Getting More Results With Customer-Focused SEO And Ads

Video Transcript

Lars Maehler


Introduction, SEO 101

– Talking to us about flywheels, I know that he said that funnels are dead, but in my opinion, they’re just like Justin Bieber. They’re a little bit misunderstood. So, I’m going to kind of teach you how to approach this a little bit differently today, from a funnel approach, okay? Because of the varied professionals we have sitting here and the various industries that are represented, I do want to go over a quick SEO 101 and an SEM 101. So basically, what we’ve been talking about, pay per click, makes sense to everybody because we’ve seen the ads, but how they’re actually built and what the components are, that is sometimes a little bit more complicated. So in regards to SEO, the majority of people know this. You know, it’s SEO is, yeah sure, get me on the first page. It’s climbing up on the page, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. When it comes to essential components that make up SEOs, at the core of everything we talk about here, you have on-site and you have off-site. I had the privilege of sitting down with many of you, so this is gonna be a refresher course, but essentially, on-site SEO is the content that your viewership can read and how individual keywords represent your business and represent your services, your brand, and how well you integrate that onto something that people can genuinely engage with as relevant content. The off-page SEO portion is kind of like a popularity contest. The more people talk about you, the more popular in the eyes of Google you must be, but again, it also means that if someone like my brother said, Lars is a really cool guy, you should listen to him, that doesn’t really mean a lot, but if Obama gave me a shout-out, that’s also a little different because you guys all know who Obama is. The same can be said about online. So if a website with a high domain authority links back to you, that link amounts to a lot more than just some blogger who basically comes up to you and says, hey, I have a viewership of five viewers a month. Make sense? Okay, so, why SEO is, is such an exciting topic for me and my team here is that it’s always changing. Just when you think you figured out the entire algorithm, Google goes no, not right now. Let me switch things up real quick, and, there’s major updates and then there’s minor updates, and for us, it’s basically, our job is to stay on top of these and to make sure that the clients that do work with us maintain their rankings, and that we can work on still succeeding in ranking the keywords that we haven’t ranked them for yet, you know, so SEO’s an ongoing thing. There’s a lot of clashes of opinion in regards to how people tackle the idea of SEO. A lot of people say that it’s content-driven. Others people say it’s more technical-based. Other people say it’s really just an outreach program. I like to believe it’s a component of all three. So you need to really find the final balance between all three elements. It’s also very challenging and time-consuming. Why is it important? I think just, in short, the facts kind of represent that themselves, but when you do look at where the traffic goes throughout Google, the majority of it goes onto the first page. So yes, you have the visibility through that immediately, if you are a new site, if you take advantage of PPC. So SEM related solutions. I strongly recommend that because SEO takes time, but down the road, you want to make sure that, for the main components of your business that you solve in a client’s life, you need to have that visibility in the online space for that. Any questions in regards to SEO? Okay, so SEM, again, very quickly as well, when it comes to SEM, we usually see the search, the search marketing component here, where you see the ads in the top in addition to display-orientated adverts when you’re basically browsing around sites, and then, there’s a third component, which is essentially shopping ads, but anything that is basically enabled through a search engine. How a campaign is really structured. I want you to basically always think about keywords. Everything that we, in regards to SEO as well as PPC campaigns, that all has to do with keywords. Keywords are the key to you winning or losing in the market. Now how an account is structured is we basically have a campaign-based setup, and then, within this campaign, that can, it either promotes an individual product, a service category, there’s flexibility in how you set that up, but I want you to focus on the keywords and, the ad groups because essentially, an ad group is me promoting, let’s say, I don’t know, a moving service, an article of fashion, a, a school for example. So let’s just say I’m promoting HKIS. One ad group would be representative of a component of HKIS. So let’s say I wanna be focusing on applications in this realm. Now I need to think about keywords that are appropriate for applications, but then also come up with an ad copy that is appropriate for all the keywords that I’m going to be coming up with for this ad group. Now what I see often happening is that a lot of people kind of are overly ambitions ’cause they have keyword lists of 30 different keywords. Now that’s 30 different terms that you think may relate to this particular service of yours, but when you write an ad content basically focused on these keywords, it’s not gonna be appropriate or relevant for every single one of those 30 words, okay? So what I like to do is I keep my keyword groups small so my ad copy can be relevant. Remember that. If, honestly, that’s the only thing you learn from coming out of here, that’s worth it, okay?

