Posts Categorized: Inspiration

4 important lessons learned at Heroconf 2013

First, I want to point out that I know I’m writing this two weeks after the conference. In my defense, I attended the conference immediately after my honeymoon (and the week of work I took off) so I’m still digging myself out of a hole. Thus, this post is coming a little later than usual.

What I Learned

  1. Enhanced Campaigns is NOT popular among professional PPC folk – I’ve always felt like Google had the concerns of large PPC advertisers pretty close to their hearts. With all the sophistication and advanced options it seemed like the product team listened to them a lot. However, with Enhanced Campaigns I get the feeling that the AdWords team made a deliberate decision to NOT listen to large, sophisticated advertisers. Let me explain.

    The burden for a small, unsophisticated advertiser to switch to Enhanced Campaigns is small. They don’t have a ton of campaigns usually and they probably weren’t doing a lot with mobile and tablet. The additional bidding flexibility and ad group level sitelinks are a big plus. However, the burden of switching to Enhanced Campaigns for large advertisers is immense. Many had a mobile campaign, tablet campaign and desktop campaign for every major theme & geography. They probably have mobile optimized pages and maybe even tablet optimized pages. While ad group level sitelinks are a boon, with thousands of ad groups, creating and managing all of them becomes a large task.

    Basically, Google seems to have said, loud and clear, that the revenue gained from switching over all the small & medium advertisers to Enhanced Campaigns outweighs the trouble it causes large advertisers. And you know what? I think they’re right. Large advertisers will complain, but ultimately AdWords traffic is too big and important to not use. Painful, but true.

  2. Test, even if it seems it won’t work – This observation came from the session on optimizing your CTA. John Lee was sharing results of an ad copy test where the objective was to test one ad with a CTA and one ad without a CTA to see which did better. Seems like a dumb test because, of course, the ad with the CTA should do better (that’s best practice after all). But it didn’t. And you need to run the test on your own campaigns to know if that is the case for your industry/product/company.
  3. LinkedIn PPC is the red-headed stepchild of the PPC industry – Obviously AdWords was a major focus. Bing attended in force and showered swag upon attendees like manna from heaven. Facebook PPC had a full session talking about it. The most talk I heard about LinkedIn PPC was at a roundtable discussion on Day 2. I do quite a bit of LinkedIn PPC and I know some very large companies that spend a large amount of money there with good results. However, it doesn’t seem like it’s getting the love yet.
  4. Excel is more awesome than you can imagine – They did an entire session on Excel skills and Sean Quadlin made the seemingly dry topic hilarious. Microsoft should hire the guy to do a series of Excel training videos because I have never seen anyone bring that kind of enthusiasm to the topic. But more importantly he showed off some seriously cool stuff you can do.

There you have it folks, what I learned at Hero Conf 2013. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below.


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What your enterprise client expects from you

If you are a freelancer, consultant or an agency, one of the most difficult parts of your job is managing expectations. Understanding what your clients expect from you so that you can delight them is key to your success. Since most of my professional experience has been working for or with enterprise retail organizations, I thought I would bring to light some of what the larger clients expect from the agencies with whom they work. I collaborated with a friend and coworker, Roger Gibson, who also has a lot of experience both at and with agencies. Together we came up with the following list, which is really what we look for in our own agency partners. This list pays no attention to the actual field of work you might be in, we’ve tried to make it universally applicable. So here we go…

#1 – We expect you to understand our business
Not only do we expect you to quickly learn our business once you are working with us, but you should come to the table with a solid understanding of our revenue model, our competition, and our KPIs. Once the relationship is up and running, your first priority should be to become intimately familiar with the ins and outs of what we measure, how we measure it, and what it means to drive success. Every business and industry has unique challenges – your first priority is to figure out what those are as it relates to your field. You have to dig deep into our priorities, and really find out what we need to succeed. Then the hard part – you should balance what we ask for (a.k.a. why we hired you) with what we actually need to achieve that success.

