Have you ever been reading an article onlineand suddenly noticed an ad for the same pair of shoes you were looking at onthe Nordstrom sitejust minutes before? A few days later, you were researching machines on the Nespresso site, and lo and behold, you were presented with the exact machine that you were considering buying!
Tracking your internet activity is no coincidence
At first, you thought it was just coincidence. “Amazing! I was just looking at those shoes!” But it’s no coincidence. Both the shoes and Nespresso machine are examples of remarketing campaigns–where advertisers can track your internet activity and serve you ads based on actions you’ve taken.
Here’s what’s happening: Online activity is being tracked by cookies
When we land on a site where we may make a purchase, that site installs cookies on our websites to track us. This is generally transparent. These cookies can tellwhat pages wevisited, whichproducts/services welooked at, how long we stayed on the site. They can tell if we’ve added an item to a cart, then failed to complete the transaction.
We may/not receive a message that we’re being cookied, via a cookie consent notice. After Facebook’s recent episode over client data abuse, we can expect these notices to be more evident and comprehensive. Protecting online privacy has become a vital matter.
Who should be using remarketing?
Think about this. How many highway billboards have you driven past that hold absolutely no interest for you? Or how many mindless commercials do you sit through while watching your favorite TV programs? It’s endless; we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements for things in which we have no interest.
Remarketing, on the other hand, helps us reach a predetermined audience
Remarketing campaigns are known for their high level of personalization—we’re generally seeing ads for those items in which we’ve previously expressed an interest. This personalized approach can help increase conversion rates, as it helps bring previous visitors back to finish the shopping experience they started.
Remarketing has become an integral part of many digital marketing efforts because it works
Economics. Advertising becomes cheaper because these online ads are only being served to the people who want to see them. We’re spending less money for more qualified traffic.
Personalization. We’re marketing to those who have already shown interest in our products—and we know exactly which products those are.
Consumer habits.Let your own behavior be your guide. You don’t make a purchase based on your initial visit to a site; rather, you do some comparison shopping. When you see an ad promoting that product, it’s a brilliant way to remind your audience that the product is still available.
Remarketing campaigns aren’t just clever; they’re effective
Remarketing isa strategic way to marketto people who’ve previously visited awebsite. These ads help keep brands top of mind, enticing visitors to come back to purchase. Economical and efficient, remarketing is becoming an important part of every digital marketing plan.
Our economy has moved online and those businesses that can’t be found online will be challenged to succeed. Keywords are the building blocks that are fundamental to every journey that results in our landing on a website.
Here are some ways that keywords are deployed.
1. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is the most obvious–we need keyword research to optimize for organic search. Organic search is what we do a gazillion times/day; we key a word or phrase into a search engine such as Google, hoping to get an answer to our question. SEO helps Google bots crawl and index our websites to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). One of the ways that search engines decide what to rank is by crawling for keywords that show the relationship between the user’s search query and the content on a corresponding website.
2. For maximizing content strategy
We’ve all been told about the relationship between SEO and content. Without content on your website, strong SEO will not follow. Building a comprehensive presence in the online space means updating your website and social media sites with fresh content.
“Effective content strategies start with keyword research,” says Search Engine Land columnist Nate Dame. “Modern keyword research provides significant insight into what audiences want and need.”
Content should have a relationship to keywords
Every single piece of content on your site—a 300-word blog post or 5,000-word white paper, should be related to keywords that strike the right balance between high search volume and competition. To keep in mind: Maybe you did keyword research four or five years ago when you created your website. It might be time to redo this. Google changes its algorithms some 500 times/year and this affects search terms and competition.
3: For Paid Campaigns/Pay-per-Click (PPC)
Paid campaigns–PPC ads, display ads, remarketing or social media campaigns–are also keyword focused. Paid search is an auction where you bid on individual keywords
Keywords once again are the building blocks that make up ad groups, and these ad groups are the basis of campaigns. If your keywords have low search volume, then your ads are going to get little or no traction. If your keywords aren’t relevant to your target audience, you won’t be attracting the audience you’re courting–completely wasting your marketing dollars.
The bottom line: Keyword research is ground zero for all search marketing campaigns
But more than that, identifying your keywords and using them throughout all of your online communications is critical to their success.
With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers. Those who rely on organic strategies may find themselves frustrated that their blogs, social media posts and newsletters are just not enough anymore.
