Grow Traffic Blog

Can You Use Multiple Conversion Tracking Pixels on a Page?

Tracking pixels are an extremely important component to any sales funnel. They’re the code that allows you to track information about your visitors, particularly their conversions. Without the appropriate tracking pixel, you won’t have the relevant data in Google Analytics, in Facebook Insights, or in whatever other analytics software you want to use. Not to mention all of the affiliate tracking code that’s becoming more and more common every year. The question is, do you need to pick one tracking pixel, or can you include more than one piece of tracking code on a single page? A Simple Answer The short answer is “generally, yes” you can add more than one piece of tracking code to any given page on your website. This is very common for landing pages and “thanks for buying” pages, for example. Facebook Ads want to track data one way, Google Analytics and Google Ads track it another way, and if you want fluid information on both of them, you need both pieces of tracking code. I can’t give you an unqualified answer, right? Those of you who have been reading my blogs for a while now know I never give a straight answer. There are a few reasons why this might not be the case, and a few issues you might run into, so let’s talk about them. Multiple Google Ads Tracking Pixels One common misconception I’ve come across on the Google Product Forums and elsewhere is that your Google tracking pixel is associated with an individual ad campaign. These users believe that each ad campaign has its own associated tracking pixel. If each campaign has its own tracking pixel, you would run into issues where you have one order confirmation page that is triggered from multiple different landing pages. You would need multiple copies of the Google tracking pixel, one for each ad campaign, on that page. It would be a complex mess of referrer data and tracking. Obviously, the easiest solution here would be to make multiple visually identical confirmation pages, one for each landing page, but that can spiral out of control quickly. Thankfully, none of this is the case. The fact is, your Google Ads tracking pixel is associated with your account, not with any one campaign or ad set. You put the one instance of tracking code on your confirmation page, and you’re good to go. Google’s tracking is smart enough to track user information from page to page, and can carry that information forward from the moment the user clicks your ad to the moment they convert. In fact, due to the slow expiry of cookies, Google Ads can track a user who clicks on your ads but doesn’t convert for up to 30 days. There’s no need for multiple tracking code snippets or anything else complex like that. All of the complexity is on Google’s back end. Multiple Analytics Suites Let’s say that you want to track three different sources of traffic to your landing page. You only have one landing page, but you have traffic coming from Google Ads, from Facebook Ads, and from Twitter Ads. You want to be able to associate what conversions come from which source. Can you do it? In this case, you will need to be installing three different tracking pixels to your landing page and confirmation page. You need the Google Analytics tracking pixel, the Facebook Pixel, and the Twitter Universal Website Tag. All three of these code snippets is a script that loads when the relevant part of the website loads. Usually, this is in the header of your site, though some frameworks might put it elsewhere, and sometimes you want it attached to specific sections of a page. It depends on your site architecture. The key is that all three of them go in the same place in your code. Can you plug in all three of these tracking code strings without issues or conflicts? In general, yes. All three of them are stand-alone, self-contained pieces of code that call scripts hosted on their respective sites. One issue you could run into is instances where you’re flagging certain actions on a page as events to be tracked by individual tracking snippets. This can get pretty clunky in your code, though there’s no real way around it. The biggest potential problem is not with tracking your data, it’s with accuracy in cases where the user comes from multiple sources. For example, let’s say a user finds your product through a Google search and clicks on your Google Ad. They land on your landing page, but they choose not to convert. They have 30 days before the Google Ad tracking snippet expires. Now say that 28 days later, the user remembers you and looks you up on Facebook. They click a link on your Facebook page that leads them to the same landing page. This time, they go through and convert. Which analytics app gets the conversion recorded? Google has a valid claim to the conversion from being the original source of the visitor, but Facebook is the most recent touch, and thus the most immediately relevant. The answer is that both apps will track the conversion, and it’s up to you to realize that some of your conversions will be duplicated. This is actually a pretty complex problem, and it’s something that engineers at Google and Facebook – as well as other agencies – struggle with. Facebook added some advanced tracking configuration options in 2017 to help with this issue, but it’s still something you need to be aware of that could happen. Google also has their own tool to assist with this, called the Google Tag Manager. The Google Tag Manager supports a wide range of tracking pixels from a large number of analytics apps and affiliate tag trackers, including Adobe Analytics, AWIN, Cxense, Hotjar, Salesforce, Personali, Snowplow, Tune, and Webtrekk. If you’ve never heard of most of those, don’t worry; neither have I. Regardless, you can check the full list here. Facebook even has a tutorial on how to add their tracking pixel in the Google Tag Manager here. The other issue you might encounter with multiple pieces of tracking code is simply copy-and-paste errors. You have to copy code from one source, paste it into your site’s code, then copy a second set of code and paste it in as well. It’s easy to accidentally shift around a bracket and break everything, if you’re not careful. So, you know. Be careful. Multiple Affiliate Network Tags Affiliate network tracking comes in a very wide range of complexity. Some, like Amazon Affiliate links, are simply bits of code added on to Amazon links. Others might need to be run through a redirect page. Some can have Google UTM parameters added on top, while others might be disrupted if too much is going on. I can’t give you a simple, clear answer as to whether or not you can add any two given affiliate network tags to the same page. They work in too many different ways. The main problem you might encounter when tracking multiple affiliate networks is if they both track the same thing. If the same vendor is on multiple networks and you’re also using both networks, you could find that one sale is tracked by both networks. Suddenly two networks are supposed to pay you for one conversion, meaning the advertiser is over-charged, meaning the networks need to investigate. It’s fairly likely – and reasonable – that this will be considered fraud, and they will come down on you like a sack of hammers. The best solution to this is to be careful with what affiliate networks you’re tracking on any individual page. Generally, your pages want to be single-focused enough that they’re only tracking one product on one network, anyway. Of course, everyone has their own setup, so I can’t say how your site should handle everything in an ideal situation. Just map everything out and look for conflicts, I guess. Multiple Instances of One Pixel Now let’s go to another situation. You’re a marketing agency, and you want to track customer data with your agency-level Facebook pixel. You also want to track the customer’s individual data with their own Facebook pixel. Since you want to track the same data in two different places, you can handle this in several ways. The first thing you might consider doing is saying “screw it” to your customer’s pixel and just tracking everything with your pixel. After all, you can drill down to just stuff coming from their domain, so you can export a report for them. What happens, though, if the customer decides to cancel their contract with you? They can’t get reports on their data anymore. They don’t have their own historical data to work with. It’s a big mess that no one wants to deal with. The second thing you might consider is to paste in two different copies of the tracking pixel on the site. This works, but it’s clunky. See, both pixels will be initializing the same script, so the same script is running twice for every user. This can slow down the page and, in some cases, cause conflicts. You may end up with duplicate data, with every conversion being tracked twice for each tracking pixel, since the script is running twice. So, that method is out. The actual answer is to realize that the Facebook tracking pixel is smart enough to be able to handle more than one ID. In the tracking pixel code, you’ll see a line that looks like “fbq(‘init’, ‘{{pixel_ID}}’);”, up near the top. This is the line that calls the specific pixel ID, telling Facebook which ID should have this data assigned to it. You can just copy that line, though, and change the Facebook Pixel ID for the second line. You’ll end up with something like: fbq(‘init', ‘{{pixel_ID_1}}'); fbq(‘init', ‘{{pixel_ID_2}}'); This allows one script to refer one piece of tracking data to two different IDs at the same time. You get the data for your overview analytics, and the customer gets the data for their analytics. One thing you need to make sure of in this scenario is that the customer doesn’t start using the wrong ID for other marketing they’re doing on the side. You don’t want them to start sending data from strange sources to your main analytics. Google is a little less graceful with handling tracking multiple properties on one landing page. They can do it with the new Universal Analytics code, the analytics.js script. If you’re still using the old ga.js script, though, you can’t use more than one copy. You can use one of each and it should work. They have a whole article about tracking across multiple domains and tracking across multiple properties, so you can explore the Analytics Help Center to find the information that most closely suits your situation. Your Turn Have you ever needed to track the same conversion or the same piece of referral data in multiple analytics suites? How did it work for you? I’m curious what kind of configurations you’re all using out there, and how tracking it all has worked out. Some of you are probably doing some pretty insane things, and I love reading the crazy stories. Let me know! The post Can You Use Multiple Conversion Tracking Pixels on a Page? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Successfully Lower Your Amazon FBA Seller Fees

We don’t talk too much about Amazon selling on this site, but it’s definitely a topic worth covering. We’ve covered how to view the sales for individual products, and we’ve talked about improving product rankings, and a handful of other topics that revolve around selling more on Amazon. There’s just one problem: the more you sell, the more you lose to those pesky Amazon fees! The most convenient way to sell products via Amazon is with the Fulfillment By Amazon program, or FBA, but they have a bunch of fees associated with the program that you may want to minimize. How FBA Works Fulfillment by Amazon is a program any seller can opt into if they want to add a lot of convenience to selling through Amazon. Essentially, you ship off all your products pre-packaged and ready to go to Amazon, and when someone buys one of those products, they handle shipping from there. It’s sort of like a cross between running your own storefront and dropshipping. You still have to handle inventory supply, but you don’t have to handle the mechanics of addressing and shipping individual products. Set up FBA on your account. Create your product listings for the products you plan to sell. Prepare your products to be shipped quickly and easily. Ship your products to Amazon to be held in their warehouses until such time as they are purchased. Rake in the profits when users buy your products, without needing to worry about shipping. FBA has a handful of great benefits. The biggest and best of those benefits is the fact that Amazon handles shipping to customers. As long as the products are in stock in their warehouses, your customers can receive them in a matter of days, rather than the weeks it might take if you ship normally. Other benefits include Amazon handling your customer service for returns and refunds, the space you save by sending inventory to Amazon instead of keeping it in a spare room, and a consistent means of shipping, tracking, and managing inventory. The primary drawback, of course, are the fees. Amazon FBA’s Fee Structure Amazon FBA is much like their affiliate program and many other programs they offer: it’s flexible, which means it changes based on a bunch of different factors. You can view their full fee structure here. Basically, they have two fees you have to pay. The first is a fulfillment fee, which is a per-unit fee and covers Amazon’s picking and packing of your products from their inventory, their shipping and handling, and their customer service and return handling. For standard size products that are under 1 pound, it’s $2.41 per unit. Larger units scale up, as do oversize units. They also charge an additional 40 cents per unit for clothing. The worst case scenario for a fee would be a special large oversize clothing unit, which could have a fee as high as $150 or more. The second fee you have to pay is for inventory space. This fee depends on the cubic feet of space required to store your inventory and is not a per-unit price. It also varies depending on the time of year, with one fee for January through September, and another, higher fee for October through December. Standard sized products at the low time of year are 69 cents per cubic foot per month, while the highest possible fees end up being $2.40 per cubit foot per month. The fee structure page I linked above will show you a few estimated products and their associated costs, as well as providing you with a calculator if you’re interested in estimating what your costs could be. FBA has a few additional fulfillment options that can have different fees associated with them. They have a specific option for multi-channel fulfillment, one for specifically small and lightweight inventory items, and a subscription service that offers discounts for eligible customers. All in all, it’s very complicated, and it’s easy to see how you can eat up some or all of your profits on some items if they’re not packaged properly, if they’re too heavy, or if they take up too much space. What I’ve done, then, is come up with as many tips as possible to help you reduce the FBA fees that Amazon will charge you. Some might only carve off a few cents, while others could be much more significant. Use as many as you can! Use Tight Packaging As you can see from the fee structure, one of the primary costs associated with FBA is storage, based on the amount of space an item takes up. This works exactly counter to how the US Post Office operates, with standard-sized packages being usually the cheapest shipping options. One mistake I see newbies make quite often is using standard sized boxes for everything. If you use a large box for a small item, there’s a lot of wasted space inside the box, but Amazon is charging you for all of that space. It will generally be well worth your time to find precisely-sized packaging for every product you want to ship and store in Amazon’s warehouses. Now, it’s not worth your time to optimize this by millimeters. Amazon uses size tiers to determine storage costs, since it mostly determines what size racks they need to put the packages on in their warehouses. If you’ve ever seen the inside of an Amazon warehouse, you know that they’re often insanely dense and picked through by robots as much as by humans. You can use the fee calculator again, or browse the tables on this page, to help you figure out the appropriately sized boxes for your products. Use Precise Packaging One item of note that Amazon calls out on their packaging and fulfillment page is that they use very precise scanners to measure any package they’re storing in their warehouses. This measurement scans each dimension of the package and feeds the data into their algorithms to figure out the most efficient way to store it. This includes all three spatial dimensions as well as weight of the package. Amazon’s scanners don’t differentiate between something substantial and something insubstantial. The example they use is a piece of your packaging tape curling up. A ribbon or bow around the top of a package, like a traditional Christmas present, would be another example. Something insubstantial sticking out of the package, you know? When the scanners scan the package, they will record the additional length of that insubstantial bit of tape as additional height/width/length. This, even though it can be fixed by pressing the tape down or trimming it, can bump your product into another larger size tier. This can dramatically increase your fees! It’s may sound a bit silly, but just make sure that you’re being precise with the boxes and tape you’re using to ship your products. Try to avoid anything sticking out, no matter how insubstantial, because if it blocks a laser, it counts. Use Consistent Packaging When you’re selling numerous copies of the same product on Amazon, they don’t precisely measure and scan every single item. They take a representative sample of your packages and scan those, and use the average to calculate the storage space for your products. This means inconsistent packaging could reduce your fees, or it could drive up your fees, depending on which ones Amazon chooses to sample. I would generally assume that inconsistency is going to raise your fees, so make sure you’re packaging everything as consistently as possible. Monitor IPI Your IPI is your Inventory Performance Index. It’s a measurement of several metrics Amazon records about your inventory, and they grade you based on it. Each metric can give you a hint on how to reduce your fees by optimizing your inventory. The general advice here is never just ship everything you have to Amazon. The longer it takes to sell an item, the longer you’re paying for storage fees. If you have an item you only sell 2-3 per month, it does you no good to have more than, say, 4 of them on hand in Amazon’s warehouse at any given time. Conversely, if you sell 20 copies of an item per month, only having 15 on hand can delay shipping and give you penalties. Here’s what goes into IPI: Excess Inventory Percentage. This is the percent of your inventory that is considered in excess of what is necessary. Liquidating excess inventory through sales or deals can help you reduce storage costs, rather than letting those items collect dust in the fast-paced warehouse. Sell-Through Rate. This is similar, and is a metric measuring how accurately you keep your inventory close to how much you sell. Too little inventory is bad, too much inventory is bad. Keep to the sweet spot in the middle. Stranded Inventory. This is items in your inventory that no longer have product pages, or a number of other errors that might trigger this error as a catch-all. Avoid these whenever possible. This post in the FBA Forums is a pretty great overview of the IPI metric and how it works and influences your fees. Primarily, a low IPI might mean Amazon will restrict your storage space or bump up fees to account for it. Unfortunately, as a small or new seller, you might not have the data necessary to really optimize this. You’re likely going to end up having some products go out of stock or others under-sell from month to month. The sad reality is, Amazon is going to charge you fees for not having the foresight or the data to extrapolate from to keep right in that sweet spot. Luckily, the sweet spot is relatively large, all things considered, so you won’t eat TOO many extra fees if you stray outside of it. Still, it’s worthwhile to try to predict as accurately as possible what you need to have on hand from month to month. Don’t Store Inappropriate Products By inappropriate, in this case, I mean products that don’t really benefit from Amazon managing the storage for you. Big and heavy items that benefit from Amazon’s fulfillment are great candidates, though they’re expensive, especially if you don’t sell them quickly. Small, cheap items, on the other hand, often incur almost as much in fees as they give you in profit. You’ll break even or even lose out in the fees, particularly if it’s a slow-selling item, like an older replacement piece of tech. Make heavy use of the calculator, and assume the calculator is under-estimating fees, as it usually does. Anything that ends up in the Oversize category might not be worth storing, and anything that’s unusually heavy likewise might be difficult to store appropriately. Use Combo Packs Combining two items into one will reduce fees, since fees are both per-item and per-space. For example: Set of Tongs: $10 Fees: $1 for pick, $1 for shipping, $1.50 for referrals Baking Sheet: $10 Fees: $1 for pick, $1 for shipping, $1.50 for referrals Total fees: $7   Combination pack of tongs + sheet: $20 Fees: $1 for pick, $1 for shipping, $3 for referrals Total fees: $5   Now, this is a great option in certain circumstances. It doesn’t work if your products aren’t likely to be bought together, for example. Don’t, say, package a light bulb and a pair of tongs. They aren’t related, and finding people who need both is going to be rare compared to finding people who just want one or the other. You may need to dig into your product metrics to monitor what products are frequently bought together, and offer those as combo packs. Your Turn Do you have any tips you’ve tried and tested for reducing your FBA fees? I’d love to hear them. Just don’t tell me to fill my packages with helium; it doesn’t really work. The post How to Successfully Lower Your Amazon FBA Seller Fees appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Is The New Quora Advertisement Platform Worth Using?

Quora is such a bizarre platform. Originally created to occupy the same space as contemporaries like Yahoo Answers but classier, the site spent years running on investment capital with no source of monetization to be found. It was heavily adopted by marketers and similar folks, anyone who could benefit from being known as a thought leader. About the middle of 2017, they finally rolled out an ads platform, as most of us expected they would. With a new monetization stream, I’d venture to guess that the valuation of the company skyrocketed. Indeed, in 2014 or so the site was valued at around 900 million, while it’s now floating around 1.8 billion. Not everyone agrees that Quora is here to stay, though. Some lump the Q&A site in with such big names as Orkut, Google+, or Myspace. Personally, from a marketing standpoint, I don’t really care if the site lasts forever or if it keels over next year. So long as I can get some value out of it in the here and now, I believe it’s worthwhile. Enter the ads program. By running ads on Quora, you can drive traffic to your landing pages and pull in value from the Q&A site above and beyond what you get from answering questions organically. The question is, how does it work, how much does it cost, and is it worth using? Quora Ads Versus Other Ads Quora is a question and answer site with a bit of a reputation for high profile thought leaders – and many people who want to be seen as thought leaders – answering questions. This doesn’t always mean the answers are accurate, of course. Plenty of marketers use the site as a way to pitch their products rather than objectively answer questions. Some are a lot more transparent than others. At the core, Quora is used for information. In this sense, it’s perched in the same space as Reddit, Wikipedia, and just plain old Google search results with their infoboxes and their information ranking. You can’t run ads on Wikipedia, so the comparison there ends for us. When you advertise on Google, you’re capturing intent from users by virtue of keyword choice. If you’re good at choosing the right keywords, you’ll rake in the views, but only so long as you have enticing copy. If the user doesn’t like any of the search results, they’re going to draw back and re-tailor their query, and your ad impression went for naught. With Quora, you already have an audience interested in whatever topic is at hand. You know they’re looking for information, because they’re already on the Q&A site. There’s more intent and more basic assumptions that can be made to help refine your advertising. Plus, Quora ads display between answers and, while they’re somewhat ignorable, they aren’t such a disruption that it drives users away. That alone is somewhat unique these days. The most powerful aspect of Quora ads is the ability to target yourself. Target your own product, your own niche, your own company name as keywords. Your ads will be positioned between the answers for any questions involving those keywords. You can seek out those questions – or even ask them yourself – and contribute answers as well. You’re basically capable of turning a Quora string into a fairly customized landing page for your brand. How to Use Quora Ads How does the whole Quora ad process work? To start, you need a Quora account. If you’ve followed some of my past content, you’ve likely already created an account for organic use, and you can just use that. For the purposes of Quora ads, you should use an account with your company information, rather than a sock puppet you use for creating answers without looking biased. Now, before you even think about running ads, you need to lay the foundation for tracking their results. As you might expect from using Facebook for advertising, this involves installing tracking code on your site. The Quora Pixel is their version of the tracking pixel that traces its roots all the way back to email tracking. In your Quora Ads dashboard, one of the top navigation links is the Quora Pixel. Click it and set up the pixel by clicking the gray button in the far right. Fill out the information it asks for and copy the code it gives you. You’ll want to put this code in the head section of your site, just as you would the Facebook pixel or Google Analytics tracking code. It’s easy enough to do, but if you’re not sure of what you’re doing, send it over to your developer to handle. Quora has a similar ad structure to Facebook: you have Ad Campaigns, Ad Sets, and Ads. Think of it like ice in a fridge, the old style, not those fancy automatic ice makers kids these days get to play with. Your ad campaign is your freezer. Each ad set is an ice tray, and each ice cube is an individual ad. Ads are within sets, which are all within a campaign. The only place this metaphor breaks down is when you’re running multiple campaigns; not many people have multiple freezers these days. Click to create a campaign and you’re brought to a fairly standard ad creation window, though it doesn’t have a ton in the way of extra documentation. You have two objective options: conversions or app installs. Choose the most relevant, which 9 times out of 10 will be conversions. Choose a daily maximum budget as per your willingness to spend money, and set a lifetime maximum if you want to make sure your campaign doesn’t over-spend. Be aware that your daily budget is a $5 minimum. Finally, choose whether the ads start immediately or you want them to start on a specific date – and end on a specific date if you want. Once you have all of this set up, click continue to move to the ad set level. Come up with a name for your campaign, something descriptive enough to remember; this is internal information so don’t worry about it being public. Here you can choose a type of targeting to use. Topic targeting is typical keyword targeting. Use keywords, both positive and negative, to refine the sorts of questions and answers your ads will show up on. Audience targeting is more like Facebook ads, where you choose audience demographics to show your ads to regardless of the content they’re reading. Once you’ve run ads for a while with the Quora pixel installed, you can access audience retargeting here as well. Topic targeting is easier to refine in terms of ad copy and relevance. The best use of Quora ads is to run ads on topics that are close to your intent, so your ads look more like an intended part of the answer string. Once you dump in a list of keywords, Quora will give you a list of suggested topics based on the content they have available for advertising. Scan through this list and un-check any of the topics that don’t match your intent. For example, if you plug in a bunch of Facebook Marketing keywords, the suggested topics list will include a bunch of advertising and marketing strings. Find any that don’t fit your goal of Facebook marketing, and remove them from the list. You can then further refine your targeting with excluded locations and excluded topics, as negative keywords. Now on to your ad copy. You have four components to a Quora ad you can specify, and they’re quite similar to Google ads, since they’re entirely text. Business name. This will show as a “promoted by business name” and gives you 30 characters of space. Headline sentence. This is like your ad title and shows up in bold at the top of your ad, with 65 characters of space. Body text. This is the non-bold main body copy for your ad. You have 105 characters of space here. Display URL. This is another 30 characters that shows the URL a user lands on, along with a brief call to action you choose from a list. Use this space to good effect. All of the typical advice for text-based advertising apply here, so any tips for any other text ads can apply. Once you have that all filled out, you can run the ad immediately. Do Quora Ads Work? Quora ads certainly work. Let’s look at some data, shall we? This post on Medium has a review of different aspects of Quora ads, giving them all middle of the road ratings. This is similar to my impression of them; it’s a basic ad system without a lot of the bells and whistles you might be accustomed to using Facebook ads, or even modern Google ads. They work, but they aren’t slick or deeply customizable. That post, and this one from WordStream, both share another gripe with Quora ads, which is their expense. They tend to be 15% to 25% more expensive than comparable Google Ads. Google ads can be fairly cheap, though, and a more accurate comparison might be to third party blog ads or ad networks like Taboola or Outbrain. In those cases, Quora comes in somewhat cheaper. This case study from the Quora Ads beta indicates one of the biggest problems with Quora, which is intent. Quora is primarily an informational platform. The people who end up on Quora from a Google search or from some other source are there because they want to learn or read information about a subject. It’s the same reason they might end up on Wikipedia. The problem here is that the intent is to learn, not to buy. You have a harder time converting that intent into sales. The best ads on Quora tend to be ads that provide more information. A detailed landing page about a subject with a mailing list opt-in for more, a page that convinces the reader to opt-in to download or buy an informational e-book, and so on. Ads that try to push a product or service aren’t going to do quite so well. This means Quora tends to work best as a top-of-funnel way to get new users into your sphere of influence, rather than a way to drag them further down into your sales funnel. Then again, that’s what remarketing is for. Once those users have visited your site, make new ads with audience targeting to remarket to those users and pull them ever deeper. Effectively Using Quora Ads First of all, check out this article. It’s full of examples of Quora ads in action, and can give you an idea of what a good ad is and what a not-so-good ad looks like. After that, put all of your typical PPC ad knowledge to use. Your keyword research for Google ads transfers quite well over to Quora, so that’s a good place to start. Keep an eye out for common mistakes. Make sure to follow the ad guidelines for capitalization and sentence formatting. Quora wants their ads to look native, so they require sentence case capitalization and will automatically reject ads that use camel casing or other odd formatting. Don’t run ads that are too broad. You’ll end up with a scattershot approach that doesn’t give you much useful data. Err on the side of narrow ads and expand from there once you see what works. Be aggressive in culling topics that are outside of your focus. It’s better to have a smaller selection of more relevant ads than a broad selection of irrelevant questions. Bid appropriately. Quora suggests a bid based on your targeting and it’s usually a good idea to aim for somewhere in the middle of their range. Don’t set a low bid cap lest you end up under-bidding and not winning the auctions. And of course, my common piece of advice: start small and work your way up. Unless you have money to burn, it’s always better to start with a few small tests to see how the waters feel. The post Is The New Quora Advertisement Platform Worth Using? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Track Google Ad Conversions with Free Trials

