About Sparkplug Digital

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Sparkplug Digital has created 29 blog entries.

Tips for Startups: Analyzing Your Pay Per Click (PPC) Account

You are well-funded, you got out of stealth mode and now you are officially “live”. Your startup website is getting more traffic each passing week and your marketing folks decide to launch a PPC campaign to augment your customer acquisition strategy. You have a live ppc campaign, now what?

Do you have an account plan for the month? If you don’t, here’s how to get one started.

First, pick a good time to run reports every month. Running the reports in a consistent manner will help you have enough data to analyze. Run a keyword report for the month and then export it.

After you’ve done the exporting, create the same keyword report for the previous month. Copy the data for the second month into the same Excel file as the first month’s data. Put the keyword and the match type in one cell by adding a column after ‘Match Type’.  Combine the keyword and match type by typing Concatenate=(Cell1, Cell2).

Keywords aren’t in the same order on both sheets so to save time and energy a VLookup may be completed. To do this, add a column after the item you wish to compare on the first sheet and type in =VLOOKUP(. Click the newly combined cell, add a comma after the cell number and then highlight all the columns from the combined cells that you are looking up. Add another comma and count the columns from the reference cell to the column you are looking up. Use this number, another comma and the word ‘false’. Do this for every column you want to pull from the month.

To find the difference between months, subtract the past month from the current month. In order to check each number, hold down control (command if you are using a Mac) and highlight each difference column. Click conditional formatting from the format drop-down menu. Change the second drop down to ‘less than’ and put a 0 in the last query. Click format; patterns at the top; and select a color. Hit okay and any cells that show a negative difference will be highlighted. You can see any negative changes that have occurred over time using this view.

Create a whole new file to check seasonal trends such as the difference between December 2009 and December 2010 (holiday trends) or compare the month against the best performing month year to date. Run these checks every month so you can use your account data to make the best decisions when it comes to improving your account.

Sparkplug Digital has deep experience in working with local startups and local tech companies. If you have a PPC question please email us or post it in the comment section below.

Things That Make a Successful Social Media Marketing Team

Social media is new to most businesses and so is hiring consultants to handle social media. The skills that a social media consultant or manager should have depend on the organization they work for.

Although the number of organizations that have staff dedicated strictly to social media is small, business owners tend to gain an appreciation for social networking as their companies grow. As this occurs, companies may allocate a budget for more marketing, recruiting, advertising and PR through social media.

Companies that are getting ready to start including a full time employee for social media networking purposes often ask where the budget is going to come from, who will be responsible for leading the
charge and what existing program the social media effort will wipe off the table. In many cases, social media is often led by Public Relations or Marketing departments and is shared throughout other departments. The first hire is typically a community manager. There’s also typically an account manager or an executive hired to work as a liaison for client contact.

While account managers are often responsible for developing strategy, other groups can perform social media marketing functions such as copywriting, community management, social media monitoring and analysis, social SEO, blogger and influential outreach, social network development and social content and media development.

Sparkplug Digital has worked with businesses of all sizes, whether your business is looking for your 1st employee who is well-versed in the social universe or your 50th. We understand your social needs and we can help your team.

How Your Business Can Avoid A SEO Failure

The cost of a search engine optimization effort can vary based on the project.

Managers that believe they can hire a full time employee for the costs of outsourcing their SEO efforts don’t understand all that is part of marketing a website through search engines.

Search engine optimization is a lot for one person to do and can become even more difficult of a task when that person has other responsibilities. When a company hires an agency for SEO, the work is a team effort.

When Sparkplug Digital brings in new SEO clients, an account team including a lead consultant and a program manager is assigned. Service specialists who focus on areas such as keyword research, copywriting, web development and design, content promotion and link building are also part of the team approach.