The Funnel & Search Behavior

But moving forward, like I said, thanks Aaron, the funnel is pretty much still alive and well. I like to actually put it next to the entire flywheel approach because when you’re talking about the individual flywheel components, you’re talking about measuring or quantifying what you want to do within individual segments of your strategies, whereas like when it comes to the funnel, every single strategy, the user will travel through a funnel. It’s just, that’s key. Now the funnel itself, before I dive into it, there’s a component across the funnel that impacts search behavior. Doesn’t matter which strategy you’re looking at, but that’s dimensioning of features and benefits because when we look at a product or a service, these are the main components we focus on when we come up with essentially making a, a decision at the end of the day. Features is the physical elements or the, the specific components that make up your software or product. The benefits is essentially how does it make my life better? Does it save me money? Does it make me money? Does it make me feel more comfortable? Does it give me the confidence? It doesn’t matter. Like, there has to be a positive benefit towards taking advantage of a feature. Otherwise, there is no value. Now, if you want to basically change any feature or link a benefit to a feature, just use so, to, and will, okay? You can apply this to your own business in regards to when you, you’re outlining your services or products, and then, so, to, and will will basically help you think about defining what really the benefits of what you’re doing for your business are in the first place, okay? So here we go with the funnel. So from a new, everyone travels through these same stages prior to making a purchasing decision, okay? So in the very beginning, when we’re talking about Awareness, we’re talking about someone who’s completely ignorant of the fact that you even exist. Now, when we’re in the start-up phase, that is more than where you will start. That’s the natural starting point. Now, here, also from an SEO standpoint, you’re looking at generic keywords that bring in a high amount of volume, and also from a search perspective, if I’m looking for, I’m not very well-versed in heels, I don’t know what my wife likes, my search, when it comes to buying heels in Hong Kong for Valentine’s Day will start with heels, Hong Kong. You see how that is extremely broad because, I recently learned this, there’s something called pumps, heels, boots, and anything that basically gives you an additional two inches in height. So, so really, where I’m going here with this is that you need to think about your user and what are the generic terms that your business falls under that you can include in perhaps a content-based strategy. The ad copy here needs to be a little bit more benefit-driven because no one knows of your features yet. It’s that plain and simple. So if I never heard of HKIS, and HKIS tells me I have, I have a math curriculum that is super good in identifying algorithms and everything, that really doesn’t tell me much. I want to know how well my child is going to be cared for when it goes to a particular school, you know, so that would be an initial benefit as, for me to reconsider them. In a Interest funnel, customers know you exist, but here’s the point of where you really start generating interest, okay? The ad copy is still aligned with just really pushing the benefit-driven ad copy because, again, the user doesn’t have enough information to really compare features yet. Now, this is, this is really the component where it’s make-or-break for brands out there because if you get this realm, that’s where the majority of your users drop off. If you don’t adequately explain what your business or service can do in terms of benefits, or even adding a couple of features as to how you, how you reach a point where these features enable you to benefit from these benefits, you’re going to lose them in the realms of communication. So here it is, keep things simple. People need to understand what you can now do for them, and they will start the comparing process, you know. They will be looking at alternative suppliers. They’ll be looking at alternative, alternative solutions to like, your product and stuff. Now, when it comes to Shop, the customer knows they really want to buy, but they’re not at a point where they’re saying, okay, I’m ready, like, I’m doing this right now. They’re at a point where they’re willing to put their money down, but now you, now you need to prove value. If you do not prove value in this stage, they will go with a competitor solution, so what does that really mean? It means that, when you come up with an ad, you need to start really playing up the idea of features and benefits because features are easy to compare, but benefits are what, at the end of the day, sells the customer. So when I’m looking at TVs, I’m looking at which one has higher definition, which one has a longer warranty, like, which one is gonna be enabling me to plug my PlayStation in the easiest, and which one has the longest shelf life, et cetera. So when I finally reach this stage of a Buying funnel, here, the user is going to convert. They’re going through the shopping cart. They’re in the shopping cart right now. They’re clicking on the inquiry button, and then, the next stage really is, okay, is your price gonna be adequate? Are there any individual barriers such as warranty-related barriers, shipping cost-related barriers, application, application time frames that might be too long? People are impatient, you know. Like, once I’ve made a decision that I actually want something, if I don’t get it within the next X amount of time, like, I’m not doing it. So if you have a strong enough value to force people to wait like Tesla does, like, people sign up for a year to get this car, you know, but that’s because Elon Musk has essentially created this genius of exclusivity with this car, and the majority of customers who are here right now I don’t think fall under that category. So what we need to think about is how do we make all of this stuff easier, and how do we enable access to our users to take advantage of our products and services quickly?

