Stop Thief! - Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Robbing You Blind?

by Carl Weiss

Do you like to fish?  The reason I ask is due to the fact that the best way to look at pay-per-click advertising is to regard it as being like fishing.  You dangle some bait (your ad), you get a nibble (the click) and then you try to reel in the fish.  The problem is that while most PPC advertisers manage to get the first part of the equation right, many fail to perform the necessary second step: reeling in the fish.  Then they lament the fact that PPC ads are robbing them blind.  In order to help alleviate this problem, I have created a step by step guide to maximizing your ROI.

Step #1: Dangling the right bait

Make an offer and generate a click.  That’s pretty much all it takes to make pay-per-click marketing work for you, right?  Wrong.  While you are correct in that you only get charged when your ad generates a click, trying to work PPC marketing this way is extremely inefficient.  Many business people graduate from print to online marketing.  In print advertising the rule of thumb is to cast as wide a net as possible.  The problem is that this is the worst approach for PPC ads.  In paid online advertising, you aren’t looking to hook every fish.  You are looking to hook the fish that ideally fits your profile of the perfect prospect.  Therefore your bait has to be tailored to hooking the right fish.

This entails understanding the demographic and psychographic profile of your ideal customer.  What age brackets do you wish to target?  Which income brackets are key to your ideal prospects?  Where do your ideal prospects shop?  What kind of restaurants do they frequent?  Knowing these factors will not only help you hone your ad to a fine edge, but it will also aid you in selecting the best keywords and phrases from which to fish.  The chief difference between a novice and experienced angler is that the old pro knows where the best fishing spots are located.

Only once you have a complete profile of your ideal prospects is it time to create the ads that are designed to appeal to this group.  That’s right, I said ads.  The beauty of working online is that every eyeball and click can be tracked.  In order to maximize your results in any PPC environment you want to design and test a number of different ads.  What sounds good on paper may quickly prove to be next to useless in the fast paced world of the Internet.  Unlike print ads which are fixed in stone for a set amount of time, online ads are imminently adjustable.  Within a few days of launching any PPC campaign you should be able to determine which ads are pulling their weight and what ads need to be either tweaked or pulled out of rotation altogether.  You should also do the same for your keywords, as well as the networks upon which your ads are displayed.

Unless you intend to shred a mountain of money in your initial attempts to locate and appeal to your ideal prospects, all of the steps above must be accomplished before your campaign is activated and the first click is produced.

Step #2: Make it easy for the fish to take the bait

Once you have designed your ad to generate only those prospects that have a high probability of converting into business, you need to look at the place you intend sending them.  The single biggest mistake to converting clicks into cash has to be to send the prospect to your homepage.  Your homepage is designed to showcase your business, not to create new business.  As a rule it is undoubtedly too busy.  It offers too many choices to prospects. It wasn’t designed with the express purpose of making an offer.  In short, if you send a prospect to your homepage you have just reduced your ROI by 90 percent.

Just like your ad, your landing page needs to be custom designed to funnel the prospect through the buying process with the least amount of speed bumps to doing business with you.  It needs to contain a short series of selling lures that will make your landing page stickier.  In short order, you need to answer the following questions:

1.      What need or desire are you trying to fulfill?
2.      How does your offer remedy a problem or ease a pain?
3.      How does your offer stack up to the competition’s offer?
4.      What counteroffer are you promoting in case the prospect doesn’t take the bait?

The best way to crystalize the process is to take a look at your existing landing page.  From a visual standpoint, what catches the eye?  Are you wasting valuable real estate above the fold with nebulous graphics or fancy Flash cels that do little to entice the prospect into taking action?  What type of funnel has been created to limit the prospects choices and lead him or her inexorably to agreeing with your marketing message and taking the bait?  How much sales resistance is your offer likely to cause and how does your copy reduce it? 

