What I can do for you as your Digital Marketer!

321211_2353890528211_7935372_n*Warning: excessive bragging in this blog post* Over the last 2 months, I’ve learned more in my Digital Marketing course than I think I’ve learned in any other class taught to me at Western. Not only that, but everything I’ve learned I feel like I’m almost an expert in. So many students complain that the information they learn in their classes can’t be applied to the real world, but all I’ve done in my Spring Quarter of 2015 is apply every topic in this class to the real world. I’ve researched materials beyond what was given to me by my professor Mark Staton, and learned about what companies strive in certain topic categories and which ones don’t. I remember back in March reading the syllabus for my Digital Marketing class thinking “what the h*ll are some of these things?” but soon realized each subject was easy to understand; not only that, but really, really interesting as well.

I think my biggest takeaways from this class are going to be the certifications I received over the last 2 months. I’m now certified in Google Analytics, HootSuite, and next week I’ll have my certification in Google AdWords. Google Analytics is an amazing tool for companies to use because you’re able to track your target market as they go through your website, desktop or mobile. The different metrics offered can show you how long a person was on each page, where exactly in the website they went, and the steps they took in order to make a purchase. You can also gain better understanding of what triggers a person to close out of your website, offering you insight in to how you can better each of your pages. HootSuite is great for those working with Social Media. You can have all of your platforms such as Facebook and Twitter all in one feed. You have the ability to send out timed tweets and posts in order to reach your audience at the optimal times, and you can also use their URL shortener feature. Next week, when I become Google AdWords certified, I’ll have the skills necessary to help your company understand the keywords your target market is searching online, which in turn can increase your search engine marketing and search engine optimization. I believe AdWords is a great tool for every company that wants to have a strong online presence, and in this world we live in today, who doesn’t want that?

Some of my favorite topics learning about this quarter learned how to do marketing through social media (previously linked), programmatic advertising, content marketing, and inbound marketing. Since these were the topics I was most interested in I believe I really did become an expert in each of them. Social Media is just fun to work with, first of all. With myself identifying with all the millennials, I’ve grown up using it and I’m able to quickly learn all the new social media platforms that emerge into society. Each different social media site can do something different and unique for your digital marketing campaign. Programmatic advertising really is the future of advertising; it can cut tons of costs and tons of time for companies that implement it. Content marketing is everything a blog is about, and I believe I’ve had great experience with learning how to make content that’s remarkable. Inbound marketing is a subject that really interests me because when you have a strong inbound marketing strategy, you’re kind of winning. When customers are able to come straight to you, it means you can save lots of money for your company! It gets your company away from traditional marketing efforts that can rack up expenses, and instead will attract customers to your brand.

17,761 words and 90 visitors later, I’d say I even became more of an expert with blogging. For a marketer, its a great skill to have. From April 6th 2015 to April 12th 2015, I had the most traffic to my blog. It’s unfortunate this was at the beginning of the quarter, but this is also when I blogged about Google Analytics, which makes this more understandable. I always dabbled with free blog sites, but never used them for content, just pictures of things I liked.  I’m happy to say I’ve left this quarter with a genuine enthusiasm and liking towards blogging, and hope to continue with this blog after the quarter ends. This may be my last blog post for my Digital Marketing class, but it wont be my last blog post ever 🙂

Make your Marketing Mobile

mobile-marketingMarketing efforts are targeted around consumer behaviors, and consumers have made the shift to mobile – so you should too. The platforms that consumers use to engage with digital media is constantly increasing, so it’s important that your company recognizes this and hops on the bandwagon if it hasn’t done so already. With the invention of the smartphone, phones are so much more than they used to be, and it’s completely changed the way of traditional marketing. Something important to note is that consumers aren’t just on their desktop, and they aren’t just on their phones, they are multi-platform. As of December 2013, 56% of users were multi-platform which is quite the milestone because it shows where the future of digital marketing is headed.

Everyone is constantly on the go, and smartphones have made it so users can take their computers with them any and everywhere. This means they can stay connected to the internet with the blink of an eye and be viewing your website, advertisements, and digital marketing campaigns. According to a study done by comScore, time spent on smartphones increased by 237% and time spent on tablets increased by 1040% from December 2010 to December 2013! I can only imagine how much time spent on each of these devices has increased over the last year and a half. Not only is mobile taking up the majority of internet usage, but smartphones specifically have surpassed desktop usage.

