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Should I Hire A Marketing Agency, A Marketing Consultant, Or A PR Firm?

Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.

How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies

  • Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
  • Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.

Getting back to whom your organization should consider hiring for ongoing marketing services or one-time/one-off marketing project work/help, here’s one Boston digital marketing agency’s, Boston SEO company’s, and Boston marketing consultant’s thoughts — yeah, we consider ourselves to be all of the aforementioned, and for clients who engage us for non-PR work, we can also be engaged for help with PR since our Principal has a great deal of PR experience.

This is a square gray image with our Boston digital marketing agency's logo (Results Communications & Research's) logo at the bottom. At the top of the image in big bold letters it says "Should I Hire An Ad Agency, A Digital Marketing Agency, Marketing Consultant, Or PR Firm?" Underneath That In A Dark Powder Blue It Says" Read One Marketing Professional's Thoughts."

How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask

Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.

Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.

SEO Company. Because paid search engine advertising/marketing (SEM) supports an organization ranking well in relevant search engine results, as our Boston SEO company does, most SEO companies offer strategy and execution services related to both organic search/organic SEO tactics, as well as paid search advertising services. Some will offer some additional digital marketing services as well.

Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.

Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.

In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.

Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.

Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.

Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.

This image shows the back of a dark-skinned woman who is wearing a striped white and light blue shirt. She is holding a pencil or pen above a notebook on her right-hand side and her left-hand is hovered over a laptop computer keyboard. The screen of the computer says "Marketing" in big blue letter. The image is being shown in keeping with our Boston Digital Marketing Agency's blog post about how to know what type of marketing agency or consultant to hire.

What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?

Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.

If your organization doesn’t expect to need the type of traditional advertising production work outlined above under the “Advertising Agency” section, you’ll very likely fare better financially hiring a smaller digital marketing agency or PR firm or a marketing consultant. Plus, you may end up getting more personal attention than you would with a larger agency. And, most smaller shops can pull in a collaborator, freelancer, or other agency or consultant, as needed.

We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!

Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.

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How To Know Where To Invest Marketing Energy and Dollars: Push Vs. Pull Marketing

Regardless of whether your organization has a small or large marketing budget and staff, you still want to spend your time and money on marketing judiciously. Who wants to throw either valuable dollars or time out the window, right?

Why not make this the year you ensure you’re maximizing your marketing efforts by revisiting your marketing plans based on the information shared below about what marketing tactics make sense based on available data.

What Is Pull Marketing?

Each marketing expert probably has their own thoughts on what they consider marketing tactics that fall in the “pull” category. But, at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company, we think of “pull marketing” tactics as those to be employed if evidence shows that individuals are actively searching to identify someone in your geography who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers.

So how do you know if people are actively searching in the geography you serve for the products, services, and solutions you offer? The best way to ascertain the aforementioned is by conducting keyword research. As we explain in this previous blog post, keyword research helps you identify the average # of monthly Google searches that are conducted on search terms (known as keywords) relevant to your products, services, and solutions. Because of the tools to which you’ll need access and the challenges of figuring out how to structure your research, you’ll likely fare better by hiring an SEO company or a team of SEO experts, like ours, to conduct meaningful and accurate keyword research.

If keyword research does indicate a large volume of individuals are regularly searching to identify an organization like yours, then pull marketing tactics, such as optimizing your website to be found on Google via organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and/or paid search tactics (think Google Ads) make great marketing sense. You’ll still need to have an effective website (one with appropriate calls-to-actions and that provides for a strong user experience) to cause site visitors to take desired actions on your site (convert), but the two aforementioned tactics should definitely cause individuals who are “warm leads,” i.e., likely interested in your products because they are actively searching, to visit your website.

What Is Push Marketing?

We always like to say “push marketing” is about the putting the idea in the heads of individuals and organizations who might be a good fit for the product, service, or solution you offer. Push marketing tactics are all about serving up/providing information about your products or services to individuals who, based on various demographics and characteristics, such as age, gender, income level, job/career/industry, etc., might likely be interested in buying your product or engaging you for your service.

