Google Ads vs Google Adwords Express: Why Google Ads Wins Every Time

So, you’ve been looking at different types of Google advertising and you are deciding between Google Ads and Google AdWords Express. Let us help you with this: Google Ads vs Google AdWords Express? Google Ads wins 10 times out of 10.    

Let’s look at what these two are and why the decision to pick Google Ads over Google AdWords Express is an easy one. 

Businessman using Google Analytics in the office on the touch screen of his laptop.

What is Google Ads? (Formerly Google AdWords) 

When you search on Google, you receive a list of search results. Have you ever noticed that the top search results may have a green ad square in the top left corner? These are ads from Google, known as Google Ads.  

If your website doesn’t rank as well as others, Google Ads allows youwebsite to be shown higher in search results based on the keywords you are targeting. The intent is that when users search for a keyword, results show your ad result near the top, and users will click your result first.  

Yes, this costs money, but it can be effective if you are starting out, haven’t broken through the top contenders in your industry, or would like more leads/customers.  

What is Google AdWords Express? 

Similar to Google Ads, this advertising platform that is often attractive to small businesses. It’s often used because of the ease of set up and hand-off ongoing management it offers. Set up your account in 15 minutes and Google does the rest of the work? Say no more! No website? Don’t worry – users can call you directly with one click on your ad. 

Essentially, Google AdWords Express is marketed as an “easier” version of Google Ads that can be set up quickly. Although you don’t have to do the groundwork after the set-up, the quality of groundwork is where the issues lie. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is. 

What’s the Difference? 

Sure, Google Ads and Google AdWords Express seem similarbut the difference is the control over your monthly monitoring and optimization.  

If you aren’t familiar with Google’s advertising or don’t have the resources to manage Google Ads, Google AdWords Express seems like a less overwhelming option. Who wouldn’t trust Google to manage their own branded ads? While it’s not like they’re scamming you, they aren’t offering the manual optimizations that truly get the best bang for your budget. 

Let’s look more closely in terms of the lack of control and management where Google AdWords Express falls short.  

Why You Should Avoid Google Adwords Express 


There is no “conversion tracking” in Google AdWords Express. Yes, your ads are still showing for brand awareness, which is important, but having tracking to show how many people have contacted you or completed an action on your website is huge. This proves what your return on investment is and can justify the cost of advertising on Google.  

Trust us, your financial controller will agree. 

Broad match keywords 

This means your ads will show up on more keywords than needed. In turn, there are more opportunities for users to click on your ads and for Google to charge you.  

Kickpoint provides an excellent example for this: If AdWords Express bids for edmonton catering companiesbroad match keywords can end up showing to edmonton pig roast companies. Reason being, is they can generally be related in catering terms, but chances are this catering company would definitely not offer pig roasting. This leaves you with users searching for pig roast companies clicking on your ads and Google charging you, all for the user to realize you don’t offer that type of catering and leaving your website. 

No keyword choice 

Similar to broad match keywords, you cannot choose your keywords – Google does this for you. You can’t add any new keywords, you can only turn on/off any keywords that Google has chosen for you. This goes back to the note above about more opportunities for users to click on your ads which means more of your money in Google’s pocket.

No negative keywords 

This is a huge bonus when advertising on Google. This means you can remove any unwanted keywords associated with terms users may search for in relation to your industry.  

Not sure what keywords you would want to avoid for advertising? Here’s an easy one to avoid: FREE.  

Add-on extensions  

Add-on extensions can be many things: call-outs, site links, structured snippets, locations, or options to directly text/call the company. These appear at the bottom of your add to all work together to make the search results appear more dynamic.  

This extension builds up your ads and add extra information that users may be looking for – which is a bonus you would be missing with Google AdWords Express. 

Bidding Options 

Do you have one keyword producing the best results, while your other keywords are simply helping to hit your daily budget with no conversions? Bidding adjustments allow you to allocate a larger percentage of budget to your keywords producing better results and less on the others.  

This means your ads with the better performing keywords will show more often and optimize your ad spend to utilize these to produce more conversions – and better results for you. 

Unfortunately, Google Adwords Express is unable to change the bidding on different keywordsleaving all your keywords being shown an equal amount – for good or bad. 

How Do I Manage Google Ads? 

Are you unsure of how to manage Google Ads?  

Google offers some great free resources including some video tutorials that can help you get started. 

Don’t have time to constantly manage Google Ads?  

We offer Google Ads set up and optimization and can manage your ad account with all the above-mentioned things that Google Ads offers. Get in touch with us and see how we can help! 



