Stand Out from the Crowd and Get Your Business Noticed

Whatever niche your business is in, it’s almost an absolute guarantee that there are at least a dozen other businesses within the same sector.

Competition is a natural part of running any business.

If you can’t find a way to stand out, then those competitors are going to acquire the consumers that otherwise would have been your customers.

Here are six methods to help your business stand out like a diamond in the rough.

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How to use customer feedback to improve online conversions

Research shows that 69% of online visitors are leaving your ordering funnels without completing the order. However, increasing conversions with only one percent can mean huge increases in new leads, revenues and profit.

Unfortunately, many digital marketers are not leveraging the power of customer feedback to increase online sales, despite 38% of customers being willing to give feedback after a negative experience (Temkin, 2013).

When it comes to measuring feedback from your website and converting interest into sales it can appear to be a very complicated process indeed.

Certainly on a technical level this is a very accurate observation, developing software systems to achieve this is not for beginners.

However, the basic principles of introducing the right solution to increase online sales with customer feedback are remarkably simple and straightforward.

When people ask me about the basic needs of any approach I like to use the analogy of the three pillars, namely:

  1. Collect feedback
  2. Feedback analysis and reporting
  3. Going from insights to action

At the most basic level that is the whole process! Every approach needs to cover these three points but I believe introducing anything extra at this stage is unnecessary and potentially distracting from the task at hand.

Here are my tips for all three stages:

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How to get your customers to drive tons of traffic from Google (and love you for it)

In this post I will show you how to become a thought leader in your industry AND drive tons of traffic from Google.

Plus, you’ll get there by having your customers doing all the work for you (and they’ll love you for it)!

 I appreciate this sounds like a snake oil marketing promise, but it is so easy you’ll slap your forehead having not done this before. 

How do you become a thought-leader?

Thought leaders are the go-to sources of information and opinion. They set the standard by which all others are judged, and aspire to.

They get there by producing the most linked to, shared and discussed content in their industry.

Take a look at moz.com, a perfect case study of this in action. Their SEO blog was the catalyst that propelled them to being the de facto source of SEO news and ideas.

Their readers then coalesced into a community, which Moz were extremely quick to capitalise on, and to their credit, proactively develop.

The bad news is producing great content is extremely resource intensive. The internet is hungry for new content, and the shelf-life for many posts is extremely limited.

“Hey, great post today….what have you got tomorrow?”

Think long-term

What you need to produce is ‘evergreen content’.

This is content that is both awesome, and has an extremely limited time decay. This means it can be shared for a long time.

Here are some great examples of this:

Now, the problem here is, although they are one-offs, they also take a long time to write, and are they are expensive to have designed to a professional standard.

Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel has stated his content marketing guide cost him $10,000 to produce.

What we are looking for is content that:

  1. Positions you as a thought leader
  2. Google loves and ranks high
  3. Your customers love you for
  4. Your customers create

 The answer is a community written, industry-leading tutorial and support database (aka a ‘Knowledge Base’) 

Be THE place to go for help and guidance

Support databases are not as sexy as an infographic, or as satisfying to write as a quirky blog post, but they have the potential to be a huge deal for your business.

Take a look at this in action with leading hosting company Digital Ocean.

They dominate huge swathes of research-based and support-based search queries e.g.

how to secure my vps Google Search

Thanks to the number of people linking to those useful articles, they also rank high for incredibly competitive transactional searches.

ssd cloud server Google Search

This ticks off thought-leadership, Google love (through keyword optimised content and people sharing your super-useful tutorials/articles), and customer love (for being so helpful and authoritative).

 That’s all great, but I also promised that your customers would do all the work for you! Read on to find out how. 

The awesome thing is, Digital Ocean’s community helped write a large part of it for them: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/get-paid-to-write 

DO get paid to write

This meant they could scale their Knowledge Base much faster than they ever could have doing it all in-house (breadth and depth), and at a much cheaper rate compared to hiring a professional technical writer.

You can do exactly the same.

How to create and populate your own Knowledge Base

Step 1: The software/platform

I strongly recommend using purpose built software for this.

Simply adding pages to your website will make it extremely difficult to manage as you grow, and you won’t have access to the same reporting and user feedback tools (top searches, ratings, comments, idea submissions etc).

