by Ryne Goertz
Unless I receive a direct referral from a happy client, most of the prospective clients I discuss digital marketing strategies with are also talking to other potential digital companies, as they are looking for the perfect fit to help their business reach peak performance. During these conversations, it always seems like marketing companies are pulling the prospect in different directions, “You need to be only doing Pay-per-Click”, “You need a new website”, “For this type of campaign, you should really be focusing on Facebook Ads”, etc. So who is right? Who is wrong? How do you differentiate between all of the different website and digital agencies when you are being pulled in so many directions? How do you know you’re making the right move?
Here are four key factors you should be asking your website company about that can best help determine where you are on the map and how to achieve business goals:
In the past year, Google has updated its algorithm to start penalizing websites for how fast (or slow) they load or function on mobile devices. This can be a driving force in mobile rankings as well as help overall Google Ad Quality Scores. Google has a developers tool called Page Speed Insights. Plug in your website url in its entirety to get an accurate reading. For ex: Plug in “https://www.williamskherkher.com/” not just “www.williamskherkher.com”. If your website isn’t where you want it to be, ask your current company to look into the issues raised by the Page Speed Insights tool and make the necessary changes.
Your PPC campaign can get expensive really quickly. Before you agree to an SEO company telling you to spend “X” amount, have them send you over a PPC forecast showing the amount of money it would take to be competitive. Google Ad’s forecasting tool allows companies to plug in your geographic area and search terms to determine a budget for the campaign. Based on Google’s historical data, they can predict cost, impressions, clicks, click-through-rate, cost-per-click, and how many conversions you can expect. Cost per click varies greatly per market, so it’s smart to know where your ad dollars are going and how you are allocating among keywords related to your business.
These two are tools that can help you see the activity of visitors on your website. They create what is called a “heatmap” that tracks how far down visitors are going on your page as well as where they are clicking. If your website is having trouble converting visitors, this tool could find the problem. These two are both great, however, don’t keep them on your site for long periods of time as they can tend to slow down your website speed, but one month’s worth of data could help you in the long run.
One of the things I hear the most from attorneys is that while they may be getting traffic to their site, the leads that they are getting may not be the types of cases they want to bring on. You should be tracking your leads that are coming through your site and listening to the calls or reading the contact forms/live chat transcripts (if you use one). How were they referred to your site? Are they quality leads? With these programs, you can track the keywords that were searched before the visitor landed on your page and called you. If you are repeatedly showing up for terms and getting calls that you don’t want, you should communicate that to your marketing company so they can adjust keywords and campaign strategy accordingly.
All in all, there are many different platforms that are available that can help you make an educated decision before even calling a potential marketing company. If a marketing company is just throwing out a number for you to spend without providing screen-shots of the problem and detail on their strategy to enhance your business’s performance, that is a red flag and something you should consider when choosing your digital agency. Choose an agency that knows your business, your goals, and is willing to share insight on how they will be managing your campaign. Transparency creates comfort in knowing that you are in good hands.
We love AdBlock.
If it weren’t for AdBlock, we would have to face all of those annoying, pop-up, pop-under, spammy, and obnoxious ads.
Figure 1: Remember these?
Surfing the web with ads blocked can feel like a real-life cheat code – you get away with something that you aren’t supposed to… as a consumer.
But as marketers, we must understand the impact that ad blocking software has on our work – especially when the software is literally intended to kill our digital campaigns.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, let’s analyze how these ad blocking extensions came to be installed on nearly a quarter of global online users.
Figure 2: Ad Blocker study results from IAB
As you surf the web, you take part in an exchange with the sites you visit: their content in exchange for your payment. However, the payment is not with currency but rather with your attention, view, impression, click, etc. of the ads shown on the site.
Whether you like it or not, this ad revenue is how a large portion of websites make money. Without it, they can’t cover costs to keep the website running and keep bringing you the content you want.