#2 – We expect you to bring some standardized reporting with you
When we say standardized reporting, we mean you should come with a proven set of reports and metrics to monitor and track the type of services you are offering, that you have obviously used with other clients in the past. The template you present to us is the culmination of months or years of similar reporting you had to build for similar clients. But then we also expect you to be flexible enough with your reporting that if we need to look at something in a different way or at different metrics all-together, you should be able too handle that too.
Another key point on the reporting is that when you are presenting the data, always provide some kind of context around what they mean and what insights and actions those numbers result in. We should have frequent discussions of what the reports tell us about our strategy and whether we are moving in the right direction, what else we can look at, etc.

#3 – We expect you to keep us up-to-date
We hired you because you are the experts. We hired you because you are focused in your space, and have the time to dig deep where we do not. Because of that, when there are significant changes in the industry or landscape, particularly changes that might affect our brands, we want you to let us know. It seems silly, but it’s actually a key differentiator that can set you apart from other agencies – you become worth more simply by conveying information that may give us a head start.
Along with news and landscape changes, we also expect you to be keeping your eye on emerging best practices. Simply regurgitating the recent whitepapers is not enough though – if there is a hot new tactic out there, you should be coming to us with execution strategies on how we can implement these new best practices. If there is a trend we shouldn’t be taking advantage of, come with detailed information on why it doesn’t make sense for us.

#4 – We expect you to know more than us
Along the same line as #3 – you are the experts. Unless we hired you for your grunt labor, you had better know a lot more than us when it comes to your area of expertise. Otherwise the decision to send you packing is going to come quick and without pity. If it looks like you won’t be able to bring added expert knowledge to the relationship, make sure that this dynamic is understood up front. Don’t pretend to be what you aren’t – let us make informed decisions about working with you. The fact of the matter is that you won’t be smarter than all of your clients, but you will have something of value to bring to the table. Make sure we know what that is.

#5 – We expect your strategies to evolve
Fairly quickly after we start working together, and you start to really learn our business, we expect the ideas you bring to the table to start to evolve and improve. What we started working on at the beginning of the relationship should be a step-stool to bigger ideas and accelerated growth. If we are a few months in and still working through the first phase, have a solid time laid out with phase 2 queued up. You were hired for fresh ideas and a fresh perspective – so bring it.

#6 – We expect you to have done this before
Sometimes you haven’t – that’s cool. Just don’t make us feel like a guinea pig, where you are testing out this brand new theory or practice on us. If you are really getting into something with us you haven’t done before, make sure you do the homework before we start. That way you will have the confidence and understanding to make the right decisions, and we will feel much better about trying something out with you. If it truly is something we will have to take a risk on, you should share some of that risk. It says a lot about you if you are willing to put yourself on the line.

#7 – We expect you to follow the rules
It’s often a source of frustration, but big companies have rules. Lots of rules. What keywords we can and can’t bid on, what keywords the CEO or Senior VP wants to see us in top positions for, what we can and can’t say in ad or site copy. While these things are annoying, they are not really up for much discussion. We’re happy to have you question the status quo – once. After we have come to an understanding, and if we still have these rules in place – you are expected to follow them. To the letter. Every time. We don’t want to get sued.

#8 – We expect you to be worth the money
You are probably expensive. Even if you normally aren’t, you are probably charging a premium because we are enterprise clients and you think you can get away with it. We know all about that – and we’re cool with it. We do have bigger budgets, but our problems and the attention we demand will also be bigger, so we’re happy to pay a bit more than your SMB clients. Here’s the thing though – we have stacks of resumes on our desks of people that want to work for us. If we needed to bring whatever it is that you do in-house, we could. We have those resources. So when we say that we expect you to be worth the money, we mean that you better generate more dollars than we spend on you. On top of that, you need to save us money by either having something proprietary that we need, being experts that we can’t possibly afford to hire at the same rate, or providing more man-hours than we could hire at the same rate. It doesn’t matter what the cost is at that point – you became our best option. Be that – otherwise when budgeting time comes around, it’s going to be hard to keep you on board.

