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What a stupid thing to say.

Let me rephrase that:

We ran a handful of experiments with Facebook advertising and the results were inconclusive.

Background:

We do a lot of work with Google AdWords, but Facebook really appealed, mainly due to the razor-sharp targeting.

With Facebook, for example, we can target people interested in Software Development in the UK and US between the ages of 25 and 55.

Try doing that with AdWords.

We were also realistic in our expectations, mainly in that we had none.

Facts:

- This was no more than dipping our toes in, so we budgeted $2,500.

- We committed almost no time to learning the system. This was our learning experience.

- We only setup a small number of campaigns and ad variations.

Results:

- 8,384,960 impressions

- 957 clicks

- $2,466.54 total spend

- $2.58 per click

- 1 lead

- 0 conversions

facebook advertising

Analysis:

- Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in AdWords any more. Those click through rates would be nauseating in AdWords, but this isn’t AdWords.

- Time spent on the website and bounce rates were very good, so the targeting appeared to work.

If we really wanted to establish whether or not Facebook would be a good fit for our company, we’d have to make three commitments:

1 – time to master the system

2 – time to manage the campaigns

3 – a reasonable budget

Conclusion:

I was hoping for a black or white result. Either Facebook advertising works or it doesn’t. But I didn’t get one.

If one person had signed up for our services, and remained with us for only three months, we’d certainly have made a healthy profit. But they didn’t. Not yet at least.

So we’ve established that Facebook might work for our company. Potentially.

The problem with dipping your toes into the water is that it’s sometimes difficult to see whether it’s cool or warm. You can rule out boiling or freezing, but sometimes the only way to really decide whether it’s for you is to jump in.

The only way to decide whether this works for our company would be to make the commitment to try, this time properly. But deciding that Facebook isn’t a good fit might prove to be a costly mistake in the long run.

If only everything was black or white.


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If you’re wondering whether your SEO tactics might land you in trouble, then they probably will.

SEO tactics aren’t a good idea. It doesn’t matter how clever, original or discrete you think your tactic is, Google have seen it before.

At best, whatever you do might work in the short term. At worst, it could get you penalised by Google.

Imagine you were asked to sit down with a  representative from Google, and they asked for explanations for your SEO actions.

If you could provide legitimate answers to all of their queries without having to lie or blur the truth, then your SEO practices are probably reasonable. As such they are unlikely to get you in trouble.

If, on the other hand, you had to evade questions or hope they didn’t pick up on some of the things you’ve been doing, your SEO practices are probably questionable, and carry the risk of penalty.

You might think that SEO Black Hat techniques sound cool. But how cool is watching your Google traffic dropped to zero overnight?


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Most online businesses fall into one of three SEO buckets.

Those who have no SEO strategy, those who have a poor SEO strategy and those who trust idiots to handle their SEO for them.

If you have no SEO strategy then it might be worth tapping into the greatest source of free, targeted traffic in the history of commerce.

If you have a poor SEO strategy then you should probably do something about it.

And if you allow an idiot to handle your SEO, or think you might be trusting idiots to carry out such an important aspect of your website’s marketing, then now might be a good time to take us up on a free SEO consultation.

We’ll take a quick look at your website an let you know where things stand, with no obligation to use our services.

Is an Idiot handling your SEO? Free consultation.


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Scene 1 – “been there, done that”:

CEO: So what can you do for us?

Me: I’ll keep it brief. We bring targeted traffic to your website. Then we make sure that more of your visitors convert.

CEO: Hmmm. How do you do bring more traffic?

Me: We start with Google. We make sure that your website is optimised both for—

CEO: No no, we tried SEO. Didn’t work. What else?

Me: Okay, we can revisit that. We also use AdWords to—

CEO: Not interested. We tried that. Too expensive. Didn’t work. What else?

Me: I wouldn’t rule-out Google just because what you’ve already tried didn’t work. Our approach is to—

CEO: Google’s too expensive. It doesn’t work. We tried it. Not interested. What else can you do?

Me: Well… we also work at converting more visitors to customers. We—

CEO: We already do that. Doesn’t really work. What else…

Scene 2 – “open minds”:

Two days ago I spoke to a group of startups as part of the Springboard programme.

I shared my experiences of working with SEO and Google AdWords, and also shared what I feel are 23 of the most common website mistakes.

The buzz and thirst for knowledge in the room was electric. Particularly impressive as I didn’t even begin my sessions until 4:30 in the afternoon; a time when many of us are starting to droop a little.

What struck me the most was the willingness to hear new ideas and the open-minded approach to everything I had to say.

The twenty-something people in the room knew that there are no guarantees; that they won’t all automatically turn their ideas into sustainable businesses, but the combination of raw talent and open minds stack the odds heavily in their favour.


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Hyperbole and a Half is as far as you can get from the bog-standard blog (blog standard?), and it’s more or less the opposite of my chosen type of reading.

But it’s wonderful. It’s original, inspired, and quite literally makes me laugh out loud.

Anyone who has ever had a completely insane dog will relate to Wild Animal (The Simple Dog Goes for a Joy Ride), and it was this post that first raised the author’s genius.

Take a look at the navigation:

great navigation

Beautiful.

