Improve Your Site Search with These SEO Principles

While just about every e-commerce website I’ve worked with optimizes for Google search, it amazes me how many underestimate the value of effective internal site search. If you’re not dedicating some effort to improving your internal search, you’re losing business.

Conversions aren’t the only thing impacted by a properly optimized site search (although it certainly is the most important). Internal site search can provide clues that have implications across the board and help you effectively manage your bricks-and-mortar business, too.

Here’s a short list of SEO principles that, if employed, will help you get the most from your internal site search (and boost conversions!):

Set up site search tracking in Google Analytics. It’s simple and you can do this right inside your current Google Analytics account.

Step One: You need to determine the query parameter your site search is using. Simply perform a search, any search, on your site. Look at the URl of the results page and identify the designation immediately following the question mark. For the example below, I went to a popular outdoor clothing and equipment site and did so.

As you can see, it’s a “q” in this case.

search-query-parameters

Step Two: Go into your Google Analytics account and click Admin, View Settings and scroll to Site Search Settings.

google analytics search query parameters

Step Three: Under the heading Site Search Tracking, simply click the slider to the “on” position. Look for the heading Query parameter and add the character that designates a search in your URl. In this example, it was “q”. Click the Strip query parameters out of URl button and save.

This will enable you to view the terms visitors searched on your site within Google Analytics.

Add often searched query terms to your keyword research. Once you know what people are searching while on your website, you’ll not only gain insight into ways to optimize your search terms for products and/or categories but you’ll get great ideas for new products.

NoIndex your search result pages. If someone performs a generic Google search hoping for a quick answer and lands on your internal search page instead, it may not result in a good experience. Google thinks it is less likely to. That being the case, it makes sense to block them.

Never display “No Results Found”. It serves no useful purpose to you or the user. If the item they’re searching for is out of stock, consider displaying related products. If the term is completely unrelated to any of your products, serve up a list of your best selling items with a blurb that reads “We couldn’t find the item you’re looking for. Perhaps you’re interested in one of the best sellers below.”

Don’t pass up a chance to ask for a sale. Proper use and optimization of your internal site search has been done to dramatically improve, even double in some cases, conversions. A designated Google Analytics Partner since 1998, the digital marketing team at Beacon has a wealth of knowledge regarding internal site search and ways in which it can be leveraged to improve your bottom line. Questions? Email me or call a Beacon team member at 1.866.585.6350. We’re ready to discuss ways in which we can help y make your online business more profitable than ever before.

By | 2017-09-01T09:55:13+00:00 September 13th, 2017|SEO|0 Comments

PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

While one may or may not think of a college or university as a business, there is no arguing that those involved in student enrollment mean business. The playing field is more competitive every day. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more schools use PPC (pay per click) advertising as part of their appeal.

Since many more in your target audience communicate through digital channels than in the days when you and I went to school, it goes without saying that it doesn’t pay to stick with just traditional means of promotion. Besides, at the rate that the enrollment landscape is changing, PPC almost qualifies as traditional.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Unlike large, profit generating entities, most colleges have limited budgets to work with. This means that while one may encourage ones students to experiment, to “find themselves”, you don’t want your marketing people to have to do so, too.

Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy going in. Higher Ed keywords are generally very expensive (again, the Higher Ed space is VERY competitive), so it’s essential that you use your marketing dollars efficiently. That having been said…

Branded Campaigns Don’t Work for Higher Ed

Many businesses use branded campaigns to make sure their competitors don’t pick off shoppers who are looking to pilfer their customers. However, your audience differs from most. With a college website, many students, alumni and faculty use the website as a constant resource.

Since you’re already at the top for a branded search, you don’t want to waste your money paying for those who choose to access your site through a PPC add. That’s a sure way to burn through your ad budget and see minimal return.

Higher Ed Remarketing Ads Do, Though

The enrollment funnel for Higher Ed is protracted when compared to other competitive spaces. That being the case, a conversion rarely happens as part of an early touch. This is true across the board, unless your brand is so big that you don’t need to advertise. That’s a very exclusive club.

