Product Listing Ads: The Power of Segmentation

This is a guest post by James Kelly, Senior SEM Analyst of National Positions.

Product Listing Ads have grown immensely in popularity over the last year and many articles have been written detailing the importance of getting them live. At this point the real question is how to maximize exposure and profitability for your ecommerce marketing campaign.

Feed and bid optimization is the first place that many people look. Both of these are of critical importance, but I find that advertisers spend so much time worrying about these issues that the actual campaign structure is often ignored. The decision on how to structure and segment your PLA campaigns will dictate your ability to analyze and optimize the campaigns over time.

Google provides us with the ability to segment PLA’s by product type, condition, brand, ID or custom fields within your feed (adwords_grouping & adwords_labels). The first pitfall that many advertisers encounter is choosing conflicting segments, so that any single product could have as many as five or six bids coming from different targets. While campaigns built in this way may appear incredibly detailed, they are unwieldy and are difficult to manage effectively.

Targeting

With this in mind, a good first step is choosing a primary targeting method. Each product will inevitably have multiple targets, but there should be one targeting method that you intend to use for the majority of your bid optimization that will have higher bids relative to your secondary targeting methods. The idea here is to try to remove as much of the conflicting bids as possible so that you can actually dial things up when they are converting, or down when they are not. If a single product has six bids and no rhyme or reason as to which one is highest, it will be very difficult to do something as simple as lower the bid on that product by 50% without also lowering the bid on all related products with similar targets.

My primary targeting method of choice is the adwords_labels field filled with a unique ID for each product. In this case, I have the ability to control my bid for individual products to avoid missed opportunities and wasteful spending. Targeting each product individually can allow greater levels of control, but it can be difficult to account for new products or changes in the feed, which is why additional targeting is required.

Secondary targeting methods can be thought of as catch-alls, whose main purpose is to pick up any products that have not been picked up by your primary targets. I generally use a product type or brand as the secondary targeting method depending on what makes more sense for the particular client. The secondary target must have artificially low bids so that they do not overlap any of your primary targeting. I have heard clients express concerns that the bids are too low, but with proper execution, the secondary targets should be more of a safety net than an active target. If you notice that a secondary target is receiving significant amounts of traffic, this should be a sign to take a look at your primary targets to see what is leaking through. To err on the safe side, I also use an all products target with a much lower bid (sometimes a penny bid) to ensure that I have basic coverage for new products that may not have other targets.

Campaign Structure

Once the various levels of targeting have been sorted out, the last remaining question is how to structure the targets into campaigns, ad groups and targets. With a smaller product count, I typically create a unique ad group for each product containing my primary targeting method in a single campaign. Secondary targets will also have unique ad groups so that all bids can be managed from the ad groups tab.

Accounts that have tens of thousands of products will more than likely need additional structure in place, if nothing else to avoid the 20k ad group per campaign limit. There are two approaches for breaking down these larger catalogs. The first is to create multiple campaigns (possibly broken down by product type or brand) so that you can keep your bids at the ad group level. The second option is to create ad groups for each product type/ brand with targets for each individual product within that ad group. Product level bid optimization would need to be done on the target level in this second option.

No matter how you decide to segment your PLA campaigns, it is important to have a primary targeting method in mind to avoid overlapping bids. Structure provides control over the bids, which will give you the ability to affect your positioning and profitability in the long run.

James Kelly, author of this blog post, is an Ecommerce Channel Manager and Senior SEM Analyst for National Positions, an industry leading internet marketing company with over 1,000 clients around the globe including Wal-Mart, Land Rover, Club Med and Samsung. The National Positions SEM department in particular has been experiencing rapid growth by providing significant revenue increases for many small and medium size businesses.

3 Last Minute Holiday Campaign Tips to Reach Those Last Minute Shoppers

With the biggest holiday shopping season almost nearing to an end, we’ve compiled some last minute campaign strategies for you to reach those last minute shoppers.  Before the year ends, secure a spike in revenue over the next several days with these quick and simple last minute tips for your holiday campaigns:

 

1.  Increase sales with the last minute shoppers

Tweak your ad copy to make it more relevant to the holiday shopper. Update your ad copy to have a holiday spin on it and attract the last minute shoppers. “Arrives by 12/24” or “Last Minute Stocking Stuffers” are great examples of how you can spice up your ad copy to entice those last minute shoppers to click and purchase.

