Are Google AdWords effective?

Are Google AdWords campaigns effective? The answer is that yes, they can be, in the right hands. This is also true of advertising in a wider context. You may be asking yourself: will advertising work for my enterprise? If you have a good offer and are prepared to stick with it, then advertising can work.

However, bear in mind that there are 36 promotional mix categories to choose from and over 300 promotional techniques, so there are many options – including paid for advertising.

Google Adwords has been part of many successful promotional campaigns, however you have to invest time and money to make them work.

The challenge is that there are many factors to take into account including objectives; the length of time that you are prepared to spend learning how the system works; your daily / monthly budget; how much you are prepared to pay for a click through; how good your headlines are; the offer that you make within your advertisements; where the click through takes the customer; your landing pages; your skills as a copywriter and your approach to measurement.

If you are starting out with AdWords, you should spend some time familiarising yourself with the user interface. Shift + ? …will show you the keyboard shortcuts, incidentally.

It is important to have a well organised Google AdWords account. It is all too easy for the account to become cluttered. For example, ensure that ad groups, adverts and keywords are related.

AdWords can be confusing, particularly for first time users. Here is a tip: start with (Google) search network campaigns. When someone uses a search engine for they are looking for an answer to something, i.e. where can I buy a product that I am interested in? Getting your ads into the top of the search results page is much more effective than seeing them appear at the foot of the page, by the way.

Effective Google AdWords campaigns start small and begin with testing. Don’t run one ad – run at least two ads containing one changed variable, i.e the headline.  This is time consuming, which is why many people seek outside help.

As Henry Ford said: stopping advertising to save money is like stopping a clock to save time.

What is a title tag?

A title tag is part of the meta data within a web page. Title tags help search engines to understand what the page is about.

They are written into the HTML code of the page, within the header area. The code looks like this:

<head>
<title>Your Title Tag</title>
</head>

Why are title tags important?

Title tags are important because Google reads them. They are one of the 200 or so Google ranking factors. If you want your products or services to be found online, effective title tags will help you.

How to see a title tag

If you visit your website homepage, hover your mouse over a text area and right click with your mouse, a pop-up box should appear. One of the options should be:   View page source

If you click on this option, a new browser window will appear. Use Control and ‘F’ (Command and F on an Apple Mac) and search for:  title

….this should highlight the title tag.

Where do title tags appear?

Title tags appear within search engine results pages (SERPs). They look like headlines, which is one of the reasons that they are so important.

Within a SERP results page, title tags are clickable.

They also appear in web browsers (at the top) and social media networks.

How to write a title tag

Writing effective title tags is part art and part science. They have to work as headlines for human beings, which is where the art of copywriting comes in. In addition, they have to work for Google, Bing and the other search engines, which is where the science of SEO comes into play.

I recommend that you begin your title tags with the primary keyword, it possible. Then use a secondary keyword.

A ‘pipe’ symbol can be used to break the text up.  They look like this:   |

The pipe symbol should apper on a full size keyboard. On mine, it is in the lower left, near the shift key. To make it appear, press shift and |

…and Voila! there it is.

How long should a title tag be?

I am often asked about the optimum length for a title tag. Technically, up to 60 characters including spaces is fine. However, I have found that using just under 50 characters works well.

If the title tag is too long, it will be cut off and it will end in a series of dots; the technical name for these is an ellipsis.

I hope that this blog has helped to answer the question: What is a title tag?

My services include Google SEO training and I am a digital marketing consultant and trainer.

Digital marketing checklist

Are you ticking the right digital marketing boxes i.e. plan, CRM, website, content, SEO, social media,  email marketing, smartphones and advertising? Increasingly, the boxes are connected. Here is a digital marketing checklist to get you started:

Digital marketing strategy plan

The digital marketing plan should include:
*  Objectives
*  Sales targets
*  Target markets
*  Online promotional mix
*  Budget
*  Metrics (including analytics)

A digital marketing plan includes an integrated approach to online brand awareness, customer acquisition and retention.

It sees things from the customers’ perspective, as marketing always has done. The perspective, however, has changed with the new ways in which consumers and business decision makers research and buy products and services.

CRM

*  Has a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system been chosen and deployed?
*  Have all customer facing staff been trained to use the CRM?
*  Which cloud based marketing apps and services connect with our CRM?
*  Are we using our CRM every day?

