An Interesting Approach to the Advertorial Squeeze

This was discussed a couple of months ago in our PPCBlog private members forum, (membership tour available here), but we thought our blog readers, especially those doing lead generation and/or information marketing, might find it interesting.

Disclaimer: Normally we wouldn’t identify the specific advertiser using a particular technique, however in this case the company no longer appears to be advertising actively and the site has not been updated since March of this year and its community appears to be abandoned at this point.

The Content Ad Blend

A while back on Yahoo Answers I came across this ad, heavily meshed with the surrounding text-heavy content and served up by Yahoo’s display ad platform (so no, I’m not sure if this lander would make it through Adwords:)

“Advertorial”-style square display ads that look highly similar to the fonts, colors, and imagery of the site you’re targeting can net slightly above-average CTRs in some cases.  One easy way to do this is find a placement you want to target your ads to, and replicate the look and feel as much as Google’s display ad reviewers will allow.  You may have a tough time replicating site buttons, but colors, fonts and general image look-and-feel usually gets approved.

First off:  This ad has a fantastic headline, and the copy (though it has its flaws) is compelling enough to pique your curiosity:

I’m not an expert on the use of publicly-licensed celebrity images, but this one got through.  Any legal eagles who might be able to clarify feel free to leave a comment:)

On ad click, you’re taken to a straight-up email squeeze page, notice the one-liner to “Put your credit card away…”  (nice touch).

(Click Image to Enlarge)

*Note re. Adwords:  Depending on the brand strength you have, you may or may not be able to get away with squeezing visitors this hard into an email submit as Google likes to call this “info harvesting”.  That said, I’ve seen brands get away with it…

After you enter your email, here’s where you’re taken:

(Click Image to Enlarge)

On the thank you page here, it’s interesting to see how they’ve done the ‘membership login’ info…pre-populating the login data so it’s just sooooo easy to go to the next step….

Here’s the “Member’s area:

Great, But Does it Convert?

No one knows for sure how this pipeline ultimately converts, and given that the site now seems to be abandoned perhaps it was a dud, although that could be due to factors other than the conversion funnel.

They’re also not capturing the credit card in the ‘free trial’ stage, but it could be that the raw number of people coming into the funnel is large enough to offset the ‘forgetful trial subscriber’ optimization.

When we were discussing this approach in the forums, Aaron brought up a good point as to the credit-card-collection-on-trial approach:

I wonder if on the inside if they had some sort of “bonus” which cost $1 and got the credit card data maybe that would help convert a lot more people, while still allowing for the huge numbers of free people upfront to sign up free?

It’s an interesting question.  Simply because you didn’t get the credit card on the initial lead form doesn’t mean however that you couldn’t get it shortly afterward while they’re farther into the signup process…

Love it or hate it, the trend towards blurring content text and display ads with editorial will continue, and it’s interesting to see how some advertisers have started to take advantage of the opportunity.

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.

New KeywordEye™ Keyword Visualizer Shows Promise

3 Comments Written on July 26th, 2010 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research, Marketing, PPC Tools

Keyword Eye LogoMatt from KeywordEye™ sent me a ping last week to have a look at a new, free keyword ‘visualization’ tool that he’s been working on for some time now and asked me to give it a look.

It’s a pretty neat concept: pulling from the Adwords API, KeywordEye™ pulls up associated keywords to your search and displays the results in a 2D or 3D ‘cloud’ format, with higher traffic keywords displayed as larger words in the cloud, and color-codes the keywords in the cloud green, yellow, or red depending on the amount of competition.

An even cooler part of this tool is the ability to view the visualized data by country, match type, and a few other variables.  As you hover over each of the keywords in the cloud you see the individual search volume (per month) for the local region selected.  Simply click on a keyword in the cloud to add it to the scratch pad on the right for export.

keyword eye screenshotClick to Enlarge

The data in the tool is no different than what Google provides via their internal Adwords Keyword Tool, but I found that the way the data is presented helps you to visualize the scope of keyword possibilities for new niches you’re looking into (particularly the 3D cloud view).

This unique way of viewing new keyword possibilities reminds me a bit of Google’s Wonderwheel, a great way of viewing things as Google does from a relational standpoint.

Give KeywordEye a spin here!

MicroHoo Adcenter About to Drop Big Changes for Affiliates

1 Comment » Written on July 16th, 2010 by
Categories: Landing Pages, Marketing, Microsoft Adcenter, Yahoo

If 2009 was the year of Google’s Great Affiliate Massacre, Q3 2010 is about to go down MicroHoo’s kick at the can.

Microsoft Adcenter sent a nice little reminder email out yesterday suggesting that the transition to Adcenter for Yahoo search ads is progressing quite quickly, and you may want to pay attention to impending changes if you’re an Adcenter advertiser.

Then they slipped in this little nugget:

Updates in editorial guidelines
Microsoft and Yahoo! have created joint editorial guidelines that will begin taking effect for search advertisers in early August. The guidelines can make your ads more effective, while helping to create a safer search marketplace. We encourage you to review these now, so that you understand any potential impact to your ads or keywords.

