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6 Advantages of Working with a Google Partner [UPDATED]

It’s no secret that Leverage Marketing has earned the Premier Google Partner badge. Our Partner badge, which signifies that we have multiple employees certified in Google AdWords, is in the footer of every one of our pages (and in this post), and we link the badge directly to our Partner page. But what does it mean to be a badged Google Partner and why is working with a Google Partner better?

Why a Premier Partner Badge Matters

Google recently made a Premier Google Partner badge available to advertisers who have passed the criteria to become a Google Partner and have also met higher spending and performance requirements. Leverage has earned this badge by having multiple employees certified in AdWords, managing a large ad spend every 90 days, and continuously meeting Google’s standards to maintain partner status.

We have also earned specializations in Search and Mobile advertising. This means we have team members certified in these specific product areas and are well-versed in helping clients create and optimize ads for both desktop and mobile.

As Google Partners, we are well-versed in all things AdWords and are devoted to paid search marketing for a variety of clients. Being a Google Partner means that we deliver quality customer service, offer a competitive advantage to clients, and have received training to help grow businesses online. Below are 7 specific advantages of working with a Google Partner such as ourselves.

  1. Work with Certified Analysts and Account Managers— Any company that achieves Google Partner status has employees with Google Adwords certifications managing their clients’ accounts. Google ensures that these certifications are current and that the company or agency meets Google’s standards for account management best practices.
  1. Have Access to Masters of AdWords Features — Google Partners must be well-versed in all the features of AdWords and use them in a way that is profitable to the client. Our analysts are required to master the use of negative keywords, site links inside of ads, ad extensions, phrase match keywords, split testing with AdWords, broad match modified keywords, ad scheduling, and more.
  1. Get a Leg up on the Competition with Beta Features– Companies that have earned a Google Partner badge have access to Google’s beta features. This means that after Google has developed a new feature or application, its partners can test and use this feature up to a year or more before it is available to the general public. Imagine the advantages to be gained by using Google marketing features before your competition even has access to it!
  1. Avoid Waiting in Line – Google Partners with a large ad spend have their own Google Agency Team that they can contact without waiting in line any time a client has an issue. Let’s say your site has a problem with malware and your AdWords campaigns are shut down. You continue to lose money until those campaigns are reactivated. It can sometimes take days to address this matter, but if you or your agency has access to a Google Agency Team, the problem can be addressed immediately.
  1. Keep up with PPC Best Practices – In order to maintain Google Partner status, agency team members must take certification exams in AdWords Fundamentals, Search, Display, Shopping, Video, and Mobile Advertising. Partners are also able to attend free training sessions to keep up with the latest PPC practices, so you’ll know that your agency is keeping up with PPC strategies as they evolve.
  1. Testing & Innovation – Google Adwords Partners are required to show they are employing best practices. This may include actively doing split testing on ads to attract the greatest volume of customers to a client’s site and ensuring that there are multiple ads per campaign group with different keywords and messaging. Google encourages ongoing experimentation by targeting the various demographics that fall into a client’s target market.

A company that doesn’t continue to maintain Google’s standards for partner status can have their badge removed. This ensures that a high standard of service is maintained no matter the date that Partner Status was achieved. When you work with Leverage Marketing, you get an agency that is qualified by Google—and an agency that offers its own guarantee of high-quality service.

 

Being a Google Partner Also Has Some Perks

 

4 Ways to Track Conversions When Your URL Does Not Change

If you perform Internet marketing functions for enough clients, you’re bound to run across this problem at one point or another.  What do you do when you are trying to track a goal or conversion but the URL does not change after action is taken?  This happens most often when people submit lead forms–you hit “Submit” and the form posts but the entire page does not refresh.  Far too many people just end up giving up, and then, are unable to track their campaign performance.  Others will set that form page as a goal / conversion so anyone who sees the lead form counts as a win whether they complete the form or not. There has to be a better way, right?  Well there is, or actually, there are.  Below are several ways to track these conversions along with examples.  I’ll do my best to break this down for the novice developer but some basic HTML / Javascript skills are required.


Call to action text in case your image doesn't load.

For Analytics-based tracking, these tips are for Universal Analytics and calls to analytics.js.  If your implementation still calls ga.js, we will provide links to Google’s Developer resources for legacy implementations (though you should strongly consider upgrading your implementation to analytics.js)

1. Analytics Event Tracking

Event Tracking is a fairly powerful and very underutilized function in Google Analytics that allows you to track things like button clicks, video plays, or file downloads.  Event tracking makes a call to ga.js in order to notate non-pageview items on your website.  The results will show up in the “Events” reports under the “Content” section of Google Analytics.  You can also define an event as a goal.  For our purposes, we want to track people who press the “Submit” button on the lead form.

