Image via Shutterstock/Red Deer. Once upon a time, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) referred to a digital marketing practice where companies were charged each time somebody clicked on their search engine ads. But with the rise of social, display and programmatic platforms, PPC marketing has expanded to involve more than search engines alone. These days, PPC specialists run paid campaigns across a variety of channels, and while the territory has changed, the reporting tactics haven't. Why your PPC reports aren't awesome You're not alone if you find that the following things are holding you back from the advanced PPC reporting of your dreams. 1. The same words are used for different things Most PPC specialists still end up pulling the same reports about the same quantitative metrics from Google Analytics. The problem is that different platforms (Facebook Audience Insights, Google AdWords Dimensions tab, Google Analytics, Bing Reporting) speak different languages. Each platform's PPC attribution models are different, their user data tracking is different, even some of their definitions are different. Just look at how we measure clicks. On Adwords or Bing, a click means someone clicked from an ad through to your website. Meanwhile on Facebook, a click could mean clicking from an ad through to your Facebook page, your website, or just reacting to the ad itself.
With different platforms and tools telling you different things, it's pretty easy to make inaccurate conclusions about your PPC performance. 2. Your reports rely purely on baseline metrics Tactics and terminology aside, these quantitative metrics don't paint the full qualitative picture. Seeing that your click-through rates have increased doesn't necessarily explain why. If you saw that the cost of bread went down one day, you wouldn't blindly assume that production of wheat got cheaper overnight. You would look into the expiry date, the shelf date and examine the product to try to understand the story behind the numbers. So what do your metrics actually mean, and how can they help you drive more qualified traffic to your site? We're here to help you generate insights from your PPC reports and show you how PPC performance can impact your landing page strategy. How to Build PPC Reports that Actually Are Awesome You want your PPC reports to provide takeaways that you can use to optimize your campaigns. There are a few measures you can take, together or on their own, to better understand your campaign performance. Determine a baseline and track conversions by channel Surprise, surprise! A conversion is one more metric that differs by channel. This is partly because each platform has a different attribution model, and partly because users have different intentions and behaviours per platform. For example, cost-per-clicks (CPCs) tend to be cheaper on Bing because there is less competition and a higher conversion rate due to an older demographic:
On the other hand, it's easier to max out impression share and budget on Bing because there is less overall search volume compared to Google:
Similarly, a user landing on your website through a non-branded keyword is less likely to convert than someone clicking through a branded keyword. It can be even harder to identify intent through social platforms, as users scrolling through feeds may come across your ad and engage out of interest but not be ready to convert. Establishing platform-specific KPIs is an essential step to ensure you know what success looks like on every channel. Qualify your visitors and monitor by segment Given that each individual user's intention varies by platform, it's important to target your ads where they will be best received. Instead of assuming every interaction is equal, use your platform insights to identify key audience groups and segment for target personas. Monitor how your paid traffic fluctuates overall and by target audiences: [list] [*]How do your audiences convert differently across various platforms? [*]How do you measure success differently between your branded and non-branded search campaigns? [*]How are you targeting different user segments through social campaigns? [/list] A great way to identify whether you're attracting relevant traffic is by keeping a close eye on your Search Query Report in AdWords and Bing. This report allows you to see exactly what people typed into the search engine when your ad appeared, so that you can adjust your keywords accordingly. Track absolutely everything Are you noticing an abnormal bounce rate or reduced number of sessions week over week through a specific source or medium? Setting up event tracking through Google Tag Manager can help you better understand on-site behavior and create custom metrics. Your primary conversion may be an e-commerce purchase, but that doesn't mean newsletter sign ups aren't valuable. Tracking micro-conversions can give you a clearer idea of how people are engaging with your site and where there might be gaps in information. At our Call to Action conference, Dana DiTomaso advocated for Google Data Studio as a great way to combine all your data into custom reports and dashboards. If you're doing cross-channel online advertising (which you no doubt are), it's important to be able to see all your metrics visualized in one place. It makes it easier to draw analyses and gather insights to then share with colleagues or clients. PPC Reporting + Landing Pages = Even More Awesome Of course, it's not enough to just put your conversions and KPIs into a beautiful report - it's what you do with your PPC insights that matters. Let's say you spent years learning how to make smart investments. You met with stockbrokers, studied the market and opened a brokerage account. Would you expect money to just start rolling in? Of course not - because you actually have to invest to see results. Similarly, in order to make the most of your PPC insights, you have to act on them. Begin by applying insights from your PPC metrics into your landing pages. You want to customize your landing pages to meet the needs of your key audiences so you can give users exactly what they're looking for. To this end, Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) can be used to sync up search queries to the landing page.
In this example of a landing page for a music school, the instrument type is swapped out depending on which ad is clicked. Say a website sells furniture. If one user searches for modern leather sofas and another for comfortable leather couches, the ad copy for each result should reflect the search language. The ads could then take users to the same landing page, but DTR would generate different titles or subheading text accordingly to match these original search terms. Everything else on the page may be the same, but both users would feel like they found exactly what they were looking for. This keeps landing pages hyper-relevant (and high-converting), and saves hours of redundant work. Want to preview how you can use DTR to ensure relevance from ad to landing page? Try it out. Google cares about the relevance of landing pages to ads, and has recently introduced more in-depth Quality Score metrics within the AdWords interface. This makes it easier to see exactly what is affecting your Quality Score and which area you should improve on, whether it be ad relevance, landing page experience or expected CTR. By syncing up your ads and landing pages, you can provide a frictionless experience to users and increase conversions. Strong landing pages can also improve PPC performance as they increase Quality Score and landing page relevance, which lowers your CPC and increases ad ranking. This way, the users receive information that is highly relevant to what they are searching for. Now to put a bow on it When all is said and done, landing pages should be A/B tested so you know which on-page factors lead to higher conversion rates. That way, your next PPC campaign can be informed by your landing page results, and your future landing pages can be informed by your PPC campaign performance. If that's not a beautiful full circle, then we don't know what is.
