Author Archive Apex Digital Media

ByApex Digital Media

Why Online Businesses Use Magento (Infographic)

For today’s post I thought I’d kill 2 birds with 1 stone. We need more samples of infographics and we also want to provide as much data as possible about Magento since a lot of our clients use it… with that I bring you today’s Magento infographic.

apex-magento-infographic-8-2015

Ecommerce businesses are adopting Magento rapidly – here’s why.

ByApex Digital Media

Why Social Media Management is Important For Modern Business

The internet – love it or hate it it’s become part of our daily lives. That’s why when businesses or brands tell us they don’t have a social media presence at all we scratch our heads and vacantly stare into space in disbelief.. (not really).

What we really do is explain to them that social media is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you to do a better job serving your customers, it’s an opportunity to connect with new customers, to shape conversations about your business with existing customers and further define your brand. Social media management is an important process for any modern business to implement and refine… here’s why.

Rising Mobile Adoption Rates = Increased Social Media Use

With everyone now moving to mobile devices en masse, social is an even bigger means of communication. It’s a safe bet that customers who might buy your product or use your service are using social media platforms. If you’re not actively engaging these users someone else will. Any salesman will tell you “it’s a numbers game” and as a business you want to make sure your brand is exposed to as many people as possible. The more people you’re exposed to the higher the ratio of new customers you will inevitably have. If you are a small localized business social can also be your chance to speak to a national or international market. The internet enables global commerce… an effective social media management strategy can help you take advanatage of this.

In addition to “new customers” social media is also a breeding ground for relationships. You can respond instantly to customer questions or requests via Twitter & Facebook. Even if you can’t meet a customer’s needs on the spot sometimes just having that level of responsiveness can be all people need to stay loyal to a brand they love. So not only is social media great for gaining new business, it’s also great for managing and enhancing relationships with business you already have.

That said, there are also best practices or ways to think about this aspect of your business that will get you the most value for your time.

Consistency

Imagine a television station that only had 1 episode of the same show that ran on a loop all week. In the same way, a Twitter or Facebook account that only has 1 post a week is going to be about as exciting as that TV station. Regardless of the channels you engage with customers in (channels meaning platforms ie. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) you need to consistently put out content. It could be just sharing industry trends or a funny meme, it could be that you actively write your own blogs and post links to them from social. It could even be that you just post daily deals and sales – whatever the case you need to be consistently feeding content into those channels or they are not going to produce the results you need them to.

Focus – Data & Analytics

While you need to have a presence anywhere you can – you also need to focus on the channels that get the best response or drive the most results. You can use url trackers such as http://goo.gl in your social posts to see exactly where you’re getting the most and best engagement and concentrate your efforts in those places.

The web is large and chances are if you’re a business you aren’t a jack of all trades. You want to focus on your core expertise and on the channels that produce the results you desire. You’re going to have to experiment initially to find your sweet spot if you haven’t already, but when you find it – you will know it. Once you identify these opportunities you can focus more of your time on building relationships and status in these channels.

Authenticity

Be who you are in the real world… it’s that simple. From a business perspective this is easier to understand than from a personal perspective. As a person you might be trying to highlight only your best attributes to get a date but business is different. As a business you want to represent yourself as accurately as possible. Showcase with transparency the services or products you provide, who you are and what you stand for. Being authentic and owning up to errors or customer complaints on social media is a great way to quickly diffuse them and turn an irate person back into a lifelong brand advocate for your business.

The featured image attached to this post of a “Social Media Professional Halloween Costume” was included because a couple years ago a lot of business owners rightfully thought:

“social media expert? Someone who posts on Twitter & Facebook? what kind of expertise does that take?”

Times have changed. Social media is a far more prevalent and important than it was even 3 to 5 years ago. It’s no longer just Facebook and Twitter – platforms like Vine, Instagram, Pinterest and several others are growing massive audiences that can be harnessed by anyone. Due to mobile adoption rates social media is rapidly becoming a very important part of the digital economy and one that any business would be foolish to neglect.

Apex Digital Media offers social media management services because we know that a lot of times businesses simply don’t have the time in their busy schedules to address this important aspect of digital marketing. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help click here.

