With over 3.5 billion searches every day on Google alone, it’s vitally important for all businesses to have a strong PPC presence.
Recently, we reached out to PPC guru, Co-Founder of Adalysis, and author of Advanced Google AdWords, Brad Geddes for some tips on how you can craft the perfect PPC ads that attract and convert searchers.
Researching and planning your ads
According to Brad, “a lot of thought needs to go into your ad copy.” Remember, this is often the first time many of your prospective customers will have discovered your brand and it’s important to stand out.
Your ads need to be relevant and highly reflective of the user’s search intent and characteristics of your product or service.
Brad suggests following a two-step process to ensure your ads are search relevant and stand out from the crowd:
- Think about the top benefits of your product or service and write them down.
- Look at the ads of your competitors and do a ‘gap analysis’ of what is missing from their ads.
- If your top benefits aren’t listed by others – that’s a great place to test first.
- If your top benefits are listed by others, think about ways to be more relatable to the customer.
Depending on the nature of your product or service, it may be possible to differentiate your ads through more specific demographic targeting. This can include ads for different genders, ages, or locations.
“For instance, if you are a plumbing company that serves an entire metro area,” explains Brad, “instead of using the metro in your ad; go down a level to the city or neighborhood level to connect with searchers at a more personal level.”
For more advanced users, your CRM can also be used to write ads for your current customers that are different to those for prospective customers.
With your key benefits and/or relatable messaging defined, it’s important to test. Brad advises that ad groups should have 2-3 ads, or if you have a large account using multi-ad group testing.
Creating your ad
An AdWords search ad comprises of four editable sections; headline 1, headline 2 (combined are often referred to as simply the “headline”), description, and display path.
Perfecting each section is important for crafting an effective ad, and ultimately, one that gets relevant clicks from genuine prospective customers.
AdWords’ two headlines give a total of 60 characters to catch the eye of searcher and convince them to read further.
For Brad, the two headlines have very different roles:
- – Headline 1 – This line is what initially draws someone attention to your ad. It should be related to the ad group and might contain the keywords and then some way to show off those words such as the geography, discounts, etc.
- – Headline 2 – Your testing playground. This is where you can really be creative with your gap analysis and benefit statements to see what will draw users to your site.
“If you are only trying to draw a segment of searchers to your site; such as a B2B accounting firm that only wants businesses to click on the ad; this is also a good place to add qualifiers to your ads. This weeds out those who you can’t help, and focuses on those you can turn into customers.”
You’ve caught their attention, now it’s time to convince them to click.
“The description line should be more detailed information about how your company helps a user with their search query,” explained Brad. “If the query is product based, you can focus on the product benefits, shipping, price, selection, return policies, and then finish with a call to action.”
Brad’s tips for the perfect description:
- – Stick to talking about one product or service within your description
- – Don’t try to make too many points, just the key highlights
- – Keep the description in focus with the rest of the ad so there is an overall message
Final and display URLs
“Both the URLs and the paths matter,” said Brad. And again, providing the searcher with relevant information and building trust is vitally important for both what’s displayed, and where the click takes them.
- – Final URL – is where a user goes after clicking on your ad. This should be a page of the site that shows a user relevant information about what they searched.
- – Display path – marketing messages letting the user know the type of page or additional information about the page and site in question.
“If you think about a site like IBM.com, they have millions of pages,” explained Brad. “So seeing a URL of IBM.com doesn’t tell the user anything. If the user searched for Blade Servers; then the paths could be BladeServer and showing the user that they will see the type of information they are seeking.”
Don’t set and forget
“Test, test, test,” emphasized Brad, “testing is an essential component of PPC.
Don’t only test your individual ads but also complete a gap analysis on a regular basis to make sure your ads stand out from the crowd.
“You might craft a gorgeous ad that you’re proud of and is different than anything else on the page. But you have no idea which will do best – even though you probably hope it’s the ad you’re proud to have written. Too many times advertiser’s never test their ads to see which does best.
