Posts in Basic: 101
5 Steps to Set Your Advertising Intention in the New Year
Set your advertising intention

What do you want to gain from PPC advertising in 2019?

What do you want to gain in 2019?

One of my favorite hobbies is attending a yoga class after work. At the start of every class, the instructor addresses the class and proposes that I breathe deeply, pause, and set my intention asking, “What do you want to gain from the next 75 minutes?” January 1st presents a similar situation both personally and professionally. We pause and we set our intention. What do we want out of the next 365 days?

At Delegator we’ve paused to set our intention for the New Year and we’re focusing on empowering and informing our clients and other advertisers by providing more content. As an ad agency, we’ve already committed to account performance and client service, and we always will be. We find so much energy by helping our clients reach their next goal and this new intention to inform is our way of giving back.

Maybe you’ve already set your business goals for 2019, or maybe this is a pleasant reminder that you get to start something fresh. Whatever your situation is, breathe deeply and consider these steps as a way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your resolution, and your PPC advertising.

1. Set an intention and never forget the purpose of the decisions you are making. Advertising can quickly become complicated. Businesses have so many selling points and it’s tempting to try to cover all of your bases when you create an online advertising plan. Instead of getting ahead of yourself, ask first, “Which results do I need to make this ad campaign a success?”

The answer to your question could be purchases, brand awareness, website traffic, leads, and so much more. Keep your objective in mind at every step from planning to reporting to ensure that you are reaching your goal. (Let’s consider that the intention we’re setting through these next steps is to get more sales in 2019.)

2. Determine your audience by the action they should take when they see your ad. A user that has never seen or heard of your brand may not be willing to make a purchase right away, while a returning user may be ready to punch in their credit card information. Anticipate what a user will do when they see your ad, and segment t users into groups by that action.

3. Create campaigns by objective then sort your audiences into the appropriate campaigns. Always ask, “How can this audience play a part in reaching my goal?”  Is your audience ready to make a purchase? Create a campaign for purchases. Are you trying to win over a new user? Create a campaign for traffic and send users to a landing page on your site that makes them feel at home.

4. Write ads with action and direct your audience to follow your intention. Win over your audience by addressing their need and then tell them the next steps to take. Be kind/creative/alluring in copywriting, but don’t be passive. If a user is in a purchase campaign, your ad text should say “Shop now,” but a user in a traffic campaign may need to simply “Learn More.”

5. Review results by Key Performance Indicators. If your campaign objective is to inform an audience for the first time, with the intention of the user making a later purchase, your ad may not have a lot of purchase conversions—that’s ok because you wanted that audience to click to learn more, remember? Consider your campaign objective when you review results, then measure success.

Did you set your advertising intention for 2019?

The advertiser in me honors the advertiser in you. Namaste. 🙏



4 Best Practices For User Testing Your Website

So you've built out a new website or landing page, and you're excited to show it to the world. Your colleagues, friends, and family think that your new creation is awesome - and you're feeling pretty good about yourself. You're thinking that you might be ready to launch..

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DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER WITHOUT USER TESTING!

Here at Delegator, we preach the gospel of thorough and unbiased user testing. In fact, we have distilled our approach to using a singular partner (most of the time) that we really enjoy working with, because they have a great platform: UserTesting.com.

Simply signing up for their service, however, isn't enough to get you the actionable data you need to properly optimize your new site.

Here are four best practices that will allow you to user test efficiently and effectively:

Get involved in, first hand, user testing videos AND analysis sessions:

User testing is one of the most important pre-launch protocols.  If you are a decision maker, there is no substitute for first hand consumption of user testing content.  If you pass the task off through multiple degrees of separation, you are opening yourself up to multiple layers of bias. Instead, consume the user tests first hand to see for yourself EXACTLY how people interact with your site.

Do not make definitive conclusions based on just a couple of user tests:

Although you may feel that a random user test is providing you with a goldmine of actionable data, temper your eagerness to make changes with the understanding that one or two tests are not statistically significant relative to hundreds of site visitors.  If multiple users tests start revealing similar faults or potential enhancements, AND your team agrees with said faults, you should probably feel safe making that change.

Find the right balance between instruction specificity and freedom:

Unless you want your user tester to be floundering around the site with no clear direction, be specific in dictating to the tester who they are, and what their goal is.  Don't, however, instruct them on every step they need to take to reach the goal.  You want your user tester to best emulate your actual customers.  You, unfortunately, won't be able to instruct each customer on how to use your website step by step, so take that into account during your UserTesting.com session setup.

