Archive for Jan, 2012

Michael McGinley

Why, When & How To Geo-Target

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

It still amazes me when talking to people about Pay-Per-Click that few know how truly versatile PPC campaigns are. They can be modified, paused and activated literally within seconds. They reach searchers on desktop computers, mobile devices and high-tech tablets. They reach English speakers, Spanish speakers, French speakers and more. And they can appear all over the world – from right here in the United States to practically any country around the globe.

It’s all up to the advertiser to decide where they’d like to target their efforts. Google AdWords, as a rule, opts all PPC campaigns into United States and Canada targeting by default. It’s up to the advertiser or the dedicated PPC Manager, of course, to exclude Canada from these initial campaigns. (Note: A PPC best practice is to create separate campaigns for different countries and, in some cases, states or regions, but it’s not the end of the world if Canada gets lumped in with some US campaigns from time to time).

The beauty of geo-targeted campaigns is that they usually see high click-through-rates, bring in qualified traffic and can really “speak” to the consumer, if done properly.

At Solid Cactus, we have clients who see the value in geo-targeted campaigns and those who do not. It all depends on the client’s business model, target audience and shipping setup. Geo-targeting is especially ideal for smaller clients who don’t want to waste money paying for clicks throughout the entire US, and would rather allot their $500 budget to just the few states in which they receive the most orders. By using Google Analytics or simply looking at order receipts, this information is readily available and can help a client maximize his or her ROI.

In situations such as these, it’s important to use ad copy tailored to that specific state. Wording such as “Free Shipping to Texas” and “NY Shoppers: Shop & Save Now!” can make all the difference. Think about it, wouldn’t you rather buy from a store that is specifically marketing to your part of the world as opposed to others?

As mentioned before, these campaigns generally have higher CTRs because of how specific they are, which makes for higher conversion rates as well.

Just like you can target specific states, it’s similarly as easy to exclude certain states from campaigns, too. Many online retailers complain of higher shipping costs to areas such as Hawaii and Alaska, so instead of wasting advertising dollars in those areas, clients choose to not even bother with those states and simply stick with the continental US, especially in the beginning of a PPC account. The choice, again, belongs to the advertiser.

Targeting to countries – everywhere from Indonesia to Iceland – is easy, too. If it’s worthwhile, consider targeting campaigns to other countries in which you or your clients ship. On the same note, you can target more refined areas and regions within states, so if you provide services specific to metro areas such as Pittsburgh or Denver or even smaller spots such as St. Peter, Minn. or Carbondale, Pa., then geo-targeting is for you, too.

Geo-targeting is especially helpful for advertisers during off seasons. For instance, a bathing-suit shop may not want to have ads showing to “window shoppers” in the North during the cold months of the year. If that advertiser just wants to show in southern states such as Florida and the Carolinas, they can easily select a group of states to which they can target a campaign. That way, they’re assured only shoppers searching in areas where they may currently need a bathing suit will be clicking.

So, how do you do it?

Once you create a campaign within Google AdWords, go to the “Settings” tab on the top of the interface. Under the section that says “Locations” you can easily select to add or exclude hundreds of different areas. Check it out, even if geo-targeting isn’t for you right now. It may be someday as your budget fluctuates, your shipping rates change and your target audience expands.

Remember, also, to separate geo-targeted campaigns. Reason being: certain areas have different searching patterns (like any demographic does), ad copy can be tailored, keyword costs and daily budgets may need to be adjusted differently, etc. Don’t make the mistake of lumping your campaigns together. You’ll end up with a mess on your hands – no matter what continent you’re on!


What’s not to like about free Facebook advertising credits?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Recently Facebook launched a new contest called “Boost Your Small Business on Facebook“. It is designed to help small business (like yours) grow by giving away up to $10M in Facebook advertising!

To participate, the following criteria must be met:

  1. A Facebook Page for your small business
  2. Your business must be based in the US
  3. Your page will need at least 50 likes

50 likes and you’re in, right?
Answer: Not quite. We provide Facebook services for a lot of small business owners like yourself, but only a few were selected by Facebook to be a part of this contest. “Facebook did not select every Facebook Business Page out there to be a part of the contest,” notes Alicia Magda, our resident social media genius. But one thing is certain, our clients who were selected to participate, their Facebook pages exemplifies “the quality of our Facebook posts, the ability to grow Facebook ‘likes’, and our experience in upholding social media best practices (aka no spam!).”

What’s next if you’ve been selected to participate in this contest? Well, step one is savor the $50 in free ads. Then, roll up your sleeves and get to work. If you can get another 100 more likes add to your Small Business page by April 1, 2012, there’s another $100 in free ads! AND, if you’re one of the top 10 pages that gains the most new likes before April 1, 2012, you could win $10,000 more in free ads!

So what are you waiting for? Your “like” buttons aren’t going to click themselves. Get out there and get “like’d”.

