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Or digital advertising in general. but…you can’t ignore PPC rules (coz’ they cost you money).

Stay with me, this is a long post.

You’ll stay because you are wasting your money, time, resources, and yelling at your marketing managers or the agency you just hired.

Maybe the issue is with you. It’s with your system. It’s with your pride. Or is it laziness, stupidity, or vanity?

If you thought it was just the 98% of your paid ads are a colossal waste of money, there’s a lot more wastage lying out there that didn’t get into the confines of a blog post.

Oli Garder of Unbounce writes that in most cases, your paid ads suck. They are horribly written, badly formatted, and they have nothing in them to make your searchers or potential customers click through.

Even if they did, they’d be more than just disappointed: they’d be pissed. Did I mention that you just lost the equivalent of your Cost Per Click when that disaster happened?

It’s not just the paid ad spent that is lost. There’s also the colossal waste of untold number of hours spent writing blog posts, the meaningless drivel that we all spew out on social media, and the garbage that all businesses end up publishing in the name of content marketing.

We’ve had several clients come to us (and hence we ended up inheriting) many Google Adwords accounts and Facebook Advertising accounts that are so miserably put up that I almost bleed just looking at them (forget about the clean up act that we’d have to do later). Most potential clients I talk to don’t have blogs, have spam for a social presence, and they certainly don’t use email.

You might do Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Twitter Ads, or Pinterest ads. Or you might be getting great results with just your organic marketing – blogging regularly, SEO, social media, and more.

No matter what you do, the principles of “doing digital marketing right” are standard. If you ever want to spend either an hour or a dollar on digital marketing, there are fundamental rules you just can’t skip.

Here are those rules:

You don’t know Everything

Too many agencies and freelance marketers claim that they are the best. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t. I am not here to judge.

From what I see and from what I know, most of these claims are bullshit.

Then, there are business owners who do DIY (Do it yourself) digital marketing. Since they’ve been doing whatever they thought was digital marketing for more than 6 years, they claim to be experts at it. Some entrepreneurs even rush to take online courses and then claim expertise. Funnily, some even have badges – and loads of ego — to prove that.

I do know one thing for sure: nothing remains the same so it’s impossible for “you” to know “everything” there is to digital marketing.

There are new tools to use all the time, and meanwhile old tools add on new features. Major platforms like Google and Facebook always keep rolling out new updates. There are a hundred things that have to connect to do digital marketing right – from ads to landing pages; from pixels to tracking codes; from analytics to workflows; from email marketing to retargeting.

I’ve been in business for 12 years now. There isn’t a single day that goes by without me learning something new. I am not even close to an “expert”.

Do yourself a favor: get humble.

Goals have side effects. Stay the course anyway

Too many businesses just get swept away by the apparent “Importance of being online”, or “blogging”, or “social media” or the power of paid advertising. As such, they don’t start with any goals whatsoever.

If they do, those goals are likely to forgotten pretty soon.

The reason why I harp about goals so much is because on the digital landscape, there’s strategy and then there are tactics. You got to have goals for each.

Plus, your goals almost always have side effects.

  • You should do guest blogging because that gives you extra exposure, credibility, and branding impressions. A valuable little side-effect is that you also get a backlink.
  • Organic marketing gives you context behind every paid campaign you undertake.
  • Emails are best for nurturing your leads. You’ll also end up with an unbeatable brand recall and provide value to each of your subscribers if you do it right.
  • Paid advertising gets you traffic, and possibly leads. However, it also gets you an incredible numbers of impressions and almost everyone would get to know you.
  • Analytics doesn’t just give you numbers of visitors and other metrics. It also helps you understand consumer behavior and attribution.

Understand these goals. Know what each of these digital marketing channels have to provide for you, including those nifty side effects.

Be realistic about what you expect

“I want to beat my competition. I have a budget of $100 per month for Google Adwords and I am in the Insurance niche.”

“I’ll spend $10 per day on Facebook advertising. Can you get me 300 leads a month?”

Questions and statements like those make me cringe. I can’t believe that the Internet has turned many so-called business owners into cheap wannabes – so much that they begin to expect the moon (and even Pluto) for pennies.

Serious business demands serious, methodical, regular, and almost endless investments. Thanks to digital marketing, however, those investments stand a good chance of showering an eye-popping ROI. Traditional media can’t do shit like that.

Don’t ask for the “number of leads” — Google doesn’t know that. Facebook doesn’t know that. No one knows that number as it relates to your business.

The number of leads you get depends on:

  • Your business
  • Your USP
  • How well are your products or services positioned?
  • How are you better than your competition?
  • Your branding
  • How well you pull of the maniacal circus that business is?
  • The geographic regions you are targeting
  • The state of your competition
  • The ad budget (or well, and how consistently, you do organic marketing)
  • The demand for your product
  • The time of the year (especially if your products or services are seasonal)
  • The transactional value
  • Are you into B2B or B2C?