One way many web service providers hook people is with the free trial. Think about how many services and web apps out there have a free plan available to new users. It might last a week, two weeks, a month, or even indefinitely. This is fine! Free trials are a great way to hook new users on a product, integrating it with their workflow such that they can’t live without it. Once the free trial runs out, you push them right into converting to the level of paid plan appropriate for their usage. Throughout it all, you’re harvesting data you can use to optimize future conversions. There comes a problem with free trials, though. The existence of the free trial is a sort of air gap between two systems. You can track the conversion from a free trial to a paid account using whatever billing service you run, or you can track it through Google Analytics. That’s fine. The other end of the system, though, is Google ads. You probably run Google ads to get more users to your landing pages, where they will be enticed to try your free trial. You can use the Google ads built-in tracking to monitor conversions from that group, people who sign up for free trials. The problem is, how do you track which of those people moved on and upgraded to paid versions of your product? Thankfully, there are a few different ways you can do this, depending on the systems you use to track various aspects of your conversion process. Option 1: With Stripe Stripe is a payment processor a lot of you out there use, and with good reason. In addition to their wealth of useful features, they allow you to evaluate your conversions on an ongoing basis. It’s hidden in your Billing tab, where they show you your conversion percentage and value per customer. The data there can be used to track to show which people came in from a free trial and converted into a paying customer. You can link this with your Google data to match up the users who came in from your ads. I’m not going to go into great detail here because we’ve already covered Stripe conversion tracking over in this article. Go ahead and give it a look if you’re into Stripe. The one quirk you need to watch out for is that Google’s tracking code can’t be loaded via PHP. The workaround here is to add it to the customer dashboard, where you can track the user’s account status. Monitor when they log on and check if they’re still a free user or if they’re now a paid user. This tracks as your conversion event for analytics usage. Option 2: Manual Tracking Instead of relying on an obtuse and hidden tracking system, you can always just track your data manually. Monitor your Google ads and track a signup for a free trial as a conversion. You can even flag your accounts in some way internally with the source of the conversion. Did they come from Google ads, or an organic link, or a link from an affiliate you set up, or what? This is useful particularly for the affiliate angle. Many web services and apps can get a lot of mileage out of running an affiliate program. You can get a lot of people willing to advocate for your product in exchange for a cut, and you can kick that up into the stratosphere if you publish your affiliate offers on one of the major affiliate networks like OfferVault. When you track where the user came from when they signed up, you can then track what they do. You can have a list of people who signed up because of your Google ads, and you can quickly and easily determine which ones converted into paid customers from there. Of course, the more you do manually, the harder it is to keep track of all of this data. You need to have a set of custom spreadsheets, or custom data sources in your Google analytics, or whatever other system you use. It can be pretty annoying to handle data for hundreds of customers, and if you expand and start dealing with thousands or tens of thousands of customers, it can quickly reach a point where you either automate it or you write it off. At this point you might end up hiring a developer to create a custom tracking script for you, and you may end up with some wonky integrations or inconsistent data. As they say in the infomercials, there has to be a better way! Option 3: Data Hand-Off Possibly one of the smoothest options you have available is to link up your Google Ads and your Google Analytics tracking. It makes sense that two different Google systems with Google-based tracking in them would be able to hook together, right? Here’s what you need to do. First, you need to make sure you have your conversion tracking set up in Google ads. In this case, you want your conversion tracking to track each possible goal that a user might make. Signing up for a free trial is one goal, immediately signing up for a paid plan is another, and so on. You can track mailing list sign-ups as well, if you have them. Google has fairly robust conversion tracking options for Google ads. The problem you run into with Google ad conversion tracking is you don’t get that second layer of tracking. If someone signs up for a free account, there’s your conversion as far as Google ads is concerned. You lack the ability to follow that user and then track their upgrade. It’s worth noting that you do have the ability to track conversions that happen outside of your website. Google offers conversion imports, where they let you either upload a data file or transmit data via their API. This allows you to, for example, track the people who called your sales team and converted via phone, or who walked into a physical retail location and made a purchase, so long as you have some way to identify those users. You can read more about setting up conversion tracking with Google ads in this help center article. This is the first step of several. The second step is to track your additional goals in Google analytics. The primary goal you want to be tracking here is the conversion from a free user to a paid user. You can set up different goal tracking events for converting to different levels of paid service if you have different plans, or for different products if you have several. You can also just have one goal, if there’s only one option for a user to take. Creating a goal in Google analytics is pretty easy. In the Admin section, find the right View to show the goals section. Click to create a new goal and choose which type of goal you want to use. Templates. There are several different template goals you can create, based on common conversion actions Google sees. Buying tickets, buying a product, registering for a mailing list, and so forth are all goal types. The goals you have available will depend on the industry you have chosen for your business, which you can change when you edit your web property in your dashboard. Custom. Custom goals are goals you set up yourself. They can be a duration of a video play, a number of screens visited per session, a particular destination, an event, and so on. Event tracking (executing a conversion) or page visits (to the specific order confirmation page) are both options for tracking a free trial upgrade. Smart. Smart goals are goals Google can determine how to track just from the data they track about your site. You need to have sent at least 500 clicks through analytics over the previous month (and no more than 10 million sessions in that same period) in order to activate smart goals. Additionally, if you fall below 250 clicks in a month, you will lose access to smart goals. You’ll probably want to set up a custom goal for this. You don’t want to mess around with potentially missing data by using a smart goal, and you might not be able to see a template for the precise goal you want to track. Still, it’s very easy to set up a custom goal, you just have to fill out a form. When you create a specific goal, you will need to add the associated code trigger to your website. Again, this will likely be in your user dashboard or in a purchase confirmation page, though it all depends on your specific sales funnel setup. Google’s goal creation help center article is here. This still tracks data in two different places, though. You have your conversion tracking in Google ads and your upgrade tracking in Google analytics. How do you get them to talk to one another? That’s where goal imports come in. Importing your Google analytics goals into Google ads allows you to access the data from both sides of the coin and link them together. You’ll be able to see your analytics conversion data in your Google ads, directly correlated with the people who clicked through your ads to reach your sales funnel in the first place. An added benefit is that this allows the Google ads conversion optimizer access to more data about how your users are acting once on your site, which gives it more ability to optimize for the people who eventually upgrade. In order to import goals, the first thing you need to do is link your two accounts. You will need to sign into your Google ads account and click the settings wrench. Click linked accounts and click “details” under the Google analytics section. This will show you a list of the Google analytics properties attached to your Google account. Click the right property for your website and, in the actions column, click to link the property. You are able to link as many different properties to Google ads as you like, though the more you link, the more complicated your tracking becomes. This is why a lot of people like to use a dedicated Google ads account for each website they advertise, though there are problems with that approach as well. You will also need to make sure auto-tagging is turned on with your Google ads. It’s turned off by default. Go to your Google ads account settings and find the box that says “tag the url that people click through from my ad”. Check the box and save your settings. Incidentally, steps for both of those are for the new experience. The links I gave you also have the old experience steps available if you haven’t changed to the new experience yet. Now you can import your analytics goals into Google ads. Go to your Google ads account and click the tools tab, then the conversions section. There will be an Imports option, which you should check. Click the Google analytics button and continue. You will be given a list of goals and transactions you want to import; choose the appropriate data and import it. This gives Google ads the data you want to see. It can take up to half an hour after you link accounts for analytics goals to show up in Google ads, and it can take up to nine hours for the data to fully integrate with Google ads. Basically, give it a day before you try to use it as accurate data. You can read more about the data imports here. The post How to Track Google Ad Conversions with Free Trials appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Best Practices for Creating and Optimizing Registration Forms

A conversion funnel starts wide, with broad spectrum advertising and awareness campaigns. These campaigns feed into more targeted advertising, where the user might think “hey, I’ve heard this name before. This is interesting, maybe I should check it out.” That tier of advertising then leads to landing pages, blog posts, and other properties where you have one all-important goal: getting the sign-up. A form, be it for registration, for mailing list opt-in, or any other form of data harvesting, is what your entire funnel leads up to. It’s the tip of the inverted pyramid. If your users reach the point where they could fill out the form and don’t – or worse, fill out part of the form and stop before submission – you need to optimize your forms. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Here’s a bunch of tips, in no particular order. Take the ones you can, make use of the optimizations available to you, and rake in those extra conversions. Customize This Advice Before I get into the specific advice, I need to say one thing. Not every tip here will fit every brand. Some of them are changes that, if you made them, would hurt your conversions. Others might have no effect. Some might not even apply to your specific situation. Always test your changes using traditional A/B testing. If a change you make hurts your conversions, revert it and try something else. Remember: you can always change back if something doesn’t work out. The key is to accumulate a representative sample of data to test any change and choose which is objectively superior. Remember, also, that not all tips are aimed specifically at increasing the volume of sign-ups you get. That’s what a list like this one is for. Some of the tips I’m listing today are aimed at getting better sign-ups, rather than MORE sign-ups. Remember, if you have 100 sign-ups with a 1% conversion rate after the fact, you only have 1 conversion. If you have 50 sign-ups with a 10% conversion rate, you have 5 conversions. Even if the second scenario looks worse on paper initially, the conversion profits are better in the end. Now, on with the tips! Keep It Short Shorter is better when it comes to a registration form. The less a person needs to read, the better. Include just the information you need the user to know – like what each box is for and what each requires – and minimize other information. Users don’t need a 100-word-long paragraph about the virtues of signing up at the top of the registration form. Each box should have a simple label, which is often a single word. You generally need your legal disclaimers, like “we do not sell personal information.” Anything required by the new GDPR rules is good to have as well. Beyond that, you don’t need much of anything. Minimize Fields The less a user has to plug in to register, the better. You generally need a Name field, an Email Address field, and a Password field for account registration. Anything else can be added to the user profile once the user has registered. For something like a mailing list, you don’t even need a password field. If you’re using a registration form to collect qualified leads for future sales messages or calls, you’ll need extra information. Company name/size/employee count are useful to your sales team, but some users balk at giving that information. In some cases, you might be operating a software beta or other test where you might want information about the user’s computer. There are automatic scanners you can use to harvest that information without the user needing to know it, but this is a double-edged sword. One way, you lose the people who don’t know the information you’re asking for and don’t care to find out. The other way, you’re losing the people who don’t trust your scanner or don’t want to give you ALL of that information. You have to weigh the options. You should also minimize the fields you ask for at a time. If you need to ask for 10 pieces of information, it’s better to ask for 1 page of 5 pieces, and then a second page of 5 pieces, than it is to ask for 10. What you’re doing is taking advantage of sunk costs. If a user plugs in five pieces of information and clicks to the next page, they feel more likely to add in five more pieces of information and hit submit. You’ll lose some people, sure, but not as many as you would lose by presenting them with a dauntingly large form right off the bat. Make Progress Visible If you have a simple registration form, chances are it’s just a single page. This is great, because the user can fill out four or five informational boxes, check a confirmation button, and hit “register” to finish the process. In other cases, you might be asking for more information. If you split your form into multiple pages like I mentioned in the previous tip, make sure you have a progress bar. Lay out the exact number of pages, and include labels for them. Even something as simple as a percentage progress bar can make users feel more comfortable, rather than unsure about how deep they have to go to finish submitting the form. Minimize Distractions Many modern sign-up forms today work either as an overlay that covers the screen, or as their own landing page that has no other elements on the page. There’s a good reason for this: it minimizes other options. If a user is presented with a form in the middle of a blog post, they have a bunch of other potential distractions on the page. They could at any time click one of your other calls to action, or an ad, or even just abandon the form to keep reading the post. Like a good landing page, you want your registration form to have as few other options for the user as possible. Ideally, they only have four: fill out the form, hit the back button on their browser, navigate to another page via bookmarks or the URL bar, or close their browser altogether. Indicate Signs of Trust Trust signals are an important part of any conversion process. Depending on the kind of information you’re asking for, you should include those signs of trust. Here are some options: Include enough branding that the user knows they aren’t signing up for some random site mimicking you. Include a statement verifying that you’re not selling their information, with a link to a privacy policy. Include a trust seal, like the Norton Secured (VeriSign) seal. If asking for sensitive information, like bank details or a password, use SSL so the user has the browser-based lock of trust. Consider a numerical indication of other users who have signed up. 100,000 others can’t be wrong! If there may be a question, verify up-front that you handle other countries or languages, if applicable. Don’t go overboard, though. Avoid layering on half a dozen trust sigils like some kind of magic seal that will make people love you. It won’t work, and wraps around into “what are they hiding?” territory. Remember Mobile Mobile users exist. Half of all web traffic today is mobile. You’re going to have a lot of people viewing your forms that are using mobile devices. This means you need to put a lot of effort into making sure your forms work and are easy to fill out via mobile. Asking for as little information as possible is a big part of this. You also want to make each field easy to select and fill out. Minimize typing. Make it easy for a mobile user to scroll through options if necessary, to select fields like State or Country. One big convenience is to set specific fields to numerical inputs, which triggers mobile devices to use the number keyboard rather than the full keyboard. It’s a pain to have to type in a phone number using a normal qwerty layout on a phone, but easy if the number pad is given right up front. Validate Errors Form validation is a dying art, sometimes. A lot of users fill out a form, hit submit, and expect it to work. If they are presented with an error message telling them some field is improperly filled out, a lot of them will drop it in frustration rather than try to troubleshoot whatever the error is. You can perform field validation as soon as users are typing. Many modern forms do this, and you’ve no doubt seen it. Plugging in a username and being told it’s taken before you even proceed to the next field, filling out a phone number and being told it’s not a phone number because it has too many or too few digits, filling out a password and being told it doesn’t meet security criteria because it doesn’t have a special character, and so on. These are all aspects of form validation. If you can use an active script to read what’s in the form and validate it – without having to send it to a server, to keep passwords and the like secure – do so. Form validation makes it a lot easier to fill out a form in one pass, which in turn makes it easier to submit. Don’t Mask Passwords One of the “best practices” from the 90s was that every password field should be a series of dots or *s when you type it in. After all, anyone could be looking over your shoulder, right? Well, how often is a password stolen from looking over a shoulder? I would venture to guess it’s a lot, lot less often than the number of times someone plugs in a password incorrectly. It’s frustrating to plug in a password and have it be wrong, preventing you from logging into something. You know what’s worse? Plugging in a password you think is correct, but it’s actually wrong, when you register. Then, when you go to log in later, your password won’t work. If the user could see what they were typing when they typed it, they wouldn’t run into this problem. Harvest Background Information There are a bunch of different ways you can harvest information about a user when they submit a form, without them needing to plug in the information themselves. For example, you can harvest their IP address and use a lookup tool to guess at their general location. You can harvest their user agent to get information about their browser or device. You can even in some cases use mobile device access to harvest more precise location or other factors, though this often requires the user to authorize some action and might not be ideal. This ties into minimizing form fields and asking for less. The more you can harvest in the background, the less you have to ask for. Just don’t make use of that information in a creepy way, otherwise users will lose trust in you. Use One Column Studies have shown that using a single column is more readable and more likely to be filled out than splitting your form over multiple columns. It’s also better formatted for mobile, though a responsive design solves that issue regardless. Indicate Required Fields Most of the time, a user won’t want to fill out information they don’t need to. Unless every field in your form is required, mark the required forms with some kind of marking, either color or the traditional asterisk. Drop the Clear Field Option Many traditional forms have a “clear” button to reset the form. It’s a sort of emergency button for fringe cases. Maybe a previous user filled each form with gibberish. Maybe the user got two thirds of the way through and decided to change the information they’re giving you. 99% of the time, the user will not want to clear a form, and when they do they can just as easily refresh the window, since most browsers don’t save partially completed forms without intentional configuration. Instead, they hit the clear button instead of the submit button, and it destroys their desire to convert. Just drop the button. The post Best Practices for Creating and Optimizing Registration Forms appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