In this example, we only need to focus on the “Submit” button in the code.  Below is a generic example of such a button.

<input type=”button” id=”subbtn” value=”Submit;” />

To add event tracking to this button, we’ll need a minimum of 3 basic elements:

  • Call the ga() function to send an event
  • An event category (a grouping that you determine for the event, i.e. “lead forms”)
  • An event action (what the user is doing to trigger the event, i.e. “submit”)

Labels (additional information you want to provide about the event) and values (similar to a goal value) can also be added but are not required.  We’ll omit them for simplicity.

After adding that information, here is how our new code should look:

<input type=”button” id=”subbtn” value=”Submit” onClick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Form’, ‘Submit’);” />

Click here to visit the Google Developer resources for ga.js implementations.

Please note that this is not a perfect solution.  If a user clicks the “Submit” button more than once, the event may be duplicated.  Also, if somebody does not fill out the form in its entirety and receives an error upon submitting, it will still track as an event even if they do not go back and complete the form.  If you have some sort of form validation in place, you can modify the code to only run if the submission was successful but that will vary by the type of form you’re using.

2. Analytics On-Click Virtual Pageviews

The _trackPageview function is another call to ga.js that allows you to artificially generate a pageview when an actual pageview does not take place.  This is quite useful for many of the same reasons as Event Tracking, and has the added benefit of showing up as a pageview in your content reports.  For example, if you have an AJAX shopping cart, you can use this function to tell which step of the checkout a user abandons.  This is also common if you have PDFs on your site for sales info, forms, restaurant menus, etc. Virtual pageviews can also be turned into goals, just like a standard pageview goal.

For this tracking function, let’s assume your checkout is all on one page but requires users to click “continue” to reach separate sections.  Below is the existing code example:

<button type=”button” id=”continueCheckout” onclick=”billing.save()”></button>

(user clicks that button, and then, the following div loads)

<div id=”checkout-step-payment”>

With virtual pageviews, we only need to create the call to ga() function to send a pageview and provide the naming convention for the virtual URL.  There are numerous ways to call these actions but we’ll use an onclick event to do so here.  Below is the modified example:

<button type=”button” id=”continueCheckout” onclick=”billing.save(); javascript: ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, ‘/checkout/payment/’);“></button>

Click here to visit the Google Developer resources for ga.js implementations.

In this example, the semi-colon at the end of the existing onclick event is important so the browser knows to look for additional items when the button is clicked.

3. Conversion Code in a div that Loads after Submission.

In many forms, the user is greeted with a “thank you” message that appears on the page upon hitting submit but the URL does not change.  Generally, this type of response is called by PHP and the specifics of it can vary by the type of form you’re using.  However, if your site is developed in PHP, there’s a good chance your form page will have a section like the one below:

<?php if ( $success ) echo “<p>Thanks for sending your message! We’ll get back to you shortly.</p>” ?>

This is your opportunity to add your AdWords / AdCenter tracking code.  Simply paste the code you get from the PPC channel into the response message and it will appear after a user successfully submits your form.  Even though this is pretty straightforward, I have an example below (please substitute with your own PPC conversion code or this won’t work).

<?php if ( $success ) echo “<p>Thanks for sending your message! We’ll get back to you shortly.  <!– Google Code for Conversion Page –>

<script type=”text/javascript”>

/* <![CDATA[ */

var google_conversion_id = XXXXXXXXX;

var google_conversion_language = “en”;

var google_conversion_format = “3”;

var google_conversion_color = “ffffff”;

var google_conversion_label = “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”;

var google_conversion_value = 0.00;

var google_conversion_currency = “USD”;

var google_remarketing_only = false;

/* ]]> */

</script>

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion.js”>

</script>

<noscript>

<div style=”display:inline;”>

<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion/XXXXXXXXX/?value=0.00&amp;currency_code=USD&amp;label=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0″/>

</div>

</noscript>

</p>” ?>


Call to action text in case your image doesn't load.

4. On-Click Conversions with Call Tracking

This fairly new feature of AdWords allows you to track click-to-call actions on your website as conversions.  This is great for mobile traffic or desktop users that have Skype (or a similar VOIP solution) installed.  AdWords will also report conversions for visitors who manually dial the phone number displayed on the web page.  When you create a new conversion in AdWords, you’ll now see an option to track Phone Calls.

