It sounds a bit drastic or overstated, but with the future of ad content online in jeopardy, will your business continue to use it?
We have dropped a lot of banner ads for clients as they focus their marketing budgets on search optimisation, search text based ads and website content. Having found that many banner ads go unseen, and the real winners are AdWords, AdRoll, etc, we are educating clients on using inbound marketing techniques for their online marketing to ensure they get found by their ideal audience, as well as maximise leads.
When it comes to brand awareness, ads can help both sides – good and bad. Some companies go overboard with tracking and followups, and although it may return a high percentage of leads, are they also damaging their brand by being annoying?
With a lot of money being put in to online advertising, should we also consider that many tech savvy users are browsing with ad blockers in place, as well as using search engines like DuckDuckGo, to avoid seeing so many ads while they surf the interwebs?
I believe advertising is here to stay, although we just need to be smarter with the way it is used. If overused and abused, it will die a horrible death in the near future. I love watching the smart advertising that agencies come up with when I watch Gruen.
What is inbound marketing?
Wikipedia describes it simply as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.”
It basically involves creating content worthy of your customers attention and sharing through social media, newsletters and blogging. Rather than throwing paid advertising in everyone’s face, inbound marketing techniques are less intrusive as they show useful content to people that are actually looking for it, meaning in theory, a better lead or engagement.
Think about a mailing list you can sign up for online. Many sales funnels are pushing to get email addresses from visitors before they provide their content. Are you going to stay subscribed to this list, or will you get the content you wanted and then unsubscribe? Many of these emails will stay on the mailing list as majority of signups will not be bothered to unsubscribe. Therefore, from the marketers point of view, its a successful growth of their mailing list. But is it?
What if you didn’t force people to sign up to your mailing list and left it to choice? Would they sign up? Would your list grow?
What? You want to join our mailing list? Sure, just click here.
The answer is yes. Maybe not as fast, but if people are loving your content and what you have to provide, they will sign up for more. Give them an offer along with the sign up and the signups may increase. The difference here is your sign up audience is more attentive to your content as they found you, and not the other way around if that makes sense.
As a marketer, you have to acknowledge there are pros and cons for both inbound and outbound marketing, but when thinking about the future of marketing and online trends, will we see more people shift their spending to inbound techniques?
Which is better?
This is a matter of opinion and depends on your type of business and your audience.
From a personal point of view, I would suggest companies focus on inbound marketing and primarily awesome content on their websites. The web is overwhelmed with ads and shit content. Lets start making great websites, focus on amazing content and useful guides, and allow people to make their own decisions in terms of newsletter signups and site navigation.
Although from a business point of view, your competitors are using online ads that stalk your potential customers, shouldn’t you do the same?
Once people start noticing that they are being flooded by ads and clickbait, will they make a conscious change to avoid more of it by using ad and tracking blocks? Will the money we spend on online ads reach a smaller portion of the online world as people avoid ads?
Will people realise? I mean, many are going straight to the source for the news like Trump on Twitter, rather than just believing the news stories…
It may not be a noticeable difference in 2017, but change is on its way, although we cannot guarantee the outcome. For now, your ad spend may still be beneficial to your brand, but what will the future bring?
I will definitely be interested to see what will happen. But I am also a bit bias, as we focus on website content and SEO link building through contextual links. I personally hate popups on exiting a site, although have used it on our own sites in the past. This site for example, xmediads.rocks strives to provide information and explanations of services for readers, and engagement comes from those interested in taking on website changes, SEO or advertising.
Content is still king, and sometimes ads can help get more people seeing that content, but in the end, it is up to you what you invest your marketing budget in. My vote is SEO!
Yours in marketing
Many clients I speak to about their online marketing needs are concerned about getting ads up for their latest promotion, keeping their Facebook page full of fresh posts and photos, and blogging on their website. But is this the important stuff when it comes to getting the most out of your online marketing?
Simply put, no.
Step 1 – treat your online marketing like every other bit of marketing you do. It is no different, apart from the mediums you use. For example, what would you do before running advertising on a billboard, newspaper or tv advert?
