Everyone loves making a sale, right? Well, pretty much everyone reading this blog does.

As for me, I’ve built a business around helping you do that. For all the different things Ark Advance does – help you climb up the search rankings, make it easier for visitors to take action on your website, increase the effectiveness of your AdWords campaigns – it all points in one direction. Sell more.

So what I’m about to say may sound like heresy. But stick with me as I explain myself.

Here goes. Trying to close the sale, whether directly or by generating leads, may be doing you more harm than good. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is back off a little.

I know that flies in the face of some sales philosophies. Power closing, the art of pushing through objections and resistance to a final sale, has its share of successful proponents.

But the best sales people, in my view, recognise that a successful sale is more than someone buying something. It includes the buyer being satisfied with their decision, and feeling happy about the pathway they took to get there.

How does that relate to you? Well, let’s say you have a landing page that’s all sell, sell, sell. Features and benefits are there in big, bold type, and the Buy Now or Submit button is not only a bright, garish colour, but it also flashes on and off like a neon sign outside a cabaret.

And let’s say that landing page really has been working for you. It’s been selling like crazy or generating more leads than you dreamed possible. Why on earth would you mess with a winning formula like that?

To answer that, let me tell you about a client who come to us recently from another agency.  They were used to pushing traffic onto the kind of landing page I just described (admittedly, I exaggerated a bit, but you get the drift). We said, “while your landing page is delivering results, we suspect you could do better – and do it without undermining your brand.”

That client boldly allowed us to create an alternative landing page that wasn’t designed to sell directly. Instead, it encouraged visitors to have a wander around the website, a bit like someone browsing in a store, checking out the merchandise. The risk was that once people had finished browsing, they’d simply wander out the door, without having bought anything or even given their contact details.

But that didn’t happen. What did happen was a 50%+ increase in lead conversions and a big reduction in cost per lead.  

How come? Simply because people often need more time or information or both before they feel comfortable committing. If they’re a website visitor, that means the opportunity to interact with your website – to “wander around the store” – first. Not always, but sometimes.

It’s worth testing. Worst case scenario, you build engagement, reduce bounce rates and increase time spent on your site – much like a good sales person asking questions and listening to the answers does.

And the best case scenario? Well, who wouldn’t love a 50%+ increase in lead conversions?  

If you’re a Go grand master, you may not like Artificial Intelligence right now. Not since the Google-designed AlphaGo trounced the world’s top player, Ki Jie, by 3 games to nil earlier this year. That came after it handed out a 4-1 beating to another top ranked player, Lee Sedol, in 2016.

Or maybe you will. The matches, while not good for the human ego, demonstrated something far more interesting and useful than that a powerful computer can out-think a puny human brain. I mean, that’s no longer news for anyone, right?

What they also demonstrated was that well-designed computing can also find whole new ways of seeing and thinking about problems. During the matches, AlphaGo played a number of moves that, to an expert, were obviously weak, or even bad. Except they turned out to be really strong moves.

And they were moves that a strong player wouldn’t even consider.

Now think about that. Mostly in business – mostly in life, in fact – we look for solutions in the same places we have in the past. While we may not know what the best solution to a problem is, at least we know where to look for it.

But AI is teaching us that that assumption could be totally wrong. And that has serious implications for Google Adwords.

See, most of the work you and we do in Adwords is based on refining what we already know. It’s a good approach: start with what seems sensible based on fundamental principles, test it, refine it based on results, test that, refine some more, and so on. If nothing else, it pretty much guarantees incremental gains over time.

But what if what we already know is only a fraction of what’s possible? “There are huge variations in a Go game,” said one expert after the Sedol/AlphaGo match. “We can’t even read 1% of them.”

Google is taking this result very seriously. It’s now seeing itself as an Artificial Intelligence company and transforming the way it delivers the right advertising to the right device for the right prospect. Its systems are learning (and it’s time to stop using quotation marks when we talk about machines learning) what approaches are likely to deliver the best results.

What are the implications for you (and for Ark Advance, for that matter!).

One important implication is that to take advantage of AI, you need to allow for a period of learning.  This will take as long as the amount of lessons your data can provide.   For example a website using AI to optimise its advertising to deliver phone calls will learn faster if the site delivers 1000 a week compared to 10.  

The old adage “garbage in/garbage out” can now be updated to “insufficient data prevents meaningful results” (with apologies to Isaac Asimov). Many Kiwi companies fall down in this area, and if you’re among them, you’ll want to chat with us about how we can help you build volume where currently none exists.  

