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What to Do When You’re Getting Out-Bid

auction (1)-3

Some of you might remember a little while back when I talked about PPC Done Right. In that series of articles, I talked about a little-known metric in PPC called “Impression Share”. It helps you keep a pulse on how well your campaigns are doing for your budget. But, as you know, sometimes a competitor comes along and starts spending inordinate amounts of money to try and drown you out.

Here’s how to know when it’s happened and some options of what you should do about it.

How You Know It’s Happened

If you’re paying attention to the performance of your campaigns (which, you should at least be getting a monthly report from your vendor), there are some key metrics you’ll keep an eye on like Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and conversions. But one of the best metrics to watch as a barometer for your campaigns is Impression Share.

impression-share-sunnyreports

Impression share is a measurement of how often your ad shows up compared to all the relevant searches when it could have shown up. For instance, let’s say that there are 10,000 monthly searches in a particular category for your area. If your ad(s) show up 6,500 times, you have a 65% impression share.

Now, remember that every time a search occurs, your ad will go into an auction that determines whether or not your ad will show based on how much you’re willing to pay, the content of your ad, the website you’re sending it to, etc., etc. There are tons of factors. The higher your impression share, the more often you are showing up and the more likely you are to get clicks and people to your website.

HOWEVER, what if you’ve been trolling along at around 85% impression share for a while (that’s a GREAT I.S. score), and you see it take a sudden nose dive? One of two things are likely to blame:

  1. That search all of a sudden became incredibly popular and you blew through your budget quickly for that day, thus missing opportunities to advertise later on.
  2. (The more likely option) A competitor came in and spend a boatload of money on advertising trying to drown you out.

What do you do then?

Focus In On Relevance

If an sudden surge in popularity is to blame, thank your lucky stars and simply increase your budget. It’s time to make hay while the sun shines!

Adobe Spark (7)

If you owe your sudden dip to a competitor, don’t panic! You have three options. You can:

  1. Increase your own budget to try and duke it out.
  2. Simply wait out the storm counting on their pace to be unsustainable.
  3. (The best option) Focus in on what is most relevant to your business.

Here’s what I mean by “focus”. If a competitor is impacting your impression share, that means they’re going after the same customer searches that you are. BUT, you have advantages that they don’t. For instance:

  • Your Name. While there may not be a TON of customers that will search for your business by name, your competitor is almost certainly going after them. But since Google gauges the relevance of your ad to the search, you have the upper hand. Your business is much more relevant to your name than your competitor’s is.
  • Your Brand. Like your name, a competitor is going to have a harder time showing up as well as you do for “branded” searches like “Chem-Dry”. If you have a ChemDry.com premium listing, consider sending some ads to your premium page to leverage its domain authority.
    • Example: For both your name and your brand, you may have your vendor shift focus away from bidding on generic search terms like “carpet cleaning” and increase your bids on “phrase match” and “exact match” keywords involving your name and brand.
  • Focus on Value. Chances are, your competitor is going to be very price-focused. You know that price-shoppers don’t become loyal customers. Google’s very good at determining when a customer is focused on price vs value, and you want the latter. Mention the advantages of using you over the other guy in your ads. Just like Apple, BMW, and Nike, people are willing to pay a bit more when they understand the advantages.
    • Example: I would advise against advertising prices in your ads. If you do, don’t low-ball the prices. Make sure they’re competitive, but try to show the value of your service.

In general, if PPC starts getting more expensive, don’t freak out! It happens from time to time. It may just be time for you to refocus and adjust.

Big Takeaway:

Competition will come and go. But your business will stand the test of time if you keep your head and take the correct actions. Keep your head and:

  1. Increase your budget if you’re able to compete with newcomers.
  2. Recognize that a small disruption is not the end of the world. You may be able to stick it out.
  3. Focus in on what you’re best at. Advertising to what is most relevant and your competitive advantages will get you more bang for your buck.
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Are Yellow Pages Dead?

The other day, I was having a discussion with some business owners and I floated the question of how much they used to spend with the Yellow Pages. Monthly budgets ranged from $1,000 to nearly $20,000 depending on the size of their market.

