Why Local Marketers Can’t Ignore Programmatic

Display ads are one of the oldest digital marketing formats. But recently, they’ve fallen out of vogue with local marketers. Instead, these marketers are choosing to focus on other channels and formats, like local SEO, paid search ads, and social media.

In doing so, they’re ignoring the advancements and advantages of modern programmatic advertising.

The programmatic ads of today represent a big leap forward over display ads of the past. Programmatic ads offer extraordinarily precise targeting and tracking capabilities. They’re available in a range of dynamic and interactive formats, encouraging clicks and conversions. And through programmatic ads, you can reach consumers on the websites and apps they love to use.

Most importantly, programmatic ads have a proven track record of boosting awareness and sales. Studies have found that programmatic ads can boost:

  • Branded search queries by up to 25%
  • Conversion rates by up to 30%
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations by up to 10%
  • Event registrations by up to 25%

And thanks to their targeting capabilities, programmatic ads are a gift to local marketers in particular.

The Importance of Programmatic for Local Marketers

For local marketers, precise targeting can make or break a campaign. To connect with the right consumers, you need to carefully target your audience based on who they are and where they live/work. At the same time, you’re typically working with smaller budgets, which means that every single dollar needs to count.

In the past, display ads offered limited capabilities when it came to user targeting. Essentially, the only control marketers had over targeting was which website the ad ran on.

With programmatic ads, you can target users with the level of precision that local marketing demands. Thanks to the reach and targeting methods of the Google Display Network and the Facebook Audience Network, you can target your ads based on individual users’ characteristics, behaviors, and location.

This way, you aren’t limited to local websites for targeting local consumers. Instead, you can serve ads to local consumers wherever online they happen to be.

5 Advantages of Local Programmatic Ads

1. Awareness & Trust

Programmatic ads are highly effective at building awareness and trust with local consumers. Compared to paid search, local SEO, and social media, you’re less dependent on user actions. You don’t need to wait for users to find you. Instead, you can serve ads directly to your audience. What’s more, you’ll be doing so on the websites and apps they trust most.

2. Precision Targeting

The core strength of programmatic lies in its targeting abilities. Local marketers can target programmatic ads via a user’s location, either via a set geographic radius or by targeting specific ZIP codes. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You also have the option of targeting users based on their demographics, interests, search behaviors, and their history of online interactions with your business.

3. Dynamic Ad Content

On top of serving your ads to a highly targeted set of users, programmatic allows you to tailor your ads according to users’ features and behaviors. If a user has recently searched for a product you offer, you can serve them an ad with an image of this product. If they’re within a short distance of your location, you can serve them an ad with directions to your business.

4. Detailed Analytics

Like other digital marketing formats, programmatic ads are extraordinarily rich in terms of data and analytics. The same level of precision used to serve ads can be harnessed to measure their performance, with the ability to micro-segment data for specific campaigns, specific ads, and specific audience groups. Programmatic ads are also ideal for A/B testing, allowing you to quickly optimize your campaigns for higher click-through and conversion rates.

5. Cost-Effectiveness

One more reason why local marketers should use programmatic ads? Their cost-effectiveness. While programmatic campaigns cost more than traditional display ads, they remain much less expensive than other types of digital marketing campaigns. They also deliver more immediate and tangible results, allowing you to measure the ROI of your ad spend more easily and more quickly.

What Brands Need To Know About Local Service Ads Part 1

For most businesses, advertising on Google takes place on Google Ads or Google Ads Express. But if you’re a plumber, a locksmith, or another type of local contractor, Google offers an alternative platform that’s perfectly tailored to your needs: Local Services ads.

Local Services ads are precisely what they sound like — an ad format built exclusively for local service providers.

Google originally launched Local Services ads for a handful of service categories in select cities back in 2015. Since then, the program has expanded to every almost major metro area in the U.S., and it has added numerous service categories to its roster. More importantly, it has proved a major success with both service providers and consumers in the markets where it has launched.

