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Comments Off on Five Tips for a Profitable 2013

Five Tips for a Profitable 2013

Guest post by Jennifer Vessels,
CEO, Next Step Consulting

Start the year by taking charge of your success. While economic uncertainty continues there is positive growth and momentum in many markets. Minimize your uncertainty by developing a plan for a profitable 2013.

Next Step’s five proven growth tips are:

  1. Evaluate your staff and upgrade employees to “A” players that can take your business to the next level of profitability.
  2. Study your operating processes to find bottlenecks, waste and inefficiencies.
  3. Build incentive plans to drive revenue and profitability.
  4. Reinvent marketing to communicate the unique value you bring to the target market.
  5. Measure your customer experience to improve overall satisfaction and increase revenues with existing and referred customers.

Sign-up for our free upcoming webinar:
Economic and Business Model Changes Needed for Cloud

Growth and change can be challenging. Next Step can help you meet these challenges and achieve your revenue goals for 2013. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help, click here to read more about the services that we offer.

Our services that lead to growth include:

  • Team Building
  • Sales Productivity
  • Employee Engagement
  • Executing Marketing Programs
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Strategic Planning

For more information about the author or Next Step Consulting, please visit

Comments Off on New Remarketing Technology Boosting E-commerce Sales

New Remarketing Technology Boosting E-commerce Sales

by Ryan Bardo, Website Intel blog

Unless you are concerned that Google has become too powerful a force in Internet services, you’ll probably want to know about “remarketing,” a new function that is offered as part of their Adwords service. If you are conducting sales via a website, or even have a trackable conversion, such as the downloading of a free PDF, this program can help you target and maximize your results with what has been, up until now, a highly valuable target-market that was being lost. This article by Ryan Bardo spells it out in detail. –Bob G

What is Google Remarketing?

Google remarketing is a technology that allows an advertiser to show an ad to a user who previously visited the advertiser’s website. The goal of Google remarketing is to two-fold, branding and increasing conversions. The latter is accomplished by being able to “retarget” visitors who, for example:

  • Abandoned a shopping cart
  • Didn’t convert
  • Converted
  • Signed up for a trial
  • Subscribed to a newsletter

The audience in a remarketing campaign is more valuable than other audiences because retargeted audiences are more likely to convert into a sale or lead due to their known prior interest (they were on your website or a specific web page).
Google remarketing is a perfect solution for staying in front of your target audience, especially those who need to visit your site more than once to make a decision. In this white paper you’ll learn:

1. The basic set up of a Google remarketing campaign
2. Remarketing best practices

Setting up a Google Remarketing Campaign

Google remarketing campaigns are set up and managed within Google Adwords. The basic steps of setting up a remarketing campaign are as follows:

1. Define your audience
2. Retrieve code script and install it on corresponding web page(s)
3. Create an ad group with your defined audience that you wish to remarket

Define Your Audience

With regard to a Google remarketing campaign, defining your audience means determining to whom you want to show online ads, e.g. you want to show online ads to visitors who abandoned your shopping cart. Other types of common audiences are:

  • converted users
  • Non-converted visitors
  • Current subscribers
  • By shopping category
  • By product

Install Code Script

To receive the code script, click on the tag for the audience that you’ve created. Once you click on the tag it will display a box with the code you need to install on your web page. Copy and paste the code in between the body tags on your web page. Once the code is installed visitors will be included in the Adwords audience that you specified. You can also specify the duration of retargeting. For instance, if you specify a 30 days your ad will show to that user for 30 days.

Create an Ad Group and Add Your Audience

The final step of building your remarketing campaign is to create your ad group and add your defined audience to that ad group. Make sure that the display network is turned on in your campaign settings; otherwise the remarketing will not work. If you are just starting out it is best to let Adwords automatically manage your placements. Once you get used to the campaigns and see which sites are performing you can start managing your placements manually.
Start out simple with one audience per ad group until you get the hang of it. Bidding and management gets very complex with all these elements added to an ad group. So start out small until you get your bearings. Ad groups should correspond to the audience you are adding. For example: If you are trying to retarget shopping cart abandoners your ad group should be labeled “shopping cart abandoners.” Identify the keywords used by your “abandoners” and add them to this ad group. Once again, keep things simple.

Remarketing Best Practices

Both building and managing a remarketing campaign can be complex. In this section you’ll learn some tips on how to successfully build and manage your remarketing campaigns.

1. Plan and organize your campaigns in an excel spreadsheet.

2. Use image/video ads as much as possible. Also have text ads created in every ad group for the websites that doesn’t support image/video ads.

3. Create various remarketing ad groups to show different ads to different audience lists.

4. Customize ad groups around the ad creative that will be displayed.

5. Rank ad groups in terms of qualification, this is the qualification level. For example: Non-engaged users are less qualified than shopping cart abandoners. Therefore, do not invest too much into the non-engaged user’s ad group.

6. The retargeting duration is directly influenced by qualification level of the ad group, i.e. the higher the qualification level, the longer you want to remarket to that ad group.

7. Google retargeting organizes visitors who match an audience definition into lists. An audience will not become active until that list reaches 500 unique visitors. In other words, until a certain audience consists of 500 visitors, your ad group won’t serve ads. All that said, don’t define your audiences too strictly or your audience will never become active.

Remarketing helps advertisers stay in front of their users. There are as many applications of this technology as there are types of convertible web pages. Remarketing can help increase the number of times per month those pages convert.

Comments Off on Think You Don’t Need a Marketing Plan?

Think You Don’t Need a Marketing Plan?

I am often asked to perform marketing tasks for small businesses that are operating without a marketing plan. In many cases, I’m able to demonstrate how their investment is more effective and efficient when part of a plan.  The plan gives you an objective reference as to whether you are on target, it helps you control costs, stay focused, and to make sure that team members are in synch, as you begin to grow.

Perhaps most importantly, the plan helps you to understand what works for you and what does not, so that you can fine-tune your efforts.  I believe a marketing plan should be a relatively brief, straightforward and easy to follow guide for your business  over a specific period of time.

Here is a template for a generic marketing plan to help your business get moving in 2010.

I. Executive Summary

  • Brief summary of goals and overall recommendations (write this last)

II. Business Description

(it’s a good idea to refresh the team on the basics of the business)

  • One sentence description of services/products provided
  • 30-second commercial
  • Points of Difference/Benefits
  • Your Unique Positioning Statement
  • SWOT analysis outcomes

III. Environmental Scan

  • Overview of current market situation (product, pricing, distribution), competition, challenges, trends
  • Services required by customers
  • Changes in customer demands
  • What marketing activities are the most successful currently, what’s not working
  • Overview of past year’s performance, ROI, profit margin etc.

IV. Target Market

  • Profile of primary and secondary target markets
  • Consider geography, industry, size, accessibility, decision-makers, service gaps, underserved markets
  • Segment your market by common characteristics
  • What’s most important to customers?
  • Does your market niche need to be more specific? Broader?

V. Goals

  • What do you wish to achieve in your business? Example: Increase sales in a division by a certain percentage
  • Be specific about when and what

VI. Marketing Strategies

  • Outline marketing programs and strategies to reach each of your goals

VII. Tactics

  • Outline the tasks required to implement and monitor each strategy

VIII. Budget

(expenses and revenue forecast)

IX. Evaluation

(when to determine success, how to evaluate, what needs to be changed, etc)

If you don’t already have a marketing plan, this is the year to make it a priority. With our current economy, don’t lose sight of the importance of marketing. It is a proven fact that companies that continue to focus on marketing during down times come out ahead of the competition when things get better.