Email marketing is often overlooked when a small business tries to generate more online leads and sales. However, building your email list is the linchpin of any digital marketing campaign.
In this article you’ll learn why it’s so important, how to set up an opt-in email list, and how to get your emails delivered, opened, read, and acted upon.
Why Is Email Marketing So Important?
I speak at a number of national digital marketing conferences, and that means I often get to hang out with the “big dogs” in the speakers’ room.
These are people with tremendous followings on social media. Many of them are also highly competitive, and often a bragging contest breaks out. However, none of these social media experts boast about how many people follow them on Twitter or Facebook or YouTube. Instead, talk turns to the size of their “list.” (Their email list, that is.)
Why are all these social media and digital marketing experts focused on something as “traditional” as email marketing? Read on.
Email Marketing is Stable (Compared to Social Media)
What I mean by this is that on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re at the mercy of their business needs, not your own.
If you posted to your Facebook business page a few years ago, your post would reach 80% – 90% of your fans. Now you’d be lucky to reach more than 1% of your fans.
Or you may have built a following on Twitter only to find that the only people who get traction and engagement there any more are sports stars, celebrities, and the POTUS.
Likewise, you could go to bed being at the top of page one on Google, but wake up to an algorithm change that leaves your website all but invisible.
Email is imperfect, but at least it’s stable compared to other digital marketing tactics. In fact, the only major change that’s happened to email marketing in the past ten years is that more people are reading your emails on a smartphone.
More on that later.
Your Email Marketing List is Mobile
By this I don’t mean that your email is mobile-friendly—again, more on that later—but rather that you can move your list from platform to platform depending on your needs.
Feeling frustrated by Aweber? You can take your list and move it to MailChimp. (Or vice versa.) Outgrow Constant Contact? You can bring your list to Salesforce.
You own your list!
If you’re fed up with Facebook you can’t take your friends and fans and bring them to LinkedIn. If you’re not getting engagement any more on Twitter you can’t bring your followers to YouTube…it just doesn’t work that way.
Email Marketing is Intimate
Where social media tends to be one-to-many, email is often one-to-one.
Yes, you may send out a blast to your list of one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, etc., but if someone replies to you, you begin a one-on-one conversation. I’ve found that these conversations often lead to sales and engagements.
Email Marketing is Unavoidable
How many Facebook updates each day do you miss from friends, family, and business connections? How about the ones on LinkedIn? And don’t even get me started on tweets!
Go to a meeting, go for lunch, go to sleep, it doesn’t matter: social media keeps moving forward with millions of new updates.
However, any and every email that hits your inbox will still be there when you next open up Outlook or Gmail.
And it’s the same with your subscribers. If they’ve given you permission to email them, they will have a hard time not seeing your latest email updates.
Email is for Selling
Every year we run our annual Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, and being mindful marketers, we pay attention to where our marketing efforts are having the biggest impact.
Year after year email is the winner.
No matter how many social media posts we make, no matter how much we optimize our website for the search engines, no matter how many ads we run, we make our sales when we send emails.
The Inbox is Boardwalk
Your customer’s (or prospect’s) inbox is the most valuable piece of real estate on the internet. Consider their opt-in as your own personal Advance Token to Boardwalk card.
Even if they don’t have the time or inclination to read your email right then, even if they immediately click the trash icon, they’re seeing your brand. Even when your customer isn’t ready to buy from you, they’re being reminded you exist.
Getting Started with Email Marketing
So now that we’re in agreement that your email list may be the most important asset your small business owns, let’s talk about how to build your subscriber base.
Choose an Email Service Provider (ESP)
You definitely don’t want to be running your email list through Outlook or Gmail. While those tools are fine for one-to-one conversations, your hosting company or ISP will shut you down for sending out bulk email, even if you have people’s permission.
Instead, you’ll want to choose an Email Service Provider (ESP) like MailChimp or Constant Contact. These vendors have the tools and metrics to make your email marketing much, much easier. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Mobile-friendly templates: Checking emails is like the #1 activity on a smartphone…if your email isn’t legible on the small screen, your reader will hit delete before they roll out of bed.
Scheduling tools: Write now, send whenever. You can make sure your emails go out at the best time of day or the best day of the week to reach your customers.
Metrics: Find out how many people opened your last email, and how many people clicked on that link to your webinar or online store.
Segmenting: Did a bunch of people click on the link to your Spider-Man plush toy? Add them to a list of “comic book fans” and “plush toy enthusiasts” to better target your next email.
Management: Your ESP will manage your signups, opt-outs, bounces, autoresponders, and a ton of other tasks, simplifying your day and letting you focus on your message to your audience.
Drip Campaigns: Send automated messages to build trust and familiarity when someone joins your list. This series of automated emails can be written once and sent out to everyone who signs up.
Customize The Email Signup Experience
Once you’ve chosen a provider, you’ll want to personalize important aspects of your account.