A second implication is that we humans – Ark Advance included – will have to get used to not being the smartest “machines” on the block. But that doesn’t mean we’re not needed. AI can and does outperform us on many fronts, but humans are still needed to manage the technology and to ask the right questions in the first place.

The lesson here? The future belongs to those who embrace AI without fear, and with a willingness to learn what it does and doesn’t offer. That applies to website optimisation companies and their clients as much as anyone else. Yes, it’s confronting, but it’s exciting too.


It takes guts to be in business. That applies regardless of whether you own the business or are responsible for some aspect of it.

I see clients display that courage often. It typically happens when we’ve conducted a review of Google rankings for a business that hasn’t been active in this area. In those cases, the results can easily come as a shock. 

Your first reaction to bad news like that might be an urge to run and hide. Somehow, it evokes memories of being graded at school – and learning that you’ve bombed a really important exam. You might experience disbelief. You might decide the news is so bad that doing anything about it is futile. I have seen both those reactions.

Here’s what I say to clients in those moments: “What if your competitors are also performing as you are, and what if they also react as you just did when they learn the reality?”

Here’s the fact of the matter. Most businesses in any given sector are performing badly in Google search rankings. What’s worse, their owners either have no idea this is happening, or show no interest in finding out. What’s worse still, when they do find out, a good number of them will decide the situation is beyond saving and then do precisely nothing.

So back to you. You’ve discovered your Google search rankings are crap. I say that’s great news! You had the guts to look, and you can now do something about it!

And here’s what you do.

First, start from wherever you are. Instead of focussing on whether you want to be in that place or not, you begin measuring your performance against that benchmark, rather than some ideal you think you should already have achieved. While you’re at it, stop beating yourself up about being where you are. You have the guts to be in business and have your performance measured objectively. Hats off to you.

Second, adopt a long term view. Life, business and high Google search rankings are all long games. Small gains add up to massive gains over time. And small gains aren’t hard work; they just take a little persistence. Given you’re in business, I think it’s safe to say persistence is one of your strong points.

Third, have an expert (hint, hint) support you in mapping out a way forward. If they promise the earth in seven days, they’re not an expert – just someone with a god complex. Choose someone who not only knows their stuff, but is willing to be transparent and straight with you.

Then roll up your sleeves and crack into it.

As I said, I’ve seen many clients do just that, once the initial disappointment has worn off. Some of them are now killing it in Google search rankings, and their businesses are screaming along.

All because, one day in the past, they heard some bad news. Which turned out, thanks to their courage, to be great news indeed.

In my last blog, I talked about the importance and value of visitors who return to your website having not engaged with you on their previous visit.

Having those people return is generally a good thing, since they’re more likely to buy or engage with you than even existing customers. And that means you want to know, as far as possible, the journey they took that led to them returning to you and which interactions played how significant a role in their decision to return and even buy. This takes us into the complex world of attribution modelling. Basically this is correctly identifying the traffic source responsible for every conversion your website receives.

Now you might be thinking that the ad that was most effective was the last one a visitor clicked on to return to your site. But that ignores the important role of all the other clicks this person made before that. For instance their journey could start with a paid click (from a product based campaign), followed by an organic search click, a social media remarketing click, with this torrent of clicking ending with another paid click (now from a brand name campaign) before they visit and buy.

The default attribution model Google AdWords applies places the conversion in the bucket of traffic responsible for the last click. That being the brand name AdWords click in the last example.

Obviously this causes inaccuracies when people are bouncing in and out of your website through various streams of traffic before they convert. By analysing conversions through the lens of Last Click those responsible for kicking off the buying behaviour are naturally de-optimised over and above those which close the sale. And you can’t close what you don’t start so revenue slides – downwards.

Thankfully Google AdWords offers several more attribution models to pick from. To compare to Last Click there’s First Click attribution. Here there’s total emphasis on what starts the journey. It’s another extreme weighting but now at the other end of the journey. Which is why the next four are where the money is.

Linear attribution shares the credit for the conversion equally across all clicks. Whereas Time Decay gives more credit the closer a clicks occurred to the moment of conversion. Then Position-based gives 40% of credit to the first- and last-clicked ads and corresponding keyword, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other clicks, while Data-Driven (the geek option) distributes credit based on past data for this conversion action (assuming enough data is available).

