Digital Marketing

Wakaw Web Works

We have added a new division to Netnotic Marketing Inc. Wakaw Web Works, which operates out of Nelson Beach on the shores of Wakaw Lake serves business in the Wakaw area who need full service Digital Marketing.

As a division of Netnotic, Wakaw Web Works is able to offer the full suite of services including:

  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Website Development
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Google Ads Management
  • Ecommerce

For more information, simply check out WakawWebWorks.com

New WordPress Website for Precision Instrumentation

We have just launched a new website for Precision Instrumentation at https://precisioninstrumentation.ca. This client was referred to us by another of our clients working in the same industry. During our initial discussions, the client indicated in our preliminary discussions that they would like to have the ability to update the website post launch. We built the site using WordPress and chose a theme using the WP Bakery Page Builder to make future updates and edits an easy process. We are always confident when we choose to build a WordPress Website as we know that should the client want to add additional functionality in the future, that there will already be a plug-in in the WordPress system to support that. The theme chosen also included parallax features and is built-in mobile responsive.

Making Ecommerce work for Local Business

Let’s face it, we have few other choice. We need to find a way to keep business running. We have a duty to our employees to do everything possible to provide them employment and a duty to our customers who rely on our products. Some businesses have chosen the other path, the hunker down and hope it all goes away quickly. Truth is, we don’t know how long this abnormal situation will last. We hope it is not the new normal, but it is what we have for now.

So the answer is innovate, create, find a way. The ability for business to survive based on foot traffic, for most, is not viable. But consumers are not without resources. Yes, a great deal of consumers have been financially impacted, if their jobs have been impacted, but there are many who are still in need of acquiring the products you offer. Many are not venturing outside their homes, unless absolutely essential, to shop.

Consumers Have Time to Shop Online

What consumers do have is time. This is being filled by many with screen time. Streaming media, music videos, video chat, conferencing, movies, binge watching TV shows, and, shopping. Yes, online shopping is accelerating. If we don’t offer them a local option, they will buy from Amazon. This revenue available to local businesses.

Maximize Your Tools and Talents, Online

To make the best out of the current situation, think of the talents of your employees and help provide them with the tools to bring your products to your customers using ecommerce, email, social media, and any other technology tool available. This will help you keep your staff, your loyal staff, whom you have trained and who you rely on as a key success factor in your business.

Ecommerce is the start, getting your products online, on screen, so your customers can place orders. This is a foundational tool. Once in place, it’s time to maximize the rest of available tools and let your employees talents shine.

Get the Word Out

If you just implemented your ecommerce channel so you can sell online, you now need to get the word out. Remember, your customers will be looking online for sources of what they need/want. If they can’t find it locally, they will find it on Amazon.

Begin with your customer database. If you have been diligent and collected customer contact information, email addresses, and permission to market to them, then you need to get the message to them that you are now selling online. Past customers will be the most likely to buy from you again. Be willing to offer them incentives to shop online locally. You also need to offer reassurance of how you and your employees are protecting themselves and your customers from COVID-19. Safe working practices and safe product handling practices.

Social Media to Announce Your Ecommerce Channel

As mentioned earlier, there is more screen time being consumed than ever. People are working from home and people are spending their entertainment time at home. Alongside the email window and office applications, the browser window has their social media apps running. Leverage your social media channels to get the word out about your now available ecommerce store. If they are going to buy from somewhere, it should be you.

Should I SEO During a Downturn?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that there may never be a better time to prepare for the future.

Continuing to Market Despite Downturn

For every adage out there, there is another one on the opposite end of the spectrum. When conventional wisdom says do one thing, the market leaders and innovators do the other thing. Many businesses are cutting costs as the “hunker down” for the bad times and hope to be able to climb out of their shell when it’s all over. Here is the good news for you, as some of your competitors retract, there is less noise in the market, more airtime for your business. When the economy recovers, your brand will be remembered, your sales will surge. Those that pulled the shell over their heads will have to re-start, regain lost position. This is even more so the truth in the world of Search Engine Optimization, SEO.