The conversion code is below, and has a few key differences from a standard conversion.

<script type=”text/javascript”>

(function(a,e,c,f,g,b,d){var h={ak:”XXXXXXXXX”,cl:”XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[f]||(a[f]=h.ak);b=e.createElement(g);b.async=1;b.src=”//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js”;d=e.getElementsByTagName(g)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a._googWcmGet=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,h,d,null,new Date,e)}})(window,document,”_googWcmImpl”,”_googWcmAk”,”script”);

</script>

For one, it’s all javascript.  Due to the nature of this conversion type, there is no way a script-free pixel can fire so users must have javascript enabled.

Beyond that, you need to have some extra code to make this conversion type work.  The code above goes on any page with your phone number listed.  To activate the conversion, you need to add a second piece of code to call the _googWcmGet() function and replace your phone number with a Google forwarding number when someone visits your site through an AdWords ad.  There are a few different options for implementing this piece, but the most straightforward is to create a “number” class and place your number in appropriate spans.  Here is an example:

<body onload=”_googWcmGet(‘number’,’555-555-1234’)”>

<span class=”number”>555-555-1234</span>

</body>

Now every time an AdWords visitor calls you from your site, a conversion will be triggered in AdWords. You can also define conversions based on the length of the call. It’s quite simple to implement and very valuable for companies that receive a lot of phone leads.

[Video] Why Leverage Chooses to Be a Marin Partner

Leverage prides itself in using cutting edge technologies to give its clients the greatest advantages over the competition, and Marin does just that.

Marin, a Revenue Acquisition Management Platform, allows our analysts to manage paid search campaigns across any search engines, manage social media campaigns across multiple channels, analyze thousands of keywords, and review data and reports from multiple sources.

 

Marin not only incorporates data from platforms like paid search accounts and social insights, it is also able to incorporate data from offline sales, call-tracking software, warehouse data and more.

 

With Marin, our analysts and our clients are given the gift of time, speed, and even a kind of marketing omniscience. As a Marin partner, we can make marketing decisions in real time, taking advantage of marketing trends as they emerge and preventing wasteful ad spending that may have occurred otherwise. Marin doubles the efficiency of online marketing. Rather than collecting and analyzing data spreadsheets from multiple sources before making a business decision, Marin puts the data we want to see in one place and at the moment we want to see it.

 

Marin doesn’t leave money sitting on the table and helps us invest it in the right place at the right time, increasing revenue wherever possible, hence the term Revenue Acquisition Management Platform.

 

So, why do we choose Marin? Basically Marin makes us a white whale of the competition, and it does the same for our clients. Without Marin, who can keep up?

 

Want to know more? We don’t blame you. Watch our Director of Paid Search, Tiger Sivasubramanian as he discusses the unique advantages that Marin offers any company.

Also read what our CEO, Bob Kehoe, has to say about Marin Software as our Force Multiplier.

 

 

 

Three Simple Ways to Take Full Advantage of Google Shopping

Google has been making changes to Product Listing Ads for quite awhile now, slowly moving people over from traditional PLAs to the new Shopping Campaign type.  You may have noticed the “validate” button disappeared when you tried to create new product targets for your PLAs.  And now the official announcement has come, Google will discontinue traditional PLAs in August, and only show product ads from Shopping Campaigns.  For those who fear change, or are at least afraid of losing out on all of the valuable optimizations that they’ve been faithfully performing on their product listing ads over the years, I bring you good tidings!  Once you start digging around in the new Shopping campaigns, you will probably come to the same conclusion as I have: “Where have you been all my life?” Read more

Force Multipliers, Vietnam & Our New Badass Software

This week I had breakfast with a good friend of mine who is recovering from knee replacement surgery. We hadn’t seen much of each other in recent weeks, so it was great to see him. There are many reasons I enjoy spending time with Bill. One of those reasons is that he is a living encyclopedia whose knowledge covers a wide range of topics. In fact, the only time I ever won a trivia contest was when I was partnered with Bill at a local sports bar on trivia night.

One of the interesting things about Bill is that after he graduated from the University of Texas in Austin he went straight to Vietnam. He served there in the U.S. Army from 1968-1972. His official title today is LT. COL. Bill Puckett, U.S. Army (Ret.) The other interesting thing about Bill is that he also worked for the CIA, and that comes with some incredibly interesting stories.