Why were you willing to put that kind of money into the phone book 10 years ago? Because that’s where new customers found your phone number.
Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see a phone book sit on a home’s front porch for months – or at least until it gets dissolved by weather. It’s like they’re trying to cling to life, even though they become tattered, worn and virtually useless – like a zombie.

What Now?

Now, I’m not saying that the phone book is completely useless. Indeed, there are still markets where advertising in the yellow pages is still effective – but they’re getting very rare.
Just for fun, I put together a quick survey the other day and shared it to find out how people use the phone books. Fewer than 10% said they’ve used the phone book in the past 30 days. Just over half said it had been at least 2-5 years. So, are they dead? No, but they need to be monitored.
Think for a moment about how much you used to spend with phone books. If you’ve decreased that money now, what have you been doing with it? Did you invest it elsewhere? Has your business died off as a result so you no longer have it?
What can be done? Is there a solution? Yes, there is. But you’ve got to believe in it. Meaning, you have to be willing to pay for it like you paid for the phone book.

Enter Pay-Per-Click

I want to make this as clear as possible.
Pay-Per-Click is the new Yellow Pages. I want you to repeat that out loud right now.
Case in point – I have some owners tell me that people in their area are still using phone books exclusively. While that may be true in a very few cases, I’ll tell you this:
My nearly 91-year-old grandmother doesn’t use her phone book anymore. She uses her computer or smart phone to find phone numbers. And she lives in a VERY small town (less than 3,500 people).

What’s Your Point, Scott?

My point is, unless you’re turning jobs away every day or have a constantly full calendar, you should take a very serious look at doing PPC advertising.
It’s reliable. It’s useful. It’s proven. It’s where the world is going.
Not sure where to start? I’ve written before about How to Choose a Vendor to run a campaign for you. I’ve also recently written about finding a budget for PPC ads.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re not currently using PPC advertising, you’re missing out on HUGE business potential. Don’t let your business become a phone book zombie.
  1. Do a quick Google search for “carpet cleaning” in your area. If you see your competitors, but not you, you have a problem.
  2. Go to the Gateway to look at approved or recommended vendors and call one TODAY.
  3. Set aside a budget that you plan on spending for PPC ads. Consider it an investment in your business.
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PPC Needs Mobile Access

Image Source_ worldwidemasters.com

According to a recent study, upwards of 60% of online searches happen on mobile devices. Google now gives organic search result preference to websites that are mobile-friendly.

On top of that, with the advent of “Expanded Text Ads” from Google, you now have ads that targeted at both desktop AND mobile websites, and you can tell it which one to pick, but the ad is the same. So what would you do?

There’s a BIG Difference

When it comes to accessibility for websites on mobile devices, it’s important that you make some changes. Searchers on mobile devices usually have:
  1. Immediate needs
  2. Short attention spans
  3. Small screens
That means you have to have the right information available to your customer as quickly and visibly as possible.
Below is an example from Carnation Chem-Dry Middleton, located near Madison, Wisconsin. They have done a GREAT job building their chem-dry.net website, which came with their franchise. It looks wonderful.
But here’s the thing:

While they’ve done a great job building the site, and it’s perfectly navigable on a desktop (i.e. ACTUAL computer) the site doesn’t naturally transition itself and adjust to be more readable on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android.

More recently, Carnation Chem-Dry has made the move to a more mobile-friendly “.com” platform (as seen below).

In this case, they’ve opted for a micro-site from Web Marketing Services at HRI, which have mobile versions of your core service pages (carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, PURT, tile, etc.) by default, and it’s not hard to add more. WMS has several templates available that work well, but you don’t necessarily HAVE to get one from them.
Most website hosts will now offer a mobile friendly website, which can drastically improve your overall organic ranking and site performance in Google because they recognize the trend toward mobile.

Why Mobile Matters

As I stated earlier, the number searches happening on mobile devices is quickly outweighing desktop searches which means that you need to have mobile versions of your web pages – especially your high-traffic pages.

Google’s new ad format, “Expanded Text Ads” increase the amount of text you can have in an ad by about 20%. While this is great in and of itself, it also makes it so you don’t have to create desktop and mobile versions of your ads. They adjust them for you based on the device doing the search, BUT you have the option of sending a mobile search to a mobile version of your page, which is what I would do.

