Digital Marketing

Rodeo Management

Our first season trial of the Rodeo Management SystemTM (RMS) has now been completed and we are opening up the service to additional rodeo companies. At only $200 per rodeo, this system is priced to be affordable by small rodeo organizations yet is scaleable to an unlimited number of rodeos, events, and entrants.

On the Public side of the RMS application, the system handles all aspects of providing rodeo information including:

  • the rodeo schedule
  • entry to the rodeo, including buddy groups
  • displaying the rodeo draw
  • displaying the rodeo results
  • displaying rodeo season standings

On the Administration side, the RMS handles all aspects of the management side including:

  • member / entrant database
  • stock and stock contractor database
  • rodeo and event management
  • payment recording
  • printing receipts for members / entrants
  • generating the rodeo draw including priorities and max entrants per performance
  • posting the rodeo draw
  • payout calculations
  • generating prize money cheques
  • plus many management and administrative reports

More information about the Rodeo Management System can be found at www.rodeosystem.com.

Google New AdWords Expanded Text Format

Google has created a temporary opportunity for AdWords advertisers to have a competitive advantage by switching to their new Expanded Text Ad Format.  The new ad format results in a physically bigger ad, occupying a greater share of the search results real estate.  A larger ad is more noticeable and leads to higher click through rates.  I say this from experience, having implemented them with ALL of my AdWords clients.

What are expanded text ads?

Going from the standard text ad format to the new Expanded Text Ad Format gives you more text to work with, more than the previous standard text ads in a few important ways. The important differences are:

  • Two 30 character headline fields
  • An 80 character description field
  • Using your final URL’s domain as the display URL
  • Two path fields that can be used in the display URL

 

google-adwords-expanded-text-adsThe first two of these changes are the most significant, as the images above depict.  The New Expanded Text Ad on the left is clearly much larger and more prominent.  When you are the only ad format on the search results using the new format, your click through rates might jump as much as 30% to 50%.  Of course, this advantage only lasts as long as your competition lags behind in updating your ads.  Conversely, the disadvantage lasts as long as you lag behind.

I have been asked “Can you still use the old Standard Text Ads?”  Yes you can, but why?  As Google continues to tweak their search results pages, it become increasingly important to stand out, not to blend in with the other noise.

Overall the new ad format gives you almost 50% more space, 50% more opportunity to deliver a compelling message to your audience.

Skill Shark WordPress & SEO

SkillShark.net is our newest client.  They have built an app that runs on iPads and soon on Android devices to automate the collection and reporting of athlete evaluations, from baseball to hockey, as well as custom uses.

We are helping them take their website from a single page placeholder for their logo to a full blown marketing site to attract organic search traffic and facilitate the sign up process for new clients.

See more about Skill Shark in our Portfolio

Responsive Site Design + Parallax

A new story in our portfolio about a Responsive Site Design + Parallax for Cowan Lake Outfitters project.  This project incorporated a ton of the newest website approaches, plus some custom programming.

Even if you don’t love hunting, go check out the portfolio and the site.

See the story in the portfolio.

Google SERPs are Now Wider

What does Google Has Wider SERPs Mean?

It means that the Search Engine Results Pages are now being displayed in a wider format on your computer and tablet. Previously, the view able width of Google SERPs was about 55-60 characters, depending on the actual characters used, as some characters, like w are much wider than others, like i.  The actual increase is best measured in something more fixed, pixel width.  The previous Google SERP display width was 500 pixles and is now 600 pixels.  Google has made up the difference by resizing some other areas on the page.

What Does a Wider SERP Mean to Me?

This wider display format changes some of the recommendations and guidelines regarding the meta data that you should be using on each of your pages.  The immediate conclusion is that you can now include more text content in your meta title tag and in your meta description.  Title length is increased from 10 to 15 characters (before Google adds the … at the end of your title) and description length is increased from 15 to 20 characters.  However, a more significant result may be organic search results currently positioned in about the 4th through 6th spots in the search results.  Guess what, you might now appear on the first screen, without scrolling.  This will happen if some of the multi-line listings end up needing one less line.  That is, descriptions in the current length, that were wrapping over to 3 lines now might fit within 2 lines of text.  If these listings are above you, they will be less tall and your position will shift up on the page.

Should I Re-Write all my Titles and Descriptions to be Longer?

