Grow Traffic Blog

25 Creative Tips for Increasing Your Affiliate Income

Affiliate marketing is one of the more convenient forms of online money-making, simply because you can do everything from the comfort of your own home. That said, there’s a difference between making some money with affiliate marketing and making a living with it. To reach the latter, you need to be creative, aggressive, and varied with your marketing efforts. Here are 25 tips you can use to boost your income through your affiliate links, in no particular order. 1. Create Product Comparisons You’d be surprised how many people don’t think to do this. A lot of people, when shopping, come up with two or three options for what they want to buy, and want to figure out which one is the best. If you provide the direct comparisons between two items a user might want, they’ll be more likely to be convinced and will purchase then and there. A longer, detailed comparison article between two products can help sales for both products, while a more general comparison table with 5+ products on it can be a general hub for both sales and links to more detailed reviews. 2. Use a Quiz for Personalized Recommendations Have you ever found one of those personality quizzes that tells you which Disney princess you are or whatever? You can make something like that, except with questions about product usage and needs. You can use those questions to deliver a specific recommendation of a specific product to a user who takes the test. This way, you guide a user directly to the product most useful to them, as determined by your questions. There are several quiz engines you can use to make these systems. 3. Convince Users to Join a Newsletter Newsletters allow you to keep an audience around beyond a simple visit and forget it. A lot of people who visit your site might not have the intent to purchase right away, but you still want to keep them around so that when they do purchase, they do it through you. By promoting a newsletter on your site, you can encourage them to visit more than once, and keep them circulating until they make their purchases. Thankfully, newsletters aren’t too difficult to create. 4. Aim to Target Action Keywords In general, there are two kinds of search queries online. There are search queries where people want to buy something, and search queries where they want to research something. You should target both. Action keywords are phrases like “best plastic toothpick” or “buy nail clippers”, which indicate a clear intent to make a purchase. You should write content using phrases like these that focuses on allowing users to buy the items in question as easily as possible. 5. Aim to Target Information Keywords At the same time, you should be creating content for informational keywords as well. “The benefits of plastic toothpicks” or “different kinds of nail clippers” are the kinds of content that users might be searching for if they aren’t sure they want to buy, but they want to know more. This kind of content can be longer, more informational, with a few calls to action for those who are convinced to buy along the way. 6. Provide Usage Guides and Tutorials If your site is entirely focused around selling products, people will stick around until they buy, but then they’ll have no further use for you. To keep them around, it’s worthwhile to write content that keeps them coming back. My favorite for this is the usage guide; write instructions and “top 10 uses for” and other sorts of guides for the products you sell. For things like knives, tools, and objects that require care, a guide for proper care and storage can be a nice evergreen piece of content as well. 7. Make Use of the Curiosity Gap What the heck is the curiosity gap? Well, if you’ve ever read an old Buzzfeed article, you know what it is. It’s basically clickbait. Well, you don’t want to actually use clickbait, since most people are wise to it by now. Instead, tone it down and exploit the low level curiosity that comes from asking questions and providing a sense of mystery. It’s surprisingly easy to do. 8. Strive for Authentic Content One of the most prominent tips for writing affiliate content is to only write about products you own or have used, so you have authentic experience with them, which comes across in writing. I can tell you for certain that you don’t need to buy or own items to write authentically about them, but you DO need to be a talented writer to pull it off. Either way, try to publish plenty of authentic or authentic-feeling content so your users trust you more. 9. Include Gripes and Negative Points One of the best ways to boost trust and make your content feel authentic is to include cons: negatives, downsides, gripes, and other elements about a product. A common sales tactic is to promote all the virtues of an item to make it sound great and worth buying, but it comes off as fake. By including gripes you have with the item, you can give a more honest assessment and make people decide whether they can overlook the gripe and still use the product. 10. Use Add to Cart Links This one is specifically an Amazon affiliate tip. With Amazon, your affiliate cookies typically last 24 hours before they expire. However, if the user adds the product to their cart, you still get credit for it if they make the purchase within 90 days. On the plus side, this gives you a lot more leeway for large impact purchases. On the down side, it only applies to that one product, not everything the user buys. You need the regular cookie for that. You can use direct “add to cart” links by using affiliate networking tools like AmaLinks Pro, which has an option to create links that directly add products to cart instead of just taking the user to the product page. I find these work best with single larger items the user might be researching, not small items they’re likely to buy immediately. Still, test it with your spread and see how it works. 11. Add Links to Product Images This is a simple and yet surprisingly effective tip: just make images that you use of the products into clickable links, affiliate links that lead to the product page in question. I know when I see an image of a product, I expect to be taken to the product page, so when it just links to a larger version of the image – or isn’t a link at all – it’s a wasted opportunity. 12. Create a Top Seller List A top seller list can be something similar to a comparison chart, except it’s more of a list of products without comparing all of their attributes. You can use it to link to more informational pages about individual products, but mostly it just showcases the best selling products in your catalog. There are a lot of different tools to help you find this kind of list. 13. Create a Ticker for Deals There are plenty of sites that monitor deals on products, like CamelCamelCamel, SlickDeals, and Deal News. My recommendation is to monitor sites like these to see when products in your niche go on sale, and then promote those sales on your site. A Hello Bar or top banner can be a good way to showcase those deals and convince users now is the right time to buy. 14. Use a Twitter for Deals and Flash Sales You can use every social network to promote your site, but Twitter is a great option to keep up with deals and flash sales. When products go on sale, they often sell out quickly, so Twitter is a great choice for keeping your users aware of quick deals they can take advantage of for savings. 15. Promote a Wide Spread of Products I often see new affiliate marketers making one major mistake, from both sides of the mistake. Some of them only go for the high ticket items, the ultraHD TVs, the high priced furniture, the diamond-encrusted phone cases and whatever else. They might sell one a month, and they wonder why they can’t make a consistent income. On the other hand, some sell nothing but $1 items and wonder why they never make more than $100 or so a month. To be truly successful, you need a mixture of small, frequent sellers and rare, high priced sellers. That gives you the most overall consistency. 16. Create Several Related Sites Another mistake I often see people make is trying to imitate something like SlickDeals. They want a generalist site that has some kind of product for everyone. The thing is, it’s virtually impossible to compete in that niche. It’s better to make a niche sites centered around specific categories of products. If you want to spin off into another kind of product, make another site. You can keep similar branding and make it an umbrella network of sites if you want to share your newsletter, but you don’t have to keep them linked at all. 17. Keep Content Up to Date One of the most important keys to success with an affiliate site is to keep your content up to date. If a product changes significantly, such as the build quality dropping or the main vendor disappearing, update your content to reflect that. If a new product hits a niche and blows your old recommendations out of the water, update guides to reflect that. Making sure your site is up to date is incredibly important for SEO and for user trust. 18. Find Alternatives when Products Disappear As part of keeping your site and your content up to date, keep an eye on the products you link to. Now and then, a product will become unavailable. When this happens, make sure to update your site accordingly. You can either find another seller, or you can find another comparable product to recommend. I don’t recommend deleting the content, for two reasons. First, the product might come back. Second, that content is ranking in search, and will help bring in new users even if the product is gone. 19. Keep Your Site Active Unlike many commercial blogs, you don’t necessarily have to publish a new blog post every other day for an affiliate marketing site, though you certainly can if you have enough you can write about. I recommend publishing at least once a week, but regardless, you need to keep your site active. Otherwise, you’re likely to lose out on traffic over time as people start to think your older site isn’t relevant any more. 20. Use More Than One Affiliate Network or Program One great tip too many people forget about is that you’re never stuck just using one affiliate network. Most people use Amazon because it’s a low bar to clear to use it and the variety of products is insane. You can, however, make use of two, three, or even more affiliate networks. 21. Add Branding to Your Website One element of trust that many people don’t think about is simple branding and customization. There are a lot of affiliate marketing starter kits out there that give you basic website configuration and themes, but they leave the branding to you. You can really kick up the user trust by adding a brand name that’s not an exact match domain, a logo, and a custom color scheme to your site. 22. Understand User Behavior with a Heatmap There are several different companies that provide heatmaps, but they all do the same thing; they show you where users are clicking on your site. You can use this to identify lost opportunities, like elements of graphics users think are clickable and bits of formatting you can make into links. 23. Make Use of Amazon OneLink OneLink is an interesting addition to the Amazon affiliate program. Did you know that normal Amazon links only monetize US traffic? You have to sign up for regional affiliate programs to monetize clicks from other regions. OneLink allows you to essentially merge your accounts into one and provide one link that monetizes all of that different traffic. No mucking about with regionalized variations of your website; just use this link. 24. Create Multimedia Content Don’t forget that you aren’t just limited to your blog with an affiliate site. Too many people fall into the trap of thinking that an affiliate site is low effort. Make YouTube videos, do livestreams, and build infographics. The more types of content you make, the more avenues you have to bring people into your monetization funnel. 25. Run Some Ads This one might be a bit of questionable tip, but you can run ads to promote your content. You generally won’t promote an affiliate link directly, but rather, a piece of content or a landing page. As long as your cost per conversion is lower than your profits from each affiliate sale, it can still be a profitable option. The post 25 Creative Tips for Increasing Your Affiliate Income appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

A Beginner’s Guide to Promoting on Apple Search Ads

As a marketer I’m often found talking about the intricacies of Google’s search algorithm and how to get your website discovered and ranked highly in the search results. What I’m not usually talking about is the other search engines you might encounter when promoting your business. The truth is, while Google dominates the market for web search – with Bing close behind – there are other search engines of equal or greater importance for some businesses. For example, if you’re trying to grow a YouTube channel, knowing the ins and outs of YouTube’s search is crucial. Likewise, there are other search engines you want to use to promote yourself. One such search engine is Apple’s search, which searches through the Apple App Store. This primary concerns people advertising iOS apps, but might also be of value to anyone with a Mac app of any sort, or anything found on iTunes, like podcasts. Enter: Apple Search Ads Rather than rely on organic search here, I’m going to dive right into the paid side of things. Stay tuned; I might put out a post on the organic side later. For now, though, let’s talk about Apple Search Ads. Apple Search Ads are basically promoted app listings that appear when a user searches the Apple App Store. Since people aren’t usually searching the app store for no reason, these ads can be very potent. Think about it; the kinds of people searching the App Store are most likely looking for something specific. If they aren’t looking for an app by name, they’re looking for something to solve a problem. If you can show them your app at just the right time, you can get them to purchase it, or download it and potentially upgrade later, or make in-app purchases down the road. Discovery is the key, and it’s almost essential for any modern iOS developer to set aside a budget for Apple Search Ads. Limitations on Apple Search Ads Apple Search Ads are not without their drawbacks. For one thing, they only appear in the Apple App Store search results page. They do not appear on related searches, through third party listings, or other locations. Another key restriction is that the Apple Search Ad format is solely about promoting iOS apps. If you have a non-iOS app for Mac, or you have a website you want to promote, you can’t do it through this ad format. You’ll be better off paying for ads in other venues for that kind of exposure. Apple Search Ads are also a relatively new product. They were released in 2016 for a North American user base, and expanded to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand in 2017. As such, they aren’t the most refined ads system, and they might not function precisely how you expect them to function if you’re an experienced marketer. Apple Search Ads are only available to Apple IDs that have a valid email address attached to them. Phone number only accounts are not eligible. Additionally, Apple Search Ads are only available in specific countries. You can see the full list of countries here. Benefits of Apple Search Ads At the same time, Apple Search Ads have a number of tangible benefits. First and foremost among them is the extremely narrow audience. Apple Search Ads are 100% targeted to people searching the Apple App Store for something, which is a relatively small segment of the population. However, they are all already basically pre-qualified leads. Everyone searching the app store – more or less – is going to have an iOS device and is going to be looking for something to install on that device. Now, that’s not 100% of the audience. I’ve known people who don’t have Apple devices who still search the App Store for one reason or another. They might be writers gathering information for articles, or they might be Android users looking to see if their favorite apps have analogues, or what have you. As with any ads system, you’re going to have some level of audience that isn’t engaged with their search. That said, the Apple App Store audience is actually a very good audience to target. Studies have shown that iOS users tend to spend more on apps and on in-app purchases than an Android audience. Convinced? If you have an iOS app and you want to promote it to an audience to get more sales or more in-app purchases, this is one of the best ads systems you can use. Two Types of Apple Search Ads Unlike most ads systems, where all of the features are available to you as long as you know how to use them, Apple Search Ads has two different levels of access: Basic and Advanced. Apple Search Ads Basic is, well, the basic version of Apple Search Ads. It’s meant for beginners, small studios, and people who don’t have a huge budget to spend on advertising. Small and mid-sized businesses, individuals, and other small entities should use this package. Basic is a simple platform with minimal management required. It’s simple to set up and get running in a minimal amount of time. You pay per app install, and you set the target cost per install you want to reach. Apple has some level of intelligent automation to create and manage these ads for you, to maximize your chances of success. Additionally, all new accounts with Apple Search Ads Basic start with a free $100 in ads credit, so you can do a trial run and see how it works without risking your own money. So what’s the downside? Basic does not have any sort of keyword or audience targeting options you can control. It’s all reliant on Apple’s automation, which means you can’t use any clever tricks to get ahead of your competition. You’re also limited in the number of apps you can promote on one account. That limit is relatively high, though: it’s 50 apps on one account. You’re also limited to just the Attribution API and not additional data or management API access. Perhaps the single biggest limitation for some mid-sized businesses is the budget restriction. Basic restricts you to a maximum of $10,000 per month per app. If you need to spend a higher budget than that, you will have to use Advanced. Apple Search Ads Advanced is the more advanced version of Apple Search Ads. It has some additional features, but isn’t quite as user-friendly as the Basic version. It’s a bit more like a traditional ad network. It’s more complex and more time-consuming to manage, because much of the automation present in Basic is missing from Advanced in favor of more user control. Advanced adds the ability to refine and target your ads based on search match, keywords you specify, some customer data such as users of your other apps or existing customers, some demographic information like gender and age range, device information (like iPad versus iPhone), and location data. The Advanced ads version also gives you greater access to the data APIs, which can be relevant if you’re an agency or if you’re a huge business and want to manage bulk ads more easily. Advanced removes limitations from Basic: you do not have an app limit or a budget limit. However, it also removes the new account credit, so you don’t get that free $100. I suppose if you’re planning to be spending well over $10,000 per app per month, though, a one-time $100 doesn’t mean much. Which version should you use? I recommend always going for Basic if you can, unless you’re in an extremely competitive niche and need the edge that advanced targeting will give you, or if you’re intending to advertise with a much higher budget, or if you have a wide variety of apps to advertise. So basically, Agencies and large businesses should use Advanced, while everyone else can probably make do with Basic. Setting Up an Apple Search Ads Account If you’re convinced and you want to start advertising with Apple Search Ads, it’s a surprisingly easy process. The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re eligible: Make sure your Apple ID has a valid and accurate email address attached to it. Phone number only accounts are not eligible. Make sure you have an iOS app already uploaded to the app store. You cannot sign up for Search Ads without already having an app available to advertise. Make sure you’re in one of the countries where you’re allowed to access the Apple Search Ads system. The list of countries is here. Make sure that you’re in compliance with the Apple Ad Content Policies. This is mostly the usual stuff: no trademark violations, no misleading apps, no illegal content, no adult content, nothing discriminatory, and so on. Read it over and make sure you don’t violate any of the terms. Additionally, some regions may have specific restrictions that are not applicable to all regions. For example, gambling content is illegal in Italy, so if you’re based in Italy, you can’t advertise your casino app. Alcohol-related content can only be advertised to users above the requisite age and in countries that don’t restrict it. You know, those kinds of restrictions. Once you have made sure you are eligible to sign up for Apple Search Ads, you will want to visit their homepage, here. Simply click that link. On hat page, click the Get Started, which will scroll you down to the descriptions of both Basic and Advanced. I’m assuming you’re going to be using Basic – since most people should – so click Start under the Basic section. Note: You can actually sign up for and use both Basic and Advanced at the same time. I’m not really sure why you would want to do this, but Apple allows it. Once you have clicked the Start button, you will need to sign in with your Apple ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to create one, though I’m not really sure how you got the iOS Dev Kit or uploaded an iOS app for sale if you don’t have an Apple ID. Note that the Apple ID you choose needs to be the one that is connected to your App Store Connect account. You will need to choose your App Store Connect account and link them up later if you haven’t already. Apple will ask you to choose your preferred language and date/time format, so make those selections. Next, you will need to fill out your basic information. This includes your account name, your country or region, your time zone, your preferred currency, and your primary contact information. Fill this out and submit. Accept the Apple Search Ads Terms of Service, which you can read here if you desire. Next, you will need to fill out the relevant business information necessary to run ads. This is mostly just your tax information. Finally, choose your contact preference and then click “create account” to get your account started. Once your account is configured, you will need to add a credit card to your profile. This is required to start running ads, because you need to be able to pay for them. Billing occurs every $500 spent or every 7 days, whichever comes first. Using the Apple Search Ads Program Once you have your account set up and linked to your Apple ID and App Store Connect accounts, you should be able to start running ads. If you’re having trouble, make sure your account is set up as either a Legal Account Holder, App Manager, Admin, or Marketer. These are similar to Facebook Page Roles within the Apple system. To promote an app, simply choose the app you want to promote from your apps list. Once chosen, select the countries and regions you want to promote in. Add in your monthly budget, up to a maximum of $10,000 per month per app. Decide on your maximum cost per install and plug it in. Once you have all of this information submitted, Apple will start running ads for you. Once the ads are running, you can check reports at any time, change your budget at any time, and cancel ads at any time. The post A Beginner’s Guide to Promoting on Apple Search Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