If you’re new to Local Services ads and aren’t quite sure where to start, this guide will tell you everything you need to know.

What Are Local Services Ads?

Google’s Local Services ads are a special ad format and platform for local service providers, such as locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians. Local Services ads are distinct from usual Google Ads, offering a different appearance, different features, and a different pricing model.

Many of these differences resolve problems that local service providers have with Google Ads. In the past, the ad formats and pay-per-click model of Google Ads have hurt local service providers. Text ads lack features that consumers are looking for from local contractors. Meanwhile, these ads generate low conversion rates for a number of local service industries, leading to higher costs and limited returns.

With Local Services ads, Google has created a format that encourages clicks and conversions. What’s more, Google doesn’t charge for Local Services ads on a pay per click basis. Instead, it charges per lead.

How Do Local Services Ads Work?

When a user performs a Google search for local service providers — e.g., “plumber in Bronx” or “HVAC technician Anaheim” — Google will include a Local Services section in the search results.

This section will appear at the top of the results, ahead of text ads and organic results. Google will display its top three ads (on desktop search) or its top two ads (on mobile search), as well as an option to explore more results.

Each Local Services ad contains the following information and features:

  • Your business’s name
  • Your Google Reviews rating
  • Your approximate location
  • Your Google Guarantee badge
  • Your business hours
  • Your contact information

When a user clicks on one of your Local Services ads, Google directs them to a detailed business profile that includes the above information, as well as additional information like your list of services, a short business bio, and your Google reviews.

Rather than click on one of the top-ranked Local Services ads, users also have the option of exploring a longer list of Local Services providers. This list is presented based on the type of job needed and the user’s ZIP code. The user can then choose from a full list of Local Services providers in their area.

In addition to appearing in the search results, Local Services ads also appear in results for Google Assistant. Searches made using Google Assistant prompt the user to confirm the type of job they need performed and their address, minimizing the chance of a mismatch.

How Are Local Services Ads Priced?

Unlike other Google Ads, businesses are not charged when a user clicks on a Local Services ad. Instead, Google will only charge your business when the user sends you an email or text, calls and leaves a voicemail, or calls and speaks with a representative. This way, you pay per lead instead of per click.

The average cost per lead varies from service category to service category, and from region to region. Some leads cost as little as $6. Others can cost upwards of $30.

If you receive an invalid lead, you can dispute the lead. If Google finds that the lead was a case of solicitation or spam, from a customer outside your service area, or from a customer who needed a service that you do not provide, Google will credit the cost of the lead to your business.

What Is the “Google Guarantee”?

Business that use Local Services ads can build trust with users through the Google Guarantee. This results in a badge on your Local Services ads.

Under this policy, Google guarantees customer satisfaction on any job booked via a Local Services ad. If a customer is dissatisfied with the results of a job, Google will refund the customer up to the amount of the invoice. This way, customers can book jobs through Local Services ads with greater confidence.

However, each business has a lifetime cap for coverage of $2,000 under the Google Guarantee. If a business exceeds its cap, Google rescinds the guarantee and removes its “Google guaranteed” badge from your Local Services ads.

Thankfully, you’ll have the opportunity to make things right with any dissatisfied customer before Google provides a refund. Additionally, Google will only issue a refund after investigating a claim.

Why Use Local Services Ads?

Wondering whether Google’s Local Services ads are worth it for your business? Below are five of the biggest reasons why the Local Services platform has been a hit with many local service providers.

