Grow Traffic 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. 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 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 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 or 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 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, 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.

Can Increasing Your Google Ad Budget Lower Conversions?

When you’re running Google ads, you want to make the most of your budget. Every dollar needs to perform, either giving you information you can use to make other dollars perform better, or bringing you in a defined, positive return on your investment. This leads to the common adjustment of increasing bids when your budget increases, which in turn may have an astonishing effect on your ads. I’ve seen it a few times, and it’s not an unheard-of situation: a higher budget leads to lower conversions. Why does this happen, and what can you do to prevent it? Google’s Recommendations Part of the root cause of this issue is Google’s recommendations for ad success. Google is biased, of course. They want people to spend as much money as possible, so they can make as much money as possible. Google is smart, though. They know that if they just cranked up prices and left you with middling results, you would stop using their service. They strive for quality in their ad program so that no one walks away dissatisfied. One customer paying $10 a month for a year is worth more than another customer paying $50 once and leaving forever. Basically, Google has something called Recommendations. Recommendations are pieces of advice that good generates for you, based on the performance and situation of your account, and their wealth of historical data from other users in their ads system. Trust me, they’ve seen it all a thousand times. They can pick out your specific situation, identify potential improvements, and recommend actions for you to take that will lead to those improvements. Recommendations are not provided by an account manager or in any personalized manner. Rather, they are generated algorithmically based on your account performance and site-wide Google trends. Recommendations are taken from a list, which you can read here. Here are some examples, if you don’t want to click through: Add responsive search ads: Show more relevant ads to potential customers by creating responsive search ads. Create new versions of your ads: Try new versions of your ads and let the best ones show. Bid more efficiently with Enhanced CPC: Automatically optimize your bids at auction time for searches more likely to lead to conversions. Change your device bid adjustments: Optimize your spend on specific devices and increase your return on investment. Set audience bid adjustments: Optimize your audience bid adjustments based on how well they are converting. Add negative keywords: Reduce wasted spend by not showing on searches that are irrelevant to your business. Remove conflicting negative keywords: People didn’t see your ads because of conflicting negative keywords. Remove them so your ads can show. Add keywords to each ad group: Get your ads running by adding keywords to each ad group. Fix your audience source with no activity: Make sure you aren’t missing users on remarketing lists used by your campaigns. Fix the audience source so that users are added to your lists correctly. All of the above are taken straight from Google. They’re just a small selection of the dozens of recommendations Google provides, contextually, to accounts in their system. Some of these amount to “take advantage of advanced features in the ads system.” Some of them are “avoid conflicts that break ad visibility.” Still others work out to “spend more money in our system.” Since so many of their recommendations end up increasing your conversions, giving you more search visibility, or dropping your cost per conversion, it makes sense to follow them. Google isn’t going to steer you wrong if they can help it, because a disgruntled user is a user tying up their support system or a user that leaves their program entirely. How Increasing Budget Decreases Conversions Now, I’m not going to tell you that increasing your budget will always decrease conversions. In fact, it’s a pretty narrow set of circumstances that cause the problem. I can think of two reasons why it might happen, so I’ll detail them below. The first cause is when you simply run out of available traffic. This is by far the more common of the two causes, and it relates entirely to your chosen keywords. If your ads have a high quality score, you have a reasonable bid, and you have a budget sufficient to get plenty of conversions, increasing your budget will not increase your conversions. Imagine you have a keyword with a monthly search volume of 800. That’s roughly 800 queries per month for that keyword. Maybe 5% of them will click through and convert, so you have about 40 conversions available. At a price of $2 per conversion, that’s a monthly budget of $80. If you bump your budget up to $160, you’re doubling it. Your cost per conversion, if anything, goes up a bit as you have more money to spare and can be more flexible. However, there are still only 40 conversions available in that month, because there are only 800 people searching for your keyword. It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars to throw into your ads; if your keywords simply have no more available search volume, you cannot get more conversions out of them. The second cause is when the math doesn’t work out in your favor, dividing up bids within your budget with a higher cost per click. Let’s say you have a budget of $10, and your ads are hitting an audience that has a cost per click ranging from $2 to $3. You set your bid cap to $2, ensuring that every conversion you get costs $2 or less. With a budget of $10, you get five conversions. Now you have a higher budget so you increase your bid to $3. Your $3 captures a new selection of your audience, those who are harder to reach and thus cost more. However, you can only fit three conversions in your $10. This is a gross simplification, of course. You wouldn’t keep your budget cap at $10 with a higher available budget. Still, the idea is that your conversions aren’t increasing to keep up with the increase in budget. You double your budget and you expect double the conversions, but because your cost per conversion goes up – since you’re willing and able to pay more – your number of conversions goes down. Basically, this is just a negative confluence of factors that can occur when you increase bids and budgets based on Google’s recommendations without actually playing with the numbers in the right way. You generally need to figure out what point you should cap your bids, despite what Google may want you to do. Other Things to Check If you’re having this issue – the lack of increased conversions, that is – there are a few other things you can check that might be causing it other than the two main causes I detailed above. The first is to check to see if you happen to have daily budget caps, ad set caps, or other budget restrictions in place. Google will always abide by the smallest budget cap to avoid springing unnecessary or unexpected charges on their customers. If you set your overall monthly budget to $1,000 but your daily budget is still $10, you’re only going to spend $300 per month. Make sure all of your budget numbers are chosen in a way that uses them appropriately, or make sure you’re choosing one of Google’s automatic allocation strategies. Another check you can perform requires a little manual finesse. Is position #1 in the search results actually the best position for your business? Sometimes it is, of course. The top of the line is the most visible and tends to get the most clicks. However, it’s also somewhat more expensive than #2 or #3. A higher position might get you a higher click through rate, but if your conversion rate doesn’t support it, it’s not going to do well for your budget. You may be paying too much for your position. One of the most common occurrences I encounter is a business striving to spend all of their budget to reach position #1, when it doesn’t have a tangible benefit to outweigh the increased costs and competition. Letting your ads “languish” at #2 or #3 will still get you a reasonable amount of conversions, without over-spending on advertising to get there. Another issue you can check on is if you have any keywords that are draining your budget without bringing in conversions. It’s easy for an ad with 80 broad match keywords to have one or two performing terribly, and you might never know until you look at your keyword-level analytics. You generally want to make sure that your keywords all meet a minimum level of performance. Any dramatically underperforming keywords should be removed or added to a negative keyword list. Other Considerations for Google Ad Conversions Ads grow stale, they grow old, they can wither and die. Increasing your budget isn’t going to revitalize them, it’s just going to show a stale ad to more people who aren’t interested. You need to change up your ads, and that means split testing. Incomplete split tests are a common problem with ads testing. I give an example in the article linked. Essentially, if you test different variations of different variables, only to come up with a result that points at a new confluence that you didn’t test, you don’t actually know if that confluence is better. It’s easy to catch all of the options when you’re testing one or two variables, but the more you add, the more you need to test, and that grows exponential very quickly. It’s why tests should be limited, and it’s why you need a proper budget to get the proper kind of data. Conversions are also susceptible to concerns outside of the ad ecosystem. I’ve talked to a few marketers in the past who have issues they dig deep trying to figure out, only to step back and realize their conversions dropped because they sell school supplies and school is out for the summer, or some other seasonal shift. When temporal concerns aren’t at issue, there’s also the possibility that some public perception has shifted. Maybe a competitor has hit the field and is trashing your business in their marketing. Maybe one of your customer service reps made a bad decision and their response has gone viral. Maybe you sell something that the public is slowly moving away from, and there’s not much you can do to claw back those sales. Another thing you should consider is ad keyword groups. All too many people throw all their keywords into one soup and hope it all works out on the other side, but that leads to a lot of ads with copy that doesn’t quite line up with the query, ads that don’t quite work. That means your conversions are going to be harder to come by, which in turn means their cost goes up. A higher budget will get you more high cost conversions, but you’re wasting a lot of opportunity. The fact is, the ads ecosystem has a thousand different factors at play, which is why so many of Google’s recommendations point at automatic adjustments they can perform algorithmically to get you the best results for the given money and copy you feed into the system. Any adjustments you make need to keep this in mind. The post Can Increasing Your Google Ad Budget Lower Conversions? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Use Google AdSense and Other Ads Simultaneously

Before we begin, I find that there’s a lot of confusion as to whether an ad-related topic is focusing on the publisher perspective or the advertiser perspective. Some topics are easy to identify; if I’m talking about the cost of ads, I’m talking about the advertiser side. If I’m talking about your earnings, it’s probably about the publisher side of things. Google sort of helped with this by keeping a separation between AdSense and AdWords as the publisher and advertiser sides, respectively, but they’ve been rolling them into Google Ads for branding purposes. In any case, what I’m talking about today is AdSense, the publisher side of things, and the publisher side of other ad networks as well. Like all things with Google, ads can be pretty complex. The list of ad policies for AdSense is a mile long, and there are a whole lot of different restrictions, guidelines, and placement policies for different kinds of ads as well. Let’s talk about how AdSense combines with other ad networks, and see where we stand. Can You Use AdSense With Other Ads? This is a pretty common question. Can you use Google AdSense ads on your site alongside ads from other ad networks? The answer is yes. There are no restrictions in AdSense relating to the number of ad networks you can use on any given page. If you want to run ads from AdSense, ads from Adsterra or the other alternative networks, affiliate links, self-serve ads, or whatever else, you can. Google doesn’t care. What Does Google Care About? Google actually has a lot of different policies relating to ads that may be limiting your ability to use other ad networks. They don’t explicitly say “hey you can only have three ads on your page”, because they know there are different layouts for ads that can be reasonable. One site with three ads might be very unobtrusive, while another might have three large banner ads stacked on top of each other directly above the content, pushing it below the fold and making the site much less user-friendly. A lot of it comes down to your placement, so here are the guidelines for ad placement, in summary form: You are not permitted to place ads in a location that encourages accidental clicks. Accidental clicks can get your AdSense account banned, and there’s no way to recover from that ban. You are not permitted to use site design elements to draw undue attention to ads. None of those arrows that point to ads, blinking banners highlighting ads, or weird animations drawing attention to them. You are not allowed to label your ads in a way that is misleading, like “support us by clicking an ad” or “helpful links”. Anything that directly encourages users to click on ads is not allowed, and anything disguising the fact that they’re ads is bannable. You are not allowed to place images aligned to look like they’re associated with non-image ads. Using a text element and then using CSS to align some images to make them look like image ads is misrepresenting the content of the ads and usually makes advertisers very angry. You are not permitted to run ads in a layout that pushes content below the fold. If a user loads the page and all they see is ads and maybe your article headline – alongside your navigation – that’s a very poor user experience. Typically a responsive design will solve device issues that cause this, so if you have too many ads pushing content down, you need to move or remove some of them. You cannot offer any compensation for clicking ads. Absolutely nothing. Remember that bit about encouraging clicks? Incentives are very much in that category and can get your account removed. You cannot put ads in an element that refreshes itself automatically. Infinite scrolling pages can load new ads, but they can’t then refresh the other ads on the page; this would cause additional views for those ads, which throws off all the numbers and can be considered view fraud. You cannot place ads on exit-intent windows, log-in windows, or error pages. Anything that isn’t visible when the user loads the page cannot have an ad in it. You cannot place ads in dynamic content, like chat windows or within software. If you want ads in an app, Google has ads that can do that, through AdMob. You cannot put AdSense ads in emails. You can’t slip one by Google either, unless you just refuse to send emails to the entire Gmail domain. You are not permitted to put AdSense ads in pop-ups, pop-unders, in software, or in new windows. Additionally, while you can put ads on a site that uses pop-ups or pop-unders, the site cannot have more than three such additional windows spawning. Google knows that such techniques are effective enough that they can’t ban them completely, but they can ban excessive use of such techniques. None of that directly mentions the number of ads that can go on a single page, so we have to dig a little deeper for that information. Types of Ad Unit AdSense has a bunch of different styles of ad unit, depending on how you look at it. I’ve seen some people divide them into three categories: display units, link units, and native units. I’ve seen others include search units. Given that Google themselves divide them into five categories when giving examples, that’s what I’ll be using for the moment. If you want a deep dive into the variety of different ad sizes you can use with Google AdSense advertising, you can check out this page, which shows you all of the most common sizes with images so you know precisely what you’re looking at. The type of unit you use doesn’t actually matter to Google in terms of ad density restrictions. They don’t say “oh you can only have three display ads but you can have up to five text ads.” Ad density is controlled entirely by their Valuable Inventory Policy. The Valuable Inventory Policy If you’re wondering why you remember there being a fixed number of ads you can run on a page, and why I’m not mentioning those numbers now, it’s because they changed a few years ago. Google changed their policies in 2016, to move away from fixed numbers, because as always, webmasters ruin everything. Basically, if Google says “you can only have up to five ad units on your page”, webmasters read that as “you can pack five ad units into your page” and disregard any other considerations. The letter of the law is more important to them than the spirit of the law. They’ll happily make pages virtually unusable as long as they comply with the rules just right. So, in 2016, Google decided they had enough and decided to roll out a more blanket policy that generalizes the rules and leaves them more up to interpretation. This gives webmasters more design flexibility, while also allowing them more leeway to program their algorithm. The algorithm can now make judgments for ads based on their density and position. The Valuable Inventory Policy is their solution. Here’s what it says: “Advertising and other paid promotional material added to your pages should not exceed your content. Furthermore, the content you provide should add value and be the focal point for users visiting your page. For this reason, we may limit or disable ad serving on pages with little to no value and/or excessive advertising until changes are made.” Examples of unacceptable pages include mirroring pages, putting pages in frames with ads on them, rewriting or scraping content from other sources with no added value, pages with more ads than content, pages with automatically generated content with no curation, pages with no content besides ads, and pages that don’t meet the webmaster quality guidelines. This includes all ads on the page. You must have at least as much content on your page as you have ads, and this goes by screen real estate, not by word count. It includes all AdSense ads as well as all non-Google ads. You can use 5 Google ads and 2 non-Google ads, as long as they’re tastefully positioned and are not obstructing content. You can also use 2 Google ads and 5 non-Google ads in the same way. Again, the focus is on content, with advertising taking a secondary role. The fact is, the more content you have, the more ads you can support. One of the main arguments in favor of this new policy is the advent of websites that scroll forever, loading more content as they go. If Google enforced a 3-ads-per-page max or whatever, users would quickly be able to scroll down past where the ads are, giving you a lot of user traffic with no way to monetize it. Infinite scroll sites are allowed to load more ads as they go, as long as those ads are still in a reasonable proportion compared to the primary content of the site. Other Limitations One thing you may need to concern yourself with when you’re running ads from more than one ad network is any limitations imposed by those other networks. Not all networks are as forward thinking or as adaptable as Google tends to be, and as such, they may have policies that they copied from Google in 2005 and have not updated since. Make sure to check policies for any individual ad network you want to use in conjunction with AdSense. Another restriction you have will be the viability of your ads. Remember that ads will perform differently whether they’re above the fold or below it, and where they’re positioned on the page. They also have to compete with each other, as well as banner blindness. There’s a point of diminishing returns, and that point varies depending on the website. If you tend to have relatively short content, having a small number of ads is probably better. If you tend to write lengthy case studies and longer content, you can fit in more ads without decreasing the viability of each of them. Keep in mind the different kinds of ads you’ll be running as well. Affiliate links – which need to be disclosed as per the US Government guidelines and similar regulations around the world – may be valuable, but they do still count as ads, and Google can identify them even if you use redirects to hide them from your users. In-stream video ads also count against your ads level, though they’re going to be based on the play time of the video, not of the screen real estate used to display them. Above all, the user experience is paramount. If you have so many ads that your users are leaving the page in disgust, or reporting the ads as spam, or are otherwise taking action to avoid them, you probably have too many ads. You want your users to engage with your content, and experience ads on the side. Adding more and more ads to counteract declining engagement rates on your ads will only accelerate the total collapse of your audience. Pretty much every Google policy since 2011’s Panda update has been focused on improving the experience for web users, so as long as you keep that in mind at all times, you should have a good idea of what your limits are. Keep your users happy, and Google will be happy enough to reward you. The post How to Use Google AdSense and Other Ads Simultaneously appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Optimize Your PPC Campaign for Subscription Websites

