The Case Against Bing Advertising

The Case Against Bing AdvertisingBing Ads serve the Bing, Yahoo! and MSN search networks. According to most statistics, these networks account for around 36% of web searches. Basic math indicates that to reach a third more potential customers, you should advertise on the network.

But “searches” don’t equal “individual searchers,” and evidence suggests Bing may have significantly fewer users than searches. I recently discovered that Bing doesn’t throttle search traffic from automated bots that scrape websites for mass amounts of information. Google does. Bing may be becoming popular with firms that deploy search bots. There’s no way to know how many searches are initiated by people and how many are initiated by bots.

Which means there’s no way to be certain if your advertising is being clicked on by a customer or a computer. Small business marketing budgets aren’t limitless, and you don’t want to risk wasting advertising dollars on robots.

So…

Should You Advertise on Bing?

My answer to this question may seem frustratingly obvious: Advertise on Bing Ads if they work, and stop advertising on the network if it’s not working.

Identifying success metrics are critical to determine if Bing Ads are “working” for your small business (or if any other marketing campaign is working, for that matter). Without measurable results, you could be wasting a significant amount of money. Here are some examples of success metrics you can measure from your online advertising:

  • Number of visits from Bing Ads that directly result in sales
  • Length of time Bing Ads visitors spend on your website (indicates if a visit is automated or a real person)
  • Phone calls received from customers who located you with Bing Ads
  • Engagement with interactive elements of your website, like quizzes or polls

For instance, I tested eliminating Bing Ads with one of my clients, and our success metrics didn’t change. We simply spent less of our marketing budget. That’s merely one anecdote, but it serves to show that all small business marketing professionals should scrutinize Bing Ads’ effectiveness.

If you try out Bing Ads, let me know about your experience. Are there any major small business Bing Ads success stories out there?

The Diversification of Search (and Your Marketing Budget)

In the near future, Google might not be such a hot-shot in the web marketing world.

That’s crazy!” you might think. Indeed, Google has been the major research resource for the vast majority of web users. And today, Google still accounts for 66.2% of all search-engine use, with Bing-powered search a distant 29.1%.

Diversify your search marketingIt seems that Google’s serious competition won’t come from Bing (at least, anytime soon). As a web marketing expert helping businesses reach their customers on the Internet, I see that competition coming from a very different field.

The big secret is that search is so much bigger than Google or Bing. Often, navigating a Google search can be frustrating as the user tries to grope after the right search phrase to get his intended result. For instance, consider a search for a professional speaker that only results in displaying high-end audio equipment.

This search inconvenience has given rise to many niche-search products built into commerce and social media sites. On Amazon.com, customers can search categories with pre-defined criteria that makes sense, like size and type of shoes. Yelp is organized by geography, so if a user is vacationing in Savannah, GA, he can get the local scoop on that city.

With so many shopping and social media options, web users are diversifying their search methods for more personalized results.

Here are some stats on a few special-interest sites that compete for search traffic:

  • 901 million users search Facebook to find their friends and favorite brands.
  • 161 million users conduct 4.2 “professionally-oriented” yearly searches on LinkedIn (such as recruiting or networking).
  • In a month, 89 million U.S. customers visit Amazon.com to buy or comparison-shop.
  • 71 million users search Yelp for information and reviews about local businesses.
  • 50 million visitors search TripAdvisor to plan vacations.
  • 10 million women search Pinterest to find the absolute perfect wedding hair or yummy appetizer recipe.

How Search Diversification Affects Your Marketing Plan

All of the above sites provide businesses opportunities to communicate with users and buy advertising. Marketing plans are beginning to reflect interest in these offerings, with businesses diversifying their web marketing budget to include a variety of advertising and communication efforts across different sites relevant to their own customers.

If your business happens to focus exclusively on Google AdWords for web advertising, it might be time to look into diversifying your web marketing. With the right social partner, you’ll likely reach more relevant customers, who are looking for a more personalized experience and are ready to engage with your brand.

PPC Advertising Online

Pay-per-click advertising with Google, Bing and Facebook

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising online can be a very cost-effective addition to marketing plans – most of us know that. But the world of PPC advertising is expanding into new opportunities. Lately, many business owners have asked me about different kinds of PPC advertising, with questions like, “What about Facebook?” or “Is Bing worth it?” It seems time for me to publicly address some of these questions for my readers.

Google PPC

Google PPC advertising is the must-have for any online advertising strategy. Google enjoys 65.4% market share of internet searches. Being on the page when your customer is searching for your product is incredibly valuable. To learn more about the general benefits of PPC advertising, read my article “Building Your Website Traffic.”

Bing and Yahoo! PPC

Microsoft manages the search results and PPC advertising for both Bing and Yahoo! through its Microsoft AdCenter. In February, Bing had 13.6% market share for online search, and Yahoo! had 16.1%. Combined, the search engines represent 29.7% of all internet searches. It is worthwhile to advertise to 30% of your customer base, and the strategies used for Google PPC advertising will apply to Bing and Yahoo!.

In my experience, you will face less competition advertising with Bing and Yahoo!, for two reasons. 1. Fewer businesses think of devoting marketing resources to these search engines. 2.The Microsoft AdCenter is difficult to use, and its reporting is much less intuitive than Google’s.