18 Ways to Promote and Sell Your Music on Bandcamp

Bandcamp is a global platform for hosting and selling music, used predominantly by small independent musicians. It’s excellent for its purpose, but it’s also a crowded platform. How can you make effective use of Bandcamp for music promotion? Let’s talk about it. About Bandcamp Using Bandcamp is free and pretty easy for musicians and artists. Sign-up is a quick and painless process, as is uploading music. Music fans can create accounts and follow individual artists, maintain wishlists, and explore similar music to what they already like. Artists can sell directly, with complete control over pricing and how accessible the music is to stream. I’ve seen some albums available on Bandcamp with unlimited streaming, and others that only allow each track to be played 2-3 times before it’s locked behind a purchase. Bandcamp also works directly with some music labels, and it can be a great discovery platform. Since we’re talking about selling music, I’m going to look at things from the perspective of an artist looking to sell. So here’s what Bandcamp offers musicians: Easy accessibility for fans. The website and mobile apps allow unlimited streaming of purchased music in high quality formats. Total control. You can charge any price and change prices whenever. You can charge a minimum price and let users pay more if they choose. You can even require nothing more than an email address. Global availability. Bandcamp accepts 18 different currencies from around the world. Analytics. Bandcamp offers fairly rich analytics about links to albums, music embeds, track popularity, purchasing, search terms, and more. Product sales. You can bundle music sales with physical items, ranging from CDs or vinyl to apparel to whatever else you want to sell. You can even sell tickets to your shows directly through Bandcamp. Chart access. Bandcamp submits sales reports to several global music charts, meaning you can place on them if you’re popular enough. Search engine visibility. Everything is indexed, so band names, lyrics, and song titles can all show up on Google’s results page. Album codes. Artist accounts come with the ability to generate 200 codes for free albums to send out and give away. You earn more by selling, an additional thousand codes for every $500 in sales, or you can purchase more directly for a few cents each. Customizable band and album pages. You can make your pages look pretty dang slick with minimal effort. Plus, of course, there’s the element of trust. Bandcamp is a trusted platform that processes millions of dollars in payments on a monthly basis. Users know that if they pay for something on the platform, they’ll get it. The only major downside to Bandcamp is them taking a cut of the profits off any album sold. That’s not a big surprise, though; every platform and every record label, manager, and anyone else involved in selling music is going to want their cut. Bandcamp only takes 15% of digital sales and 10% of merch sales, which decreases once you top $5k in total sales. That’s a lot less than a lot of other alternatives. Bandcamp also has a Pro version, for artists who want to pay a fee to gain access to additional features. Batch uploads, to queue up uploading an entire album + assets all at once instead of track by track. Messaging to reach fans, with geographic targeting and other features. Private streaming organization, you can send invites to specific people via email, message, or any other contact method, and stream to a DIY audience. Video hosting without ads. A custom domain name for your Bandcamp profile page. More advanced analytics, and Google Analytics integration. The ability to disable streaming for specific tracks. All of this comes at the cost of $10 per month, which is pretty reasonable if you’re getting any sales at all from the platform. Which, if you follow the tips I’ve accumulated below, you should be! Tips for Bandcamp Success I’m going to divide up these tips into a few categories to make things simpler. For example, this first category is off-site benefits. You want to establish a presence outside of Bandcamp, because no one platform alone (except maybe Facebook) can reach enough people to become a great success. Build a website. You want at least one web presence that you 100% control on your own. You can do it through a website builder like Squarespace, you can set up a WordPress template and run on a cheap web host, you can pay for a web developer and set up a custom site, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have a URL people can use to find you and find information about your band, your show dates and locations, your albums, and so on. Build social media profiles. Social media is how millions of people interact with the bands, brands, and people they want to engage with on a daily basis. At the bare minimum, you should have a Facebook band page and a Twitter profile. You might also consider an Instagram account, possibly something like Snapchat, and – depending on how modern savvy you are – something like one of the new platforms, like TikTok. Build a mailing list. It might seem strange for a band to keep an email newsletter going, but a mailing list is a great way to ensure your fans always know when you’re touring, playing shows, or releasing new music. You don’t have to rely on going viral or reaching the front page of some suggested music feed; you have your fans already at your fingertips. It’s pretty simple to set up something like Mailchimp to maintain a list and send out a new newsletter once a month. Run a blog. Much like a newsletter, you don’t often think of a blog when you think of a band, but a blog can go a long way towards increasing visibility. You don’t have to write frequently, even once a month is fine; just enough to keep fans aware of what you’re doing and remind people you’re alive. Share stores of being on the road, of composing, of performing, or even just life. Your fans won’t complain. Set up your Bandcamp pages. Bandcamp is very easy to get up and running, and you can customize your album pages with colors and uploaded imagery quite nicely. Do so, and make sure to upload your albums and configure them properly. Writing album descriptions, uploading album covers, and a proper credits section are all quite useful for helping your music stand out. Once you have your presence established, you need to get down to optimizing your presence on Bandcamp. One element too many musicians miss is the opportunity to optimize the little details that can have a big impact. Specifically, these details can help you reach the Discovery section of Bandcamp, which means front page exposure and a lot of new listeners. Choose a Main Genre and Sub-Genres. You have to understand your own music and, more importantly, the way others categorize your music. Maybe you feel like “Acoustic” as a genre fits you, but if most people think of you as Folk, you want to tag yourself as Folk so you can show up in those searches. Your choice of Main Genre is incredible important, as you can only have one, and it dictates your sub-genre choices as well. If you try to pick sub-genres that are outside of the main genre, you get zero visibility for them. Make sure to do plenty of research, and consider reading up on some case studies for ideas of how the Bandcamp algorithm works. Pick a geographic location. Bandcamp’s Discover section has city sections in it, but only a limited selection of cities. Browse through their available cities and see if one of them is close to you. If it is, choose that as your home city. It’s ideal if you can visit the city on a regular basis, particularly for tours and establishing a presence. Then, if you take off, you can be one of the top musicians in your genre in that city, which is a great jumping off point for future gigs, bookings, local press, and other benefits. It’s also why you shouldn’t choose a city you can’t visit; what if they want to interview you, see your studio, or have you perform, but you chose a city across the country? Pay attention to your album art. Album art is quite important, as it’s an introduction to your album and your aesthetic. People choose whether or not to tap on something from the discovery queue based on imagery, since there aren’t audio previews. You should also make sure your album art works at a small scale, since a lot of users will be seeing a scaled-down version of it displayed on a smartphone screen. If your art loses a lot of fine detail, you lose out on those potential listeners. Specify your lyrics. If your songs have lyrics, that is. I know a lot of musicians use ambient and electronic or even just instrumental music as the basis of their albums, with lyrics a rarity. Still, any song that has lyrics, you should upload the accurate, proof-read, typo-corrected lyrics. This helps you show up in Google search for the lyrics whenever someone wants to find a song they half-remember, plus it fills out your album page and allows users to follow along with the song more accurately. Choose your pricing. I don’t have a wealth of pricing data available, but you should be able to see what prices have worked the best in the past, and you can do some research into recommendations from other successful artists. One great recommendation, though, is enable flexible payments. If you set a minimum at $5 for an album but allow users to pay more than the minimum if they want to support you, chances are a sizable number of users will. Bandcamp themselves say a whopping 50% of purchasers pay more than the minimum when they buy, and I’ve done it myself. Use image maps for links. Bandcamp allows you to put an image map on your page header. This converts sections of the header image into clickable links. Design your header to include symbols or words that call out your website, social profiles, storefront for merch, tour dates, and any other critical pages. Then use the image map to map links to those pages on the relevant parts of the image. Essentially, you’re making top-bar navigation out of a header image. Now let’s get into a few of the more traditional marketing tips that help bring users to your page. Then we can convert those users into paying customers. Take advantage of your free album copies. As I mentioned above, Bandcamp gives you a handful of codes for free copies of your album. Run contests and giveaways, reward band ambassadors, and send previews to influencers to make the most of these codes. Share new music posts, blog posts, and newsletters on social media. Bandcamp’s algorithms aren’t quite as focused on traffic as other social networks and storefronts, but more traffic means more listeners, more listeners means more buyers, and more buyers means more chance to end up on best seller lists in your genre and in your city. It can’t be overstated: ending up on a discover list is one of the best things that can happen to an artist on Bandcamp. It opens a lot of doors. Offer discount codes. Discounts on an album you release, which go directly to your newsletter, reward your fans. This works quite well in conjunction with flexible pricing; many users will pay full price or more, even with a discount code! Learn your listener persona. Who is listening to your music? More importantly, who is paying for your music? Learn about those people, and use that knowledge to adjust your imagery to appeal specifically to them. Be cynical about it, and don’t be afraid to sell out. Everyone needs to eat. Consider split testing. Split testing is when you run one option for a while, see how it works, then run an alternative and compare the results. You can split test album imagery and tags on your albums in an ongoing process to capture the most attention. Unlike more chronologically-focused social networks, Bandcamp will happily throw a years-old album in the discovery queue for a new tag just added to it. Make sure your content is high quality. Very high quality audio recordings can be downscaled for streaming, but please the audiophiles amongst your audience. There’s no reason not to upload high quality masters. Consider applying for PayPal’s micropayments. Since Bandcamp is likely a lot of small payments, the PayPal fees can eat up a lot of your potential profits. Micropayments allow you to process low-value transactions at a lower cost. What are your favorite or most successful ways you’ve sold your music on Bandcamp? Let us know in the comment section to share with others! The post 18 Ways to Promote and Sell Your Music on Bandcamp appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Complete List of All Google Ad and Campaign Types

Google Ads are changing. The biggest change, of course, is the new branding. AdSense is still the publisher end of the Google Ads coin, but AdWords has been rebranded simply as Google Ads. Those of you who commonly use Google Ads have probably encountered the change from the old experience to the new experience. Google has been slowly changing over features and reorganizing their entire dashboard for over a year now. They’ve been gradually rolling it out to new advertisers, and those given permission to use the new system are free to choose between new and old. Both the new and the old Ads Experiences work, for now. I know that eventually Google will force everyone to the new experience and will retire the old experience, but for now, both are available and you can choose which you want to use, if you have access to the new one. Since both Ad Experiences are available, I’m going to cover this topic from both sides. In order to determine which experience you’re using, navigate to the home dashboard of Google Ads, as though you just logged in. Alternatively, just go log in. Look in the upper right corner. What do you see? If you see a gear icon, you’re using the Old Experience. If you see a wrench icon, you’re using the New Experience. There are, of course, a lot of other differences. The thing is, a lot of those differences are buried deeper in the system, or can be changed by setting up different dashboards and tables. Rather than rely on something that might change, it’s easiest to just look for iconography that exists on every account. Google has announced that they’re going to retire the Old Experience by the end of the year, but it’s already October and they haven’t quite done so just yet. They may be pushing it out until December, or they may be delaying and will finish the change-over some time in the first quarter of 2019, I don’t know. Either way, if you’re using the Old Experience, I recommend changing over to the New Experience sooner rather than later. Learn it and get ahead of the curve before you’re forced to switch by being thrown into the deep end. Google Ad Campaign Types for the Old Experience Let’s start with the Old Experience, since that’s the former default. If you’re using the New Experience, go ahead and skip to the next section. I might reference something in this section, but it’ll be easy enough to scroll back up and look, I promise. First up, you have both campaign types and campaign subtypes. Campaign types determine where your ads are displayed, while subtypes help determine the settings and options available to your campaign within that main campaign type. Subtypes are fairly simple, and include Standard, All Features, and Marketing Objectives. They essentially set your campaign settings to a specific archetype prior to you adjusting them for your own targeting and objectives. Let’s talk about specific campaign types, then. There are six types of campaign within the old Google Ads experience. These are: Search Network with Display Select, Search Network Only, Display Network Only, Shopping, Video, and Universal App. Let’s start with Search Network with Display Select. It’s essentially the same as a Search Network Only campaign; you set a budget, choose keywords, make ads, and set bids for those ads. Your ads will appear on Google’s search results pages for relevant keywords, as well as search partner sites, and on relevant pages in the Display Network. You don’t have much control over Display Network appearances, and bidding for them is automatic. Search Network Only campaigns are essentially the same, except they can’t appear in the Display Network. They only show up in search results pages and in Google sites that have ads. To compare and contrast the two, I’ll be using SNO for Search Network Only, and SDS for Search with Display Select. SNO ads show up in search results and partner sites, while SDS adds in display network sites as well. SNO ads have keyword targeting and remarketing, while SDS adds site category and placement options. SNO ads have manual and automatic bidding options, while SDS has those for search network but is automatic only for display network. You can also run ads directly to the Display Network without including the Search Network. These are DNO, or Display Network Only ads. They don’t appear in the search results or on Google partner pages, only on publishers running AdSense. Shopping ads are ads that specifically aim to promote online retailers, but work with local-only retailers as well. They’re special ads that showcase products with descriptions, images, and pricing information, and will show up in the Google Shopping section as well as purchase-intent search results. They can also show up in the Display Network for specific local catalog ads. It should be noted that certain countries cannot use Shopping ads. Shopping ads also have specific requirements found here. European countries have specific regulations to follow as well. Video ad campaigns primarily show up on YouTube, but they will also show up on videos embedded in other sites. TrueView in-stream ads, video discovery ads, and bumper ads all count as Video Campaigns. Discovery ads only appear on YouTube, as they are part of the surrounding layout, not the video itself. Finally, you have Universal App Campaigns. These are ads aimed at promoting mobile apps, which is easily the more up-and-coming industry to dig into these days. Apps are only going to explode as time goes on and more and more people get more and more powerful mobile devices. App campaigns are a little different from normal ads. Instead of creating specific ads, you create libraries of text ideas and assets from your app store listing. Google will use your bid and targeting, and will create their own ads based on your assets. This is important; Google has specific regulations about what can and can’t be on a store page listing, to prevent misrepresenting apps. By making their own ads from your store page, they guarantee that your ads aren’t misrepresenting how your game looks and plays. App campaign ads can appear in the Google search network, on search partner pages, in the Play Store under various app recommendations, on YouTube as part of video or discovery ads, in the Display Network, and in the sections of the Display Network that appear only in other mobile apps. They’re very broad and very good, in other words. Google Ad Campaign Types for the New Experience With the Old Experience, you choose an ads campaign type, and then choose a goal subtype, from a limited selection of goals. With the New Experience, you choose a campaign goal, and then a campaign type to use to achieve that goal. This is a more streamlined approach, though it means some of your ads won’t work the same way you’re used to. There are six possible goals for New Experience ads. These are Sales, Leads, Traffic to Website, Product and Brand Consideration, Brand Awareness and Reach, and App Promotion. Some goals are recommended for different kinds of campaign types. For example, if you want to promote an app, choosing App Promotion will recommend that you use a Universal App Campaign, while choosing Brand Awareness will recommend Display Network or Search Network campaigns. As with Old Experience, the New Experience campaign types determine which audiences see your ads; that is, the placement of your ads within the overarching volume of potential exposure. Unlike Old Experience, New Experience has five campaign types. These are Search Network, Display Network, Shopping, Video, and Universal App Campaigns. You’ll notice that there is no longer a difference between Search Network and Search Network with Display Select. Google has essentially removed the latter and made it a sort of subtype for targeting purposes. That is, if you want an ad to be Search Network with Display Select from the previous experience, you need to choose Search Network ads in the New Experience, and opt into display network visibility in the ad campaign options. Search Network ads are ads that appear in the Google search results and in specific Google partner sites, like the Play Store or any of the associated Google services. If you want your ads to appear in both the Search Network and the Display Network, you have two options: Create a Search Network ad and opt into Display Network visibility. This will allow you to control both with a single type of ad. Duplicate your Search Network ad and change it to a Display Network ad. This will allow you to control targeting, bidding, and optimization for each display type individually. I generally recommend the second option, because it gives you more control. However, if you’re the kind of advertiser that leaves a lot of the optimization and bidding strategies set to automatic, this kind of additional micromanagement won’t help you much. Display Network campaigns work the same way as you would expect: they show up on the websites or in any app or embedded video in the broader display network. This gives you a ton of visibility. New Experience Display campaigns are simpler and more intuitive than Old Experience campaigns, which is better for newcomers to advertising, but worse for those of us with extensive experience. Still, it’s worthwhile to switch and learn the new experience sooner rather than later. If you’re used to using “site category” options for the old experience, you can now use Content Exclusions for the same purpose. Remarketing is rolled into the main interest targeting, so it’s all in one place, which is a nice convenience. You can browse the Audience Manager for deeper insights and remarketing lists, which is nice to have. There are also other minor changes that will make the whole place seem unfamiliar, but which are easy to learn, like the separation of targeting and bidding into their own sections. Shopping Campaigns work basically the same with in the New Experience, with a couple of key differences. First of all, they’re not fully implemented. Conversion Management still links to the Old Experience. Advanced location options, advanced editing, bulk uploads, shared libraries, manager accounts, and account linking are all currently unavailable in the new experience. Shopping campaigns are one time I do not recommend switching to the new experience if you use them heavily in the old experience. Wait until Google finishes rolling out all of the features before you switch over, if at all possible. Like Shopping ads, Video campaigns work the same way but are missing a few features. The New Experience is missing device targeting, automation, advanced editing, shared libraries, account linking, manager accounts, and a bit more. The benefit of switching to the New Experience is primarily in the fact that targeting and remarketing are unified. You don’t have to go out of your way when using remarketing. I don’t know how many of you use video remarketing, but it’s a great strategy, so it being more readily available is nice to see. On the other hand, the lack of advanced features means, like Shopping, those of you who are heavily invested in video ads may want to stick with the old experience for now. Finally, for Universal App Campaigns, nothing has changed. Both the Old Experience and the New Experience for Google ads are identical with regards to universal app campaigns. The post Complete List of All Google Ad and Campaign Types appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Can a Mobile Site Reduce Your Google Ads Cost Per Click?

A lot of different factors go into the calculation for determining your Google Ads CPC. It’s no surprise that we marketers struggle to keep up with what is and isn’t relevant. It’s even worse when you consider that every company offering an ads platform will only specify a portion of what goes into their calculations. It’s fine, really. If Google told you every single detail about how their algorithm works, or even just published the algorithm publicly, you can bet there would be loopholes to exploit within days. With the calculations kept secret, at least there’s some incentive to act in the best interests of your viewers, and not just the search engines. Calculating CPC Google will happily tell you what goes into their calculation for CPC. First, though, you have to remember that it’s an auction system. The same keywords, the same ads, the same targeting, everything identical in two different situations where the only change is the day of the year can result in dramatically different CPCs. Why? Competition. If you set a bid cap of $1 and no one bids against you, you’ll get your ads basically free. If your $1 bid is out-bid by people willing to bid $2, you’ll max out your bid and only get low-tier placement. CPC can range from a few cents all the way up to prices in the $50-100 range. The former are low volume, low competition keywords. The latter are extremely high value, high competition keywords. Given that some high-end retailers can spend millions per month on advertising, it should come as no surprise that the niches they want to dominate will be dominated. On top of all of this, Google will adjust prices depending on your Quality Score. This alone is huge, because a wide array of factors go into the calculation of quality score. Cascading Influence In a sense, nearly everything goes into your CPC. The total cost of your ads is your CPC calculated with your quality score. Your CPC is calculated based on an array of factors that include elements like your past performance, your choice of keywords, and the relevance of your landing page. Your quality score, meanwhile, is calculated by a bunch of additional factors. Your landing page quality and usability, your ad copy relevance to your landing page, your click-through rate, your account performance; it’s all part of an ongoing quality score calculation. Then you have to consider the factors that influence those factors. The usability of your website is influence by your design, your color choices, your layout, how well your scripts work, your load times, the geographic location of your servers, and on and on. Where do we draw the line? Thankfully, at least for the purposes of this particular article, it doesn’t really matter. Mobile Compatibility Google has been playing an increasing emphasis on mobile compatibility for years now. Initially, it was a mere suggestion to have a mobile version of your website, back when smartphones were an uncommon luxury item mostly used by the silicon valley elite and those with more money than sense, if there’s a difference between those two groups at all. As mobile browsing has become more and more prevalent, so too has the emphasis Google places on mobile compatibility. Their suggestions became recommendations, which became best practices. For a while, anything went. You could use a dedicated mobile site, or an adaptive design, or even a task-focused site app and it would suit Google’s recommendations. These days, though, they recommend responsive design over other options. It’s easy to see why; responsive design adapts to the size of the device browsing it. You can test a responsive design just by resizing your browser in the desktop. No matter what odd dimensions your device uses, responsive design will work. Other designs might leave fringe devices out of the loop, which means some proportion of dissatisfied users. These days, Google has taken an even stronger perspective. Their recent Mobile-First Indexing Update hit the playing field back in March. It hasn’t done a ton to shake up search results, but it has further emphasized the need for a mobile site. Essentially, if you have both a mobile and a desktop site, Google gives preference to mobile versions for the sake of indexing. Since they look primarily at usability and content, and care less about sidebars and ads as long as they don’t exceed a certain density, mobile is a fine place to start. For the moment, Google rightly assumes that any site with a good mobile version will likely have a usable desktop version. The inverse is not true; a good desktop version doesn’t necessarily mean the site even works on a mobile device. Google is simply pushing this update as a prelude to future penalties for sites that don’t have a mobile site at all. For now, Google is not treating different designs for mobile sites differently. A, an adaptive design, and a responsive design all work just fine. It’s more of a simple yes/no question. Can mobile users use your site, yes or no? Mobile in Google Ads If you don’t have a mobile site, and you use Google ads, chances are pretty good over the last several months you’ve seen banner notifications about mobile compatibility. Google will harp on you endlessly in every way they can, from newsletters to banners in ads to banners across webmaster tools and your search console, all to cajole you into creating a mobile version of your website. One of my sites lacked a mobile version, nevermind why. I have firsthand experience seeing this banner at the top of my Google ads dashboard. Let me tell you what happened. I finally decided to implement a basic responsive design. It’s not full of bells and whistles, but it’s functional and usable for those who come to read the site or to browse my services. As soon as Google re-indexed the site with the mobile version, several things happened. I immediately bumped up a little in the search ranks for keywords where such mobility was more easily plausible. The banner enticing me to make a mobile version in Google ads disappeared. At the same time, my quality score went up. That alone is anecdotal evidence that mobile compatibility directly influences quality score. I didn’t make any other major changes, so unless it was the coincidental publication of a particularly tasty blog post, the site change was the only factor that mattered. Quality score, as we know, is heavily influenced by user experience. Adding a mobile site was a dramatic improvement to the user experience of a wide swath of users, specifically those on mobile devices.  Their user experience went up, and so too did my quality score. Quality score, then, goes into the CPC calculations. And, indeed, my costs went down a hair. Now, I’m operating in niches where variations in keyword, in day, in copy, and in the whims of the universe can change CPC on a daily basis. Scores rise and fall for many reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all. I can’t definitively point to the release of a mobile site as the reason my scores went up and my costs went down, but it’s persuasive enough to me personally. Of course, this is all anecdotal. I have a sample size of one (1) site and one (1) ad account. That’s far from scientific. That means I have a question for you: Do you have a mobile site? If not, I want you to make one, and tell me if your quality score goes up, and if your CPC for your ads goes down, with no other changes being made. I understand this is a bit of an investment, so you don’t have to do this solely for my sake, but I would appreciate the data. Shoot me a message or leave me a line in the comments and we can talk. Mobile for Lowering CPC Is making a mobile site a good way to lower your CPC? I’m not convinced. The reason is, a good mobile site is a serious investment. Sure, you can run your site through one of those simple converters, but that’s not likely to give you good results. It’s better than nothing, and you may still see improvement, but who knows how it all shakes out. If you’re capable of making the investment necessary to roll out a responsive design, it can be a marked improvement to your CPCs. Or, if you’re in more open niches or operating on low budgets, it might not be noticeable at all. There are a lot of other changes you can make that will have an equal or greater impact on your CPC. A change of keywords, the addition of new negative keywords, a change in targeting options, a change in ad copy, ad images, or ad placement; these can all affect costs. Heck, for that matter, changing from search ads to display network ads will almost guaranteed drop your CPC, and that’s a very minimal change. That said, there’s not really a way to go wrong with a mobile design. Frankly, it’s incredibly important, and the fact that I put it off as long as I did probably cost me a lot more than the investment it took to make that new design. The way I see it, you shouldn’t use Google ad CPC as your sole reason to create a mobile version of your site. Instead, you should recognize the number of users using mobile devices, the subtle pressure from every element of Google’s algorithm, the pressure from other sites who have mobile versions when you don’t, and all the other elements encouraging or demanding a mobile site. If all of that doesn’t convince you, well, I’m sure something will eventually. I don’t believe for a minute that Google is done with their pressure. I firmly believe that within the next five years, not having a mobile site will be a definite search penalty. Should You Make a Mobile Site? All of that said, there’s always the chance that you’re operating in a niche where mobile device usage is nearly nonexistent. It’s entirely possible that your customers are 100% on desktop devices, and that even if you had a mobile site, you’d see zero change because of it. Of course, there’s no way to tell for sure without having that mobile site in the first place. Even if you don’t think you’re going to get any mobile traffic, having a mobile site will be a benefit. With mobile-first indexing, it will give you a leg up over competitors that themselves have put off creating mobile sites. That will carry over to desktop rankings as well, since there’s only one index. Plus, of course, the higher quality score in Google ads will affect your costs across the board. You don’t have to be targeting mobile users to take advantage of the boon having a mobile site grants you. There’s basically no reason to keep stalling on mobile site development. At this point, you can hire a freelance coder to whip you up a functional design in a matter of a few weeks at most. Delaying even this long is a waste of money. The post Can a Mobile Site Reduce Your Google Ads Cost Per Click? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Why Does Google Ads Exceed My Set Daily Budget?