Examples of both digital and traditional push marketing tactics include: display advertising (both social media advertising and Google display advertising), banner advertising (ad purchased on a website that serves individuals and orgs. who might be a good fit for your product), and print advertising in a newspaper or magazine. The aforementioned list is not exclusive, but we think you get the picture.

So, when is push marketing warranted? Push marketing makes great sense if keyword research indicates that individuals aren’t actively searching in your geography to identify someone like your organization. Particularly when a product or service offered is a brand new one that your target audiences are not likely familiar with/don’t know exist, then focusing on executing effective push marketing tactics will be the most efficient use of your marketing time and dollars.

When To Employ Both Push and Pull Marketing

Organizations with particularly large marketing budgets and teams tend to employ both push and pull marketing tactics, and therefore, both pursue people that are “warmer” leads for their products and services, i.e., those who are actively searching AND people who are less warm but still might be a good fit for their products and services. A key reason they may employ both push and pull marketing tactics is that pull alone doesn’t bring in the volume of leads and sales they need to meet their sales objectives.

For smaller organizations who have fewer in-house individuals devoted to marketing and a limited marketing budget, the majority of marketing dollars and time should definitely be earmarked for the type of tactics — push vs. pull — that make the most sense for the organization, based on what keyword research and any other appropriate available data indicates. But, it’s likely still worth investing a small amount of time and dollars in push marketing tactics, like Google Display or Instagram/Facebook advertising, just to see what such tactics yield in results.

Our Team Of Marketing Experts And SEO Experts Is Here To Help

We always say our Boston SEO company and Boston digital marketing agency “never encourages clients or prospective clients to continue with or start with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them.” In fact, our company’s tagline since we launched our marketing agency in 2014 has been “maximizing results thru research-supported marketing.” We’ll never suggest a client employ a particular tactic, based on whether or not we offer a service related to it. If we don’t offer a marketing service from which research indicates a client would benefit, we’ll refer the work to a one of our fellow marketing collaborators. But, the very first step is holding a complimentary discussion to learn about your particular organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities, so please use our calendar app to select a convenient day and time for you if you’d like to chat!

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Will Your Organization Benefit From Desktop Google Search Continuous Scrolling?

We posed the above question on LinkedIn earlier this week, but didn’t get any reaction to what folks were experiencing or expected to experience now that, as of December 5th, Google offers “continuous scrolling” on desktops/laptop computers vs.just mobile devices.

What Does Continuous Scrolling Mean and What Are The Possible Implications For Your Organization?

The continuous scrolling feature now offered by Google on laptop and desktop computers means that you can scroll thru the equivalent of what used to be the first six pages of Google search results (served up for relevant search terms), without clicking at the bottom of search results to advance from one page to the next. It used to be that the first page of search results only contained about 10 – 12 listings. Depending on the competitiveness of an organization’s marketplace and how well competitors understood and implemented SEO best practices, it could have been almost impossible, without running paid search/Google Ads, to appear on page 1 of Google search results on a computer vs. a mobile device.

Now, far more organizations will appear on the first page of Google search results, because that first page has become six times as long!

Anticipated Positive and Negative Impact to SEO of Google Search Continuous Scrolling

Because the aforementioned change is so very new, there’s not much data available to understand the impact to organizations, but here’s what our intuition, as a Boston SEO company and as SEO experts is telling us:

  • For those organizations who previously didn’t appear on the first page of Google search results, i.e., rank in the first 10 – 12 spots for certain desirable search terms (known as keywords), this switch-over to continuous scrolling on desktops and laptop computers could be a very positive thing. Because they don’t have to take the action of clicking thru to an additional page, many searchers may continue to scroll down past the first 10 – 12 listings (the equivalent of the former first page of Google search results) to see what organizations are listed on the now far-longer page of search results. So, organizations that previously appeared on page 2 – 6 of search results (think roughly spots 13 – 78 in Google) will now appear on the longer first page and have a better chance of being seen by target audiences, and ultimately, causing them to visit their websites.
  • For those organizations who prior-to-the-change, continuously/regularly appeared on the far-shorter page of Google search results, you’ve got more competition! Your target audience(s) may now view far more than the approximately 9 to 11 other organizations whose listings appeared on the first page of Google search results prior to the change discussed in this blog post.

