Google Ads Search Certification: Cheat Sheet (Part 3/3!) + Certification Tips

(The final installment!)

Welcome back to the final installment of getting Google Ads Search certified! Hopefully you’ve been following parts 1 & 2 and feel ready to get certified yourself! Today we’ll be covering the final three modules. These are “reach valued customers with search audiences”, “boost performance with optimization score”, and “increase conversions with performance planner”. Also, at the end of this blog will be my experience taking the certification test! So, without further ado, let’s jump on into it!


Reach Valued Customers with Search Audiences

What”s her intent when shopping? To get deals or cute stuff regardless of price?

So, this section is all about your audience; or more likely, audiences. For Google ads, Google offers Search Audiences. This is essentially an audience-grouping feature. It’ll allow you to create audience lists and pair them with your ad groups (Skillshop, 2019). This would allow you to take the audience’s intent (ex. interested in sales) and pair them with insights about that customer group (Skillshop, 2019). From this, you can make more informed decisions about ad bidding and tailoring the ad to the customer (Skillshop, 2019). This is super helpful because customers want easy and relevant experiences so make it easy and relevant for them!

This layered audience is also good because it creates variable bidding. This means you can change your bid based on different variables. In this case, the variable is your audiences. You could increase and decrease the bids on certain audiences (Skillshop, 2019). Creating ads groups also allows you to expand your active keywords. In example, you could set generic keywords for all audiences, and then specific ones for certain audience groups (Skillshop, 2019). Lastly, having audience groups is good because you can change-up your creative strategy to fit the audience (Skillshop, 2019)! This would make ads more interesting and relevant.

 Remember: ABR! Always Be Relevant!

How the Right Audience will Help You Reach your Marketing Goals

Firstly, having the right audience (and knowing your audience!) is always important. Not just for Google Ads, but all business. This is because your audience is who you’re selling to! Understanding their intents will help you understand how to sell to them. If you’re confused about your audience, I’d recommend creating some personas (you can read my blog about it here!). Google’s audience-tracking is based off three things, signals, surveys, and scale. Essentially, signals and scale are general tracking of your behaviour online. Surveys is just data from surveys you’ve taken for Google. Using this info, Search Audiences will help you meet your marketing goals in these ways.

Marketing Goal: Awareness

Look how aware he is!
  • Detailed Demographics. This lets you reach people based off more in-depth demographics like marital status and home ownership. For examples, if you know someone’s martial status is “engaged”, you could set this as the audience. Layering this on top of your campaign would make it so when someone in this audience searches for a product (ex. jewelry), it’ll show targeted ads (ex. wedding rings or love-themed items).
  • Affinity Audiences. This helps target folks who seem very interested in a topic. For example, you might say a makeup enthusiast would be someone who: watches makeup reviews on YouTube, searches for makeup inspiration on Google Images and downloaded the Sephora app on their phone. By layering this affinity onto your target campaign, you’ll only be targeting these enthusiasts. This keeps the content super relevant.  
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Marketing Goal: Drive Consideration

She’s considering your business!
  • In-Market Audiences. This is essentially creating an audience out of people who’ve actively been doing research. This indicates they’re in the market to buy. For example, if you have a pet shelter, you would want to target those ready to adopt. This way, if someone in this audience searches for something like “dogs in my area”, you could deliver an ad for your shelter!
  •  Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). You’re reaching out to folks who’ve interacted with you in the past. You could separate this even further! For example, audiences that are new, have been on your site before, and have abandoned their shopping carts. This is just another level of targeting that helps give a tailored message!
  • Similar Audience for Search. This is for finding a new audience based on your current audience’s behaviours/characteristics.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Marketing Goal: Increase Purchases & Loyalty

  • Customer Match. This is a feature where you upload your own customer data and Google will help you determine customer loyalty. This is essentially deep diving into your CRM data. This is helpful for categorizing your customers into different groups. For example, loyal, haven’t seen in a while, frequent shopper, etc. Using that data, you can customize and target ads more specifically.   
  • RLSA. You can set this feature to reach out to customers who’ve made a purchase (post-purchase customer service).
    (Skillshop, 2019)
Increase loyalty and win the hearts of your customers

Some more examples of RLSA remarketing Lists:

  • “Visited her site in past 28 days but didn’t convert”
  • “Visited her site in past 7 days but didn’t convert”
  • “Added an item to the shopping basket but didn’t convert”
  • “Reached “Thank You” page (converted)”
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Note: “Remarketing lists must have at least 1,000 users on it before it can be used” (Skillshop, 2019).

Remember: Don’t forget about your touchpoints! Every interaction can leave a lasting impression on the customer. Therefore, it’s integral you treat every interaction with care. This could push your customer from consideration to converted!

Boost Performance with Optimization Score

Firstly, what even is an optimization score? Essentially, it’s a predicted performance score for your search campaigns (Skillshop, 2019). These range from 0% to 100% potential with 100 being the best. So, the benefits of the optimization score are instant feedback, customized and recommendation help (Skillshop, 2019). Personally, I think the instant feedback is great because you won’t fully finish an ad, only to have it tell you it has 0% potential! Real-time feedback allows you to see exactly how changes affect the potential.  

Very dissatisfied? More like no ad potential!

With all this talk of ad potential, you may be wondering how optimization scores are even calculated! Well, an algorithm considers all (key) aspects of your account to determine what a “fully optimized” campaign would look like (Skillshop, 2019). These key aspects include industry trends, current stats, etc. (Skillshop, 2019). Recommendations and scores will change based off changes in these key aspects (Skillshop, 2019).

Note: Recommendations are ordered by most impactful! Also, your score can involve over 50 recommendations (Skillshop, 2019)! So, consider the ones at the top more heavily for sure!  

Blue Circle: Your score || Black Circle: Recommendations || Red Circle: Filters

Increase Conversions with Performance Planner

Santa planned his vacation in summer because it’s his off-season!

Planning is important for many reasons. Firstly, it allows you to bring consistency to your business, it gives you time to prepare for things to go wrong, and more. It is recommended that your Google Ads are budgeted on a monthly basis (Skillshop, 2019). This is to help ensure:

  • Understanding future spend potential & make budgeting decisions
  • Plan for seasonality (ex. holidays!!)
  • Set optimal budgets for each campaign
  • Find new opportunities not yet known in previous months
    (Skillshop, 2019)

To help you plan, Google offers Performance Planner. This isn’t really a planner, but a forecasting tool. It uses AI to find opportunities in upcoming budgets to help maximize the investment (Skillshop, 2019). This is through determining optimal bids and average daily budgets (Skillshop, 2019).

Forecasting takes past and cureent info to make assumptions about the future

Forecasting is based on four criteria: forecasting, simulation, machine learning, and validation (Skillshop, 2019). Forecasting is based off Google’s data; searches. Simulation is essentially a test where the ad is “tested” in this simulated environment. This is to theoretically see how it’d do in the real world. Machine learning takes this information and learns from it for the next forecast. Lastly, validation checks to see how accurate the prediction was! By using machine learning, overtime predictions should become more and more accurate. This will help you make more effective decisions.

Remember: This is a forecasting tool for planning. This means, unexpected factors may lead to discrepancies in the recommendations! Make sure you monitor this tool and it performance! A self-driving car still needs a human with eyes on the road!

So, how do you even use the performance planner? Well, Google states it happens in four steps.

  1. Learn. Create a new budget plan and set budgets for each campaign. Remember to drive incremental conversions
  2. Explore. Look at optimization and forecast recommendations
  3. Do. Implement the recommended changes!
  4. Repeat Monthly. Things change so don’t forget to check once a month!
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Additionally, you may be wondering what the benefits even are. Besides the ones mentioned (like being prepared), Skillshop calls out four specifically! Also, yes, I’ve also noticed this trend with groups of fours. Anyhow, here are some examples for how Performance Planner will drive conversions.

  • Finding additional conversions with the same budget (current budget, slightly more conversions)
  • Maintaining your current CPA at your current budget without diminished return (slightly higher budget, more conversions)
  • Achieving your desired CPA while remaining profitable (maximum budget spent, increased conversions)
  • Additional spend on scenarios higher than the target CPA (reduce profitability, high increase conversion)
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Note: According to Google Ads data, the Performance Planner increased conversion by an average of 43% with the same investment (Skillshop, 2019).