Optimizing Your LinkedIn Company Page to Hook Leads & Drive Traffic

LinkedIn has become an incredible marketing tool, especially for businesses who know how to optimize their LinkedIn company page.

The premiere professional networking platform is a great place to scout talent, network, and nurture sales prospects. But that’s not the only way to leverage it.

LinkedIn also has powerful search engine optimization benefits. Creating a LinkedIn company page is of the fastest ways to rank for branded keywords, and it sends strong signals to Google’s ranking algorithm.

Drive Traffic

Want to quickly and effectively optimize your LinkedIn company page? Focus on these key areas.

Why LinkedIn is Worth Your Time

LinkedIn is home to over 500 million users from 200 different countries. And those users are impressively active, with over half of them visiting the site at least once a month.

Having a dedicated company page gives you direct access to customers, clients, and talent in your industry. It’s a free platform for showcasing products and services and promoting important news.

Company pages also unlock valuable engagement assets, like how many people see your posts and what they’re saying about your company.

LinkedIn’s not only popular with professionals – Google’s ranking algorithm loves it, too. LinkedIn company pages quickly climb the rankings for branded key phrases, giving companies a free and easy opportunity to get their content in front of more searchers.

Optimizing a LinkedIn Company Page

When we talk about optimizing a LinkedIn company page, we usually have three broad goals in mind:

  1. Increasing LinkedIn user engagement with the company page;
  2. Helping the company page rank for relevant queries in search engine results; and
  3. Helping the company page rank in LinkedIn’s native search engine results.

Each of these goals can be refined and targeted to a company’s specific key performance indicators; if the company is looking for sales leads, for example, the focus will be on user engagement at specific points in the marketing funnel.

Whether you’re focusing on organic engagement or plan to boost your LinkedIn strategy with sponsored content, optimizing a LinkedIn company page should begin with these basic steps:

  1. Fill out the company profile completely.
  2. Write a keyword-rich company description.
  3. Upload high-quality photos.
  4. Link back to the company website and other social profiles.
  5. Post-industry-relevant content.
  6. Have employees connect to the page.

1. Complete Your Company Profile

Start by filling in the blanks.

When a user first enters a company on their profile, LinkedIn generates a bare-bones page for that company to serve as a hub for employees; however, the information that automatically populates the page is far from complete and not necessarily accurate.

Enter all the information someone would need to find and identify your company: its address, phone number, website URL, etc. Make sure it matches what appears on the company’s website and Google My Business page

This step increases the page’s legitimacy in the eyes of users and search engines.

2. Write a Compelling Company Description

What does your company do? What makes it unique? Boil it down into 156 characters.

The first 156 characters of a company’s description appears as the page’s meta description, or the summary that appears below the link on both Google and LinkedIn’s the search engine results page.

It helps to think of the description as an elevator pitch: a concise summary that tells people what your company is all about and entices them to learn more.

The company description can be longer than 156 characters, of course, but it’s important to make those initial words count. Be sure to include keywords and key phrases that people use to find companies in your industry.

3. Upload High-Quality Photos

The profile picture is the first impression people have of your company on LinkedIn. It appears in the LinkedIn search results, on employees’ profile pages, and above everything your company posts.

Company pages with profile pictures also get six times as many visits as those without one.

The best profile picture for a company on LinkedIn is a clear, high-quality image of its logo. LinkedIn recommends a minimum profile image size of 400px by 400px and a max of 7680px by 4320px.

You should also personalize the page with an eye-catching header image (recommended 1584px by 396 px). It can be a simple banner, a photo collage, or an image with call-to-action text. Since it always appears alongside the profile image, the header doesn’t need to include a logo; however, it should reinforce brand recognition using relevant imagery and colours.

If your ideal logo or header image doesn’t quite fit LinkedIn’s dimensions, Sprout Social’s Landscape Resizer tool is a quickly modify it.

4. Link to Other Sites and Profiles

Social media pages are most effective when they’re interconnected.

Add links to the company’s other social profiles so LinkedIn users can easily find and follow your company across the web.

In turn, add a LinkedIn button to your company website.

5. Post-Industry-Relevant Content

LinkedIn isn’t just another company listing; it’s a platform from which companies can broadcast their best content to clients, customers and industry colleagues.

Posts are one of the most direct ways to engage with viewers and followers since posts appear both on its page and the home page of each of the company’s followers.

What to post depends on the company’s goals for the social network. LinkedIn posts can be used to:

  • Showcase an awesome company culture
  • Share company news and updates
  • Publish original blog, video and image content
  • Spread the word about timely industry issues

Always include some form of visual content – those posts get 98% more engagement than text-only posts.

