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Are some Google Adwords companies could be ripping you off?

Once you get into a deep understanding of how Internet advertising, search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media works, you realise that there is a huge divide between those who understand, and those who don’t. This gap is often exploited by Internet marketing companies to skim extra margin from their customers without them even knowing. Here’s how they do it.
Keywords are the key
If you have ever run a Google Adwords campaign you would know that the price you pay per click is based on what Google charges you for your ad to appear, and when someone types in a keyword that you want your ad to appear for. While there are other factors that affect the price that Google charges, it is fundamentally a cost for your ad to appear that Google charges you for.
If it’s not the Google Adwords platform then it’s not Google
So if an Adwords provider wanted to skim extra money from their clients without them knowing and still appear to be cheaper than their competitors they need to be doing 2 things:
Firstly, they won’t provide you with access to the Google Adwords platform that Google uses to charge you with. Why? Because this way they can show you the data they want you to see and hide Google’s REAL costs.
Secondly, they wouldn’t show you the cost per keyword from Google. This is not the CPC (Cost Per Click), this is what Google charges you for your ad being triggered by a keyword that someone has typed into a Google search. Why? Because they can add an extra margin onto the cost and charge you for it. Most companies wouldn’t even think twice about this.
To the untrained eye the Adwords company looks like their costs are very competitive. In actual fact the money that you think is going towards your Google ads is going into their back pockets.
How it should be done
When running a Google Adwords campaign it is important to know all the costs, but these costs should be put into perspective and considered in relation to the service being provided. As mentioned, running an effective Adwords campaign is far more than just setting up some ads to appear on Google, hoping people will click on them, and then hoping that they either email you or ring you.
An effective Adwords provider should perform the following tasks and functions:
1. Understanding intimately how their client’s business runs.
2. Ask what the best selling products and services are.
3. Determine what products bring the biggest margins or best stock turns.
4. What services best reflect the business future directions.
5. Meet with their clients 1 on 1 monthly.
6. Provide education about the campaign and how Google works so that the client can offer more qualified information.
7. They should ask questions about how your business runs, best days, is it seasonal? etc.

Summary
To win the grand Prix race you need the entire team to be working together in unison, on the same page and heading in the same direction. With so many businesses now using Adwords to promote their business and most Adwords companies providing the minimum service, how do you expect your company to stand out from the crowd and perform? The best and only way is to work closely with your Adwords provider, and together you will outperform even the best Adwords company trying to do it on their own.
Running a Google Adwords campaign successfully and generating good ROI has nothing to do with Adwords, no differently than winning a Grand Prix has nothing to do with a Grand Prix car. It’s the team, the tactics and the knowledge that puts you in prime position. So next time you are looking for an Adwords company to help you grow your business online, don’t just look at the cost of the service. Find out more about what they offer and how they do their reporting. Especially, make sure that you ask if they are using Google’s Adwords platform and can give you access to the raw Google data in their reporting. If they don’t, then think twice about using them as they just may be ripping you off.
If your business is important to you, if finding new customers and improving your bottom line is the direction you want to head in, then perhaps a company like SLAM Strategy could be right for you.

Can you keep up with social media?

If you’re in charge of social media for your business, you know it can be time consuming and confusing. Especially for a beginner, knowing how it all works and why can be overwhelming. If you take the time to get yourself up to speed and develop good habits and practices, you will thank yourself in the long run.

Facebook is the main network that most businesses like to use, and it also presents many challenges, so I will focus on it as an example.

Mechanics

Taking the time to understand how each social media network works is imperative in creating and maintaining a successful presence.

Facebook organises its News Feed by an algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank determines what posts users see based on Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.

Affinity is the connection between users – the more interaction you have with a user, the more likely you are to see their posts. Affinity is a one-way score calculated on your interactions, not the other person’s, and it can increase or decay over time. Therefore, it is imperative that you encourage fans to interact with your page to they can see your updates in their news feed.