Here are three myths that may be keeping marketers from implementing successful AdWords campaign.
Myth #1: People don’t click on Google ads
Google is a publicly traded company—anyone can access their financial records that tell the story. Google generates more than $100M in revenue every single day from people clicking on their ads. With an average cost per click between $1 and $2 that’s more than 50M clicks/day. Google experiments constantly to make their ads entice more enticing. They’re not going to present you with a free, organic result at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when they could showcase several ads that generate revenue. Start paying attention: The first few line items at the top of every search is an ad.
One more thing: Think about your own behavior
When you see an ad that entices you, do you click on it? Of course you do! Smart companies are using remarketingefforts that identify customer tastes to present you with items that you may have been looking at earlier in the day. They may serve up similar items or those by the same designer or manufacturer. I shop almost entirely online, and I’m fascinated by remarketing, which illustrates how marketing has gotten smarter.
Myth #2: My competitors can just click on my ads all day, costing me money
Google has extremely sophisticated technology to prevent “click fraud” and “invalid clicks”. This involves the analysis of several click-pattern factors.
Google provides very good reports on AdWords campaign performance, and any suspicious activity is quickly exposed. If a business is concerned they are victims of click fraud, they can contact Google directly to launch an investigation. Google reimburses questionable clicks.
Myth #3: AdWords is an outbound marketing tactic
AdWords is designed to showcase your content when potential customers are initiating a Google search. It’s the only inbound marketing tactic that guarantees your content will rank high on Google when a user performs a search. This is one very attractive reason to be using Google as your PPC platform. The sheer number of Google searches/day makes you part of this community.
PPC delivers a better user experience for the searcher
Think of the information you provide when you set up your Google account. This all becomes part of a huge database, and databased information makes it searchable. Because of this information, when you create a Google ad, you are able to drill down by location, demographics, interests, etc. This is not specific just to Google—Facebook, Linkedin and other social channels also provide rich search preferences.
Integrating AdWords with your inbound marketing strategy
Along with your existing content marketing and SEO efforts, PPC is becoming a critical component of an inbound marketing strategy.
A new client’s website was nine years old and she wanted help showing up in search engines. I explained that search engines discriminate against those sites that haven’t been adapted for mobile devices. She was sabotaging herself with her current site. “Zoe” was talking about a little enhancement; I was talking about starting over. A nine-year old site is really not redeemable.
Who was her audience? “Everyone” is the wrong answer
Zoe had a fairly extensive collection of blogs on her site, and as I read through them I wasn’t getting a clear sense of who she was, which is a problem. But more importantly, I didn’t have any idea who her audience was. When I asked her about this, I knew what her answer was going to be: “Everyone is my audience; some of my readers are 16, I have grandmothers reading my blogs as well as industry professionals.” Wrong answer. This is marketing 101—everyone is not your audience. As a small business owner, you really can’t be successful without identifying the niche that really is your audience.
Time to create personas
I explained to her how we were going to create personas. I wanted her to think about whom she visualized when she closed her eyes and pictured a typical client. I wanted her to describe that person for me. I wanted her to be making an emotional connection with that person, to think about that client when she was writing a blog. The scope of our work together included keyword analysis, a new website, a newsletter and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). For PPC, especially, identifying a persona and keywords is critical to the success of a campaign, but it’s also important for her website’s landing pages.
Personas help define our audiences
By understanding demographics, we learn to communicate more effectively with our audiences. Facebook’s powerful advertising appeal lies is its ability to drill down to the details of people’s lives. Every Facebook field that we fill out provides data for someone to mine. For Zoe, as with most of us, we well may have more than one persona. And for each of these, we’re going to create a comprehensive persona based on the following information:
Age and gender.
Communication preferences. How do they get their information? Text, email? Do they hate telephone calls?
Technical experience and background. Do they love instructional videos or prefer to read directions?
Job title and major responsibilities.
Education, ethnicity and family status.
Pain points or frustrations. Important clues for how we can help them solve problems.
Industry and working environment. A quiet office or the emergency room.
Biggest challenges and how they deal with them.
Shopping preferences. Favorite stores or online?
Food and drink. Favorite area restaurants and bars.
Persona names and photos. Giving your personas names and uploading photos provide an identity.
Interview real clients to discover what they like about your product or service.