Use the convenient annotations feature of UserTesting.com for efficient & effective sharing:

You'll want to share the user testing intel with your team members.  Since the tests are delivered in the form of a narrated video and can often be quite long, take a pass through the videos and annotate the important revelations.  This way, other team members can quickly scan the video and watch the important parts where your tester might be stumbling, or (hopefully) completing tasks with ease.

Delegator is an official partner of UserTesting.com and can help you set your account up,  work through your testing, and analyze the tests to form actionable recommendations.  Contact us here if you would like to learn more!

3 Gmail Labs To Boost Your Productivity

An often overlooked feature of Gmail, Gmail Labs, offers several "experimental features" that can add functionality to your in-browser Gmail experience. A handful of these Labs are outdated, some downright superfluous, but three in particular have really been a welcomed productivity boost to me so I felt inclined to share. You can quickly add new Labs by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of your Gmail tab and clicking on Settings, then Labs.

1. Multiple Inboxes

My favorite of the bunch, enabling "Multiple Inboxes" will allow you to add up to six more inboxes to your main screen and position them wherever you please. The content that these extra inboxes show is configured by you, meaning you can have one show e-mails containing certain text or ones tagged with a certain label.

Google Labs - Multiple Inboxes

 

2. Right-Side Chat

If you archive messages with labels in Gmail, you are likely aware of the how many can actually show on-screen at once without having to click "More". In order to take back more screen real estate and keep those precious labels all showing up together, I recommend enabling the "Right-side chat" Labs. This moves chat over to the right side of Gmail and gives you a lot of extra room on the left for all of your labels, saving precious seconds in navigation.

Google Labs - Right-side Chat

 

3. Unread Message Icon

Despite it's usefulness, I do not like Gmail Desktop Notifications. When you're in the thick of something and the creative juices are flowing, an annoying "New Mail" popup can kill your concentration. Here's where "Unread Message Icon" comes in. Just enable this Gmail Labs feature and the favicon in your browser tab will now display a tiny, unobtrusive number relative to how many unread e-mails are in your inbox. Clean and simple.

Google Labs - Unread Message Icon

The New New Thing

Are you guys familiar with the Technological Singularity? The basic premise is that machine super-intelligence is an inevitability - that computers will become more and more intelligent until a point at which they surpass us by many leagues. Right now you may be saying to yourself, "Self, what does the Technological Singularity have to do with search engine marketing?" Well, Self, the answer is kind of a lot.

The algorithms and processes used by Google and other search engines are only getting more advanced. "More advanced" is of course a hopelessly general term. But let’s look at the effects it’s already having on the world of content writing.

In the beginning you could stuff your meta data full of keywords and get the undivided attention of the adolescent search engine. Later you could simply optimize your meta data and write thousands of meaningless sentences to draw their juice. More recently, you could still write thousand upon thousands of careful, sensical sentences with careful keyword ratios and internal linking to get attention. But those days are gone.

Content has always been king, but now that the search engines are smarter and more aware than ever, you cannot cheat. You have to write real content that is actually useful - that people would actually like and benefit from reading. Sounds hard doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

At Delegator we’ve always insisted on writing content in the best way we can. But now even we need to start making some changes. The days of 10,000 word orders are fading, and the days of the perfect 300 word product description are at hand. Now you have to be more than present - you have to shine.

What the Wire Can Teach Us About SEM - Part 1 of 2

The Wire is everyone's favorite show for a reason. A deep well of characters, a sprawling narrative that felt intimate and alive, a searing critique of the drug war and a top to bottom post-mortem on the heart of a once-great city. It could only be described as, well, "Dickensian." Sorry, Gus! The Wire was one of those shows that kept you on the hook with long-developing plot lines (investigations, mergers, a series of major news reports) that typically extended over an entire season. It also delivered incredible quotes and moments of drama and comedy on a weekly basis - sometimes both in the same scene. It's what gave the show its weekly entertainment punch to go along with its historical level of sophistication and "reporting."

Here at Delegator we're big fans, and we even started using some of those quotes around the office to reference some of the things we were doing for clients related to AdWords, SEO, Analytics, and more. With a recent upswing in attention on the show (thanks Grantland!) we thought now might be a good time to share with our clients and readers what we've been talking about for years. Search Engine Marketing - As Explained by the Cast of The Wire. Sheeeeeeee...

