You know that digital marketing isn’t just about one specific channel — like blogging, SEO, or PPC.
You can only claim to do digital marketing well when you utilize all the digital marketing channels available to you.
Because the agency model is a digital one, it’s easy to setup a website and start parading.
There’s a right way that any reputable agency will approach you, as Pauline Jakober of Search Engine Land explains. Then, there are the shady agencies and freelancers who’d say (and do) anything to get you in.
Here’s how you’d be fooled into think that you got yourself the right PPC agency to work with (and also how to check for authenticity)
PPC Agency Without Its Own Campaigns
If you happened to type in “PPC Agency” in your local area (or generally) on Google, clicked on a Google ad that’s similar to what you see below, you are half way there. Any respectable PPC agency practices what it preaches.
Imagine how funny it’d be if a PPC agency were to claim that they’ve mastered the art of:
- Writing ads that convert
- Being able to get you results at the lowest possible cost
- Working with tracking & analytics
All those claims when they never ran a single ad campaign with their own money?
We could choose to have done only blogging, or social, or web design. We just don’t. That’s because many businesses need help across the front, for each of the digital marketing channels.
PPC Agencies That Do Ads Only(barely)
I remember working with a client (not going to name them) who hired me to oversee and supervise his already existing vendors for a wide variety of things. The client had a dedicated blogger and social media manager. There were two other agencies that managed Facebook ads and Google AdWords respectively.
As you can guess, it was a nightmare. The really frustrating part of it all was that those two agencies that managed Facebook ads and Google Ads barely did anything.
- They’d force us (or the client, or both) to “write the ads”
- There’s no such thing as a landing page anywhere
- They’d send in reports tabulated in excel spreadsheets on KPIs that have no relevance to the client ( Like, since when did Impressions and CTR became a concern for the client who was instead looking for “conversions” and “sales”)
We fired both the agencies. Period.
PPC Agencies That Setup & Forget
It’s easy enough to create ads and launch campaigns. My 5-year-old daughter can do that.
A good agency works hard to maximize results off each campaign. It involves using ads, message matching landing pages, two versions of both ads and landing pages for A/B testing, and continuously tweaking the setup to maximize ROI.
Thousands of freelancers and agencies (it doesn’t matter what certifications they boast of) don’t ever bother with complete work that’s required for your business to get to positive ROI.
- Ads in pairs
- Landing pages to match each ad (message matching).
- Decisions based on relevant data. This data comes in when the campaign runs long enough.
- Focusing on A/B testing & optimization to ensure that you pick champion ads and landing pages based on testing results
- Conversion tracking, implementing code on the right pages and reporting.
That was just paid campaigns. The story isn’t complete, though.
Then, there’s this:
- How fast does the website load? If it’s slow, there’s no need to run the campaigns.
- How well is the website optimized?
- Does every page have a goal? Is that goal being met? [ Hint: Track this in Google Analytics or by using Mouseflow Conversion Reports]
- Where does traffic come from and what do users do when they arrive?
- What actions do visitors take (or not) on your website?
PPC agencies should be doing landing pages, ads, copy, A?B testing, optimizing, tracking, analytics, and reporting. Period.
Only reporting & No Strategic Push
Your expertise is not digital marketing. Even if it is, you’d not have the time and the attention to detail required to keep the engine running.
If all that a PPC agency was to send out great-looking reports, you’d not benefit from it.
Instead, a true PPC agency should be able to give you that strategic push towards the right path.
Working as consultants, good agencies help their clients steer towards ticking off all the right boxes.
For instance, even if a PPC agency might focus on the paid campaigns that your business runs, it should be able to give you advice (if not implementation) on the organic aspect of digital marketing.
Good agencies can help make clients take the right decisions.
Agencies that keep Secrets
Relationships can’t survive with too many secrets floating in between. A PPC agency should never keep any form of secrets from you. Jon Miller of Search Engine Land lists out at least five secrets that PPC agencies try to keep from you.
At best, you should be clear about at least the following:
- Does the agency outsource work? If yes, which part?
- What exactly do agencies mean when they say “PPC management”?