Still here? Not sure where to start? I’ll give you a hint, Facebook Management! Let the experts at Solid Cactus help you create, manage, and grow your Facebook Business Page.


A Blog is your eCommerce Store’s Best Friend

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but they really don’t provide any SEO value (unfortunately). But a blog is a totally different story. Far too often, eCommerce store owners discount the benefits that can come from having a quality blog attached to their site. A blog is a great way to give your business some personality, credibility, and an SEO boost on top of that. In fact, there really isn’t an excuse not to have a blog in conjunction with your eCommerce store. Sure, there’s a bit of time and effort involved—but the benefits simply can’t be ignored. (And, hey, if you don’t have the time… We have an SEO team that can help make it happen!)

Let’s start with some quick things that a good SEO friendly blog can do for your business:
  • A quality blog adds instant credibility to your website. People have a tendency to respect an expert in the field, and a blog is a place for you to show that you have the know-how that potential customers are looking for.
  • There really is an audience for everything out there on the internet. Having a blog can help you reach the right audience for your business.
  • It’s important these days for businesses to be social. When your eCommerce store has an active blog, your customers will see that there really is a personality on the other side of their computer screen.
  • A blog can even increase your traffic. Think about it… When you have a blog connected with your site, you’re just giving people more opportunities to find your store.
  • Search engines actually pay attention to new and fresh content. Having a blog for your eCommerce store ensures that you’re constantly adding something new for those spiders to crawl.
  • A good blog can also get your rankings for some long-tail search terms.

Doing your blog, and doing it right!

With benefits like that, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would decide against having a blog for their business. With all that said, though, there are certain things you need to take into account in order to do it right. First and foremost, you need to remember that your blog is essentially a window to the inside of your business and industry. It has marketing benefits, but it’s not an advertising platform. People are bombarded with advertising constantly, and they don’t want to read advertisements in their free time.

So how should you think about beginning a post for your business’s blog? Just imagine that a friend came up to you and asked you about your business. How would you explain what you do? What would you tell them to make them love your industry? That’s how you begin writing a blog post. You don’t want to write like you’re trying to sell the product or service. (I know, I know. You have an eCommerce store so you can make some money doing what you love. But your customers come first, here.)

Instead of a sales pitch, write about your products or services openly and honestly. Think about the sort of people that benefit from what you do and what your business has done for them.

And that’s the key right there. You want to keep the focus on people. People love reading about people and relating to people. If you can explain why people need your products to make their lives better, then you’re on the right track.

Donna Werts

Start the year off right

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

As a business owner, was one of your resolutions to provide better customer service? What are your plans to do so? When do you plan on implementing these strategies?

In today’s economy, it is imperative that you go above and beyond for your customers. If you don’t, your competition will. They will then be enjoying your revenue. So here are some tips to help you get 2012 off to a great start!

  1. If you list your hours as 9-5, be available from 9-5. The last thing your customer wants, when they are ready to give you money, is to leave a voicemail.
  2. Where is your phone number? It should be listed on your header where your customers can find it easily. Why? Because it instills confidence in your customers.
  3. Provide as many ways as possible for your customers to contact you. Some may prefer to call you, some to chat, some to email. Give them what they want.
  4. Most importantly, provide them what you promise. If you say that you will contact them back within an hour, do that. If you say that a product will ship the next business day, make sure it ships the next business day.

It is always better to over deliver than to disappoint! Your customers and your business will thank you.

Please remember, that we always provide free customer service consultations. If you are interested in having your policies reviewed by our expert staff, please give me a call at 888-361-9814 ext. 7172.

Donna Werts

Do you need a call center?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I am sure some of you think that having a call center’s assistance is out of your budget but have you researched it? Fact is, hiring a call center is less costly than hiring in-house and does give you the appearance of being a bigger company than you are. It also allows you freedom to focus on your business instead of answering the phone. Here are some signs that you should look into signing on with a customer support service like ours:

  1. Are you hiding or not placing a toll free number, on your site, to avoid customer calls?
  2. If you have a number, is it a regional number? This can make you appear like a small business or even unprofessional. This can make potential customers uneasy and reluctant to shop with you. Lost revenue is NOT an option.
  3. If you have a toll free number, where does it go?
    • Voicemail?
    • Who is answering? Do they care if your customers are happy?
  4. Do you have the time to answer your phones? Do you have children? How about your family life in general? Do you want to leave your office at 5?
  5. Are you thinking about extending your business hours?
  6. Do you have the time to manage your chat? Is it offline more times than not?
  7. Do you have the time to manage your emails effectively?
  8. Do you have the time to actually take care of your customers that calls in? Are you being interrupted because you are trying to do it all yourself?

If you answered yes to even one of the preceding questions, you need help!

Coupled with meticulous marketing investments, call center services can assist you in achieving the financial freedom you seek.