12 Eligibility Criteria to Check Before Applying to AdSense

Google’s AdSense program is a fantastic way to make some pocket change from a mid-sized site, but there are a lot of possible pitfalls. In addition to needing an appropriate level of traffic to actually make real money, you need to make sure you’re meeting all of the eligibility requirements. Google only has a few specific, real eligibility requirements for AdSense. I’ll list them here, but what I’m more concerned about are the “unofficial” eligibility requirements, the ones that don’t necessarily bar you from the program, but make profiting from the program possible. Google’s Official AdSense Eligibility Requirements First, let’s start with the official requirements. You can find these on Google’s help center here, though some of the information will be scattered around on other pages and may be trickier to track down. That’s why you have me to do the legwork for you, eh? 1. You Must Be Over 18 Years of Age This is a very simple one. According to Google’s terms and conditions, which pretty much no one has ever read in the history of the planet, in order to be eligible to use AdSense, you need to be over the age of 18. This is annoying for those precocious 16 year olds who make a hit site and have no way to monetize it, I guess? Frankly, if you’re creating a site good enough to be worth monetizing, you can use your parents’ information to register the account until you age up enough to get one of your own. This won’t be an issue for the majority of you reading this, so I’m not going to write much more about it. Just get older! 2. You Must Own and Control Your Site In general you have to at least have control over the content on your site. If you publish content that isn’t yours, you’ll be in violation of the Google terms of service and possibly of copyright violations. There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you’re a site that has syndication rights to re-publish content from select other sources, you can still monetize that content. As far as “control” your site, it primarily means you need access to the source code of your site. AdSense doesn’t work if you can’t add the ad code to the site, right? This, also, has some exceptions. For example, sites like HubPages allow users who write for the site to add their own code and displays ads in rotation between their own and the author’s on that person’s content. Conversely, you can sign up for AdSense for YouTube and monetize a YouTube account without ever having to mess around with code, because it’s already there. 3. Your Site Must Have Unique and Interesting Content This one, and the next one, are locked up in a sub-page called “make sure your site’s pages are ready for AdSense.” Basically it’s another rule about how your site needs to have content worth monetizing. If Google finds your site is just full of thin pages, stolen or scraped content, content that doesn’t make sense, or content that provides no value to a reader, they’re probably going to decline your application. This is some pretty general SEO stuff, to be honest. As long as you’re writing your own content and it’s aimed at something people actually want, you’re probably fine. The bar is pretty low. This is mostly just meant to cut out the spam sites, PBNs, content thieves, and other such sites. 4. Your Site Must Have Clear Navigation Navigation is important for users to know their way around your site, and Google needs to have their team review a site, so if that team can’t navigate, you can’t get approval. Here’s what Google says your site should have: A menu or navigation bar that is easily accessible. Elements of your menu bar that are lined up correctly. Text on your bar that is easy to read. Elements, drop-downs, and links that all work properly. Google doesn’t enforce the “standard” web design you see everywhere these days, of course. You can use a sidebar, an inverted sidebar, or even footers that hover for your navigation if you really want, so long as it’s clear and functional. Users might not like it, though. Also, keep in mind that this, like most Google policies, applies to both desktop and mobile versions of the site. 5. You Must Not Circulate Fake Traffic This is a big one, perhaps one of the biggest AdSense policies out there, but it’s also not something you can necessarily test or determine prior to getting approval for the program. Rather than causing you to be rejected, it’s more likely to lead to you being banned from the program later. As Google says: “Clicks on Google ads must result from genuine user interest. Any method that artificially generates clicks or impressions on your Google ads is strictly prohibited. These prohibited methods include, but are not limited to, repeated manual clicks or impressions, automated click and impression generating tools and the use of robots or deceptive software. Please note that clicking your own ads for any reason is prohibited.” Google will sample your traffic and your clicks, and if they find indications that you are referring fraudulent clicks or impressions to your AdSense ads, they will not hesitate to ban you. 6. Your Content Must Comply with Google Content Policies Google has a lot of restrictions on the kind of content that can be on a site they monetize. Your site cannot contain things like adult content, pornography, shock content, threats, excessive profanity, hacking content, malware, drug content, weapon sales, and so on. There’s a lot more than what I just wrote here, in fact. You can read the entire section on content policies here. For the most part, it’s “anything obscene, illegal, adult, violent, hateful, or damaging” is not allowed. Make sure your site complies with all of their rules before you apply. 7. You Cannot Circulate Copyrighted Content All content you display on your site, from images to text to videos, needs to be something you are allowed to use or share according to copyright law. For example, your pages should contain blog writing you created yourself, images you created yourself, a logo you paid to have created for you, and other such elements. Conversely, your page should not include content stolen from another page, images plucked from Google image search with no license to use them, or video someone else made that you present as your own. In some cases, you can legally use content you didn’t create. For example, embedding a public social media post or YouTube video – so long as you aren’t claiming you created it when you didn’t – is fine. You may also be expected to add surrounding, unique content to add value. Images you didn’t create can be used so long as you have the license to use them, such as from a stock photo site. Copyright is a huge, tricky body of law, so it’s best to err on the side of caution here. 8. You Must Use a Supported Language Unfortunately, Google doesn’t support every single language in the world for AdSense. They want to make sure they’re displaying ads that are readable to the people viewing the ads. Your site can be bilingual with content in an unsupported language, so long as the majority of the content on the site is in a supported language. The supported languages as of the time of this writing – you can check here – are: Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Both simplified and traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (both traditional and Latin American), Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese. Note that some of those languages are supported for AdSense display ads, but are not supported in the AdSense dashboard. Additionally, Google may introduce support for other languages at any time. 9. Your Site Must Not Have an Abusive Experience A site with an “abusive experience” is a site with a defined set of manipulative, harmful, false, or misleading practices that Google bans. These are: Page elements that resemble chat apps, system warnings, or other dialogue boxes the user would want to click on. Areas of the page that are clickable when nothing indicates they should be. Misleading buttons, such as a “next page” arrow that leads to a landing page instead. Scripts that manipulate browser history to prevent using the “back” button. Anything using social engineering or phishing to steal information. Elements that make it look like the user is clicking to manipulate a user into clicking. Malware of any sort present on the site. Basically, anything that makes a page look like it’s trying to scam users, steal information, deliver malware, or otherwise commit some kind of fraud is banned. Unofficial AdSense Eligibility Requirements The last few requirements are not stated anywhere in Google’s documentation, but they can be a reason why your site is rejected when you apply, or they may be a reason why you got accepted but aren’t getting much of anything out of the program. It’s a good idea to check off these boxes before you try to apply, to have the best experience possible. 10. You Should Have Technical Pages Google doesn’t really say this anywhere, but a page is much more likely to be rejected from the program if it doesn’t have technical pages that establish trust in a brand. Technical pages, in this case, are the Three Big Pages: the Privacy Policy page, the About Us page, and the Contact Us page. Now, these don’t necessarily all need to be separate pages. It’s usually a good idea to separate the privacy policy into another page if it’s complex, but a simple “we don’t harvest any information” disclosure is enough in some cases. Likewise, an About Us and a Contact page are often the same page. The presence of an About page helps users trust that you are who you claim to be, and that there’s some level of legitimacy behind your brand. Likewise, a contact page with information like an address and phone number makes you more trustworthy than a brand that can’t be contacted. 11. Your Site Should Be At Least Six Months Old This is another “unwritten” policy that’s not really a policy, but can affect large numbers of applicants. Basically, when AdSense first started out, it was easy to apply and get approval. Eventually, Google realized they had a problem with tons of new, low quality sites that were eating up money in bulk, so they started raising their standards. Pretty much every rule above is something they’ve encountered and had to ban. One way Google has prevented some level of abuse on their site is by restricting who can be approved. Specifically, if a page is younger than six months old – such as if you just created your site last week – you may find it harder to get approval. This is not applicable all the time. If you’ve owned successful sites in the past, Google may allow a brand new domain. Additionally, this rule may not apply to the United States and other primarily English countries. Why not? A brand new site likely has very little traffic, which means it’s going to make very little money. Trying to create new sites, monetize them quickly, and dump them when they’re banned won’t get anyone much money to live on in the USA. On the other hand, in a country like Bangladesh or Pakistan, where the cost of living is much lower, this kind of abuse might be much more lucrative. Thus, Google tends to have a waiting period for new sites based in such areas. 12. You Need Sufficient Traffic Google doesn’t necessarily reject a site for not having enough traffic, though they might. If you don’t have enough traffic, though, you won’t be earning enough money to even cash out. How much traffic do you need to make a reasonable amount of money? That’s its own discussion. So there you have it: the typical eligibility requirements for AdSense success. How do they line up with your own experience? The post 12 Eligibility Criteria to Check Before Applying to AdSense appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Landing Page vs Homepage: Which One Should You Promote?

If you want people to visit your website, it’s a good idea to pay for some advertising. The trouble is, you need a goal beyond “visiting my website” for that traffic. You can get people on your pages through a thousand different channels, but the ones you pay for need to be special. Otherwise you’re just wasting money. Landing pages are the true destination for paid advertising. I’m not going to bury the lede here; there’s only one option. Directing paid advertising to your homepage is a foolish move. Think about it. What’s the difference between a landing page and your homepage? A homepage is a hub. It’s a central pillar for your site, from which a user can reach other parts of your site. Depending on the kind of site you run, this can operate differently. A news-style site will have a homepage that is constantly changing, sometimes as often as every few minutes, with new content. A page like the New York Times always has fresh content on the homepage, every time you visit. An industry blog with secondary services will have a homepage like SEO Roundtable’s. It has updated content, though it doesn’t necessarily publish content every single day. Elements like services the site sells are placed on secondary pages through navigation links. A business with a secondary blog might have a page like this as a homepage. It’s sort of a landing page, relatively static, primarily aimed at selling a service. And yet it’s not fully targeted, it’s general use, so it’s hard to make narrow paid ads match the content. A full commerce site like industry giant Amazon has a homepage with a wide range of targeted recommendations. When was the last time you visited Amazon’s homepage rather than a page for a specific product? Running paid ads to a homepage is typically not a great idea. The main reason, if you dig into various PPC networks, is something like Google’s quality score. One of the core elements that makes PPC advertising work is the congruence between the ad copy and the destination. A good paid ad is targeting a narrow audience with narrow messaging, and that audience expects that same level of narrow messaging from the page they find at the other end. Imagine if you clicked on an ad for a pair of shoes you like, saying they were 10% off. When you open up the link, you end up on the main homepage for Nike. Now what? You have to go digging to find that paid of shoes, hope it’s still in stock and that the deal is still active, and you might not even care anymore. You lost the convenience of a simple click-and-buy, and consequently, it’s just as likely that the store lost a sale. Guiding the User The point of paid advertising is to capture a certain segment of your user base and push them deeper in your sales funnel. Typically, you can divide up your audience into five broad groups. Cold. These are the people who don’t know much of anything about anything. They aren’t aware that they have a problem, they aren’t aware of your brand or your products, and they don’t really care. Some of these people can be made aware of the problem they face, with ads that lead to specific pieces of relevant content. Problem-aware. These are the people who moved on from the first step. They know they have a problem, and they’re starting to look into it. They have no idea who you are, though, and they have no idea what the potential solutions to their problem might be. You can reach these people with ads that have copy and landing pages targeted to the specific problem they face. Solution-aware. These are the people from the previous step who are aware that there’s a solution to their problem. They might not know who provides that solution, but they know what to look for in general. This is where you try to capture them with ads with your value proposition; we can solve your problem for you, with X benefit, for Y cost. Purchase-ready. These are the people who have experienced your third-tier marketing and have looked around, and decided that your solution to their problem is probably the best one on offer. You can capture them by spreading specific deals in your advertising, and with landing pages that lead immediately into a store page. Among these, the only one that might possibly benefit from seeing your homepage is the first group, and even then, you can create a more targeted page specifically for different audience sub-groups – rich vs poor, educated vs non, employed vs not, and so on – to better cater your messaging to them. It’s all about user intent, and capturing that intent with your landing page. Your homepage isn’t well suited to capturing any single specific, narrow niche of people. You may be able to entice some users in general, but it’s not as likely as a landing page. Think back to Amazon. Their homepage may be “generic” but it’s actually packed full of extremely personal recommendations. They know what you’ve bought and what you’ve looked at, and they can recommend products you may be interested in. Even though the format is broad-spectrum, with hundreds of products on offer, all of those product choices are personalized to the visitor. What I see on my homepage is not what you’ll see, guaranteed. Imagine if you were searching for a specific pair of shoes you like. You see an ad for Amazon, and it takes you to the Amazon front page. However, you’ve never visited Amazon before. They don’t have any recommendations for you, personalized and ready. So there’s a scattershot on the page. Maybe there’s a pair of earrings, maybe some fishing lures, maybe a new TV, maybe a car stereo, maybe a vacuum, maybe a romance novel. All of these things cover various interests, and maybe you’re interested in a bunch of them, but none of them match your intent when you clicked on the ad. Would you proceed to search for your intended pair of shoes, or would you back out and look for a different store that’s actually promoting what you’re looking for? I know I’d do the latter. Variation, Intent, and Conversion Paid advertising has one goal: to get the user who sees the ad to click on it. Depending on the ads, you may have different goals within that goal. Maybe you want to educate the reader on your products, or maybe you know the reader is already educated and you want to convince them to buy. The key to success with paid advertising, then, is to match content with intent. You do this through variation. I don’t just mean split-testing here.  A/B testing is a powerful tool, but it’s only useful for audiences where you’ve already matched your copy with the audience intent. It’s for second-stage optimization, where we’re talking about first-stage optimization. Think of the audience divisions up above. Could you design one single ad that is compelling to people in all four stages of awareness? Could you write ad copy so good that people who have never heard of your company and people who are intimately aware of your products both click it? Maybe you could, but let me tell you, it won’t be as effective. It will cost more and reach fewer people than if you divided up each of the four stages into their own targeted advertising. Here’s another scenario. You work a 9-5 job, but you’re getting tired of it and you’re getting stressed about it. So you start searching for ways to relieve stress from working all the time. You’re presented with varying levels of solution to this problem. Some ads recommend stress balls, and some recommend yoga, and some recommend a vacation. At this point, you get to think about which of those options fits your needs most closely. Only one of them is likely to be the true solution, and that company “wins” your awareness. Maybe you decide you want to try some yoga. Now you’re researching yoga, from DIY video tutorials to in-house trainers to weekly yoga meetings. Again, you’re faced with a choice. The company that attracted you to yoga in the first place won’t reach you with the same ad again; rather, they need to have another ad that targets you now. Maybe you pick a weekly yoga meeting hosted by that company. You’re interested, so you need to research it some more. Ads, at this point, are either going to try to pull you away from that company, or are going to convince you to purchase the accessories you need for yoga, the membership to the club, or whatever else you need to be successful. One ad doesn’t fit all of these scenarios. Neither focuses on a single destination. If you have no idea how yoga can help with workplace stress, a homepage isn’t going to help; you want a landing page that is packed full of content about the stress-reduction benefits of yoga. You’re not ready to buy anything, so a page that focuses on selling you a membership isn’t going to go over well. Later, when you’re aware of the benefits of yoga and you’re looking to buy, a homepage isn’t going to be all that helpful. You want a landing page that tells you what kinds of products you need and what packages are on offer, so you can choose what you want to buy. Minimizing Distraction One of the core principles of landing page design is to minimize user choice. The more options a user has, the more likely the option they’re going to choose is to leave. People don’t like having to confront complicated scenarios. They don’t like having to problem solve in the middle of their problem solving. They simply want to be presented with a solution. Decision paralysis is a large part of this issue. Look at your homepage. What’s going on? You have links to service pages, links to blog posts, links to a contact page, links to social media. What is the user going to do? The point of a homepage is to give a user those options. The user knows your brand, they know your service, and you’re giving them a hub they can use to dig deeper into anything related to you. Maybe they want to read more of your blog content, so you have a blog link for them. Maybe they want to read more about a specific product, so they click a link to your product page. Maybe they want to read your company history, so they click the About link. A landing page knows what the user is coming there to see, and focuses itself solely around that destination. The product page, the about page, the blog post; these could be considered landing pages, if not for the trappings of a normal website around them. There’s very little reason to pay to bring people to your homepage. You should always be more focused than that. Know who you’re trying to reach, know what they’re trying to find, and provide that exact content for them in the form of a landing page. To do anything less could end up wasting your valuable ad dollars. The post Landing Page vs Homepage: Which One Should You Promote? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Find the Ideal Cost Per Action on Google Ads

There are a ton of different acronyms and abbreviations involved in paid advertising, and one of the most important is CPA, or Cost Per Action. CPA is a metric that measures how much an action costs. So if you’re paying to get new email subscribers, you’d be calculating the cost per subscriber. If you’re paying to get new product sales, it’s the cost per sale. If you’re paying to get new social media followers, it’s simply the cost of a new follower. A question I’m frequently asked is this: What is the ideal cost per action? The answer is, as low as possible, and I’ll tell you why. CPA As the Better Metric One thing you’ve probably seen before is the concept of penny clicks. Penny clicks are clicks, in CPC marketing, where the cost per click is only a single penny, which is typically about the lowest you can get. Some ad networks will let you get even lower, where a fraction of a penny gets you a click, but that’s typically only for ad networks that operate in a currency that’s weaker than the USD. You’ve probably also seen articles like this one about why penny clicks typically suck. If you’re not familiar with the argument, it’s quite simple. When the action you’re seeking is a click, it’s easy to get. If you pay $1 and get 100 clicks, that seems great. Then you look at your analytics. What did those clicks get you? Most of the time, those clicks got you nothing.  Out of those 100 clicks, 50 of them bounced immediately. Of the remaining 50, 40 of them lingered on the page for maybe 10 seconds and then left, without scrolling or clicking on anything. With only 10 clicks remaining, you look, and none of them do anything. Some might scroll, one of them might click a second page, but none of them do anything beyond that. Penny clicks don’t convert. Penny clicks don’t subscribe to mailing lists. Penny clicks don’t buy products. The majority of the time, penny clicks are either bots are people who are paid to click ads, and are paid by the volume of ads, not by any engagement afterwards. In short, it’s usually basically just click fraud. This is why there’s a widespread caution against penny clicks. There’s an “ideal” cost per click, somewhere significantly higher than one cent. The exact actual ideal cost per click might be 30 cents, or 50 cents, or $1, depending on the industry and the audience. The thing is, that’s for CPC, not CPA. CPA is a better metric, because the action is something you care about. Instead of a click – which is basically valueless if it doesn’t lead to anything further – your action is something tangible. Something that has real value to you. A new social media follower is valuable. A new newsletter subscriber is valuable. A new customer is extremely valuable. These actions are important enough that you can even assign a monetary value to them if you want. Since the A in CPA is an action you care about and that has value, the C, or Cost for that action, can be as low as you can push it. If you get penny actions, well, you’re probably doing pretty well for yourself. Imagine running ads where you pay one single penny for every new product sale you make. You’d be ecstatic! Your sales team would throw a party because they found the platonic ideal of marketing. Thus, the ideal CPA is as close to nothing as you can get it. Now, it’s possible that with some kind of actions, you still run into the click problem. For example, social media followers might not be valuable to you if they aren’t qualified followers. A lot of the shady third party follower sellers are selling bots or people in networks that exist only to follow pages, and they don’t do anything afterward. So you do still need to pay attention to the quality of the action you’re getting. After all, that action does still need value. Calculating CPA How should you actually go about calculating your cost per action? Typically, you need to harvest some segmented data and do a little math. Here are your considerations. First of all, the basic CPA calculation is very simple. Take the total cost of your marketing efforts in a given time, such as a week, a month, or the duration of a specific campaign. Then find the total number of new actions you received during that same duration. Cost per Action, so take the total cost and divide it by the number of actions, to receive the cost per action. For example, let’s say you have a spring ad campaign that you spend $1,000 on over the course of a month. You got 500 new subscribers. Divide 1,000 by 500 to get 2. That’s $2 per 1 subscriber, so a CPA of $1. Simple, right? Now you have to remember that you rarely have one single CPA. You can calculate one CPA for everything you’ve done across an entire quarter, if you want, but it’s not likely to be a very useful number. No, you need to segment your data down. First, figure out different actions that have value to you. New social media followers, new newsletter subscribers, new customers, new leads; these can all be valuable actions that have different costs associated with them. Second, figure out the different channels you’re using. This is relatively easy; just look at what ads you’re paying for. One business might be paying for Facebook ads, Google ads, Twitter ads, and ads on a local TV affiliate. Now you have an array. You have combinations of each of these factors you can calculate a unique CPA for. For example, you have all of these calculations: Cost per social media follower from Facebook ads. Cost per newsletter subscriber from Twitter ads. Cost per new customer from TV ads. Cost per social media follower from Google ads. And so on. Each combination of action and channel is a unique CPA. You can get even more granular. Let’s say you’re running three different ad campaigns on Facebook. One is a standard long-running content campaign, one is a campaign focused on some timely piece of news, and one is a seasonal campaign. All three of those can have their own CPAs. You have to decide how granular you want your data. I recommend getting as granular as possible, and then using aggregate data when you want a broader look at your overview.  This gives you the best of both worlds. And, of course, the CPA for each channel and each action can be improved in its own ways. The methods you use to optimize for newsletter subscribers will be different than the ones you use for getting new social followers, which will be different than your sales pushes to get new leads. The more granular your data, the more levers you have to pull to optimize. More options means more testing, more testing means more optimization, and more optimization means lower costs per action. Optimizing for Lower CPAs Now, I know I said that a lower cost per action is better, but that’s not entirely true. You need to find the right balance between a low CPA and a high action volume. Getting $0.01 per action doesn’t help you if you only get one new lead out of it. There will be a sweet spot between getting more actions and getting cheaper actions. Thankfully, pretty much all of the methods you have for lowering the cost per action are also was to improve the quality of those actions, and as such aren’t likely to make your number of actions drop significantly. Focus on improving audience targeting. The accuracy of the audience you’re targeting is important for lowering costs. Platforms like Facebook and Google have a ton of different ways to optimize your audience, from demographics to interest targeting to geographic targeting. You need to figure out the key attributes of the people you’re trying to reach, and then optimize your targeting to reach only those people. The fewer non-interested people in the audience, the less wasted money you have in your quest for actions. Segment your audience for multiple optimization routes. Remember that even though you might be able to consider that you have one “audience”, you actually have many smaller audiences. A company producing products for new mothers might have an audience of young mothers, an audience of older mothers, an audience of mothers of boys, and audience of mothers of girls, and so on. Segmenting your audience as narrowly as possible means you can optimize your ad experiences that much more for those people. Improve your landing page experience. When a user clicks on your ad, what faces them? Are they on your home page? A blog post? A product page? A landing page? Optimizing your landing page experience is a crucial part of lowering your costs. Remove obstacles that distract users who land on the page. Make the page clear and its goal as focused as possible. Make sure the page loads quickly and works on every platform. There are a bunch of levers you can pull here too. Improve your conversion process. If the user is interested in converting, what stops them? Some aspects of your conversion process can be smoothed out to improve customer flow. Are you asking for too much information on a subscriber form? Do you lack the normal trust indicators for a payment page? Are you asking for sensitive information without using SSL? Identify reasons a user might find to stop the purchase process and smooth them out. Track multiple goals for a single click. Just because a user clicks on an ad you aim at new subscribers doesn’t mean it has to stop at measuring new subscribers. Some of those people might go on to complete other actions as well, and you can calculate them in different parts of your cost equations. Pay attention to quality score on platforms that use it. Both Facebook and Google have quality scores they maintain. These scores serve as an indicator of various metrics – which metrics specifically depends on the platform – and can affect the costs and conversion rates for your ads. You want to learn the factors that go into them, monitor them to see where you stand, and work to improve them as you run more ads. Rotate ads when they start to get stale. Ads lose their effectiveness over time, as people start to see the more and more, and as they start trying to reach people with less and less engagement. This is when you should rotate your ads. Change the copy, change the value proposition, change the targeting, whatever, just rotate them. Make sure there’s generally something fresh and new for people to engage with for maximum value. Always be testing. One thing you should simply never stop is testing. Always have variations on different ads running, and calculate your CPA for each variation. This gives you an idea of which ads and which changes are performing well, and how you can improve other ads as you go. And, of course, your ideas. Those of you who are experienced in CPA improvements, what have you found most effective? Share with the class and you may end up cited in a future post! The post How to Find the Ideal Cost Per Action on Google Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Improve the Landing Page Experience of Your Ad

