Archive for April, 2012

Exact & Phrase Match “Improvement”

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Google rolled out a change notice that was difficult to miss. We have discovered over the years that when a change gets good notice, there is a good reason to study it. As we dig into the details we are finding that this could be a very dangerous change. Here is the posting in AdWords:

“New! Improvements coming to exact match and phrase match

Target your ads better. In mid-May, our improved exact match and phrase match options will include misspellings, plurals, and other close variants of your keywords.”

If the documentation on this new and improved feature is accurate, this moves the match rules much closer to broad keywords.

Here is what Google documentation says about Broad Match keywords:

“Your ads could also show for singular/plural forms, synonyms, and other relevant variations.”

Here is what they say about the Improvements to Exact Match and Phrase Match:

“ In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.”

It stands to reason that “Other Relevant Variations” and “Close Variants” are the same thing. It is also interesting that they do NOT mention the treatment of word order in any of this. Our hope is that word order remains a matching requirement. Does omission from the documentation mean that it does not change? This is one of those things that we will probably learn only with testing.

If Google does exactly what they say in their documentation, which does not always happen, then this feature effectively makes everything a broad term with the exception of word order.  In fairness, we expect that there will be some difference between broad and improved exact or improved phrase but it is probably more like the difference between broad and modified broad keywords.

What is not clear from the documentation is how this is going to roll out. If Google follows their historical pattern, this will become the default value on new campaigns but they will not just roll your account over to this setting. We suspect because this is such a big change, that the push back could be huge if they set this to an opt-out feature. After the change is in place, I am giving odds this will be the default value. Do no evil does not mean do not make a profit. Ultimately, Google is a company with shareholders not all of which totally buy the do no evil thing. This is a multi-billion dollar feature for Google and I suspect they smart enough to know that.

Our plan is to watch very carefully how this rolls-out and if necessary opt-out. We will then carefully test this so we can adjust the settings to our client’s advantage. It may be a very positive change, but we would like to know that before we allow this into current accounts.

Making the Phone Ring

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Let’s face reality – we judge advertising performance based on the response, not the clicks. CTR and clicks are important to Google, but your Plumbing business is interested in making the phone ring.

The right keywords and ad copy is what gets to the click. Without the click, there is no web experience. However, there is a limit to what AdWords can really do with 95 letters and spaces.

It’s about the Web Experience

It’s the web experience that creates the true impression and the response.  Plumbers routinely want a phone call or a form completion. Most of the time in the Plumbing business, it’s all about getting the phone to ring. While we do recommend forms on websites, the reality is the best leads come in from the phone.  Form leads tend to be lower quality but if a person wants to respond that way then let them.

The web experience should be designed to get the phone call and you need to keep that in mind. You need to project a professional image and make them comfortable enough with your business to pick up the phone. Depending on the situation, Plumbing is either emergency or routine traffic. With the emergency traffic, the person will stop shopping as soon as they find the first site that seems to fit their needs. If they pick up the phone and call and get a person that convinces them that their problem will be handled, then they are done.  This means that every position below the first position is a risk that they will never get to you.

Routine traffic on the other hand, will shop until they are satisfied that they have found the deal they want. In this type of traffic, the key is to be high enough in the results to make it to the short list. The typical routine traffic will view 3-10 sites before they decide to call one of them. Some percentage of them will stop when they talk to the person that they think can solve their problem. Others will call multiple businesses and play the quote for a better price game.

Position Counts!

This might seem obvious, but regardless of the type of response you want it needs to be above the fold.  For a Plumber, this means that the Phone Number and the Form Access has to be on the top of the page. This term actually came from the newspaper industry and it meant exactly what is says. In the internet world above the fold means that you can see it when you first land on the page without having to roll down. The challenge here is that not every computer has the same size screen so the fold is a concept not an exact physical position. The vast major of screens are 17” or above so using that as a standard to decide what is above the fold is a good general guideline. One of the classic problems with designers is that they fail to remember that not everyone is using a 30” monitor like they do so they design response pages above the fold for their monitor and not for the masses. Make them test their designs on a 17” monitor.