We hope that this article was useful and that businesses of all stripes can use the advice to help in developing effective social media management strategies.

ByApex Digital Media

What Does SEO Cost in 2015?

When we first started Apex Digital Media in Sept. of 2014 SEO was pretty much our core competency. When prospective clients would ask us “What does SEO Cost?” – before even offering a quote I would usually prime them by sending a link to this article from Search Engine Watch. The reason being is that SEO is an extremely undervalued skill and a lot of people don’t realize it.

As a business your wisest move is to hire an agency or consultant to do SEO work for you. Some people will try to do it on their own and are capable – but think about the fact that time is money and if you’re running a business you probably don’t have time to sit down and spend several hours a day doing the intensive labor it takes to be successful. Some people will opt to hire a relative or current employee who “knows a lot about SEO,” and sometimes this can also work but rarely does it deliver the level of results you will get in finding and contracting a competent SEO agency.

What Does SEO Cost On Average?

If you look at this infographic from the Search Engine Watch article you can see that average hourly rates for SEO in the United States are over $100 per hour. You will also see that rates in less developed countries like India are about 50% of that on average with some hourly rates being as low as $20 / $25 per hour. These prices are a good indicator of quality and when you hire someone for SEO it’s probably good if English is their first language. Have you ever received a spam email from an Indian or Chinese spammer? I rest my case.

aytm-seo-rates-retainer

The above image shows average retainer rates across several countries, again you’ll notice that the lower rates are usually found in countries where English might not be their first language. I say this not to slag India but because we get countless requests from “outsourcing firms” to do cheap SEO work for us. Outsourcing SEO work to an international 3rd party almost never works out. If you’re interested you can view the full range of this data here. In the meantime, let’s discuss the different methods companies might want to charge you should you hire them to work for you doing SEO.

What Does SEO Cost? – Payment Models

Digital agencies charge in a variety of different ways. If you’re in the market for a company to do SEO for you it’s good to understand payment structure so that you can work to find a company that meets your budgetary needs.

  • Monthly Retainer: This is the most popular method of payment for businesses because it provides the best value. Rather than being billed by the hour you will usually get a lot more for your money by paying a monthly retainer. Deliverables for an agreement of this nature would include regular analytics reports, keyword research, Social Media and off-site SEO, directory listings, etc.
    AVERAGE COST: $750 – $5,000 per month – most business on average will pay around $2,000 – $2500 per month.
  •  

  • Fixed Price Services: Some agencies may provide particular services for a fixed rate. An example of this might be an on-site audit or single landing page optimization rates.
    AVERAGE COST: This is going to vary depending on the size and scope of the individual service some examples might be: SEO copywriting ($0.15-$0.50/word) – Site Content Audit ($500-$7,500) – Link Profile Audit ($500-$7,500) – Social Media Site Setup ($500-$3,000).
     
  • Project-based pricing: In this case a business will do an audit (usually free) and then come to you with a proposal for an entire project. Usually this is going to start in the $5 – $10k range depending on the scope and last for 3 – 6 months.
    AVERAGE COST: A wide range here anywhere from around $1000 to $50,000 is on the table. If you are a small business with a 10 – 15 page site, $1000 makes sense – if you are a massive e-commerce presence with hundreds of thousands of pages, it’s going to cost a lot more.
  •  

  • Hourly consulting: Just like it sounds, typical hourly, invoiced consulting. It is a basic hourly fee in exchange for services and information.
    AVERAGE COST: SEO agencies and individual consultants usually charge between $100 and $300 per hour.

What to Watch Out For

  • People Who Guarantee the #1 Spot on Google: While this is not impossible it can take a lot of time and investment. No true professional SEO will ever say “I’ll get you to the number one slot on Google” anyone that makes that claim can’t be taken seriously.
  • Prices that are “too good to be true”: We run into this a lot, companies can be so cautious and stingy with their money that they will pay a subpar SEO a low price. Eventually they realized they wasted their money and end up paying someone else AGAIN to do it right.
  • Link Building Services: This is called “black hat SEO” and no longer works. These types of companies made a killing back in 2007 – unfortunately for them that was a long time ago.