Signup box: Your ESP will provide you the code to add a signup box to your website. By default, it will include some dull come on like, “Join Our Mailing List.” This fails on so many levels.
It’s completely (and necessarily) generic, so you miss out on an opportunity of truly branding yourself and your company.
It also fails to have a strong call-to-action. “Join Our Mailing List” sounds like marketing- speak for “Sign Up for My Spam!” Tell people the benefits of joining your list. Discounts in the store? Free shipping? Download an important white paper? Give them a reason to join up.
You should also let them know what to expect: how often you’ll be sending emails, whether your email will be delivering great content or offering amazing sales, and anything else you feel is important.
Landing page: Now, not every ESP will send new subscribers to a landing page on your site, but if they do, create a custom message for your new subscribers. I know of a number of companies that actually sell product on these landing pages. After all, this person has just shown that they’re interested in your message, so you should strike while the iron is hot!
Welcome message: Once people have signed up, your ESP will send them a completely (and again, necessarily) generic welcome email, welcoming them to your community. This is another opportunity to brand yourself, make a connection, or even sell them a product.
Leverage Your Website for More Email Signups
Your website is the hub of your digital marketing and critical to your online success. It’s also where most of your email signups take place.
You should have signup boxes, lead magnets, and calls to action throughout your website. Put them on your home page, your blog, and in the footer of every page on your site.
Add an (unchecked) box on your contact form, asking if they’d like to be added to your mailing list. (I know I just said don’t have a generic come on like this, but if they’re filling out your contact form, chances are they’re primed for more contact from you.)
Add another signup opportunity on your thank you page…the page that your contact form sends them to after they’ve completed it.
And you may hate them, but popup boxes work insanely well for attracting more signups.
Keep in mind that most people come to your website and never return! However, if you can get them to sign up for your email newsletter while they’re there, you can continue to communicate with them once their gone.
To get a sense of how many people never return to your site, visit your Google Analytics and look at the percentage of New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors. And a lot of those returning visitors may be due to being subscribers to your email newsletter! Imagine if you could just increase your email conversion rate by a few percentage points…how many more people could you stay in contact with?
Now flip that: look at the number of visitors each month who don’t return. Imagine if just a few of them signed up for your email list so you could stay in touch with them. What might that do to your bottom line?
Leverage Your Blog for More Email Signups
If you do have a blog, you’re already creating the content you can use for your email newsletter, you don’t need to create additional content for your email. Instead, think of your blog as the home for your fresh new content, and email as the delivery system.
Include a big call to action at the top of your blog, explaining the benefits of subscribing to the email version.
Have an email signup box in the right hand column of your blog. It can be tied into a lead magnet or simply include the call to action of “free updates” or “never miss another update.” You can also have that call to action at the bottom of each blog post.
You can also offer a “value add” to blog posts (and really any page on your site.) Did you write an article about Cooking for Vegans? Create a brief ebook (PDF) of The 10 Best Tasting Meat Alternativesand make it available for free with email registration.
Blog post on the best bike paths in Maine? Create a map of those trails.
Create Lead Magnets to Increase Email Signups
So what exactly is a lead magnet?
In the old days, it was fairly easy to get someone to sign up for your email newsletters, because there weren’t that many out there. But now, our inboxes are full of personal emails, business emails, newsletters we signed up for, and hundreds more that we didn’t. Plus: spam.
So, getting someone to sign up for your email list is increasingly difficult. After all, few people complain of not getting enough emails or not having enough information. To get that opt-in, to get access to their inbox, you’ll need to trade them something of value.
That is the lead magnet.
Now, in your business that may mean discounts in the company store. It may a download called “101 Ways to Save Money for College” or “5 Horrific Mistakes New Dog Owners Make.” The only constant is that it must be perceived as valuable in the eyes of your visitor.
How to Configure Lead Magnets
In the “Leverage Your Website” section above, we discussed how to promote a Lead Magnet. But how do you configure one?
When it comes to a download, I’ve found the best way is to host the document at your website and create a link to it in your Welcome email. This ensures that your visitor has provided you with an accurate email address and that they have been automatically entered into your ESP’s database.
If you’re providing discounts in your store, you can either include a discount code in that welcome email, or provide ongoing discounts in future emails to keep people subscribed.
How to Make Sure Your Emails Get Delivered
Even when someone has opted in to your email list, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to get your emails. There are roadblocks set up all along the way. Your email could be blocked by their Internet Service Provider (ISP,) their company firewall, or an overactive junk filter.
Choosing a well-respected ESP will help. Less reputable companies—that let anyone upload a list and blast it—are more likely to be blacklisted by ISPs.
Alert new subscribers on your landing page to be on the lookout for emails from “flyte new media” and “email@example.com”, replacing that with your real contact info (obviously). You can also ask them to “whitelist” you, but honestly, I don’t know anyone who actually does that.
