Mar 04 2015

Forget about Search Engine Optimization

I remember the very first time I discovered how to make a website rank on page one of the search engines. It was 2005ish and I was selling online business profile pages for the yellow pages company I worked for. These profile pages were simple, template pages that allowed for the business to post its NAP and a business description, but otherwise they weren’t very robust.

Anyway, a friend of mine figured out how to alter the title tag to include the business’s main keywords and geography (i.e. equipment rental kansas city) and boy did those profile pages start to pop.

Compared to the animated, frame heavy web pages of 2005, our IYP profile pages were clean, crawler friendly, text pages that the search engines loved. And with keyword specific title tags, every profile page optimized started ranking on page one.

Worth noting, most websites at that time were using the word “home” for a title tag. Ugh.

Truth is, I was able to use the title tag strategy for years. I told every business owner who would listen and when they made that simple change, their ranking always improved.

Then I discovered the power of including lots and lots of keywords in the context of the page and if I’m honest, did my share of “keyword stuffing” and occasionally experimented with white text on white backgrounds. (I’m not proud of myself, but it sure as worked. Don’t judge!)

As these tactics got more and more popular, two things happened. One, everyone started using them so they had less impact; and two, Google started to figure out these tricks. They altered their algorithms so that keyword stuffing and title tags had less impact and in some cases could even get a site penalized.

Enter backlinks, the heart of Google’s PageRank algorithm. Suddenly, SEO was about improving PageRank by getting links, lots and lots of links from other websites. This meant that SEOs were spending less time optimizing “on-site” and were thrust into the world of acquiring links from others.

Off-site SEO in the shape of webmaster outreach and guest posts was born. Reciprocal links worked for a little while and then Google figured out what was going on and devalued traded links.

This also inspired the ultimate in black hat SEO – paid links – which also worked for a long time as Google tried to tell them apart from links that were “earned” – a hard thing to do since paid links don’t look any different from earned links.

But again, Google learned. There were signals that indicated that a link might not be authentic. Specifically, if your link appeared near a link for Viagra or payday loans or was completely unrelated to the content on the page, it was probably a paid link.

Fast forward to 2015 when everyone has a pretty good title tag, no one stuffs keywords anymore and Google penguins and pandas have dialed back the impact of backlinks. Today, SEO is a blend of so much more, including social signals (very hard to fake) and online reviews (don’t you dare try to fake or buy these!) and about a billion other things.

SEOs a lot smarter than me can provide details of what specifically works in 2015.

But in true “internet gobbledygook” fashion I’m just gonna lay it out in plain and simple terms.

Make your online presence awesome. That’s what search engines are looking for. In other words, stop trying to use “strategies” and simply do the things that would make your customers want to do business with you anyway. Stuff like:

Have robust content on your site.

This can be a blog full of thought leadership pieces or free advice, great product/service descriptions, images, videos, etc. Treat your website like it’s your showroom. Display your products and services in a way that people can see what they’ll get when they do business with you. Tell them why they should choose you.

Have some personality and engage with users on the web.

Don’t treat social media like an obligation or a tactic, but rather an opportunity to engage with others online just like you do in the real world. Be friendly and supportive and sharing and caring and all those things that make you awesome beyond the good work you provide. People want to do business with people they like – so BE LIKABLE.

Create an online environment that works for your customers.

If they’re looking at your site on their phones, make sure that it renders for their screen size. If an app is appropriate for your products/services, build an app. Have online forms for those who like to do everything online and be ready to answer the phone or a tweet for those who like to communicate that way. Remember, everyone uses the web at different levels. If you’re not as advanced as your customers, get there, or you may lose their business to someone who is.

Pay attention to your online presence, even the parts you don’t control.

Your business is listed on Yelp and CitySearch and those online yellow pages, even if you didn’t put it there. Make sure you’re represented properly with the right information, logo, images, branding, description of your business, products and services. Pay attention to those reviews and reply to them when it makes sense. Google your name and see what you find. You’re likely to find a lot more than your website and your Facebook page.

Does your HTML have to be in order and your navigation clean? Do you still need good title tags and keywords and backlinks? Sure. But you knew that. You’ve already taken care of that. So forget about “SEO strategies.” Search engines write their algorithms in an effort to rank “the best” businesses, so focus on a web presence that shows you are the best and the rest will fall into place.

Thanks for reading.

David McBee

PS: Paid advertising on the web won’t help or hurt your SEO. But don’t rule it out because what works in the real world also works on the web. So…

Advertise.

You have a sign outside of your business or plastered on the side of your van. You run TV, newspaper and/or radio to get your name out there. Do the same online with display ads and pre-roll video and Google AdWords. These are simply online equivalents of billboards, commercials and print yellow pages. You may not think they’re as effective as ranking first on a Google SERP, and you may be right. But there’s a reason millions of businesses are embracing these tactics.

Feb 27 2015

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

This video is pretty long. At an hour and twenty minutes, it is filled with statistics about review sites, how consumers are influenced by reviews and what reviews – both good and bad – can do for your business. I also highlight a strategy that will help you acquire more reviews. Plus, there are some clever examples of reviews in the real world that are pretty educational and often kinda fun. If online reputation management is important to you, I highly recommend you take the time to watch the presentation in it’s entirety.

But for those of you who can’t get around to the whole thing, I’ve compiled these strategies on dealing with negative reviews.

ONE: RESPOND QUICKLY

There are consumers who live and die by their internet devices and would rather communicate via twitter or Facebook than simply pick up the phone and call you. If you don’t think like that, okay. But remember, some of your customers do. For their sake, and for the sake of those who read reviews before making a buying decision (85% of consumers read online reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad. Source: BrightLocal), you have to respond within hours or days. There is nothing worse than a negative review sitting there without a response from the business.

