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!

AdID from Google – Online Tracking, All Change Please!

Why Google Will Have Cookies for Breakfast with AdID!

1. Because They Want to Take Control

The main reason for Google to try to stop using cookies is that they want to develop something that they ‘own’. AdID is not just a cookie replacement – it’s a Google way of doing things: if they see something the think needs replacing, they improve and replace it and make sure that they take charge.

2. Because the Cookie is Past It

Google AdID to Replace the CookieCookies were one of those things that were probably thought up over a coffee or conversation next to a water cooler when the Internet was in it’s infancy. They’re old fashioned, clumsy and basic. Their time has come!

Also, cookies are increasingly being blocked either by the user or automatically by a browser and therefore they are under fire. What better way to get a stay of execution on cookie use than by coming up with a completely different device? Our guess is that Google will devise a way which cannot be blocked by browsers, but only by setting options in Google.

3. Because They Can…

Google is just about the only business big enough globally to actually do this. They already own approximately 1/3rd of the advertising marketplace in terms of revenue, and this will not only boost those revenues, but also make sure that all advertisers using Google for tracking ‘play ball’ with Google.

Ironically, Apple have already done this, with their IDFA (which is their replacement for cookies) but in the only advertising and tracking game, Apple is a banana and Google is a gorilla.

But There are Three Red Herrings…

Red Herring 1: Cookies are ‘Dead’

Cookies are still a the critical tool used to create the Internet’s ‘memory’ of users, and are not just used for advertising (although some would have us believe that is the case).

They are used for remembering shopping baskets, logins to secure websites, return visits, personalisation and analytics… most of this is benefits the visitor or customer.

Red Herring 2: That They Did it For Us

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? They are stating that this is to improve user privacy and anonymity, and that is true to a point, but actually, it’s to put the power into their hands. They will double their profits: firstly for the PR value of being on the consumer side, and secondly for having greater control over online advertising. Not quite ‘as described’, is it?

Red Herring 3: This Circumvents the ePrivacy ‘Cookie’ Law

The AdID does not suddenly mean that Google can dodge the Cookie Law, it doesn’t. The cookie law specifically states that any kind of tracking code which identifies the user or computer is subject to this law. However, Google does not mind, even if it is still ‘at war’ in the courts about its combined privacy policy AdID is no worse than cookies and has all the above benefits.

What This Means to You, Today

For most clients, very little, especially right now. This is something to come. The chances are in time that you may not even notice the effect of this even if you advertise a lot.

The guys who are sweating are the other advertising networks, particularly those who have sailed close to the wind when it comes to user privacy and third-party cookies. The bell was tolling for them anyway, it’s just no longer in the distance.

It also means that it is increasingly likely that future editions of Chrome will have ‘do not follow’ turned on!

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.

The Shifting Face of SEO: How Google is Changing the Game for Digital Marketers

Let’s be honest here: Google is the best of all when it comes to SEO strategy. That’s because as the largest search engine in the world, Google has an opportunity to create and alter algorithms that help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for.

And, to be the best of the best, Google is constantly altering the SEO landscape to focus results squarely on relevance. After all, can you imagine the mass exodus that would occur if Google started giving users false or irrelevant results? By educating yourself in the complicated ways that Google has been changing the game for the last year, you can better structure your strategy to ensure that your digital marketing tactics rank high on Google searches.

It’s All Semantics Now

semantic web crossword symbolA fairly new development in Google searches, the search engine giant has created a way to scour the Web and find the most relevant sites for any query. Semantic SEO was developed after the latest Hummingbird update to the Google algorithm. It gives Google the ability to rank websites not only on their keywords, but also relevant terms to that keyword.

Instead of just returning hits for couches when someone searches for a new sofa, the algorithm can also return searches for interior design, living rooms and other relevant keywords. Therefore, SEO marketers should focus less on one keyword, but several relevant keywords across all platforms to increase ranking chances.

News and Reviews

Reviews have become more and more popular online. Whether it’s looking to see how other diners have rated a restaurant or making sure that an online store is legit, consumers are smarter about where they put their dollars. Google has recognized the substance of online reviews and will soon be adding them to search results.

At a glance, customers can see your rating and what other customers are saying about you, so it may make more sense to shift focus and work on getting the best reviews in 2014. Increasing customer service and frequenting review sites can help you address concerns and make sure you have an excellent online reputation.

Keyword Encryption

Where you could once log into your site stats and see exactly which terms users utilized to find your website, Google is changing the game with keyword encryption on all search activity except for click-on advertisements. By encrypting keywords, it’s more difficult identify keywords to stuff into your content to rank higher. Still, keep in mind that Bing and Yahoo don’t encrypt just yet, so you won’t be flying totally blind.

And, if you really want to know how users are getting to your site, check out your landing pages: It should give a good idea on which topics garner the most hits. Moving forward, your content and SEO strategy should be more about quality than quantity. By creating quality content, you’ll enjoy traffic no matter what the keyword.

Change is Good

Old way or new way? Change is goodKeep in mind that Google holds most of the cards. With near-constant changes and updates to algorithms, you may need a qualified SEO agency to help you navigate your way through digital marketing strategy. Still, Google ranks based upon quality and relevance, so making sure that you offer the best possible content means you won’t be deeply affected by changes and updates.