Drop the dot biz. OK, this is anecdotal, but it happened to me. Dot biz domains attracted spammers and never got “gentrified.” Dot coms, nets, and orgs have better deliverability. Consider getting an additional domain just for email. (We considered flytemail.com until we were able to acquire takeflyte.com.)
How to Get People to Open Your Emails
Sadly, just because you ended up in their inbox doesn’t mean the battle is over. You need people to open, read, and act on your email.
Here are some tips to increase your chances of success:
Recognizable From Address: Make sure that your name (or company name) is recognizable to the recipient. If they don’t know who you are, they’ll just hit delete (or worse, spam.)
Compelling Subject Line: “Monthly Newsletter” never lit a fire under anyone’s butt. Instead, give them a compelling reason to open that email.
Sometimes it will be by telling them about the value they’ll find in your email:
- 10 Craft Ideas for Your Next Sleepover
- What NOT to Say at Your Weekly Staff Meeting
- Apartment Living: How to Teach Your Cat to Use the Toilet
Sometimes it’s about playing up urgency or scarcity:
- Amazing Deals on Silver Jewelry This Week Only
- Only 5 Spots Left for Our Vegan Cooking Class
- Early Bird Discount End Friday!
Sometimes it’s about intrigue or making emails feel more personal:
- Peter, Meet Jill [Where Peter is the subscriber’s name pulled from a mail merge and Jill is the expert you’re bringing into a webinar. Note: Michael Hyatt did this recently and I totally believed he was making an introduction to me!]
- I need to reschedule lunch [which I recently used when I found out the time I had promoted for a lunch & learn was incorrect]
- Tuesday [used for any deadline. Replace with “Fri night,” “Sat am,” or any other appropriate time.]
How to Get People to Read and Act On Your Emails
It’s recently been said that the attention span of the average Internet user is about that of a goldfish.
So, write for goldfish.
Here are some ways to engage your audience and keep their attention:
Have a mobile email template. Yes, I’ve said this before, but the number one activity on smartphones is checking email. Many people check their email on their phones before they even get out of bed, which means they’re doing that on their phone. If your email doesn’t look good on that small screen, you’re dead to them.
Use images. People are visual creatures and images are the universal language. Just make sure that you’ve got a descriptive alt-tag so that people who have their images turned off can “see” what the image is all about.
Keep it short. Yes, there are successful emails that seem to scroll on forever. However, most emails these days are “transactional.” They act to get people out of their inboxes and over to your website or sales page. Be as brief as possible in persuading them to take that action.
Include a clear call to action. We assume that people will know what we want them to do next. But they’re busy, and yours is one of 200 emails in their inbox, so spell it out for them. “Download our white paper here.” “Register for the workshop.” “Save 20% on all cat toys now!” Each of those are links, taking them to the specific area on your site you want to drive them.
How to Keep People from Unsubscribing
If you create an irresistible lead magnet, deliver email subject lines so enticing that they almost open themselves, but deliver content duller than nursery school scissors, your subscribers won’t stick around very long.
With every email you send you are only one click away from an unsubscribe.
Because of that, make sure you know what your subscribers want. For a retail store, it might be about new arrivals, what’s trending, or sale items. For a business consultant, her audience may be looking for an article on a recent change in import laws, managing remote workers, or exit strategies.
Whatever your audience needs, (over) deliver on the expectations you set out for them when they first signed up.
I hope it’s evident that your email list is critical to your online—and offline—success. So here’s the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) version:
- Sign up with an ESP
- Create a compelling offer (lead magnet) on your site
- Craft enticing subject lines
- Deliver valuable content that’s easy to read and digest
- Include an obvious CTA (call to action) to drive those clicks
Do all this and you’ll be generating traffic, leads, and sales for your business in no time!
If you need any help getting your email marketing set up, creating a lead magnet, or generating content for your email newsletter, reach out to us today!
Imagine a tool that could identify all the people who want to buy what you have to sell, right now. Wow, right? Wouldn’t that be absolutely amazing?
Brace yourself: that tool exists, and you’ve probably even heard of it.
All day long, every single day, all over the world, billions of people pull up the Google search bar and ask for help finding something they want…right now.
63,000 searches per second.
3.8 million searches per minute.
228 million searches per hour … and 5.6 billion searches per day.
No matter what your business does, I guarantee you that some of those searches are for a product or service or knowledge that you provide.
Ah, aren’t you clever, Rich! you say. But it’s not so easy, is it? I’m competing with nearly two billion other websites in the world. Out of all of the potential products and services available on the web, how can I make sure Google serves up mine?
Well I’m glad you asked!
One Way: ORGANIC SEARCH
We turn to Google because they consistently provide relevant answers to our searches. Their massive data operations analyze (or “crawl”) the web and use a complicated algorithm (math!) to sort and rank all the results and they do this very, very well. We know some things about this algorithm—mostly what Google shares with us—but no one outside of Google has the “teacher’s edition” with all the answers to why one site ranks higher than another.
