Marketing automation has been around for a few years now. But most businesses have not gone beyond the basic email drip campaign. In this short article, we wanted to discuss some of the workflows we've been working on recently.

Your automation sucks

Well, let's get it out. Most B2B firms have not adopted a sophisticated approach when it comes to automation. Or at least, they have not dedicated sufficient resources to make it work. The weekly drip campaigns is a bit dated now, and powerful automation tools like Marketo, Hubspot or even a basic Mailchimp allow brands to be more relevant and personalised.

The weekly drip campaign: This was an easy set up to nurture cold leads. Marketers would engage with contacts until content exhaustion, and that was pretty much what it is - or for many brands, this is still the status quo today. But why not being a bit more innovative with your automation processes. This doesn't actually take much time to set up. Let's have a look at some basic workflows:

Contextual Triggers

I love contextual marketing - but what is it? Contextual marketing is sending the right message, at the right time, to the right person. How does this look like in practice? Image a visitor browses through your product pages on your website. Your CMS system recognises the IP as a returning user that has previously engaged with some lead generation forms and thus is known to the system.

Back to the product pages, because this user has engaged with product pages, this is a pretty strong indication that this person has gone beyond the initial awareness stage. As a matter of fact, it is likely that the person moved into the 'consideration stage'. This is a great opportunity to trigger 2-3 emails in a very short cadence.

Email 1: Thanks for looking at our product pages (I would strongly recommend an A/B test here to and gauge whether the direct message is freaking your users out (depending on the demographics of your audience, millennials and younger generation probably won't see this as intrusive). This email is going out very shortly after the 'contextual workflow' was triggered - 30min after. The content of this email is purely product related, again, a testing message between benefits and features.

Email 2: Next day, engaging with more content with some use cases on how the product helped some of your customers.

Email 3: CTA email - hey, is it time to speak? Connect with one of our experts.

Dormant Triggers

Although we were a bit critical towards drip campaigns, they are not actually a bad thing. We do have a tendency to forget about the exhausted nurtured leads. Instead, we can re-engage folks after 3 or 6 months. These are contacts without any activity or even people who had contact with our sales reps but gone back cold again. Trying to get them back into warmer climates by engaging them with content - and yes, we're back at TOFU - awareness and educational content only. Don't talk about your products!

Optimising your Nurture Streams

We love nurture streams. They're simple and perform well! The question - gated or ungated! Should you point traffic to lead gen forms or just a blog? That's a strategic question. If the objective of your nurture streams is to further profile your audience by asking them different questions on the form, you probably should point towards gated landing pages. Having said that, why don't you ask your profiling questions directly in the email? If you're after identifying pain points of your personas, why not giving 3 options available and ask your audience in the email: What in digital marketing do you struggle the most?

  1. digital advertising
  2. marketing automation
  3. budget and resources

Now, by analysing click activity within your emails, content can then be tailored and rather having a default drip campaign, a contact with challenges in marketing automation can transition into a new stream or workflow talking about marketing automation best practices, simple really! If progressive profiling is not something you're after, ungated content is definitely providing a better user experience. Making sure that there are some tools in place which measure page engagement and some sort of internal sales notifications - and Bob's your uncle!

Summary

These are 3 very simple things you can implement fairly quickly. No need for a lot of content but the results will be great, particularly the contextual workflows. All these were based whereby email was the communication tool, with GDPR looming, this will impact with how many potential customers you can actually engage with. Share your ideas with us. With automation, you're limited by your own creativity!

I’ve been giving one to one marketing tutor lessons for quite some time now. Students approach me from various backgrounds with intent to tackle different marketing exams, whether undergraduate, Masters courses, professional CAM or CIM courses. There is really no size fits all in teaching and every student had individual needs.

However, over the time I was giving support to students I noticed a clear patterns. I decided to sum the three most common ones up in a list and if somehow I can support a studying person along the way giving advice on how to study, and ultimately successfully passing the exam, I would have reached my goal.

Here is consolidated list of common obstacles students face when tackling written assignments:

Time management

Underestimating the scope of the project is by far number one factor for students failing the exams. The amount of times we’ve been approached with the question how much it would cost to write the assignment on behalf of the student, and this around 2-3 weeks before the submission deadline.