Step #3: Don’t lose the fish on the way to the boat

Other than your offer, or lack thereof, the greatest detriment to doing business with you is credibility.  For the most part the letters WWW translate to Wild, Wild West to most consumers.  They read daily articles and blogs lamenting the fact that the Internet is chock full of cyber criminals whose intent is to cheat, rob or phish their way into getting their hands on personal information that can be used to financially exploit the average consumer.  Therefore when someone clicks on a link, they don’t know who you are.  They don’t know if you are reputable.  They don’t have any reason to trust you.

In order to turn this perception around you need four elements:

1. An intro video
2. A testimonial video
3. Your phone number
4. Your physical address

Would you buy a car from someone you have never seen?  Probably not.  Yet that is what most online marketers expect the public to do.  Then when their ROI drops precipitously, they blame the media.  In order to give prospects even the tiniest iota of confidence in you and your offer, they have to get to know you first.  The easiest way to do this is with an intro video. 

If the first brush a prospect has with your business is your ad, they don’t you, they don’t know your business and they don’t know your reputation.  The surest way to break the ice and instill confidence is to produce a video that introduces you and your business.  This video should be no shorter than a minute and no longer than two minutes in length.  It should take the viewer behind the scenes to introduce you and your staff.  It should briefly talk about what makes you special and last but not least, it should ask for the sale.

Another type of video I highly recommend is the testimonial video.  Unlike written testimonials that are highly suspect in the eyes of your audience, due to the fact that it is all too easy to game the system, video testimonials are not only more credible, they also turn your best customers into your best sales people.  Combined with an effective intro video, testimonial videos are one of the best ways to enhance your credibility and establish an instant rapport with prospects.  These videos should be prominently displayed above the fold, not buried at the bottom of the page. 

The other speed bump to credibility  is when a prospect either has to hunt for or cannot find your physical address and phone number.  Even if the address leads to the location of your business’ PO Box and the phone number leads to a voicemail system, a failure to display both of these items will reduce ad effectiveness by at least twenty percent.

Step #4: What to do with the fish once you have it in the boat

So you have made a successful pitch and have generated a lead or a sale.  Bravo. But don’t pat yourself on the back yet, particularly if all you have in hand is a lead.  The secret to turning leads into sales without running you and your staff to ground is via a drip marketing program.  While most business owners feel that they can kick up their feet and relax once the lead or sale is in the bag, I disagree.  All you have done is taken back a tiny amount of ground for a battle that was long and hard to fight.  If you really want to maximize the ROI of any online marketing campaign, what you need to do next is craft a multi-touch drip marketing plan that reaches out and touches a prospect no fewer than ten times.

If the result was a lead: You need to set up a series of automated splash pages that are designed to teach the prospect how to buy from you.  Every splash page should have a compelling lead and an even more compelling offer.  If the lead generated contains a phone number, you can follow up with a call after two to three drips.  If not, I recommend sending out a drip every three days. This will maximize your use of manpower and create a prospect who knows and trusts you enough to do business with you.  Even if it takes twenty drips to turn clicks into cash, it costs you nothing to continue communicating with prospects via email.

If the result was a sale: This is an even better result.  If you want to double or triple your return, I suggest sending buyers a bi-weekly online newsletter that keeps them apprised of your growing business.  Feel free to include an offer at the bottom of each newsletter.  If you really want to generate maximum return on every dollar invested, this technique is truly gold plated.

Step #5: There’s more than one way to skin a search engine.

While properly executed  PPC campaigns can most definitely generate results, a more efficient and far more profitable way to turn clicks into cash is to work at creating organic search engine results.  I mean, why buy a cow when they’re giving the milk away for free?  If you are interested in learning more about  what it takes to generate page one results on Google, look into my Tao of SEO blog.

Carl Weiss is President of WSquared Media Group, a cutting edge online marketing company in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also owner of  If you want to learn how to work the web to win, tune into his radio show of the same name at Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.

How to Turn Your Online Clark Kent into Superman

By Carl Weiss

You know, it doesn’t take a phone booth and a red cape to turn Clark Kent into Superman.  All it takes is the will to thwart evil day in and day out.  Believe it or not, online marketing is a lot like that as well.  Think about it.  When you create online content, it's all too easy to lose the spark of inspiration that keeps you churning out blogs, social posts and videos on a weekly basis. That being said, if you hope to generate super results, all you really need are the skills to continue the fight. 