Here’s a list what functions and expertise a SEO team brings to a project:

• SEO/Online Marketing Strategy
• Client SEO Education and Training
• Defining Campaign Goals
• Competitive Analysis
• Assessing Previous Tactics (Non Search Engine Compliant and Potential Spam)
• Keyword Research
• Inventory Digital Assets
• Web Site Content Optimization
• Digital Asset Optimization
• Code Optimization
• Site Architecture and Server Side Issues
• Oversight of Client SEO Implementation: Editorial and Code
• Link Building
• Content Marketing/Promotion Plan
• Content Creation/User Generated Content
• Content Syndication
Web Analytics
• Ongoing Performance Monitoring (Rankings, Traffic, Conversions)
• Revising Optimization and Content Promotion Efforts and Consulting

Smaller jobs such as working on a website that only requires minimal upgrades can be completed and done well by a single SEO consultant. However, when the job is more complex, an established SEO team can provide the experience necessary to deliver optimal results.

Best Web Analytics Solution for Small Business Owners

Marketers that are new to managing business websites and blogs may not know too much about web analytics. While it makes sense to use some method of measuring marketing results, business owners can find it take extra energy to keep up with the process and data can often times become confusing.

The amount of information in analytic packages can also be difficult to organize and can turn into something business people with small amounts of time cannot effectively use.

One analytic package that’s free and not overly difficult to start using is Google Analytics. The package includes these features:

Content: Using the most popular content on a company page to build new pages can help increase traffic to the website. Call to action buttons can also be added to pages where businesses want visitors to download or complete a specific action.

Keywords: Consumers enter words and phrases into a search engine to get to specific websites. Companies should promote words and phrases that will point the consumer toward their websites.

Traffic: Companies can learn where they need to promote their business by learning what sites are driving traffic to their website.

Visitors: Using a unique visitor count means the number of the count correlates directly with the number of different people who visit a website.

Location: This area in analytics helps companies learn where their consumers are coming from. If a company is hoping to build a strong local presence, it would help to know if their consumers are really local.

Campaign tracking: Features such as goals, top entrance/exit pages, time on sites and bounce rates are more advanced data tracking methods. Companies can learn more from visiting the Google Analytics Help page.

The information gained from web analytics can overwhelm someone who is new to the idea. The important thing is to get started, set goals, and strive to reach one at a time. If you need more information or guidance, you should consider connecting with a Shopify Growth Marketing Expert.

Pay Per Click Reports Every Small Businesses Should Know

Marketers can reach large numbers of customers through Pay Per Click or PPC marketing.

The most effective Pay Per Click companies want to make sure their customer’s money is spent well. A search query report in Google AdWords gives companies the data they need to make more money.

Search query reports are capable of finding negative keyword research that may be causing loss revenue for a small business or non-profit marketing campaign. These queries can increase the business owner’s average CPA as well as lower their CRT, which will ultimately affect their overall quality scores.

Once this report is done, the strange queries can be added as negative keywords for any PPC campaign, helping to make sure money is well spent. Since negative keywords can be created at any time, it’s a good idea to run this report at least once a month.

A search query report can also help find the keywords that will help business. Once they are found, these new and refined keywords can be added to a new or an existing adgroup. Businesses may wish that each keyword added to an adgroup from a search query report be placed on exact match so the search that provided the conversion can be found.

The Influence of Google Real-time Search on Your Business

Almost one year ago Google introduced Realtime Search functions, allowing users the ability to find the latest news for their search topics, including news articles, blogs and eyewitness accounts.

Then recently, Google announced users can access Google Realtime Search at one place:  www.google.com/realtime.

The one stop shopping of Google Realtime Search has some implications for those trying to successfully market their business online. First, keywords with real-time search results could be bumped down by real-time results. Secondly, links that are not formatted for real-time could suffer a loss in their volume of clicks.

However, the change could prove to be good for both consumers and small business marketers. The real-time search function could help non-profit and small business marketers target their target audience while consumers increasingly flock to the site for live updates. This being said, it’s important for Google’s feed to show the very latest news and updates and for marketers to create ads that are time sensitive and relevant.

Advertisers know they can adjust pricing real time in display exchanges using “real time bidding” but the function isn’t available in search. This may take the work of marketers to build patterns and algorithms that can identify rises in real-time searches for certain keywords. Non-profit and small business advertisers could also start using keywords that are generated by live tweets and other real-time feeds.

One thing is for sure. Consumers and advertisers are both buying into the real-time trend for the long term.