Watch a short video in tackling the CAM assignment which sums up common painpoints students have

Reading the question

It can be difficult to tell a student that the in-depth answer written supported by diagrams and images, backed up with external sources misses completely the point. Too often, students fail to understand the question correctly and get carried away completely ignoring the word count, which brings me to my next point.

Word count

When first approaching an assignment, reading through the marking criteria is vital. It’ll already provide clear indications where the hidden marks are. But in relation to the word count, it is more obvious. If a question only counts 5 marks towards the total of 100, it’s probably not necessary to write 2000 words for it, if the word limit is only 5000. A good first approach is to count down the amount of words aligned to the points given per individual question. That should give you a clear indication how long your paragraphs should be.

Stuck with your assessment? Get in touch and arrange a test tutor lesson.

 

DIY marketing is a relatively new term in the digital industry and is referring to mainly small and medium businesses who turn their back to expensive digital agencies and have a go at their own digital campaigns. Especially small and medium businesses simply do not have the financial budget to advertise with offline billboards or newspapers. However, as themarketer.co.uk stated in their January/February issue, it has never been easier for businesses to do marketing on their own, or as a new terminology arises - DIY marketing. However, yet again, this is easier said than done. With growing competition and pressure, lack of time is as always one of the main reasons for neglecting marketing activities like social media or paid search campaings. As a multilingual PPC agency, we know best how valuable time is but understand that every single penny counts when running your own paid search campaigns. For this reason, we will outline the top tips how to run successful PPC campaigns in 5 minutes per day without loosing sight and keep your spend under control. If you wish to have more insight on these tips, you can get one of our top PPC tutors in who will teach you the best practices and latest industry tricks.

 

1. Filter the most expensive keywords

In the keywords tab, select the data range to 7 or 14 days and filter the keywords according to costs. Scroll down and review the top 20 keywords. Are there any keywords of which you know they are low-performers? If yes, reduce bids, pause or even delete them.

2. Add negative keywords

Review the search queries received in the last seven days and exclude keywords which are not related to your business as negative keywords. This results in surpressing your ads should one of your negative keywords be included in a search query.

3. Impressoion spikes

When selecting the data range in Google Adwords, a compare button can be switched on whereby you'll be able to compare your data with a previous period. Again, select this for the last 7 days and filter by changes in impressions. If you realise a drastic increase in impressions in a certain adgroup, do a deep dive into the search queries to avoid the Myley Cyrus impact on your account.

4. Expensive keywords with low conversions

In the keywords tab, filter the keywords according to costs. Additionally, select a filter for a suitable conversion count and review the filtered keywords. If conversions are not sufficient, lower bids, pause or delte keywords. This can also be done in the ads tab where you might want to review the ad copy, making the ad more relevant.

5. Note down the changes

It is highly valuable that you write down your thoughts and changes into a logbook. By the end of the month, it will be important for you to know, why certain adgroups performaned in a certain way. Furthermore, going forward in the long-term, you can spot seasonal changes and therefore make bid adjustments or depending on your industry, pause adgroups which do not perform in certain months.

Summary

This 5 minutes PPC checklist is an inexhausted list and you might find that you have other priorities to do your daily PPC activities. These tips heavily depend on industry and seasonality but also on the correct structure of your account. It depends whether you sell something physical or a service, whether you have a brick and mortar office or just act digitally. If you have additional inputs, please share them with us and help other small businesses to grow.

 

As a new addition to the cheapclicks portfolio, we are diversifying our services into a tutoring business. As marketing consultants with significant years of experience, coupled with academic qualifications, we can offer students and aspiring marketers digital marketing tutoring.

marketing tutor

One-to-One marketing tutoring

We have tutored marketing undergraduates or professional adult students who felt that schools were not giving them the practical theory how to tackle an assignment. This is especially difficult if the person has not enrolled in a course for a few years. As a result, we have focused on getting students through their assignments by giving them practical examples aligned to their marking sheets.

Tutoring Companies

There are a wide range of tutor businesses out there whereby students can find and contact marketing tutors. We feel that the relationship between the learner and the marketing tutor works best when there is a basic understanding of the tutor what the learner requires to submit.

