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Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Create Ads with the Best Conversion Rates

How to Create Ads with the Best Conversion Rates

The bane of most businesses when it comes to online advertising is the largely hit-and-miss tactic of keyword implementation. It is one thing to know which keywords should result in more click-through traffic and subsequently to more sales. However, keywords that should deliver do not always do so. The reasons are as follows, and they are surprisingly simple:
Why Keywords Alone are Not Enough
The goal of any online advertising campaign is to increase traffic that converts. Millions of page hits don’t do anything but drive up bandwidth usage if the click-through traffic does not result in sales once it reaches your site. Failed conversions usually revolve around some typical problems; for instance, many companies focus on keywords that don’t really add much content or traffic to their site, and they spend a lot of time, money, and effort to make something that is of little value.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this: rather than choosing keywords with high traffic volume in the hope that conversions will magically happen, choose more relevant ones, ones that add to your site’s image and credibility.
The Open Internet Exchange and You
There are several companies that specialize in maximizing your ads and internet traffic that you can use, such as Endai, HTP Marketing, and Phorm Inc to name a few (learn more about Phorm Inc for marketing strategies). Typically, they work with advertisers directly at the Internet service provider (ISP) level to more efficiently and effectively pair Internet users with advertisements that are relevant to their interests.
Each of the participating ISPs already keeps databases of anonymous user information regarding which sites users visit and when. This information is then submitted to the Open Internet Exchange (OIX). Advertisers create campaigns based directly on a product or service and submit those to the OIX from the opposite end.
When a user at a certain IP goes to a page that has advertising, the OIX matches that user with advertising campaigns that are relevant based on current and frequent surfing habits. For instance, there is no point in showing ads for camera gear to a user who accidentally visited a photography supply site once for two seconds. Conversely, someone who visits sites about camera gear frequently for longer periods is more likely to click-through and buy when they see an ad for camera gear on another site.
The OIX knows the difference. Sure, this type of targeted advertising may cost a little more than traditional services, but it is far more effective. Most companies find that their advertising budgets go further due to a rapid and steady increase in sales as a result of effectively targeting users.
Kevin Kaiser is a SEO enthusiast and current dental student. Follow him on twitter @kevinckaiser.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Hidden Cost Of Cheap SEO & Social Media Labor

We totally agree with Jordan Kasteler below-we see sites every day that are cheap and social media sites that are just spammy. You will get what you pay for----

The Hidden Cost Of Cheap SEO & Social Media Labor

Fact: All businesses, large or small, want to save money wherever they can.
I understand this. I sympathize with this. What I don’t understand, however, is why so many businesses try to take the cheap route and cut corners in their online strategy— and then are dumbfounded when they get scammed/receive terrible results/get blocked by Google.
I know how devastatingly costly it can be to launch, maintain, and grow a business. But there are certain aspects of building a business where it’s never okay to cut corners. You wouldn’t hire an inexperienced, too-cheap contractor to build the building. You wouldn’t buy discounted, bruised produce if you owned a restaurant and you wouldn’t buy day-old bread for your sandwich shop.
So why would you trust your website and your online reputation— the very first introduction your customers will have with your business — to an inexperienced amateur or a too-cheap scammer?
In life and online, you get what you pay for. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: solid, successful SEO and social strategies take time. Time is money. Try to save a few dollars now by hiring a cheap, inexperienced, or shoddy “professional” and you’ll guaranteedly pay for it later.
Still not buying it? Here’s a look at what suffers when you try to cut corners (or hire someone that cuts them for you).
Blackhat SEO comicImage Credit: ByronShell via Flickr