 

2.  Increase clicks and engaged viewers from your ads

Your ad design and copy is what compels a user to click or not. Since you’ve already tweaked your ad copy with the above strategy, try varying up the design a little.  Because we’re on the homestretch of the holidays, no need to re-invent the wheel here.  A simple A/B test with the color of the background or the color of the call-to-action button on your banner ads could be the difference between profit and breaking even this holiday season.

 

3.  Outperform your competitors on price for your most popular items

You already know what products account for 80% of your revenue.  Find these same or similar products from competing advertisers on MixRank.com to see their pricing model.  Based on what you discover, consider pricing your products similarly or offering free shipping or another perk with a purchase. 

 

With MixRank’s easy-to-use search bar, you can instantly research the competitive market for your products, without spending hours mining through your competitors’ landing pages for the same data. To get started, gain access to MixRank Professional with your risk-free trial here.

What Are Dynamic Search Ads?

Last week, Google announced that Dynamic Search Ads would be generally available to advertisers within AdWords.  This feature has been around for about a year now, but it was only available in a limited beta.  So, if you’re like me and were not included in this beta, you’re probably wondering: “What are Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs)?”  Well, look no further; you’ve come to the right place!  With AdWords having multiple support pages on this topic, I’ve condensed their DSA description to summarize what you need to know about DSAs, how to set them up, and how this could help you.

 

What You Need To Know about DSAs:

  • Say Goodbye to Keywords: With DSAs, your ad will show based on the content of your website
  • Say Hello to SEO: Google’s organic search index of your site will determine what search queries your DSAs get impressions for. So basically, this means whatever keywords you currently rank for through SEO will determine your ad impressions, but you have to pay for these clicks and impressions.
  • Dynamic Ad Copy: The headline is the only dynamic piece of the ad copy, and it’s generated based on the search term.  The rest of the ad is based on a template that you create.
  • Targeting Groups of Landing Pages: Since you’re not targeting keywords, you can set-up your targeting to your entire website, or specific pages or categories of your site.

 

Not Everything’s Changing:

  • Keyword-based campaigns can run simultaneously. DSAs will not show when there’s an exact match to one of your keywords.  However, the DSA could be shown instead of the other ad if it’s a broad or phrase match.
  • Ranking & cost per click is calculated in the same fashion using your Quality Score and bids
  • Reporting on search queries, ad copy and landing pages that were used to generate your DSA, as well as the same cost per click, click-through rate, impression & conversion rate data will be available.
  • Ability to add negative keywords or ad extensions.

 

How To Set Them Up:

1.  Within AdWords, click on the Campaigns tab and click the +New campaign drop down menu & select “Search Network Only.”

2.  On the Campaign Settings page, select “Dynamic Search Ads.”

Dsa-adwords

3.  You can then proceed to creating your ad groups.  In the “Create an ad” section, make sure to click Dynamic search ad.  You can add tracking to your URLs as well.

If you leave the “Auto targets” sectioned as checked to “All pages” this will target all pages that are indexed for your website, including subdomains.

Dsa-adgroup

4.  If you don’t want to target every page within this ad group, you can target by categories, URLs, page title, or page content.  To do this, select the Add a group of webpages button from the “Add dynamic ad target” section of the Auto targets tab and choose which targeting method you prefer.  Here are a few tips:

  • Categories: Google sets themes around your website content, so in order to target categories accurately, you should choose from the pick list of AdWords categories’ rather than entering your own.
  • URLs: You can target pages with URLs containing certain strings that you specify so your parameters do not have to be exact URLs, but rather any URL that contains, for example, “/support”.
  • Page title or Page content:  Select these targeting types if you want to designate specific keywords that are in the Page title or the Page content of your landing pages.  If your keyword is cameras, your ad target will appear as “PAGE_TITLE contains cameras” or “PAGE_CONTENT contains cameras”.