Confused yet?

Remember this discussion is a non-discussion if your traffic behaves and arrives and converts all within the same session. In that case, you can use Last Click Attribution and feel comfortable living in the land of the default setting. For the rest of us it pays to pick a model away from the two extremes to see how it alters your conversion reporting. Google AdWords allows you to compare a couple of models at a time. More often than not, the most suitable attribution model for those with bouncing /cross channel traffic will be Position Based.

So to recap. Let’s say a customer finds your site by clicking one of your AdWords ads. She returns a week later by clicking over from a social network. That same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly and makes a purchase. The Position Based attribution model may assign 40% credit to each of the Paid Search and Direct channels, and 10% to each of Social Network and Email channels.

Two last points. First, with greater insight comes greater precision. So if you do make the switch out of the extreme choices then get used to measuring conversions to at least one decimal place (24.8 vs 24 or 25).

Second, this can be as mind bending as it sounds. While the effort’s well worth it, you should definitely call us for a reliable guide through this difficult, yet highly rewarding, jungle to find the attribution path best suited for you and your website.

Everyone loves regular customers, and rightly so.

And if someone comes to your website but doesn’t do business with you, you at least want them to engage with you in some way, surely? By giving you their email address, for example, or requesting a free ebook.  All of that’s true, but it can obscure one other critical aspect of effective online marketing. You see, people who return to your website a second time, after initially leaving without engaging with you, are far more valuable on a per-head basis than even your existing customers.

Here’s one example: Returning website visitor transactions made up 48% of all US e-commerce sessions in the fourth quarter of 2015. The likelihood of a returning visitor actually buying was 15%, vs 7.6% for existing shoppers.

That’s right. Non-customers were twice as likely to buy as existing ones!

So here’s a question. What’s your strategy for converting unconverted website visitors into repeat visitors? And what’s your strategy for then converting those returning visitors into buyers or leads (that is, someone who gives you their contact details)? If you have a strategy, congratulations! You’re among a select minority.

If you don’t yet have a strategy, here’s a place to start. Ask yourself:

There are no obvious answers to these questions, and they’ll probably vary depending on your industry, your website, the services you offer, and a lot of other variables. That’s where we come in. We can help you track and understand visitor behaviour, even when those people are not on your website. Then we can work with you to develop strategies for increasing return and conversion rates over time.

Keep in mind that when someone returns, you must have done something right in the first place (otherwise they wouldn’t have returned!). So you’re not trying to fix something that’s broken; you’re out to increase its effectiveness. As always, if you’d like to learn more about this opportunity, call us and we’ll be delighted to explore it with you.

One last thing. According to RJ Metrics, the top quartile of worldwide e-commerce companies receive most of their revenue from repeat customers at the two-year mark. At three years, repeat customers account for more than 60% of revenue. So whatever you do, keep loving your existing customers!

Energy companies know that one of the best times to acquire new customers is when they’re moving home. The problem is, every energy company knows that, so every energy company targets people at this time.

But what if you could target people a few weeks or months before they move home?

Google, who know a thing or two about how to mine data to gain a marketing edge, recently introduced a tool that allows exactly that. In essence, Life Events interprets people’s search activity to anticipate what they’re likely to do in the near future. For example, someone who’s likely to move house in the next 12 months, say, will investigate mortgage rates or houses for sale. Someone likely to move much sooner than that might investigate moving companies.  

This is a serious addition to a marketer’s arsenal. The vast majority of people who use Google search results to drive business take a literal approach. That is, an energy company looking for new customers may devote a lot of its search spend to keywords like “energy company”, “power pricing”, and so on.

With Life Events, that approach will now come too late in many people’s decision making process. Marketers using only literal keywords will be gazumped by those using keywords that identify people earlier in the famous “pathway to purchase”. Those using Life Events will be able to use this targeting option in their YouTube and Gmail Ads.

Does that mean a literal keyword approach is about to become redundant? Not yet. Life Events has limitations, not least of which is that it only tracks data for people who are logged into their Google account when they’re conducting a Google search. That’s far from everyone – for now, anyway. I think Life Events is a potentially powerful tool well worth exploring, particularly if your product or service tends to be connected to particular life events. Travel agents and weddings, for example. Car companies and people about to graduate. Appliance retailers and people approaching retirement.

