Category Archives for "AdWords"

The Difference Between Success and Failure in AdWords

The difference between a successful AdWords campaign and one that’s unprofitable might not what be you think.

I was thinking about this while watching my daughter’s 2nd grade soccer team which got off to a DREADFUL start this season.

Not only did they lose their first 3 games… they didn’t score a SINGLE goal in those games. Probably coulda played on half the field and it wouldn’t have made a difference because they barely got past midfield.

Now it’s 2nd grade soccer so the stakes ain’t really high here. The aim is for the girls to have fun and improve their soccer skills.

That said, losing like that is tough. Even though no official score was kept the girls knew what was going on. They knew they hadn’t scored any goals and by the end of the 2nd and 3rd games of the season, you could hear some grumbling about not scoring and could see many of them were feeling a bit dejected.

Then, at the practice following the third game the coach made ONE little tweak that changed EVERYTHING.

What did he change?

After the goalie would get the ball, he simply had her run up to the edge of the goalie box and throw the ball up the field as hard as she could.

That’s it.

The effect has been STARTLING…

Since making that one tweak, the team hasn’t lost a game. They’ve even BEATEN a few of the teams that trounced them earlier in the season.

What the coach had noticed in the first few games was our goalies were throwing the ball from close to the goal. And, more often than not, the other team would get the ball and not have far to go to score. If our team got it, however, they had to go the length of the field through the opposing team to even have a chance at a goal.

Throwing the ball down the field opened the game up and gave our players a chance to get the ball into the opponent’s zone and score.

Little tweak. HUGE difference.

And that’s often the case in AdWords too where one little tweak can make all the difference…

  • A change on a landing page.
  • New ad copy.
  • Making a bid adjustment to favor mobile traffic over desktop traffic (or vice versa).
  • Pausing certain keywords or ad groups.

I’ve seen changes like these be the difference between a campaign that loses money vs. one that’s profitable.

Yes, there are times where big overhauls are required to fix something that’s broken (whether it be an AdWords campaign, a soccer team, etc.). In fact, our tendency is usually to assume that a fix will require some Herculean Effort.

The shame of thinking like that is so many people give up when they are oh so close to success. Because they assume something is so broken that it can’t be fixed or isn’t worth fixing, they stop at the 1 yard line just before they score.

If you can stop and look more deeply at what’s going on, however, we can often spot those small tweaks that make a huge difference in outcomes.

For my daughter’s soccer team all it took was changing where the goalie threw the ball from.

Is there a similarly simple tweak that can make a huge difference in your AdWords campaign?

If you’d like to have an expert assess your Google AdWords campaign and see if there is, please email me to set up a free AdWords Strategy Session.



3 Important AdWords Developments You Should Know About

Google’s always tinkering around in AdWords and making changes. Recently there have been a few significant ones that I want to make sure are on the radar of all of you who care about AdWords.

Google Reviews Are Now Even a Bigger Deal For Local Businesses

It used to be your AdWords account and Google Maps reviews had nothing to do with one another. The only exception was if you were using Google AdWords Express (which you should NOT be doing), Google would show a business’ ratings next to their ads.

Now, however, if you are running a real (ie. non-Express) AdWords campaign and are using the Location extensions, your ad can show your star ratings and link to your reviews on Google. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like…

local adwords review ad

(I don’t know for sure but from what I’ve seen it looks like you need to have at least 5 reviews on Google in order for this to appear.)

There are 2 big reasons why this is important…

1. Those star ratings REALLY make your ads stand out from the competition. So if you don’t have Location extensions turned on… you should. Also, if you don’t have 5 Google reviews for your business, you should work hard to get them. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have next to your ad, the better.

2. If you have a number of negative reviews, this can work against you. You don’t want to be paying for AdWords ads if your 2.7 star rating is running next to them! You’d basically be advertising “Hey, we suck!”

That’ll hurt your results. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of good reviews on AdWords, you’re probably better off not using Location extensions at all.

Because reviews are now a much bigger deal in AdWords, we’ll be bringing you more on this in the weeks/months ahead. Keep your eye out for this because, for local businesses, this is a big deal and we want to help you improve your ratings on Google.

Structured Snippet extensions

AdWords ads continue to take up more and more space on the search results page at the expense of the organic listings. And one of the main ways Google does this is by giving AdWords advertisers ad extensions to display with their ads.

For those who don’t know, ad extensions are additional bits of information that Google can display next to your core ad (which consists of the headline, 2 lines of text and URL field).

The newest ad extensions are called structured snippets and they are a way for you to display a list of items under your ads.

What items you display in this list is a bit limited to the categories of structured snippets Google has made available to advertisers. These include Brands, Destinations (for travel businesses), Neighborhood, Insurance (for medical practices) and more.

We’ve seen great success in the early days when using structured snippets in clients’ campaigns. They seem to have a very nice impact on the Clickthrough Rates of our clients’ ads.

For local businesses, the Service catalog snippet seems to be the most practical and you can use it to list a number of different services you offer. However, depending on the clients, we’ve also had success with Brands and Insurance snippets.