 

How This Could Help You:

  • Save Time on Paid Search by Continually Investing in SEO: If you’re already optimizing your site for organic rank, instead of building out an elaborate keyword strategy and paid search program to match up with all of your landing pages, you can turn on DSAs to take care of your targeting.  Just don’t forget to check back regularly and add negative keywords to eliminate the irrelevant impressions and clicks that could be hurting your campaign.
  • Increase Relevancy & Quality Score: With Google dynamically generating the headline based on the query, this increases your chances of the headline exactly matching the keyword.  When this happens, the headline is bolded, bringing more prominence to its appearance, and hopefully generating more clicks (for an increase in Quality Score).
  • Drive Incremental Traffic: With keyword-targeted campaigns, you can uncover keyword opportunities by looking at what clicks you received from your search query report, but you’ll never know all the search terms you received impressions for. With DSAs, you can promote your website to more potential customers than you can reach with a keyword-targeted campaign.

 

Alright, this wraps it up! I hope this gives you a stealthy answer to your burning AdWords question: What are Dynamic Search Ads?  As an added disclosure, Google recommends DSAs for sites that have multiple products or services, any products or services that change frequently, or product or services that are seasonal.  On the flip side, small websites with less than 300 landing pages, daily deal sites, comparison shopping sites, affiliate sites, or customizable products and gift websites should refrain from DSAs as they wouldn’t necessarily help your ad program.

 

Thanks for reading! For more AdWords insights, follow me on Twitter or add me to your G+ circles.

 

Cure Your SEM Blues with this 4-Step Account Audit

This guest post is by Richard Conn, Account Director of DataPop. DataPop’s mission is to make marketers lives easier and give them the technology they need to build ads that people love to click on. DataPop uses complex natural language text generation systems that extract a consumer’s underlying intent and matches it to optimized offers at massive scale.  On average, their clients see a 40% increase in online conversions at a 15% lower CPA. Follow the company on Twitter: @DataPop

 

Things go wrong. You wake up sick, the car won’t start, your boss is on your back, and your SEM campaigns are drifting south. We all feel under the weather at some point, but there are steps you can take to perk up your campaign performance.

 

1) Getting STARTed

When arriving on the scene of a disaster, folks in the medical field follow the principle of START: Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment. The goal is to quickly evaluate the situation and focus your attention on the areas where it will have the maximum impact. Your SEM campaigns may not be a disaster, but the same principles can be applied gain some quick wins. The first step is to categorize your campaigns into three buckets:

•Healthy campaigns. These are your high performing campaigns, such as brand campaigns, that don’t need any immediate attention. For these, maintain the status quo and revisit once you’ve stabilized your sick campaigns.

•Zombie campaigns. These are the campaigns that have never performed well, such as generic, broadly targeted campaigns. These can drag down performance fast, so consider pausing these campaigns, bidding them lower, or severely restricting their daily budgets to contain the damage.

•Sick campaigns. These are the campaigns that show some promise and might perform well if given immediate care. Focus most of your efforts here to improve overall account health.

 

2) Stop the Bleeding

The next step is to identify what is dragging down your sick campaigns. Pull a keyword performance report, a placement performance report, and a search query report for the last 90 days. For each report, look for keywords, placements, or queries that meet the following criteria:

  • Accumulated costs that are 3x your CPA target, but no conversions
  • Have a CPA that is 3x above target
  • Have an unusually low CTR and no conversions

– Below 0.10% for keywords and queries
– Below 0.01% for placements

  • Have a high number of impressions and zero clicks

– Above 1,000 impressions for keywords and queries
– Above 10,000 impressions for placements

Pause the keywords that meet these criteria. Add the placements and queries that meet these criteria as negatives to your campaigns. This simple fix should give you an immediate bump in performance.

 

3) Diagnose the Disease

Now that you have some quick wins under your belt, it’s time to dive deep to identify underlying issues that have held back performance.

Disease: Monochromatic Ad Copy

  • Symptoms: Majority of traffic is concentrated on a small set of headlines or description lines. Ads repeated across multiple ad groups.
  • Treatment: If you are heavily reliant on running the same ads across all of your campaigns, try to generate a few new variations to introduce to your highest volume ad groups. This can boost performance by better matching your ad to the keywords.

