Are you trying PPC solo … here are some common mistakes

Pay Per Click advertising is not exactly rocket science, but you need to have your wits about you or you end up burning your cash with little reward.  Having said that, if you can get the management and set up right, PPC can really make a difference to you business.

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Google data shows, that those clicking the paid ads, ‘need to fulfill a commercial requirement’. In other words, they need to get things done, so a PPC strategy is pretty vital for any lead generation activity.

I have come across hundreds of customers, who have not received any value from their Adwords account, in fact some businesses will loose money.   In 90% of cases the reasons why a Google Adwords campaign has been a waste of time is that it has been poorly managed.

Below are the most the common mistakes:

  • Very limited or none at all negative keywords are being used. Negative key words help block out the key words that don’t relate to your business. For example if you are a boutique hotel, you don’t want the key words “cheap places to stay” or ‘budget accommodation’  within the Ad Groups and no negative keywords are being used at campaign level which may result in clicks for unwanted search phrases.
  •  Ads are showing up for irrelevant search phrases which is resulting in wasted spend. Adding negative keywords will stop your Ad’s from being triggered for these related search terms and help refine the traffic.
  • There should at least be 3 per Ad Group to take advantage of Google’s ad rotation system. Test different type of hooks, whether it is a free consultation, 10% OFF, or money back guarantee. This way you can understand and utilise what is the best marketing technique for your business.
  • Campaign should be broken down into tightly themed groups of keywords to target and/or attract higher quality traffic.
  • What is very common mistake  is  a number of keywords are being targeted that have low search volume. Underperforming keywords may have a detrimental effect on the campaign. Depending on the industry, you should be looking for key phrases that have been searched 1,000 (plus) times per month.
  •  You need to refine search traffic, the more targeted the more effective your campaign, use Keyword match types  to do this.
  • Some keywords are at number 4 or lower on the list, you should be aiming for the top 3 positions as these are the most clicked Ad’s
  •  You must measure. Conversion tracking code should be tracking any web form submissions, therefore the account cannot be optimised as efficiently. If you receive a new business calls you make sure you ask the customers where they found your business. You need to account for your PPC spend, otherwise it is not worth doing.

Small Business: getting the most out of social media

According to the recent yellow social media report(6) only 27% of small businesses and 34% of medium enterprises are plugging into social media. The data demonstrates an increased spend in 2012, small business have spend an average $3,410 on social media, up from $2,050 in 2011 and medium enterprises are likely to spend $16,920,up from $6,500.

Social media spending will also surge in 2013 and there is opportunities for companies who navigate this target market.

So if you are consulting a small business on how to best to use social media, where do you start?

Firstly, a business needs to map out their target market. The nature of the prospect will also decide which platform they may use. For example, most businesses will start with Facebook, although B2B and professional services are better catered for on Linked In. There are many social media platforms that allow for different demographics and different interests.

Secondly, a business has to be quite specific in what they want to achieve. Social media can lead to better brand awareness; it can be a way to research your market; provide better customer service, and of course increase sales. A clear call to action will get the best results.

Thirdly,  decide on what content you will be providing. The fresher, the more interesting content, the better it will be received by the audience. A business should aim to be a thought leader in their particular field. As a by-product, fresh regular content leads to great SEO results.

A business must allow sufficient time to engage social media, if you have a presence but do not regularly reply to users, it can be negative for the brand. Half an hour a day should be enough for a business starting out in social media. There are also many tools online that will help someone organise their social media presence, for example HootSuite is a tool for scheduling posts.

I believe the best approach is to be creative with social media, that is, use the nature of the medium to provide value to the target market. Here are some examples…

Twitter is a great way for a restaurant to share their new menu.

A dentist can publish videos of clients testimonials to lessen the fear for new customers.

If its a business that makes things, Pinterest is highly visual and a great way to exhibit products.

A nutritionist can write blogs, the more compelling the content, the more likelihood of getting inquiries.

Let me know of other examples where SME’s can use social media to promote their business.

Ford Fiesta: Social Media that Sells

In the last few years Ford Fiesta have been one of the most innovative brands in using social media.