We marketers, when talking about ads, often have to reference something called the ad quality score. Google maintains a quality score, and Facebook has a relevance score, both of which are important for the successful function of your ads. The thing is, they aren’t the only metrics that matter. In this case, we’re talking about another metric that Google maintains, something called the Landing Page Experience. The LPE is a way Google uses to measure the landing pages you use for your ads. Your landing page is the page users land at after they click your ad. Your landing page experience is, in the words of Google, “Google’ Ads’ measure of how well your website gives people what they’re looking for when they click your ad.” Your landing page experience is a metric for each ad – since different ads can have different landing pages, and different ads to the same landing page can have a different level of congruence between ad and landing page – and it’s part of the ad rank that goes into calculating your CPC and ad auction position. In other words, a poor landing page experience means your users aren’t getting the messages they think they’ll be getting. It can be anything from an ad promising 15% off and the landing page only showing 10% off, to a landing page advertising shoes when the ad promoted shirts. A poor landing page experience means your ads are going to cost more and you’ll have a harder time getting premium positioning, as well, so it’s always in your best interests to improve your experience. Keep in mind that your landing page experience is a partially subjective ranking. There are algorithms and an automatic system that parses your ads and your landing pages, but Google also uses individual human raters to help rate and rank your landing page experience as well. This leads to a little bit of variability in landing page ratings, but it’ll average out in general so it’s not really a big deal. Checking Your Landing Page Experience Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to check your specific landing page experience. The best you can do is check your overall ad quality score, which includes landing page experience as part of the calculation. To do this, log into your Google Ads account and find the Keywords section on the page menu. One of the columns is Status. Look for individual keywords and either hover over them or click/tap them to see a rating. This rating will typically be generic, like “above average” or “average” as calculated based on the various quality score metrics. Here are my top tips for improving your landing page experience. Keep in mind when you’re checking that it can take a bit for your quality score to update once you’ve made some changes. For landing page experience specifically, Google says “You might not see an immediate impact, but you may see results within days or weeks.” Make Your Landing Page Content Original This is a generally good tip for landing pages across the board, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to every landing page. What do I mean? When you’re split-testing different landing page variations, you might end up with several iterations of a landing page that are virtually identical, except the positioning of an image or the color of a button. This is fine. Google understands that businesses run tests like this. You do run the slight risk of a duplicate content penalty if you do this too much, but you should be fine if you canonize your main landing page using the meta tags on all of the variations. Don’t worry too much about it though; Google is smart enough to overlook minor mistakes. You should also make sure your landing page isn’t broadly copied from other landing pages in your industry. This is a common issue with affiliate marketers who buy template-based sites with landing pages that all look basically the same. You might find 100 sites shilling the same affiliate product, all with the same landing page template and largely identical copy. All of these sites are going to perform worse than average because there’s nothing original about their landing pages. Make Your Landing Page Content Useful Remember that your landing page should be useful to the user as they arrive on the page. They are searching for something, and they typically have a purchase intent, or at least the intent to research a future purchase. They’re looking for something specific, whether it’s a specific product buy button or information about a product. Your landing page needs to provide that useful information to that user. A large part of this is about understanding user intent when they’re searching. If a user is searching for information about, say, home security cameras, your landing page is going to do best when you’re providing information about multiple camera systems you sell and the pros and cons between them. A comparison page does best in this sort of scenario. Conversely, if a user is searching for a specific model of a home security camera, landing them on a comparison page isn’t going to give them much value. If that specific model is one of several, it CAN be useful, but you’re generally going to get better results if the landing page is specifically focused on that one camera model. Make Your Landing Page Content Relevant to Your Ads Congruence is the most important word for this tip. Congruence means “agreement or harmony; compatibility.” In geometry, two shapes are congruent when they share the same shape and size, though their orientation may be different. In advertising, congruence is the flow of relevance from ad to landing page. This is a case when details matter, and it’s also relevant to user intent. Congruence and page utility are both important. For example, if you’re promoting a sale on your product and your ads say it’s 10% off, the landing page should also say that the price is 10% off. If you’re promoting a specific model of home security camera in your ads, your landing page should be 100% focused on that model. The point is to make sure that there’s as minimal disconnect between ad and landing page as possible. Keep in mind that you can use advanced ad targeting to enhance congruence. For example, if you run ads that bring users to your website for the first time, your landing page can be focused on basic explanations and first-time impressions and FAQs. If you then make a remarketing audience out of those visitors and run ads targeting those people, your landing page for that ad can answer more advanced questions and assume a basic level of familiarity with your offering. Make Your Website’s Contact Information Clearly Accessible One of the elements that goes into landing page experience as far as Google is concerned is the transparency and trustworthiness of your website in general and your landing pages specifically. One of the factors that goes into that is how accessible your business information is to users. I know that one of the typical pieces of advice for landing page optimization is to give users as few links as possible to send them places other than the purchase/conversion process, but these links are exceptions. You want to provide a way for users to read more about your business, and ways for them to reach out and contact you if they so desire. Typically, I find this boils down to two pages: an About Us page and a Contact Us page. The About Us page should tell details about your brand, your story, and your history. This helps users feel good about making their purchase when, for example, they know you aren’t some shell company running drop-shipping for a product they can buy cheaper elsewhere. Even if that’s what you’re actually doing, you can dress it up nicely in an About section. The Contact page makes your business seem more legitimate as well. By presenting various generally accepted means of communication – ranging from email to web chat to a phone number and even a physical address – you assure users that you’re a real business. It’s best if you have offices relatively local to the user – a USA headquarters for a business selling in the USA rather than an office in India, for example – but you shouldn’t lie about it either. A third page you can consider linking, either directly or from within one of those two pages, is a Privacy Policy page. This is especially important for landing pages focused on getting email opt-ins, and should speak in plain language about how you’re gathering emails for marketing only and you aren’t selling them to other businesses or anything like that. Make Your Business Trustworthy Many of the elements of trust in a website are the same as elements of transparency above, like having a privacy policy page and having an About Us that showcases how real and legitimate you are. However, your landing page can also include some elements of trust outside of just those factors. Use SSL on any page that has a form for users to fill out, or even site-wide SSL for maximum trustworthiness across the board. Use a trust seal users will recognize as something that lends legitimacy to your page. Clearly and obviously disclose any sponsored or affiliate links, as per FTC disclosure rules. Use elements of social proof, such as customer numbers or specific testimonials, to improve user trust. Making your business trustworthy is a huge part of gaining not just immediate sales, but long-term repeat customers and brand advocates. Make Your Landing Page Mobile Friendly It should come as no surprise that one of the elements of landing page experience as far as Google is concerned is the ability for mobile devices to navigate the page. This means a few things. First, it means setting a viewport that mobile devices can use to adequately view a page. A viewport can be dynamically adjusted, as per responsive design, and is a huge part of modern compatible websites. Next, it means making sure all of your text is large enough to read on a mobile device. Many of us are used to relatively small text on webpages – though that’s changing – but mobile devices often have lower resolutions and fuzzier screens making it difficult to read small text. Bump up that font size, friends! You also want to make sure your clickable elements are distinct and far enough apart from one another that there’s no way to “fat finger” tapping the wrong one on a mobile device. It’s pretty unlikely for a landing page, but for your website as a whole, you should make sure you aren’t layering it with scripts and ads such that it becomes difficult or impossible to view the actual content of the site. Personally, I dislike Mediawiki for this reason; it ends up so covered in ads that the user has to spend five minutes just digging to find the content they came there to see in the first place. Make Your Site Load Faster Site speed is another important aspect of site quality as far as Google is concerned, and that applies both to mobile and desktop versions of the page. It’s also a factor for more than just landing page experience; site speed is a known factor for Google search results ranking as well. There are a ton of different ways you can speed up a site – enough that it’s worth an entire article – so I highly recommend reading a detailed guide and putting as many of those tips into practice as you can. Site speed is very important today, and it can boost your landing page experience significantly. Once you’ve implemented as many of these tips – for both site speed and for general landing page experience – as possible, you should start to see improvements to your ads and quality score across the board. The post How to Improve the Landing Page Experience of Your Ad appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Properly Optimize Your Google Display Ads

Google’s ad network is one of the largest in the world, and it’s been a popular choice for advertisers for over a decade. Google ads are great, but it’s also very easy to spend a lot of money for very little in return. How can you level up from mediocre ads to Google Display Ad Pro? Here are my top tips. First, Learn the Basics I’m writing the majority of this post with a particular kind of audience in mind. If you’re already a PPC pro, you will know most of what’s in this post, though I won’t tell you not to read it; there may be a tip or two you can try out. On the other side of the coin, if you’re still a novice, the first thing you need to do is learn your way around the Google Ads system. Luckily for you, Hubspot has an incredible guide to get you rolling. This post, meanwhile, is aimed at the intermediate users. Remember that the purpose of the display network is different from the purpose of the search network. Google display ads typically have a lower CPC, but also lower click rates and lower conversion rates. Display ads work best for awareness and remarketing campaigns, while search ads are better for when you’re capturing active audience intent. Get Familiar with Targeting Options Google’s display ads have a variety of different ways you can target them. It’s not the same sort of targeting options Facebook has; rather, they’re more systematic. Keyword targeting is your basic targeting based on words and phrases. This is the most typical and allows your ads to display on pages that are contextually similar to the content of your ads. Topic targeting is like keyword targeting, but more broad-focus. You choose a broad topic such as your industry and run ads that display on sites in that industry. This allows you to reach a wider audience more easily. Remarketing allows you to target specific custom audiences made up of people who have entered your sphere of influence, such as via visiting your website or from watching your YouTube videos. Demographic targeting allows you to create groups of interests and demographics to target, similar to how Facebook ads work, on a more limited basis due to Google’s lack of similar levels of personal data. Audience targeting allows you to specify groups of people, such as “in-market” audiences made up of people who are ready to purchase in your market, and “affinity” audiences who are interested but not quite ready to buy. Automatic targeting is more of a hands-off option for novices and people who just want data without worrying about the costs. Learning the right kinds of targeting to use and when to use them is crucial. You go into it with an ad in mind, and you know what that ad is supposed to accomplish – like getting new website visitors, getting new conversions, getting new subscribers, or what have you – so you need to pick the right targeting format to reach the people most likely to perform that action. Make Heavy Use of Remarketing Remarketing is one of the most incredible and most useful kinds of advertising to come about in our modern era. No longer are you limited to reaching out blindly in the dark, trying to find people who might care about your brand. Remarketing allows you to reach out specifically to the groups of people who have already entered your sphere of influence and draw them yet further in. The core of remarketing is simple. When someone visits your website, they are added to the list of people who have visited your website. Now you have this new list of people who are already interested enough in you to have visited your site. You can run new ads targeting these people with the “next step” in the sales funnel process. You can draw them in further with ads that take advantage of this new level of familiarity. If you think of a sales funnel, the top is getting people aware of you in the first place. You can’t do this with remarketing ads; by default they are already people who know of you. The second layer is remarketing to draw people into the third layer, which is converting. A good analogy would be trying to get a job. If you just walk into a company and try to talk to the hiring manager, they’re as likely to throw you out for trespassing as they are to listen to your application. But if you have sent them a resume and application, followed up with a phone call, and are now showing up to chat, they know who you are and are a lot more likely to give you that second glance. Use the Similar Audience Target One of the innovations Facebook brought to the world of PPC marketing – or at least popularized – is the idea of the lookalike audience. Facebook has so much data about people that it can compare people on a broad scale. You can take a list of people – like, say, the list of people who visited your website, or the list of people who bought your products – and tell Facebook to create another audience that looks like that audience. Facebook will then create a new, lookalike audience. This new audience is people who have not bought your product, but who share many of the same demographics and interests as the people who do. In other words, they’re more likely than average to become customers. Google has something similar in their targeting options, called the Similar Audience feature. With Google display network ads, you can enable this targeting option and it will use your existing remarketing audiences to produce lookalike audiences for display ads to reach. Learn the Negatives There are two kinds of negatives you need to learn how to use to be a true pro at any kind of PPC advertising, but Google in particular. The first kind of negative is the negative keyword. Negative keywords are keywords that are commonly associated with your search queries or topics, but which disqualify the traffic. For example, maybe you’re advertising video games, but all of your games are family-friendly. You might put “adult” as a negative keyword, so if your ads are going to run on a site with “adult video games” as a theme, they will not. If you sell shoes, but you don’t sell athletic shoes, you can add keywords like “athletic” and “sports” and “tennis” as negative keywords to prevent those kinds of topics from draining money from your ads. You can read our more in-depth guide on negative keywords here. The other kind of negative to use is site exclusions. These are like negative keywords, except they exclude sites as destinations for your display ads. There are two ways to use this: proactively and reactively. Proactive use of site exclusions means knowing sites that are in your topic but are not going to be a good fit for your ads. Your competitor’s sites are good options. Maybe you have a site about camping, but you focus on family outings; you can exclude sites that focus on more extreme outdoor adventures. For a more modern and political take, you can exclude sites that express political opinions you don’t share, to avoid associating your brand with their site. Reactive use means looking at your ad analytics after your ads have run for a while. Google will tell you the sites where your ads have been running, and give you performance for those ads. You can find sites that are getting a lot of impressions but no clicks, and exclude them from ads that require clicks to be effective. Structure Your Optimization There are a ton of different kinds of optimizations you can make to ads, but you shouldn’t just slap at them blindly until something works. You can break down optimizations by category and treat them as priorities. Priority One is your functional optimizations. Are your ads displaying properly? Are they animating properly if they animate? Does your landing page work, do your forms work, does your phone number work? Fix these kinds of errors before even looking at other optimization paths. Priority Two is accessibility. Google has been pushing for accessibility over the last few years, so make sure your ads work in a variety of forms. Do they work for responsive sites? Are they readable at different sizes? Can you make them more accessible to a wider audience? Priority Three is your user experience. This is where you’re optimizing elements like the ad relevance, the intrusiveness and disruptiveness of your ads, and how legible your ads are to the widest audience possible. Optimize your ads for user experience before you move on to the next. Priority Four is intuitiveness in your ads. Particularly, this is how well your ads jive with the user’s expectations. This tends to go hand in hand with ad quality scores, among other metrics, and requires you to know both your audience intent and their place in the funnel. Priority Five is persuasiveness. This is where you start to optimize things like your value proposition, your ad images, and your copy itself. Reduce friction and encourage your users to click at this stage. You can read more about these priority levels here. Make Sure to Use Your Unique Advantages Does your brand have any unique advantages you can use to get ahead in the ad market? I don’t just mean the ability to under-cut your competitors. I mean things like: If your business has a local presence, running ads locally or hyper-locally can make sure you’re gaining and advantage in your local market. This is how small businesses can out-sell Amazon, you know. If your business primarily focuses on mobile or is able to uniquely take advantage of mobile traffic, advertising with a focus – or exclusively on mobile – can capture more of an audience for lower prices. If you’re a widely recognized brand, you can skip a lot of the basic awareness ads and run ads that take advantage of that recognition. Thinking about where you stand – realistically – with your audience can give you some great insight into how you can run your ads. Always Be Testing If you’ve ever decided that an ad is good enough and just let it go, you’re doing it wrong. Always, always, 100% of the time always be testing. If you don’t think you have the budget to test ad variations, then split your initial budget. If you don’t have any idea of where to start with testing, just flip a coin and change something randomly. Anything can change, from the tint of an image to the whole of the image, from a single keyword to the entire copy, from a single site exclusion to an entirely different topic. There are literally infinite variations for your ads, and you should be trying to test them all. The true secret to success with advertising is simply having the experience to test and iterate on those tests without drawing yourself into a corner. It’s all too easy to test ads in increasingly small circles, testing more and more minor details in hopes of an increase in growth that is probably statistically insignificant. Knowing when to dial back and change something major is crucial. The post How to Properly Optimize Your Google Display Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

The Pros and Cons of Using Shortened URLs in Your Ads

Using a shorter URL with your ads can seem like a good idea, but is it really? Sure, the link might look better, but that might not be a huge concern. Also, depending on the method you’re using for shorter URLs, you might run afoul of some pretty nasty implications. Let’s talk about the pros and cons. The Types of Short URL Before we dig in, I want to discuss the different kinds of short URLs you can use. There are three kinds, though the boundaries between them are a little blurred. First up, you have the naturally short URL. For example, if I were to link to the pricing page for this very blog, I’d be linking you to https://growtraffic.com/pricing. That’s a pretty short URL on its own! It’s not the shortest possible URL out there, but it’s still short. It doesn’t have a ton of extra baggage, like UTM tracking or a blog-format set of date parameters. The second type of short URL is the custom shortlink. You can see this on many major sites today. For example, if you visit Forbes, you might see a page that has a URL looking like this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2019/08/06/the-highest-paid-female-athletes-2019-serena-and-osaka-dominate. However, if you check their Twitter account, the link they post to lead to that URL is much smaller: http://on.forbes.com/6012E0goi. This kind of custom shortlink is branded, which means it has Forbes in the domain and is owned by Forbes. In this case it uses a subdomain of the full forbes.com, but that’s because forbes.com is already pretty short. Some other companies use even shorter versions, like the New York Times using nyti.ms as their shortlink domain. Obviously, this second type has a bit of overlap with the first type, because it’s still a branded link on your domain – or a domain you own – and can have a similar appearance to a naturally short link. The third kind of shortlink is using a third party service for a shortlink. Services like Bitly allow you to turn a link into a shortlink that looks like https://bitly.is/1g3AhR6. In this case, it’s a shortlink for their own URL, which is shorter, so that’s a little ironic. This has some overlap with custom shortlinks, because you can often use a third party service coupled with a domain you own to create a custom shortlink. So now that you know the three main types of shortlinks, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using them, both in general and specifically for PPC ads. Pro: Short Links Aren’t Truncated If you’ve ever tried to run an ad, or even post a longer link on social media, you’ll often find that the longer link is chopped down to fit. Many services do this. Your longer link, like the Forbes link above, might instead look like “https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2019/08/06/the-…” instead. It still links to the proper place, it’s just chopped down to a specific character limit for display purposes. Short links of any of the three varieties don’t get truncated down like this, because they’re naturally under the character limit. In fact, this is why shortlinks were invented; because sites like Twitter, and old-school pre-smart mobile phones with SMS messaging, had strict character limits on the messages you could send. Con: Some Ad Systems Already Allow Display URLs Many PPC ad systems don’t require you to use a shortlink, because they already handle short display URLs for you. For example, if you go to Google and type in Nike, you’ll see an ad for Nike, because they’re paying to advertise their own domain. The display URL for that ad is nike.com/official. However, if you actually click it, the real URL is https://www.nike.com/?cp=99736393091_search_%7CNike%7CGOOGLE%7C71700000038284603%7CGN_X_X_X_X-Device_X_Legacy_Core-NikeBrand_Exact%7Ce%7Cc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsLfo5er44wIVTvDACh0eQQexEAAYASAAEgJoDvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds. That, obviously, looks a lot worse. It has tracking information and URL parameters included in it, but it’s really just Nike’s homepage. Remember that every kind of short link except naturally short links is going to end up looking like this in the URL bar, since URL shorteners redirect to the full URL. Since the only purpose of a shortlink for PPC ads is generally just making the display URL look cleaner, you don’t need a shortlink service, since the PPC service does it for you. Pro: Short Links Hide Tracking Code This one has already come up a time or two, but in fact, I even hid it from you up above. Remember that Forbes link? The full URL from Twitter is actually https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2019/08/06/the-highest-paid-female-athletes-2019-serena-and-osaka-dominate/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2535906257&utm_campaign=sprinklrForbesMainTwitter#609a51862fcc, complete with UTM parameters that tell Forbes where the source of the link click came from. All of that tracking code refers data, but the shortlink hides it. The user will only even see it if they look at their URL bar once the domain has resolved, and chances are, they’re much more concerned with the content of the article they wanted to read instead. Con: Short Links Can Muddle Tracking If you want to track your URLs, you need different tracking code for every URL you post in each place you post it. One landing page can track traffic from five different ads, but you need a different set of UTM parameters for each. That means you need five different shortlinks; you can’t just use the same link for each of them. Taking shortcuts here, or mis-configuring your shortlinks, can mean your analytics gets a little muddy. Pro: Short Links Don’t Look Suspicious When you’re presented with two links, and one of them is that long Forbes link with a ton of = and # and ? and stuff in it, the average user is probably going to shy away from it. Longer links can look suspicious, and tracking code makes it look doubly suspicious. Remember that we live in a world where phishing attacks and URL-based security are very important, and widely varied from institution to institution. Some companies train their employees to be suspicious of pretty much every long URL, while some teach why a URL might have all of that code in it. There are also browser plugins that strip all of that from URLs anyway. Short links look a lot less suspicious, though modern users often recognize that a shortlink hides a lot of extra code behind it. Naturally short links are the best option here if that’s your concern. Con: Short Links Can Look Suspicious Now, I say that short links don’t look suspicious, but in some cases, they actually can. Naturally short links won’t, and branded shortlinks like the on.forbes.com and the nyti.ms domain don’t look that suspicious. On the other hand, things like TinyURL, Bit.ly, and other third party shortlink services can look extremely suspicious. You don’t get to see what the linked-to domain is unless you click the link or use a service to unshorten a URL. Combine this with how frequently these third party services have been used to route URLs through to malicious pages and you have a decent amount of inherent distrust in specific third party URL shorteners. This is why services like Bitly even offer paid accounts that let you customize the domain, to do away with that suspicion. Pro: A Custom Short Link Includes Branding Short links can make your branding clearer, which makes it more trustworthy and encourages clicks. You can read about that in this post from Rebrandly. Additionally, some URL shortening services, like Sniply, can add something like a top header banner to your destination page, as an additional call to action above and beyond what the user normally sees. This can be great for further conversions, though you have to use it properly. Con: A URL Shortener can Shut Down at Any Time If you’re relying on a third party service to shorten your links, you have to be aware that the service can shut down at any time. That doesn’t just mean services like Sniply, even a major service like Google can shut down. In fact, Google closed theirs down in March. The links can still redirect, but you’re best off changing them, because that won’t hold true forever. Con: A Shortener May Exist by Default You don’t always need a URL shortener. Did you know that Twitter automatically runs every non-shortlink on their site, both in ads and in organic posts, through their own shortener? That’s why you can link to a site with a 150-character-long domain name and only add a dozen or so characters to your character limit. Those links are being run through t.co, Twitter’s shortener. You don’t need your own shortener on top of theirs unless you want your display URL to look different. Pro: Short Links Can Include Analytics Many URL shortening services add their own analytics on top of whatever analytics you’re using by default. So your UTM parameters track data about the link in your Google Analytics, but in addition to that, you might have a dashboard with click-based and volume analytics for the shortlink, provided by the shortlink provider. Obviously this doesn’t work if you’re just using naturally short links, and it won’t work if you’ve set up your own URL redirects, only if you’re using a third party service. Con: Often Link Analytics are Public Third party systems give you analytics, yes, but you’re not the only one. Take a Bitly URL, for example. Any Bitly URL at all, if you add a + to the end of it, will not bring you to the page at the other end. Instead, it will bring you to a page that looks like this. What is it? Well, it’s the link analytics for that URL. Public, for everyone to see. This can be a pretty big information leak to your competitors; if you’re using Bitly, anyone else can see how well your links are performing. If you have a paid account you can access more detail, even. Con: Some Ad Systems Ban Short Links You’re not always going to be able to use shortlinks with your ads. Some ad systems make you verify that you’re the owner of the domain you’re advertising, for example. Since you don’t own the shortlink system, you don’t get to direct users to a shortlink for your ad landing page. This goes doubly true for ad networks that don’t let you redirect from your landing page. The fact is, a lot of the benefits of shortlinks come from ad systems as well. A display URL allows your links to look cleaner. The ad network can hook directly into your tracking so you don’t need tracking of your own. It’s all there, so why double up with a shortener? Con: Short Links Usually Require a Redirect In fact, all short links require a redirect outside of naturally short URLs. This means your users have to pass through a redirect, which is a possible point of failure, and delays loading your destination page. It’s not a great thing to have to implement if you can avoid it. Should You Use Shortlinks in Ads? So what do you think? Do you find the benefits of a shortlink outweigh the drawbacks? Personally, I find that using built-in systems plus a naturally short URL is good enough for me. For major sites like Forbes that want uniform branding on social profiles like Twitter, a shortlink can make sense. Otherwise, it’s just overkill. People care more about clarity of domain these days than they do about the length of the URL. The post The Pros and Cons of Using Shortened URLs in Your Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Guide: How to Get Approved on AdSense for Video