Remarketing ads follow visitors from their initial visit to your site (or mobile App). As they visit other competing sites, your ad will pop up, keeping your school fresh in their mind. It’s a great way to maintain a familiarity and nurture the process. These remarketing ads can include periodic offerings such as a limited time discount on an application fee in exchange for contact information.

Get even more granular by using Google’s RLSA’s. You can target users based on their behavior, which page on your site they visited and how long they stayed. So, if they visited the page for your dental school, they’ll receive remarketing ads specific to that discipline.

Higher Ed PPC & Mobile

Make sure the landing pages for your PPC ads are responsive. Recent surveys indicate that roughly 80% of high school seniors and their parents view college websites on their phones. If your site is mobile friendly, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Google’s new Expanded Text.

You’ve spent the money to get your visitors to your website. Don’t blow the experience now.

And that’s Just the Beginning

Want to know more about how you can pull more candidates into your school’s enrollment funnel? Beacon is recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country. We’ve been helping colleges and universities with PPC marketing for over 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

By | 2017-09-01T09:28:27+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Higher Education, PPC|0 Comments

Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

An institution’s mission is to educate students. By extension, its relevance is dependent upon the quality and quantity of enrolled students. Without students, you cease to exist.

If you’re charged with marketing your college or university, you carry a position of great responsibility. You’ve been asked to be a caretaker of sorts. Your mission is to steward your school into a position of added prestige and reputation. You can affect both enrollment and endowment.

Education is a business. Without treating it as such, one risks becoming a footnote in the annals of Higher Ed history. Understanding the admissions funnel is step one in ensuring you’re remembered as having been a worthy steward for your school.

Understanding the Higher Ed Admissions Funnel

While the admissions funnel shares certain similarities to a typical sales funnel, there are distinct differences. Understanding those differences can be key to your success.

The admissions funnel is deeper and more involved than the normal sales funnel. More levels require a longer time duration and greater deliberation. It could be a year or two from the moment your candidate enters the admissions funnel until they eventually enroll. A protracted process means more opportunity to abandon the process.

The better you understand the admissions funnel, the easier it is to use it to your advantage.

The Opening: Attracting Prospective Students

When marketing to the prospective student, content and the delivery of said content is of paramount importance. Methods include the more traditional (education fairs and school visits) as well as digital advertising (PPC, Social Media, etc.). And one cannot emphasize enough the importance of sound SEO practices for Higher Ed.

Prospective students break down into two sub-sets, those who already have a familiarity with your institution as well as those who may not have previously known who you are. The approach is similar for targeting both.

Use videos, photos and interesting copy. Prospective students respect and trust content provided by their peers. Emphasize content provided by your current students. Your goal is to get a prospective student to request more information. That’s the next step in the sales funnel.

The Inquiry

When we discuss those who inquire into additional information, the numbers drop precipitously. But that’s OK. The good news is, the remaining prospects represent significant opportunity. They’re still considering a few schools and their pain point tends to be simple. Generally, they want to know at which school they best fit in.

Appeal to this group through both traditional means (personal calls from students, events and printed materials) as well as through social media and PPC campaigns.

PPC remarketing campaigns can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of prospective students. In short, remarketing ads are the google ads that follow you after you visit a website. It targets those who have expressed some level of interest already.

The objective here is to steer the student into the application process.

Getting the Application

Anyone who starts the application process is already highly engaged. At this juncture, the personal touch can be most effective. Events are great. There is nothing more effective than a face to face meeting.

It’s also a good time for email marketing campaigns. Emphasize personalized emails from admissions counselors or administrators.

Some will recommend personalized phone calls. Personal experience tells me otherwise.  When my children were looking for a school to attend, they never answered the phone. Texting is the preferred method of communication for this generation. They avoid the phone like the plague.

Attention & Intention Mean Retention

The final group you need to appeal to are those who have been accepted and/or have confirmed their intention to attend. This group may include individuals who have been accepted at several schools. They may be still deciding or waiting to find out which school will provide the most financial aid.

While not all will eventually enroll, this is the time to welcome them into the “family”. The more personal your communication, the better. If this student interacts with other accepted students through social media, odds of retention increase considerably.

Consider sending branded items such as tee shirts or coffee mugs.