Weight refers to the type of post and the kind of interactions it has received. Facebook wants to present to users the content it thinks will be the most engaging. Traditionally, more engaging content like photos and videos will rank higher than just plain text statuses. Similarly, shares and comments rank higher than likes. Basically, Facebook will give the most weight to the most engaging content – which can be a text status if it has lots of shares and comments, because Facebook has recognised that it has a lot of interactions and would be interesting to users.

Time Decay is simple in that old stories drop in rank because they are less current and relevant to the user, whom Facebook has determined, wants to see new stories.

Monitor and correct

It is important that while you are working hard to create the most engaging and relevant content, you monitor your insights to see what works for your fans. Do your fans like watching videos, how well to they respond to photos? While the traditional EdgeRank algorithm still stands, it is constantly evolving. More often now, EdgeRank will take into account any negative feedback on your posts, such as when a user ‘hides’ a post.

Over the last few months I was watching and reporting on SLAM’s insights and noticed that while we were gaining more fans and seeing more engagement, our reach was declining. By noting the amount of “people saw this” for each post on the Page, I could see that text-only posts had greater reach. Therefore I changed my tactic, posting more text based posts in addition to regular posts which I knew were effective, such as videos and Top Tip Tuesday images.

Keeping an eye on what’s going on with your page will allow you to make changes quickly so you can maintain good brand exposure.

Read, read, read

To make the most of each social media network, you need to understand how they work and how to use them to your advantage. If you are running your own social media, I recommend reading blog posts, signing up for email lists, and watching videos on all facets of social media.

As mentioned before, Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm, privacy terms and rules for Pages are constantly changing. You need to know the ins and outs of the networks to avoid being penalised by Facebook or missing out on key features and best practices on Pinterest. Do you know what the rules are for running a promotion or competition on your Page? Do you know how to make the most out of LinkedIn? Do you know where to get insights and analytics for your social media networks?

It does take time to keep up with all that is happening in the ever evolving social media world. If you feel like you don’t understand everything or simply don’t have the time to do it, you have the option of outsourcing the work to a professional who has a more in-depth understanding of social media.

Do yourself a favour

Use technology to make your social media responsibilities a lot easier. Apps like HootSuite and Buffer allow you to load up posts to be automatically uploaded at a time of your choosing. You can load up a week’s worth of posts for multiple accounts to save time throughout the week (but make sure you upload some posts directly to Facebook to give them a better ranking). Some sites will show you the best times for posting, and others provide detailed page or profile insights – use these to find the best times and ways to connect with fans and potential customers.

Remember, social media is not 9-5; often the most effective posts are ones that are uploaded outside of regular office hours. Social media does take time, but like with traditional forms of marketing, planning and reviewing your actions are the keys to success. If you get stuck, we’re always happy to help. 🙂

Getting started with social media for business

Getting started with social media can be daunting for many businesses. You may not know where to start, which networks you should be using or how to get the most out of those networks.
Most businesses use social media because it is free (or low cost) with the added benefits of being able to personalise your message and content and monitor performance through analytics.

Importance of social media for businesses

Why is social media important for your business? Social media enables you to connect with current and potential customers online. You can use social networks like mini websites to display information such as products and services, contact info, and opening hours.

Social networks enable you to be social and build your online community to spread positive word of mouth about your business. You can join Groups on Facebook to chat with other business owners to swap ideas and make connections. If your business has a store or office, tell customers about your social networks, ask them to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ you and help spread the word.

Your social networks allow you to ‘listen’ to what your customers want, and what they are saying about your brand. Importantly, you can use social media to maintain online customer service. Are your customers or fans posting questions or comments to your networks? Respond! Always respond to customer questions in a timely and professional matter. If you are receiving negative feedback, respond calmly and ask how you can rectify the situation. Your social networks are for reputation management as much as they are for community building and driving sales. Remember, what is on the Internet is there forever, so be careful what you post.