- How do other clients feel about the PPC agency you are considering?
- What technology, tools, applications, and software does the PPC agency use? How does the usage of any of those tools affect your business, if any?
The special emphasis on PPC agencies is because it’s cash that’s being spent every minute you wonder if the agency is worth it or not. Every day you spend arguing that you need a landing page (and the agency doesn’t delivery) is money spent and opportunity lost.
You can’t afford a single day wasted in PPC. Never.
What do you keep in mind before selecting your PPC agency?
You might not think of it much but with a single act or a choice of going for DIY Website Builders can save you at least about $7000, more or less when you are looking to design or redesign your website.
How, you ask?
We could just write a one-liner such as this: direct savings, indirect savings, and opportunity cost.
We could then throw in wasted time learning, practicing, and doing your due diligence counting to “10,000 hours” as Malcolm Gladwell writes in his popular book, The Outliers.
Website DIY builders only average around $10 per month (including hosting, which you’d need anyway). While we are at it, here are some of the best website DIY builders you get for your money:
Website DIY Builder Options for Ecommerce
Wondering how a website builder saves you money? Here’s how:
Study. Do. Study. Do
Offline education can easily cost you “an arm and a leg” and doesn’t make any sense to invest in that. Online education also sets you back by anywhere from $15 to $120 per month (books and other reference material not included).
Hint: Learning coding alone can set you back by $400 per year on study material alone.
Choosing to “learn and do” website design is a choice that’ll cost you the time you’d use to run your business, build your team, and do things you are better off with. Assuming it takes you a year to learn HTML and CSS basics along with another year to get anywhere near average skill level with coding, you’d have lost a couple of years.
Sometimes, 2-3 years is all it takes for a startup to gain the tipping point (AirBnB and Evernote, each worth millions of dollars, case in point).
Building websites – with the exception of DIY website builders – cost you professional software such as Adobe’s Suite of products. Adobe’s Suite of products can cost you around $50 per month (depending on where you live).
This is a recurring subscription that adds up to $600 per year. You’d then spend another $360 on a premium hosting account, along with all kinds of tools you’d need to build that website. Give this setup about 7 years and you’d have paid more than $7000 for one-time work or just for a few websites.
If you choose not to use a DIY website builder, you’d need a couple of other subscriptions to keep your website up. Security software, a Content Delivery Network (to make your website load fast), the cost for using stand-alone software for emails, and more.
Add each of these up and you’ll easily rack up more than a few thousand dollars in the average it takes a webmaster to realize that you are overspending for things you’d find a usual DIY website builder package.
Ongoing costs for conversion optimization
In digital marketing, conversion optimization is big for the simple reason that it’s the one, single, ongoing activity that turns your website from a digital brochure to a humongous money-maker. If you had to depend on yourself (or others) for website design, you’d never get this as a part of the website development package (yet, this is exactly what you need).
Your website is never a done thing. But the only way you can save thousands of dollars on ongoing conversion optimization spend is when you cut down the time it takes to make a website go live and spend time and resources on CRO.
Every choice we make is set off against a choice we didn’t make. Instead of spending your precious time building a website (which you could easily outsource or build one using a web builder), you could be hustling, networking, doing a few things that can change the way you do business, hire more people, and more.
You might not realize it but a few decisions we make can prove to be expensive. Are you making these expensive mistakes when it comes to website design or using DIY website builders?
Social Media lets every business communicate, relate, and build a network of passionate customers.
Most businesses, however, are too busy “wasting time” or “resisting it”.
You don’t have to like “Social media” to make it work for you, or your business. No one cares whether you “favor” it or not. There’s not going to be a huge pile up of cash just because “you thought” that “this is what social media is”.
Social media just is.
It’s there for you, whether or not you intend to use it.
Social Media does more to your business or for your personal branding than you think it does.
Smart Insights reports that Facebook has over 1.71 billion users. Over 30 billion content pieces are shared on Facebook each month. Each user spends an average of 15 hours 33 minutes a month on Facebook alone.