Leaping tall buildings in a single bound is no easy feat to accomplish, but neither is getting onto page one of the major search engines, particularly Google.  The secret to leaping onto page one is to have multiple routes to the top.   Just like websites, it's possible to optimize blogs, social posts and even YouTube videos.  This means wrapping your posts and videos with the keywords and phrases that you would like to see on page one of Google.  While it may not be faster than a speeding bullet, I have seen posts on Google+, Blogger, YouTube and even Merchant Circle leap to the top of Google in less than twenty four hours. 

Of course you still need to keep in mind that the only thing harder to accomplish online than generating traffic is generating sales.  Having one without the other is great for bragging rights, but it won’t do much to augment the bottom line. Statistics show us that the average visitor to a website will only view 3.6 pages and stay on site for 2.45 minutes.  So you had better provide the visitor with compelling content if you hope to generate either a lead or a sale.

Use Grabber Headlines to Steer Prospects

If your intention is to steer your audience to watch a video or read a blog, the first thing you need to do is whet their appetite by providing a killer headline.  On average, eight out of ten people will read a headline, but only two out of ten will read the copy.  The key to writing killer headlines is to state the biggest benefit in the boldest way possible.  “Create an Instant Audience in Just 1 Click!”  “Blog your way to Online Succe$$.”  “How FREE Offers Generate Results.”

Features Inform and Benefits Sell

If you want visitors to read beyond the headline, you need to spell out the benefits before describing the  features.  The public doesn’t purchase automobiles because they can travel from point “A” to point “B”.  They buy them because they are sporty or fuel efficient or because they can ford a stream to reach that secluded camping spot. The reason that most people read a blog or watch a video is to save time or money, cure a pain, or to be entertained.  The last thing they want to do is read a tech manual.  So keep your narrative interesting by injecting human interest stories and showing the audience what’s in it for them.

If you want to hook a fish, then dangle some bait

Circle this item in red.  The main reason that most online marketing campaigns don’t succeed is due to the fact that they don’t provide a compelling inducement to click or buy.  Or, they hide the offer so that it is nearly impossible to find.  Remember, the goal is to generate a new customer.  In order to prime the pump, you need to offer something of real or perceived value that is going get the prospect to take action. You need to feature the offer prominently, not hidden at the bottom of the page below the fold.  

For the most part, you need to offer something free or at a substantial discount in order to generate either a registration or a sale.  The bait doesn't always have to cut into your bottom line either.  Intangibles such as white papers or free reports have proven immensely successful in generating registrations over the years.  If sales are your goal, try offering free shipping or a coupon that offers 10% off the next purchase.  Above all, the secret to successful marketing is to answer this question:

Why should I do business with you versus every other option available to me, including doing nothing?

While this principle is right out of the Marketing 101 playbook, you would be surprised at how many people fail to acknowledge the fact that the operative word in online marketing is “Marketing.”

How to make the fish nibble twice at the bait.

Another intangible that can be of great value is a free webinar.  The webinar can either be taped or delivered live. (Personally I prefer taped, since you can deliver the goods as soon as you generate the registration.) Either way you get a second shot at the prospect.  Add to this the fact that a webinar will give you a far better opportunity to enhance your credibility and prove your authority than a printed report ever could.. More importantly, this mechanism could become one of your best closing tools ever.

Don’t make it hard to act.

One of the main reasons that many online marketing campaigns fail is due to the fact that it is sometimes difficult to fill out the form that is required to accept the offer.  The last thing someone wants to do is fill out a survey that is five pages long.  Rule number one in selling online is “Make it Easy to Accept the Offer.”  Once you have the prospect’s attention and given them a solid reason to do business with you, don’t fumble the ball on the one yard line by making the acceptance of your offer as painful as root canal.  Make the acceptance form short and to the point. (If you desire more information than name, email address and phone number, you can get this more easily in a follow up email.)  Remember the letters WWW still mean Wild Wild West to many people.  This means that credibility is the biggest hurdle to pulling the trigger and accepting an offer and/or buying anything online. 