“In the end, standing out is being more relevant to the searcher than the other advertisers. You want to be the answer to their search. By testing ads and thinking about your customer, you can always have highly relevant ads that attract new customers.”
Better understand the psychology behind your customer’s search
Join Brad for a 13-minute sample lesson, PPC psychology of search, to take a deep dive into how and why people search, and how you can craft your PPC ads to take advantage. Simply enter your details to immediately begin the obligation-free lesson.
So, what will employers look for when it comes to hiring their next digital marketing star in 2018?
We’ve looked into our crystal ball to see how you can make your application stand out from the crowd.
Get your nerd on with data
For many years now, marketers have gotten away with pretty portfolios and creativity. However, there has been a seismic shift towards data-driven marketing, and this trend will only continue in 2018.
Regardless of your expertise or position, it will be vital for you to not only be able to report on your work but also be able to interpret data to make more informed decisions.
Expect to also see a growth in data and analytics focused roles supporting digital activities as companies expand their analytics teams to help leverage their marketing efforts. If you’re a stats geek, this really could be your year!
Make sure you have demonstrable experience in data analysis, or, qualifications and certificates focusing exclusively on analytics. Even if your major focus is elsewhere, analytics is the most applicable and usable second skill set to have.
Find your niche
It might seem like a lot of digital marketing roles expect you to be a jack of all trades, but expect to see more and more jobs seeking digital marketing discipline specialists.
We’ve seen this for quite a while now with the split between digital marketing and social media, and you can expect to see more content marketing, SEO, online advertising, and analytics focused positions moving forward.
However, experience across a range of disciplines isn’t a bad thing, especially if you can pair it with expertise in an industry.
Being the go-to expert for *insert industry here* digital marketing can make you hugely valuable to employers in that niche, and position you uniquely in the marketplace.
Make sure you have base level knowledge of all digital marketing disciplines before finding your specialty. You’ll find most skills are transferable, and it makes it easier for you to pivot into new areas if needed.
Have a side hustle
Side hustles exploded in 2017, and have become a huge tick to have on your resume.
Side hustles show an employer that you are driven, are willing to put in extra work, and that you are passionate about your chosen field.
Your extra-curricular activities are also great to show in your portfolio, and also demonstrate your time management, project management – and depending on your work – your client or customer relationship management.
It’s best to make sure your side hustle is related to your chosen work field if possible. For example, if you’re an SEO expert, having a small SEO agency is a much better side hustle and selling craft at a market stall.
Use outsourcing to your advantage
If you’re looking to start or expand your side hustle, 2018 will be the perfect year for you.
Expect more and more business to outsource their digital marketing activities to freelancers and agencies. With so many moving parts comprising a digital strategy, it can be far easier to outsource jobs like SEO and content writing than building capacity internally.
While this work can be sporadic and pay less than a full-time position, it can be the perfect to make extra money on the side. Combining many clients can also make up a full-time wage for you as a freelancer or your own agency.
While outsourcing will affect the job market, establishing yourself now as a freelancer or agency in your niche position you perfectly in the future as outsourcing continues to expand. While your colleagues scramble to find new jobs, you’ll be years ahead of the game with an established client base.
Start building your personal brand
Whether you’re applying for jobs or building your own client base, having a strong personal brand can give you a massive advantage over your competition.
Your personal brand is how you are perceived by others, especially around your expertise and knowledge. Think about the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin who have become go-to experts for everything marketing related through the careful curation of their personal brands.
By developing your own personal brand, you can not only tell the world how amazing you are but demonstrate your skills and expertise to an interested and engaged audience. While you don’t have to become uber famous, having a strong online presence as a thought leader in your niche can even have people reaching out and making job offers to you.
And don’t be afraid to send people to your content! Whether you choose to write or make videos, there’s nothing wrong with including links on your applications or resume.
Get blogging. Nothing says you’re an expert like driving the conversation. You don’t even have to start your own blog, sites like LinkedIn or Medium are perfect for reaching a captive audience already interested in what you have to say.