Of course, that is our opinion, and we are marketers, digital marketers, specialists in SEO. We spend our time helping clients climb the search rankings, often through the help of websites like spamzilla.io. We don’t believe that there is ever a good time to take your foot off the gas. Sometimes it means finding another gas pedal. We have dug up some support for our opinion, some cold hard research based economic facts that we thought would be good to share with you:

In today’s environment, with the COVID-19 health crisis and social distancing the current practice, many businesses that depend on walk-in traffic are struggling. There is help for Local Business Via Ecommerce. There is also much to gain now with respect to SEO. While your competition goes into hiding, you have the opportunity to leap forward, to grab a bigger piece of the mind-share, and vault up the SEO search rankings.

SEO Motivated by Survival

Survival is powerful instinct and a wonderful motivator when properly channeled. Channeling that motivation in SEO tight now will pay dividends while your competition lays low, waiting, inactive. Search engines like fresh content, on established websites. It’s a sign that the business is alive and growing. Stagnate website are frowned upon by search engines. If, relative to the other options available, they are no more than static content, they begin to slip in the rankings, while active websites begin to gain authority and more favorable positioning.

The Home Office Content Shop

For many office workers, they have taken their computers and set up an office at home. As someone in a similar situation as myself (home office for the past 10 years) said, ‘we have been preparing for this for over a decade’. For those that are new to the home office experience, you will find that there are prolonged periods without distractions. While the benefits of personal interaction, of collaboration, may be harder to obtain, the ability to focus on a task at hand may improve. One of these tasks well suited to the home office isolation is generating content. With a little time on your hands, it can be wisely spent re-writing existing content, developing new content, and re-purposing older content. All of this has SEO benefits to your website.

More Fresh Content is Good For SEO

Search Engines like content, they like new content, they like original content. When a search engine discovers new content on a website, it signals that the site is alive, that the business is active, that the content is likely more relevant that something produced years ago.

It’s Time to Take Advantage of SEO

Now is the time to take advantage of an SEO opportunity. As competitors go into the “hunker down” approach mentioned above, they tend to put all marketing work on hold. That usually includes SEO, to their detriment. If they choose to be stagnant, and you choose to be active with your SEO, you have a window of time on your side to march up and past the search engine rankings of your competition.

Hire In or Hire Out for SEO

In addition to content generation, a key component of SEO and improving your search rankings, there are a number of other activities that can help boost your site’s ability to draw in organic traffic. If you are an experienced digital marketer and competent in taking on SEO projects, then now is the time to make it a top priority. If your business needs help with SEO, now is the time to seek the skills of an SEO consultant. Whether you hire in (yourself) or hire out (consultant), take advantage of your opportunity.

Virtual Sales via Facetime

Previously we have posted some ideas on how local businesses can survive through a significantly challenging time. This includes the post Local Business Survival in a Crisis and Sell Online Plus Creative Delivery. Now we want to talk about another creative practice we have learned about.

The Sales Challenge

For retail businesses, foot traffic is key. The ability to browse and compare items, to feel the fabric of clothes, to read the package, etc. is a key part of the retail shopping experience. As shoppers stay home as part of social distancing, the hands-on approach is not practical. We have worked with one store that has come up with a way to provide as much of this shopping experience as possible. The first step was to add an ecommerce shopping cart to their website to replace the in-store cashier. Initially they added about 25% of their product items which account for about 80% of their sales revenue.

Using their customer database, they then began to send out emails to their clientele, beginning with their top clients first, to let them know they were now available online. Web traffic immediately jumped. Comments back from their customers are that even thought they are staying home, they still want to feel like there is some aspect of normal in their lives.

The Facetime Solution

Then for the sales process. This was a happy discovery by an employee willing to provide exceptional customer service. After a customer had spend some time browsing the online store, they were undecided between two items. So they called the store for advice. This employee then took the sales process a step further and offered to use their mobile phones and the Facetime video chat feature to take the customer on a virtual sales trip, comparison shopping of the items. After an initial selection, the customer asked for a tour of a few other items and eventually bought 3 products.

To be successful with this Facetime virtual sales approach, you need to have staff who are personable, friendly, knowledgeable, and, of course, willing to put in the effort. This sales method has caught on. The business has offered to cover the mobile phone bills of their staff and the unique experience has proven to be a success.