Don’t drop the ball once you have generated a lead.

The final linchpin in the effort to acquiring new customers is that once you generate a lead, you need to use it.  Obviously everyone that opts in for your offer and/or listens to your webinar is not going to make an instant buying decision.  Does that mean you should discard the lead?  Hardly.  If you want to make real money in online marketing you need to take the long approach and set up a drip marketing campaign that automatically sends out a newsletter replete with offer every couple of weeks.  As they say in sales, persistence beats resistance. 

While it may take Kryptonite to thwart Superman’s efforts, for the most part the thing that foils most wanna be online marketers are their own inconsistencies. In other words, far from turning into Super Sales People, they shoot themselves in the foot somewhere between enticing and acquiring an online lead. So if you want to turn your inner Clark Kent into Superman, put down that red cape and pick up some white hot online marketing strategies.  Besides, where are you going to find a phone booth to change in anyway?

As president of W Squared MarketingGroup, Carl Weiss has been Supercharging his clients online marketing efforts for more than 16 years.  If you want to learn more about Working the Web to Win, tune in Carl’s online radio show of the same name on Blog Talk Radio

Is Amazon Looking to Put the Squeeze on Retailers?

by Carl Weiss

In the Amazon jungle there is a reptile known for its ability to squeeze the life out of hapless victims.  It is called the Anaconda, one of the world’s largest snakes.  The largest anaconda ever found was measured at twenty eight feet long with a girth of forty four inches. Like its five hundred pound reptilian counterpart, the retail giant Amazon also packs a lot of muscle which it uses to squeeze out the competition, particularly those of brick and mortar retailers. 

Have you heard this one? “What do you call Target?  Amazon’s show room.” 

Maybe you heard the same line with Ebay inserted into the punch line.  For retailers, this quip is no laughing matter.  For years many industry pundits have been predicting that major online merchants such as Amazon and EBay were going to wipe retail stores off the face of the planet.  And how was this going to come about?  Look at it this way, major online merchants have a lot going for them.  In the first place, they have a competitive advantage due to the fact that they can pick and choose from a myriad of suppliers and in so doing tout the lowest prices on the planet.  Plus, both Ebay and Amazon only charge taxes in states where they have physical locations. In the case of Amazon, this means Washington state.   It also currently collects taxes from residents of Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, and Texas, where the company has distribution centers.

So how can brick and mortar stores, even big boxes, compete with that?  Until recently, the only thing that the brick and mortars had going for them was the fact that unlike an e-tailer, retailers could deliver the goods on the spot.  Call it a convenience factor. Waiting for a product to be shipped from an e-tailer could take anywhere from three days to a week or more, unless you wanted to pay an extra fee to overnight your item.  Unfortunately, Amazon’s latest offer to overnight or even deliver merchandise the same day means that this last bastion of retail dominance could soon be a thing of the past.

If Amazon can make overnight, not to mention same day delivery its standard, this move is more than mere convenience.  It is surely a game changer.  Same-day delivery combined with low prices and in some cases no taxes means that Amazon will have a huge competitive edge over retailers large and small. 

Whether Amazon can pull off this costly move is another story.  But the company is willing to spend billions of dollars in the attempt.  To streamline shipping, the company is investing in a new distribution center in New Jersey and it is expanding its California operation by opening not one but two new facilities near Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It is also investing heavily in automation including robots that are designed to speed up handling at all their distribution centers.

Think of it.  If you could get the same product at a lower price the same day from the comfort of your home, how often would you choose to drive to the store, look for parking and then stand in line at the checkout counter to make your purchase?    

Does this spell the end of retail as we know it?  Only time will tell.  But one thing is certain, if Amazon can manage to bring same-day delivery to the masses, all I can say to retailers is, “Where’s Indiana Jones when you need him?”