With media usage becoming more fragmented it poses obstacles for marketers in todays society. However, for the marketers that are willing to overcome these obstacles, adapt, and embrace mobile marketing, they will reap all of the benefits there are. Companies need to understand that the way digital media is headed is towards multi-platform, therefore they must tailor their marketing strategies towards that direction, too. Google Analytics makes it easy to track mobile marketing efforts so you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t.

Smartphone users love their apps: They accounted for 85 percent of internet time spent on phones in 2013.

– comScore

2013 didn’t see much in product development and invention regarding mobile devices, but the main form of growth was with the apps you could download do your mobile devices. Users were engaging with their smartphones and devices more than ever before. Android and iOS operating platforms account for a combined 93 percent of smartphone operating systems, with Android taking 51 percent and iOS at a close 42 percent. Over the previous years, other operating systems such as Palm and Symbian have now become obsolete while Microsoft and Blackberry operating systems are well on their way to extinction as well. The point is, optimizing these operating system platforms can do great things for your marketing campaigns and understanding how each platform works for each device can help you tailor your efforts accordingly.

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With users constantly upgrading to the next device, the internet and data speeds continue to get faster, making the mobile experience better for both the user and the advertiser. Content is able to be shared faster than ever, which can do wonders for your inbound marketing! Daily screen time for smartphones averages 151 minutes per person, while laptops are about 103 minutes, and tablets at 43 minutes. Add all of those up for a multi-platform user and thats almost an entire 5 hours each day spent on digital media devices. Think of all the advertisements that can be seen in 5 hours… it’s absolutely ridiculous! But it goes to show that your target market is, more likely than not, using digital media devices, and this is a perfect place to direct your marketing campaigns. This can be done through social media, search engine marketing (with the help of search engine optimization), programmatic and native advertising, landing pages, and even email marketing (yes, email marketing is still breathing)! I’ve written blog posts about all of the aforementioned marketing strategies, feel free to check them out 🙂

I personally look up information on my smartphone All. The. Time. I’m constantly “googling” what I don’t know and taking every question I have to Safari. All of my friends and family do the exact same. It just goes to show that the presence digital media has in everyones lives these days is so vast, you’re doing your company a disservice by not making your marketing mobile.

The Hype About Coding

Originally I never understood why coding was important for a digital marketer. Aren’t we just supposed to do the marketing while the computer tech team does the coding stuff? Well apparently, a digital marketer who can do both is one that will be in high demand.

You know those really intense boot camps for training for various different physical challenges? Well, here in 2015, they have those same boot camps for coding – I never could have thought that would be a thing. These bootcamps or “schools” raked in a combined $59 million in revenue in 2014, and there are only just 80 of them nationwide. The average cost per bootcamp per student was $9,833 and lasts several weeks… talk about expensive! Recent graduates are realizing more and more that to get the post-grad career they want, they need to take their skills to the next level. Not even an Ivy League degree is enough in some cases. Roughly 70% of all coding boot camp students already have their degree from a university, which goes to show people are wanting to go the extra mile.

For a digital marketer, coding can be a really useful skill to have. Coding is what lies behind every online campaign, internet promotion, website, email, and app that us digital marketers will be using. HubSpot argues that the modern marketer should absolutely be learning how to code. Knowing how to code on your own will save yourself time and money, which is something everyone wants. You’ll also be able to understand what is even possible in the first place through the help of coding. Inspiration will come to you in a new form. Even if you aren’t planning on doing the coding yourself, being able to understand what your designer is doing behind the scenes could help you figure out other tools that might enhance your marketing plans.

Another advantage of knowing how to do coding yourself is when you want a small change to be fixed, you want it fixed now, and you’ll be able to do it yourself. Instead of feeling completely annoying bugging your designer all the time, you’ll be able to save hours of time in the long run, and lots of money by making the changes you want to be made on your own! Plus the sense of personal accomplishment doesn’t hurt. While there’s truly no reason to not learn about codes, it’s still important to know that web designers and marketers do have different skill sets and there are reasons they each chose the field that they are in. Marketers may have all the ideas for designs and user experiences, but the web developers and designers are the ones who work behind the scenes implementing and putting it all together.

