Google’s new PPC features are loaded with AI

At Google’s San Francisco marketing conference, held in May, the internet super-corporation made some startling claims about the future of its AdWords tool. Of huge interest to anyone who engages in pay per click campaigns in the UK, the event – named Google Marketing Next – saw a number of innovations added to Google’s current offering. Aimed at larger businesses in the main, their presentation of key new features was certainly designed to be eye-catching, but what of the details which will be of more interest to smaller organisations? Read on to discover the future of pay per click marketing and how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will play an ever greater role.

New Customisation Features Help You Hone In

In the near future, Google will allow e-marketing professionals to perform a query that will let them see who, or what sort of surfer, is accessing their website via a pay per click campaign in AdWords. This means that for the first time it will be possible to tell whether a particular search term is being clicked through on from a genuine customer or perhaps someone simply doing a bit of research. Google’s Director of Audience Products, Bhanu Narasimhan, said that this function will allow for conversion rates for in-market audiences that are improved by ten per cent, on average.

Any in-market search feature is likely to improve the ability to attract specific types of consumer. However, this is not all Google have announced. At the present time, there are just under 500 types of in-market audiences that can be displayed within AdWords. In a further announcement made by Karen Yao, the organisation’s Group Product Manager for Ad Platforms, fully customisable in-market audience will now be possible, too. For example, by adding keywords that might have been used by someone looking for a product or service you sell, it will be possible to customise an in-market audience specifically for them. Thanks to the big data and machine learning offering of Google, this should allow for a much greater targeting of customers, new and old.

Target Your Clients’ Life Events

In the past, life event targeting relied on fairly simple AI, but Google’s Tensorflow processing system has revolutionised it. Getting to grips with would-be consumers who are going through a targetable life event means being able to gain a distinct advantage over competitors.

Whether you market to recent graduates, to people who have just bought a home, or to newlyweds, advertising to people in a more structured and, frankly, intelligent way is now available due to Google’s investment in this fast-moving technology.

Use Attribution Modelling Features to Track Customer Interactions

Google Attribution is already available in AdWords, DoubleClick and Analytics, so what needed to be improved? Basically, the issue with many attribution models is that they are somewhat limited when it comes to reproducing real-world behaviours. People just don’t ‘behave’ online in the way that we assume they might. Nevertheless, thanks to Google’s updated store visit data, better store sales data and a consolidation of data that is easier to read, marketing professionals won’t need to try to use the existing tools in the same way anymore. For example, constantly tweaking models for one-off or seasonal behaviours will be done away with. Due to Google’s machine learning, data-driven models will now cleverly weigh up how each click point in a sales and marketing process contributes to the overall outcome.

In Summary

There are four key points to take away from Google Marketing Next. They are:

1. The growth of artificial intelligence in the way Google will run services like AdWords
2. The increased accent on life event targeting.
3. The ability to customise in-market audiences.
4. The fact that automation is likely to play an ever greater role in e-marketing this year and next.

Therefore, it is going to take even more specialisation and expertise to successfully squeeze the best out of e-marketing campaigns in the future. It looks like another learning curve for agencies and another reason why you shouldn’t attempt to use all these tools yourself!

Local SEO: How to Design the Perfect Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Local Small Business

Small businesses sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to digital marketing strategy. Without the size of national corporations or the capital for huge marketing campaigns, it can feel like you’re relegated to old-fashioned marketing techniques to bring in a steady trickle of clients and customers. But before you give up on digital marketing as a whole, you should know that the tactics used by larger companies can be harnessed for local SEO and applied to small businesses for huge results. Here are some of the best tactics to make sure your company gets the local exposure it needs to be successful.

Email Marketing

shutterstock_103449926According to MediaBistro, a whopping 98 percent of companies already use some type of email marketing. But while newsletters and promotions might help drive traffic to your company, they can also seem impersonal – particularly when you’re trying to grow a local audience. If you do plan on utilizing email marketing, try dividing your email contacts by national customers and those who are local. After all, some services – a nail salon, for instance—won’t make much sense on a nationwide sphere. By targeting only those who live within your service area, you spend less time clogging up email inboxes and more time extending offers to those who are most likely to patron your small business.

Social Media

If email marketing is the most broadly used type of digital marketing strategy, then social media is the friendliest. Social media gives customers the chance to get to know your business on a more casual level, and shouldn’t be skipped. Whether you start a Facebook page, a Twitter feed or have chats on your company’s LinkedIn profile, social media gives customers a chance to get to know you. Even smaller local businesses can gather “Likes” on a Facebook page that lists your business’ hours, location and even reviews all from one place. And, the bigger Web presence you have, the better chance at scoring customers and getting feedback.

