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Below is a presentation I gave at SLC | SEM on Google AMP. I cover how we’ve gotten to this point, some common pitfalls in setting up Google AMP, and share some of the results we’re seeing.

Should you launch AMP pages?

”It Depends…”

  • If you have a site in Google news – YES!
  • If your traffic is over 500k visitors a month – YES! (in most cases)
  • If you monetize through lead gen – NO!
  • If you’re a small/mid-size ecomm website – NO! (but probably soon)
  • If your blog is on WordPress with little monetization – YES! (plugins available)
  • If you don’t have the resources to keep your AMP pages up to date – NO!
  • If you don’t plan on building and testing independently of Google – NO!


What Makes You Itch?


Too many times in marketing we’re trying to push a relationship on our customers. We want to push content onto them. We want to push them into buying something from us. We want to push them into liking us on social media. People do this because it works, usually at least once. But how do you create long term relationships with the people that matter most to your business? How do you create brand ambassadors?

The writers at Pixar are some of the best in the business. They’ve won countless Academy Awards for their work on stories, so who better to get some tips on creating experiences from? These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist.

It was a lot of fun to think of the characters she references as your customers. If you have well-researched user profiles created, it should be easy to make these connections.

When was the last time you took a few minutes to think about your user experience from first visit to checkout completion? What are you doing to engage them after the purchase? You might be reminding them to reorder or remarketing to them, but are you focusing on delighting them beyond the purchase?

Many of these have inspired me to improve my customer connections and their experiences. I would love to hear how you’ve used some these to improve the experiences of your customers!

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

The only difference is the guy in the suit also takes my wallet.

All It Takes Is A Sliver

What do you do when you’ve been buried under an avalanche? How do you fight when it feels like you want to give up?

You don’t know if it’s one or ten feet of snow on top after the avalanche settles. All you know is that you’re going to keep digging until you get to fresh air. Sometimes in business it’s like this. All it takes is a sliver of light, that taste of fresh air, and you’ll be pushing harder than you ever have before.

Don’t be the type of person who allows themselves to give up. Sometimes the tiniest sliver of light can lead to a massive breakthrough.

I was fortunate to be able to attend Affiliate Summit West 2013 (#asw13) last week and learned a lot. I’ve been going to conferences for a long time and have been to many over the years. Recently, I’ve been able to attend SMX, AdTech, Internet Retailer, and others. I’ve never taken the time to publicly share my thoughts on the sessions and keynotes but it might be a good idea to open up a dialogue and see if my findings matched up with anyone else’s.

Affiliate Summit West 2013

Many of these findings might only apply to me and my projects, but overall I believe they can help no matter what business you’re in.

Mobile Should Dominate Your Focus

Mobile has been growing leaps and bounds the last 5 years. Smartphone use is on the rise and m-commerce conversions were up 40% over last year. If you don’t have a mobile site or your site isn’t responsive, you are missing a huge opportunity.

Creating a mobile site isn’t enough anymore, you need to segment your mobile messaging by the type of device used. For example, a Blackberry user might be a completely different demographic from an iPad user. Make sure to think this through and adjust accordingly.

Remember the future of inbound marketing revolves around mobile. Look for channels that interact with the mobile customer.

Know Your Goal 

Sounds simple enough. But more often than not our goal is to sell more stuff, and we’re missing out on surprising and delighting our customer base in the process. When we focus on sales only, we lose the opportunity to create brand ambassadors which are necessary for long-term success. The goal in any online business should be to create a brand. By focusing on your brand you can create trust with your audience. When the trust is there and you believe in your product, the sales will come.

Be Benefit Driven

When you’re crafting your content or campaigns, focus on the benefits of your offering. We live in a world where information comes at us from all angles at 100 miles per second. The customer wants to know “How can this article benefit me” or “How can this product benefit me”. When we get wrapped up in talking about technical features, or designing things without a content substance we can lose the customer. Within the first few sentences of a post, it should be crystal clear what benefit they’ll get out of reading until the end. In the example of a product page, make it clear what buying will do for them.

Competitive Analysis Paralysis

I’m guilty of this one. Spending way too much time analyzing what our competitors are doing. This can lead to what I call “big brother syndrome”. There will always be someone better than you. The key is to not try to emulate what they’re doing but figure out what your differentiating factors are and focus on those. When you constantly analyze everyone else you are adding no value to your business.

Know When To Quit

Failing is one of the hardest things to have to deal with, professionally or personally. If you’re an elite marketer then you’ve failed a lot. When we are too reluctant to fail we waste valuable time trying to make something work that our gut tells us never will. Seth Godin has a book called “The Dip” which talks about this in greater detail. I recommend checking it out.

Remember without failing on your last project your latest project might have never been successful. Continually improve, fail early, and remember their lessons.