There are lots of different resources for marketers to learn the skills required to know how to code, and I worked with Code Academy personally. Its a free, interactive website that takes you step by step through tutorials to learn all the basics of coding. Here’s how the first page looks in the HTML & CSS tutorial.

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The tutorial consists of 14 elements broken down into 3 sections

  • Introduction to HTML: this shows you how to add titles, headers, and paragraphs to your website. It explains the basics of opening and closing tags, and the importance of each.
  • Body Elements: This is the body of your website, which can still include headers and paragraphs. You also learn how to change the size of your text with different tags, and there are 6 sizes to choose from (h1 is the largest, h6 is the smallest).
  • Adding Images to your Site: This section explains how to add links and images to your website. I had the hardest time with embedding pictures with links (shown in my screenshot below). Putting a code within a code was difficult for me to figure out, and took a lot of time, but I’m sure for others it can be a breeze!

Overall these tutorials are very simple, and make coding seem so easy. It’s definitely the right intensity I’d personally want as a digital marketer. If I don’t like the sizing of a certain header, I’ll be able to change that on my own, and hopefully with some more practice, if I want to turn a picture into a link to another part of my website or another website entirely, I’ll be able to do that! The experience using Code Academy is a good one, and honestly doesn’t take you much time to complete the HTML & CSS tutorials! I just personally got stuck with the 13th part of the tutorial… but will work to improve that skill 🙂

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Here’s the link to my SquareSpace account! It was hard to navigate at first but after a little time spend I was able to figure out how to delete the default pages and create my own. Editing information isn’t difficult to do, its as easy as clicking edit, writing your content, then clicking save.

The positives of SquareSpace in my opinion are:

  • The ease of editing your content and pages
  • They have default templates to choose from which makes design really simple and takes the work out of it for you (the hardest part is deciding between all the ones you like!)
  • You can have the option to make the website personal, for business, or e-commerce.
  • You can view how your website will look on the computer, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • You can track your metrics such as a traffic overview and mobile usage.
  • For e-commerce especially (the type of site I was asked to create), you can check out shipping, coupons, donations, inventory, and payment activity.
  • It’s totally free!

The negatives of SquareSpace in my opinion are:

  • The navigation really isn’t easy to use unless you actively take the time to figure out and basically memorize where everything is.

Overall, I think SquareSpace is a great tool to use to market yourself, or in the sense of an e-commerce website, market your products or service. You can link your social media sites and your blog if you have one, which can increase your marketing presence on the internet. There’s honestly no reason not to have an account! I believe it’s really important for marketers to have their own websites for all of the above reasons.

Programmatic & Native Advertising: The Future of Ad Buying

At first, I believed programmatic advertising was going to be really hard to understand, but actually, it’s totally simple. In short, it’s just buying ad space, but taking humans out of the equation. Programmatic advertising is solely done through software and machines, but is the exact same thing as calling up a company and doing it that way. This can’t be done with all types of advertising though, just with digital advertising (which is where most of our advertising is headed anyways). By using this new way to purchase advertising space, it saves a lot of time and money, while improving efficiency. Sitting on the phone with human ad buyers and salespeople has proven to be expensive and even unreliable. Programmatic advertising removes people from the situation, thus making the process much cheaper, improving efficiency, and eliminating any extraneous variables that might make a person not perform their job up to the right standards.

Let me bfea-programmatic-slide1-01-2013reak it down further. Programmatic ad buying is just like buying anything on Amazon or your favorite stores website. It’s strictly done with machines, and only machines. You have a few clicks here and there, and you’re done! No need to deal with people over the phone or in person, making life harder for you. You’re able to get what you want without all the hassle. Now take that, and think of it in the form of buying advertisements! Programmatic gets rid of all the busy paperwork that no one likes in the first place. Originally, buying ads, letting the campaign run, spending money, and then optimizing the campaign took up to a month or longer, and with programmatic, it can all happen in real-time.