TWO: THANK THE REVIEWER

Whether you agree with the review or not, that reviewer had a reason for taking the time to write it. They may be looking to help your business get better with feedback you need to hear, or they may be looking to protect others from a negative experience. Either way, in their mind, they are doing the world a favor with their review. So thank them for taking the time to do it. Besides, it looks very professional and polite. You don’t want to be professional and polite, don’t you?

Negative Review Don't Try to winTHREE: DON’T TRY TO WIN

There’s nothing worse than seeing an argument between a customer and a business owner on a review site. Even if you’re right, potential customers aren’t going to take the time to weigh both sides of the argument and determine that because you were right, they want to do business with you. There are simply too many choices on the internet, so they’re just going to steer clear of an argumentative business owner.

FOUR: RESPOND PRIVATELY

After you respond publicly (Thank you for taking the time to write a review. I’ll be in touch privately to work with you on a resolution to this issue.), get in touch with them in private. Email them directly. No, better yet, PICK UP THE PHONE and call them. The sincerity of your voice is lost in an email and frankly it’s a lot harder to be a jerk to you when you’ve caught them on the phone. If you do email them, remember to still be nice. If they don’t like you’re response, they’re likely to copy and paste it into the original review and it could make things worse.

In the video, I talk about an example where a local restaurant contacted my wife privately after she left a negative review. He thanked her and offered her a free meal if she would give them another chance. Nicely done.

FIVE: CONSIDER COMPENSATION WITH CAUTION

If you are willing to provide a refund or credit of some kind, be careful to do that in private. Offering this in public could generate new negative reviews from folks who are just looking for freebies. Also, you don’t want to lose money just because someone complains, especially if their complaint is unfounded.

SIX: IF YOUR EFFORTS BEAR FRUIT, REQUEST REMOVAL OR AN UPDATE TO THE REVIEW

If you work things out with the reviewer and make them happy, it’s okay to ask them to remove their negative review – or better yet, to update it. Watch the video from 50:20 to 53:30 for an awesome example of how one business owner turned a 1-star reviewer who said, “This place blows!” into a 4-star reviewer who “would not hesitate to shop at the stores [business owner] owns.”

FINALLY: FALL ON THE SWORD

Right or wrong. True or false. Accurate or lies. It does not matter. You are not responding for the benefit of the person who wrote the review. YOU ARE RESPONDING FOR THE BENEFIT OF FUTURE READERS OF THE REVIEW. This is so important. This is not about that one reviewer or that one situation. This is about all the hundreds of people who are going to read the review and decide if they want to do business with you in the future. So do everything you can to make that reader understand how serious you are about good customer service and quality of work and how hard you’re willing to work to work to make your customers happy.

No matter what the reviewer has said about your business (This guy is a crook!”), you can counter it in a way that makes people want to do business with you. (Thank you for taking the time to write a review. I’m sorry for what happened. I’d like to make it right. Please contact me so we can come to a resolution…) See what I mean? Do you see a crook? Or do you see a business owner who made a human mistake but wants to make things right? I’d do business with that guy all day long.

Do you have a great “online review” story you’d be willing to share? Tell us in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

David McBee


Skip to your favorite section…

0:00 Opening

2:48 – Online reputation management. Is it worth your time? Tons of statistics that say, yes.

16:27 Find and evaluate reviews

20:19 How to get more reviews

39:24 Dealing with negative reviews

1:00:19 Things to avoid when getting reviews

1:04:04 Own page one

1:07:21 Action steps

1:13:34 Q & A

Dec 03 2014

SEM and Targeted Display. Two worlds collide. And the results are awesome.

I recently had the privilege of speaking to the at AZIMA (Arizona Internet Marketing Association) about Search Engine Marketing and Targeted Display. With several years in SEM and a couple of years studying and working closely with Targeted Display, it was felt that I might have a unique perspective on two digital strategies that are normally in competition with one another.

Enjoy “SEM and Targeted Display. Two worlds collide. And the results are awesome.”

david at azima 11

 

Complete transcript:

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Well, tonight we have with us David McBee from Simpli.fi and what I really love about David is the fact that he has seen the light and  [00:14]  Maybe I didn’t say that right.  But, David’s journey with search is an interesting one. He’s going to tell us the story here, but you know, those Yellow Pages?  Those books?  Those were actually the first search engine, right?  That was the old school way. You cracked open a Yellow Page book and we called that, in the old days, search engine evolution and you were spending money on Yellow Pages and Google search engine evolution [00:41], but he’s now talking about targeted displays and for a search guy to talk about display is a big, big deal.  So, welcome, David.

DAVID:  Thank you.  Hello.  I’m just going to get right to it because I have a lot of stuff. They said I needed to get this done in 45 minutes and it’s going to be tight, but I have so much to share with you, so I’m just going to jump right into this.  This is a little bit about my history and I think it’s relevant because two things:  number one, you need to know where I came from to understand the perspective that I have on search and targeted display and how they work together. And, number two, you didn’t really come out to see me. You came to hear about the topics, so this is just a moment to understand why you should listen to this guy in the first place.