6. Get Employees on Board

If your business is new to LinkedIn, but your employees aren’t, chances are they’ll have already named the company in the Experience section of their profiles.

But that doesn’t always mean they are connected to the same page.

For example, the user who entered “Company Inc.” may be linked to a different page than the one who simply put “Company.”

Ironing out these inconsistencies is an important step in increasing the company page’s reach, especially for smaller businesses. The more employees who connect, the greater your reach.

About LinkedIn Sponsored Content

Once you’ve done all the above, it’s time to consider furthering your reach with sponsored content.

Sponsoring content puts your company’s posts in people’s LinkedIn feeds, appearing almost exactly like an organic (non-sponsored) post. It’s a great way to reach clients and customers, especially for B2B businesses.

LinkedIn’s advertising tools enable highly specific targeting, allowing you to aim content at specific people, companies, or positions within a company. Insight tags help to define further your audience based on who visits your site and their actions on the page, detailed conversion tracking gives a clear understanding of the value of leads through LinkedIn.

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How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy

Often defined as a complex state of feeling, emotions result in both physical and psychological changes that influence thought and behaviour.  They’re associated with temperament, personality, mood, and motivation.

emotional branding

Emotions also constitute the foundation on which decisions are made.

How Emotions Influence What We Buy

Emotions greatly influence and can even determine our buying decisions.

When confronted with a choice, emotions from previous life events create preferences and patterns that lead to our decision. fMRI imaging has shown that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions rather than information like brand attributes, features, and facts to make their final decision.

Emotion is one of the reasons why most people prefer brand-name products. Big brands with large advertising budgets that market on a large scale can create an emotional connection with the consumer. Therefore, rich, emotional content results in a loyal user.

How Emotion is Used in Marketing

Human emotion is based on four overarching emotions: happy, sad, afraid/upset, and angry/disgusted.

Positivity has been shown to increase sharing and engagement. Brands have also recognized that sad or inspiring ads are hugely successful.

Fear, on the other hand, is an instinct that helps us to react to threats. Advertisers have found that ‘scare-vertising’ is one way to leverage this. Surprise is a more positive form of fear and can be seen in ads such as this one.

Finally, there’s anger. We often think it’s best to avoid anger, but in some cases, it can wake people up and spur action and change. While negative images are less common in advertising than positive ones, viral success occurs when negative images have an element of anticipation and surprise.

So, how are feelings actually used in marketing? The most shared ads of 2018 relied heavily on emotional content such as friendship, inspiration, warmth and happiness. Although this style of advertising wasn’t always the case: in the 1990s and 2000s, advertisers focused on humour and sarcasm.

The Future of Emotional Marketing

Today, many brands are going beyond simply telling emotionally-driven stories, targeting different ads to specific moods for maximum impact.

In 2016, the USA Today Network began categorizing its content by topic and tone and scored it based on the emotions it was thought to evoke. They then started selling advertising based on that knowledge. This concept represents targeting an audience based on psychographic characteristics rather than demographics.

Recently, the New York Times also rolled out a project called Project Feels that lets advertisers target ads to content based on predicted emotional responses. ESPN has also pitched a tool that would target sports fans on its digital platforms based on their changing emotional state during a game.

Tapping into feelings and emotion is a powerful way for marketers to formulate potent advertising. When used properly, feelings help facilitate consumers’ understanding of an advertising message and motivate them to buy.

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The Smart Way to Deal With Fake Negative Reviews on Google, Yelp and Other Sites

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in damage control-mode. Your business has been hit with a fake negative review on Google, Yelp, or another online platform, and you want to deal with it ASAP. Preferably by wiping it off the face of the Internet.

Fake negative reviews are all too common. It’s trivially easy to create an account on these sites and write feedback for all the world to see. For business owners who’ve worked hard to build their reputation, these types of reviews are exasperating.

It is possible to get fake reviews removed in some cases. But that’s not always the case. Dealing with fake negative reviews is a delicate process, and it’s one you should prepare for before it becomes necessary.

We’ve laid out a step-by-step process for how to deal with fake negative reviews of a business, including how to report fake reviews and what to do when removal isn’t possible.

How to Deal with Fake Negative Reviews, Step-By-Step

Dealing with fake negative reviews is easier when you have a plan of action. The process will differ between businesses, but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Verify that the review is fake.
  2. Determine if the review violates the rules.
  3. Report the fake review through the official channels.
  4. If the review stays up, decide on the best course of action.

1. Are You Sure the Review is a Fake One?

When we say ‘fake negative reviews’, we’re talking about reviews that are either:

  • Written by someone who was never a customer, client, or associate of the business; or
  • Making claims about the business that aren’t true.