As always, talk to us for more information or if you’d like to test whether this is something you should take on. In the meantime, check out this two-minute video for a quick rundown from Google on Life Events, and this case study about how one Australian energy company achieved dramatic results by using Life Events intelligently.

Google has rolled out two important updates to your Google My Business Account. When I say important, I mean potentially life changing. But before I get into that, a quick word for anyone unsure of what Google My Business is.

Google My Business is a free Google (what else?) tool that lets you manage your online presence across Google. For example, you know those sidebars with maps that you often see on the search result page when you google a business? That’s Google My Business at work.
Google doesn’t make that information up out of the blue. You can verify and edit your business information, which means you have some control over what appears in those results.

Right now, Google’s trialling an extended version of this tool. Called Google Home Services, it allows certain types of businesses to:

So what’s the big deal? If Google rolls this programme out globally, every aspect of your online marketing will be affected. Based on the trial, PPC ads will be replaced with Google Home Services ads, and local business will not feature in organic search results. It goes deeper. Once you click on one of the listings in the Google Home Services section, you are taken to a new page where you can select three different suppliers to send a request quote to. If you’re not on that list, you don’t get to submit a quote. 

If you’re thinking Google is moving toward a “pay to play” model, you’re right! And while you may not like that, you’ll probably need to play the game if your business provides home-based services such as plumbing, building, electrical services and so on.

If you haven’t already, chat with us about the implications for your business. We can help you claim your Google My Business space if you haven’t already, and have you prepared for the rollout of Google Home Business, if and when it happens. Or check this link for how you can post content to your Google My Business account.

In related news, You can now send SMS/text messages to customers from your Google My Business Account. Check out details here.     

Apply the strategies of the America’s Cup Winning ETNZ to your online marketing through the use of a well known but underutilised feature in Google Analytics here.  

Are there days of the week and times of the day when people are more likely to look for what you provide?  Just think how you could focus your advertising to make the most of the “highs” and avoid costly expenditure during the “lows”.    This video blog reveals :-

Find the video here 8 mins

Many years ago I sold printing to businesses. This was before the internet, mobile phones, reality TV and, yes, even the Spice Girls. My job was to drum up new customers by walking around the streets of South Auckland, knocking on doors trying to locate someone who was close to running out of printing. I was a Chris, trying to be a Johnny-on-the-Spot salesperson.

The strategy was tiring but back then it worked. It was purely a numbers game. The more streets you covered, the greater your chances of finding someone in need. But even when I found someone with a smidgen of need, rarely did they order then and there. I had to leave a card with address details on it. They then posted through a copy of the printing they wanted. I hand delivered a printed quote. They thought about it, chatted with their office pals, forgot about it, remembered it again and if I was lucky the office fax made a beep and a quickly fading order form was put on my desk. Bingo.

Now enter the internet.

Prospects now browse and find what they want. Then they enter the period of pondering. Decision made, they get back online and place that order. The bit at the start and end have radically changed. Nevertheless, that middle part – the thinking bit – still remains. It’s just that they use a group of channels to find the answers they want.
The key to online marketing is predicting what happens during the thinking stage. Thankfully, there’s a part of your Google Analytics account that can help you uncover some of this. More on where to find this in your account later – but first let’s look at the image below. It shows some serious thinking going on BEFORE the conversion occurred.



Both boxes reveal two groups of people and their pondering journey before they chose to invest in some high end business services. The first looked at the website 32 times, the second 38. Each visit was defined by the prospect typing in the URL of the business into their browser (which we call Direct Traffic) and heading back for one more look. The good thing is that both groups ended up purchasing and neither used any paid traffic sources to bring them back for their 30-plus visits.

The next image tells a very different story.


Again, thankfully the person converted, but this time they mixed up their journey with 10 visits as direct traffic, one from the middle (organic) part of Google, another 15 as direct traffic, one via a link click on an email message they received, and, finally, one link in direct traffic before (phew!) after which they converted and purchased. Now for a colourful series of pictures that plot a journey across different platforms. Below is an example that begins with Paid Search (Google), crosses platforms into Facebook, bounces back into Direct Traffic (twice), then doubles back into Organic Google and then Direct Traffic six times before the decision to buy.



If your website has Google Analytics goal tracking enabled then you can find your own shapes, colours and hints of thinking stories deep within the Conversions part of your account. Within there, look in the “Multi-Channel Funnel” and pick the option called “Top Conversion Paths”.

All should be revealed. But what does it mean?