Running a PPC campaign is always tricky business. You’re walking a razor’s edge, where to fall on one side means profitable advertising, and the other means a huge money sink. It’s tricky to set up, tricky to test, and tricky to monitor in a way that you can use to optimize your results. When it comes to selling a subscription service, it gets even harder to track and monitor in an appropriate way. It’s a simple reason, too: subscriptions aren’t a single fee, so you have to track more data and manage more numbers to have appropriate ROI calculations. That’s what I’ll discuss first, because it’s so important. Subscription ROI Here’s a scenario for you. You’re re-selling a subscription service that costs the user $11 per month, with your offer discount. You want to run some PPC ads, but when you set up targeting for your demographic, costs end up running you $25 per click. Do you run these ads? How do you know what the answer is? The solution is something called Expected Lifetime Value. Calculating the lifetime value of a customer, and the average across all of your customers, allows you to then calculate whether or not such advertising is worthwhile. Some customers, of course, are going to be dissatisfied and cancel after one month. The lifetime value of that customer is $11. Some customers are going to use your service for a few months, maybe six, before they cancel it. Maybe they outgrew it, maybe they wanted a change, maybe their business folded and they don’t need it any more. Their average lifetime value might be, say, $66. Some customers are going to be life-long advocates and hugely loyal users. Your service has only been around for two years, and they have two years of subscription under their belts. The lifetime value of these customers, at $11 per month, is over $250 and rising. How many customers are in each category? That’s what you need to find out, if you want to calculate the average lifetime value for your audience as a whole. Actually calculating lifetime value is a simple calculation. Figure out how many customers your service has and how long each one has been a customer. You already know the cost of a month of service, so you simply need to calculate the average number of months a user remains a customer. In our hypothetical situation, with a subscription costing $11 per month and a click costing $25 per month, you’re looking for an average customer value of at least $25 to break even. That’s 2.5-3 months of service on average. There are other details to monitor, of course. All of those customers who cancel after a month are dragging down your average. Do you have a way to differentiate them in your targeting, or do you need to include them in your calculations? This all gets more complex when you have to consider different tiers of service. If your subscription service has a $5/mo plan, an $11/mo plan, and a $20/mo plan, you have tricky calculations to do involving average purchase value as well as subscription length. Additionally, you may want to see if you can target explicitly the kinds of people who buy the high tier plans rather than the low tier plans when you run your ads. Hubspot’s guide to LTV is a good resource, though it doesn’t deal explicitly with subscription models. Still, it calculates the average value of a purchase and the average number of purchases in a customer’s lifespan, so you can adapt those numbers to reflect subscription models. Only once you know the average value of your customers, can you identify what point your PPC ads become profitable. Ideally, it will be a price you can afford. From there, you need to optimize your ads from every angle you can, which is what the rest of this post is going to help you with. Optimizing Your PPC Campaigns Optimizing a PPC campaign for a subscription service isn’t really any different from optimizing a campaign for a single-sale storefront. You always have an expected value for your customers, and you always have a cost per click, so you need to optimize your click rates and your conversion rates. Here are tips for how you can do it. Build a strong foundation. A foundation in this case is your account structure. It’s very easy to lose track of organization while you’re building up ads, and then you have a jungle where you should have a lawn. Ask yourself some questions: How many keywords are you using in each ad group? How many individual ads are you running in each ad group? How relevant are the keywords to each other and to the ads in each ad group? You generally want your ad groups to be tight groupings of appropriate, relevant keywords within your niche, with ads making use of this relevance in a narrow context. For example, if you have a content marketing service, you might be advertising your content marketing, or your content production, or your writing, or your outreach, and each of these can be their own groups. Always make sure your ad campaigns are as organized as possible, and if it doesn’t make sense to add a new keyword to a group, make a new group and expand it from there. Identify and focus on high performance keywords. Very often, your ad groups will have up to a dozen or even more keywords in them, so you want to drill down occasionally to see how those keywords are performing individually. You’re looking for keywords with a high quality score and a high click-through rate. Conversely, you probably want to identify and cut out keywords that have the opposite issues. If you’ve found some keywords to run but those keywords have an abysmal click rate, you should drop them before they cost you more money. If your research tells you that those keywords SHOULD be performing well, you should look for other reasons why they might not be working. Use a tiered bidding strategy. This is something WordStream covers in this article in quite a bit of detail. Basically, when you find a good keyword, you run an ad targeting that keyword with each of the four match types at the same time. They will have different costs and can get you different results, which both gives you more performance and an idea of how to properly use those keywords moving forward. Constantly grow your negative keywords list. This is another WordStream special, because they have a great write-up on negative keywords. In case you don’t know what they are, negative keywords are keywords you add to an advertisement to make it NOT appear when those keywords are involved. For example, if you’re a shoe store and you’re selling only dress shoes, you might include negative keywords like “athletics” and “running” to exclude people search for running shoes. After all, if someone searching for running shoes sees your ad and clicks through, they’ll find that you don’t sell what they want. That means you paid for a click that can’t possibly convert. Negative keyword lists should be a growing and evolving set of lists. You want a general list to maintain for every ad, but you also want to expand lists for ads based on their performance. If you see that people are clicking through your shoe ad on queries for rock climbing shoes because you used “shoes” as a broad match keyword, you can then add rock climbing to your negative list. Make sure you’re running your tests for an appropriate length of time. You need data on your keywords before you can make decisions about them. You get that data in one of two ways: letting them run for a longer time, or dumping more money into them to get more volume. Generally, with daily budget caps and spending limits, it’s better to let them run for longer. You almost never want to cut off your keywords if they’ve run for less than a week. Personally, I aim for about 10 days, unless a keyword is obviously garbage before that point, or vice versa. You need enough data to make a decision, and for low volume keywords it can take a while to get that data. Look for reasons an underperforming keyword is underperforming. The three main causes are low bids, low search volumes, and improper match type. If you’re using tiered matching, the third one drops out. Low bids are easy enough to fix. You may have put in some keywords with penny bids to try to get cheap traffic, or to use them as placeholders. Don’t forget to increase your bids slowly until they catch and start running. As far as low search volume, that’s simply something you need to check and experiment with. If a keyword that looks good doesn’t have enough clicks, pause it. In fact, don’t be afraid to pause keywords that aren’t performing up to your standards. You can make adjustments and try again, or you can cut them off entirely and focus your efforts elsewhere. Always make sure your ads are maximally relevant. If you have a lot of various keywords that focus on different aspects of your service, it’s a good idea to create specific focused landing pages for each of them as well. If one focuses on how cheap the service is, sending them to a landing page talking about a bunch of the upsells they can’t afford isn’t a good way to go about it. Don’t be afraid to make more variations in both ads and landing pages. The whole point is to be as relevant as possible to the audience who sees the ad, so there’s as little disjointedness between the ad and the landing page as possible. One of the number one mistakes I see businesses, even big businesses, making is that they use a generic one-size-fits-all landing page for every ad. Instead of five ads with a quality score of 7 leading to one generic landing page, make five ads each with a quality score of 9 pointing at individualized landing pages. Make use of remarketing whenever possible. One of your best target audiences is “people who are already interested but didn’t convert initially.” Remarketing lists allow you to capture these people and market to them with separate ads later. The fact is, a huge portion of your initial clicks are going to come from people who are interested, but who are not in the right situation to subscribe immediately. They might not have their financial information on hand, or they might not want to plug it in via a phone. They might want to discuss a purchase with a boss or with a family member first. Whatever the reason, those people are just as likely to forget about it than to remember and come back. That’s why you need to remarket. Make use of advanced features whenever possible. There are a lot of useful little features you can get with Google, both in organic search results and paid search extensions. Here are some of them you may consider: Google search extensions, which are those sub-links for search results that can give users specific sub-pages to go to directly. Ad Extensions, which are specific formats and improvements to ads through Google that can give you additional links or call to action methods. Those are just what Google offers. Other ad networks have their own quirks and advanced features that can be very useful once you get to learn how they work. The post How to Optimize Your PPC Campaign for Subscription Websites appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

List of CPM Traffic Networks with No Required Minimum

CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, or thousand, and is a form of advertising where views matter. As a publisher, you own a site you want to monetize, so you want to sign up for a CPM traffic network. You bring in traffic, that traffic sees the ads, and the ad network pays you based on the people who see it. There’s a lot of nuance to this kind of advertising. You might earn a different amount for your traffic depending on where the traffic comes from, with traffic from the USA, the UK, Australia, and other primary English countries coming as a premium, while traffic from India, Pakistan, and other low-tier countries earning you very little. You may have variable pay rates depending on the volume of traffic, the placement of the ads, and other factors. The two most important factors to consider when looking at a CPM network to join, however, are the minimums. Does the network have a required minimum amount of revenue before they pay you? This is a common restriction for a lot of CPM networks; they don’t want to have to cut checks for $5 every month to a lot of low-tier sites, so they put a minimum payment threshold into place. However, this can mean you send traffic to a network for months with nothing to show for it, which really isn’t worth your time. Does the network have a required minimum amount of traffic for you to be able to join it? A lot of the best CPM networks are restricted only to the top sized sites, so they can attract their own advertisers. “Your ads will show on sites that average 100 visitors a month” isn’t really a selling point, after all. There are reasonable rationalizations behind both minimums, but they definitely bias those CPM networks towards certain kinds of sites and certain sizes of communities. It makes it quite hard for those of us with smaller sites to properly monetize, and without good monetization, how can we expect to grow? There’s a self-fulfilling prophecy here, a circular feedback of mediocrity. CPM ads work best when you’re running a site that doesn’t really click through affiliate links or buy products, but is more readily willing to view ads as incidental to content. When you’re bringing in a lot of people, even if those people aren’t exactly the most engaged. It’s also very good for sites that have a relatively low income audience. They might not have the spare money to buy products, but they’ll at least view and maybe even click ads when they know it’ll help you out. There are a lot of lists of the best CPM ad networks out there in terms of the amount they pay, but there aren’t as many available lists of CPM traffic networks that lack these restrictive minimums. What I’ve done here is tried to find as many of each as I can, and listed them for your perusal. Hopefully you find one here you can use. CPM Traffic Networks with No Minimum Traffic Requirements First up, let’s look into some CPM ad networks that don’t require your site to have exorbitant levels of traffic every day. Some of these may be a little iffy, though. The first one is a prime example. RevContent is the first CPM network on my list. It’s iffy in that I’ve seen quite a variety of different requirements bandied about on various forums and in blog post reviews of their network, but I haven’t been able to find specific requirements on their site itself. Some people have claimed to be accepted with virtually no existing traffic, while others say they need 3 million impressions per month. That’s one hell of a variation, right? RevContent’s sign-up sheet makes me think they’re open to a wide variety of different levels of site traffic, since you can plug in the rough amount of traffic you get, and one of the options is under 1,000 hits. Whether that’s per day or per month, I don’t know. What I suspect is that they maintain different tiers of network within their overall program. They’ll always be open to the high tier sites, but the smaller ones may have limited space available. When they need to purge out a few of the underperformers or the inactive or cancelled accounts, they’ll be open to replacing them with other small sites. AdCash is the second entry on this list. This is the first one that very definitely has no minimum traffic requirements, but they’re also pretty much entirely self-serve. You sign up for your publisher account, they give you some tags to add to your site in whatever locations you want your ads to display, and you earn money based on those display ads. It’s all very simple. AdCash has been around for over 11 years, they serve over 600 billion requests per month globally, and they have tens of thousands of active campaigns going at any given time. All that combines to virtually ensure that you’re never letting ad space go empty, so long as you have the views to make it worth running. I can’t estimate your prospective CPM values, of course, since that will vary based on your traffic and your sources, but they’re far from the worst network out there. AdCash is not without some restrictions, however. First and foremost, they do not allow adult websites in their network. They have additional rules against sites with violent content, hate speech, hacking and cracking content, illegal item sales, and so on. It’s the usual slate of “if it’s illegal, we won’t monetize it” rules you probably expect from other sources. Clickadu is a pretty decent and flexible network compared to many of the others on this list, so it’s right up top. They have a variety of different ad formats, including some mobile ad formats and video pre-roll advertising that aren’t offered on other kinds of CPM networks. They have no minimum traffic requirement, at least not as of the last time I checked. Clickadu is also unique on this list in that it’s one of the only CPM networks that is available to anyone that also does not restrict adult content. They have the usual “no illegal products, no hacks, no piracy” rules, but they don’t specify anything against adult content. RevenueHits is another pretty great CPM network that partners up with a few other networks, like Propeller Ads, Clickadu, and Link Shrink. You can sign up as a publisher with ease, they don’t even ask for a ton of information. They’re a self-service ad network platform, developed by Intango. They’re also definitely on the list of publisher networks with no minimum traffic requirements. RevenueHits is interesting in that their system is very simple. You create a placement on either a desktop or mobile version of your site and they give you the code tag to add to your site. Once it’s up and running, your ad space is filled with ads from advertisers and you earn based on your traffic. It’s all very easy. While there are no minimum requirements for traffic, they do have the usual sort of restrictions on site content. No adult content, harassment, illegal weapons, or other illegal content. It’s the usual, basically. Adsterra is next on the list, and I have a soft spot to for it simply because the big A on their homepage is fun to play with. They’re another very simple, more or less self-service ad platform for publishers with no minimum traffic requirements. The do have some requirements, but they’re quite simple. No sites under construction, no sites with no content, no sites with 15+ banners or 5+ pop-ups on them, and no sites with an alexa rank greater than 1 million. Those are basically “don’t be deindexed and don’t be malicious.” Adsterra has the same content restrictions as other sites as well. No hacking, no piracy, no porn, no hate, no illegal activity or items, and so on. Other than that, there’s nothing really unique to know about this network compared to the others already listed. Criteo is possibly the most unique network on this list, in that they aren’t standard display ads. Rather, they offer a unique style of retargeting ads. Visitors on your site see Criteo ads, and those ads point to products or businesses that the visitors have visited recently and expressed interest in. Remarketing and retargeting are important forms of marketing today, so it stands to reason that there would be a newcomer that is willing to open up to small sites. Other than that, Criteo has many of the same requirements as the other networks on this list. Don’t promote anything illegal, don’t serve malware, you know the drill by now. Their mechanism may be unique, but their service is not. Conversant is another “maybe” on this list. Conversant is the company that you may have heard of for CJ Affiliate, one of the top affiliate networks out there. Conversant also has a private exchange for CPM advertising, and they have fairly low requirements. I say low because, while they have a minimum traffic requirement, it’s only 3,000 hits per month. That’s really not all that much, only around 100 hits a day, which isn’t too difficult to achieve as long as your site isn’t terrible. is on this list as a “maybe” in that they don’t list their minimum requirements, and some other reviews have said if they have traffic requirements they are fairly low, but that’s not necessarily meaningful. They do mention that you must have primarily English traffic from the US/UK/Canada markets, and they have traffic quality standards as well, so they’re really more of an honorary mention than an actual recommendation. Dishonorable Mention: Chitika. Chitika was once one of the top no-requirement ad networks in the world, so much so that back in 2010 when Yahoo shut down their own CPM network, they recommended people migrate to Chitika. So why are they in a dishonorable mention now, without even a link? Well, this link might elucidate some things. As of April 30 2019, Chitika is shutting down.  In fact, they’re basically already shut down. Their advertisers are gone and no earnings for the month of March were paid out at all. Another one bites the dust. CPM Traffic Networks with No Minimum Revenue Payouts This is where things get tough. The fact is, virtually no ad network out there is going to pay you for a few dollars without some specific exception. Many networks have a clause where, if you’re closing your account, they’ll pay you whatever remaining balance you had, even if it’s under their minimum threshold. Still, though, pretty much every ad network HAS a minimum payment threshold, it’s just a matter of how flexible it is. AdCash is a great example of this. They’re a very large and simultaneously very open ad network with thousands of advertisers and publishers active every day. They’re also very flexible with payments, giving you the option to get paid via bank transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, WebMoney, and even in Bitcoin. Even with all of this flexibility, they still limit you to a minimum of $25 USD or 25 Euros in your account before you can request a payment. Every other network I’ve listed up above either has a $25 minimum or higher. Some like Criteo have different thresholds, like 50 Euros or $150 USD. Some of them have different thresholds depending on the payment method you choose. Some CPM networks that I didn’t include had even more complex payout schemes, including fees depending on the bank you use. Overall, there’s not really a good option if you want under $25 payouts, unfortunately. Over to you folks now. Are there any good CPM networks you’ve used that have no minimum traffic requirements and no minimum payout thresholds? I’d like to hear about them if so. The post List of CPM Traffic Networks with No Required Minimum appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