If you don’t pay a ton of attention to Google Ads, you may not have noticed the news from about a year ago. You might, however, noticed some odd behavior with regards to budget and spending. When you set a daily budget, it’s entirely possible for Google to charge you more than that cap. In fact, they can charge you up to double! What the heck is going on? Intended Behavior Google prioritizes your advertising goals, not strict adherence to your budget. If you say you want 100 conversions and Google can get you those 100 conversions, but they might need to spend more on certain days, they’ll do so. What this means is that, for example, let’s say you have a daily budget of $50. Google can spend $100 one day and $0 the next. This averages out to $50 per day, and thus stays within your goals. The cost spike for one day is balanced out by the zero spend the next day. This is fully intended behavior. Google relies on averages for a lot of systems within Google Ads, in fact, and this budget system is no different. When you set a daily spending limit, you’re not setting a hard limit, you’re setting an average limit. Calculating Averages Google needs some way to finalize the average in order to know how much to charge you. Otherwise, they could rack up as many charges as they want under the assumption that, later on, they can charge you virtually nothing to balance the scales. In order to force an average in a reasonable time frame, Google makes an ongoing monthly calculation. What Google does is multiplies your daily budget cap by the “average number of days in a month” which, if you’ve ever had the curiosity to look, is 30.4. So if you set your cap to $50 per day, your monthly budget cap will be $1,520. Now you have a one-month period with a monthly cap of $1,520. Google will do everything in their power to maintain that average. However, they have one more limit in place: they will never charge you more than twice your daily cap. When you set your daily budget cap to $50, Google is free to charge you up to a maximum of $100 per day. This gives Google a lot of flexibility. On a day where your audience is over-performing, perhaps because of industry relevant news or some new content you published, Google is free to double your daily spend in order to get you more conversions at a peak moment. Conversely, on slow days, Google may charge you little or nothing – generally not showing your ads at all – to balance the scales. The end result is that Google shoots to spend at most $1,520 throughout the month. The next month, the same thing happens, adjusted for any changes in budget you choose to make. Overall, this simply allows Google to adjust to the whims of the market more easily. They can take advantage of spikes and lulls in the market better, without needing you to manually adjust your bidding after noticing the spikes yourself. In general, this plan improves advertising success rates. This isn’t actually anything new. According to the Wayback Machine (web archive), prior to this change, Google could charge up to 20% more than your daily budget, while still aiming to never exceed the monthly budget calculation. By changing 20% more to 100% more, Google gives themselves even more flexibility. Ideally, so long as you’re running your ads over the course of months at a time, and you’re not adjusting your budget repeatedly, this will give you better performing ads than you would otherwise see. It’s important to note that Google may accidentally overstep their bounds. If, for example, their end-of-month average reaches $1,600 out of your $1,520, you will not be charged for the overage. You will be charged the $1,520, and the additional $80 in overages is basically free value. The Loss of Control There’s still one major downside to this change, which is the loss of yet more fine-tuned control you have over your campaigns. Many people who run Google ads do so with carefully tuned ideas of what they can and cannot do. Often, these operate on a weekly or daily basis, rather than a monthly basis. Small businesses can change quickly, and markets need constant monitoring. If Google is potentially doubling your daily ad spend, you don’t have the luxury of being able to predict performance on a daily basis. If you can’t actually support a doubled daily budget, either because of some spending limit on your credit card or from a sheer monetary standpoint, this has the potential to cause a lot of issues. It’s even worse if you’re operating on daily deposits via prepaid card; if Google wants to overspend, they can’t, and they’ll ping you with notifications about no funds available. No Alternative Perhaps the biggest issue I have with this change, and the one many other marketers share, is that there’s no alternative. You can’t, say, set a monthly budget cap so you know where you stand. If you want to know how much you’re going to spend on a monthly basis, you need to take your daily budget cap and multiply it by 30.4. It’s that .4 that trips up a lot of people. Often, you tend to just multiply by the number of days in the month. On a 30-day month, you’ll end up with $1,500 instead of $1,520. Sure, when you’re operating in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, $20 doesn’t seem that big a deal, but it can still be an unnecessary overage you didn’t plan for. If you’re running a very tight ship, this can cause problems with your bookkeeping. Adjusting for Hard Caps If you’re in a position where you cannot possible over-spend on a daily basis, you may want to consider setting a lower daily bid cap to prevent Google from over-spending and ruining your budget. For example, if you can spend up to $50 per day, and that’s a hard limit to what your finances will allow on a daily basis, you should set your daily bid cap to $25. This means that Google can spend anywhere between $0 and $50 on any given day. Sure, your monthly limit will be half of what it would be otherwise, but you won’t over-spend on a given day. Of course, there’s not necessarily a reason to do this. Remember that you’re only charged according to your payment thresholds, or on a monthly basis, depending on how you have things set up. If your payment threshold is high enough, and your bid caps are low enough, you will only be charged once a month. When you’re charged once a month, the average will always play out properly, and you won’t end up spending more than you want to. On the other hand, if you have a low payment threshold – which most small and newcomer marketers do – you can find unexpected early charges due to Google’s over-spending. If they give you a spike in the early parts of the month with doubled budget caps, it’s entirely possible to encounter unexpected charges when you have tight finances. This can potentially cause an overdrawn account, unexpected balances on credit cards, and other problems. Overdelivery Credits So what happens if your ads run too much and Google ends up spending more than your monthly cap? If, say, you end up spending $1,600 out of your $1,520 cap for the month? Thankfully, Google credits your account on the invoice. You will get an invoice that bills you for $1,600 worth of services rendered, but credits you $80 for overdelivery. This is called the Overdelivery Credit. Overdelivery, put simply, is when Google uses more of your ad budget than your total monthly budget would allow, and doesn’t have time in the month to under-display ads to make up for it. When overdelivery happens, any overages beyond your monthly average will be credited on your bill. It doesn’t roll over or carry over to the next month. You don’t start the next month in the hole. Google essentially says “good job on your ads, they performed better than we expected, here’s some free money.” Checking Overdelivery If you want to see if you’ve gotten overdelivery credits, you can check the information in your Google Ads account. Sign in to Google Ads and find the Reports tab. There will be a series of predefined reports you can view. Choose Basic, and then choose Billed Cost. This alone won’t show you your overdelivery credits. What you need to do is compare the Billed Cost to the Served Cost for any ad, ad set, or ad campaign you want to measure. You can download the full data CSV and compare everything in bulk, or you can do individual calculations. Simply take the Served Cost and subtract the Billed Cost. If the number is anything greater than $0, the number is the amount of overdelivery credit you have received in that billing period. Changing Mid-Month This adds a slightly dangerous new element to adjusting your budgets throughout the month. Google takes this budget per month, rather than on a rolling 30-day basis. This is both good and bad. If you decide to adjust your daily budget cap during the middle of the month, Google will do what it has always done: reset the monthly spend. They charge you for what has already been spent and then start from scratch for the remainder of the month. Google interprets a new monthly budget and applies it to the rest of the month. The problem here is if you have front-loaded the over-charging. Let’s say in a 30-day period you set your budget to $50 on day 1, $100 on day 10, and $150 on day 20. From day 1 to day 10, Google calculates your monthly budget as $1,520, and is free to charge up to $100 per day, based on your daily limit of $50. If they decide to do so, for the first 10 days of the month, you can be charged up to $100 a day, for $1,000 in ad spend. You decide on day 10 to increase your ad spend to $100. Google does not factor in the previous spend at all. They calculate your new 30.4-day average to be $3,040, and are again free to double your ad spend. If your ads are continuing to over-perform, from day 11 to day 20 you can be charged $200 a day, for $2,000 total ad spend. This means you will have, by day 20, spend $3,000 out of your now-potential budget cap of $3,040. On day 20 you change your budget again, to $150 per day. Google will again wipe the slate clean and calculate a new monthly average, which ends up being $4,560. For the last 10 days of the month, Google can charge you up to $300 per day. Again, your ads are dramatically over-performing, and they charge you $300 per day, for a total of $3,000 for the remainder of the month. This results in an end-of-month total of $6,000 in ad spend, out of your total monthly calculated maximum average of $4,560. Except, at no point during the entire process did Google exceed what they calculated to be your monthly limit. As far as their paperwork is concerned, this is a perfectly valid charge, because they break it down in a way that is “beneficial” to both you and them. Yes, you get the value of the ad spent, but you are also charged more than you might have planned to afford. This is, of course, an extreme circumstance. Very, very rarely will Google max out your budget for an entire month like that. Most of the time, there are lulls and surges, and you won’t come close to this scenario. Even so, there’s the rare chance it could happen. As such, my recommendation is pretty simple. Set a lower daily budget than you might otherwise want, keeping in mind the potentially doubled maximum per day. More importantly, try to avoid changing your budget mid-month, unless you know you can afford additional overages beyond what a new monthly maximum might be. The post Why Does Google Ads Exceed My Set Daily Budget? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

20 Ways to Optimize Your Sponsored Products on Amazon Ads

If you’re not familiar with Amazon marketing, you probably should be. Sponsored Products are ads you can run through Amazon, designed to feature a product in a way that makes it look recommended by the platform. Think of it like native advertising for Amazon. They’re immensely popular, and will only grow more popular as their use catches on. Better to get in now while the getting is good, optimize to be at the top of the pack, and get a head start on the future of Amazon marketing. What are Sponsored Products? If you’ve ever browsed Amazon, at least without an adblocker, you’ve seen products in the search results with a Sponsored label next to them. These look like any other product listing in the search results, appearing at the top and bottom of the results page, only they have a “sponsored products” category heading. They can appear in many categories, though not all product categories allow them. Appliances, Automotive, Beauty, Collectibles, Computers, Electronics, Art, Grocery, Luggage, Music, Outdoors, Shoes, Software, Sports, and Video Games are just some of the available categories. Sponsored products are ads designed to send traffic from the search results page to the product detail page for the product you choose to advertise. You don’t have a ton of flexibility with the copy for the ads; you can choose which product and which details of the product are most relevant, but you can’t completely customize the ads. What you can do, however, is adjust a lot of the behind the scenes elements to improve the visibility and click-through rates for these ads. Let’s talk about how. 20 Methods for Optimizing Sponsored Product Ads There are a lot of options available to you for optimizing your product ads. I’ve compiled 20 pieces of advice you can use. Play around with them, experiment, and figure out what works best for your products in your categories. 1. Understand Campaign Types First up, you should understand that there are two types of campaigns, and what the benefits and drawbacks are to each of them. They are Automatic and Manual, and they are different types of targeting. The difference between the two is pretty simple: Automatic targeting allows Amazon to choose which keyword searches are relevant to the product, and thus where to show your ads, based on your product page copy. Manual allows you to choose specific keywords to run for your ads. Automatic targeting is, obviously, easier and less time consuming to run. Manual gives you more control, and thus typically higher click rates and better results – assuming you optimize properly – but has a higher time investment and a greater chance of failure. 2. Use Automatic Campaigns First Start by running automatic campaigns. This allows Amazon to use their vast array of customer data and intention analytics to figure out how to advertise your products for you. They won’t be the best converting ads, or the cheapest ads, but they’ll be a middle of the road level of serviceable. You won’t be wasting a ton of money or leaving a ton of conversions on the floor. The key to success with Amazon sponsored products is to start with automatic campaigns for at least a month, to gather data. The data Amazon will provide you is invaluable to future optimizations. 3. Don’t Fall to Product Bias Everything in your storefront is something you believe will sell. All too often, I see Amazon marketers get tunnel vision, hoping to increase sales of the products they feel are most successful, leaving their other products in the dust. If you have a huge catalog, you might not have the budget to advertise for all of them, but you should definitely experiment. The problem here is that all too often your successful products are successful because you’re already reaching a significant part of your audience. Sponsored product ads will make them a bit more successful, but it might not be as big a benefit as advertising a less successful product. If you consider that you’re only as successful as your least successful product, it makes more sense to raise up the underperformers than to boost the overperformers even more. 4. Run One SKU Per Ad Group When you run an ad campaign with Amazon sponsored products, you can add as few or as many individual product SKUs to the campaign as you like. I highly recommend you only add one SKU per ad group. Why? Amazon’s analytics used to provide detailed data about your ads, including which keywords drew in clicks to which SKUs. However, they wiped some of this data, and now you can see which keywords are bringing in how many clicks and sales, but you can’t see which SKU in the ad group brought in that data. However, if you only have one SKU in the ad group, you know that it’s that one SKU that brought in that performance. This is a lot easier with small catalogs than larger catalogs, of course. If you have 30 products, managing 30 ad groups is relatively easy. If you have 1,000 products, managing 1,000 ad groups becomes a lot harder. 5. Use Bulk Operations if Necessary This is less of an optimization tip and more of a time-saving tip. If you have over, say, 100 products, you should probably make use of Amazon’s Bulk Operations for Sponsored Products. This is a tool that allows you to essentially automate the creation of sponsored product ads for your product catalog. It will require a little bit of excel wizardry, but it allows you to manage a large number of ads simply by uploading a spreadsheet, rather than having to manually create and specify details of ads for every single SKU or keyword you want to use. 6. Harvest Data As already mentioned, Amazon’s analytics will provide you information about the ad groups you run, including how well that ad group performed and for what keywords. When you have one SKU per ad group, you can draw a direct set of data: this SKU performs X well for Y keywords. After you run your ads for at least a couple of weeks, if not a month, check your search term reports and see how well your products have performed, and for which keywords. 7. Understand Data The data you harvest needs to be understood before you can use it for further optimizations. Amazon will report a variety of different metrics, which you can attribute to individual SKUs if you divided up your ads as I mentioned in step 4. Number of orders. This is the number of conversions per keyword per SKU. Be sure to normalize this by time, otherwise it will look like older ads are performing better than newer ads based on this metric alone. Sales. Similar to the above, this is the number of sales of a SKU per keyword for the ad. This includes individual product sales, however, and thus will be higher in cases where one order included multiples of the same product. Clicks. The number of times a sponsored product ad was clicked, per keyword per SKU. This allows you to calculate the conversion rate for individual ads. 8. Correlate Data Using the data Amazon gives you, you can correlate trends and figure out where you want to focus your energies. Export your data and start making some charts. Compare each SKU and the keyword data for that SKU, compiling lists of the best keywords for each. For each keyword, calculate the clicks-per-sale rate, and identify the best handful of keywords for each ad group, which will correspond to each SKU. 9. Build Manual Campaigns Once you have your data correlated and ready to go, you can cancel the automatic campaigns for certain products and replace them with manual campaigns. Specify which keywords go with which SKUs and run those ads without the additional exposure in underperforming keywords. Keep an eye on these and make sure the data continues to perform. 10. Use Broad Match Keywords Broad keyword matching is any search term that includes part of the keyword or a synonym thereof. If you’re advertising “green mascara”, your ad will show up for product searches including “emerald mascara” or “green makeup” or even just “mascara.” Use these for exposure and to gather data about what modifiers your customers are most likely to use. 11. Use Phrase Match Keywords Phrase matching for keywords means the full phrase must be part of the search term, but the search term can include additional words. Amazon will also take close variations into account, including typos and close synonyms. This is useful for more refined ads once you know which keywords work best. 12. Use Exact Match Keywords Exact match, as you might expect, is specifically your keyword and no other words, synonyms, or phrases. Use this only once you’ve drilled down to the most effective keywords and know they’re going to last for a while. If the keywords have high seasonality, you’ll need to keep a close eye on when they fall off and cut off the ads before you waste too much of your budget. 13. Use Negative Keywords Negative keywords are keywords that you include if you specifically don’t want your ad to appear for those searches. For example, if you know users are searching for organic or natural makeup and your mascara is not all-natural, you can include natural/organic as negative keywords. This will prevent you from advertising a product to people who aren’t going to buy it because it doesn’t match what they want. 14. Calculate Advertising Cost of Sale Your advertising cost of sale is essentially your potential profit margin. You can calculate this by taking your total ad spend, dividing it by your total sales value, and multiplying the result by 100 to get your percent. Products with a low ACoS should have higher bids to get more traffic. Products with a high ACoS probably have a lot of traffic but few conversions, and may be an opportunity to prune out an underperforming keyword. 15. Rotate Products The larger your catalog, the harder it is to advertise everything in it with a limited budget. Periodically rotate out the majority of your ads until you’ve advertised everything in your catalog for at least a base amount of time, typically two to four weeks. Rotate out 90% of your ads, while keeping your top 10% best performing ads, until you have base data for everything. From there, keep your top performing 50% and rotate through your remaining 50% with experiments to see how they can be optimized. 16. Know Your Goals Make sure, when you’re optimizing your sponsored product ads, that you know your goals. Are you trying to achieve the most revenue, or the highest number of sales in general? This can affect how you adjust your keywords and bidding strategies. In some cases you might be focusing on the highest return on ad spend, while other times you simply want sales numbers and even breaking even works fine. 17. Don’t Be Afraid to Return to Automatic The general progression for a single SKU is to run automatic ads to harvest initial data, then run manual ads to optimize on that data. However, sometimes you’ll end up pursuing a dead end with underperforming ads all around. In these cases, consider returning to automatic ads to harvest fresh data and look for a new place to start. 18. Use the Right Number of Keywords When you’re creating your sponsored product ads, you can use as few or as many keywords you want. How many should you use? I recommend somewhere in the range of 25-50. Too many keywords will spread your ads too thin, while too few will fail to capture large portions of your audience. 19. Be Consistent Consistency is key when you’re comparing your data. Try to avoid comparing apples to oranges. If you’re determining which of two products should be advertised, make sure you’re not comparing an ad that ran for two days to an ad that ran for a month, or one with 10 keywords and one with 500. 20. Optimize Product Listings Amazon’s product ads pull data from your organic product page, with all of the images, details, and information you include available for them to choose. Since you can’t really optimize your ad copy, optimize your product listings instead. The post 20 Ways to Optimize Your Sponsored Products on Amazon Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Can Switching to CPA Bids in Google Ads Hurt Conversions?