Avoiding Summer Melt

While it may seem unethical, some students will place deposits down with more than one institution. Others will lose interest while awaiting financial aid. Some will simply be overwhelmed with the process of finishing paperwork and buying books.

In fact, a recent study suggests that between 10% and 40% of students will “melt away” between the time of their acceptance and the first day of classes.

Engagement from here must be genuine and personal. Consider holding webinars with instructors who can help individuals get to the finish line. Administrators can send personalized emails offering assistance and answering frequent questions. Bottom line: Keep it as personal as possible.

How Beacon Can Help

Recently recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country, Beacon has been helping colleges and universities with admissions marketing for more than 20 years. Together we can develop and implement a digital marketing plan to address your specific objectives. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

By | 2017-08-21T11:10:17+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

SEO & Your Redesign: Don’t Be a Flintsone

If you’re reading this article on your desktop monitor, guess what. You’re a dinosaur, my friend. More than likely, there are far more people reading this article on hand held devices. Particularly those between the ages of 18 and 29*. But, since there are still holdouts like yourself, any website needs to account for this audience as well.

With that in mind, it’s time we talk about responsive website redesign. So, put those rocks down and follow me.  We’re going to cover a lot of ground in just a few words. We’ll look at some major SEO considerations with an added emphasis on mobile redesign factors.

Structured Schema Data & The Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes

A redesign is a great time to give your new website an organic visibility boost. By adding structured or schema markup, you can give search engines a little bit more help with interpreting your pages, thereby improving the quantity and quality of your traffic. Think of it as the secret handshake of Lodge brothers. You establish a familiarity on a higher level – it’s an engagement booster. And when better engagement metrics follow, so do better search rankings.

HTML tells the user’s browser how to display the information in the tag. Using a microdata format, schema markup tells the browser what the text within the tag means. There are markup types for different business categories, entertainment types, articles & review sites, products, and events. And those are just a few types of schema. You can see why schema markup is a great way to showcase your website content.

Yabba Dabba DON’T forget about page speed.

Page speed has always been important. With mobile devices, page speed is absolutely critical. Consider the numbers given earlier regarding mobile users. They’re young. Very Young. That means the average mobile user has an attention span similar to that of a common house fly.  Factor in questionable mobile connections and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. There is no such thing as too fast.

Make sure you address page speed. If you can’t get a straight answer from your design partner regarding site speed, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to find out for yourself. It will measure mobile friendliness and compare the load times of your site on mobile and desktop. Additionally, the tool will suggest improvements. Take this handy little report and give it to your design partner.

CSS, JavaScript & The Great Gazoo

In the Jurassic days of website design (last Thursday), it wasn’t unusual to use JavaScript to ensure that your design renders as intended. Page speed was not as great a factor in the Google search algorithm as it is today and page speeds didn’t have to account for mobile use.

However, side by side analysis suggests overuse of JavaScript and CSS can be a big mistake. Recent split tests indicate that if one were to strip the JavaScript from a page and use CSS to render it instead, performance would improve. In fact, if one were to split test the JavaScript pages versus the pages not reliant on JS, the latter sees roughly 5% more organic traffic.

Like the character in the cartoon, CSS and JavaScript mean well but they they’ll likely create more problems than they solve.

They don’t use Flash down at the quarry anymore.

There are some good things about Flash. It’s great for course animations and online presentations. Now, let’s list a few of its limitations.

  • It’s not supported on iPhone.
  • Or Anything, really.
  • Google has trouble crawling and indexing it. That means lousy search visibility.
  • It isn’t easily updated. If you have very, very deep pockets, this isn’t a problem.
  • It’s proprietary so Adobe can hold you hostage.

With the changing technologies, Flash simply should not be used any longer. Flash isn’t supported on mobile devices. If your redesign partner insists on using Flash in your new redesign, run for the hills.

Bold choice, Mr. Flintstone! You’ll go far in this company.

While all of the above must be considered in your redesign efforts, it all starts with your choice of a forward-thinking design and development partner. That’s where Beacon comes in. If you have any questions regarding SEO and your upcoming redesign project, I invite you to email me or call a member of our digital marketing team at 1.855.847.5440.