Since Day 1, ad blocking software is so highly sought after because it helps alleviate symptoms arising from core internet problems.
If you’ve seen a pop-up instruct you to pay for the removal of a computer virus – then you fully understand why the concept of ad blocking software is so appealing.
In fact, 64% of people agree that ads are annoying and support the idea of ad blocking software.
On top of that, 79% of ad-blocking software users agree that their browsing experience improved with it.
These two stats make it clear that browser extensions AdBlock Plus and AdBlock have made a significant impact in the history of internet advertising, but what exactly is their impact today? And more importantly, what is their impact on your digital marketing campaigns?
Paid ads on Google are largely unaffected because Google is a member of the Acceptable Ads program. Most users unknowingly opt into this program when installing an ad blocker. But what is it?
Acceptable Ads, defined by AdBlock Plus (ABP), are “respectful, don’t interfere with content, and are clearly labeled with the word ‘advertisement’ or its equivalent.” They also follow standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads, a group formed by leading international trade associations and companies involved in online media.
By default, AdBlock & ABP allow the whitelisted ads to show. To disable this feature, you have to manually go into the settings and uncheck the box next to it. Or (if you don’t exit out of the welcome page as soon as you see the donation part) you’ll see that ABP actually tells you about the whitelist and even provides a link to the settings page. (See “Figure 4” below.)
“The Acceptable Ads Committee (board that controls the program) gives advertisers, such as Google, a pass to show their ads – for a fee, of course. With these gatekeepers in place, advertisers must create ads that fall in line with standards produced by the expectations of online users.”
For users that do disable the whitelist, their Google experience will be free of all search and display ads.
A Google search, with ad blocking switched to “ON” will undergo these changes: (drag slider to compare)
Check out how different websites on the display network look with
1) no ads,
2) acceptable ads, and
3) all ads.
I counted 26 ads – but ABP’s number is a whopping 78.
As a result of the Acceptable Ads whitelist, Google ads in the search and display networks remain unblocked. Not only must a user install an extension, but they also have to change additional settings. ABP cleverly adds the Acceptable Ads notice below the donation box on their welcome page (highlighted in green below). By the time users get to the donation box, they’re already opening a tab to test out the ad blocker on YouTube.
YouTube Ads are really just Google Ads run on the YouTube.com domain. The effects are similar to those observed with display ad campaigns. YouTube ads have banners that appear over the video player and in the sidebar above the queue of next videos. You can see how different the view is with and without AdBlock below.
Video ads are also blocked on YouTube. With AdBlock enabled, a user on YouTube avoids seeing all ads for an uninterrupted experience.
On Facebook, the “acceptable” type of ads begin to appear more subtly. Adblockers are able to block most ads that are seen outside of the main timeline. Within the timeline, you still see ads in the form of sponsored posts. They will be presented in a more organic manner, but it is still a paid placement. Using standard settings, ABP will not block all ads on Facebook.
However, customizing advanced settings gives the user the option to block all ads, including acceptable ads. Remarketing campaigns using the Facebook pixel also suffer. The advanced settings can be configured to prevent the user’s browser from being tracked by the pixel code on your website or landing page. This is alarming because anyone willing to take the time to adjust settings can essentially become invisible on the internet (in terms of advertising). This ghost-user browses the web with ads blocked, and browser tracking tools thwarted.
Luckily, ABP by default will allow acceptable ads to pass through their filters. See the difference for yourself:
Your rankings are unlikely to fall victim to ad blockers, but your SEO campaign can still suffer.
An ad blocking extension can prevent your site’s Google Analytics from tracking users correctly, similar to the way they block the Facebook Pixel. With Google Analytics, we can see valuable data from a client’s website to draw insights from. This data helps us develop and implement changes to an SEO campaign. So when a visitor using ad block also blocks Analytics, we lose data about their on-site behavior such as how much time they spend on a webpage, which links they click on, and what websites they come from. This data is automatically processed daily and is a crucial factor of any good SEO strategy.
