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What Google’s Ad Changes Mean for Your Business

The world of marketing has found a very natural home online. That’s where the businesses are; that’s where the audience can be found; and that’s where the money is. Everything from creative content to purely promotional posts can be found online, each assisting with an overall marketing strategy.

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Spearheading that change is Google. Not content with providing the world with split-second search results, they swiftly dominated what is essentially the world’s most famous billboard with advertising. Appearing at the top of the page are relevant paid-for adverts, while on the right-hand side, you’d expect to see more adverts from Google Shopping.

Why Google Removed Ads

Well, you might’ve done once upon a time. However, at the end of February, Google opted to remove all adverts on the right of the screen. There are several reasons for that change. For starters, Google found that browsers simply didn’t click on those adverts. Then there’s the fact that the majority of people on Google are searching using their mobiles, which don’t even have right-hand adverts.

There is another added bonus too. Without the ads, the page looks a lot cleaner, visually. This is one of the main (if few) reasons that people have consistently rated rival search engine Bing as better than Google. But a bonus for general users still has knock on effects for businesses, who fear that with the removal of ads equals a major drop in brand awareness, website hits and, ultimately, the bottom line.

But is that fear justified?

Reasons to Be Cheerful

Not exactly. It turns out that far from meaning the disappearance of small- to medium-sized businesses on Google, the removal of adverts has generally had next to no effect for smaller players, either good or bad. Partly, of course, that’s down to the low CTR (click-through rate) of right-column adverts – but it’s also being assisted by Google adding an extra banner advert to the top of the search results page, bringing the total to four.

Another worry was that it would mean having to spend more for less; with space at a premium, the price would become premium too. Again, there appears to be no great change to the auction-style bid process that Google’s ads have always used, and overall, the CPC (cost-per-click) hasn’t dramatically risen.

These changes do have wider ramifications though – as you’d expect from our old friends Cause and Effect. Specifically, if your business is focused solely on marketing through SEO, you could stand to lose out, as the old ‘organic #1’ spot has been replaced by the ‘paid ad #4’. As such, you may notice a lower organic CTR.

How to Deal with Change

In fact, the only way to face changes such as these is to embrace them. And that means ensuring you have a fully integrated marketing strategy, which encompasses both SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) tactics, not just working together but totally complementing each other.

What these changes to Google’s adverts really mean is that we’re entering an incredibly exciting time, for marketers and companies. It means you can craft even better ad extensions – the brief description of what you offer – for paid-for ads that have a wider audience. It means you now have the perfect opportunity to review your website, studying how to improve the experience for users. That, in turn, means upping the site’s quality, which enhances its organic search potential on Google.

If you’d like to discuss Google’s latest changes and how we can work together to help grow your business please contact on 01483 200 387.

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Why Your Marketing Funnel Should Be Like A Production Line

Have you ever thought about the similarity between a marketing funnel and a production line?

Marketing funnel

Your marketing funnel should operate like a production line

I’ll show you what I mean.

Virtually everything today is produced on a production line.

Cars are the classic example.

As the car progresses along the line, robots put the thing together.

First there’s the chassis, then the engine, the doors, the wheels, the wiring etc etc.

The car starts off as a few unrecognisable components and as it moves down the conveyor belt it gradually takes shape until it drops off the end as the shiny finished article.

Your marketing funnel should work the same way.

The processes should be planned and refined so that your prospects enter the production line (marketing funnel) in a raw and uncommitted state and are moved through the process and slowly start to look more like a customer until they come out the end the finished article, ready to do business with you.

So what should the stages within your marketing funnel look like?

Stage 1 Prospects arrive as complete strangers and you have an initial engagement with them.

Stage 2 Your auto responder series starts providing them with information, advice and benefits and they start to form a positive opinion of you.

Stage 3 You continue to give them relevant and valuable information and advice and they start to like the way you interact with them and to trust your expertise.

Step 4 You make your pitch to them –  to make a sale, arrange a meeting etc.

Step 5 They interact with your sales team and drop off the production line as beautifully formed, ready to drive customers.

So that’s the way your marketing funnel works and as I said it’s just like a production line. There are a set number of steps for prospects to go through and success depends on you having a seamless and well oiled process in place.

The prospect must be moved along the conveyor belt with each process kicking in automatically.

If you haven’t got one, your marketing will be a bit like British Leyland in the 1970s – unplanned, old fashioned and likely to disappoint you.

So what’s the solution?

Two options spring to mind.

  1. You can hope that BMW offer to buy you for several billion quid.

Or

  1. You can get in touch with me on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk or 01483 200387 and I can help you set up your production line.

 

 

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The Only Two Principles You Need To Worry About

You won’t be surprised to hear that basic human principles don’t change much at all, and this includes marketing principles.

Over the last ten years we’ve seen the Internet come charging over the horizon and make itself comfortably at home in the business community. More recently, we’ve seen a financial meltdown which we’re only now recovering from.

But even so, things are now pretty much as they’ve always been.

Marketing principles don’t change and that’s because we’re still human and we’re still motivated by the same things, driven by the same emotions and the same hopes and fears as we’ve always been.

So, let’s look at the simple challenge facing your business.