Sell Online Plus Creative Delivery

Starts With Selling Online

In the face of a very difficult business environment, brought by an even more difficult health care environment, businesses that have products to sell are moving to sell online. At Netnotic, we are helping local businesses to sell online by offering discounted ecommerce website plans. This is the first step, being able to receive orders and receive payment when foot traffic to your retail location is not happening.

The time to get an ecommerce channel set up can vary but with some labour supplied to load the product data, and ecommerece site can be online and your can have the ability to sell online in under a week.

Product Delivery Options

In our discussions with local businesses, we have come up several creative and effective ways to get product off the shelves and into the hands of paying customers. Of course, this needs to be done in a manner that is safe for both the employees and for the customer, to prevent the spread of the virus causing our current crisis.

Option 1, Self Pick Up

One business we are working with is offering self pick up. After the order is placed online, it is packaged by employees wearing face masks and gloves. When ready for pick up, the customer is contacted. The customer then drives to the retail location and phones or text the store. The boxed order is placed out side the door and the customer picks up the package. Social distancing is maintained.

Option 2, Courier Delivery

If the customer does not want to venture out, courier businesses are still operating and they have been trained to be in compliance with health standards in terms of protective clothing and equipment. The courier retrieves the package from the retailer and delivers to the customer, usually with a door step pick up.

Option 3, Evening Delivery

One creative solution we are happy to have been involved in conceiving is an evening delivery service which is handled by current part time employees of the store, in this case university students. This practice is following similar methods to some door-to-door food delivery services. With university classes now migrated to online, these students have a flexible schedule and are able to gather a batch of deliveries and provide door-step drop offs.

Keeping Employees Working

A somewhat obvious benefit of selling online is to keep your employees working as much as possible. You have invested in their training, development, product knowledge and experience. It would be unfortunate to lose these valuable people if you had no revenue to pay them.

We are also finding retail business are using technology to their advantage to offer virtual sales experiences for their customers. We will describe some of these in a very near future post.

Local Business Survival in a Crisis

Take Action

As we all know, the Covid-19 (corona virus) is causing tremendous damage to the Canadian, Saskatchewan, and local economies. We cant just wish it away. We have to take action. That action, while necessary, has been bad for business. We can’t just wish for our business to survive through the crisis. We have to take action.

Ecommerce Channels for Local Business

If you have a product, you have an opportunity. If you are determined, courageous, you can help your business to generate revenue in the face of dwindling foot traffic to your business. In Saskatchewan, many of us are now going into the second week of social distancing, reducing the amount of interaction. Those who are able are working from home, TV binge watching, missing the hell out of live sports, and starting to get a little restless. We all have a profound desire for things to go back to normal.

As the desire for normal grows people will look for outlets and there is a coming wave of pent up demand, of people becoming more active. Getting off the couch and being active within the house or wherever they can maintain the social distancing requirements. So those who are financially able will start to buy again, those with a do-it-yourself attitude will get busy. Home fitness, home renovation, home entertainment. In order to fuel their home-based activities, they will need to be able to purchase products and have their products delivered. It will extend beyond these home items, to personal items, to entertainment and recreation. if you sell a product from a shelf, you have the opportunity to continue selling, online.

Ecommerce Websites

We are currently offering heavily discounted services to help local businesses bring their product offering to their website for online purchase. Tou can see more details at: https://www.netnotic.com/web-design/ecommerce-for-local-business/

Ecommerce + Innovative Thinking

In the face of necessity, the people of Saskatchewan get resourceful. Some of the most innovative thinking has come as a result of needing to overcome some form of adversity. We are certainly facing adversity right now. In conversations with other Saskatchewan businesses, we are developing creative plans to keep employees employed and keep revenues flowing. This includes both integrating technology into the sales process as well some low tech but equally creative solutions.

Google Ads: Improving Quality Score

What is Quality Score?

Your Google Ads Quality Scores matter, more then you probably realize. Quality Score affects the cost and efficiencies of your paid search campaigns. Google Quality Score is a significant factor in how your PPC ads perform and how much you pay for each click. A higher Quality Score acts as a discount on the bid needed to get higher ad rankings.