It does a business no good to conflate bad reviews with fake ones. Do your research before alleging a review isn’t genuine.

If you have a very small customer or client base, it’s easier to tell if a review is coming from someone the business has never dealt with. Otherwise, some tell-tale signs of a fake review include:

  • Review was authored by a brand-new profile with no other reviews and a sparse profile
  • Tone is overly aggressive or threatening and clearly meant to provoke
  • Language includes industry jargon that actual customers or clients rarely use

2. Does the Review Break the Rules?

Suppose the review comes from someone you know has never dealt with the business. What next?

You can tell that to Google or Yelp. Trouble is, they don’t know who your customers are. Should they take your word for it?

People don’t even need to be customers to leave a valid review; they just need a customer experience. That can mean reaching out to the business by phone or email, or dropping by the premises.

It’s seldom possible to get a fake review removed simply because the reviewer wasn’t a customer. The most promising route to taking down fake reviews is to report them for violating the site’s terms of use.

Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other sites each have their own separate community guidelines. In general, the following behaviour is usually grounds to report a review:

  • Demonstrably false information
  • Current or former employees reviewing their employer
  • Business owners or their employees reviewing a competitor to manipulate rankings
  • People posting the same content repeatedly, or reviewing the same business from multiple accounts
  • People claiming to represent an individual, company or organization without permission
  • Obscene or offensive language that goes beyond ‘colourful’
  • Threats, harassment, bullying, or discrimination

If you believe the review in question violates the site’s rules, proceed to step 3; otherwise, skip to step 4.

3. Will Google/Yelp/Facebook Remove the Review?

Don’t call out the reviewer as a phony in public. Go through the website’s official reporting channels. While awaiting a verdict, decide how to proceed if the review stays up.

To report a review on Yelp:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Yelp for Business Owners account.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Review.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a review on Facebook:

  1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your Page.
  2. Click the button with the three dots, then click Report Post.
  3. Submit your report.

To report a Google review:

  1. Locate the review on your Google My Business page.
  2. Move your cursor over the review and click the flag icon that appears.
  3. Submit your review.

4. Should You Respond to a Fake Review?

It’s never a good idea to ignore fake negative reviews.

51% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within seven days. Posting a response gives you an opportunity to demonstrate you’re responsive to customers, even if they have nothing nice to say.

How best to respond to negative fake reviews can be tricky. It’s not smart to accuse the person outright, because it makes the business owner look petty and defensive.

A better tactic? Take the high ground. Write a courteous, professional response. The most important thing is for customers to see that the business is willing to acknowledge negativity and do something about it.

If there’s a clear sign the review is fake (talking about products or services you don’t have, or an experience that couldn’t have happened), there are subtle ways to address the discrepancy.

Don’t say, “We don’t sell ice cream, liar.” Say, “We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but you may be confusing us with another restaurant, as we don’t have ice cream on our menu.”

Don’t say, “You never once used our service and we know it.” Say, “We’d like to investigate, but have no record of a client with your name. Please provide more information about your experience.”

Bad reviews hurt; fake reviews can hurt even more. But don’t give into frustration. The worst thing you can do is fight fire with fire, responding inappropriately or threateningly to someone who’s trying to bring you down.

Dealing with Fake Reviews

We’ve helped various clients navigate the process of dealing with fake reviews, and it’s never fun. But with a solid plan and a clear head, you can minimize the damage.

As always, the best way to overcome negative reviews is to surround them with positive ones. Don’t forget to let your happy customers know how much you appreciate their feedback.

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Marketing funnel strategies: How to Fix 5 common mistakes

Understanding your business’s marketing funnel is key to a successful marketing campaign. Thanks to tools like Google Analytics, it’s easier than ever to see how your customers go from being curious prospects to loyal patrons. Still, there are common beginner mistakes people make when they’re new to the world of marketing funnel strategies.

marketing funnel strategies

These mistakes aren’t always fatal. However, fixing them is necessary to unlock your funnel’s full potential.

What Exactly is the Marketing Funnel?

The marketing funnel is a helpful way of visualizing how people make the decision to purchase (or not) a product or service.

The idea is to imagine how customers approach the business at three different stages in the purchase process: the awareness, the consideration, and conversion stages.

