Author: Neil Patel

26 Marketing Tools for Non-Tech-Savvy Marketers

Marketing tools are essential for streamlining and automating the more arduous aspects of the process.

The only issue is that you’ve got to actually learn how to use them.

You have to learn their capabilities, their limitations as well as their nuances.

It’s no biggie if you’re tech-inclined.

But what if you’re not so tech-savvy?

Using marketing tools can nearly negate the purpose if it’s a struggle just to figure them out.

That’s why I compiled a list of 26 marketing tools for non-tech-savvy marketers.

Each one is practical and user-friendly and requires a minimal learning curve. Many are even free.

Content creation

1. WordPress

Let’s start with the absolute basics: WordPress.

You could consider it to be the “OG” of content management systems.

As of late 2015, it powered 25% of the world’s websites.

And it’s very likely that number is even bigger today.

A large part of WordPress’ appeal is its utter simplicity and non-technical nature.

You can create and maintain a beautiful website with literally zero knowledge of coding.

And if you happen to understand HTML, you can completely crush it.

If you want to create a site for your business or blog, I highly recommend WordPress.

You can learn how to do it from scratch with this video from Quick Sprout.

2. Google Drive

When it comes to cloud storage, I think of Google Drive as being the universal platform.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve worked with clients or business partners who’ve made Google Drive their platform of choice.

Like most Google products, it’s super intuitive and easy to use.

I use it for writing and backing up content as well as for sharing content with others.

It’s perfect if you have multiple people working on a project because sharing and editing is a cinch.

Besides docs, you can create slideshows, drawings, spreadsheets, and more.

3. Grammarly

I don’t care if you’re Mark Twain, everyone is bound to make mistakes when writing.

Whether it’s a silly spelling error or poor grammar, it’s impossible to catch everything.

But Grammarly will do just that (or pretty darn close to it).

Add it to Chrome, and Grammarly will monitor everything you write, point out any issues, and offer advice on how to resolve them.

It goes above and beyond Word and will make you look like an expert even if your writing skills are lackluster:

The cool thing is that it will also scan your emails before sending them out so you don’t look like an idiot when corresponding to customers or clients.

I highly recommend it!

4. Word Counter

Word count is kind of a big deal, especially if you’re writing long-form content and need to reach a specific number of words.

But not all online writing platforms display word count.

I love this tool because I can quickly copy and paste a body of text, and Word Counter will let me know how many words I’ve written.

It’s super quick, and I’ve never experienced any sort of glitch.

Content ideas

5. Google Trends

Coming up with new ideas for content can be a major struggle.

Even if you’re an expert, it’s not always easy to come up with stellar ideas.

I’ve found Google Trends to be a great place for getting a sense of what’s popular at the moment.

Often, it will point me in the right direction, and I can then use it to gauge the exact interest in a particular topic.

For instance, here’s how the interest in content marketing has grown over the past five years:

6. Alltop

Using Alltop is a breeze.

Simply type in a search phrase, and hundreds of popular blog posts on that topic will pop up:

I use this for brainstorming all the time, and Alltop has helped me come up with some epic ideas for blog posts.

7. BuzzSumo

Words cannot express how much I love BuzzSumo.

Pretty much anyone can figure it out within minutes, and it’s the perfect tool for generating an arsenal of content ideas.

But what separates it from other tools is the fact that it provides you with key info such as:

  • how much engagement content receives
  • who is sharing it
  • links pointing back to the content

The only caveat is that you must purchase the Pro version to unlock all the features.

But you can still do a basic search with the free version.

8. Ubersuggest

This one is a bit like the Google Keyword Tool, only simpler.

Enter a search term, and Ubersuggest will spit out dozens or even hundreds of ideas:

It’s really easy to use, and it’ll keep supplying you with topics whenever you need them.

Communication and collaboration

9. Basecamp

If WordPress is the OG CMS, Basecamp is the OG of project management and team collaboration.

Countless other products have been developed, many of which are cooler and sexier.

But Basecamp still retains its status and continues to be one of the big dogs.

I love its clean interface and how intuitive it is.

It’s very non-intimidating even for the most non-tech-savvy of marketers.

10. Trello

At this point, you probably know I’m big on visuals.

Images make it easier for me to absorb information and stay on top of my game.

That’s why I love Trello.

It involves a system of boards where you can communicate with colleagues and keep tabs on project progress.

It can easily be scaled up or down as necessary and can really boost productivity.

I know many people who swear by it.

11. Asana

This is another visual-oriented platform that I’ve used on several occasions.

I prefer Basecamp over Asana, but it’s the number one team-collaboration platform for many marketers.

In fact, some companies that use it include TED, The New Yorker, and Uber.

My favorite aspect of Asana is the ease with which I can track a project from start to finish.

I’m a stickler for deadlines, so this helps me ensure they’re always met without a lot of stress.

12. Slack

When I think of Slack, I think of hipsters. But in a very good way.

It’s perhaps the coolest, sleekest, sexiest collaboration app in existence.

And it’s dead simple to use.

Slack revolves around creating “channels” where you communicate with team members either publicly or privately.

Drag and drop your files to share with others, and search your archive any time you need specific information.

Slack makes it easy.

Task management

13. Wunderlist

I stay busy, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I’m bombarded with a barrage of tasks on a daily basis.

One of my favorite weapons to counter that is Wunderlist.

I place it on my desktop so I can see exactly what’s going on and what I need to take care of on any given day.

And, of course, I can also access it from my smartphone or tablet.

I can easily save links, photos, and other media I want to keep.

I also use it to set reminders of specific tasks’ deadlines and make note of any business/project ideas that pop into my head.

In other words, Wunderlist helps me keep my you-know-what together.

14. WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

If you use WordPress (like I recommend), you’ll want to take advantage of this plugin.

It’s a little like Google Calendar, but specifically for scheduling your blog posts.

You can:

  • Manage drafts
  • See what’s been posted
  • See what needs to be posted
  • Manage posts from different authors

Like most things on WordPress, it’s user-friendly, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out its features.

15. Todoist

The tagline of this platform is “Accomplish more, every day.”

And that’s fitting because I’ve found Todoist to be a major catalyst for productivity.

You simply record tasks, prioritize them as needed, collaborate with others, and get stuff done.

I love its no-nonsense interface and minimalist vibe.

SEO

16. Yoast SEO

This is another WordPress plugin and one that I highly recommend if you’re fairly new to the SEO game.

Here’s a screenshot of its features:

In other words, it handles nearly every major aspect of SEO.

The best part is its simplicity.

I love Yoast SEO because it’s very hands off and automates many of the more arduous SEO tasks like creating optimized URLs, keeping track of keyword density, and so on.

Before you publish your content, Yoast SEO will rate its readability and your keyword usage by giving it a color: red for poor, orange for okay, and green for good.

If you loathe the technical nature of SEO, this is a great plugin to use.

17. Google Keyword Planner

If you were to use only one tool for performing keyword research, this is it.

Even the biggest SEO nerd will agree that it’s useful because you’re gathering data right from the horse’s mouth—Google itself.