In short, ad blockers might be causing you to plan out your SEO campaign with inaccurate numbers.
Hulu is impacted when streamed on a web browser. Like many other subscription services, Hulu’s website is able to detect ad blockers and combats it by directly requesting the user to enable ads on their site. The screenshot below shows the message that appears over the video player when the user would normally be shown an advertisement.
To take it a step further, Hulu forces the anti-adblock message to display on screen for thirty seconds, the same time a typical commercial would be shown. There is even a link to a guide in Hulu’s Help Center instructing users how to stop blocking ads on their site. The guide is even split into sections to show specific instructions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Users that persist with ad blockers skew reach and impression numbers from Hulu because the ad-blocking user is counted as a viewer of the programming even though they were not served any advertisements. This means that your ad campaign may be using inaccurate projected figures in its strategy.
However, this is typically not a negative occurrence. If a significant portion of your campaign’s reach was never exposed to your ad, Hulu’s ad algorithm can make up for the lapse with repeat exposures. You might be paying a higher rate for less reach, but if you exclude ad blockers when measuring the performance of your campaign, metrics like cost per view, cost per click, and conversion rate will reflect more accurate, higher quality results.
While users are able to avoid watching ads on Hulu, they still have to wait through pauses in their streaming, which could encourage them to enable ads. At this point the user must choose between sitting through empty gaps or watching ads.
Figure 4: Hulu raising an eyebrow
Ad Block is an obstacle that must be addressed when planning out any digital marketing campaign for your law firm or small business. Whether a user is on a search engine, social media website, or television streaming service, these internet browser extensions intend to stop your online advertising. With the population of users increasing every day, it is crucial that you understand the impact ad blocking software has on your ad spend and more importantly your law firm or business’ growth. If you are concerned your marketing/advertising is suffering because of ad blockers, fill out a form or give us a call at (512) 394-7234. We’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can best optimize your campaigns.
These special ads appear above paid search ads, maps, and organic results. For example, if you search for Plumbers in Austin, you will see these results:
These Local Service Ads appear above the Pay per Click Ads, map listings, and organic listings.
The other unique feature of these ads is their fee structure. Advertisers who are using Local Service Ads pay per call received, rather than for each click.
As with all digital marketing, you will want to track the results of your Local Service Advertising closely to make sure you are spending your marketing dollars wisely. We are in communication with Google to see when they will be available in your market.
What I would love to accomplish is a better experience for both lawyers and vendors at all legal conferences.
We spend a lot of money to be at these conferences, from the high cost to attend, building booths, giveaways, sending salespeople and entertaining our prospective clients. That being said, we probably put too much pressure on our salespeople to obtain new business. This results in our salespeople being too darn pushy and a bit slimy at times. This results in attorneys hiding from the “dreaded” exhibit hall.
Here is the solution in my not so humble opinion. We (vendors) have a lot of expertise and knowledge that can help attorneys grow their practices. Therefore, we need to become trusted advisors, not just another salesperson. In my company, we have many clients that have known us for years before coming on board and I think the biggest contributor to this is the fact that we preach to our team to be AUTHENTIC. You don’t have to “sell” but just be your normal self. Take your time to educate the attorneys and create a TRUE relationship. How do you create great relationships—pretty easy… Give more than you receive. Give attorneys helpful advice that they can implement before they give your company a dime. Be committed to growing the attorneys business, not your own. We have a very long term view when it comes to partnering up with a firm. If we are not selected now, that is okay because it probably means someone OVERSOLD the attorney in the past. These attorneys come back over time, albeit a bit jaded.
Okay, we really gave it to the vendors and now it is your turn ;-).