  1. The top of the marketing funnel is the awareness stage. This is the point with the biggest pool of potential customers — that’s why it’s the widest part of the funnel. Here, people are discovering a product or service for the first time. They may not have prior knowledge of the business or its solution. Sometimes, they aren’t even aware they have a problem that needs solving.
  2. The middle of the marketing funnel is the consideration stage. People in this stage know the business and what it offers, but they aren’t ready to buy. There aren’t as many potential customers here as there is in the top of the funnel, but they’re closer to purchasing.
  3. The bottom of the marketing funnel is the conversion stage. The bottom represents the potential customers who have already decided to buy — now, they just need to decide who to buy from.

Why visualize customers using the marketing funnel? Because each different stage calls for a different marketing strategy. Customers at the top of the funnel are easier to reach, but they need convincing before they’ll buy. There are fewer customers in the conversion stage, but they’re the ones who are most receptive.

Your marketing efforts will generate better returns when you understand where to find people at each stage in the funnel and what resonates with each of them.

Fixing Common Marketing Funnel Mistakes

A marketing funnel strategy involves tactics to target potential customers at different points of the marketing funnel and move them closer to making a purchase. Data on user activity from platforms like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights can help you understand what’s working (and what’s not) at each step along the way.

However, even a robust strategy backed by good data is susceptible to a few common mistakes.

Keep these points in mind when you’re working on your winning marketing funnel strategy.

1. The Funnel Doesn’t End with Conversion

What happens at the end of the funnel?

Ideally, the person converts, whether that means buying a product, hiring a service, or taking some other action that benefits the business. The prospect becomes a customer.

What next? That customer doesn’t just vanish — they become one of the business’s biggest assets.

Assuming the product or service met their expectations, those customers more receptive than anyone to the business’s other offerings. They can become loyal fans and advocates for the business. Finally, they’re going to spread the word about their experience, so it’s in the businesses interest to keep them happy.

It’s a mistake to forget about customers after the conversion stage. Instead, use what you know about their needs and preferences for effective customer retention.

2. Market at All Points of the Funnel

When potential customers are close to converting, don’t be afraid to give them an extra ‘nudge’.

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing only on acquiring leads at the top of the marketing funnel, since people at the bottom are already close to converting. But conversion is not a guarantee.

It pays to invest in appealing to customers at all points in the funnel, especially the ones who are already eager to buy.

3. Don’t Let Prospects Go

Just because a prospect left without buying doesn’t mean they weren’t interested. There are dozens of reasons why someone might bounce. It could be they forgot what they were doing, wanted to check out competitors, or needed more time to think before making a decision.

With tools like AdWords and Facebook’s Pixel, you can retarget these potential customers and bring them back.

Retargeting is a fundamental marketing funnel strategy. Use what you already know about the customer to deliver a message that reminds them of your business.

4. Integrate the Funnel into Your Content Strategy

Content plays a big role in moving prospects through the marketing funnel. People don’t like ads, but they’re willing to consume content that delivers something of value: humour, entertainment, authenticity, information, empathy.

Blogs are a great example. Blog posts can raise customer awareness at the top of the funnel and provide ongoing value to those who have already converted. For example, an orchard could publish seasonal recipes that get people craving Ambrosia apples; an agency could share insider tips on their areas of expertise.

Don’t think of content strategy and marketing funnel strategy as two worlds. The marketing funnel gives content direction. Content is the current that ferries customers along.

5. Continuously Update Your Marketing Funnel Strategy

Marketing funnel strategy is not a one-time effort.

As technology evolves and customer habits change, your approach should pivot along with them. Ten years ago, mobile e-commerce was an emerging trend. Now, it accounts for $1.4 trillion in annual sales and 58% of e-commerce worldwide. Businesses who caught on to the change and optimized their strategies for mobile devices reeled in the benefits (see: How to Make Sure Your Site is Ready for Mobile).

Keep track of the changing ways customers are discovering and interacting with your business. Otherwise, your funnel won’t be in the right position to catch the stream of potential customers.

Marketing Funnel Strategy

In sum, remember these tips to avoid the common beginner marketing funnel mistakes:

  1. People who make it through the funnel once already are some of your best prospects. Keep customers coming back after they convert.
  2. Don’t focus exclusively on the top of the funnel. Prospects in the conversion stage still need that extra push.
  3. Use retargeting methods to bring prospects back into the funnel if they bounce.
  4. Treat your content marketing strategy and marketing funnel strategy as one.
  5. Your marketing funnel strategy is never complete. Keep adapting to consumer habits and buying trends.

Need a hand? Send us a note and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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BigCommerce Launches e-Commerce Plugin for WordPress

WordPress is the leading content management system, powering 30% of the web. E-commerce has become one of the biggest online activities, reaching a record $2.3 trillion in global sales in 2017. So, it stands to reason that e-commerce and WordPress would go together perfectly — but the reality is complicated.

online store

Getting an online store up and running on a WordPress site isn’t too difficult. But managing and optimizing that site to drive traffic can be a challenge.