Google Ads have a number of different bidding strategies. One of them, most commonly known as Target CPA Bidding, is an automatic bidding strategy. Can changing your bidding strategy to CPA Bidding hurt your conversions? About Target CPA Bidding Target CPA Bidding with Google Ads is a “smart” bidding strategy, which means it’s automatically optimized by Google algorithms, rather than your own micromanagement. Google uses an array of data sources, including your ad past performance, your goals, and general ad performance across similar keywords to determine what their bidding strategy should be for your ads. Each different Automatic bidding strategy focuses on optimizing your ads for a different metric. For example, you can optimize for conversions instead of costs, or for clicks over conversions. If you’re running an awareness campaign, you’d prefer a higher volume of clicks, versus a higher percentage but lower volume of conversions. With Target CPA bidding, you’re being optimized to get as many conversions as possible, so long as those conversions are at or below a given cost threshold. This means you might be able to set a higher cost cap and get more conversions, but since you don’t want to spend that much per conversion, you’re getting fewer conversions than you otherwise might. Note that according to Google’s help center, Target CPA bidding optimizes for average cost per action/conversion, rather than individual prices. If you’re optimizing for $1-per-conversion, and Google gets multiple 50-cent conversions, it means they have the flexibility to get $2 or more conversions, so long as it averages out to at most $1 each. In practice, this isn’t important. So long as the average cost remains where you want it, it doesn’t really matter if you’re getting 100 conversions at that price exactly, or 50 at a lower and 50 at a higher price. You’re still paying the same amount overall for the same number of conversions, within certain bounds. Target CPA Settings When you’re setting up ads using Target CPA bidding, you have a handful of different settings you can specify to attempt to guide your ad performance. First up, you have the target CPA itself. If you want to average $1 conversions, your target CPA should be $1. Again, this is an average, so you might get some 10 cent conversions and you might get some $5 conversions, so long as the sum total of all conversions divided by the number of conversions averages out to $1. Using a low target CPA can hurt conversions. If you set $1 as your threshold, but the average cost per conversion in your niche is closer to $2, you’ll have far fewer conversions than you otherwise could. A target bid that’s too low will mean you’re being out-bid in the ad auction for your best converting audience. Google will attempt to recommend an ideal target CPA when you set up your ads, based on historical data for similar ads you have run in the past. This target suggestion will be calculated based on the past few weeks of performance; data too much older than a month isn’t useful to current ad auctions. Secondly, you can specify bid limits. You can set both a minimum and a maximum bid limit. For example, if you know that any conversions obtained with a bid under 10 cents are going to be worthless to you as a whole, you can set a higher minimum to eliminate those low bids. Conversely, if you know that extremely expensive conversions rarely end up worthwhile, you can set a maximum bid cap to cut those out. Google does not recommend setting bid limits for automatic bidding strategies, because it restricts flexibility. If you set a $3 bid cap for your target $1 CPA, automatic bidding will not be able to give you those $5 conversions, even if it keeps your average under $1. This results in a lower number of conversions. You must use portfolio ads rather than standard ads to set bid limits. You can choose to adjust your target CPA based on device. This is essentially a prioritization system. If you know that your mobile users are most valuable to you as customers, you can set a focus on mobile users, with less priority given to desktop ad auctions. These adjustments are percentile, meaning you can adjust the value of a given platform up by however much % you want, and down by a maximum of 100%. If you adjust a platform to -100%, those ads will be eliminated. A -100% adjustment to mobile, for example, will force your ads to only display on desktop and tablet devices. Those are the only three categories; mobile, desktop, and tablet. You are also able to choose to only pay for conversions, rather than pay for positioning in the ad ranks. Paying for conversions has its own slate of benefits and drawbacks, which you can read about here. Does Switching to Target CPA Hurt Conversions? To go back to the initial question, as posed in the title of this post, does switching to target CPA hurt your conversions? The answer is “it depends”, and it depends entirely on the settings you use and the settings you’re changing away from. For example, if you used manual CPA bidding prior to the change, you may lose many of the optimizations you have made, and be reverted to a more average line of bidding. This can result in fewer conversions, or a lower average conversion value, due to your optimizations being wiped. On the other hand, if you’re switching from a manual bidding strategy that has been working quite poorly for you, the switch to automatic bidding can increase your conversions, as well as increasing the average conversion value. In part, this depends on the target CPA settings you’ve chosen. If you set lower bid caps, a lower target CPA, or a higher required value for your target conversions, you are likely to get fewer conversions overall. Conversely, if automatic optimizations allow you to open up your bids to spend your money as best as possible, Google will likely be able to get you more conversions than you were with your manual optimizations. The Benefits of Target CPA Bidding One of the biggest benefits of using an automatic bidding strategy is saving yourself both time and money. As long as you set bid caps to prevent over-spending, and you set a target CPA that sits firmly in the middle of your plausible conversion range, you should be able to get more conversions for the same budget as with manual bidding. This is because Google’s algorithms can take in data on an ongoing basis and make adjustments to your bidding automatically throughout the day. They can even dynamically adjust bidding based on user performance from hour to hour. If you were to try to make these optimizations manually, you would be adjusting on the fly constantly throughout the day. It would be a full time job. Chances are good that switching to an automatic bidding strategy will get you more conversions than using a manual strategy, while also saving you time. However, it may not save you money, and depending on your settings, it might not get you as many conversions. In general with the automatic ad auction, if you increase your target CPA, you will get more conversions. It’s not even a complicated equation. If you have more money to spend, you’ll get more people coming in. It will, of course, increase your average cost per conversion. Achieving Success with Target CPA Bidding If you’re interested in using target CPA bidding or another automatic strategy, I can give you some tips to help your initial forays be a success. First up, how long should you experiment with a bidding style before making a determination as to its effectiveness? I generally recommend about a month. 30 days will get you a good set of data, so long as you aren’t operating in a niche with very strong seasonality. Obviously, it’s hard to run a viable experiment comparing a data set that isn’t equal to another. A heavily Christmas-themed niche is going to have vastly different performance numbers comparing 30 days in November to 30 days in June. I also recommend that you be careful with split testing and incremental changes. Usually, incremental changes and optimizations help increase performance for ads. However, with automatic CPA bidding, Google considers both past and current performance to determine bids. If you make a change, Google will be considering data from both before and after the change when deciding on bidding strategies. You have to wait until the older data falls off to see how the change really impacted performance. This applies to ad targeting, ad copy, and even ad placement. You should also be careful with setting your target CPA much lower than Google’s recommended target CPA. You will generally end up leaving a lot of conversions on the table if you do so. The other aspects of your ads will need to make up for the lack of budget, meaning they have to be incredibly compelling, which may not be plausible. You will have a lower cost per conversion, but also a lower volume of conversions. Another decision you have to make is whether you want your ads to appear in search or in the display network. PPC Hero studied this and found that, usually, display ads performed better with target CPA bidding. A target CPA in a reasonable range usually ended up close to or slightly over the target average with display ads, while it ended up much higher – up to 106% more than the target average – with search ads. This may vary based on niche or performance, of course, but it seems consistent that display ads are cheaper. Paying Attention to Valid Metrics One thing you need to keep in mind when you’re choosing a bidding strategy and various bid caps is what your targets should be. Do you want to focus on a specific cost per action? You are free to do so with target CPA bidding, but be aware that you may end up with fewer conversions on average. If you care more about the cost per conversion than you do about the number of conversions, this can be a good way to balance out your advertising costs. Do you want to focus on a specific value of conversions? Using other automatic bidding strategies, you can optimize for the value of a conversion. If you know that fewer conversions with higher average value is a better result for your company than a larger number of smaller value conversions, this can be a good option. This is particularly useful if user support or account maintenance is a huge money sink, and your high value customers are where your profits come from. Do you want to focus on a specific volume of conversions? Setting a target CPA is likely to give you fewer conversions than keeping your CPA open and aiming for as many conversions as possible. You simply need to be aware that if your CPA rises too high, you may end up spending more on customer acquisition than you profit from those customers. Always know which metrics you want to monitor before you start creating your ads. While you can always adjust your bids and bidding strategies later, it’s always best to have a foundation in mind before you begin. The post Can Switching to CPA Bids in Google Ads Hurt Conversions? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

15 Reasons Why Your Shopify Store Isn’t Getting Traffic

There are any of a thousand different reasons why your site might not be getting the traffic you think it deserves. Some of them stem from your site simply being too new, too small, or too unknown.  Others may relate to SEO, both good and bad. Still others are technical errors. When it comes to Shopify, you’re likely setting up a storefront as a way to make a living, or at least a supplemental income. That means making sure your site gets traffic is a huge priority. I’ve tried to focus on Shopify-specific issues, but a few more general e-commerce issues are listed below as well. What might you have encountered, and how can you fix those problems? 1. You Forgot to Change Your Domain When you first sign up to use Shopify, you can set up a store right then and there. Many people jump on this fact and do so. Unfortunately, this is the wrong move. Think about it this way. How many top blogs, news agencies, or huge businesses have websites with a domain? If you’re reading a blog and it has a URL, are you going to trust it, or are you going to figure it’s just some goober who couldn’t be arsed to pay a few bucks a year for a custom domain? Now think about that in terms of your own store. If you have, are people going to trust you? Or are they going to think you’re just someone buying crap off Amazon and reselling it for a higher price? Buy a custom domain, if you don’t already have one. If you do, set up that domain to work with your store. Shopify has specific instructions on how to switch domains for your store in this help center post. 2. You’re Using Too Many Apps Shopify is much like WordPress in many ways, once of which is the variety and number of different apps or plugins to expand features for your store. You have a ton of different options, and it can be very appealing to go through and add anything that sounds like it could be useful. Even if they have integrations with other services you don’t use, or they have cross-compatibility issues, or they conflict with one another; who cares? You have the features! Occasionally, some apps will conflict and cause features to not work. Other times, the volume of apps you’re trying to use will slow down your site dramatically. Since page loading times are crucial both for mobile web use and for Google search ranking, this can be hugely detrimental. There’s no point in using Shopify if you don’t at least customize it a little, though. I recommend picking no more than half a dozen or so apps to add to your store, and make sure you know exactly what you want them for before you add them. Don’t add something based on a potential future use; if you need it then, you can add it then. Here’s a decent list of Shopify apps and their purposes. Think about if you want them, and add the most valuable options. 3. You’ve Left Too Many Defaults In Place Just like the domain issue above, many of the default settings in Shopify can be holding you back. They aren’t necessarily bad for your store, they just prevent you from standing out. When you’re just another template store in a field of thousands, no one has a good reason to pick you. Here are some elements you should change and customize: Any existing text. Lorem Ipsum placeholders, default “change me” text blocks, and other textual elements should be customized for your store. Your checkout process. Make sure you have a customized checkout process with a custom confirmation page, plenty of trust signals, and SSL for security. Your favicon. The Favicon is the icon that appears in the corner of the window or tab, which is usually a small version of a site logo. Customize this rather than leaving the default Shopify option in place. Fonts. You don’t necessarily need to change your font just to look different, but it could help. More importantly, make sure that any other changes you make still look good and are readable in whatever font you’re using. The more unique and brand-focused your storefront, the better a presence you can build around it. 4. You’re Not Tracking Traffic Properly There’s a huge difference between a 1% conversion rate and a 10% conversion rate. Do you know which you have? If you’re not tracking traffic, and you’re operating off tracking conversions, you have no idea. You might actually be getting plenty of traffic, but some element of your conversion process is operating as a roadblock. Until you track your traffic, you have no way of knowing. You might also have issues with implementation for your tracking. I’ve seen some sites accidentally paste in the Google Analytics tracking code more than once, leading to doubled up reports. All sorts of issues can stem from errors in GA tracking, so be sure to give these a thorough overview once everything else is up and running. 5. Your Product Images are Awful BigCommerce did a study and found that the number one factor driving user purchase decisions, at least in America, is product images. Lacking images, lacking enough images, or using inconsistent, poorly shot, or otherwise poor images can destroy your shop viability. What do people want? Large images from multiple angles showing the product. If it’s a new product, show various angles and versions of the product in use. If it’s a used product, show various close-ups and other indicators to help prove that the item is in good condition and functions properly. It might be worthwhile to hire a photographer to take professional-grade images of your products. They’ll be able to take the images, as well as edit them for quality, to give you a consistent graphical style across your storefront. It’s a one-time-per-product investment and it’s well worth the money. 6. You Forgot Product Variables There are a lot of different product variables that can be important when running a store. If you don’t have them while a customer expects them, they’ll bounce. This, along with other factors, makes your store less attractive and further negatively reinforces your lack of traffic. It’s not necessarily a search ranking factor, though it is a lack of potential keywords and information, and it might mean you’ll show up lower or not at all in various commerce-specific searches. For example, sizing charts for apparel, color options for any product, PC requirements and compatibility for software, and other such crucial bits of information are all very important. After all, would you gamble on buying a shirt that might not fit or a piece of software that might not run? 7. You’re Trying to Run a Too-Large Catalog This is a common issue I see a lot with affiliate marketers and dropshippers. You have the ability to sell anything you want, as long as you can get a supplier and a deal worked out, right? So why not load up your store with everything you can? After all, it works for Amazon. You can buy anything there, from PC parts to groceries to apparel to specialty items. If Amazon doesn’t sell it directly, someone using them as a marketplace probably does. Well, you’re not Amazon. You’re just some rando with a web store. When you’re trying to sell 5,000 different products in 4,000 different niches, you lack focus. This is actually an aspect of SEO as well as user trust. Google only likes huge generalist sites when they’ve spent years building up to that point, or when they’re backed by a huge name. Forbes got where they are by being Forbes, not by starting out as a broad-spectrum blog. 8. You Don’t Have Mobile Compatibility It’s hard to believe, but it’s still possible to pick a theme for your Shopify store – or develop a custom one yourself – that doesn’t operate on the principles of responsive design. At this point, it’s a huge waste to do so, and you’re basically just shooting yourself in the foot. Mobile compatibility is incredibly important. For one thing, an increasing number of users are using, and an increasing number of transactions are performed on, mobile devices. Every year this number increases. Lacking a mobile storefront means 50% or more of your potential customers can’t shop. Secondly, Google is putting increasing pressure on sites to use mobile compatibility. They even rolled out an algorithm recently where they index mobile versions first and consider it the primary version of a site, rather than the desktop version! If that’s not pressure, I don’t know what is. 9. You’re Using a Poorly Configured CDN Most web hosts can handle basic websites at this point, but it’s still possible you may want to use a CDN to handle the heaviest parts of your site. Site speed is a ranking factor, after all. Using a CDN will lighten the load and help your site load as fast as possible anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as setting up the content delivery network and reaping the rewards. Often, you may encounter edge cases, configuration issues, or errors with the CDN itself that hurt your site. You can read more about the potential problems of a CDN here. 10. You’re Not Running Advertising The days where “if you build it, they will come” worked for the internet ended in like, 1980. You can’t build a website and assume people are going to find it. Google might, but if you don’t put any effort into it, you’re only going to show up on page 369 of the Google search results. You’ll be ahead of the spam sites, but not a lot else. You need to run advertising in as many ways as you can possibly afford. Draw in traffic organically from social media profiles. Partner with the providers of the products you sell to be positioned as an official retailer. Pay for ads on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and other PPC networks as necessary. Yes, it’s paying for traffic, but that’s fine. It works, and that’s the important part. 11. You’re Only Using Facebook and Google I just mentioned a couple other ways to pay for ads besides just Google and Facebook. I highly recommend looking into options beyond just the big two. You can find a ton of traffic that comes from other channels, and it will likely cost a lot less than using the two most competitive PPC Networks. Twitter is a big one, though it’s also pretty competitive. You can also use ad networks like BuySellAds, or really anything that’s mentioned in any of the big top lists. People who can focus on that topic specific write better lists than this single paragraph in a different article will be able to provide, after all. 12. You’ve Ignored SEO “SEO is for blogs! I’m a shop!” Well, that’s true, but a website is a website. If you want to show up in Google, or Bing, or Yahoo, or any commerce-specific search engine, you need to put in the work. In fact, for a Shopify store, that means even MORE work. You have to do all of the usual SEO work, like creating unique product descriptions, custom meta data for each page, and building a repertoire of content on a blog or other section of your site. On top of that, though, you need to implement Shopify-specific SEO, like Schema or rich data markup, so you can be better positioned in shopping searches. 13. You’re Not Soliciting Reviews / Ratings Reviews are a great way to get more traffic. Get the people who actually convert to leave reviews on their local community sites and on social media. Reviews, or rather, word of mouth, is one of the primary driving factors behind the growth of a small or new storefront. It’s simple, too; just follow up with a customer asking them how they’ve liked the product and if they’d be willing to write a review. You can even incentivize word of mouth with a referral program or even a gamified points system, if you like. 14. You Forgot the Free Samples Who trusts a new store that just opened up? Sure, maybe it has high quality products for a low price. Or maybe it has cheap Chinese knock-offs that break after one use. If you want people to think the former, buy some of your products yourself and ship them out to reviewers. You can find niche blogs covering your topic that will be more than happy to write about your store in exchange for examples of what you sell. 15. Your Site is Broken I left this one for last because it’s a dumb enough error that it eventually happens to everyone. Maybe you forgot to remove NoIndex directives from your Robots.txt before going live. Maybe a script error works locally but not in the wild. Who knows! Before you go deep in the minutia of SEO or paid advertising, check to make sure your site actually works. The post 15 Reasons Why Your Shopify Store Isn’t Getting Traffic appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Google Ads Target CPA vs Manual CPC – Which Is Better?

Google Ads, formerly known as AdWords, has a couple of different bidding strategies you can pick. They are essentially the difference between manual bidding and automatic bidding, though they have a little big of nuance you won’t grasp if that’s all you consider. Let’s talk about them, and the situations wherein each is better. Before we go too deep, though, I need to put an answer right up front. I know the title of this post indicates that one might be better than the other, but you should know by now that this is never going to be the case. If one strategy performed much worse than the other in every situation, Google would have long since killed it off. The fact that both still exist should tell you that they’re both viable, in different ways. Indeed, that’s my goal with this post: to tell you how each one can be viable, and help you pick the one you should use. Simple Definitions The core of each option is pretty simple, so I can give you simple definitions of each. Manual CPC Bidding is, as the name implies, manual bidding. You select an ad campaign, an ad group, or an individual keyword for an ad, and you set the bid you’re willing to pay for that specific entity. It’s a sort of fallback option for when you’ve hit upon a strategy that the automatic bidding doesn’t replicate. It’s also an option for when you want specific control over everything, with no uncertainty. If you’re operating at the very limits of your budget and don’t want any undue surprises, manual bidding can help prevent any such surprises from cropping up. Target CPA Bidding is one of several “Smart Bidding” strategies offered by Google Ads. They also have target return on ad spend bidding, bidding to maximize conversions, and enhanced cost per click bidding. I’m mostly ignoring those other options for now. Target CPA bidding is an automatic smart bidding strategy that uses Google’s immense array of performance data to optimize bidding to reach a specific CPA. This can be useful if you may have a lot of conversions available at a high price point, but you want to target a lower price point and figure out what makes that audience different. When Each Bidding Strategy Works Best Once you know what each bidding strategy is, you can determine when to use one or the other. In general, both can be fairly useful, even on the same ads as you adapt to data that comes in. As far as Manual CPC Bidding is concerned, it offers a much greater degree of control over your individual ads, ad groups, and campaigns. If you’re the kind of marketer who likes to make micromanagement changes to optimize every penny you put into your ads, manual bidding is the way to go. Manual bidding also works best when you’re trying to get as many clicks or simple impressions as possible. You can set the right level of cap to prevent the expensive, less valuable clicks, while spreading that budget to as many clicks as possible. Of course, if you’re an experienced marketer, you know that the sheer volume of clicks is not necessarily the best optimization strategy. It is, however, a good way to harvest a lot of data that you can then use for future optimizations, both in positive trends and in negative aspects to avoid going forward. For example, if you find that an exceptional number of clicks – with a very low conversion rate – are coming from a specific demographic, you can cut that demographic out of future ads. Manual CPC bidding is also a good option when you want to get impressions from a specific domain search, but don’t need to spend to get the top position for that search. Figure out a level of bid necessary to get a visible placement and go from there. Manual CPC is excellent for when you have a smaller, more limited budget. You can set lower caps than might be recommended by the automatic bidding engine, which lets you spread your money around more. This isn’t always going to get you the best possible return on your investment, as anyone who has bought cheap traffic from Fivver can attest, but again, it can get you data that you can use for future refinement of all aspects of your ads. Manual CPC bidding can work in reverse as well. If you have a high budget and want to maintain position in the top ranks, you can set a bid level adequate to reach that level. Automatic bidding has a tendency to cap your bid a little lower than you might otherwise like, in an attempt to save you money and spread that money out more without over-spending on those top spots. However, if you’ve done experiments and have determined that the extra expense is worthwhile in terms of conversions, setting the higher manual bid can be important. On the other hand, for automatic Target CPA Bidding, you can flip many of those on their head. It’s not quite opposite, but more of a complimentary situation. The way target CPA bidding works requires an initial investment. It’s an automatic bidding strategy. If you use automatic bidding for a brand new ad with no historic data, Google will be forced to estimate based on other similar ads in the past. Even very similar ads may have performed in very different ways, however, so this data won’t be accurate. Google will require your ads to reach a certain level of conversion, around 15 conversions, before the data is refined enough to make smart decisions. Therefore, automatic target CPA budding is less effective when you’re running brand new ads, but more effective on ads that have some data behind them. Automatic bidding is useful for when you have a specific target CPA you want to reach as well. For example, if your CEO decides that he doesn’t want to pay for conversions if they’re over a certain cost, you can set that as your cap for automatic CPA bidding, and it will prevent you from over-spending on your conversions. The other situation where target CPA bidding is better is when you have an immense number of ads you’re managing. Large businesses with old ad accounts may have racked up thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of different keywords and targeting factors for a vast array of ads. Even the best, most effective marketer is going to have a hard time micromanaging the manual CPC bid for every one of those keywords. It’s infinitely more effective, in a time investment standpoint, to set automatic CPA bidding for such a large expanse of advertising. This way, you can have most of your ads managed automatically, and handle the outliers with manual bidding. In fact, my recommendation is to start every ad with manual bidding, then once it has reached a certain conversion level, make a decision. If it’s a moderately effective ad, switch it to automatic bidding. If it’s not performing up to par, cull it and start over. There’s no reason to set automatic bidding to optimize an ad that isn’t performing before you begin, right? Taking Google’s Recommendations Remember that Google has access to all of the data recorded for all of the ads ever run through the Google Ads platform. That’s an incredible amount of data. Google uses it to inform the decisions of their automatic bidding, but they also use it to recommend bid caps and bid levels for ads you’re starting to create. Should you trust those recommendations? I say yes, to an extent. Google knows a rough level where your ads will perform, but the numbers aren’t always going to be ideal for you. You might want to set a slightly higher cap, up to 15-20% higher than Google’s recommendation. A higher cap will allow you to obtain more initial data, which you can use to refine your ads moving forward. On the other hand, you may want to set a cap of up to 15-20% lower than the Google Ads recommendation. Why? If you have a limited budget, or if you want to analyze specifically the cheaper end of your ad spectrum, setting a lower cap will give you the data you need without over-spending. It’s very easy to accidentally set too high a bid cap and blow through a budget in a few days instead of a few weeks. Due to the way the auctions work, costs can vary quite a bit even within specific bid ranges. It’s best to set what you’re willing to spend, and allow the system to charge only what you’re able. Don’t over-spend on the assumption that you’re going to get usable data or effective customers out of it. Often, you just end up raising your average cost per customer acquisition. Speaking of adequate data, how long should you run manual bidding before switching to automatic? Most recommendations I’ve found indicate that you want to let manual bidding run for about a month. For high volume, high bid keywords, you may consider a faster switch, so long as you have enough conversions. 15+ conversions will give you a good baseline, though if you’re operating on a larger scale, you want considerably more. If 15 conversions is a few hours of ads for a your large business, it’s not likely to be an adequate sample for informing future ads. Let them run a while longer before you switch over. Other Sorts of Bidding I mentioned in passing that there are other bidding strategies. Let’s briefly talk about each. The smart bidding option includes more than just target CPA bidding. You can also target a specific return on ad spend, which is very useful if you have a variable value for a single conversion. You can optimize for those larger orders rather than the volume of smaller orders you might otherwise get. You can also target to maximize conversions rather than optimizing costs. This is a great option for when you want as many conversions as possible and have the budget to support it, but it’s a terrible option for limited budgets who want cheaper conversions. There’s also an enhanced cost per click bidding, which works sort of like manual CPC bidding, but done by the Google algorithms instead of your own manipulation. This can be a good way to split the difference between the two options, but might not be as effective as your own manual bidding strategies. You can use a bidding strategy to maximize clicks as well. As the name implies, this will get you as many eyes on your landing page as possible, but is more of a CPM strategy than a CPC strategy. It gets you as many clicks as possible for your budget, but doesn’t care if those clicks result in conversions. For obvious reasons, this can be less than effective. Google Ads also have a series of options for impression-focused bidding. You can bid to target a specific position for ads, including just the top spots, or the in-search rather than sidebar positioning. You can also choose a specific competitor’s domain you want to out-rank and bid to out-rank them. This can work well if they’re working on a limited budget, but has the potential to run out of control if you both set each other as out-bid strategies. This will maximize both bids until one reaches their cap, which can waste a lot of money. There are also the typical CPM options, including a target CPM or a viewable vCPM, both of which are only useful when you want eyes on your ad, but don’t really care about clicks. If you have a very, very compelling ad, this can be a great option, but more often than not a CPA or CPC strategy will work a lot better. The post Google Ads Target CPA vs Manual CPC – Which Is Better? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Pass Your Conversion Value to Google Ads

