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The Definitive List of Top SEM Mistakes

Over the years, I have read (and written) a lot of lists about common mistakes made in Search Engine Marketing.

  • The 3 things you should never do in SEM
  • Top 5 Mistakes made in SEM
  • Top 10 SEM No-No’s
  • The 7 Things you should know before doing SEM

After 10+ years of reading these types of lists, I can tell you that they are all the same!  Shocking!  So why is that?  Simply because they focus on the fundamental best practices.  Master the basics and you are on your way to becoming a master.

So thank you Aaron Goldman, for pulling together this recap list for us to share.

1. Be afraid to ask for help. 

2. Not properly structuring your campaigns. Get your structure wrong and your campaign will surely self-destruct.

3.¬†Set it and forget it.¬†ongoing campaign management such as bids, negatives, ad copy refreshes, etc. And don’t forget to QA all your launches and changes after submitting them.¬†Ron Popeil¬†would not make a good search marketer.

4.¬†Make changes that mess up your quality score.¬†¬†When you’ve got a good QS grandfathered in, don’t look a Trojan horse in the eye. And pick up “Quality Score in High Resolution” by Craig Danuloff (H/T to¬†Chris Knoch) for a deeper look at QS.

5. Get lazy with ad copy. 

6.¬†Get lazy with ad copy testing.¬†The first rule of testing is that there’s no winner. There’s always another variable you can test to eke out incremental improvement.

7. Sending traffic to broken or irrelevant landing pages. 

8. Manually managing campaigns. Not using tools to automate processes like keyword development, bid management, ad testing, cross-channel optimization, inventory synchronization, and URL monitoring is a sinny-sin-sin.

9.¬†Setting strategies by keyword classification type. Don’t set up campaigns based on inherent taxonomy within the context of the brand or product (for example, shirts, shoes, pants) but rather by type of keyword (for example, brand, high volume, tail). SEM campaign management platforms allow you to associate these kinds of dimensions with keywords without having to structure ad groups accordingly, and some even render them moot via true keyword portfolio optimization. Avoid the MacGyver duct tape and move to the head of the¬†class.

10.    Not understanding the fundaments of the auction model. Top bidder does not get top spot. Sorry, Charlie.

11.    Putting all keywords on broad match. 

12.    Not adding negative keywords

13.¬†¬†¬†¬†Thinking there’s no need to bid on brand terms.¬†But I’m already in the top spot for organic?! Doesn’t matter.¬†See?

14.    Mis-typing max CPC bids. 

15.    Using one landing page for several ad groups. 

16.    Focusing on the wrong metrics. You have to measure what matters to your business, not just what can be measured. Key performance indicators (KPIs) fuel everything from bid management to attribution, and getting the wrong inputs is sure to generate wrong outputs.

17.    Not aligning agency and advertiser goals. 

18.¬†¬†¬†¬†Setting improper goals.¬†OK, so you’ve picked the right metrics and aligned your goals. Now make sure the actual number you’re going for makes sense. Sure, CPA may make be the right KPI for your biz, but is $20 really the proper target?

19.    Chase competitors who have a lot more money.  

20. Thinking SEM is going to make you/your business rich.

21.    Doing coke in a photo booth at an AOL party. Um, need I say more?

 

Is Google God?

Thanks to a post from Gord Hotchkiss recently, I have just become aware of  TheChurchOfGoogle.org.  Well, ummm, hmmmm, where to start?   I must say the Hate Mail section is highly entertaining and makes it obvious that some people feel very threatened by this concept.  Especially when you read the Commandments, which make it clear to me that this site was built for fun.

I do find that the arguments they put forth very interesting and well thought out:

·     Google is the closest thing to an omniscient entity in existence, which can be scientifically verified
·     Google is everywhere at once
·     Google answers prayers
·     Google is potentially immortal
·     Google is infinite
·     Google remembers all
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬† Google can “do no evil”
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬† “Google” is searched for more than “God,” “Jesus,” “Allah,” “Buddha,” “Christianity,” Islam,” “Buddhism” and “Judaism” combined!
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬† Evidence of Google’s existence is abundant.

The original Search Insider article, does do a good job of looping this all back into a more realistic mindset.

Searchers – Drink More, Buy More, Consume More Content

A newly released study done by Google, ThinkCPG, Compete and Kantar Retail takes an indepth look at how Search impacts offline beverage purchases.