Twitter, on the other hand, handles 1.6 billion queries while adding more 500,000 users per day. Google + has about 300 million users already.
Admittedly, social media is in. This is the era of Interaction.
People like you, get influenced by you, swear by your content, and link to you. Traditional marketing just got whipped.
The chances are that you got social media all wrong. You thought it was a “medium” like magazines or newspapers are.
Social media is much like a private party with the “privacy” replaced by “global connect” at scale.
- You don’t get on social media to “sell”
- The more you push, the more the media pushes you back.
- Pitch and you’ll be frowned upon.
- Expect sales, and you’ll be disappointed.
- You can’t really measure Social Media ROI
There’s “Social” In Social Media, as Jay Baer of Convince And Convert puts it.
You are doing it all wrong if you ever tried:
- Putting in the time and effort on Social media and thought you’d make money out of it (you might, but that’s not the point of being “social”)
- Hiring an entire team to drone away on social networks hoping to get ROI.
- Buying your way to get “fans” and “followers”.
- Looking for product sales on social media.
Don’t get me wrong. You’ll get traffic, you’ll be able to push your brand into visibility, and you’ll eventually make sales. Think of all that as bonuses when you get out there.
The primary reason you should be on social media is to connect — To engage. To communicate. To build a community of people who share common interests or have enough emotive to join conversations that relate to the problem your business solves.
I must say I loved The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business.
Tara Hunt is the co- founder and CEO of Buyosphere. She is also one of the 25 Women-led Startups to Watch in Fast Company (2011). I recall that she calls the whole humdrum of social media, networking, communities, and the collective power of social capital as “Whuffie”.
How powerful is that?
Her book itself is a result of community power. Further, the book cover came from the Whuffie, so she says. Social media is here to stay and you’ll be comfortable if you found yourself a lofty corner to be perched at. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are huge and can be intimidating to everyone.
It doesn’t have to be so. You can literally announce your arrival.
This is how you do it:
Give, and then take
When I wrote a guest post titled “5 Simple Secrets to Social Media Success“on Andy Nathan’s Blog, I couldn’t help but mull on this little aspect about social media. It’s strikingly obvious that no one cares about you, at least not right away.
It could be downright depressing and blunt to hear this. Really, everyone out there has something else to worry about and the last thing would be you.
That’s why shift your intentions from “taking” to “giving”. Don’t ask for anything in return (you might want to make requests here and there) but give information and share valuable resources. Write and then share your blog posts, Facebook Fan Page updates, and Tweets.
More importantly, be there to help. Your social networks — together — must be the sum total of all that you give.
When the time is right, what you need is right there for you to take.
When others within your community or network such as fans on Facebook and Followers on Twitter or LinkedIn share something, promote those tweets or updates.
Promote them like they are your own. It might not make sense to you now but when others see that you promote their content, they will eventually want to reciprocate. Check your Klout score regularly and give +K to people who’ve influenced you on your network.
As TechCrunch makes a point, Nobody gives a damn about your Klout score. Use it to benchmark your progress, donate +Ks to people as a sign of gratitude. Just don’t think that high Klout score is some- how going to make you rich.
Be a leader and Follower
Most beginners come with the intention of learning from the community and implementing it for themselves seeking a reward of some sort of fame, recognition, money, etc. You can’t lead without following. You can’t make to the top without crawling your way up from the bottom.
While some do it right, most do it wrong.
You can follow and “like” as many people as you like. Just don’t think all others out there are better than you or worse than you.
As they say, there’s always something to learn from others. It just happens in real time on social media.
Social Media is a level playing field
On Social Media, some people out there are better than you. Most aren’t. There are individuals, professionals, small businesses, medium businesses, and large corporations. I trust that you have things they don’t. They know about stuff you don’t. That’s why social media – and the Internet itself – is as empowering as you want it to be.
Lead from the front. Make it a responsibility to educate, inspire, and share with your followers. If you are a business – irrespective of the size of your company – you are an expert poised to solve people’s problems.
The good news is that the field is open for you. The bad news is that you have to work to get somewhere worth going.