An oldie but a goodie is the Ford Fiesta Movement, when Ford wanted to launch into the small car market in the US, they gave 100 cars to 100 people, for a 6 month period.  The idea was to take the Ford Fiesta on adventures and get the community involved. Adventures would be documented  on video and those with the most social media engagement would win the car. There were some great stories, a wresting alligator mission, meals on wheels safaris and supplying the national guard with snacks.

The Fiesta Movement was a game changer, according to Harvard Business Online, Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales, had over 6.5million views, and  50,000 requests for information about the car.  All by just giving 100 people a camera and a car.

Ford Fiesta have just recently released the Fiestagram, an innovative campaign that asks users to link Fiestas’ state of the art technology with photography. Facebook and Instagram were the platforms of choice, and the campaign was also bought to real life through galleries and a live billboard. The campaign created 120,000 fans.


I really like the way that Ford Fiesta uses Social Media to achieve business goals. I am guessing that their target market is twenty something, so they look at what will interest their prospects from a cultural perspective, and of course it has to be fun. Ultimately the brand thinks about different ways that they can add value to the users life.

An advertising colleague in China once described Social Media marketing to me as entering someone’s lounge room,  you are the guest so you need to behave appropriately. It seems Ford Fiesta are the perfect guests.

Mamas Cooking : missing the secret ingredient?

A few years ago, whilst working for a digital agency, I pitched an idea to the CEO which I though would become a viral hit. It was called ‘Mamas Cooking’ and it was a series of videos, about mothers teaching their grown up kids how to cook traditional dishes from their country of origin. The purpose was to capture and preserve these dishes in all their glory, with all their fatty ingredients, in old school kitchens with real, earthy banter.  Apart from cooking knowledge, the videos would act as entertainment, and really feed on the chemistry between family. Keep in mind that this was pre Master Chef and the myriad of shows that are presently available.

The CEO liked the idea, agreed to shoot a pilot, and then monitor  to see whether the video would take off. If we were to be successful we would approach a number of brands that we were in contact with to sponsor an international version, where we would shoot in remote areas of Japan, Russia, Italy, China and Latin America.

After a few months floating around on  youtube, sadly, mamas cooking did not hit tipping point, and I never went shooting on exotic locations.

So what should we have done differently?

Seeding : It is really no enough to seed your campaign on video sites, this particular video should have been seeded on cooking/ foodie  blogs and sites, as well as publishing in connector sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumble, Upon and Delicious. You can use what influence you and your company has on Facebook and Twitter, but a better plan would be to look for Social Media influencers within those channels and ask them to help promote the content, even run a facebook competition where  the winners would partake in the videos.

Content: Perhaps an international celebrity and his mum would of had more pulling power :). Also the 10 minute video may have been on the cusp of people’s patience with this medium.  

Testing: Doing the one pilot show may not have been enough perhaps by tracking the comments of the first one, we could have produced a better second and even third video.

What ideas do you think would of changed the fate of Mamas Cooking?

The Anatomy of a Viral Video

Any agency that has had a reasonable creative reputation, would know of a client, that has walked in the door and muttered the dreaded words, ‘I want a viral video’. You then go into education mode, expressing what is required, like great ideas, high production values, good budgets and in any case there is no real formula for viral videos.

Or is there?, Dr Brent Cocker and his team from the University of Melbourne have ‘identified patterns which form the basis of a Branded Viral Movie Predictor algorithm”, which identifies why some video content is watched and shared more than others”.  (University of Melbourne Website, 2012)

The most viewed viral videos have four key characteristics. What the research team coined ‘congruency’, is simply whether the viewer can relate their own value systems to the content presented. The ability of the video to raise emotions and also the motivation created to pass on the network are also factors of success. The fourth ingredient is coined as ‘Paired meme element synergy’,  and explains the combination of factors in the movie that combine to attain the interest of the audience, “for example, impromptu entertainment paired with anticipation”. (University of Melbourne Website, 2012)

Does the research match what is going on in the real world?

Sidwell is an agency who have recently produced American Hipster, video portraits of Americas trendsetters and their quest to make a difference.

In an interview with Mashable, the partners at Sidwell shared their steps to success. They refer to fresh original creative ideas and concepts as a starting point. Whether it is weird, entertaining, hilarious or unexpected, the video needs to emotionally appeal to users so that they would want to share it with other like-minded people. So there is universal agreement that a good viral needs to start with a great idea, and needs to evoke an emotional response from the audience.