I get this question a lot. What marketing channel should I focus on? There are many make or break decisions in business. This is one of them. The thing is, I can't give you a cut and dry answer. The nature of your business matters. So does the audience you wish to target. What I will do instead is give you a method for figuring this out for yourself. If you're starting a new business, this decision is critical. Focusing on the wrong marketing channel can set you back months and maybe even years. If you're expanding into a new market, selecting the wrong channel can also have massive ramifications. You'd be putting your existing operations at risk for a new channel that may not pan out. Just take a look at all the challenges marketers have to overcome:
You can imagine that each channel comes with a unique set of difficulties. This speaks to the importance of vetting your marketing plan before you set it in motion. There's too much at stake. In this article, I'll show you how you can evaluate your options and narrow down the best choice quickly. You don't need more than three days to get this done. But first, I have a bit of wisdom to share. Resist the urge to diversify You know that voice in your head that says you need to be everywhere at once?That fear of missing out if you don't at least try everything? It's a diversion. Resist it. It is imperative that you focus on one marketing channel. At least in the beginning. You'll shortchange your success if you spread yourself thin. Here's why: [list] [*]You'll have less impact. If you're focusing on several channels, you're not doing everything you can to excel in any one of them. [*]It will cost you more. Testing and thriving with a multichannel approach costs way more than you may be willing to spend. If you want an organic and cost-effective approach, stick to one channel. [*]You'll never actually know where your strength lies. Jumping from channel to channel means you won't truly know the impact of one particular strategy on your business. [*]You'll remain at the heels of your competitors. That's not where you want to be, is it? You want to be ahead, and the way to do that is to establish dominance in your market. [/list] Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying you should go all in on one channel and forget the rest. But multichannel marketing is complex. Only 30% of marketersare confident they can deliver on such a strategy:
That's not a lot. What I'm advocating for is starting from a position of dominance. Put your energy into one strategy until it succeeds. Then, piggyback on that success to achieve wins in other areas. Does that make sense? The steps in this article will be geared towards helping you place a bullseye on the ONE channel that will serve you best. Now that we got that out of the way, let's begin. Step #1: Know your options The first thing you want to do is brainstorm all your possible options. This isn't something you have to conjure up out of thin air. You can connect with your target audience and spread your message in many different ways. Better yet, each channel has several subsets that you can zone in on. Here's a good representation:
Many of these overlap. Some have even morphed into each other. It can get confusing, quickly. For example, some people consider SEO to be one marketing channel. But I can't imagine a world where SEO and content marketing aren't intertwined. You can't do one without the other. The same goes for social media and paid advertising. They're different channels. But there's a convergence. Let's imagine you decide to focus on Facebook as your primary social media platform. It would be unwise to not experiment with Facebook Ads. Considering that Facebook has developed one of the greatest ad products out there, you'd be underutilizing the full power of the platform. Marketers agree. Almost 57%plan to increase their social media ad spend.
I say all this to make a simple point. While you may zone in on one channel, you'll see lots of overlap you shouldn't ignore. Go where your audience takes you. Let's look at some of your options. Content marketing This is about creating and promoting material relevant to your target audience. Content marketing is central to your success. It's been reported90% of businessesmarket using this channel.
It means that no matter what strategy you use, content will be a part of it. You can narrow your content down to blogging, guest blogging, podcasts, webinars, email, etc. Social media marketing You can use social media as your platform to get noticed, build authority, and grow a community. You can also use it to drive traffic to your main site. Or you can do both. It's effective either way. Paid advertising Much of marketing is organic and will take time to generate results. Paid advertising is one way to accelerate that. The downside is, you have to pay to play. Facebook ads, other social media ads, print ads, PPC, and direct response fall into this category. Public relations PR is about building relationships and capitalizing on the optics of your business. It can be both online and offline. Press releases, conferences, events, interviews, and sponsorships are a few examples. As you can see, you have no shortage of options when it comes to marketing. I've given an overview of the main ones, but you are not limited to them. Step #2: Choose the channels aligned with your business goals You now have an idea of what's available to you. It's time to make a list of all the channels that will serve your business. Start with your business goals. Some marketing channels are better suited to achieving a particular goal than others. Goal setting is a flexible thing. You can make changes as your business evolves. This means that the marketing channel you use right now may not be viable in the future, once your business progresses. Consider what stage your business is in and what your goal for the next 90 days is. According to Jay Abraham, there are only three ways to grow a business: [list] [*]Increase the number of customers [*]Increase the frequency with which a customer buys from you [*]Increase the amount that a customer spends on a purchase [/list]
Your business goals should serve one of these three phases of business. If you're still at the first stage, your goals might be brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. If you already have a list of buyers, your goal might be to increase sales. What if you already have a reliable stream of sales? There's no such thing as too many sales, but your goal at this point might be to maximize profits and retain customers. Here's what most businesses are prioritizing:
These may or may not apply to you. Just focus on what your business needs at the moment. This way, you don't set goals that aren't yet attainable. By extension, it ensures you don't waste time and resources on a marketing channel that won't serve your business well. How do you select a channel that's right for your business goals? Before you even start testing, do some elimination. I'll give you a few examples, and you'll have to apply this knowledge to your business. Let's say your goal is brand awareness. PR, social media, content marketing, and even paid advertising can be used for this purpose. The easy solution? Eliminate the channels that would be less efficient. For instance, paid advertising won't be the most useful for brand awareness. But for sales or lead generation? It can crush it! (If you know what you're doing, that is). Take a look at some of the business goals that apply to the content marketing channel. It will give you an idea of what to aim for:
It's also important to take into consideration what feels the most organic for your business. If you're selling something like hoverboards or bicycles, would blog posts serve you the best? Not likely. These products are lifestyle-based. You'd be better off using a visual channel that will allow you to provide an experience to potential customers. Immediately, social media comes to mind. Then you begin to narrow it down to Instagram or YouTube. This is a logical process that won't take you more than an hour to figure out. You don't have to find that one channel yet. Just eliminate what won't work, and rank your remaining options. Step #3: Narrow down the list by going where your audience is At this point, you've got a few options.It's time to prioritize. This one is easy. Find your potential customers. A marketing channel can serve your goal, but there are many platforms you can focus on. If your customers are not hanging out there, you'll be wasting your time. Note: The point of this article is not to find you a slam dunk marketing channel right away. That would take testing and experimentation. The goal here is to help you validate your chosen channel. This way, you know it's viable before you start testing it. Here's my best advice for finding out where the attention is: [list] [*]SEO is a great place to start [*]competitive research is a must [*]you can't go wrong with social media [/list] Let's look at each of these. SEO A majority of online interactions begin with a search engine (mostly Google). The first step is to evaluate the SEO landscape by searching for keywords in your industry. You'll find out what your audience is searching for and how often. This is not just essential for finding out what's happening online. Let's say there aren't that many monthly searches for your keywords. You may want to focus on an offline channel. Or you may decide this is a gap you can take advantage of. You won't know until you do some basic keyword research. A simple tool like the Google Keyword Plannerwill work. Type in your keyword to get search volume data.