AdSense is the publisher half of Google Ads, where you implement the code on your website, in your apps, or elsewhere to allow Google to run ads on your content. You can make money with it – decent money, in some cases – but there’s more to it than just display ads. AdSense for Video, also known as AFV, is an AdSense product that allows you as a publisher to monetize web video content, app-based native video content, and other video formats. You know how you can just run AdSense on YouTube videos, and Google will place ads within the video itself? AFV lets you do the same with videos you host in other formats you control. Now, before you can start using AdSense for Video, you need to make sure you’re eligible and that you qualify for it, and then you need to apply for it. This can be a lengthy process, though it helps if you already know some technical details. Let’s start at the beginning. AdSense for Video Requirements Before you can begin, you have to make sure you meet all of the requirements to use AdSense for Video. I’ve gone over each of the requirements below, but if you want to make sure they’re still the same, or want to read alone, Google keeps their reference documentation up to date. Make sure you’re compliant with general AdSense policies. The general AdSense program policies can be found here. You probably know what most of these are, since they’re fairly standard rules. You know, don’t refer invalid clicks, don’t monetize offensive content, don’t publish stolen copyrighted material, and so on. We’ve covered them before in posts like this one. You also need to make sure you’re compliant with Google’s video-specific policies. Since you’re going to be a video publisher and you’re not hosting video content on YouTube, Google can’t simply process your video with their algorithms the same way. You have to make sure you’re following these requirements. In-stream ads have to use Google’s SDKs or an official Google Beta program. You cannot embed a YouTube video and then run AdSense for Video ads next to that video. Out-stream ads must use official Google SDKs as well. Meta data for your video content must be high quality and accurate. Videos must be either audible by default, or declared properly as a muted placement. You cannot run video ads in placements where video content is not present. You have to accurately declare the video size in referred data, and videos must be a standard aspect ratio. You cannot obscure, hide, or otherwise disrupt ad content rendering or ad control buttons. You cannot run more ads in duration than you have video content in duration. Ads cannot auto-play below the fold or on hover. Only one ad can play at a time. These are also pretty standard. Make sure you’re not trying to use non-standard ad units, make sure you’re not misrepresenting your ad inventory, make sure you respect your users and the advertisers, and so on. There are more specific rules than what I listed above, and there’s a lot more detail about them. Read through these and make sure you comply. Your video content cannot be hosted on YouTube. Monetizing YouTube videos simply uses AdSense, you don’t need to use AdSense for Video. YouTube has all kinds of rules of its own to content with, so keep those in mind. Your video content must be family safe. As with all internet content, you cannot target users under the age of 13 due to legal reasons as well. No adult content allowed in AdSense for Video. You must have a sufficient volume of content. More specifically, you must have a volume of content with a certain level of views. Google’s exact quote is “Have a high volume of video content, i.e., greater than 40% video content with over 2 million video impressions monthly.” This is a roadblock for a lot of smaller sites and app owners. AdSense for video, as it turns out, is largely aimed at wide-spectrum ad agencies monetizing a lot of different apps, or sites that offer a lot of video content with a lot of impressions. A small blog with a few videos each month, each of which gets 10,000 views or so, is not going to be sufficient volume to apply. Then you have the technical specifications. You must use a video player integrated with the Google IMA SDK, or be compliant with VAST 3.0 and VPAID 2 JS. If you don’t know what those are, talk to whoever is in charge of implementing your video content. You can read more about this entire system here. Additionally, your video player must be HTML5, Android, or iOS-based. No Flash-based web video players or other custom solutions are allowed here. This helps Google ensure that there’s a certain minimum level of technology compatibility and security involved in their ads. Out of all of this, the video content volume restriction is the one most likely to disqualify you. If not that, then it’s probably an issue with following AdSense policies. Most third party video players already integrate the technologies necessary to run AdSense for Video ads, or already have AdSense compatibility built in. Applying for AdSense for Video The actual process for applying for AdSense for Video is pretty easy. I’ll walk you through the steps here. First, go to AdSense and sign into your account. You should be taken to your core AdSense dashboard. Next, find the “Ads” section in the left menu, and click on Other Products. One of the options under Other Products is video. There will be a button labeled Apply for AdSense for Video. Click this. Google will present you with an interactive set of instructions to complete, asking you to fill out information about the property you plan to monetize with AFV. Essentially, what they’re going to do is give you a piece of code that you plug into your video implementation. This is a “control” code and does not start running ads on your content right away. Instead, it harvests information about your audience and their behaviors. Remember how Google has all those policies about fraudulent traffic and about the volume necessary to run AdSense for Video ads? Well, this is how they check to see if you’re eligible. You run this code on your site for a while, and they measure to see if you have a sufficient volume of non-fraudulent traffic to be worth adding to their program. Unlike base AdSense, this actually has rather strict requirements, so if you don’t make it in, you’re going to need to build up a larger, legitimate audience. Once Google has monitored your video for a while, they will send you a determination. They will either accept you into the program or reject your application. If you are rejected, they may or may not tell you why, but chances are it’s probably related to either volume of traffic, fraudulent traffic, or some technical issue with placement. Sometimes, Google will also decide that the content of your content – you know, what your videos are actually about – is not something they want in their program. This usually won’t happen, unless you’re trying to make the next LiveLeak or something. Still, if you’re hosting adult content, violent content, hateful content, or something else in violation with the general AdSense content terms, that’s a reason for rejection as well. If you’re approved for the program, Google will send you a new snippet of code. This is your unique publisher ID. You will have to follow the implementation instructions in the quick-start guide to use it. You use your ID to request ads, and it allows Google to monitor your performance for analytics purposes. Without it, they wouldn’t know who is who in their network, and thus wouldn’t know who to give money to when you earn a payment. You know how it goes. Once you’ve implemented the Google SDK into your video player, or provided your publisher ID to the third party system you’re using for video, you’re ready to start running ads and making money. AdSense for Video Frequently Asked Questions Now let’s cover some of the more frequently asked questions regarding AFV. Some of these are pulled from Google’s FAQ, but they also cover more, so once you’re done here I recommend checking if their guide has any answers I didn’t provide. 1. What ad formats are available? You have a fairly standard selection of ad formats for your AFV implementation. Video gives you instream non-skippable video ads, TrueView ads, and bumper ads. You can also use Fullslot ads – more about them in a moment – and overlay ads. 2. Fullslot? What’s that? A Fullslot ad is a skippable, linear image or text ad that appears in one of the usual before, after, or in-stream content positions. If you’ve ever used a mobile app and had an ad break that is timed, but only shows a display ad rather than a video, that’s what a fullslot ad is. You can see an example of one on this page, figure 4. 3. What sizes are supported for AFV ads? Different kinds of ads have different size requirements. Video ads are variable sizes, but must be in one of the standard aspect ratios, such as 4:3, 1:1, or 16:9. Text fullslots also have variable sizes, because text can be wrapped. Image fullslots come in 200×200, 250×250, 300×250, 336×280, 450×50, 468×60, 480×70, and 728×90 sizes. Overlay ads can be 728×90, 480×70, 468×60, 450×50, or 320×60. 4. My revenue peaked and is dropping, what’s happening? When you first implement AdSense for Video, users will have to get used to your ads. Initially, engagement rates might be high as users experience these ads for the first time, or they click accidentally, or otherwise have to figure out what’s going on. Eventually, they will get used to it, and your revenue will drop. These fluctuations will smooth out eventually. Just be aware that the performance of your initial few days or weeks is not indicative of your overall future performance. 5. My ad coverage is poor, what’s going on? If you’re coping with a poor level of ad coverage, there’s generally two main causes. The first is related to your own geographic location. Google may be a global company, but a huge portion of their networks for both advertisers and publishers tend to choose either strictly USA or broad “first world” countries as options. If you’re outside one of these areas, there may simply not be enough advertisers in the ad formats you’ve chosen. You can solve this in part by using other ad formats as backfill to show something rather than nothing at all. The other possible cause is that you’re using blocking to prevent certain kinds of advertisers from running ads on your content. This is a common and very good idea as a publisher; you don’t want competitors or companies you find antithetical to your attitude being shown to your audience. However, too-broad blocking may mean you don’t have enough advertisers to fill your ad slots. You have to find the right balance. 6. Am I allowed to let others embed my monetized videos? This is a valid practice that Google allows. If you’re a company providing video and you want to monetize it, that’s fine. If you want to allow other people to embed your videos on their sites, you can allow that, and ads will run properly on those videos as well. Keep in mind, however, that there are a few rules, restrictions, and guidelines for this. You are still responsible for the sites your video is embedded on. If you give embed code to a site that also hosts adult content, you may be penalized for it. It’s generally a good idea to make sure your embed code is a JavaScript call rather than static HTML, in case you need to edit it later without breaking older embeds. You are not allowed to create a revenue share channel for people embedding your videos. Splitting AdSense earnings is a prohibited practice. It’s also a good idea to monitor what your embeds are doing so you can cut off sites that are, for example, referring a lot of fraudulent traffic. For other questions relating to the AdSense for Video platform, refer to Google’s documentation or check on the Google product forums for direct assistance. The post Guide: How to Get Approved on AdSense for Video appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Review of Adsterra: How Much Can You Earn With Their Ads?

Adsterra is an advertising network that can be quite valuable for both publishers and advertisers. I’m going to look at it primarily from the publisher point of view today, but keep in mind that a lot of what I mention will be relevant to both sides of the coin. After all, advertisers only get value if the publisher network is good, and publishers only get value if the advertisers are effective. We’ve mentioned Adsterra before in posts like this list of ad networks with no minimum traffic requirements, and this post about ad networks ranked by cost per conversion. If you want to read a brief blurb about the network, those are two good sources. About Adsterra You can visit the Adsterra site here if you would like to explore for yourself, sign up for either side of the platform, or simply follow along as I discuss them. Adsterra was founded in 2013 in Scotland and has been expanding globally ever since. They serve tens of billions of impressions every month, with geo-targeted advertising. They have well over 8,000 publishers in their network spread throughout the globe, and they’ve been expanding each year. The network offers cost per action, cost per click, and cost per view advertising options, so publishers can get paid in pretty much any way they want. This is valuable, because it means you can decide which type of ads to use based on your traffic and your typical use patterns. If you have a highly engaged audience that frequently clicks links and ads, CPC or CPA ads can be much better. If your audience is larger but less engaged, you can still monetize them well with CPM ads. They offer a variety of different ad formats in varying sizes. Leaderboard display banners in 468×60, 728×90, and 320×50. Rectangle display ads in 300×250 and 800×440. Skyscraper vertical display banners in 160×300 or 160×600. Pop-under ads that open in new tabs or new windows without stealing focus. Direct link ads that show up in text and act like normal links. Pre-roll video ads to display before embedded videos on a publisher site. Push notification ads, available for both desktop and mobile platforms. Interstitial ads that pop over the screen, similar to timed pop-over lightbox ads. All ad formats are available for both desktop and mobile. Many people seem to like their pop-under ads, since they are minimally intrusive, and their network demands a certain level of quality, so those ads tend to be valuable rather than spam. I also recommend trying out the push notification ads, the interstitial ads, and the video ads. Video ads tend to have high engagement, push notification ads can work very well for certain segments of users, and interstitials are highly visible. Adsterra pop-under ads are highly recommended because they are the first and primary offering from the network. It’s what they specialize in, it’s what they’ve spent the most time optimizing, and it’s what their account managers are best at. Adsterra has two types of accounts you can run. You can engage in their managed platform, where their experienced account managers take over and control your advertising to gain maximal value out of your ads. This applies primarily to the advertiser end of the board; publishers don’t typically need hand-holding and won’t want to give out site editing control to someone who isn’t part of their organization. At the same time, Adsterra operates a self-service platform where advertisers can browse and buy advertising directly, managing it all themselves. This accesses the same network and has all of the same options as the managed platform, it simply doesn’t have the experienced managers on hand to handle tricky situations or apply their knowledge of the network directly. One thing I can’t do for you is tell you what your ad rates will be. Adsterra does not maintain a list of public rates; rather, their rates depend on the niche, quality, and location of your site, your type of traffic, and the advertisers interested in your positions. Now, what about those requirements? Here’s what Adsterra has: Publishers must have at least 5,000 impressions per month to be able to use pop-unders. Publishers must have at least 50,000 impressions per month to be able to use display banners. Publishers cannot be in an adult or illegal content niche. Of course, referring fake traffic, fraudulent traffic, or traffic from exchanges will get your account suspended and your domain and/or personal information blacklisted from using their network. I don’t know what their process is for appealing this ban, but I would assume it’s difficult. The Benefits of Adsterra Adsterra has a lot going for it. It’s a good, solid network that has worked to minimize a lot of the low quality advertisers and publishers that plague many other networks. As such, it’s generally a great option for people who meet their requirements. Adsterra’s focus on pop-under advertising is by far their biggest strength. My recommendation is to use them as a secondary advertising network. They may offer a bunch of different ad formats, but they’ve put the most work into their pop-under tech, and it’s what most advertisers are going to look for. It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy; they have a reputation for one type of ad, thus the people who sign up are looking for that type of ad, and their other offerings fall by the wayside. So, my advice is to use Adsterra for their pop-unders, while using other specialized ad networks for your other ad formats. Using two networks who each have specialties works better than using one that does each format in a half-assed way. Not that I’m accusing Adsterra of half-assing anything; they’re quite good across the board. Really, it’s up to you to test which formats work best for your site. The second biggest benefit Adsterra has going for it is their account managers. Publishers get a personal manager, and advertisers can opt for the self-service platform or to use an account manager. When an account manager is involved, the quality level of ad implementation goes up, because of their knowledge of the network and everything involved. Adsterra boasts a 100% fill rate with competitive CPM on their ads. I don’t know that they can guarantee 100% fill or if they cherry-picked the data they used to back it up, but their fill rates are high regardless. Their FAQ boasts 100% fill rate for all ad formats, which is impressive if true. The network also puts a heavy emphasis on security. Since pop-unders are traditionally a bit of a spammy venture, Adsterra wants to separate themselves from that pox-riddled past. They offer a ton of security and filtering to make sure that malicious ads, bad ads, and malware ads are all blocked before they appear on your site. They have both an in-house fraud detection system and a third-party system in place for double the security. If, by some loophole or fluke, a bad ad makes it through, or if an ad is running on your site that you don’t want – such as for a competitor – you can contact your personal manager to have that ad or advertiser blocked. They’re reasonably responsive to such requests, so long as you’re not abusing the feature. Adsterra geo-targeting is excellent for advertisers, and a huge part of that is their publisher end. As a publisher, you can choose to display different ads to different segments of your traffic based on geo-targeted information. You don’t have to declare yourself to be primarily located in one country, and can accommodate an audience of diverse geographic origin. Adsterra also pays in a variety of forms. You can get payments from e-payments, WebMoney, wire transfers, Paxum, and PayPal. For those of you into cryptocurrencies, they have also started to offer payments in the form of Bitcoin as well. Payments are on a NET15 basis. Additionally, if you’re a marketer who likes to work in the affiliate marketing space, Adsterra has a referral program you can use to make a bit more money along the way. Note that I’m not using it for this post, so none of my links pointing at Adsterra are monetized. Consider that you could write your own review and use a referral link for your own benefit. I believe their referral program offers 5% cuts. Potential Downsides of Adsterra Now, I don’t have a huge number of grievances with Adsterra, so much of what I’ve listed here is either potential issues some people may encounter, problems other people have encountered, or simply less-than-ideal pieces of information I’ve found on their network. First and foremost, the minimum payout for publishers is somewhat high for the industry. You have to earn $100 to get a payout for any payment method other than wire transfers. Wire transfers require a minimum of $1,000 in payout. This means that small sites might take a while to reach a payout, and that wire transfers aren’t effective for most sites at all. Wires also have a $50 fee. Bitcoin payments also have a minimal commission of .1%. Other payout methods may have small commissions as well, such as $1 per transaction for Paxum. Payments are made automatically upon hitting the payment threshold, or every 15 days, whichever is later. This means unless you’re regularly able to hit the payment threshold every two weeks, you won’t be paid on a regular schedule. It can be a little inconsistent if you’re relying on that money for future investment. Essentially, the traffic requirements, payout threshold, and other factors combine to make Adsterra less than ideal for low volume publishers. They aren’t as restrictive as some of the high-end ad networks that require millions of hits per month, but they’re not freely open to absolutely everyone, which means they can be tricky to use when you’re still working on site growth. Publishers, unfortunately, have to go through their personal manager for most major changes to their ad implementation. You can, of course, add and remove their ad code as you see fit. You can also manage basic information from the publisher dashboard. However, if you want to do things like adjust the default frequency cap, blacklist certain advertisers, or make larger tweaks to your account, you have to go through your personal manager. Support with Adsterra is generally quite good and responsive, but they lack a web chat support channel. You can Skype with them, though, and that typically serves the same purpose, so this isn’t a huge drawback. Overall Thoughts I consider Adsterra to be a good middle to high end ad network. It’s not the best option for brand new publishers or small publishers due to their traffic requirements and payment thresholds. Conversely, their performance tends to drop off once you reach a certain level of site size where your audience is turned off my pop-unders. I recommend using Adsterra in conjunction with at least one other network that focuses on display ads. Use Adsterra for their pop-unders, and once you reach a point where those pop-unders are no longer effective, drop them. Eventually, your site will be able to sell advertising directly at premium rates and you can drop other ad networks entirely, but until then, Adsterra is a pretty good option. Have you used Adsterra? If so, what are your thoughts? I’m always open to reading other opinions. The post Review of Adsterra: How Much Can You Earn With Their Ads? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