So what does programmatic advertising cost? Premium programmatic is commonly sold on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis. Thesforecast-shareofselectdigitaladsalese rates can range from $15 to $25 or even higher depending on the type of advertisement you desire. These premium programmatic advertisements will be shown on homepages. As demand for the use of programmatic advertising increases, so does the price for it. Here is a chart (props to Business Insider!) predicting the share of digital ad sales, showing that non-programmatic sales are decreasing as time goes on. Let me put these percentages into actual dollar amounts so you can see the impact! When RTB (real-time-bidding) is estimated at 33% in 2018, that means $18.2 billion of U.S. ad sales will be towards RTB – up from $3.1 billion in 2013!! This growth is going to be driven by mobile and video advertisements. Companies that are hopping on the programmatic ad bandwagon are reaping the benefits. These businesses include Rubicon Project and AOL.

As with anything new and technological, there are going to be some obstacles necessary to overcome in order to make it the best it can be. First of all, there needs to be a fea-programmatic-slide5-01-2013way to educate advertisers as well as publishers about what this method of buying ad space is, what it does, and where it can take advertising into the future. Another barrier that’s considered a top priority is navigating through a multi-device landscape, being able to go from smartphone, to tablet, to laptop, and back again. According to those that work with programmatic advertising, there just isn’t an easy way to do this – but that’s not to say this can’t be done. There’s also the risk of losing cookies, which are currently essential for advertisers and marketers to help inform them of buying behavior. If these cookies are taken out of the equation, that could pose a problem for agencies and marketers. One more problem with automated placement, is the fact that advertisers don’t want their ads to be shown with content thats low quality or not even relevant, as well as being put next to controversial content. There needs to be a better method of putting ads in the right spaces As for TV ad space buying becoming programmatic…it’s hard to tell what the future holds. Many people are stubbornly against that idea, even though data has shown a 4% increase in programmatic TV ad buying from 2014 to 2015. While that increase may be small, and the total is only in fact 5%, it’s still an increase, which should be given credit!

Next, I’d like to talk about native advertising and what that is. Simply put, native advertising

“is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it’s placed.”

native

The rise of native advertising has advertisers now integrating their ads directly into the content. The key word there is integrating; making sure it flows well and matches the actual content that it’s part of. These ads are supposed to have the same look and feel of an editorial piece, and so far, it seems to be working well for advertisers. Native advertising techniques are still new to the game, and it’ll take a long, long time before they ever surpass any other techniques. Here’s why,

  • Tracking the analytics for native advertising has proven to be very difficult because they haven’t matured enough to be at the same standards advertisers expect from other forms of advertising campaigns.
  • Audience targeting isn’t refined enough for native ads to swoop in and take away the ad spend of current forms of digital advertising.
  • Consumers are becoming more aware of native advertising tactics and don’t want to feel the sense of being tricked into reading pieces that are just trying to sell something.

Native advertising has so much hype and controversy surrounding it, that native ads themselves aren’t gaining the brand awareness, it’s the fact that people are talking so much about the technique of native advertising in general. It has all this publicity, but sort of for the wrong reasons. Measuring the ROI for native ads is hard right now, but as this technique becomes more commonplace, it’ll be easier to gather the data needed to check its performance. As the hype dies down, it will be easier to tell if the return on investment is coming from the ad itself, or if it was only coming from publicity.

As for the future of both programmatic and native advertising, I believe they both will be around, and for the long haul. I think programmatic advertising has a bright future, and it will only be a matter of time before TV gets taken over by it. Many people believe this could never happen, but never say never! I’m sure this isn’t the first advertising method that people were skeptical about at first. With native advertising, I believe it will take a while before it becomes a prominent space in a companies ad spend. The hype of native advertising as a topic needs to calm down dramatically before we can understand if it’s even a useful way to advertise in the first place! As more and more “premium” advertisers migrate their ad spend towards digital, I definitely recommend programmatic advertising. It’s not going anywhere and it’s only becoming more and more popular. Over the next few years I predict lots of tweaking will be done in order to overcome the aforementioned obstacles, and it’ll be hard to find a reason not to spend money with programmatic advertising. As for native, I still recommend it because just like programmatic, it’s not going anywhere; but i also recommend waiting a while for the hype to die down and then evaluate if it’s worth it to invest in.

Google AdWords: make your campaign the best it can be!

adwords-logoOnline advertising is crucial to every business and it’s a great way to show your ads to those people that are likely to be in your target market, and thus potentially be interested in your product or service. It’s also a great way to achieve the basic goal of just increasing your brand awareness. Online advertising doesn’t just have to be done through a computer or laptop, it can work across all platforms that run the internet, including smartphones and tablets. Using Google AdWords can be a useful tool that can help you with all of your online advertising.