What Happens When You Try to Take the Cheap Route

1.  What You Pay For: Cheap links or linkbuilding campaigns.
What You Get: Google Penguin.
Google hates link spam. Google punishes link spam. In fact, Google punishes anything that even looks like link spam. On April 24th, Google unleashed Google Penguin, an anti-spam algorithm update that affected roughly three percent of queries. All controversy about the effectiveness about the update aside, Penguin proved that Google is actively going after sites with spam, and its history of shutting down link networks and blog networks further proves the point.
Buying links is the overt way to take the cheap-and-easy route in linkbuilding (and scheming link builders abound), but it’s not the only one. As I’ve written before, linkbuilding takes time. Connections aren’t forged overnight, and anyone who promises you major results overnight is a liar.
An experienced SEO may have a well-established network of connections to start a linkbuilding campaign, but you’ll pay for those connections. A bottom-barrel hourly rate is a surefire way to indicate shortcuts (buying links) or inexperience (laughable outreach emails).
Believe it or not, inexperience can be just as dangerous as a linkbuilder who overtly cheats the search engines, since an amateur “SEO” may have no idea what he’s doing looks like link spam to the search engines.
Don’t buy your links. Don’t fall for miracle-worker pitches, and be prepared to pay a decent price for a linkbuilding campaign. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll get results—real results that won’t get your site banned.
2. What You Pay For: Cheap Content.
What You Get: Google Panda
Google Panda probably needs no introduction, but I’ll give it one anyway: Panda was the major algorithm update from February 2011 that forced content farms into near-extinction. The age of cheap, shoddily-written content was over, and Google reminded us that not just any content could be king: only usable, quality (not keyword-stuffed) content could reign in the post-Panda wake.
But let’s take this a step beyond the obvious you-won’t-rank-well-with-terrible-content factor: cheap content does nothing for your business. Effective strategists use content to move people, to communicate, to grab attention, etc. Quality content compels: compels people to share, compels people to comment, compels people to buy.
Cheap, poorly-made content does nothing. It sits on a page, waiting to attract searchers (who, 9 times out of 10, will immediately get turned off by the content and return to the SERPs in seconds), and gets websites dinged by Google.
Hire a real blogger, writer, designer, videographer, professional. Look at their portfolio and really look at what they’ve done before (and if they don’t have a portfolio, run). If you’re going to put content on your site, it should be every bit as good as the site itself.
3. What You Pay For: Cheap Web Design and Development.
What You Get: Errors. Security vulnerabilities. Poor conversion rates. And, often, a pretty terrible-looking site.
Yes, you could pay somebody $50 to make you a website. And it will suck.
There are many amateurs out there who can slap together a GoDaddy-hosted site and make it look reasonably attractive (and millions more who can make an ugly one). But aesthetics aside, you don’t just need a site that looks pretty—you need one that functions.
Ask your developer how your site will be able to grow in the future. Ask if they know SEO (they should). Ask to see what sites they’ve designed in the past, and find out what hurdles they had to overcome when developing them. Ask what steps they’re going to take to increase conversion and lead your customers down the sales funnel.
Your website is the first impression you will make on potential customers. It’s also an extension of your physical business: it can take payments, answer questions, and show off your products and services like a virtual shop window.
With all the business your website can bring you, why leave it to an amateur that can develop a site that a.) crashes constantly, hurting your reputation; b.) confuses customers; c.) has little potential for growth?
Choose a Web professional that will stick around for the long haul: when it’s time to update or increase your site, you’ll want to return to the person who did an amazing job building it in the first place.
4What You Pay For: Cheap SEO.
What You Get: Over-optimization, black hat tactics, zero results.
Professional SEOs are expensive. Like a lawyer or an accountant, they perform a function which most businesses need to exist but one that’s hard for most people to understand. They speak their own language, and they’ve built a reputation and results after years in the field.
If you want results, you will have to pay for them. And they will not come overnight.
When you hire an SEO (or social media marketer, linkbuilder, etc.), you are trusting them with your site and your online reputation. If you are not 100% clear on what they’re doing, you’ll have no guarantee they’re not doing something that could get your site penalized.
If they don’t stay updated on the world of SEO, they could be practicing outdated tactics that can get your site dinged for over-optimization. And if they can’t (or don’t know how) to measure their progress, you’ll have no idea if your SEO budget is actually doing anything for your site.
5. What You Pay For: Cheap Social Media Marketing and Management.
What You Get: Banned accounts and unauthentic results.
Social media may be free, but the hours spent managing your social accounts certainly come at a price. Any so-called social media guru should be advertising their people skills, marketing knowledge, and past experience running active accounts.
They should not be promising you hard-and-fast numbers of followers or fans. It’s one thing to promise to boost your numbers. It’s another thing to promise you 5,000 followers overnight.
Social media is built on relationships: showing your customers a different side of you, answering questions, getting feedback, and addressing complaints. You need someone who won’t just tweet three times a day (you could do that yourself, with considerably better results).
A talented social media manager will match your brand’s voice and build campaigns with clear goals— and that goal won’t be to simply nab you random followers or fans. It’s to build an audience based on people that will help your business grow. And they should be able to show you (in real numbers) how your social presence is helping your business.
You could hire an inexperienced college grad with 50 Twitter followers. You could hire someone who’s just going to boost your numbers with known follow-back accounts and accrue thousands of useless followers. Or you could  actually hire someone who knows what they’re doing—and actually see results.

