Tag Archives: advertising

Tech Thursday: When Should You Pay for Online Advertising?

23 October

One of the cool parts of marketing online is that, for the most part, it’s free. But sometimes, it does pay to pay for some online advertising. What are the options? Why should you spend money to promote your business on Facebook? We have some answers!

This video is all about how to strategically spend your advertising money online, whether it’s by using Pay Per Click advertising on a site like Google, or through targeted ads on social networks. Remember, the key isn’t to spend the least amount of money- it’s to spend your money in a way that will get the most returns to your business.

And, hopefully after watching this edition of Tech Thursday, you too, will make it rain.

Absurdity in Marketing

23 September

After a weekend of watching ghastly amounts of television, I was struck by the high percentage of ridiculous commercials I endured. We’ve all seen ridiculous commercials- there’s the kind that has you laughing so hard, you get side stitches, the kind that leaves you bewildered and asking “What was that commercial for, anyway?,” and everything in between. The most absurd commercials seem to come out around the holidays, and of course, the Super Bowl.

I remember when the first Geico gecko commercials came out (the “Stop Calling Me!” phase), and they’re still going strong with hilarious ads. Then there’s the E-Commerce baby, although we haven’t seen him in awhile, and many food related commercials including Snickers and Jack Links beef jerky (the ones with Sasquatch).

Why do companies use humor in advertising? According to this article from The Atlantic, our attention is more likely to be held when we perceive something as either a positive (or negative) experience. Most marketers lean towards the positive experience rather than negative, because they’d rather their audience have a positive association with the brand. Humor not only grabs attention, but holds onto it. That being said, there’s a fine line between hilarious and absurd. It’s a risky marketing strategy, and yet companies still use it.

This is one of my favorite Super Bowl commercials, because it combines my favorite candy with my love for this great song (and quite possibly Meatloaf himself).

Pros

When we think something is funny, we’re also more likely to share it with others. Sharing includes word of mouth, social media shares, e-mails to friends and/or co-workers- anything that gets the word out. Ridiculous content gets shared more organically (meaning people find the content worthy of sharing with others with no incentive or push from the company that put out the ad).

Doing something absurd helps your brand stand out. By sticking your neck out and doing something different, besides the “same old,” safe, guaranteed to work advertising routine, in many ways you’re demonstrating not only innovation but passion. By doing something risky, you send the message “I believe in my product, and am willing to take this chance on it.”

This is my favorite Geico commercial to date. They’re still using the “15 minutes” bit, and adding the ridiculousness of Pinocchio being a motivational speaker. Full disclosure, I find this commercial way funnier than is probably appropriate. Even just writing a brief blurb about is enough to send me into a delirious fit of giggling. That being said, I am not insured by Geico.

Cons

Risk is a larger factor when it comes to absurdity, or humor in general. First, there’s the risk that your ad isolates certain demographics. Some people may not be as receptive to your attempt at humor, so it’s important to consider your target audience, if no one else. Second, there’s always the chance that, hey, you aren’t as funny as you thought, and people don’t respond well (especially if you go the off-color or risque route). Third, if the attempt at humor seems too forced, it isn’t going to be funny.

Another risk is that people who see your funny/absurd/ridiculous ad will be so distracted by the humor, that they pay very little attention to your product. Humor can distract people from the intended purpose of the ad, and then you’re left with a net-zero situation.

If nothing else, avoid creating an ad that is so over-the-top that people don’t understand what you’re marketing. To emphasize this point, I was going to insert a video of an advertisement that was completely strange, and I can’t even tell you the name of the product. There was an aggressive magician wow-ing an inexplicably enthusiastic crowd, and he had some sort of product that (to me) resembled Airborne. I can’t tell you the name of the product. I can’t even tell you if the ad was for the magician guy or for the Airborne-like tablets he was waving around. I even tried Googling this commercial, but clearly was unsuccessful. Moral of the story: this ad was so absurd that it achieved nothing.

Instead, I decided to insert this delightful Starburst commercial. It a) clearly explains what their product is and why it is of value, and b) has a jaunty and ridiculous tune. Success!

This article from Time magazine explains that while funny ads get a lot of laughs and general appreciation, marketers “should use humor as a supplement — not a replacement” for content in any advertisement.