Have you ever found yourself looking at the competition with a hint of jealousy of their success? Have you ever wondered how they get all these great ideas? Or how they are so knowledgeable about marketing/operations etc…Well, one of the reasons could be that these attorneys BRAVE the exhibit hall and take the time to speak with almost everyone. I truly believe that if you don’t spend the time to chat with these folks you are doing yourself a HUGE DISSERVICE. We live in our respective spaces as you live in the legal world. It is virtually impossible for you to stay up with all the latest and greatest digital marketing trends, video marketing trends, what is the best CRM, etc. I have been in this field for 20 years and know most of the vendors personally, and there is a TON of knowledge in the “hall” that can help you grow your business. Take the time to go meet with them, learn about what they offer and gain insights to help your firm. Don’t feel pressure to sign up and if the vendor is pressuring you, it is probably not a good fit. On the other hand, do not be afraid to take a RISK on an idea that you think might work because you have been burned in the past. If a person had a terrible experience with a lawyer, would you recommend against lawyers in the future? Just like anything, there are good vendors and bad vendors, your job is to find the best company for you your firm.
In the world of texting, emailing, and working remotely creating a personal connection can be challenging in our business communities. Yet connections in a technical world still rely on our innate, intelligent, and very human instincts because we all know when Bullshit is Bullshit. It is felt in a cold and self-serving email, the email will take on a tone, a cheesy factor; but integrity, warmth and personality are also indicators that are sensed in the same form of communication. Our ability to read the other person is now done through the filters and veil of technology protecting all from pausing and wondering out loud, “what did they mean by that”
The sales consultants at TSEG know that creating valued and authentic relationships in business begins during the inception of the service we provide, whether its unique web design, discussing creative digital marketing strategies, commercial creation or a social media roll out, experts say you earn the listeners decision to move forward during that first minute of exchange. We are all journeying into the new frontier of a multi-platform communication with emails, Insta this, Snap that or Link it ! We now interpret the response our brains and hearts once processed with a hand shake or eye to eye contact, through a lens of punctuation and tone.
At TSEG we are relationship pioneers, meaning our mission is connection. We mindfully decide first before the communication begins “Do we have something to say that offers our clients valuable information” and the team goal becomes “How can we help this company, law firm or startup grow”. We know when this mission is the motivation the other party will feel the intention and whether its in person, through an email or a phone call; the feeling is the transactional exchange.
This creates an authentic business-relationship energy; it begins during those first few words and the energy continues to build with the exchange of information creating a visceral growth for all parties involved. The relationship then evolves and morphs naturally into welcomed calls to avoid the emails, because the sounds of shared wisdom, humor and gratitude between colleagues and friends is exactly where the good stuff lives!
Pay-per-click marketing is difficult to master. It can either boost your company’s profitability or drain its resources (if the campaigns are not optimized correctly). There are also so many variables to consider, like how much to spend on search versus display, and whether your PPC is focused on e-commerce or lead generation. To avoid losing money on PPC, it is worthwhile to take a careful look at how you are spending your PPC budget and what you can do to improve it.
The first question to answer in figuring out the best PPC budget for your company is what do you need to generate more quality leads? To determine this, consider the essential elements of leads:
Starting with these questions can help you paint an accurate picture of what your site’s activity currently looks like. Before you can envision a goal and create a path to get there, you need to know where your beginning point is.
Once you gather this necessary information, you can distinguish your leads in terms of profitability and define your target lead. Some factors to consider in deciding what your target lead is includes the following:
These are more difficult questions to answer but taking the time to do so will pay off as you enter the answers into formulas designed to make the most of your PPC budget. For example, you need to calculate how many new clients you need each month, what your close rate percentage is, and how much your cost per lead is. Using these numbers, you can figure out what your PPC lead goal should be and how much you need to spend to reach it. Let’s break that down into five steps with an example:
Fine-tuning your company’s PPC budget is an excellent way to ensure that your company is in a fiscally responsible position, as well as to analyze its marketing strengths and weaknesses. Rather than just looking at how many leads you’re generating, for example, you can break down the quality of those leads and hopefully discover ways to improve not only the quantity but also the quality of the leads. Some of the considerations that can help you do that include the following:
After analyzing these factors, you’re in a much stronger position to create an optimal PPC budget that gives you the most marketing power for every dollar you spend. The investment you make in smarter marketing practices will pay off as your site becomes more productive in attracting and retaining users. Additionally, your site will generate more quality leads, and your conversion rates will increase as you analyze and then adjust the way you spend money on PPC. You will also have peace of mind knowing that your PPC budget is being spent wisely.