Some readers may be surprised how many different channels people use on their journey to conversion. On closer inspection, one channel may be very good at “kickstarting” the process while another could be the “closer” that always ends up as the last channel before the sale converts. How the sale is allocated to a channel within Google Analytics could mean that the closer has been getting all the glory while the kickstarter goes relatively unnoticed. Or you could begin to view your channels as not working in isolation but working collectively to generate a powerful force that moves people from browsing to buying. From our experience, tuning each channel to play its part can result in a serious lift in conversion rates.

Let me know if this interests you. And this month head over to the shapes and colours part of your Google Analytics report and try to debug some of the thinking going on.

Recently I watched Minimalism on  Netflix — two guys known as ‘The Minimalists’ on a mission to help others discard all but the essential in their lives. Achieve this, they propose, and life will be simpler and more fulfilling.

I gave it a try. It took me a good hour bartering with myself to clear out one drawer in the garage. This stuff is hard.

Many years back a grey-haired advertising guru shared with me his thoughts on strategy. In his eyes it was simple. Pick what you will not do — ruthlessly discard this — and then enjoy the ride as you focus as hard as you can on what’s left. I think of it as minimalism meets commerce. Online marketing is no different when it comes to the benefits minimalism can provide. There are lots of “shiny balls” to absorb our interest, distracting us from the parts that are really the most important. Here are just three areas of this space where the act of discarding can help.

I’ll start with the most obvious — measurement. Google Analytics is stuffed with data. The untrained look at this application, shake their heads, and glance away. It’s just way too much to take in without some level of instruction.  However, once an hour or two is invested to clear the haze of confusion — add in some expert advice (and often there are just a few metrics that require attention) — and leave the rest to be avoided. For some it’s driving their Bounce Rate down. For others it could be enticing more visitors to return for a second and third look. Rarely is it about looking at a dozen points and trying to drive improvement across them all at once.

Next up, let’s chat about Google Search Advertising — a place where practising minimalism makes money.  Understanding that you don’t pay to show your ads, but are only charged when someone clicks, can drive the desire to show for every single possible term. So instead of a dozen terms of focus, we see an account with hundreds of keywords, all receiving a small smidgen of attention each month. And usually that smidgen is not enough to capture all the traffic each keyword can deliver. Within the mass there will be a few stars. Practising the minimalism of measurement should show you which those are. And that leaves you with the happy task of discarding the average, to focus your limited advertising on the good that remain.

Finally, let’s mention nudging your search rankings higher within the complex area of Google’s natural rankings.  In most instances the greatest movements are driven by the addition or alteration of your website’s content. And usually a page of content can be optimised to suit a small list of search terms — think under five, not 50. So if you want to naturally rank for more than 100 search terms you could be looking at creating a website with 50 or so well written pages.

For some, this puts them into mild heart palpitations, as they have just taken six months to launch a 10 page website. Thankfully, this is where the minimalism comes in. Not in the content, mind you — that needs to be extensive and beautiful. Nope, it’s in the focus on the actual search terms you want to kick upwards. Here you can link in your minimalism experience within your paid advertising efforts to locate the search terms that give the most love and affection to your website — start with moving these rankings upwards.

Why not give this minimalism thing a go this month with your online marketing. Work through the three areas I talk about: Measurement, Advertising, and SEO. Locate the important, and leave the interesting for others.


Let me know how you get on.

Earlier on in the month Google announced a change to Google AdWords which made it just that little bit harder to control. Online marketing is a space stuffed full of variables, so when any slight level of control begins to erode I think it’s time to take notice.

Managed properly, Google AdWords should represent the most controllable piece of website traffic you can get.  Just think about it. Buying clicks on very specific search phrases, presenting ads you have written, and placing these visitors exactly where you want them on your website. Three beautiful levels of control. Unfortunately, those starting out with Google AdWords usually fail at the first hurdle — purchasing clicks for specific search terms they are interested in. By default Google lets you fill your advertising account with keywords you bid on at a “broad match” level. You can find out more on the different match types here. Basically, the default setting allows Google to show your ad for terms which are similar to the term you want. So if you pick the keyword “dress shoes”, your ad could be shown for “womens high heels” when you may not stock a single pair.

Thankfully there was a match type that allowed you to define exactly the search term you wanted. Called “exact match”, it let you list the search terms in square brackets, and by doing so Google was supposed to show your ad for just what you wrote down.

Unfortunately, it is the definition of exact match bidding that Google changed last week.

