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5 Crucial Paid Search Ad Copy Tips for Education Marketers

Hanapin Marketing | | @Hanapin

It’s well-known that prospective students are starting their search for higher education online these days. In the past, we’ve focused on specific strategies to reach new students, but we haven’t exclusively concentrated on the best copy and features you should be using in ads.

In this new infographic, you’ll find 5 crucial tips to make sure your ads have the best features and copy to reach your users in the most personalized way possible.
5CrucialEDUtips_Infographic

 

 

 

 
 

Don’t Let Your Website Sabotage Your SEO Efforts

Alka Du Mont | | @AlkaDuMont

That beautiful and expensive site you invested in a few years ago is conspiring against your SEO and PPC efforts and in this post, we will delve into how you can undo some of the treachery. Specifically, we will look at the following areas of betrayal:

  • Site speed
  • Image & media content
  • Broken or excessive code
  • Mobile experience

Site Speed & Load Time

Site speed is the length of time it takes for a web browser to download the content of a website from the hosting site. While load time references the length of time after the user clicks or enters a URL for the content of a website to load and be visible. In 2010, Google made site speed a ranking factor in their SERP algorithms, in addition to other factors, like landing page relevancy and external links to the page.

Site speed and load time are crucial factors in online performance for both lead gen and ecommerce businesses. For example, the digital performance management company, Soasta, published an analysis that showed even 1 second of reduced page load time can equate to 27% increase in conversion rate.

So, what is considered a “good time”? The most prevalent answer across most studies is around 2 – 6 seconds, but this might not be a universal answer. Your product might be time inelastic. This is a twist on an economic term, price inelastic, usually referring to goods or services that have very little change in demand when the price fluctuates. In my adoption of this term, time inelastic means that you might have a grace period of load time because you have a unique product that is unavailable elsewhere, or your audience is conditioned to long wait times, or you have content that is consistently high quality and worth the time to load. For instance, I have a client that repairs heavy duty machinery and their website has shown a larger window of load time is still considered acceptable to the audience of users that desperately need those services.

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However, this theory only applies to a rare subset of businesses. There are many stats that show consumers are increasingly impatient: 40% of people abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 52% of online shoppers state that quick site speed is a factor in brand loyalty, and 79% of online shoppers will not return to a site to buy again if they had a poor website experience.

Luckily, Google has a robust, free tool that will identify the many ways your site is holding you back and tips for how to remedy the issue.

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Other tools include Pingdom and WebPageTest.

Web developers are familiar with the very technical issues of complex scripts, third party tools, and plugins that cause delays. Additionally, there might be issues with the responsiveness of your web host. In general, there are quite a few improvements that can be made to a site if you have a working knowledge of programming language. Nevertheless, we will focus on some of the more basic and common sources of site speed deception that are a little easier to understand.

Optimize Image & Other Media

This is a sensitive topic for business owners since websites are such a visual medium it is hard to resist the temptation to saddle a page with as many stunning, colorful images as possible. These beautiful images and videos require a lot of bandwidth to load their many pixels and large file sizes, which adds superfluous seconds to site speed. The solution is to compress the file size of your images and reevaluate the necessity of all the visuals on your site.

There are many free image compression websites available online, such as Compressor.io, but be warned that you are uploading your proprietary images to a free online tool, there is no guarantee that your image is not going to become a part of a database of stock images. If you want to invest some money on something a little more private, you could try Kraken.

Cut The Clutter Code

There is a plethora of wonderful tools and plugins that can help make a website look better or make social sharing easier. There are tools that can help you target what files are the largest and therefore, require the most load time, such as OctaGate Site Timer.

If you use some of these plugins and find they are valuable, please proceed! But occasionally, we add a new and shiny feature, but do not evaluate the end result. An audit of all the widgets, plugins and special features of your site can be a healthy exercise every year to make sure your site is not loading unnecessary code.

Another type of clutter that can hinder site performance, is affiliate ads. The code needed to launch the ads can add loading time for your customer, but it can also degrade the experience once on the site itself. The revenue that is generated by featuring affiliate ads must be evaluated with possible loss of revenue due to slower website navigation.

Reduce The Number Of Redirects

Remember during the Oscars when LaLa Land was announced as Best Picture, but the real winner was Moonlight and as the drama unfolded, we the audience were baffled, confused and tired after a 3+ hour show? That is kind of like what a redirect feels like to your browser.