Competition research If you want to know where your customers hang out, find your competitors. First, identify the competitors. A simple Google search will do the trick. The biggest players are those who rank on the first page of SERP. Once you've got a solid list, use a tool like SimilarWebfor your research. Enter your competitor's website and press enter:
You'll find a range of data. Pay attention to Traffic source:
For Quick Sprout, the highest traffic source is search. Naturally, my primary marketing channel would be SEO and blogging. Direct is a close second, but it's a bit trickier to figure out. It represents people who type in your URL directly. It doesn't tell you where these people first came into contact with your business. The next step is to check out the individual breakdown of each traffic source. You can see where referrals are coming from:
Since SEO is my dominant traffic source, I'll pay particular attention to my top organic keywords:
You can also see which social media platform is the most popular. Mine is Facebook.
Social media I like to take social media research a bit further. The tool to use is BuzzSumo. Type in your competitor's domain. You can also search for a keyword:
You'll see all the top performing content on the site and which social platform generated the most shares. Using SimilarWeb, we saw that Facebook was Quick Sprout's top platform. BuzzSumo tells the same story:
If you want to take this a bit further, you can go to these individual platforms and do some sleuthing. Check out the groups with the most members, listen in on the conversations, and get a feel for what your audience is focusing on. When you go through this process, you may find you have two or three reliable options. Which do you select? I have three criteria. Cheap. Fast. Easy. You want to pick a channel that won't cost you too much, if anything, to get started. You also want a channel that doesn't have a steep learning curve. Otherwise, you may spend too much time and money trying to figure it out. Lastly, pick the channel that will allow you to make the most headway, quickly. You must pick one, so use these criteria as the final litmus test. Conclusion Selecting a new marketing channel is a tall order. It's important you take some time to validate a potential channel before you focus on it. Marketing requires time, which can easily be wasted on ineffective strategies. It also requires cash. It means you'd want to see a solid return on both your time and money investment. The surest way to secure an attractive ROI is to vet potential marketing channels first. You can then test and double down on what's working. Most people don't go through this process of validation and testing. As long as you keep experimenting and tweaking your strategy based on your results, you'll have a significant advantage over your competitors. What is your most effective marketing channel?
You know all of those metrics you track? They're probably worthless. I'm not saying they have absolutely no value, of course. I'm just saying they're doing nothing for your bottom line most of the time. These are the things that you think matter, but don't. In other words, you can track them, but don't rely on them for real dollar value. The trick is knowing which ones are valuable and which aren't. Here's why some of those important metrics don't really matter. Along with a few actionable ones you should worry about instead. 1. Clicks + Pageviews We've heard it all before. The questions, the egos, the bragging. How do I drive 100,000 visitors in a month? I need traffic fast! Here's how I drove 4,000 visitors a day, you can too with these simple tricks! *sigh* It sounds too good to be true, because it is. Unless you're getting paid for the pageview, and you want people to bounce instantly and never return, then go for it. Spam your link on Pinterest, forums and Reddit. But, if you want to be realistic with yourself, clicks on your ads and page views on your content mean nothing if people aren't either: [list=1] [*]Sticking around and reading more on your site [*]Converting / buying a product or service / signing up for something [*]Fulfilling the goal you have set on that page for visitors [/list] So, if your clicks went through the roof yesterday like this: [center] But, your conversions were like this: [center] And your pageviews were like this: [center] But your goal completions were like this: [center] Then what.is.the.point? Clicks and pageviews are worthless if they don't lead to conversions. 2. CTR CTR. The glorified metric that drives everyone from PPC to SERP growth hackers crazy. Look at me, I've got a 66% CTR! Oh cool, how many conversions did that get you? Two out of 4,000 clicks? Make it rain baby! Ok, on a more serious note, here's why CTR don't mean $#!* in the real world:
Take a look at that AdWords table. The highest converting, highest traffic keyword/ad group has the lowest CTR (by far). YET also the highest conversions (by far). Paying a low bid on the keyword and spending less money = lower positions = more competition = lower CTR. But, conversions are still sky-high. The whole account has an average total CTR of 3.49%. That's not good. Except, the average Cost per Conversion is 5x lower than the average sale revenue. I'll take that deal any day of the week. CTR ain't the gold standard. I don't care what your CTR is if it doesn't bring in conversions. 3. Impressions Let's say you own a brick and mortar store. You sell shoes. It's launch day and you get 40,000 people to walk in and out of your store that day. Those ads must be working! You're checking 'the books' and you see the following sales numbers: $500. Total. Now do you get it? Impressions are cool and all. Hey, (insertbossesname), our product was seen by 100,000 people today! But at the end of the day, they don't matter if (can you guess what's next?) they don't lead to sales, conversions, or goal completions.