I think it’s easier to understand the rationale of the change if you imagine a place where nobody clicks on any Google ads. Some would think it nice to just see the organic results now top and centre without any advertising cluttering up their screen. That would be until a few months later when they head off to find something and find nothing showing. Google would not be Google without the revenue it derives from people clicking. This is one of the reasons why your ability to deliver advertising that is clicked on — a lot — will be rewarded by Google with high quality scores and therefore lower click costs: a fact that surprised most people in our last Google AdWords training class.

With this in mind, you can see that exact-match bid terms are exactly what Google doesn’t want cluttering up your account, as it could possibly limit the opportunity to generate valid clicks from very closely matched terms — hence the drive to make exact a little less exact than it was before. The table below is taken directly from their release — it shows you some benign examples of how this could pan out with “function” words either added or removed.

image 1

Or in this case where they reorder words to make it even easier to present your ads to the right people.

image 2
So what does this all mean.

Well firstly, there’s the option of fighting the change with the all powerful “negative keyword” option. This allows you to upload a list of terms you do not want your ads to be displayed for to ensure your version of “exact” stays “exact”.

Or secondly, you can roll with the punches and let Google take your exact-match terms on a journey of discovery to see what you have been missing out on. Then you can check out your “search term reports” in AdWords to see if the multibillion dollar internet giant has helped you make some money whilst also helping them add a few more dollars to their bottom line. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you see.

Google has finally allowed New Zealand to join the 22 other countries that can now use its Product Listing Ads within the Google Shopping environment, in search. So is this good, great or terrible news for Kiwi companies?

Before I share my prediction, let’s outline what all the fuss is about. You may have noticed new product image ads beginning to infiltrate your search results over the last few weeks. Here’s a snap below from the desktop Google search when looking for a very cool running watch — the Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire. The images and related details running across the top are the new bits.


This is what the same search result looks like on mobile. In this option you can scroll to the right and see the full list of suppliers who stock this model. It’s a long list


So how does the mechanics of this work? First off, retailers need to establish a Google Merchant Account. This allows them to link their product data with the search advertising platform so that the right images show for the right products with the right prices. Yes, if you have thousands of products this is not going to be a static spreadsheet but a dynamic feed between your e-commerce engine and Google. That way you can ensure you are not advertising something that is out of stock or no longer part of your catalogue.

Fortunately, because Google has taken sooooo long to enable this solution for New Zealand advertisers, you should find a way to hook any reputable e-commerce platform up with a feed that will work with Google.  Then once you have the feed sorted you can build your campaign and follow the usual targeting options that are available for any other normal search campaign. This leaves the money side for you to set a budget, bid price and then check the most important part of the process before you hit “go” — the strength of your website analytics.

Ideally, this will be good enough to enable you to differentiate sales from this type of traffic from all the rest you receive. That way you can see if this type of advertising is better than your text-based advertising, as some suggest.

So what’s our take on Google Shopping?

Two points to ponder.

First up, I wouldn’t be surprised if organic search traffic takes a hit as a result of this. These product listing images really stand out when compared with the text-based organic results below. All that hard work to finally crawl the way to the top, and “baboom”, Google now puts a long strip of product images above it all to entice those clickers away.

On the mobile version it gets even worse, with the image ads having a paid text ad below that — pushing those organic rankings even further down the page. I would pay particular attention to organic traffic rolling into a high-ranking product website as this change rolls out.

Second, it’s great if you lead with price — otherwise it’s a disaster. Now at a glance the consumer can see a strip of suppliers offering exactly the same product for what may well be very different pricing. In my example screenshot of the desktop result you see six products from three different retailers and each product shows different pricing. Only one of those retailers I know of and have purchased from before. They just happen to show the most expensive price of the three. If you were shopping for a bargain and didn’t care who got your money, then things all of a sudden became a bit harder for Noel Leeming.

But that said, this could be a very profitable form of advertising for the right product presented to the right audience. Contact us today to learn more. We are actively rolling out Google Shopping campaigns now this option has finally arrived in NZ.



Most business owners insure against risks that could sink their business. Fire, theft, earthquake; even the loss of key personnel. All can be covered in some way by insurance, as typically the problem is fixed with money. But what about probably the biggest undiscovered risk companies may have? One that isn’t fixed with money. And one that could push a business over the edge.