  1. Pay per Lead Instead of per Click
    Local services providers usually struggle with the cost of traditional PPC ads, since many clicks result in poor leads. By using Local Services ads, you will only ever pay for actual leads, so you don’t end up wasting money on useless clicks.
  2. Visibility in Google Search Results
    Google has designed its Local Services ads for visibility, appearing at the top of search results in an eye-catching format. This makes them much more prominent and noticeable than standard Google Ads.
  3. Integration with Google Voice Search
    In addition to appearing in Google desktop and mobile search results, Google also provides Local Services results via Google Assistant. According to Google, the number of Google Assistant users quadrupled in 2018 — a market uniquely available to Local Services providers.
  4. Increased Trust with the Google Guarantee
    Trust can be an obstacle for local service providers who advertise through regular PPC ads. The Google Guarantee on Local Services ads gives customers a greater and more immediate sense of confidence.
  5. Simplified Campaign Management
    PPC campaigns on Google Ads require extensive keyword research, compelling ad content, and split-testing different ad groups. For Local Services ads, Google takes care of keyword research and ads are automatically generated. The result is a much simpler and easier approach to paid search ads.

Optimize Your PPC Campaigns With These Tips

With the right approach, pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns are one of the most effective channels for digital marketing. In fact, the largest PPC platform right now, Google Ads, is so popular with marketers that it rakes in more than $100 billion each year. What’s more, returns are so strong that 78% of marketers increased their Google Ads budgets in 2019.

Despite the strong returns on Google Ads, few brands take full advantage of its tools and capabilities. Rather than eye-popping ROIs, their campaigns generate middling returns. This is usually a case of poor optimization. If you skimp on important investments (like keyword research and split-testing) or skip over powerful features (like ad extensions and RLSAs), your campaigns will suffer.

But if you optimize your PPC campaigns using the 7 tips below, you’ll see much stronger returns from Google Ads.

7 Tips for Better PPC Campaigns

1. Keyword Research

Keywords are the foundation of any successful Google Ads campaign. If you target the right keywords, Google will serve your ads to the right users at the right times. That means higher click-through and conversion rates, stronger Quality Scores, and lower Costs per Click.

Unfortunately, many brands fail to invest the kind of time and effort required for effective keyword research. This typically results in a list of broad, generic keywords, which tend to be more expensive, more competitive, and less conversion-friendly.

2. Negative Keywords

One of the best ways to target a broader range of keywords is to use Google Ads’ broad match or phrase match feature. However, these features can result in mismatches. For example, if one of your keywords is “men’s jeans,” broad match could serve your ad to someone searching for “men’s khakis.” That’s not very helpful if you only sell jeans.

To avoid theses mismatches, you can use negative keywords. Google will not serve your ad to searchers whose queries contain these keywords. So if you’re only selling jeans, you can add “khakis” as a negative keyword. This way, your ad will never appear in searches for “khakis.”

3. Location Targeting

If you operate a hair salon in Pittsburgh, you don’t want to serve ads to users searching for “hair salon” from a device in Houston, Salt Lake City, or Portland. In fact, you probably don’t want to serve ads to anyone who’s more than a few miles from your business.

With location targeting, you can narrowly target searchers within a certain radius or a defined geographic area. This way, your local business can serve ads exclusively to local consumers. You can even create different campaigns for different geographic settings.

4. Remarketing Audiences

If you’re not already using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), you’re missing out on one of Google Ads most effective features. RLSAs allow you to target visitors who’ve previously visited your site. These users are already more likely to click on your ads and convert. Plus, you’ll be able to tailor a set of ads to this group.

Once you’ve started using RLSAs, you can also take advantage of Google Ads’ similar audiences feature. This feature automatically finds users with similar characteristics and search behaviors to the users on your RLSA lists. This gives you an entirely new group of users to target with similarly strong conversion rates.

5. Ad Extensions

Google Ads aren’t nearly as visible as other ad formats, relying largely on compelling headlines and copy. To make your ads more visible and more compelling, we recommend using ad extensions. Ad extensions allow you to include additional information, which can make your ads more compelling to users. At the same time, they increase the visibility of your ads, giving you a new way to grab users’ attention.

Some of the most popular and effective ad extensions include:

  • Call Extensions. Allow mobile users to call your business by pressing a button.
  • Callout Extensions. Add short blurbs to your ad, like “free delivery.”
  • Location Extensions. Include business information for your local business.
  • Message Extensions. Allow mobile users to send text messages to your business.
  • Sitelink Extensions. Add links to specific pages on your website.