Website

*  When was our website last updated?
*  Is our website optimised for mobile devices?
*  How many sales leads / sales do we receive from our website every day / week / month?

Website content

*  Does the website navigation bar still make sense?
*  Do we have an uncluttered homepage?
*  Is the website content easy to read?
*  Does Google like our website?
*  How often do we publish new content?

SEO

*  Do we have an up-to-date understanding of  Search Engine Optimisation?
*  Do we have an SEO strategy?
*  With regards to SEO, what are we measuring?
*  What are our SEO results?

Social media

*  Do we have a social media strategy and plan?
*  Which social media platforms are we focusing on?
*  How often do we post original content within each platform?
*  Do we use social media metrics?

Email marketing

*  How many opt-in subscribers do we have?
*  How often do we send out newsletters?
*  What are our open and click through rates?

Smartphone marketing

*  Do we have a mobile first digital marketing strategy?
*  How do customers interact with our website when they use a mobile device?
*  How are we catching and keeping customer’s attention via smartphones?

Online advertising

*  Which paid for online advertising platforms are we using?
*  Is our online advertising strategy effective?
*  How much do we budget each month for online advertising?
*  What is our CPC (Cost Per Click)?
*  What is our CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)?
*  How can we improve results in this area?

Marketing automation

*  Do we have a marketing automation strategy?
*  Have we deployed software for sales lead nurturing, scoring and lifecycle management?
*  Can our software help with cross-selling, up-selling and customer loyalty?

Additional digital marketing checklist questions

*  What is working?
*  What isn’t working?
*  How can it be improved?
*  Current cost of customer acquisition
*  Target customer acquisition cost
*   Do we have a digital marketing learning strategy?
*  Should we get some impartial advice / training?

Digital marketing is a vast subject and I have been thinking about it whilst I have been rebuilding my Digital Marketing Consultant page.

If you need some help, you are welcome to get in touch with me.

5 sales messages a day

If you need to get more business, here is a process that works:  get in touch with five prospective clients a day. You can do this by:

*  Email: either a brief introductory email or a follow-up nudge email
*  LinkedIn messages (or InMails, if you have a Premium account)
*  Telephone calls. If you can’t get through after a few attempts leave a message using the mackeral fishing* approach

Contact dormant clients as well as members of your target markets. Keep in touch with advocates (people who have recommended you in the past). In addition, take the time to remind current clients of the different things that you do.

You may feel that ‘only 5’ sales contacts a day is not very many. However, each message has to be tailored to the recipient and it may well require time and research before the message is sent. If you are starting out (or re-starting), 5 messages each and every day will create momentum for you quickly. This is partly because your subconscious mind will be coming up with new ideas and people to contact.

As a marketing and sales consultant, trainer and coach I am often asked about how to get started and how to keep the momentum going. Let’s face it, selling is a tough job and sometimes it can feeling like you are shouting into the void, can’t it? The 5 a day method has worked for me and it has worked for my clients as well.

With regards to sales leads, I am lucky in that I receive one a day on average for my marketing and sales training, speaking and consultancy services. I do my best to speak to them all on the phone. Having spoken to a prospective client I follow-up with a tailored proposal. Quite often, they come back to me quickly, which I appreciate. Sometimes I don’t hear anything. After a week or so, I include them in my 5 a day routine.

I recommend that you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to keep track of contact details and your sales pipeline. There are hundreds of products to choose from. I use Capsule CRM and I provide training for this software.

If you need a little help and / or motivation, by all means get in touch with me.

* If you contact me, I will tell you about the mackeral fishing sales approach.

If you are looking for a LinkedIn trainer – click here.

LinkedIn connection requests – what to include in the message

When it comes to LinkedIn connection requests,  what should you include in the message, particularly when you are connecting with someone that you don’t know personally?

Here are some tips and ideas for you.

* It is fine to visit their profile once or twice, prior to making the connection request.

* Always include a personal message and start this with their name; triple check that you have the correct spelling for their name.

* I start my messages with ‘Hi’, however, you may feel that ‘Dear’ is more appropriate.

* Make the message about them, not you. Mention something that you noticed about them and / or their organisation, within the connection request message.

* If possible, refer to someone you both know (if they are a mutual LinkedIn connection, so much the better).

* Mention a Linkedin Group that you both belong to. (This is a good reason to join Groups, by the way).

* Mention something that you saw in their website or in the media.

* Before you press send, check the spelling carefully.