Yes, I know it’s a long shot — Google deciding to pack its bags and leave the world of search. But how much are you indebted to Google for raw traffic or lead volumes, should this actually happen?

We calculated this value during on of our client strategy sessions.

You may be surprised to know that figures usually sit between 60% to 90%. (The record goes to one company that has 92% of their total website traffic and sales leads from this one source.) The top end of the scale is reserved for those highly optimised souls who are spending money on Google clicks whilst also beavering away to optimise their content for natural search. Practical things change when you remove 90% of the website-driven sales leads coming into the business. The phones go quiet. Service staff and their vans remain in the driveway with nothing to do. Payday comes around a lot faster than you would like. Doubt and fear replace busy and growing.

But what’s the point in worrying? Google isn’t going to shut up shop in a hurry, so there’s no need to plan any change — is there? Well I would check that thought. We often see people who’ve experienced the outcomes of a “loss” of Google. It could be because of the launch of a new website that’s trashed prior natural search rankings. Or the ending of  a relationship with a web optimisation supplier overseas who’s taken with them all their advertising details. Or someone hacking their website, and Google kicking them out of the index.

Whatever the reasons, here are my four steps to help guard against this happening to you.

Step #1 – Calculate the Depth of Your Relationship

Is it a flirting encounter, or a full-on, bare-all level of love? Install Google Analytics — set up some goal tracking — and calculate the percentage of traffic and leads that Google is responsible for. The installation part should be simple. The configuration for goal tracking may require some outside help and then, baboom, the results will be as plain as day to see. Where do you sit on the continuum of commitment?

Step #2 – Protect the relationship

Regular walks along the beach. Taking the time to listen — you know the stuff. Kicking off with having complete ownership of all your Google accounts is a good start, including Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Google Search Console. Yes, you may pay others to manage all three, but you own details for all of them. If your supplier relationships change, your relationship with Google will not. Understand what you do well and where improvements lie, like the search terms your site ranks really well naturally for. Or the ones you will always pay Google for every day of the week because they continue to deliver profitable sales leads.

Treat the relationship with the respect it deserves. If your percentage is above 70% and your knowledge of the space is lacking, then you may need to invest time and money to either upskill in the space yourself or partner with a company like ours — or do both. And if it’s 80% or more, you may not want to flit between suppliers trying to get the cheapest deal. Settle on someone you can trust, can afford and who will take the time to understand your business. Manage Change. Unfortunately one small alteration to your website or its marketing can have a disproportionately large negative effect on your percentage. Know where these “high risk” areas of change are and walk into them with your eyes open.

Step #3 – Build other online pathways

Everyone knows about the natural and paid search story with Google — but what about display advertising? Or Youtube — or even that old great email marketing? Fossick around to collect as many small places on the Internet to find the right audience for you. The more you have, the better you are protected.

Step #4 – Don’t forget physical pathways

Notice how little direct mail we are all receiving? Yes I know it’s expensive in comparison with online, but it’s a relatively uncluttered channel. Many a business has been grown from an effective direct mail/telemarketing combo strategy. When AdWords clicks are $5 or more, then the use of low cost digital print can become viable.

And that’s it. Why not take the time this week to find your percent? If it’s scary high (for example, you wince at the thought of it disappearing), then work through the first three steps to see how you can remove as much risk as you can.

Every quarter we ask our customers the same two questions:

· Firstly “how likely are you to refer us” on a scale of 1 to 10 ( 10 being every opportunity I have )
· And next, please add any other non-compulsory comment in the free text field.

We then put the answers through a formula derived from Net Promoter Score. You may already use this in your business; if not, here’s a link that tells you how it works. You calculate your final score by adding up all those who give you a 9 or 10 as a percentage of your total respondents. From this you then deduct – as a percentage – those who scored you 6 or below. So if 40% gave you either 9 or 10 and 10% gave you 6 or below, your Net Promoter Score would be 30%.
The theory is that a wide range of businesses ask the same “how likely are you to refer” question, so you can benchmark your results against those of others. For instance, for New Zealand businesses – courtesy of Customer Monitor – we see:

· University of Auckland +18%
· Total Professional Services +11%
· Dentist / Doctor +14%
· Banking +12%
· Insurance -10%

This quarter we achieved +60%. It’s a great score, and your comments provided an interesting list of ideas for how we can improve even further. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Winner of the $200 restaurant voucher: Alan Singam from Les Mills New Zealand. The next survey will be in June.