Structured snippets help your ads take up more space on the page and provide even more information about your business so there’s really no reason you should not add them to your AdWords campaigns immediately.

Customer Match

Personally I think this development is the coolest one, however, it is the least applicable to local businesses.

Customer Match lets you upload a list of your customer’s email addresses to Google. Google will then match those addresses to people who are logged into Google and allow you to target your customers with Search, YouTube and/or Gmail ads.

Facebook has had a similar offering for a while and it’s nice to see Google offering this too. It can be a very effective way of getting your message out to customers or those who have opted into your list (and it has to be a list of customers/opt-ins, using a list you bought is against the rules).

I can see an application to a local business that offers some sort of regular or seasonal service to their customers like an HVAC company. In a situation like that you can have ads that show up on Gmail or YouTube that remind customers to get a fall/spring tune up.

There are other scenarios like that for some types of local businesses but this feature isn’t as helpful for a local business as it may be for an Ecommerce or info marketing business.

This feature is rolling out to AdWords advertisers over the next few weeks so, if it is applicable to your business, keep an eye out for them. The star ratings and structured snippet extensions are already available so take advantage of them ASAP.

Lesson From My ONE Day of Medical School

It may sound odd for someone (such as yours truly) who tries very hard to avoid blood, vomit, shots, etc. to find themselves in medical school. But that’s exactly where I found myself about 20 years ago… for ONE day.

Knowing my general squeamishness with most things medical, I knew enough to not actually APPLY to medical school. But I found myself dating (and eventually marrying) someone who did apply to, and attend, medical school. So on one occasion, for reasons I can’t remember (other than being young and in love), I tagged along with her to a special weekend class the med students had to attend.

The professor was a medical ethicist and one topic he lectured about really caught my attention. It was about the difference between treating symptoms vs. addressing the ROOT cause of an illness or injury.  Hearing him talk about it, it seemed like an obvious issue but was not one I had really thought about before his lecture.

The gist of what he said was that many of the treatments doctors prescribe and/or administer do a good job of reducing or eliminating the symptoms a patient is experiencing. However, he said that doctors generally don’t spend enough time with patients to ask the probing questions that would let them dig down to try to uncover and address any underlying issues that may actually be causing the symptoms the patient is experiencing.

An example he gave was treating abdominal pain and cramping or anemia… but not understanding that these symptoms are being caused by lead poisoning. A doctor can offer treatment to lessen the effect of these symptoms, but without uncovering and addressing the lead exposure issue, the patient will keep battling these symptoms.

The ethicist’s point in this lecture was to make the med students aware that, while they are learning about effective treatments for a wide range of medical issues, there may be more going on with a patient than meets the eye.

(And, by the way, this issue is not squarely on the doctor’s shoulders… a health care system that favors speed and profits as well as patients who actively seek a quick fix/magic pill so they don’t have to change their lifestyle certainly are big contributors here.)

That said, I am not sharing this with you to get into a whole discussion about our society and modern day medicine.

The reason I AM sharing this with you is that we often do something very similar in our businesses…

We often make decisions that may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of problems we face but don’t do anything about the underlying causes (often because we don’t see or understand them).

Here are a few examples:

1. A business owner who is constantly running around putting out fire after fire.

You might try to address this issue by working longer hours, hiring someone to help you out or even by cutting corners on some things at work or home to try to give yourself some breathing room.

However, we usually fail to address the underlying cause of our constantly putting out fires in our businesses which is we don’t have systems in place to make things operate more effectively and efficiently. (Which, as I’ve written about before, the fix usually involves creating a set of written, documented procedures.)

2. An employee who doesn’t seem to be pulling their weight.

The easy thing to do is fire them. But maybe the underlying problem is that your company doesn’t have a good training system in place for new employees. Or maybe the problem runs even deeper than that… it could be your hiring process that’s at fault and you hired the wrong person for the job (or the right person that you have doing the wrong job for their skill set).

3. An AdWords campaign (or any marketing campaign, for that matter) that isn’t producing an ROI.

The quick, easy thing to do is pull the plug on the campaign and assume that AdWords doesn’t work. But often the real problem is that your landing page/website/messaging is weak and does not resonate with your prospects. Or you may not have a strong sales system in place and the way you and/or your employees handle incoming leads is to blame because you are unable to close as much business as you should be if you had some proper sales training.

Next time you have a problem in your business, stop and think about what the ROOT cause of it is instead of coming up with a temporary, knee-jerk solution.

Because if you just try to take the quick, band-aid approach that addresses the symptoms, you’ll end up dealing with the same problems over and over again.

However, if you can go a level deeper and pinpoint the root cause of the problem, then you can develop a system that has a much better shot of being an effective long term solution that eliminates the problem once and for all.

Taking that approach may be just what the doctor ordered!

Even Many Successful Business Owners Don’t Understand These 2 Key Concepts

A few weeks ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation between 2 successful business owners (both of whom I know) at an Open House for a friend’s new office.