The benefits of AdWords include…

  1. Target Your Ads: you want to show your ads to the specific people that will actually care about your product or service, not just the general population. Ways to do this targeting include using the correct keywords, having the right location for your ads, having the right demographics of your target market, showing your ads at the right time of day or day of the week, and showing your ads on the correct devices.
  2. Control Your Costs: Google offers you the flexibility of deciding how much you’d like to spend each month, each day, or for each ad. Theres no minimum, and you can have total control. The only time you pay is when someone actually clicks on your advertisement.
  3. Measure Your Success: Not only can you just see when someone clicks on your ad, you can also track those who make the desired conversion on your landing page. By identifying which ads get lots of clicks and which ones don’t, you can focus on the successful ads and use this to increase your return on investment. You can also use Google Analytics as well to track how long a customer is on your site before they actually make the conversion.
  4. Manage Your Campaign: AdWords offers  you the convenience of being able to manage multiple accounts if you have them. This can help you save time by seeing all of your accounts in one place. Google also offers a downloadable application called AdWords Editor, and through that you can edit your accounts and campaigns offline.

Here’s a clip of what Google AdWords actually looks like!

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Google offers 2 different networks for you to display your ad campaign on: the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Different campaign types run on either one of these 2 networks. The Google Search Network consists of not just regular Google Search, but also Maps and Shopping and hundreds of other non-Google partner websites that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Search Network is primarily used to help advertisers show their text ads in a Google search results page, and quickly reach their customers that are searching for their specific product or service. The Display Network consists of several Google Sites (Gmail, Blogger, Youtube…) as well as partner sites, mobile sites, and apps that will show an AdWords ad that matches search results. The Display Network is primarily used to help advertisers use appealing ad display formats, build brand awareness and customer loyalty, increase engagement with customers, and specifically choose where ads show, as well as to who.

It’s also important to understand where Google AdWords will show your advertisements. On the Search Network, keywords play a big role in what search results pages your ad will show up on. These ads can be shown as just regular text ads, or as ads with extensions (visual enhancements to search ads). Display Network ads can be shown as text ads, image ads, rich media ads, and video ads. You can also use the Display Network to show your ads on mobile phones, and these can be either text, image, or video as well, just in a different format to accommodate the mobile device. The quality of your ads is also a determining factor in where your ads will appear on the Google search results page. Your quality score is a score based on how relevant your ads are to the keywords you have set up with them, and your ad rank is the actual ranked position of your advertisement. In my last blog post, Paid Search, I go through the process of how it’s determined what you pay, but in short… You can place a bid among other bidders stating how much you’re willing to pay per click. Google will use this, and your quality score to determine where exactly you’re going to be put on the results page. The actual amount you pay is dependent upon what the lowest bid was – you usually never pay your max amount unless you are the lowest bidder or have the lowest quality.

The main and most important reason to use Google AdWords is to manage and run your ad campaign. If I were to ever work in the field of search engine marketing, I’d use Google AdWords to help clients have the most successful campaigns that they possibly could given the resources there are to work with. Clients can choose to either have a Search Network only campaign, Display Network only campaign, or a Search Network with Display Select campaign. Search Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the sites that are on the Google Search Network. The clients I’d suggest this method for are the advertisers that want to be able to connect with customers right when they’re searching for their products or services. Display Network only campaigns have your ads appear throughout the Google Display Network. This campaign strategy matches your ads (text, image, video, etc) to websites (like YouTube) and mobile apps that are relevantly related to your content. The clients I’d suggest this campaign method to would be ones that want to increase their brand awareness, especially if they want an image or video accompanying their advertisement. A Search Network with Display Select is probably the best option though, in my opinion. It gives you the best of both campaign options, making sure you hit every mark and increase your chances of being seen by your target audience not only on the Google search results page, but on other relevant websites that are partnered with Google. Managing accounts and different client campaigns is made simple through using My Client Center. This is the place where you can easily keep all of your linked clients campaigns, track performance, manage budgets, and many other activities.