Web Content

shutterstock_153218306While marketing is sometimes seen in a negative light, content marketing has changed the face of digital marketing strategy completely. Instead of advertisements being sent to prospective customers, content causes customers to actually seek out your business using articles, videos and other digital content. Whether it’s a funny video on your site or an interesting article that incorporates some of your services or products, content allows you to offer something to your customer: Information. It’s a simple way to drive local traffic to your site, particularly if your content is targeted to a local geographic area.

Optimised Search

shutterstock_119873725Of course, content marketing could be a moot point if you don’t optimise your search options. By applying local SEO strategy to your website, social media and overall brand, you help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for— you. The right keywords make all the difference in the SEO sphere, so making sure your content is location-rich and utilizes the places within your service area helps improve search results and eventually, website traffic. Small businesses can look to an SEO agency for help to choose the right type of content and best keywords for search optimization for the best results and biggest bump in traffic.

Along the lines of SEO, a carefully structured local PPC strategy will provide a low-cost alternative to help direct target customers right to your website using local keywords. These types of keywords tend to have a lower cost per click, therefore local business with moderate marketing budgets can leverage this avenue as well. In addition, PPC will also help your business understand which keywords work best to draw traffic to your website before investing time and resources into ranking for a given keyword in organic search.

While it may seem like a brave new world out there for small businesses, what may seem like a daunting menu of marketing options can actually serve up success for local companies. By detailing your marketing strategy to include content, SEO, PPC and social media accounts, you’ll gain local attention fairly quickly—and new customers.

Dangerous Mistakes in Email Marketing: How Your Business Could Flatline Before You Hit Send

Despite all of the recent hype about new marketing techniques that use SMS or social media, “classic” email marketing is by no means a thing of the past.

In fact, email marketing still has an extremely high ROI of over $32 for every dollar spent, with the average now being around $42. Of course, such success rates hold true when a company takes advantage of email marketing to the best of their abilities, using data about their customer base and smart email optimization techniques.

If you are already using email marketing and not seeing these sorts of results, make sure you are following the best email marketing strategies available.

Use some of these tips to take your email marketing campaign to the next level:

Make Your Readers Want to Open Your Email

opening door like emailsOne of the biggest hurdles in email marketing is getting your customers to actually read your message. This is because other common marketing problems, like knowing that your message has been delivered properly, are minor concerns when it comes to emails, which send you a response when your message hasn’t sent properly or other technical difficulties arise. Similarly, people have been found to check their email on average 34 times a day—largely thanks to the popularity of smart phones—meaning your email can be read dozens of times throughout the day. In light of this knowledge, your challenge is actually getting your customers to open your email and not send it directly into the trash.

You should consider the subject of your email very carefully. If you think this might be what is inhibiting your email campaign’s success, you can contact an email marketing agency or digital strategy agency to find out what messages your clients will best respond to. Research like this could increase the rate of opening by over 25% at times.

Perhaps most importantly, you must ensure that your website landing pages are optimized for mobile devices. If a potential client accesses your site via mobile device and it takes forever to load, or is difficult to navigate, you will have shot your entire marketing campaign in the foot. Responsive email design is a crucial party of your campaign—so don’t overlook it in this era of mobile phone mania.

Pay Attention to Alt Tags

Estimates find that over 80% of users have images disabled on their email accounts, probably to avoid downloading malware and to speed up processing. If one of your readers with this feature opens your email and only sees a bunch of empty frames, they will obviously ignore your message and odds are they will unsubscribe from your list. Add alt tags to all of your images. These should be concise, but still contain your SEO keyword and the basic message you want to get across to your customers.

Make the Email Interesting and Interactive

email marketingThere’s nothing worse than getting a form email that simply tells you to buy a product because, well, your company thinks they should. You have to make your email applicable to the clients that are receiving it and actually interesting for them to read. Don’t send out generic form emails to all of your customers – make groups based on whatever characteristics are applicable to your company’s product or message. An even better way to engage with your audience is to place a “call to action” in the email. Ask them to leave their opinion, vote for their favorite item, enter into a contest, complain to their local officials, or whatever makes sense given your organization’s goals. The point is to give your customers a way to really interact with your business or at least the cause that it is based on. Asking your customers to actively participate can be the difference between a successful email marketing campaign and a dud.

Take your company to the next level with an email marketing campaign tailored to your specific customer base and company needs, and use these tips to make sure you see the ROI you have been looking for!

The bottom line – why nothing else (really, truly) matters

Lies, damn lies and statistics is a well known expression and whilst we don’t strictly adhere to the hostility of this line levelled at what is just an inert mathematical measure, it’s instructive that figures can get a bad rep if used in the wrong way.