 

LT. COL. Bill Puckett, U.S. Army (Ret.) at right

 

I’m not sure how it came up in conversation but somehow we started talking about force multipliers. I wasn’t surprised when Bill started telling me a story about an important development during the Vietnam War when Laser Guided Bombs were used to destroy a target for the first time. The story began with the attempts to destroy a bridge in Vietnam named the Thanh Hóa Bridge. It was a critical link between different regions in the North Vietnam and a strategic passage for supplies and reinforcements to the Viet Cong fighting in South Vietnam. Both road and rail traffic passed over this bridge.

From 1965 to 1972 many attempts were made to destroy this bridge. In all, 873 sorties were flown, the largest being the first strike which was comprised of 79 aircraft. After dropping 1200 bombs on the bridge, many of which drifted off course, the only damage was some charring and traffic only stopped for a few hours. Sending that many planes up to hit the bridge gave the enemy an incredible number of targets including bomber aircraft, radar jammers, search and rescue and tankers to name a few. Realizing the importance of the bridge, Bill said the Viet Cong had an impressive air defense network with 5 regiments being assigned to fight off U.S. air attacks.

In 1972, the bridge was finally destroyed by 12 USAF F-4 Phantoms, 8 of them equipped with laser guided bombs (LGBs), making it the first time in U.S. Military history that LGBs were used. This was a breakthrough moment as now fewer troops would be put in harm’s way and fewer resources would be needed to accomplish the same mission, making LGBs a force multiplier for the U.S. Military.

After breakfast as I was driving home, I thought about the term “force multiplier” and how it relates to my digital marketing business. In no way was I comparing it to the gravity of the story Bill had just told, but how the term itself relates to what we do.

One of the things we do to continue to provide value to our clients is to try and squeeze as much out of an hour of work as we possibly can. Companies like Leverage Marketing are paid for our time and knowledge, and if I can add efficiencies to any one of our processes or services, we’re helping our customers get more out of the money they spend with us. A good way of looking at this is through the term “force multiplier” we have a number of platforms and technologies we use that fit in this category.

Our latest force multiplier is a new PPC management tool on the market right now. It works backwards from business goals to achieve the ultimate efficiency and profitability in PPC for our clients. The platform is called Marin and it is a bad ass system.

 

Marin-software-logoAt its core, Marin is not a PPC management tool. It’s a revenue acquisition management platform. It’s built to acquire insights that drive bottom line revenue. That’s something we like!  At Leverage, we take pride in transparency and delivering the most profitable results to our clients. This tool helps us do just that by separating the wheat from the chaff of digital advertising, and then taking that wheat and turning it into bread. Marin integrates data from nearly any data source you can think of: CRM systems, accounting software, AdWords, Analytics, Site Catalyst, you name it. The data needs to be free in order to be useful.

The system takes this data and uses algorithms that are informed by business goals to forecast profit potential, find pitfalls and help advertisers turn on a dime. Scaling is more efficient when technology takes into account the realities of your business like seasonality, margins and competition. Software like this allows analysts to spend more time on high value tasks like strategy, market share, messaging, and building lifetime value. We can move faster and more efficiently.

Combine these features with insightful executive-level reporting and granular reporting for analysts, and you have a force multiplier that is a unique competitive advantage in the right hands. A well-trained analyst will see and proactively prepare for potential pitfalls while simultaneously growing revenue.

Increasing speed, efficiency, profitability, and insight at the same time is the definition of a force multiplier. Just like the U.S. Military was able to take out Thanh Hóa Bridge.  By combining our highly trained and experienced analysts with the world’s best revenue acquisition platform, Leverage is able to take down the competition of its clients.  If you’re a competitor of one of our customers reading this, hopefully you’re not going to show up with a bow and arrow and expect to win.

Actionable Steps to Improve Your Website & Web Traffic in 2014

Audit and improve your website in 2014Whether it be a change in your lifestyle, family or business, the New Year is always a great time to start anew and make improvements. If you’ve resolved to improve your company’s website  and web traffic in 2014, we’ve got you covered. The best way to go about making real-life changes from any aspect is to first recognize and understand the problem. At Leverage we call this process the Audit phase. The most valuable thing you can do to start making changes on your site and get more traffic  is to audit it first. Once you gain awareness of possible problems, you can begin planning your solutions. Read more

Get More Traffic to Boost Holiday Profits

Holiday web traffic

Offer Time-Sensitive Deals

Offering a variety of deals that expire shortly give buyers a since of urgency, and is sure to get more traffic to your site. Maybe potential buyers already have one gift in mind that they’ve priced on several websites, including yours. Offering free shipping or a temporary 15% discount can drive them to finalize purchases sitting in their shopping carts, cutting out the competition in a matter of minutes. Advertise deals at the top of your site, in PPC ads, through e-mail campaigns, or all three.