It’s essential to always measure your results for each ad campaign that is run. Understanding the metrics surrounding each campaign will help you decide which ones to continue, which ones to tweak/make better, and which ones to drop entirely. Google Analytics is a great resource to help track how long customers spend on your page before they make a conversion (or if they even do!) By understanding which campaigns of yours have the best and highest conversion rates, you’re able to focus in on those ones while you work to better your other campaigns that might be slacking (use A/B testing!) Always make sure you concentrate on the metrics that are most relevant to your goals whether that be a purchase, a download, donation, etc.

Here’s a great infographic about some cool Google AdWords statistics – showing just how powerful it is for your ad campaigns!

google adwords infographic

Paid Search…aka Search Engine Marketing

In a nutshell, there are 2 different types of search engine marketing (SEM), organic, and paid. Organic search engine marketing is made up of the natural, unpaid search engine algorithms. Paid search engine marketing is the exact opposite, meaning your company will pay the search engine to have your website displayed on the results page. The rate you pay is most commonly determined by how often your advertisement is clicked on or viewed. These paid SEM ads are displayed in a ‘sponsored’ section on the search engine, therefore thats how you know they’re different from the organic searches. In a study done by HubSpot, 70% of links that are clicked on are organic, while only 30% of links clicked on are paid.

That statistic might make you believe that it’s a waste of time and money to deal with paid SEM, but it’s not! Say your website isn’t ranking well among your competition and among the right keywords, paid search engine marketing is a great way to buy yourself to the top so get noticed. A big mistake that – usually small – businesses will make with paid SEM is that they think that’s all they have to do and they’re done. Rather, they should be using paid SEM as a way to have a better online presence, while still working at their search engine optimization, and ranking higher in organic searches. Search engine marketing should never replace other marketing efforts, it should instead amplify your marketing efforts to give your company a better internet presence.

Here are a few great ways that paid search can help your business:

  1. Landing Page Testing: by having your website link in a sponsored section of a search engine, you can test 2 different landing pages, say 2 separate offers, or you can test the same offer on 2 different landing pages. The latter is a form of A/B testing, and by sending users to 2 different landing pages, with 2 different layouts, but with the exact same offer, you can see which page will result in more conversions.
  2. Finding New Keywords: Through the help of Google Adwords, you can generate a “Search Terms Report” that will show you all the keywords for which your ad was displayed to the user. This report will also give you the performance of each keyword, meaning those keywords that rank high should be added to your campaign, while those that rank low should be reconsidered. The keywords shown in the results are the keywords that users are actually putting into the Google search bar – so they are extremely crucial to your search engine marketing campaign. This report will also show the number of clicks, percentage conversion rate, and how much that keyword will cost to add to your campaign.
  3. Getting in the Game: This is the same as saying you need to know your competition and know how you rank among them. Get yourself in the game, and utilize all keywords that you can, no matter how broad, as long as they are still relevant in order to rank among your competition.

Paid search engine marketing doesn’t work alone, so you need to use it along with other inbound marketing efforts. Maximizing your coverage on a search engine results page is a great goal for your company, and you can do that through organic and paid search engine marketing. What’s great is when you have organic AND paid search results on the same page instead of different pages. Being able to establish your company as a leader is an amazing goal to have and to reach, and a combination of organic and paid SEM can get you there.

Like I’ve mentioned before, the 3 main components of successful paid search engine marketing includes keywords, ads, and landing pages. You need to make sure you match all of these, keep them consistent with one another, and optimize them all to the best that you can. The right keywords will take users to a results page containing your ads, and when they click on those ads they will be taken to your landing pages. Paid SEM doesn’t work without these 3 requirements.

When running a paid search engine marketing campaign, the most common way to pay for this is through pay-per-click, or PPC. Pay-per-click is a much more cost effective method as opposed to pay per thousand impressions (CPM). The only reason you’d want to use CPM over PPC is to just increase your brand awareness and increase your share of voice. However, when you’re actually trying to make conversions, PPC is your best bet to save money and have the campaign matter. Through PPC, you only pay Google for the advertisement when your ad is actually clicked on (not just when it’s seen or when a mouse has scrolled over it). You could have 100,000 people see your ad on their results page in one day, and if only 10 people clicked on it, you only have to pay for those 10 instead of the 100,000 who saw it. This payment method will save you lots of money. And who doesn’t like saving money whenever they can?