For more information on tutoring services, get in touch. We either teach online or tutor one-to-one.

marketing automationMarketo (2015) state that "engagement is the new competitive advantage" and according to McKinsey (2009) consumers nowadays seek a two-way communication with multiple touchpoints evaluating an increased number of competitors before purchase. To address this change in the purchasing decision, many businesses introduced marketing automation with aim to increase engagement with consumers.

According to Google Trends (2015) marketing automation has had rapid growth in the last couple of years with IDC (2015) predicting that marketing technology spending will grow by 12.4% by 2018.

However, apart from successful testimonials and case studies from platform providers, my own findings so far are far from positive. As a result of this, I must assume that, despite the fact that marketing automation software is now commercially available, even from SMEs, there are great obstacles in implementation. Econsultancy (2015) found out that 88% of small and medium businesses understand the benefits of automation, so why is it that businesses struggle with getting the most out of the software platform?

Limitations in implementing marketing automation

I believe that marketing automation is not a software tool but a catalyst of change which requires businesses to adapt its core marketing and sales processes. Only then, a business can fully embrace the change in the customer decision journey and adapt its marketing activities accordingly.

consumer purchasing behaviour

In order to visually display the connections of a consumer with the brand on the new modern identified consumer journey by McKinsey (2009), the touchpoints in the travel industry, identified by Think with Google (2015) are overlaid in the below graphic which display scope for marketing automation in the evaluation phase. The touchpoints are connected with each other and managed through a holistic marketing automation platform which truly integrates all channels, gathers data and profiles consumers using a linked CRM software.

Skills of the modern marketer

The above graphic not only displays how the two variables of marketing automation and customer decision journey interact but it actually revelas the knowledge modern marketers require to successfully execute marketing activities with support of automation.

New attribution model

Last-click attribution still seems one of the most popular attribution models, due to its simplicity. The main drawback of last-click is that it furthers channel rivalry - i.e. SEO is in tough competition for the clicks with the PPC team. Vincent (2015) states that last-touch attribution has always been industry standard and nowadays, marketers move to more sophisticated attribution models in order to allocate value to marketing activities which take place further up in the funnel. However, Digital Cream (2015) argue that marketers with advanced models are scarce and stories of successful marketing automation are rare.

Stakeholder management

Marketing automation nurtures leads and increases engagement of consumers who are not ready to buy. A new challenge of the marketer is to establish this relationship with the sales team and discuss that automation is not deviating lead income from sales to marketing but support the overall sales support. In my previous roles, I experienced the at times disconnection between sales and marketing. Breaking down silos not only between sales but also between departments is probably one of the key tasks for a marketer wanting to implement change in the business.



Channel insight across the entire digital marketing mix

Traditionally, many businesses conduct marketing activities right at the top and bottom of the funnel. Budget is allocated for brand awareness e.g. display campaigns or offline and right at the end of the purchasing funnel - the closure. Automation requires the marketer to embrace all opportunities across channel and devices. Customers don't care about channels but conversations! Therefore, integrating the individual channels to one holistic marketing mix is another big challenge for a marketer - especially dealing with long-established channel managers.

Summary

The list could go on and on, besides the technical obstacles which I haven't touched upon in this article, the best practise to start with automated processes is to add value to the business with activities which were not expected. This could be a small automated email campaign to existing customers with aim to revive and bring them back to the site. Or automated customer notifications (trigger emails) for confirmations or wrongly-filled in forms.

Remarketing lists for search ads or short RLSA are a great opportunity when the PPC budget is tight, this is particularly the case for PPC budgets in small businesses. In short, RLSA, like the Google Display Network, can serve an ad to a user who previously visited your site. The main difference here is that the ad is served as a traditional search ad and does not differ from other competitor ads on the search network - besides the ad copy of course. The creative PPC practitioners spot endless opportunities using RLSA and indeed, this is a great technique which you should include in your PPC strategy when pitching to your boss when the time comes round where money talks.

How to set up RLSA campaigns

Keep it flat

If you read our posts about the perfect Adwords account structure, you know by now that we like things flat. A flat hierarchy in a company means mostly great agility and flexibility and avoids mutli-layered power struggle going through the different management levels. Similar to this, we always advise to split RLSA from search campaigns. We don't want to go into detail how to set up a RLSA campaign which you can read directly on Google's website, but would like to point out some key features which simplify the monitoring and control process.

