Each month we invite customers along to our conference call.  This month we talked about the use of Video in your Online Marketing.  At the start of the call we run through any “new stuff” that we think is worthy of attention.  Here’s a clip of the “new stuff” we covered in July.

Last month I finally took the plunge and upgraded my mountain bike. The maintenance bills were starting to add up plus my aging body was struggling to cope with the bike’s rather agricultural suspension system. So after some serious pondering I settled on a Specialised Stumpjumper. A name with some irony because, being a rather conservative rider, I rarely jump tree roots let alone stumps.

Anyway, my new steed is a thing of mountain biking beauty. I opted for some “clown” sized wheels (going from 26 to 29 inch) and decided on a large frame rather than the medium one of its replacement. Oh what a difference this and its other goodies all made.

I won’t bore you with the final details but suffice to say I can now finish a few hours of riding and not hobble around the car park grimacing as I stretch out my suffering back. All I need now is for it to automatically climb hills on its own and I’m sorted.  I wished I had done the upgrade years ago – mountain biking hasn’t been this easy before.All this got me thinking about online marketing. Specifically, about how some businesses we consult with just seem to have an easier time making it work than the rest.

These fortunate souls take on Google and win, plus their conversion rates are leaps ahead of others in their market. So what do they do that gives them this advantage?And, like my recent bike purchase, what havethey “upgraded” in their marketing to make this so easy when compared with the rest?

I came up with these three points,in order of priority and starting with possibly the hardest to implement first.

Upgrade #1: Marketing to an obvious and measurable point of difference

Online visitors are a fickle and ruthless bunch. They enter your website, scan your content and promptly leave in mere seconds if there’s nothing of interest.

Just imagine these same people doing this in an actual store – it would seem manic. People rushing in, racing around the isles and then rushing back out. But that’s exactly their behaviour online. Just look at your Google Analytics logs to see the average time they spend and the number of pages they look at. You may be surprised how low both counts are.

Web visitors bolt for the door when a) they can’t find what they are looking for and/or b) what they find is no different from what they have seen before. This is one reason why we delve into a customer’s point of difference during our strategy planning stage.

Earlier this month we had a client who was looking for advice to promote a part of their business that had fallen away over the last few years. For privacy sake I’ll change the category, so let’s say it was in the Party Hire area. They used to sell a lot in this space but priorities had changed and other lines had grabbed more marketing focus, so now it represented less than 20% of what it used to.

Our job was to reverse this trend. So the first question was –what makes your Party Hire service so different from everyone else in Auckland?

That got everyone thinking as nothing immediately sprang to mind, other than the usual statements of “quality product” and “great service”, both of which were plastered across most of their competitor’s websites. After a bit of a group brain storm we settled on two points that were unique to them.

Let’s say they were the types of events that were best suited to the products they had to hire and the speed at which the items were dropped off and picked up. By combining both of these differences together we created a nice marketing niche market that was a) big enough for them to market to, and b) could be found through the keywords prospects used in Google.

Now we had something to work with. The website content could be re-written to explain why this client was so good at servicing this group. Plus we didn’t need to battle it out with the rest of the market who were struggling to attract and convert those using the very generic search term “party hire”.

Upgrade #2: Knowing your website numbers

For many business owners, website marketing is a part of marketing that involves a fair bit of learning. Some find this too daunting, while others dive headlong in and reap the rewards of their new found knowledge later on.

I remember receiving my first set of accounts and having exactly no idea what it all meant. It took me four years and two accountants before I stopped asking what I thought were “dumb” questions just so I knew what had happened last financial year. It took me another two years and one more accountant before I got the answers I needed to predict,with a reasonable level of accuracy, what was likely to happen next year.

Some people struggle through the “dumb question” stage. Claire, my wife, is such a soul. Asking again and again until it is clear in her mind is not fun – it’s just frustrating. Thankfully, running a website is nowhere near as complex as understanding a balance sheet but still it requires some learning time.

All this doesn’t have to take too long. I remember chatting with one prospect who didn’t know any stats of their website. That in itself wasn’t surprising because it had no analytics running on it. Nevertheless,we got that sorted and took them through the tool. Then, after many questions over a two-month period, they had it sorted. Now they know their conversion rate to two decimal places and can tell you how much revenue they make each month from each stream of traffic their website receives. They are in total control.

Upgrade #3: Unleashing a testing mindset

This can be the secret sauce that makes all the difference. That last customer I mentioned – the two decimal place person – went ballistic when we tried to run a test on their home page using an imagethat, in their view, wasn’t part of their brand message.

I went onto explain that while I understood their concerns, if this small change increased their conversion rate by an extra 10% then they would make an extra gazillion dollars in profit. Plus, it’s really not how they think it looks, or even whatour team thinks, it’s how their own prospects think it looks. Now if they like it there, in that colour and written that way, then that’s what matters.

Begrudgingly they let the test run and no, it didn’t bring absolutely super-duper amazing results, but there was enough data to prove it helped conversions – so the change stayed.

This brings me back to my idea of a motorized mountain bike just zooming up hills without any effort on my part. Effort is still required. Yes, even with implementing these three business upgrades I mention here there’s still some focused work ahead. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It’s just that bit more comfortable with them than without them

Let’s say you’re a large multinational operation with branches spread all over New Zealand and each and every branch manager is keen to get started with their own Google AdWords advertising campaign – all sending traffic to their part of the one website.   In a number of ways this is all good news.  However in a similar volume of reasons this could be the start of a massive headache for all – unless it is managed properly.

So with the goal of wanting to remove any undue stress from a Branch Managers life –here’s my take on the good – and not so good – parts of the opportunities that lay ahead.