Conversion value is one of those pieces of data that you don’t have to track, but if you do, allows you to refine your ads in a way that can put you ahead of the competition. What is it, and how can you pass the information to Google? What is Conversion Value Conversion value is a fairly simply metric. In other areas of e-commerce, it can also be referred to as your average cart value. It is, essentially, how much a conversion is worth to your business. For example, if you have one product that sells for $50, one conversion is worth $50 to you. Sort of. There’s a bit more calculation that goes into it; for example, maybe it costs you $15 to manufacture and ship the product. Since your investment is $15, the profit of the conversion would be $35; your conversion value is a profit of $35. Conversion values can vary from source to source as well. Maybe you ship to the USA and to Canada, but international shipping costs more. Your USA conversions are $35, but your Canadian conversions are only $25. Sources that give you USA conversions are thus worth more to you. If you have two different products, they each have different conversion values for different scenarios. You can see how it varies from point to point. Conversion value helps you estimate the potential profits of an ad campaign, based on data like the average cost per conversion of the campaign. If you’re operating on narrow margins – say a conversion value of $5, but ads that cost you $4.50 per conversion – you can see how minor changes in the conversion rates or costs of the ad can make or break a campaign. Conversion value can be directly measured, estimated, or set. If you want to directly measure your conversion value, you need existing sources of incoming data; that is, conversions. You can see specifically how much an incoming customer spends, and thus record their conversion value. With enough data points, you can come up with an average conversion value for that kind of customer. You can also estimate conversion values based on past user behavior or other sources of data, without having to run fresh ads to harvest that data. For directly setting the conversion value, you can set it to a number you know from another source, or you can set it for future conversions. For example, maybe you know that the average newsletter subscriber is worth $5 to you; you can then set $5 as your conversion value for new newsletter signups, even though an opt-in doesn’t directly profit you and thus can’t have the conversion value measured. There are a few different ways you can get your conversion value data added to Google Ads; here are the major cases you might encounter. Tracking Conversion Value Directly Google, of course, has plenty of ways to track data while running ads and Analytics. Installing conversion tracking is the easiest way to harvest this and many other data points, so it’s a good idea to do regardless of what other steps you might want to take. First of all, you need to generate your conversion tracking code. Go to your Google Ads dashboard and click on the Tools and Analysis tab. One of the sub-categories you can choose will be Conversions, which will bring you to the “all conversions” page with whatever tracked data you have thus far. Click the Conversions tab and you’ll see a button that allows you to create a new conversion. It will probably be the only thing on the screen if you haven’t made a conversion before, since there will be no previous conversions to display. You’ll need to name your conversion, which I recommend using to specify the source of the conversion, like a form submission or a product purchase. Then fill out the rest of the form. If you choose a Webpage Conversion, you get to specify information about the source page. This can include whether it’s a purchase, opt-in, sign-up, lead, view, or other kind of conversion. Generally, you want to choose HTML, unless your website runs on a different kind of code like XHTML. If you’re not sure, double-check with your developer. Under “conversion value” you can specify an estimated value based on past data, or you can set up value tracking. More on value tracking in a moment. If you choose a Call On-Site Conversion, you’re tracking people who use your web-displayed phone number to call you for more information. This only works for web-enabled calling, which means it generally only works within apps or on mobile websites. It can also work when the user is using a desktop VOIP app to call, but it does NOT work when the user just takes their phone and types in your number. You’re tracking on the web end, not the receiving phones in your office. You can read more about on-call tracking here. If you choose app conversion tracking, you’re going down an entire other path full of all of Google’s app analytics, which are their own beast. Maybe I’ll cover them in another article, so check back in the future in case I do. As for tracking the specific value of the conversion, under the value section, you need to choose “Use Different Values for Each Conversion.” This will add a specific element to the conversion tracking code, the google_conversion_value attribute, which will record the conversion value and refer it back to your analytics for display under that specific conversion. Once you have the conversion value chosen, you need to choose the conversion Count. The count option comes in two forms: One and Every. One conversion counting is useful for when one customer can take several conversion actions in one transaction. For example, if you’re tracking travel planning, one user booking a flight, a hotel, another flight, another hotel, and a flight home can be tracked as one conversion, since it’s one user. This kind of conversion tracking is ideal for when the value of a customer is more important than the value of an individual product sale. Every conversion counting is the opposite, and is best for when you want to track the conversion value of an individual sale or booking. In the travel planning example, one user booking three flights and two hotels would be five conversions. Tracking the value of your conversion this way will add five new data points, which can be averaged to find the average conversion value across all conversions. Next up, you need to choose the conversion window. The conversion window is a flag for how long after the user arrives that their conversion should be counted. With Google Ads the option can be anywhere from 1 day to 90 days. A shorter option is ideal for rapid individual purchases or subscriptions, while a longer model is the best for large single purchases. It’s worth noting here that you need to set up a specific conversion for each different kind of conversion you want to track. If you use the same tracking code for every conversion, all of the conversions will be averaged together for the tracked value. Both high value and low value customers will be averaged together. This isn’t really useful data, since you can’t optimize for different conversions this way. Once you have your specific conversion set up, you need to export the tracking code Google helpfully provides, and import it in the proper location on your website. Tie the tracking code to the finalize transaction button, at whatever phase of your purchase process it is. Try to avoid tying the action tracking to an optional action. You can read more about how to place this tracking code here. Alternatively, talk with your developer about how to deploy this new tracking code. Tracking Offline Conversion Value Sometimes you might want to track conversion data for conversions that don’t happen through your tracked website. Any time a user calls and confirms a sale through your sales team, or any time someone comes into a retail outlet of yours and converts in person, those are instances of conversions that your web tracking won’t catch. Google Ads allows you to import conversion data both on its own and through integration with Salesforce. Salesforce is its own beast to tackle, so I’ll save that for some other time. If you want to read about it direct from Google, here’s their Salesforce integration page. You can track two kinds of conversions that happen offline, but both of them need to start online. You can’t really import data from your retail outlet since there’s no way to tie the data between foot traffic and website traffic. You would have to rely on the individual customer identifying themselves and carrying their own tracking data, which really doesn’t work in any reliable way. The two kinds of conversions you can track are ad clicks and ad calls. Conversions from an ad click that happen offline can be tracked using your customer’s GCLID. The most common scenario here is when you have a landing page where the user can request a salesperson reach out to them. When they fill out your lead submission form, in addition to the data you ask for, their GCLID will be passed along as well. From there, it’s just a matter of keeping the GCLID alongside whatever other conversion data you record from your customers. You have to make sure to keep tracking this ID and keep it tied with the individual customer; if the IDs and the customer conversion data are mixed up or separated, you’ll lose the data you want to track. Conversions that occur from a call are similar to the on-site call tracking mentioned above. However, instead of requiring that the user call via clicking on a Call Now or a linked phone number, you need to use a Google Forwarding Number. A Google forwarding number is similar to using tracking parameters with links, or redirects for tracking purposes. Essentially, instead of putting your business phone number on the site, you put your Google forwarding number. Then, when a user calls that number, they are redirected to calling your real number, but information about the call is tracked. You can then add additional data after the call, such as classifying the call as support or sales, or adding the value of the call. It’s tricky, because even using a forwarding number, the user still needs to tap on an ad to call you; manual dialing doesn’t work. It’s a finicky system, but it’s the best we have for the purpose. You can read more about setting this up here. Using Conversion Value Once you have conversion value tracked in your ads system and analytics, you can put that data to work for you. The primary value of conversion value tracking is simply in knowing which channels are providing the best value to your business. However, you can also use this data to dynamically adjust your bidding strategy for ads. When you create Google ads, those ads are generally set to delivery based on an ad rotation that optimizes for clicks. However, with the conversion value tracking, you can optimize for conversions instead. Click into your advanced settings for your ads, and choose Ad Delivery. Under this section, click Ad Rotation, then find the Frequency Capping menu. Under this section, click Optimize for Conversions and save it. Then go back to your conversions tab and edit your settings to choose the conversion bid metric, which can tell your ads to track whether it’s one click conversions or many click conversions. The post How to Pass Your Conversion Value to Google Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

15 Ways to Spot and Reduce Your Landing Page Friction

The first impression matters. In many ways, your landing page is that first impression. A link on Facebook, an ad on Twitter, these could be considered a first impression, but they’re more like an introduction. Someone clicking an ad link and arriving on your landing page is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. It’s a chance to make that good impression, and convert that user into a follower, subscriber, or customer. Landing page friction is a concept tied into the sales funnel. Your sales funnel is an inverted pyramid. At the top, the widest part of the funnel, you have all of your various marketing efforts, putting your name in front of people who may have never heard of you before. In order for those people to slide further in, they need an easy way to do so. A link, a phone number, whatever it is, it slides them to the next level of the funnel. This one would be a narrower level, fewer people in it, involving your landing pages. Landing page friction is friction in the sales funnel preventing users from sliding even further down, to the inverted peak, where they have become customers. It’s roadblocks, it’s unanswered questions, its poor landing page design, it’s asking too much in opt-in forms. Anything that stops a user in their tracks and makes them pause the conversion process is friction. Some elements of friction you can control. If your landing page design is making it hard for users to figure out what the next step they should take even is, then you can redesign your landing page. On the other hand, if the roadblock is the user’s own financial situation, it’s not really something you can fix. It’s a sign you may need to target different demographics in your advertising, but it’s not something you can fix on your landing page itself. What I’ve done with this post is created a list of common causes of landing page friction, and suggestions of what you can do about them. This is by no means every possible cause, nor every possible solution. For that, you’re going to want to really dig into landing page optimization. Still, even just identifying and fixing a couple of these issues will help a lot. I’ve tried to categorize every element of landing page friction into one of four categories. The four categories are: Trust. A user has to trust you to be willing to convert, so anything that causes them to be skeptical of your landing page can turn them away. This can be anything from poor wording in a guarantee to a script error or strange URL that makes them think you might actually be a phishing site looking to steal their information. Effort. The more effort it takes for a user to convert, the less likely a user is to convert. This is why Amazon introduced – and patented – one-click purchasing. Every additional click, every additional form fill, every additional TOS to read; it’s all additional points of friction that will turn off a certain portion of people who landed on the page in the first place. Cost. This one is obvious, and there’s not usually a lot you can do about it. The cost of opting in or of making a purchase is going to be a roadblock for many people. Some elements can be changed, though, like being up-front with additional costs or fees instead of hiding them in footnotes or in the finalized cart. Technical. This one should be pretty obvious. If a user tries to click a button and nothing happens, that’s a big element of friction. If they try to fill out a form and get an error, or if you don’t accept a payment method they want to use, or a redirect is broken and they don’t even land on the right page, these are all issues that have technical problems at their core. Fix them for an improved landing page conversion rate. Most elements of landing page friction will fall into one of these categories. Think about all of them as you audit your own landing pages. 1. Is Your Branding Consistent? Branding is part of Trust. Your landing page needs to have consistent branding with the rest of your company and website. Make sure your content is written in the same level of formality and tone, your color scheme is consistent with the rest of your branding, and so on. Remember, any little sign of inconsistency is enough to make many people skeptical, which will prevent conversions. Don’t forget to actually include your branding! I’ve seen a few landing pages where, if I didn’t know the brand and the product, I would have no idea what the page was trying to sell me. It’s one thing to continue to include context from ads and other sources, but it’s quite another to rely on it entirely. 2. Do You Have Too Many Possible Actions? Action focus is an element of Effort. Every landing page should have a call to action, but more importantly, every landing page should have exactly one call to action. Even if you make that same call to action five different times on the page, it’s all the same call to the same action. For example, if you have a form for a user to fill out to subscribe to your newsletter, but also a button they can click to add your product to cart, you’re muddying the waters. Your copy won’t be focused on one or the other, but will try to push both, to the detriment of both. Some users will be caught in indecision and will instead choose the third option, which is to leave. 3. Are You Asking For Too Much? This is another element of Effort. Specifically, whenever you have a web form you need filled out by the user, try to get away with asking for as little information as possible. Some information you can harvest in the back end, like rough geographic location. Other pieces of information you need, like email address and name. Still others are extraneous, unnecessary pieces of information, like company name, number of employees, and so forth. You can experiment with asking for that information but making it non-essential for submission of the form. Alternatively, simply ignore that information and ask for it at a later point in the conversion process. Figure out what works for you. 4. Does Your Landing Page Work? I have to include this one as the representative of the fourth category, Technical. Always make sure to test your entire conversion process. Start with the ad that leads to the landing page; does it work? Does it redirect you properly, if there’s a redirect? Do any split-tested variants work? Once you’re on the landing page, are there tracking scripts or dynamic content, and do they work? Does your form or purchase process work? Make sure to test every element every step of the way, and use multiple different devices and browsers. Make sure it works on mobile, works on Chrome and Firefox and Opera and Edge, and so on. 5. Do You Require Too Much Time? One problem I see with many landing pages is an emphasis on an explainer video. Explainer videos can be a great way to convey potentially complex information in a small amount of space, and that’s fine. However, a good landing page does not rely on the video to do the selling. Plenty of people might not have the time to watch the video, or they might not be in a position where they can afford the bandwidth, or they might not be able to listen to it. As an element of Effort and Cost, requiring too much time and investment from your viewers to even figure out what the landing page is about will shoot down plenty of potential conversions. 6. Are You Hiding Price Information? There are a few ways I’ve seen websites violate this element of Cost. If you have a landing page that specifies your product is $99*, where the * is fine print saying you have a per-month charge or a steep setup fee, that’s deceptive and will drive users away. If you have any sort of hidden costs or fees, don’t try to hide them. Be up-front with the total costs of your service, so users know what they’re getting into. 7. Do You Have Social Proof? This is an element of Trust. A good landing page includes elements of social proof to indicate that your brand is trustworthy. A notable client list, realistic-sounding reviews from real-seeming people, and so on are good elements of proof. If you don’t have any reputable sources, try to avoid adding fake-looking social proof. It won’t help all that much if people think it smells of BS. 8. Are You Encouraging Urgency? Urgency is an element of Effort, though it flips the equation on its head. Rather than being a roadblock based on getting the user to expend the effort, it’s forcing a change on their own cost-benefit analysis. When you express urgency, by offering a time-sensitive deal or offer, you tell the user that sure, it might be effort to convert now, but it will be more effort and more cost later, if they don’t do it now. This encourages conversions. 9. Does Your Landing Page Have Flow? This is actually a Technical element. Using directional elements like arrows and graphics can help keep users reading the page, progressing through the landing page towards conversion. Coupled with a heatmap to show what users are doing and where they’re clicking, you can optimize how users experience your landing page. This also helps you identify and avoid instances where users are clicking the wrong thing, thinking it might progress the call to action. 10. Does Your Landing Page Match Its Traffic? Matching the messaging of your ads and your landing pages is a big deal for two reasons. First, it’s an element of Trust. If a user clicks an ad telling them you have Product A for $50, and your landing page is offering them Product B for $75, they feel lied to. Secondly, consistency in keywords and page elements between your ad and your landing page is an element of ad-based quality scores for ad networks like Google and Facebook. Poor quality scores hurt you in more ways than one, so always strive for accuracy in messaging. 11. Is Your Value Proposition Clear? This is an element of Cost, in the same way that urgency is an element of Effort. You need a clear value proposition so that the user has something concrete, or as concrete as it can be, to compare against the cost they have to spend. This is why a lot of bundles and add-ons for purchases say “over $50 worth of free accessories” or what have you. The additional free value skews the cost-benefit analysis in the favor of an immediate conversion. 12. Do You Know Your Traffic? This one isn’t actually an element of landing page optimization, so much as it is a back-end element of planning. In a sense, it could be considered a Technical element, I suppose. Essentially, you need to know who you’re reaching with your ads or other traffic sources. With that knowledge, you can more appropriately tailor your content to their needs. Just like you don’t want to try to sell a $100 piece of software to someone looking for a free and open-source option. 13. Is Your Copy Compelling? There are only so many ways to discuss the quality of the content on your landing page. Compelling copy for that page, in the headline, in the text, in the videos, and even in the form for submission, is crucial. Any time you can rephrase something to be more compelling to your specific audience, you want to do so, and test to see if it works. 14. Are You Testing Alternatives? It’s one thing to identify potential problems, but you also need to test to make sure they’re actually problems, and that fixing them has a positive impact. Use split testing to make one change at a time to your landing page, and iterate upon the most successful version. Sometimes a problem you identified isn’t really a problem, or at least isn’t on the radar of your users until you point it out to them. 15. Are You Considering Negative Friction? Some elements of friction can be good. For example, charging money for a webinar can be beneficial if that webinar is another step in your sales funnel. Introducing friction to sign-ups for your webinar will then decrease friction for the call to action in the webinar itself. If the webinar was open to all, the average level of engagement and potential conversion will be lower. You need to balance out when friction might be a valuable filtering tool rather than a roadblock to more conversions. The post 15 Ways to Spot and Reduce Your Landing Page Friction appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