Only time will tell on all of the above. We’ll be monitoring our own site to evaluate the impact of desktop Google search continuous scrolling, but also those of our clients.

Rest assured we’ll be circling back on this topic in the new year. And, speaking of that, we hope all our readers have a wonderful 2023, full of good health and many fun adventures!

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Our Favorite Marketing Blogs and E-Newsletters

Note: This post was updated on July 15, 2022 to also incorporate favorite marketing podcasts, and also on November 25, 2022 to incorporate key places to obtain information on the new G4 Google Analytics property type (vs. UA/Universal Google Analytics property type).

Anyone who provides digital marketing services, like our digital marketing agency, or has a role at a organization where they are responsible for the planning, execution, monitoring, and reporting on of digital marketing tactics, knows that the landscape keeps changing. New social media platforms get introduced. The interfaces or management tools you use to execute activities or monitor results change regularly. It can all have your head spinning.

To help you “keep calm and carry on,” we thought we’d share a list of some of the organizations whose websites we go to when we are in need of answers and help or whose e-newsletters we read to stay on top of all things digital marketing and e-commerce. Since Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are two of our Greater-Boston-Area digital marketing agency’s specialties — we love any digital marketing work that is technical or analytical — you’ll see a number of websites that focus on those topics below. Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.

Cheerful, Pretty Woman Reading A Book Related To List Of Best Digital Marketing Blogs and E-newsletters

We hope the below makes your life as a digital marketer easier and welcome ideas for organizations we should add. We expect to continue to update this list as we discover more digital marketing experts to learn from. We’re all in this together as the digisphere continues to evolve! Note: use the scroll bar underneath the table below to see right-most columns.

Best Digital Marketing Blogs and E-newsletters

Publication/URLSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM/Google Ads)Social MediaE-mail MarketingOther
https://searchengineland.com/X
https://www.emarketer.com/XE-commerce, Retail
https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/X
https://www.searchenginewatch.com/X
https://iab.comBranding, Consumer Goods Research
https://thirddoormedia.com/
XIncludes A Variety of Brands That Address Marketing Technology and Conferences
https://www.hootsuite.com/X
https://www.marketingprofs.com/Marketing events and Training
https://corp.smartbrief.com/Industry Updates, Including: Small business, Food, Finance, Healthcare, Education
https://www.smarketingconnect.com/XXXMarketing & Sales Podcasts and Training, Opportunities To Meet and Collaborate With Other Marketing Professionals
https://npdigital.com/XXX
https://www.seoblog.com/
X
https://ahrefs.com/XContent Creation & Marketing
https://seo-hacker.com/X
Favorite Digital Marketing Blogs & E-newsletters

Since we shared the info. above, we’ve come across some other very helpful and informative sites, including the following:

Digital Marketing Podcasts:

https://www.linkedin.com/company/bwg-strategy-llc/

SEO Guide For Lawyers:

https://www.camginc.com/services/seo-lawyers-personal-injury/

G4 Analytics/GA4 Analytics Info. Straight From Google:

Google Analytics Official Blog

https://blog.google/products/marketingplatform/analytics/

Google Analytics Help Center

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9164320

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Growing Your Nonprofit With A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Knowing that I and my Boston-area digital marketing agency team help clients obtain, maintain, and optimize Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, a few weeks ago a fellow digital marketing consultant asked me if I ever had a client utilize the entire $120,000 in free Google Ads search advertising available thru the Grant. While I knew generally that a few of our nonprofit (NPO) clients who offered products and services across all of the U.S. (vs. in a smaller city/town or state geography) were able to really capitalize on the free advertising $/media buy available annually via their Grant, it prompted me to both dig deeper on what % of their Grant dollars were being used, and to detail in this blog post, the various ways our marketing agency’s Google Ad Grant clients have used their search-advertising funds.