Performance Planner Pro Tips:

  • Create separate plans for each marketing objective. Each goal is different, so conversion goals are also different!
  • Set bids and budgets using non-last click conversions. This id for allocating budgets for incremental conversions.
  • Check back regularly. Remember, forecasting is always improving! Some key factors to watch include seasonality, market share, and growth.
  • Your Performance Planner should include: the target date, campaigns, budget, target conversion volume, target CPA for upcoming periods.
  • Use performance targets feature. This helps monitor targets set in the Performance Planner. This is ideal due to unexpected external factors causing issues.
  • Use your optimization score in the recommendations page to improve your campaigns. This will help account for future periods even more. Don’t let campaigns be set-back by your budget!
    (Skillshop, 2019)

So, how many recommendations will Performance Planner even give you? One of three (surprise, not four!). They are:

  • Search manual cost-per-click (CPC) or enhance CPC campaigns. This will give you a recommended average daily budget and campaign bid scaling
  • Search maximize clicks or maximize conversion campaign. This will give you a recommended average daily budget
  • Search target CPA or target return on ad spend (ROAS) campaign. This will give a recommended average daily budget, campaign-level target CPA or ROAS
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Conclusion

In conclusion, reaching the right people at the right time is integral. It may seem obvious, but that’s why it’s so easy to forget! It’s important to consider your marketing goals in reference to your audience because marketing objectives drive the campaign. Without them, your campaign has no purpose. To help optimize your campaign, use tools like Optimization Score and Performance Planner to aid in these tasks. Optimization Score will help determine your ad’s potential while Performance Planner helps planning through forecasting. For an example of how these work together, it’s like quizzes. By doing practice quizzes, you get to see your potential for how you’d do on the test and make changes based on this. Additionally, you get to base your final test score off your previous quiz scores (forecasting!).   

Get the A+
Study for the test

Speaking of tests, this is it, y’all. The big conclusions we all were waiting for, the actual certification test! Hopefully it won’t be too hard, but I’ll write my results and recommendations after. Wish me luck!

Legal note: I won’t be sharing any answers of questions (obviously) to the certification. Just will pass on some tips for when you get certified!

I passed!! Wow, taking tests never gets less nerve-wracking. Not the best, but I’m happy with it. Here are some tips for when you take the certification!

  1. Obviously, you can’t have any notes. It’s a test! Due to this, I’d recommend reviewing the other modules (like I did) before taking this test! Check out my other blog posts part 1 and part 2 !
  2. There’s 50 questions and it has 75 mins allocated. 50 questions seem daunting by the over-an-hour time limit helps ease nervousness.
  3. If you take this certification during the COVID-19 pandemic, close the blue banner at the top of the test! It hides the timer so I spent half the quiz scared I would run out of time.
  4. You can’t go back! Once you click submit it’s locked-in forever
  5. Believe in yourself! If you read all the modules, it shouldn’t be too hard. Worse case scenario, you just retake it one day later.
Good Luck!

Good luck! Leave a comment down below if you got certified!

References

Skillshop. (2019, September 7). Google Ads Search Certification . Retrieved from Skillshop: https://skillshop.exceedlms.com/student/path/18128-google-ads-search-certification

Google Ads Search Certification: Cheat Sheet (Part 2/3)

(still not sponsored!)

Welcome back! Today is part 2/3 for the Google Search Certification cheat sheet! If you haven’t already read part 1 (very important for certification) click here! Today’s blog post will include info from three modules. These are “deliver the right message with text ads”, “make ads relevant with search extensions”, and “increase efficiency with automated bidding”! So, let’s jump on into it!


Deliver the Right Message with Text Ads

Firstly, let’s cover what text ads are. They’re ads that’re only text (no visuals). This means the content of the text is extra important because it’s the whole ad! The components of a text ad are headline, URL, and description.

  1. (red circle) URL: This is the actual site’s address. Remember, make sure the ad matches where the link will take a consumer!
  2. (blue circle) Headline: This is the part consumers will see first! (tip: include a keyword here!)
  3. (black circle) Description: This is where people can read a little more about you before they click the link. Here you should highlight your competitive advantage, any promotions, and a call to action!
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Note: Headlines can contain up to 30 characters and descriptions 90 characters (Skillshop, 2019)

Personally, I tried out writing my own Google Ad and it was surprisingly easy. You just sign into the Google Ads account and it asks you a few simple questions. These were your business objectives, the name of your business, your website, where in the world your ad to run (location), and keywords. Then you’re thrust into writing a text ad! I believe it said if you were a “professional marketer”, there was an “expert” mode, but because I wasn’t ready to commit dollars to this, I stuck with “basic mode”. My favourite part of the ad creation was the previews! I liked that it would should how your ad would look when implemented.

Here’s an example of the text ad I wrote! As you can see, this is after the “your business & audience” section

Google Pro Tips:

  • Implement three to five ads per group. This will better your chances in the auction due to options. Google suggests having 3+ ads per ad group.
  • Optimise ad rotation. This will make it more likely your ad will appear to users. This is because it’ll appeal to multiple circumstances (relevance!)
  • Use at least three ad extensions. The more extensions that make sense, the more likely your ad will appeal to many user scenarios.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Mini-Lesson: Responsive Search Ads

These are essentially elevated text ads. They adapt to show the most relevant ad to the user by testing multiple ad variations (Skillshop, 2019). You supply headlines and descriptions and Google will puzzle it together. This is through taking the best elements from each for the perfect ad combination. You’d still need to monitor performance but it’s comparatively hands-off thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). Other benefits are:

Google AI putting together the best ad
  • flexibility (adaptive ads)
  • relevance (the most relevant ad will be delivered)
  • reach (the more uniquely tailored the ads, the better the reach)
  • performance (people will click ads tailored to what they’re looking for!)
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Make Ads Relevant with Search Ad Extensions

So as is continually hammered home, relevance is integral to your ads! Google breaks down what users want into three sections; relevant info, information based on their moment, and ads that contribute to their experience (Skillshop, 2019). This essentially means users want an ad that’ll solve their need right away.

Remember: Ad extensions are essentially additional information about you!

This means, having relevant ad extensions helps the user and you! On your end it’ll increase engagement, your ad quality, and give you more qualified leads (Skillshop, 2019).    

Note: A user’s “moment” can be based on a few things such as intent, device, interest, time, and location (Skillshop, 2019). Matching your ad to their moment will increase relevance and engagement.

There are three “must-know” extensions: sitelinks, callout extensions, and structural snippets (Skillshop, 2019).

Sitelinks:

Sitelinks are the links under the text of your search ad(s) that take users to a specific page on your site (Skillshop, 2019). For you, these will increase engagement, be easy to manage, and increase conversions. This is because users are taken straight to the correct page! (Skillshop, 2019).

Highlighted are examples of sitelinks

Remember: sitelinks and the headline link shouldn’t be the same link (Skillshop, 2019)! This is because the sitelinks should direct to a specific page versus the general site.

Sitelink Pro Tips:

  • Add a lot of sitelinks! Google suggests 8-10 active links per campaign (if possible).
  • Select the right page. Direct to popular pages on your site or high-conversion areas.
  • Guide the user. Clearly describe what the sitelink’s gonna lead the user to!
    (Skillshop, 2019)
Callout Extension:

Callout extensions are pretty much what they sound like. They’re extensions that call out to the user to take action! These are 25 characters or less and should highlight the value-adding  attributes (Skillshop, 2019). The benefits to you are easy implementation and increased engagement (Skillshop, 2019)! Examples of how to use callout extensions include driving to brick-and-mortar (“free pickup in store!”), online conversions (“free online shipping!”), and brand awareness (“100% cruelty free products!”) (Skillshop, 2019).

Callout Pro Tips:

  • Be brief. Remember KISS; keep it simple, stupid!    
  • Be appealing. Call out to something users will be interested in.
  • Be concrete. Mention specific information that could increase relevance.
    (Skillshop, 2019)
Structure Snippets

Structure snippets describe features of a specific product (or a few) before users click the ad (Skillshop, 2019). This allows for more qualified (likely to buy) leads because they click for the product they saw! Of course, these are to be used to highlight the specific features; such as free wifi in a hotel or a flight to a high-demand location (Skillshop, 2019).

Snippet Pro Tips:   

  • Focus on the essentials. Make sure you provide clear and informative info! Google recommends four values per heading maximum.
  • Be relevant. The snippet must be relevant to the header! If you’re advertising great amenities, use a snippet to mention the fast wifi.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Remember: Callouts are for the whole business (your competitive advantage), snippets are for specific attributes (Skillshop, 2019).

Other Extensions Are:

  • Location (give directions to your business)
  • Affiliate location (gives directions to retail partner locations; great for manufacturers)  
  • Call (provides a phone number)
  • App (to promote your app)
  • Price (to showcase products/services and their prices)
  • Promotion (to display info about a promotion without updating all your ads)
  • Message (*mobile only* to let users message you via text)
    (Skillshop, 2019)
    To find out more about these other extensions, click here to read more.

Ad Extension Pro Tips:

  • Use the right number of extensions. Google recommends at least three, but make sure they make sense for your business!
  • Keep them fresh. Change up your extensions every-so-often to keep your ad fresh and interesting to users.
  • Monitor! Always monitor how your extensions perform! This will give you feedback how to improve.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

 Automated Ad Extensions

Google will automatically identify which ad extensions are best for you. These will be almost the same as manual ad extensions, but Google will also use AI to help out. You don’t need to do anything to activate these and your Google Ads account is automatically opted-in (Skillshop, 2019). Google also offers “dynamic” versions of the big three ad extensions. Much like dynamic search ads, these are essentially the same to manual ad extensions. The difference is, these are dynamically tailored to the user’s needs/experience (Skillshop, 2019). Don’t get lazy on the manual ad extensions though! These will still always take precedent to the dynamic versions (Skillshop, 2019).

