3 Content Marketing ‘Best Practices’ that Small Businesses Should Ignore

As much as we may hate to admit it, the rules are always different for small businesses.Most of our clients fit in the small-to-medium-sized bucket, and hey, we’re right there in that bucket with you. So it’s worthwhile to acknowledge when the best practices that work for big brands don’t really apply to us little guys.

Today I’ll be discussing some content marketing “rules” that it’s OK for small businesses to break.Supposed Best Practice #1: You Need a Content Marketing StrategyThis is the content marketing rule I hear over and over again, and it’s starting to grate on me as much as “content is king” and other hackneyed marketing clichés. (Apologies to my strategy wonk friends.)There are a few problems with the “you need a content strategy” refrain. First, it’s ... > Read more

September 25, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 9

Facebook Makes Bold Power Play Against Google with Atlas

Industry thought leaders in the search marketing space have long speculated about how Facebook can compete with Google in terms of its lucrative advertising business. Well, according to recent reports, Facebook could soon surpass Google in terms of its remarketing capabilities with the launch of its Atlas advertising platform.

Image via nettramarketing.comFacebook Putting Google Under PressureFacebook Ads certainly has come a long way in two years. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook will unveil the revamped Atlas system next week. Facebook originally acquired the Atlas Advertiser Suite from Microsoft last year, and the new platform promises to be a reengineered version of Microsoft’s former product.So what’s the big deal? For starters, Facebook’s Atlas system is capable of... > Read more

September 24, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Social Media Advertising: Which Platform is Right for Your Small Business?

If you’ve experienced success with paid search, you may have given thought to social media advertising. Increasing numbers of small businesses are branching out into paid social, and the diversification of online advertising into social media channels can be seen everywhere.Image credit: KDDIHowever, if you run a small business, you might be wondering whether social media advertising is a good fit, especially if your current advertising budget is stretched thin.

What ad types will be most effective for your business? Which network has the greatest potential reach? Which platform has the most competitive CPA? These are all important questions for people who are thinking about social media advertising, so in this post, we’re going to dive deep into the data and examine the pros and cons ... > Read more

September 24, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 0

3 Lessons Learned from PPC Advertisers in the B2B Software Industry

Are you working in a niche B2B industry attempting to generate leads (that hopefully convert) through your PPC efforts? In that case, I can assume that you are also on the verge of throwing a baseball at your computer. Am I right? PPC is challenging enough, but with the added long sales cycle, high competition, and niche market, getting leads from AdWords can make your sanity spin off the deep-end.

All too often I find this to be true with clients specifically in the software or SaaS industry. Gaining leads is a challenge in itself and definitely does not mean that a conversion is likely to follow. For example, searchers looking to purchase software don’t just hop online, search for their business need, and hit “Buy Now.” Software services typically a) are expensive and b) have longer... > Read more

September 23, 2014     |   Written by: Margot daCunha   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 12

Guerrilla Marketing: 20+ Examples and Strategies to Stand Out

When the classic strategies aren’t delivering, you send in the guerrillas. They’re the extra-special forces – the ones that implement killer strategies to turn the tide and defeat the enemy.Guerrilla marketing is a great alternative to traditional marketing. It thrives on original thinking and creativity, where imagination and ingenuity beat out big budgets.

 Guerrilla marketing tends to be cheaper than traditional marketing, relying on smaller, more localized brick and mortar strategies like:Graffiti: Graffiti marketing uses city streets and alleyways as a giant canvas. While smaller, more covert operations will make their mark wherever they want, for most businesses it’s recommended to get permission from a property owner before going Monet on the walls of their establishmen... > Read more

September 22, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 2

Mandatory Google+ Gmail Integration Quietly Shelved

Google has gone to valiant lengths to convince us that rumors of Google+’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but Google is no longer forcing new Gmail users to connect their account to a Google+ profile – yet another move that could signal the end for Google’s troubled social network.Rumors of the decoupling of Google+ and Gmail first surfaced in the spring.