The cool thing is that you don’t need to be technically adept to figure it out. Most of the features are pretty self-explanatory.

18. MozBar

In my opinion, Moz is perhaps the Internet’s number one resource for all things SEO.

I especially love its Whiteboard Fridays, offering in-depth analysis and insight.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to determine key SEO metrics like links, page authority, and domain authority, I highly recommend MozBar.

Simply add it to your Chrome toolbar, and you’re good to go.

19. SEMrush

This is another great SEO tool that’s amazingly easy to use.

Just enter a URL or keyword, and you instantly get a boatload of useful information such as:

  • Organic search volume
  • Backlinks
  • Top organic keywords
  • Main organic competitors
  • Branded search

If you’re looking to perform competitive analysis for keyword or content opportunities, look no further than SEMrush.

Images

20. Canva

If you’re creating content, you’ll need plenty of beautiful visuals.

In my opinion, Canva is hands down one of the best platforms for creating your own images and documents from scratch.

It’s really easy, and Canva offers a wide array of images that are totally free.

You can modify them as needed for your content or for branding purposes.

The best part is that you can do this with virtually no design experience.

21. PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a photo editor that allows you to design, resize, do touch-ups, create collages, and a lot more.

Using it is no sweat even if you have no clue what you’re doing in terms of design.

It’s perfect if you have your own images you want to customize, and PicMonkey helps you make them look like a million bucks.

22. Pixabay

Here’s my take on stock photos.

I prefer to pay for them and get the best of the best.

But if you’re just starting out or are on a budget, Pixabay is one of my top picks.

Everything is royalty-free and available for the public to download, modify, and distribute.

They have a massive archive of pictures that covers most topics, and the quality of their images has really improved over the past couple of years.

Here are just a few samples:

23. Creative Commons

Creative Commons is basically an aggregator of images free to use for commercial purposes. These images can be modified, adapted, or built upon.

You enter a search query, and choose from multiple platforms like Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Open Clip Art Library, and even Google.

It’s a great tool for streamlining your image search.

Metrics

24. Google Analytics

There are countless metrics platforms out there for measuring your website’s performance, traffic numbers, and so on.

But I think it’s safe to say that Google Analytics is the be-all and end-all tool.

The free version is more than sufficient for diagnosing your website and, in my opinion, quite easy to use.

I’ll admit there is a bit of a learning curve, but most people can figure out the basics in a day or two.

25. Bitly

Bitly is perhaps best known for being a URL shortener.

In fact, I use it all the time for condensing URLs on my Twitter page:

But it’s useful for way more than that.

Here’s the deal.

Bitly allows you to track individual links and gather key information about their performance.

You can tell what your audience is responding to (or not) and tweak your marketing efforts accordingly.

26. Clicky

Finally, there’s Clicky.

Despite its comprehensiveness and level of detail, I consider it to be one of the most user-friendly analytics tools.

You can see what’s happening on your website in real time, monitor the actions of visitors, and even look at heat maps, which I love.

I know some marketers who actually choose Clicky over Google Analytics.

Conclusion

I totally understand the frustration that many non-tech-savvy marketers feel.

There are many tools that are great but require serious knowledge to be utilized properly.

These can really cramp your style and drive you crazy.

But the marketing tools I’ve listed are ones that will get the job done without being overly complex.

With most, the core features can be learned within just a few minutes.

This way, you can spend less time trying to figure out your marketing tools and more time reaching your audience.

Can you suggest any other easy-to-use marketing tools?

Which Content Marketing Strategies Have the Biggest Impact on Keyword Rankings?

The term “content marketing” is a wide umbrella.

It encompasses a plethora of different strategies and techniques.

But at the end of the day, one of your primary goals is to create content that ranks as highly as possible on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is important because organic traffic is the number one means of generating traffic for many companies.

A study from The Bright Edge even “found that organic search drives 51 percent of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites trumping all other non-organic channels.”

This means one thing.

You need to figure out the relationship between content marketing strategies and keyword rankings.

This is instrumental in fine-tuning your content marketing campaign and finding the right areas to focus on.

In this post, I analyze data from multiple studies and draw on my own knowledge and experience to give you a clear idea of the content strategies demanding the most attention.

So, let’s see which strategies have the biggest impact on keyword rankings.

Rich content

I won’t waste your time telling you about the importance of creating quality content.

You already know that.

But I’d like to share with you this statistic from an infographic on Quick Sprout:

That’s a lot of links!

And I’m sure you know the integral role links play in SEO.

This graph from Moz illustrates the importance of links and their influence on Google’s algorithm:

Let’s put this information together.

When you create rich content, it gets you more links.

These links improve your overall SEO, which improves your rankings.

So, being diligent about achieving and maintaining rigorous quality standards should be of the utmost concern.

Long-form content

Here’s the deal with long-form content.

It’s hot right now. Scorching hot.

I remember a few years ago when your average blog post was only somewhere around 500 words.

But if you look at the vast majority of content that ranks on page one of Google SERPs today, it’s rare that you’ll find anything under 1,000 words.

To prove just how important long-form has become, I would like to show you a couple of graphs.

The first is from a fairly old (September 2012) article I wrote on Quick Sprout.

I got the data from research performed by SerpIQ:

As you can see, every single piece of content that ranked on the first page had at least 2,000 words.

More specifically,

The first result typically has 2,416 words and the 10th result has 2,032 words.

Newer research (September 2016) from Brian Dean of Backlinko shows a similar pattern:

According to his research,

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890.

That’s over 500 words fewer than the original research from SerpIQ indicated back in 2012…526 to be exact.

But it still shows us long-form content is a key element in achieving solid rankings.

Why is this so?

The way I look at it, there are two main reasons for this phenomenon.

First, people have a tendency to scan through content these days.

Few actually sit down and read a 2,000-word piece word for word in its entirety.

Instead, they scan through and look at the sub-headers that grab their attention and may read little snippets of text from there.

Long-form content facilitates this new method of reading.

Second, a longer word count tends to translate into more links.

And this makes sense.

The more content you provide, the more opportunities for it to be linked to.

Put all this together, and you can see that long-form content means higher rankings.

Who knows, the whole “long-form content bubble” may pop in a few years.

But it’s stronger than ever at the moment.

However, it appears that the ideal word count has been reduced considerably, and you should aim for just south of 2,000 words.

How do you create 2,000-word content?

  • Decide on a specific and narrow topic.
  • Create a compelling title.
  • Discuss the issue from every angle.
  • Provide as much detail as possible.
  • If possible, provide step-by-step instructions on how to do something.

You should never stuff your articles with words just for the sake of hitting a word count.

But you should strive for detail, depth, clarity, and mastery of a subject matter.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about long-form content. When you truly make an effort to provide value in your content, it expands in length.

That’s not to say that you can’t provide value with a 400-word article.

But the level of value created in a 2,000-word article is usually much greater.

Content with “topical relevance”

But the plot thickens.

The same Backlinko article also points out that

content rated as “topically relevant” significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth. Therefore, publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings.

Topical relevance basically combines my first two points of creating rich content and long-form content.