Seller Ratings Extensions

These are a special type of automated extension that is like Yelp. It’ll show users if your business is well-rated (Skillshop, 2019). This score is based off a few elements:

  • Google Customer reviews (GCR). This is a service that collects feedback from customers who’ve made a purchase on your site.
  • StellarService. An independent company that evaluates customer service
  • Google-led shopping research. This also evaluates customer service
  • Google Customer Surveys. These collect ratings for certain businesses/domains
  • Third-party sites. Like Yelp
    (Skillshop, 2019)

 Much like any rating, you want to keep this high, so customers trust you! If your seller rating is low, new customers may be off-put and choose to go with a competitor.

Increase Efficiency with Automated Bidding

Automated bidding! Ad bidding, but automated. This section will explain how to set bids and how automated bidding will help you (Skillshop, 2019)! Firstly, here are some key factors:

  • Performance (bids influence how visible your ads work and how they perform. You want high performing ads!)
  • Auctions (it’s like an eBay auction, if someone outbids you, you’d want to catch that speedily)
  • User Journey Complexities (automation will help take into account all the user’s behaviours and use this to bid effectively)
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Some of the benefits of automated bidding are obvious. These include it’s time saving thanks to machine learning/AI. By letting machines use algorithms to decide on the best bid for your situation, you don’t need to randomly guess. Plus, because the AI is bidding for you, it will be well-timed and bid based on the opportunities at each auction (Skillshop, 2019). Lastly, the AI can use user signals to predict future intent (Skillshop, 2019). This is great because it can automatically adjust to have the best-suited bids (Skillshop, 2019).

Much like ad-types, not all bid strategies will match your goal. This is why it’s important to choose the right one(s)! Your strategy should be based on what you want to focus on. This could be improving clicks, conversions, etc. This is also based on “which networks your campaign is targeting” (Skillshop, 2019).

Awareness-based Strategy
Increase Visibility

So, an awareness strategy is great for when you want to build awareness (duh). This will increase your ad’s visibility based on certain searches, location, or more! The best bid strategy for visibility would be  to target impression shares (Skillshop, 2019). This helps guarantee a specific impression threshold is being met (Skillshop, 2019).

Consideration-focused Bidding Strategy
Increase Clicks

This is a strategy if you want users to consider you (or get as many clicks as possible). For this, the best bidding strategy for you would be to maximise clicks (Skillshop, 2019). This would help “get you as many clicks as possible within a target spend” (Skillshop, 2019). Again, this will help drive clicks so if you want clicks or have extra budget to maximize traffic, consider this strat!

Conversion-focused Bidding Strategy
Increase Conversions

This strategy is great if you are “tracking post-click actions, valuing conversions equally, and are looking to [max] conversion numbers” (Skillshop, 2019). Essentially, you’re interested in conversions! For this strategy, Google recommends three different bid strategies. These are:

  • Maximise conversions (drives conversions as much as possible within the budget)
  • Target cost-per-acquis ion (tCPA) (to help increase your conversions while reacing the CPA goal)
  • Enhancing cost-per-click (eCPC) (to automatically adjust your bid based off click-likelihood)
    (Skillshop, 2019)
Revenue-focused Bidding Strategy
Increase Revenue

This strategy is for revenue! This is good if you’re tracking revenue, value-added, or ROI (Skillshop, 2019). The best strategy here is to target return on ad spend (Target ROAS) (Skillshop, 2019). This automatically will set bids to maximize conversion value to target the ROAS set. This is great because it’ll automatically “optimise bids to maximise revenue” (Skillshop, 2019).

Conclusion

So once again, a lot to take in so let’s sum it up! Once again (again), you want to make ads as relevant as possible. To do this, you’d want to utilise ad extensions. The standard three are: sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets. Sitelinks will link to your site. Callouts and structured snippets will show competitive advantages. The implementation of these extensions can be automated, much like bidding. Automated bidding is great because its timesaving and utilises AI. Now, let’s look at an example!

Here’s an image of the ad!

Let’s build an ad (you’ve seen earlier) for ViibeNetwork. This is an online Minecraft server/community. As you can see the headline is “Multiplayer Minecraft Server” “Active Community” and “ViibeNetwork”. This includes the maximum number of headlines allowed (three). Next you’ll see the URL, and lastly the description. This is split into two sections, one that lists the server-types and one that’s a call to action. So, to improve this ad, what should be done? Ad extensions!

Firstly, a callout extension would be smart here because it could highlight a competitive advantage. This is seen in the headline through “active community”. If this extension is perused, the link could lead to the discord link. A structured snippet might also be good to advertise creative players. This link could lead to a photo gallery. Lastly, in terms of bidding, this is a small company. Due to this, the best strategy would ether be awareness (visibility) or consideration (clicks). This would depend on the Viibe’s business goals. Personally, I’d just make two ads and have one for each strategy. This way, you can compare to see which provides success the best.

Some images pulled from Viibe’s Instagram

And that’s it for part 2/3! Be sure to leave a like if you’ve enjoyed and follow this blog to be notified when part 3 releases!

References

Skillshop. (2019, September 7). Google Ads Search Certification . Retrieved from Skillshop: https://skillshop.exceedlms.com/student/path/18128-google-ads-search-certification

Google Ads Search Certification: A Cheat Sheet (part 1/3)

(not sponsored unless Google wants to pay me)

Hello hello! As we all know by now, Google is probably the closest company to the Illuminati. They track ya, they track your info, etc. etc. As marketers, now’s your chance to harness this Google-power! Learn about how to make Google work for you! Today I’ll be talking about “Google Ads Search”. Specifically, the Google Skillshop which has a bunch of other classes as well. This blog will include the first three sections from this course so tune in for part 2 and 3! Let’s jump on into it!


Grow Your Business with Google Ads

Remember, the most important part of your campaign is that it matches your business objectives! To do this, Google Ads are “built around three principles: relevance, control, and results” (Skillshop, 2019).

  • Relevance means that Google won’t be showing your ads to just anyone. As I mentioned in the intro, Google is pretty top tier in tracking their users and this is to your advantage. Google Ads become targeted to the audience. This will increase interest and conversions from the ad.
  • Control means that you can control stuff like budget.
  • Results mean; well, results! Google Ads are cool in this sense because you pay per result. For example, you know the sponsored sites in Google (the search engine)? The company only pays for that ad placement when you click.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Google has more than just featured search engine optimization (SEO)-type ads though! There are five basic ad campaign types Google offers.

  • Search. These are the ads that show up when you search for something. This isn’t just for Google search engine though; it also includes YouTube!
  • Display. These are just regular visual ads that pop up when you’re on a site.
  • Video. These are video ads! These are commonly found when watching videos on YouTube.    
  • Shopping. These are like little visual carousels of products consumers can buy.
  • App. These are campaigns to specifically promote your app. These could be shown on/around YouTube videos, in Google Play (app store), or as a search ad. So essentially, it’s a combo of a few campaign types, but only for apps.    
    (Skillshop, 2019)
And here is an example of a search ad on Google AND a Shopping ad!
Here’s an example of a search ad on YouTube

There’re also specialized campaigns for local, hotel, and discovery (Skillshop, 2019). Local is for driving local business (offline). Hotel is for hotels (showing rates and availability to consumers easily). Lastly, discovery is to promote awareness and engagement (through ~discovery of the business). Google also offers a “Smart Campaign” which does everything for you. Personally, I find this suspect due to the lack of control, but it is an option.

Explore the Value of Google Search

SEO is integral to business. People are searching every day and usually they “Google” it. If your ads are appearing alongside organic results, it may incline customers to click.

Before you start your campaign, it’s important to know the answers to four key questions. This is so you’re not going in blind (and wasting your time and money)! These aren’t the only questions to think about before your campaign though. Remember, campaigns are to fulfil your business objectives so know what these objectives are first!  

The Four Questions to Know Before a Campaign

  1. Where do you want your ads to be seen?
  2. How much do you want to invest?
  3. What do you want to share in your ads?
  4. What keywords will match your customer’s search terms?
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Other questions to think about include: do you want to target a specific device? What about a specific language? These all help shape your audience. Remember, Google is very focused on relevance and delivering relevant ads to consumers! This makes things like keywords and device targeting very important!

Mini-Lesson: Keywords

When adding keywords, you want to think like a business but also a customer. By changing the phrasing or word choice of a keyword, it changes the relevancy of the ad to a consumer. Let’s consider this example. You own a luxury cosmetic company that sells clear lip gloss and you have an ad campaign of your gloss. A consumer searches for “best luxury clear lip glosses 2020”. How does your keyword choice affect the match?

