Should You Spend Money on Branded Search Ads?

If you’re not allocating any of your budget to branded search, you’re probably making a mistake.
September 16, 2020 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From mom and pops to global brands, we’ve all felt frustrated at times with paying money to Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or any number of other paid search platforms for your own brand name.

The biggest question that everyone has is, “Why should we pay to show ads on our own branded terms? Shouldn’t we be investing in ads that help us compete for all the other non-branded terms people search for?” Fair questions — after all, if someone is searching for the name of your brand or product in Google already, don’t they already have intent to buy from you? Why should you “throw away” money (as some have said) to show ads for your brand terms when your website already ranks as the first organic result on the page?

Related: Want to Rank Higher on Google? Learn SEO Strategies From an Expert.

It’s true that non-branded search ads can drive a lot of clicks and conversions, but if you’re not allocating any of your budget to branded search, you’re probably making a mistake.

Here are 4 reasons why you should be spending money on branded search ads:

1. You have greater control over messaging

Branded search ads give you much more control over the message you’re presenting and where you’re directing people to when they find you on Google.

To a certain point, with organic listings, you’re stuck with whatever title, description, and site links the “Google gods” want to display.

With branded search ads, you can test provocative, conversion-driven, and timely messaging that you might not want to put on your website yet. You can also decide where you want people who click on your ad to go. Instead of sending them to your homepage or products page, you could send them to a landing page that aligns with the copy you’re using in your ad. Or, you can prompt users to fill out a lead form and collect valuable information about them before ever reaching your landing page.

2. It’s Easier to keep competition at bay

Without branded search ads, you risk losing your customers to another brand who’s more than happy to spend money on search ads that reference your brand name or the names of the products you sell.

Markets are saturated. People are hungry for success. There are resources and tools and processes out there that make it easier than ever for competitors to pop up quickly. And even if every single brand agreed to “play nice,” they still might unintentionally show up for your branded terms because of things like Dynamic Search Ads. For all these reasons, you have to be willing to go on the defense and do whatever you can to hold your competition back.

Branded search ads allow you to compete and ensure that when people are searching for your brand and product terms, they aren’t getting distracted by someone else’s message—a message you have no control over. Thankfully, Google recognizes that you’re likely more relevant for your branded terms than your competitor, so it should cost you a lot less to bid on them than for your competitor.

Related: Learn Facebook Ads, SEO, Google Analytics, and More in this $40 Digital Marketing Bootcamp

If this seems to be a real problem for your business, you can take one other step to stop competitors from poaching your customers with branded search ads: you can file your trademark(s) with Google Ads. Going through this process won’t stop your competitors from bidding on your brand name, but it will stop them from using your brand name in the ad copy.

3. You get improved visibility and coverage

Running branded search ads can teach you a lot about your customers and prospective customers.

“The greatest value provided by running brand paid search campaigns is the data that gets acquired from doing so,” says Brett Bodofsky, Senior Paid Search Specialist at Elumynt. “Running branded search campaigns can provide you with greater visibility into your users’ questions, behavior, and interests via the search terms report and observation audiences,” he adds.

You also can ensure more coverage on the search results people see when they type your brand or product names into Google.

If you’ve done a good job with SEO, your website should be the first result that shows up when someone searches for your brand. If you’ve done a great job with SEO, the first page of results should be flooded with links to your website or social media profiles. But that’s an unlikely reality for many brands.

Branded search ads allow you to extend this coverage by taking up more whitespace at the very top and very bottom of search results pages. What this does is ensure that users have to do a lot more scrolling to find a competitor’s organic or paid result.

And while each brand’s results might vary, a large study by Google demonstrated that “even when advertisers show up in the number one organic search result position, 50% of clicks they get on ads are not replaced by clicks on organic search results when the ads don’t appear.” That’s not something you should quickly dismiss.

4. It’s better for seasonality and specials

Branded search ads are great ways to promote seasonal specials, and limited-time offers that you’re running for your ecommerce business.

“While you may already be showing up as the first result in the SERPS, what happens if you are running a flash sale?” asks Bodofsky. “Are you going to change your meta title, description, and page content in hopes that your organic result changes, probably not. A quick and easy way to promote this sale would be through a branded search ad where you can quickly make changes to your messaging, add a countdown and lead users to the landing page of your choosing,” he adds.