Quality Score has three important elements. The easiest way to think about the interaction between these elements is the better the rating of each, the higher the total quality score. Think of a simple formula,

Click Through Rate x Ad Relevance x Landing Page Experience

There are other factors as well, such as historical performance of your ad account and relevance of keywords within ad groups. We like to use this formula as multiplying factors as an extremely low rating on any of the factors drastically brings down your Quality Score, and increases the price of your bid needed to get good ad rank placement.

Google does not share the weighting of the factors going into calculating your quality score, after all, it’s part of the magic mix algorithms Google has for everything, However, Google Ads documentation is pretty clear that of all the factors, improving the relevance between your keywords, your ad text, and your landing page can go a long way to improving your Quality Score.

Viewing Quality Score in Google Ads

To actually see the mysterious Quality Score in your Google Ads account, within any campaign or ad group, click on keywords. Then click on the Columns icon and use the drop downs to pick the Quality Score category. We prefer the following selections:

Google Ads Quality Score Options

Quality score appears as a measure out of a possible 10. The factors used to calculate the quality score as a rating of below average, average, or above average. In order to get a rating of at least 7, all three factors need to be at least average and at least one factor will need to be above average.

Google Ads Quality Score Displayed

Improving Quality Score

Going back to the formula:

Click Through Rate x Ad Relevance x Landing Page Experience

Click Through (CTR) is typically a byproduct of good work done to improve other areas. People click on your ad after a search if it looks like the result most likely to provide them with the information or the product in their search terms. If they find their search term in the headline, the page title, in the destination URL, and in the description of your ad, the likelihood of a click is relatively high. Much higher than if they don’t see their search term in your ad. in fact, it’s very unlikely your ad would even be appearing without any of these falling into at least a broad match.

As we said before, we believe the strongest factor in the Quality Score formula is relevance. Relevance across the board, between your keywords, your ad text, and your landing page copy. Think of relevance as consistency. Let’s use the search term Saskatchewan fishing lodge. If you have a keyword matching this term, or closely matching, tick one of the boxes. If, in the same Ad Group, you have an add with the term in the headline and in the description text, tick off another box. If you ad points to a page (landing page or destination URL) that is optimized for Saskatchewan fishing lodge, then tick the 3rd box for relevance. The process to follow is to ensure that the searcher is able to satisfy their needs all the way through from their search to the landing page and end up on a page that is relevant to their search term.

The Path to Better Google Ads Relevance

Working on that Quality Score formula and addressing the most important factor, relevance, can be accomplished through several methods. There are two sides to consider, your website landing page, and Google Ads.

From the Google Ads side, we will address this at an Ad Group level. Think of an Ad Group as a collection of themed keywords. In our example used previously of Saskatchewan fishing lodges, we would want to include similar keywords such as Saskatchewan fishing resorts, Saskatchewan fishing guides, Saskatchewan fishing trips and Saskatchewan fishing outfitters. We would not want to include terms which are only loosely related such as Saskatchewan vacations, fishing tackle, salt water fishing trips. One of our guidelines is anymore than 12 keywords in an ad group and you are likely extending that keyword theme too far.

Next think about your ads, within your Ad Group. Multiple ads are far better than Ad Groups with single ads. Google will test your ads and will use the best performing ads more often. So start with a minimum of three ads in your ad group. Optimize several of the ads for the highest volume search terms in your ad group, including that search term in your ad headlines and description fields. Lastly, ensure that the destination URL or the landing page where your ads point to is the most relevant landing page on your site. Hint: it quite often is not your website home page. Keep in mind that within an Ad Group, all your ads must point to the same landing page, otherwise Google will disallow your ads.

That brings us to Landing pages. As 1/3 of the relevance formula, a weak landing page can drop a potentially strong Quality Score of 8 or better down to a mediocre 5 or 4 score. A landing page that is well optimized for the same theme as the Ad Group’s ads that point to it will provide a positive landing page experience, leading to improved engagement and higher conversion rates. This means low bounce rates and higher time on site and pages per session. If you are spending money on the front side to drive traffic to your website, then you also need to spend the time and effort to develop content that matches (relevance) the Ad Group theme.