A redirect is a when your site gives instructions to automatically take you to another web address. Common reasons for redirects include when you change URLs, or you want to redirect people that forget to type in the “www.” into the URL bar, or if you have multiple domains to protect your brand. Nevertheless, redirects can take additional time for browsers to read and process. Recommendations include removing redirect chains, reducing the volume of internal links that point to other URLs (which you see a lot of here today!), and eliminating unneeded redirects. Further guidance for applying these recommendations can be found here.

Create Mobile Friendly Pages

In 2015, while we were still recovering from multiple plays of Adele’s album, Google was tweaking their search algorithm to give preferential treatment to sites that are mobile friendly.

The gentle push from Google was necessary as 65% of US citizens own mobile devices and a good mobile experience keeps the masses happy. Mobile friendly sites need to be scaled down to the screen size of a mobile device, all forms and widgets must be easier to use without involving scrolling, zooming or pinching. There are many behind the scene factors that make a good mobile experience, such as, minifying code, using browser caching and having fewer images on a mobile site. Some of these recommendations can be found in a report generated by Google that tests mobile site speed, which can be found here.

Conclusion

Your website is often your customers’ first interaction with your brand and no one wants to wait to learn more. It is counterintuitive, but users would rather leave a slow site with the right content to check other sites that give them less quality but at a faster rate. A conversation with your web developers can make your site more efficient and easier to access, which will ultimately lead to more customer engagement.

 
 

Automate and Better Manage Your Budget Through Scripts

Jacob Fairclough | | @RealSecretJake

Today we’ll tackle a few basics of budget based scripts. Why budgets? Well, first of all, they impact every advertiser. In fact, it is one of the requirements for launching a campaign. Second, since budgets are relatively limited and fixed in their implementation it is a great way to get your feet wet in the scripts world.

Through my examples, you’ll see how to change a simple template and dramatically alter the functionality. This is not only efficient but one of the best ways to learn and increase your skill set. You’ll need to do some lifting on your own but with a little learning you should quickly find that you can fulfill most of your scripting needs on your own with no need for developers or external tools.

Getting Started: Accessing The Budget

Since budgets are a component of campaigns, you’ll start by accessing the campaigns in question. If you’ve ever looked at a script, this should look familiar to you.

Once you have the campaign selected you’ll then go one step further and select the budget. Below is a screenshot from the Google help material. As you can see, it starts by selecting campaigns, cycles through the campaigns, sets the budget to 100 and prints the budget with Logger.log().

Simple-Script

This is nice and simple but what if you want to do more?

Increasing The Budget For Limited Campaigns

Sometimes traffic sneaks up on you and campaigns with low budgets expend themselves before the end of the day. What if we want to automatically increase these budgets? It’s easy enough once you know the steps. This isn’t a trick question as the steps are exactly what you would do when changing the budget manually.

First, we’ll check if the daily spend is greater than the daily budget. I’m going to take a more conservative approach though. Rather than look at the previous day, I want to see if we are consistently limited by budget. I’ll take the last seven days of data and then calculate the average daily spend. If the average daily spend is greater than the daily budget, I’ll increase the budget by 15%.

Increase-Budget-Script

Once you take a look at the script, you’ll realize not too much has changed. We calculated the average daily spend and implemented it into our original script.

This is often where I see people’s eyes light up. You don’t and shouldn’t start from scratch every time. A good portion of the code is reusable, and you can adapt it to your own specific needs.

Cutting Budgets And Pausing Campaigns

Sometimes you have to toe the line with budgets. You need to maximize click volume, but there is enough traffic that you can blow the budget if you don’t keep a close eye on it.

Let’s take the same script we’ve used above and add additional logic. First, we need a way to calculate our total spend. Thankfully, unlike the dark ages where your only option was to sum up all your campaigns, we can now get account spend. We simply select the current account and get the stats for the month to date time period.

Now that we have a reference for the total spend, we run the script as before but if certain thresholds are reached, we start adjusting budgets.

We will use a simple method here and half the budgets once we reach a certain threshold. Specifically, once we hit 75% of the monthly budget we cut the budgets by half as a precautionary measure. This isn’t something I’d recommend, but it serves as a great example.