I did start in Yellow Pages. I kind of hated it.  I mean, I loved working with the business owners, right? I loved helping them with their businesses, but even 10, 11 years ago, I was like already gravitating towards internet products.  So, when the Yellow Pages companies started getting eating away by internet, I was all over that.  And nobody went to school to learn how to do Google, right?  And so, I became a consummate student of it and, therefore, ended up teaching all the rest of the print reps about the internet projects. So, they made me the training manager and everything was very exciting and then all the Yellow Pages internet products kind of sucked. Anybody experience that?  Was anybody doing that back then?  Right?  And so, I left and I went looking for bigger, better internet companies. I went to a couple of companies in New York and I’ve sold SEO and I’ve sold pay-per-click and the whole gamut and I loved it and I was doing great although I have to admit that before I started doing SEO, I had hair.  So, you’ve gotten that phone call, “Why am I not on page 1 anymore?”  I don’t have those calls anymore.  I love that.  About a year and a half ago, Simpli.fi called me. And, if you don’t know Simpli.fi, Simpli.fi is a programmatic targeted display technology.  So, we…My mother’s like, “What does that mean?” I’m like, “You know those ads that follow you around?  We do that. Those creepy, stalker ads.  That’s our technology, right?”  So, that’s where I’ve been for the last year and a half.  And they hired me to train people to sell this particular product that I didn’t know anything about.  The reason they hired me is because I have this gift for translating what I call internet gobbledygook into stuff anybody can understand.  And so, my goal for you guys tonight is to try and do that.  Now, for those of you who are a little more savvy, the first 12 minutes of this presentation are going to be pretty miserable because we have to go over some definitions, but I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, so bear with me through that part and we’ll get into the good part.  Also, I didn’t bring any cards, so there’s my contact information.  Or, you can just Google David McBee.  I’m number one for my own name as we all should be, right?  Although I will say this:  this morning I got a Google Alert that David McBee in Georgia went to prison.  So, if you find that guy. That is not me. That is…that is totally true.  Okay. So, let’s do a couple of quick definitions. First one:  obviously, what is search engine marketing?  Now, some people think search engine marketing is pay-per-click; some people think it’s SEO.  For the purposes of tonight, it’s the combination of the two. It’s any strategy that one would use to get on the first page of Google. I know you guys know that, so we’re going to move right along. Real quick:  SEO, obviously, showing up here in the free section. Everybody knows all the great SEO tactics like optimizing your HTML; buying bad backlinks.  No, we don’t do that.  Building backlinks, right?  That’s better.  Great content creation. Lots of Google +’s.  That helps a lot, doesn’t it?  I will say this:  I was doing a little research here and I discovered an article that said 96% of all searches end up in the free section. How do you guys feel about that? Do you feel like that’s accurate?  Or, it might have been 94% and I thought, “Man, that seems like a lot.”  But then, I realized that most of the stuff we Google, there’s no reason to click on an ad, right?

[05:01]

What’s that movie that she was in or, you know, what time does the park open?  Or, whatever.  Those are things that we tend to search for that an ad wouldn’t be a good solution. So then, I looked at search engine marketing or pay-per-click and this is where I really built my career.  In this space.  And, I always told people…They’d be like, “David, nobody clicks on those. I never clicked. I go right past those.”  You guys have heard that, right?  I found the greatest stat ever. It’s by WordStream and they said that 67% of keywords with commercial intent get clicked in the paid section.  If you sell PPC, that is…I’m putting that on the back of the car, right?  That is hot.  So, this is what I’m talking about when I’m talking search engine marketing.  Any questions?  We good?  Move along, David. We got that part.  Targeted display, however, gets a little more complicated. There’s lots of definitions out there about what targeted display is.  It’s also called retargeting or programmatic display, right?  So, let’s spend a little bit of time talking about how Simpli.fi does it and how a lot of folks in our industry do it.  Now, I’m just talking about surfing the web and seeing ads.  Here I am surfing the web.  By the way, I am a Kansas City native. Barbeque is in my blood. If you cut me open, that’s what will come out. We used bandaids for bacon.  And, this is an ad that follows me around. I’m happy to say, I do buy my wife flowers on occasion and FTD stalks me because of it. This is what I’m talking about with targeted display. We’ve all had this happen, right?  Here I am again checking out the iPhone 6. Do I want the Plus? Do I want the 6? And FTD targets me again. Now, I’m often asked, “Hey, David.  How about that Harley Davidson ad there?  Is that one retargeting you?”  Why do you think I’m buying the flowers?  So, here are the strategies:  Number One:  Geotargeting.  Now, of course, geotargeting exists in  pay-per-click, too, right?  But, in display, basically what it means is this:  We’re going to put your ad in front of people as they surf the web–whatever sites they go to in a geographic area. It can be a city. It can be a zip code.  It can be whatever.  That’s not terribly targeted, but it is geotargeted. Now, that might be good for a new drycleaner, or a grocery store, or a restaurant. Something that people don’t search for a lot, but that they want their ads showing up on the display ads. So, that’s geotargeting.  That’s one tactic. That’s the easiest, simplest one.  The next one is site retargeting.  This is probably what you’re impression of targeted display is, right?  Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to a website and then left and then saw ads for that website. We’ve all been stalked by these, right?  And, it’s almost all site retargeting and it’s very, very powerful.  The reason it’s so hot right now. The reason it’s so big is because 97% of first-time visitors to a website will leave without contacting you.  Ninety-seven percent.  So, you spend all this money on pay-per-click to get all these people to your site and guess what?  Ninety-seven out of 100 of them leave.  How painful is that.  Here’s my friend,  Dr. Cobb. He’s a pediatric dentist in my hometown of Olathe, Kansas, and he does pay-per -click. He does social media. He has this great Facebook page. You know, they take pictures of the kids with moustaches and the moms see that and he has a great reputation, so he gets a lot of word of mouth business.  Does this sound like some of your clients?  But 97 out of every 100 that get to him leave and they don’t take any action. So, when they leave and they surf the rest of the web and they go to TMZ or ABC Family or any of these sites that sell display ads, and they don’t sell out, they go put them out on the real time bidding market, we can put his ad in front of them again and again and again. You know what’s cool about that?  We can bring about 26% of those visitors back. So, right there…Right there’s a little spoiler.  If you’re already doing pay-per-click and you’re talking to a business about retargeting, right there is a good reason to continue doing it. To do them both.  Now, the third tactic is search retargeting. Now, search retargeting—just like it sounds like—is based on the searches that we do. Where do we mostly search?  Google, right?  Raise your hand if you searched Google today.  We all do this. Now, those searches that we do on Google, they don’t share those any more, do they?  Remember in October when Google went to 100% secure search and everyone in SEO went, ahhhhh!  That affected a lot of data companies as well. That was a lot of data off the radar, but guess what? I’m going to paint this picture of a Google search being the very beginning of a real search.