Not necessarily.  First lets deal with meta titles.  Just because you have more space does not mean you need to fill it.  If you have painstakingly worked to craft precise meta titles to fit within 55 characters, then you have done important things.  The first is you have adhered to the old guideline.  The old titles still fit within the new available space so there is no NEED to re-write based on this.  Secondly, good titles are highly focused on the key topic of the page and by keeping a current title in place, you maintain that focus on what’s important.  The temptation will now be to add another keyword variation into the title, or similar thoughts.  Resist the urge to add more to already good titles.

Descriptions on the other hand I would take full advantage of the increased length, especially if an additional two to four words can deliver a more convincing reason for someone to click your search result.  Remember that search engines don’t use meta descriptions as ranking signals, but humans use them to choose what results to click.  Again, don’t spam by stuffing with keywords, but do tell a more convincing story and improve your click through rate, which is a ranking signal.

Where Should I re-Write Meta Titles to be Longer?

There are some places where adding content to the meta titles makes good sense.  First, anywhere you had to abbreviate words you can now write them out.  Secondly, this gives you the opportunity to replace a meta title on a secondary or supporting page with a longer tail version to more accurately target the content of a page.  Thirdly, if you have pages where you have sacrificed branding for SEO efforts, you can now use the extra characters to add your branding to your titles.

Where Should I Re-Write Meta Descriptions to be Longer?

Simple.  Everywhere you can.  As mentioned above, use the longer description display to tell a stronger story and improve your click through rate.  Maybe this is adding a key stat or a key differentiating feature of your product. Review your descriptions with the thought of what one additional piece of information would help convince the user to click your listing?

Page Analysis Tools Will Eventually Catch Up

If you use some sort of SEO software with on-page optimization analysis, you will find that the tools are behind and any scoring factors or recommendations will be based on the old SERP width guidelines.  As a result, your page scoring or page optimization suggestions may not reflect the new SERP width for now.  You will have to consciously ignore those warnings or red flags, knowing that the Google search engine environment is working on a new set of desirable content lengths.  For example, I have written a meta title for this page that is exactly 70 characters long (“Google SERPs are now Wider | Meta Titles and Descriptions can Increase”) and one of my SEO tools says “Warning: Title display in Google is limited to a fixed width, yours is too long.”  Under the 55 character guideline, it would have displayed as “Google SERPs are now Wider | Meta Titles and Descriptions …” The tools simply have not caught up to the new guidelines.  I have a similar warning that my meta page description (“Google has increased the width of their Search Engine Results Page format.  You now have more width, more characters that can be used to grab attention and tell your story.”) is 16 characters too long.

Google AdWords Optimization – Keyword Match Types

Once you have had your AdWords campaigns running for a few months, you should have enough data to start optimizing.  Using keyword match types can help you get more (or less) out of your keywords to improve your financial performance.  When you start your campaign and build your ad groups, ads, and keyword lists, I would strongly recommend sticking to the broad match keyword type, which is the default.  This will give you the most exposure and the most data to evaluate your performance.

For the purposes of some fictional examples, we are an online retailer of baseball gloves.  We are using Google AdWords to attract people to our site who want to purchase a new baseball glove.

Broad Match Keyword Type

Google will attempt to match your broad match keyword with as many closely related terms as possible, including synonyms of the words in your keyword phrase, and searches which contain some of your words.  A keyword such as baseball glove could potentially display your add for searches such as softball glove, baseball mitt, baseball gloves, baseball batting gloves, gloves for baseball.  A short keyword phrase, one, two, or even three words, may trigger your ad for the widest possible search terms.  The negative side is your ad may be triggered for searches you really don’t want, potentially costing you pay per click dollars or click through rates.  For example, the same keyword from above, baseball glove, could trigger your add for terms such as history of the baseball glove and how are baseball gloves made.

To use broad match keywords, simply enter the keyword without any other symbols or modifiers (which are used for other keyword match types).

Phrase Match Keyword Type

If you need a little more control, phrase match keyword match type eliminates a lot of terms by requiring that your entire keyword phrase is contained in the search term.  Using our “baseball glove” example, searches such as baseball player gloves, baseball golden glove winners, and gloves for baseball would not trigger your ad while searches such as baseball glove sizes, types of baseball glovesbaseball glove for kids, and leather baseball glove could trigger your ad.  

To specify the Phrase Match keyword type, simply put the double quote symbols at the beginning and end of the phrase, “baseball glove”.