Social Media Strategy? Forget that. Just Be Yourself
Caroline of Retargeter writes on social media done right, and she advocates the need to be YOU.
You are a lifetime’s worth of who you are. You are special (and I don’t care if you agree or disagree with that). There’s nothing more original in this world than you saying, “The grass is greener on the other side” in a way that only you can say.
That’s where the real magic on socal media happens. Depending on what you are on social for, your voice will resonate. You will be heard. People will follow you. They’d love you.
When you fake it, your tricks will eventually grow too big to fit in the decorum of normalcy. Your true colors will show through. With stakes in business and reputation, you can’t afford to do that, can you?
Focus on a clutch of sites
The sphere of social media is huge. Not every social media site will work for you.
For us, Foursquare really means nothing to since it’s more geographic specific. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook work best for me. I am still wondering how Google + fits in.
B2B businesses find Twitter and LinkedIn working for them. E-commerce businesses swear by Pinterest and Instagram in addition to the regular ones, and B2C businesses can’t have enough of Facebook.
For some businesses outside the U.S, Yelp will not work.
You get the drift, don’t you?
Less is more
Much like the Pareto’s principle, “less is more” is proving to have universal connotations.
Doing too much of anything can only hurt you. Don’t rush your Twitter account with 120 Tweets a day because it’ll look like spam (in spite of your apparent enthusiasm to share).
Don’t deluge your Facebook Fan Page wall with 20 messages a day (you don’t need to). Also, you don’t need to post every day on your blog (content quality suffers as frequency increases).
No one cares if you do it more or less. Everyone does care about the quality. Pick your number and stay committed, and that makes a difference.
Publish Long-Form When You Can
I often go on calls to meet clients to discuss strategy and social media inevitably drops into the conversation. Apart from getting all the expectations wrong (that they possibly can), they also say things like:
“LinkedIn Publishing? I don’t care so much about writing there”
“Why bother with Medium when we have our own blog?”
Now, here’s the thing: few opportunities exist for you write at length or launch podcasts or share videos on topics you are passionate about.
These are outlets that others expect you to “write. Speak. Show and tell”.
It helps with personal branding, it helps build bridges to connect, and it’s another way to showcase authority and build credibility.
You could have written a LinkedIn post instead of asking that question, you see?
Are you getting your social media strategy right or wrong? Tell us about it.
Speed (or the lack of it) kills any chances you might have to glean ROI out of your digital marketing efforts. More than half of web users abandon your website if it takes more than 2 seconds, according to a study by Akamai and Gomez.
More than 79% of shoppers will never return to your site to buy again and 44% of them would go out and tell the world about the shoddy experience they just had.
Despite the raging need for speed, more than 73% of mobile users encountered websites that are too slow to load. Even worse, a whopping 51% of them reported visiting websites that crashed, froze, or just showed up with an error, according to Sean Work of Kissmetrics.
Your page load speed determines the UX/UI feel of your website and leaves your customers with an impression (and that better be good). The speed of your website affects your SEO performance and how Google treats your website in search results.
There’s no denying it: if your website doesn’t load fast enough, it better not exist.
Here’s how you speed up your website.
Start With Managed WordPress Hosting
You are known by the web hosting you use. While it’s not easy to find the right host for your business, things are way better now than it used to be. Managed WordPress hosting should be your first pit stop. Out of all the options we know of, FlyWheel and WPEngine are the best.
There are certainly more options like CloudWays – a bridge-like solution that lets you setup hosting on DigitalOcean, AWS (Amazon Web Services), Google, and a few others. However, going on that route, you’d better know (or prepare to get your hands dirty with SSH, terminals, Putty, and managing servers on your own).
As a business owner, you don’t want more trouble than you’d need to put up with. Just pick one of the managed WordPress solutions and you get:
- World-class, Super-fast, Blazing Hosting specially built for WordPress.
- Built-in Caching and Optional CDN
- Staging Functionality (so that you can experiment and get adventurous and not risk taking your whole website down).