On top of that, Google is constantly rolling out major and minor changes to its algorithm on a regular basis. Even for people who eat, drink, and breathe this stuff (like me!), the algorithm’s ways can sometimes be both mysterious and mercurial.
If you want to dominate Google’s organic results you’ll need to invest a good portion of your own time learning SEO and staying on top of the changes, or outsource a lot of this work to an SEO expert. This should help you rank higher and generate more search traffic and conversions. But even this may not be enough to guarantee you appear at the top of page one on Google.
And here’s why.
The Guaranteed Way: PAID SEARCH
Google is a business, and like any business, it needs to remain profitable. When Google identifies a search as having “commercial intent,” it will display up to four ads at the top of the page, pushing down any organic results.
What is commercial intent? Well, sometimes we turn to Google because we want to know something, and other times we turn to Google because we want buy something, and Google is scary-good at discerning between the two.
If you search for “best yoga positions,” Google guesses that you might want to switch up your workout routine and will display results showing you how to downward dog with the best of them. However, if you search for “best yoga mat,” Google will assume that your current mat is deteriorating quickly and will display ads showing where you can replace it.
Furthermore, if Google feels like there may be relevant local results, even the top organic results may be pushed so far down the page that it doesn’t show without scrolling.
If you want to appear at the top of a given search where Google is showing ads, you’ll need to engage in the bidding process known as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords).
Anytime anyone does a Google search that has commercial intent, the results are split between organic and pay-per-click (PPC) placements. Google lists paid search ads first, local search results second, and general organic search results dead last. And I used “dead” there deliberately.
I’ve had many conversations with business owners and marketing directors over the years that tell me they don’t believe in the power of Google Ads because “I never click on those ads.”
Maybe you feel the same.
Well, I recently saw that Google made $33 billion (with a B!) from people clicking on Google Ads…in a single quarter! And that number grows every quarter of every year.
In a recent article by online advertising giant Wordstream, they declare there is a “war” on free clicks, and report that almost 2/3 of clicks for searches with high commercial intent go to sponsored results.
So maybe you’re not clicking on those ads, but someone is. When someone does a search for a product or service, they don’t really care if the first result is an ad, as long as it’s relevant. They may not even notice it’s an ad, since it looks like every other result except for a small, discreet, “Ad” tag next to it.
You may still feel that your organic results offer more value or provide a better ROI than paid results. However, this doesn’t matter for most small to medium size businesses.
Why? Because they aren’t ranking on page one for organic search queries they care about. After the first 10 organic listings, (and paid ads and local results) potential customers have no clicks left to give. Did you know that 3 out of 4 people never visit the second page of search results? When was the last time you ventured further than page one? If I don’t see a result I like in the top ten, I refine my search; I don’t keep digging in a dry well.
For some sectors like law, real estate, hospitality, or any item sold by Amazon, ranking on the first page of organic search results is just not realistic. Strategic, well-designed PPC campaigns may be the only way for a smaller business to take on the Amazons of the world—and win.
So, are you are saying that I have to pay for my clicks?
Probably. Do me a quick favor: pull up Google and type in any search phrase that relates to your business. Now, scan the first page of results. (Don’t worry, I’ll be right here when you get back.)
Did you get lots of organic results but no paid ads? Congratulations! Either your business is completely unique, your sector is underserved, or Google believes those search terms do not demonstrate commercial intent.
If your search terms do not demonstrate commercial intent or if your competitors aren’t trying to rank for them, you can safely focus on organic search placement.
Did you see ads atop the results page? You will need to spend money to rank for that term. And to get the most from that investment, you should have a sales funnel built to support it.
Okay, you’ve convinced me. How can I use paid search to connect with potential customers?
Google Ads has been set up so that anyone—anyone—can run ads on the platform. However, that’s a lot like saying anyone can play in the NBA. While that may be true, you’ll be competing against Google Ads experts who spend all their time on the platform. It’s not always a fair fight.
You have three options:
- Go it alone. There are YouTube videos, online classes, webinars, and certification courses that you’ll need to invest in if you want to compete in a competitive field.
- Hire a paid search agency or expert. A good expert should be able to provide you a positive ROI in a few months.
- Go hybrid. Many agencies and experts can help you get things started, improve your click through and conversion rates, and then hand the reigns over to you.
Whichever path feels right for you, the following tips are just some of the ways we help your potential customers give a click about you using Google Ads:
- Decide which words to buy and how much to budget.
The bidding on hyper-competitive keywords can get pretty crazy. Some business terms can cost $50 a click! That’s a “click,” not a “conversion” or even a lead.
If the first search terms you’ve tried are generating tons of well-funded PPC ads, don’t give up. Get specialized, and localized. Even the biggest companies leave gaps in their keyword strategy. Perhaps you can’t afford to invest in “destination wedding.” How about “seaside weddings” or “coastal Maine weddings”?