*According to the Pew Research Center

By | 2017-07-31T12:52:45+00:00 July 26th, 2017|SEO|Comments Off on SEO & Your Redesign: Don’t Be a Flintsone

How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

Google Data Studio is a great tool for those who need frequent, consistent and timely reporting, but there is an important feature currently unavailable in Data Studio — “PDF exporting.”  But do not fret, my fellow Google Data Studio users. There is a way to take that multi-page Data Studio report and export it as a single PDF file!

Google Data Studio PDF Export

If you have Google Chrome, you can export all of your Google Data Studio Report’s pages into a single PDF by downloading the free Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio.

How to Export a Multiple-Page Data Studio Report to PDF

Step 1.  Click the link below to be redirected to the Google Chrome web store installation page for the Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio. ~ if the link is not working, copy and paste the link at the end of this post into your chrome browser. 

Click here to go to the extension

Step 2.  Reload (or open) the Data Studio Report you wish to Export to PDF and there will be a new option in the report header.  The picture below is a comparison of the task bar without the chrome extension (top image) and the task bar with the chrome extension (bottom image). ~ Note: you must be in the ‘view mode’ in order for the option to appear.

Export to PDF option in Google Data Studio

Step 3.  Click on the ‘Export to PDF’ option to begin exporting your report, wait a few seconds per page as each page downloads. The time it takes to begin exporting varies, but  if the report does not begin to export, click on the thumbnail icon in the chrome extensions area of the toolbar but instead of selecting ‘Export to PDF’,  select ‘Clear Cache’ the option (pictured below), then try exporting it again.

GDS Export to PDF solution

Step 4.  After the document has been downloaded, a pop-up window will appear with a black and white version of the report—the report’s color will be restored after changing the destination. In the window, change the ‘Destination’ of the file to ‘Save as PDF’ (pictured below). Save Data Studio Report as PDF

Step 5.  Click Print to save the report to a location of your choice.

Chrome Extension Link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-data-studio-pdf-ex/cmbgpgjhibpioljmaaocdommnggpecje

By | 2017-07-19T12:10:28+00:00 July 19th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

Last year, when I discovered that Wake Forest’s Business School was starting a Master’s Program in Business Analytics (MSBA), I had to see how I could help. After all, it’s my alma mater AND analytics – two of my favorite things! So I was thrilled when our many discussions and planning sessions led to Wake selecting Beacon to teach its graduate level course in Digital Marketing Analytics this Spring.

Farrell Hall at WFU Analytics has been a critical component of Beacon’s offering since almost the day the company started back in 1998. It’s why Beacon is one of the longest active Google Analytics Certified Partners in the country.  The entire Beacon Digital Marketing Team is involved with this class, led by Gus Kroustalis, Beacon’s Lead Analytics Strategist and Andrea Cole, Beacon’s Director of Digital Marketing.  The team meets regularly internally to carefully plan each class around important topics, crafting in-class and homework assignments that expose the students to real world tools and thinking.  For most companies nowadays, their website is the centerpiece of their marketing strategy.  So this course emphasizes Google Analytics and walks the students through 7 intense weeks that includes

  • Key Metrics for the Web
  • Consumer Targeting
  • Engagement Analysis
  • Channel Analysis (SEO & Paid Search)
  • Attribution Models
  • Conversion Testing

The demand for critical thinking skills with respect to analytics data is enormous in today’s business world. Students that have tangible experience will hit the ground running and be able to provide immediate value to their employers.  Certainly, technology and the widespread availability of data are drivers, but it’s also about “brain-power”, the ability to analyze data with all the available tools to gain insights, formulate strategy and communicate well-founded recommendations that will improve ROI and/or decision-making.

Companies are clamoring for critical and creative thinkers. Graduates of Wake Forest’s MSBA program will certainly fill this demand.  The students will experience a rigorous, hands-on course that exposes them to actual live data from several of Beacon’s clients that have graciously agreed to participate.  Although they will learn many different tools, the emphasis will be on stimulating their business minds to develop intelligent insights, drive creative ideas and improve business.

It’s exciting that Wake’s MSBA students have the opportunity to work alongside Beacon’s recognized experts in Digital Marketing to get first-hand experience and knowledge. It will certainly make their resumes stand out.  Likewise, my DMS Team is equally excited to collaborate with, and learn from, the high-caliber students for which Wake Forest University is known.