Writing Compelling Ads & Increasing Click Through Rates

Okay, now when it comes to writing compelling ads, it’s all about relevance. Like, I think I’ll reemphasize this with Google again and again, but let’s just say I’m looking for singing lessons. You can see the question that I typed here yesterday night at one a.m. in the morning just because I was still scratching together a couple of ideas, but I was like, okay, you know what? I wanna get singing lessons in Hong Kong. This is the first thing that pops up. I went okay, cool, HelloToby. Like, where are you gonna take me? Toby told me that you can compare and hire the best singing teachers in Hong Kong, and they gave me a list of different places in Hong Kong where I could do that. You see how the match is very significant there? I have one stop to basically ask for a free quote, and all I need to do is insert my email, but the ad essentially got me to a landing page that promised exactly what I was looking for. Now, the mismatch that I often see when people first come to us and ask us to do, like, an audit of their PPC campaigns and looking into their ads is that, A, there’s too many keywords in a keyword group. So this ad doesn’t, this ad will not be relevant for 30 keywords, okay? It’s just that simple, but it will be highly relevant for five. Now, another example I saw was looking for flowers the other day as well because I couldn’t find the right heels. So when I was looking for flowers, I came across an ad that, and I said I am looking for roses in Hong Kong. The flower ad said hey, come to us. Like, we have flowers. I clicked on them, and it was just a long list of bouquets, and that wasn’t really what I was looking for, so I bounced, okay? Now, my experience is representative of most likely what users are going through if your ads are not relevant. So again, when you’re posting an ad that is specific to a product, lead the customer to the product or service that you promised in the ad because no one actually, there’s too many people that do the mistake of essentially just drawing people to a landing page where you showcase your entire portfolio, even though I was only interested in one element of that portfolio because you, or whoever you’re working with in regards to the advertising space, you missed out on that next step of adding just a little bit more detail to your ad campaign to drive them to the right landing page that was specific to the search. When it comes to also driving higher conversions, look, we all know what call to actions are. Subscribe, buy now, et cetera, but if you highlight these in your ad, psychologically speaking, people will be searching for them on the landing page that they are brought to. So if you’re saying something like buy now or register here and I land on a page that doesn’t enable me to register, you are looking at 100% of a fail rate. It’s that simple. So make sure that the call to action in regards to what your ad is promising and what the landing page represents is a land. As you can see, there’s a common theme here, right? It’s all about relevance. So the next thing is human psychology factor. Some people really up-play this, and it, some people can be a little mean with this as well. Look, positive factors influence people to make a decision a lot easier than fear does, so the average scare tactic that you sometimes see with insurance can work in your favor, but it is better to basically create a positive experience to your brand with a user than a negative one, okay? So people are just really looking for three elements that will incentivize them to click on an ad. They wanna be, they’re looking for informational inspiration, they want to grow themselves, and they are looking for an emotional connection with the brand. So that actually ties it back into everything that we’ve talked about earlier, how, that’s where content really comes in. Content is really powerful in establishing that emotional connection with your user, and then, there’s different mediums of content that you can utilize, and we found here through significant testing across our user base that video is most likely the most powerful medium that you can use right now because it essentially matches a personality to your brand. People no longer see your logo. They see a face, y’know, and a face is usually more relatable than a Nike tick, but I think, when it comes to everything I wanted to cover, that I know I was conscious of time, so I had to rush a little bit.