Finally, to quote Search Engine Watch: “As you begin shopping for SEO agencies and making your decision, be mindful of the following points”:

SEO takes time and you aren’t likely going to see results for at least 90 days. For this reason a package that gives you the best price over a long period of time is going to be the most effective for your needs. SEO is a long-term investment and the most enduring SEO results come from a long-term relationship. If you’re looking for instant sales or traffic you will want to spend on Pay Per Click which is a whole other ball of wax!

SEO is constantly changing and your rankings will fluctuate: New sites spring up every day, Google is constantly altering it’s algorithm to prevent cheating and provide for a better user experience. With all these and many other factors at play realize that nothing will ever be set in stone. It takes constant monitoring and effort to maintain great organic rankings.

If you’re in the market remember that SEO shouldn’t about shopping around for the lowest prices. It’s about finding the finest agency you can. Look for an SEO agency with good case studies that clearly defines its deliverables, and takes the time to educate you on what it’s doing and why. Unless people are able to find you online what’s the point of being there?

To learn more about how Apex Digital Media can help you with your SEO needs click here.


(data sourced from http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2267471/how-much-should-you-spend-on-seo-services)

ByApex Digital Media

How Much Does a WordPress Site Cost?

One of the most frequent questions business contacts will ask us is – “how much does a wordpress site cost?” – to be 100% honest there is no straight answer. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that is extremely versatile. It can do just about everything but most importantly it allows people with zero knowledge of web design the ability to create content online.

Some businesses need to sell products – WordPress has a deep ecommerce integration through WooCommerce. Some websites need to be able to allow new users to create and manage their own accounts – WordPress has a built in solution for handling this, etc. etc. A typical WordPress site at it’s core, domain, hosting, software installation can be fairly cheap. Good domain, good host and you’re looking at $300 a year if you can install, set up and customize the site yourself. Those are just basic costs – but when you need custom apps, design adjustments, etc. that’s when the costs begin to increase. Building a wordpress site isn’t much different than coding a site by hand. The core elements are there for you to use and a designer / developer can take those elements and shape them to a customer’s needs – in much the same way the basic HTML or CSS elements are there for a coder to use. WordPress is simply another platform, or vessel for design.

The Importance of Web Design is Largely Underestimated

One thing we find time and time again is that business owners will do as much as they can to get a website “on the cheap” – they will try to do it themselves in their spare time, have a grandkid or a cousin tinker with it… all the while having a subpar representation of their business visible to the world. These people will come to us and want to spend several thousand dollars a month on advertising to try and drive new business – but the advertising is sending people to a flawed website that will never result in actual business.

If you are a business owner, your website is a big investment! This is your first impression to most people who are looking for what you do online. Think about it on your own terms – if you want something you go to Google, type in “best fishing gear” and you’re going to see brands like Cabela’s and BassPro but you will also see mom and pop business in the mix with these muti-million dollar franchises. These smaller shops have one chance to gain your business and imagine if you clicked through to “Dave’s Fishing Shop” because they had a great price on some waders but their site looked like it was built in 1995… You’re going to be less likely to make a purchase there.

So… How Much Does a WordPress Site Cost?

There is no right answer here, however there are some good price ranges to consider and anyone that is way above or below these should raise concern. Someone who is too cheap is likely going to do a subpar job and then you’re just going to have to pay someone else again to do it right. Someone who is too expensive is either overcharging, outsourcing for a profit or in some cases just good enough and in enough demand to charge higher rates than their counterparts.

Typical WordPress Website

For a company just looking for a basic, 100% mobile & tablet responsive, 10 to 15 page website with a typical templated design the average cost is going to be around $2,500-$3,500. The low end would probably not include things like hosting, domain costs, email addresses, ongoing support & updates, etc.