Here’s another reason to develop strong landing pages, they also attract organic traffic. A well developed, optimized, theme relevant landing page is an asset that Google may decide belong in their top 10 rankings and will bring you additional traffic without the associated cost per click.

One more method to consider in improving your Quality Score which is to add Negative Keywords. We have a future article about negative keywords but for now it’s important to know that you can eliminate budget dollars spent on low quality traffic by adding these to your Ad Groups, Campaigns, or Account level negative keyword lists. Using our “Saskatchewan fishing lodges” example again, we would likely consider a search term such as “salt water fishing” as a negative keyword. There’s no salt water fishing, just 100,000 fresh water lakes, in Saskatchewan so we would not want to spend money attracting traffic looking to fish for salt water species or at salt water locations.

Quality Score Side Effects – Better Budget Spend

A side effect of getting better quality scores is that your money spent is used attracting higher quality traffic, more relevant traffic, to your business, to what you sell. Higher quality traffic tends to interact at a higher rate with your web site, viewing more pages, consuming more content, spending more time on your site, increasing the likelihood that they will contact you through your site, or purchase directly if you have ecommerce available.

Google Ads: Using Negative Keywords

What are Negative Keywords?

When we set up Google Ads campaigns, our first thought is generally in regards to the the type of traffic we want to attract. The keywords that our target customers will type into their browser. We want them to see our ad, click our ad, and then convert to a lead or a customer on our website. In doing so, we inevitably also attract some clicks from terms related to our keywords, but not necessarily the traffic we want. Negative keywords are keywords we add to our Google Ads accounts, campaigns, or Ad Groups as word to avoid, words that will prevent our ads from being displayed.

Why Use Negative Keywords

The first and most important reason to use negative keywords in your Google Ad campaigns is to save your self money on clicks that will not help you reach your business goals. We want to use negative keywords as a quality filter, to stop unwanted clicks and save our budget dollars for the customers who are more likely to convert to leads and customers.

In Google Ads, Negative Keywords can be set up to apply specifically to the Ad Group level, more broadly at the Campaign level (which includes all the Ad Groups within that campaign) or overall at the Account level.

Negative Keywords for Ad Groups

If you want to eliminate the use of some keywords within a specific Ad Group, then we want to set up our negative keywords at this level. By doing so, we are not putting these negative keywords in effect in other Ad Groups, unless we specifically ad them there as well. This is a good strategy to use when the negative keywords are not desired in association with the keywords in one Ad Group, but might actually be attractive in another Ad Group. This is one method of focusing your keywords and ads very tightly. For example, you might have an Ad Group set up with keywords and ads to target terms related to fishing rods. You only want people looking to buy fishing rods, not other fishing tackle items, such as fishing reels. So you would add fishing reels as a negative keyword, plus other types of fishing tackle.

To set up negative keywords specifically in an Ad Group, within your Account, select the Campaign, then select the AD Group, then select Keywords. In the banner above the performance graph you should see Search Keywords, Negative Keywords, Search Terms, Auction Insights. Click the link for Negative Keywords. Click the plus sign to add negative keywords. Type or paste in your list of negative keywords and then Save.

Negative Keywords for Campaigns

Setting up negative keywords for a Campaign is similar to setting up for an Ad Group. Within your Account, select the Campaign, then select Keywords. In the banner above the performance graph you should see Search Keywords, Negative Keywords, Search Terms, Auction Insights. Click the link for Negative Keywords. Click the plus sign to add negative keywords. Type or paste in your list of negative keywords and then Save.

This list of negative keywords will now apply to all the Ad Groups within that Campaign.

Negative Keywords Lists for Accounts

Negative Keyword Lists are used to avoid unwanted clicks (unwanted ad spend) and impressions across multiple campaigns. The process is to create a negative keyword list, including the the keywords you want to avoid, and then simply apply the list to campaigns as needed. You can have up to 20 negative keyword lists in your account so the list can actually be tailored as needed.