It simply means that Google values content that’s comprehensive and that thoroughly covers a topic.

This means it’s best to focus on a single topic for each piece of content you create.

Rather than bouncing around from subject to subject, you’re better off going all in on a single topic and leaving no stone unturned.

Does this mean you can’t discuss other topics?

No. In fact, you should touch on as many relevant topics as possible! But your focus should be on a single topic.

If you feel you need to cover a topic you weren’t able to get around to in the post, create a separate piece of content and cover it in-depth as well.

Using long-tail keywords

This strategy has been in existence seemingly since the dawn of SEO—back when SEO was in its primordial soup stage.

One of the main ways small-scale marketers have been competing with the big dogs is by using long-tail keywords.

And why wouldn’t they? It freaking works.

In fact, I’ve been using this strategy for years.

I even used it to grow my search traffic by 51% in just three months!

And guess what? It still works brilliantly.

An infographic from Adept states that “pages optimized for long-tail keywords move up 11 positions on average, compared to just 5 positions for head keywords.”

It’s really not rocket science.

Using long-tail keywords means less competition, which means a greater likelihood of achieving a favorable ranking.

The awesome thing is that long-tail searches account for roughly 70 percent of searches:

This means there’s plenty of opportunity out there.

Of course, you won’t get the same volume of traffic that you would for a head keyword or broad keyword, but you can still generate some sizable traffic if you do your keyword research and choose a phrase that receives a reasonable number of searches.

Check out this post from NeilPatel.com for a step-by-step walkthrough of integrating long-tail keywords into your blog posts.

The process is fairly straightforward:

  • Do your typical keyword research (using Google AdWords Keyword Planner or your preferred tool)
  • Select the long-tail keywords from the list (3 words or more)
  • Use these keywords in your content.

Image-rich content

If you haven’t heard, people respond positively to images.

It’s true.

And although I think the whole visual-centric discussion has been done to death, I would like to reference one more point from the Backlinko article I mentioned earlier.

According to Brian Dean,

Industry studies have found that image-rich pages tend to generate more total views and social shares.

But here’s the interesting thing.

Using at least one image is much better than not using any images at all.

However, they couldn’t find a correlation between the total number of images and rankings.

That means there’s no proof that using a lot of images will improve your rankings any further.

In other words, using just one image would in theory have the same effect as using 10 or more images.

The key takeaway is this:

Using a single image is clearly better than zero images. Including lots of images doesn’t seem to have an impact on search engine rankings.

When it comes to my posts, this information isn’t going to stop me from sprinkling plenty of images throughout my content.

In fact, you probably know that many of my posts are jam-packed with images.

I think my audience enjoys the “eye candy,” and graphs in particular are excellent for explaining fairly complex concepts.

But keep this in mind when creating your next piece of content: going nuts with images probably isn’t necessary.

Direct answers

If you’re not sure what I mean by “direct answers,” it’s simple.

Google is now starting to show direct answers when you use a “how to,” “what is,” “who is,” etc. type of search.

Here’s an example:

The first thing that pops up at the top of the page is a clip from the top ranking site.

It’s a way to streamline the process and offer searchers direct information without them having to actually click on the link.

Of course, oftentimes they’ll still click on the link to find more in-depth information.

I know I often do.

So, here’s the deal.

Providing a direct answer can be beneficial and a viable strategy for killing it on SERPs.

If you can provide a quick, logical, and direct answer, especially for a long-tail keyword phrase, there’s a good chance you can get your content featured at the top.

Just be sure your direct answer transitions smoothly into the rest of your content.

Here’s how I typically use this strategy:

  • Identify a question marketers are asking.
  • Create an article answering this question.
  • Provide a step-by-step solution to the issue.

When I follow this three-step process, the articles I write on those topics usually rank on page one for the associated keyword within five days or less.

This is the primary technique I’m currently using on NeilPatel.com, and it’s earned me over 800,000 unique monthly visitors.

Conclusion

I value objectivity when determining the approach of my content marketing strategy.

I find that examining the cold hard facts clears most biases and preconceived notions I might have.

This is important because this gives me the clearest path to achieving my goals.

While there are countless factors that contribute to keyword rankings, the ones I listed here appear to have the biggest impact pound-for-pound.

Putting your attention on these key areas should ensure that your content marketing is heading in the right direction while giving you the best chance of climbing in the SERPs.

What do you think the most important content marketing strategy for improving your rankings is?

How to Run Your First Facebook PPC Campaign (if You Have no Experience)

Facebook’s reach is insane.

What started out in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room has gone on to revolutionize the world.

This means one thing for online marketers: boundless opportunities.

Of course marketers have been using Facebook organically for years, but recently Facebook PPC has become the go-to marketing trend.

It’s interesting because I remember not all that long ago that pretty much the only PPC platform on marketers’ radars was Google AdWords.

It was AdWords or nothing.

But with Facebook having 1.86 billion monthly active users as of Q4 of 2016, it’s easy to see why Facebook PPC has exploded.

Just look at Facebook’s growth from 2008 to 2016:

But I know from experience that getting started with a new PPC platform can be a little harrowing.

You want to make sure you’re not wasting your marketing budget, and you want to get legitimate results from the money you’re putting in.

This article is intended for those of you who are just getting your feet wet with Facebook PPC and have no experience.

I’m going to walk you through the initial steps so you can set up your first ad and feel confident that it will perform well.

Choose an advertising objective

One way that Facebook PPC differs from platforms like AdWords is that advertisers can have several different types of objectives.

While on AdWords your goal is to drive qualified traffic to your landing page, on Facebook, you can have multiple objectives.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Generating leads
  • Getting people to install your app
  • Getting store visits

It’s important you have a crystal clear idea of what you want to accomplish as it will dictate the specific approach you take.

I recommend doing some brainstorming beforehand so you know exactly what your advertising objective is.

Here’s the first thing you’ll see when starting your campaign:

Let’s say your objective is to increase engagement by getting more page likes.

You would click on “Engagement,” and this would pop up at the bottom:

Facebook will give you a generic campaign name. In this case, it’s “Engagement.”

But you can replace it with whatever campaign name you choose.

I’ll just use “Neil’s Engagement Campaign.”

Once you’ve entered your campaign name, click on “Create Ad Account.”

From here, you’ll need to choose your country, currency, and time zone.

Now click “Continue.”

Selecting your audience

Here’s where it gets a little trickier.

The first thing you need to do is select your audience.

It’s crucial that you zone in on your target audience and be as specific as possible.

Otherwise, you may end up wasting money if irrelevant or unqualified people find your ad.

Here’s what you’ll see:

This is pretty self-explanatory, but you need to be meticulous about filling out this info, especially if you’re a brick-and-mortar business with a limited demographic in a particular region.

Carefully consider who it is you’re trying to reach.

Just below this, there is “Detailed Targeting” and “Connections.”

I really like the “Detailed Targeting” feature because I can be hyper-specific about who sees my ads.

Click on “Browse,” and you’ll be able to narrow your audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.

In my case, I’m going to click on “Interests” > “Business and Industry” > “Marketing.”