Google keywords are split into five match-types (broad to narrow). These are:

  • Broad match  (lipe gloss)
  • Modified broad match (+lipglass)
  • Phrase match (“clear lip gloss”)
  • Exact match ([luxury clear lip gloss])
  • Negative (-cheap)     
    (Skillshop, 2019)

So, a broad match is the most generic and will likely reach the biggest audience. This includes spelling mistakes, synonyms, or anything related search term (Skillshop, 2019). A modified broad match is similar but only if the keyword or a close variation is present. To do this, add a plus (+) in front of the keyword (Skillshop, 2019). A phrase match will match to your keyword only if that exact phrase is typed. To do this, add quotation marks around the phrase (Skillshop, 2019). An exact match will only match your keyword if it means the same thing. This includes misspellings, synonyms, plurals, etc (Skillshop, 2019). To do this, you add brackets around the keyword (Skillshop, 2019)! A negative keyword hides the ad from customers searching that keyword. For a luxury lip gloss brand, hiding the keyword “cheap” means customers searching for cheap lip gloss won’t see your ad. To do this, add a minus (-) in front of the keyword.   

Google tip: Phrase match is good for search flexibility. It’ll give you more reach while still targeting a specific customer. Exact match is good if you’re trying to only target that specific customer (Skillshop, 2019).

(Skillshop, 2019)

“But that’s so many keywords I need to type!” you may be saying. Well, Google has your back. They offer Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) where you specify things like your website’s pages, ad template, and budget and they’ll autogenerate ads for you. DSA uses machine learning to make sure it’s hitting all the relevant customers and phrases. This is great for reach because it’ll autogenerate ads for searches you might’ve missed, it’s all automated for you so you don’t need to put in a lot of work, and you’re still in control (Skillshop, 2019).

Understand the Google Ads Auction

What are ad auctions? They are exactly what they sound like! They’re auctions you participate in to get your ad to a featured position. Obviously, this is very important for you because a prime spot could lead to more clicks! So how does ad placement even work; relevancy, money, and AdRank.

Firstly, Google only wants to show relevant results. So, if your site is relevant to whatever the consumer searches, you’re halfway there!
Second, money. You could bid any amount of money (per click) for your ad to be featured. Google notes you’d only need to pay one cent more than the next highest bid per click in practice.
Lastly, AdRank. Your Google AdRank considers five factors (this is the basis of your Quality Score):

  1. Your bid (the max you’re willing to pay)
  2. Ad quality (based on expected click-through rate, relevancy, and landing page experience)
  3. Relevancy (is it relevant to what’s being searched?)
  4. Ad format & extension impact (how will these additional things impact the ad’s performance)  
  5. Context of query (what’s the context of the Google search? Would your company help?)
     (Skillshop, 2019)

Click HERE to find out how to check your current quality score.

Note: Your AdRank will influence how much you pay per click. This is because higher-quality ads (high ranking) are seen as more helpful to the user. This means they “typically [will be] lower [in] cost, [have a ] better ad position and more advertising success” (Skillshop, 2019).

Veruca Salt from willy wonka, bad egg scene
Improve your quality to be a good egg (unlike Veruca!)

Mini-Lesson: Improving Your Quality Score

Focus on three components, expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience (Skillshop, 2019).

Expected Click-Through Rate (eCTR)
This is based off how likely Google thinks your keywords would lead to an ad click (Skillshop, 2019). This means it’s smart to constantly improve due to consumer preferences’ changing. Tips to improve this are:

  • Be specific. Include specific and relevant keywords (especially in the headline)
  • Try different calls to action!
  • Highlight your competitive advantage. Why should consumers buy from you?
  •  Create time or location specific ads. For example, holiday deals?
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Ad Relevance
Remember! Your ad needs to be relevant to the consumer’s search! This means it’s integral you make your ad as relevant as you can! Here are some Google-provided tips:

  • Utilise negative keywords. If your ad for bike accessories isn’t relevant to users looking for scooters, blacklist scooters! This makes your ad more specific (and relevant)!
  • Specify a device. The user experience is different on mobile and desktop! Specify the device or try different creative (to fit the device used!)
  • Be local. Localization is great, especially if you’re advertising brick-and-mortar!
  • Include relevant search terms to copy. This could make the content seem more relevant to users.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Landing Page Experience
As mentioned before, part of ad quality is determined by landing page experience! This means users expect next-to-instant gratification for clicking your ad! This could be a speedy answer or clear relevance. Here are some tips to improve your landing page experience:

Your web page better load fast!
  • Send traffic to the proper page! People expect instant relevance so if your ad is for a cool necklace, take the user straight to that product.
  • Consistency. Follow through on what the ad says. If you’re advertising a sale, you better have a sale!
  • Be transparent and trustworthy. Make users feel they can trust you and your site.
  • Improve loading speed. People want results quickly so the quicker your site loads, the happier the user.
  • Rethink mobile. Mobile use versus desktop use is a different experience. Consider having a streamlined mobile webpage so it’s easier for users to navigate.
    (Skillshop, 2019)

Conclusion

So, what are the key takeaways from part 1? Firstly, relevancy is everything! Regardless of how incredible your ad is, Google won’t show it to users if it’s not relevant to the search. Therefore, it’s integral you take into account the best ways to make your ad relevant. For an example, let’s say you own a small pizza shop and you want to advertise on Google. Step 1 is to decide your ad type. Due it being an ad for your small pizza shop, you decide on just a search ad for now. Next, you need to decide your ad’s purpose and keywords. After you work out your business objectives, you need to choose keywords. You input: [Pizza], -Stromboli, “local pizza”, as a few keywords. Lastly, you want your ad to be featured prominently so you want a high AdRank. From this, you decide to take action to improve your Quality Score. To do this, you change your ad headline to “Delicious Pizza Locally: Call now for fast delivery in-city!” and make the ad go straight to your business’s contact information. You also specify the ad’s location to your city. This highlights your competitive advantage of local delivery. But what next? Tune in for part 2 coming later this week to find out!      

This could be your happy face after a successful Google pizza ad! (PHOTO BY LARRY WONG/POSTMEDIA)

References

Skillshop. (2019, September 7). Google Ads Search Certification . Retrieved from Skillshop: https://skillshop.exceedlms.com/student/path/18128-google-ads-search-certification

COVID-19 Approved Ways to Get Business Confident

(Don’t just scroll through Netflix! Do something!)

As you may have noticed, the whole world is currently under lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not very convenient but there are some silver linings. For example, you don’t need to wake up 4 hours early to make it to class (or the office) on time! Overall, people generally have more time in the day now. “But how does that help my career?” you say. Well, if you’re like me, you’re not 100% “business confident” yet. Interviews, meetings, networking, etc. are all things that seem spooky! But, it doesn’t have to be!

Here are some tips I’ve compiled to help grow your business confidence (from the comfort of your own home)!


One example I saw on LinkedIn

1. Join online coffee talks/zoom meetings/skype sessions/live workshops etc. As you can see, there’s lots of names this sort of content goes by. Essentially thhough, they’re live chat rooms but via voice calls/video. I’ve personally seen a few floating around LinkedIn and they could be a great way to put yourself out there!

Key benefits are:
– You don’t need to show your face. Just turn off your webcam! This may make you feel more comfortable when speaking with someone because they aren’t really looking at you.
– You might not even need to speak! Most calls/presentations ask you mute your mic upon entry to not overload the call with noise. This means, if you have a question, you can generally opt to type it. This could help build confidence in speaking with new people.
– The info! The people offering these talks are usually established professionals. Why not use their knowledge if they’re offering it up!

2. Start a blog or Twitter. Let’s be real, if you’re a student you’ve got more time than ever right now. Another thing you have is knowledge from your classes. Spend this time to build-up your online presence into something business-oriented. Show off your knowledge and maybe even network with it! This way, you’ll come out of the pandemic demanded by businesses!

Key Benefits are:
– You get your name out there. This is essentially networking with minimal interaction.
– Looks impressive on your resume. You’re essentially creating something you can point to and say “I have this expertise, hire me”. This could put your resume at the top of the pile!

3. Get some volunteer work done. Obviously #stayhome to flatten the COVID-curve, but that doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer! Money is tight for a lot of groups right now (the economy’s not great) so offering your skills is great for them and you. Check out #Volunteerwork on LinkedIn for some great resources or click the link HERE for ways to help fight COVID-19 specifically.

Key Benefits:
– Again, looks impressive on your resume.
– Helps people out! It’s just a nice thing to do.
– Networking! You’re volunteering with people who might love you so much they’ll hire you later!
– Live experience. This is real-world experience for your career path! Plus, it’s extra great for interviews as you’ll have something in the field to talk about.

The above link was provided from this post on LinkedIn!
Another approach to get your name out to volunteer

4. Participate in some interviews. These can be live with your living-mates or digitally with friends or real recruiters! Personally, I’ve seen a few recruiters offering help on LinkedIn. Check out #interviewprep or #interviewpreperations for professional help! For at-home help, lots of online sites have common interview questions recorded so why not “study for the test”?