MegaPush Review – A Unique Push Notification Ad Network

With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices and the fact that now nearly 60% of web traffic is from mobile users, it makes sense to start catering to mobile more and more in everything from web design to content to advertising. Traditional display ads, banners and lightboxes and slide-ins and pop-unders, these all rely on the unique multi-windowed approach to computer usage coming from desktop platforms. Mobile devices have less available screen space and less room for pop-style additional windows, so advertising has to adapt. One unique advantage mobile devices bring to the table for advertisers is push notifications. If you can use push notifications for advertising, you can take advantage of a unique mobile-specific channel that is otherwise left for, well, notifications. What are Push Notifications Exactly? If you have a smartphone, you’ve experienced push notifications. Any time you see a message or icon on your lock screen, or an app icon in your top nav bar, you’re seeing a push notification. They come from a wide range of sources, but mostly apps. A game might send you a notification when they’ve pushed a patch, or when your stamina bar refills. A restaurant app will message you when a special deal is active or when your reservation is ready. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger will leave you a notification when a new message comes in. Push notifications are powerful because every mobile user is used to checking them. In a way it’s like email in that sense, but push notifications don’t have an inbox to be ignored or a spam filter to weed out the messages. Using push notifications for marketing is a relatively new, untapped channel. That’s what makes MegaPush a key player: they were the first to build a complete advertising network around them. These days, push notifications are an increasingly available marketing channel. Networks like MegaPush are springing up, but more importantly, existing and established ad networks are starting to add push notifications as another ad format to their networks. What is MegaPush? As you probably guessed, MegaPush is an advertising network unlike any other. They were the first push notification focused advertising network, and are still the largest such network focused entirely on push notifications. They were founded in 2017, so you know at least their technology is up to date. MegaPush is nice enough to publish a neat infographic on their homepage showcasing their demographics and audience niches right up front. Their audience is (roughly) 80% male, with a majority of users falling into either the under 18 age group or the 45-54 age group, with 35-44 taking a middle ground. In terms of niches, the categories that are broad enough to have a full segment of their pie chart are cinema, literature and teaching, tourism, software, and business. Other niches may not have as much traffic, but are certainly still available. So what advantages does MegaPush bring to the table? Here are some of their selling points, beyond the demographics. Global traffic. CPC bidding. Minimum price per click of $0.001. Fully implemented tracking. 12+ million clicks per day. Now, a couple of these may be questionable as positives, but we’ll talk about that some more in a moment. The core fact remains: push notification marketing is relatively new, and MegaPush is the most prominent player in a largely untapped market. They are poised to hit the big time, if they navigate the early years where most ad networks fail. I should also mention here that, as a global company, MegaPush works with a variety of payment processors, including Qiwi, MNP, Ibox, Wire, Beeline, and Visa, but they do not mention some of the big names, like Stripe or PayPal. For those of you who are into the crypto craze, they accept Bitcoin as well. Using MegaPush Getting started with MegaPush is actually very easy. There are no traffic minimums or minimum spends to be an advertiser. All you need to do is register and deposit $100 into your account to get up and running. Even the sign-up form is easy, simply asking for a name, password, and basic contact information. Before you get too far into it, though, make sure it’s a network that works with your niche. As with a lot of advertising networks, MegaPush has a rules document that includes a list of niches that aren’t allowed to advertise through their platform. It’s mostly the usual, no illegal items or materials, nothing political or religious, nothing sexual or adult. You can read their full list of rules here. Actually creating a campaign is dead simple. If you’ve ever looked at any other advertising network before, you should know more or less what to do from the moment you’re in their dashboard. First, click the new campaign entry on the left column. This opens the main window to the new campaign pane. Fill you information: your campaign name, link, title, message, image, icon, and targeting information. For targeting, you can choose country, device, and OS. Choose your start and stop times and your budget. You can also choose IP ranges, traffic feeds, and ISPs. On the other hand, there are no interest or demographic targeting options. This is where one of the biggest potential drawbacks of push notification advertising makes itself clear. Push notifications are, if you haven’t noticed before, very short. They only give you 30 characters for your title and 45 characters for your description. That’s less than 1/4th of a tweet! You’re able to use emoji if you want, so that can help a bit, but you’re still very heavily restricted in the amount of space you have available. This is, however, an inherent limitation in the ad format, due to how much space a push notification takes up on a mobile device. There’s no way to expand that until Apple and Google collectively decide to expand the size of push notifications. Will that ever happen? Who knows! Once you have your ad configured the way you want it, simply submit it. As long as you have money in your account, it will be submitted to the moderation queue, which takes roughly half an hour before your ad is reviewed and either accepted or rejected. MegaPush has a very high acceptance rate. Basically all they check for is if you violate any of the rules listed upon that rules document, and they will only reject for violations of those rules. Keep in mind, however, that three violations will result in the closure of your account, so don’t push it. Drawbacks, Warning Signs, and Problems Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses in the lands of the MegaPush. I have a few issues with it as an advertising network. First and foremost, the bottom chunk of their homepage is covered with case studies copied from people who have tested out their service. Unfortunately, most of those case studies are, well, bad. A lot of them are Russian, for one thing, and almost all of them show off losing money in mediocre tests. They talk about targeting third-tier countries for a few cents with really bad, literally Google translated advertising. None of it is even applicable to the kinds of advertising I run. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of these “case studies” are bare minimum experiments created specifically to get MegaPush to syndicate the post on their site, giving that backlink to the site that did the study. Since most of them are spending very low amounts of money, and they’re operating in niches like dating and pharma, it doesn’t inspire confidence. The fact that the rules and FAQ pages for MegaPush are in a very “engrishy” style also doesn’t inspire confidence. The fact is, MegaPush is a foreign-created and ESL company that is using English as a trade language, not a native language. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it comes with certain connotations and a history on the web. An advertising network lives and dies based on the balance of its publishers and advertisers. Too many advertisers means competition drives pricing so high that it no longer becomes feasible. Too many publishers and the opposite happens. If the publishers are not high enough in quality, the traffic the advertisers get is garbage and they abandon the platform. Conversely, if the advertising is poor quality or spammy, publishers start to back out. Smart advertising networks can solve this problem through some aggressive filtering. I can understand MegaPush holding off on this filtering as long as they can; it involves cutting out a lot of publishers and advertisers. If they don’t have enough high quality members of their respective rosters, they won’t be able to survive the purge. They need to build before they can prune. The break point, in my mind, will probably come in 2-3 years. At that point, we will known whether MegaPush wants to become one of the big players, or if they’re going to content themselves with low quality traffic and ads. My hunch is that the currently existing high quality advertising networks are going to offer push notifications – some do already – and that MegaPush won’t be able to compete. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, but that’s the way I feel the wind blowing. Get the Most Out of MegaPush If you’re determined to make use of MegaPush – and it’s not a bad idea, especially if you just want to get experience with a new ad format with very low pricing – you can play around quite a bit to optimize your traffic. Here’s the thing with MegaPush: the traffic is generally quite low quality, but so long as you have an offer that can be claimed in your target zones, it very likely will be claimed eventually. Even really bad ads can have a decent return, simply because there’s very little banner blindness for push notification ads just yet. The first and best route for optimization you have is feed optimization. MegaPush has over 50 individual traffic feeds, but you need to actually be tracking the {feedID} parameter in your advertising to be able to see what traffic you’re getting from what feeds. Without that parameter, everything is just lumped into one record. Basically, run your ads with no feed targeting, then pick out the top performing feeds and add those to your next round of targeting. Alternatively, edit your existing campaign to remove the feeds that don’t perform well enough. Device targeting is useful as well. Remember that, while push notifications are primarily a mobile innovation, they are available on desktops as well. The trick is, push notifications on desktop are a lot harder to get, since they require an opt-in on the user’s part rather than being a natural part of mobile usage. I find that desktop push notifications are very unlikely to convert, though it’s not completely unheard of. At the very least, run different campaigns for mobile and desktop, so you can optimize them individually. Have you used MegaPush? Have you experimented with push notification ads on other platforms? Let me know in the comments how your experiences have gone. I’d like to see if the case studies they publish are typical, or if a savvy user can make more out of it than they make it seem. The post MegaPush Review – A Unique Push Notification Ad Network appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Why Nobody Is Clicking Your Affiliate Links and How to Fix It

When you first learn about it, it seems like affiliate marketing should be easy. It’s not really that difficult to set up a blog; all you need is a domain, some WordPress software, a few plugins, and you’re good to go. It’s trivial to sign up for most affiliate networks. Then all you need to do is put links on your page and rake in the cash, right? How hard can it be? The answer, of course, is “quite hard.” There’s a reason there are entire blogs based on “how to succeed with affiliate marketing.” You’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more to affiliate marketing than just slapping a blog and some links online. There’s a mountain to climb, and you need to prepare yourself for the journey. What I’ve done is put together the most common reasons why you aren’t getting clicks on your affiliate links. Check each of them down the list and see which apply to you, and work to fix the issues you find. Your Site Lacks Traffic The first and most common problem with any affiliate marketing website is a lack of traffic. A lot of bloggers start off slow and try to monetize too early. I understand the desire to set a precedent; people don’t like building up loyalty only to be monetized at the first chance. On the other hand, it doesn’t do you much good to put links up when you only have a few dozen hits per month. It’s a matter of simple math. The typical affiliate marketing conversion rate is something like 5%, and that’s out of the people who click. An average click rate might be 1%. That means five out of every hundred people who click go on to make a purchase, and one out of every hundred people to visit go on to click, so you need tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors to see reliable conversions. Obviously, you can do a lot to tweak these numbers – and a lot of the subsequent headings in this article follow those tweaks – but the numbers are still the numbers. You need volume to succeed with affiliate marketing. Your Links are Off-Topic Have you ever been reading a blog post and, in the middle of it, seen a sentence or a paragraph that’s entirely out place? Something that stops the entire train of thought to then pitch some pest control service or as-seen-on-TV crap? I have, and I know most people have. It’s baby’s first attempt at affiliate marketing, and it’s a lowest form of spam. Often one of the hallmarks of a spam blog is a bunch of unrelated, usually stolen content with some mostly unrelated affiliate links added in. The spammer doesn’t care that their content isn’t their own or that their site isn’t good, as long as they can get even a single conversion, it works out in their favor. Always make sure your affiliate links are as close to on-topic as possible. Your Links Lack Context This is a small extension of the previous item, but it’s a narrower focus. Consider that your links need to be relevant to your niche, but they also need to be relevant to your article itself. If your links aren’t relevant to the article you’re writing, who is going to want to click on them? I generally recommend that you should build your posts around your links. Know what the product is and how you’re going to recommend it, and build from there. Your Links Lack a Call to Action Every affiliate link should have an inherent call to action. Either that call to action should be a simple “click here to buy now”, or it should be something more detailed and tuned for the specific product and the problem it addresses. A good piece of content is geared towards explaining how a product is going to solve a problem, with affiliate links to that product. You Aren’t Adding Benefit Here’s a question for you: Why should your reader click your link and buy the product through you? Why wouldn’t they just go to Amazon on their own time, or to a manufacturer page, or to a different storefront they trust more? What makes your offer special? There are a lot of possible answers to this question. Timing. You’re targeting your content to be found by people actively looking for a solution to a problem, so presenting them with the solution gives them a path of least resistance to solving their problem. Additional value. Your site is geared towards helping people with a given industry or job, and the product, while perhaps not beneficial to order from you, grants them access to exactly what you recommend when you give advice, and makes your advice all the more applicable. Discounts. Many affiliate offers allow you to present the product at a discount. Maybe clicking through your link gets them a free upgrade or a free month of service. You need to have some kind of benefit to bring to the table, and more importantly, you need to inform your readers what that benefit is. If you’re offering a discount to anyone who buys through your link, make sure you’re saying so. Make it clear that you’re providing something they can’t get by going elsewhere. Your Links are Ugly This is an issue for a small subset of users who pay attention to links. This subset is growing more and more as people grow more aware of the kinds of tricks that are used to scam them online. Take a look at these four different Amazon links. All four of these lead to the same product. The first one is the full link with reference information Amazon adds to the URL when you click through their pages to reach a product. The second one is the same link with all of that reference information stripped out. It looks significantly less ugly. The third one is a bare affiliate link with reference information, and the fourth is a shortlink an Amazon affiliate can generate. The fourth one is by far the cleanest, because it hides all of the reference information used for tracking. (Note: the affiliate links have had the affiliate code removed; they’re for demonstration purposes and are not valid tracking links, so don’t worry about clicking them.) For something like Amazon you can just use a shortlink, but other affiliate networks don’t offer their own domain for shortlinking. This is why a lot of affiliate marketers choose to route their affiliate links through a cloaking redirect. Cloaking is also a convenient centralized way to manage your affiliate links. If one product changes or you want to change a link, you can change a single central redirect a lot more easily than you can change a hundred links across a hundred internal pages. You can read more about the benefits, as well as how to do it, here. Your Links are Front-Loaded Putting your affiliate links up at the top of your article is a great way to get them ignored. If someone is finding your page, they’re generally doing it because they have a query they searched for, and they found your article. That means they are looking for information they assume your page will provide. They don’t want to click a link off the page until they’re sure they got the information they wanted, or they’re sure you don’t have what they need. Putting a link in the top half of your content isn’t generally a good idea. You can put one in the top third, near the end of that third, to capture the people you’ve already convinced. Otherwise, you’ll want to put links closer to the end of your content. Of course, you should do some testing with different positions for your links, so you know what captures people the best from your best posts, as well. Your Links are In Your Navigation (Or Elsewhere) Adding your affiliate links to places that aren’t in your content is a death sentence for those links. For one thing, no one is going to click a link in your navigation or sidebar that isn’t extremely compelling, and an affiliate offer is very, very rarely compelling enough to click without a full blog post backing it up. For another thing, adding such links to your navigation can be a cause for a Google penalty, or at least a demotion in your search visibility. They don’t like it when you put advertising as part of your overall layout, and the omnipresence of such advertising can cause issues. It’s not guaranteed – and cloaking can help hide it – but it’s still not worthwhile to try, in my opinion. Your Site Isn’t Trustworthy There are a lot of different signs of trust a website can portray, and you need to have at least a few of them if you want to get anyone to click through your links. What kinds of trust signals might you try to use? Customer testimonials are good, though they don’t necessarily help a pure affiliate site. If you sell products of your own or even offer consulting, they can be worthwhile. Product reviews can be very useful. Just screenshot or quote a few good reviews of the product you’re trying to sell and use those as part of your marketing. Social signals can be useful, though they’re harder to get and less valuable than they have been in the past. Still, a lot of shares on your posts can indicate to people that what you have to say is worthwhile to many. A lot of trust signals are more applicable to storefronts, and I go over them in greater detail in the article linked above. Some, though, can be very useful to affiliate or hybrid sites, so it’s worth looking into them. You’re Clearly Just In It For The Money Every good blog should have more than just product reviews for affiliate links. Sure, the microsite method can work, but if it works, it’s on a small scale. That’s why the people who go with microsite marketing tend to build dozens of sites across a niche, which could just as easily have been built into one larger authority site. The only reason they tend to not go the centralized route is so they can take advantage of the minor benefits of matching keyword domains, while maintaining the ability to simply cull any sites that underperform. When you’re running a site and every blog post you publish is nothing more than a basic overview or review of a product, with a bunch of links to affiliate products, it becomes quite clear that you’re not in it to help your readers, but really just to make money. That’s the wrong approach, and people can sense your lack of expertise, sincerity, and value a mile away. Many will simply decide to ignore your site in the future, and most will avoid clicking your links once they realize what’s going on. You’re Reaching the Wrong Audience Even if you have a lot of traffic, maybe that traffic is a different audience than you want it to be. I see this a lot from people who are chasing high-paying affiliate commissions rather than high-volume commissions. Sure, selling that yacht might earn you a year or two’s worth of wages in a single click, but if you aren’t designing your site explicitly around targeting the hyper-rich in their yacht-owning ways, you aren’t going to be getting any sales. That may sound like an extreme example, but I’ve seen yacht-based affiliate offers and let me tell you, that’s a very narrow niche. The post Why Nobody Is Clicking Your Affiliate Links and How to Fix It appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Why Does My Cost Per Conversion Fluctuate Daily?