#9 – We expect you to figure out #10
See what we did there? Every client is going to have very specific needs and wants – some that they are able to articulate and spell out for you, some that they won’t figure out until you are well into the relationship. We expect you to be in tune with our business enough to understand what we will expect from you as our relationship evolves, and proactively provide that. Do we expect you to read our minds? Maybe a little. But basically we are looking for you to continually try to meet our needs, especially as our needs change. Even if that means terminating the relationship because what we need is something you can’t provide.

As I mentioned above, collaboration for this post was provided by Roger Gibson – a 10-year marketing veteran with extensive experience on the agency side; specializing in media planning, digital marketing, and analytics. Follow him on Twitter: @rogergibson14.

About the author
Rick spends his days as the Associate Director of Search Marketing at 1800contacts.com. He oversees the SEO and PPC strategy, ensuring that the national consumer brand is visible and profitable across all aspects of Search. For further background, follow Rick on twitter at @RickGalan, visit http://RickGalan.com, or see http://www.linkedin.com/in/rickgalan.


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Should I Advertise on Microsoft adCenter?

Google is the 800 lb. gorilla of search. It’s okay. You can admit it. Actually, you probably already have admitted it if you’re doing PPC advertising through Google AdWords. For a client looking to begin their PPC efforts I myself even recommend they start with AdWords. It has the best interface, the best reporting and the best management tools. Add in the fact that it gives you access to approximately 2/3 of available search queries and you have a great place to start. But should you advertise through the adCenter platform too?

It Depends…But You Should Definitely Consider It

I know that you probably hear a lot of experts and gurus tell you that “it depends” when you ask a tough question, but it really does. Different customer bases, different companies and different industries mean that each situation is unique. But I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here are the things you should consider:

  • Microsoft powers search results for approximately 30% of web searches in the US – Seems small doesn’t it? Not even half of what Google controls. But that 30% represents billions of searches. 5.2 billion searches according to January 2012 comScore data. Do you want to reach these people?
  • Who’s using Bing and Yahoo? – This is an important question. Bing has a lot of search deals (Twitter, Facebook, Firefox) Do you want to reach people in these places?
  • Your competition may not be there – Go run a search on a few of your keywords on Google and then on Bing (or Yahoo). Compare who’s advertising on each. You may find that fewer of your competitors are there. Does that sound like a good place to be?

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Why Companies Fail and How to Avoid the Trap

During some leisurely reading this morning, I was reading this article on Forbes, I began thinking about how so many businesses fail because they lack a simple understanding of good business.  The article talks about how Best Buy is failing, and not because of the standard reasons regarding their fight against online retailers. They are losing because they fail to understand good business–namely quality customer service. As I was reading the article, it reinforced the fact that it doesn’t matter whether you are online, have a physical location, or both–you need to be focused on your customers. You need to understand what they want and how you can get that for them. This is the great secret in business–provide something that your customers want–and do it well. And there are so many tools available to help us get a better understanding of what our customers want and how we can provide them (think: Social Media).

In the article, the author talks about how Amazon has taken their weaknesses (namely the lack of a “show room”), and turned it into one of their strengths by offering expert content on subject matter that can replace a visit to a store. You no longer have to visit a physical location because you can tell everything about the product by visiting the website. And that includes user and expert reviews about the product so you can see what other people like and dislike about the products.

The basics of good business don’t change when you work online, you just have to use different methods to implement them. You still

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need to identify a need and fill that need better than everyone else. Identify your weakness and see how you can turn that into a strong point for your company. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages to doing business online or offline, but if you can innovate and out-think your competitors you can offer a great experience either way.

As you think about your company and how you can offer the best experience for your customers, don’t overlook one the best ways to get this information–simply ask your customers–find out what they think and really listen. Using social media to find this information is a perfect way to identify how your customers (or would-be customers) can be made happy–and then (like Amazon does well), do your best to go above and beyond!