Disease: Acute Ad Deficiency

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with only one active ad. This hurts performance as not every keyword within an ad group will perform well with the same ad.
  • Treatment: Add additional ads to ad groups that only have one active ad. Ideally, each ad group should have 2 to 4 active ads.

Disease: Ad Overdose

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with five or more active ads. This hurts performance by making it difficult to accumulate enough data to identify winning ads.
  • Treatment: In each ad group, pause the poorest performing ads so that only 2 to 4 ads remain active.

Disease: Keyword Chaos

  • Symptoms: Ad groups with 25+ keywords hurt performance by combining multiple intents. For example: ‘black dress’ and ‘red dress’ should be split into two ad groups so you can write ads specific to each color.
  • Treatment: Break out large ad groups into smaller ad groups Ideally, each ad group should have less than 25 keywords.

Disease: Match Type Mayhem

  • Symptoms: Traffic volume concentrated on Broad match keywords. This hurts performance by pulling in irrelevant queries.
  • Treatment: Identify high performing keywords from search query reports and add them into your campaigns as Exact match keywords. Consider breaking out your campaigns by match type and adding the Exact match keywords as negatives to your Broad match campaign to prevent cross-mapping and internal competition.

Disease: Under-Extension

  • Symptoms: Missing campaign extensions
  • Treatment: Be sure to add Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions, Product Extensions, and Location Extensions to your campaigns. These can give a big boost to CTR and conversion rates.

Disease: Campaign Setting Sickness (the silent killer)

  • Symptoms: Are all campaigns set to accelerated delivery?
  • Treatment: The best practice is to set all campaigns to accelerated delivery and to then manage spend via bidding. If you are running out of budget early in the day, then you should be able to bid lower and gain additional clicks for the same cost.
  • Symptoms: Are any campaigns showing ‘limited by budget’?
  • Treatment: If so, consider either bidding lower or increasing the daily budget.
  • Symptoms: Are search and content segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Always, always, always separate search and content into their own campaigns. They perform very differently and co-mingling your data will make it extremely difficult to optimize.
  • Symptoms: Are mobile devices segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Computers and tablets arguably have similar performance profiles. However, mobile devices are often much more difficult to complete transaction on, tend to have shorter queries and lower CPCs, and tend to work best for providing local information or for driving calls.
  • Symptoms: Are languages segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: This will allow you to tailor your ads to the preferred language of your users.
  • Symptoms: Are countries segmented into separate campaigns?
  • Treatment: Likewise, this will allow for greater customization of your campaigns.
  • Symptoms: Are ads set to rotate evenly, optimize for clicks, or optimize for conversions?
  • Treatment: Rotating ads evenly is useful for testing creative messaging. Optimizing for clicks may boost your overall CTR and lower your CPC, but clicks ≠ conversions, so use with caution. Optimizing for conversions may work on campaigns with a high number of conversions, but won’t work for campaigns with few conversions.

 

4) Keep Calm and Car
ry On

Once you’ve rehabilitated your sick campaigns, you can maintain their good health through routine checkups.

Daily Tasks

  • Monitor performance
  • Bid management

Weekly Tasks

  • Check keyword performance report, search query report, and placement performance report for new negatives

Monthly Tasks

  • Pause out poor performing ads
  • Add new ads to high volume ad groups

Quarterly Tasks

  • Check campaign settings

 

By following this simple prescription, you can have your SEM campaign in tip-top shape in no time!

 

 

Social vs. Mobile: Where Should You Invest Your Advertising Budget

As new online advertising channels emerge like social and mobile, don’t get left behind. Keep up with the times and spend your budget where it makes most sense for your business. If your company does not have an unlimited marketing budget, you’ll want to make sure that any budget you do have is spent wisely on the most appropriate and effective advertising channel for your target market.

