Prices

Just as you bid differently on the content network, you should also adjust bids focused on mobile advertising. The bid competition still isn’t as fierce as on the search network, so you should be able to adjust your prices down.

Think Local, Think Navigation

People on the move tend to be thinking local. In terms of commerce, they want to know where to find restaurants, shops, and attractions. Consider navigational based search activity. Consider geo-targeting. Consider adding geo-specific variables, such as town and city names.