The actual cost of paying per click through Google is based on an auction style method. You have the highest bidder all the way down to the lowest bidder. The highest bid (let’s say $6) accounts for the top, most visible spot, while the lowest bid (let’s say $3) accounts for the lowest, least visible spot. The bids in between follow the correct ranking in order. This isn’t the actual price per spot though. Instead, Google takes the lowest bid, and still puts that for the lowest, least visible spot… but then increases each next highest level spot by an incremental amount (say $0.20). This means, if there are 5 spots, the 5th spot would be $3, the 4th spot would be $3.20, the 3rd $3.40, 2nd $3.60, and finally the 1st spot would be $3.80, even though the original bidder said they’d be willing to pay $6.00 per click.

A quality score is another way that Google makes sure you aren’t just buying irrelevant keywords that have little to nothing to do with your landing pages. The quality score, rated from low to high quality, will analyze how closely the keywords you pay for match your advertisement, and how closely your advertisement matches your landing pages, and give it a rating. This method ensures that companies in a completely different field aren’t bidding high to show up on results pages that are completely irrelevant to the search. The way bidding and quality scores can work together is if you bid higher but have a lower score compared to someone who bid lower and has a higher score, the company with a higher score will get the top position because their ad is more relevant to the search query.

Here are 3 different types of keyword matching:

  1. Exact Match: your ad will only be displayed if the search query includes the exact keyword(s) with words in the exact order.
  2. Phrase Match: your ad will be displayed if the search query includes the same order of words, but may also contain additional words.
  3. Broad Match: your ad will be displayed if the search query includes any or some combination of the words in your keyword, in any given order.

To ensure that costs don’t get too high through your PPC campaign, you want to set a daily budget for how much you will spend. You can tell Google how much you want them to spend each day per ad, and they won’t exceed that limit. You can come up with different budgets for different ads as well! Also, to guarantee all your advertisement expenditure isn’t spent up in just a couple hours, you can ask Google to spread your spending out as the day goes on. Google might also not be able to spend the total amount you give it per day even though they will definitely try. In order to get as close as Google can to spending your daily budget, you must have effective keywords and an effective ad copy. When you create your ad, you are given character limits per line. 25 characters allotted to the title of your advertisement, 37 for the display URL, 35 for your first description, and another 35 for the second.

Just like all other digital marketing methods, you’re able to measure your paid search engine marketing through various metrics. Here are the 4 you can use:

  1. Impressions: one single instance when your ad is displayed through a user typing your keyword into their query.
  2. Clicks: an instance when  viewer actually clicks on your advertisement when it’s been displayed on their results page.
  3. Conversions: this is an instance when a viewer saw your ad, clicked on it, then took the action that you intended them to take when they were brought to your landing page.
  4. Spend: the amount of money you have spent on your campaign so far.

These 4 metrics can help you understand where you might be going wrong in your ad campaign, and where you’re going right. It’s natural that the number of impressions is higher than clicks, and number of clicks higher than conversions. But something important to remember is the higher your percentage metrics (impressions, clicks, conversion) and the lower your cost metrics, the better your ad campaign is performing!

Wordstream has made a great article (not to mention it includes a rad infographic) detailing Pay-Per-Click Marketing as well as an article about What Kinds of Businesses Should Use PPC (with an even cooler infographic), and here are 5 Pay-Per-Click Mistakes That Can Cost You Money!

Search Engine Optimization & Link Building

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Google was the first website that pops into your mind when you think of a search engine. Yahoo! and Bing are also popular search engines, while Ask Jeeves is most definitely a thing of the past. Nonetheless, they all perform the same task. Simply put, all you have to do is find the search bar, enter your query, hit ‘enter’ and BOOM, you’re given instant results. Unless your internet provider is really slacking, or your WiFi connection is less than decent, you really do get your results instantly, and that’s one of the best things about a search engine. It does all the hard work for you – literally all you have to do is type in a few keywords and there you have it. Search engines do a great job of filtering out the websites that don’t match your search criteria well enough, and provides you with only the top notch sites that match your criteria the best. Could you imagine how hard it would be to find the perfect guacamole recipe or how to find the nearest athletic club in a new city without search engines? (Yeah, yeah, you can use a recipe book or make a couple calls, but you get the point I’m trying to make.)

Ever wonder how your company or just yourself can optimize these search engines in an effective way? Check out how.