Google, unsurprisingly, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to shout about the change from the rooftops, instead choosing to quietly shelve the mandatory integration which had previously been in place since 2012.Although the change means that new Gmail users will no longer be forced to sign up for Google+, they’ll still have the option to do so, as you can see in the image above.Gundotra’s sudden departure from Mountain ... > Read more

September 19, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 33

‘Everyone’ is Not a Demographic: A Guide to Target Markets for Small Businesses

If you run a small business, maybe you have an idea of your target market. However, a vague idea is not enough to compete in today’s ruthless business environment. Without detailed knowledge of your target market, you could be losing business to your competitors or missing out on opportunities to increase sales.

Just don’t target your customers with a compound hunting bow.In today’s post, we’re going to look at what target markets are, how to identify them, examples of target markets, and how to refine and develop target markets by segmentation. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.What Is a Target Market?Simply put, a target market is a specific group of people you have decided to target with your products or services. It could be a large market or a niche mar... > Read more

September 18, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 4

Cheat Sheet: Ad Extensions for Shopping Campaigns

As the ambiguous “late-August” deadline to transition PLA campaigns to Shopping Campaigns has come and gone, online retailers are scrambling to adapt to the new campaign type. Leading up to the big switchover, the AdWords team went to great lengths to ensure account managers were aware of the impending changes.

We saw numerous posts on the AdWords Insights blog, emails, alert messages in the interface and regular webinars guiding users through the transition process. In fact, we even saw “AdWords” representatives calling users who were still running the old version of PLAs to warn them about the new campaign type and provide transition assistance.These efforts generated a big buzz around Shopping Campaigns. Now that e-commerce advertisers are hyper-focused on them, we expect this s... > Read more

September 17, 2014     |   Written by: Erin Sagin   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 6

INBOUND 2014: WordStream Talks Company Culture & Content at #Inbound14

It's an exciting week here in Boston, as HubSpot plays host to thousands of business leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs at their epic INBOUND 2014 conference.The conference kicked off yesterday and continues through Thursday, with more than 170 educational sessions for attendees to choose from. Martha Stewart's here, as are Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki, Simon Sinek and over 7,500 other leading marketing and sales professionals.

WordStream CEO Ralph Folz spoke this morning, alongside Altitude COO Kory Kolligian, on the essential elements of a winning organization and why company culture matters. If you've ever walked into an office with incredible company culture, you understand the huge benefits inherent to engaged employees with positive morale. The companies considered best to work ... > Read more

September 16, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

Call Metrics: How to Measure the Quality of Your Call-In Leads

As you know, if you’re a customer or a regular reader of the WordStream blog, we’ve recently added call tracking features to our PPC management software. Call tracking is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to accurate measurement of return on ad spend, since many prospects and customers choose to pick up the phone and call your business when they see your PPC ads, rather than visiting your landing page and filling out a form.

If you’re not using call tracking software, you won’t know to attribute those leads to your PPC campaigns, and you’ll underestimate your ROI. You also won’t know which keywords and ads are driving calls and which aren’t.I recently had the opportunity to interview Chen Zhao, an expert on call tracking data and analytics, and ask her some question... > Read more

September 16, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 0

9 Reasons Why LinkedIn Friendship Is the Mightiest of Magics

Take it from My Little Pony – friendship is magic! And guess what? You can harness that magic and wield the mighty power of friendship on LinkedIn to become a social media socialite! You can become a unicorn in a sea of donkeys.Most people on LinkedIn tend to play it safe when it comes to adding connections.

While sites like Twitter openly advocate adding strangers, most LinkedIn users hesitate to add someone to their network that they haven’t at least met in some vague capacity.However, loosening up the definition of “friendship” can have some serious benefits, especially on LinkedIn. Today we’re discussing how connection-bingeing can greatly improve your LinkedIn street cred. So forget about stranger danger; go ahead add those randos!     Advantages of Binge... > Read more

September 15, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 3

Google Extends Product Listing Ads to the Google Search Network

Good news for advertisers using Shopping Campaigns: Google is now allowing you to opt into displaying your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on retail and e-commerce search partner sites.Displaying your shopping campaign ads across Google's search partners network helps you reach motivated consumers outside of the google.

com and Google Shopping environments.Where Will Your PLAs Appear?Google said the network includes "a small set of retail and commerce publishers." The example they used in their announcement was Walmart; in this case, an advertiser selling tailgate grills could have their ads trigger on the Walmart site when someone searches for a tailgating grill.It begs the obvious question: doesn't this potentially take sales away from the partner sites?Like any and everything Google does, thi... > Read more

September 12, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 5

Teach Before You Sell with Educational Lead Generation Offers

Does this situation sound familiar?Your AdWords campaign is live, but it is as effective at driving sales as Kanye West is at letting people finish award acceptance speeches.Users type in your keywords and click the ads, but when they are taken to your landing page they don’t convert. It’s not a matter of having a product or service that people want – you have customers who have purchased offline and rave about your solution.