Custom WordPress Website

This would include all of the basics from the typical set up but then add in items like a custom-built contact form, newsletter registration, hosting and domain registration costs, 5 – 10 email addresses, etc. These more customized design packages will run a bit higher in the $3,500 – $5,000 range.

eCommerce WordPress Website

eCommrece for WordPress is a bit more development heavy and as a result more costly. While plugins such as WooCommerce are available to help you will most likely still need the aid of a developer to customize them to your liking and set up payment gateways, shopping carts, etc. Other features that you will want to consider here are support (in case something you can’t fix breaks), custom landing pages for advertising campaigns, feeds for 3rd party store fronts, and anything else that helps you drive sales or new business. So how much does an eCommerce WordPress Site Cost? You’re looking at a range somewhere between $5,000-$15,000 depending on your needs.

For more information about how Apex Digital Media can help you with your design needs, click here.

ByApex Digital Media

Magento Design and Development Costs

Magento Design and Development is Expensive

e-commerce-web-designWe do a lot of design for e-commerce driven businesses. One of the things we’ve run into a lot over the past couple years is people with unfinished Magento sites who need our help to get them functioning properly.

This can be a daunting task depending on several factors including which version of Magento they have and what type of hosting solution they are using. We did a lot of research into the costs associated with building and maintaining and found this article by the good folks at Shero Designs that covers the issue with great nuance. We borrowed a few of the key points from it for our blog and we encourage you to click over to their website and read the full version of the original post if you’re seriously considering a Magento site. (We also encourage you to read this thread and as many of the responses as you have time for.)

Magento Hosting

Let’s start with the basics. You need to strongly consider your hosting before anything. We recently took on a client who does pre-sale launches that produce incredibly high traffic spikes. Initially working with this customer there were issues with his server CPU maxing out. We were forced to move him to a more robust host and they are no longer having problems. If you are using Enterprise Edition you will need a dedicated server – however, we recommend it with Community Edition as well if you are planning on serving a large, international market.

If you are a site that’s doing 30 / 50,000 uniques or more per month it’s a good idea to get a dedicated server that is not cloud based. Most people completely negate the cost of hosting when looking to build a site of this nature but it’s an important one. You should be able to find a good dedicated server for $300 – $500 a month. If you are a small store without a budget like that you can work with shared hosting to start and find a hosting company that can grow with you. A lot of companies will have basic starter packages for $10 / $20 a month and as your site begins to grow you can expand to larger packages with ease.

Some questions to ask yourself when choosing a Magento hosting company are:

  • Will you need shared hosting, dedicated or multi-server environment?
  • Where is your target market located Geographically?
  • How many unique visits / day do you expect?
  • How many concurrent Magento customers do you expect?
  • How large will your catalog be (SKU count)?
  • Will you be using the Magento Payment Bridge?
  • Will you be using a service to monitor your website’s performance (e.g Pingdom, New Relics)?
  • Will you need a content delivery network (CDN)?

Basic Magento Website – Approx. $25 – $50,000.00

This is a basic website for a business starting from scratch or moving over from a different platform. This can be done by using a pre-built template which can be purchased or comes with a basic install of Magento. Another method is by converting an Adobe Photoshop design into a Magento store. Both of these options require a good deal of time to set up, configure, customize and test which is why even at a basic level Magento sites are not cheap.

Here are some of the basic features you can expect with a basic set-up of this nature.

  • The Latest Community Magento Edition
  • Limit of about 5,000 SKU’s
  • Simple Design Implementation
  • Transactional Emails with Store Logo
  • Inventory System or POS Integration
  • Integration of Payment Processor such as Authorize.net and alternative payment methods from PayPal, Amazon, Apple Pay, etc.
  • SSL Configuration
  • Product and Category Setup and Configuration
  • Site & Database Testing
  • Basic Shipping & Tax Configuration (usually requires an extension)
  • Internal quality assurance (QA) to ensure cross-browser compatibility and functioning of all features
  • Responsive design for mobile devices

Custom Magento Website Approx. $50 – $100,000.00 (and Up)

This option is for bigger, established retailers who do most of their business online and are either moving from a different eCommerce platform or are upgrading their existing Magento websites. It provides a complete solution to online selling and with a business continuity plan in place for growth.