That’s because I’m targeting people who want to improve their websites and grow their traffic.

Of course, you’ll want to target your specific audience.

I suggest taking your time with this and browsing through everything so that you select a highly specified segment of Facebook users.

Just below “Detailed Targeting,” you’ll see “Connections.”

Here you can add a connection type based on:

  • Facebook Pages
    – People who like your page
    – Friends of people who like your page
    – Exclude people who like your page
  • Apps
    – People who used your desktop app
    – Friends of people who used your desktop app
    – Exclude people who used your desktop app
  • Events
    – People who responded to your event
    – Exclude people who already responded to your event

Add any specific connections for even more segmentation. Save this audience.

Placements

You have two options in terms of how your ads are displayed.

There’s “Automatic Placements” and “Edit Placements.”

I recommend sticking with “Automatic Placements” if you’re just starting out until you get the hang of things.

If you’re unhappy with your CTR (click-through rate), you can always go back and “Edit Placements” later on.

Budget and schedule

You have two options for your budget.

There’s “Daily Budget” and “Lifetime Budget.”

HubSpot explains the difference between the two:

  • Daily budget. If you want your ad set to run continuously throughout the day, this is the option you’ll want to go for. Using a daily budget means that Facebook will pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that the minimum daily budget for an ad set is $1.00 USD and must be at least 2x your CPC.
  • Lifetime budget. If you’re looking to run your ad for a specified length of time, select lifetime budget. This means that Facebook will pace your spend over the time period you set for the ad to run.

I suggest keeping your budget fairly low initially.

If you’ve ever used any sort of PPC platform, you’re probably aware of the inherent learning curve that’s involved.

The last thing you want to do is drop a huge amount of money without first getting your bearings and learning the subtle nuances of a platform.

As for the schedule, you can either allow your ads to run continuously or select a specified start and end date.

If you want your ads to run only on certain days or at certain times, you’ll want to choose the latter option.

Simply change the date and time to your specified settings.

Creating your ad

Now that we’ve gotten all the preliminary steps out of the way, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: creating your ad.

You have two options.

One is to use an existing post. The other is to create a new ad.

If you want to promote a post you’ve already published on Facebook, you’ll want to use an existing post.

Otherwise, if you want to create an ad from scratch, click on “Create New Ad.”

Here’s the first thing you’ll see if you go this route.

Just choose whichever option makes the most sense.

The next thing you’ll see is the “Images” section.

If you already have a particular image you want to use, you can either pull it from your library or upload it from your computer.

Otherwise, you can use Facebook’s “Free Stock Images.”

I love this feature because it gives you instant access to a good sized library of high-quality, professional looking images.

You’ll then connect your Facebook Page and enter whatever text you want to use.

Here’s how Buffer structured its advertisement:

And here’s a little slice of advice about your copy.

Keep it short, sweet, and clear. The key is to entice Facebook users to visit your page so they can discover more.

At that point, you can convince them to make a purchase.

Notice how short and concise Buffer’s copy is.

Placement

Finally, you need to decide where you want your ad to be shown.

At the moment, you can choose between the following:

Although the desktop news feed may be your first instinct, it’s a good idea to do some testing to see which options gets the biggest results.

Placing your order

Once you’re happy with your ad, click on “Place Order” in the green box on the bottom right-hand side of the screen.

Facebook will review it before it goes live. Once it does go live, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Facebook.

Continued reading

That’s the gist of running your first Facebook PPC campaign.

The initial setup process is fairly straightforward.

But, of course, there are a lot of different variables that will ultimately determine how well your campaign performs.

When it’s all said and done, you want your ads to convert and get you the most bang for your buck.

More specifically, you want to minimize your cost-per-click (CPC) and see a solid CTR.

This is a huge subject to tackle, and I don’t have time to properly address it in this post.

But what I recommend is checking out a couple of previous posts that I wrote on neilpatel.com:

Beginner’s Guide to Running Facebook Ads That Convert

Facebook Advertising Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

These two posts pick apart the process of advertising on Facebook and will fill you in on the most important details you need for your campaign to be successful.

Conclusion

If you’ve played around with the idea of using Facebook PPC but haven’t quite gotten around to it, now is a great time to take the plunge.

Although I foresee it becoming fairly saturated in upcoming years, there’s still plenty of room for your brand right now.

And with an average CPC of only $0.64 (it’s $2.32 for AdWords), you stand a good chance of seeing a favorable ROI.

Once you get a feel for this platform, you can make the necessary tweaks to improve the performance of your campaign.

Do you think Facebook PPC could ever rival Google AdWords?

How to Increase the Revenue Value of Your Homepage by 851%

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I think this is a fitting quote to demonstrate the importance of a great homepage.

Once a visitor lands on your homepage, you need to impress them in a hurry.

Failure to do this typically results in a lost conversion with the vast majority of visitors never returning.

How can you ensure you make a good first impression?

And, more importantly, how do you boost conversions and increase the revenue value of your homepage?

There are countless strategies that work to some extent.

But I’d like to cover a handful I feel are the most practical and impactful.

I’ve researched each of these strategies and have implemented them on my own as well as my clients’ sites.

I’ve even seen some clients increase the revenue value of their homepages by as much as 851%.

This is not an exaggeration or some gimmicky hype to get you to click on my articles. This is stuff that works.

Let’s get down to business.

Make the load time lightning fast

Your first objective is to ensure a fast load time.

This is perhaps the most important factor of all because the rest of the strategies I’m going to discuss don’t really matter if the bulk of your visitors abandon your homepage prematurely.

Here’s a graph that illustrates how page abandonment increases as the load time of your homepage increases:

I suggest using the Pingdom Website Speed Test to accurately assess the load time of your homepage.

If it takes any longer than 5 seconds, you need to speed it up. Learn how to do it from this article I wrote.

Provide a clear value proposition

Once a visitor lands on your homepage, they should be able to tell right away what you’re offering and why it’s worth their time to check out your site in further detail.

This requires you to take one simple but incredibly important step: create a clear value proposition.

ConversionXL defines a value proposition as a clear statement that:

  • explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy),
  • delivers specific benefits (quantified value),
  • tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation).

Here’s the value proposition I include on neilpatel.com:

It’s clear, specific, and to the point.

Below are some other good examples.

Dollar Shave Club pulls it off well:

So does Unbounce:

You get the idea.

For a more thorough explanation and tips on how to create a killer value proposition, check out this guide from ConversionXL.

Include a picture of a person

A few years back, there was a study that examined the impact of including a picture of a person on homepage performance.

The study involved A/B testing of two very different landing pages created for Highrise, a CRM software company.

The original design was pretty basic but fairly busy, meaning there was a lot of information.

However, the new design was very simple and included a large picture of a woman smiling.

The results were undeniable. Using the second design, with the woman smiling, resulted in 102.5% more sign-ups.

Here’s a comparison of the two designs:

What does this tell us?

It’s clear that including images of people (more specifically, people smiling) on your homepage can have a dramatic impact on conversions.

I actually follow this formula on my homepage for neilpatel.com, and it’s worked out wonderfully:

Other successful bloggers do the same.