A lot of companies use software called PHPKB (http://www.knowledgebase-script.com/). The latest version hosted on your own webspace is currently a one off fee of $350. I have hands on experience of setting up a Knowledge Base with this, and it is all positive.

Alternatively, if you use WordPress, there are themes and plugins to integrate a Knowledge Base, one of the most popular being here http://codecanyon.net/item/knowledge-base-wiki-wordpress-plugin/5758910..

There are SaaS options out there, including ZenDesk, HelpJuice  and GrooveHQ.

However I haven’t used them, and they are all perpetual costs (i.e. monthly fees), plus you lose access if you cancel.

Step 2: Planning your structure and content

Start by creating a structure plan/hierarchy for your Knowledge Base. This will make your life much easier as the project develops, and it will also speed everything up.

An example:

  • Category: The top-level group, typically quite broad e.g. Databases
  • Sub-category: Sub-sections of the main category, getting more specific e.g. MySQL databases
  • Article: Have one article cover one topic to make it easy for people to find and read e.g. How to backup a MySQL database

In terms of deciding what content to write, start by researching the most common questions your target audience are looking for answers to.

Some ideas to get this information include:

  • Your own support team – What questions are they  repeatedly asked by your customers? What boilerplate answers have they got prepared because they have to answer that question so often?
  • Google keyword planner – A huge driver for doing this is attracting new traffic via Google. With this in mind, use search demand to guide your articles.
  • Ask your customers – Set up a form online or send an email asking what they would like help with.
  • Your competitors – What support content do they have that is linked to a lot? Use tools like Open Site Explorer.

Step 3: Getting your community involved

The quickest way to grow your Knowledge Base, with the least amount of effort, is through community submitted articles.

The danger here is being swamped by low quality, content thin articles.

You can put a stop to this before it starts by laying out very clear guidelines about what you expect. E.g. https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-write-an-article-for-the-digitalocean-community.

Some of your customers will do all this because they love you, and others because they love the topic in hand. However, these will be a relatively small pool.

The real motivator will come from being paid.

The mechanisms for receiving, reviewing and publishing the articles will vary based on your software choices and the size of your team.

You need to put in place a process that:

  • Stores and categorises the submitted articles ready for review
  • Has clear quality and tone of voice guidelines for the reviewer to follow
  • Allows for feedback and/or editing if necessary
  • Places the article in a queue to be published
  • Publishes the article at an agreed time
  • Gathers feedback on the article (page views, ratings, comments…)
  • Pays the author in a timely and accurate manner

If you choose to go with purpose made Knowledge Base software, this will come with features to accept and review submissions. PayPal can cover the payments.

Step 4: Writing/editing content

When writing and editing the content, always be thinking about a) Usability and b) SEO.

Usability comes from easy to read, focused articles. My tips are; keep your articles to a minimum (don’t fluff them out for fluff’s sake), don’t try to sell your products to the detriment of the content and stay focused on one topic per article.

On-site SEO is very easy. All you need to do is make sure your target keywords are being used in:

  • The article page’s <title>
  • The URL
  • The headline
  • The main body’s content
  • Internal linking to that page

Step 5: Open it up to the world (and Google) to see and share

The worst thing you can do is hide all of this great content behind a login where the public and Google can’t get to it.

Your instinct may be to restrict your support articles yo just your customers, but that would be a huge mistake.

Open access support databases actually increase sales, through traffic generated via informational searches performed by non-customers.

They find you, they love you, they buy from you, they share you (SEO bump)… and the wonderful cycle all starts all again with another visitor.

Brands supporting customers’ micro-moments are winning

People now turn to their phones or tablets to solve immediate problems, and they expect brands to deliver them with immediate answers.

It is these “How do I”, “Where do I go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy” micro-moments that now dictate our purchase decisions and preferences.

You need to become your customers’ go to source for solving problems with content.

For example, when choosing what to cook for their evening meal, research has found that while people over 35 are more likely to print out a recipe, 59% of 25- to 34-year-olds cook with either their smartphones or tablets handy.

Additionally…

  • 91% of smartphone users turn to their devices for ideas while completing a task.
  • Nearly one in three millennials say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.
  • 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store.

Source

“Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

Source: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/micromoments

Micro-moments are the new battleground

Micro-moments are there for you to take advantage of, with only 2% of businesses acknowledging they have a strategy in place.