20 of The Best Video Ad Networks for Advertisers

Advertisers looking to expand into new channels can do a lot worse than investing in video. The cost and buy-in for video production is a thousand times lower now than it was a decade ago, with commonplace HD cameras in every smartphone, quick and easy video editing apps on every platform, and the skill necessary to use them just a few tutorials away. Once you’ve decided to embark on a quest of video advertising, though, you need to figure out where to advertise. Sure, you can just dump your videos on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, but those aren’t video advertising networks. They work, but they aren’t specialized. What you should actually do is invest in a couple of specific ad networks to test different audiences. What I’ve done is compiled 20 different video ad networks that have floated to the top as the leaders in the industry. All of them will work, so it’s up to you to pick a few and invest. Run a small, simple budget with your ads and see how the audiences respond. Ideally, you’ll find great groups of people and get more than your money’s worth in return. What to Look For in an Advertising Network When you’re vetting a video ad network, you should look at a few different factors to determine if it’s worth your time. Display options. A good network does more than just display advertising; they have mobile placements, desktop placements, and other resources at their disposal. Since users often use different kinds of devices throughout the day, connecting with them on all of them is extremely important. Notable clients. Good networks work with brands both large and small, and many of them will promote their list of big-name clients as a way to attract other businesses who want to be in good company. Useful data. Every ad network has analytics available, but you want more than just the basic ad performance metrics. A good data set will give you audience information, targeting optimization, and a whole lot more. Broad targeting. Speaking of targeting options, you want your ad network to give you as many options as possible. Part of the reason Facebook ads are so successful is the wide range of possible targeting options. Any good video advertising network will have their own selection of data to pick through and use for this exact purpose. Of course, nothing beats an experiment. Set up a basic budget and run some ads to see how they do. Limit your investment until you’ve proven your success. 1. Social Networks Rather than take up a third of this list with various social networks, I’ll just put them here under one banner. Pretty much every social network today offers some video advertising, and many of them have a good selection of targeting options and a broad audience to work with. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all do video ads quite well. YouTube, of course, works directly with Google Ads. Pinterest and Snapchat are also good options to consider. 2. App Lovin This ad network is focused primarily on mobile games. The mobile game industry is huge, with everything from industry giants like King’s games, Hearthstone, and Fortnite to the massive swaths of Chinese shovelware. Mobile game ads tend to fall into two categories; videos and interactive ads. Videos showcasing games can be extremely compelling, and this ad network has a huge audience ready to go for your mobile app ads. 3. Ad Colony This is one of the largest mobile ad networks in the world, with an audience of over 1.4 billion users worldwide. They have a variety of different ad formats, including instant play video, end cards, display videos, and rich media. They’ve also worked with a huge array of different brands, from FX and UFC to Jack in the Box and Hilton. You can see galleries and examples of their ads before you even register. 4. Vungle Vungle is one of the fastest growing mobile video ad companies out there. Right now they’re in a great place to invest, and it’s quite possible that there will be some beneficial changes coming down the pipe in the next couple years. Vungle is, as of this writing, being purchased for somewhere north of $750 million by the private equity firm Blackstone. With this kind of backing, the sky is the limit for a network like Vungle. 5. Verizon Advertising Verizon, being one of the world’s largest telecom giants, has fingers in pretty much every pie they can reach. It should come as no surprise that you can run video advertising with them as well. Verizon’s advertising arm is Oath, a brand which you might recognize if you’ve paid attention to online advertising over the last few years. Oath is a company Verizon uses to head up their media wing, and includes AOL’s advertising network, Yahoo’s advertising platform, and all that entails. This includes advertising on Tumblr, the network formerly known as Brightroll, and several others. 6. Rhythm One This video advertising network isn’t entirely focused on mobile, but rather takes a cross-platform unified approach. Through them, you can run a singular ad campaign that stretches across devices and media types, including display advertising, mobile advertising, and even TV commercial spots. They have both self-service and managed campaigns, and their audience is top-notch. Definitely worth giving them a look. 7. Hulu Hulu is a household name by now, rivaling Netflix and Amazon’s video service. They have 65 million viewers watching ads with their videos, so their audience is pretty significant and engaged. With an average age of 32, you’re reaching primarily millennials with the variety of different ad formats and buying methods. Overall, you can do a lot worse than something like Hulu with your advertising money. 8. Tube Mogul All the big-name video advertising platforms have been bought up by major brands looking to acquire a foot in the door. Tube Mogul was one such network, and their platform was pretty great. Don’t let the past tense fool you; they’re still around, they’re just operating under the banner of the Adobe Advertising Cloud. Their ads operate across channels and with excellent, detailed analytics and targeting. Adobe’s cloud services are quite solid, so I’d recommend anyone giving this platform a look. 9. Tremor Video It almost feels like cheating adding this network to the list, because they acquired Rhythm One not too long ago, giving them an even broader reach than they already had. Still, the two remain mostly separate, so you can use Tremor at the same time if you want. They have a lot of tech backing up their network, with contextual advertising, social reach, television, and placements all over the world. They also have very detailed targeting options, including unique geo-behavioral options. 10. Undertone Undertone is a large premium ad network that works with clients ranging from Audi and Disney to smaller brands the world over. They have a wide range of ad units, including unique digital canvases. They’re constantly pushing the cutting edge of digital advertising, with unique technology and broad targeting options to play with. Their goal is synchronization; making sure all elements of your ad campaigns are on the same page. They’re definitely one of the largest networks on this list, but if you can meet their requirements, they’re an excellent choice. 11. SpotX SpotX is another great ad network, though they’re a managed services provider, which means they require you to apply and meet their standards before you can run ads on their network. They have custom targeting, strategic planning, and programmatic buying and management that can bring in incredible returns on investment. The application process is simple, but they’re pretty strict about what they accept, so don’t be too disappointed if they don’t let you in right away. 12. Chocolate Chocolate is another one of those “new” ad networks that is made up of the remnants of other networks they bought up. Vdopia, for example, is part of the new Chocolate network. They have a marketplace made up of both publishers and advertisers, where you can manually or programmatically purchase your advertising. They’re designed to scale with your business as you grow, and work with a range of different mobile video ad formats. 13. Conversant You may recognize the name Conversant from discussions of affiliate marketing, where CJ Affiliate is on of the top names. Conversant is the company behind CJ Affiliate ever since they bought Commission Junction. Currently, Conversant has been purchased by Publicis Groupe, so much like Vungle, this is a network to watch moving forward. Given that they already work with big name brands like Cabela’s, Urban Outfitters, and GoDaddy, there’s a ton of potential here. 14. Say Media Say specializes in “making ads people want to see”. Now, I’m always skeptical of claims like that, since the ads are only as good as the people creating them, but it can’t be denied that Say Media is a pretty great platform. They have full page ads, an alternative to banners, branded content, and a whole lot more. Since their focus is on content rather than on the call to action, you often find excellent stories and a great placement for video ads. 15. Exponential Exponential is a relatively old at network and hasn’t been acquired by another firm, which is always a good sign; they have the legs to stand on their own. Much like other modern networks, they specialize in cross-platform unified ads that sync up campaigns between mobile, desktop, and tablet advertising. Their audience is significant and their engagement rates are pretty good, so it’s a good network to dig into. 16. Amobee Amobee is another ad network made up of the devoured scraps of other ad networks, mashed together to make something new and, more importantly, larger. They cover TV, digital marketing, and social media all in one platform, making it great for pretty much every device and audience you could want. As for their constituent parts, Amobee is made up of Adconion, Kontera, and some other components. 17. AppNexus AppNexus is an advertising platform with a huge, open and transparent marketplace. You can advertise on a wide variety of platforms and devices, with different styles of content and media, including video. Their video inventory in particular is excellent, with unique video options, programmatic targeting, and a flexible path for purchasing your inventory. 18. Rubicon Project Rubicon Project is a global ad network with video and other advertising options. You can purchase ads in pretty much any region with thousands of publishers. They have a three-step process to verify your advertising, which ensures a minimum of low quality or spammy, disingenuous, or dangerous ads. Additionally, they have a bunch of different tools and automation options to help enhance and manage your advertising. 19. Aerserv In operation since 2013, Aerserv has partnered or joined with InMobi to form a huge video and app-based advertising network. They have robust ad inventory management, great mobile targeting and implementation, programmatic buying, and optimization through varying means with real time data. They also provide a dedicated support team to answer questions and help with advertising at any time. 20. Unruly Unruly is an interesting ad network in that they’re driven not just by engagement, but by sentiment. Their ad optimization is powered by emotional data in addition to other standard factors. Their network has a global audience of 1.2 billion people, with brand-safe premium sites at the forefront of the network. If you’re interested in something a little outside the box, Unruly is an incredible experiment. The post 20 of The Best Video Ad Networks for Advertisers appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Get a Custom Video Made for YouTube Ads

If you’re interested in YouTube ads, you need video. The little YouTube banner ads that pop up over videos are negligible; the real value comes from the pre-roll, mid-roll, and unskippable video ads. Videos are what people come to engage with, and videos are what they’re prepared to see. What happens if you want to advertise on YouTube but you don’t have videos on hand? You have to come up with some solution to the problem, and “not using YouTube ads” isn’t a valid solution. Thankfully, there are a few options you can pursue. Do It Yourself The first option is to make your own video for your YouTube ads. I know, I know, if you don’t know how to make nicely edited videos, you’re going to have a bit of a hard time with this. It’s completely understandable. In order to pull it off, you need to dedicate yourself to learning the craft, at least on a superficial level. First of all, I recommend that you do some reading. Check these out: YouTube’s Creator Academy. This page specifically is about ads on YouTube, teaching you about different ad formats, factors that impact advertising, and other basic knowledge you should know. As long as you can pass their quiz, you have a baseline knowledge to know what to do next. YouTube Ads For Beginners. This is an article about how to launch and optimize a YouTube video ads campaign, published by HubSpot, one of the top marketing agencies in the world. This gives you a pretty advanced level of knowledge about running campaigns. The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads for Marketers. This is a Hootsuite post that covers a lot of great information about YouTube ads. It has some overlap with the HubSpot article, but it’s not entirely the same, so it’s worth reading them both. Disruptive Advertising’s How to Write a Video Ad People Actually Want to Watch. The title here is pretty self-explanatory. Your script and storyboard are important, so knowing how to produce them is crucial. Additionally, you might want to look up a video editor and some tutorials for it. There are dozens of video editors out there, ranging from simple camera apps to full-on movie studio suites, so there’s something for everyone. A lot of it comes down to preference which you choose. The video ad DIY option is serviceable if you have some video equipment, only want to make very simple ads, or otherwise don’t want to invest much into your videos. It’s unfortunately not a great option if you’re looking to invest heavily into YouTube ads, because your videos will hold you back until you’re much more experienced. As such, I’d recommend moving on to the next option unless you have an absolutely shoestring budget. Hire a Cheap Freelancer The second option you have is to hire a cheap freelancer to make something for you. In this case, a “cheap” freelancer could be anywhere from a $5 Fiverr hire to someone asking for $30 an hour to make a simple project. Obviously, skilled freelancers can charge much more. Fiverr. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend Fiverr for much of anything. However, you can get a full short video ad for very cheap, and it’s very unlikely to be plagiarized from another source. Some sellers have a series of customizable templates they use, and others will simply put their video editing skills to use for something simple at a relatively short price. As of this writing, there are over 1,300 people selling “short video ads” as a service, as low as $35 for a basic project. Prices range all over the place; some are around $50, some $100, and there are even a few selling for as much as $3,000 for a custom animated project. Upwork. Upwork is the combination of several former freelancer hubs, and as such has one of the largest audiences of freelancers out there. You can get video production for anywhere from $30/hr to $100/hr or more. Now, that’s not per hour of video, that’s per hour of freelancer time. You’ll have to talk to the freelancer specifically to see if they’re willing to work on your pitch and how many hours it will take. Freelancer.com. This is another freelancer hub, except rather than browsing and hiring freelancers directly, you develop a pitch and post it to the project board. Freelancers can bid on the project, and you can pick the one that has the right mixture of skills and price for your needs. You might get a good deal, or you might struggle to find someone who works with your brand, and prices can vary wildly. Additionally, you can use freelancers to perform different aspects of video production. You don’t need one do-it-all freelancer. You can hire one to do the script writing, another to do the voice-over and sound effects, and another to do the actual video. This allows you to hire cheaper, faster products from more experienced freelancers and essentially have the individual parts “assembled” by another. Whether or not that’s better or a savings depends on all of the different people involved. Obviously, freelancers can scale as high as your budget allows. Enterprise-level professional freelancers basically run as agencies and charge incredible prices for incredible work. It’s up to you to find the right balance. Use a Template Video Service The third option you can pursue is using a relatively cheap template-based video creation service. There are a lot of these services, and the variety of templates and amount of customization they allow differs between them. If you’re not sure what I mean, consider something like Canva. Canva is a template-based web graphics editor that allows you to create anything from a flyer to a social media post to an infographic with ease. You can use their free assets, upload your own assets, or pay for stock assets, in any combination. You build what you want, racking up charges for assets you use along the way, and pay when you’ve finalized a design to export. These video editors work in much the same way, except instead of static images, they provide a combination of graphics, video clips, and audio in both sound effects and music that won’t earn you a copyright violation. Here are some options you can look at. Animoto. This is a simple video template editor. You choose a template – or start from scratch – and upload resources you want to use. You can bring your own video clips and images, or you can pay for stock assets. Customize everything and publish it for a well-formatted video perfect for YouTube ads. Pricing starts at $33 per month for white-label videos, or only $5 per month if you don’t mind their logo in your video. Biteable. Another simple template editor. You choose a template, upload assets or use stock assets, and render a finished video. Sound familiar? Pretty much all of these services are going to work the same way. You can use Biteable for free, but to get non-watermarked videos and access to their asset library, plans start at $20 per month. Filmora. Unlike the above two, this is an app you download to use. This means it has a higher learning curve, and it requires you to have more of your own assets. You can find templates online from other agencies, or build something of your own from scratch. AdLaunch. Another template-based maker, this platform works best with Chrome and lets you start creating a video ad immediately. You can use it on a per-video basis for $10 per video, or you can buy a membership that starts around $20 per month with a limit of 10 videos per month. There are all sorts of other video editing apps out there as well. You can almost certainly find something to interest you. Use a YouTube Partner Advertising Agency YouTube, of course, knows full well that in order to run advertising on their platform, you need to be able to upload videos, and not everyone has a video production skill in-house. That’s why they have kept a list of partner companies for a wide variety of different budgets and skill levels. You can see whatever their most up to date list is here. A couple of the entries on the list are partners listed above, and a few are not. For the most part, these partner agencies are video production companies that offer a variety of different services, from DIY apps to full-service video production. You can go to them with an idea and hire them to produce a video, and that’s that. The pricing depends on the length of video, the depth of work required for the idea, and whatever other assets may be required. Since you’re looking at a somewhat higher budget here if you hire a company to do the work for you, it’s tricky to necessarily recommend this option. If you have the budget for it, you’re pretty well guaranteed to get a great video out of it. On the other hand, many small businesses are operating on thin advertising budgets, so you might not be able to contract some of the higher end companies. Contract a Full Scale Video Production Company Speaking of high end companies, the sky really is the limit when it comes to video production. You don’t think a company like Coke or McDonalds is going to hire some $20 a month company to handle their video ads, are they? Of course not. At the high end, you have companies charging tens of thousands of dollars an hour, or millions of dollars per project. There are a lot of such agencies out there. This directory lists over 8,500 firms with some element of video production in their specialty list. Prices for services with these companies range from $1,000 to over $250,000. If you’re interested in hiring one of these companies, go right ahead. However, since the budgets are so high, the stakes are incredible. You want to do your best to vet these companies before you sign a contract. Here are some questions you might consider asking them before you hire them. Does the company sub-contract freelancers, or do they have their own team? Some mid-level companies are just fronts for a middleman arbitrage scheme that gives you mediocre results for an inflated price. Is the company familiar with the YouTube ad formats? Some of these companies don’t use YouTube for advertising and instead specialize in videos for television commercial ad spots. You want to hire a company that is familiar with the destination of your ads. Does the company have past clients you can talk to? You won’t always be able to contact high end clients, but you may want to see if you can talk directly to some clients instead of just watching a hand-selected demo reel of successful ads. Even a great demo reel will fail to disclose if a company is hellish to work with. With your ideas in mind, what kind of budget would you need to spend?  For high-end video production, a sub-15-second YouTube ad spot shouldn’t be at the high end of their service price range. You also want to make sure you aren’t going to have to compromise your vision to stay in a budget. Does the company have a history of working in your industry? Video is video, but different companies have different specialties. You want to make sure the company truly understands your business and your niche. Once you’ve properly vetted a company, only then should you consider signing a contract. Make sure to shop around! The post How to Get a Custom Video Made for YouTube Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Which Ad Network is Most Effective for B2C Businesses?