And buried away in the fascinating oddness of her FAQ are some startlingly sensible points:

Is your work copyrighted?  Can I repost it?

My stories and drawings are copyrighted, but as long as you attribute your use of my images/words correctly (with a link to the source of the material), it should be fine.  But please don’t completely repost anything (that’s such a gray area and it has worked out horribly for me in the past). Problems only arise when you use my work in a way that suggests you’re trying to pass it off as your own.  I work very hard to create these posts and it hurts my livelihood when my work is reposted without credit (websites like funnyjunk.com are horrible about this.)  Plagiarism always hurts the artist.

Best of all, she has the best copyright notice I have ever seen, Copyright Allie Brosh (please don’t kill me)

the best copyright notice I have ever seen

 


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Your website’s second mistake is having too many links.

One of the worst offenders I have ever come across is The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

At the time of writing this there are 579 links on their main page. 579 links.

I can click on 149 of them without having to scroll down the page. That gives the Seattle Times at best a 1 in 149 chance of knowing what I’m going to click.

I wouldn’t choose to be an advertiser on their website.

When visitors arrive at your website, you’re in full control of what they click.

There are specific pages of your website that you want them to see, right? So why are you linking to so many other pages?

Control your visitors.


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As a long-term user of Skype, I’ve grown to depend on it.

I use it daily for video conferencing (work and family), and for making cheap international phone calls when I’m travelling.

I was therefore interested to see what a Skype Premium account would offer.

Skype Premium - compelling?

Nothing.

I don’t have any need for group video, I already have a webcam, and have never needed their support.

As a UK-based user, the Premium version would only cost me around $8 a month. My company should be able to afford that. Yet there isn’t one single compelling reason to upgrade.

Why would I pay $8 for support I shouldn’t need and a webcam I don’t want?

I suspect that Microsoft have plans for Skype, and am expecting to see far more ads.

But Microsoft need to get the balance right.

Too few ads and they won’t monetise the application or annoy enough people into upgrading.

Too many ads and they risk forcing people away from Skype altogether.

The Software industry has an interesting history of dabbling with advertising. Adware worked well until greed kicked in, and today’s users value their private information far more than in the past, mainly as a result of having it regularly violated and shared.

For now I’m going to stick with the free version until Microsoft come up with something a little more tempting.


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When I was in Beijing a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the markets that sells a wide range of goods at “too good to be true” prices.

Here’s the script of what generally happens.

I walk past a stall selling questionably-authentic designer handbags.

Seller: [LOUD] Hello Sir, want to buy a designer handbag?

Me: No thank-you.

Seller: [LOUDER] We have all the designer makes, great prices.

Me: No thank-you. I don’t want to buy any handbags.

Most sellers at this point give up and forget you exist. You’re not interested, so why waste time?

Persistent seller: [SHOUT] But come and look. Expensive brands, low prices, I give you the best deal. How much you want to pay?

Me: Stop following me. I don’t want a handbag. Do I look like I buy handbags? Look at what I’m wearing. I will never buy a handbag.

Persistent seller: [SHOUT LOUD] Okay how much you want? Tell me price and I give you best deal in China. [PUSHES CALCULATOR IN MY HAND]

Me: Go away. I don’t want any handbag at all.

[FAST FORWARD 5 MINUTES]

Me: …. I don’t want ANY bloody handbag…. why are you still following me? Please go away.

When the visitor to your website walks away without purchasing, downloading the trial or contacting you, they have most likely decided that they don’t want what you sell.

When you sell a solution to a problem, that decision is usually final.

Continuing to push the product they are no longer interested in is pointless.

It may work for choosing a vacation or ordering office supplies, but it won’t work with a solution to a problem.

So what does this have to do with Google?

Google explain their remarketing functionality as follows:

Remarketing allows you to show ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the Web… Remarketing allows you to communicate with people who’ve previously visited key pages on your website, giving you a powerful new way to match the right people with the right message.

The idea is that I go looking for software to monitor my websites. I come across your website, look at what you offer, then continue searching elsewhere. Remarketing allows you to reach those people again.

In theory it’s an interesting idea, but I don’t believe that it’s a good fit for software developers.

All software solves problems.

So in the above example my problem is that I don’t know when my website slows down to a crawl or crashes, until someone complains.

I go looking for a software solution, I find your product, then decide that it’s not what I’m looking for. So I move on.

Don’t emulate the crazy woman who followed me trying to sell me something I wasn’t remotely interested in.


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On Sunday night I went to a friend’s 40th birthday party in London, and enjoyed watching my friends describing what they do to some of the people they met.

My friend, Simon, always gets the best reaction when he tells people he’s a neurosurgeon. For some reason people always look slightly surprised and slightly amused.

What intrigues me, however, is that very few of us have any idea what a neurosurgeon actually does. We picture a scalpel, a brain, and perhaps a drill, but for obvious reasons we have very little idea about the specifics of what the work actually involves.

If you sell software, you probably tell people you meet that you’re a software developer or a programmer.

If you tell someone who’s interested in what you sell you talk more about what it does.

But there’s a good chance you go into too much detail, much like the main page of your website.

Today’s challenge is a simple one. Describe what you sell in five words or less.

Here’s mine: SoftwarePromotions helps you sell more.

Over to you.


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