Related: You’re Likely Missing Out on Google Traffic. Boost Your SEO with This Budget-Friendly Tool.

It’s a smart way to grab the attention of users already searching for your brand and drive action through urgency.

Wrapping Up

Without branded search ads, your search strategy is incomplete. You miss out on the ability to learn more about your customers, you can’t play defense very well against your competitors, and you have less control over the message you want to present to people and the actions you want them to take.

If you aren’t already, start investing in branded search ads to build a stronger overall search strategy for your business.

3 Ways Technology Helps You Make Money With Direct Mail Marketing

How to use data for happier customers and better conversion rates.
September 12, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The average person is exposed to an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements per day. So it’s not surprising that we are almost ‘immune’ to their charm.

Don’t get me wrong — this doesn’t mean they’re not effective or they don’t have their place in marketing. In fact, marketers have been able to experience a 96 percent increase in clicks with an active Facebook ad campaign.

However, there is another mode of marketing that might be even more effective. Direct mail marketing has been used for years, long before advertising online was a thing.

Although direct mail marketing might seem to be an archaic form of marketing, it does have its perks now that technology is here to change the rules of the game.

Technology has revolutionized everything we do including how we market our offers. Several years ago when things were pretty much all manually driven, there wasn’t an efficient way of collecting and storing data.

Now, technology helps us work faster and smarter and provides us with more accurate data about our potential clients. And obviously, this leads to better conversion rates and happier customers. Technology has sharpened the direct mail marketing process to provide great results.

What makes direct mail so appealing?

Direct mail marketing is a form of marketing where advertisements and other promotional materials are physically delivered to your mailbox.

While some say direct mail is dead, research has proven that direct mail response rates are a lot higher than all other forms of advertising combined — in fact, direct mail’s response rates have been getting better year after year as digital becomes more widely adopted.

Its advantages over the digital system stem from the long-standing accuracy of its data (which dates back decades) and the very real, tangible impression businesses can make on consumers by sending them a quality mail piece. Its disadvantages are rooted in the startup time it takes to move a campaign from conception to completion, along with the higher price that comes along with the logistics and manpower needed to make that tangible impression. Technology, however, has made direct mail easier to execute and more affordable than ever.

So what does technology have to do with direct mail marketing?

It’s simple — with the presence of technology, direct mail marketing has gone digital. This makes direct marketing more accurate, reliable, and effective. Here are three ways technology has transformed direct mail marketing.

Related: 3 Secrets to Adding Direct Mail to Your Online Sales Funnel

1. Technology lets you digitize the direct mail marketing process

When done correctly and with the right technological integrations, direct mail marketing can create a more memorable experience for your ideal customer with your business. And some businesses are already taking advantage of that.

A good example that explains the process of digitizing the whole marketing process is PostcardMania, a $60 million marketing firm that specializes in direct mail. Just recently, PostcardMania integrated with Zapier and hundreds of other CRMs, giving marketers a chance to take data from their CRM or website and send targeted postcards to their marketing pipeline based on specific triggers like dates or seasons.

Some common trigger-based setups include: sending postcards to shoppers that abandon their carts without purchasing; sending welcome postcards to new online subscribers with special discounts to encourage conversions; and reconnecting with buyers for upsell opportunities.

This integration allows business owners to automatically send direct mail in any quantity, thereby putting an end to what normally would have been a very lengthy setup.

2. You can integrate direct mail into your marketing campaign

Businesses who use direct mail marketing can now utilize digital technology to optimize their campaigns. Through using personalized URLs, QR codes, or even SMS codes, they can get their potential clients to connect with them online and increase response rates. These integrations make the tracking of leads and revenue a very easy process compared to what it was before.

Related: The 3 Attributes of Every Successful Marketing Campaign

3. It delivers accurate data about customers for precise targeting

Unlike how it was in the past, where the success of direct mail marketing was all left to chance, businesses can now have access to more accurate data about their target audience before sending them their first mail in their mailbox. This helps increase the efficacy of the direct mail marketing campaign.

What this means is that when it comes to direct mail, you aren’t just targeting a profile or an IP address — a targeted list can include first and last names, neighborhoods, even the date an insurance policy runs out. Businesses can leverage this data to speak directly to recipients individually on every mail piece. For example, a headline that states, “John, welcome to the neighborhood!” for John Smith and another mail piece that says, “Jane, welcome to the neighborhood!” for Jane Doe. This technology is called variable data and can definitely get the attention of your intended target market.