Creating personas is a valuable exercise that will help you market more effectively to your audience.
I encourage my clients to develop case studies and post them to their websites, social media and anywhere else where they have a forum. Real-life stories provide compelling insights into how we successfully help our clients solve problems. This is one of my own case studies.
“Oliver” found me on Yelp—the app we love to hate–but it can also be a legitimate source of new business. Oliver fled a boring corporate career and began designing and selling furniture made from reclaimed teak wood. Everything is sustainable—he’s created processes for sourcing old structures in Indonesia, disassembling them beam by beam to create the materials that will become his beautiful furniture. He has a Berkeley showroom and sells furniture online.
Here’s the problem . . .
Oliver had built a fairly steady stream of online sales from his e-commerce website. A year or so ago, he upgraded his WordPress site with enhanced visuals and navigation. Once he rolled out the new site, that online sales stream completely dried up. He gave this enough time to confirm that this wasn’t just seasonal or a little economic downturn.
Our goal: Restore online sales
Our goal was to restore online traffic and sales, so we began troubleshooting his site. We peeled back the layers and found that there were more than 20 WordPress plugins that hadn’t been updated, and these were creating conflicts. A vast array of plugins is one of the things that makes WordPress so powerful, but they’re not all compatible with each other, and they need to be upgraded. As we cleaned up the infrastructure, we kept finding anomalies and bugs, and a simple project grew more complex.
Keyword research, image labels and alt tags
Along the way, we did keyword research to identify those words and phrases that our audience might be keying into search fields to find us—this helped us know what words and phrases to be using in our content. We labeled every single image, created alt tags and descriptions for literally hundreds of product pictures. We finally rolled out the upgrades, and we’re all delighted that our client is starting to get online orders again.
We added a monthly newsletter to the marketing mix
We began doing a monthly newsletter in MailChimp. We keep this simple, highlighting three products and including a promo code so we can track responses. We’re getting an astonishing 45-55% open rate, a high click-through rate and conversions with our mailings. The newsletter is easy to turn around and looks great; the ROI on this makes it easy to include this in our marketing plan.
Up next: Pay-per click advertising
Our website blues aren’t completely over. We still find issues that befuddle us, but among us, we solve the problems as they arise. With the website stabilization, we’re planning to add Pay-per-Click (PPC)advertising to our marketing mix. We’ve identified a budget, and we’ll carefully monitor our campaign, adjusting as we go, to make this another component of our marketing program.
You don’t have to be a basketball fan to have heard of the Ball family. LaVar Ball and his sons regularly make headlines. There’s no coincidence here–LaVar is constantly working it. Oldest son Lonzo is an NBA rookie who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. His other two boys, LiAngelo and LaMelo are both future NBA prospects, though they’ve taken a detour and are currently playing in Lithuania. LiAngelo was on a trip to China with the UCLA basketball team, arrested for shoplifting and suspended for a year.
LaVar thought the suspension was too extreme
LaVar pulled his kid out of UCLA and sent the two younger boys to some kind of Lithuanian league—apparently there was little interest in sticking around a prestigious school like UCLA to get an education. Note that the shoplifting was in China—a communist country with a terrible human rights record. LiAngelo could have spent the next 20 years in isolation. A year away from college basketball was a gift.
If you talk to any sports fan, commentator or coach they’ll tell you that LaVar needs to shut up and let his kids play ball. LaVar Ball’s endless commentary has made him one of the most polarizing figures in sports today. Most of us find Ball’s constant boasting about himself and his sons offensive, especially those of us who were taught that if we’re really great, people will know that by our actions.
Big Baller Brand embraces endless self-promotion
You may/not be aware that Facebook has a video platform, and LaVar and his sons are one of the channel’s most popular reality programs. They also have their own sportswear label, Big Baller Brand, and they’re using Facebook to market themselves and their products.
Here’s what we can learn from the Big Ballers
The Ball family has created multiple Facebook and Instagram pages for all of the individual Ballers and the Big Baller Brand itself. They also leverage Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Facebook Groups linked to their Pages to further expand their brand reach, along with the Facebook Watch show. Facebook lays out a basic playbook for how Big Baller Brand has utilized Facebook ads. This is what we can learn from them.
They installed the Facebook Pixel to see how successful their ads were, and how close customers came to purchasing an item from the Big Baller Brand online store.