6. Split-Testing

Split-testing has been a cornerstone of paid search campaigns from the outset. Yet many brands only perform limited A/B testing on their ads. After testing an initial set of ads at the start of a campaign, they fall into a groove. Rather than continually testing and refining ads, they allow them to stagnate.

Today, this kind of approach simply isn’t feasible. Consumer behaviors are evolving at a breakneck pace, and other advertisers are evolving just as quickly. If you’re not continually testing and refining your ads, they’ll fossilize before your eyes.

7. Conversion Tracking

Advertisers are charged for PPC ads on a click by click basis. What’s more, Google determines the cost of each click based on a Quality Score, which is determined by each ad’s click-through rate (CTR). This has made CTR the leading metric for measuring PPC ads and campaigns.

But if you’re measuring PPC campaigns by CTR alone, you’re missing the big picture. The real measure of a campaign’s success is in its conversions.

In Google Ads, you can solve this problem by adding conversion tracking to your campaigns. Conversion tracking uses HTML codes to track which users convert after clicking on PPC ads. It can be integrated with Google Analytics to track conversions through your website, and it allows you to measure important data like cost per conversion, conversion rate, and value per conversion.

Make sure you’re asking your digital marketing partner about these PPC tactics to ensure you’re getting most out of your campaigns. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get real results from your Pay Per Click marketing.

A Breakdown of Google Maps Marketing

According to Google, local searches on Google and Google Maps drive consumers to 1.5 billion destinations each year. That makes Google Maps a uniquely potent tool for local digital marketing. In fact, many brick-and-mortar businesses now treat Google Maps marketing as its own marketing channel.

Google Maps marketing takes a combination of local SEO, paid search, and reputation management, with an assist from local listings management. In this post, we’ll look at how local businesses can use these tools to boost their visibility on Google Maps.

The Basics of Google Maps Marketing

Before we get into the details of Google Maps marketing, let’s cover some basics.

When we talk about Google Maps marketing, we’re not talking about a single platform. Google Maps results are shown on multiple platforms, including the Google Maps app and the Google Maps mobile and desktop sites. Google also includes Google Maps results in a feature called the Local 3-Pack on Google.com search results, which includes the top 3 local search results from Google Maps.

The good news is that your Google Maps marketing efforts can pay dividends across all of these platforms. The same actions that boost your visibility in the Google Maps app will also boost your visibility on the Google Maps website and in the Local 3-Pack.

But is Google Maps marketing really worth it? That depends on the type of business you run. But for most local businesses, the answer is a resounding YES!

Just consider the following stats:

  • 84% of Google users conduct local searches
  • 46% of all Google searches are local queries
  • 75% of local searches result in a store visit within 24 hours
  • 28% of these store visits result in a purchase
  • 92% of local searchers choose a business on the first page of results

Based on this data, it’s clear that Google Maps drives a massive amount of purchase traffic. So, let’s examine how Google Maps marketing efforts can boost your organic visibility in local search results.

Organic Google Maps Marketing

There are two types of organic results on Google Maps: proximity results and ranked results. Here’s a quick look at how both work…

Proximity Results. If a user performs a local search with location data enabled on their device, Google will use that location data to serve results based on proximity to the users’ device. In simple terms, this means that if you search for “coffee shop” on the Google Maps app, Google will show you the coffee shops closest to your current location. The closer the coffee shop is, the better it will rank in the results.

Ranked Results. Ranked results in Google Maps include all businesses within a given area, with no preference given to proximity. Google Maps will generally serve ranked results for one of two reasons. The first is when a user has location data disabled, so Google can’t judge their proximity to local businesses. The other is when a user is in one location, but they’re performing a local search for another location (e.g., when a user in Houston searches for “restaurants in Memphis”).

Google Maps Optimization

So, how can you boost your rankings in Google Maps results?