You have probably visited a company’s website and never completely understand what the business offered or what they were selling. A company can spend a significant amount of time developing a well-designed website or writing tons of content, but you may not understand what it is they do. Far too often, the company has overlooked a crucial component – the message that they need to communicate.
Improving your company’s messaging can make all the difference between getting leads for your business or scaring off visitors. It takes time for a business to develop content, however, it is not effective if it neglects to clearly showcase what you’re offering. Communicating what you do and what separates you from your competitors is something that you must get right from the get-go to attract new business, or it may cost you potential revenue.
Your website must solve a problem and create value for potential clients. You have a short window of time to convince visitors to your site that the service or product you offer is what they are looking for or need. If the audience can’t understand your message or understand the website content, they will leave in matter of seconds and move on to another business.
Communicating your company’s message isn’t always easy. Most business owners make the mistake of believing that visitors to their site view the business the same way they do. Remember that visitors don’t know your business inside-and-out, and you need to showcase what you do in the clearest way possible.
There are three relevant questions to ask about your website’s messaging, which include:
It’s important to communicate the value your business creates for your market. Although this may sound obvious, sometimes this is overlooked. You need to think about how you would pitch your business to a total stranger in an elevator. When you meet someone for the first time and describe your business, do you use similar words as your company’s home page? It may be wise to ask people who are not familiar with your business to read your homepage and then ask them to explain what your business is about.
While it may not be easy to describe your business in a brief elevator pitch, you can ask this question to narrow down the focus of your business content and to help visitors see the value your business creates.
Working in a competitive world brings challenges. Regardless of how unique or unusual our product or service is, there may already a similar product or service that is offered elsewhere. If you are unable to communicate on your website how your business is different from your competitors, potential clientele may assume your business offers nothing different and lose interest. You need to highlight the strengths of your services or products on your website homepage and make it stand out.
It is also important to refresh content on a regular basis. Adding new content that includes the latest information about your company and your brand is important attracting more customers and drawing in more business. Remember that the content on your site is also a reflection of your brand and its principles.
Not only should the message on your website communicate the value the business creates and what makes you stand out, messaging also plays a crucial role in establishing credibility for your business and turning visitors into clients.
Some websites lure visitors with clever messaging, but they fail to deliver on their promises. Your message must set the right expectations and convince potential clients that you will deliver the products and services as stated on your business site.
By effectively communicating what your business offers, how you differ from the competition, and setting and delivering on expectations, you can demonstrate your company’s value to visitors and boost business based upon the message and content listed on your website.
The more content you have, the better the website, but don’t forget that the focus is on quality above quantity. Your business content and messaging can only be useful if your audience finds the information on your web site insightful and valuable in the long run.
There are many different digital marketing strategies that will increase the demand for companies’ products or services. Some of these strategies include social media, chatbots, artificial intelligence, video, and live video. One essential digital marketing trend for 2019 is live video. Live video goes one step further than video in that it instantly allows consumers to connect deeper with the specific brand. Forbes magazine states that, “Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text.” This one fact alone should encourage companies’ to experiment with live video. Companies can easily stream videos through Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Livestream.com, and YouTube Live. The ever increasing amount of live streaming platforms allows companies to easily market themselves with live Q&A’s, behind the scenes experiences, and product demonstrations.
We hope these facts encourage you to take your marketing videos to the next level. The Search Engine Guys can implement live video into your digital marketing strategy and help your brand soar.