- Hijack your competitors.
This may sound shady but it can be so, so smart—and I say this as someone who has had it done to me. People searching for flyte were being served up ads by one of our local competitors.
Ouch, right? It is possible to bid on your competitors’ names as long as you don’t use their name in your ads—and it be very effective. Just think of how flattered your competitors will be as you crush them!
- Target your keywords.
Refining your keywords is a great way to improve the quality of your results and that can often mean going negative. Searches for “gluten free bakery” do nothing for bakeries that aren’t gluten-free. If you love flour, make “gluten free” a negative keyword for your business.
- Time it right.
Your ideal customer may be more interested in your product or service at specific times. Business services tend to do better from 9 – 5. Date night restaurants might perform better on the weekend.
- Keep an eye on quality.
You don’t want all the clicks. You want all the customers. If your Google Ads results show a lot of what we call “pogo-sticking”—clicking on your PPC ad and coming right back to their search, never to be seen again—something isn’t right. Google can actually start charging you more per click if too many people pogo-stick your ads. Stop unsatisfactory comparison shopping and noncommittal clicks. If you aren’t getting conversions on your PPC ads, adjust your Google Ad wording or ask for a professional evaluation.
- Make sure potential customers get what they came for.
If someone clicks on your PPC ad after searching for a specific product or service and is sent straight to your homepage, you’ve just asked them to do their whole search all over again. Chances are, they won’t bother. You paid for that click and you want to profit from it, so send potential customers to a squeeze page or a product page. Better yet, do a split test on both destinations and see which one performs the best!
This is all about Quality Score. When I asked my co-worker John to review this article, he stated, “this is much more important than a lot of people may think.” He went on to say:
Quality Score (QS) is not a Key Performance Indicator (KPI,) but we recommend using it as a health indicator for your account to determine if you’re heading in the right direction. Google rewards you for having a high QS. The higher the QS, the lower your cost per click and cost per conversion will be, saving you tons of money. Let’s dive into what Google uses to factor a Quality Score.
CTR (click through rate)
Keyword relevancy to its ad group
Landing page quality and relevance
Google Ads historical data
According to WordStream, “no one outside of Google knows exactly how much each factor ‘weighs’ in the Quality Score algorithm, but we do know that click-through rate is the most important component. When more people who see your ad click it, that’s a strong indication to Google that your ads are relevant and helpful to users.”
- More on Negative Keywords
Many advertisers don’t realize that their ads are being found for search queries that aren’t relevant. Depending on the keyword match type–Google gives you the ability to control how broad or narrow your matches are–you could be showing up for a totally unrelated search.
If a user was searching for “accounting jobs” and Quicken was bidding on “accounting” for their QuickBooks software under broad match, their ad could show up, thus wasting money on a click that isn’t qualified for their business.
- Site Extensions
The larger the ad, the more Google “real estate” that is taken up on the top of the first page. Site Extensions help you acquire that land. You can add as many extensions as you want. Some extensions include your physical location, your phone number, your seasonal sale, and extra links to other pages on your website, in addition to your landing page.
- Landing Page Experience
I can’t express how many times we see a landing page for a paid ad go to a homepage or a contact page.
As mentioned before, your landing page impacts your Quality Score. This doesn’t necessarily mean the layout of the page. Google looks more at if the keywords that you’ve been bidding on appear on the landing page and has the same message as your ad.
For example, if you are a landscaping company and you’re bidding on tree removal keywords but you are sending people to your general services page which discusses lawn care, snow removal, patio designs, and tree removal, that’s not good. The landing page should be strictly about tree removal because that’s why someone clicked on your ad.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As I mentioned, Google designed Google Ads to be an accessible way for any business owner to bid on search terms and, for the most part, that’s how it works. That doesn’t mean that newbies will get the same results as pros, however.
Companies that focus on paid search ads have a few advantages that you might not—like access to highly specialized analytics and software tools to measure experiences and optimize results. Here at flyte, we invest in some of the best (and sometimes most expensive) tools out there to help our clients succeed. If you don’t have the time or resources to develop a strategic campaign and sales funnel, measure and evaluate your responses, and optimize your PPC ads, you may not get the most from your PPC investment.
It doesn’t matter if you like or don’t like the idea that Google sells ad space at the top of their search results. It doesn’t matter if your organic results are “better” or more relevant than the paid ads that push you further down the page.
The bottom line is that businesses have almost always had to pay for visibility, and the search engines are no different.
Paid ads, when done right, can be a cost-effective way to acquire new customers and generate leads and sales. You can also measure the ROI of every ad you run, something that’s not quite so clear when it comes to organic results. That means you can shut off underperforming ads and double down on ads that show positive results.
If you need help on your journey to the top of page one, contact us today for a free consult on setting up and optimizing the Google Ads that will drive sales for your business.
See you at the top!
Are Keywords Still Relevant in 2019?