List of Google Negative Keywords to Add to Your Campaign

Negative keywords are an essential part of any ad campaign using a PPC system that supports them. In fact, they’re so essential that if the PPC system you’re using doesn’t support them, I would never recommend using that system. Thankfully, all of the major keyword-targeted ad system like Google Ads accept negative keywords. So what are they, and how can you use them? What Are Negative Keywords? What, exactly, are negative keywords, how do they work, and why should you use them? It’s all pretty simple. Negative keywords are a type of keyword matching. Let’s make a hypothetical situation where you’re trying to advertise “red running shoes.” Here are the different kinds of keyword match types, and how your keywords might work with each. Broad Match: You run an ad for “red running shoes”. A user searches for “blue dress shoes”. Since both keywords contain “shoes”, your ads display for the user. This is obviously a pretty bad thing, since your ads are not targeted for this user and will be ignored as irrelevant. Phrase Match: You run an ad for “red running shoes”. A user searches for “blue running shoes”. Since both keywords contain “running shoes”, your ads display for the user. The user is looking for running shoes and thus might be interested enough to click the ad, checking to see if you have alternative color options that better suit their needs. Exact Match: You run an ad for “red running shoes”. A user searches for “red running shoes”. Since both keywords are identical, your ads display for the user. Any other keyword search will not display your ad. Exact match keywords do include some variations. For example, if the user searched for “running shoes red”, your ads would still display. Negative match keywords can be added on top of these. Let’s say you know that a lot of people are searching for red dress shoes, but you don’t want your ad to display for those people. You need to run your ads for “red running shoes -dress”. The -dress part causes your ads to not display for any query including the word dress at all. Negative keywords can stack with other match types. You can have Negative Broad, Negative Phrase, or Negative Exact keywords. This kind of stacking can get a little tricky, which is why Google provides a good reference with tables for what does and doesn’t work for each combination of negative and other match types. You can see those tables here. Also, one quirk I don’t see many people mention: negative keywords only work on the first ten words of a user query. If a user query is longer than 10 words, the 11th and further words do not get parsed for negative keyword usage. It’s a little odd, but then, so few people search for massively long queries that it’s not really worth worrying about. Keep in mind that the purpose of negative keywords is to remove options you do not want your ad to display for. It refines the traffic your ads receive, to eliminate queries that do not fit your goals. For example, if you’re selling a product, you could use “-free” as a negative keyword to make sure your ad doesn’t display for anyone looking for free products. Obviously, if they’re looking for something free, they won’t want to pay for your product, so your ad isn’t worthwhile. In general, negative keywords may decrease the volume of traffic that clicks through your ads, but will increase the average customer quality by making sure the people who click through are as relevant as possible. Lower volume but higher conversion rate visitors is an ideal situation. Negative Keyword Lists and Google Ad Limitations What I’ve done for the remainder of this article is provided a list of negative keywords. Well, rather, I’ve provided a number of different lists of negative keywords that you can use for your ads. I’ve divided them up into various categories based on the relevant topic for those keywords. For example, one of the lists is “job seekers”. You can add in all of those negative keywords to make sure your ads aren’t displaying for people who are searching for places they could apply. Obviously, if you’re trying to advertise a job opening, you don’t want to use these negative keywords. Always give some thought to context and only use negative keywords that eliminate bad traffic, not potentially targeted traffic. Before I dig in, it may seem a little daunting that I’ve provided hundreds of words below. The fact is, you can use thousands of them in your Google Ads. Google has a few negative keyword limitations, but they are very high. You can build up an ad campaign with up to 10,000 negative keywords in that campaign. You can do this easily by building negative keyword lists, and applying lists directly to a campaign, rather than applying all of the keywords individually. Each negative keyword list can have up to 5,000 negative keywords in it, and your account can have up to 20 negative keyword lists. That’s a lot of potential negative keywords, and it can take established businesses years to build up a list that large. Without further digression, here are various lists you can use. These are by no means exhaustive; you can always add or remove individual keywords to suit your ads better. Keep in mind that it’s generally worthwhile to add in plural versions of words as well, so “career” and “careers” are two different keywords. Additionally, there may be some overlap between keywords or categories; words have multiple meanings, after all. Site Names These keywords are focused on removing targeted searches from people who want to find your account on another site, or your products on another site. YouTube, Craigslist, Ebay, Kijiji, Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, Yelp, [Competitor Brand], etc. Job Search These keywords remove people who are looking for employment opportunities. Career, Employment, Hiring, Intern, Internship, Job, Recruiter, Recruiting, Resume, Salary, Occupation, Full Time, Part Time, CV, Looking For Work, Opening Generic Spam These keywords remove spam queries and other unrelated content you probably don’t want to be using to advertise. Nude, Naked, Sex, Porn, Torrent, Casino, Contest, Penny Auction, Hentai, Horny, Lesbian, Naughty, XXX, Busty, Cartoon, Fetish, [any profanity], Meme Education Search These keywords remove users who are searching for education in your niche. Obviously, only use these if you’re not providing education; if you’re advertising a trade school, you don’t want to eliminate your audience. Training, Learn, Class, School, College, University, Tutorial, Course, Textbook, Book, Udemy, Coursera Informational Search These keywords removed users who are looking for information about your company or products from third party sources. Since these users generally don’t trust reviews on your site or your landing pages, don’t bother catering to them. Review, Rating, Opinion, Article, Information, Info, Pics, Pictures, Photos, How To, About, Definition, Diagram, Blueprint, Example, History, Map, Sample, What Is, Case Study, Guide, Journal, Magazine, Metrics, Association, News, Research, Stats, Statistics, Stories, White Paper, Wiki Deep Discount Searches Some users love to find bargains or try to find your products available for cheap or free. Hey, there’s a couple right now! Cheap, Free, Bargain, Clearance, Close Out, Discount, Inexpensive, Liquidation, Odd Lots, Remainder, Overstock, Gift DIY Searches Many users want to be more self-sufficient and may be searching for something in your niche that, rather than buying a product to handle, they want to do themselves. Obviously these users aren’t going to buy your product without a lot of convincing that it’s too hard to DIY, so drop them from most of your ads. Craft, Create, Creating, Hand Made, Home Made, How To, Make, DIY, Do It Yourself Software Sales or Piracy If you’re a software company you can ignore this list, since they’re probably users you would like to find. Some might still be useful, though, since several of these keywords aim to filter out people looking to copy or steal software, or find open source alternatives to whatever you’re selling. CD, DVD, Burner, Burned, Code, Community, Desktop, Developer, Disk, Download, Error, File, Forum, Free, Freeware, Abandonware, GNU, Hack, Crack, Keygen, Microsoft, Library, Libraries, Open Source, Public Domain, Creative Commons, Template, Retail, Full Version, Shortcut, Tip, Windows Industrial Searches Sometimes users are looking for information about your supply line or about how they could get into a large-scale business themselves. Don’t advertise to people looking to clone you or undercut your suppliers. Antique, Consumer, Export, Hobby, Import, Measurement, Model, Regulations, Rent, Rental, Repair, Retail, Rules, Safety, Specs, Specifications, Standards, Store, Toy, Used, Vintage, Wholesale, Supplier Materials Searches Some users might be looking for a version of a product you don’t offer. For example, as a dishware seller, you might have plenty of ceramic dishes, but you might not have metal dishes. Filter out the people looking for materials you don’t support. Aluminum/Aluminium, Ceramic, Cotton, Fabric, Glass, Gold, Iron, Leather, Copper, Metal, Paper, Plastic, Cardboard, Rubber, Silver, Steel, Stainless, Stone, Vinyl, Wood Legal Searches Sometimes the law gets involved in industry; this is common enough. Users might be looking to take legal action that involves you, or see if there are existing regulations or class action suits or anything else. If there’s any potential suspicion of legal action, if you’ve ever been involved in legal action in the past, or if you just don’t want users to find your ads when they’re looking up law, use this list. Act, Compliance, Law, Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Class Action, Settlement, Lawsuit, Prosecution, Defendant, Verdict, Jurisdiction Business to Business/Consume Filters This is a list of keywords you can filter out if you’re a B2B company; they’re valid keywords for B2C, but they aren’t useful for you. Consumer, Home, Personal, Hobby, Recreation, Used, Vintage, B2C Likewise, the reverse is true if you’re a B2C company; filter out the keywords best used by B2B companies. Business, Corporate, Enterprise, SMB, B2B Ways to Expand a List The lists above are relatively short, but you can expand them in a number of different ways. They’re mostly just categories you can use as a place to start. Here are some ideas on how to expand the list. Plurals. I mentioned this above, but plurals are different keywords as far as Google is concerned, so Law/Laws are two different keywords worth including. Verbs. Turning any of the above into verbs will be other unique keywords. For example, Import/Importing. Synonyms. Using a thesaurus can find common synonyms for words you want to use, which might be in use by some users. Just be aware that not all synonyms have the same connotation and might be more commonly used in other ways. Existing lists. There are a lot of companies that provide lists of negative keywords you can aggregate into your own. PPCHero has one, Return On Now has one, Web Mechanix has one, and so on. Tools. You can see a search report and see what queries users are using when they find your ads; remove keywords that show up but that you don’t want to see. You can also use tools provided by third parties, like Wordstream. Also, make sure to keep a local copy and a cloud backup of any of your lists, particularly if you have them organized or if you’ve been building them for a long time. You don’t want an issue with your account or a computer failure to wipe all the work you’ve done to put a list together. The post List of Google Negative Keywords to Add to Your Campaign appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Our Complete Yahoo Gemini Advertising Review and Tutorial

Yahoo’s paid advertising program has had a very rocky history throughout the years. Always playing second fiddle to Google, Yahoo has had a tough time, but they may have finally developed an offering worth the time. Is Gemini a viable ad platform, or is it another half-baked offering where you’re better off spending the cash with Google or Facebook? Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, and Oath: What Gives? Yahoo and AOL were, as you know, fairly large Internet companies. AOL served as an ISP, content provider, and a bunch of other services rolled into one. Yahoo is most famous for their search engine, but they also handle news, a Quora-like Q&A site, and a lot more as well. Both companies reached issues financially when the original dot com bubble broke and have been struggling since. In 2015, Verizon – that massive Telecom monopolist – made a deal to acquire AOL. A year later, Verizon made a similar deal for Yahoo’s core Internet products, leaving some of their other services orphaned. The deal went through, though at a lower price point due to the major Yahoo breaches in 2016. So where does Oath come in? Oath is a subsidiary name for an umbrella company under the Verizon banner. Oath, in turn, is now the owner of both Yahoo and AOL. It’s essentially the Internet Media arm of Verizon. Yahoo Gemini, meanwhile, is the modern ad offering presented by Oath after the integration of Yahoo with the rest of Verizon’s portfolio of services and platforms. Oath has more brands than just AOL and Yahoo, of course. In addition, Oath is the controlling company behind Tumblr, Flurry, BrightRoll, Autoblog, CompuServe, Engadget, HuffPost, TechCrunch, and a few others. This is both good and bad. On the one hand, it’s a huge internet content monopoly owned by a notoriously scummy telecom monopoly. It brings up huge questions about the impartiality of the content published on those sites, the financial interests behind them, and how major telecommunications companies are increasingly able to control what we see online in a post-Net Neutrality world. On the other hand, it means Oath has their own native and paid ad networks powered by the already large infrastructure owned by Yahoo, with additional content connections to several major and many midrange websites. So, you know. You take the good with the bad when you’re living in the most boring cyberpunk dystopia ever not imagined by authors throughout history. What About Gemini, Specifically? Yahoo Gemini, as mentioned above, is the new current ad network under the Yahoo banner as operated by Oath as owned by Verizon. By purchasing ads through the platform, you gain access to Verizon-owned properties that run ads. Those properties include HuffPost, Tumblr, Yahoo’s content itself, AOL’s content, Engadget, TechCrunch, and others. The Gemini site claims they have more than a billion monthly active users, two billion ad impressions per day, and 165 billion intent signals daily. They also promote the fact that you can run search ads, image ads, video ads, app install ads, Tumblr sponsored posts, carousel ads, and mail ads within Yahoo Mail. Video ads likely go through the old BrightRoll platform, App adds through Flurry, and so on. It’s an aggregation of what has already existed, streamlined for use as one platform. Oath really wants to poach as many users as it can, so they have created a special way to sync your Gemini account with an AdWords account – soon to be Google Ads – and import all of your Google campaign data. I don’t think Google will shut down your account when you’re obviously being poached, at least. It’s worth noting here that, as of now, Gemini is not an ad exchange. You cannot sign up as a publisher, and your ads will not be displayed on random publisher sites. You’re accessing Oath/Verizon’s stable of wholly owned sites and whatever sites they’ve made exclusive deals with. They’ve stated in the past that they have no intention of pivoting into an exchange, though of course if their status as a premium publisher platform falls through they’ll probably make that change eventually. A second item of note is that Gemini specifically emphasizes native advertising. Native advertising is advertising that strives to look as much like natural content as possible while still maintaining just enough disclosure to keep on the right side of the laws of applicable countries, generally the USA and the Eurozone. I guarantee you’ve seen native advertising before. Sponsored Google or Yahoo listings that look like normal search results are native. The “related posts” box on a website that goes to other domains and other pieces of content are native. Many in-app ads are considered native, even if they’re interstitial. Native advertising is the next evolutionary step in online advertising, and is a direct response to the proliferation of intrusive display ads. The more display ads there are on a site, the less likely that site is to rank well in Google, and the less likely people are to click those ads. A combination of disgust in the state of advertising, the proliferation of ad blocking extensions, the increasing prevalence of malware delivered through ads, and banner blindness all led to the need for something new. Native advertising, designed to look like legitimate content, gets around some of those issues. Of course, once more and more people learn about native advertising, they’ll either adopt ad blockers or will start to have “content blindness” as well, which is fairly likely to backfire really hard on a lot of sites, but who cares? Most advertisers live in the moment without thinking too hard about the inevitable crash in their futures. What About Bing? If you’ve paid attention, you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Bing at all yet, even though Yahoo and Microsoft have had a long-standing deal to partner up such that most of the Yahoo display ads were powered by Bing. So what gives? Essentially, the deal was adjusted between Verizon and Microsoft. As such, a larger percentage of ads on Yahoo’s search and content networks are powered by Gemini rather than by Bing. Bing dialed back to its own networks primarily. How do Bing and Gemini interact? They don’t. They’re mutually exclusive except for the part where ads in Yahoo search results can come from either platform. It’s a little strange, but such is the way the two networks have evolved. You can’t manage Bing ads through Gemini or vice versa, and while their display locations have some crossover, it can still be worthwhile to use Bing ads in addition to Gemini (and, of course, Google and Facebook and whatever other exchanges you like.) What Benefits Does Gemini Have? When you’re comparing Gemini to something like Facebook ads or Google’s ads, where does Gemini stack up? Well, first of all, they’re not just some small-time exchange. They have billions of pageviews to monetize, but they aren’t because of having millions of 100-hit-per-month sites. They come from big name sites and apps, including embedded in Yahoo Mail. Secondly, the emphasis on Native advertising, to the exclusion of traditional ads, means you’re by default going to get fairly good numbers. Display ads have notoriously low click and conversion rates without a lot of work, and while native ads are steadily dropping as they become more and more normal, they’re still better on average. Third, Yahoo Gemini allows you total control over the destination of your ads, at least in terms of platform. Google, for example, has rolled desktop, mobile, and tablet all into one Enhanced Campaign. Gemini keeps each platform separate, including the difference between mobile browser and mobile app ads. You can get quite granular with your ad strategy with this specification. You have all of the targeting options you’ve come to expect from any ad network. Geolocation, keyword targeting, broad and exact matching, negative keywords, and so on are all present. They are also constantly rolling out new features, with planned features including day parting, device targeting, language targeting, and even geographic radius targeting. Finally, it’s actually pretty effective. A case study presented by Seer Interactive from one of their clients showed a 3x return on investment, and CPC was lower than Bing by 15% and lower than Google by nearly 30%. Those are some pretty good numbers, so even if the audience for Gemini is a bit smaller than you might hope for in a major ad network, it’s still relevant in size and costs. Setting Up Gemini Ads In order to set up ads on Gemini as a platform, you have to have a Yahoo Ads account. It’s worth noting that, due to the previous data breach, if you have an old Yahoo account you should probably do a thorough security audit on anything connected to the account. Make sure to change and update your password, as well as adding any two-factor authentication you want to use. Sign into your account and then click the “Start a Campaign” button at the top of the page. It’s basically a landing page for Gemini. If you’re not on that landing page, find the Campaigns tab in the ads manager and click it. Click the New Campaign button. From here you dive right into creating your ads. Your ad title can be up to 50 characters, with 150 more characters for the description. You plug in the landing page URL, your company name, and your display URL (in case you want to hide any tracking parameters or other code from the URL.) As far as ad image is concerned, you have the chance to add one here as well. Yahoo recommends an image that is a 1:1 ratio in dimensions, since it’s a square when it displays for native ads. The smallest size – the display size – is 82×82, but you can use a larger image and it will be downscaled. For image ads, they recommend an ad with 1073×715 pixel dimensions. This works for display banners and app ads. Again, maintain the ratio if you’re using a larger image since it will be downscaled. Once you have your copy in place, you can start adding your audience. Click Advanced Settings, Suggest Keywords, and the little Modify button at the bottom to expand all of your options to see what you can do. From here, just plug in whatever targeting you have for your ad. Keywords and negative keywords, geographic location, platform typing, and so on. Yahoo will try to get you to run ads on both native platforms and as mobile ads, but you generally want to stick with one or the other. Just duplicate your ad for the other and make adjustments separately. Under bidding, again, you can click the Advanced Pricing link to expand options. You can set a target CPC, a budget, a schedule, and both start and end dates or a lifespan for the campaign. At this point you can name and save the campaign and you’re almost ready to run. All you need to do is set up payment information. Yahoo works by charging your card or bank information ahead of time, to put a minimum amount of cash into your account. The default minimum is $25 to get your ads running. You can then set a reload threshold, which reloads your account to whatever amount you set. Then, when your account gets down to 10% of the reload threshold, it will be topped up with another charge. That’s it! As soon as your ad is set up and your payment method is approved, you’re good to start running ads. From there, all you need to do is monitor them and iterate on them the same way you would with any other ad campaign on any other network. Have you use Gemini, or are you looking to try it out? If so, let me know how it performed, and how it stacks up against other ad networks you’re using. I’m curious to have more data points! The post Our Complete Yahoo Gemini Advertising Review and Tutorial appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Can Cloudflare Hurt Your Sales or Turn Away Customers?