If you do this well you can provide an experience that your customers will come back for. Everyone is looking for a quality experience with their shoppers and everyone is critical and skeptical of almost everyone in the beginning–with so many companies out looking to squeeze every dime out of you for a mediocre product, if you can make customers feel like you really want them to have a positive experience and enjoy a quality product, you will have a loyal customer.  And loyal customers share their experiences with others (as do those who have highly negative experiences). Use this to your advantage–but it has to be a philosophy that you truly believe in–otherwise it won’t work.  You might get burned by some who take advantage of you, but I truly believe that most people are looking for a positive experience, and if you can provide it you will have a loyal customer base who will spread the word about your company–they just need a little help from you. In the end, the customer is always right!


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3 Screenshot Tools Better Than Print Screen to Paint

Whenever I’m putting together proposals or reports together for SEO clients, I inevitably need to take several screenshots of data or elements of a webpage on my screen to include.

One of the crudest methods to taking a screenshot is to use the ‘print screen’ button on your keyboard and pasting into the default Paint program on your computer.  Sure, it’ll get the basic job done, but there are better solutions out there.

A longtime favorite is Snagit by TechSmith.  This is a paid tool, so while it’ll set you back $50 bucks, it has a lot of features and flexibility.  You can grab your entire desktop, a region, a window, or a scrolling window, all with a single click.  You can combine and markup images and get them presentation ready before saving and inserting into your report.

I often resort to using free tools and there are a couple I’ve been using a lot lately.  Also by TechSmith, Jing is a free product that allows you to take a variety of screenshots as well as video screencasts, which is a whole other feature set that can come in handy.  I use this primarily when taking screenshots from Excel docs and other programs outside my web browser.

The last tool I use on a regular basis is the Aviary plugin for Firefox.  This tool only works within your browser, so if you need to catch something else on your screen, you’ll have to use Jing.  Once the plugin is installed, you can easily grab a specific region, visible portion of page, or entire page with one click.  You can then save to your desktop as a .png or simply copy to clipboard to paste directly into your document.


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Using LinkedIn Effectively

A few months ago I decided to get a little more out of my LinkedIn page.  I’ve been on LinkedIn for a few years now and use it similarly to any other social network–I like to see status updates, help me remember names and faces (and where I know people from), and check on other people to see what they are up to. However, once I decided to use it more effectively, I started to become more involved with it and started to change the way that I used it. Overall I feel like I was getting more out of the service. It’s not Facebook–it’s not even really a Facebook for business–it is a unique social networking site that can enhance your business and can be a solid tool that can help you with your business.

First off, in order to have a real LinkedIn effort, you have to make sure that your profile is complete. Go through and spend some time updating your experience, specialties, and expertise. Have a good picture so people can identify if you’re the person they are looking for. But also make sure that your profile is interesting and conveys your personality. Consider it a form of your resume and put your best foot forward (but make sure it’s still “your foot”). Having more connections is better (if they are real). It’s not a popularity contest, but if you’re only connected to your dad and best friend you aren’t going to be able to use it for much. So build connections. As you meet people send them an invite and a note indicating when you met them and follow up on anything that you talked about when you met. One of the first places I looked for new connections was high school and college classmates. I don’t talk to many people from high school anymore so I had no idea what a lot of them were up to. When I started looking them up I came across several that were in the internet marketing industry. I began to reach out and “catch up” with these people to see if there were any help we could offer each other.

Next, I began looking through contacts of people I knew well.  I found people I knew that I wasn’t connected to, but I also found people I wanted to get to know, but didn’t know (or didn’t know well). I reached out to my contact that I knew well and explored the opportunity for introductions. It provided a unique opportunity to meet people that I wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise. As I went through I also was able to see what some of my connections were up to. Some had changed jobs and some had been

promoted within their same company. It gave me an opportunity to reach out to them and offer congratulations or ask questions about how things were going. I re-kindled some relationships–not just for work, but also personal friends that I hadn’t talked to in a while. Running a small business, this information is very helpful in utilizing contacts and tools properly. We had one person I knew that was in between jobs and we reached out to him to see what he was up to. We ended up being able to offer him office space for a few weeks and in return got some advice and consulting from him on a project we were working on.

