Articles written in October, 2010

October 28 2010

5 Tips for Successful Holiday Campaigns


The holidays are quickly approaching.  Soon Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas will be knocking at our doors. Get prepared for holiday season now, so it doesn’t catch your business off guard. Here are 5 tips to help get your paid search campaigns ready for buyers.

Tip 1. Have a Game Plan
It sounds simple enough, but many businesses skip this step and it shows in their paid efforts. Decide which holidays your business will target with paid search advertising. If you’re only interested in reaching the Hanukkah and Christmas audiences, set a date range for when ads will begin and end. Hanukkah is from December 1st through 9th. It would make sense to run ads in November to reach this audience; whereas Christmas is December 25th and ads for this holiday could begin at the beginning of December. Determine what strategies your business will use to target searchers. Will you try banner ads? Will you offer incentives? If so, what type of incentives? This leads us to tip 2.

Tip 2. Offer Incentives
If you haven’t noticed, most people like to get a good deal during the holiday season. In fact, many of your competitors will probably be offering an incentive. What will your business offer? Will you try coupon codes? If so, when will they expire? Free shipping and discounts on products are good ways to get people to purchase. Also, make sure to plan out what discount your company can afford to offer. If your company decides to offer free shipping, but the shipping costs will eat into your profit too greatly, consider offering free shipping with a minimum a purchase amount. For example, free shipping on orders over $50. It’s good to offer incentives, but make sure the incentive will not hurt your profits. Next, start working on your ads

Tip 3. Make sure ads are Holiday Related
Ads are a crucial part of your holiday campaign strategy. They determine if people will click on them and get to your website. Include “holidays” in your ad copy. For example: “Big Thanksgiving Sale”, “25% Off Christmas Sale”, “Celebrate Hanukkah Sale”. This signals to the searcher that these sales are for a limited time. Why? The searcher knows that a Thanksgiving Sale will not be running until Christmas. It may cause the searcher to think, if they don’t act now, they might miss out on the holiday sale. If your business is doing banner ads, make sure they have the right holiday theme. Don’t run ads with pilgrims and turkeys in the background with ad copy that says, “Enjoy Our Christmas Sale.” By the same token, a generic background may not signal to the customer that this sale is related to an upcoming holiday.

Tip 4. Bid on Holiday Keywords
In keeping in sync with holiday related ads, your business should include holiday search terms. If your business sells jewelry and is targeting the Christmas holiday, consider bidding on keywords like “jewelry for Christmas”, “Christmas jewelry gift” “Christmas jewelry sale,”etc. Keywords that are holiday related can help drive potential buyers to your site.
Once the keywords are in place, think about your landing page.

Tip 5. Landing Pages that Reflect Holiday Incentives
Landing pages are one of the final steps in getting a customer to purchase your product or fill out a lead form. The page that a visitor lands on once they click on your ad is called a landing page. Make sure your landing page lines up with the messaging in your ads. If your company is offering 20% off in the ad copy, the landing page needs to mention 20% off. It can be frustrating to a customer to click on an ad that offers 20% off, but end up going to a page that doesn’t even mention the discount. How can they be sure they’ll receive the discount? Furthermore, is it worth their time to find something they like, hoping that when they get to the shopping cart page the 20% off offer will be there? Think about it. 

The holidays are a great time to reach many new customers. By following the five tips above, a business can rest assured that they are on the right path to having a successful holiday campaign.

October 27 2010

Bridging the Gap Between On and Offline Marketing


Sometimes online and offline marketing strategies can vary throughout different media channels; T.V., radio, local (billboard, print, banners, lamp post flags), pay-per-click (banner, keywords) and more. It is important to keep a consistent flow and messaging throughout all of the various marketing channels especially in your branding messages.

For example, if you are putting out lamp post banners in your downtown area and billboards on the local roads and expressways to promote a special event like a food and wine festival, the messaging would be more powerful layered with online advertising such as search or content with banner ads that deliver the same look and feel of the lamp post message.