The key is to identify which medium your customers use to discover and consume this information on their mobile devices.

These are typically…

  • YouTube videos
  • Step by step written guides
  • Map search

None of these are exclusive to big brands.

For example, if you have a device to capture film and audio (most smart phones are good enough for this) and a YouTube account, you should be taking advantage of this huge opportunity.

Creating your micro-moment content

Rather than dive straight in and start producing content you hope find an audience, you will have a lot more success if you create a content and promotion plan.

Step 1: Defining the content

Get your head out of this being a sales pitch for your products. People will see straight through that within seconds and stop reading your ‘guide’ or watching your video.

what-brands-stand-for-what-audiences-care-about-venn-diagram

People are looking for genuinely useful content that solves their immediate problem. First and foremost the content you create has to be:

  • Relevant to your business
  • As short and succinct as possible
  • Focused on solving the problem
  • Information-led content, not sales

Here are some great examples of this in action from YouTube:

Getfitfastsupplements.com have produced fitness videos, “How do I get fit fast?”

Home Depot have created videos to help me with my DIY, “How do I change my thermostat?”

Shopping channel QVC have targeted searches for recipe ideas to help sell their cooking appliances. “How do I cook a pot roast in the oven?”

Step 2: Researching the “How to” moments that matter to your customers

What are the questions and concerns people have that you can answer with your products? The easiest place to to start for any research is with your customers.

Send them a survey asking them what they would like to know more about, or regular challenges they face in their day to day lives that you can help them with.

Going back to the Getfitfastsupplements.com example above, I would have asked their customers questions along the lines of…

What is preventing you from working out?

What areas of fitness interest you the most?

This may lead to me finding out that time is a big issue, and I would then create a video tailored to maximum results in a short space of time.

Additionally you can ask your website visitors these questions using services such as HotJar’s free account to run a simple poll from your website.

Other sources of information include:

  • Industry forums – What are the most read threads/topics?
  • Existing YouTube videos – Which are the most watched videos?
  • Yahoo Answers/ Quora – Which are the most viewed/liked Q&A’s?

Step 3: Producing your content

Video

If you decide to create a video series, the first few seconds of your video are the most important.

Clearly explain the problem you are solving in the video before you begin. Do not waste this valuable time with a sales pitch for your business!

There are some great articles on how to create effective YouTube videos here:

Step 4:  Promote, promote, promote

Having great content is one thing, getting people to read/watch and share it is another matter.

To help drive views and shares, consider…

  • Add a dedicated “Helpful resources” section to your website, linked to from your main navigation
  • Email your customer base inviting them to view and share
  • Actively advertise your YouTube account/ resources via paid media
  • Integrate your content with social media

I personally would put your content right at the centre of all your marketing, and even at the heart of your brand.

In summary

Interruption marketing is slowly decaying. Consumers not expect to be invited to consume content, rather than having it forced in front of them.

You are in a unique position to understand your customers, and be their primary source of information to help make their lives better.

There aren’t many ways of developing brand loyalty and repeat business that are more effective than that!

The ultimate guide to running your own customer conference

Running your own customer conference should be a key part of any business’s marketing strategy.

How many other marketing channels offer this…

  • Differentiation from your competitors
  • Increased engagement with your customers
  • Content marketing opportunities
  • Social sharing
  • Thought leadership

Running your own conference can seem like a daunting prospect, and one that only large businesses have the resources to do.

From my own experiences, this just isn’t true.

Even the smallest of companies, with limited marketing resources can (and should) seriously consider having an event, with informative talks for their customers.

In this post I will show you how to plan and execute a successful customer conference:

  1. Setting your goals
  2. Choosing topics and speakers
  3. Planning your day’s schedule
  4. Picking the venue
  5. Registration and communication mechanisms
  6. Promoting the conference
  7. Attendee communication
  8. Attendee collateral
  9. Internal planning
  10. The big day
  11. Post-event marketing and feedback

Let’s get started…

Create your strategy with clear aims and goals

The first step is to clearly define why you are running a conference. What do you want to get out of it, and how you will analyse success/failure?

 Note: This is not a day long sales pitch. No matter what your goals are, provide your attendees with content that helps them.  

For example, if your business sells a product/service within a competitive, but largely emotion free industry, your conference is a great way to start moving away from being a commodity, towards being a brand with a loyal following.