The Balls used Facebook Ads Managerto build and deploy ads on Facebook.
They created textbook-perfect ads—a clear call-to-action, crisp images showcasing specific apparel items and links to that featured item.
Built Engagement Custom Audiences in Ads Manager to target known fans, such as those who have interacted with one of the Ball Family Pages or have watched their videos.
Created lookalike audiences to expand the reach of the campaign to send new ads to people with similar qualities to those completing purchases on bigballerbrand.com.
Deployed remarketing techniques to retarget fans who visited the online store but didn’t complete a purchase.
If you’ve done Facebook advertising or are just beginning to experiment with it, you’ll see that this is a comprehensive effort to boost a Facebook campaign strategy.
Remarketing is key: You’re reaching a vulnerable consumer
Remarketing focuses on those who may have gone to the Big Baller store, put a product in their carts, but failed to complete the purchase. This segment is more than a warm lead; it’s red hot. It’s a potential customer who is vulnerable—he’s been to your store, is familiar with your merchandise and liked at least one item enough to add it to the cart. There’s a good chance that, with a little nudge, he might be convinced to go back and complete the purchase. One thing that would help him decide? Tell him that it’s almost sold out, that there’s limited inventory, or only 4 items left.
This formula has been very successful for the Big Ballers
Facebook advertising success is going to depend on how much time and money you are prepared to spend on this effort. But this process has driven results for the Balls. Their Facebook ads drove:
A 17.76% purchase lift during the campaign
A 16.9% conversion lift
140,000 outbound clicks to the BBB online store
Keep in mind that we’re dealing with celebrities here—a young athlete with a promising future and a father who never misses an opportunity to get in front of a camera—so the numbers are going to skew high. Nevertheless, this is a good Facebook marketing strategy that any business can replicate.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Facebook has rolled out a major algorithm change. They’re veiling this as an effort that will take us back to simpler times, to Facebook’s origins, before social exploded, when things were purer, warmer and fuzzier, when it was about connecting with friends and family. According to Zuckerberg:
“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
The first place we’ll see these algorithm changes will be in our News Feeds. We can expect to see fewer posts from brands and businesses, a greater focus on our friends and family and groups. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
So what does this mean?
It means that it just got a whole lot harder to grow your reach on your Facebook page. The classic Facebook engagement tips haven’t changed. If you expect to engage, these are the guidelines:
Create meaningful, high-quality content. So who decides what is quality content? It must be true. It can be funny or sad and makes us think.
Add value. I always think of value as providing information that will help someone do his/her job. It informs, educates.
Get consumers to genuinely interact with you. It’s really, really hard to elicit a response from our audiences, but it happens by building trust and familiarity.
Avoid clickbait. Clickbait is apparently dead, but I still see it all the time. I get news flashes from a range of news sites. They are all promising breaking news about the Trump administration and Russiagate. Tantalized, I click on this little clickbait morsel, knowing full well that the information I’m dealt likely will be a tired rehash old information.
How Facebook’s algorithms will affect your posts
In the near future, posts from brand and publishers will be scored differently from posts from friends. The score is based on your relationship with the poster, your interaction history, the type of content—all calculated by Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. Facebook is using your engagement history to determine which posts are most likely to keep you clicking. Sound like power tripping? Well, yes.
Time spent on FB and some degree of engagement will decline. The exact impacts of the change are not yet known, but what is clear is that Page post reach will decline. How significant an impact that will have on your content distribution and performance will come down to your approach.
Ad prices expected to rise
Here’s the rationale. If people are spending less time watching funny videos and consuming fake news on Facebook, people will be less likely to advertise. Brands and publishers will spend more on Facebook ads to revive their declining organic reach.
The bottom line
Facebook will prioritize posts based on the amount of meaningful discussion they generate. Long responses and replies will do well in the new FB environment.
One more thing: Why did Facebook make this algorithm change? Remember that thing where the Russians spent $300K on political advertising during the runup to the 2016 election? Zuckerberg and other tech titans were hauled before Congress for a come to Jesus. To talk about corporate social responsibility. This well may have been a response. Or not. Zuckerberg is insanely wealthy, but he also has a social conscience. He and his wife started a nonprofit, but rather than make this a 501(c)3, the created an LLC. In this way, they would be free of the constraints on reporting, lobbying and political campaign activity that are imposed by nonprofit status.