[10:00]

A true robust search, if you will. Google searches are the beginning like the tip of an iceberg. So, here I am.  This search is “teach kids to floss”.  Now,  if you do that, the number one and number two results are WebMD and BabyCenter.  So, you click on WebMD, you go to this wonderful site and they have an article about brushing and flossing children’s teeth.  We’ve all had this experience, right? Maybe not this exact search, but there’s something else on that page that’s intriguing and it’s WebMD’s very own search box, right there at the top.  Lots of sites have that, don’t they? In fact, almost every site we visit has its own kind of search. So, when a person goes here and types in “importance of flossing baby teeth” because they want to learn more about what WebMD has to say on the subject, that data can get captured. WebMD, and I can’t speak to WebMD specifically, but companies like that monetize their sites by selling that data. So, even if Google doesn’t sell their search data, there’s still a ton of search data available through searches like this and it’s not just WebMD, Discovery Fit and Health, BabyCenter, About.com, these are all examples of that. Now, you may not think, “Oh, I don’t do those searches very often,” and that’s okay. But, we tend to have about 3,000 search…pieces of search data on almost every browser in North America, so there’s a lot of this search going on.  And, in fact, the other way that we get search data, is through what I call a vertical search engine.  Now, a vertical search engine exists because we’ve gotten smart about how the web works. If you’re going to book a flight right now, who’s going to Google that?  We don’t Google it, do we? We just skip Google and go where? What sites would you go to?

AUDIENCE:  Kayak.

DAVID:  Kayak. Travelocity, right?  Hipmunk.  And, those guys can sell and monetize that data.  Right here, you can see, this guy from Kansas City wants to go to Key West and maybe I’ll start seeing ads for Key West.  I saw ads for Scottsdale for the last two weeks. After I booked my flight and stuff, somebody knew I was here. So, there’s no hiding from the internet. CNet.  It’s a technology site. Whenever I want to learn stuff about new phones or cameras, I skip Google. I go straight to CNet.  DIY Network for the do-it-yourselfer.  Lawyers.com, Cars.com, Realtor.com.  These vertical search engines—they capture your search data and they resell it to databrokers and that’s another way that you’re leaving digital fingerprints that you can get targeted online. The fourth way is keyword contextual.  You say, “Well, David, I don’t use those little search boxes very often. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re full of it.”  Okay.  What about this? You’re surfing your Facebook and your friend posts a link to something cool.  You click on it. In this case, it’s a link to “Why should my child start flossing her teeth?”  This is something I’ve been interested in the whole time, right?  I click on it. I go to this page and I read the content.  I didn’t do a search. I didn’t leave any kind of search fingerprint, did I?  But, now Parents.com knows that this user is reading this content and they attach that to me and now they have information about my interests.  Just based on what I was reading. So, be careful what you read.  And, it’s not just a site like Parents.com.  It could be any site. HowStuffWorks.com, if you guys know this site, they talk about everything under the sun. It has nothing to do with children or babies or flossing, generally speaking, but this article was.  And so, just the content on the page and the fact that I visited and spent some time on this page tells the users about me and they can target you based on that.  Fifth way:  category contextual. Category contextual is less about searches, less about the keywords that we’re reading and more about the pages that we’re visiting. Now, this is…this is way less targeted. This is more like classic advertising. Here’s an ad for protein bars by Gatorade and they’ve put it on ESPN. Would you guys agree that that ad makes sense? Right?  Raise your hand if you’re eaten a granola bar or a protein bar in the last month? Anybody?  Now, keep your hand raised if you searched for that at all.  Right?  So, Gatorade isn’t going to have much luck using the tactics I’ve talked about, are they? So, instead, they say, “Well, let’s find the right sites.  The sites that make sense for a protein bar.” This is like a local sports bar advertising on SportsTalk radio.  Or, a local funeral home advertising in the obituaries. It just logically makes sense to place the ad where it belongs and that’s a different kind of targeting. Another example of that is this restaurant advertising on OpenTable.  We all eat.

[15:00]

We all go out to eat all the time, but we don’t exhibit a lot of search behavior that shows that we want to go eat, so why should we use those other tactics? Instead, let’s just put our restaurant on sites that have to do with food and eating and entertainment and it makes sense. Alright. Moving along. We blend these tactics. Can you use one of them solely? Absolutely. Do we recommend it? No.  A good targeted display campaign uses all of these tactics so that they can reach people at different points in the purchase cycle.  So, when I say targeted display for the rest of this evening, I’m talking about something, some kind of tactic right there being the reason that you saw an ad.  Everybody with met?  We good?  Alright. Cool.