You would keep it aligned with your other advertising, you would look at the audience you are trying to attract, present an offer applicable to that target audience, as well as ensuring you have a way of measuring your results.
If you were about to spend thousands of dollars on a television or radio ad, you would want to know it was going to pay off. You’d expect it to help with both brand awareness and pushing across your latest update, promotion, offer or whatever your draw card may be – same with digital advertising.
The benefit of digital advertising is being able to monitor the demographics, impressions and reach as well as clicks. But where are those clicks landing? Ideally, those ads will be linking to a unique landing page with strong call to actions, little to no distractions like menus, and a good presentation of why your brand is the best.
Something to consider when running digital ads and spending big budgets on banner ads and retargeting is do people really want to see your ad? Are you just pushing around your brand in front of someone who isn’t interested? What if the user had visited a tennis website to look for a new racket for their child. Then they go to a soccer website to check out what Christiano is up to – your tennis specific banner ad is going to follow them around. Sure it won’t cost you unless they click on it, but will it annoy them? Research shows more and more people using ad blocking software to do away with this annoyance. Sure, Google Analytics will tell us how thousands seen your banner ad, and how many clicked on it and even purchased on your website, but what isn’t it telling you and how do we judge this?
With more and more searches being made online through smartphones and tablets, being on Google search is a must. So are text ads on Google search the way to go? After all, the user is looking for something related to your keyword if it shows, and the chances of it being clicked on are immediately higher. With so much of the Google search page real estate now covered by ad listings, it is worth making sure your business is in the game.
Mobile Search is where its at
As more people search from mobile devices, we need to consider the way we approach online advertising. As I mentioned, text based ads are a great way to show up with appropriate online search results on Google search, but what keywords you use needs to be carefully researched.
With many new phones offering voice search, the search terms will resemble more of a phrase than a word. For a long time, we have recommended longtail keywords to target niche audiences. Longtail keywords, rather than single words, are short word combinations that narrow down the options. For example, as well as the word diamond, a longtail keyword might be argyle pink diamond. With voice searches, people are more likely to search for something along the lines of ‘Where do I buy a pink diamond engagement ring from?‘
Negative keywords need to also be monitored with your text ads, you don’t want to be losing budget on words that will never relate or convert into sales for your site. Although they may be getting clicks, are they the right demographic? Are those clicks converting to a sale?
Mobile searchers, as well as seeing text ads on Google search, will also see Google local and business listings, followed by organic results. Organic results are ranked by relativity to the search term and how much Google’s search algorithm decides a site will help provide suitable and helpful answers and information. There are also a lot of other factors that determine page rank.
How to Rank on Google Search
To be found when people search for you, you need to have one or more of the following:
- Google text based ads
- Google Map Listing
- Google Local Business Listing
- Organic Website Listing
Text ads are simple, and all it takes is a well researched Google AdWords campaign, but how do we get you listed in the other 3 places?
For any business, it is essential to have a Google Business page. This will also allow local business owners to verify their location and get a map listing linked with this. We also list clients on Apple maps so no matter what phone people search from, they are bound to find directions to the business.
Organic results can be where things get tricky, as unlike ads, you can’t just throw money at it and they start appearing. SEO or search engine optimisation takes time and a lot of work, but to help you get started faster, we recommend online directory listings.
Even if your website is not listed in the top 5 results, you may find sites like YellowPages and LocalSearch will show results here. So to help people find your brand, we list your business in as many of these directories as we can for your industry or budget. Most of these sites also allow linking back to your website.
Now we find that when people are looking for your product or service, there is a higher chance of your brand getting found on Google as you show up in text ads, Google business and map listings and organic directory listings. Great! Now it’s time to work on your website.
The Hub of Magic and Mystery!