Some resources to help you start building the ultimate CV
- – Create your own personal brand
- – Start a side hustle while you study
- – A guide to digital marketing certifications
- – Find your digital marketing niche
Get started with your digital marketing career
Get experience across all digital marketing ddisciplinesand get certified at the same time. The Digital Marketing Certified Associate course gets you certified as an Online Marketing Certified Associate, as well as with Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
As an e-commerce store owner or marketer, you have a million things on your plate, and you know that trying to juggle everything means that some things slip through the cracks.
But when it comes to driving traffic and converting customers – and ultimately making loads of sales– taking time to map your customer journey can pay big dividends.
In this article well take you through step-by-step on how to create a customer journey map, and give you a framework to measure where your customers are on their journey with your store.
What is a customer journey map?
One of the world’s greatest social media marketing thought leaders, Lilach Bullock, summed it the importance of understanding your customer and their journey perfectly.
“Understanding the buyer journey is the key to becoming a great digital seller,” Lilach explains. “The better you understand your customers, the better you can reach out to them with personalized messages they can relate to.”
Just like a customer visiting a brick and mortar store who takes a very literal journey to a shopping destination, browses options, and makes a purchase, e-commerce customers also take their own path to making a purchasing decision. How long this journey takes and the touch points along the way will vary, but every purchase, no matter how small, can be mapped.
The customer journey map begins with a customer’s first recognition of a need for your product and goes right through to their purchase, including all touchpoints they have with your brand.
Why make a customer journey map?
I know what you’re thinking; this sounds like A LOT of work! And it is, but it’s time well spent.
Imagine a world where all of your customer’s questions are answered before they think of them. Or knowing how many prospective customers you have and how close they are to a purchase. Imagine being able to help move customers closer towards a purchase through the use of automation. Imagine knowing your probable return on investment for marketing campaigns before you launch them.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well grab your whiteboard and some pens and let’s map your customer journey!
Creating your customer journey map
And no, I’m not joking. The absolute best way to start your journey map is to use a whiteboard or pens and paper and simply brainstorm. Or even better, download our handy template!
To start your map, divide it into four sections; awareness, consideration, decision, and purchase. These will be distinct phases which show how close your prospect is to becoming a customer.
Stage 1 – Awareness
The awareness stage is a customer’s first recognition of their problem they need to solve through a purchase.
Within this stage you will need to identify:
- – The problem(s) the customer is trying to solve
- – How your product is the solution
- – How customers become aware of your solution
What problem the customer is trying to solve may be simple, or quite complex. A product can also be the solution to more than one problem, so try to list as many as you can.
For example, a high-quality pen may be purchased to add to a collection, as a gift, or by a customer who requires it for their work. All three are distinct problems which require very different messaging.
This brings us to how your product is the solution. Staying with the pen example, your product might be limited edition and highly collectible, it is stylish and presented in a beautiful box making it perfect as a gift, and may have a new style of tip which is highly sort after by graphic designers.
Three very different solutions to three very different problems; but all solved by a single product.
Now we go back into the shoes of the customer. They are aware of their problem, how do they begin finding a solution? And more specifically, how do they become aware of your solution?
Write down all the different ways a customer can find you. This can include search, advertising (be sure to include all different types), social media, product reviews, word of mouth, and blog articles. Knowing where and how a buyer becomes aware of your solution is vital for the next stage.
Stage 2 – Consideration
In the consideration stage, the customer is researching the available alternatives to find the best solution to their problem. In general, the higher the value of the purchase, the more time they will spend in the consideration stage and the more research they will conduct. Think about how much time you spent purchasing your last home or car compared to when you last bought chewing gum.
In this stage you will need to map:
- – What criteria they assess alternatives on
- – How long this consideration will be and whether it is tied to the calendar or events
- – What content you have to help them with this assessment.
Unfortunately, there is no golden rule on the criteria alternatives are assessed on as this will vary wildly from product to product. If possible, it is also a good idea to rank the importance of the different criteria, so that you can prioritize messaging to appeal to your product attributes customers find most important.
Regardless of your product knowledge, it is worth taking the time to seek out research reports. These reports can bring a fresh perspective, and also measure the importance of different criteria against each other.