However, when you try to advertise your product or service via AdWords the orders dry up.Instead of the sales you imagined, you are now paying for users to view the landing page and leave. You have a poor conversion rate, an expensive cost per acquisition and your user’s time on site is minimal. You adjust your keywords, put new images on your landing page, an... > Read more

September 12, 2014     |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 3

Voice of the Customer: The Secret Weapon For Great Landing Page Copy

Most digital marketers agree that landing pages can make or break any campaign, be it PPC, social media, email, or display ads. Once you get people to click, the landing page has to convince your visitor to complete the conversion.To assist in the goal of landing page success, a number of software platforms exist to help marketers test landing page elements.

Visuals, calls-to-action (CTAs), layouts, offers, buttons, and many more elements can be tested. Software can help you conduct A/B tests and create new landing pages on the fly. Just a tweak with the placement of a key visual element might lead to a significant increase in landing page performance.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual words on the landing page, marketers tend to rush the process, going with a combination of... > Read more

September 11, 2014     |   Written by: Brad McMillen   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 6

Comedy in Content Marketing: To Be Memorable, Make ‘Em Laugh

Do you want your content to be unforgettable? Do you want parents to pass on your blog posts to their children, and your white papers to their grandchildren? Of course you do! And the solution is simple – make your content hilariously, milk-exploding-from-nostrils funny. All right, maybe your creations won’t earn a place in the family hope chest, but a touch of comedy will greatly improve any content piece’s shelf life.

 News bloggers can write as many as six articles a day, and while those articles may generate tons of views, they tend to go in one ear and out the other. Most readers won’t remember that article next week, never mind who wrote it.The truth is, if you want to be memorable, you need to be funny. You gotta make ‘em laugh! A Spoonful of Comedy Makes Dry Cont... > Read more

September 10, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 2

How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile as a Recent College Grad

It has been about four months since the class of 2014 received their congratulatory ceremonies in what is often considered as a milestone in their lives. It is also a time where countless seniors are entering their final year of eternal sunshine.The reality of the situation is that many students leave college with a naïve conception of what post-graduate life will be like.

This can be attributed to their minimal work experience and the abundance of not-so-friendly advice regarding how royally screwed they are in finding work. (Oh, and WordStream is hiring, by the way.)What many students don’t realize is that whether you’re currently in school or were recently tossed into the job market, networking is still one of the most important techniques you will need to master in order to maximi... > Read more

September 09, 2014     |   Written by: Brett McHale   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 12

New Google AdWords Callout Extensions How-To: Highlight Offers in Your Ads

Offers can be an incredibly effective conversion tool, and within the next few weeks, all Google AdWords advertisers will be able to highlight them in their search ads. Google is rolling out a new ad extension called Callouts that enables you to add more text to your ad to spotlight free shipping, discounts, price matching and more.

Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks, but without the links. Google recommends that advertisers use callout extensions to draw attention to unique selling points and important product details and benefits. You can feature up to four callouts in your ad, each limited to 25 characters each, and must have at least two callouts for them to display.Callout extensions can be used with other ad formats, like sitelinks, and are created, scheduled and managed with... > Read more

September 08, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 3

PPC Power Users Share Their Best Keyword Strategies [Webinar]

Today’s post is by Brad Geddes, founder of Certified Knowledge and well-known expert and speaker in SEO, PPC, social, display, and affiliate marketing. Learn more about Brad here.How important is keyword strategy to your PPC campaigns?It’s crucial! Keywords are the basis of any campaign, but use them to their full potential and they become a powerful weapon in your search marketing arsenal.

Keyword strategy drives the success of your campaign and affects impression volume, Quality Score and the cost you'll pay for each click. If there's only one place you can afford to focus your efforts, it's here.Next week, on Tuesday, September 9, three PPC power users – Jaclyn Jordan, an experienced PPC account manager from WordStream, competitive intelligence expert Mike Roberts from SpyFu, and ... > Read more

September 05, 2014     |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Meet the WordStream Team at PubCon Las Vegas (and Save 20%)!