Do you recognize this guy?

Here’s another one:

And here’s Marie Forleo:

This is Matt Barby:

Here’s Lewis Howes:

These people aren’t celebrities. They aren’t models.

They’re just bloggers. Successful ones.

They’ve figured out that a face on the screen vastly improves the profitability of the homepage.

Make your contact information easy to find

At first thought, placing your contact information in a conspicuous place on your homepage might not seem like a big deal.

It might seem like a mere footnote.

But it’s actually more important than you might think.

In fact, a study from KoMarketing found that

once on a company’s homepage, 64% of visitors want to see the company’s contact information.

And it’s not just your basic info like an email address.

Most people want thorough contact information like your phone, email, and address.

According to KoMarketing,

a lack of contact information will also deter buyers from moving forward with a Request for Proposal (RFP) and with filling out a form to request a demo or RFP.

I think this is important so visitors can tell for sure you’re a legitimate organization with a physical address and not some sleazy snake oil salesman who’s just looking to take their money and run.

The same goes for the About Us section

The same study from KoMarketing states that

once on a company’s homepage, 52% of visitors want to see ‘about us’ information.

This is one of quickest ways to establish trust and credibility with potential customers.

They want to make sure you’re legit.

Typically, the best location for your contact info and About Us section is the navigational menu at the top.

It’s above the fold and can be found in an instant.

However, if you have a fairly brief homepage, you could also place these sections at the bottom, like I do on neilpatel.com:

Don’t offer too many choices

There’s one mistake in particular I see countless companies make.

And that’s offering too many choices on their homepages.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

I would venture to say that vast majority of visitors who land on this page feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed with all the information.

It’s just too busy.

Here’s the deal.

People tend to enjoy having different options and choices. But only to an extent.

Too many choices have a paralyzing effect, and many people will end up doing nothing.

Here’s a screenshot from The Harvard Business Review in which they touch on a 2000 study involving choice:

The point here is that you should keep your homepage fairly simple:

That’s exactly what I tried to do with the Quick Sprout homepage, and it’s worked out very well.

If you have a lot of different products, build some type of filter so that visitors can figure out what they need without being overwhelmed in the process.

Don’t force a sign-up—allow a guest sign-up

You know what I hate?

When I land on a website and want to test out a trial version or make a quick purchase but get hit with a long registration process.

I find it really inconvenient and flat out annoying at times.

And guess what?

So do most other people.

There’s an article written about this issue by User Interface Engineering (UIE) called The $300 Million Button.

I suggest you check it out if you are not sure what I am talking about.

Long story short, most first-time shoppers find it irritating when they have to register before they can buy something. In fact, many resent it.

I love a particular quote from one shopper who said,

I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.

I think this sums it up perfectly.

Don’t make your customers jump through a bunch of hoops. Instead, allow them to complete their desired actions as guests rather than registered users.

That, right there, can have a dramatic impact on your revenue.

The article from UIE provides a concrete example of just how big of an impact it can have.

Here’s a screenshot:

Address visitor concerns

Let’s be honest.

It doesn’t take much for a would-be customer to turn around and hightail it out of your site.

And most people will have multiple concerns they’ll want addressed before they ultimately decide to make a purchase.

Here are some common concerns they may have:

  • Your company doesn’t fully understand my problem
  • What if your product doesn’t fix MY problem?
  • Why should I trust your company?
  • Why should I choose your product when there are so many other (and potentially more affordable) options out there?

Your goal is to quell any concerns or objections they may have.

But how do you do this?

It usually starts with acknowledging the problem your demographic is facing. Here’s a good example from Basecamp:

This lets visitors know that Basecamp understands how disorganization and confusion can create stress and hinder the progress of a project.

The suggestion is to let Basecamp help them get things back on track.

Including a few testimonials tends to be effective for proving that a product can fix a potential buyer’s problem. If it’s worked for countless other people, it will work for them too.

As for trust builders, here are some ideas:

  • Include logos of companies you’ve worked with or have been endorsed by
  • Include “trust seals” from third-parties such as the Better Business Bureau
  • Mention awards or certifications your company has received

Finally, with proving value, explain why your price is what it is and what customers will get from you that they won’t get from competitors.

Create scarcity or urgency

If a visitor doesn’t convert right away, there’s a good chance you’ll lose them forever.

You want to strike while the iron is hot and while you’ve got them on your website.

One of the best ways to do this is to create scarcity or urgency.

I do this on neilpatel.com by having a feature that says “Training Starts in: X amount of time”

It begins counting down immediately after visitors land on my homepage.

I’ve found this to be effective for getting visitors to take action and for increasing conversions.

Now, there are a lot of different ways to create scarcity or urgency, and I don’t have time to fully discuss them here.

But what I suggest is checking out this post from Marketing Land that explains some techniques for using urgency psychology to improve conversions.

Note: There’s legit scarcity and there’s fake scarcity.

Using fake scarcity is a sleazy, underhanded tactic that most people will sniff out.

Always be honest.

Conclusion

There are many factors that ultimately determine the revenue value of your homepage.

It can be maddening trying to figure out what makes your visitors tick and wrapping your head around the psychology of user experience.

But I know for a fact that using these strategies will have a positive impact on the process.

You can use them to build instant trust, encourage further browsing, increase conversions, and ultimately boost your revenue.

What do you think is the single most important aspect of your homepage? What makes it profitable?

5 Ways to Amplify the Reach of Your Content Without Spending a Dime

Content marketing can be a soul-crushing endeavor.

It’s like this. You spend several hours or maybe even days meticulously putting together what seems like a brilliant blog post, slideshow, infographic, etc.

But even with all your hard work and dedication, your content falls on deaf ears.

You post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other network you can think of, but there’s no reaction.

Maybe you get a handful of shares, but your content never gains any momentum.

Are you alone?

Nope.

Some startling stats on content marketing

Here’s the deal.

There’s a lot of content that gets published every day. I mean a lot!

Just take a look at the skyrocketing number of blog posts published on WordPress between 2006 and 2016:

And according to BuzzSumo, “The number of pages Google has indexed over 7 years from 2008 to 2014 has increased from 1 trillion to 30 trillion.

This means one thing: more competition.

As more and more content gets created, it results in more “noise,” which inevitably makes it harder to bring attention to your content.

Here’s the most disturbing stat of all from the American Marketing Association:

“Marketers are blogging 800 percent more but getting nearly 100 percent fewer shares.”

Here’s what that looks like:

This isn’t exactly encouraging if content marketing is one of your primary means of advertising.

So, how can you get your content in front of your audience?

More importantly, can you amplify its reach without digging into your budget?

It all starts with an effective content amplification strategy.

You need to implement tactics that ensure your content attracts two key things: shares and links.

These are the foundation of content amplification.

I would now like to discuss five techniques I have personally had success with, which—if done correctly—can work for you too.

1. Create content that features original research

Let’s start from the top.

I’ll begin by going over a couple forms of content I’ve found to receive an insane number of shares and links.

After all, the first step to amplifying your reach is to create content people are genuinely interested in.