It’s a Mobile World

There is no doubt that mobile devices are coming into this world quickly. If you think a 17” monitor is a design limitation, wait till you deal with this one.  Design for mobile delivery is yet another design challenge, and here you have to realize that people are responding to less and less information so you have to adapt to that. Gone are the days of long copy, now your message is being delivered on a screen where 5 inches is considered huge. Mobile phones current range from 3.5 to 5 inches and to be readable, you need to be brief and to the point. Most of the time mobile visitors want directions, phone numbers, or very small specific information. Rule 1.01 in response design is; Give them what they want!

Being Local Is Important

This is clearly a Mr. Obvious statement but in the Plumbing business being local is huge. Make sure that your design screams local to the visitor and the first things they notice are the phone number and the city name. Make sure both of these are on the page they land on. Toll Free numbers are great for some businesses but a local prefix is much better when being local is important. It is also important that the major city name be an in-your-face element on the landing page.

There is a challenge in the local approach and it has to do with specific services like Water Heater Installation. If you have 5 cities that you have local pages for and subordinate to that, you have a page that talks about water heater installation then you have a choice to make. Do you drop them on the water heater page or the city page? Unless you are willing to have all your services duplicated, most will direct them to the city page to make the local statement and then connect them to a shared page on Water Heater Installation.

Be Clear About What You Want

If you want a phone call, then ask them to call and if you want a form filled out ask them to do that. We see websites all the time that assume that the person knows what they want and the simple truth is that is a dangerous marketing practice. Ask for the call early and often and make it very clear that is what you want them to do.

If it’s Important, Measure it

We see websites all the time that violate this rule. Most of the time, it’s the phone number that is overlooked.  As a minimum, get a phone number that is unique to your website and use it only there. There are several ways to implement this but one of the easy ones is that you pass your website through a URL tag that says to show the paid traffic phone number. Any good website designer should understand how to do this. On forms, make sure that the design goes to a unique thank you page that confirms that someone will get back to them. For some reason, some web designers want to reuse the same page and just rewrite a section of it. While this will work, it makes tracking the response more difficult than it needs to be. A unique thank you page is not really an option.

Phone Tracking is Imperfect

In today’s technology, connecting the phone call to your advertising is imperfect because computers cannot yet track the act of a person picking up a phone. This is not an excuse to not track your calls. Try to learn as much as you can about how they came to call your business. We recommend that you keep a detailed phone log and organize it the same way as you do your advertising. Most Plumbing accounts will have general plumbing, specific services, and product related ad groups and you need to classify your calls the same way. You can ask where they found you but the information may be imperfect. At the end of the month bring this data together so you can see relationships.

Offer Choices

Some people like online forms and others like phones. If both are of value to your business, then by all means offer both because the total response will most likely go up. Simply stated, people like choices.  Forms get better responses during the off hours and phones get better response during business hours. There could be several reasons for this and the most likely is that people would rather email than leave a voice mail in a general mailbox after hours.

Get to the Point

People are in a hurry and yet most websites drift around and waste our time with lots of unnecessary words and details. The golden rule here should be: Give them as much detail as they need to make an educated decision but no more than that. This is hard because different audiences will respond to different levels of detail but do the best that you can. As a minimum, tighten up your language and keep the words to a minimum. Use lists rather than paragraphs and use good highlighting to make scanning your text easier.

Remove Roadblocks to Your Response

I have seen hundreds of sites with unnecessarily complex response design forms and every decision you engineer into the process is an opportunity for the customer to leave.  We have seen errors on screens that issue messages that might make sense to some programmers but for an ordinary person it might as well be in an alien language.  Make sure that a non-programmer reviews every error message given by the system to make sure it makes sense.

Nothing is Perfect

In closing, there is no perfect response design and you need to experiment consistently to find the attributes that push your audience’s buttons. Remember that small things can make big differences and you never know what they will be until you test them.