Cost per conversion is probably the most important metric for any paid advertising plan, regardless of whether you’re running Facebook ads, Google ads, Twitter ads, or ads though any other network. CPC is your return on your investment, the cost to make a sale, and by optimizing that cost, you can get more sales out of your money. The thing is, while you’re monitoring CPC, it often changes. It changes in response to just about everything you do, but it also changes when you’re not doing anything. Why does it fluctuate up and down, and what can you do about it? Factors that Change Cost per Conversion There are a lot of different factors that go into calculating cost per conversion. Let’s run down the list. First of all, you have your bidding style. Automatic bidding will adjust your bid on the fly, which means your costs will change based on any factor the platform considers worthy of adjustment. Facebook’s automatic bidding is particularly prone to this, and your cost per conversion will likely be changing by the hour, not to mention by the day and by the week. Of course, even manual bidding styles have some level of adjustment in them. When you bid $25 on an ad, you’re not actually paying $25 every time. You’re paying just a hair above what the second-highest bid is, to save you as much money as possible. Every ad platform understands that you’re going to optimize your ads for cost, so they do it automatically rather than have you waste your time dropping your bid 10 cents at a time until you reach a breaking point. Next up, you have your competition. Competition is generally one of the biggest factors when it comes to rising costs. As I just mentioned, most ad platforms will only charge you a hair above what the second highest ad under you is paying. If you bid $50, and the second place advertiser is bidding $20, you’re going to be paying $20.01. If that second advertiser decides to up their bid to $25, suddenly your cost per conversion is going to be $25.01, with no other changes you can see. This happens when existing competitors change their bids in an attempt to get higher in the auction than you or than other competitors, and it happens when newcomers decide to target the same keywords or same audience you’re reaching. Given that we operate in a world where there are millions of advertisers competing in a very fuzzy way, changes in competition in an entirely different industry can lead to overlapping keywords changing, bumping up your costs. It’s very hard to trace and is just a fact of life for online advertising. Beyond that, you have to consider temporal factors like time of day, time of week, and time of year. Sometimes your costs change because the audience you’re trying to reach is more or less available than before. On an hourly basis this follows a fairly regular pattern during peak hours and dropping off when people are asleep. On a day to day basis you also tend to see weekly trends, though holidays and special events can skew this. Even seasonal shifts can change your costs, though you should be able to broadly predict these changes once you have experience. There are often also geographical factors that you might need to consider. For example, ads in Nebraska this spring are probably going to have skewed costs due to all of the flooding. People who just lost a lot of property to water damage are going to have different priorities in the kinds of content they’re looking for online, so some ads will benefit and others will falter. Any time there is a large-scale natural disaster, it skews advertising in that geographic area. Now, if you’re advertising on a broad, country-level or global basis, this won’t be a huge blip on your radar. On the other hand, if you’re targeting local areas – which you should usually be if you can, they tend to be more engaged and easier to optimize – you can be severely impacted when one of those areas is hit by some act of god. You can also look to see if any specific keywords are bumping up your costs. Costs are typically calculated on a keyword level, even when you’re running ads that target a dozen or more keywords. Your cost per conversion for those ads will be averaged across all of those keywords, since it’s an ad-level calculation. Dig into your ads and look at the costs at the keyword level. Sometimes one keyword will go crazy for some reason, be it competition or some other factor. Cutting that one keyword out will decrease your costs. You do have to be careful doing this, because if that keyword was giving you most of your traffic and conversions, cutting it out can dramatically decrease the performance of your ads. Always make sure you’re paying attention to each factor and how it impacts your ads as a whole. Some platforms use a fuzzy bid cap that can cause costs to fluctuate. For example, Facebook allows you to set a daily bid cap, but they can actually charge you up to twice your cap in a given day. They simply need to then under-charge you the next day to even it out. They use this to help capitalize on quick trends and surges of ad performance, and make up for it during slow times. It’s a nice feature and means you are less likely to miss trends, but it also means your daily costs can be very fickle looking. Other forms of audience engagement can have an impact. Some platforms, particularly Facebook – they sure come up a lot in this discussion huh? – take some outside factors into consideration when running your ads. Your organic post performance on Facebook will alter your potential target audiences and their impressions of you. If you’re running ads targeting an audience, and then you have an organic post go viral in a positive way, suddenly a lot of people who didn’t necessarily know about you before have some positive exposure to you. This means more people may see your ads in a new light, and may convert when they otherwise wouldn’t have, which can lower your costs. The same goes in reverse, as well. If you have a piece of news break about workplace rights violations or some political scandal, or whatever negative piece of news would trend today, it can negatively impact your ads as well. Clicks getting verified can change your cost per conversion as well. Google, for example, runs all of your click data through a verification process to make sure they’re legitimate rather than not. Processing this data isn’t necessarily immediate, and the volume of qualified clicks can change from day to day. Since Google ignores clicks they don’t think are qualified or verified traffic, those clicks don’t go into the calculation of your cost per conversion. As that data comes and goes, so too does the cost per conversion metric you’ll see. Quality score matters too, on platforms where it’s calculated. In fact, depending on the platform, quality score may be the single most important metric to monitor. Quality score will change based on time and based on other changing factors, including historical ad performance. I highly recommend reading up on the factors that go into calculating both the Google ads quality score and the Facebook ads relevance score. If you’re using a different ad network, check to see if they have their own version of a quality score, and read up on what affects that. Generally, optimizing your quality or relevance score will have a good, positive impact on your ad costs over time. There are other external factors too, like changing algorithms in your ad platform. Most ad networks change the way they work and display ads on an internal basis all the time. The changes aren’t necessarily big, and they usually don’t affect much at any given time, but as more and more changes are made, the landscape of advertising changes. Facebook is notorious for changing how all of their internal algorithms work with little notice, and you simply have to adapt or perish. Another external factor is industry trends or announcement affecting attention. If you’re Samsung and you’re running ads for the latest Galaxy phone, Apple making an announcement for a new iPhone is likely to have an impact on your ad costs. Whether it’s positive or negative depends on how their device stacks up against yours. Of course, companies on the scale of Samsung and Apple likely have a lot of competitive intelligence going on and can predict a lot of this, but smaller brands may not even realize a competitor is launching until they’ve hit the scene. Other trends can cause issues as well. A data breach in a related sector can be either a big opportunity or a big risk to your brand, for example. You never know what kind of news can affect public perception and ad exposure. Your costs will fluctuate if you’re using a platform like AdEspresso that optimizes ads on the fly. AdEspresso in particular uses algorithms to create large-scale variations and tests for ads, to optimize costs over time. Usually this will trend your costs downward, but it does have to fight against all of the other effects that may be pushing costs upward. In a balanced world, you’ll see minor fluctuations up and down over time. If one push wins out, you’ll see a clearer trend. And, of course, ads simply grow stale over time. If you’ve been running an ad long enough to saturate your target audience, it will get worse and worse in terms of performance, and thus become more and more expensive. Ads simply die over time, and there’s nothing you can do about it aside from mercy killing them and replacing them with the new hotness. How to Cope with Fluctuating Costs There are a few ways you can handle fluctuating costs. The first suggestion I always have is to pull back and look at costs on a longer time scale. Your cost per conversion fluctuating from hour to hour is completely meaningless. Look at it on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, and look for fluctuations or trends there. Ideally, when you draw back, the fluctuations smooth out and you see some kind of trend. Costs decreasing is good, if conversions remain the same. Costs staying the same is fine. Costs rising may be cause for concern, or at least monitoring for future changes. The second suggestion is to always strive to optimize your ads. You can use an algorithmic optimization platform, or you can just constantly run tests of your own. Don’t let ads get stale, don’t give them time to die on their own, push them to be better at every turn. There are, of course, a thousand different ways you can tweak your ads for better performance, lower costs, higher volumes, and better conversion costs. The more you push for improvement, the less the minor fluctuations will worry you. How often do your ads fluctuate? Do they change wildly from day to day or week to week, or are they more stable? Tell me stories about the best and worst platforms you’ve used, I’m interested to hear your experiences in the comments. The post Why Does My Cost Per Conversion Fluctuate Daily? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How Effective Are Mobile Push Notification Advertisements?

You’ve probably seen the statistic a few times over the last few years. An increasing number of people online are using mobile devices rather than desktop devices to access the web. That number surpassed 50% back in 2016 for the first time, and you can bet it’s going to keep rising. After all, there are a ton of conveniences inherent in a mobile platform, despite its limitations. This means reaching your mobile users in a way they understand, a method native to their platform, is more essential than ever. That’s why one of the newest ad formats, push notification advertising, is on the rise. The question is, are they worthwhile ads, or are they a waste of time? All About Push Notifications Push notifications are a style of notification for phones that started life on the Blackberry. Back then, they were primarily used to notify a user when an email was coming in, so they could respond in a timely fashion. This was unprecedented convenience for the business traveler on the go. These days, push notifications are inherent in pretty much every app on every mobile device. Blackberry may be more or less dead, but this part of their legacy lives on in both iOS and Android devices. A push notification is, simply put, a notification an app pushes to the front of the screen. If your phone is locked, push notifications often appear on the lock screen, though not always. Phone users can choose whether or not to display information like that on their lock screen, as a privacy feature. If you’re in an app, a push notification generally appears as a drop-down window from the top of the screen. You can interact with it there, which may allow you to take brief actions – such as answering or cancelling a call – or will take you into the relevant app. If you don’t interact with the push notification immediately, it typically turns into an icon related to the app that sent it and hovers in the top infobar on your phone until you swipe down to engage with it or clear it. Part of the power of push notifications is that the app that sends them does not have to be open, it just has to be installed on the device. It’s not like browser-based advertising, where the user is immune if they don’t have their browser opened. Push notifications only require the app to exist on the device to operate. Push notifications today are used for a wide variety of different purposes. For example: Email apps can send you a push notification when a new important email arrives. Games can send a push notification to let you know about a new update. Calendars can send push notifications to alert you to upcoming events or meetings. News apps can send you push notifications for breaking local news. Weather apps can send push notifications with weather advisories. Bank apps can send you alerts, such as when a deposit is made or when an overdraft occurs. Airline apps can show you a push notification for flight delays or cancellations. Pretty much any purpose an app can have, a push notification can be used to get your attention. That’s their primary power, after all; capturing a few seconds of attention, pretty much regardless of what you’re doing at the time. Very few apps will so totally control a phone that they prevent push notifications from appearing. Games may be interrupted, full screen videos will still show it, and other apps don’t take that level of control over the display. In fact, the only way to prevent push notifications is a system-wide or system-based setting. In Android, for example, you can control each app’s ability to send push notifications from the system settings, though many apps also have the option in their own settings menus as well. Why Push Notification Advertising is Great Push notification advertising has a few unique benefits over other forms of advertising, so I’d like to go over some of them in case you’re not convinced First up, push notifications are generally enabled by default. Any user who is using an app usually has to manually disable push notifications if they don’t want to see them. Very few people block all push notifications, simply because they are often so useful to have. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, push notifications are opt-in already. Your audience is pre-qualified, in that the only people who receive push notifications are people who already have an app installed willingly. You aren’t foisting some advertising on someone who doesn’t want to see it. It’s almost more like mailing list marketing with an opt-in pre-screening your audience. Not all push notifications come from apps. Or, well, that’s not technically accurate. Marketing push notifications come from an app, but the app is the browser used on the phone. Browser-based push notifications come from websites when a user opts into receiving them. Even then, it’s still an opt-in for marketing messages, not an unwanted advertisement in a platform they didn’t want to see it in. Push notifications can also work on desktop platforms, though they’re a bit different in that format. Web push notifications are limited to browser-based opt-ins, and don’t work if the user’s browser is closed. They’re also harder to get people to use than on mobile, simply because it’s an unfamiliar and explicitly marketing channel that many people don’t want to enable. I generally consider push notifications to be a solely mobile format, though many people use them to good effect with desktop users as well. I consider that additional audience a bonus. With mobile ads, you also don’t need to content with ad blockers quite so much. Blocking ads on a mobile device is a much larger hassle than it is on desktop platforms due to the sandboxed nature of apps in a mobile environment. This, coupled with the opt-in nature of push notifications, means audience sizes tend to be larger. There are also some unique features for push notifications hitting the market. Some businesses are using geofencing; essentially creating a zone surrounding one of their retail locations, and triggering push notification advertising only to people within that zone. Another one of the best features for push notification marketing is that they’re almost 100% bot-free. Bots aren’t using the kinds of apps or user behaviors that would even allow them to receive push notifications. Many bots that use mobile user agents are on desktops spoofing it anyway. It means a huge majority if not all of your traffic is real users. The Drawbacks of Push Notification Advertising There are, of course, several potential drawbacks to using push notifications for advertising. First of all, push notification ads do not work on iOS devices, at all. This is a policy from Apple. App notifications can be used for non-marketing purposes, but using them for marketing is verboten. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Push notification advertising happens through apps on iOS, though Apple users often report those apps and/or leave negative feedback. Consequently, iOS is not generally an option for push ad targeting on reputable platforms. Secondly, if you send too many marketing messages or otherwise abuse push notification advertising, chances are very good that your users are going to mute notifications for whatever app is sending them. Push notifications are also very short. Longer notifications get cut off, and you can’t just open a notification the way you can a text message. If you don’t hook a user with your first 10 words or so, you don’t have much more space to do it. Push notification ads also typically lead to a landing page, so your landing page needs to be very well formatted for mobile and it needs to be a natural progression from notification to landing page. How Well Do Push Ads Work? Rumor throughout the marketing world right now is that push notification advertising is the Next Big Thing. It’s relatively new, it’s relatively untouched, and thus it has relatively high click rates. The precise performance of your push ads depends on a lot of factors. The mobile ad network you choose is a big part of it; you need your ads to be showing up through useful, high quality channels, otherwise user trust will be low. Your bid is also important, as it is with any kind of paid marketing. This is where you’re likely to see the biggest change over the next couple years. Right now, depending on other factors, you can get around 1,000 clicks for a mere $5. That is, however, just clicks. Push notification ads are almost always pay per click, so it’s up to you whether you can leverage those clicks into conversions. You need to be able to get at least enough conversions to make back the money you spent on the clicks, and that requires a high quality landing page and a compelling offer. Push notifications generally have a high open rate, though in part that’s due to their short and trivial-to-access nature. Many people are used to checking their notifications regularly, and when a few of those end up being ads, well, they still check them. Of course, the best kind of push notification marketing comes when you have your own app. Amazon can advertising sales all day long to people who have the Amazon app installed, and those users will thank them for it. Your business might not be able to develop your own app, though, so you will have to rely on notifications through other channels. Push notification ads are a very new frontier as far as advertising is concerned, so there will likely be a lot of developments in the space over the coming years. Expect the big names to get in on it, and expect a lot of innovations still to come. Likewise, expect a growing amount of competition, increasing bids, and decreasing click rates as people grow wise to the strategy. How to Succeed with Mobile Push Ads Mobile push notification advertising is, as I said, relatively new. The tips I give you are based on limited experience, and may change as the state of the industry changes. Still, many of them are just good tips for advertising in any channel. First, keep your messaging short. Push notifications don’t do well when they’re truncated unless you’re explicitly using the truncation as a form of clickbait, and that’s likely not going to work too well. Under 10 words is ideal for your notification in general. Next, make use of symbols. Emojis are part of the native language of the mobile web, so don’t be afraid to use a few of them, so long as they’re relevant and aren’t getting in the way of your message. Crucially, don’t send too many notifications. Sending more than about 3-5 notifications in a week is going to cause as much as 50% of your audience to mute notifications to avoid the advertising. It’s better to only send maybe 1-2 per week, if that. I prefer to limit them to special occasions; send a couple for a weekend sale, but don’t send a bunch leading up to the weekend. Don’t be afraid to experiment. At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules for push advertising yet, as it’s still a developing format. You can get in on it now and be one of the trend setters, and pave the way with your own experiments. The post How Effective Are Mobile Push Notification Advertisements? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

SimilarWeb vs Alexa: Which Traffic Estimator is More Precise?

