There are some beautiful websites out there – and yours very well could be one of those. It is an immersive, engaging experience, pleasing to the eye and formatted well across different types of devices. Your developer tossed around terms like “UI” and “UX” during the design process for you to think more critically about your brand new website. Now that it’s live, customers should be buying even more of your products, right? You should be closing a lot of new deals, right?
User experience is the ability for a user or customer to be able to complete their intended action with ease and efficiency. Users expect a site to function in a particular manner. For example, when you head over to Amazon.com, you expect to be able to find items, add them to your cart, then checkout. If that three-step process wasn’t simple, Amazon would lose customers en mass. It’s the similarity between checkout on Amazon, Walmart, or Target that makes each site easy to use.
You have to lay out your site in a familiar structure that provides a clear path to all your customer’s end goals. Brand-consciousness can be communicated with styling (like font choice or color palette) to ensure people know it’s your business and not someone else’s. But the process of purchasing a product is the same everywhere: search, add, pay.
But, the issue here lies in the fact you have different types of customers that might take different routes to buy products. How on earth do you sell the same product to completely different people with varying needs and motivations? Can’t you just point people to your global Shop page and call it a day? No. People don’t want to to search to find the one thing they want – they want you to anticipate what they want.
Apple is a perfect example of this. As we all know, Apple sells lots of different products: laptops, desktops, phones, earbuds, tablets and much more. However, my needs as a business owner versus the needs of an elementary teacher are very different. If we’re shopping for a computer, both the teacher and I might buy the exact same laptop model, but how we made the choice to spend our money is not the same.
Apple has created two completely different landing pages for Business and Education. They are selling the same products but are talking about them differently. Separate landing pages address separate audiences. They are tailored to show off different aspects of the product that might be important from different perspective. In this case, they are talking to two different verticals of consumers, Business and Education. They have simultaneously expanded their audience and made each niche feel welcome.
You can do this too. First, define your main customers – boil it down to the basics: age, gender, occupation, and location. Figure out why these “buckets” of people visit your website and want to purchase. Record how each type of customer walks through the sales process and, voila! Now, convert that buying journey into a landing page. Good design will lead the targeted customer “bucket” to make the purchase.
Success boils down to content and process. You have to know how your users (i.e. customers) think. Know their motivations and objections. Know the steps that contribute to their buying decision (process), and provide the right info to overcome their objections (content).
If you do the hard work to learn your consumers, then your site can use layout design, text, and images (i.e. UX) to successfully land sales. The goal is to make a crystal clear path of the actions for your user. If it’s filling out a contact form, don’t bury it at the bottom of the page. If you want people to call you, make sure your phone number is in a high-visibility place. (As a bonus, get a special phone number so you know who is calling from the website versus who is calling from your business card). If you want people to buy a product, collect all the relevant details into a single view.
The term User Experience says it all: created by you, for the customer, with clear design to compel action.
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Let’s just dive right in:
You need a video strategy online. Now.
Let me explain.
In case you haven’t noticed, video content is everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all have video capabilities. Twitter and Facebook have launched their own live video platforms.
This shift changed when smartphones began including video capabilities. I remember the first iPhone that included video. It was the iPhone 3GS, and I knew then that it was a game changer.
Soon after, people began posting their newly captured moments to Facebook. Not long after that, national news agencies began using user-submitted videos as an integral part of their daily stories.
Capturing video is easier than ever. Gone are the days of capturing footage on a tape video camera, converting it to digital, and editing it. You can shoot, edit, and post a 60 second video in less than 10 minutes.
Video is here to stay, and you desperately need a video strategy.
But why? Why is a video strategy so important? I’m glad you asked.
Yes, images can tell a powerful story. Unfortunately, those images can’t tell a complete story like video can. Video gives you the opportunity to clearly communicate the story of your company: your purpose, your mission, your vision, your distinctions. Your story is what draws people to your brand and separates you from your competitors.
Most everyone knows that it is easy to manipulate an image to tell a story, but a video can convey your personality. People hear you speak, see your facial expressions, and connect with you more quickly. Being relatable is crucial to being trusted, and trust is what turns people into raving fans.
More than likely, you have a certain skill set or knowledge that most people do not have. Leverage what you know to teach people. When you teach people something useful, you add value to them. And adding value is a great way to connect with people.
Capturing and broadcasting video seems to get easier with each passing day. There is literally no excuse these days for not using video in your online presence. Using an iPhone with the free iMovie app, you can shoot a great video and edit it quickly. You can even post it directly to your social media accounts from your phone.
Now that you realize you need a strategy, we will discuss how to develop that strategy. But you need to come back next week for that.