One has built up a huge business that serves clients locally in over 40 markets around the U.S. We’ll call her Jill.

The other has built up a successful business that just operates locally here in St. Louis – among the largest in his industry. We’ll call him Mark.

Jill was asking Mark about what he’s doing marketing-wise, specifically online, and the conversation went like this:

Mark: We have a guy that’s doing some things online for us.

Jill: What’s he doing?

Mark: Some SEO and some PPC.

Jill: How much are you spending on PPC?

Mark: I’m not really sure. I think we budget about $500 a month.

Jill: Are you getting any business from it?

Mark (unsure): I think so.

Jill: If you are, how come you’re not spending more money on it?

Mark: That’s just what we budgeted for it.

Jill: But if you’re spending $500 on it and it’s getting you customers, why would you cap what you’re spending? Why wouldn’t you keep spending more to get more customers?

Mark (a little uncomfortable at this point): I don’t know, that’s just what we have budgeted.

Jill: I’m spending about 300 times what you are each month on PPC and we track all our leads carefully and know that the campaign is profitable so we keep spending more and more because we know it’s getting us more and more clients.

Mark: Well, I don’t really know if it’s getting us clients or not.

Jill: Are you tracking calls from your PPC campaign?

Mark: No, we can’t do that.

Jill: Sure you can. You can use call tracking.

Mark (getting a little defensive at this point): I don’t want to do that because if a client keeps that tracking number, they won’t be able to reach us if they try to call us again in the future.

Let’s stop things right there.

There are 2 concepts about marketing that Mark (again, the owner of a very successful business) still doesn’t understand… and he’s not alone.

The first is the idea of marketing as an investment.

If you had an investment of any kind that was generating $1.50 or $2 or $5 for every dollar you put in, would you cap how much money you’d invest if you can keep getting that same return?

Of course not!

Why is your marketing any different?

Any budget you assign to your marketing is a STARTING POINT. It’s a number you’re comfortable with losing (only if your marketing campaign is a total flop… which can, and does, happen).

But think of this initial investment as R&D (research and development). This is money you put out there to see if prospects respond to your marketing campaign.

If they do, you can start trying to improve and expand your campaign (ie. invest more into it) so it generates more leads and clients for you.

If they don’t, then you can try different messaging, a different kind of campaign, etc. to find something that does work.

But here’s the key to all of this… YOU HAVE TO BE TRACKING AND MEASURING YOUR RESULTS!!

If you’re a local business owner that means tracking leads for EVERY contact form or lead form you have on your site.

It also means using call tracking because most of your leads are going to come by phone.

And that leads to the 2nd concept that Mark didn’t understand.

It’s regarding call tracking.

First, you can sign up for call tracking numbers and hold onto them as long as you want to. So if you’re worried about clients calling an old tracking number that doesn’t ring at your office, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Call tracking numbers are pretty cheap these days. In fact, if all you want to track is the total number of leads you’re getting, you can get a local tracking number from Twilio for $1 a month + $0.0075 a minute. At that price, there’s no reason to ever give that number up!

Even if there WAS a risk that Mark loses that number, is it really that big a deal? By using a call tracking number, Mark would have a clear picture of which marketing campaigns are working for him and which ones are not.

In fact, if he were to use Dynamic Call tracking on his AdWords campaigns (like we use for our clients) he’d be able to pinpoint the EXACT keywords and ads that are making his phone ring!

Think about how valuable that data is… it would allow Mark to stop spending money on ineffective advertising campaigns, keywords and ads.

And he’d be able to take that money he saved and invest it into the advertising campaigns, keywords and ads that ARE bringing in new clients.

With this information he’d have the information he needs to grow his client base and business even more.

Isn’t that MORE than worth the risk of losing your call tracking number and having a few clients here and there who aren’t able to track down your contact info?

Mark is a smart business owner and a great salesman. Just one look at the company he’s built and you can see that.

But even smart business owners have blind spots. And Mark’s blind spots when it comes to marketing are the same ones that many business owners have.

As Mark has proved, you can build an impressive business without treating marketing as an investment and carefully tracking your leads.

But I’d say he’s the exception rather than the rule.

Marketing comes down to the numbers. Get to know yours and watch the investment in your marketing lead to many happy returns.

The Sobering Reminder In This Simple Navy SEAL Mantra

How many tools do you use each day in an attempt to make yourself more productive, efficient, and effective in running your business and your life?

From my Samsung Galaxy to Gmail and Google AdWords to TeamworkPM and Toodledo – there are no shortage of tools I use every single day. Without them I couldn’t do what I do.

That said, I recently got a poignant reminder that all these tools we use have serious limitations.

This reminder came while reading an incredible book – Resilience by Eric Greitens. Greitens is a former Navy Seal and the book shares a series of letters he wrote to a friend, and fellow Navy Seal, who’s battling PTSD, alcoholism, a failed business and the loss of his brother.

