If you are reading this I have to assume that you are an intelligent, salient being that already understands the value of having a strong online presence.
Whether you run your own business or occupy a management role in another, you know that the socially and digitally connected world we live in demands your ‘shop’ is easily found in the online space.
You also (should) know that the days of merely plonking down your flag on the digital landscape is not good enough – certainly not in terms of converting online traffic into sales – which is the ultimate point of having a website is it not?
Your company website
First things first. Your website is a company asset. It is your building, your office, your store – it is where people go to do business with you. The building (development) of that store is an investment; it is not a marketing cost from which you can expect return.
The activities that drive traffic to your ‘shop’ and aid in converting that traffic into leads (and sales) are, however, marketing-related and there you must certainly expect return from.
Your website is an asset and just like stores of brick and mortar where location, location, location was, and still is, a critical element of success, your website needs to be positioned and created in such a way that it maximises the number (and value) of feet that walk through your doors.
Three key questions your home page should answer
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What do you want the visitor to do?
It is difficult enough to get the right kind of traffic to your website in the first place, the last thing you want to do is confuse potential customers with muddied messaging.
Everything, from your logo and company slogan, to your positioning statement and images used – all need to clearly convey what it is your company does. Take a look at this example below from FreshBooks.
What you see here is everything that’s visible on their website above the fold – meaning everything you can see before you have to scroll down.
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What you have is:
- A clear logo with a slogan that already tells you what the company does. This is then followed by a positioning statement that reiterates the core function of the business, followed by an expansion on that by saying “Join over 5 million people using FreshBooks to make billing painless”.
- Right there you have a quantified statement of 5 million+ who trust the product, along with what the product does, AKA, “makes billing” (accounting) painless.
You’d have to be few briquettes short of a braai not to understand what is being offered to you.
Cleverly they then position three features of the product just above the fold you so can see their solution is ‘easy to use’, that you can ‘work from anywhere’ and that you can ‘save time’. They then follow that up with clear calls to action to try the 30 day trial or take a tour.
Contact details are also clearly displayed, providing a pretty good example of what your website home page should look like in terms of messaging.
- Don’t try and be too clever (just yet)
- Don’t try and say too much (save it for later)
- Don’t confuse the goal (ever).
The FreshBooks example could be improved on even further, perhaps with a quick view video and other tweaks but the basic principle is 100% correct and those principles should then be followed throughout your website’s sub-pages.
Use language that resonates with your target audience and make sure the content is laid out in a way that it’s easy to scan through, and just as easy to delve deeper into if required.
The main difference between a website and a physical building (bar the obvious) is that your website is never, ever, done.
You can always improve, you can always optimise and evolve, and you must always test the efficacy of those changes to ensure you get the very best results from your investment.
4 Key elements of web design
Before I close off I’d like to briefly touch on four key elements.
Your website must be optimised for mobile devices. Responsive design plays a key role here where your site adapts to suit whichever device it is accessed from.
A website that is not geared towards meeting the demands of a mobile consumer-base is a website knocking on death’s door.
2. User experience design (UXD)
Yes it’s a science and it’s all about how a user (site visitor) interacts with your website.
Knowing how a user’s eyes would naturally scan a webpage and then catering for those natural movements, choosing the right colours and images, and visually being able to guide someone effortlessly towards goals is what it’s all about . . . and, no, your brother’s friend’s son (who is good with computers) cannot do it for you.
Users are impatient and increasingly so. The fewer hoops they have to jump through, the more intuitive your design and flow of your website, the more conversions you will have.
Friction is the devil – great UX and common sense reduces this greatly.
3. Calls-to-action (CTAs)
Make sure that each page, or section, has clear calls-to-action. You are guiding someone through your store and you need to have appropriate, relevant, enticing catchment points where you can prompt the visitor to giving you their details, or perform another goal-orientated task.
Without CTAs your website is DOA (dead on arrival)
4. Test, amend and test some more
Websites are data-driven animals. With analysis of your website traffic you will be able to pinpoint where visitors drop off (leave), where they come from, how they convert and a whole host of other indicators that can help you identify areas of your business that need work.
Without analytics you are flying blind and wasting money . . . Every. Single. Day.
I leave you with this quote from Jared Spool in comment about website usability: “Intuitive design is how we give the user new superpowers.”
Does your current website do that?
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The Launch Of Instagram TV
Giving a run to other institutions for their money, Instagram today has launched IGTV, a new application that will allow users to upload videos on its Instagram facility.
Commencing with one minute long videos, speaking at the launch today, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that users can now upload up-to an hour long video. This application will allow famous videos from celebrities. However, with IGTV, one does not necessarily need to be a big-name or famous, since creative individuals and groups can upload videos.
For now, everyone who enjoys the clutter free, easy to navigate Instagram, will be able to upload an hour-long video, except the smaller and new accounts that will enjoy this application after the expansion of the facility. This application will be globally available on Android and IOS and will allow viewers to browse through many longer videos, as well as visit the browse tabloids or suggest followed videos.
Furthermore, viewers will have the choice to watch ‘old’ videos and also get notifications on recent uploads. IGTV will also allow creators and inventors to develop Instagram Channels with various videos that other viewers can subscribe to, drive traffic of viewers to particular videos, granting the inventors the capability of uploading clear links of the video.
Systrom confirmed that there will be no advertisements on IGTV for the meanwhile. He added that this is still a great platform to put up advertisements at a later stage, as creators or inventors put in more time into videos for IGTV. This translates into an opportunity to make money. Instagram will not pay creators for the IGTV videos at this stage. IGTV has so much potential since creators will be from the over 1 billion current Instagram subscribers. At the same time, this could be big business, since the number of subscribers may rise.
Expectations are there to add to the monetisation option, and these include the potential of Instagram getting profits close to $5.5 billion in 2018, as compared to Facebook, which is just above $202 billion.
Moving up from just filtering and sharing photos, today Instagram has advanced from mobile networks, screens, and cameras, of which neither the longer videos could be supported. This has opened a new mobile TV for teens and families.
Additionally, Instagram can become the dependable place to view something on that small screen via creators’ and publisher video content curation, as opposed to YouTube, which always has a wider breadth of content.
5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!
As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.
Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are
First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.
Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.
Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.
They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?
It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.
But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.
It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.
By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.
Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.
Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets
Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.
For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.
Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.
Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.
Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords
What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!
What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.
By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.
Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners
If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.
Your competitor’s copy can be a great source of information.
Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.
Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.
Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs
Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.
Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.
The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.
Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.
Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.
As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:
- Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
- You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
- Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
- And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.
Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:
South African PPC market in numbers
In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!
And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?
However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.
Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.
And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:
So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?
Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.
If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.
- Split test your copy
- Use different ad extensions… or all of them
- Try out different calls to action
- Manage and track your budget daily
- Get your targeting on point
But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.
As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.
What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?
Running a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.
In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.
But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.
That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.
The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis
On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.
However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:
- Who is your true competitor in paid search?
- How much do they spend on PPC?
- What are their most profitable keywords?
- What do their ads and banners look like?
- What URLs should your ads target?
Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.
In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!
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