If you already have a strong brand following, a conference will cement that and maintain loyalty.

Here is an example for a business looking to run their first conference:

Aim/strategy (What you want to achieve)

Engage with our customers in a wat that differentiates us from our competitors, providing content that helps our customers be successful. 

Goals/objectives (How you will achieve your aim):

  • Provide added value content  – Delivered through informative talks and measured by attendee rating in post-event survey.
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention – Delivered through informative talks and measured by post-event survey, NPS and churn analysis.
  • Differentiate ourselves from other faceless competitors – Measured with NPS and social media brand sentiment.
  • Help our customers become more successful using our products – Measured with add-ons sales, upgrades and renewals.
  • Getting feedback from four customers – Measured by the level of feedback.

Organising a one day conference is a lot of work, so it is important you get internal buy in from all your stakeholders. The best way to do that is to keep everyone informed on progress and make them feel involved.

With that in mind, share the day’s aim and goals amongst everyone who is helping to support the day. This way they are clear what you are are trying to achieve.

Choosing your topics and speakers

Remember, this is not sales talk. What advice can you authoritatively give customers to help make them become more successful? If you approach your conference with that mindset, they will have a great day.

Real-world, useful and practical advice about how they can do something better is always popular.

For example:

“A step by step guide to converting more website visitors in to customers”

Instead of…

“How to use our Super Converting Widget!”

Inbound marketing software provider Moz have got this down perfectly. Their annual ‘MozCon’ makes no mention of their products, it is 100% focused on helping their attendees be better.

mozcon 215

One of the topics at Moz’s MozCon 2015

Choose your speakers wisely. Public speaking is not a skill everyone has, so don’t force anyone to speak who does not have the confidence to get up and talk in front of strangers. It will be a disaster. There are plenty of non-speaking support roles for people to help with.

If you don’t have enough staff members who can give a talk, approach your suppliers/partners with the idea of being a guest speaker, or even running a joint conference.

Planning your day’s schedule

There are no hard rules for your day’s running times, but I would recommend planning short, punchy talks to keep people’s attention. This also gives you time to cover a wider range of topics.

Make sure you build in refreshment breaks. This gives attendees a chance to mix and stretch their legs. Don’t forget lunch to keep the afternoon energy levels up!

Here is an example of how you could structure your day:

Time Schedule Speaker  Notes
10am Registration  –  –
10.30am Keynote CEO Welcome
11am Using data to market your products Speaker 1 Data driven talk about the market
11.20am Supporting your customers Speaker 2 Effective ways of supporting customers
11.40am Cross-selling & up-selling Speaker 3 Getting customers to stay longer and buy more
12pm Lunch  –  –
12.30pm Branding Speaker 4 How to become a brand your customers care about
1pm Usability/ UX Speaker 5 Emphasis on designing websites
1.30pm PPC Speaker 6 Google AdWords on a small budget
1.50pm Content marketing Speaker 7 How to create content people want to share
2.20pm Break  –  –
2.40pm SEO Speaker 8 Emphasis on SEO and small businesses
3pm Q&A with attendees Compare
3.20pm Closing remarks CEO Thanks and sneak peek of future products

Picking the venue

One of the biggest decision you will make is where to hold your event. Cost is an obvious consideration, but so is accessibility.

Unless you are lucky enough to have space to hold your conference at your offices you’ll need to rent somewhere for the day. This doesn’t have to be in the same city as you are based.

Is the venue easy to get to for the majority of your customers? You are asking people to spend a day away from their office, and they aren’t going to want to spend a lot of time commuting back and forth.

Even national online brands find they have larger than average clusters of customers in particular cities/regions. Research your customer base and choose a city that the majority of your customers live/work near. I.e. Play the odds.

The simplest way to research your venue is via a search on Google “conference venue hire in [city]”.

Alternatively, there are services such as Hire Space and wefindvenues that act as an event search engine/directory.

Registration and communication mechanisms

The key questions to answer at this stage are:

  • How will people apply to attend? – Are you inviting specific people or do people need to apply? If so, how do they do that?
  • How will you choose who will attend? – Is their any selection criteria or will it be a random selection?

Applying for tickets

If you are opening up applications to all of your customers (and I would recommend that you do to create critical mass for your marketing), you need a mechanism to capture their interest.

The simplest method is to ask them t0 reply to an email invitation, or to put a form on your website that sends you an email with their details.