It’s a beautifully written book and contains extremely powerful life lessons that apply to everyone, whether you’re Navy Seal material or not.

In one of the letters to his friend he talks about tools. Here’s the gist of what he has to say:

Tools certainly help to make us successful…

As Greitens writes, “We invented spears to bring down mammoths, compasses to cross oceans, printing presses to communicate across continents.”

There’s no doubt our lives are better in so many ways due to the tools we’ve invented.

But, as Greitens points out, it’s very easy for we humans to fall in love with our tools so much that we lose sight of their place. He gives a few examples…

One is in education where we spend a great deal of effort and millions of dollars to bring technology into the classroom. Yet, as he points out, “the great majority of students in the great majority of circumstances can learn almost all of what they need to know with a supportive family, a pencil, some paper, good books and a great teacher.”

Remember… the schools that produced Shakespeare, Jefferson and Darwin simply had some writing materials and printed books.

He also talks about a similar issue with policing. Greitens had worked with the Baltimore Police Department for a few years and was invited to speak at the Major Cities Chiefs of Police Conference.

At the conference, almost every speaker talked about some new piece of technology that was supposed to help police be more effective: surveillance systems, non-lethal weaponry, robotic cameras, gunshot detection systems, etc.

Greitens writes “These tools can be helpful, but only if those who serve as police officers have the basic skills of communication, teamwork, physical fitness, integrity, courage, compassion, cleverness, and fairness.”

And lastly he talks about being a Navy SEAL and having access to the most sophisticated technology in the world. Yet, even with access to all this, the SEALs have a simple mantra:

“Humans before hardware.”

Greitens concludes:

Millions of people, in all walks of life, and in every endeavor, create distractions and excuses for themselves by focusing on tools rather than on character. They’d rather, as Socrates warned, focus on what they have than on what they are.”

Toodledo is a great tool to organize and keep track of your To Do list. But it’s much more effective when you know how to prioritize tasks and are able to identify the tasks that are truly most vital to achieving both your short term and long terms goals.

TeamworkPM is a great tool to manage a business’ team and projects. But it’s much more powerful when you have the right people doing the right tasks and who are working toward a common goal that the team believes in.

AdWords is a powerful tool to advertise a business. But it’s MUCH more effective when used by those with a strong background in good old fashioned salesmanship and direct marketing skills and can create a powerful sales message and funnel that connects with their ideal prospects.

It’s easy to get blinded by the bright shiny objects that are the tools we convince ourselves are the keys to solving our woes and making life easier and us richer, more productive, better.

But before you put that new tool to use, stop and ask yourself the hard question of whether you have the required character, knowledge, and clarity of what you intend to achieve with that tool to make the most of it.

“Humans before hardware.”

A Tale of 2 AdWords Accounts

Had an unusual opportunity recently to compare two very similar AdWords campaigns. It provided interesting insight into the inner workings of AdWords and how campaigns, that are so alike, can behave VERY differently. Here’s what happened…

One of our clients (we’ll call them “ABC Co”) has an AdWords campaign we’ve been managing for the past 2 years. About a year ago a difference of opinion arose between the founders of ABC Co and, as a result, a few of the original partners left.

And when they did, they founded their own company (we’ll call them “XYZ Co”) that offers the EXACT same service as ABC Co.

During the transition, which took a few months or so to play out and be finalized, the guys from XYZ Co continued to have full access to the AdWords and Analytics accounts from ABC Co. I even noticed during this time that someone from an agency got access to the ABC account so they could see EXACTLY what we had done, and continued to do, in the account.

They knew how the account and campaigns were structured, what keywords generated the most clicks/conversions, what match types we were using, what the bids were, ad copy, landing pages – EVERYTHING!!

Having access to all this gave them a TREMENDOUS advantage when they officially opened for business and set up their own new campaign.

Now there are a few things that are important to know in order for you to understand what I’m about to share with you.

One is that these businesses are in a fairly specialized niche market and there’s a fairly limited universe of keywords to bid on.

We talk about the 80/20 of AdWords where 20{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of your keywords generate 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of your results. Well, that’s definitely the case here (though it’s probably closer to 95/5 in this market).

In fact, there are around 20 – 30 keywords that account for a very high percentage of the conversions in this niche. We’d figured out what they were a while back and the guys setting up XYZ’s account definitely know what these keywords are.

The other factor that’s important to understand is that there’s not a lot of differentiation between the two companies (or any of the companies in this niche, for that matter). What they offer, their pricing, how they operate, and even their websites are all quite similar.

And that carries over to the ad copy. There’s only so much to be said about what the companies in this niche are offering so the ads all pretty much say the same things. That means the Clickthrough Rates (CTRs) of the 2 companies’ ads (CTR being the biggest factor in Quality Scores in AdWords) should be fairly similar.

In fact, XYZ Co actually has an advantage when it comes to CTRs because they have star ratings that run next to their ads (which our ABC Co account does not have yet). And those ratings can make a big difference in the CTRs of ads.