  • 5,000+ SKU’s
  • On-Site SEO
  • Inventory System or POS Integration
  • Multilingual Store Front
  • Advanced 301 Redirects
  • Custom Home Page Design, Check Out Page, Product Landing Page Etc
  • Custom Banner/Graphics
  • Different Pricing for Wholesale, Partners, and Retail Customers
  • One Page Checkout
  • Address Validation at Checkout
  • Advanced Reviews
  • Auto-Complete Search
  • Gift Registry
  • WordPress Blog Integration
  • Social Media Sharing Options
  • Connection With Back office Accounting Systems, Sales Force, Rewards Program, and Other
  • Affiliate Marketing Systems
  • Testing/ QA
  • Code Documentation
  • Warranty and Support
  • Data Migration
  • Advanced Shipping Configuration

Magento Enterprise Cost $100,000-$250,000 and Up

This option includes all the features from the Custom Magento website. Magento Enterprise Edition comes with the following additional features:

  • Mobile Commerce
  • Multiple Stores
  • Full Page Caching
  • Free Professional Customer Support
  • Built in Modules
  • 25,000+ SKU’s
  • Private Sales, Wholesale, Gift Registries
  • Hosted By Magento
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Customer Segmentation
  • Targeted Promotions & Merchandising
  • Custom Coupons
  • Return Management Authorization

To find out more about how Apex Digital Media can help you with Magento Design and Development click here.

 

 

ByApex Digital Media

RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN FOR GOOGLE ADSENSE PART 2

Back in Oct of 2014 we did a post about responsive web design for Google AdSense. The post was really popular but as all things internet related do, the details and process have evolved quite a bit since Oct 2014.

With that in mind I thought I’d publish a quick update as sort of a “heads up” to bloggers & publishers who may still be struggling with this issue. It’s actually very very simple now for Google AdSense. We will cover setting it up in DFP and other ad servers in a later post but we’ll keep this post nice and simple for Google AdSense.

It took me a while to grasp this but Google’s new “Responsive” format will fit ANY ad size – including the 728×90. I mistakenly thought the responsive ad size was simply a 300×250 that would scoot over on a mobile device screen…

adsense-responsive-ad-unit

Google AdSense – Responsive Unit

I always opted for the 728×90 as my header ad, but in fact the responsive unit IS a fully responsive ad unit that when placed within a “div” tag will read the size of the space and serve ad formats that fit based on the user’s screen size. It’s pretty awesome. As an example, below are some shots of how the Apex blog looks on my desktop (Macbook Pro) and on my iphone.

Here’s the types of ads I’ll see on the desktop version of the site:

apexblog-desktop-ad

Google Responsive Ad – Desktop

And here’s how that ad unit displays on the mobile version of the site:

apexblog-adsense-mobile

Google AdSense Responsive – Mobile

ByApex Digital Media

Social Media Management Best Practices & What to Look For

Social Media has quickly evolved from the glittery “showin some love” gifs of MySpace to a full blown world of platforms we use every day to communicate and express ourselves. No one just has a single profile anymore, you share your photo’s on Instagram, your personal life through Facebook, you use Yelp to find a great restaurant, and on and on. Social Media has intertwined with modern society in ways we never would’ve forseen 10 – 15 years ago.

If you’re a company without a social presence you are way behind. Most modern corporations not only have active social teams and marketing campaigns, they also encourage all employees to maintain a social presence or represent the company in the social media space.

Apex does a lot of social media management for small businesses as well as large corporations. It used to be that “social media expert” was a laughable term in the marketing industry “an expert at tweeting? lol” but social media of today is extremely nuanced and one of the best ways to gain new customers and audience so it’s something to take very seriously. Each platform has something different to offer and depending on what type of business you run you can take advantage of this nuance. Pinterest for example is a widely underrated tool for driving traffic to a website. You can post high res photos of your products that link directly back to your site. Pinterest works as a recommendation engine so if there are users who like fishing poles and you sell high end fishing poles, the chances are good the right people will see your products and might even click through to your website to purchase.

In researching best practices for social media management, we came across this article from Forbes that does a great job of illustrating the diverse set of skills a quality social media management rep, firm or team would have. We paraphrased them for you, but recommend you read the full article here if you’re seriously seeking information on the subject.