In short, it moves the needle in all categories studied and by as much as 272%.  The one exception in the study were beer drinkers, where searchers indexed below the controls in the study.

The study was very detailed and comprehensive, so rather than recap here, you can read the whole piece here http://www.google.com/think/insights/studies?sn=impact-of-search-on-offline-beverage-purchasing

Credit Cards Jump on the Groupon Bandwagon

Credit Card companies like Citi Bank are pumping up the volume by taking on a”Groupon” like approach to incentivize their card members and promote their preferred merchants.
You can find deals by geography, brand and category.
In an earlier post we talked about Who’s Vetting the Vendors which brought up an excellent point about setting expectations. Personally speaking, with a reputable sponsor like Citi Bank, I feel more confident in making a purchase for a good or service.

Who’s Vetting the Vendors in the Group Buying Frenzy?

For anyone who knows me, you know that I have become (even more) obessesed with the world of Group Buying.  From the buyers motivation, to the creativity of the offers, to vendor fulfillment and beyond I have been consuming content at a veracious pace.  In the past I have explored this phenomenon from the vendors side.

  • How loyal are the customers? (not very)
  • How much do they spend? (most up buy by 60% if given a chance)
  • What is the redemption rate? (pretty darn high)
  • What are the financial incentives? (varies greatly by industry) and like questions.

But for us today, we are now looking at it from a slightly different angle. ¬†As we are poised on the brink of being a featured vendor ourselves and I am surprised at how easy the process was. ¬†No reference checks, proof of¬†incorporation or¬†insurance, capabilities presentations, credential checking or any of the things that most of our new clients ask us about, just a lot of dicussions around “do you have something our user base will buy” ¬†and “how much of that money can we keep?” ¬†Now on the surface that makes sense, at least today, when one has to assume that these folks are in the business to make a dollar. ¬†Also, fortunately for our partner in this process, buZZgen has impeccable credentials and fulfillment track record. ¬†But this has gotten me to thinking about this piece of the puzzle.

We  know that the scammers and the spammers are starting to surface in this new space (post here) and while some of the group deal sites offer money back guarantees, it can only take one bad experience to move loyal user of company A  to company B.  And with more choices entering the market almost daily Рattrition can become a very real issue for players in this space.

Many years ago, Google raised the bar for “Relevancy”, and when they entered into the PPC space, they set the standards for measuring advertiser relevancy in the paid arena, while still making a tidy profit doing so. ¬†Groupon is definately the 900 pound gorrilla in this space today, and I have personally invoked their refund policy on several occasions myself, and while it was pleasant and easy, I have also found myself exercising fewer of the group offers that come across my desk everyday. ¬†Why? ¬†Because I have also learned to look at the offers with a slightly jaded eye. ¬†Believe me, a massage from a stressed out technician, in a overbooked salon, with a back log of stressed out customers waiting in the lounge is NOT very relaxing for me.

So, I wonder, is quality of experience important enough today to cause a shift?  I think as a buyer I personally would pay a few dollars more if I knew that the vendor behind the offer had been vetted up front Рsomething beyond send me your logo, link to your yelp reviews and a signed agreement.  Or maybe, the space will evolve along the lines of cell phone carriers, high attrition rates with fierce competition for winning new customers.  It will be interesting to see.

 

PPC Conversion Windows – How Long is Long Enough?

How many days should you set your conversion windows for? This is something that our clients are always asking us.
From a PPC standpoint you would think that 30 days is more than enough but this article sparked 2 interesting points for me.
1. Your conversion window should be relative to the business cycle of what you’re trying to promote. Let’s face it. Some things require a higher level of commitment than others. Furniture is a great example. I’ve been shopping for a couch for at least the last 60 days and visited numerous sites for inspiration.

2. Don’t press the panic button! If the conversion cycle is much longer than than your default setting take that into account how aggressively you’re optimizing your campaign.

On a side note: For those of you who are thinking of targeting mobile devices remember Safari doesn’t accept 3rd party cookies :)

How you Surf the Web Reveals your IQ

or so claims a study released recently from AptiQuant.

The study, done of 101,326 users over the age of 16, showed a correlation between what browser a person uses and their IQ.  Users of Internet Explorer (IE) 6 have an average IQ of only 80, according to the study.  That number creeps up with each newer version of IE used.  Though our own VP of Planning, Adrienne Zuluetta will say that you either have to be certified genius or complete idiot to put up with the quirks in IE 9.  The study agrees actually scoring users of IE 8, just slightly higher than those on IE 9.