Okay, so we have two companies with essentially identical offerings, similar ad copy/keywords/AdWords accounts going head to head against one another.

Now here’s the interesting part… because the separation between ABC and XYZ wasn’t terribly messy, people from the two companies still talk to one another. And during one of those recent conversations the topic of AdWords account performance came up.

And it turns out that XYZ’s click costs are about TWICE what we are paying per click for the same keywords… and their ads are appearing in essentially the same average position that our ads are!

So why would one account have to pay 2x as much for the same keywords?

Well, I don’t have access to that other account so I don’t know exactly what’s going on in there.

It’s possible, while they had access to what we were doing, they changed things around so much in their new account that it was so poorly structured and organized, their Quality Scores are horrible. However, knowing those guys who started XYZ and how sharp they are, I don’t think that’s likely.

It’s possible that a number of changes we’ve made in how we use match types, organize keywords, use negative keywords, etc. has made a big difference over the past year in the performance of our campaign. However, while we’ve been making changes each month in the account, the overall strategy and structure of our campaigns has not shifted dramatically.

My hunch, however, is that campaign history is the biggest difference between the 2 accounts.

Our campaign has a 2+ year history of split testing ad copy, adding negative keywords, segmenting keywords and ad groups and campaigns to optimize for the most important keywords and much more.

And I believe Google has noticed and this is at least part of the reason we’re being rewarded with click costs that are about half of at least this one competitor.

There may very well be other factors at play here (again, without having full access to the other account, I don’t know for sure).

However, what is clear is that all AdWords accounts are not created equal (even ones as similar as these two are). And when you smartly and consistently optimize your campaigns over the long term, you can end up paying MUCH less for clicks than your competitors.

A 2x factor in click prices is a very big deal. It means XYZ has to convert twice as many AdWords visitors to their site into customers OR make 2x as much per customer to generate the same level of revenue (from AdWords) as ABC.

More than ever, it takes a great deal of expertise, hard work and persistence to manage an AdWords account well. But, as this example shows, the payoff can give you a HUGE competitive advantage.

Why Top Online Marketers Are Changing Their Business Model

The times they are a-changin’Bob Dylan

Going behind the scenes this month to bring you some BIG changes taking place in the online marketing world.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking shop with some online marketing friends – guys who are world class (a term I don’t throw around lightly) in PPC and SEO. And all of us are changing the way we approach our businesses and online marketing.

I want to share some of what we’re changing (and why) with you cuz it’s got big implications for your business and how you tackle online marketing.

First a little history…

Let’s go back to the good ol’ days. Just 5 or 10 years ago. Click costs in AdWords were cheap. And it was still pretty easy to rank high in the organic and local search results.

Yes, for those with just a little knowledge of how the search engines worked, life was good.

Well, y’all know those days are long gone!

Now you’d be hard pressed to find a niche where you don’t have to fight tooth and nail against a legion of competitors trying to claim that precious real estate on top of Page 1 of Google for themselves.

Google AdWords Ain’t Just About Search Any More

In AdWords, there was a time you could focus just on campaigns running on (and maybe the Display Network if you were more advanced) and be just fine.

But now, in addition to Search and Display Networks, there’s Remarketing, Product Listing Ads, Video ads, mobile optimized settings, ad extensions, all sorts of new bidding structures, automated rules, scripts, etc.

And that’s just the surface level stuff. You can dig layers deeper on any one of those topics.

There’s always been a “Stupidity Tax” in AdWords for those who didn’t know what they’re doing. These days, the tax is MUCH higher and Google (and your competitors) will devour you if you’re not careful.

SEO has seen tectonic shifts recently as well.

You can’t go out and buy a bunch of links to catapult your site to the top of the search results any more. Yes, links still matter. But you gotta be VERY careful about how and where you get them. And you need to focus more on regularly creating truly unique content, social signals, Authorship, etc.

The Changes Search Engine Marketing Firms Are Making

There was a time when all we focused on here at Words That Click were AdWords Search campaigns. And that was enough.

There was a time when my buddy who’s a top SEO expert only worried about SEO and building backlinks for his clients. And that was enough.

But just doing those things ain’t enough anymore.

These days, to really make AdWords work, a company like mine can’t put its blinders on and just focus on keywords, ads and bid prices.

Not to say we can’t get improvements focusing on those things because we can and do. But it’ll only get us so far before we hit a wall.

See, to really compete in AdWords (and/or SEO) and truly make significant improvements to a campaign, we HAVE to focus on the landing pages and Conversion Optimization too.

We have to work with businesses on their messaging. Their offers. Their calls to action. Their entire sales funnel really.

All that stuff needs to be addressed to make an AdWords campaign truly fly these days.

But, wait, there’s even more!

Because even if you have great landing pages in place, traffic from Google can still be pricey (though if you’ve optimized your landing pages, you can afford to pay those clicks MUCH easier than your competitors who ignore conversions).

Or, sometimes there are situations where a site’s pretty well optimized and AdWords is driving about as much traffic as we can squeeze out of it so the question becomes how to drive more prospects to a site.

