If you’re a business or website owner, you’ve probably heard one of the many acronyms and terms used to describe online advertising. “PPC”, “SEM”, “paid search”, “display advertising” or simply “paid media” are among the most common terms to describe sponsored content delivered via search engines and website pages across the web. You’ve seen banner ads while reading the news. You’ve probably clicked on ads in search results at one point or another without even realizing what it was. Online advertising is such a big part of our day-to-day lives that we barely notice it.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner, looking to leverage your website as a lead generation tool? It means that you have to have a presence on these advertising networks equal to or better than your competitors. Now, I’ll often hear something along the lines of: “I don’t have the budget to match my large competitors, but I want my business to grow. What can I do?”

The answer is actually quite simple: You don’t have to waste money targeting everyone –  like many of your competitors likely are. The key to success is to target only the right prospects. This strategy is called Account-Based Marketing. Many channels are involved in account-based marketing online, and PPC is one of them. There are many ways to leverage PPC in an account-based marketing strategy. Here are some tricks of the trade!

  1. Remarketing to your email list

 

Google Adwords allows advertisers to import email lists of existing subscribers to create what advertisers call “remarketing” campaigns. These campaigns are powerful because they allow you to choose at a granular level who will see your ads. Once a user is in a remarketing list, you can craft unique messaging, specific to that segment, highlighting a deal or promotion to drive them further down the funnel.

 

2. Understanding your current customers

Ok, so this one isn’t “ABM” per say, but understanding your current customers’ day-to-day pains and the solutions, or “gains” your business provides them is a crucial part of crafting messaging to new prospects. Understanding your current customers in order to choose keywords that will be relevant to your list of prospects is the key to success. Ask your current customers if you can interview them.

Want to bring more prospects into your funnel but don’t know exactly who they are? Try some of these techniques to build your prospect list while maintaining the core characteristics of your best converting customers:
3. Lookalike audiences on Facebook

 

Lookalike audiences are exactly what they sound like; audiences that “look-alike” or are similar to other audiences you currently have in your account. Say you have an audience that consistently performs well for your Facebook ads. Using this list, we can create a lookalike audience and Facebook will automatically find users that mirror the list’s demographic, psychographic, and purchasing characteristics. No more guessing which additional segments to target, Facebook rounds up a list of prospects for you!

 

4. Similar audience lists on Adwords

 

Similar audience lists are another powerful ad hack that many search engine marketers have in their toolkit. Similar to Lookalike audiences, the lists are built by Google based on the demographic and psychographic characteristics of your original list.  These lists can be applied to campaigns across the Google Display Network, Search Network, and even Google Shopping (the side bar featuring products that shows up when you search a purchasable product).

 

5. You’ve heard it a million times… Content is King

 

Many times marketers use this phrase to describe the importance of incorporating well-written blogs and social media posts into your marketing mix, but this idiom also applies to front-end products and sales collateral. What type of valuable content can your business leverage as a lead magnet? You likely already have content that you could easily re-purpose as a gated resource to get users in your funnel. Gated content means an email address needs to be entered to access the information.

 

Once you have this resource, use CTAs (strong Call-To-Action words, like Shop Now or Download The Guide)  and ad copy to promote it via paid channels. This increases CTR (the Click-Through-Rate, or how many people click your ad), traffic, and you guessed it – LEADS. Try crafting this collateral in such a way that you’ll weed out unqualified leads and only speak directly to your ideal prospect list.

Paid digital channels can produce quicker results than most online marketing channels. For this reason, many focus solely on PPC and forget that it is just one part of the marketing machine (albeit, a very crucial part). It’s important to keep in mind how your PPC initiatives play into the BIG picture and affect/support your other marketing tactics. Using paid channels to target hyper-niche segments of pre-qualified prospects is the best way to get the most out of your media budget.

 

Good luck!

 

SEO Tips

Each day competition is vying for all of the same eyeballs as you, and each day every one of those competitors is using every trick in the book to win. From competitive PPC to aggressive backlink building, businesses with money to spend are doing everything they can to drown out your website. Your best bet to outmaneuver them, without going into debt, is assuring your site is optimized and ready to be properly indexed.

In the past, SEO marketing firms could strategically horseshoe some targeted keywords into the copy on your site and get decent results. Some consistent but not particularly valuable blog content could also go a long way. These days search engines know their way around these tricks and will reward sites for the value of their content, a solid user experience, and a variety of other subtle and not so subtle “ranking factors.”

While the tricks that were once used can no longer help you, there are some simple best practices you could enact today to guarantee your site is getting the best organic rankings possible. Let’s check out nine ways you can improve your site immediately:

  1. Freshen Up Your Content
    Users cannot stand out of date content and neither can search engines. By updating your content regularly you can keep users engaged and attract the search engine crawling spiders to index your site more regularly. Add content about current deals, seasonal hours, and new products to keep things up to date!
  2. Category Specific RSS Feeds
    By allowing users to subscribe to category specific RSS feeds you encourage them to visit the site only when content of some intrinsic value to their interests comes up. As a result they will spend more time on the site and offer the kind of valuable traffic that search engines love to see. WordPress users can find an easy to install category specific RSS feed plugin.
  3. Proper Anchor Text
    Appropriate anchor text for links is a great way to let Google and other search engines know what you are talking about. When possible avoid posting links using text like “here” or “click now” and instead incorporate the kinds of descriptive text that lets users know exactly what they are clicking into.
  4. Subdirectories > Subdomains
    Whenever possible it is best to keep your content on your site’s primary subdomain. While many have experimented with adding new subdomains, and some have even eked out minor victories in doing so, content tends to have the most value to a site when it is added in subdirectories on the same URL.
  5. Optimize Your Images
    Images make a site pop visually for users but to search engine crawlers they are unreadable data without proper tagging and descriptions. That means every untagged photo on your site, as well as any video, is a missed opportunity. In order to make sure each image is properly indexed, add keywords, alt text, and detailed descriptions that explain exactly what the image is showing and how it might be valuable to a user.
  6. Keep Links Search Engine Friendly
    Permalinks on your site should avoid characters like &, !, @, *, etc. These can be helpful shorthand in communicating between people but to search engines are tiny red flags that suggest spam.
  7. Hyphens In URLs
    Underscores (_) should not be anywhere near your website’s URLs. Instead break words up with hyphens(-) allowing them to be more readable to users and more inviting to search engine crawlers. Keep those URLs as descriptive and brief as possible for maximum effectiveness.
  8. Smarter Internal Linking
    Internal linking can be helpful and can invite users to explore more of your website. When appropriate, link to relevant items inside of your site. If, for example, while writing a page about your carpet cleaning services you mention your company’s carpet restoration services it is helpful to link to a page detailing those offerings. Of course the most important thing is that all internal links are relevant and helpful to consumers.
  9. Using Nofollow Tag
    Not all of your website’s pages are intrinsically valuable to users. A “thank you” page on a sales site for example offers no true help to your site’s SEO and in some cases can drag things down by seeming superfluous to search engines. Tagging these pages with rel=”nofollow” will inform search engines to ignore these internal pages when crawling your site and considering your page ranks.

For small businesses trying to get a leg up without putting too much money into their site, the methods mentioned above are a great way to begin better SEO tactics.

SEO is and always will be a moving target. While following all of the above tips and tricks can make a huge impact on your site today, each could be called into question or further refined down the line. Your best defense is getting regular site audits from accredited web marketers with a sturdy understanding of the latest developments in SEO best practices.

Interested in auditing your site’s search engine friendliness or your marketing on the Internet in general, our team of marketing experts would love to help! Give us a call or send us a message today!

No product or service is ubiquitous; consumers are unique and not all are going to coincide with what your company is offering. With that in mind, it’s important to stress your company’s individuality and seek out the “right” type of client or customer.You know they’re out there, but how do you find them? And more importantly, how do they find you?

 

Social Media

Now that you’ve established who that perfect customer is, find out where they spend their time. Social Media has an outlet for just about everyone, so find out which channel your target market prefers. Facebook ranks as the world’s most popular social media channel (no surprises there) accounting for 71% of all internet users. It’s a great starting point — and one which allows you to target users by what their other interests are, or even to target friends of existing fans. Pinterest is preferred by women ages 18 to 49, and Instagram is popular with younger internet users, ages 18 to 29, and minorities. On all networks, interacting with brands, personalities, and groups your ideal customer is also likely to be interested in is a great way to improve reach.

 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The first step in effective SEM is picking a set of keywords your customers will actually use. This means using language customers may type in looking for specific products — their jargon, not yours. SEM can also can target geographically, which is especially helpful for businesses targeting locally, such as restaurants, cleaning services, medical practices, and city or region specific non-profits.

 

Email Marketing

Use your email to reinforce brand image and clarify product offers. To make sure your email list is focussed and targeted, provide a clear unsubscribe option — not just out of legal obligation, but to make sure anyone who accidently submitted a form or joined a list can get off you list of potential customers. Better yet, provide an option for less frequent emails to keep anyone who is interested, but doesn’t want too many updates.

 

Content Marketing

Targeted content designed to attract your ideal customers is key. For example, for apparel or accessories retailers, a well-edited blog focussing on styles and trends on brand can be a great asset. If you’re Hot Topic, don’t write about pastels for spring–stick to content that truly reflects your brand. Create articles, infographics, videos and slide shares your ideal customer would want to see, even if they aren’t completely about your product. For example, a company that sells pet food can help find customers by creating pieces about pet grooming, training, and animal rescue to attract animal lovers and likely pet owners.

 

Digital PR

Online Press Releases are a great way to address consumer questions or concerns directly, and help attract consumers looking for specific information. For instance, if your brand has launched a line of sweatshop-free clothing, highlight your efforts in a press release to garner the attention of consumers looking for fair labor items.

 

SEO

As with SEM, productive, effective Search Engine Optimization begins with a set of keywords carefully chosen to fit the searches of your targeted audience. Try using Google Trends to key in on what words or phrases people are actually looking for. Additionally, make sure to audit and update your SEO frequently with new product offerings.

 

Inbound marketing

If you are a service provider, a brief form fill can help visitors self identify in ways which clarify whether they are a good fit. For example, if you service clients primarily on the east coast, a form fill asking what region the person is writing from can help you understand immediately who may be eligible for referral to another service.

 

When a potential customer for a service calls in, it’s also imperative to appropriately qualify them and make sure you are a good fit for each other. Questions about needs, budget, and timeframe will help you both determine when it’s a good fit.

 

Customer Service

As your business grows, make sure to check in with customers to see how they are feeling about your service or products. If you are are a service provider and a customer’s needs are no longer a perfect fit for your model, offer referrals or other options. Evaluate your business model to make sure it still is a fit for the kind of customers you want to service. A good fit means a win-win.

 

Need help targeting your ideal customer online? Contact an Ajax Union representative today!