Q&A Section

Q&A section

Is there anything that I can help you answer at this stage in regards to what we covered? Yes?

– [Balding Man] How many keywords? You said not too many.

– But look–

– Optimally, we can–

– If you really, really wanna be in specific, five.

– [Male Presenter] Conventionally. Throw a target at you, five, throw a target at you.

– Yeah.

– [Male Presenter] ‘Cause, just with one, just let me, complementary flywheel and funnel. I think they complement each other because if you go back to the flywheel page,

– I don’t have a flywheel page.

– We actually do take a flywheel approach when it comes to systematically creating strategies that actually work. So, you know, for instance, the way this runs in our flywheel, all the way down to Shopping, people are ready to make one decision. So the other day, you know, they’re in successful business plans, one that you actually… implement, measure, change, implement, measure, change. All right, it’s that cycle. It’s the same cycle we follow. It’s madness that we just think you gotta implement the same strategy that you implemented making for instances. It’s constantly measuring, changing, compromising until you get the winning combination. So this user behavior, is always gonna be the way that users actually shop online. It’s the case of how do you actually make sure that you’re implementing the right strategy. Aaron, would you agree with that?

– [Aaron] I guess I concur.

– [Male Presenter] Beautiful.

– Yeah.

– So, yes, I just wanted to clarify that ’cause of the confusion around is the funnel dead? It’s not really dead. It’s just that how do you actually plan each one of these steps? And I think we’re on the same page when it comes to planning and making sure that we are actually learning, for empathy, behavioral target for weeks. So which, I mean, how many of you guys actually take this approach? Yeah, so only what? So only one person in the room takes the flywheel approach or the actual flywheel approach? Is that right? So how many of you guys actually have quite extensive experience in digital marketing?

– [Male Attendee] In what marketing?

– In digital marketing, and how many of you actually spend majority of your marketing, spend on traditional marketing, such as billboards, printing, bus advertising, all that kind of stuff? So the only question is around, what we’ve discussed today, around SEO, SEM, hotspot, Google,

– Yeah, Aaron, Aaron,

– is there anything you’re

– Matt, do you wanna

– unsure about?

– come up here

– Oh, you wanna come up

– in front?

– here in front of us?

– Like, we’re–

– Come here in front of us.

– [Aaron] I don’t want to crash this party. I don’t want to–

– You’re safe.

– [Aaron] So I work for him, that’s not me. I figure that’s a company here in Hong Kong?

– Yes.

– And generally, from, from my experience, this kind of model, regards to the flywheel and funnel, probably is more relevant for products that you’re selling online rather than short-lived events.

– Experiences.

– So the events we run, probably only last a week at the most. Our campaigns run for about three months, so implementing a SEM strategy probably isn’t the best way to convert customers.

– Well, let’s say you have to build awareness leading up to the event, and that helps to generate interest. So you do need a bit of an approach when it comes to SEM anyway. PPC will be your main draw-in. You need a display aspect to your digital marketing strategy. You know, it’s build interest first, and what we do is, you know, for instance, Lars, can you give us an insight on our strategy, on how you built interest and how you got everyone involved.