 

Whether you’re new to the online advertising world or have active campaigns running on social and mobile, this blog post will give you pointers on how to best take advantages of both channels. First thing you need to know, social and mobile analytics are simply not comparable. Although both could be used for branding, awareness, or increasing conversions, the click-through rates and conversion rates will rarely lend similarities. Why? Social ads are generally more top-of-the-funnel, similar to display ads. Users engage social channels to connect with their friends, peers, and interests rather than to purchase or shop around. On the other hand, mobile ads align with search in that they are closer to the actual purchase. Consumers query directly for keywords expecting related search results.

 

Given what we know, consider benchmarking your social ad performance against your display ad performance. For mobile ads, compare analytics to the search ads you are currently running. Below you’ll see some of the advantages and tips for both social and mobile platforms.

 

Social Ads:

With over 800 million active users on Facebook, it has become the number 2 most visited site after Google. If you’re one of those 800 million users, you’ve most likely seen the ads that are on Facebook on the right hand side when you log in. What has been your experience with the ads? For me, I rarely ever click through on the ads. However, I see do them, know they are there, and even read through them as I do with my news feed. So, we suggest running awareness and branding campaigns on Facebook to get your brand out to your target market. Remember to keep your social ads fresh by rotating the image periodically and you could even try including a “Like” button to help camouflage the ad similar to the example below:

Fb_ads

Facebook is just one of the few social sites you can target ad campaigns on. Other social sites you can consider advertising on if it fits your market include Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Mobile Ads:

Gartner predicts that the global smartphone and media tablet market will be more than 1B units by 2015, with 318M smartphones and 775M Media Tablets.

 

The following table is from their report, Emerging Technology Analysis: Mobile Business Intelligence, 13 July 2011, ID:G00214124 by Bhavish Sood, Andreas Bitterer, James Richardson.

Mobileusage

According to this Google study, the length of characters in mobile queries are similar to desktop queries.

Mobilequeries

Given what we know from above, mobile isn’t going away and queries haven’t changed. So, that tells us, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you already have successful search campaigns, you know what keywords perform well. Why not bid on the same successful keywords from your search campaigns, and use the exact same text ads? When setting this up, you’ll want to separate your mobile campaigns so you can bid higher on keywords to ensure your ad has a higher position. Since mobile handheld screens are so tiny, there is no guaranteeing that your ad is even seen if it’s position is too low.

 

To understand whether you should invest your online advertising efforts in Social or mobile ads, you’ll absolutely need to know and understand your target market.  Since you’re all professional marketers, it’s safe to assume you know this already. But consider this: is your target market actively on social sites or handheld devices? For example, if you’re advertising for an elderly home and your target market includes senior citizens, do you find it likely for them to be on Facebook or surfing the net on handheld mobile phones? Knowing who you’re targeting is an obvious pre-step before building any type of marketing campaign, so do your research!

 

Like all fields, there’s no defined ranking system to describe the best way to advertise. It all depends! However, if you know your target market and employ the data you have from previous ad campaigns, you can precisely target the right audience on social and strategically bid on mobile to make the most out of your ad spend.  Also, in case you missed last week’s purchasing events, Facebook just bought two incredibly huge mobile products: Instagram and Tagtile. I would bet on the convergence of mobile and social ads in the near future.

 

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jana_fung

 

Google Hack Lets You Include Images in Search Ads

One of the most overlooked features of Apple’s recent OS X 10.7 Lion release is support for emoji characters. Emoji is an obscure set of emoticons that’s quite popular in Japan. In Lion, you can insert Emoji characters like smiley faces into any text field, much like the Wingdings font on Windows.

My experience with these special characters has been a little different. The tactic of inserting special characters in an ad to draw attention to is and make it stand out from the rest has been used very effectively by advertisers in the early days of Google, Facebook Ads, and pretty much every advertising platform out there.

I’ve seen firsthand what a difference including a special character in an ad headline makes. A single arrow pictogram used in a small text ad can double, or even triple CTR.

Google has of course long since wised up to this practice. Any ad that contains a character from a predefined blacklist of special characters is automatically flagged for manual review and promptly denied by Google’s approvals department.

But what about the newfangled emoji? Are those blacklisted as well? To test this, I submitted two ads- one using an older special characters font and one using emoji.

See the difference:

Ad2

The ad with plain old special characters is promptly flagged for manual review on it way to be approved for denial.