Growing your business is a simple process you can break down into two parts:

1. Generating qualified leads.
2. Converting them to paying customers.

It’s that simple and it’ll always be that simple.

So, when people tell you that internet marketing is different – they’re wrong.
It’s the same as any other kind of marketing: the style and the delivery mechanisms might have changed but the substance will be the same.

And how do you get the highly qualified leads?

Well this is where the difference in style comes in.

Online, you might want to use AdWords, natural search, banner advertising, stuff like that.

One seriously underused strategy is to use offline media to drive people online.

The last few years has been a great time to be doing it because the recession meant that businesses haven’t been advertising as much as normal with the result that ad space has been cheap.

So once you’ve got your qualified leads, what do you do with them?

You want to turn them into paying customers.

Conventional wisdom tells us to convert the qualified leads into sales by “selling” them.

While this might work occasionally, it’s fraught with peril, because if you fail to sell them that first time you’ve lost them. Probably for good.

A better solution in many cases is to begin a relationship with them.

Get their details – name and email address at a bare minimum, but the Holy Grail is a postal address as well – and then start sending them interesting material including but not exclusively sales material. Emails, a paper newsletter, direct mail, postcards… the list is limited only by your imagination.

How do you get them to give you their details?

Simple: offer something of value like a free report or a white paper, something of value that they will exchange their contact details for. There are no real rules, other than it really needs to be something useful and with a high perceived value to your prospect.

So you can now start marketing to them until they buy, they die or they tell you to stop.

Sounds easy doesn’t it ?

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Do You Have a Premium Version Of Your Product?

In all types of business you’ll find premium products.

These will be dressed up with exclusive sounding titles – “Executive service”,” Gold Standard” “Premier Club” etc.

So what is a premium product? Quite simply it is your standard product which you’ve added value to in some way. It may be that the packaging and presentation of the product has been upgraded or maybe the product is delivered extra quickly or perhaps it has more high quality ingredients in it.

A good example of premium products is currently being demonstrated by the supermarkets. They all have premium ranges these days. Sainsbury’s call it “Taste The Difference”, Tesco call their range “Finest” while Asda call their’s “Extra Special”.

Now I can’t claim to know the figures but while the cost price will be a little bit more, the margin will be significantly higher than the standard ranges.

The great thing about premium products is that they give you a really easy opportunity to upsell and increase your transaction size.

Now considering that we’re currently going through tough economic times, you might think that there is no place for premium products. But you’d be wrong. The fact is that something like 20% of consumers will regularly pay more for what they perceive to be a superior product. All you have to do is work out how you can add value to and upgrade your standard product so that you can offer it as a premium product.

I’ve been working with a removals company recently and have persuaded them to launch a premium removals service. The premium quality comes from the more robust packing cases they use, the fully comprehensive insurance they offer and the level of unpacking they do at the other end but the price is about 30% more and the margin about 40% more. And yes somewhere in the region of 20% of customers take it up.

The other thing about premium products is that it’s not a hard sell item. You simply make the customer aware that you have a premium product and the difference between it and the standard product and then leave them to choose. A classic example of this is Amazon and their delivery charges. You can pay one amount for standard delivery or a higher price for express delivery and you can bet that plenty of customers will opt for the express delivery.

So look closely at your own business and decide how you can dress up your product or service and offer it as a premium product. You may well be very surprised at the difference it makes to both your turnover and more importantly your profit.

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The Importance Of Having A Marketing Strategy

Strategic marketing is about the BIG picture. If you want to massively improve your results you need to think strategically.

A marketing strategy is a focused plan, which will usually be split into bite size chunks – monthly, quarterly and annual. It’s a flexible plan, which needs to be reviewed regularly.  You need to know what works and what doesn’t.  You need to know what needs fixing and what needs discarding.

Tactical marketing

Tactical marketing is how most small business owners market their services.  Often they will be looking for the one killer marketing tactic which will make them rich and successful.  Because they’re  thinking short term, looking for a quick fix, they usually have no overall marketing strategy or co-ordinated approach to the market. Decisions are made and actions taken in isolation, which don’t build upon other activities.

This may manifest itself by undertaking a particular piece of marketing – say direct mail or email marketing. If after one or two forays into the market they don’t get the result they were hoping for, they abandon it.

They would never think of developing a 6 month campaign with each communication building on the previous one, until they have constructed a compelling proposition which generates a fantastic response and earns them a load of money.

Instead they continue to produce ad hoc activity which fails to deliver the desired results and so is gently abandoned..

Marketing strategy first – marketing tactics second

If you want to start seeing some real, measurable progress, you need to know what your marketing strategy is.  Only then, can you possibly know what the correct tactics will be for what you want to achieve.  Otherwise, it’s like trying to plan a route somewhere, when you don’t have a destination!

Decide what you want to achieve and get specific.  This means putting some numbers together, such as your target turnover, profits, unit sales, client numbers etc.  Then, decide what resources you are prepared to invest to make this happen.  For example, how much time / money are you able to invest in your marketing?  Until you know exactly what your resources are, you cannot possibly select the correct marketing tactics for your overall strategy.

So, it’s strategy first, the overall big picture of how you’re going to approach your market, followed by your tactics which will enable you achieve your strategy.