4. Total Backlinks Backlinks are good. They help with ranking metrics and credibility. But total backlink quantity is over-emphasized. Constantly we see people worrying about how many links they can get, however they can. *Queue Oprah Gif: You get a link! You get a link! And you get a link! If your backlink profile is spammy: [center] then those links don't mean anything. URL's with low DA's that are known for spamming or giving links like it's candy on Halloween aren't going to get you to the top of Google (anymore). Ideally, you want a nice backlink profile from relevant, editorially-based sources that don't just hand over easy links willy nilly.
5. Rankings Rankings can be awesome. Who doesn't love being #1 on Google? We've all seen this graph before: [center]Image Source Sounds peachy, doesn't it? We simply grind our content to the top ten positions and get the lion's share of clicks. But, it's BS. Just ask Wil Reynolds. Google is constantly changing. Personalizing their methods, learning about real people, and real human interaction with their service. SEO rankings are more related to user search history now. There's more importance being placed on things like first impressions and brand loyalty in today's world than there is on keywords and content. So doing all those little SEO tricks to get you to the #1 spot isn't going to be as helpful as you think. AND, #1 on the SERPs doesn't translate into conversions. You need a funnel. Not a ranking. 6. A/B Test Results Most A/B tests fail to provide meaningful insights. Why? Because you're testing your own opinions and assumptions, allowing that pesky biases to ravage your results. That's not the only problem, though. Peep Laja from CXL tested tons of data and experiments and found that A/B testing is worthless if you have less than 1000 conversions. Per month. Minimum. Welp, that's disheartening. Unless you're getting over 1k (minimum) conversions per month, forget A/B testing and the results you got. They don't mean anything. They might look nice at first. But most likely, they'll regress back to the mean eventually. Here's what you should be tracking, instead Don't drown in all this negativity just yet. There's good news, too. Here are a few metrics to focus on to help make the cash register ring. 1. Funnel Report Data We just talked about how A/B testing was a waste of time unless you have 1,000 minimum conversions per month. BUT, you can figure out your conversion trouble spots much faster using funnel report data (courtesy of Kissmetrics). Funnel reports show you how users actually move through your website.
You can see who performed certain actions, who didn't perform a desired action, and who skipped certain steps in your funnel (for good or for ill). You can also track certain steps in your funnel:
So if someone visited, then signed up for a newsletter, then viewed a video, you'd know. You can then use this data to do things like: [list=1] [*]Identify conversion bottlenecks preventing people from joining, signing up, opting-in, or signing on the dotted line [*]Segment your audience into cohorts to further analyze your funnel [*]Zoom in on your acquisition funnel to see exactly where and when customers activate [/list] Basically, you can determine how to increase conversions. Reliably. Consistently. Without running a single A/B test. 2. Backlink Quality High quality backlinks can be hard to get. You can't fake 'em. They're a leading indicator, sure. But the best kind. It's a measure of performance, telling you (1) how efficient those promotional activities are and (2) if you can expect to see increased traffic in the near future as a result. For example, here's what a good backlink profile should look like:
#humblebrag It's diverse. We aren't getting hundreds of links from the same site over and over, as the link quality wouldn't be as strong or meaningful. And there are links from other high-quality sites in our industry. Relevance for the win! But building high-quality backlinks takes an investment. One survey by Moz found that roughly 37% of business owners spend between $10,000 and $50,000 per month on external link building. That's a lot. We're not saying you have to invest that much. There is a lot you can do to get better backlinks without dropping that kind of dough. The point isn't to just build links. That poor-house mindset is how you end up with the junk. The point is to look at how you're getting those links. The campaigns and activities and efforts bringing them in. Change the strategy, change the end result. 3. ROI Good old ROI. The gold standard metric. That no one ever talks about online. You see all the other stuff here. You might see revenue numbers and customer counts. However, rarely do you see blog posts diving into the bottom-line numbers that actually count. Let's say you get four impressions and one click (and one pageview), with a 0.25%CTR and 0.25% conversion rate. BUT, you only spend $5 and the buyer converts for 10x your cost per acquisition. See what I mean? Who gives a crap about any other metric in the end besides ROI. Now, I'm not saying you should completely ignore optimizing for conversions. Definitely not. Those are extremely important. Just keep in mind that data lies. High conversion rates aren't always as promising as they look. Look at historical data, pinpoint trends, figure out what ROI means for you. Ask: How does this specific measurement help our company's growth? And by growth, we don't mean impressions, rankings, etc. Knowing the number of leads each ad campaign is driving is fine. But it's not good. You can't stop until you see how much revenue each attributes. Conclusion Some metrics matter more than others. Traffic, clicks, page views, CTR, and don't matter as much in the long run. Vanity metrics like these sound amazing on press releases and blog posts and webinars and Growth Hackers and weekly stand-up meetings. But they don't help so much when it comes time to run the annual numbers. You want to think big picture. Look at your overall funnel. Where are people coming in? What are they doing? Where are they going? Look at your backlinks to see which drive signups. Links, by themselves, are fine. But the important part is to first identify the ones driving real business actions. And then reverse-engineer which activities are driving the 'winners' vs. the 'losers.' And focus on the one metric that matters: Money. Moolah. The Big Bucks. Track fewer, better metrics. The ones that count. So you can learn faster, iterate faster, and eventually, profit faster. About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.