So if we’re really going to our job of helping customers achieve the objective of growing their businesses, we have to look for other sources of paid traffic besides AdWords.

And there’s no shortage of them out there…

  • Bing (and other search engines)
  • FB ads (which have become much more viable for a wider range of businesses lately)
  • Retargeting platforms like and AdRoll
  • PPV platforms like Trafficvance
  • Content Recommendation Engines like Outbrain
  • and on and on

See, my friends and I in the industry all have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the world of online marketing. We get to go behind the scenes of hundreds of companies in all different markets. We study both the successes and failures of various marketing campaigns.

And from that view of the world, we see what the companies dominating their markets are doing.

We see the truly successful companies know their numbers and are obsessive about measuring results (remember this… if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it).

We see the truly successful companies put a lot of resources into Conversion Optimization and are obsessively testing ways to get more prospects to raise their hands and enter their sales funnels.

We see the truly successful companies never EVER rely on just one source of traffic… they diversify by using a wide range of paid and “free” sources of traffic.

And in seeing all this, it’s crystal clear that as marketing firms we can’t afford to be one trick ponies. Firms that only focus on AdWords or SEO and nothing else are going to go the way of the dodo.

If we’re gonna help our clients’ marketing campaigns be as successful as they can be, just focusing on clicks, backlinks and Quality Scores ain’t gonna make it happen.

What Lessons Should You Take Away From This?

Well, you, as a business owner, can’t afford to be a one trick pony either when it comes to your marketing.

In my 11 Simple Principles report I originally wrote 5 years ago, I said this:

Relying on just one source of traffic and sales to drive your online marketing efforts puts your business in a very dangerous position.”

And that’s even truer today than it was then.

You HAVE to diversify your traffic sources.

You HAVE to work the conversion side of your website.

And you HAVE to carefully measure results so you know your numbers and see EXACTLY what’s putting money in your bank account and what’s siphoning money out of it.

The webs a-changin’.

Yes, it’s a more challenging environment. But your prospects are still looking for you there.

And it’s the companies that adapt by adding more sources of traffic, focus on Conversions and watch their numbers that are gonna turn the lion’s share of the prospects into customers.

So, the question is, is it going to be you or your competition that get them?

Video Interview: Powerful Brand New AdWords Feature & More

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for a show, BuildaTribe Live, by my friend Mason Duchatschek of He grilled me on the ins and outs of Google AdWords for a little over 20 minutes. In that time, we cover a lot including:

  • What makes AdWords unique from every other form of marketing out there
  • The power of remarketing and the NEW mind-blowing feature that takes it to another level
  • Situations where AdWords may not be a good fit (and a trick on how you could overcome this)
  • The 3 main mistakes people make in their AdWords campaigns
  • Why it’s critical to understand the differences between the Search and Display Networks
  • Whether or not AdWords has become too complex for a business owner to manage a campaign on their own
  • The simple 5 step system for evaluating landing pages from a conversion standpoint

Here’s the interview:


If you’re not up for watching the whole video and just want to find out about the brand new AdWords feature, I’m not gonna hold out on you. Here’s the deal:

Up until a few months ago, remarketing was only done on the Display Network.

The way this basically works is someone visits your site, a cookie is placed on their computer and when they visit other websites in Google’s Display Network (a network of websites that display Google ads), you can show your ads to them.

But now Google has unleashed Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). This lets you create an audience of people who have visited your site and target them – on Google itself – if they do more searches after leaving your site. Here are a few ways you could use this:

  • In your existing campaigns, add an audience of people who have visited your website and set higher bids for that audience. So, let’s say for someone who’s never been to your site before, you’re willing to pay $1.00 per click when they do a relevant search on Google. But people who have already been to your website know who you are and it may be worth more to you to get them back on your site again. What RLSAs let you do is adjust your bids for that audience. You can increase your bids by 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or whatever percentage you want, just for people who have already been to your site. That way, you can make sure your ad is front and center, reminding past visitors about your company and enticing them to come back to your site.
  • You can even create a separate Search campaign that just targets people who have already been to your website. In your “regular” campaigns, it’s likely you’re focusing on very specific keywords and using a lot of Exact match keywords. But if you’re targeting people who’ve already been to your site, you may not want to be so limited. For that audience, it may make sense to use more Phrase and even Broad match keywords so past visitors to your site will see your ads for any relevant search query they type into Google.

In early testing, we’re finding RLSAs may not drive tons of traffic, but they are producing incremental conversions at a lower cost/conversion than “regular” Search campaigns. It’s a powerful new feature definitely worth testing in your AdWords account.


Is This Syndrome Sinking Your Sales?

There was just no convincing him otherwise.

Chris was a prospect who called looking for help exclusively for SEO and Local Search. After listening to his situation and assessing his goals, I brought up AdWords because I thought it’d help him achieve those goals much faster.

But, the instant I mentioned AdWords, Chris balked at the idea.

The reason?

