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Recently we were asked to give a social media campaign pitch in Evanston, a suburb that we did not know very well. Full disclosure: we are lovers of beer and are always on the lookout for new small breweries. The Chicago area is home to over one hundred breweries and there are some cozy little places tapping some great small batch beers. Of course there are also breweries and tap rooms whose beer offerings taste like something that your uncle just brewed with his home brewing kit!  So the challenge was to find an outstanding small brewery to visit in our trip to this suburb.

We could go onto Google and search for breweries in that area, wade through a bunch of listings trying to find a place that is located near our destination. But the best option is Google Maps. In the Google Maps app I can zoom into a specific area and then type the word ‘breweries’ in the search box.  We did this for Evanston and three breweries popped up along with their Google reviews. Naturally we started with the highest rated one and ultimately ended up going there. Well, we loved it and it has become one of our favorite local breweries, Sketchbook Brewing, which is in the charming Main-Dempster Mile section of Evanston. We did the same thing when heading to another Chicago suburb, Naperville, and ended up at Solemn Oath, another great brewery.

The lesson, besides that the Chicago area has a lot of great breweries, is that many people are using Google Maps instead of Google Search to find businesses, and reviews on Google can make your business standout.

Google Maps now has over 1 billion users and its popularity is growing. So what can you do, as a business owner, to make sure that people are finding your store? First and foremost make sure that it is on Google Maps. This is something you can do yourself. You will need a Google account, it can be your personal account, and then you need to follow the steps on the Google Support page:

1.     Open Google Maps and make sure you're signed in.
2.     Zoom in to the map where you want to add your business.
3.     In the bottom right, click Send Feedback.
4.     Click Add a missing place.
5.     Drag the marker where your business is, and add any relevant information.
6.     Click Submit.

Make sure that you add as much information as you can. Adding your phone number will let potential customers call you with a simple click. Photos are also important. We added a client’s art gallery in a small Indiana town to Google Maps and the cover photo received over 10,000 views in less than a year. You should also ‘claim’ the business so you have more control over the listing.

Now you will need review with high ratings that will encourage searchers to choose your business.  Getting 5 star reviews on Google is simple; provide great service or products. We know that it is not really that simple, but in today’s world reviews are more important than ever. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So how do you go about getting great online reviews? Take a lesson from Realtors. Sites like Zillow allow Realtors to request reviews from their clients. You can rest assured they are not asking any of their unhappy clients to do reviews. You can follow their lead and ask happy clients to go onto Google and leave a review. One survey found that 7 out of 10 people will happily review a business when asked. Just make sure to ask them politely and ask them to leave an honest review.     

Author: Douglas Boehm, Chicago Social Media Marketers.

Google AdWords and other PPC campaigns can be an excellent way to attract new clients, especially for businesses that are not doing well in organic search. Getting to the top of search results takes time, money and expertise. A well-designed and properly implemented pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign can be an effective solution that can move your business to the top of the search page in just days.

However a poorly designed and executed AdWords campaign can be a big waste of money. You can spend thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars and never experience positive results. That is why it is so important to not only know what outcome you want from  your online advertising campaign but to know what  steps you need to take to ensure  that your online advertising campaign is doing what you want it to do. We have put together a quick guide to help you get the most out of your campaign. 

Set Goals- Do you want to raise awareness, bring in leads or gain sales? This absolutely must be your first step.

Track your results- Google AdWords makes it easy to generate results by creating a conversion and track it by simply adding a code to your website. A conversion shows you what happens after a customer clicks on your ads, such as registering on your website or filling out a contact form. When someone completes an action that you've defined as valuable, these customer actions are called conversions. If you want your campaign to bring in online sales, you can track whenever someone reaches your ‘thanks for your purchase’ page.  Google Analytics even allows you to closely track what someone that has been brought to your website via an ad is doing in your website.

Measure your results- It is easy for a retail site to see how sales are being driven by an online campaign compared to dollars spent on that advertising. When measuring leads, a value needs to be assigned to each lead. If your campaign is not bringing in more money than you are spending, you need to make some improvements or cut your losses.

Now that the big picture stuff is covered let’s look at the nitty gritty of getting the most out of your Google AdWords campaign:

Keywords- Using the right keywords is very important. You want to attract people that are looking for what you are selling. Someone who wants to buy a new computer and clicks on your ad only to find out your site sells cars is going to immediately leave your site. That costs you money and signals Google that your ads are of a poor quality.  If Google ‘thinks’ that your ads are not good, they will display your ads less or compel you to raise your bids making your advertising efforts more expensive. Try to use Phrase keywords rather than Broad words. While Broad words  reach the widest audience, Phrase words offer  a higher level of control. Google lets you pick between the two and while a Phrase keyword will get fewer impressions they will be better impressions, showing your ads on searches that more closely match the people you want to attract. After your campaign has run for a short period of time, Google will recommend new keywords for you. Look through this list and pick the most appropriate ones to add to your campaign.  

Negative keywords- Every time someone who will never convert clicks on one of your ads it means one less potential customer will click your ad. One of the best ways to keep that from happening is to use negative keywords.  Negative keywords are words that people put in a search that will cause your ad not to show. If you only sell women’s shoes you do not want someone searching for men’s shoes to click on your ad and cost you money. Adding the word  ‘men’s’ to the negative keywords of your ad will ensure that your ad will not appear in a search for men’s shoes. Be sure to check the search terms that are triggering your ads and clicks. Invariably you will find terms that you never thought of and that you do not want triggering your ads.

Set exclusions- AdWords lets you exclude different groups from seeing your ads. You can exclude geographic areas, genders or ages. If you sell women’s shoes, then exclude men from seeing your ads. If your company caters to retired people, then exclude the younger age groups.

Pick where your ads show- Google lets you pick very specific areas where your ads show. You can pick cities, states, countries or even pick a radius around your business. A restaurant will gain little from clicks coming from 500 miles away.

Adjust your keyword bids- Not all keywords are equal. Use higher bids for terms that fit your website well and use lower bids for more generic terms.

Ignore CTR (click through rate)- If you have a huge budget then CTR matters. If you have a small budget you will have to let some searches go. Adjust your keyword bids to maximize the number of good clicks not to raise your CTR. A high CTR and a low budget will quickly blow through your budget!

Adjust your ads- Google allows you to use several ads and they will rotate them for you. Once your ads have run for a while see which ads are getting you the best results, then either fix or delete the ads that are under performing.

Adjust, adjust, adjust- Figure out what is working and concentrate your efforts there. Figure out what is not working and either fix or eliminate it. A PPC campaign is not something you setup and then just walk away from. You need to keep an eye on it to make adjustments to ensure that  it is accomplishing your goals.

After the click: A great Google AdWords campaign can bring people to your website but that is only half the battle. Once they are on your site you need to convert them to customers or clients.

Pick a good landing page- The page in your website that  your ad takes people to is crucial. Your home page or contact page will not cut it. The landing page needs to convince them yours is the right business and it needs to get them to take the action you want.

Follow up- If you are a retail site and the visitor does not make a purchase you can have Google AdWords keep track of them and tailor an ad campaign, using a remarketing list, to reach out to them. If you are collecting leads have a system in place to make sure that someone in your organization contacts them as quickly as possible.

A PPC campaign can be difficult to manage and take up a lot of your valuable time. There are some options out there if you do not want to undertake it yourself. You can hire an experienced online advertising agency to setup a new campaign or overhaul your existing campaign or you can hire them to run your campaign for you.  


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