Here is an example of Message or In-Mail to a new contact:

Hi Susan
I have been reading your articles within LinkedIn about (ISSUE) and I noticed that we both know (CONTACT NAME). I have visited your website www.theirwebsite.com and I read (BLOG OR WEB PAGE) with interest. It would be great to connect with you.
Kind regards, (YOUR NAME)

How would you feel if you received a message like this?  You would probably think to yourself that at least they have taken the time and trouble to write a personalised message.

The recipient of the connection request will probably look at your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, it is important to keep the information up-to-date. Use the available word count. For the Summary section this is 200-250 characters or about 25-42 words.

Beware of sending connections requests via your smartphone. They can whizz off without giving you the chance of including a personal message.

PS I provide LinkedIn training and talks.

Delivering on your promises

Here is a way to succeed in life and in business: keep your promises.

I realise that at times it can be quite hard to do this.

Consistently delivering on your promises can be life changing.

Think of someone you know who does this.

Now think of a business that always keeps its promises.

If they say that they will call you back, they do so. If they are going to do something for you, it gets done.

Consistency is a message in its own right, isn’t it?

Sales and marketing can benefit from this.

The buyer thinks: I may not need you now, but I know where you are and I trust you.

Keeping your promises demonstrates integrity, which is a core brand value.

How hard can it be to keep a promise?

How to write better headlines

Given that headlines are the entry point to the rest of your copy, here is a challenge for you.  Get up a little earlier tomorrow morning and write 10 headlines. Then do the same thing for the next 21 working days. This could be for a website page, a blog entry, a social media item, an advert, an email subject line or any other sales or marketing item which includes a headline.

When you write, do not try to edit your copy (words). Just write. If you find that you write more than 10 headlines, that’s fine, however ensure that you are writing at least 10 and no fewer during each writing session.

During my copywriting training workshops and talks we always discuss headlines. Focus your attention on the first 2 or 3 words as these are the most important. The reason being that the eye reads in ‘chunks’ and the reader will process the first words of your headline.  They may already be making a decision with regards to whether they will continue reading. It is a bit like your smile when you meet someone – it is the first thing that they see and they may well smile back at you.

It is OK to write long headlines, in that the reader will usually read the whole sentence. Check out advertisements and count the number of words that they put in their headlines. Sometimes it is only a few words, sometimes the headline is much longer.

Headlines are a big subject and, because I don’t get out much, I have been studying them for over 30 years. An effective headline can work wonders, by the way and entice the reader to continue reading – just like you are now.

Having written 10 headlines, go and do something else. After at least an hour has passed, come back and look at them. Sometimes, the best one jumps out at you. If you work in a team ask your colleagues to vote on your headline ideas: you will be surprised with the results, I am sure.

I know that you are busy. You may be a business owner or marketing professional. I am sure that your ToDo list never ends. Even if you are lucky enough to be able to outsource your copywriting, I still think that it is important that you contribute ideas (including headlines).

I have found that little and often beats big and infrequent, when it comes to writing and this is true for headline writing.

As you know, Google likes content including headlines (wrapped in H1 tags within the html).  Writing headlines will give you ideas for website pages and blog entries. You can also experiment with split A/B tests to see which headlines work the best.

I realise that writing words for websites can be a big challenge, which is why I offer this service and provide training in this area.

So, will you take me up on my challenge and write 10 headlines tomorrow?

Here are 26 ways to write better headlines.

For support and ideas, either comment on this blog or engage with me via The Marketing Compass website where we have a Copywriting Group.

Should an image be included in a blog?

For some time, I have been asking myself: should an image be included in a blog? I realise that this is not the greatest question facing humanity, but it certainly has been bugging me. I am a visual person and I like to see colourful images. However, when I create a blog I have noticed how time consuming it is to find an appropriate image that I like, download it, check the file size and if necessary shrink it, add some text and a logo and then upload it and check it within the blog entry. Phew!

Not that I mind the work involved. However, I want to ensure that I am using my time to the best effect. So I revisited two of my favourite bloggers: Seth Godin and Neil Patel and Voila! Neither of them use images in their (text based) blogs. By the way, in Neil’s case you have to click around a bit to find a text blog, in that he does a lot of video blogging. (He is famous for the Marketing School podcast).