Key Benefits:
– Gets your interview confidence up. If you practice something enough, you’ll feel confident doing it over and over again. By the time it’s the real thing, it’ll be child’s play!
– If you utilize the real recruiters on LinkedIn, this becomes networking too! They might become so impressed with your faux interview, you’ll be asked to apply for real.

5. Watch/Listen to a TED Talk. This may sound super basic but TED talks are essentially little informational lectures. It’s very experienced people talking about their area of expertise! Plus, there’s TED talks about nearly everything! Find something interesting to you (or relevant to your career) and soak up that information. Now’s the time since you’re watching YouTube or Netflix anyways!

Key Benefits:
– You get all that expertise without leaving your home. It’s overall a very low-effort way to learn.
– You don’t really need to interact with anyone. Again, its primarily self-learning and that’s not a bad thing!
– Sounds impressive. The more you listen to other people’s way of thinking, the more well-rounded you become (or at least look). In interviews, don’t be afraid to mention things you’ve learned from a TED Talk speaker. This shows you’ve learned something and have a drive for constant improvement!

I’ve watched this video like, three times and it’s so good! Would recommended for all marketers and entrepreneurs
(click the image to be taken to the video)

6. Find a hole in your resume and fill it. No longer will you be put on the spot by interviewers! Find something you’re currently bad at and educate yourself! Additionally, look up jobs you want and find requested skills you don’t have. This is a very proactive way to impress. There are many courses online for teaching like LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare. Your local library may even offer free accounts for these services!

Key Benefits:
– Looks impressive on your resume. You can add the completion of these courses to your LinkedIn account or resume!
– Again, minimal interacting with others. Self-learning is especially good if you want to go at your own pace versus the pace of a traditional class.
– Takes away a weakness and makes it a strength. This should help any interview anxieties because you have the knowledge requested!

Here are some LinkedIn Learning courses I took and their certifications!

Overall, there’s lots to do business-wise during COVID-19. Plus, a lot of these things are self-led so you can ease in. It’s important to take things at your own pace, but you still need to take it! There’s no need to sit around and do nothing productive.

Hopefully though, all my tips/suggestions will help you feel more business confident! If so, don’t forget to like this post. Plus, feel free to share with your friends if they need it! Lastly, leave a comment down below with your business-confidence tips! I’d love to hear them because I could always use the help!

Social Media: Episode VI – Return of the Investment

“Obi-Wan has taught you well”

Hello! Welcome back, or welcome if you’re new. Today we’ll be talking the big bucks; the return on [your] investment (ROI). This is where you see the benefit from all your hard work! The content we’ll look at for this post is Carlos Gil’s Social Media Marketing: ROI. This will be a long one so strap in and let’s jump on into it!


The Social Media Strategy:
Remember: Your business objectives! As said in a previous blog post, your business objectives are what you should base all your decisions on! Join a social media platform that gets your company closer to achieving its objectives.  

Pro Tips for choosing a platform:

  • Where are your customers? Don’t waste time on the wrong platform!
  • What’s your competitor doing? Survey the landscape. If everyone’s on a specific platform, it might be smart to check it out!
  • Why be on social media? Again, to fulfil objectives! If your business objective is prompt customer service, Twitter would be worthwhile.
  • What are your marketing objectives? We’ve talked about your business objectives but consider your marketing objectives as well. Do you want to drive sales, raise awareness, increase word-of-mouth advertising?
    (Gil, 2019)
Each leg has a purpose!

Gil’s Four Pillar Strategy (four C’s)
Much like a chair has four legs to hold it up, Gil’s four pillar strategy holds your social media presence up! This means each “leg” is important and need to be planned for.

It consists of four sections (obviously):

  1. Content. The “meat and potatoes” of social media. This is what people see what they go to your page.
  2. Community. The folks who regularly support and engage with your stuff. It takes time to build this group up, but once you have it, they’ll be your #1s. 
  3. Consistency. How often will consumers be exposed to your posts (to your brand?)
  4. Conversion. Are people taking action from your posts? This means comments, retweets, shares, saves, purchases, etc.
    (Gil, 2019)

After reading that you might be thinking “how will I track the effectiveness of my efforts”? If yes, check out my blog [HERE] that covers metrics and tracking social media!

Pro Tip: Sites for Tracking ROI
Finding the right site might seem daunting at first! Personally, when I don’t know where to start, it’s easy to just think “its not worth it”. But tracking ROI is super important for marketers! As mentioned above, it’s what tells you if you’re doing well or not.

Shown on the graphic are four “basic” sites recommended by Gil for company’s just starting out with tracking ROI.

Some sites like “TubeBuddy” are specifically for tracking YouTube analytics (Gil, 2019). Depending on your content, you may want to look for specialized tracking tools.

If these sites are overwhelming, don’t worry! Practically every social media platform has in-app analytics you can look at.
Also, if you want to see a blog post about other social media sites, tell me in the comments below! 

Remember: Even if you use these sites, don’t get lazy! It’s important to stay up to date on what the data insights tell you! If you don’t, you have access to the information, but you won’t know how to use it to make improvements! Gil recommends exporting the metrics data into a spreadsheet (Excel or otherwise) to make reading/sharing this data easier (Gil, 2019)!

Social Media Pro Tip: Revive the dead! Revive your (best-performing) old posts by reengaging by liking/commenting responses to the post. This will get your content back in the viewers feed! (Gil, 2019). Plus, engagement with the consumers always looks good!

The Gamble

ROI is the return on your investment.

This means, investing a lot could lead to very high return if done right! But don’t forget, sometimes gambles result in loss

E-commerce Integration *this information was correct as of March 2020*

ROI doesn’t need to just be clicks or retweets; it can be sales! To increase your chances of a sale, consider adding an e-commerce aspect to your social media.

Instagram currently offers in-post “shop now” tags. Viewers can click on a post and be instantly linked to the product in your online shop. YouTube offers a similar feature with a merch carousel underneath the video but before the comments section. This showcases your products without the viewer needing to go to your merchandise shop. Lastly, Facebook offers a whole page for you to create a digital shop! This is great if you want to promote a lot within Facebook (ex. groups).

Instagram’s “view product” shop now tag

Remember: Likes aren’t everything! Metrics like likes and follows don’t show the whole picture of engagement (Gil, 2019). This is especially because they can be bought! Key analytics to look out for are shares, saves/bookmarks, and comments (Gil, 2019). This shows active engagement versus mindless scrolling. Shares are specifically great because they extend your reach organically (Gil, 2019). Check out my blog post HERE with tips for social media engagement.

Pro Tip for Professionals: Don’t forget LinkedIn! Check out my whole blog series [HERE] dedicated to LinkedIn and how to make it your best professional social media account.

YouTube-Specific Tips
YouTube is a “special” social media because all the content you’d produce is video! This means views matter. Unfortunately, YouTube is always changing what the favours. (The algorithm is the thing YouTube uses to promote videos within their app). Early-on, YouTube favoured  high reach which resulted in a lot of short-form (>10 mins) content seeing mass success. Then, the algorithm changed to favour content that kept users on the site. This means long-form (10mins+) content was favoured. Recently, YouTube has been not promoting “child-oriented” content due to accusations some content was predatory (ex. advertising disguised as content). This means content deemed kid-friendly would not show up in the “recommended videos” tab. Additionally, content that was deemed “advertiser-unfriendly” (ex. swearing, firearms, etc.) wouldn’t be promoted either.

Steph’s YouTube Pro Tip: When uploading to YouTube, be sure to understand the current rules and trends surrounding what the algorithm favours. Check popular creators’ videos and  social medias to see what they’re saying about the platform; they’re usually the most vocal about any changes! This also goes for video monetization!

Keywords are the Key
Keywords are integral to being found on any social media. For YouTube, you should optimize the title and tags to include hot keywords related to your content and business. This is the same for Facebook. Twitter and Instagram use hashtags as keywords. Using the right ones are important for you to be found through a keyword search!

 Social Media Pro Tips:

Tags you can add to your Instagram Stories
  • (Twitter) Twitter Cards. These are ways to attach picture/videos/other media to your tweet and drive traffic to your site. Remember: use eye-catching visuals and a clear call to action to really drive traffic.
  • (Instagram) Instagram Stories. These are great ways to reach consumers with temporary content. You can tell stories in a multi-post, get engagement through stickers (ex. quizzes, interest sliders, feedback boxes, etc. [see image]), or just draw attention to a new product!
  • (YouTube). Links and End cards. Attach links within your YouTube video. This makes it so people watching your video have instant access to your site!
  • (Most social media) Engaging Captions. Don’t put boring captions people can easily scroll past. Ask a question or issue a challenge (ex. “can you spell [your latest product] in the comments letter by letter without any interruptions?”). Make viewers want to engage with your brand!  
  • (Most social media) Bit.ly. Use Bit.ly! It allows you to shorten long links to your site to something small and digestible for posting. Also, it lets you see your click-through rate metrics!
    (Gil, 2019)

The Takeaway (Conclusion)
As important as social media is, without understanding your ROI, you’ve got nothing to show for it. As mentioned, multiple times, companies run on money and your ROI data proves your social media presence relates to the income stream. Personally, my favourite thing Gil said was the four pillars. For me, making the chair connection in my head made it all come together. All the factors are of-equal importance and they all do an important job! If one is weakened or missing, the whole chair will fall over and fail!