For years, people have been freaking out that Asian carp are about to invade the Great Lakes.
That concern seemed more real than ever this summer after an Illinois fisherman caught a carp in June less than 10 miles from Lake Michigan - beyond the barriers designed to keep them out.
These voracious fish have already decimated Midwestern rivers. They're filters feeders who feast on plankton - the tiny plants and critters that prop up foodchains. And they eat lots of them. Adult Asian car
Seven Tips for Writing Better-Performing Expanded Text Ads [Infographic] Writing text ads is a challenge - how can you be compelling enough to drive a conversion with such limited space? There are several tricks of the trade explored in this new infographic. MarketingProfs
Google to Advertisers: Get Your Mobile Landing Pages Ready Google recently announced that in two weeks, AdWords advertisers can use AMP pages as landing pages for their ads. This provides a seamless user experience when searching through Google and could have implications for page rank. Search Engine Journal
The print catalog era is over -- but Facebook wants to revive it on your iPhone Do you miss the good old days of ordering from a catalog? Not many do. However, the lifestyle inspiration we all get from magazines is something that we haven't been able to replicate as well with our digital ads. Facebook is trying to close that gap with their new 'Lifestyle Templates'. Business Insider
Amazon Is Opening Up Its Ads Business, and Marketers See a Big Opportunity to Shake Up Search According to AdWeek, "After testing search-based ads with agencies and brands, Kenshoo (a company that helps marketers manage search spend across platforms) is making Amazon ads readily available to all marketers through an API integration today." AdWeek
Instagram Expands Access to Branded Content Tools After months of testing, Instagram has granted access to advertisers to its Branded Content tools. These will allow advertisers simplify the process for working with creators (and vice versa). Social Media Today
Google responds to Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention with AdWords tracking update The news of Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari has upset the advertising industry - but as usual, we have Google to the rescue. According to Search Engine Land, "Google has developed a new Google Analytics cookie that will be used to capture campaign and conversion data from Safari in a way that conforms with ITP." Search Engine Land
Amazon '1-Click' patent expires today, get ready for faster web-wide checkout Amazon's patent on '1-Click' checkout has expired - this means that eCommerce platforms can now duplicate this functionality on their own sites. This is expected to reduce cart abandonment for shopping sites and make a more convenient user experience. Marketing Land
73% Of Broadband Consumers Want To Tightly Control Their Personal Data According to MediaPost: "A large majority (73%) of U.S. broadband consumers express a desire to keep tight control over access to their personal data, with nearly half being very concerned that someone will access the data without their permission, according to a new report by Parks Associates." MediaPost
What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?
If you're looking for new ways to prospect new business for your product or service, a lead magnet could be a valuable investment. A lead magnet is essentially a gateway drug or a bribe to coax your target audience into your marketing or sales funnel. You 'bribe' a prospect with a specific piece of value in exchange for their contact information that you can then use to nurture a relationship that hopefully leads to a sale. The value-offer of lead magnets are often pieces of content like: [list] [*]Case studies [*]eBooks [*]White Papers [*]Exclusive videos [/list] But they can also be: [list] [*]Discounts [*]Free shipping [*]Free trials [*]Free tools [*]Tickets to an event [/list] I'm sure all of these types of lead magnets have been successful for many businesses at some point in time, but at Proposify, we've found that a lead magnet that's built directly into our SaaS product is the most effective way to attract qualified users who then convert to paying customers. A lead magnet that's part of your product is different from the examples listed above because it's usually specific to your product and service. Done right, this type of lead magnet should demonstrate the value and benefit you can provide to your prospect if they choose to pay for your product or service. Using our experience at Proposify, along with other examples, I'll outline six steps to building a successful lead magnet into your product. 1. Be Extremely Specific At Proposify, we use business proposal templates as a lead magnet to drive free trials of our online proposal software. Proposal templates are free, but they can only be used within our product, so the user has to sign up for a free 14-day trial of Proposify. The templates then act both as a top of funnel acquisition tool, and they help new users onboard faster.
We offer a document (proposal template) that is specifically related to our product (online proposal software), and specific to an industry (accounting, marketing, architecture, etc). Combined with some SEO work, we end up ranking quite high on Google search results for keywords our target audience is searching for in their time of need. Someone who is banging their head on their desk trying to write a marketing proposal for a new client is likely to search for marketing proposal template, and may find us via our paid or organic search results. This is a key aspect of an effective lead magnet: you need to be visible during your ideal prospect's time of need and provide a specific piece of value to help them in that moment. Another example of this is SEOptimer. They rank first for the keyword free SEO audit with their free SEO Audit Tool. Someone who is not an SEO expert may struggle with where to start when tackling their site's SEO performance. Many websites make it easy for those people to get a high-level view of their site's performance with a free SEO/website audit/grader of some sort. Technically, it's just a fancy website scraper and checklist, but for someone who doesn't know much about SEO, or who's looking for a quick, high-level view, this tool can be extremely valuable. This lead magnet is part of SEOptimer's product that they give away solely for the purpose of generating leads.
This tactic likely drives a lot of top of funnel traffic for SEOptimer, but could stumble when trying to contact leads, since they don't ask for your email. They could do retargeting, or domain matching to emails, but I can't confirm. The sixth step gets more into developing the relationship, an area where SEOptimer could improve. 2. Offer High Value It sounds like a no brainer, but your lead magnet needs to be valuable to your lead. Content marketing is exploding, and competition for your audience's attention online has likely never been tougher than it is today. The only way to break through all of the noise is to create something of value that attracts your audience, holds their interest, and is valuable enough that ideally, they share it with their network. We like to think that if someone would be willing to pay for your lead magnet, but you're giving it away at no monetary cost, then it offers value. Our templates save time, money, and sanity. Coming up with designs and copy can be a huge time suck when you're trying to get a proposal out the door to a potential client quickly, so our free templates are a high-value offer.