  1. Advertising Experience (Specifically, Social Advertising): Just about every platform now has a paid advertising model that savvy businesses can utilize to their benefit. Having someone on board with the knowledge of how these programs work and how to take advantage of them is important. As an example, Facebook gives you the ability to target people by what they like. This is a HUGE advantage to businesses trying to get the word out about a product that already has a built in fan base. As an example, if you’re advertising for the new “DC Comics” Superhero movie, you already know you’ve got the eyeballs of the fans who like DC Comics, but you can target advertising to people who like Marvel comics. An audience with a known interest in comics and superheros, that you don’t currently have access to via your organic channels. It only gets better from there, you can target age demographics, DMA’s, and just about anything else you can imagine. Once you start spending in these channels you’ll also want to have someone who can look at the analytics data and make intelligent decisions and adjustments with that information. This is probably one of the most important attributes to look for when hiring a social media management expert or firm to represent your company’s best interests.
  2. Graphic Design Skills: Posts with images always get more love. Think about it for yourself, as you scroll through your social feed you’re more likely to click on or like a post that has a funny image or an interesting image. That’s not to say there’s no value to the text, but it’s human nature to go with the pretty visual. This is why it’s important that your social manager have a solid understanding of graphic design. This person may need to resize images, color correct, or even create images on behalf of your company. One of the things that Apex provides our clients with is Infographic Creation. We have seen that social shares with infographics or funny meme’s will garner much more traction with a brands audience than posts without. These graphic images can also be used to distinguish you from competition. Brands that are sharing interesting or valuable things to an audience free from a sales pitch, just for the sake of sharing tend to gain popularity very quickly on social platforms and eventually this loyal audience translates into new business.
  3. Understanding of SEO / Native Advertising / Content Marketing: Let’s face it at this point in time Google search pretty much powers the internet, accept that reality. If people are looking for something they are going to Google it. I don’t discount the value of Bing, Yahoo and other independent search engines but they are all following in Google’s wake… (in much the same way any smart phone is following in the iPhone’s wake, but I won’t get into that here!). Google’s organic search algorithms now incorporate “social value” as a big part of ranking content. The more social value and traffic referrals your content has from social platforms – the better it’s going to rank in search engines. Anyone who works with you in a Social Media context should be aware of these basic facts and have a strategy that aligns with your overall content production to help drive new traffic and business to your brand.
  4. Excellent Communication / Writing Skills: In a business setting anyone who’s working for you should be able to read and write at a college level. That aside, your social person or team should be communicating daily with your customer base (if you’re doing things right). With that in mind this person or team should have great writing skills and be able to effectively express the things that need to be conveyed to your audience. A social feed rife with spelling errors and mistakes can make a brand look extremely unprofessional and sloppy. When you’re considering a person or firm for this role ask yourself can they clearly convey ideas in writing? Are they able to maintain a consistent voice when writing on behalf of your brand? Do they convey passion and excitement for your brand in their interactions? Can they maintain top-notch professionalism and avoid embarrassing grammatical or spelling errors… or worse yet politically incorrect statements that can create PR nightmares? Make sure you take these types of questions into consideration before making a decision.
  5. A Customer Service Mentality: One of the questions I ask of anyone who works with Apex is if they’ve ever read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. The reason is that this book does one thing incredibly well – it helps foster a sense of empathy. If you can empathize with your customers you will always provide incredible service! The person or team representing you on social media needs to be quick to respond to questions and complaints. Your social presence is the face of your brand online, everything they say or do is a representation of your brand and your business so it’s not something to be taken lightly!

These are 5 good qualities to consider when looking for a person or firm to handle social media management on your behalf. The industry evolves so quickly though, the needs have evolved even over just the past couple years. Look for updated posts and information about social media management on our blog in the future.

To learn more about how Apex Digital Media can help you with social media management, click here.