The world of SEO and content marketing can be confusing at times, especially when you’re catering to Google’s changes. But the updates are really to your benefit, as they help users more effectively pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for online.

By maximizing your digital marketing strategy and covering content, SEO and keyword bases, you can enjoy a high Google rating no matter what.

Learn about how we stay adaptive, and get in touch with us to find out how we can work with you on a long-term SEO strategy that stands Google’s test of time!

How to Optimise Your Company Blog for Lead Generation Success

Carving out a niche for your company in today’s lead-generation is much more complicated than in the past, thanks to search engines’ complicated formulas and the array of technological marketing techniques available in a cutthroat marketing world.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can optimize your website to receive a greater amount of traffic and consequently a higher number of clients. Creating a blog for your website is an oft- overlooked way to connect with your customer base and market your wares in a less traditional way. Blogs are great for not only increasing your website’s traffic but also for demonstrating your understanding of and dedication to your clients in a way that is sure to help your sales – if done in the right way.

What should you keep in mind if your company is starting a business blog to help bring its marketing and sales to the next level?

Keep the same formatting and style

To be most effective in increasing sales and not just traffic through your website, you should make sure that your blog looks and sounds similar to the rest of your website. This shows that your company is well-organized and makes it incredibly simple for clients to click through to your main website. An online advertising agency or web design agency can help design your blog if you are having trouble.

Make your blog interconnected with your website

Along the same lines, it is always a good idea to link to some of your other blog posts or internal web pages. This lends a sense of connectedness to your website and makes it more likely that customers will click through to your other articles and the rest of your site.

business blog

Use the blog to connect with your customers, not as another sales pitch

It is important to remember that, although you are making a blog as part of your marketing strategy, a blog’s central purpose should not be to sell a product or service. Instead, use the blog to connect with your clients on a more personal level. It should be like an extension of the FAQ section, though more general in scope. Post blog entries that answer the concerns of your customers, both those directly related to your products and those only somewhat related. This will increase traffic to your blog and demonstrate your dedication to your clients’ satisfaction and not simply your company’s profits.

Be consistent

The failure of many blogs to increase traffic or sales for a company has to do with its lack of consistent posting. For a blog to interest clients, it must not only have interesting information that is applicable to your customers, but also up-to-date resources. Keeping your blog updated shows that the information therein is still valid and that your company is investing energy in continuously connecting with its customers. Try to post something at least once a week.

Make your blog into an entry point

Your blog is not only a great way to connect with your clients that have come upon your website on their own, but also a convenient way to enlarge your network. By inserting several opportunities (links, icons, etc.) for your customers to share the information they are learning on your blog through social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, your company’s message and products can be distributed throughout your clients’ networks as well. In this way you can take advantage of a much greater pool of customers, all through the help of your existing clients. A social media agency or digital strategy company can help you effectively incorporate social media into your blog maintenance.

Make your website stand out from the rest by taking advantage of the many benefits of adding a company blog. Blogs can be easily optimized to help increase traffic to your website and, if done well, increase sales.

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!

Digital Marketing: why it pays to take a holistic approach

Generalists versus experts

So what’s it to be? Are we all generalists these days or does the world really belong to experts?Businesswoman in dress with arms crossed

Do we all need to carve increasingly narrow furrows in order to achieve?

It’s a debate that’s raged for years and been thrown into sharper relief by today’s business imperative for everyone to be able to ‘do more with less’.

Does that mean therefore, that people are increasingly becoming generalists and this skill is becoming more valued? Or is the complexity of our modern, fast paced and technologically infused business environment mean that people have to be an expert in something to enable them to be able to contribute meaningfully?

A recent expert review concluded that both skills are required, but at different times and what’s really important, is demonstrating versatility and being able to interchange these skills for different situations.

And how does this question translate into the digital world? Let’s imagine you are looking to employ a digital agency to help with some specific marketing activities, for instance search (whether organic or paid or both)? Do you go to a specialist SEO agency or PPC agency or a more ‘broad brush’ digital agency (like Ergo Digital for instance)?

The pitfalls of a narrow focus

Well, the specialist SEO agency is going to be great at SEO (you would hope so wouldn’t you!) and will improve your score on the organic ranking. Naturally the PPC agency is likely to be good at driving the appropriate traffic to your site according to some carefully chosen keywords. However, and it is a big however, each agency is likely to ‘bang the drum’ for their particular expertise, they’d be silly not to, and invest an inordinate amount of value to what they do , even if the activity was of narrow or possibly limited utility.

The knock on effect of this is that often businesses commit to a solution which may not be the best route to growth and performance. Certainly unless you are 100% sure that you know that a specific method is the best means to grow your opportunity, you may be left disappointed.

In our experience, digital marketing doesn’t respond to the narrow approach – its more interconnected than that, and the importance of one particular tactic versus another is likely to fluctuate according to each situation you are looking at.

Every business needs to nurture and grow every opportunity

New Opportunities - Green Pushpin on a Map Background.