I hope that, by documenting here the types of nonprofits we’ve worked with who have obtained a Grant and successfully employed Google Nonprofit Grant monies, I might inspire other NPOs to either apply for a Google Grant, or use their Google Ads Grant differently or better to maximize it.

What Types Of Nonprofits Qualify For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Let’s start with the types of nonprofit organizations we’ve helped obtain and/or capitalize on their Google Nonprofit Ad Grant:

  • religious organizations
  • organizations that offer training programs/coaching to at-risk women/women in-transition
  • organizations serving those with special needs and/or disability
  • organizations that serve financially challenged/at-risk teens in both the U.S. and abroad
  • arts organizations
  • environmental organizations

Most non-profits who apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant will qualify for one unless they are a government agency/entity, a healthcare provider like a hospital, or an education institution (philanthropic arms of colleges and universities may qualify for a grant). We’d be glad to coach you thru the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process. The initial part is pretty simple, and starts with applying for a Google Nonprofit Account and joining Tech Soup if you haven’t done so already. But, you do need to know how to set up a campaign that effectively meets certain Google Nonprofit Ad Grant search advertising requirements, including using certain available advertising features.

Does Anyone Ever Use Their Entire Annual Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Funds?

The answer to the above is likely “yes,” or close to it. As alluded to above, the broader the geographic area in which a nonprofit offers support, services, and products, the more likely they are going to be able to employ much of the available monthly $10,000 in free paid search advertising, particularly if the volume of individuals searching on terms relevant to what the nonprofit offers is significant.

We just conducted an audit of several of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients who are able to offer all or some of their products and services across the whole U.S. All three of them sell products and services that are available for purchase by anyone in the U.S. For example, one sells mass cards to fund the great work they do; another sells curriculum and online training programs; a couple have online gift stores whose sales allow them to provide the services they do to constituents. One client will likely use 70% of their annual Google Ad Grant dollars ($120,000) by year’s end; another about one-third; and another, about one-third. It’s not easy to properly and effectively employ those large search advertising budgets, but it shows it is possible! And, of course, we’d be glad to brainstorm with you to come up with creative ideas for optimizing Grant dollars.

A Happy Google Nonprofit Ads Grant Optimizer

How Can I Use My Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Dollars?

Many of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients are using their Google Grant in a number of simultaneous ways, including the following:

  • Drive sales of products, therefore, tangible goods, such as those available in an online store/shop that fund their good work in our communities
  • Cause use of the organization’s on-site services or online/virtual services
  • Recruit volunteers for their organization
  • Through general/branding messaging, create awareness of their organization among appropriate audiences in an attempt to secure donations (keep in mind that ads specifically asking for donations aren’t effective; but letting individuals and orgs. that are interested in your cause know about you can be effective with development efforts)
  • Support attendance at paid or free events, including webinars, seminars, workshops, courses, and classes
  • Cause target audiences to visit/read/use resources/information on their site, or download information
  • Cause appropriate individuals to fundraise on the organization’s behalf/participate in the organization’s fundraiser
  • Cause target audiences to be an advocate for the organization’s cause or the general/broader cause with which the organization is associated
  • Cause other desired “conversions,” i.e., desired behaviors, such as:
    • e-mail/e-newsletter sign-up
    • podcast listening
    • visits to organization’s physical site for a variety of reasons
    • survey taking

We think Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are a well-kept secret and are often under-utilized by nonprofits — either because they don’t apply for and employ one to see if it will work for them, or they obtain one and don’t use it for the many purposes they could or should.

As an affiliate member of the MA Nonprofit Network, the team at Results C & R gets great satisfaction from helping nonprofit organizations obtain and maximize their Google Advertising Grant to support achievement of a variety of objectives. Want to learn more? Set up a complimentary time to chat today! And, check out these two additional resources:

Watch A Video About A Google Nonprofit Success Story.

Read More About The Benefits Of A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant.

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Why It Pays To Be Responsive, Particularly When It Comes To Google Search Ads

There’s little downside that we can think of to being responsive. When not used in a digital marketing context, being responsive means to “react quickly and positively.” Responsiveness, and therefore, the ability to be flexible and adapt, is usually a much-envied attribute or characteristic, whether it pertains to a person, product, or service.