Some examples of basic criteria include:
- – Price
- – Shipping cost
- – Delivery time
- – Colours available
- – Quality
- – Warranty
But remember, your product will have much more specific attributes it is assessed on.
Again, this will differ greatly depending on your product, and may not be linear.
It’s important here to also make note of an important calendar dates or event to which your product is tied. You might have a product predominately used in summer like swimwear, or you might sell costumes which spike around Halloween. Products in a fitness niche might also spike in summer months as people try to get their beach body, as well as when people make New Year’s resolutions.
But in general, you will want to know:
- – How long customers will be considering alternatives
- – If you’ll have time to nurture them, or if it’s an instant purchase
- – What times of year your sales peak, and what is the consideration around those times
Content to help with assessment
Your list of assessment criteria and time will give you exactly the information your prospects are looking for, at the time they need it. Now it’s time to see if you help prospects with the criteria, and find where you can improve.
Below is an example of an assessment of a pen used in our previous example. As you can see, we audit the criteria against our current content and identify potential improvements. The importance of the criteria also gives us a handy priority list for content creation.
Criteria Importance Current content Potential content Price Low – Price listed on product page
– Price listed on display ads
– Price comparison box listed in blog article
Well covered Exclusivity High – Number available listed on product page – Exclusive nature to be added to display ads
– Blog article about exclusive collectible pens
– Email added to nurture linking to blog post
Quality Very high – Quality mentioned on product page
– Customer reviews listed on product page
– Creation of testimonials from influencers
– Product comparison blog post with competitors
– Added to display add messaging
Presentation box Medium – Box picture available on product page – Unboxing video to be added to product page and YouTube channel
Stage 3 – Decision
Your prospective customer has made a decision to buy, now you need to convince them that you are the best solution.
It’s here in the decision stage that you and your business are the important factors. The final decision here comes down to how and why you best meet their needs, and whether they can trust you to deliver.
While we talked a lot about product attributes in the consideration stage, here we want to highlight everything that supports the product. These can be signs of trust as well as special bonuses and add-ons.
Signs of trust
- – Warrantees
- – Return policy
- – Terms of service
- – Secure website and checkout
- – Testimonials
- – Fast/guaranteed delivery
- – Free shipping
- – Discounts or coupons
- – Referral program
- – Loyalty program
- – Product bundles
This list is by no means exhaustive, but are all indicators to a prospect that your store is trustworthy and a preferred option. When completing your mapping, list all decision-making factors you currently provide, along with where they are featured on your website.
Feature Type Located Warranty Sign of trust Product page, shopping cart Terms of service Sign of trust Footer Free delivery Product add-on In FAQs
Often, you may find that with some tweaking you’ll be able to better highlight these features and make the decision even easier for your prospects.
But remember! Not all criteria are suitable for all products. So, don’t go adding things like free shipping or extensive warrantees if it’s not practical to do so.
Stage 4 – Purchase
Congratulations! Your prospect has chosen your store and is ready to become a customer.
But don’t get too excited just yet, because they still have to make it through the purchasing process. And if you need any more proof that you haven’t landed the sale, just think about how many abandoned carts your store has, or how many times you’ve walked away from an online purchase at the last minute.
Like the decision stage, here it’s important to look at all the reasons why a prospect won’t complete their purchase. And I’ve got bad news for you, there are A LOT of reasons they won’t.
Again, the best course of action at this stage is to simply list and rate your store’s current performance against the criteria. While it’s great to pass with flying colors, you’d be surprised at the to-do list this can help generate.
- – Is your site easy to navigate?
- – Is it easy to add products to the shopping cart?
- – Is it easy to find the checkout?
- – Is live chat available for final questions?
- – Is it easy to find contact details for questions?
- – Does the site load within 4 seconds?
- – Is the checkout intuitive?
- – Are there minimal steps in the checkout?
- – Are the payment options easy and accessible to most customers?
- – Are there payment surcharges?
- – Do you ask for excess customer information?
- – Do you offer discounts at the checkout?
- – Do you recommend related products at the checkout?