Now, let’s get to how they’re different—how they butt heads and how they work together and the first one is time.  Opportunity. How much opportunity do you have to reach good prospects?  Let’s find out. Here’s a Google search for pediatric dentist in Kansas City.  How long would you guys say that a search like this takes?  Just shout out.

AUDIENCE:   One second.

DAVID: One second. Five seconds.

AUDIENCE: Twenty seconds.

DAVID: Twenty seconds. Right? I mean, we go to Google; we search; we click something. We’re not there very long, are we? Would you guys say that 10 seconds is a fair estimate for about how long we spend on Google? We all agree with that?  Okay, cool.   How many Google searches do we do in a day?

AUDIENCE:  (inaudible)

DAVID: Now, this group is a little skewed, right?  We probably do 10, 20, 30 searches a day.  ComScore says the average person is searching Google 120 times a month. So, that’s only 4 searches a day.  Of course, that…that’s my mother, right? Who calls me and says, “Hey, what movie was this person in?”  I’m like, “Ask your phone. You don’t even have to dial it. Just…just hold that button for 2 seconds. She will tell you.”  So…So, let’s say the average person is 4 searches, but for easy math, because I’m not a math guy, let’s say we do 10 searches a day.  That means that we’re on Google for 100 seconds a day.  We spend less than 2 minutes a day on this monster, boheamouth site that we are so focused on. Our business owners say, “David, I want to be on page 1 of Google.” I’m like, “Fantastic.  We’ve got 2 minutes wrapped up. How much time do you spend on the internet?”  “I hadn’t thought of that.”  Two minutes. Most of us don’t think about this. Now, I’m not minimizing the value of those 2 minutes. Those are two very important minutes. Are they not? That’s when a person’s right there and they’re searching. They want what they want, but the average person is actually spending about 5 hours a day plugged into some kind of device. You see them driving down the road on their Facebook, right?  My…my wife checks Facebook in line at the grocery store. The other day, I caught her doing it while she was brushing her teeth. I’m like, “Put the phone down for 5 seconds.” We are plugged in. You know what that means? Lots and lots of opportunity because the worldwide web is free, isn’t it?  It is funded by advertisements for pizza and The Hampton. It’s funded by advertisements to Walt Disney World and, what is that, some kind of cable or ComCast. So, every time we surf and go to the web and surf and look around and plug into our phones and our devices, we’re seeing ads all the time. Imagine if you could go back in time and talk to a business owner fifteen years ago and tell them, “People are going to be plugged into these things five hours a day. Would you like to advertise on them?” They’d be like, “Yes! Of course, I would.”  Here I am on Facebook and Jimmy John’s is putting an ad in front of me. We checked Facebook yet? Anybody checked it today? Of course we did.  It’s an opportunity. We spend way more time on Facebook than we do on Google.  Here’s a USAToday, an ad for Jeep tires targeting me.  Okay, so…so, speaking just about the amount of opportunity to get your ad in front of eyeballs, I think it’s fair to say that there’s some advantages to display.

Let’s recap.  With SEM, you get about 2 minutes a day. With targeted display, we’re talking about as much as 5 hours a day to get in front of people. In my opinion, targeted display wins that one but, that doesn’t mean I would give up SEM because combined, they’re awesome.

[20:00]

You’re getting in those 5 hours and then when they’re searching for your product or service, then you’re really getting them. That’s when you’re setting the hook.   Okay, so that’s time. That’s opportunity.

Let’s move on to the purchase funnel.  The users that we are trying to reach are at all different levels of the purchase funnel and, of course, by the purchase funnel, I’m talking about people who are unaware of your product. People who are ready to buy it. Now, I’m going to take you through a scenario that happened to me over the last few months. My wife came to me and she said, “My back hurts. I really think we need a new bed.” And, she was right. We had the two dips, you know?  I’d like to say there was one dip in the middle, but I’ve been married 16 years, so…So, I did a search for “best mattress” and, as you can imagine, that gave me these results.  Now, at this point in my shopping experience, do you think I was ready to click on one of those paid ads and go buy a mattress? No. At this point, I needed more information. So, I skipped right past them and I went down to this one which is ConsumerReports.com. I click on it, I go to ConsumerReports. Just reading that content alone put digital fingerprints out there for me, didn’t it? Somebody now knows this clown needs a mattress.  And then, I went ahead and used that search box to see what else they had and I started looking for more specific things because the mattress buying guide talked all about TempurPedic and SleepNumber and airmattresses and all this stuff, so here I am leaving digital fingerprints all over the place.  I go back to Google because we do that, right?  We go back to Google. I found this one was WebMD.  It’s like…It’s like my event is sponsored by WebMD.  That took me here to the best mattresses for a better night’s sleep and I did another search:  “best mattress for back pain”.  Still not ready to buy.  I’m learning.  In fact, I got on Facebook. I talked to some friends and some time went by. And we make major purchases, do we make them quickly? When you go buy a car, do you just go buy it? When you decide to go back to school, do you just pick a school?  “Oh, the first one on Google. Yay! I’ll go there.”  No. You take some time. You do a lot of research and I left a lot more digital fingerprints than I’m showing you, but some time went by and as I’m surfing the web—and, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m kind of a superhero nut.  I saw some ads for TempurPedic.  And, to be fair, this isn’t the exact screenshot I saw.  Okay.  Those of you being picky, but I did actually see these ads, grabbed them and I’ve mocked them up for you.  Then, I’m on another site and I saw ads for Sleep Number. To be honest, I saw a ton of ads for Sleep Number and TempurPedic.  Tons. I saw ads for iComfort. I saw ads on my Facebook page for TempurPedic.  I saw ads for, what is that? Posturpedic. I mean, these mattress companies were very aggressive. They really wanted my business. Even on my iPad, I saw a Sleep Number ad. In fact, when I was in L.A., this truck was following me around.