For the simplicity of this example, the advertising period is 30 days. Billboards and Lamp post banners have one fixed cost and it is difficult to see a direct ROI from this form of advertising alone. Online advertising (assuming you have a conversion point on your website) is easier to measure and ROI can be determined by looking at the total amount spent divided by your signups online. In online advertising, it is important to notice that you can control many different factors and use these in conjunction with each other to get the “best bang for your buck” online. 

Some dynamic features to use in online advertising:
Search Campaigns

  • Geo-target your campaigns to a radius (how far do you think people would drive)
  • Target people who would have otherwise not known about the festival using keywords around food/wine, etc.
  • Use a special offer or discount code
  • Send them to a different landing page
  • Schedule your ads to only run certain times of the day or week.
  • Exclude keywords and phrases
  • Directly control your budget and bids (turn off at anytime)

Content Campaigns

  • Target certain Food/Wine websites
  • Use “keyword” targeting to place your text or banner ad on a website
  • Place banner ads with the same look and feel in a pre-determined radius around the event.
  • Use a special offer or discount code
  • Send them to a different landing page
  • Schedule your ads only to run certain times of the day or week.
  • Exclude certain, non-relevant websites
  • Directly control your budget and bids (turn off at anytime)

Implementing a multi-channel marketing plan will help complement all forms of advertising. Even though you might not see a direct impact from one or the other, statistics have shown that people might not convert the first time they are aware of the product. For example, a person might see the billboard when driving on the highway each morning, but not actually purchase a ticket to the event until they are surfing the web on their favorite cooking blog in the evening and see the special offer. So, be sure you are leveraging all special touch points with your potential audience or target customers.

October 21 2010

Does Your Website Capture Your Visitor’s Attention?


When visitors land on your website, either through a pay per click ad, organic listing, or simply by typing your URL into Google, Yahoo or Bing, what do they see once they get there? In other words, does your site appear polished, professional and clean? Is it visually appealing and easy to navigate? Are the calls to action strong and do they create a sense of urgency to find out more about who you are/what you offer?

If you did not answer yes to all of the above questions, it is time to go back to the basics. Your website is a direct representation of who you are as a company and no matter what your industry, it ought to wow your audience and keep them coming back for more. You only have about five precious seconds to sway visitors before they make the decision to stay or leave. Below are a few factors to take into consideration when measuring how captivating your website is.

Visual Appeal – A site does not need tons of bells and whistles to be appealing. It should not be overcrowded; less is definitely more. An attractive color scheme can go a long way. An approach to consider is to utilize your brand and/or logo colors. This can be effective, especially if you are trying to create more brand awareness. Test out different backgrounds, font sizes, colors, images, etc. If it’s been over a year since the look and feel has been updated, try making some revisions. Hint: An outdated website looks outdated.

Navigation — Keep it simple. You want it to be as easy as possible for visitors to take a tour of your website. Make sure that all of your calls to action (i.e. download our latest whitepaper, fill out this contact form, view our recent case study, etc.) are above the fold on the page, which refers to the section that is visible without scrolling. No one likes to scroll – and few people will. It is also a good practice to have links to your important pages found at both the top of the site, as well as the bottom.

About Us — This page is super important, yet often overlooked. Who are you? How long have you been in business? What sets you apart from your competition? Why should a consumer buy a product or service on your site, rather than Joe Shmoe’s?

Contact Us — This link should be conspicuously located on each and very page of your site. No if’s, and’s or but’s.

Content — Some will arguably say that content is the most important part of any website.  Searchers are “searching” for information, solutions to problems, answers to questions, products or services they want and/or need, etc. If your website does not provide them with what they are looking for, they are going to be off like a prom dress.   Your site should posses a nice balance of informative, relative and interesting content. Updating your content regularly is an excellent way of ensuring a fresh experience for searchers. SEO hint: Search engines love fresh content; kill two birds with one stone by pushing out new content, which will simultaneously help to give your organic rankings a boost.

An onsite blog is another great way to maintain new, relevant content. Articles and Optimized Press Releases are also beneficial and will keep your visitors interested; retaining them on your site longer. Hint: the longer they are on your site, the more likely they are to convert into a lead or customer.

Invest the time to evaluate your website on a regular basis and source members of your organization to do the same. The rewards of doing so will be well worth the time that you invest.

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