Now let’s think about the blog entries themselves. When you visit someone’s blog, is it the big image at the top of the entry that you are interested in – or the words that they have written? I have been using ‘Set featured image’ within WordPress for some time, after I discovered that by doing this, the image appears properly within social media. The problem is that by doing this, the image dominates the screen when you visit the blog page.

In addition, an image can slow down the page loading speed (which is a Google Ranking factor, by the way). Have inadvertently uploaded some massive images to my blog, I started using Tinypng to shrink PNG and JPEG images.

I am an inveterate Mind Mapper and I use these ‘thought organisation diagrams’ in my marketing training and public speaking sessions. A Mind Mind or a process schematic would help my readers to understand the text – so that would be a good reason to include them. When I do, I must remember to add an alt tag. (So much to do, such little time).

PS As I am sure you know, blog, blog entry, and post mean the same thing.

What to look for in Google Analytics

Here is a quick checklist of what to look for in Google Analytics. If you don’t use Google Analytics frequently, it can be confusing can’t it?

These are 3 key areas that I look at when I spend five minutes looking at Google Analytics for one of my websites or one of my clients. (Sometimes, I spend a lot longer).

Once you have logged in you will see a menu on the left hand side of the screen (if you are using a desktop / laptop). We are going to use:
Audience
Acquistion
Behaviour
….from this menu.

Audience / Overview – what are they doing when they visit?

Towards the top RHSide (Right Hand Side) of the screen, change the date range so that you are looking at three months. I have found that this is a reasonable time period, to measure changes.

If you have more than 5 minutes at your disposal, when you are working with Google Analytics, you can change the viewing period to see what difference it makes. However, for comparison purposes – it is important to stick to the same time period.

Within Audience / Overview you can see: Sessions. Users. Page views. Pages / Sessions. Bounce rate. Also, you can see a pie chart of new versus returning visitors. NB You can change the settings so that you can see different information.

Acquisition / Overview – where did the website visitors come from?

Within this view you can see:
Direct – i.e. visitors have typed your website address into a browser
Referral – they have found your website by clicking on a link in a website
Organic search – they found you via Google search
Social – they found you by clicking a link in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc
Email – they clicked on a link from an email, i.e. your website address if you place this after your name, phone number etc

Behaviour / Overview

Shows a list of the most popular pages within your website.

If you see:   /

….at top, or near the top of the list, this means ‘home page’. You can click any of the pages and drill down for more information.

Conclusion

It is a good idea to login to Google Analytics and make a note of some of the key stats, i.e. the ones that I have listed above, in a spreadsheet. Then login a week later and make a note of the new numbers within a separate row within the spreadsheet.

I always include Google Analytics when I build a website and I am always keen to show the website owner how to use the software in order to improve their website.

We have an SEO Group within The Marketing Compass website.

What are SEO Citations and how can they help you?

You may have asked yourself: what are SEO Citations? If your enterprise is mentioned on the web, this is called a Citation. It comprises any combination of the following information: the name of your enterprise, telephone number, business address, postcode, website address. Citations are particularly important when it comes to improving local SEO search results.

If you haven’t focused on local SEO there are many reasons why you should do so, regardless of your business type and size. As smartphones become our ‘2nd brain’ we use them to search for all sorts of things – wherever we happen to be. Understanding Google Search is a crucial marketing skill (it is a big subject, isn’t it?)

Interestingly, a Citation doesn’t need to link back to your website. The value in a Citation is in the mention. The more mentions, the better, as this will boost your local rankings although relevancy is an important factor. Links are still helpful and Citations that include hyperlinks are better than Citations that have no links.

Local Citations include the following combinations: company name and phone number; company name, phone number and address; company name, phone number, address and website; company name and website.

Additional Citation information includes: business categories; hours of operation; driving directions; business description; images; videos; payment forms accepted; geo-coordinates; reviews; owner responses; social media links; email addresses; alternative phone numbers.

A complete local Citation would include your company name, address, and phone number. This is referred to as a NAP. In order to help with your local SEO page rankings, the NAP should match the information on your website exactly. In computer terminology, this is referred to as a ‘character string’. Once you have decided on a format, stick to it. For example Tel: 01628 773128 versus… Phone: +44(0)1628 773128 or some other variant of phone number formatting.

Include your NAP on your Homepage, About page and Contact page.

Here are some places to get Citations: directories, forums, blogs, social media, press mentions, image and video descriptions and profile pages.

You can ask us about SEO within The Marketing Compass website where we have an SEO Group.