Businesses need to advertise to survive. Without advertising, no one will ever know you exist, let alone what products you sell or who you’re trying to sell them to. Getting word out, getting exposure, and bringing in an audience is the single largest challenge for any business. It’s no surprise that there are dozens of ad networks out there aimed at facilitating this process. Everyone seems to want to get in on the game, from Google and Facebook to small channels aimed at niche audiences. The question is, which of them is best for you? In order to determine the best ad network, you need to look at a bunch of factors. An ad network is only as good as its publishers, right? With Facebook, Facebook itself is the publisher, and they have one of the largest audiences in the world. Google is similar, combining their own site and their entire display network. Other ad networks have smaller networks of publishers. The question then becomes: are those publishers high quality? If they have ten million websites in their network, but all of them are spam sites and PBN sites with zero traffic, your ads don’t do anything. If you’re not reaching actual people – and if you’re not reaching people on relevant content – you’re paying for nothing. You also have to consider whether the ad network caters to B2B or B2C companies. Most ad networks do both, but some lean heavily one way or the other. A B2B network is generally going to focus on audiences with a business emphasis; on sites that write for business owners or on sites that offer business services. A B2C network, by comparison, is targeted at “regular” people, regular consumers who are more likely to have an interest. Every network has average performance rates. These are determined by pressure from both the advertiser and the publisher. If publishers are low quality, advertisers don’t want to pay much or put much effort into ads. If advertising is low quality, publishers don’t want to run the ads. It’s hard to tell what kind of ads and performance a network has, though, so you may want to do some research. A Note on Effectiveness Before I get into any specific list of ad networks, remember that my advice is by necessity generic. I have a wide variety of different business owners and entrepreneurs reading my content, so I try to avoid writing specifically for one niche or another, outside of targeted blog posts. A post about ad networks like this one is going to be broad. What this means is that, when I recommend an ad network, I just mean it’s likely to be a good place to start. You need to do your own testing to make sure it’s actually a viable ad network for you to use. How can you perform that testing? Well, you’re going to need a budget. Register for any ad network that interests you, set up your account, and run some ads. Ideally, you will know the basic information necessary to appropriately target those ads. Specifically, you want some audience demographic and interest information. Facebook Insights helps a lot with this, assuming you have an engaged audience. Otherwise, you need to figure out your buyer personas. I recommend spending at least, say, $100 on these testing ads, and running them for a couple of weeks. The numbers may vary, however. You need to run them for however long it takes to get a statistically relevant amount of data. Then you can make a determination as to whether or not it’s worth investing more heavily into the ad network. Be sure to calculate your raw number of conversions as well as your conversion rate and the cost per conversion for your ads. You can optimize these later, but if the baseline isn’t good enough, the network might not be worth the effort. Alright, with all of that out of the way, let’s look at the top ad networks you can use as a B2C company. I’m going to give you a bunch of different networks to explore, in the hopes that you can find a few that work for you. Facebook Ads It should come as no surprise that the top two ad networks for pretty much anyone are going to be Facebook and Google. As such, I’m only going to cover them in brief. You’re familiar with Facebook ads, and if you’re not, well, you should be. Facebook ads are cheap, they’re effective, and they have best-in-class targeting options to use to optimize. There are so many different levers to pull that if you’re wasting money, it’s your own fault. Google Ads Again, Facebook and Google are the best in class. Google has an immense display network and almost as many targeting options as Facebook, though the operate in a different way. Even if Google isn’t right for you, you should at least be investing a minimal budget into them, to reserve your space, target your own brand name, and capture interest from one of the largest audiences in the world. You’re just leaving exposure and conversions on the table if you don’t. BuySellAds BSA is one of the largest third party ad networks out there, and they’re able to maintain that position because they’re largely hands-off with their network, outside of filtering the worst of the worst. It’s a self-service ad platform, where publishers can put up their site statistics and get bids from advertisers for their ad space. As an advertiser, you can pick and choose the sites you want your ads to show on, and you can be as discerning as you want. This is called media buying. Picking the right sites to target with BSA is a combination of art and timing. You need to find sites that have open space and reach them at the right time, and you need to develop a feeling for which sites are going to work and which are going to waste your time and money. I’m not going to lie here; it can take a while to develop this sense. For that reason, I would consider BSA to be either an intermediate or advanced-level advertising network. PopAds PopAds is a pop-under advertising network. I’m always a little wary of recommending these kinds of ads, because they tend to come across as spammy for many users, and it’s not necessarily something you want your brand to have as an association. On the other hand, they can be quite effective, especially if the ad network filters for actual spam and maintains a relatively high quality level for their network. PopAds is a CPM model network, meaning you pay for the display regardless of whether or not this results in a conversion. CPM ads have the potential to be extremely lucrative, but you need to have a compelling ad, which may take a lot of optimization. Rather than recommend more pop-under advertising networks, I’ll let this one speak for itself. If it’s a model you’re interested in pursuing, feel free to read this post with more recommendations for networks you can try. That post is aimed at the publisher side of things, but the advice holds true for both sides regardless. Oath Ads Oath is the company that owns Yahoo, AOL, Tumblr, and a whole host of other properties related to those brands today. Oath’s ad network, then, displays across a variety of different web properties and formats. In particular, they have a large mobile ad network. If you’re particularly targeting mobile users, or app users, you can get a lot of benefit out of using a network like Oath. Oath is another large network, but large networks are what you want. Smaller niche networks can be useful for small businesses, but generally the limited exposure means limited growth. With large networks, the sky is the limit. As long as you have money to spend, you can get more out of it. With smaller networks, there’s a maximum saturation point you can hit. Thankfully, Oath is not one where reaching saturation will ever be a concern for most businesses. Airpush Speaking of mobile advertising, have I mentioned that it’s really good? Mobile advertising is pretty much essential for modern business. Over half of all web traffic is on mobile today, and that number is only going to keep growing as mobile devices become more powerful and more prevalent. Meanwhile, companies like Google are pushing mobile-first narratives, apps are doing more and more of our business, and the benefits just keep growing. At the same time, mobile ad blocking is limited, and mobile offers new and novel formats for advertising, including push notification ads. There’s simply a ton of benefit to be had from mobile advertising, which makes mobile ad networks something to look into. Airpush is one such mobile network. They have ad formats ranging from push notifications and overlays to in-app banners and videos. They also have great targeting options, programmatic buying options, and a huge network of over 150,000 apps as publishers. What’s not to love? AdRecover AdRecover is an interesting network in that it bridges the gap between traditional display ads and intrusive advertising. Ad blocking apps are so prevalent today that it’s difficult to see returns with a lot of traditional display advertising. Anti-blocking technology exists, but is often intrusive enough that it drives users away from publishers entirely. Other cases of anti-blocking scripts are just blocked themselves. AdRecover finds a sweet spot in between these two extremes. When an ad is blocked, the space it leaves behind is, well, advertised. AdRecover works to recover this lost inventory and provides another channel for advertisers to try. It works best with minimally intrusive advertising, so it’s worth experimenting as a relatively new and novel format. A Note on Cryptocurrencies To round out the end of this post, I’d like to make a quick mention of cryptocurrencies and their role in advertising. While many people tout the benefits of crypto as a currency, it’s undeniable that it has a lot of issues. It’s a relatively new and untapped space, so there are a ton of companies popping up to make a quick buck and drop it when the going gets tough. Since crypto is riddled with scams and has very little regulation or recourse for those who lose money, it’s very much a “take your life into your own hands” niche. There exist a variety of ad networks that accept cryptocurrencies for payments or that pay out in crypto. Unfortunately, turnover is high, so anything I recommend to you now is likely to be gone a month from now. If you’re interested in crypto for the payment side of advertising, feel free to explore these options, but don’t bother if you’re not already invested. Finally, before I wrap things up and hand it all over to you, I’d like to draw your attention to this old post. It’s a list of over 100 different ad networks you might be interested in looking into. Some of them may be dead by now, since the post was published four years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer relevant. There are plenty of options you can choose from, if you want to do a little digging. So, that’s the scoop! Now let’s hear from you. I know you all are playing around with different ad networks, so which ones have proven to be the best for you? Let me know in the comments. The post Which Ad Network is Most Effective for B2C Businesses? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

What to Do if Your Google Ad Was Not Approved

Google ads are just like any other ads system: in order to run ads, you need to have those ads approved. Google’s processes are largely automated, with some spot-checking where necessary, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to understand. Sometimes an ad you think is perfectly fine will be rejected, and you’re left to wonder how to get it through. Let’s dig in! What Google Says Google has a few help pages that might be of interest here. The first one is about the ad approval process. Here’s what it says: “After you create or edit an ad or extension, the review process begins automatically. All content in your ad is reviewed, including your headline, description, keywords, destination, and any images and video. During this process, the ad’s status will be “Under review.”If your ad passes the review, its status will change to “Approved,” and it will start to run. If the review indicates that your ad violates a policy, its status will change to “Disapproved,” which means it can’t show anywhere. You’ll be notified of the policy violation and told what you can do next.” So, if your ad is disapproved, step one is to check the email Google sends you and see what they have to say. Reviews typically take around 1 business day. What are the various causes for ad disapprovals? Reasons Why Google Ads are Not Approved There are as many reasons why Google would disapprove an ad as there are policies in the ads system. Since Google tells you in an email why your ad was disapproved, you don’t really need to do a ton of troubleshooting. Still, it’s worth reading about the common causes ahead of time so you know which mistakes to avoid. Here are the common reasons why Google might deny an ad. You’re trying to advertise a product that’s against their policies. This is primarily in terms of broad product categories. You cannot advertise counterfeit goods. You cannot advertise anything that is dangerous, which includes recreational drugs, psychoactives, drug equipment, explosives, fireworks, explosive instructions, tobacco, and other harmful products. This also includes weapons and ammunition for those weapons. You also cannot advertise products that are dishonest or enabling dishonesty. This is a pretty broad definition, so Google narrows it down. You can’t advertise products that are meant for hacking, services that artificially click on ads or inflate website traffic, document fakes, or academic cheating services. You’re trying to advertise inappropriate content. In this case, inappropriate content is primarily discrimination, but includes a variety of other disqualifications as well. Anything that focuses on bullying or hate of any group, or discrimination of any kind, is disallowed. The same goes for paraphernalia for a hate group. In images, you cannot include graphic crime scene images or accident images. No cruelty to animals, no murder, no self-harm, no blackmail, no sale of endangered species, and so on. And, to cap it all off, no profanity in your ad copy or keywords. You’re trying to run ads that misrepresent your destination. If your landing page doesn’t clearly present billing terms, that’s misrepresentation. If you’re hiding interest rates, fees, or penalties, if you’re failing to display tax numbers as necessary, if your contact information is false, if you aren’t showing a physical address when you need one, and on and on. Anything where you’re misleading about what you’re selling, or where you’re claiming to be an entity you aren’t, such as a phishing scam, will cause an ad to be disallowed. Indeed, such ads likely cause your ads account to be suspended entirely. You’re trying to advertise restricted content without meeting the restrictions. Google allows certain categories of content to be advertised to limited audiences or with restricted targeting. For example, you can advertise adult content through Google, but you have to restrict it to people of legal age and can only target certain kinds of publishers. Adult Content can be advertised if you meet the appropriate restrictions on search queries, user age, and any other local laws. Alcohol can be advertised if you meet local laws. For example, Champagne can only be labeled Champagne in certain situations. Alcohol in general can only be advertised to people above a certain age. Copyrighted content can only be advertised or included in advertising if you have the legal right to use the copyright. Copyright is a serious concern for Google at the moment, so they’ve been cracking down on this pretty hard. This goes for trademarks as well. Gambling content can be advertised if, again, you meet specific requirements for targeting. This includes everything from physical casinos to online poker to sports betting. Healthcare-related content can only be advertised if it meets the local laws and requirements. Political content is a hotbed and can only be advertised with appropriate local campaign and election laws, and that disclosure is included. Financial services must be legitimate, and not illegitimate services like payday loans. Cryptocurrencies are included under the banner of financial services. Again, your ads must meet local and regional laws. You included your phone number in your ad copy. Google wants to track the performance of their ads, and if you include a plaintext phone number, there’s no way to track that call.  You can include a number if you want to use a Google phone extension instead. Your ad text is too long. Believe it or not, Google will deny your ads if they’re too long. The ideal length of your ad copy is actually only around 25 characters for a headline and 35 for a URL. Your ads include all capital words. If you’re trying to advertise a “HUGE SALE”, you need to format it as a “Huge Sale”. The only exception to the all-caps rule is when you’re explicitly promoting a promo code users can use, like SALE20. You’re using the phrase “click here” in your copy. Yup, that simple call to action is banned. It will pretty much immediately get your ad denied, no matter how carefully you use it. You have a mismatch between your display URL domain and your destination domain. These two URLs must match, even if you have a gimmick with url redirection in place. You’re advertising a website that Google detects malware or malicious software on. Of course, Google sometimes has false positives, and sometimes will reject an ad because the website, say, hosts images on a different domain – like a CDN – that they don’t approve of. You can read more about this whole issue here. If you’re interested, you can do a deeper dive into all of the Google ad policies here. It’s a lot, so make sure you’re paying attention to any category that applies to your ads. Note that making sense of Google’s categories is not always easy. When they send you an email saying your ad was disapproved, it might be any number of different causes under one banner. What do I mean? Here’s an example. Sometimes, Google will deny your ad “for legal reasons.” If that happens, it could be any of a number of different causes, as outlined in this post. The legal reasons could be copyright issues, because someone filed a DMCA or Google detected copyright you don’t own. The legal reasons could be “anti” content, that is, any content advocating explicitly against another organization, group, person, or other category. The legal reasons could be Google detecting that the adult content you’re advertising may include underage-themed sexual content. Obviously, this is extremely illegal. The legal reasons could be the result of a third party court order. Of course, if you’re getting this, you probably know about the ongoing court case involving your company. So, when Google sends you a message saying your ads were disallowed, the first thing you need to do is figure out what cause is associated with the broad category of denial reasons. How to Cope with Ad Denial The process for dealing with denied ads is a relatively simple flowchart, so let’s go through it. First, determine whether it was a single ad or your whole account that was suspended. If it was a single ad, it might tank your quality score for a bit, but you can deal with it, resubmit it, and fix it fairly easily. If it’s your entire account, you likely have much bigger problems on your hands. You may be able to appeal an account suspension, but in general you’re going to have to find an alternative means of advertising. If you’ve determined that it’s just one ad, or just a small handful of ads, you can move on to the next step.  That step is to check your email, or whatever email is attached to the account making those ads, to see what Google’s emails have to say. As mentioned above, Google might not be entirely clear with the specifics of why your ads were denied. They don’t have time to write customized emails for everyone who has a rejected ad, after all. They have a handful of template emails with reasons, along with links to policies and instructions on how to fix it. Take a look at Google’s reasoning and see if you can identify why your ads were rejected. In some cases, it’s easy; they might object to your use of a capitalized word, which is easy enough to change. In other cases, like the “legal reasons” above, there might be a wide variety of different causes, and you need to figure out which one applies. Or, it might be like the “malicious content” link above, and needs more investigation on your part. I’ve seen people rejected for a bad CDN, I’ve seen people rejected for poor security, and I’ve seen people discover that their site was hacked when their ads are denied. Do your due diligence and make sure your site isn’t actually serving malicious content. Once you have determined the reason your ads were rejected, you can now decide between one of two options. If the ad is a fringe split test for other ads that weren’t rejected, or if it’s a low-performing ad, or if it otherwise isn’t worth taking the time and energy to troubleshoot, you can simply delete the ad. A rejected ad that you delete doesn’t hurt your account in any way, unless it was running for a while and then was taken down due to outside reasons like a DMCA takedown. On the other hand, if the ad was potentially a high earner, if it’s an important part of a split test, or if it’s otherwise important that you get it up and running as soon as possible, you can edit it and try again. Editing a disallowed ad is simple; just go into your ads system, find the disallowed ad, and edit it the same way you would edit any other ad. I generally recommend troubleshooting and fixing your ads whenever possible. Sure, those ads might not perform well, but the point is the experience. By troubleshooting your ads and fixing them, you learn hands-on what is and isn’t able to get past the Google filters. That experience alone can be very useful in the future. What are your experiences with ads being rejected? Did I miss the most common reason you’ve seen them denied? Talk about it below, I’m quite interested. The post What to Do if Your Google Ad Was Not Approved appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Bid on Your Competitors Brand Names for PPC

Imagine for a moment that you’re the advertising director for Burger King, and your goal today is to figure out how to take a chunk out of McDonalds’ market share in PPC advertising. You know the ad networks they’re using, you know the keywords they’re targeting, and you know what kind of budget you have to use. What would you do if I told you that you could target McDonalds itself, as a keyword, and get a share of the people who are searching for McDonalds on Google, Facebook, or another PPC network? What if you could simply poach their potential traffic? Would you do it? If you’re an older marketer, you might remember a time when this wasn’t a legal practice. Well, specifically, it wasn’t illegal, but it was against Google’s policies. They prohibited anyone but the brand to bid on brand names. These days, though, it’s perfectly acceptable, so long as you stay within certain guidelines. You can bid on your competition’s brand name, but you can’t mention their brand name in your ad copy. That can be a trademark violation. For those curious, Google lifted this restriction all the way back in 2008. This is the situation you’re in when you consider bidding on the brand names and primary branded keywords of your competitors in a PPC network. Is it a good strategy? Does it work? Let’s look deeper. The Pros of Bidding on Competitor Brand Names First, let’s talk about the pros of the situation. You know the brand name of your competitors, and you can bid on it at an ad auction, so why not do it? Here are some of the benefits you can get out of it. Brand name keywords are less competitive than generic keywords. If you’re bidding on “burgers”, you have to compete with every restaurant that sells burgers, every business that sells ground beef, and every grilling supply company looking to target people searching for cookout information, not to mention everyone looking for burger recipes. That’s a lot of competition! On the other hand, if you bid on “McDonalds”, you’re going to be competing with, well, McDonalds. You may also find yourself competing with a few other brands that are also bidding against McDonalds, but chances are the competition is quite slim. Lower competition generally means lower costs for your ads. You can gain brand awareness. Okay, so this is where the McDonalds and Burger King example falls apart; very few people in the world are unfamiliar with either brand. On a smaller scale, though, you can gain brand awareness by reaching the audience your competitors have built. Anyone searching for your competitors will see your name pop up in the ads, and may choose to investigate you further. This is doubly true if those customers have issues or problems with your competitors; they may be looking for a reason to jump ship, and you can present them the opportunity. You can promote what makes you unique. Let’s say Bissel is running ads targeting the keyword “Bissel Vacuums”. You’re Dyson, and you know you make a vacuum with a different mode of operation and a stronger suction. You can run advertising targeting Bissel Vacuums and use your ad copy to point out explicitly that your vacuums are stronger than theirs. Anyone searching for vacuums who hasn’t heard of your brand before will now see both your brand name and a reason why your vacuums are better than theirs. You open a new avenue for conversions. When you have a comparable or dominant market position, you can simply steal conversions from your competitors just by making yourself available. If you have benefits for switching from one service to another, like a lower introductory price, you can promote that to facilitate the switch. The Cons of Bidding on Competitor Brand Names Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you’re bidding on competitor brand names. In fact, there are some pretty potentially serious downsides when you try. You’re likely going to have a low click-through rate. Most of the time, when someone is searching for a specific brand name, it’s because they want that brand. They may not be aware of you, but they may have a good reason to be loyal to the brand they’re searching for. Conversely, they may be aware of you and have zero interest in you. In PPC terminology, you can consider a competitor’s brand name to be a middle to low relevance keyword, simply because you are not that brand. You’re going to start a war. This is a high-risk strategy for two reasons. For one thing, you’re spending extra money to bid on competitor keywords, which will drive up competition for those keywords and end up charging you and your competition more for the ads. More importantly, though, you’re telling your competitors that all bets are off. Absolutely nothing stops them from targeting your keywords. Is this a fight you can win? Think about it objectively. If public perception favors your competition, when they start bidding on your keywords, they poach more of your traffic than you poach of theirs. Plus, when they start bidding on your keywords, your own ad costs rise, and then you have to spend more just to maintain position. Are you getting more out of bidding on theirs than you lose from them bidding on yours? Common Mistakes When Bidding on Competitor Names If you’re considering the pros and cons of bidding on your competitor’s brand name, you need to be aware of the common mistakes marketers make. The first and most important mistake is thinking it’s universally a good strategy. In fact, while bidding on your competitor’s name is potentially valuable, it can also have no returns. If you have a limited budget, it’s better to spend that budget elsewhere. Even if the cost of ads on your competitor’s name are low, you’re going to end up paying a lot per action simply because of the extremely low click rates and conversion rates. It’s often much better to spend your money elsewhere, at least until you’ve established enough of a consistent budget that you can expand. The second mistake you might make is bidding on the wrong competitors. I’ve used the example of McDonalds and Burger King, but they aren’t the only players in the world of fast food burgers. They have to contend with the likes of everyone from Sonic to White Castle to Dairy Queen. Which ones do you try to bid on, and which ones do you ignore? Which ones are more likely to fight back? It can be tempting for a small-time burger joint to start running ads competing with McDonalds or Burger King, hoping to poach away the fast food audience with their gourmet offering. The thing is, while the food item is superficially the same, they aren’t actually competing. People who want a burger are going to go get a good burger. People who want fast food are going to go get a cheap burger from a fast food joint. You’re not likely going to sway people away from a $1 burger with your $9 offering. Finally, you have to understand mobile intent when bidding on advertising. If you only take away one point from this entire article, this should be it. Mobile has been an increasingly large and important aspect of search, and consequently, of PPC advertising. It makes sense that you would want to bid aggressively to capture mobile traffic. And yet, when bidding on competitor brand names, you’re going to find dramatically lower returns on mobile. Why is that? Mobile intent is actually quite a bit different than desktop intent. When I’m searching for a brand name on a desktop, I’m likely doing research. I might be looking up reviews, or reading pricing pages, or comparing services. I’m fairly open to looking at competitors, because I’m not necessarily immediately planning to purchase. When I’m searching on mobile, chances are I’m not at home, I’m out on a shopping trip. If I’m looking for burgers while I’m out, am I looking to compare different burger joints? Maybe, but more likely I’m just looking for the closest store for the brand I’m looking for. If I search for Burger King while I’m on a road trip, I want Burger King, not someone else. What this means is that mobile traffic is much less likely to click and convert when you’re bidding on competition names than desktop traffic. That means it’s even more expensive and even less effective. Frankly, bidding on your competitors’ names on mobile is a waste of money in almost every situation. How to Cope if it Happens to You Let’s flip the scenario on its head for a moment. What if you’re the one whose competitors are bidding on your brand name? What can you do? Alternatively, what might your competitors do if you’re bidding on their brand name? First up, coming to terms with this new reality is step one. Your competitors may be testing your keywords, and if they perform well enough, they may never stop. It’s simply a new form of competition you have to deal with. That’s not to say you should ignore it, though. Keep an eye on the ads they’re running, and specifically look for ad copy that includes your trademarks. Using your brand name in targeting is fine, but using it in ad copy is a violation. If they’re using brand names, product names, or anything that you have as a trademark, you can report it to Google. Trademark violations are actually vectors for legal repercussions, so Google will generally take action to remove the offending ads. You might also consider checking Bing and other major advertising networks. Google isn’t the only company that runs PPC, and you never know how much traffic you’re missing out on by not using some of these other networks. At the very least, if you find your competitors targeting you in a PPC network you don’t you, you should consider signing up and testing if it’s worth starting to use. There’s no sense in letting your competition run unopposed, right? If you’ve been running ads against them and they’re picking up the fight, or if you’re being targeted but you haven’t countered by targeting them yet, you might consider sending a (polite) email to whoever manages the company. Why not ask them to stop targeting your brand name, in the interest of fair play? A few things might happen. They might ignore you and keep on targeting your keywords, in which case, you’ve lost nothing. They might agree and withdraw, especially if you agree to stop or avoid targeting their brand as well. They might find out the advertising agency they hired is targeting you without their permission, and solve the issue internally. The worst that can happen, really, is that they say no. If they’re particularly spiteful they might double down, assuming you’re asking because it hurts your brand. Otherwise, well, you’re just back to square one. If you feel like you’re well positioned to continue the war by attacking their keywords as well, you can go for it. As long as you’re willing to spend the money for what few conversions you can get, there’s nothing wrong with it. And hey, if you’re particularly effective, maybe they’ll be the ones sending you the surrender email. If all else fails, just double down on your own advertising, primarily in the ads targeting your own brand name. If your competitors are trying to out-do you in your own space, focus on optimizing those ads to make sure you’re giving them as little room as possible. The less effective their ads are, the less incentive they have to keep running them. The post How to Bid on Your Competitors Brand Names for PPC appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Ultimate Guide to Using an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder

What is an Amazon Affiliate Site? Simply put, it’s a website you build and fill with content as a means to float your affiliate link, to get referrals, sales, and commission payments. What is an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder? Well, a site builder is a tool that helps you build a website, usually from stock templates or assets rather than having to code it from the ground up. Is there such a thing as an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder? Not really.  Any site builder can build a website capable of being an Amazon Affiliate site. There’s nothing really special about an affiliate site compared to other websites, except maybe the lack of a storefront and landing pages. That said, let’s look at the sort of site builders you might come across. Amazon Affiliate Site Builders There are a ton of different site builders out there. Some of them are simple and easy to use, and others are more complicated. Some of them are open to anyone, while others require that you have web hosting with a specific host to use their builder. In fact, pretty much every web host has their own site builder built in, since it’s an easy feature to add and it helps them get more customers. Squarespace. This is one of the more common and widely advertised site builders around. Since you don’t need a storefront, you can use the cheaper versions, which come with a handful of default features you may find useful, like analytics and a mobile website format. Weebly. This is a free site builder that is simple and easy to use, but lacks many of the top-end features that a high end site would want to use. It’s simple, and perhaps that works to its detriment. Format. This site builder is more suited to photography and art, and is aimed at being a portfolio rather than a blog or a storefront. Shopify. This site builder is aimed at e-commerce and includes a ton of features for running a storefront that you don’t need as an affiliate site. Wix. This is a free website builder with a ton of flexibility. It’s often one of the best entry-level website builders around, and while it lacks some advanced features, it’s very flexible and works as a good base for a new site owner. WordPress.com. Not to be confused with the self-hosted WordPress system, the .com version is a hosted blog platform with a site builder attached. It’s not as robust as the .org version, but it works if you want to set something up for free. There are dozens more out there too. There are so many site builders available primarily because setting up a website based on some basic templates is not difficult to do. It can be a daunting task if you’re not otherwise experienced with web and code shenanigans, but it’s really a low bar to clear in terms of education. You can teach yourself to set up something like a WordPress.org site in a few days, at most. You’ll note that none of these are Amazon Affiliate site builders. That’s because there’s functionally no difference between an Amazon Affiliate site and a normal blog-based website. All you need is something that hosts content, possible with the support of a few advanced features like URL redirects and charts, but even those aren’t strictly necessary. Setting up an Amazon Affiliate site is simply a matter of knowing what you want to do with it. Things like choosing a domain name and producing content will rely on you knowing your niche ahead of time. Therefore, choosing your niche is the first major decision you have to make when it comes to setting up a site. Choosing an Affiliate Niche If you’re not already eyeing a deal and know exactly what you want to promote, you probably have to choose your niche. The right niche is the lifeblood of a site. The days of broad-spectrum “deals” sites are long over. Google likes focus in the content it indexes, and a site that tries to cover too many bases will cover none of them well. One potential mistake you might make in choosing a niche is choosing something you’re passionate about. I say this is a “potential” mistake, because it’s not always a mistake. Passion is good for marketing. Your readers will be able to sense when you know and care about what you’re talking about. It’s not always easy to portray passion for some topics, of course; the author of the-best-water-faucets-and-spigots.biz isn’t going to be a passionate purveyor of faucets, because very few people in this world are passionate about faucets. However, someone passionate with the idea of outdoor life, with expertise in hiking, camping, mountaineering, and other outdoor activities, will be able to convey their passion to their audience. There’s a certain level of authenticity and personality that comes through even in promotional writing that you can’t find elsewhere. That said, passion can be a mistake in two cases. The first is when you really love what you’re trying to promote, and you find your impression of the industry systematically decaying. They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, but that’s not quite right. If you do what you love, the corporate oppression of free thinking and inspiration will drive the passion out of you and will leave you with no love of what you formerly enjoyed. Turning a hobby into a job is often the end of your enjoyment of that hobby. The other reason following your passion might be a mistake is if you’re passionate about something that just isn’t a very deep niche. You might be very passionate about a hobby of yours, but if only 1,200 other people in the world share that hobby, your audience for your affiliate links is going to be very small. Affiliate programs only work when you send in volume. To pick a solid niche, you need to find something that has two things. First, it needs to have a level of traffic sufficient to promote your items. Second, it needs to have an array of high value products to sell. With Amazon Affiliates, you earn something like a 4% commission on sales at base, with scaling fees based on sales volume. If you’re selling a $4 can of spraypaint, you’re not going to be making a lot of money on that sale, so you have to sell hundreds of them to make any real profit. By contrast, if you’re selling a $2,000 television or other high value item, you might only need to sell one or two items a month to make a reasonable profit. At the extreme end, there are affiliate programs for things like yachts and private jets. You might only get one sale a year, but that sale bankrolls you for the year. Amazon doesn’t really sell those kinds of products though, so that’s for another post. Neil Patel published a pretty good guide on finding an affiliate niche a while back, which you can read here. If you’re not entirely sold on the niche you’ve been eyeing, or if you have no idea where to start, this is a great article to help you solidify your plan. What an Amazon Affiliate Site Needs So you have a niche, and now you want to set up a site. What does your site need to be a success? At the top level, you need a good domain name. I know a lot of the free website builders don’t let you use a custom domain name without a fee, but it’s a fee that’s well worth paying. People don’t trust the free .wix.com or .wordpres.com sites anymore. Moreover, they have a harder time ranking in Google search, and thus a harder time attracting an audience. Come up with a domain name that is both relevant to your niche and easily brandable. You can try using an exact match domain if you like, but I would caution you against it. EMDs are often expensive, they’re difficult to get ranking, and they’re subject to more scrutiny. Next, your site needs a strong architecture. Most website builders are fine with this. You can’t really screw up a site made with a website builder, they don’t let you. Just make something that has normal user navigation and doesn’t try to do anything screwy like scroll horizontally. Many site builders even have templates you can choose that do most of the work for you. Make sure any site builder you’re using makes a responsive site. You want your site to be mobile compatible. This is a search ranking factor, and it’s a usability factor. With over half of the modern day web traffic coming from mobile devices, if you can’t present your content and links to mobile users, you’re leaving half or more of your potential money on the table. If you want to go a little more advanced, you can purchase web hosting from a reputable seller – something like Bluehost, HostGator, or InMotion – and set up a WordPress.org site. That process is a little more involved, but you have a lot more room for customization than you do with a site builder. Once you build your site, you need a few structural pages that will hold important information. Primarily, you want an About page that contains information about who you are and why you’re into the niche you’re into. Feel free to lie, no one is going to fact check you here. I mean, unless you start breaking laws, anyways. You also want a disclosure page that mentions that your links can be affiliate links. Keep in mind that your links need to be disclosed in your blog posts as well, as per FTC guidelines. Creating Content for Your Affiliate Site Once everything is up and running, you need to start populating your site with content. I recommend creating somewhere around a dozen articles, preferably in-depth articles, which you can publish all at once. Create more on an ongoing basis, at least once per week, to keep your site fresh and alive. So what kind of content should you be creating – or paying to have written for you? The in-depth review. These are the bread and butter of affiliate marketers. You pick a specific product and you write a lengthy, detailed review of that product. Ideally you want personal experience with the product so you can point out specifics unique to that item, like a design flaw you encountered or a personal use you didn’t think of. You want something that provides information for the user to use when making the decision to buy. Avoid being all glowing praise; it comes across as insincere. The comparison post. These are staples for your site, but generally work best once you have enough other pieces of content up that you can use them as a sort of table of contents as well. Basically, you take 2-4 products that are similar to one another and write a post comparing each of them. How do they stack up in terms of price, features, durability, and so on? If you can link these to the deeper reviews of each individual product, all the better. The tutorial post. This is a post you write when you know the typical use case and pain point for a product. You know the problem, you know how the product solves it, so write a blog post giving a tutorial on how to use that product to solve that problem. Alternatively, create a tutorial on how to install one of the products you’re promoting. The clickbait post. No, we’re not going all-in on clickbait headlines. Those have mostly died out, and good riddance to them. No, I just mean the low-bar gimmick posts that serve as a shell for links to some of your products. For example, “the top 50 patio designs” could be a nice list to show 50 designs of patios where you identify and link to patio furniture you can sell through them. As you populate your site with content, you will see more and more traffic coming in and more and more sales going through. That’s pretty much it! Everything else is optimization. Not to say that optimization is trivial, of course, but the hard part is setting everything up. The post Ultimate Guide to Using an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Are PPC Ads More Expensive During Certain Months?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of different factors that tweak the cost of your PPC ads. Everything from your target audience to your ad copy will impact how much you have to spend, and the only hard limitation is the amount of money you have available. Here’s a question: how much does time impact the cost of PPC advertising? Time definitely has an impact, in several different ways. Let’s look at those different ways. Time of Day Impacts Costs First up, we can consider the smallest amount of time that, in a discrete block, can show variations in ad pricing. For most ad systems, this is hour by hour. With PPC ads, many systems now offer something called Dayparting. Dayparting is the concept of parting out the day, or dividing it up and scheduling your ads hour by hour. You know your customers have jobs and lives, so you know there are times of day when they are likely to be browsing the web, and other times where they are less likely to be browsing. For example, if your target audience is a very traditional family, you might have qualities like these: Your audience is browsing your site around 8am on their commute to work. Your audience is not browsing your site between 9am and 11am while they work. Your audience is browsing your site around noon during their lunch break. Your audience is not browsing your site between 1pm and 5pm while they work. Your audience is browsing your site around 5pm on their commute home. Your audience is not browsing your site around 6pm while they eat dinner with their family. Your audience is browsing your site around 7pm during their post-dinner break. Now, this assumes your audience is the kind of people who have a family and a regular 9-5 job, which is not always the case. It’s just an example for educational purposes. With Dayparting, you can schedule your ads to show to your audience during the hours when they’re most likely to be browsing, and turn them off during hours when they’re not likely to be browsing. To reach users during the low volume times, you typically have to pay more. Dayparting saves you some money, then, because you’re only reaching your audience when they’re most available and cheapest to reach. Time of day isn’t the only chunk of time that can impact the cost of your ads, however. Day of the Week Impacts Costs In addition to the time of day, you also have to consider what day of the week you’re running your ads. Different businesses tend to have different audience performance cues, so you need to know when your audience is most active. Let’s say you’re a company selling recreational equipment for the water. Everything from kayaks to scuba gear to life jackets and swim suits. You may see some common trends for what days of the week people are searching for your content. Monday, people aren’t all that likely to be looking for your items, because they’re primarily just looking at the long work week ahead. Tuesday, likewise, people aren’t too likely to be looking for most of your items. Some users who like to swim for exercise may be looking for relevant items, but most of your inventory is not of interest. Wednesday, as the hump day in the middle of the week, tends to attract a bit above average attention because people are starting to fantasize about their upcoming weekends and what they might need. Thursday may be lower than Wednesday, but higher than Monday and Tuesday, because the weekend is almost here and some users are starting to actively plan weekend trips and getaways. Friday is when interest starts to spike. Some people are off early and are looking to buy equipment for their weekend. Some people are just looking to prepare for Saturday. Saturday is high volume, high traffic, high interest. The people who researched on Friday are making purchases, and the people who are embarking on last-minute excursions need to make their purchases as well. Sunday is lower volume, but still relatively high. People buy to prepare for the next weekend, some people still have day events to attend, but some are done for the weekend. As with Dayparting, the higher volume times often mean lower costs because there’s more of an audience to reach. On the other hand, if you have a lot of competition in your niche, the higher volume times can also mean increased costs. Your competition is bidding for that same traffic, and auctions are competitive. You need to spend more to reach people in a preferential position over your competition. Month of the Year Impacts Costs If the time of day and the day of the week both impact costs, why wouldn’t the month? Indeed, some months tend to be more expensive than others. The thing is, it’s not always the same months for every business. For example, a business that sells school supplies is going to be busiest in July and August, when schools are picking up, back to school sales are in full swing, summer break is ending, and parents need to pick up school supplies for their children. This is when office stores and the school departments for various online retailers do a lot of their business. Costs for those businesses rise during those months because there’s a lot of competition and a lot of demand for those items. Again, since advertising is almost always run by auction, the more competition you have, the higher you need to bid to get the volume you want to see. Conversely, a store that sells primarily gifts and Christmas ornaments year-round – and yes, they exist – will see a huge uptick in volume and demand in December. Christmas is generally a huge and expensive time for pretty much everyone, of course. Everyone is trying to sell their products as gifts, or sell incidental gift-related items. Competition is fierce in pretty much every niche as everyone struggles to reach their audiences as much as possible. A similar phenomenon occurs after Thanksgiving in late November, around Black Friday. Not every business is affected that heavily by seasonality, though. An industrial lab equipment production company might not see much impact from month to month at all. It’s not like industrial research has seasonal swings, really. Though, these same companies may not be doing quite so much PPC advertising either. Geographic Time Costs Geotargeting impacts the costs of your ads too. When you’re a relatively smaller local business and you’re targeting the geographic region near your business, you can reach more qualified people for lower costs. That’s not the only way that geographic targeting impacts costs, though. Time is also a factor. For example, if you’re targeting Boston-local audiences, the time surrounding the Boston Marathon is going to be a higher volume time, which means higher costs as more businesses – including a lot of transient businesses that don’t normally target a regional Boston audience – are targeting that region. Large events with national or global significance, even when they aren’t holidays, can have an impact on advertising costs. In our current capitalist society, everything is commercialized, and every event becomes an excuse to hold a specialized sale with specialized advertising. If you’re not doing it, someone is, and that someone may be your competitors. Non-Time Related Factors I may have made it sound like it’s fairly clear when your costs are rising and when they aren’t, but the reality is, it’s a muddy world out there. Costs rise and fall on a daily or hourly basis, and there may not be a rhyme or reason to it. The presence of competition is a big factor in how much your ads will cost, and it will rise and fall almost unpredictably. If your costs suddenly go up, who knows, maybe a new competitor hit the scene, or maybe an old competitor decided to invest more as a lead-up to a sale or product launch. This might not have anything to do with what month it is. Advertising costs can be dramatically impacted by political changes as well, and those don’t follow any pattern. Any time Trump decides to initiate or threaten a trade war with China, Mexico, Europe, or whoever else he happens to be mad at that week, stocks rise and fall, businesses suffer, and advertising costs have to adjust to compensate. You may not feel like your business is directly affected by tariffs from Mexican imports, but your customers may be, and if they suddenly have less potential disposable income, you’re going to have a harder time getting those clicks. Large weather systems and natural disasters can also impact advertising costs. A huge hurricane in the Gulf will make advertising to Gulf regions very difficult, particularly in the immediate aftermath when cell service and power are sporadic. Other disasters, like Tsunamis and earthquakes in foreign lands, can impact imports and have a similar effect to political jockeying. And, of course, there’s always the major factors that have nothing to do with time at all. The industry your business is in may have seasonal rises and falls, but that’s to be expected. Different industries have different costs. Additionally, your choice of keyword targeting for your ads will have a dramatic impact. Finding the right high-volume long tail keywords with minimal competition can give you very low costs for your ads. Conversely, trying to target high volume primary keywords means you’ll be spending a ton of money just to get a tiny slice of the pie. Why Costs Aren’t Important So here’s the thing: the specific cost of your PPC ads isn’t really that important. Sure, the cost of your ads does matter from a purely monetary standpoint, but it’s just a component of what makes a good ad. Look at these two situations and tell me which one is better: You have a budget of $100. You have a keyword that costs $1 per click. You have a 10% conversion rate. You earn 10 conversions out of 100 clicks, meaning your cost per conversion is $10. You have a budget of $100. You have a keyword that costs $2.50 per click. You have a 50% conversion rate. You earn 20 conversions out of 40 clicks, meaning your cost per conversion is $5. The more expensive ads in this scenario earn you fewer clicks within your budget, but more of those people convert, meaning your clicks are of higher quality. Going for the cheaper ads doesn’t get you more profits at all. I’ve talked about this before when discussing penny clicks, and I’m not alone in recommending looking at the more expensive ads. Neil Patel is here to remind you that the cost per click is irrelevant; what you really need to care about is cost per acquisition. So, to sum everything up: yes, the month of the year will have an impact on the cost of your ads. That’s simple human nature; there’s seasonal swings in culture, and those swings will be commercialized. The more businesses there are targeting your keywords and your audience, the more you’re going to have to pay to be part of the pack that’s doing the advertising. However, the raw cost of the ads isn’t what should concern you, so much as the cost to profit ratio. The post Are PPC Ads More Expensive During Certain Months? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