High Quality Work Wins Every Time

Do you ever have a huge stack of work that needs done that you just want to crank through? Sometimes that’s ok, but remember quality work stands the test of time. Prioritize and spend the extra hour refining that blog post or take a second look at those campaigns, you won’t regret it. When you are completing things just to check them off your list, you’re failing your customers.

Repurpose Your Content

If you are spending time creating this quality content, put it to good use! If it’s a blog post, maybe that can be made into a Podcast, eBook, Infographic, or social media posts. Get creative and think of where your customers are online.

Put Yourself Out There

The classic saying is that as an attendee, you get out of a conference what you put into it. Talk to people, try to be interested in not only the company their representing but who they are as people. I’ve met lots of good friends and business contacts that started with the question, “So, how did you get into online marketing?” Most people there are just trying to sell things, so trying to make friends sets you apart from everyone else. You paid a lot of money to be there, so you might as well go to the parties, meet as many people as you can, and make some new friends.

Know Who Your Customers Are

I’m surprised by how many times I see marketing messaging from brands that don’t have a vision for who their customer is. Customer research is vital to giving your brand a voice. If you sell boutique women’s clothing at a higher price point you better know who you’re talking to. Give this target customer a name. In this example we’ll call her Susan. Susan is 50 years old, loves hearing about new trends in fashion, has 2 grown children, and makes over $100k per year. When you write campaigns, blogs, or social media posts, they should be for Susan. If you can pull this off you’ll gain the trust of your target demographic.

Tools and Sites I Intend to Try

There were also a number of sites and SEM tools I heard about which I’d like to try. Hopefully within the coming months I’ll be able to give some feedback on them.

SiteScout – Self-serve RTB platform
Coull – Video performance network
Impact Radius – Affiliate marketing tracking suite
HasOffers – Custom affiliate network creation
WhatRunsWhere – Competitive intelligence for media buying
HireWriters – Bloggers for hire
Cloudfare – Low cost CDN

If you have anything to add I would love to chat with you. You can leave a comment below or add me on Twitter (@jessesem).

Really good integration of twitter and display ads done by @googledisplay. This sort of melding of real-time feedback and display advertising leaves the door wide open for companies.

If you run multiple PPC accounts for clients you should know about a metric called profit per impression (PPI). Consistently I am looking for a quick way to determine the true value of an ad test and PPI is a really quick way to do it.

Recently a client of ours changed one of their shipping policies, they were no longer going to be offering free shipping.

My reaction when learning free shipping was going away.

If the foundation of your PPC ads revolve around the terms ‘free shipping’ as a differentiator from the competition, this can be a big blow. I immediately started doing the math in my head. 20 campaigns, 50 ad groups, 4 ads per ad group, banner ads, well… you get the idea.

Knowing that we would be creating new ads, and potentially changing existing ones my mind immediately went to the PPI metric. It allows you to figure out the true balance between click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR), since most of the time when comparing ads these are never the same, and figure out the true revenue made every time an ad is displayed.

PPI is pretty simple once you know the formula:

(Revenue – Cost)/Impressions * 1,000

Here are the instructions on how to figure out this Adwords metric using Google Analytics data:

  1. Select your desired date range.
  2. Select Campaigns > Ad Group.
  3. Select Ad Content from the main drop down.
  4. Export to excel as a csv.
  5. In excel, strip out all rows and columns except Impressions, Cost, and Revenue.
  6. Add a new column at the end titled PPI.
  7. In that newly created column the formula will look something like this: =SUM(D2-C2)/B2*1000
  8. You can then drag down the sheet once you’ve changed your format to accounting.

Now you have a true formula for profit per 1,000 impressions. So you can easily compare new ads vs. old ads and not “wait for Adwords data”. Using this formula, we were able to determine which ads had the best PPI out of the gate, and help smooth transition that happens when you have a massive ad copy change.

I’ll do another another blog post on waiting for data to populate, as that’s a huge hot button for me.

via: http://bit.ly/iZBhJL

Google announced today that they are testing displaying the URL in the headline for Adwords ads. It seems with each new “test” it gets harder and harder for small companies to compete in Adwords. How can a mom and pop shop with the URL “stephanieselectronicsshop.com” compete with an “amazon.com”? You used to be able to outsmart bigger companies with smart ad copy, looks like branding is becoming more and more important.

via: http://bit.ly/mgU5MW

This penalty seems a bit light to me. Google probably made well over $500 million all time by allowing out of country drug companies to advertise on Adwords. Considering Adwords revenues were over $28 billion for 2010 alone.

I still see companies doing this today. I don’t think it’s a factor of Google complicity allowing it as it is their team being undermanned to police the ad channel.

Still, $500 million seems low.