The future of direct mail

There’s no doubt about it — technology has made direct mail marketing more effective. This is good news for a lot of business owners who were at a loss for what to do to get their products and services in front of their target audience.

Related: Going Green With Direct Mail

Through tech, businesses have a higher chance of making every mail they deliver count. With the right kind of tools and strategies in place, businesses will be able to receive real value for their money in direct mail marketing.

The Right Words Can Make You More Money

Sales copy not converting? These 3 strategies will help you close the deal.
September 12, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Cornerstone concepts act as the invisible structure for a sales letter. Like bricks, they build on each other and become a conversion machine for sales.

You’ve probably heard that a persuasive sales letter has certain elements including headlines, emotional storytelling, fascination bullets, the lead, the hook, the “Big Idea,” the client’s belief matrix, and other factors that come together.

But between the layers of these elements, you’ll find 3 principles woven into every piece of hyper-effective sales copy.

They are picture, proof and promise.

These 3 cornerstones act as the critical backdrop to the canvas that you paint your message on. This message turns cold shoppers into your ever-expanding brand audience.

Related: The 6 Essential Components of Effective Sales Letters

1. Picture

Your sales letter should not be about what your product/service does or what it is. Your customer doesn’t care.

Let me repeat: No. One. Cares.

What do they care about? Themselves.

How do you get them to care? Paint them a picture they can step into and feel for themselves.

Consumer self-centeredness is nothing new and nothing personal. So, if you want to sell record numbers of your product/service then you have got to get on your ideal customer’s level and craft imagery in your copy.

Every customer is the hero of their own story and it’s your job to use pictures that make them the hero of that story.

“In 2 weeks after taking this vitamin you’re going to have so much energy you’re going to be able to hike that mountain/run the Boston Marathon/play a full game of basketball with your teenage son (and beat him)…imagine waking up in the morning with a back free of pain and moving like you were 21 again…”

Craft positive, powerful images of what the product can do for your customer and how it will transform their life. Use them throughout your sales copy to make the consumer the center of their story, not yours. Do that and you’ll make legions of loyal fans who you made the hero of their own story.

2. Proof

To improve sales, have an ample amount of proof sprinkled among your messaging.Some clients are logic-based in their decisions, so you have to build credibility in your copy.

Credibility is how believable you are to a potential client. This is created through a combination of two factors: authority and social proof.

Authority is drawing from facts from resources that hold a degree of status in society. Status is the degree of esteem you hold for the advice and/or statement of fact from a source. For example, on seeking information for the chronic migraines, your family doctor might be a good resource. You can confirm that he has studied medicine for 22 years, specializing in treating migraines and cured 1,000 migraine sufferers.

Your brother-in-law, Jerry, who changes oil at Jiffy Lube but swears if you put tree moss between your toes it will cure your migraines, probably not so much.

Documented research from universities or medical institutes or consumer protection groups are examples of credible resources. Also, quotes, authors, researchers, and experts are additional credible resources for your sales copy.

Related: 10 Secrets to Building Trust and Credibility With Your Customers

3. Promise

The core of every sales letter is your offer, which is a value proposition. A value proposition states, “You give me _____ and I’ll give you _______ back in return.”

Simple as it is, that is the essence of every transaction between buyer and seller since the dawn of time.

But your product/service has to deliver a certain result and that is your promise to the consumer.

A promise can be direct or indirect. If it’s direct, then you state in your copy: “If you give me ______ then I will guarantee you’ll get _________ .“ Then use that promise to act as the foundation for your offer and guarantee in your sales copy.

If a promise is indirect, it’s usually layered inside your sales message using subtext.

“At my seminar, you’re going to learn secrets of investing that have made over 100 millionaires in this last year alone…follow the instructions in this exercise program for 30 days and you’ll have the physical power of a 25-year old weight-lifter…implement these 3 easy marketing steps and you’ll see an immediate 10% boost to your business’ bottom line…”

Use a combination of direct and indirect promise elements in your copy. This creates a winning sales message that moves your customer to take action and buy.