This isn’t even the beginning of the list. Now, assuming you do get X leads, not all of them convert (at least not right away). How well they convert depends on the quality of your leads and the consistency of follow up.

If your leads did convert, the question still remains: will they buy once or are they customers for life?

There’s a path to inbound marketing. Follow it

Successful advertising and marketing works with funnels. You can call it anything you want but these funnels are there for a few reasons:

  • No one gets up on any given morning wanting to get into your pipeline.
  • People don’t buy from companies; they buy from people.
  • Assuming I have an itch that you can scratch, I’d want to wait until I am absolutely sure. I am sure about your scratching abilities when 100,000+ people also claim that for a fact, you have great reviews on Yelp or on Google Plus, and most importantly, I am ready to buy (I finally got the cash now, several years after I found you on Twitter).

Because you never know when your customers buy, you’ll need to keep them interested and engaged. That’s why you have to be on social media and nurture them through email marketing.

So, here’s how a simple funnel looks like:

Sales Funnels

The more customers you have coming through the left side of the tunnel (or top side, depending on how you see it) – provided you do everything right – the more sales you end up making at the right side (or at the bottom) of the funnel.

It’s so simple that a 6-year-old kid gets it. Adamant entrepreneurs and businesses too proud to be in business, however, miss it somehow.

Abide by The Rules of Paid Advertising

Marketing, especially paid advertising, has rules you can’t skip.

It won’t matter if you don’t like those rules. No one also gives two hoots to what you think is right or wrong (and that applies to me too). These mandates exist because you’ll ultimately benefit from it, and you have to follow those rules. Period.

  • Ads always point to landing pages (not to websites)
  • Ads and landing pages should have a message match (If you say “free” on the ad, the landing page should also say free).
  • Don’t build landing pages using HTML and CSS (because these take longer to build, and these pages are impossible to track conversions. They also make it impossible for you to do A/B testing)
  • Make a single offer on the landing page.
  • You should have only one button on the landing page.
  • If you have a way to build a light-box which opens up a form for visitors to fill, it’s even better (and you get better quality leads that way simply because they clicked and that a robot didn’t give away bogus information)
  • An auto-responder must go out immediately after a lead signs up (even better if you can use a tool like Speak2Leads or have a way to call those leads immediately after they signup)
  • The auto-responder should be followed by a series of emails (80% information and 20% soft pitches)
  • Test everything: ads, landing pages, every element of both the ads and the landing pages, the email subject lines, the copy of the emails, the image you use within the emails, the buttons, the calls to action, the colors, the layouts, and more.

As far as the funnel is concerned, these rules are indisputable. They are mandates. Ignore them and you’ll waste your ad spend and wait until your competition kicks your ass good bye.

Learn to make an enticing offer, one at a time

Go ahead and take a look at the all the advertising around you: newspapers, magazines, brochures, Yellow pages, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and pretty much everything you are subjected to each day.

What happens? Nothing.

There’s a reason for that: most advertising sucks.

Bland messages, that cry out “me too me too” and have nothing special to give. Those lackluster offers on ads would make you cry.

There’s no backing behind powerful claims those ads make. There’s no honesty integrity, and at least charm. Although “clever words” don’t work, most ads aren’t even “cute”.

Go ahead, buy classics like The Science of Advertising by Claude Hopkins. It’s not going to help, I am afraid.

Your next ad is going to be mediocre, which you’d think is amazing because it’s yours. Your customers, however, don’t care. They saw shit like that before.

It wouldn’t even matter if that ad never produced a dollar in positive revenue because you mistake ads to be poems – and you are utterly proud of what you created.

Assuming you did want to beat your own ad in terms of effectiveness and results, you still won’t because you never tested this ad against another one. Which leads me to…

Without Analytics, you are more than blind

If you don’t use analytics, you’ll be making decisions based on emotions. For digital marketing, that’s death. Or even worse, that’s death without salvation. You can’t let your “favorite colors”, “sentimental reasons” to determine how you do marketing. Data-driven marketing takes emotions away and gives way to smart decision making.

Analytics is at the core of all decisions you’ll make. Using the power of A/B testing and analytics, you’ll painstakingly optimize everything from blog post titles to ad copy; from landing pages to your email subject lines.

All this, until you get a champion system working for you. When you do think you have a fantastic, profit-pulling, and competition-killing digital marketing system in place, what do you do next?

Test everything again and do even better.

Are you following these rules or are you too proud to profit from whatever you do?

If you need help, signup here and get our free guide to lead generation to begin with.

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