Another difficulty with putting ‘all of your eggs in one basket’ is that every business is never just a static enterprise. All businesses change and evolve with time. Some grow, others shrink, but they all, to a lesser or greater degree change. Which means that your digital marketing tactics likewise should not stay static but needs to change as your business evolves.

Finally, we now know that it takes a number of touchpoints with potential prospects in order for them to convert into being customers – so often a journey can start with, say, AdWords, then move on to organic, possibly then email marketing and finally social – so banging a single drum may not have the best impact.

So the picture now looks a little more complicated, doesn’t it? There seems to be more of an imperative to look more broadly when reviewing your likely digital partner. So how do you recruit the right agency?

Let’s outline the ideal characteristics for ‘the perfect’ agency and think of some of the benefits these characteristics would bring:

  • Possesses an ability to see the bigger picture (its important to recognise which tactics are of greatest value at this point in the company’s evolution)
  • Has the required degree of specialisation to be able to leverage successfully each digital tactic
  • Has an understanding of the full suite of digital marketing tactics and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each when applying to different situations
  • Possesses flexibility, versatility and independence – to apply tactics when they are needed rather than because ‘we do this’

Or, if you wish to keep things simple – just employ Ergo Digital. More traffic, more conversions, more business….

Brand Building in the Digital age

Some definitions [and the good news first….]

The mechanics of developing the elements of a brand have remained constant, hooray! And it’s still fundamentally about the sweet spot between:

  • What a product/service does (its rational attributes and advantages)
  • The customer’s needs and how your product/service can satisfy them
  • An emotive charge – the values you wish to associate with your brand

So, the definition of branding as loyalty beyond reason still holds true.

But, what’s changed is pretty much everything else surrounding the brand, in other words the landscape the brand has to thrive in.

This time it’s different [sort of…]

While the core mechanics of what makes a brand a brand hasn’t really altered (your positioning is still defined as the space you occupy in the mind of your customers) what has changed is how you interact with those customers.

The digital age has fundamentally shifted the economics of marketing. That’s irrefutable.

What price loyalty?

Branding in the digital ageSo how has the landscape changed? Well for one thing consumers have so much more choice these days that they don’t have to show as much loyalty as before. Remember when you could get a customer and you had them for life (barring any screw ups obviously) – increasingly that’s not the case anymore.

Sure, there will still be some old (and in the main they tend to be old) advocates or brand aficionado who will remain loyal to you until the day they die, but that’s not the default position these days, they are merely a hangover of days past.

Today’s brand consumer is much more savvy, cynical and ultimately promiscuous. With way more choice than before. And are exposed to much more information not just about your brand, but that of your competitors. So it’s a lot harder to reach them these days.

You have to be able to cut through the clutter.

Customer interactions are now two way

And that’s not all; today’s consumers also expect to have a stake in your brand – marketers responded to this trend by customising their products (remember Burger King’s ‘have it your way?’).

In other words, they want to interact with your brands. There is a caveat of course, and this still holds true. They are looking for brands which share the same values as them. So you need to make sure that that part of your brand is as clearly communicated as possible.

This presents both opportunities and  threats. Do you also remember Nike’s customisation sweatshop PR debacle?   So you see, there can be as many challenges with a digital brand as opportunities. You have to be a lot more transparent with your brand these days.

The digital world means there is nowhere to hide.

A messy digital landscapeNumbers of Network

Another major change that the digital age has wrought is that there are so many more touch points to this interaction.

Now it’s a whole lot messier. And more iterative. With many more ways for a customer to interact with you. So how do you engage appropriately with your audience?

Today’s audience are looking for positive experiences. Not only that, they’re looking for a brand to provide content which is relevant to their lives and authentic. Transparency is key here.

So, to conclude, it’s about being creative on how you engage your audience to make it meaningful for them. Check out how Antwerp Zoo found a whole new audience by using the birth of a baby elephant to grow their visitor numbers. 

In the next blog post, we’ll give you some pointers on how you can start to engage your audience using social media.

Responsive Design: 5 Reasons Why it is NOT Smart Mobile Marketing

Placebo_Responsive_DesignAs we’ve been saying for many months, Mobile is not coming, it’s here. Over 20% of your website visitors will be using a tablet or smartphone and about 30% of emails are opened on mobile devices.

Responsive design, for those who don’t know what it means, is a single website layout which automatically adapts (grows, shrinks, changes size) to suit the device viewing it. This means that one website can cater for those on large desktops all the way down to smaller smartphones.

It sounds brilliant in principle: Continue reading “Responsive Design: 5 Reasons Why it is NOT Smart Mobile Marketing”

Why Fixed Digital Marketing Budgets Don’t Make Sense

Digital Budgetingis a Bad IdeaWhen it comes to planning for a successful 2013, the first thing you should do is agree a budget for the year, then choose what areas you want to spend it in and then press ‘go’ and hope that all your plans and estimates prove correct over the next 12 months…

Wrong!

Marketing has changed, a lot. Gone are the days when everything was driven by a budget fixed and spread for the entire season or year. Why? These are the five key reasons: Continue reading “Why Fixed Digital Marketing Budgets Don’t Make Sense”

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