Beacon's Gus Kroustalis Teaching

By | 2017-08-15T16:00:39+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Beacon News, Digital Marketing, Google Analytics|Comments Off on WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

Questions to Ask Your SEO Partner

Unfortunately, there are some companies in the SEO trade that are damaging the reputation of the entire industry. Over time some local businesses and medium-sized companies avoid paying for SEO management services for fear of being ripped off. Or, they have been led to believe from past experiences that SEO isn’t effective. This is unfortunate because when done right, SEO can be a great equalizer throughout a variety of industries.

There’s no way of knowing if even larger SEO companies will fulfill their SEO guarantees. However, here are some questions you can ask to probe the legitimacy of your current SEO partner.

Let’s Get Started

Ask your current SEO partner if they outsource work or if they have a dedicated internal team. The last thing you want to deal with is an SEO company outsourcing work to other countries with poor SEO tactics. Unfortunately, not every Country where SEO is popular follows best practices. For example, freelancers in other Countries may auto-generate articles, buy links or spam websites.

Paid Backlinks

It should go without saying but buying links is not a viable strategy. Nor is publishing auto-generated articles a feasible content creation strategy.

Duplicate Content

Consider This ……

The web is 25-30% duplicated content according to Matt Cutts. It’s no wonder search engines prefer unique content that provides value.

Bottom Line: You want to work with an SEO agency that does their work in house and holds their team accountable.

Next, link building can be a great SEO strategy when done appropriately. However, if done in a manner that causes Google and other search engines to raise their eyebrows there will be problems or penalties. If you engage in any sort of link building with your SEO agency ask them what their approach or strategy is. Even if it is passive link building where they reclaim links and monitor your brand. It is smart to have a rough idea of the type of link acquisition strategies they may be employing.

If you hear any of these terms thrown around then it is time to switch SEO partners:

  • Link Exchange
  • Blog Networks
  • Widget Backlinks
  • Advertorials
  • Buying Links – Paid Links
  • Article Directories
  • Hidden Backlinks
  • Auto-Generated Backlinks

 

Bottom Line: Link building can be a good strategy when done correctly. Ask your potential SEO partner what their approach is and see if they mention any of the terms above.

Finally, ask your current SEO partner what their content creation strategy is. What you want to find out is are they writing unique content or regurgitating keyword stuffed content.

Also, when it comes to targeting keywords in content pieces be aware of diminishing returns. There is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to using keywords within your content. Add a few keywords and you start gaining rank. Add some more and it doesn’t really make any improvements. If you keep adding keywords then you start to see some declines in rank. I am not saying you shouldn’t have keywords within your content but it is important to add variations and use related keywords.

Bottom Line: You want your SEO partner to go easy on the keywords while providing relevant content.

Side Note – You also don’t want them creating a bunch of pages that are only targeting one keyword either. Instead, it should be a good mix of related terms.

Hopefully, this will help you when researching SEO companies or deciding if it is time to switch vendors.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out or get a Free SEO audit to see how you currently stack up.

Happy Rankings!

By | 2017-07-20T09:21:37+00:00 January 12th, 2017|Digital Marketing, SEO|Comments Off on Questions to Ask Your SEO Partner

How to Zero In On The Consumer Purchase Funnel

Search Engine Optimization is tricky and to make it harder consumers are constantly in various stages of the buying process. Fortunately, we can craft content to appeal to searchers at various stages of the customer buying cycle. By digging into the consumer journey and considering searcher intent within the funnel we can tailor our content accordingly.

Consumer Purchase Funnel

Awareness

In this stage of the customer buying funnel, searchers have identified a need they would like fulfilled. They are also not aware of your company or its services and products. The goal here is to create Top of Funnel Content to target specific pain points utilizing PPC and SEO. The content needs to be informational and highlight a problem or pain point.

For example, let’s say you run an e-commerce site and you sell hardware typically used in home repair. You could create:

  • Detailed informative blog posts
  • Case Studies
  • eGuides & eBooks

For example, you could create editorial content like ‘How a Renovation can Increase a Home’s Value’. It is important to conduct some exploratory research initially. This can be accomplished by visiting forums and listening to what your community is saying. Epicbeat Epictions and Buzzsumo can be a robust tool when it comes to targeting the right funnel channel. These tools give unique, insight into the types of content your target market is consuming. At this stage, you can gain insight into different types of informational content is performing well in your niche.