That’s why WordPress developers are intrigued by the recent announcement that the team behind BigCommerce, a major SaaS e-commerce platform, is developing a BigCommerce plugin for WordPress.

If the plugin works as intended, BigCommerce for WordPress could make establishing an e-commerce store on WordPress a lot more efficient.

What’s Required for E-Commerce on WordPress Today

WordPress does not support e-commerce by default. It is possible to set up an e-commerce site using WordPress (and many companies do, like Book Riot and Clickbank) but it requires that you install and configure:

  • A domain
  • An e-commerce-friendly WordPress theme
  • An e-commerce plugin for WordPress

There are already dozens of plugins (free and paid) designed to add e-commerce functionality to WordPress. However, picking the right one can be a challenge of its own. In choosing an e-commerce plugin for WordPress, you must think about:

  • What you are selling (some plugins lack shipping and inventory management, or only support digital products)
  • Your payment system of choice (few plugins support all the various payment options)
  • WordPress theme compatibility
  • Plugin customer support (is someone there to help if your store goes down?)

WordPress is almost endlessly customizable, and the process of building an e-commerce site using WordPress is less time-consuming than creating one from scratch. However, it isn’t the fastest way to get into e-commerce. All-in-one e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are faster and more user-friendly.

Shopify and WooCommerce for WordPress

The top three e-commerce platforms in 2017 were WooCommerce, Magneto, and Shopify. WooCommerce was designed for WordPress from the ground up. Shopify is a standalone platform first but has released a WordPress plugin. Magneto does not integrate easily with WordPress.

WooCommerce has notable benefits for WordPress users: the basic software is free and customizable, with no limitations on the number of products or orders it can handle. However, many features are locked behind paid add-ons, including expanded payment and checkout options.

Another downside of WooCommerce it’s only for WordPress, meaning businesses have to rebuild their online store if they ever switch content management systems.

Shopify-built e-commerce sites are robust, but not without limitations. Its terms of service limit what you can sell on the platform, and it is not possible to manage WordPress and Shopify at once. Vendors have also reported configuration issues with shipping rates, weight-based shipping, and other time-sensitive factors that get in the way of conversions.

How BigCommerce Could Make e-Commerce on WordPress Easier

BigCommerce is an up-and-coming e-commerce platform that saw rapid gains in the market last year. Recently, it launched the developer beta of a BigCommerce WordPress plugin, which shows promise as a better option for e-commerce on WordPress.

Like Shopify, BigCommerce is software-as-a-service or SaaS, meaning it takes care of hosting and maintaining the servers, databases, and code for its engine. This system frees up resources on the WordPress end and ensures the online store won’t slow down the site, which is important for search engine optimization.

BigCommerce also promises an efficient control panel that allows businesses to manage both the e-commerce elements and the rest of the site from the WordPress platform.

We also like that BigCommerce is already Gutenberg-ready, so you won’t have to switch platforms when this massive WordPress update rolls out later this year.

If you run a WordPress e-commerce site, you’ll want to check out BigCommerce’s blog post on the subject, which has more information on planned features for the plugin.

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5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers Should Use Video

You know that video assets are a powerful way to connect with individuals on social media and beyond. But, what if you’re targeting businesses? While the business-to-business world has yet to embrace video to the same extent as B2C, there are strong reasons why B2B marketers should use video as well.

Research by Google shows that 70% of B2B customers watch videos on their path to purchase. Video tutorials, reviews, and advertisements have become a main source of information for researchers and stakeholders in the purchasing process. Leveraging these channels is a way of leading them towards a purchase at all different points of the B2B buyer’s journey.

Video Supports Long Sales Cycles

One of the significant differences between B2B and B2C marketing is the comparative complexity of the B2B sales cycle. In fact, a report from Marketing Sherpa suggests that over a third of B2B sales occur a full seven months after the initial customer inquiry.

Why is the B2B sales cycle so long? The most common reasons include:

  • The purchase is just one of many priorities competing for the customer’s time and attention.
  • The decision can affect many people within an organization, thus requiring careful thought and research.
  • There are various stakeholders involved over the course of the purchasing process.

In many cases, converting B2B customers requires you to nudge them continuously towards the finish line. Closing the deal can require many more touchpoints than the typical B2C transaction.

Video marketing can support the B2B sales cycle by nurturing potential conversions at different points along the funnel. Initially, a short video can increase a customer’s interest in the product or service; longer videos can then cover the topic in greater depth.