“When you take a shot at the King, you best not miss.” - Omar Little

Omar Little

Taking aim at the number one Google ranking is a formidable task. That’s especially true when you happen to be going up against another entity that a) has a clearly more relevant relationship to the keyword than you do or b) can spend you under the table. Unfortunately for most companies, it’s not a realistic goal.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn't try, or shouldn’t at least set it as your goal. Sometimes toppling the king is easier than you thought (just ask Marlo). But more often than not, as Wee-Bey found out, you end up eating chicken salad across from Bunk and McNulty. What is realistic for most companies is getting a few corners of their own - corners the big boys  might not know about. The way to do this in SEO is by investigating and then investing in long tail keywords. Maybe Huge Company X has the market cornered on "The Wire Posters," but you could get a real foothold in "Michael K. Williams Posters," "Omar Little Wire Posters," or "Omar Little Season 5 Posters." You won't get quite as much traffic as you would for a generic term, but the traffic you do get will be specific, and motivated to convert.

The only way to achieve a ranking like that for a competitive keyword is perfect preparation, determination in the form of time and money, and luck.

“Look the part, be the part.” - Proposition Joe

Proposition Joe

Joe came in for some ridicule from Avon when he showed up to the annual East/West showdown in full “Pat Riley” suit and tie regalia, but his commitment to looking like a “real” basketball coach helped him coach with more authority and confidence. In other words, getting the look right helped him get the job right. That, and a hired ringer. This is a lesson that can be easily applied to SEM.

Everything starts with your site design. A newcomer to your site should immediately be able to understand what you’re about and trust that you can deliver the goods. Building that initial trust element and creating a homepage that effectively funnels users to the pages you want them to hit is a complicated, multi-faceted process, but it’s a time and design investment well worth making. When you look like a “real” site, you’ll see yourself start to perform like one.

“Our job is to report the news, not manufacture it!” - Gus Haynes

Gus Haynes and Scott Templeton Season 5 of The Wire was about the breakdown of professional ethics within the main character, Detective Jimmy McNulty, as well as the august offices of the Baltimore Sun (where series creator David Simon began his career as a journalist). McNulty, frustrated with the lack of institutional support for his wire investigations, (SPOILER ALERT) fakes the presence of a serial killer by “adjusting” bodies post mortem. Scott Templeton, a hotshot up and comer at the Sun, began his career making up innocuous stories about wheelchair bound children going to Orioles games, but he eventually begins to stretch the truth about the serial killer case - he is the only reporter the “killer” ever contacts.

In the end McNulty loses his badge and Templeton wins a Pulitzer.

When you go with “black hat” SEO - SEO that attempts to get around Google standards and practices through any one of a dozen illicit strategies - you’re taking the same chance. Maybe it will work, you won’t get caught, and your business will go up, up, up. But maybe you’ll get caught, blacklisted, and penalized indefinitely in the organic results, crippling and even killing your business. Is that really a chance you want to take?

At Delegator we only do “white hat” SEO. Be very careful before getting in bed with any firm that doesn’t, and make sure that if you’re running your own SEO operation you don’t cross the line. It’s not worth risking your entire business.

“If Snotboogie always stole the money, then why did you let him play?”

“Got to. This America, man.” - McNulty and Man on Stoop

Anybody can play the AdWords game. Doesn’t matter if they don’t understand it, try to cheat it, or run their accounts into the ground. Because it depends on the quality of your site much less than the value of your dollar, it’s as open as it gets in the land of SEM. The only thing you need to play is money - Google allows you to set up your account and start spending faster than you can run down to your neighborhood game of bones (though your ROI is likely to be higher with Google). You will almost certainly need an expert to guide you through the weeds with no pain and plenty of profit.

Active AdWords management is the best way to navigate the choppy waters of paid search. Active management means going in every day and making changes, re-organizing, raising and lowering bids, and identifying and exploiting new best practices. That's the only proven way to consistently stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the wide open AdWords game.

Come back for more Wire action next week!

Part 2 of 2.

Delegator.com’s New Years Resolutions! (This time we’re really going to do it!)

1. This year, I will stop focusing on the numbers on the scale. I will stop focusing on keywords only when I write SEO content.

2. This year, I will do something active and physical every day. I will regularly add to and refresh the content of my site.

3. This year, I am finally going to get organized - my house, my office, and my life. I am finally going to start utilizing Google Analytics - to track and analyze my traffic, my users, and my conversion statistics.

4. This year, I will quit smoking once and for all. I will stop using Flash to create large or important sections of my website.

5. This year, I’m going to put myself out there and try to meet some new people. I’m going to kick my AdWords campaign into high gear, try some email marketing, and optimize my site every chance I get.

6. This year, I am going to start saving money. I am going to let professionals actively manage my AdWords account, and stop over-paying for keywords that are too competitive or that aren’t going to get me the customers I’m looking for.