Facebook PPC

Facebook is a relatively new player in the PPC advertising arena, and their approach is quite different from the search engines’ way of advertising. First of all, you don’t have to pay per click; you can pay per impression. Paying for impressions is more traditional marketing language, so I believe Facebook offers the option to make marketers more comfortable. PPC advertising is attractive because you only pay when someone shows interest in your ad – not just if it showed on the screen. Here are some other ways Facebook advertising is different:

  • Demographics instead of search. Facebook users aren’t searching for what they seek. Instead they list interests, post updates and engage in conversations. Facebook uses this demographic information to display ads they think might interest the user. Facebook allows advertisers quite a bit of granularity in choosing demographics like age, geographic location, sex and relationship status. Search engines simply don’t have all of this information.
  • Interests instead of keywords. With a search engine, finding perfect keywords is crucial to a successful PPC campaign. But with Facebook advertising, it’s all about likes and interests. As an advertiser, you identify the interests of the people you would like to reach, and Facebook makes suggestions, as shown in the picture below:
  • Facebook page instead of your website. You can send visitors to your Facebook page instead of your website.  I recommend creating and maintaining a page for your business if you are going to advertise on Facebook. Facebook users like to stay on the site, and you will receive more value from your ads if a visitor “likes” your page and receives your regular updates. It’s important to regularly update your business page, so people stay interested (but don’t update it too frequently, or people will “hide” you!). Many marketers might balk at sending visitors to their Facebook page instead of their website- don’t we want to increase our website stats? Website stats are important, but only because we hope to turn visitors into customers. The best way to turn Facebook users into customers is by engaging them on the site they visit every day.
  • Ads and pages have to be associated with a personal profile. You need to set up a profile in order to set up a business page in order to set up an ad directing people to that page. Don’t blame me for the complexity; blame Facebook.

Do you have more questions about PPC advertising online? Send me an email – amanda@zooinajungle.com

The Secret to Small Business Advertising

Small businesses are bombarded with advertising opportunities. These sales pitches often make small business owners feel uneasy and uncertain, thinking, “Shouldn’t I try this out?” or, “What if I’m missing an opportunity?” In small business, the fear of missing out often drives advertising decisions.

The secret is that many advertising companies are successful because of this uncertainty, not because of the success they bring their clients. Much of their money is made from the attitude of, “Maybe we should just test this to see if it works.”

So how can you tell which advertising options are good – and which ones are bad?  Let me make it easier for you and give some insight based on what I’ve learned over the years. I’ve talked with many advertisers and heard almost every advertising pitch.

Some advertising offers are inherently shady, such as emails from companies claiming your website failed “international reports” or from other companies promising to place your ad in the first advertising spot on Google for just a monthly fee. In general, if you receive a bulk email from an advertising company, feel free to discard it (and think of all the time you’ll save not having to read these junk emails!).

Other advertising offers can be confusing. You may receive phone calls from pushy advertising salespeople who assure you they’re offering a great deal. Below are a few instances of those kinds of offers and when it might make sense for you to accept them.

There are many companies offering to promote your business on Google and Bing. Some of them (like mine) manage the advertising in an efficient and effective way.  Others try to obscure how the systems work. Keep in mind that Google and Bing advertising are always pay-per-click. It’s reasonable to hire a web marketing specialist to manage and grow your search engine marketing, but the company should provide transparency. Such a company will help you decide if search engine advertising is even right for your business.

In addition to search engines, there are many individual websites that solicit advertisers. Websites such as TheKnot.com exist solely on advertising revenue and cater to specialized groups of people (in this case, brides). Advertising on these sites are usually paid for monthly instead of pay-per-click, so is it worth the risk? It could be, depending on what you are selling, how many visitors on the site are looking for your product and how many competitors they allow to appear with your ad. Ask the salesperson for this information to determine if you’ll get a return on this investment. If the salesperson can’t provide this information, don’t buy from them.

Coupon publications are another advertising option often promoted to small businesses. Bundled coupons like Val-Pak have a very dedicated following among a small group of coupon users. Generally, everyone else on the mailing list simply throws out the envelope without looking at it. This pattern means every coupon redeemed from a Val-Pak mailing is used by the same group of people. This behavior is fine for companies who don’t mind regularly discounting products or services, but it’s not a good way to gain new customers who will someday pay full price. This same advice also applies to coupon circulars like Redplum or Dollarsaver.

Don’t worry if you can’t determine if an advertising venue is right for your business. It’s the advertiser’s job to prove it to you. Advertisers should provide you with detailed statistics relating to your business. If they can’t provide you with data, then you can’t be sure they are offering a good investment. For reference, Allrecipes.com provides excellent public information that makes it clear which types of products and services should be advertised on their site. Don’t expect anything less from those trying to sell you advertising.

Here’s my advertising advice in a nutshell: Always say, “No!” unless an advertiser can prove his advertising will provide a return on the investment.

If you get an advertising offer, and don’t know what to do with it, feel free to send it to me at amanda@zooinajungle.com. I’ll let you know what I think.