What Coke’s New Campaign Reminded Me About Marketing

04 August

shareacokeYou may have noticed that recently, Coke has been putting peoples’ names on bottles. The campaign is called ‘Share a Coke’. Simple, like many great ideas before it.

This is, of course, genius on a couple levels:

1) People are on the lookout for their own name so subconsciously, when they see a Coke label, they have some delight as they flip it around and look for their name. (P.S. The Michael bottle recall is not legit.)
2) Names are relatable and because of this, quite viral. Several people I know have been sharing photos to their friend’s walls when they see a bottle with the friend’s name on it or tagging other friends in their post to virtually share a Coke. (Also Coke had a few universal ones like ‘Friends’ and ‘Dad’.)
3) The campaign is in 50 countries so we can see unusual names on Coke bottles as people use international networks like Instagram and Pinterest.
4) It has a memorable and easy hashtag: #shareacoke (and the spinoff #shareacokewith). Over 300,000 shares on Instagram alone:

shareacokeinstagram

And you know your campaign is successful when a few jokes have spun out from it. Check out the ‘nativity’ scene with (‘Maria’ and ‘Angel’ among others) and the ‘still can’t find my name’ posts on Pinterest:

shareacokefunpinterest
It’s one thing to be kind of clever and market to a niche of people but it’s another to make an idea that’s simple enough for people to get and individual enough for people to personalize. Great job, Coke! *slow clap for Coke!

slowclapjoker

What Can I Track With My Internet Marketing?

04 November

whatcanimeasureOne of the most beautiful parts of internet marketing is you can actually track whether something is working.

But what can you track, you ask? Here are a few things you can monitor:

Clicks on a link

Wait a minute, you can track things that aren’t on your own website? You sure can!

With a service like bitly.com you can create a tracking link then see how it’s clicked on.

For example, with one client we made this link to their TripAdvisor profile: http://bitly.com/tripadvisortblp

To see the stats, we simply at a ‘+’ to the end of that link and put it in a browser:

bitlystatstrentonpart1

 

bitlystatstrentonpart2

 

So I see so far that this link I’ve shared has gotten 70 clicks and I can see a bit about when those happened; what social media sites they are coming from; and where in the world the clickers are.

Traffic To A Landing Page

The other day, I was talking to someone who wanted to measure the effectiveness of a print campaign. “But none of our people get those whole QR things.”

To which I said, what if you sent them to a specific URL on your site? Like for example, what if I said “Go to www.breakingeveninc.com/ireadyourblog and see something amazing!”

People who do podcasts do this all the time. Do you really think going to Audible.com is really that different from going to Audible.com/American? Nope, Audible just tracks the link to see how many people go there so they can see if their advertisement on This American Life works (and continues to work).

So make a landing page for your print ad and design it for those people in mind. Then look at your web stats and see if it was worth it.

For more on landing pages: http://breakingeveninc.com/landing-pages-101/

The Average Value of Your Typical Social Media Fan

I did an detailed post on this here: http://breakingeveninc.com/what-are-my-social-media-accounts-worth/

But the idea of going through, seeing who’s following you on social networks and figuring out if they are your customers is a worthwhile exercise for most people. You might also want to measure repeat customers too.

Remember you don’t want to just have the feeling that you’re doing something right if you are doing anything related to marketing and advertising for your business, you want to have some solid facts to back it up!

Better SEO In Less Than One Hour

16 June

The most common question I get over email: “How can I improve my site’s rank in search engines?” I’ve sent variations of this in about fifty emails but thought I’d finally write this up and put on the website. A few things to know.

1. Anyone who promises you page 1 ranking in Google is full of crap.

There I said it. If they get you the number one spot really quickly, it’s because they’ve bought you a Google Ad or they did something really ridiculous and probably illegal. I can buy an ad for you in five minutes, or you can buy one yourself. (Google, like any good business, makes spending money with them as easy as possible, trust me.) That is not SEO. Ranking in search engines means being high up in what’s called organic (re: non-paid) search results.