What all the businesses will hopefully be saying

A real world way to think about it is school! I’m currently a marketing student but plan to be a professional marketer soon. My investment is all the time and money I’ve spent to learn from my classes. My ROI payoff will be when I graduate and can use all my skills and education to land a great job!

References

Gil, C. (2019, October 9). Social Media Marketing: ROI. Retrieved from LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/social-media-marketing-roi-2

Formula Stealing and ManTracking

(the importance of documentation and analytics in marketing)

Hello hello! Today’s blog post is going to be short and sweet. We’ll touch on the importance of documentation and analytics in relation to social CRM. Let’s jump on into it!


Documents and Analytics

Process Documentation: Documents that support a process (ex. Activities, policies, etc.).
This is important for long-term tracking and for referencing in future projects! (Adams, 2018). If you’ve ever managed a project, you already know the importance of good documentation! If not, having good documentation is great for understanding exactly what was done in case something goes wrong. Additionally, it’s important for if you’re working with a client. Proper documentation gives something to present to show your work, but also it clearly tells them the scope of your involvement. This means things like tracking, implementation, planning, etc.

This is how to write a project plan which is pretty similar in concept. Notice how documents key topics like cost, goals, etc. 

Again, much like project management, creating a “roadmap” for your CRM is important! It lays out all the tasks, plans, and reasoning for implementing the CRM. This also makes it easier for everyone involved to understand what’s going on.

Here’s some key success criteria to consider:

  • Ownership. Who’s in charge of handling what? You don’t want to end up with no flowers at the wedding because you thought someone else had it covered.
  • Goals. What goals will the CRM achieve?
  • Metrics. How will you track how successful the CRM is?
  • Interface. What interface do you want to use for this?
  • Documentation. How will you document the project?
  • Alignment with business vision. Again, does it make sense for your company?
  • Expected impact. How does it impact your company? How does it impact certain areas like sales and marketing?
    (Adams, 2018)

 As mentioned above, metrics will help you track and understand if your CRM’s successful. This is obviously important! Without tracking and analytics, you won’t know if you wasted your time and money or not. Here are some pro tips for tracking your CRM.

Analytics Pro Tips:

  • Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to track everything under the sun right off the bat! Start small and expand later.
  • One size doesn’t fit all. Track goals and analytics that make sense for your company. This will be different for everyone but that’s fine!
  • Essential analytics to track: engagement, customer satisfaction score (CSAT), customer lifetime value
    (Adams, 2018)

Analytics are essentially like an episode of ManTracker. If you’ve never seen it because it’s a Canadian show, here’s the rundown. The two men pictured are tasked with “hunting down” two competitors who need to get from point A to B without getting caught. Much like analytics for social CRM, over time they hone their tracking skills and can expand past the basics they started with. Additionally, every technique doesn’t need to be used every episode because it doesn’t fit the situation.

Words to Know:

  • Customer Satisfaction Score: Uses key performance indicators to track how satisfied a customer is.
  • Customer Lifetime Value: The value a customer provides to your business over their lifetime

Remember: Active listening is key! To fully understand the importance of active listening, be sure to check out my last blog post HERE.

Conclusion

In conclusion, documentation and tracking are so important to every project you’ll ever do. Not to be dramatic, but it’s true. Documentation is key to make sure there’s clear evidence about what’s been done. Tracking is key to make sure there’s been a impact. These are important for every section of business, but I can vouch for the importance to marketers! There’s nothing more frustrating than someone making a change to a project, not recording it, and then forgetting what they did! This is quadrupled when you need to present to a client. Overall, please keep good documentation!

One classic example of bad documentation is Mr. Krabs and Plankton (from the TV show Spongebob Square Pants). If you’ve never seen it, Mr. Krabs and Plankton own competing restaurants. A continuing gag through the series is Plankton is trying to steal the Krabby Patty (the popular item Mr. Krabs sells) formula from Mr. Krabs. But here’s the thing, Plankton and Mr. Krabs used to work together! But, when their business relationship ended, Mr. Krabs kept the formula. This resulted in his restaurant succeeding and Plankton’s failing. If Plankton had proper documentation on who owned the formula, he wouldn’t need to attempt to steal it every episode!

Plankton stealing the formula (due to a lack of documentation)!
Plankton and Mr. Krabs arguing

References

Adams, M. (2018, April 11). Social Media Marketing: Social CRM. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/social-media-marketing-social-crm

Marking Your Territory

(you don’t need to pee on a tree to make your mark!)

Welcome back! If you’re new, be sure to check out my last blog post about what a CRM system is and how it can help you. Today’s content builds off it, but feel free to read all these tips first! So, today we’ll be talking about how to utilize CRM through social media and customer service. Let’s jump on into it!


Branding (not the cow kind, but sorta!)

An example of an Apple Airpod meme

Much like for cows, a “brand” is what sets you apart from your competitors. In the case of a cow, it’s the literal letters on its hip, for you it’s your personality and persona (Adams, 2018). For example, Apple’s brand revolves around being minimalist, luxury, and for the rich. 

How to build a brand:

  • Humanization: Essentially KFC and Colonel Sanders. You’re giving your faceless company a friendly, easy-to-connect-with face! This is good because people like interacting with humans. Faceless companies feel like blank walls to ignore versus open doors for open communication.
  • Personalization: What Apple did (refer to pic). You’re “allowing customers to choose and shape their own experience with your brand”. Apple fans just chose to flex with their expensive ear buds. This is good cause it generated a lot of natural allure to the Airpods, teens wanted them because it was the “it” thing
    (Adams, 2018)

Steph’s Tip: Having a clear understanding of your company’s brand currently (and where you want it to be) is integral. Your company’s “brand”/reputation are consumers first impression of your brand. If your brand surrounds cheap goods and bad service, you could be losing customers by the dozen! Make sure to use social listening (definition above) to see how the public perceives you and take actions to push it towards where you want it to be.

Engagement (“will you spend the rest of your life with me?”)

Pro Tip: Set out clear rules/standards for how to interact with customers  (Adams, 2018). These rules could surround:

  • Tone/personality. If your brand is “happy”, you don’t want those somber tweets going public
  • Set responses to certain situations. Maybe you want to use a preset response when customers ask a generic question
  • Personalized responses. How do you want your personalized responses to be written? What rules should your employees follow?
  • Announcements. What are the procedures for a company-wide announcement? You don’t want any leaks, do you?
  • Proactive responses. If there’s a problem, how will you quickly inform your customers of this? This is important because being proactive could prevent future complaints
    (Adams, 2018)

Remember: Make yourself easy to reach! If a customer has a problem, they’ll probably search for five seconds to find your customer support line before they get frustrated and tell their friends you’re terrible. Make your support info easy to find!

Don’t ignore Anjelica!

Also, try to make response times as clear as possible (Adams, 2018). If you don’t have hours of operations listed, a customer’s anger might escalate quickly if you don’t respond when they expect you to. With that being said, still respond ASAP! It “shows commitment to the customer” and “builds a positive image [of your company]” (Adams, 2018).

Customer Service Pro Tips:

  • Have a specific social media account for customer support (Adams, 2018). This is great because allows you to clearly display customer support-related info without it being lost in the sea of “regular” business activities.  
  • Add a little more humanity by adding a support agent’s initials/name at the end of a tweet.
  • Don’t be afraid to take it off social media! If someone angrily tweets about a problem you don’t want public, just say “please DM us with the info” or even “could you please DM us your email address so we can ensure your privacy regarding the issue”. This even adds more humanity because it shows you care about the customer’s privacy!
  • Don’t ignore feedback! If people tell you there’s a problem, it’s worthwhile to investigate before more customers mention it.  
  • Acknowledge loyal customers. Even if they already like you, it’s always nice to be noticed/thanked/appreciated by someone (or something) you love!
  • Every social media interaction is a PR/marketing opportunity waiting to happen! Make sure you make good use of it.
    (Adams, 2018)

The Power of Influencers

Especially in 2020, influencers and influencer culture is pretty hot for advertising. Just based off being 21 and being on social media, I see that influencers are the new-aged celebrities. People aspire to be like them, but the influencer’s (usually) humble roots make its so fans also want to support them. This means that when an influencer does something with a company, fans take notice. Again, make this attention count! If you’d be interested in a full blog post dedicated to influencers and the popularity of influencer advertising, please leave a comment or message me on LinkedIn!