As president of W Squared Media Group, Carl Weiss delivers game changing online marketing technology to his clients every day.  Listen to his radio show Workingthe Web to Win every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern. 

The Declaration of Online Independeince

by Carl Weiss

When the founding fathers started this country back in 1776, their idea of sending a quick communique involved dispatching a printed message on horseback.  Even Ben Franklin, the colonial father of electricity, a talented inventor and printer in his own right, could not have foreseen the invention and proliferation of the Internet.  In fact, had the Internet been available in the latter half of the eighteenth century, just think of the possibilities: 

Would the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" have morphed into the "Midnight Tweet of Paul Revere?"  Would George Washington have consulted before attempting to cross the Delaware River on December 25, 1776?  Imagine the galvanizing effect the Boston Tea Party would have had if it had been rebroadcast on YouTube or shown live on Google Hangouts On Air. What do you suppose would have been the British response if the Declaration of Independence had made its debut to Facebook's 900 million members?

The possibilities are endless and the outcome of the American Revolution could have been very different had the World Wide Web been in vogue back then.  But one thing is certain.  All those long dead patriots would have embraced the technological advantages represented by an unfettered worldwide communications system with both hands.  Which is what makes it so difficult to understand why so many modern business owners still seem reluctant to exploit the obvious advantages of the Internet.

Even though the web has been around for more than 15 years, an Ad-ology survey reported that 46 percent of small business owners did not have a Web site in 2010.  Even more startling is the fact that 95% of small businesses who do have a site have little or no presence on page one of the major search engines.  Granted, with Google controlling up to 80% of the search market and 260 million websites currently online, it is getting harder to generate a page one result.  Still, the single reason that most small businesses have such a poor showing online has more to do with poor habits than poor performance.

In my last two posts, How to Make Google-Ade and The Shortcut to Online Success, I pointed out the fact that not only was there more than one way to skin a search engine, but that there were a number of techniques that could propel most anyone to page one prominence without altering your website at all.  Most of these "shortcuts" rely on Web 2.0 technology, such as blogging, social networks and video.  Therein lies the rub.
While most business people are involved in blogging and social networking to some extent, most do not understand how to properly employ these technologies to enhance their online marketing.  

Revolutionary Marketing Technology at Your Fingertips

Take blogging, for instance.  While many business owners have a blog, most do not blog on a weekly basis.  They either can't find the time to blog, or they can't come up with anything to write about week in and week out.  What they don't seem to understand is that blogging is one of the best ways to reach out and engage both prospects and customers alike.  They also don't realize that the average business owner literally trips over ideas, human interest stories and pearls of wisdom that would be of interest to the public on almost a daily basis.  The problem is that when they come upon these concepts they fail to make note of them by either writing or photographing these gems as soon as they occur, even when they have the perfect device to perform both these chores right on their hip.  That's right, a smartphone is the easiest way to capture any moment for posterity that has ever been invented.  Not only can you photograph an event, most smartphones are video capable.  This means you can provide a running commentary that can be used as an electronic notebook which  can later be reviewed in order to write your blog.  Better yet, you can cut out the middle man altogether and create a video blog that can then be distributed on your social networks, embedded on your website and blogs and even attached to any printed literature via QR code.  Keep in mind that Google actively searches for mixed media such as video and you can kill two birds with one stone by creating and optimizing videos that can then migrate to page one of the world's most popular search engine.

While there are a number of revolutionary online technologies that can provide any business with a competitive edge, the only way that the web will work for you is if you work the web.  The bottom line is that if the Internet is important to the continued success of your business, then you need to start making it a priority to engage and interact with your audience on at least a weekly basis.  Whether you perform this task yourself, or you outsource it to a professional online marketer is entirely at your discretion.  But if you want to stop languishing in the backwaters when it comes to communicating with the public, you only have two choices:

  1. Get into the game online.
  2. Buy a horse.
If you are interested in learning more revolutionary online marketing techniques, tune into Carl's weekly radio show Working the Web to Win  Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video Production.