HubSpot is another great example of a company that gives a lot of value away for free; in fact, they give away an entire CRM for free. HubSpot has tons of content on lead magnets, and they certainly practice what they preach. As part of HubSpot's marketing, they're challenged with selling the concept of inbound marketing as well as their complementary inbound marketing products. What better way to get people into inbound marketing and the HubSpot ecosystem than to give away parts of it for free? 3. Make it Easy You need to remove any barriers that might make it difficult for your target audience to recognize the value of your lead magnet. A common mistake is adding too many fields in your lead generation form, which results in a lower conversion rate. You need to find a way to pull as much data as you can from your lead, without turning them off from submitting. Building a lead magnet into your product should also have the added benefit of making it easier for a user to get into your product. Our proposal templates help attract new users, but they also help speed up our customer onboarding process by making it simpler for users to send proposals faster. The aforementioned SEOptimer makes it extremely easy to get value from their free Website Review SEO Audit Tool. All you have to do is enter your domain and go; no long forms to fill out or extra information to provide. HubSpot's free CRM mentions right in the support documentation that they are, Confident that you can get set up in less than 10 minutes, making it an uncomplicated decision for the user to get started right away. 4. Provide Instant Gratification After you've made it as easy as possible for your lead to get to the meat of your lead magnet, you need to provide some instant gratification. If the user doesn't find value quickly, they'll be less likely to continue to engage with your lead magnet, and certainly less likely to pay attention to any future lead nurturing or conversion tactics you may deploy. Part of the reason we have proposal templates is to shorten the process between when a user starts a free trial, and when they send out their first proposal. The templates reduce the arduous task of spending hours on a design or layout and instead gets the user closer to the gratification of sending out a proposal and winning new business, an area of great satisfaction for our customers, and a leading metric of success for the adoption rate of Proposify. With SEOptimer's audit tool, seconds after you enter your domain they deliver a free, high-level website audit with an easy-to-understand grading system. They make it easy to learn how they break down their grading system, in addition to identifying the most necessary improvements for your domain.
Providing a high-quality, and visually appealing report like this in a matter of seconds is a great example of providing instant gratification for a lead magnet. It is something you can easily understand, get value from, and take action with right away. 5. Demonstrate Your Value While this is a list of six things you should do when building a lead magnet into your product (and you should do them all!), this one is the most important step. Building a lead magnet into your product should communicate your true value proposition. A lead magnet that's part of your product helps the user understand what you can do for them, and demonstrates the potential value before they pay for it. This is the precise reason that free product trials exist. A lead magnet that clearly demonstrates your value proposition is the holy grail, whether it's built into your product or not. Someone who is experiencing a problem that you can solve and finds your lead magnet is a very qualified lead and will be much more likely to investigate your product or service further. We've seen this with our proposal templates. Once a user signs up for Proposify's free trial and uses a template to send a proposal, they also experience our other valuable features such as proposal metrics, digital signatures, variables, and content library. Another great example of this is ChartMogul, a SaaS subscription reporting, analytics, and metrics tool. Although they don't rank organically on the first page of Google for LTV calculator, they have a great example of a free tool that demonstrates the value of their product.
Having an LTV (lifetime value) calculator is great for a one-off calculation, and much easier than manually doing it. But, it's very likely that if you're someone looking to find out what your LTV is once, you're going to want to track that on a more frequent basis, with, say, a dashboard. That's exactly what ChartMogul does, and they have a handy call-to-action right below the calculator to let you know.
Similar to how SEOptimer's audit tool identifies areas of improvement in your website, the company WordStream offers a tool that grades your Google AdWords account.
After using their product to grade your AdWords account, they are betting on the fact that they will find areas of improvement, and that their PPC software will be more attractive. The tool could also help WordStream segment their audience and identify accounts that spend a lot on AdWords, and could easily find a positive ROI from their software. 6. Nurture the Relationship Finally, your lead magnet may be valuable to your user, but it's not valuable to your business unless you nurture the relationship, bringing the prospect closer to the point of purchase. Examples of nurturing the relationship are varied depending on where the prospect is in your marketing or sales funnel. Typically in B2B, it might include an automated email drip campaign; qualifying information such as industry, company size, or job title; following the brand's social profile; or booking a call with a salesperson. Users of our templates must sign up for a free trial with their name and email, and this enters them into our onboarding drip sequence. Once users enter this sequence, they can be further qualified based on their activity, like number of sessions, proposals sent, and users added. If you've ever downloaded a HubSpot lead magnet, then I'm sure you've experienced being 'nurtured'. I won't go into best practices for nurturing sales leads, but HubSpot has tested more than a few different tactics. I found this one interesting: a colleague and I entered HubSpot's CRM at different times, but by linking our company information, this Product Specialist was alerted and reached out to me:
SEOptimer includes two calls-to-action in their email; one for connecting you with SEO services, and another for white-labeling their lead magnet as your own. Essentially this means that their main lead magnet is not just built into their product, it IS their product, making it about the most meta example of building a lead magnet into your product that you can find!
However, SEOptimer could improve their ability to develop the relationship after you use their lead magnet. I have not once been contacted or retargeted about white-labeling their SEO audit tool. That being said, I don't work at an agency pitching SEO services, so perhaps they're doing a good job at weeding out unqualified leads.