This is a natural catalyst for shares and links.

One type of content in particular that kills it is content that includes original research.

By this I mean statistics, graphs, charts, and other forms of data that provide readers with in-depth insight on a topic.

One particular piece of content I really love and have linked to on several occasions is this one from OkDork: Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us

Noah Kagan (the creator of OkDork) partnered with BuzzSumo to analyze 100 million articles to determine things like:

  • which content is likely to get the most social shares
  • the correlation between content length and number of shares
  • which emotions you should target

Here are a couple of graphs to illustrate the point:

It’s incredibly thorough and well-written and has received a lot of attention as a result.

I’ve also noticed that sites such as The Content Marketing Institute and ConversionXL that provide users with consistent original research perform very well.

I’ve been doing this myself, mining data that has never been collected before and turning it into actionable marketing tactics.

Some of it is super technical data.

But it always has value. And that’s the whole goal!

I realize that performing your own research can be time-consuming and expensive, but it can really pay dividends in the long run.

I suggest incorporating this into your content strategy.

2. Create exhaustive “what is” or “how to” guides

Readers will inevitably have questions.

The resource that answers those questions most effectively is usually the one that gets their attention, which is often followed by shares and links.

You can amplify your reach by being the one who creates the best, most thorough, and most exhaustive guide.

Typically, this will come in one of two formats: “what is” or “how to” guide.

Your goal is to use your knowledge and expertise to walk readers through a step-by-step process, answering any questions they may have along the way.

Here’s an example.

I wrote a long-form article on neilpatel.com called SEO Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide.

It covers most aspects of SEO and walks readers through them in a way that’s easy to follow.

I was sure to provide lots of examples, data, screenshots, etc. to provide them with the most comprehensive explanation I could.

The end result was that it received a boatload of shares and links.

Here are the numbers for shares on different platfroms as of February 2017:

I’m not showing you these numbers to brag. I want to highlight the impact creating this type of content can have.

Whatever your niche may be, you can usually amplify your reach by creating be-all and end-all guides like this.

3. Base your content on industry trends

Another strategy I’ve been using for a while involves choosing the topics for my articles based on what’s trending at the moment in my industry.

Although this may not have the longevity of evergreen content and get you shares for years to come, it is a viable strategy for quickly amplifying your immediate reach.

Here’s the logic behind this technique:

  • you know for a fact your audience has an existing interest in a particular topic
  • you can prove it by analyzing metrics such as shares and engagements
  • you’re likely to get plenty of shares and links by creating high quality content based on that topic.

But how do you know what’s hot at the moment?

Well, there are several ways to tell:

  • you could simply pay attention to social outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Reddit
  • you could stay on top of industry publications to see what’s being talked about
  • you could check Google Trends
  • or you could streamline your efforts by using one of my favorite tools, BuzzSumo.

It’s quite easy. Just enter a topic in the search box. I’ll use “SEO marketing” as an example.

Here’s what pops up:

Just like that, I can see what the most popular content is based on metrics such as social shares and engagements.

I then use that information to base my next piece of content on.

The likelihood of that content “sticking” and reaching my audience increases considerably as opposed to the content I might come up with off the top of my head.

To learn more about how to use BuzzSumo to generate content ideas, I suggest reading this post from Moz.

4. Share only the best of the best

I feel like many content marketers think it’s a good idea to post every single piece of content they create on every platform they can get their hands on.

And I get it.

You’ve worked hard and are trying to get as many eyeballs on your content as possible.

But here’s the cold truth. The bulk of content of most brands isn’t overly impressive.

Usually only a fraction is super-interesting.

In other words, not every piece of content is a unicorn. The majority are donkeys.

But you want to post “unicorn content.”

Now, I’m not saying you should share only one blog post out of 20.

But you should maintain rigorous quality standards when choosing what to post on social media.

If someone does click on an article that’s clearly sub-par and reeks of mediocrity, two things are going to happen:

  1. you won’t get any shares or links
  2. it’ll turn many people off, and they won’t want anything to do with your brand

By being selective and sharing only the best of the best on social media, you can uphold your quality standards, which should amplify your reach.

Only share content worthy of unicorn status, and you should be good to go.

5. Leverage connections with influencers

All right, you’re probably getting sick of hearing about “the power of influencer marketing” and all that jazz.

I feel like it’s a topic that’s been done to death at this point.

But the fact is that getting your content featured by a key influencer or even having them give you a subtle nod can amplify your reach dramatically.

Here’s a quick example.

I like Tim Ferriss’ website The Four Hour Workweek.

I like to read his blog, listen to his podcast, and get his take on things. He’s an all around interesting guy, and I think his content is jam-packed with value.

He recently featured a guy who goes by the name “Mr. Money Mustache.”

Long story short, this guy has a blog about how he and his family live a comfortable lifestyle with annual expenses of no more than $27,000.

He tackles topics such as frugal living, efficiency, achieving happiness, and so on.

His content interested me, so I checked out quite a bit of his site.

I had never heard of “Mr. Money Mustache” up until that point, but being featured on Tim Ferriss’ site gave him instant credibility in my eyes, and I was interested in what he had to say.

I mean if Tim gave him his seal of approval, he must be legit. Right?

But if I simply came across his site on my own, I doubt I would give it the time of day.

The point I’m trying to make here is that having your content featured by influencers can take you from zero to hero insanely quickly.

I won’t give you a step-by-step guide to influencer marketing right here. But I will point out a few helpful resources on this topic:

6 Ways to Get Influencers to Link to You
The Ultimate Guide to Writing Epic Content That Will Go Viral

Getting someone influential in your industry to share your content is your ace in the hole.

Conclusion

Content amplification is a way to increase the reach of your content, delivering it to more of your audience.

With such an ungodly mass of content already out there and piles of it being produced every day, content amplification has never been more important than today.

Using the strategies I discussed above should help you amplify your reach without having to dig deep into your pockets.

This should also minimize the numbing sense of disillusionment that so many content marketers feel these days when their content falls flat.

Your content will go further, and your brand equity will continue to grow at the same time.

Do you have any other suggestions for amplifying the reach of your content?

How to Launch Your Personal Brand if You Have Absolutely Zero Credibility

You hear the term “personal brand” being thrown around a lot these days.

Almost annoyingly so.

Everyone is trying to build and strengthen their personal brand in order to stand out in their industry and make a connection with consumers.

It’s a key ingredient in building your career, a business, etc., so it totally makes sense why this is such a top priority.

When I hear someone mention notable figures, like Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss, or Dan Bilzerian, I can’t help but think of certain adjectives I associate with each of them.

For instance, when I think of Mark Cuban, I think bold, outspoken, and out-of-the-box.

When I think of Tim Ferriss, I think innovative, unconventional, and a human guinea pig.

Influencers like these have developed strong personal brands.

When I think of Dan Bilzerian, I think of bad boy/playboy.

People know who they are and what they stand for. It’s easy for their ideas to reach a wide audience.

But this brings up the question: How did they get to that point?

How does someone go from being an average Joe to having a massive personal brand that’s instantly identifiable?