– Well. When it comes to generating interest across events, I actually just talked to Charles about this earlier, because it’s short-lived, it’s a lot more difficult to kind of hone in on your target market because you don’t have enough time to collect data, right? See, so at the core of everything you do, you need to think about the bigger picture of what you represent as a drama company, for example. So what is the common theme across all of your plays? How would someone go about finding you in that event space? See, so you basically need to take a step back and think about the customer’s search journey rather than the, I like to call it the banana salesman who’s on the street shouting at everyone that he has bananas. You need to step back and actually see if people want the bananas, that maybe there’s a better way of selling them. No, Matt, do you have any other points to add from an SEM strategy?

– I just want to, to dive deeper into, into the businesses you’re running right now. You said it’s like a short-lived event, and you feel like SME, er, SEM is, might not be the right approach, but at the moment, what is the best acquisitions treasure that you think is working the best for you guys?

– [Charles] Right now, with the general demographic of younger families, we do a lot of Facebook and Google advertising which is driving people to our website.

– Right, right, so, so it’s the same thing. Like, when you advertise through Google, it’s pretty much like SEM, right? So when you say, this path, like funnelling, or like flywheel, like this path doesn’t work for you, like what is the thing that you feel like is missing the connection with you or your customers? What’s that part?

– [Charles] I think, well, judging from all these talks, where it’s clear to me is that we’re having one approach to reaching all of the audiences, so regardless if you’re a 30-year-old male with no kids or you’re a 50-year-old family man, we’re using essentially one strategy to reach all these people.

– So from a segmentation process, do you put them all into one bucket, or do you have various ads that approach your different segments, because–

– One bucket.

– Oh, okay.

– This is probably why the disconnect is there.

– Okay.

– Yeah.

– See, so, if you do want higher results, it’s all about targeting because, the idea of relevance is so important, you know? Someone who sees an ad for, I don’t, just an example, I saw Disney on Ice like all the time. So that is something I can relate to because I have a little kid that loves Minnie Mouse, so do I want to potentially go this event? No, but she wants to, and I’ll do everything she likes. So I’m that target market. It works for me from a mass market approach. Now from an online marketing approach, I wouldn’t fit your single man like, wants to watch whatever play. I would fit the family category.

– Yeah.

– You know, so I do think that adding a little bit of focus in regards to maybe splitting your segments into at least, I like segmenting by male-female first, you know? See if there’s a disconnect between the services you provide or how they’re interpreted over your website because, I mean, different people will connect differently towards your content. The second element is age brackets. You know, look into different age brackets. You said you’re pretty varied, right? So what would you say is the youngest individual that would put money down? Would someone that’s 16 put their pocket money down to watch one of your shows?

– [Charles] Probably not, so I guess the youngest

– Okay.

– [Charles] would be 20, 21?

– 21, okay, see, so we start with 21, and then, we’ll have a young group. We’ll have an intermediary group, and then, we have a wiser group, and then, we have a, and then, we’ll have a, one that basically has the entire range. So you can basically see where your returns are the best, and then, I mean, especially on, when you’re on Facebook, you have Interests, right? So when you’re looking at Interests, I mean, again, this is a longer discussion, but really sit down with your team, nail down every single interest. Might vary from play to play, right? Because you’re going through maybe romantic tragedies. Others are comedies. Other are purely just horror. I don’t know, you know, so that would again be kind of a segment you’d be looking into testing, but the one bucket approach, yes. That might be the reason why you’re generating a lot of traffic, and that’s what you usually see. If you don’t add focus to any of your campaigns, you’ll see a lot of traffic, but you will not see the conversions, and your bounce rates are gonna be high. So I always look into bounce. Traffic doesn’t mean a lot anymore these days. It’s all about conversions. So if I’m seeing that I’m driving 1,000 to 3,000 people in a new campaign, my initial feelings are to obviously get excited because the more people come in, the more people are likely to convert, but then, if I let the ad run for a good two weeks, and I see that the conversion rate is less than 2.5%, which is really the minimum of what you would expect from even a retail component, then you know you’re doing something wrong.