In our last series post in ‘How to Advertise on Google’ we discussed keywords. At this point in our series, you have now created all of the pieces needed to start advertising on Google. Now, let’s go over the final piece: putting all the parts together and launching a campaign on Google AdWords. When setting up your account in AdWords, you will set up your keywords in ‘campaigns’ which will serve as your organizational structure. Once you’ve mastered how to build campaigns, you will have a clean and optimal structure for advertising on Google.
When advertising on Google AdWords, everything is organized in what they call ‘campaigns’. Think of this as the beginning of a filing or organizational system. You have campaigns, and in them lives another level known as ‘ad groups’, and then there are your ads and keywords. From top to bottom, this is the structure used to organize your advertising account.
People search on Google and your ads are shown based on the keywords you are using. So why do you need to know about campaigns and ad groups? Creating the proper structure for your advertising gives you clarity, organization, and will help later when it comes time to analyze your performance. You should use campaigns to identify the main keyword themes of your account.
If you happen to have 5 main services that comprise your business, you might want 5 separate campaigns, one for each of your services. Think of campaigns as an easy way to navigate through your keywords. Use your campaigns to set up clear buckets based on important pillars of your business.
An ad group is merely the subfolder to your campaign. At the ad group level is where your ads and keywords will live. Why are ad groups useful? Ad Groups are great for additional organization and classification of your keywords. You should use ad groups as a way to further expand on the main theme of your campaign.
Let’s assume one of your campaigns is for ‘home repair’ because it is a main service you provide. An ad group within that campaign could be ‘home repair contractor’. In this example, the campaign alludes to the theme, and the ad group provides a specific example which fits under that theme.
I am a big advocate for single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). It’s exactly what it sounds like: every single keyword you have should live within its own ad group. This is the ultimate way to provide crystal clear structure to your campaigns. Using what we’ve learned, a campaign name would provide us insight into a main pillar of our business, such as different services. Within that, we would have any keywords related to the campaign, and each keyword would have its own ad group.
Using our earlier example, it would look like this:
Campaign = Home Repair
Ad Group = Home Repair Contractor
Keyword = Home Repair Contractor
Using this method, you will always know exactly what keywords live in your ad groups because they will each have their own ad group.
The benefits are many:
The only exception to using this method would be if you happen to have many thousands of keywords. At that point, it might become cumbersome to have so many ad groups, and you could look into combining similar keywords into the same ad group. Few people should have this problem, and the only negative to SKAGs is in the time to set things up properly. But if you take the time to use single keyword ad groups, you won’t regret it.
Campaigns and ad groups should be setup as a way to organize your keywords. Your end result should be a clear system where you can look at a campaign and know what bucket of keywords would live within it. Then, the ad groups within the campaign would get down to a specific keyword. Using single keyword ad groups makes this even easier as there is a clear follow-through from ad group to keyword. Here’s how I approach the process of creating campaigns and ad groups.
*Make sure you have a completed list of keywords (or read our blog on how to come up with keywords for your business)
You have now built out all of the parts to enable you to advertise on Google! From campaigns and ad groups, to ads and keywords, you now have a great structure set up for success. Using these organizational tips, anyone can create an optimal setup for using Google AdWords. Our last article in the “How to Advertise on Google” series will cover launching everything on AdWords. We will cover all of the steps to take what you have created, and get you to the point of seeing your ads on Google.
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The keys to writing the best ads on Google come down to a few basics. In order to drive more clicks on Google, you want to be able to: 1) grab someone’s attention, 2) give them a reason to click through to your site, and 3) incite them to perform some action (such as buying a product). Writing ad copy is part science, part artistry. You can pick out all the right elements, but putting them all together in one ad is a challenge. I’ve boiled this down to the foundation-level of best practices for writing ads which will be sure to help you improve your click-through rates on Google.
Call To Action (CTAs)
How will people know what you want of them if you do not tell them? Whatever action you want of people reading your ads, ask for it! If you want someone to sign up for a free trial, get 10% off today only, or even as simple as asking customers to “buy now” then you should ask for it. I break CTAs down into 2 parts: the action you want and the call to do it (or timing).
Actions should use strong, active language to prompt a response from customers.
Examples: Sign Up, Subscribe, Order, Buy, Get, Receive, Purchase, Start
The call is related to timing, the when for the action customers should take. Putting a time to an action, not even an immediate one, helps motivate customers to take the plunge.
Examples: Today, Now, Before [insert date], While Supplies Last, Limited Time Only
At any and every point of an ad, you should be talking to your potential customers and let them know what you want them to do.
Unique Selling Advantage
What is it that separates you from other businesses? If your product is truly unique and new then you are ahead of the game. Most likely you are one of many competitors with similar products/services and you need to stand out. Think about the ways in which you offer customers something different or more than others, and then include that in your ads.