In proximity results, the distance between the user and your business is the biggest ranking factor. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change that. However, if you have strong Google Reviews and an excellent Google My Business profile, you can leapfrog nearby competitors in proximity results.

For ranked results, optimizing for Google Maps can give you a significant boost. These results are mostly based on your Google Reviews and Google My Business profile. So if you optimize these two areas, you can dominate ranked results.

For higher rankings, your Google Maps marketing strategy will need to focus on these three areas:

  • More & Better Reviews. The higher your average rating on Google Reviews, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps. But Google also rewards businesses based on their volume of reviews. A 4.4 rating based on 100 reviews is more valuable than a 4.6 rating based on 10 reviews.
  • Optimized GMB Profile. Google rewards businesses with rich Google My Business profiles by awarding them higher positions in Google Maps. Make sure that your profile is as detailed as possible and includes multiple photos.
  • Local Listings Management. To avoid confusing Google, you need to make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are listed exactly the same across the internet. If your NAP is inconsistent from one website to another, Google may exclude your business from Google Maps listings. Alternatively, it might overwrite your preferred NAP with one that it scraped from another website.

Paid Google Maps Marketing

Every local business should invest in a strong organic strategy for Google Maps marketing. But once you’ve done this, there’s an easy way and cost-effective way to further boost your visibility: local search ads. These ads appear at the top of local search results on Google and Google Maps, ahead of organic results.

Local search ads are part of Google Ads. So if already have a Google Ads account, it’s easy to start advertising through Google Maps. However, you’ll need to make sure that you have location extensions enabled on your Google Ads account, and you’ll need a complete Google My Business profile. When running local search ads, you’ll also need to use location targeting, bid by location, and optimize your keywords for local search.

Starting in January of 2018, Google introduced three new features to local search ads that can be used for Google Maps marketing.

  • Promoted Pins. In addition to displaying your ad in Google Maps results, Google will display a custom pin with your logo in the Google Maps display.
  • In-Store Promotions. If you’re running an in-store promotion, you can list this promotion in your local search ad.
  • Local Inventory Search. Users can tap a button to search your store’s inventory and find out if a specific product is in stock.

If you’re just introducing local search ads to your Google Maps marketing strategy, we suggest starting with basic ads. But if you’ve had success with paid ads on Google Maps, these features could drive additional traffic to your location.

6 Facebook Metrics You Can’t Ignore

One of the perks of marketing on Facebook is the sheer amount of data. On other platforms, key metrics are impossible to track or require third-party analytics. Meanwhile, Facebook gives you all kinds of data about your page, your posts, your audience, and your ads.

All of this data is invaluable for marketers. But with all of the different charts and figures on Facebook Insights, important data can get lost in the noise.

Unsure which Facebook metrics your business can’t afford to ignore? Here are 6 that you need to be tracking.

1. Cost Per Click/Impressions

What it is: These are the two most popular pricing options on Facebook Ads. With cost per click (CPC), you’re charged every time a user clicks on one of your ads. With cost per impressions (CPM), you’re charged for every 1,000 impressions.

Why it matters: Whether you opt for CPC or CPM on a given ad campaign, you’ll want to track the figure carefully to avoid overspending on ads.

2. Post Impressions & Reach

What it is: Impressions count how many views your posts receive, while reach measures how many users see your posts. If an individual user views one of your posts twice, that counts as two views for impressions, but only one view for reach.

Why it matters: These metrics allow you to track the visibility of individual posts. By measuring the engagement count for each post against its reach count, you can measure the rate of engagement.

3. Page Engagement, Impressions & Reach

What it is: Facebook also tracks your engagement, impression, and reach metrics in aggregate for your entire page, which can be viewed in line chart form over time.  

Why it matters: Page-level engagement, impression, and reach metrics allow you to track the impact of your Facebook marketing efforts and identify macro-level trends.

4. Page Likes

What it is: On the Likes tab, you can view the number of new likes and unlikes for your page charted over time. This tab also includes net likes (calculated by subtracting unlikes from likes).