To create your negative keyword lists, begin as above by selecting a Campaign, clicking Keywords, click Negative Keywords, then the plus symbol to start a new set of keywords. When you have built your list, before you click the Save button, click the checkbox to Save to new or existing list. You will give this list a name. The list can then be easily added to campaigns as needed.

Finding Negative Keywords – Search Terms Report

Your initial list of negative keywords will likely be easy to come up with. Using our previous fishing tackle example, if you only sell new fishing rods, you will likely want to include negative keywords such as “used” or “repair”. You will likely find you can come up with an initial list of 10 to 20 negative keywords quickly. After your campaign has ran for about a month, you will have a new source of data to help you. In the same banner where you clicked on Negative Keywords, to the right, is the Search Terms report. This report will show you actual search terms that triggered your ads. If you find search term that are costing you click traffic dollars, do not result in conversions, and are clearly terms you don’t desire, you can simply click the check box, scroll to the top of the list, and click on Add as a Negative Keyword. You can select to add to specific Ad Group negative keywords, broadly to Campaign negative keywords, or overall to a keyword list.

Quality Control with Google Analytics Reports

Article #6 in the Series

Previous Articles:

Google Analytics Reports

This is the 6th, and the last article in this series. We have taken you some of the basic set up practices of getting Google Analytics onto your website to linking in external sources of data (Google Search Console and Google Ads) so that you have a central location to view your website performance data. In our third, fourth and fifth articles in the series we also told you about the most important report in Google Analytics. We will tell you again about that below.

Here is one thing to remember about Google Analytics, if it is happening on your website, Google Analytics probably has a way to track it. Sometimes that requires the addition of enhanced tracking methods such as using Google Tag Manager and recording events.

Our Favorite Google Analytics Report

Click Acquisition – All Traffic – Source / Medium.  This report shows you the Source / Medium of your various traffic sources, such as “google / organic”, “google / ppc”, “facebook.com / referral”, and more. 

Columns in Acquisition and Behavior will provide very valuable information.  The data such as bounce rate, pages per session, and time per session will help you understand how engaged you site visitors are, or another way of stating this, is how well are you providing meaningful content to your visitors.

We are very partial to the Goals columns as it answers the important question of what marketing activities (the Source / Medium) are driving the results (Conversion) that bring value to your business.  Based on this data, you can make informed decisions about where to invest your future marketing budget dollars and also you can make some predictable estimates about what results you can expect if you make these investments.

Geo Location Report

Select Audience – Geo – Location. How local is your brand? How global is your brand? If you consider yourself a local business operating in a small geographic area, but you find 50% or more of your traffic comes from outside your service area, then your content is not well targeted. If you are intending to be a global brand, or a North America-wide brand, but all your traffic is local, then you will not get the market response you want. This report includes the behavioral measures of Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration. These are excellent measures of how much visitors, from different geographies, value your content.

Need more granular detail than at the first glance country level reporting? You can click a country in the map or in the results list and see data from a state or provincial level. Another click and it will break down by nearest city.

By Device

Click Audience – Mobile – Overview. This report is falling down our list in importance. There was a time when most websites were experiencing about 30% of their traffic coming from a mobile device and that was a rapidly climbing proportion of the traffic. Now, because of factors well beyond individual markets, it’s nearly impossible to find a website with less than 60% of it’s visitors on a mobile device.

Web designers are almost exclusively designing sites to be mobile friendly, most often with a responsive website design that adapts the display to the device. (If not, find another developer.) But the important data in this report tell us how users on different devices interact with your website. If you find the Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration is drastically different, and declining with screen size, then you have a mobile user experience problem. Given the trends mentioned above, if you have a problem, it’s only going to get worse.

Landing Pages Report

Click Behavior – Site Content – Landing Pages. What we love about this report is that it gives you a hit list of pages that are ripe for content improvements. Assuming you want to appeal to your site visitors. You have put money and effort into getting visitors to your site. Now work on engaging them. Higher engagement makes a visitor more likely to interact with your site, more likely to contact you in regard to what products or services you offer.

The Landing pages report shows which pages on your site visitors most often see first. Then those wonderful measures of Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration make it obvious if they like what they see, or if they are bouncing back to the search engine results to find a competitors page.