Related: 5 Key Tips to Improve Conversion Rates

Crafting Your Conversion Machine

Copywriters are trained to use sales letter structure to deliver your brand’s message. This is the science of effective copy which is robust and proven. It’s like a Timex versus a Rolex — one is a digital representation of time displayed while the other is an analog masterpiece fine-tuned with ultimate precision and perfection of purpose.

But the fabric of your sales letter will fall flat without the 3-P’s: picture, proof, and promise.

As you craft your marketing message for client-attraction, attention-getting, taking your customer on their hero’s journey, and making the case of why they should choose you over a sea of “me too’s,” use the 3-P’s as fuel for your conversion machine’s success.

Online Content Monetization 101: How to Make Money From Content

Read about all the ways you can make money from your content – and how to get started.
August 12, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Online content has gotten incredibly popular for a handful of motivating reasons. First, it’s easier than ever to publish your own content: Anyone (even those with no money) can start blog, upload recorded videos or even live stream. Second, demand for online content is skyrocketing; more people are reading blogs, watching videos and engaging with social media influencers than ever before. Third, online content is a potentially lucrative hustle…but only if you know what you’re doing.

Millions of people have seen marginal success in their online content development. They’ve been able to attract tens of thousands of social media followers or equal numbers of regular readers, and they’ve carved out a niche for themselves. But they haven’t yet closed the gap to figure out how to make money from that success.

In this guide, I’ll cover some of the best monetization strategies to make money from developing online content.

Related: How to Create Compelling Online Content That Gets Traffic

Potential monetization strategies

For our purposes, I’ll remain agnostic to the medium or channel you’re using to produce your content. Regardless of whether you’re writing blog posts, syndicating a podcast or live streaming on a regular basis, you can use most (or all) of these strategies to make money:

  • Direct advertising: One of the first options people turn to is advertising. If you’re on YouTube or a similar platform, you might be able to make money directly based on the ads your platform chooses to display. Otherwise, you can choose to host your own ads. This is a simple strategy that offers a return proportional to your total audience, but be careful. Some of your fans won’t appreciate your advertising, and there’s always the risk of advertising a sketchy product that compromises your reputation.
  • Sponsorships/affiliate links: You could also work with sponsorships or affiliate links. With an affiliate link in your content, you’ll generate revenue as a percentage of the number of sales you influence (usually dependent on how many people click the link). With sponsorships, you’ll have even more flexibility; you may make money from talking about a specific product, or you may even feature someone else’s content for a fee.
  • Donations: Platforms like Patreon make it easy for content creators to accept donations for their continued work, and with platforms like Twitch, donations are a built-in option for viewers. Asking for donations can feel awkward, but your most loyal fans will be happy to donate.
  • Premium content: You can also make money with optional “premium” content that’s more in-depth or more exclusive than your typical work. Bloggers often provide premium content in the form of an ebook or collection.
  • Subscriptions: Depending on the nature of your content, you might also be able to sell subscriptions. On some platforms, viewers might get an ad-free experience with a paid subscription; on others, a subscription could grant them alternative special benefits, like access to an entirely different content feed.
  • Merchandise: With a big enough fan base, you might be able to make money with merchandise. Selling interesting products, like shirts, hats or mugs with your branding can both generate revenue and give you a platform for free advertising in the future.
  • Consulting or special services: If you’re an expert in your chosen field, you could offer consulting services on the side for an hourly fee. Otherwise, you might be able to offer special services, such as pre-recorded messages for fans or one-on-one coaching sessions. This requires some extra effort but can be highly profitable.
  • Exclusive rights: If your content channel gets big enough, you might be able to score an exclusive rights deal. A content platform might pay you to use their platform exclusively, preventing their competition from capitalizing on you. These deals are rare but are often lucrative.

Related: 8 Ways to Monetize Your Blog and Make Money Online

The starting point? Amazing content

All these monetization strategies come with a massive caveat; you have to create exceptionally high-quality content if you want them to work. There are currently more than 500 million blogs and more than 2 million blog posts published on a daily basis. If you want a chance of building an audience big enough to support your desired revenue stream, you need some way to stand out and you need to do it well.