RLSA bid only or target and bid - which one?

RLSA is an audience you can attach on adgroup level. Seperating the campaigns between search ads and RLSA ads will give you greater budget control. When setting up RLSA campaigns with the Google Adwords Editor, the default RLSA is bid only - make sure you're changing this setting in the audience tab on the Google interface to target and bid. Changing the bidding option means that the ad will only be served if the remarketing tag fires up. If the user hasn't visited your site or a specific part on your site, the ad will not show. And this is ultimately what we want, serve the user with the normal search ad in a search campaign and be more aggressive by raising your CPC bids within the RLSA campaigns.

Why should I use RLSA campaigns?

Competition is fierce and you might not be able to afford to be on first position. If you however work with RLSA and select the target and bid option, you can guarantee that the ad will only show to users who previously visited your website and by now familiar with your brand or have at least seen the logo. The second time round, it is worth being much more aggressive. Yes, CPCs will be expensive but the conversion rate tends to be much better as the customer already indicated to be partly interested in your brand or your products. Raise up your CPCs and get top positions and improve your CTRs, you can even bid on keywords which you otherwise would not dare to bid on.

 

Over the recent years, businesses increasingly focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and quite rightly so. In the digital age, savvy consumers expect companies to act ethically, fair, honest and decent. But CSR goes beyond fair pricing, paying your staff and caring for the environment. Despite the non-existence of a code of ethics in digital marketing communications, CSR does play a part in how we communicate with our audience and how we manage our immediate stakeholders of which our competitors play a vital role.

code of ethics

Ethical behaviour in digital marketing

The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines regulation in marketing communications as a blend of two main approaches. The first is clear defined by legislation whereby business obey the legal boundaries. The second approach is somewhat more blurry and mostly based on voluntary agreements within industries or between companies. Whilst organisations like the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) monitors the way we communicate on traditional online and offline channels, it becomes much more complex in paid search and brand bidding.

Keep PPC ethical

Brand bidding unfortunately sparks ongoing debate. Whilst allowed in the UK as long the brand name is not actually used in the ad copy, it can be somewhat considered non-ethical. The purpose of bidding on your competitor brand keywords is to expose your brand to a new audience who otherwise might not have considered your business in the first place. This, while limited successful, can bring in some revenue or leads. But why should I keep PPC ethical if other competitors do it as well? That's a good question! We believe that a competitive market is healthy and the only stakeholder who benefits from intense competition is the consumer. However, the ethical approach does also include to achieve this competitive edge without bidding on brand keywords. It feels almost like cheating! The real art of PPC is to outplay your competitor by constantly finding new keyword, optimise your account and bring down your costs while slotting in your ads on stable positions.

Approach of non-ethical behaviour

If you realise that a competitor is bidding on your brand, quite often a email or telephone conversation suffices to settle the brand bidding and come up with a "gentleman" agreement. We've done this many times and had success in 9 out of 10 times. There will always be sneaky advertisers who will try everything to get more exposure. There is a simple trick to overcome this.

Automated rules for brand-bidding

Google Adwords allows the set up of automated rules where the positioning is adjusted as soon as the position of your brand drops from first position to 1.1. Furthermore, settings allow that an email notification is sent out so you keep control when a competitors sneaks onto your brand keywords.

Grouping tight sets of keywords will bring better results in your PPC campaigns. I was once given a good piece of advice to reverse the process when creating new adgroups and rather starting with the keywords, actually come up with the ad copy first. Afterwards, you allocate a tightly set of keywords to your ad copy and continue the process until you end up with a bunch of highly relevant adgroups. Your efforts will be rewarded with good quality scores. Writing catchy and punchy ads is one of the key success factors for good click through rates. However, once you have written qualitative highly relevant ads, you still have to overcome the challenge on deciding in which keyword sets you should group them.