Traffic Estimators are pretty useful sites for a certain demographic. Not everyone has need of one, but they come in handy when you’re a marketer looking to say, figure out how much traffic your competitors are getting. You can estimate their traffic and compare it to your own to get a decent idea of how well their marketing strategies are working. Of course, all of this relies on the traffic estimator working well enough to provide you accurate information. There are a lot of different estimators out there, but the two biggest options are Alexa and SimilarWeb. I’ll be comparing them both. Testing Traffic Estimates No traffic estimator will be perfect. The only way to see an accurate traffic number for any site is to have analytics code running on that site. You can see your own traffic within Google Analytics – kind of – but you can’t see the traffic on another website without having internal access to their data. So why do I say “kind of” when talking about Google Analytics? The fact is, Google often applies statistical sampling to their reports, in certain circumstances. If you’re just checking traffic numbers, it should be accurate, but be aware that there’s always that chance. If you want to check how accurate a traffic estimator is, you need to run it on your own site. Basically, here’s the process: Choose a time frame. Determine how much traffic your site received in that time frame, via an Analytics app like Google Analytics or Raven Tools. Check Alexa, SimilarWeb, or another traffic estimator to see what they estimate your site traffic to be. Compare the data several times over the course of several months as your traffic changes, particularly if a spike happens due to a viral post or marketing push, and check how the estimators account for it. This may or may not cost you money, depending on the traffic estimator you’re using. In fact, accounting for price is pretty important, so I’ll discuss that later. Data Sources Both Alexa and SimilarWeb are large, enterprise-grade companies offering a huge wealth of information. It stands to reason that they both have sizable indexes and data sources to use. But what are those data sources? SimilarWeb has an entire page dedicated to their data. They combine four groups of data for their analytics. They have panel data from partner apps that send them analytics information. They have ISP data with a similar story: ISPs send them anonymized user behavior data for analysis. They have public data sources they scrape on a monthly basis. And they have data they measure directly from sites that use their other services. Essentially, hundreds of millions of user devices globally are running at least one app or service that gives data to SimilarWeb, and they are able to analyze that data in broad terms to estimate how users behave. Alexa is, meanwhile, an Amazon company. They, too, have a page for their data sources, though it’s less of a landing page and more of a help center article. They maintain data from a huge number of apps and other data sources, and they apply statistical sampling to a lot of it. Alexa only considers domains, and don’t pay attention to subdomains or specific pages, so you’re only able to estimate traffic for domains as a whole. They also tend to focus on large sites, so smaller sites are more likely to be inaccurate. Alexa’s main claim to fame is their global web rankings, which again tend to apply more accurately to large scale websites and get fuzzy with smaller sites. As such, Alexa Rank isn’t really that important. If you’re big enough for ranking to be accurate, you’re too big for it to matter, if that makes any sense. Pricing Pricing is pretty important when you’re considering any sort of analysis or data suite, so it should come as no surprise that I’m going to look into it. On the other hand, basic traffic estimates aren’t usually anything more than the hook they used to get you to buy other features. Does this hold true of these two services? SimilarWeb has two plans: free and enterprise. The Free plan is very basic. It lets you get five results per metric you search, and it gives you one month of mobile app data and up to three months of web traffic data. For most sites, this is three months of data. Sites that have apps to access their content, like YouTube or Facebook, would give you inaccurate information after one month, but it’s also not that useful for most small-scale sites. Many sites don’t have app-related data sources anyway. The Enterprise plan has unlimited results, over two years of app data, three years of web traffic data, and a lot of deep segmentation for that data. Popular pages, keyword analysis, engagement, desktop and mobile splits, and so on are all available. As for the pricing, they don’t list it publicly anymore. I’ve seen quotes ranking from $200 per month to much, much higher. Alexa has a lot of services that aren’t relevant to our traffic estimation discussion. If all you want is traffic analysis tools, you need to get their website traffic analysis plan, which is a flat $80 per month with a one-week free trial.  It gives you monthly unique visitors, site overview metrics, site comparisons of up to ten sites at a time, historic trends for three years, and a bunch of other data. If you want additional tools, like site audits, keyword research, and other stuff on this list, you’ll need either the $150 per month plan or the $300 per month plan, depending on how many sites and users you want to access it. Note that you can get very, very basic metrics using the Alexa SiteInfo tool, but most of the data is hidden; it’s a teaser for the paid plans, not a real tool. They also estimate their data pretty heavily, so how accurate it is may vary. Be Aware! The Alexa graphs they show you are not traffic numbers. They look like they’re upside down, but they also show small sites starting at 1 million, which is very, very much not what you’re getting traffic-wise. The fact is, those are charts of the Alexa Ranking, not traffic. Traffic is only one part of the Alexa Rank, so don’t confuse the two. Data Accuracy This is where things get tricky. Every traffic estimator out there is going to be using some variety of data sources, and none of them are going to be completely accurate short of Google Analytics or similar on-site analysis code that can track individual viewers. Even then, you may get viewers that block scripts and thus aren’t recorded. SimilarWeb seems to be one of the most well-regarded traffic estimators on the market. Several tests I’ve seen – like this one and this one – indicate that SimilarWeb is fairly accurate, at least in terms of trends. Since they sample data from a variety of sources and apply assumptions to it, they have to consider biases and data sources. For example, most tools seem to underestimate sites that have a lot of traffic from narrow, long-tail sources. Given the modern trend of long-tail keyword targeting, this means tools need to broaden their informational base or they will be increasingly inaccurate. Among them, SimilarWeb seems to be the most accurate. SimilarWeb also tends to overestimate data. For most sites tested – and I’d guess for your site as well – they would give a number between 1 and 20 percent higher than the actual numbers you’ll see in Google analytics. That said, their estimations are consistent; if your site is trending upwards, so are their traffic estimates, at about the same rate. That said, when SimilarWeb gets something wrong, they get it very wrong. ScreamingFrog’s test had SimilarWeb overestimating one site by a whopping 128%, more than double the actual traffic the site got. Imagine running it on your competition and seeing that! As far as Alexa is concerned, well, they’re in the toilet. First of all, many tests don’t even cover them, because to get traffic numbers, you need to pay. Those that do tend to trash them. Rand Fishkin was complaining about the inaccuracies of Alexa all the way back in 2012, where not only are their numbers off, but sometimes their trends as well. Adjustments for overestimation lead to a site dropping when it’s not, and it just becomes a mess. Rand followed up on this in 2015, with similar issues. Neil Patel followed up on this with his own confirmation that Alexa, while potentially useful for showing some trends and other information, is not useful for traffic. Appropriate Comparisons Any time you’re using a tool for competitive intelligence, you need to understand that the tool is not working in objective reality. Any and all tools will be necessarily limited in the amount of data they can index and analyze. Much of this data is from data sources that are shared between different tools. This means a service either needs its own data sources or some other unique selling point to stand out from the competition. What this means is you need to compare apples to apples. If you’re looking at traffic numbers for a competitor on SimilarWeb, those numbers are almost guaranteed to be higher than what they actually are. If you compare a competitor’s SimilarWeb numbers to your own Google Analytics numbers, you’re going to feel like you’re being left behind, every time. Instead, what you need to do is run the same SimilarWeb check against your own site. Benchmark yourself before you start benchmarking others, right? My Choice So which of the two tools would I choose? Personally, I’m going to go with SimilarWeb. It has too many benefits to ignore. First of all, SimilarWeb is more accurate in every test I’ve seen that involves both of the tools, and is more accurate than most other tools I’ve seen it compared to. The fact that you can get some data for free just for signing up is a very potent sell, so I’m not going to complain. Alexa costing money to even see traffic numbers, especially when those traffic numbers are so often just so wrong, rubs me the wrong way. The fact that Alexa Rank has been misused for decades by people who have no idea what they’re talking about – and by many who should know better – just continues to rub it in. On top of that, it’s an Amazon company, and Amazon doesn’t need the financial help. They could provide basic analytics for free, but instead they charge for inaccurate data. Now, all of this only really matters once you’ve built your site up to a decent position in the first place. If you have fewer than several thousand monthly visitors, the data is going to be irrelevant no matter what site you’re using. Your competition is either going to have too little data to estimate properly or they’re going to be bigger than you such that you’re not really competition. Grow more first. Go with SimilarWeb. Use their free account to benchmark yourself, and then check a couple of your top competitors. If you feel like you want more data, more benchmarking, or better results, pay for an account, but it’s not really necessary. There are better ways to get competitive analysis anyway. The post SimilarWeb vs Alexa: Which Traffic Estimator is More Precise? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Can You Use HTML5 Ads and Content on Google Ads?

A few years ago, back when there was a big debate over various animation protocols on mobile phones, Steve Jobs made the argument that HTML 5 can do pretty much anything Adobe’s Flash could do. That decision led to countless memes, as well as restricting Flash developers from creating content for iPhones in general. Advertisers needed something different to show on iPhones, game developers would need something else to work through phone browsers – though many transitioned to apps – and those few remaining websites powered by Flash were forced into retirement. Though there was some debate whether Jobs was correct or not, history is written by the victor, and HTML 5 has clearly been the victor. Today, HTML 5 is the current go-to standard for powerful web development, while Flash is on the verge of its end of life.  Indeed, with the constant, rampant security issues that come with Flash, it’s no surprise that Adobe would love to get rid of it. All About HTML 5 HTML 5 is simply the newest version of the HTML standard, and as such, much of it is familiar to long-time web developers. Plenty of elements and the creative ways you can use it are new, though, and it’s an evolving standard. It changes from time to time, as any good standard should, and it has been available in some form since 2008. With 11 years to learn it, web devs have no excuse by now. The primary benefit of HTML 5 these days is the power it brings to the table with interoperability and delivery of all sorts of cool features. It can do apps, it can do games, it can serve video – YouTube’s video player runs on HTML 5 – and a lot more. Many sites with slick animations or parallax scrolling run on HTML 5. Here are a few examples: Citrine Estates makes use of the standard for fade-in elements on the page. Watson Design Group uses a lot of slick animations for all kinds of page elements. Borraginol has a completely animated town where individual elements are links to new pages, all in HTML 5. The best part of all of this is that, unlike Flash animations, HTML 5 elements can be part of any page and don’t require a third party plugin to use, view, or maintain. You don’t have to worry about updating anything other than your browser, and every major web browser supports HTML 5 out of the box today. There’s no specific HTML 5 player. And, since HTML 5 is an evolving standard, it grows more secure and more feature-robust every year. HTML 5 and Google Ads One major use of Flash in the past has been web advertising. Rather than static banner ads or basic animated gifs, Flash enabled robustly animated ads with interactive elements. Everything from slick animations to “catch the element” ads encouraging engagement were available through ads. Of course, Flash ads were not without their downsides. Flash can be used to serve code that the user might not want to run, and indeed have been misused frequently to serve viruses while obfuscated from automatic detection. Even Google has to rely on user reports to identify malicious ads as often as not. Today, with the end of life for Flash quickly approaching, most web browsers have started blocking Flash natively. Instead of seeing a Flash element, you see a gray caution window and are given the option of allowing the unsecure plugin to run. No one is going to click to run Flash in an ad, right? Flash ads are dead, effectively, and HTML 5 ads are their replacement for slick animations and interactivity. Google has actually deprecated Flash advertising, and with good reason due to all of the above. As of 2016, you have not been able to upload new Flash creatives to Google Ads, and Google has been steadily putting pressure on its users to upload “responsive” ads or create them through the Google Web Designer. On top of that, as of summer of 2018, Responsive Ads have become the default ad type for Google Ads for the display network and the modern Google Ads experience. Google provides detailed instructions on how to create responsive display ads, complete with their HTML 5 guidelines, on this page. The instructions are fairly simple, though the page is long; mostly you just need to make sure to follow specific guidelines and avoid trying to do anything malicious or misleading. Options for Updating from Flash Ad Creatives If you’ve been running Flash-based ads and want to update to HTML 5 ads, you have three options. If you have Flash ads on Google, you need to create new responsive ads in their place. You can upload HTML 5 ads with the Google Web Designer, or you can upload them directly to Google Ads. Google-based HTML 5 ads require you to meet certain standards, and Google provides a validator I’ll link later to double check that all such standards are met. As part of the change to the new Google Ads experience, Google actually converted many existing Flash ads into HTML 5 ads with an automatic process. This process is not perfect, and some existing Flash ads display poorly or are broken. Converted ads are shown as “Flash and HTML 5” in your Ads browser. Unfortunately, this automatic conversion is almost over, and once the conversion period ends, those ads will cease to display. If you created Flash ads in your Ad Gallery, Google recommends that you upload a new image ad or a new HTML 5 ad, or design a new Responsive ad from scratch. If you’re running Google Ads through a third party ad server and use Flash ads, Google will cease serving them. In fact, any Flash ads uploaded prior to January 2017 are already cancelled. Flash tracking pixels are disapproved, and Flash content is no longer supported through third party managers. If you’re using DoubleClick or another third party ad network, Google has the same recommendations: add a new HTML 5 ad or create a new responsive ad. Additionally, any third party ad vendor must be certified to use HTML 5 to continue using the Google Display Network. If that’s relevant to you, you can read more about it here. HTML 5 Requirements for Google Ads If you’re running Google Ads through the Google Ad Manager – and you probably are – your HTML 5 ads have to meet certain requirements. What are those requirements? I’ve listed them below as of this writing, though if Google changes them, you can find the up to date guidelines here. HTML 5 ads must be SSL compatible.  This actually isn’t a strict requirement for all ads, but if you want your ads to serve on HTTPS sites, your ads need to be compatible with SSL. To achieve this, you can either host all creative assets within Ad Manager, you need to maintain compatibility. This means all images, stylesheets, JavaScript, and tracking pixels need to be secure. You can test for compatibility through Chrome Dev Tools, and you can read about how to ensure SSL compatibility on this page. If you’re designing your ads through the Google Web Designer, you must choose the right environment when creating the ad creatives. Choose the “Display & Video 360” environment. HTML 5 ads must follow dimension guidelines. There are three parts to this. Use the size meta tag to specify the size your ads are supposed to display. Use fixed sizes, as dynamic sizes (“fluid”) do not work. Your minimum dimensions cannot be zero. You can, as always, read more about this here. HTML 5 ads must follow click tag guidelines. This is also covered on the page linked a sentence ago. What are click tags? They’re definitions for behavior on click for your HTML 5 ads. Basically, it’s setting the landing page appropriately. You can set it in different ways and specify assets in different ways, so refer to the page above. Click tags need to be easy for the server to read, so no obfuscation or minification for those tags specifically. You also probably should hard-code your click throughs, since it prevents Google from properly tracking them. There are additional technical specifications for what is and isn’t supported through Ad Mob, too. File type must be a .zip file, and that file can contain CSS, JS, HTML, SCG, GIF, PNG, JPG, and JPEG files. File size must be under 150 KB when fully zipped and compressed. Ad sizes can be 320×50, 480×32, 320×100, 468×60, 728×90, 300×250, 320×480, 480×320, 768×1024, or 1024×768. You can read more about Google ad format sizes here. All images must be local images included in the .zip file, not referenced images. Videos and maps are not supported. Web fonts other than Google Web Fonts are not supported. Timers and multiple exits are not supported. Expandable ads are not supported. Local storage is not supported. HMTL 5 ads need an Ad Name, a Destination URL, and a .zip file of Creatives to work properly. HTML 5 ads for Ad Mob must be created through the Google Web Designer, but Google ads for other formats can be created through other services and uploaded manually. The validator can be found here. This is the asset validation tool for Google ads, and another tab at the top serves as the landing page validation as well. Create your ad creatives, zip them up the way you would to upload them, and upload it to validate it. Google will identify any potential issues and will offer tips on fixing them. Finally, you can view examples of HTML 5 ads in the Google rich media template gallery. There are a lot of different templates here, so just look for anything with HTML 5 in the name and view it. To upload HTML 5 image ads, simply go to your Google Ads Editor and find the Account tree. Choose Campaign, and then the appropriate Ad Group for your intended ads. Choose Ads and then Image Ads. Under the Data view, choose whatever ads you’re editing, and in the edit panel, Choose Image. Choose and upload your .zip file of creatives, and Open it. This will upload the creatives for your HTML 5 ad. Image ads cannot have animations longer than 30 seconds, and shorter loops must end after 30 seconds of looping. HD animated gifs are not supported. Image quality must meet certain standards: Sideways, upside down, or otherwise improperly aligned images are not supported. Images that don’t take up the full space available are not supported. Images that are blurry, unclear, unrecognizable, or illegible are not supported. Strobes, flashes, and distracting images are not allowed. Movement that is triggered by mouse-over is allowed, but only if it lasts 5 or fewer seconds. Images that expand beyond the boundaries of the ad format are not allowed. Additionally, images have to be clearly relevant to what you’re advertising and cannot include misleading information. Adult content can be allowed in certain specific circumstances, but not in general; you’ll know if you’re in a niche that allows it. HTML 5 is the new future standard and will be the standard moving forward for quite some time. It’s an in-development standard as well, so rather than getting an HTML 6, we’ll simply get more evolved and expanded versions of HTML 5. I highly recommend learning it, as it can do some very cool things, and it will make your ads truly pop. The post Can You Use HTML5 Ads and Content on Google Ads? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