What Steps Are There In Keyword Research?
Brainstorming: generating a list of keywords that your ideal customers may be searching for.
Testing: using tools to measure how many people are searching on specific keywords, and what your competition (from other sites) is for those keywords.
Content creation: writing the copy that features and highlights your keywords.
How to Brainstorm Keywords for SEO
Brainstorming Keywords for Your Products and Services
wisdom teeth removal
and so on.
Which Keywords Describe Your Prospects’ Problems
Flipping the Script: Keywords for Solutions and Benefits
Brainstorming SEO Keywords Around Your Features
Should You Use Your Competitors as Keywords for SEO?
Niche Down Your Keywords with Descriptors and Modifiers
Location (city, state, or neighborhood,)
Age (child, adult, senior,)
Gender, (male, female, men, women, boy, girl…gender fluid)
Price point (bargain, mid-range, luxury)
and so on.
Bonus Round: Finding Keywords in the SERPs
Discovering Top and Trending Keywords
Organizing Your Keywords
How did we even survive before smartphones?!?
I was meeting with the 207 producer at a local coffee shop to plan out our next few episodes. Because of a previous meeting, I was driving there and I grabbed a parking spot right outside! Unfortunately, it came with a coin-fed meter, and I had no coins!
Then I noticed the sticker that said I could pay with an app. I downloaded the app, paid the fee, and made my appointment.
That experience led to a discussion about all the ways we now use our phones, and we decided that would be a topic worth investigating. A callout to my friends on Facebook and I had a plethora of creative ways people were using their phones.
Check out the episode below and watch to the end for a little experiment I’ll be running between 207 episodes!
“I advertised on Facebook and nothing happened!”
We hear it all the time from the small and medium-sized businesses we work with: “Facebook ads don’t work for us.” Yes, they know Facebook ads are increasing in popularity (advertising on Facebook has more than doubled in the past two years). Yes, they have seen the statistics (an almost 10% conversion rate across industries). But they gave it a go … and they got nowhere.
No clicks. Just crickets.
And yet here I am, telling them (and you!) they need to try Facebook advertising again. Why? Facebook advertising is one of the most powerful audience and sales-building tools in your small business toolbox—if you know how to use it. If you learn how to use Facebook ads effectively (or hire a professional to help), you will get better results.
I see businesses expand their audience, showcase their products and services, generate leads, and convert new customers with Facebook advertising every day. I know that most failed Facebook ads are totally fixable with a little fine-tuning (and sometimes better funding). If you have a failed Facebook ad campaign, try working through the checklist below to see where things went wrong and how to make it right.
Find your audience on Facebook and filter it.
There are over two billion active users on Facebook, so it’s a safe bet some portion of those people are your potential customers. It’s also a solid bet that most of them aren’t. Making sure your Facebook ad is seen by the right people—and hidden from the wrong people—is absolutely essential to its success.
Even with increasing privacy controls and concerns, Facebook’s unprecedented amount of user data makes it very easy for you to find your people. For most businesses, demographics or psychographics based on personas or existing customer profiles will yield a promising audience.
All too often, people try to target the widest possible audience and not the most worthwhile audience. Don’t pay for pointless clicks! In any pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, strategic screening saves serious money. Once you have identified your audience, filter it.
Are you promoting a business seminar for women? Filter out men. Is your discount only for in-store purchases? Filter by geographical area. Smart filtering can keep you from accidentally alienating your existing customers, too. Running a signup special? Filter out existing customers and they won’t feel left out of the savings.
Create your Facebook ad and test it.
You don’t need to have or hire an advertising guru to create an effective Facebook ad, although that really helps. You do need to be clear, creative, and concise, and willing to do a little split testing right from the start.
KNOW YOUR GOAL AND HOW YOU WILL MEASURE IT
Why are you buying Facebook advertising? To sell widgets, raise awareness of a cause, or get more subscribers to your email list? Your objectives need to be marketable and measurable.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
- COLD AUDIENCES don’t know you and they don’t completely fit the profile of your current customer base. When you are launching a new product or service or expanding into a new area, you are often addressing a cold audience—the most challenging audience of all. Your Facebook advertising will need to give them a very compelling reason to come closer and warm up to you.
- LOOKALIKE AUDIENCES may or may not know you, but you know a lot about them. They share key characteristics with your current customer base such as age, interests, and income, and you can be fairly confident that marketing messages that have worked for your customers and clients will resonate with them.
- WARM AUDIENCES are friendly or have straight-up friended you. They have visited your website, signed up for your email newsletter, purchased a product or service, or interacted with you in some way. They like you and they are ready to learn or do more.
CREATE OR IDENTIFY THE NEED
No one is on Facebook looking for your ad. If you want to pull their attention away from posts by family and friends, you need to give them a very good reason. Sales and discounts test well with audiences as do smart solutions to problems and pain points.