There Are No Shortcuts. Period.

I don’t know if it’s hilarious or saddening that so many people fall for scams and get-rich-quick schemes from amateurs. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to keep exasperatedly saying, “There is no such thing as cheap SEO.” Because there isn’t.
No matter what low price you pay for Web design, SEO, or social media up front, you will wind up paying later on. Your site will get penalized. Your accounts will get blocked. And you will have to spend the time in the long run: whether it’s countless hours spent explaining things to a newbie, fixing a so-called “professional’s” mistakes, or working to recover your reputation, in the end, those pennies saved will cost you all the same.
So here’s a hint, a final plea, a last bit of advice: there are no shortcuts. Anyone who offers you one is a cheat, a liar, a scammer, or someone that has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. It’s your choice: hire someone who knows what they’re doing and will take the time to do it right, or pay for it later. Either way, you will get what you paid for. To that end, paying moremoney does not necessarily mean you’ll get better results either. I’ve seen many expensive agencies offer awful services for your dollar, too. The same rules apply.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

7 Basic Types of Stories: Which One Is Your Brand Telling? Creatives explore humans' archetypal plots By Tim Nudd

Droga5 turned Prudential's retirement story from rags-to-riches into one of rebirth.
You think you're being all clever and original with your brand storytelling. In fact, you're not. From Shakespeare to Spielberg to Soderbergh, there are really only seven different types of stories, an Advertising Week panel hosted by TBWA suggested on Wednesday. The challenge becomes finding which one best suits your brand, and then telling it skillfully, believably and—if you're going to invite consumers to join in the story—extremely carefully.
TBWA's global creative president, Rob Schwartz, led the discussion, which was based around author Christopher Booker's contention, in his book Seven Basic Plots, that seven archetypal themes recur in every kind of storytelling. Booker looked at why humans are psychologically programmed to imagine stories this way. Schwartz and his two panelists, Droga5 executive creative director Ted Royer and novelist (and former agency creative) Kathy Hepinstall, focused on how the theory applies to brands—and how creatives can make use of it in developing persuasive stories for them.
Below are the seven basic plots—with examples from art and advertising of stories that fit each one.

1. Overcoming the Monster. This type of story goes back through Beowulf to David and Goliath and surely a lot further than that. It's the classic underdog story. Ad examples include Apple's attack on Big Brother in "1984" and American Express's attempt to dent the dominance of Black Friday with Small Business Saturday.

2. Rebirth. A story of renewal. It's a Wonderful Life is a prime example from the movies. Brands telling stories of renewal include Gatorade, whose "Replay" campaign gave aging members of high-school sports teams a chance to recapture their youth through rematches against old foes; and Prudential, which is presenting retirement as the beginning of a new chapter, not the end of an old one.

3. Quest. A mission from point A to point B. The Lord of the Rings is the classic example. IBM and Lexus are among the marketers who are on self-professed quests—making a smarter planet and relentlessly pursuing perfection, respectively.