But the ad with new emoji characters sails right through automated review, and is instantly eligible for release on an unsuspecting public.

Imagine how much an ad containing graphic icons will stand out on a search results page containing only drab text ads… I bet any such ad would completely obliterate and outrank any text ads it’s competing against.

Of course these images will only render on operating systems that natively support emoji. Right now, that’s limited to Mac OS X Lion and iOS on iPhone and iPad.

So, if you launch a standard search campaign, ~5-10% of the traffic that has OS X Lion will see the Emoji icons in your ad, which may or may not be enough to give a significant boost to your CTR.

But there’s another popular operating system made by Apple that supports rendering emoji. I’m talking, of course, about iOS, and the millions of people searching on their iPhones and iPads. And, conveniently enough, Google lets us target iOS users only when setting up a new AdWords campaign:

Target-mobile-devices

The homogeneity of that platform means that you’re virtually guaranteed that 100% of searchers will see your ads and will click, if only out of curiousity at this new ad format. The intrinsically low cost of traffic and dearth of advertisers on mobile mean that, using the emoji trick with broad targeting, you can get massive volume at pennies a click.

The amount of extremely cheap traffic you could get with this method is staggering.

Now…say for some reason your ad is subjected to manual review(for example, if you use this trick on the Google Content Network). No need to be concerned. What browser do you think the Google reviewers are using? It’s a lot more likely that they’re using Chrome than Safari, isn’t it?

To Chrome users, even on OS X 10.7, an emoji emoticon appears as an inconspicious blank space. Move along Google reviewer, nothing to see here…

Inserting emoji into any text field on OS X Lion is easy- just click Edit ->Special Characters and select Emoji in the left sidebar.

My guess is that this hole won’t remain open for long- so make the best of it while you can.

Props to Panic for taking this to the next level with an emoji domain. I wonder if this domain can be used as an AdWords display URL…

Startup Marketing Lessons Learned Part 2: AdWords is Only the Beginning

I recently had the pleasure of assisting over 150 Hacker News members with marketing their startups. I was surprised to learn that I was giving the same advice over and over again. I’m collecting the most specific, actionable and useful marketing advice for startups in a 3 part series. This is part 2.Last time, we discussed marketing fundamentals you needed to get right before beginning to drive traffic to your project. I hope you’ve implemented some of those suggestions into your product marketing.I don’t want this blog to consist solely of vague textbook marketing advice. This week, we’re going deeper and diving right into specific methods you can use right now to generate a stream of interested customers for your startup. Let’s get started.

Test and Track Everything

…advertising is traced down to the fraction of a penny. The cost per reply and cost per dollar of sale show up with utter exactness. One ad is compared with another, one method with another. Headlines, settings, sizes, arguments and pictures are compared. To reduce the cost of results even one percent means much in some mail order advertising. So no guesswork is permitted. One must know what is best.

Can you guess which AdWords guru wrote the words above?That quote is from the seminal work Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, written in the 1920s. You would think that, 80 years later, people would realize the importance of tracking, especially with how easy modern analytics software makes it.And yet, startup after startup is creating ads that link to their homepage, without any tracking variables appended. They can only guess if their ads are effective, and they’re collecting exactly zero data.Any ad campaign, even if it’s set up by an expert, will probably start out losing money. When you launch an ad campaign, you’re not just paying for customers, you’re paying for data about what works and what doesn’t, tested in the marketplace.As you collect data and optimize, the campaign will eventually pull into the black. But if you’re not collecting click and conversion data, you’ll never know what you need to optimize, and you’ll continue bleeding money forever.Don’t just track based on which campaign gets the highest CTR. You need to drill down to the individual ad and keyword level, and track both CTR and conversion rate for each ad. This is done by appending a unique id to the URL of each ad variation. If you can’t tell me exactly which headline is bringing you the most loyal customers, you’re doing it wrong. If you track everything down to the ad level, you’ll be able to know exactly where your most profitable customers are coming from. This is especially critical for recurring billing/subscription services, which many startups are. Again, optimize for CLV.Setting up tracking is super easy. Google Analytics has a simple URL Builder you can use to append tracking variables to any link. You’ll want to focus on the utm_term and utm_campaign variables.If you want even better, more customizable, real-time data, my friends at MixPanel are happy to help.If you remember nothing else from this post, remember this:Track Everything Now. Every second you’re not tracking, you’re losing money.