(laughter)

DAVID:  I:  That actually happened. Obviously, they’re not targeting me, but I was like, “Oh, my god. I’ve got to get a picture of that!”  And, then a Sleep Number ad came on the radio. I swear to god. It was freaking me out. So, here I am halfway down the purchase funnel and I’m getting bombarded by all these display ads and I figure, “Okay, you really can’t buy a mattress on the internet, can you?”  You’ve got to go lay on a mattress to know what you want.  So, I go back to Google and what do you think I searched? Something generic like “mattresses”?  No. At this point, I had a better idea about what I wanted, so I typed in “TempurPedic dealer in Kansas City”.  Now, if you’re running a search engine marketing campaign for a TempurPedic dealer, that’s the kind of search you want me to do, isn’t it?  Because when I got to this page, all I see is TempurPedic dealers. There’s no sign of Sleep Number or Posturpedic there, is there? And, how much does a brand search cost? They’re all less expensive aren’t they? And, a lot of the times, they rank number one in organic.  So, if you can influence me to search a brand keyword, you’re really done your job.  I also searched for Sleep Number stores in Kansas City.  So, I went out and I checked them both out, laid down on them, bought a TempurPedic. Hurt my back for a month.  They take a while to break in, the guy says. I don’t know.  Alright. So, here’s the search engine funnel.  Or, the purchase funnel. I’m sorry.  Let’s look and see where search engine marketing fits into this. At the top of the funnel is awareness.  So, if no one knows your product or business exists, are they searching for it?

[25:00]

No, there’s no way to create awareness with search.  That’s like putting an ad in the Yellow Pages for something no one’s ever heard of.  You just don’t look for it. But, there are these searches that happen early on in the purchase funnel. Remember, my search for best mattresses? Now, if you haven’t heard the phrase “head keywords”, it’s the opposite of a long-tail keyword and they’re words like “furniture”, or “truck” or “plumber”.  Now, if you run search engine marketing campaigns, are these highly profitable? Are these really good  converting keywords? No. Not at all. So, search engine marketing may or may not be the best strategy for reaching somebody in that spot, but it can get in front of them, and then, as you gain interest and you lean down towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re still really not…Search just really can’t in front of you until you get to the bottom and then you have that long-tail keyword like “antique loveseat” or “2011 Ford F150” and that’s where search really kicks butt, isn’t it?  That’s where SEM needs to be playing.  But, like I said with TempurPedic, if you can get me to do one of these, a brand search? It’s always a better experience. That is the very, very closest I’m going to be to buying your product.  Now, let’s look at the same funnel with display.  With display, even if I don’t know your product exists, you can put it in front of me, can’t you?  You guys heard of the little tile things?  Have you guys seen these? They connect to your iPhone and you can put it on your backpack or your bike and you’re supposed to be able to find something. They don’t work, but I bought one. I didn’t know they existed. I wasn’t going to search for that, but I saw the display ads for them. They were targeting me.  And then, search retargeting, those same head keywords—they start to leave those little fingerprints. The content that I’m reading…Or, the kinds of pages that I’m visiting—the content that I’m reading?  All along the purchase funnel, there are opportunities to get your ad in front of me the whole way.  And then, at the bottom is search retargeting and there’s a much smaller window, but then, I go to your site, I leave your site and site retargeting can get me.  So, I…I contend that in the purchase funnel, display plays a very, very powerful role in the branding and getting your message out there and influencing the searches that you’re going to do.  So, let’s recap them. With search engine marketing, you reach users who are searching for information as they start their shopping journey. Those may or may not be the right people you want to get in front of at that time and people who are ready to buy. With display, you get them all across the way and so my biased opinion? I’m going to give targeted display this one, but  I say combine them and that’s even better. The cool thing is, even though I’m this new world of display, I’ve still got one toe over here going “search is still awesome”.

Now, reporting. Measuring the results. How much fun is that with display? Spoil alert.  Display loses this one.  The average user response to ads. With search engine marketing, officially—and you guys have probably seen better numbers than this—it’s 2-7% of people will click on an ad they find on the search engine marketing page. Well, I’m talking about CTR, right?  Does that sound about right?  You guys get better than 7%?  I mean, that basically means that 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 out of every 100 people who see the ad will click on it and go to your site. That’s awesome. With display, it’s terrible. It’s like a .1.  That means like 1 in 1000 people will click on the ad and go to your site. By the way, I put that last one on there. It’s television. I don’t know how they figured that out, but the research I saw said that we see about 6,000 TV ads every month and we act on 3 of them. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t know how they measure that.  Do they follow you around? I was at a bar the other night with my friend. We were drinking. We saw an ad for Dumb and Dumber 2.  We went and saw the movie.  By the way, don’t do that. It’s so, so terrible, but the television commercial worked on me. Now, I want to make a point here.  I didn’t click on that television commercial, did I? There’s no CTR on that television commercial was there? But, it still worked, didn’t it? They still got my $11 plus the $97 for popcorn.  So, let’s talk about people who click on display ads. This is what I call my pain slide. This slide says that you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a display ad.  That you’re more  likely to get a full house when playing poker. You’re more likely to summit Mt. Everest or get into MIT than click on a display ad. Guess what? We don’t click on them.

[30:00]

People, generally speaking, don’t click on display ads.

AUDIENCE: Why do we use them?

DAVID:  Why do we keep using them?  I’m going to tell you. That’s fantastic! What’s this woman about to do? And, don’t say, “Get in her time machine and come home.”