That’s what Microsoft is doing with its new video campaign for Office 365 for Business. The featured video on their YouTube channel serves as an Office 365 elevator pitch. From there, interested customers can find video tutorials and product reviews that give them more reasons to buy in. Microsoft’s channel has something for buyers at all different points in the journey.

Video Boosts Your Other Digital Marketing Efforts

Closing a B2B sale online means hitting the customer on multiple fronts, including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), blog content, and social media. These efforts can all benefit from the addition of a video marketing campaign.

Here are just some of the ways video boosts other forms of digital marketing:

Point is, the reasons why B2B marketers should use video go beyond the returns generated by the video campaign itself. Great video content bolsters your web presence as a whole.

Personalized Videos Can Target Different Buyers

When video marketing was expensive, businesses had to target large swaths of customers at once to get the most out of their budgets. But the decreasing cost of video production gives you room to produce niche video campaigns for specific buyer personas.

Lenovo uses this strategy in the “Users Happen” campaign, which targets a number of relatable pain points in a hilarious, over-the-top way. You don’t have to be an IT manager to recognize a “power user” like Jane or a loveable dope like Chad.

Video Advertising is Growing on LinkedIn

Last year, the primary B2B social network started allowing users to upload native video files. So far, it’s been a success, with people finding expanded reach and greater engagement on LinkedIn through video. Now, LinkedIn is finally expanding the privilege to businesses with options for video ads in LinkedIn sponsored content.

LinkedIn’s deep advertising audience options will make it easier than ever to get your video content in front of your ideal customers. You can target existing email contacts on LinkedIn customers, or discover new potential customers by targeting a job title, industry, skillset, or company name.

Video Can Make Boring Stuff Shine

Face it: a lot of B2B transactions fall into the realm of what most people would deem boring. But that’s only because they haven’t seen it through the right lens. There’s a story behind every B2B transaction, and with video, you can bring those stories to life.

Take Slack, an inter-office messaging platform that means to replace such arduous tasks as ‘sending an email’ and ‘asking the person next to you if they have an iPhone charger.’ To date, this seeming-boring software has generated over a million views with its “So Yeah, We Tried Slack…” video campaign.

Another great example comes from Schneider Electric, a company that makes automated electrical systems. Not only does their imaginative “Butterfly Effect” campaign demonstrate the benefits of their product, it tells a triumphant (and hilarious) tale.

In Short: 5 Reasons Why B2B Marketers Should Use Video

  1. Video marketing can reach customers at all different points in the B2B sales cycle.
  2. Video can support your SEO, social media and blogging efforts.
  3. Video is cheaper than ever to product, allowing you to target niche buyer personas.
  4. LinkedIn lets you zero-in on specific kinds of customers with video ads.
  5. Video marketing can bring great stories to life, even in traditionally ‘boring’ industries.

Why Google My Business is Important for Your Local Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a tool for website owners to manage their online presence across Google, including search and Map. It allows you to create, verify and edit listing information to help potential customers find your business.

Google My Business Important Local Business

So, how can Google My Business help your business?

Directly improves the SEO of your website and helps it rank better

Google My Business listings increase visibility in search results for branded searches. It also lets users find listing information and get directions directly from the search results — all without actually going to the website, which is perfect for mobile users! Google My Business is essential for local SEO as it enables your business listing to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services. Even broad queries with large volumes display local results, and this is something small business owners and organizations can capitalize on.

You own your information and can control your service offering

You can make sure your customers have access to accurate information such as operating hours, website, telephone number and street address when they find your business via Google Maps or Search. As such, it’s important to ensure your Google my Business page is fully optimized, accurate, and up to date to provide users with the best experience when searching for your products or services online.

In addition, Google My Business pages offer a range of tools to attract and inform local customers: details like menus, product lists, hours of operation, accepted payment types, and interactive features such as photos and reviews. You can also add coupons and special offers for your visitors.

Manage, showcase and respond to reviews

Google My Business allows you to interact with customers by responding to both positive and negative reviews about your business. Responding to reviews demonstrates that you value your customers and their feedback.

High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’ visibility. It also increases the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Do encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click on to write reviews on your website or email signature. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers personally to write reviews in-store, online or via email.

Learn more about customers

The Google My Business platform includes extra analytic data, enabling local businesses to learn even more about their customers. For instance, on Google Maps, you can access information on where requests for driving directions to your business originate from. This is something that can help you target new customers in the area, or even pick the right neighbourhood to expand to as your business grows.