Users of Camino and Opera rang in with the highest IQ scores of 120+.

For those of us in Search Engine Marketing who use multiple browsers throughout the day, I wonder if we get to add the average scores together?  That would give me a score of somewhere around 447 as I use Firefox, Chrome, Opera and IE.

Scams and Spam, A Sign of Success?

As I was getting ready to write this post this morning, I received an event invitation from a friend on Facebook.¬† Because it came from a friend, I open the email.¬† I was only mildly surprised to find that out that ‚Äúthe first 750,000 attendees will get a free Facebook hoodie‚ÄĚ.¬† Not being motivated by a Facebook hoodie, and my internal spam filter being set fairly high for these types of things from Facebook, I deleted the invitation without even looking and assumed my friends Facebook account had been hacked.

But in that moment it occurred to me that maybe spam and scams are a sign that a market has reached critical mass ‚Äď which brings me to what I was going to write about before being sidetracked by the possibility of a free hoodie ‚Äď Group Deals.¬† Lately I have been fascinated with Group Deals and buying and as such have signed up for many of them, wanting to see what types of flavor and diversity is out there.¬† Group Price, Groupon, Living Social, KGB Deals, BizyDeal, HomeRun, Blissmo, RapidBuyr, TripAlertz, Google Offers, Zozi, and many more, some of these outfits we have heard a lot about, others not so much, regardless of how much exposure I have had to these various different brands, it never occurred to me, until recently, to question the source of the offers they made.¬† Being an optimist, I had assumed, at the discounts these sites offer, the deals had to come from directly from the merchant, ¬†right?

Ok, I am leading somewhere obviously so here it is, just the other day, one of the deals in my email,¬† included one of buZZgen‚Äôs clients.¬† Having worked with this particular client for many years, we are very familiar with their marketing language, price points, offer bundles, target markets, etc.. What perked up our ears, was how the offer was written, there were several things that were a bit ‚Äėoff‚Äô about it, not to mention the price point was new one, and the client had not worked with us to broker the deal.

So we forwarded the offer over to our client with a quick cover note, asking if they had seen it.¬† The most we expected to hear back was that someone in their marketing team had put the deal together without first getting the appropriate internal sign-offs.¬† What we heard back, was much more surprising.¬† They had not authorized the deal!¬† Even further, no one in their offices was aware of it.¬† Since the deal was a bundled offer our client went on to check with the other businesses involved ‚Äď they too were not aware of the offer.

After some more digging, it turns out that the deal had been put together by a wholesale aggregator (think affiliate) in their space.  With Group Deals being so new to the market (at least in any volume of popularity), this was a facet of their agreement that had not yet been visited.  And now, something our clients organization think about managing too.  It also raises all kinds of questions about how much due diligence the Group Deal sites are doing on what they are offering their members.

Bad marketing language, brand mismanagement and awkward price points aside, this does beg the question of who is behind that great deal you just bought or are thinking about buying.  Unlike some of the larger group deal organizations, the site that featured this deal has no language around money back or satisfaction guarantees.  And with the services being offered coming from two organizations that did not directly authorize the deal how hard or easy would it be to get fulfillment on the promised services, let alone resolve any potential issues?

So while this instance falls several inches short of a scam, and a bit shy of Spam, it definitely ratchets up the level of Caveat Emptor within the Group Deal channel.¬† And if, my original assumption is right, then we can say that, hot press aside, Group Deals have ‚Äėarrived‚Äô within the digital market space.

Retailers Reconsider BING

This is a great article on Internet Retailer about how retailers are contemplating dedicating more of their PPC budgets to BING. From the survey that Internet Retailer conducted, 41% of merchant respondents are planning to reallocate budget earmarked for Google over to BING.
I can certainly understand why. There’s a lot less noise competitively and ROI is almost always positive. That said BING still has a long way to go to compete with Google’s volume.
At the end of the day it’s all about priorities.

Check out the article here: http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/07/21/retailers-are-ready-increase-their-bing-spending

Google Offers – Compelling Or Not?

I signed up to receive the new Google Offfers for the East Bay and I have yet to experience the urge to open an email. In my opinion the deals thus far pale in comparsion to Groupon and Living Social daily offerings.
I had higher expectations for Google being who they are and still have my fingers crossed for better deals in the weeks to come.
Here’s what they’ve featured so far:

Google Offers as of July 22

Google Offers as of July 22