- – Do you follow up abandoned carts with an email?
- – Do you offer discounts to abandoned carts?
- – Do you retarget abandoned carts with display advertising?
- – Do you email a purchase confirmation?
- – Is it easy to get support after your purchase?
- – Can customers track their order?
- – Do you add customers to an email list?
- – Do you offer discounts to repeat customers?
Remember! Customer journeys are rarely linear, so the more you can guide and encourage them to make a purchase the better. Just because they don’t make a purchase the first time, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever!
Stage 5 – Developing your action plan
While completing your customer journey map you’ll inevitably uncover areas to improve your store. This doesn’t mean your current store is bad, just that with some tweaks you can increase your traffic and conversions.
However, it’s also a good idea here to be realistic with the improvements you can make. If you have a list as long as your arm of things to complete, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and not do any of them, no matter how good an idea you think they are.
How to develop your action plan:
- Review your customer journey map and highlight – literally if you can – areas for improvement
- Create a table with three columns; short term, medium term, long term
- In short term, list three quick improvements you can make within the next week. These can be as simple as adding buttons, lines of text, or pages to menu items
- In medium term, list three actions you would like to take in the next month along with completion deadlines. These should be projects that take an hour or more.
- In long term, list three actions you would like to take in the next six months along with completion deadlines. These will be projects that will take a long time, or, are lower priority. These can also be perfect for outsourcing, or if you need to conduct extensive research before completing
- Schedule a day in your calendar in six-months’ time to review your customer journey map, update it with your improvements, and create your next action list.
Measuring customers on their journey
Not only does your customer journey map provide you with a list of actionable improvements, it also gives you a framework to assess where prospective customers are in their buying journey with you. And depending on the software you have available, you may even be able to judge this down to an individual level.
The key to understanding where a customer is on their journey is measuring their engagement. In general, the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they will be to make an initial purchase, and come back again and again.
However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that post reach and raw website traffic are signs of customers moving through their journey. Engagement is when a prospect actively and voluntarily takes and action. If they email your customer service that’s a sign of engagement, if they scroll past your post in their Facebook feed, not so much.
Types of engagement
The types of engagement you will want to measure depends on your product, and the type of customer you have.
If you have a high-value or B2B product, prospects will spend a lot of time moving towards their purchase and have many signs of engagement. On the other hand, for some smaller purchases, something as simple as a social media follow can be a strong indicator of purchase intent.
Key signs of buyer engagement
- – Returning to your website
- – Visiting landing pages
- – Referencing your products or content in their own posts
- – Sending emails or messages to your store
- – Calling customer service
- – Following on social media
- – Engagement on social media
- – Signing up to email list
- – Downloading white paper
- – Clicking an email
- – Opening an email
- – Writing a comment on your blog
- – Attending a webinar
- – Attending a trade show or event
- – Spending a long time on a page
- – Downloading an app
Tracking buyer engagement
As you can see from the examples above, different types of engagement require varying degrees of effort on the part of the prospect and should be weighted accordingly. The weighting will also be considerably different depending on your product and its cost.
For example, attending a webinar or event should be considered a much higher sign of engagement than opening an email.
There are several ways in which you can track user engagement using apps you might already own:
- – Marketing automation platforms – like Marketo – offer heat scoring which allows you to assign numerical scores to actions, which is then attributed to your prospect. This lets you see how engaged individuals are, as well as how many customers are at each stage of the journey.
- – Google Analytics allows you to set conversion goals which track the number of prospects to complete actions. Here you can measure metrics like time on page, pages visited, repeat visits, downloads, and visiting specific pages.
- – Social media platforms like Hootsuite and Facebook Insights will provide you with details on the number of people to complete actions on your social media platforms, as well as track whether these engagements are trending upwards.
But never forget to engage the right audience! Don’t get bogged down in vanity metrics, you want to spend your resources on potential customers.
Download your free customer journey map
If you would like some help creating your own customer journey map, download your free PDF template. Simply print it out, fill in the blanks, stick your action list on the wall, and watch your conversions skyrocket!