5 Ways to Get More Views on Your Vimeo Video

Years ago, when YouTube was a newcomer to the world of online video hosting, other websites sprung up to serve the same purpose. Most of them have either declined into small niche video hosts or folded entirely when the cost of infrastructure outstripped the possibility of monetization. Only YouTube has made it to the big time, at least in the safe for work markets. One of the few competitors that still exists and is reasonably popular is Vimeo. Vimeo actually launched in 2004, a year before YouTube. It has gone through a series of ups and downs, ranging from their focus on indie filmmakers to their ban of gaming videos that lasted six years. Today, while Vimeo is a solid platform, it plays second fiddle to YouTube simply due to the sheer size and scale of the latter platform. They monetize through disk space allotments and premium packages, something YouTube hasn’t needed to do. Even so, Vimeo is a good platform for hosting videos, you just need to know how to use it to grow. You have a choice to upload your videos to YouTube or Vimeo, so it makes sense that you might want to know which is the better platform. While that’s not the focus of this post, you can read a good breakdown and analysis from TechSmith here. Honestly, though, the answer is probably “use both of them.” If you want your videos to get more exposure, there are a few ways you can do it. Here are my top five techniques. 1. Lay the Strongest Foundation The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re laying a strong foundation for your video on Vimeo. If you aren’t setting up the groundwork for success, every subsequent effort is going to falter. It’s like having a great promotion strategy on Facebook and Twitter, only to link to a 404 page. It just doesn’t work. So what makes a strong foundation? Consider the technical elements. Your profile should have an avatar and banner photo that match your branding. Header photos are often screens of projects you’ve created, while profile photos are generally logos. You should have a sensible username, and fill out your profile completely. Your header can also be a video, and that works even better if possible. Your video page itself should have a clear title and a well-written description. You get more space for a description than on YouTube, so it’s a good idea to fill it out as much as possible. You should add “credits” for anyone who worked on the video who has a Vimeo account. This allows it to appear in their profiles and allows fans of those individuals to see the video more easily. Your video itself should, of course, be high quality. Vimeo is a platform that focuses heavily on short films rather than marketing videos, but a lot of different kinds of content can thrive there if you find the right audience. Vimeo might have a much smaller audience than YouTube, but they have a much more engaged audience on average, with many users being filmmakers and producers themselves. Nothing here should be new to you, other than the credits system. It’s all elements of any video or social network that allows you to upload video files. Just fill out everything as much as you can. This is all baseline stuff, so make sure you’re doing what you can. 2. Make Use of Vimeo Groups Vimeo Groups are an interesting system that sites like YouTube don’t have. Unlike something like playlists, where you add your own videos to a list of more videos you uploaded, Groups are accessible to anyone. Groups are basically just “channels” of content in a specific niche or topic. For example, you have: Motion, a group for motion graphic artists. Motion graphics are a specific kind of video that is often used as cuts, interstitials, intros, and stock videos. This group has 30,000 members and is 10 years old. Music Videos, a group for, well, music videos. This is a “closed” group that operates as a companion to a specific channel, which they use to curate videos they like. HDXtreme, a group for extreme sports videos in HD. It’s a great place to see high resolution videos of extreme athletic ability. Video School, a group for tutorials for everything from film lighting to audio editing to production. Now, browsing through those groups, you’ll notice a few things. Some groups are closed, meaning the creators only curate videos themselves, so you won’t be able to access them if you’re not part of the group. Some groups aren’t active, and may not have curated a video in years. Other groups might be more active, but are narrow niches that might not fit your video. You can’t use Vimeo Groups the way you would Facebook Groups, just joining to dump your video and leaving. Vimeo Groups are communities centered around a specific topic. Only join them and add your videos if you’re genuinely going to be part of the community. To be honest, Groups are something of a legacy feature that isn’t really in active use amongst the whole of Vimeo’s audience. If you can find an active group that suits your niche, by all means, join it and make use of the community. If you can’t, don’t sweat it. In order to make use of Groups, you need to have a Vimeo account in the group. Browse groups – you can see the group hub here – and join any that look both active and relevant to you. Participate in the group for a while, commenting on and promoting videos from the people within the group, and eventually you’ll be accepted as a member in a social way. When you’re part of a group, you can visit your video page and hover over your video itself. One of the buttons that appears is “add to collection”. Click this and you will see a list of groups you’re in; you can add your video to any group. Just make sure you aren’t going to run afoul of a moderator who doesn’t want random videos added to their group. 3. Consider Vimeo Marketing Tools Vimeo as a platform can be free to use, but there are paid plans as well. This is how they stay ad-free for normal viewers. They have four different tiers of paid plan on top of their free plan. The free plan has limited video storage and a lot fewer features than the paid plans. Plus: This plan costs you $7 per month. It gives you the ability to customize the video player, adds privacy controls, and lets you link social networks for automatic distribution. You get unlimited player bandwidth, 4K support, and ad-free videos. You can embed videos anywhere and create custom end screens. You can password-protect your videos and get private link sharing. You get the ability to embed playlists as well. Analytics include a stats dashboard, social stats, and custom reports. Pro: This plan costs you $20 per month. In addition to what the Plus plan gives you, it bumps up your storage limits and gives you team member access. You get the ability to manage team projects. You can add your logo to the video player and get playback speed controls. You can also access video version histories, portfolio mini-sites, and get engagement graphs in your analytics. On top of that, you can sell videos through the site if you want. Business: This plan costs you $50 per month and removes the weekly limit on uploads. You can link Google Analytics to your account, and you get up to 10 team members. You can create end cards and calls to action within your videos and harvest user email addresses directly from your videos, something you can’t do with any iteration of YouTube. It also opens access to the Vimeo API for marketing software integrations. Premium: This plan costs you $75 per month and gives you all of the above, with the addition of livestream functionality. As you can see, there are some very interesting marketing tools, including the ability to generate a mailing list opt-in directly from your video! This is a very cool tool that is unfortunately quite expensive at the $50 per month minimum. It’s very worth considering, but if you’re trying to growth hack your video marketing, it’s probably just too much. 4. Strive to Earn a Vimeo Staff Pick One pretty cool feature of Vimeo is that the staff can pick videos that they like and feature them in a custom channel. This channel, the Vimeo Staff Picks channel, has a million followers and is active with recently added videos. Staff picks get a number of benefits. First up, all staff picked videos get a special badge that indicates how much attention they’ve gotten. Staff Picks can also be re-featured in best of the month, best of the year, and best of the decade features. These are incredibly evergreen and give you a ton of additional exposure. In some cases, with a deal with a staff member, you can premier a video as a staff pick, but that’s not super likely to happen. So how do you get a staff pick? Well, you need to attract the attention of a staff member and get them to use their pick on you. If that sounds like a tall order, it certainly is. There are a lot of good creators on Vimeo, and not a lot of staff members. In fact, only a handful of staff members post picks, and they claim there’s a system in the back end to help choose those picks. This article analyzed a series of staff picks and came up with averages for what a staff pick looks like. Titles are generally short, between 2-5 words long. Film-like titles are often the most evocative. Thumbnails for your videos aren’t necessarily important; it was an even split between custom thumbnails and video stills. Shorter descriptions seem to be more frequent. Your actual description section can be full of plenty of information, like credits, links, and awards, but the actual description should be more like the elevator pitch or tagline. Picked videos are often produced by credited teams. This is in part simply due to the higher level of quality from team productions, and in part due to the additional exposure you can get from mobilizing team members. Sound is very important; if you use both music and sound effects you’re much more likely to reach a staff pick than using one, the other, or neither. Above all, you need a high quality video that stands out. Staff picks are high profile features and could be considered awards themselves. You’re not going to earn them with basic 5. Send Video Links to Key Influencers At the end of the day, there’s always one tried-and-true method of marketing, and that’s influencer marketing. You want to get exposure? You want something on the level of a staff pick, but without needing to go through the Vimeo staff themselves? Find off-site influencers and send them the link to your video. I’ve seen some great success come from getting a video in the hands of a site like Gizmodo. Simply make a list of good, high quality publications that could be interested in your video, draft up a pitch, and send it off. The worst that can happen is they ignore you, right? On the other hand, one of those “this film from <creator> is blowing my mind” articles can give you the viral surge in popularity you’ve always wanted. The post 5 Ways to Get More Views on Your Vimeo Video appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