2. Google Adwords, while sometimes helpful, is not SEO.

There is a reason people specialize in SEO (search engine optimization). It’s a bit technical, the rules are always changing, and it takes effort to do it right. If you are looking for a magic pill/quick results, buy pay per click ads. You’ll get hits more quickly, sure, but they’ll stop the minute you stop the ads. If you want more of an explanation about the difference between paid ads and SEO, check out this post from The Maine SEO Blog about it.

Hey look you're number one... Wait, you paid to be there. Guess what happens when you stop paying? Photo via: http://knol.google.com/k/search-engine-optimization-seo-overview#

Hey look you're number one... Wait, you paid to be there. Guess what happens when you stop paying? Photo via: http://knol.google.com/k/search-engine-optimization-seo-overview#

OK so you get that SEO means being in it for the long haul. Let’s oversimplify all this.

3. Search engines like three things. Give them these three things and they’ll be happier with you:

  • Links (your site linking to other sites and others linking back to you)
  • Keywords (words phrases that people are searching for online)
  • Frequently updated content (how often there is a change on your site)

People sometimes think about being sneaky and do things like put a bunch of keywords all over their page or join link farms. In the biz, this is called ‘black hat SEO’. These practices can fool search engines temporarily but more importantly:

1) Search engines could find out you did something naughty and blacklist you, like they did to JCPenney fairly recently. Do you get so much business that you can afford to disappear from Google searches?
2) It will annoy those visiting your site. Because remember, who’s doing the searches? People. Who’s going to think it’s weird you put all these random keywords on your site? People. Who’s going to think the random links on your sidebar are sketchy? People.

OK, OK so you get it, there is no short cuts and this will take time. So what *can* you do that’s legal and helpful to give search engines the three things they want?

Here’s a few things you can do to help your site rank better in search engines.

Claim your business on Google Places, Bing Local, Yelp, etc.
Here are some of the sites where you can ‘claim’ your business:
Google Places
Yahoo Local
Bing Local
Yelp
Foursquare
Manta
You’ve probably noticed when you do a search, sometimes these directory listings come up above search results. These listings besides just having the standard contact information also allow you to add keywords, etc.  If nothing else, enjoy the free inbound link to your website.
Note: To prove you actually own the business, the service will usually use a verification phone call where they’ll actually call your business phone and give you a code to type into the site… so try to be by your business phone when you’re doing this.
Time estimate: 5-10 minutes/site

Use SEF links (search engine friendly).
OK someone sends you an email. Would you rather click on:

http://www.arandomwebsite.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=138&Itemid=22

or

http://www.arandomwebsite.com/about-us

Exactly. Not only do people like to know what a link is but search engines can read the text in your links and treat them like keywords. Bonus is it’s not difficult to turn on SEF links if you have a website that runs off a content management system. You can even manually create them for HTML sites if need be.
Time estimate: 5 minutes – 30 minutes

Autopost website updates.
So when I post to my website, I also have it connected so it goes out to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well automatically. If your website has an RSS feed, this is pretty easy to set up. I use RSS Graffiti for Facebook and BlogToTweet for Twitter/LinkedIn.
Time estimate: 10 minutes to set up

Write something for your website… whether it’s a blog entry or more info for a page on your site.
Search engines (as well as real people) like it when your site has new stuff. As a matter of fact, the more often you update your website, the more often it’s indexed by search engines. I know, crazy huh? Also more pages of content help your site seem more search engine friendly. So every blog entry you write, every new page you create all helps.

So take 20 minutes and sit down to write something. Write about how your business started, an interesting customer who always comes in, review a new product you’ve just gotten in, write a how-to… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just something people might be looking for online, something that they can now find on your website.
Time estimate: 20 minutes

Setup social media pages.
Another way people increase visibility is with social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter make it easy to keep in touch with potential customers and take just a few moments to set up.

But how does social media help with search? Well, on every profile/page you make, you can add your website link as well as a space to put info about your business. You see where I’m going here, right? Keywords and a link? Nice.