(laughter)

DAVID: When you open the Yellow Pages, what’s the one thing you’re going to do?

AUDIENCE:  Make a phone call.

DAVID:  Make a phone call, right? That’s the only thing we do when we open the Yellow Pages. Nobody reads them for fun, do they? You know, flipping through that going, “Oh, that’s a good looking attorney.”  So, we know that if you open the Yellow Pages, you’re going to make a phone call. Everybody agree? Nod your heads.  Let me know I’m not alone up here. Alright.  Now, this woman’s hanging out reading a fashion magazine.  What’s she about to do?

AUDIENCE:  (inaudible)

DAVID:  Who knows, right?  What’s she going to…take a nap?  Go fix her car? Take…I don’t know what she’s going to do. Now, if there’s an ad in there for Kohl’s, is she going to run out and go to Kohl’s right now? Probably not. Is there a chance that in the future, she might go to Kohl’s?  That those ads influence her behavior? Absolutely. Is there a way to tie that back to that moment? Not really.  And, advertisers, before the internet came along, they actually used the “F” word a lot. It was called “faith”.  So, let’s translate this to the internet. Here’s a search that I did for power tops. Automatic tops on Jeep Wranglers. This is…this is my dream. I have a Jeep Wrangler and taking the top off’s a pain.  I want just a button.  Zzzz, right?  You know? So, I searched for that. Now, when you go to Google and you do a search like this, are you going to find the answer to your question on this page?  What do you have to do?  Everybody say it together:  Click, right? You have to click and if you’re running ads on this page, measuring the success of those ads based on the clicks, that’s a totally fair metric, isn’t it?  Just like when I sold Yellow Pages, putting a tracking phone number in the ad?  That was a very powerful way of proving the ad worked. The click has to happen for the ad to work. Nobody remembers the ad they didn’t click. There’s no branding value on this page, is there? So, I go to this page and I start reading about this folding top—this is after market, by the way—and I get excited about it and I’m reading about it and…You guys see that ad that’s sitting there right next to my article?  You think I’m going to click on it and go out and buy a bed right now? No. I’m reading about my Jeep right now. I don’t care about my wife’s sore back right this minute. I’m focused on me. It’s all about the Jeep, but somewhere in the corner of my mind, I’m seeing that ad and I’m feeling that branding.  And you know what? I’m going to go do a search for TempurPedic later. That is exactly what happened and when you go to TempurPedic’s website and you look at the Google Analytics, is it going to show that this happened? No. It’s going to show that I searched and clicked on the search, but this, my friends, influenced that search and it has…it gets no credit. It gets no credit for what it did. It’s kind of sad.  See, Yellow Pages, search engine marketing, they are an action based kind of advertising. You are expected to take an action, but display? It’s all visual. It impacts you for an action that you’re going to take later in your experience. By the way, when I said, “No one clicks on ads.” That’s not entirely true. About 8% of users of responsible for 85% of all the clicks on display ads.  I have a theory. Those are people trying to sell more display ads.

(laughter)

DAVID:  And teenagers. And old people. We just don’t.  All…All the data says that people over the age of 24 and under the age of 65 just aren’t clickers and yet, that’s who’s spending the money. That’s who’s buying the stuff. So, don’t focus on the clicks.  Display does impact search. Audience exposed to display advertising are more engaged with the advertiser’s site. In other words, if I see that TempurPedic ad and then I go search and I go to the site…Maybe I just go straight to the site, that user tends to spend more time on the site. It’s a better lead. One in five people who are exposed to display ads will search for that brand at some point. One in five. These come from the Online Publishers Association, by the way, and display increases brand searches by up to 38% after being up for just a month.

[35:03]

Running an SEM campaign for somebody? Want to increase their brand searches? And those are inexpensive, aren’t they? That leaves you more money to do other stuff.  This can do it.  I’ve actually had business owners tell me things like, “Overall website traffic has increased significantly, but your click through rate is terrible.”  Hello?  Hello?  What changed?  Oh, we ran display ad for the last 90 days. That’s when your traffic went up? Guess what? That was me, baby. Or, how about this one. This is a true statement. Somebody flat out said, “Our brand name went from the 92nd most keyword,” –that’s bad news. Right there—to their 3rd most popular keyword. Now, why, my friends, all of a sudden did people start looking for you by name? Could it have anything to do with all those display ads that we’re showing people?  Oh, but your CTR was a .07%.  Who cares?  They’re showing up at your site. They’re looking for you by name. They’re getting there.  And so, we’ve got a couple of examples here. This was an advertiser that I was working with and he had a .07% CTR. He was really unhappy.  He had like a .3 with his local online paper and he had a .6 with his pay-per-click and he saw this and he just about came unglued.  I said, “Okay, I can’t prove to you all of these things that I’ve been telling you about people searching for you and coming to your site and all this increased traffic, but let’s just look at the folks who did click on your ads because that’s available in your analytics and let’s discover a few things about them,” and what we discovered was they had the lowest bounce rate of any of the traffic he had on his site. Lower even then people who typed in his URL and came straight to his site. The people who clicked on the display ads had a 34% bounce rate and they had the highest time on site at 7 minutes. This was a furniture store, by the way. So, the few people that are clicking the display ads? They are really, really good leads and when he got that information, he looked at it differently, he said, “Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s keep that.”  By the way, we looked at his .33 click through rate that he had with the other service and the bounce rate was 94%.  I’m like, “Okay. Well, great CTR.  Good for you.”  Here’s an attorney that we were working with and he was doing search engine marketing and he was having a lot of success with it. Very aggressive and he agreed to ad display. Now, notice I don’t ever say, “Take one away and replace it.” That’s an important point. He added display and he saw 127% increase to visits to his site and that was a year later.  So, this is year over year statistics for him. Page visits went up 20%. So, people who went to the site visited more pages of the site and time on site went up 268% and the only difference was he added targeted display.