7. This year, I am going to be on time wherever I go. I will use Google Calendars to give me reminders about important dates, deadlines and meetings.

8. This year, I am going to learn something new. I am going to try a different online marketing tactic to see if I can improve my results.

9. This year, I am going to indulge my artistic side. I’m going to create banners for my site and start using Display Networks to attract and re-target users.

10. This year, I am going to give some time or money to charity (This is one that should stay on the list). Check out Causeway.org if you need some ideas in the Chattanooga area!

Top Six Ways to Write More, Yes Even More Content

Okay, so you’ve spent months writing content for your new site. You’ve written about every little detail of every product or service you offer, filled in every bit of background information you can think of, and generally driven yourself crazy trying to fill as many pages as you can. But you’re still not quite where you want to be; you need more content. How do you do it? How do you dig down deep and come up with meaningful, useful content when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Let this long-time content writer show you the way with my personal Top Six content fixes.

1. Top Five, Top Ten, Top 15, even Top 27 Lists

One of the easiest and most fun ways to bulk up your on-page content is what you’re reading right now - a top (whatever number you choose) list. Come up with something that’s interesting to your readers, and then rank or list them - there’s nothing more compelling to a reader than a numbered list with a juicy headline. Just look at the magazine stands during football or Oscar season and you’ll see what we mean. Because lists are so popular with readers, they are excellent link bait. If you’ve got a great list with a compelling title, you’re sure to generate some interest from other sites and aggregators.

2. Q&A’s

Post question and answer interviews on your site. Talk to the people who started your business, the movers and shakers in your particular sphere of influence, or people who produce the things you sell (if you’re an e-retailer). If you run an appliance business, for example, you might want to send a few emails to the designers and manufacturers of the things you sell and then publish the resulting interview on your site. Make sure these are informative, interesting, and relevant to your site.

3. Transcripts

Transcripts of speeches, videos, or promotional material are a great way to add content to any site. If you work in the real estate business, a transcript from a realtor’s speech or promotional video is a great way to get keyword-rich text on your site. Just make sure the transcript mentions keywords you’re interested in ranking for on Google, Yahoo and Bing (and that you have the rights to publish the material!)

4. FAQ’s

The Frequently Asked Questions section is a great place to serve the readers and the search engines in equal measure. You can create an FAQ on any of your landing pages by collecting real questions from readers/buyers/users, as well as some of your own, to create compelling and helpful content. Make sure to mention the keywords you want to invest in by name, and make sure the answers to the questions are honest, helpful, and easy to understand. Some of the most popular search queries are in the form of questions. How many times have you typed in “How do I...” or “How to...” into a search bar? With well written and thoughtful FAQs, you can make it easier for these users to find your site. FAQs benefit all three parties involved in SEO - the search engines, the users, and you.

5. Compare and Contrast

This is when you take the product you sell, or a particular feature of your site, and compare it to a similar product or feature somewhere else (in a favorable light, of course). You might compare the quality of your product to that of another, or the advances your product has made in reference to an older or more well known model. Just make sure you pick products, services or specialties that make you look better than your competitors, and that the content is sharp and informative.

6. Product Reviews

Similar to Compare and Contrast, except you don’t give your competition any exposure and you get more control over your message. There are plenty of companies who will do independent reviews like this (Delegator is one of them) and still work in plenty of SEO-goodness with keyword-rich content. On page reviews are also a proven reader and link magnet, with users of all stripes wanting to get a little inside information when it comes to buying your product or service. Product Reviews are where you can sell your products, utilize SEO and provide a great service for your customers all at the same time.

These are just my proven techniques. If you know any other great strategies for writing more and more content, let us know in the comments! No matter what strategies you use, just remember that Black Hat SEO is never worth it. Do things the right way, and always create unique, keyword-driven content. You don't want to be on notice, do you?

How to Run Your Own Blog

And lo, Delegator.com journeyed into the wilderness of the 156 million public blogs on the Internet, and returned to the people with commandments; and these commandments numbered 10.

I. Post early, post often, and keep posting.

The most important thing any blogger can do is to keep blogging. At first, you might get very little reader response. You might even (gasp) get none at all. But that’s no reason to panic! The only way you can create an engaged and communicative readership is by regularly updating your blog. People don’t congregate at or return to blogs that are infrequently or indifferently updated. It may be the last thing on your to do list, but it’s absolutely essential that you get it done. You might be talking to yourself at first, but if you keep talking and you actually have something to say, people will start to listen. Trust us.