Social media will also increasingly become a part of how search engine results are calculated. So social media isn’t just touchy-feely anymore! In other words, all aboard! There’s no better time to finally create that Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, or other social media profile related to your website.
Time estimate: 10-20 minutes/profile

Create a 301 redirect.
This is kind of nerdy but it is a good search engine-y thing to do to keep from accidentally duplicating your content. Search engines do things like penalize you for duplicating content (the same thing written multiple places- it’s what spammers do). Here’s a few ways to do the redirect.
Time estimate: Non-geek under and hour, Geek a few minutes

Have a blog.
Hands down me and most everyone else who does this for a living will tell you to do for better SEO is start a blog. Because blogs have links, keywords, and frequent updates… just like the search engines want. And once set up, a blog is technologically easy to update. Again, perfection here isn’t important (just look around my blog and you’ll see what I mean). Just write something and allow people to interact with you and other readers about it.

Clearly a blog could potentially take a lot of your time but if you plan your entries ahead of time, keep posts short, and set aside time, you can put a small amount of time towards this project.
Time estimate: 1 hour/week (that’s about what I spend)

Is this everything? Of course not. Is it something to start with? Absolutely. And if you want to totally geek out and see what factors are important to search engines ranked in order of importance, check out this fine study with 2011 data: http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors And if it all overwhelms you, contact your favorite geek.

Have a quick tip that helped with your SEO? Share it in the comments!

Marketing Monday: Badly Targeted Ads

25 April

I think most business owners are excited about the idea of using the internet to do targeted marketing.

Search engines like Google have allowed us to do pay per click advertising to a certain demographic in terms of location and search terms for years. (Ex: target this ad text to people searching “internet marketing” in Maine.)

Yet, when we all think of social media sites like Facebook, we know much more demographic information is available from users that we can take advantage of:

  • marital status
  • interests
  • location (specific to town)
  • employer
  • age
  • and more…

So how would a small business use this? Here’s an example: one of my clients wanted to have a sale during the last snowstorm. He wanted to give a 25% discount to those who braved the weather. So in addition to the usual social media about it, I also took out a Facebook ad targeting his ideal customer within several miles of the Bar Harbor area (didn’t want too many people driving in a blizzard!), in total targeting about  200 people for the five hours he was open. It was economical and had around 400 impressions (and one click) so I know that people did see it.

Companies have begun taking advantage of this targeting particularly on Facebook. And a few of us have noticed some weird ads in the Facebook sidebar. Here’s one from my friend Renee that’s the funniest I’ve seen yet:

socialworkerfbad

This actually prompted us to start a separate blog about it: http://badfacebook.tumblr.com/ (There is a ‘Submit’ button if you have your own fun ad you’d like to contribute.)

Based on what we’ve seen, a few tips to target your ad, on Facebook or other sites like it:

  • Make sure the ad text/idea matches the target. If you’re advertising a wedding photography business, don’t make it show up for single people. Don’t talk about running after your toddler to 60 year olds. You’re just wasting money on people who see your ad and think “This doesn’t apply to me.”
  • Don’t worry about targeting a very small group of people. That’s the idea. Wouldn’t you rather pay to target 100 people who might buy your product than 1,000 people who never will? Be as specific about your customer as you want.
  • Do a little A/B testing. Experiment by running two different ads with different photos or slightly different wording and see which ads do better. Use these results in future advertisements.
  • Use keyword research. You have a limited amount of space to display the text of an ad so put words in it that people are searching for. There are many keyword tools out there that can give you an idea of not only how often a keyword is searched but how valuable it is. For example, if you knew ‘maine rentals’ was more searched and higher valued than ‘maine vacation homes’, wouldn’t you want to use that? (This is true by the way, I do offer keyword research as one of my internet marketing services if you’re interested!)
  • Pick a good photo, and one that you have permission to use. Try a Creative Commons search or use something you’ve created. In the example above, a photo from a horror movie probably isn’t the best way to promote your social worker education program. It makes you either look like you’re trying to be funny (which is weird) or that you’re completely out of touch (which means people won’t want to give you money to enter your program).
  • Link to your Facebook page. People who are on Facebook want to stay there as a general rule. Your ad will be more successful linking to a Facebook page or event versus an external website.

Can this take the place of all your marketing efforts? No. Is this a tool that, if used properly, can help you out? Absolutely. And while Facebook is the popular targeted ad option, any website out there collecting this demographic information about  users has potential for business use as well.

So rather than being annoyed by these ads, realize you can use them to promote your business… or at least have an occasional laugh.