Save Your Marketing Budget with Negative Keywords

Almost every pay-per-click advertising campaign has room for optimization. Today, let’s focus on one simple way to save money with your Google AdWords campaigns: adding negative keywords. A negative keyword prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase.

For instance, it’s incredibly important to list negative keywords for my clients who are professional speakers. Otherwise, our ads would display for searches such as “Sony speakers for sale,” or “Public speaking tips.”

How to Add Negative Keywords to Your Google AdWords Campaigns

First, you’ll need to identify which keywords result in undesirable clicks to your ads. Fortunately, Google has a tool for that. In the Keywords tab, look at the Search Terms sub-tab, shown below:

Save Your Marketing Budget with Negative Keywords

Google describes this report as follows:

“Learn how customers are finding your ad. With the Search terms report, you can see the actual searches people entered on Google Search and other Search Network sites that triggered your ad and led to a click. Depending on your keyword match types, this list might include terms other than exact matches to your keywords.”

When I ran this report for a veterinary hospital, I found a few stray clicks from searches for things like “cat declawing” and “ear cropping” – services my client definitely doesn’t provide!  Also, several searches indicated clicks that might not results in optimal clients, such as “free vet clinic.” And there was a weird “def leppard” result. (Sometimes running this report can be really funny– except your advertising budget isn’t laughing.)

To add the negative keywords, click on the Negative Keywords sub tab, then click the big red +KEYWORDS button:

Save Your Marketing Budget with Negative Keywords

All done! Enjoy your savings.

Suggested Negative Keywords to Get You Started

Different industries usually require different negative keywords, but here are a few general suggestions I use for most of my clients:

  • Cheap
  • Free
  • DIY
  • How to
  • Learn to
  • Profanity and explicit language

Add some negative keywords and watch your AdWords reports to track your results. You should save money and also receive more relevant clicks from potential customers.

Is an Editorial Calendar Part of Your Small Business Marketing Plan?

Is an Editorial Calendar Part of Your Small Business Marketing Plan?An editorial calendar helps answer the question, “What am I supposed to do next?” It’s a tactical element of your small business marketing plan that lays out the month, quarter or year. With only a few hours of work, you’ll boost marketing productivity and effectiveness.

Start with Effective Small Business Marketing Strategies

As a small business, it’s incredibly important you spend your marketing budget efficiently and effectively. You can’t afford to keep doing the same marketing tactics year after year unless you know they really work. Before implementing any marketing campaigns, make sure your strategy is solid and will help you meet your business goals.

Ensure Marketing Implementation with an Editorial Calendar

One of the toughest challenges for any small business is consistently deploying marketing campaigns on time. When you often spend your day “putting out fires,” it can be hard to remember to grow your audience on Facebook, communicate with customers via your email newsletter or schedule in-person meetings with prospects.

That’s where an editorial calendar comes in. This tool helps build discipline into the timing of your marketing and ensures no channel is neglected.

For each of my small business clients, I typically outline an entire year’s calendar, with goals set for each month. This document becomes our to-do list. It’s fairly simple– take a look at the sample below for 2016 Q1.

Sample Marketing Editorial Calendar

January 2016

  • Film two videos surrounding “Winter” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Winter” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Winter” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Winter” campaign January Email Newsletter
  • Manage “Winter” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Refresh website design template for 2016

February 2016

  • Stop “Winter” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Film two videos surrounding “Love” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Love” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Love” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Love” campaign February Email Newsletter
  • Start and manage “Love” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Design and print “Spring” Every Door Direct Mail USPS mailer

March 2016

  • Stop “Love” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Film two videos surrounding “Spring” campaign, post second and fourth Tuesdays
  • Write two blog posts surrounding “Spring” campaign, publish first and third Tuesdays
  • Post “Spring” video or link to Facebook every Wednesday
  • Send “Spring” campaign March Email Newsletter
  • Start and manage “Spring” Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign
  • Send “Spring” Every Door Direct Mail USPS to target ZIP code

Is Facebook Right for Marketing my Small Business?

Facebook MarketingSocial media marketing can be a confusing area. There are many choices and intricacies involved in each platform. And there’s plenty of opportunity for wasting valuable marketing budget finding the right strategies for your small business!

Let’s explore marketing with Facebook– when you should engage with this platform and when you can safely ignore it.