15 Strategies to Promote a B2B Wholesale Business

In the past, things like scarcity and lack of competition made the job of a B2B wholesaler easy. You could sell to businesses as a sole supplier simply because you were the only one capable of fulfilling orders in bulk, at the prices your customers expected. These days, the advent of widespread internet sales and advanced on-demand technology mean the need for wholesalers is slipping. Manufacturers can sell directly, or businesses can order on-demand rather than recurring shipments and estimated bulk orders. In order to keep up with the times, you need to offer something more. You need to be able to bring something to the table, to get and keep customers in a world where customers might not need you. You need value adds, you need efficiency, you need sales enablement, and you need a solid customer experience. Rather than relying on being the only available avenue, you need something that inspires customer loyalty. I’ve put together 15 strategies you can employ to gather new customers, retain existing customers, and upgrade your current customers into better customers. While some of them may seem like basic strategies to some of you, others might be new, and it’s worthwhile to look into employing as many as you can. 1. Invest in a Web Presence I can’t tell you how frustrating it is as a business to look for a supplier for something I need, only to be confronted with bare mentions of brand names with no websites, or with websites that are little more than an “about” page, or websites that bury their distribution information seven pages deep in a hidden FAQ. I’ve done digging before just to see how hard it is to access such information, and sometimes even I give up. Investing in a modern web presence is an incredible benefit to any wholesaler. It’s even more important moving forward, as millennials – web natives – are taking increasingly prominent roles in business, often owning their own businesses and looking to grow. If you can’t reach one of the fastest growing segments of your audience, you can’t hope to keep up with the times. This does mean you’ll have to learn or hire someone to handle the basics of SEO and web marketing. You should eventually learn your way around web advertising and social media, but even just starting by creating a content-rich website that can show up in relevant Google searches will go a long way. 2. Open up Lines of Communication It’s important to have a web presence, but you need to do something with it as well. Using a website to show information to your potential customers is good, but you also need as many possible avenues for them to order as you can. You don’t necessarily need to set up a full storefront, though with modern e-commerce plugins like Shopify and Magento that’s not quite the difficult task it used to be. You do, however, need at minimum the ability for potential customers to contact you via email and telephone. It’s usually a benefit to be accessible on social media as well as though a website-based live chat function as well. 3. Offer Recurring Orders You may already do this, but if not, consider it. The subscription model has been growing in recent years, with everything from B2C companies like Dollar Shave Club to Amazon’s recurring grocery and supply orders on the table. If you can offer a hassle-free way for customers to get a monthly shipment of their staples, with the option to spot-order additional products as necessary to fill gaps or add bonuses, you can hook a lot of potential businesses. The set-and-forget method of ordering supplies that are regularly consumed goes a long way towards keeping satisfied customers around. No one wants to have to waste time on monthly supply chains if they can help it. 4. Offer Special Deals and Incentives Sometimes all you need to get in good with a new customer is something to push you over the edge of the competition. Special deals and incentives to customers fits the bill nicely. Maybe you can offer bulk discounts your competitors can’t. Maybe you can offer introductory discounts on the first order, first month, or first subscription. Maybe you can offer free shipping on orders over a certain value, or discounts on multi-product orders, or something else. There’s a huge open space for any deal you can come up with, so long as it’s something you can financially handle. 5. Create Starter Packs When you want to hook a new customer, one great way to do it is to create a starter pack. A starter pack should have a selection of your products available so the customer can see what they would be ordering. It should also be fulfilled quickly, to showcase the speed, efficiency, and flexibility of your order processing and shipping. Impress them before they have time to forget what they ordered, and you can segue them into full customers quite easily. If you’re a wholesaler with a variety of different customers of different sizes, you can create different levels of starter pack. You can have one that has a small selection of products for a small store, and one with a larger selection for a large retailer, and even customer build-it-yourself packs for businesses that have multiple interests. Just profile your existing customers, figure out what they would like if you were trying to hook them today, and offer those starter packs. 6. Recommend Complimentary Products One of the biggest strengths of Amazon is their ability to get you to buy more things whenever you shop on their platform. Every product page you see has recommendations for other complimentary products, or alternatives if you’re not satisfied with the primary product, or even mostly unrelated products people just happen to buy together frequently enough. Over and over, you’ll find that people spend more on larger orders because the option is right there in front of them. Whenever you’re ready to make a sale, talk to the customer about complimentary products their business may need, or that sell together frequently enough. To sweeten the deal, you can even offer a discount when purchased together. 7. Make Information Easily Available This can in part be covered by having a web presence, but you can also include other ways of making your product information available, such as on-order brochures, product catalogs, and mailers. In essence, you need your potential customers to find whatever information they could want, or be able to talk to someone in your organization to learn at the drop of a hat. This is why a chat system on a website can work very well as a supplement to product pages and informational PDFs. Sometimes users have questions that aren’t easily answered with a generalized FAQ, and a quick and easy communication is the ideal way to inform them. 8. Collect and Display Testimonials User testimonials are traditionally more of a B2C technique, but they can work well in the B2B world as well, assuming you use them properly. Again, this works best with your website. Testimonials should come from powerful or recognizable people if at all possible. If not, getting them from an inventory manager or otherwise important person at a recognizable brand is just as good. There are a lot of specific ways to encourage or solicit testimonials from your customers, so give it a try. 9. Give Top Customers a Personal Touch Some of the best companies out there are giving their best clients a white glove level of service. Identify your top customers, maybe the top 10% of them, depending on how many customers you have, and give them a little extra customer service. Go out of your way to give them a call and ask them how they’re doing or if they have any concerns. Figure out how to offer them a loyalty or volume discount for being such loyal customers. Consider rewarding long-time customers even if they have low volume, since they’ve stuck around. 10. Emphasize Customer Service Don’t leave the rest of your customers feeling left out in the cold. Even if you’re prioritizing your top 10% of customers, you should be offering top of the line customer service to everyone regardless of their customer status. Helping to resolve issues quickly and conveniently is one of the top ways to retain customers, no matter whether you’re B2B or B2C. 11. Maintain and Utilize Usage Statistics Here’s a clever trick for you. Monitor what your customers are buying on an individual basis. Identify if there are any patterns, not just in their regular weekly or monthly orders, but in their irregular orders. Maybe you notice that one customer orders a refill of a specific product every three months. When they’re getting close to the next time they’d be placing that order, send them a reminder. You know they’re going to need it; you can offer it to them ahead of time so they’re certain to get it from you. If you’re concerned about retaining that customer, you can offer an additional discount or a complimentary product at the same time. 12. Create a Referral or Affiliate Plan Why not get your customers to bring more customers to you? Referral programs or affiliate marketing programs can incentivize your customers to send people your way, and when those new people become customers, you give something – cash back, a discount, pure money – to the referring customer. While we usually think of affiliate marketing as part of a B2C relationship, it can work well enough with B2B, especially if your typical audience is entrepreneurs and small businesses. How do you go about starting up some kind of referral program? We covered this a while back in this post. That article lists ten different services you can use to start up an affiliate program fairly easily. Most of them are quick to set up, though you may have to pay for them. 13. Ensure Fast and Reliable Delivery Getting new customers is important, but retaining them is even more important. One recurring customer can be worth a dozen one-time orders, if you play your cards right. While a few other strategies on this list help retain customers, like adequate customer service and deals for loyal customers, one of the best ways to keep customers around is simply to be fast and efficient with fulfilling orders. One of the most common pieces of advice I see for wholesalers is to unify your processes. Don’t leave a gap or confirmation between ordering, processing and billing, and shipping. When a customer clicks a button or confirms they want to order something, that order should be processed and on its way in as little time as possible. 14. Offer Bundle Deals I’ve mentioned this as a fringe concept in a couple of other strategies thus far, but it’s worth considering as an option of its own. Just make bundle deals! When a customer has three products they want to buy on a regular basis, bundle them together and offer them at a slight discount. As long as you’re not significantly cutting into your profit margins, that bundle can keep a customer buying a product they don’t necessarily need for far longer than they might otherwise. It can also convince some other businesses to buy the bundle for the discount, even if they don’t necessarily want everything in it. 15. Pitch to New Ideal Customers You may have come across this advice before, as it’s often given out to new wholesalers, but you can put it to use at any time. Think about your business and make a list of the top 100 businesses you would consider to be ideal customers. Maybe they’re huge, maybe they’re throwing money around, maybe they’re local, maybe you just want to support them. Take this list of 100 and start building out a list of contact information for each of them. Then start to reach out. You can call them, you can send mailers, you can contact specific managers via email if they’re the one you think is influential in the purchasing process. Simply try to acquire these as new customers. You may be surprised at how receptive they are. The post 15 Strategies to Promote a B2B Wholesale Business appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Propeller Ads Review on Average Pricing and Conversion Rates

Off and on for a while now, we’ve been reviewing various ad networks with as little bias as possible. We’ve covered networks like Yahoo’s Gemini, AdBlade, and TrafficVance, and now it’s time for another review. This time, let’s talk about Propeller Ads. What is Propeller Ads? Propeller Ads is an advertising network that has been around since 2011. They’re based in the UK, and have a sizable presence in most English-speaking nations. They are an “alternative traffic source” initially operating entirely within pop ads. Pop ads, in case you’re not sure, are generally pop-under windows. You know those times where you close your browser and see a website in a new window you don’t remember opening? That’s a pop-under. In the last few years, they have expanded from just pop-unders, to include a couple of additional forms of advertising. Their on-click ads are the traditional pop-under; a user clicks in a side and that click opens the pop-under as well as whatever they had intended it to do. Additionally, they have native ads, which are ads designed to look similar to on-site related post widgets. Any time you’ve seen a bank of “related posts” that lead to other sites, chances are that’s a native ad display. They have native interstitials as well; this combines the timed pop-over lightbox technology (which we implement on our site) with native advertising. Instead of the pop-over pitching a service or newsletter, it shows a few “related” posts as advertising. Finally, one of their newest technologies is push notifications. Whenever that bar at the top of your phone shows a notification, be it a message, text, or game notifications, that’s a push notification. It’s “pushed” to your phone, you see. Since an increasingly large number of people are using their mobile devices to browse the web, push notifications are increasingly useful and relevant. All of this is presumably backed by a lot of potential targeting to reach specific users most likely to be interested in your brand. Propeller has a self-service platform and automates a decent amount of ad optimization, and they have their own fraud prevention engine to cut out fake or bot traffic and ensure that you as an advertiser receive the best quality traffic their network can provide. Propeller works for traditional businesses advertising themselves, and they have agency-level lead generation options for agencies trying to advertise their clients. They handle links to other ad networks with RTB/XML, and they allow affiliate marketers to use their platform as advertisers as well. A lot of mobile and affiliate advertising companies partner with Propeller. They work with HootMobi, YeahMobi, STM, AffLift, AdCombo, and a lot more. How Does It Work? So how does all of this work? Well, from the publisher’s side, all they need to do is categorize their site and their country of origin for the purposes of tracking and traffic distribution. The publisher chooses which type of ad they’re going to use, and plugs it into their website. As the ad runs, they earn. From the advertiser side, you need to generate your postback code and use it with your tracker/network. You customize the information in your configuration, including your IDs and custom variables for accurate tracking. You know, offer value, campaign IDs, that kind of thing. When you want to create an ad, you basically get to choose between two models. One is the traditional Cost Per Mille (CPM) ad. You pay for impressions, and you hope your ad is optimize to convert those impressions into clicks into customers. It’s all very standard. The alternative is to use a SmartCPA system. This is a Cost Per Action system, where your goal is to get conversions. There are a few quirks to this system. On the bad end, when you run a SmartCPA campaign, the performance of your campaign is analyzed. If it falls below a certain threshold of performance, it transitions into a CPM campaign, sort of. Basically, if the campaign is successful, you only pay for the actions taken. That’s how something like Facebook works; the impressions are free but the actions cost money, though ideally the cost is still lower than what you get out of the action in return. On the other hand, if the campaign is not successful, you will be charged for the impressions as if it was a CPM campaign. This means you can’t intentionally run a bad campaign to get free impressions and exploit the system. On the good end, the Smart part of SmartCPA is a machine learning algorithm that optimizes your ad offers over time. You run an initial campaign so it can get some benchmark learning, and then it optimizes itself to further boost your actions over time. Their unique machine learning engine is somewhat effective, though it might make choices you wouldn’t normally choose to make. It’s up to you to analyze and decide if it works for your goals. When you’re running CPA ads on Propeller Ads, you need to set a conversion price for your campaign. Propeller recommends something around 70-80% of your payout. So if you’re running ads for an affiliate offer that earns you $1 each time someone buys, Propeller would recommend that you run their ads with a price of 70-80 cents. This means you pay Propeller that 80 cents each conversion, and Propeller pays their publishers probably something like 60 cents or so; I don’t know specifically their take offhand. Sure, this means you’re reducing your earnings from $1 per sale to 30 cents per sale, and that sucks, but remember it’s all sales you wouldn’t have gotten in the first place. All of the traffic you get from Propeller ads is traffic you wouldn’t have gotten normally, so you’re not losing potential sales, you’re gaining raw sales. You can generally adjust the pricing of your conversion to increase your traffic. It’s a simple scale; the more you’re willing to pay, the more publishers will accept your ads to run, and thus the more traffic you get. If you run your offer at 70 cents, you’ll get less traffic and less conversions than if you run it at 80 cents. You know, in general; I make no claims as to the exact specific success rates of any given price point. In SmartCPA ads, success or failure of the campaign depends on your price point. Calculate the conversion price times the number of conversions to get your generated revenue. Then Propeller will calculate the cost of impressions. If your revenue is not more than the cost of the traffic they gave you, they will charge you for the difference. This is why you should always have extra funds on hand in case a campaign falls flat on its face. When you’re creating a campaign, you can use Propeller’s publisher network, or you can activate Traffic Boost. Traffic Boost basically just allows you to get traffic from the network of Propeller’s partners as well as Propeller itself. Think of it like the difference between using Google Ads on the search results pages versus in the display network. Propeller Ads also has frequency capping, which is a very useful feature to make sure you don’t end up with a ton of redundant impressions. It’s usually a good idea to keep it active, though you can disable it if you want. As with most ad networks, in Propeller you can choose your target countries, your bid, your budget caps, and your campaign schedule. Scheduling works on a dayparting level, meaning you can choose to start and stop during specific parts of the day rather than just on-or-off for calendar dates. As far as specific targeting, you have some options, but it’s not super robust. You can choose to segment different types of mobile device, for example, between Android or iOS, and between phones and tablets or other devices like iPads or even Windows Phones. For Desktop devices you can choose operating system. You can also choose connection type for mobile devices, between 3G or 4G or WiFi. This can be useful to exclude, for example, people who aren’t on a connection they’d want to use to download an app. You can include or exclude individual targets, so you can create a whitelist or a blacklist, whichever works best based on how narrow or broad your targeting will be. You can also filter proxy traffic, which is a good initial way to filter out potentially fraudulent traffic and protect your account. Propeller Ads Pricing and Conversions What kind of pricing might you expect, and what kind of conversion rates can you get out of it? As with all things in advertising, much of the specific depend on your offer, your site niche, and your budget. As far as CPM goes, I see CPMs ranging from 50 cents to $5 in general, depending largely on country traffic and site niche. Entertainment blogs have some low CPMs, while gaming sites get higher CPMs, and other niches ranging in between. Your CTR will, all things being average, likely range somewhere around 14%. For some niches with CPM ads you’re going to get zero clicks, and that’s fine, when you’re just paying for impressions. For others, you might see something as high as 50-60%, such as in music. Mobile ranges around 10-20%. All of these numbers are simply reflective of some of my experiments. You can see some more data here, though it’s aimed at the publisher side of things, not the advertiser side. Problems with Propeller Ads There are a few potential issues with Propeller ads that I have to cover. First up, it’s primarily a pop-under network, which not everyone out there likes. A lot of people are consistently irritated by pop-unders, and that can reflect on your brand. I know people who have blacklisted certain companies due to their use of such annoying ad methods. Personally, I can’t fault them for giving it a try, though I also block most of those kinds of ads by default, so I’m a bit hypocritical here. Another problem is that you’re not given a lot of detailed targeting. I know we’re spoiled with things like Facebook’s targeting, and I don’t expect that level of detail out of smaller third-party networks. But for a network that’s heavily focused on mobile traffic like Propeller, you’d think they would be more specific with device targeting. You can choose to target just Android, and just Android 4 or 5 or whatever, but you can’t target sub-versions. This is important if you’re pitching an offer that is more relevant to a specific version than another version. As with all ad networks, geographic targeting is hugely important. Targeting the tier 1 countries like most of Europe and North America will get you the best results, while targeting the middle east, eastern Europe, or SEA will have worse results. Propeller also doesn’t track a lot of information. Surprisingly enough, in a world where analytics is a common add-on for value in a platform, Propeller doesn’t offer it. Rather, they require you to use a tracking platform for your offers. That means you have another dashboard and another set of configuration, and you need to keep track of all of the details. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have, but it means you’re not getting an all-in-one platform solution. There’s also the simple mechanical aspect of the ad network, simply that it’s not very user friendly. It’s a pretty boring, pretty bland user interface and, while it works, it’s not slick or advanced. Is Propeller Ads a Scam? When you’re searching for Propeller Ads, one site you’re guaranteed to see is this one. It’s chock full of 1-star comments talking about how Propeller locks accounts with funds inside or finds reasons to cancel accounts and steal money. Is this legitimate? I can’t tell you for sure. I haven’t had that experience, and a lot of the people complaining are anonymous or have common names. Yes, I’ll trust “John” with no other information, eh? Of course, there are 23 negative reviews for an ad network that presumably has hundreds of thousands of customers, so that’s a pretty small number. Every ad network is going to have a few people who broke rules, intentionally or not, and who were punished for it. Every ad network will have its vocal detractors. It’s up to you how much you want to believe them. I don’t believe that a nearly decade-old ad network is a pure scam, but your experience may speak differently. The post Propeller Ads Review on Average Pricing and Conversion Rates appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