Your website should be as useful and simple to use as it possibly can. We list the most important factors for any website to be:
- Easy to use Navigation on Desktop and Mobile devices
- Clearly defined Call to Actions prompting quotes, sales or enquiries
- Super fast loading times for pages and images
- Lots of useful and shareable information on your product or service
- Easy to find contact details and forms
- Amazingly beautiful, especially on mobile devices
With attention spans going out of fashion real quick, we need to make websites that encourage people to stay on them longer, think video guides, helpful tips, reviews, bonus offers and how to instructional guides. Simple navigation for both mouse clickers and finger swipes, easy to access information about the product or service and where to buy it, and fast loading too. You do not want your customer giving up on your brand because the site is taking too long to load, especially if they are all excited about your brand after clicking an ad or reading about it somewhere else.
By doing all of this, we are not only satisfying the needs of our customers, we are also giving Google everything it is looking for. With recent changes looking to make the search giant favour mobile content, we need to ensure websites are fast and simple to use on mobile devices like phone and tablets.
Now for the magic you don’t see, the on site page optimisation. We need to ensure Google and other search engines know what your website is all about. For this, we use a combination of things including:
- schema markup
- meta titles and descriptions
- image alt tags
- link titles
- internal linking
- category pages
- keyword optimisation
- server and browser caching
- content distribution networks
- in depth site maps
- updated htaccess and robots.txt files
By giving Google all the information it needs when it indexes your site, it will allow it to better match it to appropriate search terms. You will also find that if your off site links and content connect back to your site with very similar tags and content, it will help your rank as Google starts to understand and trust your brand.
Now, its not as simple as I have made it sound, and it definitely involves a lot more, but ticking all these boxes will get you heading in the right direction.
You can tell Google how good your website or brand is, but what counts more is when other people tell Google how good you are. Think user generated content like forum comments, social media comments, online reviews, and blog posts. The more of this you have, tied in with a presence on Google business, will help build trust in your brand and you will notice your ranking in organic search results improves.
Make every Dollar Work Hard
In summary, when we talk about Return on Investment, and marketing budgets, we don’t need to focus on keeping up with the Jones family. Focus on what will connect you with your target audience. Where are they spending time online, what do they interact with, are in your face methods going to work or annoy them?
We recommend to our clients they focus advertising budget on 3 main areas; search text and Facebook ads, website updates and external link and trust building.
By doing so, you are giving users all the information about your brand, product or service when THEY are looking for it, rather than plastering it everywhere all the time. Sure, plastering banners everywhere will help with impulse buys and works well for some products, but not all of them. Do your research.
We are launching a new self serve SEO platform next week that will allow business owners, agencies and SEO freelancers access to resources for link and content building, guest posts and even access to big brand websites like entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post and Engadget. Watch this space, or contact the team at Xmedia Digital Solutions for more info.
What do you believe is most important when it comes to digital advertising?
If you are a regular user of Google Adwords campaigns you may have noticed the newish feature of expanded text ads. Have you tried them yet?
What are Expanded Text Ads?
They are the same as your usual text ads and still use the Google search and display networks, although differ in a few unique ways:
- Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
- A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
- A Display URL that uses your final URL’s domain
- Two optional ”Path” fields, used in the ad’s Display URL (up to 15 characters each)
Benefits of Expanded Text Ads
What does this mean for the user, or people seeing your ads? They can access more information before clicking off to another URL.
For the advertiser, a great advantage of using expanded text ads is they are larger and take up more space on mobile screens. Built mobile first, Google Adwords text based ads will cover more screen real estate than standard text ads. They also allow for a longer description field as well as two headlines. We all want more attention on Google search results, right?
How do I get Expanded Text Ads
They are live now and when you create a new text based ad you will see the new layout. Currently you can still switch back, although after October 26th, the new layout will be your only option.
With majority of online users now active on their smartphones and tablets, taking advantage of screen position is vital. Google something on your mobile device and you will notice ads are very prominent. With the roll out of the new expanded text ads from Adwords, we can take up more space for our ads which in turn should increase our click through rates.
Have you tried them already? What is your take on them, will you be taking advantage of the increased real estate? Do you think Google is doing the right thing, or are people getting sick of ads? Would love to hear your feedback!