We’d like to outline why you need to sweep away the negative thoughts and embrace measurements and assessment criteria as they are the lifeblood of any ambitious or growing company.

Picture this: your financial manager comes into see you one day saying we need to invest more money into a new marketing channel and when you ask:

‘how much?’

They reply ‘I don’t know’

I don’t think it would be likely you’d grant their wishes. Marketing no longer needs to be conducted in a ‘hit it and hope’ fashion.

So why, fundamentally, does the bottom line matter so much? To understand this, lets take a look at SMART objectives, KPIs and measuring performance.

SMART-en up your thinking

Smart goal setting concept

Any growing business needs to be closely and carefully monitored and managed.

As your business grows you need to understand where you are today and just as importantly, it allows you to set the scene for target setting to influence your strategy for future growth.

As most marketing managers will be able to tell you, the best types of objectives are the ones which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

A non-SMART objective is no objective as the saying goes.

KPIs are the business

Key Performance Indicators or KPIs, are the specific performance measures for your business that you choose as your benchmark. They are your key business drivers and by definition, the parts of the business you should choose to focus on. You should be able to determine what your KPIs are. Put simply, the performance of these has the greatest impact on your business success.

Which leads neatly onto the digital world and the need to be able to measure the commercial benefit for any strategic or tactical digital activity.

There’s an apocryphal story of an advertising man saying:

‘I know that 50% of my advertising is working (and by extension, 50% isn’t!), the only problem is, I don’t know which 50%!’

That is no longer the case, with digital we have an opportunity to determine with both accuracy and confidence exactly what works and what doesn’t. And in the digital world, you really should be aiming to cut out the stuff that’s proven not to work, and maximise the stuff that is.

It sounds desperately simple, doesn’t it? Which makes it all the more surprising that many digital agencies seem to be focus more on the visible symptoms rather than the underlying disease, metaphorically speaking. By this we mean being more concerned with marketing activity metrics rather than what these metrics mean to the commercial interests of the company. Which seems very odd to us.

Measures that allow you to perform

When it comes to results and metrics and smart objectives, it pays to consider a company which first and foremost measures the bottom line for our clients (and is judged accordingly). Which is also why one of our challenges, to you, is to ‘do more’ because by doing more, and measuring more, you are more likely to achieve a successful result.

Which is precisely why most of our illustrations and case studies measure the commercial difference our digital actions made to our clients, rather than anything else.

‘Result’, as you (and we) might say!

Unsolicited Marketing Email and LinkedIn Spam: The Seven ‘Tells’

We get about three of these emails a day, they drop into our inbox and we normally delete them. It’s easy to read the ‘tells’ that give away they’re spam. However we were surprised that clients still forward to these for our comments, so thought it best to help by showing you what we do to evaluate this kind of contact.

Here’s a typical email and how we deconstruct it:

Email Spam Advice

1. Sent From a ‘Free’ Generic Email Account

Let’s start with the obvious: it’s sent from a gmail account. Anyone can get a Gmail account (or Yahoo! or Hotmail for that matter). They are free, but also they don’t tell you anything about the sender, so immediately we are on ‘amber’ alert.

2. Sent to Your ‘Catch All’ Email Account

This one was sent to info@[clientsdomainname], some try, admin@ or sales@… it doesn’t really matter, but if the email is not sent to a named email address and you’ve never heard from them before, the chances are they don’t know anything about you or your business.

3. Impersonal Greeting / Salutation

If they’re going to start telling you things about your website and get all personal, it would be nice for them to approach you by name – it would show they know (or, in this case, don’t know) who they’re talking to.

4. Kicking Off With a Bold Claim

The easiest way to get attention is to poke someone in the ribs. Therefore the first item on the list is to tell them something that they would like to improve – rankings, visibility, traffic, sales. Everyone, even the successful, could be doing better, so this is an easy ‘win’.

5. Give Them the Reasons

However out of date, however unsubstantiated, these emails are normally filled with seemingly impressive reasons and claims for findings.

6. No Evidence of Success or Skills

At the same time, the emails fail to give any evidence of the claims made, because they almost certainly have not visited the website in question and prefer not to even identify themselves.

7. Poor English

Most of these emails emanate  from outside of the UK, commonly Asia or Eastern Europe, they often reveal the hurried and chaotic approach of the sender and give you a clue as to what kind of service to expect.

What Action Should You Take?

The  next time one of these emails drops into your inbox, use these checks. If the email sent to you contains most or all of these tells just ignore and delete. Whatever you do, do not reply, or you will waste further valuable hours of your life!