Cloudflare is one of the most common names when it comes to website protection, anti-DDoS gating, and content delivery via distributed network. Over the last decade, a lot of information – and misinformation – has been spread about the network. Some things people have said are false, and others may have been true but have changed in the years since. With so much to content with, it’s no wonder people research the answers before they consider buying in. I’m going to go over one of the primary concerns with Cloudflare, which is whether or not it can potentially harm your ability to make sales or convert new customers. Before we begin, though, I’d like to talk about what this article is not. This article is not an analysis of Cloudflare’s effect on SEO. For that, you want to turn to other authorities, at least until I get around to doing my own analysis. This case study is a pretty good one, for example. I’m going to take a look at more direct issues with Cloudflare. Can it accidentally block legitimate traffic? Can Cloudflare Block Legitimate Users? I might as well not dance around it. Yes, Cloudflare can occasionally block legitimate users. However, it’s fairly unusual and it’s not likely to happen in an instance where it matters to a sale. There are three instances where Cloudflare might be blocking something legitimate. The first is when they have enabled anti-DDoS mode and are aggressively filtering traffic. The second is when they’re blocking tools that legitimate users might want to use. The third is when the user is somehow malicious and unwitting. I’ll talk about each of these individually next. The benefits of Cloudflare are strong enough that, even if it’s blocking a few customers, it’s generally worthwhile to use anyway. DDoS protection is just one benefit to their service in general; the CDN can be helpful for other reasons as well. Anti-DDoS Blocking The first instance where Cloudflare might be blocking legitimate users is when your website is under a DDoS attack and it is filtering traffic aggressively to try to keep your server up and your website alive. It’s an example of killing a few to save the many, essentially. Think of it like hunting. When the numbers of a certain animal exceed what natural predation and natural habitats can support, human hunting can help thin the herd. This reduces strain on the environment and brings nature back into a more self-sustaining balance. Wild, unrestrained hunting can destroy an animal population, but careful pruning of a species can keep it from driving itself extinct. To apply the analogy to Cloudflare, think of your audience as the herd and your website as the environment. If the herd grows too large – during a DDoS – it destroys the environment, bringing your site down and killing the entire audience. You can’t make sales if no one can access your site, right? By carefully pruning out some of the traffic, Cloudflare can keep your site up and active. 99% of the traffic that is blocked is bad bot traffic, but some legitimate users may be caught in the net. Sure, you might lose a few sales, but nowhere near as many as you lose if your site is down entirely. For the individual user, it’s certainly frustrating. How many times have you wanted to browse a site, only to be confronted with the Cloudflare block warning? The service attempts to provide a cached version of the site to browse while blocking is going on, but in my experience it rarely works. If a site protected by Cloudflare is under attack, and you can’t access it right away, it’s probably not going to happen until the attack is over. Tool Blocking The second case where Cloudflare might be blocking legitimate users and legitimate traffic is if those users or that traffic comes from a tool rather than the user directly. I have two specific examples here. The first example is RSS. RSS readers check your site – specifically your RSS feed – on a regular schedule. Some might be hourly, some once a day, some on other schedules, but they all work the same. Any user who wants to keep up with your blog via RSS is going to be using an RSS reader of some kind to access it. The problem is when Cloudflare decides that the RSS traffic is too bot-like and blocks it. You run into cases where the RSS reader never picks up new RSS data, for one reason or another. It’s common enough problem that people have gone out of their way to try to code bypasses and deal with the issue in various ways. Cloudflare is, of course, difficult to bypass for good reason. How many people reading your RSS are going to convert into customers? It’s hard to say. Many of them might already be customers, looking to keep up with your blog. Others might eventually convert, but probably not from the RSS directly. Unless you can measure those specific numbers, it’s impossible to tell if you’re losing customers directly. Another example is TOR. TOR is The Onion Router, a set of layered proxy connections that anonymize web traffic through a hazy cloud of redirects, as a way of adding security to web browsing. Your ISP can’t track your activities if they can’t tie your activities to your computer, right? TOR has its issues, and I’m not going to dig into them right now. Suffice it to say that in some cases it’s not as anonymous as it claims to be. However, TOR is also often used for less legitimate traffic. There are two issues with this, and they both come down to how Cloudflare blocks traffic. Cloudflare blocks traffic based on user agent and IP. TOR gives your traffic the information of whatever end point node you happen to be connecting through for that given session. Your traffic can come through a node that has been blocked for past abuses. Alternatively, you disable TOR, but your computer has been used as a node when you had it enabled, and your information is blocked. Cloudflare has attempted to lessen the impact of using TOR, but there’s only so much they can do. If they lift all the blocking and filtering options, that tool will simply be used against them, and it makes it much harder to block specific bots. Again, though, sacrificing a few users of specific tools in favor of keeping your site alive in the event of malicious traffic is generally a small price to pay. Unless you’re operating in a very narrow niche where 99% of your customers are users of such a tool, it won’t be that big of an impact. Unwitting Maliciousness Much like the case where your node in a TOR network is used as a pass-through for malicious traffic, other causes can lead to your IP being blocked. DDoS attacks are often committed through the use of a botnet, and botnets are generally composed of infected computer systems. When a computer gets the right kind of virus, it can be used as a slave to deliver traffic for a variety of reasons. Tech-savvy users are going to keep their computers generally free of viruses and won’t likely be part of such a botnet. Less savvy users, however, abound. In fact, many of your customers – unless you’re in a high-tech, complicated and expert-level niche – will be less savvy users. The stereotype of your grandma’s computer needing disinfecting every family holiday is a real problem. If your grandma wants to make a purchase, she might find her computer blocked because a virus on it has been part of a DDoS botnet in the past. It doesn’t even need to be a personal computer anymore, these days. Many botnets today are actually made up of various Internet of Things devices. Anything from a thermostat to a light bulb to a coffee maker can be infected and slaved to a botnet. After all, who thinks about updating the firmware on their light bulbs, or even considers the possibility of a smart bulb to visit a website? Cloudflare might block the light bulb – which is one hell of a cyberpunk sentence to write, let me tell you – but they might also just block the IP the infected device is using. That will have the side effect of blocking your computer, even if your computer did nothing wrong. Grandma might not be using smart light bulbs, but a sufficiently smart thermostat or a coffee maker or a smart TV might be more plausible. Again, this is something Cloudflare is working on preventing. This is where user agent blocking comes in handy. They can block devices that aren’t using typical browser user agents, but then, a corrupted device can spoof a user agent too. It’s all a complex and frankly obnoxious arms race. Plus, you don’t want to block those devices if, say, you’re the one providing the firmware updates. Benefits Worth the Risk With the chances of blocking legitimate traffic – and the suspicion that Cloudflare can hurt SEO in a few configurations – is it worthwhile to keep using the service? I’m of mixed opinion. On the one hand, a DDoS is obviously a bad thing. If you’re under attack, using something to filter traffic and keep your server alive is a good idea. Site downtime is infinitely worse than a few blocked users, especially when you have no way of knowing whether or not those users are actually interested in becoming customers. Cloudflare isn’t the only game in town, but since they’re one of the most visible brands, they take a lot of flak for their competitors. On the other hand, Cloudflare’s services can be beneficial in other cases. One of their primary uses is as a content delivery network, and using a CDN can be a benefit to SEO. Faster load times are beneficial to search ranking, and a CDN can speed up a slow loading site if your server can’t handle media as quickly as the CDN can. At the same time, there are other CDNs. If you want to benefit from a CDN but don’t feel the need for DDoS protection, you can invest in something like Amazon’s CDN or Akamai. Of course, that can leave you high and dry if a DDoS does come knocking, so you need some kind of disaster management and recovery plan. In general, I would say that using a CDN is always going to be a benefit, though you should focus on using one that servers your local region. Cloudflare users have had issues where the IP of the CDN-served content came from outside the usual region and thus took an SEO hit. Using Cloudflare specifically can be a good idea if you believe your site is at risk of a DDoS attack, though there are other DDoS protection apps available if you don’t trust a tainted name. If nothing else, if your business is not in a precarious position, you can test Cloudflare with little repercussion. Make an announcement on your site and on your social media that you will be testing Cloudflare, and ask that any users who experience issues come forward and help you troubleshoot. If you do find some issues, you can disable Cloudflare and cancel the experiment. If, on the other hand, you have no issues, Cloudflare can work just fine for your business. The post Can Cloudflare Hurt Your Sales or Turn Away Customers? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How Much Can You Earn with Avon’s Affiliate Network?

Avon is one of the oldest and most “venerable” of the multi-level marketing (MLM) companies in the world. It was originally founded in 1886 and has grown to be one of the largest companies in the world, and the fifth largest beauty-focused company. Name recognition in the world of MLMs is a strange thing. For many, especially these days, name recognition is a bad thing. Once people realize your business is an MLM, it starts becoming associated with words like “scam“. After all, with how hard it is to get a business off the ground today, a company with a business model entirely based around starting a micro-business inherently dominated by your direct competition – and indeed, when a large portion of your profits goes to that competition for signing you up – can be a difficult proposition indeed. On the other hand, average users tend to feel like an MLM is a short-lived beast. Many MLMs reach a certain level of critical mass and fold or are revealed to be largely ineffective for the majority of their users. So when you hear about Avon, an MLM that has been around for over 130 years, you wonder how it succeeds. It can’t be a scam, right? After all, no scam would last that long except politics. Now, I’m not going to go in deep as either a proponent or an opponent to Avon. MLMs are inherently shady, but a dedicated marketer can certainly use them to make money. Avon must be doing something right to have avoided the usual MLM fate of cannibalizing itself into oblivion. MLM Versus Affiliate Marketing There’s two crucial differences between an MLM and an affiliate network, and those are a buy-in and their growth pattern. With a traditional multi-level marketing program, the general pattern is always the same. Each person in the pyramid is encouraged to sign up people beneath them as sellers, while also selling products themselves. Anyone who signs up as a seller has to buy a kit of products to sell, as a sort of ready-made storefront kiosk. Those who find success with MLM often realize very quickly that selling the products is not the way to extreme profits, but rather selling the opportunity to sell instead. However, advancement in the ranks of the MLM is often gated behind certain levels of direct sales, as a way of protecting the company as a whole against litigation and prosecution for being nothing more than a pyramid scheme. As long as products are sold at each level, the brand as a whole is not at risk. Affiliate marketing is different in two ways. First of all, you don’t need to buy and manage an inventory. You don’t need a storefront at all, actually: all you do is link to products in the store of the “home office”, so to speak. With Avon, that’s usually some beauty cream or treatment. All you have to do is write something on a blog and link to a relevant product with your affiliate tag. When anyone purchases the item, you get a commission on the sale. You know how it goes, right? The second way is that affiliate marketing does not encourage or require signing up people beneath you. In fact, with Avon’s affiliate program, there’s no mention of commissions for signing up new sellers. You have a commission on the products you refer sales to Avon itself, and that’s it. Because of this, I’m basically going to ignore the MLM side of Avon and focus entirely on their storefront and their affiliate program. Avon Affiliate Details As an affiliate network, Avon is actually fairly decent. For one thing, they aren’t a proprietary system. Avon actually just uses CJ Affiliate by Conversant, formerly Commission Junction, an affiliate network used by hundreds of other brands. They’re widely regarded as trustworthy and effective. There’s really no difference between the Avon affiliate program and similar programs from companies like Amazon. Your ability to make money comes entirely contingent on your ability to create and grow a website. Avon doesn’t seem to have much in the way of scam accusations for affiliate marketing. No one is really complaining about them skimming traffic or dropping legitimate purchases as fakes, which usually plagues smaller affiliate networks. Avon’s affiliate program seems to apply a flat fee structure. You’re earning a commission of somewhere around 4% on the products you sell, which isn’t all that much. Amazon’s affiliate structure ranges from 1% to 10% with most products falling around 4%, and with growth based on monthly sales volume. Amazon, however, has the advantage of a huge base of products in a wide variety of niches, rather than just one niche like Avon’s focus on beauty. The primary advantage of using the affiliate program instead of becoming a direct seller is the ability to sell without having to buy into the program. With normal MLM selling under Avon, you need to buy your products and keep up your inventory. Your commission is higher assuming you can sell everything you buy, but you’re also encouraged to buy into various non-products, primarily brochures, which eats your profits while not being sellable items. The disadvantage of using the Avon affiliate program is the lack of pyramid building. MLM experts agree that the primary way to be wildly successful with an MLM is to sign up as many people as possible. You’re not doing that with a basic affiliate program. Now, Avon may allow you a commission on sellers you sign up through the affiliate program, but I see no mention of it in either other reviews or in their affiliate description. I’m assuming it doesn’t exist, because it allows Avon to pay less to their affiliates and allows them to focus direct sales pressure on new registrants. Competition Issues The primary drawback to using Avon as an affiliate network is competition. Avon is over 100 years old, which means there’s an absolute ton of name recognition out there. Even if you’re not in the market for beauty products, you’ve probably heard of Avon. This is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, as an established brand, an affiliate marketer doesn’t need to spend time building up trust and encouraging users to buy from this company as opposed to, say, Amazon directly. Everyone knows Avon is at the very least a legit company with real products, and that they’ll get what they pay for. On the other hand, Avon has legions of motivated sellers already, meaning competition is incredibly fierce for all of the same products. With Amazon affiliates, you can pick a product niche and be reasonably assured that only a small fraction of Amazon’s affiliate base is selling that product set. Some are more crowded than others, like video games or beauty products, but with millions of possible products, you might find something to recommend that few if any other users are recommending. With Avon, you have no such luck. Avon has a limited, albeit large, catalog. Avon also has thousands of other marketers encouraged to build websites to sell their products and to sign up new sellers. You can’t find a sub-niche to compete in because there’s not that much flexibility with their catalog. This inherently limits the amount you can make selling Avon affiliate products. It’s a packed niche. Heck, there are even sub-niches of just selling for Avon, like this WordPress theme referral. You can make money selling supplies to people wanting to sell Avon without actually selling Avon yourself. It’s almost ridiculous and satirical. The other drawback with the Avon affiliate program is just the fact that you’re selling the products through Avon rather than through your own Avon representative business. You lose out on the ability to earn sub-commissions on people you sign up, and your commission is significantly smaller than through direct sales. This is all not to mention the fact that Avon itself will pressure you to convert from an affiliate into a direct seller. After all, the more people you sign up to sell, the more brochures Avon can sell, and the more money the people at the top of the pyramid make. Potential Earnings As with any affiliate network, the only limit on how much money you can make is how much you’re willing to put into the work. If you’re capable of some advanced web marketing, and you’re able to build a high-power website with a lot of content and a high Google search ranking, you’re probably going to be able to make a good amount of cash. That is to say, there is no cap on what Avon will pay out to their affiliates. You’ll never reach a point where Avon cuts you off or demands you do something different. After all, Avon just wants to sell as many products as possible. Their affiliate program is one of their smallest potential commissions, so the encourage it because they can make more profit of each sale. Competition, as mentioned, is fierce. Beauty is one of the largest and most competitive niches in all of affiliate marketing, and Avon is a large and extremely competitive niche within that vertical. Consider this: every person you obtain as a customer is someone another direct seller is not able to sell to. Since direct sales – and the opportunity to potentially sign up those customers as future distributors – are the primary source of profit for existing representatives, this can make them pretty angry. You essentially have a legion of very motivated sellers trying to run you specifically out of business. This means you’ll experience a lot of cutthroat techniques. Some Avon reps will simply be very fierce with their marketing, investing their budget in paid advertising and more content for their websites. Some of them will be even more dangerous, and might even try to sabotage you. I’ve seen Avon sites spinning and copying content to make a competitor less valuable and unique. I’ve even seen the occasional Avon rep buying bad traffic to their competitors to try to get their affiliate program account shut down. To round it all up, while there’s no technical cap on your potential earnings, you have to be able to be flexible and defensive while also being aggressive with your marketing if you want to gain any exposure at all. Is Avon Recommended? I honestly would not recommend relying on the Avon affiliate program for your earnings. It’s difficult to get established and it’s even more difficult to succeed solely based on Avon itself. The pressure to become a direct seller can also potentially eat into your profits. The role Avon should play is as a small part of a larger affiliate presence. Establish a general interest beauty site and use Avon as one part of a multi-faceted affiliate presence. Recommend beauty products from other sources, from Amazon to Sigma and others. Some customers will be die-hard Avon fans, and that’s fine: they can make their way to the Avon section of your site and walk away happy. Others are more likely to want to avoid supporting an MLM and can happily make purchases from other affiliate sources. As with all affiliate marketing, success depends on your ability to grow and market a website effectively. If you can establish a site in Google’s search and can find your niche, you can make a tidy living. If you can’t, it’s going to be difficult to make back the investment of developing a website in the first place. If you’re a newcomer to affiliate marketing, I recommend staying away from Avon and the beauty niche in general. It’s saturated, it’s fiercely competitive, and it’s difficult to get started. It’s a better target for experienced marketers who have other income streams to use as a fallback. The post How Much Can You Earn with Avon’s Affiliate Network? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How Much Money Can You Earn Each Month From Quora?

Quora is a bit of a strange platform. For years they have struggled to monetize, operating largely on seed capital while they figure out how to build from a Yahoo Answers clone into a useful resource for a wide variety of topics. Some of you might know that recently they launched a partner program. This program allows people who ask questions to earn money based on the quality of the answers and, presumably, the traffic the page acquires. The question is, how much of a money-maker is it? Let’s dig in. The Quora Partner Program FAQ The partner program is quite interesting, in that it operates like a revenue share program the same way sites like Hubpages pay their writers. Some of you may remember when these programs were everywhere, 5-10 years ago. A huge portion of them folded and closed back in 2011, primarily due to Google’s Panda update. Since most of these sites relied on pageview monetization via hundreds of thousands of thin, keyword-optimized pages, Panda’s move to higher quality content crushed them. It’s interesting to me, then, that Quora has decided to start up this kind of business model in 2018. Their site often relies on mediocre questions with a ton of answers from businesses shilling their own services. So let’s look at their FAQ and see what information we can gather from it. There is no limit to the money you can make from the Quora partner program. That’s the first question in their FAQ, and it’s plainly stated. As long as you can ask questions that meet their minimum standards and get answers that meet their quality bar, you’ll get paid. How do you get paid? Right now, Quora is linked with Stripe, and nothing else. You can’t get paid by check or Paypal, Stripe is the only option. You don’t have to link up an account right away, but once you have earned $5 from your questions, you’ll be given the option to do so. However, you aren’t issued a payment until you’ve racked up at least $10. Once your account reaches $10, you will be sent that money each month. Well, they will “send it to you within 60 days” at least. What this says to me is that a lot of accounts are going to start up their partnerships, ask a few questions, earn $5-9, and never reach the payment threshold. Quora gains content and doesn’t have to pay for it. Oh, I’m sure plenty of other people will reach payout thresholds, it’s not like Quora will cut you off, but every kind of partner program of this sort ends up having loads of cash that is never cashed out. It’s just the nature of minimum payouts. As of right now, the Quora Partner Program is invite-only. You can’t apply to join it, you just need to use the site and get invited. People who are invited can’t invite other people as of yet, I don’t know if they’ll add referrals or anything in the future. What’s odd is that Quora doesn’t seem to have certain standards for inviting people. It seems to be largely random. I know two people who have Quora accounts but have never asked or answered a question, but were still invited to join the program. I suppose this could be a two-fold push for Quora. They might be pushing to get more content by incentivizing it, while also pushing to get more active users the same way. If they can hook people who haven’t used the site by paying them a few bucks, it’d be worth it for their bottom line. At the very least, it would make them look better for investors. As of now, the Quora partner program is only open to residents of the U.S. who are eligible to work in the country, and it’s only available in the English-language sections of the site. Once the pilot program expands, I imagine they will open it up to other languages and countries, but for now, it’s quite restricted. Quora Partner Compensation Here’s where things get a little hazy. How does Quora decide how much to pay, and what do they pay for? First of all, Quora only pays for asked questions. You cannot earn money by answering questions, presumably because they know a ton of people are already just using the site to shill their own businesses. There’s no sense in paying people to use your platform for advertising, that’s just not how it works. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Quora introduced some kind of paid advertising to further shill answers as promoted answers. They already have advertising, but another layer of it wouldn’t be all that out of place. That’s just pure speculation on my part, though. How much does Quora pay? They won’t say. What they do say is that “Questions are compensated based on how well-answered they are and how many people find them interesting.” What this says to me is two things. First, it’s going to be a lower number than you might want, but because it’s just asking questions, you don’t need to spend a ton of time on it, so the returns might be worthwhile. Second, it’s going to lead to a lot of the same sort of black hat abuse that you see on social networks and other, similar sites. If upvotes matter, people will spring up selling upvotes. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are Fiverr sellers mobilizing their botnets already. Oh, and anonymous asks do not count. Since you ask a question anonymously, it’s not tied to your account, and thus Quora won’t be able to credit your account with the question. There’s no real problem with this, it’s just worth mentioning. It’s also worth noting that you only earn on questions for four weeks. You can’t build up lifetime value on questions, because you only make money for the first month after you ask them. This is yet another way that Quora is exploiting their community: they incentivize askers to ask great questions and encourage as much value as possible as quickly as possible. This then makes those posts rank well in Google for those subjects, boosting Quora as a whole. They can then keep monetizing those questions after they stop paying you, and rake in more value overall. Quora is also going to be very on the ball with moderating questions. Any time a program like this opens, you’re going to have a flood of people mobilizing to ask as many questions as they can, to get as much money as they can while the getting is good. Quora has two mechanics in place to minimize this: merging and moderation. Moderation is simple. Quora employees will review questions and, if they’re too low quality, don’t fit the site, focus on illegal activity, or otherwise aren’t something Quora wants on their site, the moderators can remove it. Question askers can appeal the decision, but chances are most moderation decisions will be final. Merging is a process where Quora can detect questions that are very similar or identical, and merge them into one question, putting all of the answers in one place. This is likely to backfire on a few askers and will prevent people from duplicating popular questions in hopes of attracting a burst payout. So here’s the real question you’re all probably dying to ask. How much does the Quora partner program pay? The answer is, right now, I have no idea. No one who is in the program seems keen to talk about the figures, and the program is so new that I doubt anyone has racked up enough money to get a payment. The fact is, I really don’t expect much from the program. Think AdSense PPM levels here. You’re essentially just getting revenue share from popular questions, possibly with a multiplier if you get one that goes hugely viral. It’s almost definitely not going to be worth much more than beer money unless you’re dedicating an insane amount of time to it. This does lead me to my next statement, though. If you’re part of the Quora Partner Program and are willing to disclose how much you’ve made from it, feel free to post in the comments or send me a message. On the off chance that it’s actually worthwhile, it’d be good to know. Alternative Money-Making Now, the partner program only works if you’re the one asking questions, and it’s going to make you a minimal amount of money. Quora might say there’s no limit, but the fact is, they can’t be making much money off of it, so they won’t e paying much. How can you make more money from Quora? Well, if you own a business, you can do what so many thousands of other business owners are doing. Answer questions! Answering questions on Quora is a valid marketing strategy. So is asking them, but answers are more likely to get you the referral traffic you want. The general strategy is pretty simple. Follow the channels that are most relevant to your brand and business. Look for questions that relate to some feature your product can perform. When you find a relevant question, draft up an answer. You should be looking for questions that are relatively new. Answering older questions has a role for marketing, but it isn’t likely to get you much promotion or much exposure on Google. Your ideal goal here is to answer questions that will rank on Google and get your answer shown as much as possible to as many people as possible. Write up a good, solid answer to the question. If the user is asking for a product recommendation, just write up a paragraph or two about your product. If they’re asking about how they can accomplish a specific task, recommend your product and then write a tutorial on how they can accomplish their goal. That second part is crucial! You want your answer to be as useful as possible. See, there will be competition, but a lot of the competition is going to be writing formulaic recommendation answers, not step by step tutorials. The better your tutorial, the more likely you are to be voted top answer. Top answers are often reference in other blogs around the internet, and get the most exposure from both Google and Quora. If you want to dive a little into the black hat aspect of this kind of marketing, there are two other techniques you can add on to this. The first is anonymity; make a fake profile for someone who isn’t associated with your company, and post the same content without disclosing your tie. This is, of course, illegal, so keep that in mind. The other technique is to purchase upvotes from some seller on Fiverr or what have you. The most upvoted answers tend to float to the top, while others are truncated or hidden. If you get yours to dominate the answers, you have a better chance of referring new customers. Of course, none of this is actually making money from Quora. Instead, it’s just inbound marketing strategies to get more traffic to your landing pages, which you can ideally convert into customers later. All of that is, of course, up to you to handle. With this strategy, the amount of money you can make is unlimited. It depends entirely on how well you can convert traffic into customers. It might not even be the most effective of your marketing channels, but hey, at least answering questions on Quora is free. The post How Much Money Can You Earn Each Month From Quora? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.


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