WordStream does a better job of moving the user to the next stage of their funnel, as they require you to enter your email before actually using their free tools. Lead Magnet Success Metrics After you create your lead magnet, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best probably isn't the best course of action. Make sure you're tracking each stage of your prospect's lead magnet journey with a tool like Kissmetrics. How much traffic is the lead magnet driving? What's the conversion rate for a new user who visits your landing page and ends up using your lead magnet? What's the conversion rate of people who use your lead magnet and then become a paying customer? Building a lead magnet into our product has delivered amazing results. More than half of our new website traffic is via a landing page, and those that view a proposal template are 2.5 times more likely to sign up for a trial than those that don't. If you're thinking about building a lead magnet into your product or perhaps leveraging something you already have, I hope the six steps above help to guide you to success. [list] [*]Have you built, or are you building a lead magnet into your product? [*]Do you have any learning lessons to share? [*]I'd love to hear your comments and hear about your experiences! [/list] About the Author: As Chief Marketing Officer at Proposify, Patrick Edmonds gets his kicks from measurable results. He loves to get his hands dirty digging deep into data (especially on lead magnet business proposal templates) to discover new ways to convert more customers to the Proposify way of life.
Recently, I stumbled upon a scary statistic. A whopping 69.23%of ecommerce shopping carts are abandoned. To put this into perspective, for every 100 customers who start the checkout process, 69 don't finish. Is it a massive problem? Absolutely. These numbers shouldn't sit right with any business owner. That's too many lost sales and potential lifelong customers. But it's also a bit surprising. If someone starts the checkout process, it stands to reason they have a strong purchase intent. So, why do so many shoppers fail to complete their purchases? A few reasons. Some of these are out of your control, and others, you can nip in the bud: [list] [*]your site isn't designed well, affecting the user experience; [*]the site has technical bugs; [*]site visitors are just window shopping; [*]your checkout process has too many pitfalls. [/list] These are just a few ideas. Can you guess which one is the most pervasive? That's right. Your checkout process is turning potential customers away. Take a look at this chart:
Out of all the reasons why shoppers abandon their carts, a majority are related to the checkout phase. Does this apply to all businesses? Not necessarily. Don't get me wrong. All businesses-no matter how upscale-suffer from shopping cart abandonment. You can't do anything about a user who is just browsing. They may just want to save their favorite items in the cart for future reference. With that said, there are varying reasons why shoppers do not complete a purchase. In this article, you'll find out if your checkout process is the main culprit and what you can do about it. First, I'll give you the common checkout pitfalls that turn potential customers away. Then, we'll get into a data-driven litmus test so you can know for sure. This way, you won't make changes to your site based on a hunch. That's never good for business. Sound good? Let's start. Five common pitfalls in the checkout process If any of the following applies to your checkout process, it will certainly cause a percentage of shoppers to abandon their carts. The great news? It's within your control. Most times, a simple tweak is enough to make all the difference. 1. You haven't earned the trust of potential customers This is a big one. If people don't trust your site, there's no way they'll buy anything from you. Your product could change their lives. It doesn't matter. The bottom line is, customers have to put in their personal information to complete the transaction. If you don't do everything in your power to make them feel secure doing so, you've lost them for good. The solution Step #1: Place testimonials and other proof elements on your checkout page. Social proofis one of the most crucial elements to include on every page of your ecommerce site. It's especially powerful on the checkout page as it gives customers who may be hesitant an extra push. Here's a creative form of social proof from The Freedom Journal:
Step #2: Add credit card icons and other trust badges to reassure customers their payment information is secure.
The placement of these badges is also important. I recommend placing them right where customers have to put in their payment details and next to the buy now call to action. Like this:
Step #3: Make sure you have contact information in clear sight. This way, customers know you're not going to take their money and make a run for it. Letting them know you can easily be reached is a small but impactful trust indicator. Here's an example from Amy Porterfield:
2. Additional costs blindside customers Here's the thing. When the average person shops, they have a price point they're willing to reach. As such, they choose items within these parameters. After that has been surpassed, it's a no-go. When you surprise customers with high shipping costs, the immediate reaction is to make a dive for the exit. And it's with good reason. I've seen instances where shipping, handling, and taxes amount to the price of the items in the cart. That's crazy. It's no wonder this is the number one reasonpeople don't complete their purchases.
The solution Step #1: Let shoppers know their shipping costs early in the checkout process. You can do this by introducing a shipping calculator to provide an estimate of the additional costs to be covered. Here's an example:
Step #2: Offer free shipping. While this may not be feasible for everyone, it's wise to find ways you can reduce costs for customers. Many businesses offer free shipping once shoppers reach a certain price threshold. Like this example from Fashion Nova:
As customers add new items to their carts, they're reminded of how much more they need to spend to meet the threshold.
Very clever. Step #3: Have coupon codes on your site. It's important to have these discount offers on your site. Why does that matter? When customers go browsing elsewhere for coupons and don't find them, they rarely come back. You want to avoid that. This beauty brandhas a deal where they provide a daily coupon:
This way, customers can easily save on shipping costs.
3. The checkout process is too time-consuming When they're checking out, the only thing your customers value more than your product is their time. That means that anything in your checkout process that takes too long is a problem. Here are some examples: [list] [*]technical glitches [*]slow site [*]poor design [*]lack of mobile friendliness [*]complicated navigation [*]long-winded checkout process [/list] Website speed is a big deal for users:40% of shopperswill abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
You can imagine that any issue which zaps customers of their time will have the same effect. The solution Step #1:Test the speed and mobile-friendliness of your website. Make immediate adjustment if it's not up to par. You can use Google's mobile friendly test.