I think of “amazing” content as excelling in two main categories:

  1. Uniqueness: First, your content needs to be different than everything else available to your audience. Sometimes, that means covering an entirely new topic, but more often, it means offering a new tone, a fresh perspective or a different kind of medium. Get creative here!
  2. Quality. Second, and more subjectively, there’s the quality factor. Your work should be well-researched and in-depth (where appropriate). If it’s video or audio content, it should be recorded with professional equipment and professionally edited. If it’s written, it better be error-free and eloquent.

On top of that, you’ll need to be consistent in your publication, and you’ll need to regularly engage with your audience. If you manage to do this, you should be able to build a loyal audience of followers — and from there, you’ll have your choice of monetization strategies to make money from them.

Related: 5 Steps to Creating and Monetizing a Million-Dollar Online Business

5 Tips to Optimize Your Business Website, Increase Conversions and Make Money Online

It’s where marketing efforts converge, so to make money online, you need to make sure your website is in order.
February 20, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a small business, your website is the single most important resource you have in your marketing arsenal. It’s where all your marketing efforts converge, whether they are in the form of inbound content marketing, ads or direct marketing. Customers will usually check your website for an overview of your products and services before committing themselves to any other action, including a purchase.

There are pros and cons to this. On one hand, it’s a great opportunity to revamp your website and ensure that it’s set up just right to convince visitors to take the next step in the sales journey. On the other hand, if it’s not done properly, you’ll make no gains in the conversions department, and you might even make things worse.

Here are four strategies you can explore to maximize the advantages and boost your conversions rapidly:

1. Track and analyze all your data

If you want to optimize your website, you need to understand how it’s currently performing and which specific areas need tuning. You should already have tracking tools set up on your site, but if not, you can get them quickly. Google Analytics is by far the most common and affordable option — free — but you can get others with more advanced feature sets too.

Related: Ways to Make Money Online That Seem Great But Just Aren’t Realistic

According to Meyr Aviv, CEO of Moving APT, “It’s important to analyze how visitors get onto your site in the first place, how much time they spend there. Also, use heatmap tools to see which areas hold their attention better and which ones they just breeze through. With that data, you’ll be well-equipped to make the needed changes to your design.”

2. Define clear goals

For you to see how well you’re doing over the course of time you spend implementing these strategies, it’s important to establish your end-goal objectives. This should be based on the data you already have and be as specific as possible.

You can also have different goals for different aspects of your conversion strategy. This could range across different products and services and different customer actions such as signing up for something or scheduling a phone call to discuss potential partnerships with your company.

3. Use visual marketing

Text is good, and it’s great for some types of audience and some kinds of information. For most businesses though, your message would be more effective if you put it in the form of pictures, videos, infographics or other forms of visual marketing.

Related: 7 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online

Visual marketing breaks up your text and makes it easier for your audience to actually read through the entire page and get to your call to action. Naturally, the more people who get to your call to action, the more people will likely convert. Images and videos are more shareable too. More people will share a nice, intriguing infographic, and more people will engage with it on social media, which brings in more traffic and conversion prospects.

You can use tools like Canva to make quick, unique designs, and you can also incorporate customer-generated content by using some incentives to increase customer engagement on your Instagram pages.

4. Run segmented tests

When you’re changing an element on your site, it’s important that you test the new design or copy to see the effects on your stats. Regardless of how good you think your website looks, the real test of whether you should keep the changes or revert is if there’s a positive response among your visitors.

The way to go about testing properly is to ensure that you’re testing the right set of people, says Andrew Epprecht, CEO of Phase 5 Analytics. “For instance, you could use software to target the tests by country or by whether the visitor is a new or returning one,” Epprechet says. “Implement extensive A/B and multivariate testing to get the results you need to make final decisions on every element. It’s time-consuming, but it’ll definitely be worth it down the line, as opposed to making guesses based on your own design preferences.”

5. Use live testimonials

Testimonials are quickly going the way of ads on the internet. They’re everywhere, but most people are desensitized to them and don’t even notice them anymore. Virtually every site has a slider with a couple of positive quotes.

Related: 9 New Ways to Make Make Online

That doesn’t mean testimonials don’t work though. They do, but to make them more effective, you should ditch the rote testimonials template and incorporate screenshots of actual comments by customers on your social media platforms, email or any other source.

Those testimonials catch the eye better and look more real, thus enabling you to maximize the psychological effect, social proof and increased conversions which come with credible testimonials.