Some other ways LinkedIn can help:

Industry News: LinkedIn offers “Top Headlines” in your industry. You can follow various industries and get news and information specific to your industry. This is yet another way to stay on top of what’s going on. There are a lot of ways you can get this information, but for some people, bringing it together with other business tools can be helpful.

Set up a company page: use your company page to build exposure for your business. You can have your blog posts pushed out and build your reputation and exposure for your company.

Groups: You can join groups that allow you to get in contact with people in a similar space to share ideas or connect with–even if you

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have never met them personally (make sure that you have meaningful interactions and specify how you know them when asking to connect–and don’t ask to connect to anyone you don’t actually know–it’s bad form). It allows virtual networking to occur–and can be a highly valuable resource for people in a particular space.  Position yourself as a resource and contributor, in addition to asking questions. Offer your opinion on questions and make it valuable by using personal experience and expertise.

Hiring: Sure you can post jobs and do your recruiting on LinkedIn. You can use the Advanced Search option to search for people by expertise and a host of other options. But you can also use it to learn more about people who you are looking at hiring or working with in another capacity. Find out what they where they have worked in the past, what specialties and expertise they have and who they know. If you have connections in common you can contact that connection to get additional information about them.

Conference Prep: We used LinkedIn as a core part of our Trafficado Hardcore PubCon Prep to make sure we were getting the most out of our conference experience.

Leverage your expertise: LinkedIn has an “Answers” section that allows you to help others get information and give you more exposure. You can share your expertise with others and build your reputation as an expert. This will help build your company profile and can help with referrals and build your credibility.

Lastly, don’t forget to look at how you can help others. I was able to focus on reciprocal help–things I could offer to other people and things other people could offer to me. It can’t be one sided–you need to be able and willing to offer help to others.  As you start using LinkedIn for more it can be a powerful tool to help you in several ways.  You can learn about people, companies, grow your exposure individually and as a company, and increase your reach to build reciprocity benefits.  Make sure that you are approachable and offer help in addition to seeking out help from others.  The relationships you build are what makes LinkedIn valuable–so make sure to build them properly.


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Hardcore Pubcon Prep

Here at Trafficado, we take our Pubcon preparation seriously. To endure 3 days and 3 nights of mind-melting internet awesomeness is no small task. So what did we do to get ready?

Physical Stamina

There are a lot of obstacles that can keep you from rocking Pubcon: jet lag, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, etc. Start off by getting in shape. Here are a few recommended exercises:

Pull Ups

Pull ups

Push Ups

Push Ups

Handstand Push Ups

Advanced Tactic: Handstand Push Ups*

*Less experienced conference goers may want a spotter when performing this exercise

Party Prep

They hold this conference in Las Vegas for a reason: the party possibilities are endless. However, we know a couple skills that you should have to maximize your ROI:

Drinks

You need something to help you through the night.

Bad Beat

All in with pocket Aces was a great move…until that Jack came out on the river.

Chip Shuffling

Chip shuffling…look good even when you have no idea what you’re doing.

Plan Ahead

Showing up is great, but to REALLY get the most out of Pubcon you need to plan ahead.

    1. Networking – Review your LinkedIn, make a list of people you want to meet, arrange meetings ahead of time. This is your chance to meet the rockstars of internet marketing face-to-face.
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    1. Sessions – Look at the session grid and pick which sessions you will be attending. Some time slots will be a no-brainer, but sometimes you have to choose between “SEO: Hot Topics and Trends” with Stephen Spencer, Jill Samprey and Greg Boser or “Increase Your Post Click Conversion Performance” with George Aspland, Brian Massey and Janet Driscoll Miller.
Pubcon Session Grid

 

Conclusion

Pubcon is not for the faint of heart, but it you do it right you’ll go home with tons of great new ideas for your internet marketing. And remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!