But as mentioned above, influencers can (and will) drive sales. But for companies, they’re only effective if you have a relationship with their audience. For example, makeup company like Fenty pairing with a makeup-based YouTuber makes sense! But if Fenty partnered with a tech-review channel, the audience has no connection to the product so there probably won’t be any sales.

Influencers can even influence other Influencers!

Other tips for scouting influencers are:

  • Their advocacy. Do they have a strong influence over their audience?
  • Their reach. How many people will their message get to? Essentially, what’s their (active!) follower count. Some influencers buy followers to fake popularity so watch out!
  • Their action. Again, is their audience active? Is their audience likely to buy from you?
  • Their style. Does their brand image align with yours? If your brand is family values, you probably don’t want someone who gets drunk and parties every night.
    (Adams, 2018)

Pro Tip: Set Google Alerts for your company name (and other related keywords) (Adams, 2018). This way, you can see who is talking about you and how! This could be great for finding influencers to work with because they already are talking about you!

Remember: Influencers are consumers as well! It’s important to keep open communication and good customer feedback going. Deliver value that they can’t find anywhere else!

Social Media Tip: People go on social media for the social aspect. This means they want communication but not constant advertisements! Knowing when to pitch your brand and when not is important (Adams, 2018)!

Conclusion

So overall, your brand is what sets you apart from the competition. You brand is also; usually, the first impression consumers have of your company. From this, it’s key that your brand has a good reputation; be it from customer service, well thought-out engagement, or influencer work.

Personally, I see a lot of possibilities in the influencer space. As a marketer, it’s definitely a trend I’ll be watching because it’s growing; but will it pop? Additionally, working with influencers could backfire if you choose the wrong one. Take a lot of time to scout using the tips above! One of my favourite tips was Google alerts because before this I’ve never heard of this tool! So that’s something I’ll for sure check out when I’m working on campaigns.

One real world example of an influencer’s impact are the Beatles! Beatlesmania was a well documented phenomenon that has even carried into present day. Worldwide, fans went crazy for the band and would do anything for/about them. This included buying their records and anything associated with the brand. Coca-Cola working with the Beatles was a great decision because the band already held such great infleunce! It’s not to say they’re the only reason for the drinks popularity, but it didn’t hurt!

(photo credit: Jack Manning/The New York Times)

For more tips about social media content (like running campaigns!), check out my previous posts HERE!

References

Adams, M. (2018, April 11). Social Media Marketing: Social CRM. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/social-media-marketing-social-crm

Customer Relationship Management (Social Media Edition)

(aka: how to make sure your customers don’t hate you!)

Howdy folks! Today we’ll be diving into the wild world of social CRM (customer relationship management). To do this, we’ll be looking at tips provided by Megan Adams on her LinkedIn Learning course Social Media Marketing: Social CRM. Let’s jump on into it!


A Introduction to Social CRM

Firstly, what is “social CRM”? 
Social Customer Relationship Management: “A strategy that enables organizations to better engage with their customers (online)” (Adams, 2018). Essentially, it’s managing customer relationships using/on online “tools” like social media.

But what’s it good for?

  • Customer service. Customers can reach out on social media 24/7
  • Engagement. Increases & encourages engagement (and brand loyalty) through social media
  • Supports marketing and sales tasks. Easily track effectiveness of advertising, promotions, etc.
  • Evidence & Data! Provides clear evidence of the online activity/engagement your customers have with you. This is great to understand your target audience.
  • Natural advertising. Create word-of-mouth advertising by providing a good customer relationship. This is integral!
    (Adams, 2018)
If she’s angrily tweeting, she probably told all her friends too!

Overall, what’s social CRM good for? It’s good for helping your company track, measure, and analyze your audience’s social media behavior! As I was once taught, there’s a marketing adage; “a dissatisfied will tell ten friends (you suck), but a satisfied customer will only tell two (you rock)”. Remember, this is important! Good experiences usually don’t get mentioned as much as the bad. So make sure there’s only the good for customers to talk about!

How to use Social CRM:

  • Marketing. Use social listening to track your audience and see what they like. This is important for things like advertising and promotions
  • Sales. Obviously, you want to make sales! Use CRM to understand what people are buying/want to buy
  • Customer Service: Remember what we just said! Customer service is important and using CRM can help you provide it quick!
  • Customer experience. Good products are fine, but good customer experience will bring them back for more. Use CRM to understand what your customers want so you can tailor a great experience to them!
    (Adams, 2018)

Social Listening: Monitoring online conversations (of your audience) to see what people say/think about you
Remember: There’s no use in just “listening” to your audience! Actually listen and act on it!

Pro Tips for Deciding a CRM Platform:

  • Consider your business’ size. It’s not effective to have a “mom and pop shop”-sized CRM if you run a national enterprise. Plus, it’s not cost effective to have an enterprise-level CRM system if you have a small business!
  • Ease of use. Don’t buy things you don’t know how to use because it’s “better”
  • Features. What does the platform offer vs what you need/want it to do for you?
  • Integration. Again, if it’s not easy to implement it could result in even bigger problems!
  •  Security. It’s not worth it to your business or customers to cheap out and get weak security.
  • Customer service. If you need help, is the CRM company ready and willing to help you?
  • Cost! The most obvious factor. Don’t forget “hidden” fees like setup costs and time needed to implement
  • Try it out first. Sign up for a free trial/demo to see if it’s the right fit for your business! You wouldn’t buy a car before doing a test drive so why do it for a CRM system?
    (Adams, 2018)

Integration Station:

When integrating a CRM, the top two things you need: support and resources (Adams, 2018). Support could be obvious things like upper-management funding the system or smaller things like team members using it. You’re essentially changing corporate culture (to an extent) so make sure the system aligns with the company! If not, employees may fight back because they don’t see the advantages. Resources are factors like budget, monitoring, and staff. They’re important to consider because if you work outside your resources, the proper care won’t be taken overall.

This is what good CRM looks like!

It’s like a sandwich! If you don’t have the proper ingredients to build a sandwich, then you’ll end up just eating salami and mayo (gross). It’s not effective and a waste of the few resources you did have.  

Corporate Culture: the unspoken beliefs/behaviors ingrained into employees about how they should act/interact (in the company).

Corporate culture’s learned/developed over time without ever saying “this is how things are”. This makes it difficult to change because it’s the norm. If you’re interested in a whole blog dedicated to changing corporate culture, leave a comment down below or message me on LinkedIn!

Conclusion

Overall, social CRM’s are integral to customer relationship management; so much so it’s in the name! Firstly, it’s important to understand that just having good products isn’t enough anymore. Especially in this internet era where negative word-of-mouth can travel like a forest fire, understanding what the public says about you is key.  

Personally, the most important part of social CRM to me is listening. There’s a difference between hearing what customers are saying to/about you and listening. Listening means engaging, it means taking action, it means learning from the information giving. For me, I feel like this is the make-or-break difference between brands that do well and those that don’t. If your customers are consistently trying to tell you something, acknowledge it at the very least! For real, even if you have no plans to change, just saying “we hear you” makes customers feel heard; which will go a long way.   

One real world example you should check out is Jacklyn Hill’s Lipstick launch. Upon release, one customer was complaining about hard (plastic and metal) balls and hair embedded in their lipsticks. Instead of listening, Jacklyn went on the defensive and attacked the customer that complained. This came to bite Jacklyn in the butt because many customers had the same problems and were furious at the response. Additionally, Jacklyn’s doubting response spread quickly through the makeup community and even those who weren’t interested in the lipsticks now didn’t want to support the brand in any way. Jacklyn lost thousands of customers because she didn’t listen!

One customer’s reaction weeks later when Jacklyn stopped responding to customer questions
Jacklyn’s initial response

References

Adams, M. (2018, April 11). Social Media Marketing: Social CRM. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/social-media-marketing-social-crm

Your Network: The (Rainbow) Connection

(Get your network beyond your Facebook friends from 10+ years ago)

Your network is essentially people you know. It’s good to have a large network because; like the classic saying goes, “its not about what you know, but who you know”. Additionally, if you connect with people you know, this increases the probability that they might endorse your skills or recommend you (click HERE to see my last post about why that’s good).

Additionally, if you connect with people who have similar interests to you, you might even be able to get a job from it (Schinkten, 2018)!


Pro Tips:

  • Don’t add anyone and everyone people (its not worth it)
  • Connect with Schinkten’s three: the advocate, the in, and the expert
  • The Advocate: someone you know personally, can provide advice and ideas (ex. classmate)
  • The In: someone who’s very connected and could make connections on your behalf (ex. professor)
  • The Expert: Has insight on your industry, can give unbiased opinion, has similar goals/jobs/etc.
  • Networks aren’t only about you! Make it a symbiotic relationship!
    (Schinkten, 2018)

Note: You can hide parts of your account from the public. Additionally, you can restrict connection requests so only people with your email can ask to connect (Schinkten, 2018). This can be good if you’re a well-know big-wig, but initially, you might want to leave this open so you can grow your network.