II. Post early, post often, and keep posting.

This is by far the most important commandment. Brand it upon your brain.

III. Post early, post often, and keep posting.

We are willing to alienate and annoy you to ensure that you do not forget this commandment.

IV. Write what you know.

This is one of those true cliches about professional writing. As important as it is to novelists, journalists and script writers, it’s doubly important for bloggers. Bloggers don’t have to be single issue, but if they seek to gain a larger readership they need to be focused and expert. If you don’t understand a concept, link to it - don’t write about it. Your readers are coming to you for answers and/or entertainment, so write about things you know inside and out. Otherwise you risk losing credibility, respect for you or your companies ability, and worst of all, readers.

V. When readers have a strong response to a post, keep mining that vein of interest - hold their attention.

It’s in the best interest of a blog writer to be responsive to his or her readers. If you get a big response from a post of yours (even if you didn’t think it was that big a deal) listen to your readers. Keep posting about that same subject or in that same style (not exclusively, just regularly). The goal of a blog is to build readerships, transmit information, and connect with potential clients. When you touch a nerve, don’t be shy about pressing it.

VI. Create an editorial voice, and maintain it.

Even if your blog posts are being written by several different people and cover a few different areas of interest, keeping a clear editorial voice is important. It helps readers to feel they have a personal connection to the blog, and it makes your site distinctive and personal. Those are good things because they invite visits, correspondence, and a welcome sense of familiarity.

VII. Every once in a while, go off the cuff.

Having an editorial voice doesn’t mean you should speak in monotone. It’s good to give readers a few breaks from the serious work of digesting your thoughts and evaluating your advice. One of the most popular blogs on the internet, Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, posts more than 300 times a week. But many of those posts are funny or moving pictures, silly videos, and palate cleansers like a daily “Mental Health Break.” You should think about fun ways to engage with your audience that don’t always include teaching them something. Your blog doesn’t need to look like it was designed by Martha Stewart, but it is important to give it a professional, cared-for appearance. If it’s sloppy, ugly, or too plain, savvy readers pick up on it and take their jaded eyeballs elsewhere.

IX. Spellcheck is your best friend.

Try not to get caught making mistakes in the realm of spelling, fact-checking, and grammar. It takes away credibility, and makes you look small-time.

X. Link to sources, and make sure to be up front about where you got information.

Nothing gets you worse press in the blogosphere than not attributing your sources of information on your blog. Do right by them and they’ll do right by you. Do otherwise, and you could get in real trouble (of the punitive kind, if not the legal).

High Quality Video

The modern media market is saturated with video. Videos on websites, video ads before the websites even load, commercials on television, at gas station pumps and in the backs of cabs. Videos on corporate retreats, in job training sessions, anywhere and everywhere. And, of course there’s YouTube. YouTube is not only the largest collection of video on the internet - YouTube is the second most popular search engine (my italics) on the internet. Bigger than Yahoo, bigger than Bing!, bigger than everything except almighty Google. That should tell you two things: 1) Video is becoming the most important communication medium in the 21st century.

2) The average online customer has watched thousands and thousands of videos in their lifetime.

So business people who want to get their message out online or on television face a real challenge. How do you get the attention of a consumer base immune to the novelty factor in video? And how do you keep their attention when they have literally a million other options just a mouse click away?

The answer is so obvious it seems like a cop-out: Quality.

The only way to distinguish yourself in a crowded market is to be excellent. And the only way to keep people from changing the channel, or clicking the mouse, or simply ignoring you, is to look great delivering that quality content.

There are two main factors that come into play when we talk about true quality video. The first is simple - the video has to look great. That means using the best HD cameras available. That means using lighting schemes intelligently and professionally, taking a lot of time to set up and frame each and every shot, and using advanced microphones and sound recording equipment to achieve a natural sound.

Because modern viewers have so much video, good and bad, they’ve all become experts and critics. They can spot low-quality video a mile away, and that’s the kiss of death when it comes to communication with them - they turn off to your message immediately.

The second factor is much more complex. How do you make the actual content of your video match the quality of the look and sound?

It’s hard to say. But one of the best things you can do is delegate that responsibility to creative people with experience. At Delegator we work with professional videographers and a creative writer (with a B.A. in Film) to come up with compelling concepts, and we write detailed scripts for our clients (or actors) to perform on camera.

With today’s media-savvy public, making a low-quality video is like trying to pass off a forgery to a room full of art critics. It’s not worth the trouble. If you’re thinking of making a video for your business (and you should be), don’t compromise or scrimp. Commit your resources to making the  best video you possibly can.