Believe me, I know what it’s like to come from complete obscurity and build a brand from the ground up.

In this post, I would like to discuss some techniques that have worked for me so that you can launch your personal brand even if you have zero credibility.

What is personal branding?

First things first.

Let’s get a concrete definition of this term to ensure that we’re on the same page.

I like the definition I found on Personal Branding Wiki:

Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal.

It’s a bit long-winded, but I think this captures the essence of what personal branding is.

The end goal is to have a unique value proposition, build a strong reputation in your industry, and establish trust and rapport with your audience.

So let’s start with the basics.

Developing a personal value proposition

Before you can do anything else, you need to build a foundation first.

Developing a personal value proposition (PVP) will serve as your foundation and will influence your direction, approach, and the decisions you make.

But how exactly do you develop a PVP?

Leadership development coach, Andrew Cooke suggests asking yourself the following questions:

People ‘buy’ you—so how do you differentiate yourself from others? What can you do to attract the people you want, and to be attractive to them?

He then takes it a step further and suggests you ask yourself a few more questions to put it all together.

Here’s a screenshot of these questions along with example answers:

The bottom line here is that you need to have a clear understanding of:

  • Who you are
  • What you’re passionate about
  • What you want to be known for
  • Your target audience
  • Strengths you possess
  • Your core principles and values
  • Differentiating factors that distinguish you from others in your industry

Once you’ve got all this sorted out, the personal branding process can truly begin.

Building a presence

I’ll be completely honest with you.

The first stages of brand building can be a little soul crushing.

Getting the ball rolling is without a doubt the most difficult part of the process.

Unless you’ve already got a built-in network, it’s probably going to feel like pulling teeth.

But you have to start somewhere. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk and eventually get to the top.

Or as Drake would say,

Started from the bottom, now we’re here.

So, how do you start building a presence?

Fortunately, the Internet provides us with plenty of avenues.

I suggest doing “the big three” to begin:

  1. Create a professional website (preferably on WordPress) – This will serve as your “home base” online. Check out this guide from Quick Sprout for more on this.
  2. Start and maintain a blog on your website – This is one of the best ways to develop your voice and create a unique identity.
  3. Have profiles on at least three social media networks – Start with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or Instagram, and gradually expand. But don’t spread yourself too thin to the point where you can’t consistently update.

Here’s a quick tip about choosing usernames: use a format that’s easy to remember, and try to use the same username for all your profiles. Consistency and homogeneity are essential for branding.

The initial stages of launching your personal brand are time-consuming.

That’s why I recommend focusing exclusively on your website, blog, and social media for at least the first month or two.

You want to make sure you’re devoting the necessary amount of time to generate some buzz.

Ideally, you’ll gain at least a small core audience for your blog and a few hundred social media followers.

Once you get to that point, it’s time to crank it up a notch.

Exploring other content mediums

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that the content I’ve created over the years has been a primary contributing factor to my personal brand development.

Whether it’s my content on Quick Sprout, neilpatel.com, Kissmetrics, or guest content on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Huff Po, etc., it’s all helped me carve out a niche.

In my opinion, one of the most effective ways to strengthen your brand and continually build momentum is by creating high caliber content.

And there are so many ways to go about this.

Here are just a few mediums you can use:

  • Long-form posts where you cover a topic in detail – Learn about the skyscraper technique by Brian Dean from Backlinko.
  • Podcasting – “Podcast listening grew by 23% between 2015 and 2016.”
  • YouTube – It has more than 1.3 billion users.
  • Slideshows
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Whitepapers

But here’s the deal.

Establishing a brand requires you to do one highly important thing.

And that’s to be consistent across the board.

According to research, “It takes 5-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand.”

Whichever mediums you use, it’s imperative that you maintain consistency with your voice, style, opinions, and so on.

If you go back and forth, you’ll confuse your audience and won’t be able to make any real headway.

Of course, you’ll naturally grow and evolve, but you need to maintain your core identity.

Most important of all, you need to be authentic. People can sniff out phoniness from a mile away.

If you’re a nice guy, be a nice guy.

If you’re a bit of a jerk, be a bit of a jerk.

In other words, “To thine own self be true.”

Guest-blogging

In my opinion, guest-blogging is pound-for-pound the most effective way to build a personal brand.

By leveraging another blogger’s/expert’s inherent brand equity and influence, you can accelerate the growth of your own brand.

Just think about it.

If a notable figure gives you “a nod,” it immediately elevates your brand equity.

But I remember a few years ago when the SEO community got bent out of shape when they heard that guest-blogging could potentially lead to SEO penalties.

However, Google clarified, basically saying, “Guest blogging is okay, but guest-blogging for SEO is not.”

In other words, posting valuable content on another blog is fine as long as you’re not creating spam with the sole intention of earning a backlink.

If you’re looking for a magic bullet, guest-blogging is the closest thing you can get.

I choose to view it as more of a way to expand my audience and build my brand rather than simply generating a backlink.

It’s just a matter of doing it the right way.

You also need to understand that it’s a bit of a numbers game, and you’ll need to reach out to multiple bloggers before you get the greenlight.

I recommend checking out this post from Kissmetrics to master the art of guest-blogging.

Getting free press

Let’s say you’ve taken care of the fundamentals I’ve already mentioned.

The final step is to get press coverage so you can build your audience even more.

Here’s a look at how Tim Ferriss got coverage for his book, The 4-Hour Workweek (remember, this was before he had the massive personal brand he does today and when he was in the same boat as many of you at the moment):

But this is just one idea.

Here are some others:

  • Give a lecture or seminar at a local college or university
  • Write an article for a trade magazine
  • Sign up for Help a Reporter Out (HARO) – This can help you get valuable media coverage

I suggest you look over this guide from Quick Sprout for a more in-depth look on getting free press coverage.

Many people underestimate the power of conventional media outreach. Even though the heyday of newspapers is over, there are still ways to gain an incredible reach and immense power through media channels.

Conclusion

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process of launching a personal brand.

There are so many areas to cover that you may not even know where to start.

But when you break it down step by step and check off one thing it a time, it becomes a lot more manageable.

I like to approach it like construction of a building.

You start with a sturdy foundation (a PVP) and gradually build from there. It’s a process.

The most practical bit of advice I can give you is to be patient and stay the course.

Once you gain some initial momentum, it gets a lot easier to pick up some speed.

And once you finally get to the point where you’ve established a legitimate personal brand, the new opportunities that come your way will be completely worth it.

What do you think is the single most important aspect of launching a personal brand?

7 Ways to Get High Quality Paid Traffic with Rock-Bottom CPCs

I’ve said it before: a successful PPC campaign boils down to two things:

  1. Increasing click-through rate (CTR)
  2. Lowering cost-per-click (CPC)

Pretty simple, right?

But I want to add one more point to that statement. It’s not complicated.

You also need to get high quality traffic.

This means reaching your target audience and bringing in visitors who are ready to buy. What you don’t want is lukewarm traffic with only a vague interest in your product/service.

You want leads who have one hand on their wallets, ready to whip them out and make a purchase.