- Free SSL Certificate (Courtesy the amazing folks at Let’s Encrypt)
- A lot more space and Bandwidth
- Super customer support
When we moved to Flywheel (and did a few other things), we managed to get our own website load in exactly 0.6 seconds.
Read our previous FlyWheel Review.
Choose the right WordPress theme
There are a gazillion themes and plugins. Guess what? We recommend that you don’t even go anywhere near most of them. Here are a chosen few companies that you should trust when it comes to WordPress themes:
StudioPress – Pick any theme and you’ll never go wrong with their Genesis Framework.
FameThemes – We currently use their “Screenr” theme.
Themes from both these sources come as a refreshing change to the otherwise needlessly bulky crap that’s available out there.
For most purposes, these themes will do. If you are still itching to shop, go ahead and browse the ThemeForest Marketplace or TemplateMonster.
When you go there, you are on your own. Pick and choose with care.
Use a CDN for Faster WordPress Loading Speeds
If you are just looking to start, look no further than CloudFlare. You get to start completely for free and you are under no obligation to upgrade.
If you are looking for paid CDN services, CacheFly and MaxCDN are the best in the market. Pick your poison, but the point is that you’d have to use a CDN to maximize content deliver to your users globally.
Note: if you use Managed WordPress Hosting, you get CDN built-in depending on the account signup for.
The more scripts you use for your WordPress website, the slower your website is going to be. In fact, as Alex Iskold of ReadWrite puts it,
With multiple scripts posted right under the <head> tag or the <body> tag or both, there’s bound to be friction.
What this means is that it performs things sequentially and not concurrently (with the exception of Ajax calls).
- Load-balance requests
- Use standard libraries (but this is still not a complete solution)
For WordPress users, Fred Meyer of WPShout has a very detailed explanation of how they worked towards a faster loading WordPress site.
Minify & Compress Everything
CSS files, Images, and other content will all take up space and bandwidth. With most hosting platforms, that’s not the real issue. When these monsters start eating into your WordPress loading speed, that’s when trouble starts brewing.
Use plugins W3 Total Cache or WP SuperCache.
W3 Total Cache helps speed up your WordPress site right out of the box, with just a few tweaks. Enable Page Cache, deploy Browser Cache, follow a few other exact instructions, and you are good to go.
While you are at it, note that images are probably a big part of your blogging & content marketing efforts, and images are notorious for taking up space and slowing down your website.
WPMUDEV has Hummingbird and there are other plugins such as EWWW Image Optimizer.
For most websites, these steps above are more than enough to give you a good start. However, please note that working with WordPress to ensure fast loading time is never a “fix and forget” thing.
How fast is your website? Tell us all about your efforts to speed up your WordPress website.
If you are looking for regular help with WordPress maintenance and great hosting, talk to us.
Every visitor to your site is a result of some action you take or a dollar you spent (actual dollars or perceived value of your time).
It hurts to see your efforts wasted. Given then it’s already hard enough to get relevant audience that says: “I can’t do without your blog posts and you are on top my mind” along with the fact that more than 98% of ad spend is wasted, it only makes sense for us to do what we can to help control our ad spend, squeeze everything out of a dollar, and make your efforts mean something for your business.
One of the advantages of digital marketing is that technology helps you do really smart things, and it doesn’t cost much. Plus, you always have the ability to switch off (or switch on) campaigns when you please.
All of that with retargeting takes your marketing to another level. Retargeting is all about re-engaging visitors who already arrived at your site. Maybe they did what you wanted them to do. Or maybe they didn’t.
Your goal with retargeting is to make sure that you launch customized campaigns as is relevant to the type of visitor who is the target for the campaign.
Retargeting works best when you have a sizeable audience. Be it Facebook audiences or shared audiences on Google Adwords, you’d need to have a way to start building your audience by “cookie-ing” your visitors.
By default, most platforms — Adroll, Perfect Audience, Google Adwords, and Facebook – let you build an audience by starting you off on “all visitors” list. This list consists of every visitor to any of your pages and is a general list.
You can also build separate segments for each set of audiences such as visitors who:
- Arrived on specific pages of your website.
- Spent more time on your website than the usual time spent.