The Exhaustive List of Ecommerce Types and Categories

If you’re interested in starting up a web business, it’s important to have a good idea of what business you might start. What kind of ecommerce category do you fall into? There are important considerations for each different type, and those considerations can vary quite a bit. For example, if you’re looking to sell a service, you need to establish yourself as enough of an authority that people will trust you. If you’re selling something in a retail format, you need to figure out your inventory and fulfillment processes. Let’s explore, shall we? B2C Vs B2B Vs C2C Vs C2B First, let’s cover the broad, top-level ecommerce categories. I figure there are only four of them, but some people think there are as many as six; more on those in a moment. The main four are those I’ve listed in the subhead. So what are they, if you’re not familiar with the acronyms? Business to Consumer is the most traditional type of business you think of when you think about, well, a business. A retail store is a business to consumer brand. Amazon is large business to consumer. A store like Office Depot is a hybrid, catering to home users and to businesses. Business to consumer brands are businesses that sell products directly to non-business customers. Business to Business brands are also very common. Think about any service provider with a business tool to sell you. Google has a lot of business to business tools. Marketing platforms like Hubspot or MailChimp or HootSuite are all business to business companies. A business to business brand is simply a brand that is selling their services to other businesses, either of a specified scale or of any scale with varying pricing and service levels. Consumer to Business is a less common type of transaction, but it has become increasingly common over the years as the benefits of hiring an employee drop, while the benefits of contracting a freelancer rise. A freelance writer working for a company is a C2B relationship. A website that provides stock photos is acting as a middleman; consumers produce the content and businesses can buy it. Consumer to Consumer is the newest and fastest growing form of transaction. There are a variety of different ways this can manifest, from traditional to brand new. Traditional consumer to consumer transactions include small-scale sales like a yard sale or the transactions facilitated by eBay or Craigslist. It also includes the entire gig economy, ranging from for-contract courier services to Uber. Some people also consider B2G or B2A as different from B2B. The G or the A stand for Government or Administration. Selling a service to the government as a contractor would be a B2G transaction. Filing and handling tax services would be a B2A service, potentially. I figure these are just a sub-set of B2B, if you consider the government or various public administrations to be a variety of business, or at least an organization. It’s not strictly necessary or beneficial to make the distinction. So, the first thing you need to decide when you’re starting a business is what your target audience will be. Are you going to be a freelancer selling your services to companies? Are you a creative, working with whoever will pay you? Are you going to set up a deal with manufacturers or retailers to sell for them or refer customers? You have quite a few options. The second thing you need to do is pick a business model. Here are three divisions, and the business models you might find within. Tangible Goods The first category of ecommerce is the traditional retail sales model, and various related business models. I call it the tangible goods category, because what you would be providing to your customers is a tangible product, something that can be handled physically and requires shipping. Retail Sales, also known as Wholesaling and Warehousing, is the traditional sort of sales model. You produce, or hire someone to produce for you, physical products. You then store those products somewhere, be it in your spare bedroom or in a warehouse down by the docks. You create a website with a catalog users can use to browse your products, or you use a third party system like Amazon or Etsy to showcase your inventory. Customers make an order, and you fulfill the order, handling all of the shipping and support. Some companies, like Amazon, offer services like Fulfilled By Amazon to ease some of this process and guarantee shipping. Retail sales can range from B2C, where you’re a company selling items to people, to B2B, where you’re wholesaling large quantities of products to other retailers, who will sell at a markup. Either way, you’re the initial provider of the item, not counting whatever factories you have hired to produce it for you. Drop Shipping is a way to streamline the retail sales model. A wholesaler doesn’t care about most small customers; it’s not worth their time selling individual cans of Coke to people when they can sell truckloads to retailers instead. A drop shipper steps in and says “I will make you a deal; I will aggregate orders from small customers and process them; all you need to do is ship to the addresses I supply.” There are a ton of drop shippers on Amazon. It’s incredibly easy to set up contracts with certain wholesalers and list products on Amazon (or your own storefront, set up using Shopify and some plugins), and sell those products. Customers are buying at a markup – so you can profit – but they don’t care, or the wholesale price isn’t available to them, and so on. White Labeling is sort of like a form of drop shipping, or of wholesaling, as a kind of bridge in the gap between them. You typically purchase products from a company and sell them to individuals, like you would with drop shipping. However, instead of keeping the manufacturer or wholesaler’s branding, you add on your own branding. This is common in the health and beauty niche, but is more difficult in other niches. Print on Demand is somewhat similar to drop shipping, though you can be the first-party provider or a second-party middleman depending on your position. You can do the printing yourself, or you can hire a printing company to print what you want them to. The difference between print on demand and drop shipping is simply that, with wholesaling and drop shipping, there’s a warehouse full of products somewhere just waiting to go out. With print on demand, the item is not created until an order comes in. This is exceedingly common with apparel and small accessories like phone cases. It’s also common with art prints.  Affiliate Marketing is similar to drop shipping, except you’re not handling any part of the process except advertising. With drop shipping, you have to create the storefront, and forward orders on to your wholesaler. With affiliate marketing, you don’t even handle orders; you simply direct customers to your wholesaler’s storefront. Amazon also does this; the Amazon affiliate program allows anyone to just make a link that points to a listing on their storefront, where they get paid if their referred user makes a purchase. It has the lowest overhead – all you need to succeed is a blog – but it’s also likely to have slimmer profit margins. Manufacturing can be considered the root of all B2B tangible goods sales. Being the company that actually creates the products means you can make a lot of profit; if a widget you sell costs $100 per case, and it takes you $2 worth of materials to manufacture the case, you’re pulling in a lot of cash. The trick is, you have to source raw materials and you need the hardware to manufacture the products in bulk at a rapid pace. There’s a reason most manufacturing is now performed in places like China; it’s expensive to get set up and reconfigured. Many of these ecommerce categories have a supplemental or spin-off type in the form of subscription services. The Dollar Shave Club is a prime example; they’re a drop shipping and white labeling company that operates on a subscription model rather than discrete sales. For the most part, I don’t consider these subscription services to be different categories; they’re just recurring orders for existing categories. Intangible Goods There is a lot of overlap between tangible goods and intangible goods sales. Many of the same business models apply. Affiliate marketing, for example, works equally well for Amazon regardless of whether you’re buying a book or an ebook. Digital Product Sales are a form of intangible good where you’re simply selling something that has no physical form. Software is the prime example; everything from boxed software at Best Buy to the library you can buy on Steam can count as digital product sales. Training Courses are another form of intangible good. It’s different from a service, because you aren’t necessarily training anyone directly; rather, you’re providing video lessons and coursework in PDF form, and whatever else is included. Services The final ecommerce type is being a service provider. Rather than providing a book, you provide the service of writing. Rather than providing a painting, you provide the service of graphic design. Freelancing is one of the primary forms of service one can provide online. Freelancers can do anything from coding and writing to art to marketing. Almost anything a business needs can be done by freelancers, though it’s not always appropriate to contract freelancers rather than hire employees. There’s also the middleman business model of providing connections; sites like Upwork or WriterAccess provide the service of connecting freelancers with people who want to hire them. Consulting is another form of service one can provide. You don’t have to provide the service for a company directly, but you can examine their processes and explain to them how they can improve, with your own recommendations, and perhaps your own services on offer. Consulting is simple outsourcing institutional and industry knowledge. Training is similar to consulting, but more in-depth. You can hire someone to train yourself or your employees in a task. Training is often provided along with tangible and intangible goods as well. As A Service (XaaS) is an entire class of internet-based service providers. Anything you think of as a web app today is usually “software as a service”. Rather than buying a piece of software and the hardware to run it, you buy access to someone else’s computer running that software. Anything from Google Analytics to Canva to Microsoft’s Office 365 can be an example of software as a service. More than just software can be provided as a service. Amazon’s web services, Google’s App Engine, and hosted blogs are examples of Platforms as a Service. Content Delivery Networks and outsourced processing power in the Google Compute Engine are examples of infrastructure as a service. Any as-a-service model relies on uninterrupted internet connections and reliable providers to succeed, which is why many of them tend to be B2B; they need the scale to support themselves. Still, more and more, these are becoming commonplace. Once you have chosen your target audience and the category for your ecommerce business, you can start to nail down more of the details. What is your product or service? How are you going to provide it? What kind of infrastructure do you need in place to succeed? Have at it, and good luck! The post The Exhaustive List of Ecommerce Types and Categories appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

The Ultimate Guide to Google Display Banner Ad Sizes

Getting the best return on your investment is the core desire for anyone using paid advertising of any sort. You’re spending money, so you want to make as much in return as you can. Part of optimizing your ROI is knowing everything you can about how the ads system works. One crucial element of Google ads is the size of the various display ads you’re able to use. Publishers need to know this so they know how much space to assign for ads on their site. Advertisers need to know this so they know how large their images should be. Google has quite a few different ad sizes, many of which are surprisingly similar, so it’s best to get the dimensions straight from the horse’s mouth. Remember, though, that these ad formats are not for Google’s search result advertising. Those ad slots are text-only, as are several other formats for Google ads. If you want to use image ads where the dimensions matter, you need to choose that particular format of display advertising. Google divides their ad sizes into three categories. These are “top performing ad sizes”, “other supported ad sizes”, and “regional ad sizes”. Why they keep any beyond the top performers is anyone’s guess, but I suppose giving people more options allows them to test variations on ad sizing and performance. Top Performing Ad Sizes 300×250 pixels. This format is known as the Medium Rectangle in most publications and is one of the most common ad sizes Google offers. As a publisher, it’s a good option to choose because you’re always going to have something to fill in the space. Since it’s very common amongst publishers, it’s very open to advertisers, with plenty of inventory to fill. This format is available for text ads, display ads, and mobile ads. It tends to perform well when embedded within the text of articles, or when merged with a multi-column layout on a website’s feed. 336×280 pixels. This format is slightly larger than the medium rectangle format, being 36 pixels wider and 30 pixels taller. This means the aspect ratio is very slightly different, but not by enough to truly matter. This one is called the Large Rectangle in many publications and is another common ad format. Like the medium rectangle, the large rectangle is very commonly found embedded within content like an image, though obviously it stands out as an ad due to ad disclosure rules. This format is available for both text and display ads, but is not available for mobile ads. 728×90 pixels. This is the “leaderboard” ad format, but the majority of you out there probably recognize it as a typical “banner” ad. It’s very wide, not very tall, and forms a horizontal bar that is used in a wide variety of ways. You very frequently find this ad format placed above content or below it, as part of the navigation or in the footer. Sometimes you see these used in place of spacers in the middle of articles, but this can cause issues with people encountering the ad and assuming the content is concluded. Be sure to encourage further scrolling if you use this format in the middle of your content. These are available for text and display ads, but not for mobile. 300×600 pixels. This is occasionally called the Half Page ad format, though many people just think of it as “that large ad to the side of the screen.” These ads are tall and vertically oriented, which means they would fit a cell phone orientation, except they are not available on mobile. Rather, they are often used to fill in whitespace to the sides of your content, which would normally simply be a gutter for widescreen monitors to center content. Google claims this is one of the fastest growing ad sizes, and as such it is becoming increasingly available amongst both publishers and advertisers. If you want to experiment with some of the most cutting-edge ad formats, this is one to look into. As mentioned, this is not available on mobile, but works with both display and text ads. 320×100 pixels. This is known as the “large mobile banner” ad format. Unlike the other top performing ad formats, this one is available for mobile ads but not for traditional display or text advertising. It is considered a mobile alternative to the 320×50 and 300×50 ad formats, which we have not discussed yet. They are vertically quite tall compared to other mobile ad formats, offering plenty of space for mobile viewers. If you want to capture as much mobile attention as possible in content with display advertising, this is a good format to use. Other Supported Ad Sizes 320×50 pixels. This is the “mobile leaderboard” style of ads, and is only available for mobile ads, not for desktop displays. Unlike the top performing mobile ad format, this one is half the size vertically, making it very squat and very wide. They are often used the same way as banner ads for mobile browsing, used at the top of content or in the footer at the end of content. 468×60 pixels. This is the ad format Google specifically calls the “banner” ad format, not to be confused with the leaderboards. Like leaderboards, it is short but wide, but it’s not quite as wide as the leaderboards. This is to make it more accommodating to narrower website layouts that don’t have the space to plug in such a wide ad format for the leaderboards. This format is available for desktop display and text ads, but not for mobile. Additionally, Google warns that this ad format is going out of style and, as such, inventory tends to be limited. Fewer publishers are using it, fewer advertisers are paying for it, and it will eventually be deemed a legacy ad format. 234×60 pixels. Those keen with math will notice that this is exactly half as wide and exactly as tall as the banner ad format. Fittingly, it is thus labeled the Half Banner ad format. It’s designed to fit in smaller spaces than the usual banner ad, and can be a small and unobtrusive ad format. However, this means it is also prone to being overlooked, which means it tends to underperform compared to other ad formats. Ads need to be large and in charge to be successful these days; trying to slip under the radar only works if you have some inexplicably high value display ads. This format does not work for mobile, either. 120×600 pixels. The official name for this ad format is the skyscraper ad format. It is less than half as wide as the half page format, while being just as tall. It’s essentially a banner turned on its side, which is how it got its start, more or less. As a desktop-only display ad, this one allows you to take up some gutter space on the sidebar of your website, without needing to dominate it with something as large as the half-page ad. However, this is also a less popular ad format than the half page, which leads to lower ad performance. 120×240 pixels. This is the actual “vertical banner” ad which, like the similarly sized half banner, suffers from being too small to capture a ton of attention. This kind of ad format would be ideal for small slide-in or pop-in widgets, but Google doesn’t like ads that only appear in certain dynamic circumstances, responsive design notwithstanding. The small size, the fact that it is limited to desktop-only display advertising, and the strange dimensions mean it isn’t very well suited for modern web advertising outside of specific circumstances. 160×600 pixels. This format is slightly over half as wide as the half page format, and is a little wider than the skyscraper format, serving as a sort of middle of the road between the two. The wider space than the skyscraper allows more creativity in your display ads, while still being narrower than the very dominant half page format. This tends to have a lot of inventory available, and is ideal for publishers with sidebars they want to fill with advertising. It’s available for desktop advertising, but not mobile. 300×1050 pixels. This is the “portrait” advertising format. It’s not very wide, but is extremely tall. Many modern mid-range computer monitors today are only 1080 pixels tall, so this can take up most of the vertical space, accounting for the navigation bar of a browser. These are brand-centric, which means they tend to work best when run alongside specific branded content or sponsored posts. Some sites use these as a sort of pseudo-background element in the gutter space of a centered page, making it look as though the ad content is peeking out behind the page content. Again, this is not available for mobile advertising. Currently, this is a high-demand, low-supply ad format, as few publishers are equipped to run them. You can take advantage of this for exclusive positioning and always-full advertising, if your site is configured for it. 970×90 pixels. This is occasionally called the Large Leaderboard format, and is a uniquely dynamic ad format. When a user views it for the first time, it will expand downwards, sliding the content further down to reveal the full content of the ad. The fill size of the display is 970×415 pixels. Once the user has seen the ad once, it no longer automatically expands, but can expand if the user clicks on it. This format is often used to display video, animations, and app advertising that tends to be very dynamic by its nature. 970×250 pixels. This is a billboard ad, and as such, has the same basic dimensions as a billboard you would see on the side of the highway. It’s very wide and quite tall, making it a very prominent ad. It’s best to run this at the top of your page, since it will often be cut off below the fold, and if it’s embedded in your content, users will assume it signals the end of a post unless otherwise indicated. This is another format where advertiser demand has outstripped publisher supply, putting publishers in a good position to earn. 250×250 pixels. This is a square ad format, which Google helpfully calls the Square ad format. It’s good for fitting into small spaces that aren’t wide enough for banners or leaderboards, and aren’t tall enough for skyscrapers. It’s large enough that it is not entirely ignored like the other small ad formats, and it’s quite common to be seen within text. This is also one of the more prominent formats for mobile advertising, because it’s available for both desktop and mobile ads. 200×200 pixels. This is the “small square” ad format, called such because it is a square and is smaller than the base square format. Why Google doesn’t call this the square and the other one a large square is anyone’s guess. It has all of the same benefits as the square ad, except it’s smaller, which means it is often overlooked. It is also limited in supply. It too is available for both desktop and mobile ads. 180×150 pixels. This is a small rectangle and, of course, is called the Small Rectangle ad format. It can fit into small spaces, but that’s often a detriment, as explained several times before. It doesn’t tend to perform very well and is probably well on its way to being deprecated. 125×125 pixels. This is the “button” ad format, which is basically just a small square, slightly larger than what most web forums use for avatar photos. It doesn’t perform very well and is limited to desktop advertising only, so it’s at the bottom of the list where Google can try to forget it exists. Regional Ad Sizes I’m not going to go over every regional ad size variation, because there are a lot of them. Google Ads makes certain specific ad sizes available in different countries, because different regions tend to have different preferred website layouts. For example, the most popular ad size in Russia is 240×400 pixels, called the vertical rectangle. It’s smaller than a half page, but larger than many other formats. Google also provides a few specific formats exclusively for use in Poland. Your guess is as good as mine as to why. The post The Ultimate Guide to Google Display Banner Ad Sizes appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.


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