Now, allow me to point out a brutal truth about PPC marketing.

It’s a slippery slope, especially if you’re new to the game.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can chew you up and spit you out.

Many “noobs” quickly find their budgets depleted with only a handful of sales to show for it.

Some even end up spending more on their PPC campaigns than they get in return from sales. It’s not a good situation.

In order to get a favorable ROI, you want to ensure that 1) you’re driving high quality traffic to your landing page and 2) you’re not overspending on CPC.

In fact, you want rock-bottom CPCs.

To accomplish this requires a bit of an out-of-the-box approach.

You need to zig when other PPC marketers zag.

Let me show you seven ways to get high quality traffic while spending the absolute least amount of money on it.

1. Look beyond Google AdWords

When you hear the word PPC, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

I would bet that for at least 90% of you, it would be Google AdWords.

And why wouldn’t it be?

It’s had a stranglehold on the PPC market for years.

In fact, a fairly recent study from Smart Insights reports that Google controls 67.78% of the search engine market:

Of course, this is the natural choice for an average PPC marketer.

The logic is that it receives the most traffic, so it’s the perfect PPC platform to target.

But I would have to disagree.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against Google AdWords.

In fact, I’ve pulled in a massive amount of high quality traffic from it over the years, and it has netted me thousands in sales.

But you should by no means pigeonhole yourself and think that this is the only platform there is.

Why?

Because it’s uber-saturated and highly competitive.

This means one thing: a high CPC.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most expensive CPCs according to industry:

I’ve even heard of some keywords costing as much as $100 a click. That’s crazy!

So even if you bring in a lot of high quality traffic, your ROI will be minimized because you’re spending a fortune on each click.

This can quickly eat away at your profits.

The bottom line here is that it’s smart to explore alternatives to Google AdWords.

Here is a list from PPC Hero that highlights some specific platforms to check out.

Although you may not get the same volume of traffic, the CPCs tend to be much lower on average.

2. Lower your max bids

This is perhaps the simplest way to reduce your CPC.

Lower your max bids, and your CPC will diminish as well.

But there’s a catch.

If you lower your CPC too far, the positioning of your ads can suffer (e.g., they fall down the page, and fewer people click on them).

The trick to pulling this off is to find the sweet spot, where you lower your bids without your CTR taking a hit.

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Identify a handful of your top performing keywords
  2. Lower their bids slightly (you may even want to start with just a cent or two)
  3. See what your new CTR is
  4. If those keywords still perform well, lower your bids again

Repeat this process until you find the sweet spot.

Just be sure not to make any monumental changes right off the bat, and keep a close eye on things.

If you notice a drastic drop in performance, increase your max bid to a number that’s closer to the original bid.

3. Do manual bidding

There are two types of bidding on most PPC platforms: automatic and manual.

While automatic bidding is more convenient and can be a good way for beginners to test the waters, it can definitely lower your CPC.

If you’ve primarily been sticking with automatic bidding thus far, I suggest switching to manual (at least for a little while) to see if it has a positive impact on your CPC.

This gives you a greater level of control and you’re not at the mercy of an algorithm that may not always have the best interests of your ROI in mind.

But here’s the deal.

It can be overwhelming if you’re doing manual bidding across several campaigns at once.

Start with just one campaign initially until you get the hang of it. Then you can expand to others.

4. Target long-tail keywords

You’ve probably heard me sing the praises of long-tail keywords in the past for organic SEO.

There’s no doubt that long-tails get results.

In fact, long-tail keywords account for 70% of all keywords.

But the truth is that they’re something you should implement in your PPC campaign as well.

Why?

It’s simple. You’ll pay considerably less for a click from a long-tail keyword.

Here’s an example…

Let’s see what the suggested bid for a broad keyword is. I’ll use “running shoes.”

As you can see, it’s $2.66.

Now let’s see what the suggested bid for a long-tail variation is.

It’s only $0.61. So you can save over $2 per click by simply using a long-tail keyword.

Just think of how much you would save for 100 clicks or 1,000.

I recommend looking at your ad groups to see if there are any broad keywords that could be revised and made into long-tail keywords.

It will take some trial and error, but this is a great way to reduce your CPC dramatically.

Of course, you won’t receive the same volume of traffic. But you can maintain higher quality standards with the traffic you do get and save a boatload of money in the process.

5. Add negative keywords

One way some PPC marketers get themselves into trouble is by forgetting to include negative keywords.

What exactly is a negative keyword?

White Shark Media defines it as “a word or phrase that allows you to filter out who your ads will be served to in the search results page.”

In other words, it minimizes the odds of the wrong person clicking on your ad.

Using negative keywords is important because it ensures you’re not wasting your money on irrelevant clicks from unqualified people.

Implementing negative keywords can really help you cut costs in the long run, thus lowering your CPC.

But how do you come up with negative keywords?

One of my favorite tools is Wordstream’s Free Negative Keyword Tool.

Allow me to show you how it works.

Start by entering your keyword phrase in the search box. We’ll stick with “running shoes” as an example.

You’ll then get a list of potential negative keywords.

Just choose which ones are irrelevant by clicking “No,” and they’ll be moved to the right hand side.

If I’m selling men’s running shoes, I would want to use “women’s running shoes” as a negative keyword.

Keep clicking on keywords that are irrelevant to fully populate your list of negative keywords.

Then add these to your campaigns and ad groups on your PPC platform.

6. Keep devices in mind

Here’s the deal with devices. Each one has a different CTR.

For instance, smartphones may outperform tablets and desktop computers.

In fact, that’s exactly the case according to a study from MarketingProfs that analyzed Google AdWords CTR by device:

By looking at this data, you can conclude that you would want to put an emphasis on reaching customers who are using smartphones.

However, this is just an example and doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the best course of action for your campaign.

What I’m saying is that you should keep devices in mind when looking over your reports.

If it’s clear that a certain device is outperforming the others, make it a focal point of your campaign.

You’ll also want to scale back or even eliminate other devices that aren’t carrying their weight.

7. Check geographic locations

Finally, there’s the issue of location.

You want to make sure you’re only reaching people in locations your business can actually serve.

Otherwise, you’re basically throwing money away.

Let’s say you’re a brick-and-mortar business located in Dallas.

The only customers you need and want to reach are those located within the greater Dallas area.

In this case, you wouldn’t want to spend money on a click from someone from Charlotte or Miami. It just wouldn’t make sense.

Your best bet is to select a radius so you know for sure you’re only paying for clicks from a relevant audience.

Conclusion

There’s a lot that goes into a well-run PPC campaign.

This makes it one of the more challenging marketing strategies, and there’s plenty of room for error.

But at its core, your end goal is to get high quality paid traffic while keeping your CPC to a minimum.

This is the key to maximizing your ROI and getting the most bang for your buck.

Although there are a lot of different ways to go about this, the following techniques I mentioned are some of the more practical ones.

Figuring out the ideal formula for you requires perpetual testing and plenty of trial and error.

But once you’ve got it pegged, you can rinse and repeat until you’re running a rock-solid PPC campaign.

What’s the most you’re willing to pay for a click?