When Facebook Marketing is Right for Your Business

  • Your customers are consumers. People mostly use Facebook for personal reasons, and usually engage with brands that are part of their personal lives.
  • Your brand lends itself to passion and loyalty. If customers usually feel strongly about your brand, you should consider Facebook marketing. For instance, Facebook is a great fit for philanthropic organizations like Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.
  • Customers consider themselves friends with your business. Small businesses have the edge here with Facebook marketing. Many consumers are friends with their dog groomer. Almost no one thinks of themselves as friends with AT&T or Verizon.
  • You have enough customers to build a community. If you have 100 or fewer customers (And your potential for growth isn’t in the thousands), there are probably better places to spend your marketing resources.
  • Your products or services are interesting to most customers. Let’s face it, some of us do work for customers that the customers themselves don’t want to think much about. But if you can find a way to be truly interesting to your customers, then Facebook might still work for you.

When Facebook Marketing is Wrong for Your Business

If your business doesn’t meet a majority of the above criteria, you can probably ignore Facebook and focus on other social media marketing efforts.

I have clients who have built successful businesses using nothing more than Facebook, search and referral marketing strategies. Give me a call if you want to find out if these efforts could work for your small business.

IT Tips for Small Business Marketing

An effective technology setup is crucial for any small business marketing department. Strategy documents, forecasts, design documents and web files are all managed with computers. Here are some tips for helping you be more protected and productive with your IT setup.

Back up your marketing files

The most important thing a small business can do is develop and implement a back-up process. The hard drive containing all of  your marketing information is simply a mechanical device. And like any other machine with moving parts, eventually it’s going to fail. It’s certain that your hard drive is going to crash someday.

Fortunately, back-ups are pretty easy these days. If you use Macs, the included Time Machine app makes it simple to back up to an external hard drive. Windows 7 also has a Windows Backup utility.

For added protection, consider an off-site back-up service like Carbonite. This way your files are protected from catastrophes like fire.

Be smart with passwords

Social media marketing is great… unless your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or blog accounts are hacked and subject customers to spam communications. I hate seeing this happen, especially since creating secure passwords is easy. Make sure you and your employees are considering security when they set up social media accounts. Microsoft has some nice guidelines for secure passwords here.

Buy professional equipment

I’m always amazed when I see a marketing professional editing video or switching between five PowerPoint presentations on a consumer-grade computer. The extra cost of a more powerful computer is well worth the investment when you consider the value of you and your employees’ time.

Go for the big screens

One of the biggest boosts to productivity is adding screen size– whether that be buying a bigger display or a adding a second display. Apple, in an attempt to sell more Cinema Displays, published an interesting study on productivity and screen size. Here’s a graph from the study:

If you don’t trust Apple to be impartial (and I wouldn’t blame you!), the Wall Street Journal also has an article on the topic.

Calibrate your devices

If you are regularly disappointed that the colors you see on your display don’t match the colors on your final printed piece, try calibrating your devices. Calibration will ensure your display is showing colors correctly. X-Rite is one company providing this service with their i1 Display product.

These are just a few tips to get your small business started on your marketing department’s IT setup. The perfect setup for your small business depends on your goals, marketing partners, kinds of productivity you want to optimize for and how much protection is required. I recommend every small business take some time to think about what they really need. Too often, I uncover serious marketing problems for my clients that could have been prevented with a little planning.

Stop Wasting Your Marketing Money

Stop wasting your marketing money on mass-marketing and start using it to find real customers. For small businesses, mass-marketing campaigns like newspaper ads, magazine ads or billboards usually don’t work. That’s because, while you’re paying to reach thousands of people, only a few of those people might be interested in what you are selling.

If you’re small, think small

When you think about your success and plan for your business’s future, think big. But when you plan on how many people your marketing communications should reach, think small. You want to reach only the people who are interested in products or services like yours. Right now, in the Delta Sky magazine, there’s a full-page ad for a synthetic motor oil, whose creator, it is claimed, “Changed lubrication history .” Giggles aside, how many travelers are in need of a synthetic lubricant during their flight?

Don’t waste your money on marketing to people who don’t care. Here are some tips for how small businesses can “think small” about their marketing:

  • Online search advertising and Search Engine Optimization. People are actively searching for your products and services. Be there when they are looking and ready to buy.
  • Stay in touch with your current customers, to encourage them to buy more frequently and refer you. For example, a resort might send a birthday card to past guests with a complimentary service coupon for the guest’s next stay.
  • Ask current customers where and how they first learned about you. If you hear the same answer several times, increase those marketing efforts.
  • Instead of advertising in publications, get mentioned in them. Your customers probably do read newspapers and magazines, but they trust the stories more than the advertisements. Do something news-worthy, and many publications will be glad to cover it (especially if you offer to provide the copy!).
  • If you are a local business, like a restaurant, go out in your neighborhood and meet your customers. One idea is to host an event that showcases your product, offers free samples or includes a contest. It’s inexpensive but effective.