Yahoo’s Trademark Policies Have Won Out

Here’s some of the parts that deserve special attention:

You may not bid on as a keyword, or use in the content of your ads:

  • Any term whose use would infringe the trademark of any third party or otherwise be unlawful or in violation of the rights of any third party.
  • Use of a third-party trademark may be allowed if its use is truthful and lawful, for example, if:

    • Your website provides information—product reviews, for example—about goods or services that are represented by the trademark, and your principal offering is not any product or service that competes with the goods or services represented by the trademark.

    So basically, MicroHoo doesn’t have the resources that Google has to handle trademark bidding or with the same level of sophistication, so they’re going to adopt the old-school approach used by Yahoo for years.

    Given that the transition for ads has been scheduled for early August, it’s reasonable to expect the automated trademark sweeps and manual review flagging to start in Adcenter accounts soon, with the new guidelines generating mass disapprovals for advertisers that bid on trademarks the most: affiliates.

    The Other Side of the Coin

    No doubt, Microsoft’s goal here is to make their ad network a comfortable place for large brands to dump their spend, and the “we don’t allow your competitors to bid on your trademark” bullet point in the pitch deck is going to be helpful to this end.

    If you’re a paid search manager constantly fighting with PPC engines to prevent your competitors from appearing when users search for you, then this is a big win, and it seems Microsoft has your back.

    The Rest of the “Relevance Guidelines”

    It turns out Microsoft is also taking a page from Google in some ways as well by creating new terms in their Relevance Guidelines that give them a fair amount of latitude in deciding whether or not they think a particular ad or landing page is “relevant”.

    Wiggle room here makes it easier on their reviewers to apply their judgement, however only time will tell how they get applied.  But the smart money is having a look at these new guidelines yourself now and seeing what may or may not apply to your account.

    Online Google AdWords Training

    2 Comments Written on June 7th, 2010 by
    Categories: Marketing

    Back when I got into SEO part of the reason I wasn’t too into PPC back then was because I had limited cash, but another big reason I wasn’t big on it was because it seemed so simple and boring. Over the past couple years that has changed a lot!

    Today Google AdWords is far more complex than SEO was in 2003.

    With that complexity there are additional opportunities for some & additional expenses for others. But keeping up with all the changes is easily a full time job.

    Noticing that trend, and seeing stuff like the below image, I thought it made sense to try to create something great servicing the AdWords / PPC market.

    Google keeps controlling more real estate, and if you are not leveraging AdWords then there is a chance your business could eventually get pushed “below the fold” – perhaps not for longtail keywords…but certainly for the highest traffic and most valuable keywords in your industry. Google recently launched their vertical search panels, and to some degree you can think of many of these as what will eventually amount to some form of an ad channel (or a channel which promotes content from premium related partnerships with Google).

    I am decent at AdWords, but my level of proficiency is nowhere near my level with SEO, and so we needed the help of someone else if we were going to make sure that we had bar-none the best product/service on the market. And so we decided to partner with Geordie to turn PPC Blog into a great membership website which mirrors this one.

    Off the start access costs $179, but Geordie and I wanted to offer our blog readers a recurring 30% discount off of that, by using this code

    This coupon will work for the first 100 subscribers, and then after the discount will no longer be available.

    You can join here

    Just like with SEO Book, you can cancel anytime and are under no obligation to stay any longer than you find it valuable to do so. If you do any serious amount of PPC it is quite easy to find a few tips that help you save $5 or more a day, especially when you consider how much PPC stuff Geordie has done (he has managed millions/yr in ad spend for the past 4 years & has brain dumped everything he knows) & how high quality the membership will be.

    60+ training modules and a friendly PPC focused forum await you 😀

    12 Pyschological Triggers

    6 Comments Written on May 28th, 2010 by
    Categories: Marketing


    Psychological triggers are a very powerful marketing tool.

    Psychological triggers are the mechanisms of thought by which people make a decision to view your ad instead of others, or convert from tire kicker to buyer.

    Let’s take a look at twelve common psychological triggers that you can weave into your ad copy and landing pages.

    1. Engagement

    People love to feel a sense of engagement.

    Offline, people engage by picking up the item they are thinking of buying and manipulating it. Touch is a powerful form of engagement. If people are buying services off someone, they’ll want to look them in the eye.

    The alternative – disconnection – is a barrier to the sales process. Given the remote nature of the online experience, disconnection can be a real problem. Look for ways you can create engagement.

    For example, consider the “will it blend” approach. They take an item the buyer is already engaged with, and probably has direct experience of, and blend it. The visitor is also engaged by the fun of it. It’s something the visitor would probably like to do themselves, and the video immerses her in that experience. It feels tactile.

    Engagement isn’t a real-time chat widget. Engagement is making the visitor feel a connection with what you’re selling. Put the visitor in the scene. Think about their existing experiences and link your product to them.