Why it matters: Tracking your likes will allow you measure the growth of your Facebook fanbase. It can also help you pinpoint negative actions that cause your net likes to drop.

5. Referral Traffic

What it is: Facebook referral traffic tracks user activity on your brand’s website that originated from Facebook. Unlike the other metrics on this list, it’s found in Google Analytics, not Facebook Insights.

Why it matters: If you rely on Facebook as a source of traffic for your website, this will allow you to track and measure how successful your page is at funneling traffic to your website.

6. Post Engagement

What it is: Every time a user takes action on one of your posts, that action counts as an engagement. Facebook tracks engagements on each post in two categories, “Post Clicks” and “Reactions, Comments & Shares.”

Why it matters: Engagement shows you which posts on your page are resonating with Facebook users. This can help you choose which posts to promote and which types of content to create in the future.

Best Practices for Managing Online Reviews

Most shoppers now trust online reviews as much or more than recommendations from close friends. Meanwhile, roughly 8 in 10 users will check online reviews before making a significant purchase. Needless to say, businesses can no longer take a laissez faire approach to their online reviews. Without a proactive review management strategy, you’ll be leaving your reputation up for grabs.

It’s never a bad time to brush up on review management best practices. Below, we’ve compiled a quick set of guidelines to help you:

  • Manage bad reviews
  • Preempt negative feedback
  • Encourage customer reviews
  • Leverage online influencers
  • Engage with positive reviews
  • Avoid dishonest practices

Manage Bad Reviews

Best practices for review management tend to focus on negative reviews — and with good reason! Negative reviews attract far more attention than positive feedback, and many businesses make things worse by responding unprofessionally.

If your business receives a negative review, adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Respond as promptly as possible. The longer you wait, the lower your chances of resolving the issue in a positive manner.
  • Be professional and empathetic. Avoid treating the review as a personal attack. Instead, acknowledge and apologize for the customer’s poor experience.
  • Offer to fix the problem. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to explain the poor experience. Rather than make excuses, offer to resolve or remedy the problem.
  • Continue the conversation offline. At the end of your response, invite the customer to contact you directly by phone or email to resolve the situation. This way, you can handle any further complaints out of public view, and you’ll be able to better address the customer’s concerns.

Preempt Negative Feedback

The best way to mitigate negative reviews is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can often be done by giving customers a better way to have their complaints addressed. Provide customers with clear instructions on how to contact your business if they’re unsatisfied with your product or service. Often, you can resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction before they review your business, reducing the risk of one-star feedback.

Encourage Customer Reviews

Many businesses fear bad reviews so much that they avoid encouraging their customers to leave reviews at all. But this actually makes you more vulnerable to negative reviews. A one-star review will hit you much harder if you have only a handful of reviews. A high review count will also boost your rankings in local search results, and it signals to customers that your business is popular.

Leverage Online Influencers

One of the best strategies for generating new business and higher volumes of reviews is to seek out online influencers. Creating positive relationships with influencers can help you get seen by more users in your target demographic. Influencers also play a key role in shaping the narrative around a given business. When influencers highlight what they love about a business, your customers will pay more attention to these features and highlight them in their own reviews.

Engage with Positive Reviews

Many businesses prefer to let positive reviews speak for themselves, responding only to negative feedback. But this can be a missed opportunity. Engaging with positive reviews can build loyalty with satisfied customers, showing them that you value both their business and their feedback. It also gives you the chance to show off your customer service bona fides. For example, if a reviewer is raving about the TV they bought from your store, let them know where to turn if they need anything or want help finding accessories in the future.

Avoid Dishonest Practices

These days, shoppers overwhelmingly trust online reviews. That trust is hard won. In the past, it was easy to spam review sites to boost your business’s reviews and tank the ratings of competitors. Since then, sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook have put systems in place to prevent these kinds of dishonest practices. So if somebody tells you they can buy good reviews for your business, or if you’re tempted to have your employees post a wave of five-star reviews, think again. Doing so could actually tank your average rating or result in your being suspended from major platforms.