- Visited your product pages.
- Read your blog posts
- Landed on your contact page
Specify audiences by using URL paths, wild cards, and even use advanced scripts (but you don’t have to get there just yet).
Whether or not you’d choose to do retargeting, building retargeting lists is a no brainer since it takes a few minutes of your time but allows you to have the option of marketing to visitors who did arrive on your website but left without doing anything.
Before you worry about how to start retargeting, you’d want to consider retargeting because:
- It lets you reclaim your lost visitors
- Boost your conversions by marketing to visitors who already know you
- Cut down on your marketing spend
- It costs considerably less to use Retargeting than it does to launch and run paid marketing campaigns.
Setting Up Retargeting
It’s fairly straightforward to set up retargeting for your business. It makes sense to set up your “audiences” even before you actually even think of launching actual retargeting campaigns because it takes some time to build an audience (unless you already get loads of traffic).
Assuming you use Adroll, you can start by creating an account at Adroll.com, and then add your advertiser profile.
Each website you own (or brand you run) has a separate “advertiser profile” on Adroll. On other retargeting platforms like Perfect Audience, the process is fairly similar.
Soon after signing up for Adroll, you’d have to get the Adroll pixel to add to your website.
The Adroll pixel looks like this:
If you are using HTML5/ CSS3 based websites, you’d have to add the pixel to every page of your website.
If you are using WordPress, just head to the “theme header” file under “Appearance” and add the pixel just below thetag.
Adroll also gives you a couple of banner ads to start with, for free (it’d take them 4-5 days to deliver assuming you give them the details quick enough).
Launching Adroll Campaigns
Launching Adroll campaigns is straight-forward. However, the trick is to build only two types of ads (as pairs) so you can test one, against the other.
Let’s say you want to create two 300 x 250 banners to start your campaign with. Create two versions of the banners (and make sure you name them intuitively enough so that you can differentiate between the two versions) and launch them together.
After you collect enough data, you’ll know which banners seems to perform better. Assuming Banner A performs better, make a note treating banner A as the champion and then create a Banner C to test against the current champion (Banner A).
In a nutshell:
- Test two banners: A & B
- If A is the winner (at the end of a campaign period you specify), create another Banner C to test against banner A.
- Repeat the process (and it never ends).
The A/B testing process is manual for the traditional campaigns you’d run on Adroll. However, for other features on Adroll such as “Sendroll”, A/B testing is built in.
The longer you run campaigns, the more data you’d have to make proper decisions.
Conversion Tracking With Adroll
Adroll gives you a simple way to track conversions. On the very end of the page which shows up “after” a “specified conversion event” happens, a part of the Adroll pixel fires that tells Adroll that a conversion happened.
Typical examples include:
• The Thank you page after a sale happens online.
• The Thank you page or the URL that comes up after someone signups for your newsletter.
Conversion tracking helps you to know how well your retargeting campaigns are working. You can also specify custom events such as “Button Clicks” (used for click-through type landing pages).
Using Retargeting Email From Adroll
According to Campaign Monitor, transactional emails boast of 8X more opens and clicks than any other type of email. B2B marketing automation helps boost revenue by another 60% to $1.2 million in 2014 (as compared to 50% increase in 2013).
How about getting the best of both transactional-style emails along with marketing automation?
Adroll – a leading retargeting platform – just launched “Sendroll” which helps you send quick emails to visitors who visit specific pages.
Let’s say I specify that I’d like to specifically target visitors who read this post on Retargeting, I could send a specific email “about retargeting” with a “discount” on our regular prices to “strike while the iron is still hot”.
The Sendroll email would then look like this:
Pop Ups From Adroll
Adroll recently launched PingRoll which helps you create popups, which are unlike the pop ups you know: these pop ups show up to targeted users using exit-intent technology. The best part is that PingRoll comes to you at no extra cost (whereas other pop-up tools will cost you money). More importantly, PingRoll activates only on specified pages, for specific audiences.
How are you doing retargeting? Or are you doing it all? Have you seen results from Retargeting? Would you like to share your experiences?