Search Is Just The Tip of the Iceberg

Here’s an example of what the typical startup founder told me about their marketing campaign:

Out startup sells time tracking software for dog walkers. We’re already advertising online. We’re bidding on “dog walker time tracking” on Google Search and getting 3 clicks and 0 conversions a day. How do we get more traffic?

It’s not surprising that you’re not getting lots of traffic, because you’re stuck in a search-only mindset. You can thank Google’s excellent branding for that, because they would love to have you believe that the only way to get customers online is through buying search keywords.Here’s the truth about advertising online: most of your traffic and customers will not come from search. They will come from social networks(more on that soon) and other sites- and I don’t mean just the Google Content Network. Want to know a cheap, high volume traffic source your competitors aren’t using? Two words: media buys. Yes, I’m talking about banner ads and yes, they still work.You don’t have to have a big budget to start buying banner ad space. Start approaching smaller blogs in your niche, and offer to pay them a fixed amount to paste your ad code into their site for a month. Again, track everything.When you do a simple media buy, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a high CTR or relevance between ads and landing pages, you just need to get enough clicks and conversions to stay profitable.I’ll have a post exclusively about media buying coming soon, but for now, start looking around and negotiating. You’ll be amazed at the great deals and cheap traffic you can find.

Competitor Bidding Works, Take it To The Next Level

Bidding on the names of competitors on search is an effective tactic. You’re reaching customers who are at a later stage of the buying cycle. They already know they need your product or service, and now they’re just comparing the alternatives and reading reviews before committing to a purchase. Let your competitors spend money educating the market and finding qualified prospects, then snatch the customer from their grasp when he’s about to buy.[pullshow]Competitor bidding is a good start, but it’s only a start. Here’s how you can easily and inexpensively outfox your competitors on most traffic sources:[pullthis]Don’t stop at search. Follow competitors’ ads around the web.[/pullthis] Search for competitor names, features, products, etc, or get their keywords from a keyword research tool. Look at the search results for their name and main keywords. Are there any sites there that have AdSense? Any blogs that have written reviews of a competitor’s product? Those are all prime advertising opportunities.Approach them directly and offer to buy banner space, either on the whole blog or just on that specific post. Prospective customers searching for information about competitors will instead come across ads for your product, and some will inevitably convert. If you see a competitor’s ads on an AdSense block on a page, you’ve found a fantastic traffic source. Approach the webmaster and offer to buy a banner ad to replace the AdSense. You’ll be able to pay the webmaster more for the space because Google isn’t taking their 30% cut, so it should be a no brainer for them to accept your offer. Now not only have you cut off a competitor from a lucrative traffic source, but you’ve also uncovered a proven source of converting traffic. Repeat this enough, and you’ll be able to completely dominate your competitors outside of search while spending less than them.

Start Retargeting Right Away

Retargeting is the practice of showing ads to people who have already visited your site(but probably didn’t convert). Retargeting is very cost effective, and delivers incredibly high-converting traffic, because you’re only paying for impressions shown to people who have expressed an interest in your product. When building a retargeting campaign, create banners that prominently feature your name, logo, and color scheme. People who have seen that design before will notice and click. There are two easy ways you can use retargeting right away:AdWords has a retargeting option you can turn on for a campaign. Or, for greater reach, AdRoll has an easy self-serve retargeting system that ties into major ad networks. You just add their pixel to your site, they leave a cookie, and show banner ads that follow your visitors around the web, g
ently yet firmly reminding them to sign up for your site.There is so much involved in getting traffic online. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. If nothing else, I hope this post has inspired you to explore other traffic sources with tracked, tested, creative campaigns. Next week: I show you how to easily increase your current traffic tenfold, discuss advanced optimization tactics to squeeze more out of your current campaigns, and finish with a little-known traffic tip I’ve never told anyone before.