Learn more about Qiigo’s Review Management Services and Download our Free Guide.

Mastering the Essentials of Organic SEO for 2019

For many brands, organic SEO is a tricky part of digital marketing. On the one hand, organic search plays a huge role in modern purchasing behaviors. On the other hand, modern search algorithms — like Google’s AI-driven RankBrain algorithm —are increasingly opaque. They’re also constantly changing, which raises concerns about the long-term impact of optimization.

However, if you can master the basics of modern SEO, the returns are well worth the investment. Consumers rely on organic search at multiple stages of the sales funnel, many of which are critical to purchasing decisions. And because organic search is self-led, users are more inclined to trust high-quality content that they find through organic search.

The essentials of organic search in 2019 are significantly different from five or ten years ago. In this post, we’ll cover three of the most important (and most misunderstood) aspects of modern SEO:

  • How algorithms like RankBrain reward user-focused content
  • Why consumers expect more information than ever from brands
  • Where brands fit within the wider organic search ecosystem

Organic SEO Essentials for 2019

Content for RankBrain = Content for Users

From day one, Google has urged brands to create content for users instead of search engines. In the past, brands could safely ignore that advice. With the right backlinks, keywords, and metadata, it was relatively easy to increase your Google rankings. But that’s changed in the age of RankBrain.

With RankBrain, Google’s algorithm no longer uses hard-and-fast rules to determine rankings. Through machine learning, RankBrain is constantly refining its criteria for rankings. What’s more, these criteria differ from query to query. That means there are fewer and fewer best practices that you can safely apply across all of your pages.

The algorithm is now so dynamic and so complex that even Google’s own engineers no longer understand why certain pages rank better than others. But given users’ off-the-charts trust in Google search, it appears that RankBrain is doing its job: serving users the best and most relevant results.

That’s why digital marketers are divesting themselves of hard-and-fast rules for SEO. Instead, they’re assuming that Google knows what users want, and they’re optimizing their content to provide that experience. This means doing as Google has long suggested: instead of trying to figure out what Google’s algorithm expects, they’re creating content based on what users actually want.

Consumers Want More Information Than Ever

Thanks to RankBrain, brands need to create content that users want. But these wants are constantly evolving. That invites the question: What are users actually searching for in 2019?

A recent clickstream study by Google sheds light on the answer. According to this study, users have become much more research savvy than those of the past. The typical user relies on organic search to research different products and services before making a purchase decision. A growing number of users will research products, services, and brands on a previously unheard of level, tracking down every morsel of info they can find.

Additionally, Google found that the research phase now frequently extends past the point of purchase. After buying a product or service, users continue to search for information that will help them make the most of their purchase.

Smart brands have already picked up on these changes, and they’ve adapted their organic search marketing to match. They take the time to understand their consumers’ research habits both before and after a purchase. They then optimize their content to answer users research queries and concerns.

Optimize Across Multiple Search Channels

When digital marketers talk about organic search, they’re primarily referring to Google’s main search engine. After all, 88% of users say that they use Google for most of their search needs. And the mark of a successful SEO campaign remains a #1 ranking on Google search.

This, however, ignores two important things…

First, Google operates a number of additional search engines, many of which are integrated with their core search offering. That’s why results from Google Maps, Google Images, Google News, and other Google services often appear within search results pages. Google also operates search engines for Google Assistant, Google Voice, and YouTube, to name just a few of its most widely used services.

Second, while Google is the focus of most SEO efforts, search engines from other companies are a huge part of the modern online ecosystem. There are Google-alternatives like Bing. Virtual assistants with built-in search, like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram use their own search algorithms. And then there’s Amazon — the largest retailer on the planet, and the focus of intensive search optimization by vendors.

The bottom line? If brands want to maximize their organic reach, they need to think about how they fit into all of these different search engines.