In May this year, Google updated the Maps desktop version to make it easier to use. It also allows you to solve new problems like – which cafes are near my client’s office for a quick catch up? Or which of my friends has reviewed a Japanese restaurant in Auckland that will make my decision to pick one so much easier?

This is all good news for the “directionally challenged” like me. As I’m possibly one of the world’s worst navigators, Google Maps has been one of my all-time favourite applications.

The desktop addition of Google Maps was the precursor of all things mobile. It launched a whopping eight years ago, which is an eternity in Internet time when you realise that Facebook started the year prior. The “Street View” option found here is a particular favourite. Knowing what the outside of an office looks like can save precious time when struggling with Auckland’s cryptic street numbering system.

The mobile version is also a winner. I used to find it within the native mapping app on my iPhone until Apple replaced it with its own. Remember the disaster that was? (I just checked again and still Apple Maps tells me that Bondi Beach is just on the edge of Cornwall Park in Auckland.) Needless to say it was a quick rush back to Google when they launched their own iPhone app.

Changes to the desktop version

The core desktop part of Google Maps received a complete refresh in May. Thankfully what remained of the old version was the super-simple way to find where you want to go. However, Google tells us this is now achieved by using a mapping environment that’s more personalised than ever before. As you click, apparently Google learns.

As I write this, access to the new Google Maps is by invitation only. By the time this is published I expect everyone should be allowed in. Once you have access, the first obvious difference is the way in which it looks on the screen. Here’s a snapshot to follow:


Notice how the search box sits in the top left of the screen. It’s a place that works well. Just type away and see the map move before your eyes as it hones in on the location you are looking for.

Or, if you don’t know where you want to go BUT do know what you want, then you can use the map to help as it suggests a range of options nearby. For instance, type in “cafes near Jervois Road, Auckland” and ba-boom – cafes and their location are shown directly on the map.


All of this relies on businesses having previously registered their location with Google. This is not an obvious process to follow for most business owners – which is probably why I only see four cafes suggested for the full length of the latte-rich area of Ponsonby’s Jervois Road.

Anyway, once you find the place you want to visit it’s a piece of cake to learn how best to get there. Just pick where you are leaving from, “home” or “work” (both are configured settings) and Google will plot the best route for your pick of transport options – walking, driving or taking public transport.

The opportunity for business    

The new opportunity for business owners is to advertise to a new set of potential customers – i.e. those who know what they want, but not where to find it. In this new version you now have two options available to achieve this task. The first involves placing your paid advertisement below the search box AND on the location of your business directly on the map – as bold as brass. Below is a snapshot of a business doing both.


The second option is a relatively plain alternative where your ad sits just below the search result. However, it isn’t that much more complex to do the first, so that’s our suggestion for those of you wanting to give it a try.

I’m picking that the “search within the map” interface is one that will catch on with many. It just seems to work well. This will drive traffic, which drives clicks, which should drive conversions.

The only thing that could spoil all this fun is the content that people see when they find the location they want and click to read more about it. Think of this as a mini Google website that you populate describing your business. Google calls it your Google Plus Local page. Born of Google’s social media tool, Google Plus, this naturally includes a space for people to place reviews. You cannot disable this feature, so it pays to regularly monitor what people are saying.

Other benefits for personal use

If you are a Google Plus user with a bunch of Google Plus friends, then these reviews become even more relevant. Now you can filter the results you see on the map by those reviewed by people in your “circles”. Or you can pick a rather nebulous category, “Top Reviewers”. See the screenshot below which shows how I can filter my options when searching for a Japanese Restaurant in Auckland.


Tips for getting started

  1. Firstly, sign up to see the new version Google Maps if it isn’t already available for public release (head over to maps.google.com). Dive in and get used to the new interface and see how different it is to what was there before.
  2. Then, if you haven’t done so already, I suggest you register your business location with Google through their Google Plus Local option. During this process you will be prompted to add in your business category, hours of operation etc. While you’re there, also load up a few photos to make the place look appealing. Also point your existing satisfied customers this place, so they can leave glowing comments. Follow this link to start this all off. www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter
  3. And finally, you may want to experiment with placing some Google advertising in this space. This is to attract those who want what you have to offer in your region, but don’t already know about you. If your website analytics tools are properly configured, then you will be able to see this traffic as a separate stream to gauge its effectiveness.

If you’d like help with any of this, then give us a call at the office and one of our team will help you move forward. Happy Mapping!