ByApex Digital Media

AdWords PPC Management Pro-Tip #7 – Google Merchant Shopping Feeds

AdWords PPC Management Tip #7 – Google Shopping Feed

Apex is a Los Angeles, CA based digital agency heavily involved in adwords ppc management. For this reason we learn a lot in real time, as we execute campaigns daily for clients. This is why part 7 in our series is going to discuss Google shopping feeds and Product Listing Ads. If you’ve ever searched for something very specific in Google you’ve probably seen them, they look like this:

google-product-listing-ads

Example of Google Product Listing Ads

We recently had a client (who will for contractual reasons remain unnamed) who had an unsuccessful PPC campaign after 30 days. It wasn’t completely our fault… and to be honest, it was a lot more successful than most AdWords campaigns are in their first month – despite the issues. All that aside, we also learned 2 very valuable lessons from the experience.

  1. Make sure that no one internally is altering the site’s URL’s during an AdWord’s campaign
  2. For ANY brand selling items online always set up a Google Merchant account and run product listing ads. The CPC here is much lower and the conversion rates are much higher. They are perfect for e-commerce driven businesses….

Never done this before? You’re in luck. The next section will explain in 3 easy steps how to get your product feed up and running, and converting sales for you or your clients.

Before we dive into this – if you still need help you can go directly to Google’s help page for this topic, which is much more extensive than this post: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/3455481?hl=en

Step 1 – Create a Google Merchant Account

That is if you don’t have one yet. You will also need an AdWords account to associate this with – but we’re kind of assuming you already have that. For the merchant account go here: http://merchants.google.com Once you have this set up you will need to follow the instructions to associate it with your Google AdWords account.

Step 2 – Create & Upload a Product feed

The first thing to consider here is this – Google Shopping Policies. Make sure you read these policies and abide by them. If you’ve ever worked with Google you know that they value the user experience and seek to serve the most relevant search results to their users. So as you’re structuring your product feed – keep this in mind. DO NOT try to keyword spam or use shady tactics in your feed or you will be banned from Google Shopping altogether.

File Formats – The only file formats you’re going to be able to use are XML and .txt. If you’re a programmer who can code for an API you shouldn’t be reading this anyway! Google recommends using .txt if you have minimal technical expertise so keep that in mind.

Basic Product Information – There are tags for basic product information:

  • id [id] – An identifier of the item
  • title [title] – Title of the item
  • description [description] – Description of the item
  • google product category [google_product_category] – Google’s category of the item
  • product type [product_type] – Your category of the item
  • link [link] – URL directly linking to your item’s page on your website
  • mobile link [mobile_link] – Mobile Landing Page URLs
  • image link [image_link] – URL of an image of the item
  • additional image link [additional_image_link] – Additional URLs of images of the item
  • condition [condition] – Condition or state of the item

Availability & Price – This is to manage price and inventory information for your store. You can find advice on providing the most up-to-date or fresh data here.

  • availability [availability] – Availability status of the item
  • availability date [availability_date] – The day a pre-ordered product becomes available for delivery
  • price [price] – Price of the item
  • sale price [sale_price] – Advertised sale price of the item
  • sale price effective date [sale_price_effective_date] – Date range during which the item is on sale

Your feed will need to contain the REQUIRED attributes or it will not serve in Google. You can make sure you set up everything correctly using this reference here.

Step 3 – Create Product Listing Ads in AdWords

You’re in the home stretch. The toughest part of this is setting up and loading your product feed. Once you have that implemented and working correctly the rest is easy.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab. Then, click + Campaign and select Shopping.

adwords-shopping-campaign

 

If you need additional help view the full Google walkthrough here.

To learn more about how Apex Digital Media can help your business with AdWords PPC Management Click Here.

ByApex Digital Media

Digital Audience Targeting at 2015 Network Upfronts

In another sign that digital marketing has officially achieved mainstream status, advanced audience target is going to have a seat at 2015 TV Upfronts. Media vendors are promising advertisers cross-platform reach – mainly out of necessity as viewer attention is beginning to fragment across devices. Brands want to be sure that when they commit to an upfront buy there are going to be “multiple points of execution” as ad exchanger puts it.

According to AdAge & Forrester – Digital ad spending is going to overtake traditional television by the end of 2016 so this intermingling of digital and television in upfronts has been going on for a while now but is really starting to take hold as more and more people move from traditional television viewing to tablets and handheld mobile devices.

apex-digital-user-targeting-upfronts

Brands are beginning to target users across multiple devices.