Learn more about Qiigo’s Search Engine Optimization solutions here

How Social Media Cut This Franchisor’s Cost-Per-Lead in Half

Acquiring leads for franchise development can be a costly and difficult process. Experts say that the average cost of a new franchise lead is $120 — more than almost any other industry. But with the right digital strategy, that figure can be cut in half.

In 2017, a prominent Franchise 500 brand came to Qiigo with a problem. This brand was spending near the industry average per lead, with a significant digital focus on Pay-Per-Click advertising. But a concerningly low percentage of these leads were converting. The result was low ROI and stunted growth.

After surveying this brand’s situation, the team at Qiigo came up with an innovative game plan. We dramatically reduced their PPC ad spend, redirecting these funds to alternative digital channels. Much of this money went towards Social Media marketing, with a particular focus on Facebook Advertising.

By the end of the campaign, these changes had cut the brand’s average Cost-Per-Lead in half.

Our strategy also allowed the brand to reach their target market more easily, consistently, and accurately. As a result, the average quality of their leads increased at the same time as their average cost per lead fell.

Below, let’s take a closer look at how this happened.

Paid Search Underperforming Franchise Brand

During our initial discussions with the brand, we learned that they occupied a unique niche in the world of franchising. The brand’s core service offering was a youth soccer program, and they were seeking franchisees who had existing interest or experience with soccer.

That helped explain the underwhelming performance of their paid search campaigns. People just weren’t searching for the kinds of targeted search terms that would provide the brand with high-quality leads.

To find these leads, the brand needed to target their audience in a much more specific and accurate manner. This would require micro-targeting leads who met the following criteria:

  • Financially qualified to invest in a franchise
  • Interested in owning their own business
  • Located in or near an available territory
  • Existing experience/interest in soccer

Paid search made it difficult to target prospects across all of four these areas. Even if you’re passionate about business ownership and youth sports, you’re probably not Googling terms like “tee ball franchise business,” “kids swimming program franchise,” or “after school basketball franchise opportunity.”

Based on these concerns, Qiigo developed a custom strategy to boost the client’s digital franchise development efforts. Here’s what we came up with…

Social Media Used to Micro-Target Leads

To start, we recommended that the brand reduce its Paid Search budget by roughly 60%. The remaining Paid Search funds would focus on a smaller, more targeted set of keywords and parameters. This would increase the overall quality of leads, improving on-the-dollar returns on paid search.

Using the funds saved from Paid Search, we recommended a mix of alternative strategies to more accurately target high-quality leads. Of these strategies, we focused most heavily on Social Media, with a particular emphasis on Facebook.

In franchise development, Social Media campaigns tend to focus on LinkedIn. But in this case, Facebook’s rich combination of audience data and targeting tools were a perfect fit for the client’s needs.

Through Facebook, we were able to create a series of Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to target high-quality leads. These audiences targeted standard criteria for franchise development marketing, such as location, age, education, and income markers. We also retargeted users who had previously engaged with the brand or had visited the brand’s website.

At the same time, we used Facebook’s audience data to targeted users with existing experience and/or interest in soccer. Our audiences included users who “liked” content related to soccer, who had played the sport in school, who had worked in the field of soccer, or who listed themselves as a self-proclaimed “soccer mom.”

Throughout the campaign, we partnered with the client to identify which specific audience markers resulted in the highest rates of leads, as well as which types of content produced the strongest engagement metrics. This allowed us to refine our targeting strategies and our creative output.

We performed similar adjustments to Paid Search over the course of the campaign. This allowed us to further improve lead generation rates across both channels.

The Results: Lower Costs, Better Leads, Stronger ROI

In less than a year, the client experienced a significant boost in digital franchise development. In fact, 22% of closed sales in 2017 were the direct result of Qiigo’s digital marketing efforts.

Over the course of the campaign, we reduced the client’s average cost per lead from roughly $120 down to a remarkable $58 per lead. And despite paying less for each lead, the overall quality of the clients’ prospect pool had actually increased, resulting in stronger ROI.

Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help you generate more leads for your Franchise Development efforts.