Author Archives: Roland

What to look for in an PPC Agency

Pay Per Click or PPC advertising is one of the most popular forms of marketing. Whereas organic online growth can take time and effort, PPC allows companies to acquire leads and an overall boost to brand recognition in a short time frame. The main technique for this is by paying for ad space on Google’s search results, which boosts your placement in these results, leading to more clicks.

Obviously, the main difference between PPC and standard marketing is that PPC requires a lot more investment. Also, the process itself can be complex and often businesses will hire an agency or outsource this service to experts within the field. Unsurprisingly, to meet this demand there are a vast amount of PPC agencies and consultants out there. Choosing between vendors can be difficult so what should you look out for in order to get the best possible service?

Plan

Although PPC advertising may seem relatively simple at first, it actually incorporates a wide range of different techniques. Prior to choosing an ad agency to work with, companies should ascertain what exactly they are looking to achieve from such a relationship. There are many factors to consider, such as keywords, copy, competition, transparency, how long you plan to work with the agency, what kind of relationship you’re looking for etc.

Will you be looking for an agency that specialises in B2C or B2B? Are you looking for a big vendor with lots of positive feedback or a smaller agency that can offer a more personalised service?  Also, this is the time to decide whether the issue of a Google AdWords Certification is important as this tends to be a deal breaker for many companies. There is so much to consider before even testing the waters of PPC advertising and this is why a detailed plan of action is a necessary place to start.

Location

The internet has created a worldwide market were customers aren’t restricted by geographical location anymore. However, when it comes to choosing a PPC Agency, location can actually be a worthwhile issue to consider. If your company is providing products and services to a local area then choosing a vendor with experience in that area could make all the difference. It may be tempting to choose the popular national agency with the great reviews but they may have a “one-size-fits-all” approach that wouldn’t benefit a localised business. Cities, towns and regions have their own unique qualities and choosing an agency that has specific knowledge or experience in that area could help to create a much more streamlined campaign.

Cost

One of the downsides to PPC advertising is that it requires investment and can often be more expensive than general content marketing. However, if done right- the cost of this service should be outweighed by the potential revenue from new leads. When choosing between vendors- the pricing structure should be considered. For example, some agencies will charge a flat monthly fee, whereas others will work on a performance basis. Although it may seem obvious to gravitate towards a quid pro quo relationship, this can sometimes lead to vendors focusing more on the quantity rather than quality of leads. Conversely, an agency who is receiving a flat fee no matter what, may not be as motivated as they could be. Some PPC agencies work with a hybrid pricing system- so there’s a flat fee but also the potential for bonuses if results are particularly good. As with many aspects of business, a multi-faceted holistic approach often works out best.

Tracking

Setting up a PPC ad campaign is only the first half of the process, the only way to ensure overall success is to track results and adapt accordingly. If a PPC agency or specialist isn’t offering regular, comprehensive data on your ads- this should be a red flag for any company. When it comes to tracking, you can never have enough data to work with. Simple metrics such as clicks and conversions are useful but they will only tell you part of the story. There are so many other factors to consider, such as demographics, locations ad search terms, just to name a few.

Programs such as Google Analytics will offer a wealth of different metrics, all of which will provide a bigger picture on how the campaign is going, what’s working, what isn’t and how to improve. When you’re deciding between different PPC specialists, their approach to tracking and data should play a role in who you choose. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their methods of tracking progress.

Endgame

When you’re just starting out with a new venture, it can easy to forget about long term goals but this is the best time to decide on an endgame. For example, how long do you plan on working with the PPC specialist and what type of contract will you be signing? A long-term contract may sound appealing but it could lock you into a relationship that is working well. Consider a short-term contract with the option to extend as this could offer a compromise for both parties.

Another aspect to consider is the idea of growth. Obviously, the main goal for the majority of businesses who are starting an ad campaign is growth and this is something that should be discussed with any prospective PPC agencies prior to signing a contract. What is the end-goal of this relationship and what happens when it’s met? Conversely, what happens if this goal isn’t met and how will the vendor go about remedying this.

Companies can gain success without utilising PPC advertising but it’s a powerful tool- especially for smaller businesses who need a boost. Finding the right ad agency may require a lot of research and planning but the potential benefits are well worth it.

Why am I not on the first page of Google?

Ranking high on Google’s search results has become a huge priority to the vast majority of companies, so much so that a whole industry has risen up around it. It’s no wonder that search results have become such a pivotal aspect of marketing in recent years. Research has shown that a massive 81% of customers will conduct research prior to making a purchase and 60% of those will head straight to a search engine before anything else.

The obsession that businesses have with that first page of results may sometimes verge on fanatical but it too is based in fact. Astonishingly, only around 10% of users will continue on to the second page of results and this percentage continues to decrease with each next page. This illustrates just how important search engine placement can be- especially for businesses.