Cut Marketing Costs, Not Effectiveness

As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time to finalize your marketing plan and budget for 2011. For next year, wouldn’t it be great to save money on your marketing efforts while not reducing their effectiveness?

I’ve found that almost every marketing budget carries some unneeded fat. An easy way to increase profitability is to make cuts where they won’t hurt.

Follow these four steps to cut costs, not effectiveness:

  1. Make a list of all marketing activities your business undertakes in a year: trade shows, public relations, advertising, sales trips, customer service training, etc.
  2. Write down how much money you spent on each item in the last year.
  3. Now write down how much revenue you can attribute to each activity.
  4. Do more of those activities that made money and less of those that lose money. Usually, this step is harder than it seems because our marketing plans are full of activities that we do from habit or to satisfy certain people in our businesses. But, for instance, if you lost money on trade shows, you shouldn’t keep investing in them, regardless of a perceived loss of reputation or “getting your name out there.”

This four-step process is simple, if you’re able to track the results of your marketing efforts. But do you have difficulty attributing revenue to each item? Here are some tips to track the effectiveness of your marketing channels in the future.

  • Unique toll-free numbers. There are services available to provide different toll-free numbers and track the calls you receive from each. Assign a different number to each advertising channel: radio, print and web. For more granularity, assign a different number to each campaign type.
  • Website analytics. If you haven’t already, install Google’s free Analytics on your web site. You can track the effectiveness of your pay per click advertising, other sites referring to your site, search terms visitors use to find your site, the geographical location of visitors and more.
  • Ask your advertisers. Advertisers should be able to provide results from your campaigns. Ask them about it.
  • Coupon codes. For any special offer you provide customers, use a unique coupon code you can use to track redemptions.
  • Lead tracking. When you record a new contact, track where the lead came from. Usually people don’t mind being asked, “How did you hear about us?” Store this information on a spreadsheet, contact application or lead manager like salesforce.com.

Some marketing efforts don’t have a clear return on investment, like training your receptionist to help customers find information or encouraging your sales staff to develop better relationships with customers. Fortunately, most efforts that have an unclear ROI also cost the least. And personal interactions have the biggest impact with your customers because customers will remember a phone call with a member of your team more than they will remember an advertisement they saw in the newspaper. When planning your marketing budget for 2011, cut costs, not effectiveness and promote interactions over impressions.

Direct Mail Disaster

One way to waste a few thousand dollars.

In any marketing venture, disregarding details will often result in a marketing disaster. Advertising and direct mail are by their very nature public, so marketing mistakes in these areas are very visible. So learn from this company’s mistakes before you launch your next small business marketing initiative.

Furniture Row, a retailer with 330 stores in 31 states, apparently put a lot of thought (and resources) into developing a system for sending direct mail to people who recently moved into a new home. Here is a mailer recently sent to a resident in Cincinnati, OH:

It’s a shame they didn’t put as much thought into getting customers to their stores. The mailer doesn’t include a phone number or website address, just cryptic directions to go “N. of the Florence Mall” and an address in Denver. Observe:

Without any directions or way to contact the company, this direct mail piece is a failure. Surely Furniture Row doesn’t expect new homeowners to drive around Florence, KY looking for their store.

In your marketing efforts, pay attention to the details (unless you like wasting your marketing budget on mistakes).

The Communication Trifecta

Content, timing, media – this sums up the marketing communications trifecta. And they all have one goal: communicate with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them.

If you don’t communicate with customers in ways that are meaningful to them, your messages will be ignored (or, even worse, your customers will become angry with you). Don’t waste your marketing budget on direct mail pieces that will be thrown in the trash or email messages that will be marked as spam. Here are some things to consider as you design your communications with customers.