While we encourage our readers to be responsive on all fronts, given the nature of our business and our blog’s following, this particular post’s intent is to address responsiveness as pertains to the world of online marketing & presence. To be responsive in the digital marketing world means to present the digital content in-question in a fashion that makes it presentable (from an appearance standpoint), logical, legible and appropriate, regardless of the device on which the information is served up or viewed.

It used to be, as recently as 15 years or so ago, that when new websites were launched, the developer and/or the owner of the site did not give as much attention to the “responsiveness” of the website, i.e., how website page content would appear when viewed on a SMART device (devices that can access the internet) such as a mobile phone or tablet. Today, any web developer worth his or her salt would never launch a website that isn’t responsive to the various devices that might access it. And, most content management systems like WIX, Weebly, WordPress, Square Space, and Joomla, are designed to ensure that sites built and launched in them are mobile-friendly.

How and Why Google Ads Supports Search Ads That Are Responsive

Another digital marketing tactic/activity that rewards and supports responsiveness is Google search advertising, and it’s this digital marketing tactic’s responsiveness that’s the focus of this blog post.

I’ve been involved with Google Ads advertising — either in corporate roles or in my role at Results Communications & Research — for an estimated 12 years or more now. During the last 12 years, Google has continuously made revisions to its advertising platform, known as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), and I expect that to continue.

In the days when I first was involved with Google Ads search advertising, the amount of information you could include in a search ad — an ad that is presented at the top or bottom of search results when an individual in an advertiser’s target geography enters relevant search terms (keywords) into Google’s search engine — was very limited. If I recall correctly, there were only three lines of text and a website URL that appeared in the ad. These short ads were “static” and advertisers knew exactly what lines of text would be presented to their target audiences, and in what order the lines would appear. While Google has enhanced this advertising opportunity to include a couple of additional lines of text via two description lines, plus various ad extensions (such as what’s known as site links that appear below ads and allow for self-triaging), even these “expanded text ads” still require advertisers to set up a large # of “static” text ads within the Google Ads Manager tool in order to test various combinations of ad headlines to see which combinations are most effective as far as generating clicks or “conversions (desired visitor website behaviors or phone calls)” goes.

In 2018, Google rolled out Responsive Search Ads or RSAs. My experience managing paid search campaigns that include RSAs is that Google rewards you from an optimization, and ultimately a cost-per-click, and even possibly an impressions (frequency of serving up ads to relevant searchers) standpoint. Due to the aforementioned, you’ll see it literally does pay to be responsive.

Responsive Search Ad Served Up on Mobile Phone

I’m a big fan of responsive search ads and tend to employ them in all Google search ad campaigns for the above-mentioned performance and budget optimization reasons, but also because it ultimately saves my agency and my client set-up time. And, as they say, “time is money.” Why go thru the cumbersome, long process of setting up a number of static text ads to address various combinations of ad headlines, when Google will create and test the effectiveness of ad headline combinations for you? And, should you choose to test a variety of description line combinations as well, Google can do that for you too.

In addition to allowing for an organization to test various ad headline and description line combinations, RSAs are referred to as “responsive,” because they respond to the real estate that’s available on the device on which the ads are being shown. Sometimes, only two headlines will be served up; sometimes three.

Another reason it pays to start employing responsive ads in your Google Search campaigns now? Google announced on 8/31/21 that, as of 6/30/22, responsive search ads will be the only type of “new” search ad that advertisers can create. And, any static/expanded text ads that were created prior to this June date will not be able to be edited. So, that’s an additional incentive to start creating and using responsive ads now. Why set yourself up now, or prior to 6/22, to not be able to edit static ads you create in the future? Plus, why not get accustomed to creating responsive ads now?

Key Inputs For Responsive Search Ads

Google will serve up two, and possibly three, of the headlines you provide, along with two of your provided description lines, each time it presents a responsive ad to an appropriate searcher.