He’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

Recently I sat down with another prospect who was telling me about her recent attempt at direct mail. Juila sent out about 15,000 pieces in a few different waves and got 1 new client from it.

(In fact, 10 times MORE people contacted Julia demanding to be taken off her list after receiving her mailing!)

From Julia’s perspective, she’s done with direct mail.

She’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

This month, we’re going to dig into these stories a bit more closely. And what you’ll see is that both these business owners suffer from the same syndrome that severely cripples the sales potential at many businesses.

It’s a pretty common syndrome too and one that, after reading this article, hopefully you won’t suffer from any longer.

The Syndrome

Chris, who runs a local service business, became a client. We’re doing the SEO and Local Search optimization he initially contacted me about.

Since he runs a locally focused business, we started optimizing his site so he could rank better for a lot of search terms that contained the names of local cities/zip codes his company services.

The issue with SEO and Local Search in a situation like this is it can take a LONG time to get results in all the cities. And, of course, the most important cities are often the most competitive and the hardest battles to fight.

That’s a main reason why I suggested AdWords in the first place. With AdWords, we could make sure he shows up on Page 1 when someone searches for him in each and every city that’s important to his business.

But Chris was sour on AdWords. He’d run a campaign in the past (set up by someone at Google) and it was a money pit that generated huge credit card payments but few, if any, leads.

I didn’t force the issue, but as we got deeper into the SEO project and the relationship grew, I brought up AdWords again. He was still quite skeptical, but I asked if I could at least have access to his old AdWords campaign and poke around a bit.

Well, it didn’t take but 30 seconds after going into his campaign to see WHY it didn’t work.

  • Instead of targeting just the area Chris’ business serves, the geotargeting was set for the entire state his business was in (and it’s a big state!).
  • The keywords were all Broad Match keywords (a number of which were WAY too generic to be in his campaign).
  • And all the ad copy was pointing to the home page of the website instead of the subpages that were most relevant to the keywords in each ad group.

It’s no wonder the campaign was a money pit!

But Chris didn’t know this. He just knew that he’d tried AdWords, it didn’t work, and he wasn’t interested in trying it again.

He was suffering from “I-Tried-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome”.

It’s the same Syndrome the other prospect I mentioned, Julia, suffers from.

After sending out 15K pieces of direct mail and getting one sale, Julia decided that direct mail doesn’t work.

She had a copy of her direct mail piece with her during our meeting and at least one of the big reasons her mailings didn’t succeed was immediately obvious.

In scanning the copy, I could see it was chock full of the words “I”, “Me” and “My”. Essentially, the whole piece was about the company and its owner. It had very little to do with the thing prospects care about most… themselves!

(Whether with Direct Mail, AdWords, your website, Email or whatever marketing channel you use, if you’re not focusing on the prospect and showing them how you can solve a problem they have or a desire they wish to fulfill, then your chances of success are miniscule!)

A Good Idea Poorly Executed…

There’s a reason a lot of companies still use AdWords and Direct Mail… they’re effective, viable marketing channels that can and do generate leads and sales successfully for a lot of businesses.

This is not to say they work all the time. This is not to say they’ll work in every industry.

But this is to say that before you turn your back on a marketing channel, you need to make sure you gave it a fair shake.

If you have a low level employee at Google who’s never run a business before build an AdWords campaign for you, the chances of it succeeding are much lower than if you paid a seasoned AdWords pro that takes the time to understand your business, your customers and your sales funnel.

If you write your own direct mail piece but don’t understand the fundamentals of direct response copy, the chances of succeeding are slim compared to hiring an experienced direct response copywriter who understands how to get people to respond to a well crafted offer.

(And, perhaps even more important, finding an expert list broker who will get you a high quality list so you know your message gets in front in the right target audience.)

Don’t turn your back on AdWords, Direct Mail, email or other forms of marketing because of I-Tried-It-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome.

Get a second opinion. Have an AdWords expert look over your old AdWords campaign. Have an experienced marketer/copywriter/list broker review your previous direct mail efforts.

There’s lotsa money to be made with AdWords, direct mail, email, etc. It’d be a shame for you to miss out on it because your previous efforts were doomed to fail from the start.

Abe Lincoln’s Key to Marketing Success

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately.

It all started when I was on the set of an online reality show I’m a part of. The show chronicles the creation of an information product from conception to launch and beyond.

A cadre of experts (myself included) meet on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of the project. Our meetings are videotaped and will be put online for the world to see (I’ll let you know when it goes live).

At a recent taping I made some points about the importance of research and how, especially on the marketing side of things, the project would benefit from doing some (I’m purposely keeping things vague here… can’t reveal too much right now!).

As we were wrapping things up for the evening, one of the other people involved made a comment that if she had a gun to her head and had just 30 days to launch a business, she’d skip the research and just jump in and get started.

I totally understand the thinking here. In fact, you’ll hear a lot of business experts saying that one of the marks of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to execute on their ideas quickly.