Although quick and easy to set up, using email creates a lot of manual work (e.g. manually importing details into a spreadsheet/database, mail merging, managing dropouts…etc.), especially if you are planning on having 100+ attendees.

I would recommend you use services such as EventbriteGet Invited and nvite. You can integrate them in to your website very easily.

Mozcon tickets

Moz’s sign up form on their website for ‘MozCon

The latter two both let you sell tickets to your event from your website, with attendee management and stats built-in. You can set your price to zero if you don’t want to charge (if you don’t charge, both services are free to use – bonus!).

If you use WordPress, the Tickera plugin will let you sell tickets online, for  a one off purchase fee, and no monthly/transaction charges.

Choosing who will attend

This is a great opportunity to engage with your all customers (and prospects) through a really positive message.

Publically limiting access to a small percentage of your customers (e.g. only inviting your top sellers, or your ‘VIP’ group) completely undermines this.

However, your big spending customers are your most important, and your top 20% probably contribute 80% of your revenue. They are the people you want to attend and build relationships with.

There are two schools of thought on how to approach this:

  • Keep your selection completely random
  • Publically advertise your selection as random, but be selective behind the scenes

I will leave it with you to decide which approach you want to take.

Announcing the conference

Use every communication channel available to announce your conference. It is a big deal!

123Conf

Part of 123-reg’s ‘123Conf‘ landing page

  • Landing page on your website (promoting the day and accepting applications to attend)
  • Email your customer base
  • Press release to your industry’s media outlets
  • Social media announcements
  • Story on your blog
  • Alert in your customer’s control panel

Here is an example email you can send to your customers:

Subject: Join us at our first ever customer conference

Hi [Name],

We are holding our first ever conference, on [date] at [venue] in [city] and it is exclusively for our customers.

The day will be packed full of great talks covering topics such as successfully supporting your customers, building a brand, SEO and PPC on a limited budget and much more.

We’d love for you to join us!

Register to attend
We only have 130 seats available so places are limited. Click on the button below to find out more and register your interest.

[Button] Find out more [/button]

People will naturally have questions, and you can address common ones before they are asked on your landing page with an FAQ section e.g.

How much does this cost? Nothing, it is 100% free.

Can I bring someone with me? This is only open to our customers. With limited seats we want to make sure as many of our customers have an opportunity to attend.

Do I need to bring any snacks or drinks? Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

What is the process for choosing who will attend? We are currently inviting all customers to confirm their interest. This will close on [date]. W/c [date] we will pick 130 people at random and contact them to let them know they have been chosen to attend.

and so on…

Attendee communication

There will be two pots.

  1. Customers attending
  2. Customers not attending

Customers not attending

A mistake I made the first time I organised a conference was not informing those who had been unsuccessful. I had said we would contact successful customers by a certain date on the landing page. Therefore, I assumed I just had to inform the successful customers and the rest would work out they hadn’t been chosen.

Wrong.

I received numerous emails and comments on social media asking when they would be told, or whether they had been selected.

The second time I organised a conference, I also emailed the non-attendees to inform them they had not been chosen.

Customers attending

Regular, clear communication is key here. Even though they applied to attend, and you have given them all the information they need to know where to be and when, don’t assume anything on their part.

Stay in touch with regular emails that get progressively more frequent as  the day gets closer. This will guarantee a much higher turnout.

  • 6 – 8 weeks: Confirmation of attendance – Overview of day (incl. times and directions)
  • 4 weeks: Nearly there – General reminder and any questions?
  • 3 weeks: Reminder of details and chance to drop out (gives you time to find replacements)
  • 2 weeks: Share the day’s schedule and talks
  • 1 week: Reminder of directions and any questions?
  • 1 day: Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and directions

Despite this aggressive communications schedule, every time I have organised an event I have had a handful of attendees get in touch with a few days to go asking if they been chosen or where it is being held. Not everyone reads all their emails.

With this in mind, consider calling your attendee list with a week to go to make sure they have all the details and they are still coming.

Tip: Create a back-up list

Let customers who have been unsuccessful know they can be added to a back-up list to step in if anyone drops out. It is normal to find that people drop out closer to the day. Hopefully more inform you than don’t, and when they do, you can fall back on your back-up list.