4. Journey and Return. A story about transformation through travel and homecoming.The Wizard of Oz and Where the Wild Things Are are both journey-and-return stories. Corona is one of the brands that also encourages a trip, urging you to "Find your beach" and return refreshed. And Expedia has built its whole new campaign around the idea of changing one's perception through journey and return.

5. Rags to Riches. In literature: Charles Dickens and Cinderella. In the movies: Trading Places. In ads: Chrysler, which is rising from the ashes of Detroit; and Johnny Walker, whose entire brand history is about a simple Scottish farmboy's rise to global prominence.

6. Tragedy. From the Greeks through Shakespeare, these are stories of the dark side of humanity and the futile nature of human experience. Advertising has little use for such stories, except in PSA work, where shock tactics and depressing tales can get people to care about an issue.

7. Comedy. The flipside of tragedy, and the last of the great storytelling tropes, it's perhaps the hardest to do well but is hugely popular in both popular art and advertising—with Old Spice and Geico among the brand leaders in the space.

Schwartz suggested the seven plots can provide a blueprint for figuring out what a brand story should be when there isn't one, or isn't a strong one. During the panel, both Royer and Hepinstall talked about the importance of generating potent stories that ring true, and can't be hijacked or exposed as fraudulent.
"Ads most often are 'The husband's dumb, the wife fixes it, now he's better,' " said Royer. "They're these simple little stories that, I think, a lot of people react against. But if we do it right, we can tell some really beautiful stories. One of my favorite ads of all time was the Halo ad with the metal figurines. They beautifully portrayed what the game was about … I thought it was captivating and wonderful and amazing."
At the core of every brand, Royer added, is a good story waiting to happen.
"Brands are stories," he said. "They want to embody a story. When we start working with a client, we don't want to take a brief. We don't want to just say, 'What's your problem?' We want to go right back to, 'Why was your company started? What's your mission?' We talk about mission all the time, and it's just another way of saying, 'What kind of story are you on? What kind of story do you want to tell?' … Part of our job as an agency is to reignite that and really figure out what that story is."
A new wrinkle in the digital age is the hijacking of brand stories. "The hilarious thing to me is when a story is now taken over by the people," Hepinstall said. "It used to be a one-way thing, where the company would say, 'We're this,' and invite no feedback. Now, in the age of social media, that's impossible." She pointed to Shell's recent crowdsourced posters and the Walmart/Pitbull incident as evidence of disasters that can happen when brands lose control of their stories.
Royer discussed Droga5's "Day One" work for Prudential, which doesn't encompass merely the brand story but also the individual stories of many of the 10,000 people who retire every day—who harbor fears that Prudential would like to turn into optimism.
"It is a very dry category, and also absolutely terrifying. And you don't want either one of those," he said. "There's got to be a way, we thought, to find a middle ground where you can have an open conversation about what that period of your life is, what it can be, what you think it is now, and the potential of it. That's why we named it Day One. It is a label, but it's a fixed point that everyone owns. Everyone in this room has a Day One. And if you see it as a point moving forward, as a point where there can be optimism, there can be renewal, there can be bigger themes at work than just fear and confusion, then I think that gives Prudential a brand mission beyond just the products it sells."
So much retirement advertising has been rags-to-riches stories, he added, with lots of golfing and yachts in the imagery. Switching to a rebirth story gives the brand a more relatable platform, particularly in harder times.
The panelists also discussed the phenomenon of product utility as story—in particular, the Nike FuelBand. That product, developed by R/GA, embodies the Nike brand mission, which at its core is a quest story—the quest for the perfect body.
The seven basic plots might give creatives inspiration when it comes to crafting brand stories. But Hepinstall said it sometimes can help to focus outward, away from the brand, toward consumers—and figure out their experiences and their stories.
A "genius burst of energy about the customer's story," can ignite a campaign, she said. "The most perfect example is 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.' I thought that was such a genius reframing of the customer experience."