Sidwell also gave also gave some practical tips for optimizing for online audiences, for example let you audience know what the video is about in the first 15-30 seconds, use interesting thumbnails to signify the video and go sparingly on the branding.

i guess the art of a viral video is how to get that emotional response from your audience, Krony 2012 had a sad story to tell but one that was full of hope, whilst pop musicians will publish entertaining clips of their work and thousands of their fans will lap it up online.

What are your thoughts on what makes a video viral?

Public Stoning at the Facebook Square

It is hard to argue against the fact that social media has given power back to the people.
Social Media was used with great artistry in 2008 when the Democrats appealed to a younger generation of Americans to vote Obama, the campaigns were so effective that they won advertising’s most respected prize, the Cannes  Lion. Also recently, it was Social Media that sparked a revolt against oppressive regimes in North Africa and the  Middle East, and became the tools for freedom in Egypt.  As Social Media becomes more and more widespread, the voice of the people,  becomes increasingly influential as it infiltrates  all facets of society, from journalism to even our justice system.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of Jill Meagher. A tragic story of a young journalist that was missing for days and eventually found dead. The story became a Social Media phenomenon, at first Social Media was helping search for Meagher, but when she was found dead, murdered, the concern that was being expressed, turned to grief and now anger.  “A Facebook hate group against the accused in the Meagher case has already attracted almost 18,000 “likes”. ” 

The concern that is expressed by Police and legal experts is that Social Media is influencing the case even before the facts are presented.

It prompted the Victorian Police to publish their own warning on Facebook…Social Media is the democratization of journalism, anyone can be published no matter what their qualifications on any particular topic. It becomes dangerous when a group, like in Meagher’s case, starts to react to emotion and forget about an individuals right to a fair trial.

So how do we curb the mob mentality in Social Media, can we punish those who behave irresponsibly, those who incite hate; set laws and parameters, that ultimately curb free speech. If we start policing Social Media, we loose what the medium has given us, the chance to voice our opinion without the fear of reprisal, the ability to cry ‘foul’ against behemoths like governments and corporations.

In my opinion there is no quick fix to the problem, the best course of action is to educate on what is responsible behaviour in Social Media. The appropriate behaviour will only come about when individuals start to realise that what they publish can cause harm to others.



Does Social Media Lead to Sales?

There have been a few studies that have shown that most people who are fans of brands are doing it to get special treatment, in the form of ‘freebies’ and discounted prices.  This  theory was again backed by a recent article from Mashable showed “82% of respondents said Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands”.  (Murphy S, Mashable, September 2012). But whilst on the surface these results are positive, a more detailed analysis explores the motivation behind the interaction.

The study was conducted by a market research company Lab 42 who surveyed 1000 Social media users. As the Infographic shows 87% of Social Media users do ‘like’ brands on Facebook, but out of those, the majority (55%) like brands because of either promotion, discounts or free giveaways.  Which leads to the number one reason that users interact with brands, to print off coupons.

What is poignant for marketers with ROI aspirations is that 46% of Social Media Users ‘liked’ a brand but had no reason to purchase. They either wanted a free product, they can’t afford the product or they were helping out a friend.

Since most people interacting with brands are after a freebie,  is  money in Social Media well spent? According to ‘2012 Social Media Marketing  Industry Report, How are marketers using Social Media to Grow their Business’, it is.

The study surveyed over 3,800 marketers, and revealed the following facts:

58% of businesses that have used social media marketing for over 3 years reported an increase in sales over that period

69% reported increase in traffic

75% are using social media to gain marketing intelligence

58% indicated generating leads a major benefit

85% of all businesses that have a dedicated social media platform as part of their marketing strategy reported an increase in their market exposure.

The results show that Social Media aids marketers in exposure and branding,  testing and market research;   it is also a source of leads and traffic to the website and most importantly over a three year period, Social Media increases sales.

I do agree that Social Media is important for all the above reasons, but the correlation between Social Media and sales is hard one to chew over, since a closer look at consumer behaviour with Social Media brands showed that about half, don’t have any intention to buy. Is this market research pitching to the converted, that is, marketing managers who just believe in the media… do fans of a brand  spend more than non fans, and can Social Media  change my purchase intentions?