Attendee collateral

This is not the place to try and save money. The quality of the collateral you give them says a lot about your business. Make sure it is good.

  • Branded welcome note/card
  • Branded pen
  • Branded notepad
  • Branded bag
  • Branded USB memory stick
  • Feedback form for the day

Additionally, treat the day as a proper conference, and produce a booklet to hand out at the start.

HeartCon booklet

The contents page from Heart Internet’s HeartCon booklet

Include the structure of the day, bios of the speakers, info about the products related to the talks,  general useful resources e.g. marketing materials, PDF downloads, books, a couple of pages with lines for note writing etc.

Internal planning and coordination

With so much to do, start your planning nice and early because time will fly. Before you know it, it will be the day of the event, and you’ll wonder where it all went.

Planning far ahead reduces what is going to be a stressful experience any way. It means you have time to adapt to unforeseen humps, and get new plans in place.

People dropping out, suppliers not delivering on time, subjects not being suitable for a talk any more…

Create a Gantt chart with all the tasks you need to complete in the build up to the big day along the X axis, and dates on the Y axis.

Week Week Week
Customers
Email to prompt sign up Name x
Confirm they have been chosen Name x
Itinerary for the day Name x
Reminder Name x
Website
Design/ logo style finalised Name x
Landing page Name x
Talks
First draft ready Name x
Final draft ready Name x
Slides designed Name x
Rehersal 1 Name x
Rehersal 2 Name x
Rehersal 3 Name x
Handouts
Booklet Name x
Notepad Name x
Pen Name x
Badge Name x
Sticker Name x
Lanyards Name x

Practice running through each talk at least once. This will draw attention to anything that needs changing from a content or timing perspective.

Briefing your staff/helpers

One of the biggest mistakes I made when organising an event, was not keeping everyone in the loop for areas they weren’t contributing to.

I took the approach that as long as I knew it was in hand, that would be enough. The speakers and volunteers knew enough to do their job.

But that meant only I had the complete picture, which caused some confusion about progress and responsibilities.

In some cases it also led to de-motivation, because they didn’t feel they were part of the whole experience.

Hold a kick off meeting to explain the objectives, the outline of the day and who will have responsibility for what. From there start with monthly meetings, with the meetings and catch-ups becoming more frequent as the day gets closer.

The big day

Registration

Set-up a welcome desk, using your branding so it is clear who you are. From here take their registration and then walk them to where the conference is being held.

Unless the room is directly next to your table, don’t just point them in the general direction of where to go. People will get lost.

Running the day

Once the talks start, the day should pretty much manage itself. Assuming there are no technical glitches, you can sit back and enjoy the day.

Make it social

Get your attendees talking about their day on Twitter or Facebook. You can do this by linking their use of a hashtag to a competition, or Q&A session at the end (or both). This also helps to get fellow attendees interacting with each other on social media.

Post-event

Marketing

The day itself is only the start.

Record the talks and take plenty of pictures during the day to share after the event, encouraging people to share.

HeartCon videos

Videos of the talks for people to watch and share

HeartCon download

The booklet from the day for anyone to download and share

Other ideas to maximise the impact of your day include:

  • Your website: Create a landing page with a summary of the day, and pictures and videos available to watch, download and share. Also make the slides available to download.
  • YouTube: Upload all the talks from the day for people to discover and share.
  • Slideshare: Put the slides on slideshare for people to discover and share.
  • Instagram and/or Flickr: Upload pictures of the talks, people enjoying the day and any social event you have after the conference finishes.
  • Twitter/Facebook: Thank everyone for coming and drive traffic to your videos and pictures from the day.
  • Email/newsletter to all customers: Thank those who came, give a summary of the day and drive traffic to your videos and pictures from the day.

Get post-event feedback from attendees and staff

Send a survey the day after the event to everyone who attended, thanking them for coming along and asking them to rate various aspects of the conference.

This way it is fresh in their memory and they are still engaged enough to make the effort to reply.

For example:

  • Which was their favourite talk?
  • How did they rate the venue?
  • Would they attend again?
  • How did they rate the refreshments?

You can use this information to gauge success, and make changes to your next event.

In summary

For an events like this to succeed the whole company needs to have bought into the idea, and view it as everyone’s responsibility to make it a success.

With hand out to design and buy, talks to write, slides to design, venues to book… planning a conference for your customers requires a lot of work, and you can’t do it all yourself.