Step #2: Have a simple checkout process with as few form fields as possible. Ideally, customers want to sprint through this process. The easier you make it, the more likely they will go through with their purchases. 4. There's not enough urgency to compel customers to act Urgency as a sales strategy is about inspiring customers to take earnest and swift action. It's super simple to implement, and it has a massive impact. Many businesses don't flip this proven psychological switch when it matters most. As we've seen before, a few of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment may be out of your control. However, you can still have a measure of influence. For instance, if you added a few urgency elements during checkout, it may entice window shoppers to make a purchase. Think about the last time you bought something you didn't intend to because the deal was too sweet to pass up. It happens to the most disciplined of us. The bottom line? Without urgency elements, you're missing out on a massive opportunity. The solution Step #1:Let customers know when an item is almost sold out. That increases the incentive to get it immediately. Here's an example:
Step #2: Use the language of immediacy. Words like instantly, today, and now are all useful in that regard. I also recommend using active verbs and power wordsto encourage people to act right away. Step #3: Satisfy your customers' need for instant gratification. Here's what that means:
You want to give customers a sense that they'll get what they want immediately. This is an innate human need. If you appeal to it, your customers will respond. If you're selling an information product, instant gratification is easy to provide. Your customers can have electronic access without delay. But it's trickier when you're selling a product that has to be shipped. My advice? Take a page out of Amazon's playbook. They do this brilliantly. Here's what I mean:
If you know your items will be delivered to you in a couple of days, chances are you'll be more likely to check out ASAP. 5. There's not enough information on the checkout page Nothing kills action like uncertainty. If you don't provide enough information on the checkout page, customers are likely to be unsure of the process. They'll start second-guessing their decisions and won't complete their purchases. The solution Step #1:Include product details on the checkout page. It's a good practice to remind customers what they're paying for and how much. Here is an example from WebinarJam. When you select a plan, they let you know what you've chosen. They also give you the next steps in the checkout process.
Step #2: Ensure there's continuity between what's on a product page and what's displayed on the checkout page. Has this ever happened to you? You read the product page thoroughly and place the item in your cart only to find different information on the checkout page. Even if it's something slight,I assure you, it deters many people from completing the transaction. Step #3: Include support options on the checkout page. Consider having a live chat, email support, phone support, and a link to a FAQ page. You don't need to have all of these, but one or two will go a long way in securing the trust of customers. It will also help move the purchase along if customers have a legitimate problem that needs to be taken care of before they go through with a transaction. I've highlighted the common reasons why your checkout page may cause shoppers to abandon their carts. The truth is, you need to consider your circumstances. Sure, the best practices are useful. But without concrete analytics, you'll be making changes blindly. A data-driven approach to dealing with shopping cart abandonment Want to find out the exact cause of your shopping cart abandonment? Google Analyticsis the tool to use. It's simple. I'll give you a step-by-step play. Step #1:Find the Admin tab so you can create a conversion goal:
This is so you can track the actions your web visitors take. Click on Goals:
Step #2: Create a new goal and set it up to track a completed transaction.
In the first step of the goal setup, select an appropriate template. While you're tracking cart abandonment, your ultimate goal is to get customers to make a completed online payment. Select that option:
It's time to describe your goal. Name your goal, and select Destination as the goal type. The destination can be a thank-you page, which will help you track the number of completed purchases.
Next, you want to set the URL of your Destination. As I mentioned, this could be any page that customers are directed to after their purchases. The only reason someone would be on this page is if they completed a transaction, right?
Step #3:Map the path customers take leading up to complete a transaction. This is what will help you determine where the pitfalls in your sales funnel are. In the same Goal details section, switch the Funnel option to ON.
List all the steps that customers take leading up to the purchase. Name each step, and add the corresponding URL. Like this:
If you have a one-page checkout, only include that page, of course. Whatever steps customers take, include them all. You may want to go through the process yourself to make sure. Save your goal, and that's it for the setup. Tracking will begin, and you'll now have detailed data for each step of your funnel. Step #4: Check your reports to analyze the data. Here's where to find them. Under Conversions, click on Goals.
Pay special attention to Funnel Visualization.
You'll see an illustration that looks something like this:
I just created this, so there's no data. It will take some time for yours to show up as well. This data will tell you where in your funnel customers are jumping ship. It will also tell you in how many sessions your goal was completed. Useful, right? You'll have a complete view of the way customers move through your funnel. You can now make informed adjustments to decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate. You should know this though: there'll always be customers who drop out before completing a purchase. That's just the nature of the game. You can optimize your process to reduce that percentage significantly. But will the lost sales be lost forever? Can they be salvaged? They can, and I'll tell you how. The ultimate solution to recovering abandoned carts I hate to bring up this depressing statistic again, but only 3 out of 10 shoppers complete their purchases. There is, however, a simple follow-up step that can increase that number significantly. Crazily enough, most businesses don't take advantage of it. I'm referring to cart abandonment emails. This could be one email or a whole sequence. You decide. The point of these emails is to recover lost sales. If a customer adds items to their cart and leaves without checking out, be sure to follow up via email. Here's a brilliant example from Vanity Planet:
Many things are going right in this email. It: [list] [*]offers a massive discount [*]includes a free shipping offer [*]uses personal and persuasive language [*]provides a simple solution for returning to cart [*]has a direct link to checkout [/list] They made an irresistible offer. Many people would go back to complete their purchases in a heartbeat. When cart abandonment emails are done right, they're hands down the most powerful solution to recapture lost sales. I highly recommend you test this strategy and watch it make a difference. Conclusion Dealing with shopping cart abandonment can be daunting. It's also frustrating when more than half of your prospects aren't converting into sales-and you don't know why. There is any number of reasons why it might happen. And to be frank, some of them are inevitable. But others? You can do something about. For many businesses, the checkout process is the biggest culprit when it comes to lost sales. I've pinpointed some of the most common issues and their fixes in this article. Use them as a litmus test. But don't stop there. I can tell you that applying best practices only to your checkout pages won't transform your sales funnel. It's crucial you take a more data-backed strategy to deal with abandoned carts. Include Google Analytics in your arsenal, and set up conversion goals. This way, you'll have detailed analytics to make the sort of changes that will maximize your profits. What do you think is the best strategy to ensure customers complete their purchases?