An important part of SEO is understanding what it is your target market is looking for. You need your website to provide solutions to problems, answers to questions, and a result for keywords. In order to know your audience, you need to understand the 3 different types of search queries they’re likely going to make.

  1. “Do” : this is a transactional query, and likely means they want to do something, such as buy a concert ticket.
  2. “Know” : this is an informational query, and likely means they need to find out the name of that song they can’t get our of their head, or the best Chinese food in the city!
  3. “Go” : this is a navigation query, and likely means they want to go somewhere on the internet, such as a job board or to Twitter.

Inbound marketing and inbound sales are all tied into search engine optimization, which is exactly why your company needs to be focusing on this aspect of their marketing plan. When customers are able to come to you, the job of inbound marketing has been done, and most of it wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for your webpage showing up on the top of their screen in a Google search.

As with any kind of technology, problems can arise. Search engines are highly sophisticated, but they aren’t perfect. It’s important to make sure you use the common language your target market will use in a search, so that the search engine has an easier time finding your website. Keeping it simple is often the best route for this. There are also certain words that have variation the way they are spelled such as “favorite” and “favourite.” Make sure you’re fully aware of which one your audience is going to use, and that you are associated as a result with it!

The way the front page of a search engine results list works is that there are usually 10 or so results per page. These websites are put in a ranking order and the higher up on the list your page is, the better click-through rate you’re going to receive. Generally speaking, the top 3 spots get the most action, while anything after that will just progressively see less and less traffic. If you get nothing else out of this post, make sure you know that you want to be in the top three!! Search engine rankings are extremely competitive, and it’s no wonder why. The competitive nature of search engine rankings will never change, even as the internet itself and other technologies adapt and change.

Back to keywords… you’ll know you’re getting the right kind of visitors when you are using the same keywords that your target market is typing into the search bar. You need to be sure that your keywords are compatible with the content on your website. When you know that its relevant, the next step is checking out your competition. Type in these keywords to a search engine and see what the top few links are and browse around. If, say, your website isn’t able to rank high enough for your keywords, you can buy test traffic through Google Adwords and see how well it converts. You’ll be able to track impressions and conversion rates over the course of 200-300 clicks or more! Adding a dollar value to each keyword can help you see just how useful those words are and get an estimate of the profit you’re able to make because of those words – and who doesn’t like profit?

Search engines know exactly how to filter out webpages that don’t satisfy the needs of the searcher. Usually, the websites that get ranked highest aren’t just the “best fit,” they’re also easy to use and navigate, provide direct and relevant information to the query, are professional, and deliver high quality and credible content.

Links are another useful tool when it comes to search engine optimization and digital marketing. Link analysis is a way for search engines to understand how pages can be related to one another and in what ways. In order to increase your search rankings and have great overall search engine optimization, you need to utilize links and learn how to build them in order to gain more traffic. A hyperlink is a way for users to navigate between different websites on the internet. Sounds simple enough! Search engines will use these links to crawl between pages on your website, or between entirely different websites. When your website has relevant links embedded in your content, you’re able to increase your ranking in a search engine! Links are what led Google to be the leading search engine over the last 15 or so years.

Not only will effective link building help increase your SEO ranking and ultimately your profits, but it will also help you build connections and hopefully meaningful relationships with others in your field. You can also gain referral traffic, sort of like a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of deal. Great link building can also help establish your brand and differentiate it from the rest.

In order for someone else to link your website on their own (a natural, editorial link), you need to give them a good reason to do so. And this all comes back to having remarkable content that is worthy of being shared. These kinds of links are highly valued because there’s really no incentive for the person to link your page. They do it because they recognize your content as needing to be shared, and deserving more of an audience. This can take lots of time to accomplish, but like I just said, it’s so highly valued. Another method of link building is through doing it manually. Typically, smaller start-up businesses will have their SEO do this job, and it entails calling bloggers and website owners, and asking them yourself if they would link to your page. Again, you still have to give them a good reason to link your page, and you also need to be contacting people that are actually relevant to what your webpage is about.

Forbes published an article about their 4 Tips for Hiring the Right SEO Firm, (cough, cough, perfect example of a natural editorial link), and here’s what agencies are considered to be the best at SEO, along with how much you should be spending on your SEO efforts!