In addition to basic campaign and ad group targeting and budget inputs like geography, demographics, daily budget, and keywords, at a minimum, advertisers need to provide Google Ads with the following responsive search ad components:

  • Up to 15 headlines (30 characters or less per headline)
  • Final URL that ad clickers will land on (landing page address)
  • Display path – this differs from the above as it does not need to be a live/active URL, but rather should display the nature of the page that an ad clicker will land on, i.e., what content they can expect to find there
    • Google automatically fills in your organization’s domain; you must fill in 15 characters or less for each of the two display path fields. A display path example based on our own site: https://allintheresults.com/services/ongoing SEO. Both “services” and “ongoing SEO” are display path fields we would provide if we were running Google Search Ads and taking ad clickers to a page about our ongoing SEO services.
  • Up to 4 description lines (90 characters or less per description line) – think of this as boilerplate language that you might include in a press release, on an “About Us” website page, or in an elevator pitch.
    • We prefer to only provide 2 description lines to Google. That way we know what two description lines are appearing with each and every ad (since Google only serves up two at a time). That means the description portion of our advertising remains constant, allowing us to test the effectiveness of various headlines/headline messaging.

As you can currently do with expanded text ads, you can also set up a number of ad extensions to provide additional information about your organization. That’s a topic for another blog post, but a capability that does exist with responsive ads.

Need help preparing for next year’s June deadline related to expanded text ads? Want to brainstorm with us about how you’d benefit from running responsive search ads. Reach out today! We always welcome a good Google search advertising discussion.

Being Found on Google, digital blueprint, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, landing page, landing pages, marketing best practices, ongoing digital audits, online advertising, online presence, paid search, pull marketing, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, staying current, target audiences, Target Marketing, website

Spring Clean Your Online Presence To Support Sales and SEO – Part II

A JOINT BLOG POST BY GAIL SNOW MORASKI AND RYAN BRUDER

Our first blog post in this two-part series focused on capitalizing on “spring cleaning” inclinations to tune-up your website and your social media presence. The purpose of this second post is to remind readers who run any kind of online ads — whether they be Google Ads (also known as search ads/search marketing), social media ads, or banner ads purchased directly from another external website — to revisit them and give them a thorough look-over if you haven’t done so in a while.

Since SEM (search engine marketing) is one of our digital marketing agency’s specialties, the focus of this piece will be on Google Ads, but many of reminders can be applied to other forms of online advertising.

Optimizing Your Google Ads (Paid SEO/SEM) To Improve Performance And Maximize Budget

Often clients will engage our SEO company to analyze either current or past Google Ads campaigns to see what they could or should be doing differently or better. Or, to assume management of existing Google Ads campaigns. Because we are data geeks, we love getting under the hood of a Google Ads account — whether it be a paid account used by a for-profit organization, or a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant account that provides qualifiying non-profit organizations with $120,000 in free annual Google search advertising.

Elements of campaigns and associated ad groups within a Google Ads account that we review related to the above engagements that you should too, as part of spring cleaning your Google Ads, include:

  1. KEYWORDS — what terms have you indicated to Google are ones for which you want your ads shown and are these all still appropriate? Are there keywords you should remove? Are there keywords you should add?
  2. SEARCH TERMS — related to the above keyword element, what search terms (actual phrases that ad clickers put into Google’s search engine) have your ads actually been presented to searchers for, and are they the right ones? The “search terms report,” accessed via the keywords section of a Google Ads ad group, allows you to see the exact terms for which your ads are being shown. Are the terms appropriate? Should some of these terms be made “negative” keywords, i.e., terms for which you don’t want your ads to be shown?
  3. RECOMMENDATIONS — as shown in the printscreen at the bottom of this elements list, Google makes regular recommendations — via a recommendations report — regarding steps you can take to “optimize” your campaign, and therefore, improve click-thru rate, and reduce your cost-per-click. Types of recommendations we see Google regularly make include: removing redundant keywords (keywords that are very similar in nature) from ad groups, adding certain types of ad extensions (such as structured snippets or call-outs), adding conversion-tracking, and using responsive search ads, along with standard text ads you already have in place. Not just as part of your spring cleaning, but each and every type you log into your Google Ads account to check on campaign performance, you should review the various recommendations, and apply the ones that you think make sense for your account.
  4. SETTINGS — settings are assigned at the campaign level and allow for you to target specific geographies and set daily budgets, as well as other specifics about your campaign. At a minimum, as part of your sprng review, you should revisit your daily budget and the geography to see if they are still appropriate to the products, services, or solutions you are promoting via your ads.
  5. AD CONTENT AND LANDING PAGES — if you haven’t checked your Google Ads campaigns in a while, you may even be running ads that land ad clickers on pages that promote either events that have already passed, such as a fundaising one, or products and services that are seasonal in nature and no longer apppropriate ones to be promoting due to the time of year. As you conduct your spring review, be sure that the products, services, and solutions are still the right ones for your organization to be promoting, regardless of whether you are paying for ad clicks, or getting them free via your Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Also, revisit what makes for an effective landing page, and consider making any appropriate tweaks to current ad landing pages.
  6. COST-PER-CLICK — as part of your review, give great thought to the cost-per-click associated with each of your active vs. paused ad groups. Does the profit you’d make from an actual sale to an ad clicker warrant the cost-per-click — therefore, what is the acquisition cost (this may be include other factors beyond the ad cost-per-click) associated with obtaining a new customer and does it make good sense from a profitability standpoint?
  7. CLICKS — this is likely stating the obvious, but if your ads aren’t generating a decent volume of clicks, therefore, visits to your website, does it make sense to continue to run certain campaigns, or certain ad groups within campaigns?

Google Ads Manager Dashboard

We know that Google Ads advertising, and other forms of online advertising, can be complex and confusing. If you are concerned that your campaigns aren’t set up right to maximize clicks, conversions (ad clickers taking desired actions on your website), and your advertising budget, reach out to us for a complimentary discussion or for us to undertake online advertising spring cleaning on your behalf.

digital marketing agency, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, marketing best practices, Marketing Planning, online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, pull marketing, push marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, strategic planning, technical SEO, website

SEM and SEO: Understanding the Difference and When to Employ Each Digital Marketing Tactic

As the owner of a digital marketing agency whose primary focus is to serve as an SEO company (a firm that helps organizations be found on Google and rank as high as possible in search engine results listings for desirable terms in appropriate geographies), I have a great passion for helping both for-profits and non-profits determine when they need to employ SEO tactics, when they need to employ SEM tactics, and when they need to employ both.

What Is SEO?

So what is SEO? SEO is the acronym for “search engine optimization.” In general, when someone employs the term SEO, they are referring to non-paid-advertising tactics that are executed to support a listing with a link to an organization’s website appearing on the first two pages of Google or other search engine results for search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems that their organization offers. Sometimes, SEO will be modified by the terms “organic” or “technical” to indicate a large variety and number of tactics that can be implemented to support an organization ranking well “organically” in search engine results. These include, but are not limited to:

  • incorporation of high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags, known as meta tags
  • establishment of a Google My Business profile to support ranking well in “local search”
  • saving image/photos with file names relevant to an organization’s products, services and solutions that Google or other search engines can crawl/index

While SEO does not involve paying for advertising, there are manpower costs related to implementing one-time and ongoing organic/technical tactics, and depending on your organization’s staffing level and digital marketing expertise, you may need to hire an SEO agency, such as Results Communications & Research.

What Is SEM?

SEM is the acronym for “search engine marketing” and refers to ads such as the one below that appear in the top or bottom four spots on a search engine results listing page, in Google Shopping Ads, or on other Google properties or marketing opportunities. Sometimes, you’ll hear the following terms used in lieu of SEM:

  • paid search
  • paid SEO
  • online advertising
  • search advertising
  • Google Ads or Google Search Ads (this is advertising bought related to ranking well specifically in Google’s search engine for relevant terms; you can also purchase such ads from Bing and Yahoo)
  • search text ads
  • text ads
  • PPC (pay-per-click) advertising

Organizations often employ search ads/paid search when:

  • They are in a very competitive environment, i.e., other organizations are running paid ads – causing up to four ads to appear in search engine results for desirable terms before organic search/unpaid results listings
  • They’ve only recently implemented tactics on their entire website or on a specific page of their site to rank well organically for relevant terms, and can’t wait for such tactics to impact ranking results
  • Their website or specific site pages aren’t optimized to rank well in search engine results
  • Competitor sites or other pages of an organization’s own website rank above the site page that an organization wishes to rank well for certain terms

Are There Times When It Doesn’t Make Sense To Invest In SEO or SEM?