Find out what your customer’s wants and needs are through keyword searches, monitoring groups and reading forums. Say you own a bakery and you have seen a post on a group for Mums asking for suggestions on the best place to buy a birthday cake. You can jump right in and tell that person (and the group) about your services.

If you have a website (which you should), social media will help improve your search engine rankings, making it easier for customers to find you when they Google you! Share content from your site on your social media networks and encourage your fans to share it too.

Which social networks should you be using and how can you use them?

Deciding which social networks to use depends on your business, your target market and what you want to achieve from using those networks. If you sell power tools, you may not have much success on Pinterest, but find Twitter more useful.

Make sure you cross-pollinate your social network posts. Link your accounts so your Facebook posts are sent to Twitter, and vice versa, your Instagram pictures show up on Facebook, etc. It’s all about building your network and being seen more easily.

Customise your social networks, upload a profile picture of yourself or your logo and post good quality pictures for cover photos, background photos etc. so fans know who you are. Make sure all your contact information, links to your website and other sites are included in all your profiles.

Give your fans an incentive and reward for ‘Liking’ or ‘Following’ you – run a competition or offer through social media, just make sure you adhere to the terms and conditions of the site you are using. Facebook has strict rules about running competitions and require the use of third party apps.

Facebook: the all rounder.

A great starting point is always going to be Facebook – it’s your one stop shop for uploading photos, videos, text posts, joining groups, providing business details and contact info, etc. Facebook is becoming less friendly to brands in terms of limiting the visibility of posts so you need to work hard to create and share quality content.

Make sure your Facebook page has a personal touch, add photos and videos of yourself, your staff, what you’re up to, events, and more. Ask questions; find out what your customers want. Encourage content sharing and recommendations to promote your business.

Twitter: listen and learn

Not everyone is a fan of Twitter, but it can be a fantastic tool for networking, and allows you to ‘listen’ to customers more easily than on Facebook.

The Twitter news feed is not organised like Facebook’s is, it’s a constant stream of tweets so there’s a few things you need to do to make the most out of it. You’ve got 140 characters to play with but the tweets that get the most interactions are between 70-100 characters. Keep it concise and write it like a newspaper headline – you want to get people’s attention!

Use hashtags to join in on conversations and allow your tweets to be found more easily. Like Facebook, you can use the search function to follow keywords and join conversations to network and tell people about your business.

Don’t forget to use pictures and video in tweets – people respond more strongly to visual content and are more likely to click on your tweet if it has something interesting to look at.

You Tube: show off and educate

As any marketer will tell you, visual content is king. You can take advantage of video hosting sites to create content which can be shared on other networks to show your personality, and tell customers who you are and what your are all about.

Use any variety of video hosting sites: YouTube, Vimeo, Tout, Vine, Live Stream, etc. to promote your products, instruct and educate customers, demonstrate your expertise, and more. No matter what your budget, you can make a video with your webcam or hire a professional, just get creative and don’t ignore the power of video.

Always include strong keywords in video titles and tags to make sure they can be found by people looking for what you have to offer.

Pinterest & Instagram: show and inspire

The rising stars of social media, Pinterest and Instagram, are excellent for putting a personal touch on your brand and really connecting with people on a personal level. Use these networks to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business, get creative and have fun with it.

Businesses with strong visual content should be using these sites – bold, bright pictures are perfect for inspiring your customers and keeping your brand top of mind. Let’s use the bakery example again: you can upload pictures of delicious treats and tell customers where they to buy them. Pinterest is especially useful in its ability to drive referral traffic back to your website.
Like with other networks – be social. Use hashtags, pin and repin, respond to comments, and reach out to others users to create a vibrant community.

The final word

Get started! If you haven’t started using any social media networks, do it now. Why miss out on an opportunity to grow your business and connect with customers?

Remember, building an online community takes time, but it is totally worth it. Give it a go and if you need help or have any questions, we’ll be happy to assist!