Exact Match Keyword Type

The greatest amount of control is the exact match keyword match type.  It will also deliver, in most cases, the lowest amount of search impressions as it will only consider your ad for searches that exactly match the keyword phrase.  This match type is best used when your audience searches for a specific item, or when your product mix is quite narrowly defined.  Sometimes it can be useful to use the exact keyword match type when you are running a promotion or perhaps you have some specific traffic types that you want to drive to a specific landing page.  In our example, you could be running a promotion for Youth/Kids Baseball Gloves.  In this example, you might set up an Ad Group specifically to drive traffic to a suitable landing page with exact match keywords such as [kids baseball gloves], [baseball gloves for kids], and [youth baseball gloves].  You would not want to drive traffic to this landing page (which is all about Kids Baseball Gloves) for search terms such as professional model baseball gloves, so you would make the keywords very specific.

To specify the Phrase Match keyword type, simply put the square bracket symbols at the beginning and end of the phrase, [baseball glove].

Negative Keywords

Probably the least used keyword match type is negative keywords, but potentially the most valuable.  Negative keywords eliminate your ad from searches that do not have value to you.  In our example, negative keywords such as -used, -cheap, -secondhand, would all keep you from spending money on searchers who are not looking to buy a new baseball glove.  You can set negative keywords at both the campaign level (in the shared library) as well as the ad group level by using the minus sign before the words.

New Sports Trivia Questions

There have been a ton of new sports trivia questions added to www.SportTriviaChallenge.com.  The number of Football trivia questions and Hockey trivia questions has increased significantly.

We build Sport Trivia Challenge so that others could enjoy playing a free game of Sports Trivia, with trivia questions including baseball, hockey, football, basketball, and boxing.  Go Play a Game!

Getting More from Your AdWords Budget

 AdWords Budget Maximization

If you have been running a Google AdWords campaign for over a month there will be enough historical performance data to optimize and maximize your budget dollars.  The key to effectively managing your budget is to start at the top and drill down to the detail.  If you try to start at the detail level, you will spin your wheels in too many places.  I would normally like to see a campaign running for about 3 months before make too many drastic changes.  If your business has high seasonality, you should base your important decisions on data gathered when it matters most.

Budget maximization is not only about squeezing dollars.  It should be viewed as finding the right places to spend your advertising budget, which means both increasing and decreasing the amounts spent.

Use Conversion Tracking

By running a campaign, you must have some marketing goal in mind that you want the traffic to your website to accomplish.  In most situations, this is purchasing a product or becoming a lead by filling out a form.  If you have identifiable actions such as these on your site, then you should be using Conversion Tracking.  This feature tracks your visitors arriving to your site through the click of an ad.  If they complete the desired action, they are a Conversion.  Tracking conversions shows how your advertising dollars are generating sales and/or leads and provides a cost factor per conversion.  This will be key data used in the following budget maximization efforts.

AdWords Supplies a Ton of Data

There is enough data in an AdWords account to drown away an entire morning of clicking, sorting, secondary dimensions, more clicking and more detail.  The key to not wasting your time and getting the most from your efforts is knowing how to spot the opportunities.  I am assuming you are running a fairly typical campaign, using the Google search network and Google display network, with text ads and image ads.  Also, within each Ad Group, you have multiple ad variants and a suitable list of keywords.

Begin at the top, at the Ad Group level and compare your performance across the board.  The key metrics will be conversions, cost per conversion, clicks, cost per click (CPC), impressions and click through rate (CTR).  This same set of key metrics and viewed at the campaign, Ad Group, ads, and keywords levels.  A conversion is the highest measure of commitment (an likely value) that a website visitor can make.  So any combination of high high conversions is a positive sign.  As long as the cost per conversion fits within your marketing goals, then the high conversion components of your campaign should be what you view as successes.  For the most part, these top performing assets can be left alone to continue performing well.  Where you want to focus your time is where you see high campaign dollars spent, and few conversions.  These are visitors to your website which are costing you dollars, but not returning value.  Dig deeper in these areas and look for specific ads with high dollars spent low conversions.  Also look for keywords generating high traffic volumes but not resulting in conversions.  Where this is happening, you are taking budget dollars away from other ads and other keywords that may perform better.  By simply pausing the campaign elements costing you money, you can retain the data, but free up the budget.  Don’t delete your low performers, just pause them.