Examples: Speed, shipping options, lower cost, and higher quality (has to be proven)
Ad Examples: 24/7 support, Free shipping, 1st month free, 2-day shipping
Even a business with the same product as other companies can stand out if they position their selling points in their ads. Let’s say 2 companies offer free quotes as a selling point for the same service. Company A guarantees delivering a quote within an hour while Company B makes no mention of timing. At this point, you know nothing else about the companies except this selling advantage. Wouldn’t you click on the ad for Company A?
Reviews, Ratings, Accolades
As recently as August 2015, a study on consumer behavior indicated 67% of users are impacted by online reviews when making a purchase (https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews). Any time you garner positive reviews or other accolades it is free fodder for your advertising. The best part about reviews is that Google has a direct way to incorporate these into your ads without taking up any headline or description line space! These are called Review Extensions, and if you have a verifiable review you can include a tidbit from the review and link to it.
In Google AdWords click on ‘Ad Extensions’ and select ‘Review Extensions’ from the drop-down. Then, click on the red +Extension button to add a review/rating. Read through the review and select the best one-liner about your business/offerings. This can be an exact quote from the article or a paraphrased quote. Note that if you choose to paraphrase, you can only use text directly from the article and you cannot actually paraphrase by summarizing it yourself. Choose part of a sentence that is most flattering and use that if an entire sentence from the review does not offer the most bang.
Symbols and Punctuation!
Make sure that any full sentence in your ad ends with the proper punctuation, a period or exclamation mark. Ending a sentence with a period sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many ads look like run-on gobbledygook. In addition, something as simple as including an exclamation mark ‘!’ can help your ad stand out above the blandness surrounding you. My best practice is to end one of you two description lines with an exclamation mark. Note that you cannot do this within your headline as Google will disapprove it, and you cannot use these marks on 2 description lines without being disapproved as well.
The use of symbols, where appropriate, can also increase your chances of standing out. My #1 best practice is to make use of the ® symbol if it applies to your business. This adds authority and credibility to your ads and business. If it makes sense with the content of your ad, look to include other symbols: @, &, #1, $, etc. Just including one of these breaks up the block of text and makes your ad stand out!
Strength in Numbers
My last tip continues with the theme of doing anything we can to break up the wall of text people see when searching on Google. To that end, if you have numbers you should use them! Whether it’s a sale price, % off discount, or important dates they should have a place in your ads. Choose the most impactful numbers(s) you have and set aside one of your description lines specifically for the purposes of incorporating it into the ad.
Examples: 10% off, only $9.99, 2-day shipping, or even numbers of years you’ve been in business
Killer Ad Copy
Using any of these 5 tips for writing ad copy can put you ahead of the competition. Even better, try incorporating a couple of these together in the same ad. You can mention your discount of $20 off and close the ad with ‘Order Now!’ to include THREE different tips with little space taken up in your ad. The goal here is not to be gimmicky, but to simply put your best foot forward. Customers want to know if a sale is happening or why what you have to offer is better than someone else. The key is to put the best information out there upfront in your ads because it is the first opportunity you have to grab their attention. Think of the ad as your elevator pitch. Give your best shot on the 1st impression.
So everyone wants to drive more traffic to their websites, right? But the real question there is how should you go about that process? Of course, there are multiple options – integrating social media, inviting guest bloggers to write for you, among others. However, perhaps the most popular option is to start up an advertising campaign. This is an easy way to drive the most people to your website. Unfortunately this brings up another set of options concerning how to go about the ad campaign. In this post we will delve into two options: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
At its simplest, search engine optimization is the process of making your website more visible when people use a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo). Website owners don’t have to pay anything to use it, and it involves using “organic” or “natural” keywords and links.
This begs another question: what do the terms “organic” and “natural” mean in this sense? In essence, it’s advertising you do yourself. In order to appear at the top of search results, you must utilize key words, titles of blog posts or articles, and take full advantage of back linking. Back linking is the act of using a hyperlink that connects back to your website. Many search engines consider websites with more back links to be more relevant and thus places them higher in search results.
Search engine marketing is the paid, older brother of SEO. While SEM is the broader term, it mainly refers to paid ads that website owners purchase in order to position their website higher on search results. Through programs like Google AdWords, you can pay per click, and choose where your ad appears, as well as set a budget and track who is clicking on your ads. This allows you to create ads for select groups of people and only show the ads in certain places.
There are many debates today about which of the above strategies is better in the long term for an ad campaign. Each has its own set of distinct advantages. SEO certainly takes a longer time to show any return on interest, however, if done right, you can reap the benefits. You just need patience, and somebody who knows the system. SEM, on the other hand, can be considered almost instant gratification. Anyone with a credit card can pay per click and then place their ads where they want them and see instant results.
You will need to sit down with your business plan and decide which of these options is for you. Many websites employ both of these, using SEO all of the time, and constantly improving on it, while they use SEM on a case-by-case basis. Any way you spin it, using SEO or SEM (or both!) will help to increase traffic to your site and improve visibility of it on search results.