PPC categories

The buying decision and conversion funnels

Let’s assume you sell a physical product. It makes sense to look into the different searches made specifically for this product on its own or in conjunction with a high intend-keyword such as buy, book or order. Straight away you can split the generic terms from the buy-intend keywords and group them separately. Is your brand known and searches appear with your company name, make sure they are separated and sit in its own adgroup. Searches with brand related terms tend to convert higher as they come from users already familiar with your services and products. This however can dilute your performance results as it does not show the true value you would have achieved without support from your own brand terms. Exclude these terms as negatives in your generic adgroups. And already we have three adgroups about the same product, but let’s go a step further.

If you see clear patters in specific keywords and you want to be the ultimate champion of CTR optimisation, split your action terms even further. Create a new adgroup for terms like buy and order. You’ll definitely see an uplift in click through rates. People no longer go through the traditional purchasing funnel but drop out at any stage and come back in again. Comparing products on different websites means that users will probably visit your website more than once or compare different deals whilst having multiple windows open. By trying to overlay the buying process onto your adgroups, you’ll gain more insight in what type of searches are conducted and you can therefore amend or optimise your sets of keywords. Setting up your remarketing on search (RLSA) as well as display will additionally help to bring back the visitor.

Misspelling adgroups

Create a misspelling adgroup capturing all the searches which are too far away to be captured with close-match variants. Experiment with different ad copies. I saw some decent results using dynamic keyword insertion which then actually shows the misspelling of the product in your ad. Despite the fact that mistakes in PPC ads are off-putting, this very user is still in believe to have written the name of the product correctly and therefore sees exactly what he/she is looking for in bold letters.

Substitute names and searches

Make sure that you also capture queries of people who do not exactly know the name of the product or your brand. This might take time and requires you to analyse the search query reports. Think of how you would describe your product, its functions, its unique selling points, its purpose and so on. As multilingual PPC agency, we work with international clients whose target audience speaks various languages. Think of name of products in different languages and check the search volume.

Bidding on competitor terms

This non-ethical PPC strategy is very cheeky and in some countries even forbidden. Before you even think of bidding on your competitor brand names, see whether you get the results with the above adgroups. Otherwise, make sure that you understand the advertising regulations in that particular country, set up your keywords in a clever way or get a good laywer.

The right PPC structure

The above are only some guidelines and by all means, the list is non-exhaustive and your thoughts and comments are welcome. The process of creating relevant adgroups with tightly themed sets of keywords requires sufficient traffic. The real expansion and deep dive into adgroups happens best when there is already sufficient data available.

Depending on the nature of your business, your target audience might not search for your product or sevice every hour of every day of the week. If you are a small business and provide a service which depends on opening hours, it makes sense to only show ads accordingly. Or you offer your products exclusively to B2B clients, it might be a good idea to keep advertising switched off during weekends. Global companies with multilingual PPC advertising might want to take different time zones into account.

ad scheduling in Google Adwords

Google Adwords lets you fintetune your scheduling very precisely. Once your business accumulated a bit of data, the dimensions tab in Adwords is a helpful tool to assess when your campaigns are most successful. Add the segment day of the week and your time range is filtered into the 7 days of the week. If you track conversions on your website, this data might be quite revealing. You might find that your customers don't convert at weekends or individual days of the week. You also have the option to filter the data more granular and switch the segmentation to hours of the day. All this insight can help your small business to understand when your customers are most active, get cheaper clicks and save some serious bucks with ad scheduling.

How to set up ad scheduling in Adwords?

Choose the campaign to which you want to add ad scheduling. Click on settings and then the ad schedule tab. Now add an ad schedule and choose first the days and hours whereby you want to apply bid adjustments. Choose individual days or Monday-Friday, selecting the hours of your business or for competitive reasons. Save the changes, your ad schedule is now visible. Tick the days/hours you want to amend and change the bids by either increasing or decreasing them.

How to copy ad schedule to all my campaigns?

If you use Google Adwords Editor, you can download your ad schedule which is unfortunately not visible, however you can still copy it. Click on the Edit tab and copy campaign shell from "copy special". Afterwards, select the campaigns whereby you want to apply the same bid adjustments and "paste special" the campaign shell. Upload everything and once you check the campaign settings of the chosen campaigns, you'll now see the ad schedule attached.

Monitor your ad schedule and have a close eye on conversions and costs. If you're not getting the results you were hoping for, you might have to further test various bid adjustments. Campaign experiments might be another interesting tool which we will cover in another blog.