Don’t forget to check the “My Network” tab! This is where you can find people you may know but aren’t connected with, or where you can find requests for people trying to connect with you!

Tips to Find Connections:

  • Filters! It’s like going to a clothing store. It’d take forever to search through one huge pile of clothes so generally, stores organize them by size, style, type, etc. This makes it quick and easy to find what you’re looking for.
  • Boolean modifiers. These are essentially the same words you can use to make your Google searches better. Things like quotation marks, parentheses, the word “NOT”, “OR” and “AND”.  Still confused? Check out the graphic at the bottom of the blog.
  • Search operators. Normal searching but more specific. So instead of just searching for “Microsoft”, you can search “company:Microsoft”. You can pair these up as well. If you’re searching for Carl Jones at Microsoft, you can search “company:Microsoft firstname:carl lastname:jones”
  • The alumni tool. This is a feature is through a school’s LinkedIn page. Click the “Alumni” tab to see a list of Alumnis. This is a great tool to use if you want to connect with people from your school. Plus, you can narrow this search down as well by clicking on the demographics (ex. marketing) if you want to find people who are in similar careers to you!
  • Groups. Find people with similar interests easily! Make sure you meet qualification and check the rules before asking to join a group.
    (Schinkten, 2018)
^This is probably too forward for LinkedIn

Remember, personalized notes when connecting are useful! Telling someone why you want to connect could improve the likelihood they’d accept!

Note: The newsfeed is a good way to stay informed about stories relevant to your career, interests, or prospective companies/schools (Schinkten, 2018)! You can also follow “thought leaders” (experts in the industry) by checking out /feed/follow (Schinkten, 2018). Stay in the know and impress prospective jobs with your industry knowledge!

Pro Tips:

  • Keep your “digital footprint” as professional as possible. There’s been countless stories of people losing jobs because unprofessional posts have surface. Some companies may not even hire you because of unprofessionalism. On the flip side, companies may want to hire you after seeing your online presence if its professional, well rounded, and demonstrates sought-after skills (Schinkten, 2018).
  • Be active on LinkedIn! Creating/sharing content regarding your field increases your credibility and brands you as a “thought leader” (Schinkten, 2018). Remember though, keep posts professional and make sense for your personal brand. For more tips on good copy writing, check out my blog post HERE.
  • Check out LinkedIn Learning (Schinkten, 2018)! If you’re a student (like me), your school might offer LinkedIn Learning free. If not, you’ll have to pay for it. It’s a good way to learn skills through video though, so it might be worth it depending on your learning style.

Pro Tips for Finding Jobs:

  • Go to the page of a company you’re interested in. Then just click “jobs”! It’s super simple but a great way to find jobs you may not see on other sites.
  • Check out LinkedIn accounts of employees who got the job; they got the job so compare your account to see how you could improve. No need to copy exactly though! Just consider it inspiration or a point-of-reference. This is a great way to find keywords (Schinkten, 2018).
  • Easy Apply VS Apply. Easy Apply is applying with your LinkedIn account; super quick and easy. Apply is like a regular online job application.
  • Use the save jobs feature. It’s an easy way to keep tabs on jobs you’re interested in but don’t want to apply for just yet.
  • Fill out the “career interests” tab. This lets recruiters know your information and lets them know you’re interested in a job!
  • Use LinkedIn salary to see your earning potential. Good info to know so you don’t get ripped off!
  • Set a job alert. You can set it so LinkedIn will alert you when jobs meeting your specifications pop up. This is also great for keeping up to date on job postings. 
    (Schinkten, 2018)

Common Question: Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?

Answer: There’s additional features that premium offers but LinkedIn regular is still really good; especially because its free (Schinkten, 2018). If you’re really interested in premium though; such as when looking for jobs or hiring for your own company, sign up for the free trial just to see if you think its worth it to yourself.

Conclusion 

One of the main takeaways from today’s blog post is that your digital footprint is something you should really think about. This includes your network! It’s important to consider how people your connected with, groups you’re in, and tags you follow all reflect on you. Additionally, it’s important to treat LinkedIn like any other social media; in a sense. Everyone knows that consistency is a key when running a social media account if you want to gain traction. LinkedIn is the same! Post regularly (but not annoyingly) about things in your field. This will build an audience and your credibility.

Personally, I find it hard to think of things I’d want to post directly on LinkedIn, but I feel comfortable on this blog. Going forward, I’m going to try to post about my blog and add blog posts to my LinkedIn feed.Hopefully this gains my blog’s readership as well!

References

Schinkten, O. (2018, October 18). Learning LinkedIn for Students. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning : https://www.linkedin.com/learning/learning-linkedin-for-students/welcome?u=2109516

Overcoming The “Everyone On the Internet Are Predators” Era

(AKA: how to break past your fear and use your real name online)

LinkedIn! If you’re like me (a 1998 kid), you were probably part of the “everyone on the internet is a predator” generation. Due to these intensive safety measures, I found it difficult to go from anonymous to “find me and hire me”. One of the easier transitional tasks I did was creating a LinkedIn. LinkedIn is essentially a digital resume and it’s really a hot commodity to have for students.

The following set of blog posts will be a summary of Oliver Schinkten’s Learning LinkedIn for Students. Let’s jump on into it!


Why LinkedIn

You may be asking yourself “why do I need to have a LinkedIn; I have a resume”? Well, as mentioned, it’s your professional online presence. When prospective employers look you up, your LinkedIn could be your safety; the first thing to pop up and push your finsta* down.

*Finsta: A secondary Instagram account that is usually less curated. Sometimes used for selfie-spam of drunk antics.

As of Schinkten’s video, here are some LinkedIn stats:

^Recruiters looking at your LinkedIn
  • Over 500 million members
  • Over 9 million companies
  • Over 10 million active job postings
  • The go-to site for recruiters
  • Over 70% of companies screen social media 
    (Schinkten, 2018)

The Basics of LinkedIn

Step 1: Sign up! Remember, you want to get your name out there! Don’t fully throw internet safety out the window though. Use a strong password (Schinkten, 2018) and don’t give out information that’s too personal. If it makes you uncomfortable to give, don’t give it!  

Pro Tip: Schinkten recommends when LinkedIn asks you “what you’re most interested in doing”, you say “I’m open!” (Schinkten, 2018) when signing up. This is because all the reasons are good uses of LinkedIn!

Step 2: Customize! Add your selfies and show a little personality. Statistically, accounts with an icon photo get looked at more than those without (Schinkten, 2018). This makes sense because on any other social media, accounts with no icon photo usually indicates fake/spam accounts.  

Note: There’s no fear in adding/changing your profile picture! If you ever want to change it, just click the pencil icon beside the photo. Don’t forget to save!

^ Pikachu should use this picture on his LinkedIn because its clear, recent, and professional!

Pro Tip: Use pictures that are:

  • Recent (you want people to recognize you)
  • Clear (they need to see you!)
  • Professional (this is a work-oriented social media)
    (Schinkten, 2018)

Your headline (the first bar of text under your name), is part of your first impression so make it count! Schinkten recommends “something that defines who you are and what you want to become” (Schinkten, 2018). An example of this is: “BBA Student, Aspiring Copywriter”. Adding an interest/passion adds a little flair that’ll draw readers in.

Your summary is very important. It’s essentially the cover letter of your account. This is a more in-depth section that you can really sell yourself. Add your passions, aspirations, accomplishments, and more! Overall, things that make you look good and add some keywords to your account (Schinkten, 2018).

Pro Tip: Keywords are like subtle hashtags. They’re words that recruiters/recruiting applications are going to flag first (Schinkten, 2018). When writing, make sure to work keywords in in organic ways. If you just spam a bunch of keywords at the bottom it’s wasted space. An example is: “I have serving experience” versus “I have experience working in fast-paced environment”.     

Remember: make your summary readable! There’s no point in writing it if no one can read it. A good app to use to check readability is HemingwayApp (not sponsored). It’s free, recommended by my professor, and rates your text’s readability in an easy and visual way.   

Pro Tip: The summary preview only shows the first few sentences. Make these the eye-catching “I must read more” sentences (Schinkten, 2018).

Conclusion

Having a LinkedIn is pretty important. It’s a solid way to create a professional online presence for minimal effort. Going into it, I thought my LinkedIn was pretty good. I constantly get emails thanking me for “being an active member” so I figured I was doing great. This assumption was mid-tier wrong. I got the basics down but the specific details is where I was lacking. Personally, the best tips I learned are profile summaries are very important (so I needed to add that!). At the bottom of this page is my LinkedIn profile with pictures of changes I made from this section. Be sure to check it out! 

After: Here is a screenshot of my summary
Before: No summary! Embarrassing

References

Schinkten, O. (2018, October 18). Learning LinkedIn for Students. Retrieved from LinkedIn Learning : https://www.linkedin.com/learning/learning-linkedin-for-students/welcome?u=2109516

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