- FIND AN EYE-CATCHING VISUAL
The data is undeniable—visually compelling content is given preferential treatment in the Facebook algorithm and is more likely to catch eyes, “slow the scroll,” and create interest. Gather a couple of images you think will work, make sure they are properly optimized for your ad size, and commit to testing them against each other at the start of the campaign.
- A VIDEO IS WORTH A THOUSAND PICTURES
Facebook advertising is on the move. Video ads are slowly taking over our streams, and there’s a very good reason for that: video ads typically have higher recall and conversion rates. If you decide to jump into the director’s chair, make sure your video ads are short (I recommend 30 – 60 second ads) and use captions to make your point even when muted. Over 85% of Facebook video ads are played silently.
- DEVELOP A COMPELLING CALL TO ACTION
You caught a prospective client’s glance across a crowded screen. (Yes! Facebook advertising is romantic!) Now you need a clear call to action to convince customers to make the next move. Both your closing argument and your button text should make your best case.
- KNOW HOW YOU WANT TO FOLLOW UP
You are paying for every precious click, so think carefully about where that click should take potential customers. Don’t dump everyone on your homepage and hope they find what they want.
If you advertised a sale, send them to a landing page featuring a special assortment of discounted items. If you offered inside knowledge or insight, serve up your best blog post on the topic or ask for their email in exchange for an in-depth e-book. Anyone who clicks on your Facebook ad should go straight into a well-designed sales funnel.
And even if they click the back button or don’t make a buying decision right then, you can take advantage of remarketing opportunities so you can recapture their attention at a later time on Facebook.
If you ran a Facebook ad campaign without using Facebook Pixel you won’t really know if your ad is succeeding or failing. Facebook Pixel, a piece of code you add to your website, collects crucial tracking data on conversions that allow you to follow your leads around the web and follow up with them effectively. Especially with cold audiences, clicking on a Facebook ad is just the first step in the sales funnel. Facebook Pixel lets you grab hold of your leads and guide them where you want them to go!
Budget your Facebook ad like you believe in it.
I know this is hard—especially if you feel you’ve been burned on Facebook advertising before—but the primary reason Facebook advertising campaigns fail is for lack of funding. Facebook wants your ad to succeed as much as you do. After all, advertising dollars are how Facebook succeeds.
Your ad’s exposure is constantly calibrated by the Facebook algorithm from incoming user data to find the most favorable conditions. The more opportunities people have to interact with your ad the better it can be optimized. When you launch your brand-new Facebook ad into the world, it has a lot to learn—and that education costs money. There’s only one way to speed up that learning process and that is to pay more upfront.
So how do you decide how much is too much? For most small- and medium-sized businesses, Facebook advertising is a powerful customer acquisition tool. When you know the customer lifetime value (CLV) for your business, you know how much it makes sense to invest in your ad.
If you are short on cash or the CLV isn’t there, settle in for a slow burn. If your offer is time-sensitive, you need results right now, or your CLV is stratospheric, reach for your wallet and feed the beast.
Give your Facebook ad time to succeed.
First, build in a testing phase. Remember the 2-3 images I asked you to select? It’s time to test them against each other. You should also test different versions of your headline or call to action.
In the early days of a Facebook ad campaign your results are data, not dollars. Your ad is live, yes, but early data can only help you decide on the most effective elements for your Facebook ad, not whether or not your campaign is a success.
You did so much preparatory work. No matter how dazzling or disappointing the initial results, don’t pull your ad too fast! If you aren’t getting the response you want, fine-tune your Facebook ad before you declare it a failure. Let the algorithm find its rhythm.
Often it takes repeated viewings to convince customers to make that click. Studies show that many people don’t even notice an ad until the 7th – 9th showing, on Facebook or in traditional media. Given time, your Facebook ads will find clients and customers and start filling your sales funnel…assuming you’ve followed the steps above.
Think about your last failed Facebook ad campaign. Did you skip any of the important steps above? Maybe it’s time to give that ad another chance.
If you don’t want to go on this Facebook advertising journey on your own, or you want to get back to doing whatever it is that you do best and leave Facebook ads to people who eat, sleep, and live social ads, let me know. There’s nothing more fun than fixing an “almost there” Facebook ad campaign for another small business.
Are you a “local” business? Do you do business in a specific geographic area? Do you serve tourists who come to your community?
If so, Local SEO results can be critical to your online visibility, your foot traffic, and to your very livelihood. So, how can you improve your local search visibility?
Recently, Moz released its annual Local Search Ranking Factors, which provide some insight into what you need to do to rank higher in this all important arena of search. Below you’ll find some important takeaways.
Local Pack vs. Localized Search Results
Organic Results – the “meritocracy” of search results. These were the original search results, the “10 big blue links” that described most search results pages from the early days. These may include localized search results depending on the type of search performed.
Local Pack – when Google believes the searcher may be looking for a local solution, the map with three local listings and a “More Places” link will appear.