Don’t learn by watching and reading; learn by starting your own company!
As part of the Digital Marketing Certified Associate course, you can start any online business you can dream of and use your new venture as your course project. Directly implement your learning, all while setting up your business with best-practice teaching.
You may have been thinking about opening an online store, a digital marketing agency, or maybe you just wanted to build a personal portfolio site to showcase your skills.
So if you’re ready to launch, check out what you’ll be doing during your project.
Starting your project
The DMCA Project is broken into four smaller sections, each with their own specific objectives. Each section builds on the last, setting the correct foundations for your site, and helping you build traffic.
Before starting the first section, you will need to define your new venture, choose a target audience, and identify relevant keywords for your site. Your venture can be anything you choose, however, we recommend choosing something you will want to continue with even after the course is complete.
This could include:
- – An e-commerce store selling a product
- – A digital marketing agency
- – A freelancing portfolio website
- – A drop shipping store
- – A new software you have developed
Section 1 – Getting ready to market
You have your idea, now it’s time to get to work!
Section 1 is all about getting your site set up correctly so that you’ll not only be found in search engines but also be able to correctly track and monitor activity on your website through the use of Google Analytics.
Section 1 activities
- Set up a business website – including content and lead capture
- Ensure proper SEO for your website – through keyword research, competitor analysis, and metadata
- Track and monitor your website using Google Analytics – with goals and utm code setup
- Announce the launch of your new venture
Section 2 – Driving relevant traffic
There’s no point having a beautiful new site without anyone visiting!
Using what you’ve learned about Pay Per Click advertising, you’ll start your first search campaigns within Google’s advertising platform, AdWords.
If you have budget, you can turn on these ads to see visitors start to visit your site and begin interacting with your content.
Section 2 activities
- Sign up for a Google AdWords account – including adding retargeting pixel to your site
- Create keyword lists for your ads to target
- Create ads for your keywords highlighting your selling points
- Research and set bids for ads
- Track and monitor the success of your campaigns
Section 3 – Brand visibility and engagement
Time to get social!
Take your new venture to the world by creating a Facebook page with the goal of reaching 2000 users and engaging with 100. But if that sounds like a lot, don’t worry. We’ll teach you how to get there step-by-step.
Section 3 activities
- Create your Facebook business page – including images, logos, and information
- Post relevant content on your page for prospective followers
- Set up your content strategy and post schedule
- Run contests and/or free trials to increase awareness and reach
Section 4 – Content marketing
By now you’ll have organic, paid, and social traffic, and with content marketing, you’ll have yet another stream of prospective customers flowing to your website.
In this section, you’ll create your own YouTube channel and post relevant and engaging videos your audience will love. If you have budget, you can also set up display and in-stream advertising to further boost your traffic and leverage your great content.
Section 4 activities
- Set up your YouTube channel
- Create videos to maximise views and likes
- Generate views through in-display and in-stream advertising
- Target relevant views to drive views and likes to your video
How the project is assessed
The great news is that unlike projects and assignments, you don’t have to do a lot of writing to be assessed for the DMCA project.
Instead, all you need to do is record your analytics each week and at the end of the project, take relevant screenshots, and provide links to your website and social media accounts.
That’s it! You’ll be assessed on actually doing, not how well you can write an essay.
The great thing about the project is that you can spend as much, or as little as you want.
The entire project can be completed for free, or you can pay for extras like hosting, domain names, content creation, tools and apps, graphics, and advertising. However, you won’t lose any marks if you don’t, you’d be surprised how much you can do by yourself for free!
Using your project after your course
Want to know the best thing about completing your project? You now have a business!
This is 100% yours to keep, and can be used as:
- – Your new business or side hustle
- – For your portfolio, including all the metrics and statistic of traffic and conversions
- – As a sandpit you can use to practice or try new concepts on
You also now have the template to go and launch a site all over again, whether it’s for you or a client.
Ready to start your business?
Download the Digital Marketing Certified Associate course guide for a comprehensive look at all course modules and to discover the new skills you’ll learn you can apply to your new venture.