Maintain oversight to keep it all consistent and on time, but delegate areas of responsibility to other team members to help spread the load.

Good luck if you are planning your own conference, and I hope it all goes well!

How to control your PPC budget

A badly structured and unmonitored PPC account can easily burn through your marketing budget in a matter of hours.

There are plenty of horror stories recounting how small businesses have wasted hundreds or even thousands of pounds on PPC. Understandably this makes other small businesses nervous to start using channels such as Google AdWords.

It doesn’t have to be like that, and it is a shame they are missing out on sales, when all you need to do is follow some very basic rules.

Here are my tips on how to manage your PPC budget effectively.

Target the lower end of the conversion funnel

Think of the way you use search engines to search for a product or service you haven’t purchased before.

You start with broad terms such as “best headphones” or “headphones reviews”. After conducting your research, you filter down to the products you want to buy with transactional searches such as “Bose SoundTrue Around Ear Headphones”.

conversion funnel

The first search term is at the upper levels of the conversion funnel (the research stage). These traditionally have a low conversion rate because people aren’t ready to buy yet, which means higher CPAs if you bid on those keywords.

The second search term is at the purchase stage of the funnel. This is where you should focus your budget.

Only advertise on Google’s search network

By default you are opted in to advertise in Google’s search partner network. This includes websites that carry Google searches as part of their services.

These typically send lower quality traffic which means higher costs and CPA’s.

Campaign Management – Google AdWords

When I set up a new campaign, deselecting this is one of the first things I do. In some cases I have seen savings of up to 25%.

Use exact match and negative keywords

Broad match and phrase match are notorious for eating through PPC budgets. This is fine if you have thousands to spend and a high CPA is acceptable.

However, if you are on a small budget, and you need to work towards a low CPA I would recommend exclusively bidding against exact match keywords.

Additionally, don’t overlook your negative keywords.

I have had negative lists that run in to the thousands before. Some of the keywords to include in this list are obvious “sex” etc. Some are less obvious, and others are impossible to guess at.

Every week run a report to see which keywords triggered an advert. Fish out any that you don’t want to show an advert for and add them to your negative list.

The chart below is taken from Google’s support pages.

Match type

Special symbol

Example keyword

Ads may show on searches that

Example searches

Broad match none women’s hats include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations buy ladies hats
Broad match modifier +keyword +women’s +hats contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order hats for women
Phrase match “keyword” “women’s hats” are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase buy women’s hats
Exact match [keyword] [women’s hats] are an exact term and close variations of that exact term women’s hats
Negative match -keyword -women are searches without the term baseball hats

Only show ads during busy traffic and sales periods

You don’t have to shows your ads 24×7, every day. You can pick and choose the time slots your ads appear, and the days, very easily.

To do this, follow these steps:

Go to your campaign > Settings > Ad schedule > Click on +Ad schedule > Click on + Create custom schedule

Use your sales data and Google Analytics to identify when your busiest periods are. This is clearly the optimal time to advertise, and rather than spreading yourself thinly over 24 hours, invest your budget to be seen as much as possible at these times.

Use geographic targeting

PPC isn’t exclusively a national channel. Google gives advertisers some seriously cool tools to target people based on where they are. This is super-important if you are a local/regional business.

If you service a limited geographic region, the last thing you want is someone the other side of the country clicking on your advert when they can’t possibly use you.

9 Location targeting map

This is done at the campaign level of your account: Settings > Locations > Click on “+LOCATIONS”

If this is something you’d like to find out more about, check out my detailed step-by-step guide on how to create a hyper local PPC campaign.

And finally… Set a daily budget you can afford!

Don’t set your daily budget to be more than you can afford. This may sound obvious, but I have been asked to help numerous small business AdWords account that have not thought about budget control on a day to day level.

Because Google AdWords asks for a daily budget, some account managers set the daily targets higher than the monthly budget.

Don’t do this.

The maths is simple. If you want to advertise 7 days a week, take your monthly budget and divide it by the number of days in the month.

If you only want to advertise during the working week, divide your monthly total by the number of weekdays in that month and so on.

More about Google AdWords

If you are just getting started with Googe AdWords, have a read of my Teach yourself Google AdWords post. If you are looking some advanced tips, you should read my How to target mobile phone users using Google AdWords.