5 Case Studies of Successful Retargeting Ad Campaigns

If you’ve looked into PPC advertising any time over the past few years, you’ve probably seen mention of retargeting or remarketing, especially with Facebook and Google ads. You’ll see fantastic headlines like “250% increase in ROI!” and “More than double your conversion rate!” and other pie-in-the-sky promises. But are those promises really just dreams, or is this kind of benefit achievable from retargeting? All About Retargeting and Remarketing Retargeting and remarketing are very similar terms, and I have to admit I’m guilty of using them basically interchangeably. I’m not alone, either; even Google uses them interchangeably in their discussions in their ads system. If you’re going to be a pedant or if you care about historic, specific definitions, there’s a difference between retargeting and remarketing. Retargeting is focused on display advertising; reaching people through PPC advertising when those people have already taken some form of engagement with your brand. Meanwhile, remarketing is focused on email; reaching people via email when those people have engaged with your brand in some way. Remarketing involves messages like Amazon constantly sending you emails about products you clicked on but didn’t buy, or any web store that sends you a message about “items are still in your cart.” Both types of “Re:”-ing operate in a similar way using similar concepts. The “Re”, after all, means to repeat something. You are building a list of people who have engaged with your brand in some way, typically by clicking existing broad-target advertising, visiting your website through social channels, or otherwise visiting one of your properties. You are then using that list to market directly to those users, a repetition of marketing. Since those users have already visited your site, they have expressed interest in your brand. They are, by definition, already a more engaged audience than people who ignore your ads and don’t visit your site. This makes them a better target for future advertising. Now, of course, some of those people saw your site and decided there’s some factor that prevents them from buying. Maybe they don’t like your brand, maybe the price is too high, maybe you don’t offer what they hoped you did. That’s why a retargeting audience will never have a 100% conversion rate. Some people – we marketers in particular – also tend to click ads just to study landing pages with no intention of ever making a purchase. Others, though, will be more than willing to make a purchase. Many people who click ads are doing so because they’re interested, but are not in a position to buy. Maybe they need approval from a manager to make a purchase. Maybe they need to talk with their family. Maybe they need to wait until the next payday, or just check their budget. Maybe they just don’t want to make a purchase via their mobile device and would rather wait until they’re on a home computer. You never know. Through retargeting, you can remind those people of the purchase they were planning to make, and can catch them at a time they’re more likely to buy. Retargeting is often thought of in the context of Facebook ads and Google ads, but I’ve included case studies that showcase retargeting in other contexts as well. Instead of just targeting people through Facebook and Google search results, some companies have found retargeting success with ads in apps and ads through other advertising networks. There are plenty of other case studies out there as well; I’ve tried to choose a diverse selection rather than a broadly representative selection. If you want to read a bunch more case studies beyond the ones I’ve highlighted below, you have a lot of options. Here are a few other directories you can read: ConversionXL’s List of 7 Retargeting Case Studies KlientBoost’s Guide to 35 Different Retargeting Strategies with Case Studies for Each Bannerflow’s List of 11 Retargeting Ideas Our List of 15 Examples of Effective Retargeting The concept is sound, the core idea is solid. The question is, does it really work in practice? Everyone who writes about marketing says it does, but of course most of us are selling something. So instead of just assuring you it works, I’ve compiled a handful of case studies you can use to judge for yourself. Case Study #1: Watchfinder This case study focuses on the brand Watchfinder, which sells luxury pre-owned watches. Given their narrow audience and specific situation for purchasing, they discovered that fewer than 1% of their visitors made a purchase on their first visit. This is a great situation for retargeting to reach and remind those customers to step in and make a purchase on that watch they’ve been eyeballing. This case study focuses on Google Ads, using Google Analytics to gather data about their visitors to produce retargeting lists. They used this data to create 20 distinct lists of customers, based on their location, language, depth in the sales funnel, ISP, and other factors. Each of these 20 lists made up a distinct group of users in a specific situation. Watchfinder (and their agency Periscopix) was able to create specific targeted ads focusing on these lists based on their context. In addition to driving return visits to their website, they emphasizes stopping into the company’s then-new boutique outlet in London, for those geographically local. So what were the results? After six months of running these remarketing campaigns, with optimizations along the way, Watchfinder calculated a few benefits. The average order size on the site was 13% higher. CPAs were 34% lower. Return on investment was 1,300%. This case study is from 2014, though, so you have to wonder; are these kinds of results still possible? Case Study #2: Myfix Cycles Myfix Cycles is a bicycle retailer located in Toronto. They had been using Google AdWords to little effect, barely breaking even with the ads they were running. Rather than focus on purely Google retargeting, they decided to combine their efforts – via their agency, Webrunner Media Group – with Facebook advertising. This case study is from 2017. Facebook allows any company to install a tracking code called the Facebook Pixel on their website. This tracks visits and user data about the people who visit, even if those people have never seen the Facebook account for the business. Google ads brought people to their website, where the Facebook Pixel would track them. They could then run Facebook ads targeting users with specific criteria. Myfix chose three groups of people to target with these retargeting advertisements. The first group was people who had recently visited the website at all, within the previous 14 days. The second group was a subset of that group, people who had added a product to their cart within the past 14 days. The third group was a slightly different audience, people who had made any purchase from Myfix within the previous 180 days. The results? Myfix earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 for every $1 spent on these ads. That’s one hell of an increase over barely breaking even with ad spend, eh? Of course, the numbers are relatively small; only $3,000 in revenue from a shop that sells products averaging $300 in price, so it’s a relatively small case study. Still, you can’t argue with those kinds of numbers even at a small budget level. Case Study #3: Jesus Film Project This is another 2017 case study, this one from the Overthink Group on behalf of the Jesus Film Project. JFP is a Christian discipleship group looking to expand their email mailing list. While the mention of email might make you think this is remarketing rather than retargeting, this is actually using Facebook Ads in order to perform the retargeting to grow email. This is a bit of an interesting case study, because it admits that while retargeting is a powerful strategy, it’s not guaranteed to be the best strategy among many. For these Facebook ads, Overthink created five different custom audiences on Facebook. Among these, only one was retargeted. They were: A lookalike audience based on the existing mailing list. An audience of people who engaged with the page. An interest-based audience. The audience of “people who already like the page.” A retargeting audience. Among these, all of them received leads, as these were lead generation ads rather than ads with a purchase as the goal. The interesting part is that, while the retargeting list did successfully pull in new leads, those were the most expensive leads from the five audiences. Six cents per lead more than the second most expensive, and 22 cents per lead more than the cheapest. Overall, they pulled in 12,000 more email subscribers as of the time of the case study, though their ads were still ongoing then. Case Study #4: Manscaped “Manscaping” is a term used to promote male grooming, and Manscaped is a company producing specially designed and gendered grooming products with a whole list of buzzwords to promote them, like Active pH control. I’m not here to judge the product, though, just the results. This case study was performed by the agency Perfect Audience in 2018. In this case, rather than experimenting with retargeting to see what happens, Manscaped was looking to maintain very specific Return on Ad Spend goals. Their retargeting focused on both website and mobile in-app advertising. In the past, they had troubles reaching their ROAS goals with mobile apps, so they turned to Perfect Audience. Perfect Audience employed a customized lookback window, specific targeting for different mobile operating systems, and negative factors for audience exclusions. Additionally, they used dayparting to focus on the most effective parts of the day. Overall, this allowed them to achieve their ROAS goal of 3.5x return on investment. As they succeeded, they were able to allocate more and more money to their ads budget and maintain their goals, achieving 137% growth month over month. Case Study #5: Ouibus This case study published on Medium by the agency Adikteev focuses on the company Ouibus. Ouibus is one of the largest bus service providers in Europe, with a large audience centering around France but covering all of Europe. They also maintain a travel app, which faces many challenges in the global travel industry as detailed in the article. In this case, the company started out with a variety of static ads with a range of different creatives, mostly showcasing deals and event targeting. They included other ads with videos and rich media to make them more robust and allow them to target specific segments of their audience. In a particularly interesting experiment, they played with scratch card advertising, which is inherently engaging to the people who are most interested in the service already. From there, they used retargeting audiences and flash sales to further maximize the engagement of the people they reached. The case study primarily covers the benefits of their ad campaign in general, but it does highlight the specific benefits of retargeting over their purchases as a whole. Retargeting added on average about 10% more purchases month to month. Your Experiences I’m not the only one that can find case studies online, but what I’d like to do is hear from you. Many of you have used retargeting in your ad campaigns, and I’m curious how it turned out for you. Leave me your data in the comments if you’re willing to share, and maybe showcase your retargeting successes with the rest of the readers. Maybe your data can help convince someone to take the plunge with retargeting! The post 5 Case Studies of Successful Retargeting Ad Campaigns appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

What Are Guaranteed Signups and How Do They Work?

Web marketing is a constant struggle to get your product, offer, or advertisement in front of as many people as possible, with an emphasis on making that audience the right group of people who are willing to convert. If you’re selling a product but no one buys, you’re not making money. If you’re running advertisements and no one clicks, you’re not making money. If you’re promoting an affiliate offer and no one signs up, you’re not making money. With affiliate marketing, with CPA advertising, and with various forms of sales jobs, you need to get people to sign up for a service – or even just a mailing list – to get paid. You need those sign-ups, and you need them in volume. What if I told you that you could skip all of the tedious work of audience building, content marketing, analysis, and optimization? What if I told you that you could just pay a small fee – smaller than your commissions, most likely – and get guaranteed sign-ups? What would you say if I told you that? If you would say “That sounds like a scam to me” I’d tell you that you’re absolutely correct. Guaranteed sign-ups exist, but they aren’t real, if you catch my meaning. And if you don’t catch my meaning, well, I’m going to explain it in great detail. What Are Guaranteed Sign-Ups? The idea of a guaranteed sign-up is simple. You pay me a fee and I get 100 people to click your affiliate link and sign up for the offer. Let’s say you get paid $1 per sign-up; that’s $100. I charge you $50 for the service. What’s not to love? It’s basically free money for you. You give me a bit of money so I can profit from my own efforts, and you get money from the guaranteed sign-ups I offer you. This kind of guaranteed sign-up service is available all over the place these days. Sites like Fiverr and its spinoffs, the various SEO metric sellers, and other marketing middlemen all offer something. It’s an old service that died out for a while, but is making a comeback with a new generation of internet marketers trying to make their way in a new world. So if this service exists, why doesn’t everyone use is? Is there some secret at play? It certainly sounds too good to be true. What Are Guaranteed Sign-Ups, Really? While the idea of a guaranteed sign-up is simple, the actual implementation is not. After all, if it were really that easy to just pay a fee to double your money, everyone would be doing it. Since everyone is decidedly not doing it, it must not be a real technique. And, indeed, there are a lot of different ways for these sellers to screw you over. First off, many of them just take your money and run. They don’t need to worry about being banned from a platform, they’re filtering everything through six layers of services to protect themselves, fake names, and other baffles. You pay the seller and the seller sends you some kind of confirmation, and then they disappear. You never get your sign-ups, you never manage to contact them again, and the best you can do is get their now-abandoned profile banned from Fiverr or whatever. You can get your money back in these instances through a bank-issued charge-back, as long as you didn’t do something stupid like take it to Western Union, Bitcoin, or some other un-refundable and un-regulated payment method. This isn’t the most likely option, though. Many of these scammers don’t want to burn their bridges and disappear, because setting up a new “life” and a new profile every time they burn a customer is a time-consuming process. The second possible option is they’re using bot accounts. This may be slightly more sophisticated depending on whether or not your commission is a CPA or an affiliate service. In the event of a CPA sign-up, often times all you need to get paid is the sign-up. The user doesn’t need to pay, because all you’re trying to promote is the lead. It’s up to the company you’re giving the leads to, to do the vetting and sales. This is the easiest to scam, because it takes a while for the business at the other end to track down all these unqualified leads and trace them back to you. Of course, once they do trace them back to you, the business is going to have some uncomfortable questions for you. Questions like “why do your sign-ups have a 0% conversion rate?” and “why should we keep you as part of our program?” Generally, the answer is they shouldn’t. They’re going to drop you due to low quality referrals. Usually they track and blacklist your domain and/or IP for your accounts, emails, payment information, or whatever else they need to make sure you don’t try to toss on a beaglepuss and try to get back in. What if you don’t get paid until the user makes a purchase? Well, one of two things will happen here. Either you’ll get nothing and the seller will make excuses, or you’ll get purchases. Don’t get me wrong, though; when you get those purchases, they aren’t real purchases. It’s still fake accounts making those purchases, and it’s very likely that the financial information they’re using to do it is stolen. This is one common means of committing credit card fraud and identity theft. These fake accounts are powered by phishing scams or other stolen information. You’re paying a scammer to use stolen information to “buy” a service that they quickly cancel, or even that they don’t. They don’t care. The company, of course, won’t take kindly to the charge-back and the questions about why stolen information is being used to buy their services. They will, again, trace it back to you and decide to remove you from their program because all you’re doing is referring fraud to them. Even if you have some legitimate referrals in there, the fraud is too much to deal with. Then there’s the third possible option, which relies on your target service having tiers of service packages. What they do is send over free sign-ups, but never pay for a service. The problem here is that you, of course, don’t make money unless the user actually converts to a paid account. Starting up a free trial – and then cancelling it – or just signing up for a free package isn’t going to get you any commissions. This one isn’t even fraud; you’re getting what you’re paying for. That’s the trick. They put fine print somewhere on their website or in their package details, and they hope you don’t read the part where they say “we only offer free sign-ups; you’re not paying for us to pay for anything.” After all, they want to make money, and if they’re spending money on services that cost more than you’re paying them, they aren’t making money. The Other Side of the Business Model So what’s going on in the guaranteed sign-ups side of the coin? We’ve talked about the fraud, but that’s not always the business model. In fact, you’ve probably seen the business model in other locations, but didn’t connect the two. Have you ever seen a site that offers to pay you if you claim free offers? If you sign up for this shady service, they’ll give you $3. If you sign up for this Netflix free trial, you’ll get $5. If you sign up for this software, you get $1.50. In modern days, these businesses have evolved. You’ll find many apps that do the same thing now, and instead of offering money right out, they offer Google Play cash, or they even just offer in-game currency for various popular mobile games. What do you think is going on here? These companies can’t get paid for you signing up for a free service, so what good does it do them? Well, the answer is, you’re becoming part of their network of people signing up for services when the affiliate pays for it. The scammer maintains their app and their network of connections, as well as a site where they sell their sign-ups. Some hapless business comes along and pays for 100 sign-ups; they throw that offer into their network until they record 100 people have signed up – for the free accounts, of course – and cut it off when the number is up. There’s no targeting here, there’s no filtering, there’s no guarantee of quality. In fact, since the amounts they pay out are so low, it’s almost a guaranteed filter that keeps out any worthwhile or real potential customers. It’s almost exactly the opposite of the audience you really want for your affiliate links or product ads. On top of this, these apps and websites tend to have very high minimum payouts, and they often make it nearly impossible to actually successfully complete and verify an offer. I’ve played around with them in the past, and usually you end up being filtered through half a dozen or more redirects, all with tons of ads on each page, before you even get to the offer you’re supposed to sign up to. Sign up for the wrong offer, click the wrong ad, or fail to fill out the forms properly, and your sign-up won’t count. On top of that, they’ll disqualify you for blocking scripts, blocking ads, and in some cases even if the redirect takes too long. So the audience has an incredibly high turnover rate once people experience the fact that every offer they do only puts them one thousandth of the way towards getting a $10 gift certificate to Applebee’s or a handful of Google currency or something. Of course, these businesses are not above a little lying to get ahead.  If you’ve ever looked into buying guaranteed sign-ups, you’ve likely found a bunch of positive reviews for the service you’re looking into. And why wouldn’t you? If it’s a legitimate service, it would have great reviews! And if it’s a scammer, they would find it trivial to register a few dozen accounts, or even register their own side blogs, solely to promote their own business. A few good reviews on seemingly disconnected sites will dramatically increase the viability of their scam. Every single aspect of these businesses is shady and optimized to make the business itself as much money as possible from every angle. Some of them even charge to sign up to their money-making networks! They get paid from every angle, very rarely pay out anything, and utilize fine print to make sure everything they’re doing is disclosed and “legal” even if it’s a little immoral. No one on either end is likely to attempt to sue them, and even if they did, they might find the business is actually based in India or Pakistan or some other country where actually pursuing legal repercussions is nigh-impossible for a foreigner. Unfortunately for every marketer looking for a get rich quick plan, and willing to spend some money for it, it’s always going to be too good to be true. You just have to stick to what works; content marketing. Otherwise, you get to play the fool in the phrase “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The post What Are Guaranteed Signups and How Do They Work? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Buy Advertising to Promote Your eBay Listings

There are two ways you can buy advertising to promote eBay listings. One is to buy a promoted listing on eBay itself. The other is to buy third party advertising to point to your listing, in some form or another. However, there’s a little more to it than that. Paying for Promoted eBay Listings The first and the simplest option is to just pay for a promoted spot in the eBay search results. Whenever you search for a product, you’ll see a handful of promoted listings, all of which someone is paying eBay to put near the top of the list. You have to scroll down to see the organic listings. “Paying for an auction listing? What if my item doesn’t sell? Then I’m out money when I’m just trying to make money!” This is a valid complaint, and eBay understands the situation. That’s why their promoted listings only charge you when your item sells. Unlike traditional advertising, when you’re bidding on promoted listings, you’re choosing a percentage – called the Ad Rate – of your item’s sale price that you’re willing to spend. This means that the higher the price your item sells for, the more you pay for the ads that got it to sell. You aren’t setting a bid cap or a specific amount of money to pay to promote your item. In order to help you decide how much you should be willing to spend, eBay maintains a list of Trending Ad Rates. The trending Ad Rate is the average percentage people are bidding to promote their listings, within various categories. For example, as of the time of this writing, Antiques are trending at 10.49%, books are trending at 2.97%, and computer items are trending at 6.2%. These are figures within the USA; there are different figures for different geographic regions. You can see all of the current trending ad rates on this page. It’s generally a good idea to adjust your Ad Rate on a weekly basis to better fit the trends. If the trend is going up, you should adjust upwards to compete. If the trends are going down, you can adjust downwards to avoid over-spending. Of course, you need to calculate how much you can afford to take off the top. For people selling random household products they’re trying to get rid of, any profit is better than keeping the item, so it doesn’t matter. For a business trying to sell through eBay, you need to calculate your profit margins and determine how much you can cut into them. Are promoted listings a good choice for your products? That depends on what kinds of products you’re trying to sell. You can use promoted listings for just about any category, but there are some restrictions. Auctions, unfortunately, do not qualify. You also have to be a subscriber to eBay Stores, or you need to be a seller with either Top Rated or Above Standard feedback status. If your status drops too much, you’ll lose access to the system. Generally, eBay recommends using promoted listings for new product lines and new listing ideas, seasonal items you want to sell as quickly as possible, old product lines you’re trying to clear out, and products that are already selling well but which you can sell more of more quickly. Conversely, items that have a poor sales history aren’t going to benefit as much from promoted listings, and rare items, collectibles, and unique items aren’t great targets due to the smaller audience. It’s also worth noting that eBay’s promotion auction is not simply “whoever bids the most gets the top spot.” In fact, they consider elements like the relevance and the quality of the listing to the search, how well the item is selling in general when the ad rate is set, and some other factors. So in general, you should use promoted listings when: You have an item that has a high conversion rate but generally low traffic. You have a new item you want to establish a baseline level of traffic and sales history for. You have a best seller that you want to sell more of, even if you sacrifice some profit to do it. You have a seasonal product you want to get sold as quickly as possible. You have overstock of a product you want to liquidate. You have stock left over of an item you no longer want to sell, and you want to liquidate. Promoted listings are just normal eBay listings, so you don’t need to do anything special to create ads. All you need to do is choose which products to promote and what ad rate you want to set. There’s an art to choosing the right ad rate, which involves knowing your profit margins and knowing what percentages are good to sell. You’ll gain a feel for it after you promote for a while. What’s truly important, however, is the quality of the listing itself. Thankfully, I know exactly where you can visit to learn about optimizing eBay product listings. Paying to Advertising Listings Directly Unfortunately, paying for ads through platforms like Google Ads, pointing those ads directly at eBay listings or eBay stores, is notoriously ineffective. You can find thousands of people online talking about paying to promote their listings and getting nothing out of it. Unlike promoted listings, paying for PPC ads to point to eBay can waste a lot of money. You don’t have a “pay only when it sells” clause to protect you, and you can often end up paying far more than the value of the product in clicks that don’t convert. Google doesn’t really like people linking directly to eBay stores, so they don’t promote those ads quite as much, and it really doesn’t work out for anyone involved. On the other hand, eBay and Google had a deal with each other. Products listed on eBay will be funneled into Google’s marketplace, and Google can plug them into Google Shopping. You can use a Google Merchant Center account to promote your listings through that system instead of using Google Ads. Now, there’s nothing wrong with paying Google Ads to promote eBay listings. It’s not against the terms of service for either site. It’s just not the most effective solution. The trouble is, you’re paying to send people to eBay, and everyone knows eBay as a site where it’s easy to find the cheapest version of a product. People can click through your ads to your product, and then go to buy that same product from another seller instead of you. You also don’t get any benefit for referral traffic to products other than your own, like you might with something like an Amazon Affiliate link. There’s nothing really unique about advertising an eBay listing through Google Ads compared to advertising any other site. You still need to pay attention to the usual factors, like ad relevance, keyword selection, budgets, and click-through rates. Don’t be afraid that I just linked to dummies.com, either; their guide is actually really good. An Alternative Strategy The best alternate strategy for dedicated eBay sellers is to create your own website. Creating a website gives you a larger degree of trust than a typical no-name eBay seller, and that trust allows you to leverage additional marketing channels. You can run a Facebook business Page for your website, even though all of your products are just eBay store listings. You can go as light or as hard into a marketing website as you want. I’ve seen people be perfectly successful on eBay with a microsite that is little more than an About page, a few testimonials, and links to product pages. I’ve also seen brands build up their entire business around their sites, using eBay as a convenient storefront up until they’ve stabilized enough to transition to their own store on a Shopify plan. These people have blogs and everything. The benefit of using your own site is that you can set up landing pages for individual products, and then you can direct advertising from Google Ads and other ad networks to those landing pages. Of course, managing your own site is a lot of work and a lot of additional expense. You need to pay for hosting and a domain, you need to set up a back-end framework – even if it’s just WordPress – and you need to maintain it with enough content that it doesn’t stagnate. Plus, paying for ads is an additional expense, as I’ve already mentioned. On the other hand, having a more total level of control over your web presence and your branding puts you ahead of most of the competition on eBay. One potential roadblock you may run into is that eBay’s links policy prohibits you from linking to your website within your eBay listings. Unless a user already knows your brand and that you have a website, they might not find you. You get the on-site benefits of the user seeing other products in your storefront or in your listings, but you can’t send them off-site for other benefits. You can get around this by including items with your URL on them in the products you ship. Thank you notes included in your packages, URLs on labels and on invoices, and URLs in your email communications are all good ideas. Utilizing Social Media With social media, you get both organic and paid means of promotion at your fingertips. For Facebook, you can set up a business Page for your business, and link directly to your eBay store and your individual eBay listings. You can also link to pages and posts on your website. You won’t necessarily have the best exposure doing this, since Facebook tends to demote overly promotional content, but if you get into content marketing, Facebook becomes an excellent channel. Facebook ads can point directly at eBay listings, so long as they’re relevant and aren’t dynamic URLs. You shouldn’t have any issues with multi-stock products, but you’ll have a hard time advertising single products for sale; if someone buys it, your ad will still be running, so you may pay for clicks to an invalid listing. This can hurt both your bottom line and your ad relevance score. Twitter can be used in a variety of different ways. You can post links to your listings and treat it basically as an RSS feed for when you add new products or items, or when items are back in stock. You can link to pages and content on your own site. You can pay for Twitter advertising, either to your website or to your eBay store. You can even just focus your time on becoming a Twitter joke account and whenever a tweet goes viral, do the “here’s my soundcloud” thing but for eBay listings. Pinterest can be a good site for eBay listings because of it’s highly visual nature. Instagram is similar, but since Instagram doesn’t allow links in their image captions, I wouldn’t recommend it. In general, social media becomes the top of your sales funnel, pointing people deeper in to your website, landing pages, or storefront. From there, you can point people specifically to products they’re interested in, and use paid advertising to reach them in other locations. A broad top leads to a greater stream at the bottom. The post How to Buy Advertising to Promote Your eBay Listings appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

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