The way in which Google decides the order of their search results can be quite complex. In a nutshell, they utilise automated crawlers to find and index websites and then the website are ordered. Google order the websites according to a number of features- such as content, popularity, images, keywords etc. Websites can even be penalised if they copy content or reuse images. Google are continually changing the algorithms for how they order, so businesses have to stay ahead of the game to keep up.

There are two main methods to improving your position on Google’s search results- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC). Both have their relative strengths and weaknesses and choosing which technique will depend on the individual business and what they’re looking for.

Pay Per Click Advertising

As with many aspects of online marketing- there is a shortcut to boosting your rankings in Google’s search results but it does cost. The way in which this process works is relatively simple, companies pay Google and then Google places their website higher up in the rankings in the form of advertisements. The main upsides to PPC is that it’s an easy and fast method for boosting your ranking and therefore leads- hopefully leading to sales.

Whilst PPC may be a simpler approach, it does have its downsides, mainly based around the overall reputation of online advertisements. Many online users mistrust ads, especially if they believe they were targeted using personal information. Therefore, PPC is better used a short-term boost and not the long-term solution for search result rankings. It’s also worth pointing out the obvious drawback to this method- it costs money. Considering the alternative is free, this is something to keep in mind when choosing. Especially for newer and smaller businesses who don’t have a large amount of money to invest.

Search Engine Optimisation

 SEO is basically the opposite technique to PPC- it’s free in theory but it takes much more effort and time, however the benefits can be long term. If PPC is a shortcut to boosting rankings, SEO is the organic approach- working with Google’s algorithms in order to achieve a higher placement on search results naturally.

SEO involves lots of different approaches but the main idea is to create a high-quality website that will organically rise to the top in results.

This includes original and engaging written content, original images and an overall user-friendly website. In terms of the structure of the website, there are many different things to take into account, such as search bars, landing pages, intuitive navigation as well as contact and about me pages. It’s also worth noting that a website that is optimised for mobile devices will always perform better in search results.

An important aspect of SEO is identifying a list of keywords which help potential customers to find your website on Google. You then utilise these keywords within your online content and Google will deliver your website when people search for these keywords. The more accurate and relevant the keywords are, the more likely that your website will appear higher in search results.

In theory SEO is free to do but it can include a lot of work and therefore many businesses outsource. You can also use online tools, some of which are free but others require payment as well. Therefore, the main benefit that SEO has over PPC may not be as straight cut as first thought. However, good SEO can deliver high quality, long-lasting results.

Although we have compared and contrasted these two methods, the truth is that most businesses take a more holistic approach and utilise both. You can adopt both paid advertisements and Search Engine Optimisation in order to get the best of both worlds.

How can I generate more Sales Leads?

A sales lead is an individual or company that has the potential to become a customer. Although there are many different types of leads, they tend to be split into cold, warm and hot categories. Cold leads are prospective customers who are likely to buy from your company, but haven’t shown any active interest. Warm leads are those who have already inquired into the company, its products or services-whether that be through getting in touch, asking questions or leaving contact details. Hot leads are those who are basically ready to buy immediately. Obviously warm and hot leads offer more potential but any type of lead can produce a sale.

Generating leads has become a massive aspect of business, affecting both marketing and sales. This isn’t surprising, considering that leads produce customers and customers lead to sales- which is the make or break of any business. We know how important lead generation is but what are the best methods for generation and what about quality?

Databases

All forms of lead generation will require some sort of investment but the most straightforward transaction in simply buying leads from an outside source, such as a database. The main benefit to this approach is that it offers a large amount of leads, instantaneously- therefore it’s best suited to younger companies who are looking for an early boost. However, there can be many drawbacks to utilising lead databases and it mostly comes down to quality. When purchasing leads from another source, there are no guarantees. The leads could be old and therefore useless or the database could include leads that are of low quality- for example current customers. The decision to use databases will depend on the individual business and its specific requirements.

Social Media

As with all aspects of marketing, social media has become an important part of lead generation. All of the major networks can be used in order to gather leads- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Obviously, the main goal is to direct a potential customer to your website but any sort of connection can be meaningful. Social media is particularly useful for general brand recognition and awareness. When users interact with your social media, they instantly become leads- not necessarily warm leads but the potential for conversion is there.

Whilst all of the social networking sites can be utilised for lead generation, Twitter is particularly good. This is because it’s a massive network and users tend to have a wider net when it comes to who they follow or search for. It’s also worth noting that hashtags can be a fantastic tool, allowing companies to identify high quality leads- quickly and easily.

The best way to utilise social media for lead generation is to post regularly and to utilise tools such as hash tags and landing pages in order to direct consumers to your products and services.