Tips businesses can use to improve local visibility

  • Be sure to select the most appropriate category/categories for your business. This way your business can appear for various product or service-based keyword searches.
  • Add photos that showcase your business. Choose high-quality photos that highlight different areas of your business. These may include your company logo, interior and exterior images of your business, and product or service offerings.
  • Encourage visitors to upload photos of your venue/business.
  • Check the popular times of the day and use paid social or AdWords to drive more visitors to your business during slower hours.
  • Encourage local reviews and social check-ins from your customers. Some businesses even offer an incentive to customers who do so.

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5 Key Consumer Trends in the 2017 Holiday Season

Last month, global market research firm NPD released its findings on consumer purchase intentions in the 2017 holiday season. Drawn from thousands of consumer surveys and detailed checkout tracking (both online and offline), the data reveals five key consumer trends retailers should take into account.

5 Key Consumer Trends in the 2017 Holiday Season

Shoppers Will Spend More AND Buy More Frequently Online

E-commerce continues to outpace traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers when it comes to holiday shopping. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the frequency of online purchases jumped 12 percent, while brick-and-mortar purchase frequency dropped 4 percent from the prior year. NPD expects the trend to continue in 2017.

Not only are Americans making a higher number of their holiday purchases online, but those who opt to buy online plan to dig deeper into their wallets than their in-store counterparts. Consumers who plan to shop online are prepared to spend an average of $793 this holiday season — almost 70 percent more than brick-and-mortar shoppers, who plan to be only $467 lighter at the end of the day.

However, not all traditional retailers are being eclipsed by digital competition. The NPD report points out the Beauty category, which includes makeup, fragrances, and skincare products, is one of few to experience growth in purchase frequency in 2017. Stores like Sephora and Ulta Beauty thrive through brand exclusivity, offering products shoppers can’t find elsewhere, while keeping an ear to emerging beauty trends on platforms like Instagram.

Online-Only Stores Have Become the First Stop for Holiday Shopping

In its early days, e-commerce was mostly regarded as a back-up plan for holiday shoppers — an alternative for when products were sold out or unavailable in brick-and-mortar stores. Not anymore.

In 2017, a majority of American consumers plan to start holiday shopping at e-commerce sites such as Amazon, ebay, and Etsy. Many consumers head straight to online stores, or scope out potential purchases at a brick-and-mortar store before going online to find the best price.

Shoppers across generations are increasingly drawn to e-commerce as a primary shopping destination. Generational difference in this regard is shrinking, reports NPD, though Millennial and Gen X shoppers are still most likely to shop online.

The Internet has given consumers more choice than ever, but as stated in the report, the increase in competition has generated more online ‘noise’ for shoppers to sort through. This creates an opportunity for retailers to emphasize value consumers can’t find online.

Experiential Gifting is On the Rise

Not all gifts fit neatly into a box. Many holiday shoppers are eschewing material items in favour of ‘experiential’ gifts, like a day at the spa, event tickets, or an upscale dinner for two. Experiential gifts are increasingly seen to have a greater impact than traditional gifts, and they’re growing in popularity with holiday shoppers.

A notable subgenre of the experiential gift is the subscription box. Subscription companies have grown substantially since 2014, particularly in the beauty, food, and apparel categories. According to NPD, 7 percent of holiday shoppers plan to give a subscription box as a gift this year, representing another win for e-commerce.

Black Friday is Losing Its Shine

Once the apex of holiday shopping, Black Friday has been on decline in the United States for the past several years. Black Friday sales and shopper traffic in brick-and-mortar stores declined in 2015 and again in 2016, and there are no signs backtracking on the trend in 2017.

It’s not that people are waiting until December to start their holiday shopping. Nearly 30 percent of consumers still plan to shop for gifts during the week of American Thanksgiving, but fewer consumers are choosing to ‘save’ their big purchases for Black Friday, instead choosing to shop online throughout the week.

But retailers aren’t finished with Black Friday yet. In response, many brick-and-mortar stores are turning Black Friday into a week-long event, advertising in-store exclusive offers through online channels.

Value Beats Price in Consumer Purchase Decisions

An overarching theme of this report, as NPD’s chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen points out, is the importance of value. Value comes out ahead of all other reasons for consumer purchases, including price, and it’s more significant than ever in the 2017 shopping season.

Today, consumers can instantly compare one seller’s price to that of another, and price matching is standard among the biggest retail players. Keeping pace on price is a losing battle. To stand from the competition, retailers have to promise (and deliver) additional value to consumers.

For e-commerce platforms, value often comes in the form of free shipping and bonus features, such as Amazon Prime. For brick-and-mortar stores, it can be exclusive products and brands, standout customer service, or an extraordinary shopping experience.

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