This is pretty plain and simple. SEO experts have performed case study after case study that show that Google ranks sites that use WordPress higher than those built on other platforms. The reason for this is because the WordPress framework makes it easier for Google to crawl and index the pages on the site. The easier you make it for the bots to crawl your pages, the better off you will be.
The adaptability of WordPress sites cannot be overlooked. WordPress is flexible enough to accommodate any plugin, extension, or update you need. There is no easier way to update your site compared to other platforms. Whether you are a small business, e-commerce, or personal blog site, WordPress has the ability to adapt whatever you need.
Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly by displaying them lower in their results. With WordPress, you don’t have to overhaul your entire site to make it accessible on tablets and smartphones, since most themes are automatically responsive. WordPress also has an option for websites to be viewed in “mobile view” for themes that aren’t responsive.
Whatever the focus of your site is (commercial or personal), it doesn’t cost a penny even when your traffic increases. Any update you need to the site can be done by you or your developer without any additional WordPress publishing costs.
WordPress has the ability to integrate with popular third-party platforms to help make the site more efficient. There are plugins that you can use for just about anything you can think of that would be useful for a site. WordPress can integrate with just about anything out there, which makes it invaluable for publishers in any industry!
Working with a digital marketing agency can increase the speed and return on your digital advertising investment. An agency most likely has the resources and experience to achieve better results than either an in-house team or the up-and-down world of freelancers that come with widely varying skills and ability.
However, while most agencies will be quick to assure you that they have the capabilities to meet your digital marketing needs, you don’t want to be oversold. Choosing the right agency can reduce costs and lead to faster and more pronounced growth, while choosing the wrong agency for you can mean the wrong fit, a lack of results, and can be costly.
To choose the right agency for you, it is a good idea to ask some specific questions to see how they align with your expectations:
You can tell a lot about how well a business understands your digital marketing needs when they describe how they’ll meet those needs.
This slightly less-common question (compared to the standard “how can you help me?”) requires the agency to tell you how they work and how they’ll handle your campaigns. You can also tell how experienced and knowledgeable they are about your specific needs by how well they can describe their process to you.
Here, you get more directly into the experience of the agency. While many will claim to be able to meet your expectations, not everyone will have experience in your particular field.
Ask to see examples of their previous work for clients that are similar to your business and your marketing needs. If they can’t produce them, they may not have as much experience or expertise as they claim.
You may be tempted to go with an agency that is unproven in your field, in the hopes that they’ll bring a fresh perspective or new skills to your campaigns. That decision is up to you – and could pay off with the right agency. For other business owners, trusting your campaign to an experienced firm that can show results in your field lessens the risk that you’ll spend money to get little or no return.
Perhaps experience isn’t as important to you as the skillset available at the agency. In that case, you’ll discover a great deal from how they market themselves. You might ask to see how they’ve handled their own campaigns to get a glimpse of the creativity they will show your campaign.
This isn’t the most important factor, however. Many successful agencies do little for their own brands, largely because they are focused mainly on their own clients’ success.
Agencies can be either too reluctant or too eager to answer this question, and that’s telling in both cases. If they aren’t willing to pin down precisely what success looks like within a reasonable span of time, that may indicate they lack the capabilities to deliver.
On the other hand, a time frame that seems too short with results that sound too optimistic should also make you reconsider.
Look for a reliable, scientific means of proving positive results and a time frame that gives enough time (but not too much) to start seeing those results. Digital marketing should take half a year or more to start seeing improvements, depending on your industry and area of focus. Make sure you have a way to measure the success of the agency with some data at some point during the working relationship.
Cost is always a significant concern any time you are investing in your business. Before settling on your digital marketing agency, make sure you set some hard numbers, and there’s an understanding of just how much you are willing to invest to meet the results you expect.
Once you’ve received the right answers to these questions from a digital marketing agency, you’ll be in a much more comfortable position to select the team that is right for you. It’ll be easier to decide on the agency with the capabilities to meet your expectations and to deliver the results you are looking for.