Talk like a customer.
The most important element is the content of your message. Communication is for your customers, not for you, and the content should be designed for the customer. Sometimes, companies fall into the trap of creating communications for themselves, instead of for their customers. In their latest ads for Windows 7, Microsoft developed a hilarious message… by poking fun at their customers. Watch as the customer in this ad enters a dream world, imagining an impossibly idealized version of herself:
How is this ad supposed to be meaningful for Microsoft’s customers? Microsoft made the mistake of designing an ad they found funny, without considering what their customers might think.
At least Microsoft didn’t fall into the trap of many technology companies by listing all their new technical features. You’ll notice they didn’t even mention the technology. That’s because almost no customer cares about technological details. They care about having a computer that is easy to use, and Microsoft knows that.
It’s 3AM. Do you know where your marketing communications are?
Beyond the content of your messages, you must consider the timing of your communications. Telemarketers are infamous for calling people as they sit down to dinner. Telemarketers are also known for their low success rates – The Direct Marketing Association reports that the response rate for outbound telemarketing is between 2.9 – 4.4% (they also report this rate is the best for all direct marketing methods – yikes!). Consider when your customers would like to hear from you. For example, if you are emailing a B2B newsletter, don’t send it out Monday afternoon. It’s likely your customers are already busy and won’t have time to read it.
So many choices.
Completing our trifecta of communication is the medium you choose. There are more media than ever from which to pick: magazines, direct mail, newspapers, pay-per-click advertising, social media, local events, radio and many other choices. Fortunately, choosing a medium is not as difficult as it might seem. The only media that matters to you are the ones that matter to your customers. An assisted living facility might advertise in a well-respected local newspaper, because that’s what their customers trust. An organic bakery, on the other hand, might not do any traditional advertising at all, if they determine they can best reach their customers at the local farmers’ market or on Facebook. One media tip: the more local your business is, the more local the communication should be.
Communication is more than just advertising.
Traditional marketing communications like we’ve been discussing are the flashiest and most obvious element of communicating with your customers, but, really, communications include every time you talk to your customers and every time they try to talk with you. While a large part of communication is advertising, you need to evaluate every point of communication with your customers.
Some of the non-advertising communications you should evaluate include your billing documents, receipts, the experience of calling your business on the phone, handling a customer service issue or walking into your store. The strength of the small business is that you can give thought to every experience your customers have with you and your company. Making beneficial changes to non-advertising communications with your customers is usually inexpensive and can make a big difference to the bottom line.
New isn’t always better.
I know many small businesses feel the need to try out new and various ways of advertising, and they spend a lot of money trying to find “what works.” But you don’t have to guess, and you don’t need to listen to high-pressure sales pitches. You can evaluate every new advertising opportunity with the question, “Will this be meaningful to my customers?” By making all communications customers have with you meaningful, you will be able to stretch your marketing budget further and with more success.

Talk like a customer.

The most important element is the content of your message. Communication is for your customers, not for you, and the content should be designed for the customer. Sometimes, companies fall into the trap of creating communications for themselves, instead of for their customers. You can see an example of this in my post, “Microsoft, why do you insult your customers?

At least Microsoft didn’t fall into the same trap as many other technology companies by listing all their new technical features. You’ll notice they didn’t even mention the technology. That’s because almost no customer cares about technological details. They care about having a computer that is easy to use, and Microsoft knows that.

It’s 3AM. Do you know where your marketing communications are?

Beyond the content of your messages, you must consider the timing of your communications. Telemarketers are infamous for calling people as they sit down to dinner. Telemarketers are also known for their low success rates – The Direct Marketing Association reports that the response rate for outbound telemarketing is between 2.9 – 4.4% (they also report this rate is the best for all direct marketing methods – yikes!). Consider when your customers would like to hear from you. For example, if you are emailing a B2B newsletter, don’t send it out Monday afternoon. It’s likely your customers are already busy and won’t have time to read it.

So many choices.

Completing our trifecta of communication is the medium you choose. There are more media than ever from which to pick: magazines, direct mail, newspapers, pay-per-click advertising, social media, local events, radio and many other choices. Fortunately, choosing a medium is not as difficult as it might seem. The only media that matters to you are the ones that matter to your customers. An assisted living facility might advertise in a well-respected local newspaper, because that’s what their customers trust. An organic bakery, on the other hand, might not do any traditional advertising at all, if they determine they can best reach their customers at the local farmers’ market or on Facebook. One media tip: the more local your business is, the more local the communication should be.

Communication is more than just advertising.

Traditional marketing communications like we’ve been discussing are the flashiest and most obvious element of communicating with your customers, but, really, communications include every time you talk to your customers and every time they try to talk with you. While a large part of communication is advertising, you need to evaluate every point of communication with your customers.

Some of the non-advertising communications you should evaluate include your billing documents, receipts, the experience of calling your business on the phone, handling a customer service issue or walking into your store. The strength of the small business is that you can give thought to every experience your customers have with you and your company. Making beneficial changes to non-advertising communications with your customers is usually inexpensive and can make a big difference to the bottom line.

New isn’t always better.

I know many small businesses feel the need to try out new and various ways of advertising, and they spend a lot of money trying to find “what works.” But you don’t have to guess, and you don’t need to listen to high-pressure sales pitches. You can evaluate every new advertising opportunity with the question, “Will this be meaningful to my customers?” By making all communications customers have with you meaningful, you will be able to stretch your marketing budget further and with more success.