Grab a Partner
Partner with a company that offers a product or service that compliments yours but is not direct competition. For instance, if you sell clothing, you could partner with a shoe store or website. Offer a $10 discount on a pair of shoes for buying your products while they do the same for you. This will get more traffic for both partners and help finalize sales.

Make Gift Suggestions
Many holiday shoppers are lazy or just don’t have the time to figure out what to get for their Uncle Tim or Aunt Jane. Even shopping for Dad can be difficult. Help them out with suggestions on your website or through your automated e-mail campaigns and save someone the time by coming up with a great gift idea for them.

Make Shopping Easy
If you’re missing product information or images on your website, now’s the time to get them up. Don’t lose holiday shoppers to competition just because they have more detailed information. Someone who can’t zoom in and see all angles of a product will go to a site where they can. Also, make sure the shopping cart or ordering process is fully optimized. The ease of ordering and customer service will bring shoppers back to your site. To get more traffic on top of that, make sure your site is optimized for mobile shoppers. 56% of Americans now own a smartphone while 4 out of 5 of these will use it at some point during the shopping process.

Google Trends
Utilize Google Trends to test search terms for your products, services or sales. Google Trends allows you to select your region and date range so that you can see how your search terms have performed historically around the holidays. This will give you a better idea of what to focus on when writing ads or web content to get more traffic over the holidays. You can also monitor current trends and create Google Alerts to notify you when your holiday search terms or terms related to your business escalate. Take advantage of the burst of traffic to post an ad or a time-sensitive deal.

How Important Is Landing Page Optimization?

Landing Page Heat MapIf your company relies on generating leads or selling products online, landing page optimization (LPO) is essential to your success. Depending on the size of your company, you could be losing thousands to millions of dollars a year due to something as miniscule as the text on your call to action button. Let’s take a look at some of the factors on your landing page that could boost your customer conversion rate between 20%-300%.
Read more

Infographic: Cross Industry PPC Statistics

Online marketing has become massively more competitive and sophisticated over the past few years. This has come about not merely through the introduction of social and the proliferation of mobile, but through the increased integration of all of these elements and an improved understanding of how these elements behave.

A recent study released by iProspect in 2010 states that the likelihood of a site visit increases by 91% when Organic Search and Paid Search results are on the same page. This suggests that beyond just running an Adwords campaign for paid conversions, a smart marketing campaign will leverage both organic and paid to play off one another and increase brand recognition.

Below, our PPC infographic expands upon this concept, providing PPC statistics regarding the cost per click (CPC) trends for  a number of important industries. Read on below and leave a comment with your thoughts on what direction your industry should take or where you see online marketing going in general.

Search Companion Marketing – the New Tool in your Belt

Search marketing has been tweaked, tested, and examined through a lens over the years. It can be argued that every new idea for reaching users has been found. Nope. Search Companion Marketing is the newest AdWords tool rolling out of the Google Labs.

Search Companion Marketing targets users who search for your designated keywords by showing them ads on the sites they reach through the search results page. This works on paid search ads and organic search results on any major search engine including Bing and Yahoo. As long as the user is on a page that’s part of the Google Content Network, marketers can show their ads.

Setting up Search Companion Marketing

Setup is quick and pretty similar to most display campaigns. Start by creating a new campaign set to Display Network Broad Reach and set your budget, bids and targets as you normally would. Next, create ad groups that are appropriate for your business and fill them with no more than 50 keywords. It’s important to use your top converting keywords to get the best performance out of SCM. All keywords are viewed as broad match so variations of your top converting keywords are unnecessary.

SCM Campaign Optimization

Optimization of a SCM campaign is not too different from the average display campaign. Be sure to check campaign placements to exclude irrelevant sites and add negative keywords and increase the relevancy of your traffic. Additionally, you can pause low performing keywords and add new high performing keywords. Again, it’s important to make sure that no single ad group has more than 50 keywords. If the traffic volume you were expecting is not there, check to see if bids are set too low and make sure that you have both text and display ads. This will maximize the impression volume for your SCM campaign.

Google’s tests demonstrated an 8% increase in conversion volumes with Search Companion Marketing. In Leverage’s own limited tests, we’ve seen results that are on par with remarketing campaigns and lower CPAs. With refinement, SCM can be the next killer tool in every paid search marketer’s tool belt. If you’re interested in SCM for your business, get in touch with your Leverage Marketing representative.

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