When you think of Vegas, images of smoky casinos, glitzed-up showgirls and wild pool parties probably come to mind, not necessarily paid search. However, come October, the Las Vegas Convention Center will actually be the home base for one of the biggest, most popular digital marketing conferences in the world, PubCon.

Larry Kim and I will both be presenting at this year’s conference and we would love for you to join us!If the prospect of a “The Hangover”-style business trip with Larry Kim hasn’t won you over already, let me entice you with the lustrous PubCon line-up. The event kicks off on October 6 with the exclusive, Masters Group Training program, where participants can focus on one of three tracks (SEO, Social Media Marketing or Google and Facebook Advertising) and get to do i... > Read more

September 04, 2014     |   Written by: Erin Sagin   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

Perfect Timing: The Very Best Time to Send Email Newsletters

Timing is everything – right? It may not be everything, but it certainly matters, especially when it comes to getting subscribers to notice and open your emails.So when is the best time to send newsletter emails? We have some advice and we’re eager to share.Best Email Send Time: General AdviceThese general email send time tips are widely accepted by the email marketing community.

They are great when you’re starting off, but be sure to read on and see why they won’t always work.Daytime vs. Nighttime. While this one may be obvious, it’s usually better to send out your email campaigns during the daytime. You know, when people are awake. Not asleep.Mad Mondays. The general consensus is that should avoid sending out email blasts on Mondays. Why? People are already bummed out about the... > Read more

September 04, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

Storytelling in Content Marketing: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & How to Do it Right

I recently came across this video, in which renowned Austrian graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister tackles the stubbornly enduring buzzword “storytelling.” In refreshingly candid and colorful language (some of which is NSFW, by the way), Sagmeister dismisses those who claim to be storytellers, because the majority of people who apply this label to their work simply aren’t storytellers.

Before we go any further, watch the video. It’s only two minutes long. Go ahead, I’ll wait.WARNING: Again, this video contains some NSFW language. If you’re in the office, wear headphones.Although Sagmeister is referring to the concept of the self-styled storyteller within the context of design, his remarks are equally applicable to content marketing. We keep hearing about the importance of storytel... > Read more

September 03, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 1

Google Gives AdWords MCC Users the Gift of Consolidated Billing

Google AdWords My Client Center (MCC) users have one more accounts management feature to love. Over the weekend, Google announced the rollout of AdWords Consolidated Billing, enabling agencies to combine multiple account invoices into a single one.Consolidated billing will also allow account managers to create, fund and manage AdWords budgets for new or existing accounts in the interface, without having to contact support.

New invoice structuring options enable you to combine everything in one invoice, or create multiple invoices based on segmentation by brand, location, division, etc.Another improvement is the addition of email delivery for invoices. Users can now choose to have invoices emailed, or download them at the beginning of the month. Previously, download and regular mail were th... > Read more

September 02, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

13 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

Over the past year, Facebook has been rolling out algorithm updates that have resulted in decreased visibility for business’s organic page posts – in March, it looked like organic reach on Facebook was rapidly approaching zero.So how do you beat the odds? In my article today, I'll cover 12 tactics to beat the Facebook algorithm and help you get your fan engagement back!1.

Share Great ContentThe old adage remains true - (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sit... > Read more

September 02, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 11

WordStream’s Best of the Month: August

Summer is fast approaching its end. Pumpkin-flavored drinks and snacks have already begun to appear in coffee shops and liquor stores across the country, and before long, everyone will be sporting tasteful sweater/scarf combos and taking leisurely walks through the beautiful autumnal foliage of local parks.

Pretty soon, there will be nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. Just as Don Henley promised in his 1984 hit single “Boys of Summer,” our love for you will still be strong after the posts of summer have gone. However, contrary to Mr. Henley’s assertions, we can indeed look back. Here’s a round-up of the most popular posts from the WordStream blog in August.And yes, in case you were wondering, I am listening to Don Henley as I write this post.1. RIP Exact and Phrase Match in Ad... > Read more

August 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

WordStream Call Tracking vs. AdWords Call Extensions & Call Forwarding

WordStream recently launched a call tracking initiative and naturally we have been asked tons of questions about how our new service offering compares to Google AdWords’ existing Call Extensions and Call Forwarding features. (These services are different from Google’s new Website Call Conversions feature; learn more about that here.