So, let’s recap those, okay? Real quick:  search engine marketing – the CTR is a very reliable metric that really does prove that the campaign is working or not.  And, with targeted display, CTR is just one metric that we have to look at, but can be misleading or not.  View through metrics are implied by increased website visits; increased time on site; lower bounce rates, that kind of thing, so when it comes down to hardcore reporting and making the customer happy, I say search engine marketing wins every time because you’ve really got to have a theoretical conversation with a business owner to get them to buy into what I’ve just shared with you today, don’t you? And, that’s a hard conversation to have.  How we doing? Alright. Good.  By the way, combine them. It’s awesome.

Now, let’s talk about optimizing and forgive me for this part. I haven’t talked too much about my own company, Simpli.fi.  In this section, I will a little bit because Simpli.fi does things a little different than other targeted display companies, so forgive me in advance if it comes across that way, but it’s…it’s part of the story and I want you to know it.  Let’s pretend you guys run a Jeep dealership. You own a Jeep dealership and a sales rep comes to you and he says, “I want to sell you a targeted display campaign. Here’s what it looks like.  Mr. Business Owner, I’m going to put your ad in front of people who are what are called “auto intenders”.  And, he says to you, “Well, what does that mean?”  “Well, auto intenders are people whose online behavior has shown that they want to buy a car.  Well, what does that mean?  I don’t know any more than that?  That’s all I know because we bought this data from a third party. They packaged it up into this audience and that’s the audience I’m selling you, but I promise you, somebody in there wants to buy a Jeep. That’s a fair statement.

[40:00]

Now, when you look inside, here’s what you discovery:  Here are the things that actually put them in that audience.  A search for fuel efficient vehicles.  Not a Jeep. Reads news articles about safest mini-vans for kids. Probably not a Jeep buyer. Shops for car seats. That’s debatable. I shopped for car seats when I had a Jeep, so…Spends time on Cars.com. What were they searching for? I don’t know. Asks questions on  a Jeep forum. Oh! That’s a good one. Wait.  They might already have a Jeep. Okay.  So, we don’t know. Reads reviews that compare Toyotas and Hondas.  Well, if they’re comparing CRVs and RAV4s, maybe we can influence them with a Jeep ad.  Maybe. It’s hard to say. I don’t know. But, you get the idea?  These are behaviors that somebody said, “All these things have to do with in common, is they want to buy a car.”  So, they packaged them up.  Now, with search engine marketing, you don’t have to be that…that big of a blanket, do you?  You can pick and choose exactly the audience you want to put our ads in front of, right? You can say, “I want to be in front of people who have searched for Jeep Wrangler dealer.  I want to put my ad in front of people who are searching for four-door Jeeps and accessories and Jeep tops and Jeep dealership in Denver and 2014 Jeep…”  These are really good leads, aren’t they?  And so, you could say, “Well, David, all that stuff you’ve told me so far?  Now, you’ve kind of influenced me that it’s search that really gets in front of the right audience and display gets in front of everybody and a little bit of the right audience.” And, there’s some truth to that. That’s true of television and radio and billboards and every other kind of creative media, isn’t it?  But, there’s always some percentage of that audience that is willing to buy to make up for the part that isn’t.  It’s like buying that steak.  You know the steak’s going to have some fat on it, but that’s part of buying the product. Now, if you were to compare those two:  the auto intenders, the display side’s a little big foggy, isn’t it? You really can’t see who you’re putting your ad in front of. But, with search engine marketing, you know exactly who you’re putting your ad in front of.  And, in fact, with search engine marketing, you can optimize those really good keywords, right?  You’re like, “Well, search engine…or “Jeep dealership Denver” that’s our really good keyword. Let’s put more money towards that keyword, right?” With targeted display—with the audience segment, you really can’t do that. You just target the whole audience and if the audience doesn’t work, you know what you do? You throw it away and you buy a new one. You try that. Maybe this one has more Jeeps in it, I don’t know. And then, this is where Simpli.fi’s  a little bit different, okay?  Simpli.fi uses what’s called “unstructured data”.  We decided, when we got started, we didn’t want to buy our data from a third-party data broker. We went out and created the Simpli.fi data network which means we go out and buy all the data directly from those websites which means we don’t have to put it in a black box and not see it. We can actually look at it. We can put together the right kind of audience. It’s more customized. It’s a better mix. We can say, “This is our Jeep intenders audience.” Now, does that mean we’re not going to put keywords like “Honda” in there?  We’ll throw that word in and see what happens and if we get some clicks on it, okay, we’ll do more of that. We’re not going to specifically weed out phrases based on  what we think they should be. The data will tell us and that’s an advanced, customized audience.

So, let’s recap those.

If you’re talking search engine marketing, you’re talking about a very customized audience. Every single keyword can be your products, your services. You can put your ad exactly in front of the right person at the right time. With targeted display, you have to buy an audience segment of intenders and not really know what percentage of that is a good audience and what percentage is a waste. So, search engine marketing wins that one hands down. But wait, little Simpli.fi moment. Simpli.fi uses the unstructured data, so it’s almost like we married search engine marketing and display into a more customized audience meaning you get that 1-2 punch, right? When combined, they’re awesome.

And, he got done in 45 minutes. I was really cooking to make that happen.

[END OF RECORDING]

 

Older posts «