LinkedIn Spam – The Approach is Closer to Home

And, here’s a new one received the other week through LinkedIn, sadly it was from an agency based in the South of England. We can apply the same logic and checks to see if we can pick out the tells in this one.

LinkedIn Spam

Firstly because it’s through LinkedIn there’s no credit to the sender for getting a name and location from a LinkedIn profile. The clumsy use of the location in my salutation actually put me off, because it’s not actually where I work, just the nearest town. I suppose it demonstrates a modicum of effort on the part of the sender, but after that it goes rapidly downhill.

The thing is here we can see two things:

  1. That the sender is pitching for new business but offering no real evidence in the email of even realising he’s sent this (probably accidentally), to another marketing agency
  2. He’s very kindly given two business names so we can take a look at his website and  judge for ourselves

If They Tell You Who They Are, then DDD: Do Due Diligence

So, how can we tackle this? The best way is to judge the various claims he’s made in the email.

  1. ‘Awesome websites’: OK, let’s have a look, his site is OK (I mean really on the moderate side of OK), the client sites listed, really un-awesome.
  2. ‘Design, eCommerce, branding, print design and everything in between’: again, sounds great, must have a whole army behind him and been in the business years. Er, no, checking his LinkedIn profile shows that this outstanding digital agency has been going less than a year – and previous jobs hardly spark excitement or give evidence to this broad range of skills.
  3. ‘SEO company’: ah, so, in less than a year all of these amazing things aren’t enough, he’s also got a SEO company. So let’s see how well optimised his current website is. He can’t even get onto page one of Google for ‘web design in [TinyTown]’ (the town his business is based in). So, if he can’t even optimise his own, what chance would a client have?

We hope this demonstrates, either way, that you can easily discover for yourself whether one of these emails is worth taking the time on. If you start from the basis of ‘probably spam but prove me wrong’ then we’re confident you’ll come up with the right answer in your investigations.

What Action Should You Take?

That’s up to you, I think this kind of approach makes a mockery of what LinkedIn should be – proper value-added networking opportunities, not unsolicited lazy spam.

So I replied to the sender and marked it as Spam in LinkedIn. And, if you’re reading this in the forum he went through in the first place, we can share the joke too.

Happy hunting!

Can You Automate Your Digital Marketing?

It’s a question we’re increasingly covering with clients as they get to grips with the speed of diversification of online marketing channels.

This is often expressed in a number of ways with questions like:

  • How do you cope with the sheer range of online channels?
  • How can you value time, and use it more wisely?
  • What is the tipping point when time invested is greater than return?

Continue reading “Can You Automate Your Digital Marketing?”

Effective CRM Starts by banning the ‘Snooze-Letter’

One of the main problems for digital marketing is born out of eagerness to put the horse before the cart. To clarify… that is to decide on a campaign without a well thought-out strategy.

So it is with much of email marketing. It makes so much sense to use emails over pretty much every other form of direct maketing, and most fault foul of the two most common problems:

  1. The company involved doesn’t even have an opted in email list (and, please don’t get us started in terms of buying email lists… ) Continue reading “Effective CRM Starts by banning the ‘Snooze-Letter’”

Email Optimisation: How a Monkey Performs 46% Better than the Average


The three biggest limiting factors for your email marketing are:

  1. Assumptions – where faced with an either/or situation, you just go for the one you think is best
  2. Lack of attention to detail – small improvements are discarded as being irrelevant or inconsequential
  3. Attrition – by serving the same type of email (design or content) again and again then performance slowly deteriorates over time

All of this can be avoided by using simple testing: either by adapting as you go along, or better still by running in-email A/B optimisation.

What this means is that you can send a proportion of a list one email (normally half) and Continue reading “Email Optimisation: How a Monkey Performs 46% Better than the Average”

How Not To Do Email Marketing: 4 Tips From a Recent Inbox Arrival

We just received this email in our inbox and felt obliged to share it, not because we like specifically ‘naming and shaming’ but because it shows that even the bigger brands can get it wrong. Badly wrong!

So, let’s do a very quick ‘deconstruct’ job on this: Continue reading “How Not To Do Email Marketing: 4 Tips From a Recent Inbox Arrival”

The Gloves are Off as Local Goes Global

Three announcements and launches in the space of two days and the gloves are off to see who can lead local digital advertising and marketing. Whilst there’s room for all, across the web, generally there’ll only be one ‘leader of the pack’…

#1: 1 June 2011: Google Offers Launches

Google OffersGoogle launches a new Local Offers service in Oregon with a view to expanding rapidly across the United States, hooking up with it’s search dominance and mobile phone platform (Android)… as well as murmers of NFC (near field communications) chip technology to alert mobile users.

Continue reading “The Gloves are Off as Local Goes Global”

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