    Make it tactile.

    2. Greed

    Greed is a pejorative term, but it is a human reality. We’re all a little greedy, just some are much more so than others. Your buyers are a little greedy, too.

    Greed is a very powerful motivator. How many things have you bought that you don’t need simply because they were a bargain? It could be said that internet commerce is driven largely by price. People perceive the internet as the place to shop around for bargains, and will forsake the safety of a store purchase if the “internet price” is low enough.

    Think about ways you can convince people they can get more for less by shopping with you.

    3. Demonstrate Authority

    “Largest”. “Biggest” “Best” “Specialist”. All appeals to authority.

    If you’re going to buy something, and prices are the same from various suppliers, you want to buy it off the seller who conveys a sense of authority. Do they look like they know what they’re doing? It’s a form of reassurance and especially important on the web where people can’t look behind the curtain.

    Authority is easiest to spot when it is absent. What to you think about pages written in pigeon English? Pages that contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors? Pages that look like they’ve been designed by a child?

    4. Demonstrate Satisfaction

    This is the classic “money back if not satisfied” guarantee.

    In case-study after case-study, offering money-back is a sure fire way of increasing conversion rates. Buyers do not want to make mistakes. If you can reassure them it’s not possible to make a mistake at the point of sale, then this removes a major barrier to purchase.

    The beauty of it is that you aren’t giving them anything to which they aren’t already entitled by law. If a person really isn’t satisfied with a product or service, and they’re angry about it, they can reverse charge their credit card. Consumer law in many countries allows for a cooling-off period for buyers, particularly on items that are delivered by mail.

    5. Timing

    Right time, wrong place? Wrong place, right time?

    The success of many products and services comes down to timing. Is the market ready for what you’ve got? Has the market moved on, and you’re too late?

    It’s important to frame things as being “of now”. Many companies release yearly versions of products i.e. “updated for 2011!” in order to sound contemporary.

    Another way of doing it is to relate your product to an event. For example, if hurricanes feature a lot in the news, then, say, relating your building products to hurricane preparedness is a good idea.

    6. Association

    Take something the user already does, or knows about, and associate your product with it.

    For example, email is a killer app partly because it can be explained in terms of something a person already does – writes letters. That’s why it’s called “mail”. Social networks are popular because they take something the user already does – chats with her friends – and puts it in an online context.

    7. Consistency, Honesty And Integrity

    Your copy needs to be consist, honest and show integrity.

    If just one statement you make doesn’t ring true, then it compromises the integrity of everything else you do. Avoid making outlandish claims unless you can demonstrate them to be true.

    There’s another element to consistency, and that is consistency in buying behavior. Note how Amazon suggests other books you might like during and after you make a purchase. I’m sure they sell a lot more books this way.

    They are making offers consistent with the original purchase. The pitch has integrity because it’s related to the original purchase. It’s also a great point to provide extra value to the visitor, as Amazon often bundles offers together at a discount price.

    8. Feeling Part Of Something Bigger

    We all want to belong.

    Think about ways you can show this in your copy and in your sales process. Tried-and-tested ways include testimonials, reviews, and revealing other buyers activity i.e. 20 people bought this today!. It may be irrational, but it feels safer to go where others have gone before.

    Use the terms “we” and “you” frequently. Be inclusive. Show images of real people – in groups. Avoid stock-images of plastic-looking people (see consistency, honesty and integrity above). Frame your product in a social context. See how Apple does it.

    9. Curiosity

    Arouse curiosity.

    This is especially important to get the click-thru. The ad has to be relevant, of course, but if you can manage to work in a curiosity angle, too, it becomes that much more powerful. Once the visitor has clicked thru to your landing page, continue to arouse curiosity to keep them reading.

    Common techniques include posing a question and not answering it immediately, telling a story, adding an element of mystery, and sharing a secret.

    10. Urgency

    Use a sense of urgency to get over the common buyer resistance point: “I’ll think about it”

    Give reasons why the buyer should buy now rather than later. Careful not to be dishonest about it. Many sites mistakenly create a notion of scarcity that is false i.e. only ten copies of the e-book available! If this claim doesn’t ring true, then people will back off.

    11. Fear

    Fear of missing out. Fear of being left behind. Fear of the consequences if you don’t act. Fear of the unknown.Fear of losing control.

    It’s said that all consumerism is driven by fear. Like it or not, it’s a fundamental truth about the way marketing works in modern society. Look for insecurities and supply the visitor with symbolic substitutes to address those insecurities. The entire make-up industry runs on this concept.

    12. Exclusivity

    Everyone likes to feel special. A cut above the rest.

    Is there an exclusive aspect to your products? It may seem counter-intuitive to limit availability, but it can serve to drive up the price and make your product even more appealing.

    Once you’ve identified people who buy on this psychological trigger, you can make them further exclusive offers on other products you sell.

    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.

    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.