This type of content is best suited for your blog section of your site. You can also use this as an opportunity to create link worthy content or clickbait content if you are so inclined.

Familiarity

During this stage, you will still be creating top of funnel content. Searchers are aware they have a pain point but do not know how to satisfy it. This content is still largely informative in nature. Think blog posts, case studies, infographics etc. The goal here is to show searchers how to solve their particular problem and create an additional touch point with your brand. In the end, your goal is to inspire the searcher to take action. Make searchers aware of your brand.

You can uncover insights in the familiarity stage by:

  • Forums – “they are a treasure trove of data”
  • Keyword Research – Keyword planner tool
  • Social Media
  • Google Alerts
  • Specialized Content Research Tools

Let’s say you have an e-commerce company that sells furniture and you are implementing a customer buying cycle. You could build out some content on “Hardware needed for a bathroom renovation”. In our fictitious example, you address a specific problem and a group of people who are experiencing this issue.

Our next step would be to motivate them to take action. At this point, you have a few options. You can ask them to subscribe, leave a comment, or send an inquiry.

Consideration

At this point, searchers are further down the funnel. They are familiar with your brand and are looking for a solution to their problem. They know they need a solution and roughly what they are looking for. In this part of the funnel, you want to optimize middle of the funnel content. This is the part of the funnel people typically optimize for and forget the other sections of the funnel. Don’t be one of these people. Optimize for each stage of the customer buying process for search engine optimization bliss.

Typically this type of content may take the form of product/service related category pages.

You can uncover insights in this stage by:

  • Keyword Research – Keyword Planner Tool
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics – Site Search Analytics

For example, continuing with our previous example let’s say you want to target this funnel. Depending upon the industries you cater to you could produce content for each category page. You could target:

  • ‘Decorative Kitchen Hardware’
  • ‘Cabinetry Hardware’
  • ‘Ambient Lighting Solutions’

In these category pages, you can inspire confidence in your services and explain how you can help solve the searcher’s problem. This is also a great time to get searchers to take action. Consider building out micro-conversions at this point. Such as, “download our buyer’s guide”, “Sign up to receive special offers”, “register for our workshop”.

Purchase

In this stage, you will target searchers in the bottom of the funnel. Consumers are aware of your product or service and are looking for confidence building material. This is a good time for user generated content, testimonial pages and consumer reviews.

consumer reviews

Customer reviews and testimonials have an immense impact on organic traffic and conversion rates. According to a survey by BrightLocal, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations”. Essentially, you can spread word of mouth on your product level pages and generate content around it.

Of course, you also want to motivate searchers to perform an action at this stage of the funnel. We want to drive purchases of course. The buy button or ‘shop’ option needs to be prominent.

buy button

Loyalty

In this stage of the funnel, we are targeting the bottom of the funnel searchers. The goal of this funnel is customer retention. The tools in your arsenal to achieve this goal is our email subscription pages, sales related pages and any community-related forums that you can implement on your site. Wayfair is a good example of a company implementing a sales page stuff full of clearance items in a user-friendly way.

wayfair sale page

Also, you can also build a community forum page where customers can ask product related questions and gather advice for specific problems and issues.

The customer buying cycle represents a framework for visualizing the searcher’s journey with your brand over time. By properly tailoring content around each stage in the buyer’s journey, you can foster growth and sales over time. By creating tailored content you will be able to target customer wherever they are in your funnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2016-11-18T14:47:45+00:00 October 24th, 2016|SEO|Comments Off on How to Zero In On The Consumer Purchase Funnel

How To Create Remarketing Campaigns That Work

Remarketing-Tips

Whether you’re looking to drive sales, increase registrations, bolster applications, or promote awareness of your brand, remarketing can be an extremely effective component of your marketing strategy. Remarketing lets you show ads to people who’ve visited your website before or who have interacted with your site using their email. When people leave your website without taking action (register, buy, fill out a form, add to cart, etc.) you can show them targeting text or display ads to bring them back to targeted landing pages so they can convert. Below are just a few of the benefits of remarketing for your website:

Benefits of Remarketing

  • Large Reach Online: You can reach people on your remarketing lists as they use Google search and browse over 2 million websites and mobile apps that are part of the Google Display Network.
  • Branding Yourself: Because the cost-per-click is so low, you are able to run a large-scale and inexpensive branding campaign on popular websites.
  • Reach Visitors As They Are Ready to Take Action: Bring users back in the middle of their research/shopping process.
  • Remarketing Lists Are Tailored To Your Goals: Create unique lists for users that abandoned checkout/registration, users that have converted before and users that abandoned after one visit.
  • Low Cost-Per-Click: Because these users have visited your site before the cost-per-click is sometimes 2-3 times lower than search campaigns.
  • Simple Ad Creation: Produce multiple text, image, and video ads for free with Ad gallery.
  • Marketing Insights: See reports of how your campaigns are performing, where your ads are showing, and what price you’re paying.

Every website has a function. As a higher education site, your goal may be to drive more applications or showcase degree programs you need to fill vacant spots in. eCommerce sites have a goal of selling more products, seasonal goods or featuring sales/promotions that arise. Even normal content websites can get in on the action. Remarketing can be a crucial component or your website by bringing users back to download whitepapers, read new content or sign up for e-newsletters.

Remarketing Ad Types

Remarketing Campaign Types

  • Standard Remarketing: Used to show ads to previous website visitors as they visit. Display Network websites and use Display Network apps.

With standard remarketing, you are able to use AdWords remarketing code or your Analytics tracking code to start tracking every visit to your site and start building audiences. You can begin creating lists based on the product/content page they visited, based on visiting a certain page of your conversion process and even based on not visiting a certain page. The benefit of creating remarketing lists using Google Analytics is that your lists are much easier to build, just like narrowing down your audience using advanced segments or inline filters when navigating the Analytics interface. Standard remarketing relies on either text ads or image ads (we recommend using both) to maximize your chance of customers viewing your ads.

  • Dynamic Remarketing: Boost your results with ads that include products or services that people viewed on your website.

Dynamic remarketing is perfect for eCommerce websites or sites with products or service pages. These campaigns can be somewhat trickier to setup but are invaluable to your bottom line. You need a setup and verified Google Merchant Center account and remarketing code that tracks dynamic variables from your product pages. This step will need to involve a developer on your site or with an agency like Beacon. The beauty of these campaigns is that you can show users the exact products they viewed within an image ad on a popular site like CNN or Weather.com to bring them back to the shopping process. These campaigns have very low cost-per-click and high conversion rates.

  • Search Remarketing: Show ads to your past visitors as they do follow-up searches for what they need on Google, after leaving your website.

Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA) are simple to use and drive higher returns than standard search campaigns. After you have gotten visitors to your site through a search or non-branded campaign you can use search remarketing to bring them back as they continue researching on Google. For example, you may be selling ‘sectional sofas’ and bidding on those terms to bring people to your sofa pages. After they leave your site you can bid on ‘sectional sofas’ using a remarketing list to only show your ads to previous visitors. The same concept will work for users searching for ‘mba programs’ or ‘divorce attorneys’. Your cost-per-click will be much lower than the original one and the fact that they recognize your URL helps drive more clicks.

  • Video Remarketing: Show ads to people who have interacted with your videos or YouTube channel as they use YouTube and browse online.

Video remarketing works by linking your YouTube account to AdWords. You can start building video remarketing audiences by adding users who watched your videos, liked, commented or shared your videos and those users who subscribed (very qualified users) to your YouTube channel. By reinforcing your message with people who have already seen your videos or channel, you’re more likely to succeed in increasing your return on investment. Video remarketing also uses a different pricing model, known as CPV. With CPV bidding, you’ll pay for video views and other video interactions, such as clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, and companion banners.

  • Email-List Remarketing: With Customer Match, upload a list of email addresses that your customers have given you and show them ads as they browse online.