) It is easy to be confused since all these offerings focus on tracking potential leads, so it is important to understand the differences and benefits of each service.First, let’s break down what each of these service offerings do and how they work.WordStream Call TrackingWordStream Call Tracking allows you to see through the software which campaigns, ad groups, ads, match types and keywords are driving leads to call your business. How it works is:Customer... > Read more

August 29, 2014     |   Written by: Francine Rodriguez   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 5

Review: New Twitter Analytics Serves Up Sweet Tweet Data

Calling all tweeters – Twitter’s new and improved analytics is a major upgrade that provides rich Twitter data you could only dream about before. And as of yesterday, it's available to everyone, not just advertisers!How to Access Twitter AnalyticsTwitter analytics hasn't been getting a ton of attention, likely due to the fact that the analytics were hidden away within the ad platform.

Now you can find this new analytics data by visiting https://analytics.twitter.com/. Then prepare to be amazed.New & Improved Twitter Web Analytics: Sweet Tweet Data!Upon first logging into the new Twitter analytics, you’ll feel like a fat kid at an ice cream factory. Sorry, I mean big boned kid in an ice cream factory. We can only hope you aren’t lactose intolerant, because it’s time to gorge.T... > Read more

August 28, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 1

The State of Mobile PPC: Past, Present, and Future [Data]

My fellow paid search advertisers, our world is always changing. It seems like we can’t go a month without a new ground-shaking announcement in this industry. Whether it’s policy changes, sitelink changes, changes to what impacts your Quality Score, new demographic targeting options – the paid search environment never sits still.

This is particularly true for advertisers who value the mobile market. The mobile landscape is growing and changing rapidly and it has real consequences for advertisers.Mobile ReachIt’s not news that it seems like everyone has a smartphone these days. In 2013, smartphone users officially became the majority in the United States:US Mobile PenetrationSource: Google: Our Mobile PlanetAs these devices become better and more affordable, and their networks become... > Read more

August 27, 2014     |   Written by: Mark Irvine   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Bing Follows Google's Lead with Close Variant Matching

Not two weeks ago, Google effectively killed off the Exact and Phrase keyword match types in AdWords – pissing a lot of paid search managers off in the process – and now, Bing is following suit.Bing Ads is testing the inclusion of close variants in a portion of US exact match queries, according to an announcement on the Bing Ads blog.

Unlike Google, which removed the option to turn close variant in exact match off, Bing Ads will still give advertisers the ability to opt out of it (at least for the time being).If Bing moves this beyond testing and implements close variant in exact match across the board, it will affect all Bing advertisers, whereas Google's recent forced migration affected only about 3% of AdWords advertisers. Google took away the ability for advertisers to opt out, but... > Read more

August 26, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

How to Do a Webinar Your Audience Will Love

Good webinars can be a little like independent movies – they leave you feeling wonderful, inspired, and ready to take on the world. Bad webinars, however, are more like Michael Bay movies – after two hours, you begin to wonder how somebody could have possibly been paid to make something so unapologetically terrible.

If you’ve ever wondered how to do a webinar that people will actually want to watch, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s post, we’re going to look at whether you should even be planning a webinar, a checklist of webinar best practices, and we’ll also learn some valuable lessons from two of WordStream’s seasoned webinar pros along the way.Should You Even Produce a Webinar?Believe it or not, this is a question that most marketers fail to ask before diving he... > Read more

August 26, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 6

Stop Wasting Time With Low CTR Strategies

Paid search is one of the most effective means for businesses to gain new customers. However, the PPC playing field has changed dramatically in recent years, and strategies that might have been effective in the past simply no longer cut it.In this post, I’m going to show you why you should stop wasting time with low click-through rate PPC strategies or bidding to a particular position, and what you can do to improve the ROI of your paid search campaigns.

What is a ‘Low CTR Strategy’?Before we go any further, I’ll explain what I mean by “low CTR strategies.”There are two main types of low CTR paid search strategies. The first is the type of campaign in which you target broader keywords within your market. These keywords include both informational and navigational queries, as well... > Read more

August 25, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 5
 
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