– Yeah.

– You know, and that’s where the adjustment needs to take place, but I hope that helps.

– [Male Presenter] Essentially, one point, one thing of that is you, like he said, segmentation’s really important, but you also need to give yourself the ability to mirror, to mirror the buy designer. So it’s like a pixelene holding up a mirror against its face and saying this is you, and this is what, maybe we can help you with that. So you want to create a connection. It’s called personalization. Personalization’s a huge thing in these markets. A lot of people are experiencing a lot of bad winders. Have you ever noticed that you don’t even pay attention to the ads anymore? Do you place them in Feed ’cause there’s so many of them? See there, that’s bad winders, so what you wanna do is you wanna create a connection with your audience, winder and everything. So when you reach someone for the first time, you try and find some sort of commonality with that person, like breaking the ice, so it’s like, what kind of interests does this person have? So as soon as you find an interest, then you can, then you have some topic to talk about, and you get to forming a conversation with that person. You effectively do, having the same effect online. So you want to facilitate touch points at least online, to correlate with each other. That way, you’re smiling constantly with your marketing messaging, so you wanna make sure that you’ve got the message consistent, but it needs to be very specific to the point. Otherwise, it’s gonna get lost.

– Yeah?

– [Attendee] Again, just to add to that, as a frenal event Concept company, I mean, you guys are the experts, so we expect it to be done well, but for, in our experiences, events are usually more a luxury experience. It’s more people don’t need it. So what we do on content-wise is very important in creating a demand to your event. People were rounding to such hate, let you go for, I’d do a sport, I do sports events, so I do a buyer’s and spy race to the people who are rounding and saying hey I would join that. So what around the marketing is our very number one priority when it comes to digital strategy? So how do we make people want new content? Videos is what we focus on. And then based on the ways that were built through our content, we then do optimization and conversion on that. Our challenges is we don’t know how to get these content, uh, content out to a larger population that we think could be interested.

– So what are the tactics you use to actually get the word of mouth? To make it more viral, what sort of courses of action do you have? How do you draw the activity?

– [Attendee] Share. A lot of our content through social media is sharing and we use personal stories. So we did a lot of interviews with blocks on past twist bits. Keep appearing readers to one of our very big drives.

– Beautiful. So you really want social credibility around your advance. Show that it has a lot of value to you. Absolutely.

– Stefan do you want to add?

– [Attendee] Yeah, we have increase, but we also value wins.

– Yeah.

– [Attendee] And I actually, I don’t find it’s significant to actually arouse interest and to find the right people who will sign up. So it’s you can easily sign a hundred parents. But then very often the difference is that maybe only 10, 20, percent actually show up.

– Show up. Yeah. So what’s your follow-up though, for the events.

– [Attendee] How do you actually know for sure that these people will show up? I should point to say we have plenty of registrations.

– I think… I mean… Well actually, well, what I’ve found is that yes, if an event is frayed, the flake-rates are higher, because there’s nothing to really hold anyone accountable to that. And Hong Kong isn’t getting anyone together in a group of six or more, you know someone’s going to, like, bounce. It’s almost 100%. So really what I look into is the follow-up prior to an event. You guys all received an email that we were essentially at full house, y’know, so out of an event of 35 people, we had 31 show up. That’s actually pretty impressive. Don’t you guys think? So that was through a mix of personally reaching out to individuals that signed up for the event, that’s a mix to basically letting everyone know how the participation rate is going that we’re excited to see you. Like, I mean, you need to genuinely get people involved in the process that will bring value to them Like, obviously when it comes to signup, you have someone like Charles who’re pushing the event like Spartan Races, y’know, it is extremely physically challenging, y’know? You can’t just on the fly say yeah, I’ll join this. Whereas like, if you’re hosting an event for your kids, yes, there’s already a psychological influence that if you don’t go to an event that will be good for your child,