THE KEY TO DOTBRAND SUCCESS

In the second quarter of 2013 the first “Branded Generic Top Level Domain Names” also called “gTLDs” will likely be approved for use on the Internet. For the first time in history the Internet is about to get seriously commercialised, by allowing brands to own and govern their own slice of the Internet.

Brands are about to turn our Internet world on its head in ways that we cannot currently imagine. Now these aren’t just any brands, they are among some of the World’s biggest, most progressive, dynamic and successful brands there are going around globally. Where you once had .com, .net, .gov and a few others, you will soon see the likes of .nike, .tiffany, .abc, .nbc, .afl, .seven, .google and nearly 1,000 more from a variety of countries around the world. Soon your computer screens, smart phones, TV’s, newspapers (and just about every other form of advertising medium) will come alive with chatter from these brands as they prepare to educate the general public about the importance and value of their new purchases. Most importantly though is that they will try and convince you as to why you should own your own personalised .brand like www.johnsmith.nike or something similar. Yes, your favorite brands will soon be able to offer you your very own branded web address. Soon you will see a global education campaign start up to drive your attention to a new look communication tool for brands, E.g. “If it doesn’t end in .nike, its not supported by Nike”.
What this new space will look like and how it will operate exactly is yet to be seen, but one thing that we can be sure of is that anything is possible when you put the most cost effective, global, digital marketing tool in front of the marketing departments of global brands.
There has only ever been one application round conducted for new gTLDs at this stage and inevitably there is going to be a second and possibly more when all the existing applications (including other related applications for generic terms like .app, .love, .sydney) have been approved. Just the applications alone for one of these top level domains cost $185,000 with an ongoing fee of $25,000 per year, not to mention legal and other support costs. It has been widely mentioned that each of these domains can cost 1 million dollars before it is even accessible (added to the root zone).
Until the second round starts (which is likely to be up to 5 years away to approve all existing applications and then approve the next rounds applications), these brands have a unique window of opportunity to find new commercial solutions without their competition being able to do anything about it. This window is critical in gaining leverage of a once in a life time opportunity to build brand awareness and market share in the new Internet world with a select group of businesses.
There is much speculation about the need for these new domains as they really are just a naming convention so “technically” of very little value. However from a branding point of view it is the chance to offer a unique selling proposition to their target market in ways that they have never been able to do before. Although not a technical a game changer, a dotbrand is a massive windfall for brands when it comes to marketing and advertising. The fact that these lucky few brands will have the space to themselves for quite some time is just the icing on the cake. The possibilities are endless and soon you will see just what the minds of these powerful and successful brands can conjure up.
So what can brands like Nike do with their dotnike (.nike) that they can’t do now with nike.com?
Firstly, they will be able to set down the rules and regulations of how the space is operated and who is allowed to own a domain ending in their brand. With a .com the brand is at the mercy of the rules that govern .com and has little if any control over who purchases any .com domains.
Secondly, by owning a branded top level domain, any website that ends in a .brand e.g mystore.nike, can only exist because Nike approved it as an official Nike outlet, so the brand suddenly gains huge amounts of control over the communication of its products and services online. Shoppers can be confident that their new purchase online is from a genuine Nike shoe outlet and therefore the shoes are genuine also. With a .com it is possible that some websites are not genuine but copy outlets selling inferior products.
Thirdly, Nike also has the unique ability to offer personalised domains to their customers for easier communication, better brand exposure and more accurate target marketing. With a .com there is no way of identifying a loyal customer.
Imagine Nike saying to you that you can have your very own personalised branded domain name like Johnsmith.nike. Perhaps you’re a Ferrari car enthusiast, and want to own Johnsmith.ferrari. Imagine what these brands will be able to do with their marketing spend if they could focus it on those customers who they could identify as closer or more loyal to the brand. It would be an army of customers who are passively promoting a brand just by owning a personalised branded domain name, showing it off publicly in their Internet communication. Imagine thousands or tens of thousands of customers doing this globally. Tiny changes like these on a global scale can be worth millions in promotion and brand recognition.
One of the biggest problems with advertising and marketing has always been about trying not to waste money on people who don’t want or who aren’t interested in buying or using your product or service. Imagine being able to rally customers to a promotion on a global scale in one click. Fewer dollars spent to reach the same people to generate more sales. Sound exciting?
Every brand will be looking at these domains as a way to vastly reduce their overheads, increase their brand’s exposure globally, tighten their communications, gain a marketing edge and therefore increase their ROI. What do you think these multi-million dollar companies would be prepared to pay to achieve that considering they spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing this already? The million dollars invested is peanuts…as long as they can conjure up the right strategy to benefit from it. Regardless of the outcomes, you have to be in it to win it.
So we believe brands are going to be hot on the trail of looking for customers to support their brands and build closer, more intimate networks, with the people who actually buy, support and talk about their products and services. This is about active users being actively engaged with the brands they support.
So what is in it for the customer? Well these brands need to take advantage of this new frontier and will likely approach it like a gold rush scooping up vast databases of potential customers with special offers just so they can have you as their brand champion, championing and promoting their products and services. In exchange for that promotion they can afford to offer you discounts, special, unique purchases, VIP passes, points, the list is endless. Your support of a brand means their success and that success is vital if they are going to get the edge they are looking for.
The big question that we think that will be on the minds of those in the boardrooms and at the marketing brain storming sessions will be how? Brands already have contact with their existing customers through email, on their website and social media but how will they educate them to want to have a personalised domain name? Then once they have reached those customers, how will they reach new ones? This could be a costly education exercise as most people don’t even know what a gTLD is let alone why they would want or need a personalised one. Finally, how can they do it before their competitors have their own branded gTLD domains approved and operating?
We believe having the answers to these questions will help leap a brand to the next level. This is where the truly great brands will dominate their sectors and gain massive market share.
SLAM Strategy is exclusively an Internet Strategy company that is focused on these sorts of issues. For more information on branded domains and how to take advantage of new opportunities contact us today. enquiries@slamstrategy.com.au