What this means for you is that if you’re paying to have someone click on your ad, you want to get as much out of that click as you can. Sending someone on a mobile device to a non-mobile friendly page can really hurt your chances of converting.
For instance, if you are running a PURT ad, and you normally send people to your regular PURT page, it may work very well on desktop. However, if your desktop page doesn’t convert to a mobile one, you may lose out on that opportunity because the visitor gave up on finding what they wanted.

Big Takeaway:

If you’re currently doing any kind of advertising online, especially PPC, you should give serious consideration to the ratio of mobile searches to desktop. That means:
  1. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you need to get one ASAP. Talk to your vendor today.
  2. Pay-Per-Click ads (especially with new Expanded Text) are one of the most sure-fire ways to find new customers. You should be using them.
  3. When you start advertising on PPC, make sure you’re using mobile-ready versions of your web pages to enhance your customers’ experience and increase likelihood of conversion.
Take control of your online marketing today and establish a better future for your business. Then register to receive updates about future webinars on digital marketing.
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Customizing Your PPC Ads – Cutting Edge Changes from Google

Okay, so we all know that one of the quickest ways to fill up empty slots in your schedule is by using Pay-Per-Click ads. You can literally turn them on and off like a light switch to meet your scheduling needs. It’s fantastic!

But let’s look at a slightly different, but probably somewhat familiar, scenario:

It’s Wednesday afternoon. Your phones have been ringing off the hooks on Monday and Tuesday and you got lots of jobs, but your Thursday, Friday and Saturday are WIDE open. Let’s try something.

Hot off the presses, Google announced this week that they’ve made an addition to your options with Pay-Per-Click advertising. You can now add “Ad Customizers” to your advertisements. Here’s what customizers do for your ads:

  1. Add specificity to your ads without creating a BUNCH of different ads (discounts, services, areas, etc.).
  2. Let you use a basic ad template and insert text that’s custom to what your customer is searching for.
  3. Adds a call to action by giving a time window for which  the offer is valid.

Here’s a quick video summary from Google:

Pretty cool, right? You could use this as a great way to run a time-sensitive promotion like this one: PPC Customizer Picture

Now, the programming side of this is likely to be a bit more complex than the “Average Joe” may be able to take on, BUT it’s absolutely something you should be talking about with your PPC vendor. Using ad customizers helps to make your ads more relevant and increase your ad quality score, which gets you a better position in addition to more and cheaper clicks.

Oh, and it’s a great way to fill your job schedules quickly!

Also, don’t forget that I wrote in an email a few weeks ago about using Offers with Constant Contact. Here’s a link to the article that has the same content as the email. Offers are a great way to fill in the gaps with your scheduling and even use E-mail to get NEW customers. Who’d have thought?

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Setting Up a Google Business Page

If you’re just getting your business started, it’s imperative to your success online to establish a Google Business page. It’s where your future customers can find your: location, services and, most importantly, REVIEWS.

Because you’re an exceptional carpet cleaner, you’re going to do an amazing job cleaning every customer’s home. They’re going to be thrilled with your service and you’re going to ask them to go find you on Google and leave a review. They’re going to go online and help you gain traction in your market with every review.

Here’s how to get your page going if you haven’t done so already:

  1. Go to www.google.com/business. It will take you to a page that looks like this:Google Business Pg 1
  2. Click on “Get on Google” either in the middle of the page or up in the top right. You can also click on “Sign In” if you already have a company Google account. If you don’t, that’s fine. You can create one.Google Business Pg 2
  3. You’ll be shown a map of the US. You’ll search for your business by name. If it doesn’t come up in a search, you can click on “None of these match – Add your business.” Google Business Pg 3
  4. Add your business information on the following page. ***Make sure you check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations.”***Google Business Pg 4
  5. Then you’ll select a service radius (unfortunately, you can’t just select a county) or add zip codes to a list.Google Business Pg 5
  6. Agree to the terms of service, and verify that the contact information is correct.Google Business Pg 6

Once you’ve confirmed this information and you’ve agreed to the Terms of Service, you’re all set up. You’ll now have a Google+ page for your business. You can start posting as a business and start taking reviews. Have your customers search SPECIFICALLY for your company name. You’ll show up on the right-hand side of the page in search. Customers can click “Write a Review” and sing your praises to future customers.

You’ll be glad you did this. Trust me.

– Scott