75-Percent-of-Budget

Pausing Campaigns At A Certain Spend Level

Now that we know how to calculate total account spend, it is just as easy to set periodic thresholds where we cut budgets throughout the month as we approach the limit, the opposite of what we did in the increasing budget example.

This isn’t always practical though. You will often have your top performers running all the time. It should be the poor to mediocre performers that get cut.

You’ll notice the template script had a line for “campaign name.” This can be a great way to filter if you have a consistent naming convention. On the other hand, I’d recommend labels as the more robust solution. The semi-permanence of labels makes them perfect for tagging parts of your account on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.

A labeling system allows you to hone in on a group of labels or ignore them completely. For instance, you may opt to leave you brand campaigns running but pause anything with a “generic” or “low ROAS” label.

Now we’ll take a look at a subsection of campaigns, defined by a specific label. Let’s imagine that we have a set monthly budget. Once we approach 75% of the total spend of that budget, we want to pause a group of test campaigns. These tests are campaigns we are trying this month but ultimately aren’t important to overall performance.

The only thing we need is to calculate the percentage of spend and pause the test campaigns if needed.

For this example, we check actual spend to the limit. If the ratio exceeds 75% we pause the test campaigns to make room for the standard campaigns we’d like to keep running.

Script-Pause

What’s Next?

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a post like this is applicability. Every account differs in performance and needs. This makes it hard to create a post that gives you exactly what you are looking for. I doubt that any of these scripts are a final solution, but I hope you’re encouraged to adapt them to your needs.

As shown in the examples, sometimes a few lines of code are all you need to drastically change the output. Any of the ideas above could even be combined into a mega script that manages budgets by checking spend across multiple categories and fine tuning as needed.

 
 

9 Paid Search Tips to Improve Your Health & Wellness Business

Hanapin Marketing | | @Hanapin

Attention Health and Wellness marketers? Are you searching for tips to boost your brand’s performance and paid search success? From implementing call tracking to saving with negative keywords to customize your landing pages just right, we have 9 essential steps you need to be taking right now.

Look no further than this super fun, animated GIFographic!

9 Paid Search Tips to Improve Your Health & Wellness Business

 
 

The Reason Why Brands SHOULDN’T Focus All of Their Paid Efforts on Google and Facebook

Jeff Allen | President at Hanapin Marketing | @JeffAllenUT

There’s a lot of digital dollars being spent on Google and Facebook. eMarketer released a new report today forecasting that US digital ad spending will reach $83 billion in 2017. Google will account for 40.7% of digital ad revenues, with Facebook coming in at under half of that.

Per the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), both will continue to increase at greater than 20% YoY –  at least for Google and Facebook. The platforms together captured an astonishing 99% of the growth in ad revenue when comparing Q3 of 2015 to Q3 of 2016, per Jason Kint of Digital Content Next.

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For brand advertisers, it’s easy to think that “if so much money is spent with just two platforms, why shouldn’t we focus 100% of our efforts on Google and Facebook?”

Just focusing on Facebook and Google will certainly eliminate a lot of complexity and significantly reduce costs. It’s a good case to be made and one I’m sure many advertisers have considered. However, just because you’re spending on Google and Facebook, doesn’t mean you’re hitting your ROI goals.

If other platforms aren’t capturing growing ad spend, they may cut discounts, or if they are auction-based, they should have lower CPC’s. Advertising platforms all follow the same ark. They get a lot of users, struggle to find a way to monetize those users through non-advertising methods, and then add a select group of partners who can buy on their site, creating a self-service model.

Eventually, inventory or price will cause advertisers to flee Google and Facebook. It probably will not happen for years, but if you wait until everyone else starts escaping, you will pay more to learn how to win in the new platforms. Why? CPC’s will be higher with the influx of competition and you won’t know which platforms to test first, so you’ll likely have to invest in a broad range until you find some that stick. That lengthens your timeline to get back to acceptable ROAS goals, all while paying a higher cost for the learning.

So my main point is, don’t wait. Embrace the complexity of being on new and different platforms. If you truly want to win and be successful with paid search, you must keep expanding, keep testing, and keep searching (see what I did there?!) for new audiences.

ICYMI
I wrote a whitepaper on the PPC Trends Every CMO Needs to Know, including why Voice Search matters now (even without ad formats) and how you can make sure your brand doesn’t end up with ads on less than ideal online sites that will make your consumers angry.