 

NBC is one network who has been ahead of the curve with this trend. Their launch of Hulu in 2004 has proven to be a very wise move in the wake of success stories like Netflix and Apple TV. They recently launched a tool called “Social Sync” that allows advertisers to integrate paid and organic social campaigns with TV distribution efforts. About 1/3 of client business NBC transacted at upfronts last year included TV & Digital Extensions. They expect an even bigger number of marketers to bring converged budgets to the table this year. A+E Networks is another major player leaning heavily into the digital space. One challenge it faces is justifying advertiser spend for newer formats like in-app video. On average the network says it has 50%-60% of traffic moving from traditional desktop into mobile and other non-desktop environments.

In addition to advertisers shifting more budget from television to digital media agencies are beginning to meld their digital video and TV buying groups. The dynamics between television networks and agencies during Upfront negotiations is also starting to produce some interesting dynamics.

One is the urgency factor, booking ad placements at upfronts is likened to booking a flight during the holidays. If you book ahead you’re guaranteed to get a lower price and the seat you want. Another is the differential in network ratings and the prices that advertisers are willing to pay for premium content. The advertiser will use a drop in TV ratings to argue for reduced CPM’s and sellers will counter with data and new channels, proprietary audience targeting, apps, and other new opportunities.

The push back from the agencies remains on the loss of audience. They feel justified in offering lower CPM’s to networks for a drop in ratings, while the networks will argue that the audiences have just moved over to mobile, video on demand and other methods of viewing their content. At the end of the day TV Networks have the premium video content that the biggest and highest spending brand advertisers want to be associated with. Brands are going to pay for the audience one way or another, regardless of what type of device they are viewing the content on.

The process of TV upfronts will continue to merge with digital in the coming years as technology, viewing habits and platforms continue to evolve.

 (source: http://adexchanger.com/digital-tv/digital-influences-tv-buys-as-networks-prep-for-converged-upfronts)
ByApex Digital Media

AdWords Management Pro-Tip #8 – Callout Extensions

So you’re probably asking yourself: “If this is the first post in your AdWords Management series; why I haven’t seen #’s 1 – 7?” The answer is not because I am a Tarantino-esque genius who created an intricate web of blog posts that starts at #8 and circles back to #1 for the climactic finish… It’s mainly because our first post in the series covers a topic that’s a little more of intermediate to advanced level practice for an effective AdWords campaign manager.

I could spend a lot of time gushing about how much I love Google, maybe even to the point that it would be considered virtual brown nosing – or “blog-nosing” to coin a term… (® Jan 26, 2015 – ie. “Please give me better rankings for “blog-nosing” Google!”), You have to respect the way that they strive to make a quality search engine that delivers the most relevant possible results to its users. This holds true not only from an organic SEO perspective but also from a paid advertising perspective.

Even in paid advertising Google’s methods reward not just the advertiser with the most money, who bids the highest but also the advertiser who takes time to create a worthwhile user experience. “Quality Score” is a real example of this practice. Even the smallest e-commerce shoe sales website can compete with a giant like Zappo’s for customers in AdWords as long as they keep their landing pages clean and their keywords relevant. In fact, Google rewards them with lower cost clicks for taking time to do things right.

To get to the point, AdWords is always evolving, and so AdWords management as a procedure has to evolve as well. One of the most recent evolutions in the AdWords is the “callouts” extension. Much like the “site links” extension it gives you the ability to add additional customization to your ad and thereby get a larger chunk of real estate, which will in turn increase your click through rates.

AdWords Management - Callouts

Callouts

If Sitelinks are like the different departments of your business, Callouts are like the signs you would place in the window of your business. Things like “20% off all purchases over $100” or “Free Shipping with All Orders!” are the types of phrases you can use in a call out. It gives you an opportunity to better showcase the nature of your business and your offers to prospective customers – at a glance. As I hinted at earlier it also gives you a larger piece of real estate which usually results in a higher click through rate.

Yet another way that Google helps the little guy compete online and keeps the market fair for all.