Google Instant for Non-Profit and Small Business Advertisers

According to Google, the Google Instant search engine saves two to five seconds of search time per query. The user receives suggestions for their search as they type their keyword.

For non-profit and small business advertisers, this could mean Google has more control over how consumers search through ads. While suggestions that pop up as the keyword search is happening are supposed to be what consumers are probabilistically typing, there’s still the chance that Google’s suggestions could lead consumers away from their original search intent.

Google reportedly counts results that are displayed for three seconds as impressions. The rate of impressions could increase based on the typing rate of the user, meaning a slower typist will undoubtedly log more impressions. This could also lower the click through rates and cause a major shift between pay-per-click ads that show up when Instant Search is turned on.

Google Search also has a tendency to prefer name brand suggestions over generic ones. This means the names advertisers use are increasingly more important. Since smaller organizations usually have less brand recognition compared to national brands like Coca-Cola or Ford, it presents a challenge. However, the opportunity for non-profit and small business advertisers remains in local search; this is where Google Adwords is trying to catch up to Yelp in terms of local reach.

We know Google is displaying ads with more enthusiasm now.  What we don’t know yet is who the real winners will be.

How Small Business Can Track Offline Sales with Online Marketing

What someone sees online is influencing what they buy when they visit stores or call your small business.

Consumers often begin looking for a specific item they want to buy with an online search. However, the process isn’t as simple as searching the product, clicking a link and spending money.

Yahoo research shows that TV advertising is one of the largest incentives for online product searches. Approximately eight percent of searches that produced the final sale came from advertising on TV.

But what other factors influence searches? How can a company know whether it was the third search or the sixth search that led to the final sale?

It’s often difficult for retailers to know but here are two ways a retailer can draw links between how a search influenced a purchase.

  1. Online offers:  Assign a search term a unique code for an exceptional offer online that is redeemable on a website, over the phone or in person.
  2. E-mail address verification:  A cookie showing how the customer arrived at a website is dropped onto the user’s computer desktop when they click through to the website. A customer calls a number that is unique to the website and this helps the customer service representative know the call originated at the website. The representative asks for the customer’s e-mail address for verification and where they can send a booking or offer. The customer returns to the website from their e-mail address. At this point, a conversion file can recognize the cookie on the customer’s desktop and the sale is attributed back to the original search term.

Although either way does not promise perfect results, the information businesses do learn can help them find out which of their advertising campaigns drive purchases and which specific keywords or search terms drive online and offline sales.

If you have questions about general tracking setup for your website, please comment on this post or contact us. Sparkplug Digital exist to help empower small business with online marketing.

Facebook & Bing’s Partnership – What It Means for Small Business

It’s not surprising to anyone with a Facebook account that recent news shows the time people spend on Facebook exceeds the time they spend on Google and Yahoo. The Bing Search Blog announced the extended search deal.

According to a Nielsen report, an average user spends 23 percent of their time surfing the Internet on social networks like Facebook. That number is up 77 percent from last year.

Is the social media trend affecting how people search for and buy different products? If it hasn’t yet, we’re probably well on our way.

When a person likes a product they tell others. When they don’t like something, they’ll probably pass that opinion on to others too. Users of social networks can send on their thoughts about a product with just a few clicks to many people at one time. One user posting a link or sharing a personal review can connect other social network users with products quickly so companies should be increasingly careful when introducing something new to the market.

Companies use collaborative filtering techniques to predict the preferences of their consumers.  Algorithms that use social network data to predict a consumer’s buying patterns can help businesses predict a buyer’s preferences for products and services. These preferences are often influenced greatly by friends and family. So, combining Facebook and Bing gives users the chance to see advertised products and buy what their friends and family like while shortening their time spent researching. Additionally, with the introduction of Facebook Places, a small business has the same opportunity to reach their “local” targeted audience as big national advertisers. Facebook Advertising could be on the rise in the future.

Smart small business advertisers will make Facebook part of their marketing strategy. Bing advertisers that use Facebook data can expect a clear overlap between those who use the social network and those who do the buying.

Load More Posts