AdWords Customer Match allows you to upload your email list to begin remarketing to them on YouTube, Gmail or the Search Network. This can be extremely valuable to relay promotional offers, new products, and services and increase brand advocacy from your repeat visitors. AdWords even gives you the option to upload a plain text file of email addresses and will hash them using an algorithm for your client’s and user’s security. A great way to use this remarketing type is by segmenting your users by their email address so you can remarket to:

    • Higher Education:
      • Undergraduate students
      • Undergraduate parents
      • Graduate program students
      • Alumni
    • eCommerce
      • Repeat purchasers
      • Users who abandoned checkout
      • Users who have converted
      • Visitors interested in specific products/services

In Conclusion

Remarketing can sound confusing and overwhelming but in reality, some campaigns can be set up and begin running in hours. Whether you are interested in getting your brand name out their, selling more products and seasonally low sales periods, boosting your monthly promotions, enrolling more students or simply educating your visitors, remarketing can be that missing piece of the marketing puzzle. Contact Beacon, to learn how you can get started in remarketing for your website today.

By | 2017-08-15T16:01:28+00:00 September 13th, 2016|PPC|Comments Off on How To Create Remarketing Campaigns That Work

How To Convert Standard Text Ads To Expanded Text Ads In Google Adwords

Expanded Text Ads Are Available Now

The way users search for products, brands and services online have changed. Businesses can no longer avoid or ignore the shift to searching on mobile devices. Because of this Google and Google AdWords have rolled out both responsive ads and expanded text ads across their advertising platform. Earlier in 2016, Google changed the way search results display by removing paid ads from the right-hand side of search results pages, which helped pave the way for a better mobile search experience across all devices. The big news for advertisers… You now have 50% more advertising space in your text ads!

Expanded Text Ads Mockup

How To Get Started With Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

Expanded Versus Standard Text Ads

 

 

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Expanded text ads now feature two headlines at 30 characters each and one 80-character description line that will help advertisers reach a broader audience on mobile and create more room to promote your brand. Expanded text ads have removed the display URL and now use the domain URL from your final URL and give you the option to add keywords in two new optional “path” fields. It is important to transition your ads as quickly as possible because you may have the opportunity for your ads to showcase 50% more text than competitors that haven’t made the switch. Google has provided an Official Guide To Optimizing Expanded Text Ads for those of you that manage your paid ads internally. Agencies like Beacon, have a paid search team to assist you in getting the best bang for your buck so you don’t have to.

Should I Convert To Expanded Text Ads?

According to Google, starting on October 26th, 2016, you’ll no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads. This means you’ll only be able to create and edit text ads using the expanded text ads format after this date. Existing standard text ads will continue to serve alongside expanded text ads. Keeping the old format will mean losing 50% extra advertising space and potentially huge losses to competitors using the format. 

How To Convert Standard Text Ads To The New Expanded Format

Now we come to the tricky part. If you are like me and manage hundreds, if not thousands of ads, converting these ads to a new format manually can take an impossibly long time. If you add up ad creation times for most ads (let’s say 1-2 minutes) multiplied by an account with upward of 100 ads, you are looking at investing 3-4 hours in converting to expanded text ads. If you manage multiple campaigns for multiple accounts, like Beacon does, this conversion time can add up to over 2-3 weeks time easily. Fortunately for you, Beacon has a quick solution.

If you download the most recent version of AdWords Editor that supports expanded text ads, you will be one step closer to expanded ads. Once in AdWords Editor’s Ads panel, select all the standard text ads you would like to convert and right click your selection and select ‘Export as expanded text ads’.

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Once Editor exports the selected ads you will find all of your standard text ads with the updated expanded text ads format in the downloaded .csv file. All you need to do from there is to fill in the two new optional path fields if you choose so and create a new headline #2 to complete the transition.

Expanded Text Ads CSV

Remember that when you import the .csv file back into Editor your headlines, descriptions and paths may exceed the recommended character lengths and you may have some edits to make before all the new ads will be approved.

More Questions?

If you have more questions on how to utilize the new expanded text ads in your AdWords account or need new management of your brand’s campaigns, please contact us today.

By | 2017-08-15T16:00:58+00:00 August 16th, 2016|PPC|Comments Off on How To Convert Standard Text Ads To Expanded Text Ads In Google Adwords
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