Trading Budget $’s

stretching-adwords-budgetsWhen you set your budgets at the start of the campaigns, you had an idea of where the search traffic would come frsqueezing_cents_from_dollarsom and where your dollars needed to be.  Now that you have actual data, from actual search traffic, let the dollars guide you.  Unless you have other marketing goals not related to ROI, begin shifting dollars from elements that are simply driving cost to those that are generating traffic and conversions.  That should mean both shifting dollars, trading from low performers to high performers, as well as adding dollars.

Be prepared to look out side your AdWords and outside your digital media budget to compare the performance of your AdWords dollars to other marketing expenditures.

Adjusting CPC to the Optimum Level

When you first start your AdWords campaign, I strongly recommend you let AdWords automatically set your max Cost Per Click (Max CPC).  This will give AdWords the flexibility to apply your budgets to where the search traffic is happening.  As you become more familiar with your performance data, you will should see some areas of your campaign that are frequently maxing out their budget allotment.  If you do not have additional budget dollars to apply here, then you ca follow another tactic to attempt to get more clicks and conversions from the same dollars.  Begin to manually turn down the max Cost per Click.  If you are maxing out the spend, then that means there are more clicks to be had, but your budget is running out before the end of the day.  Adjusting the max CPC downward by 5% increments can tweak your way to higher traffic for the same dollars. Make the change, then let it run for a couple of weeks.

If your adjustment leads to higher traffic, be prepared to trim the max CPC by another 5%.  Be patient, don’t try to get there all at once with a 25% reduction or you may under price your way into traffic loss.  Once you reach a point where a 5% reduction no longer gets you more clicks for the same dollars, then adjust back on 5% increment.  You have found the line, go back.

Down to the Keyword Level

Managing your campaign at the Keyword level might meant that you have a lot of spare time.  For a sizable campaign, you might have upwards of 1000 keywords.  Trying to manage too much detail at tool low of level can leave you chasing the data instead of using it to guide you.  At the keyword level, i recommend that you do the following:

  • set the date range to 3 month or more
  • sort the keywords by conversions
  • pause the keywords with high media cost, low click through rate, and zero conversions

Using Google AdWords and Google Analytics Together

We will discuss how to use these two powerful tools together, to gain more insights into your traffic generations campaigns.  This will be found in a future article.

Conclusion

Every campaign has something to gain by reviewing and looking for opportunities to improve the performance.  Use the AdWords performance data to guide you to the elements most needing your attention.

 

No Kill Switch on Awesome

I’ve had this cartoon torn off my Dilbert desktop calendar for over a year.  I just love the “There’s no kill switch on Awesome” line.  I don’t have any real message to add, just wanted to share this one.  It does remind of a few engineers I know!

Feb 29th is the Extra Day of Marketing

Every four years we get an extra day, the leap day. Another 24 hours to make our marketing more effective, to improve our ROI, to drive more online traffic, to gather more leads.

Or Go Fishing!

I’m going fishing.  So while I’m sitting in my ice hut, wood fire burning, jigging a chunk of work on a hook up and down, and enjoying an icy beverage, you should get to work on getting caught up on your online marketing.  Or better yet, take the extra day to become smarter about digital marketing to mobile users.

Digital Marketing to Mobile

Step 1: Turn off your PC.  Practice learning by doing.  Spend your time on your phone, browsing your company website.  Do all the activities you hope your customers/leads are doing.  Read your content, read a few blog articles.  Download your white papers and info graphics.  Complete the contact form and see how long until someone gets in touch to answer your inquiry.

Step 2: Repeat all the above on your competitor websites.  Make a list, or a chart, of which of your competitors is better or worse than you on all the key things you want your website visitors to do.

Step 3: Figure why doing this on mobile is important.  Want a clue, because mobile web access is the fastest growing device / access method.  More and more of your market, your future customers, are carrying their internet in their pocket.  Better figure out what works on your mobile site and what doesn’t.

More Leads From Mobile

Getting more from mobile means you first have to think the way a mobile user thinks.  You have to put mobile first.  when you build your website, when you develop content, think mobile first.  Test everything mobile first, then adapt to larger views of tablet, laptop, desktop.  That means making it convenient and easy for mobile users to intact with you on your website, placing calls to action in easy to access places.

Best Places to Test Mobile

If you really want to act mobile, then get away from your desktop and spend your time viewing the online world the way so many view it, mobile.  so go fishing, play golf, sit at the beach, or on your backyard deck. If you get frustrated with using your site on your mobile phone, then fix it, in March, but first, I’ve got a bite.