Paid Search – when Google feels there’s “commercial intent” in the search, they will show up to four ads (or sponsored links) at the top of the page, and sometimes up to four more at the bottom.
How Are You Doing in Local Search?
How to Improve Your Local SEO
Google My Business
Start Your Local SEO Journey with Google My Business
Get Inbound Links from Local Websites
- New York fashion guest blog post [NYC barbershop]
- San Antonio general contractor guest blog post [Texas lumber yard]
- Colorado travel guest blog post [Denver ski resort]
Get Reviews to Improve Your Local SEO
What Are Citations and How Do You Get Them?
Where Can You Dig Deeper Into Local Search Factors?
Think you’re getting the whole picture when you’re online? Think again. Algorithms–mathematical equations–help determine the ads, search results, and social media posts you see. And the ones you don’t.
This week I took to 207 again to discuss with Rob Caldwell the invisible algorithms that may be changing your world view…and you don’t even know it.
Here are some notes from my research:
What is an algorithm?
A mathematical equation that follows a formula, often to help predict behavior or future activity
Frees up our time doing mundane or incredibly complex tasks
Can you give us some examples?
Algorithms are everywhere in modern society.
When Netflix recommends a movie to you
When you’re matched with someone on a dating site
Some police forces use it to predict where criminal activity will take place
Roomba uses it to clean your house
Stocks are traded based on algorithms
But today, I wanted to talk about how algorithm skew the way we see the world, especially online
How are algorithms used online?
Ads: online services like Facebook and Google collect incredible amounts of data on us.
Based on how old we are, our gender, where we live, how much money we make, when the last time we bought a house or a car or a pet, our political beliefs, our job title, what sites we visited, what searches we performed, it can serve up more targeted ads to us.
Where else do algorithm impact us?
A lot of people think that all search results are the same, but they’re targeted to each of us.
Bill Belichick example.
This seems helpful and benign. Where’s the problem?
Think of how much information Facebook has on us. Your status updates, your likes, your comments, your shares, your searches, your friends, your interests, when you start typing something and delete it, and everywhere you log in with your Facebook login, and match you with offline data as well
Facebook is trying to keep you on the platform, that’s their job, so they feed you posts they think you like. Pro-Trump? You’ll see Pro-Trump posts from all your friends. Not a fan? All of your friends’ posts will be trashing him. You start to see a very skewed view of the world. An echo chamber.
What can we do to avoid the algorithm effect?
Remember that algorithms aren’t inherently evil and they do serve an important purpose
Be aware that you are being impacted by the algorithm, so question what you see
Read the other side’s news sources.
Additional resources on algorithms:
- I found some great resources as I was researching this topic. Here are a few of my favorites:
- We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads [Ted Talk from Zeynep Tufekci; not for the feint of heart if you don’t want your mind blown]
- How Algorithms Shape Our World [Ted Talk from Kevin Slavin]
- What Do Social Media Algorithm Mean for You?
What gets measured gets improved. But what if you’re measuring the wrong things?
Are your metrics vanity or value-based?
Is a bigger email list always better?
How many hits do you have?
So, what should you measure?
This isn’t something that will break your site but it is something to stay on top of. With GDPR enforcement expanding rapidly, it’s easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole. To help, we’ve compiled a list of resources that will guide you through this ever-changing update.
Simply accepting terms and conditions in your Google Analytics doesn’t take care of GDPR (though it is a recommended action). It’s more about data collection and privacy policies. You will want to read (and listen) to the resources below so your business can stay compliant.
- Need to “flip the switch” on your Google Analytics? Search Engine Watch has your “How-To” guide on where to find the compliance button in your Google Analytics account
- Is your website on WordPress? WPBeginner takes a look at what GDPR means for WordPress websites as well as suggests some plugins that you can use to stay compliant
- GDPR also affects the setting of cookies on your website. An IT blog in the EU has written about Cookie Consent and what needs to happen to stay in compliance.
- We’re constantly learning from Moz for about SEO, Marketing, Content, etc. They’ve published two great articles, GDPR and Your Online Marketing & Two Urgent GDPR Actions
- Looking for the political reasons why the European Union is putting this into place? Check out: Harvard Business Review – GDPR and the End of the Internet’s Grand Bargain
- How does GDPR affect marketers? Social Media Examiner has your answers with their article “How GDPR Impacts Marketers: What You Need to Know”
- Don’t have time to read and need a podcast to listen to while you’re in traffic? Check out Rick Mulready’s “Art of Paid Traffic” podcast where he sits down with Suzanne Dibble a business law expert in the UK. Episode #188 “GDPR: Everything You Need to Know + How to Ensure You’re Compliant”
There are many moving parts to the GDPR Regulations. There is no one-click solution for 100% compliance. We’re working on our own sites to get them up to date with these new regulations. If you have questions and would like to talk to someone from flyte, feel free to contact us.