But I guess where she(they) and I differ on things is I believe that research is the first, and most important part of executing a successful business/marketing plan.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about Abe Lincoln’s quote.

Because when it comes to marketing, research is your AXE.

The Secret That Separates The Top Copywriters From the Herd

Here’s a little secret about the great “A” List level copywriters…

Yeah, they’ve got some writing chops. But that’s NOT what makes them truly great.

The thing that separates the truly great ones from the pack is their research skills.

Before they write a WORD of copy, they’re immersing themselves in the product/service they’re selling, the audience they’re marketing to, and the competition.

  • They ask the key questions of the business owners, salesman, inventors, etc. to find the golden nuggets that’ll provide the foundation of the copy.
  • They interview customers and prospects to understand what their needs are. (And not their superficial needs… their DEEP emotional needs that the product/services fulfills.)
  • They keep digging until they’ve got the emotional hook that’ll drive the copy that makes prospects quiver with desire, the bullet points that tease and tantalize their emotions, the offer that leaves prospects with little choice but to pull out their wallets and hand over their hard earned cash.
  • They’ll uncover the company’s Unique Selling Proposition that can be used to position them in a way that makes the competition largely irrelevant.

And It’s No Different for PPC…

All the top PPC guys I know are all fanatical about research… Keyword Research… Competitive Research… Market Research.

That’s the heart of getting a successful AdWords campaigns off the ground (as is digging in/researching the data of live campaigns to religiously optimize them).

The cool thing about the Internet (well, other than Amazon Prime and TED Talks) is that it’s now easier than ever to do your research. And you don’t even have to TALK to anyone to do it.

Some of the Most Valuable Stuff on Amazon is FREE

Speaking of Amazon, that’s one of my favorite sources to use for research.

The reviews on Amazon are a treasure trove of information that can be invaluable to the savvy business owner.

These are reviews written by people who have taken their time to express their views (the good, the bad and the ugly) about the products they bought.

The key word being BOUGHT… these are BUYERS writing about products they’ve actually shelled out their hard earned cash for. These are the people you need to be paying attention to.

During one of our recent filming sessions we spent some time on Amazon and got some incredible insights.

What we did was look at reviews people left for books related to the info product we’re tasked with creating and marketing.

Here’s what we were looking for…

  • The things they liked about the books and the things they didn’t like about the books. (Or, more accurately, what they liked/didn’t like about the information contained in those books and the impact/lack of impact it had on their lives.)
  • The emotional needs of prospects in this market, the problems keeping them up at night, their ultimate goals, etc.
  • Colorful quotes that could make great headlines, bullets and copy for our marketing materials.
  • The Table of Contents of the most popular books on the subject to see what topics they had in common (which is a GOOD indication we need to include those topics in our product).

At the end of the day, doing this research gave us a much clearer picture of:

  • WHO we were creating this product for
  • WHY they were looking for this information
  • WHAT information they’d value getting from us (and the emotional benefits they were seeking from it)
  • HOW the information helped them/didn’t help them achieve the outcomes they’re after

And we got all these insights simply by spending some time on Amazon.

Now you might be thinking you’re a dentist or run a restaurant or own an industrial/manufacturing company and there are no books/products related to what you sell on Amazon.

Fair enough. But Amazon ain’t the only place to find this sort of information. If there are no related products/books on Amazon, you can…

  • Check out reviews on Yelp or Google for businesses in your niche.
  • Go to message boards and forums where your clients hang out and discuss things.
  • Listen to what’s going on in social media. Are there any groups on LinkedIn/Facebook related to your field? Any key industry players/companies active on Twitter? Those are great places to do some research as well.

A BIG Word of Warning

There is a deadly trap you have to be wary of with research. It’s one I’ve been guilty of falling into in the past.

The trap is Analysis Paralysis… it’s when you just keep researching but never take action. That trap’ll kill your marketing efforts because you never leave the starting gate.

As I said at the top, I think research is a PART of executing on a successful marketing plan. But it’s just a part of it. You have to ACT to have any chance of success.

With 6 hours to chop down a tree, Abe Lincoln would take 4 hours to sharpen his axe. And that’s probably a decent rule of thumb. Spend about 2/3 of your time up front doing your research… then create your USP, write your copy, build your campaign,  etc.

Most of your competitors have dull axes. Do the research… sharpen your axe… and you’ll be chopping down trees they don’t have a shot at making a dent in.


I know. Yuck. Homework. So let’s not call it homework, let’s call it a challenge.

I challenge you to spend 1 hour on Amazon or Yelp or Google or some other site where your customers hang out and are describing their wants, needs, emotions, opinions, criticisms, etc.

What insights does that give you into your market that you didn’t have before?

What ideas for headlines, copy, offers, products, services, etc. did it give you?

What ideas for new products/offerings or tweaks to existing products/offerings did you get?

After you spend that hour, come back here and share what you learned in the comment section below.

I’m betting that 1 hour may be one of the most enlightening hours you’ve spent in a LONG time.

And I say that confidently because, well, I’ve done the research! ;)