So let’s tackle the good stuff first.

OK by getting this far there’s obviously some widespread belief that online advertising could well do some good.   This in itself is a major achievement.  I have been involved in situations where half of a national group are keen – a third is not and the rest are have no opinion at all.  Unfortunately in most situations like these the default status of doing nothing tends to get the vote.   It can be a lot easier to say why something shouldn’t be done than why it should.  Fortunately that hurdle has been passed.

Which leaves the final test of actually putting some money behind the idea.   And like the saying goes – talk is cheap.  Nothing tends to clarify the mind as much as allocating some hard earned marketing budget into an “idea”.   Once a group has collectively reached this stage  – especially one that spans the country – then they are a few rungs ahead of the competition.

So this leaves what may been seen as the easiest part, getting the job done and buying some Google Advertising.   This is where it all could unravel into a complicated and expensive mess.

Some see the next obvious step being for each location to set up their own Google AdWords account and begin to manage their own budget and ads.   The Google advertising system would make this a breeze to do.  Non technical people will have an account, some keywords, a few ads displaying and a credit card sending money to Google in less than 15 minutes.

And all of it will be the WRONG choice for a situation like this. Here are four reasons why this is the case. 

Reason #1.  Broad match keywords = Bidding Confusion

Before I start let me tell you that this reason is probably the most complex of the four to get your head around.  But the effort is worthwhile.  Once you understand this one then you will see why a distributed AdWords Account solution is such a problem.

OK let’s start.  Google allows you five different ways to bid on the terms prospects use when using their search engine in.  For sake of simplicity I’m just going to cover two here – exact match and broad match.  So if you have the exact match keyword of “Auckland Flower Shop” and someone types the search term “Auckland Flower Shop” and then your ad would show. And conversely if you had an exact match keyword of  “Flower Shop” without the Auckland part then the ad would not show.

Follow so far?

OK now let’s deal with the second option – broad match.   This is the type that Google has you pick by default when setting up a new account.  Most newbie AdWords advertisers have accounts full of this match type of keyword.

A broad match keyword of “Flower Shop” will show your ad for these search terms “Flower Shop Auckland”, “Flower Store, “Flower Shop Wellington” and even “Flower and Vegetable Shop”.   Think of it as Google’s way of stretching the meaning of your broad keyword to ensure your ad is shown to as many people who are searching.

Now if you are an Auckland Flower store then using this match type in your advertising account then the first two search terms are worth their click cost.  The other two – “Flower Shop Wellington” and even “Flower and Vegetable Shop”- are a waste of your money.

Now if you have a dozen flower shops around the country all running their own Google advertising within their own accounts and all using the broad match term of “Flower Shop” then you can just imagine the confusion.    The Auckland shop could be displaying advertising for the search term “Wellington Flower Shop” and the Hamilton store could have their advertising showing for those typing in “Auckland Flower Shop”.  And every store could have their ads shown for “Flower and Vegetable Shop” when none of them sell vegetables.

Fixing all this mess is made a lot easier by gathering all the keywords together into the one Google advertising account and diligently using the correct keyword match type to ensure the most relevant store’s advertising  is shown for each searcher.

Reason #2  You are only allowed to advertise your domain once for each search result.

Google makes available about 10 places for paid advertising next to its search results.    The less scrupulous advertiser may think that by setting up 10 different advertising accounts they could place ads in each space and block out their competitors.  Not so fast.   Google only allows one advert to be shown for each website domain for any one keyword result.

And in situations like I mentioned before – where multiple accounts are trying to bid on the same keyword and sending clicks through to the same web domain – guess which ad Google decides is the best one to show?

 The one that makes Google the most money.

So by bidding as separate entities for the same keyword each advertiser from the same domain is effectively bidding against themselves and by doing so increasing their advertising costs.  Not so smart.

Reason #3 Negative keywords taking longer to surface

Earlier I told you about the different match types Google lets you use mentioning two of the five that are available.  This time I need to cover one of the three left – negative match.  This is a keyword that you want to ensure your ads don’t display for.

So using the last example of the flower shop the term “Flower and Vegetable Shop” fits into this category.   In this list could also be terms like –“setting up a flower shop”, “flower shop signs”, “flower shop jobs” – all relevant search terms but highly irrelevant to a normal flower shop wanting to sell flowers.

Most new Google AdWords advertising accounts don’t have any negative keywords in them.   People just don’t think of them when starting out.  Later on – if the advertiser actually takes the time to look into their account to – they are added as they come to surface in the actual click reports Google provides.  Which is the issue – they take time to surface.    The more clicks you are buying the faster these details come to hand and therefore the quicker the account becomes optimised for the right types of keywords.

Final Reason #4 – Spreading your Google Account Love too thinly

Providing relevant advertising to searchers is a key goal for Google.  The more relevant your advertising is in the eyes of Google the greater the benefits they will provide you.  (And for “benefits” think “cheaper bid prices”.)

 You can find out how “relevant” your advertising is in the eyes of Google by looking at the Quality Score they have allocated to each of your keywords.   This is a value between 0-10  that is based on the relevance to the searcher of your ads, keywords and landing page

From what we have been told and seen, Quality Score, is also attributed at a Google Account level too.    So if you own an account that delivers a steady stream of high quality (in Google’s eyes) advertising  then some Google love in the form of rising Quality Scores for your keywords will come your way.     And obviously the more advertising you buy and properly optimise, the greater your chances of building an account like this.

So there you have it.  Four reasons why setting up an AdWords account for each and every branch is not the best way ahead and how the one properly managed Google AdWords account by a central source, will do this job so much better for all.