Social Media (Facebook) vs Search (Google)

Social media is great, there is no doubt about that, I got my business off the ground using it. It is a great cost effective medium for start up businesses to use to get brand recognition because anyone can do it and you can do it for free.
However for that exact reason your messages can be lost in the ocean of messages that people see and the big question therefore is, “How do you stand out?” It takes a long time to build brand recognition and to generate a following of people to “like”, “tweet”, “share” your brand. So many people I talk to about online promotion think that if they build it they will come, when in reality it is far from that. Being a social platform, social media requires you to be social but more than that you need to follow the rules of that platform in order to get your message to more people. Facebook call this reach, reach is how many people saw your message. The more news feeds your message appears in the more likely someone is to see it and therefore the further your brand’s reach will be. Sounds simple, hey? Well the reality is that even if you know that, you’re still a long way from reality. If you want your business to appear in the news feeds of your fan’s friend’s pages then you need to talk to a company like SLAM Strategy, who understand how the platforms work.
So while people are busy looking at how Facebook can be their next big thing to help them with the growth of their business, many are choosing to ignore the realities of online and that is that 90% of all online searches are done using Google.
If your business isn’t coming up in search results for the words that relate to your businesses products or services then you are invisible to anyone searching for you. This can be the difference between your business thriving or failing; it’s as simple as that.
If you have the budget, you should firstly be looking at creating a sound and profitable Internet strategy around generating sales through Google. There are many businesses out there that can perform your Adwords or your Search Engine Optimisation. The reality is that what makes an online strategy successful has very little to do with the Adwords or optimisation work itself, but more to do with making sure you are implementing the right strategy for your business and that it takes you to where the real money is made.