Content Creation

In the past, prospective customers would normally contact a company to find out more about products or services. However, with the rise of the in the internet, customers now undertake their own research in order to make an informed decision prior to a purchase. Therefore, the information and content that businesses publish can play a pivotal role in the acquisition of leads and converting and conversion.

Content can include a wide range of different formats- from blog posts and articles, to product directories, social media and vlogs. Whatever type of content that is created, the key is to post regularly and keep the quality high. Good content is one of the best ways in which to convert cold leads in to paying customers.

Advertisements

Online ads offer a relatively straightforward and effective methods for generating leads. There are many different types of online ads, including pay per click, display, retargeted, native and social media varieties. The main benefit to paid advertisements is that they can be precisely targeted, therefore you’re more likely to generate warmer leads with a greater chance of these becoming customers. Using paid advertising is also generally easier than other techniques and tends to be more of a quid pro quo approach.

The drawbacks to advertising are the expense and the fact that it can deter potential customers due to the overall disdain for this marketing technique. The decision should depend on whether the potential gains outweigh the cost.

How to avoid email overload


Email has been one of the most popular forms of communication for many years now. With the rise of chatbots, instant messaging and social media, you may be forgiven for thinking that It isn’t quite as important as it once was, but this isn’t the case. In fact, a recent American study found that over 50% of respondents check their emails more than 10 times a day. Not to mention, the number of active email accounts worldwide is expected to pass 5.6 billion by the end of this decade. Clearly email is as popular as it ever was- even when facing fierce competition.

One of the main problems with email is that it’s too popular. With the advent of smart phones, the email app is literally a click away and the compulsion to check and respond to messages is constant. Many people are swamped with hundreds of unanswered emails which require substantial time and effort to process. The problem is that new emails are generated each and every day, so the backlog grows and individuals can often feel overwhelmed. Email is not going away any time soon, so the question becomes how can we deal with this growing epidemic of email overload.

Organise

There’s no problem that didn’t get at least a little bit better with some organisation and this applies here. Most email accounts do some sort of basic organising for you, for example priority and spam, however this isn’t usually enough. There are so many types of messages which hit our accounts every day, whether promotional, work, news or social. Creating dedicated folders will allow you to have a clearer picture of your emails and therefore the constant stream won’t be as overwhelming. Folders also allow you prioritise your messages.

Prioritise

It can be easy to fall into the trap of treating all emails equally and attempting to respond to everything as you receive it. However, this can often just exacerbate the frustration of not being able to keep on top of everything. The truth is that the majority of emails that we receive can be placed on the back burner, at least for a short time. Therefore, the next step after organising should be prioritising. Reserve your time for the most important emails that require immediate attention and then work backwards. This means that even if you don’t have a lot of time dedicated to your emails, the time you do have will be prioritised, ensuring greater overall efficiency.

Compartmentalise

One of the reasons why emails can very quickly take over daily life is because they’re ever present. We are notified with every new message, which immediately puts pressure on people to respond. The outcome of this cycle is continual interruption of the day and a feeling that the job is never done. One way to combat this is to allot a specific portion of time each day which is dedicated to processing emails. Outside of these times, you should be in an email free zone, either by blocking notifications or simply resisting temptation. This approach may be difficult at first but after a while the routine becomes second nature and you can successful compartmentalise this aspect of your life and stop is taking over.

Revolutionise

With email overload becoming such a problem, some individuals and organisations are attempting more drastic changes to combat the issue. For example, this idea of unnecessary messaging and reducing this to bring down the overall amount. So, if you’re replying to an email with a single word answer or a simple “thanks”, this often just adds to the general bulk of messages and is often not needed. Follow up emails may be polite but they just tend to add to the mass.

Building on this concept, there is a discussion happening about whether email is always better when compared with other forms of communication. There are discussions, agreements or deals that would take countless back and forth messages over email but could be completed in a single phone call or face to face meeting. This is easier said than done, especially when considering that millennials will soon make up the largest proportion of the workforce and as a group, they tend favour email above all else. In fact, a massive 73% of millennials prefer business communication to come via email.

It’s clear that the overload problem will take some creative thinking and that is exactly what company owner Tony Hsieh has done. He is known for out of the box, unconventional ideas, for example abolishing managers. His approach towards email is a concept called “Yesterbox”, the idea being that we only reply to emails that we received the previous day- unless you get an urgent message that can’t wait. It may not seem that exciting at first but many people have tried it to get success. Whilst today’s emails are continual, yesterdays are fixed and therefore there’s a clear, finite target to aim for. This technique doesn’t actually change the amount of emails that we deal with but its changes our perception of them. The difference between a set amount and non-stop, continual stream can be huge when it comes to stress and management.

One thing that is for certain, emails are not going anywhere so the emphasis needs to be on how we interact with this form of communication. With the right approach and boundaries, we can enjoy all the benefits of email, without the stress.