In general, implementing technical/organic SEO tactics is a best practice. That said, the only way to know if an organization’s target audiences are actively searching to identify someone offering the services, products, and solutions that the organization offers is to conduct keyword research.

If keyword research reveals that, at least for the time-being, individuals are NOT conducting searches, relevant to an organization, then less time and money should be spent in optimizing a website to rank well organically in search results. And, it wouldn’t make any sense to invest in paid search advertising/SEM since there wouldn’t be many appropriate searchers to whom to serve up ads. In the aforementioned case, you’ll want to employ marketing tactics, such as Google Display advertising or social media advertising where you put the idea in target audiences’ heads vs. waiting for them to search for someone like you. We discussed this aforementioned strategy of creating awareness of the benefits and features of a particular product, service, or solution, known as push marketing, in our blog post “Why Keyword Research Informs So Much More Than SEO.”

As Greater Boston SEO experts, we are always here to help you identify whether SEO, SEM, or both, are the right marketing tactics for your particular organization. We assist clients in making these decisions regularly, so that they maximize marketing budgets, as well as internal marketing team’s time. And, while we never guarantee results since there are so many variables at play, we’ve helped clients, throughout the U.S., who’ve engaged our SEO agency for SEO services, appear in the top two pages of Google Search results for certain terms — when they previously hadn’t — or move from page 1 to page 2 through both SEO and SEM tactics. So, please reach out for a complimentary discussion if you need help capitalizing on SEO and SEM opportunities.

COVID-19 marketing, fundraising/development, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, landing page, online advertising, paid search, pandemic marketing, Post-COVID-19 Marketing, pull marketing, sales, SEM, Uncategorized

Should You Be Running Google Ads Search Advertising During Our Pandemic?

The answer to the headline above is “it all depends.”

Based on the current Google Ads campaigns I’m running for clients, it appears that average cost-per-clicks, in general, have decreased a fair amount during our pandemic. That means the price an advertiser will pay each time someone clicks on their ad and arrives at their website landing page is less than what it would have been pre-pandemic. So, who should be investing in Google Ads (also known as paid search, pay-per-click (PPC), or search engine marketing (SEM)) right now?

Organizations Should Be Investing In Google Ads Right Now If:

  1. non-extravagant consumer goods products that can be shipped/delivered
  2. moderately priced services that can be accessed virtually/online, such as the ability to take a class or be coached virtually
  3. services and products that are a necessity, despite their cost. Examples of this would be services to repair a plumbing issue or a leaky roof or a new washing machine to replace one that broke
  • you offer a product or service that has a lengthy sales lead time, i.e., target audiences — whether they be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) — tend to conduct a lot of research and take a number of weeks or months to make a decision to make a purchase of said product or service. Many individuals have more free time on their hands right now because of freed-up work commuting time and a significantly reduced number of social engagements. So, if they have a large future purchase in mind, it’s highly likely they are gathering information related to their probable purchase now. Examples of purchases with long lead time could be project management software or systems to be used by an employer or elective surgery to replace a hip.
  • you’re a nonprofit seeking donations to support your efforts to adapt or continue to offer services during COVID-19. Whether you have a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant under which you can execute such advertising, or you’ll need to pay for your own advertising, with the lower average cost-per-click we’re witnessing, Google Ads may be a very cost-effective fundraising tactic.

Be forewarned that the price of Google Ads and other forms of pay-per-click advertising, such as social media advertising, is expected to rise again — and perhaps rapidly — post-pandemic because of pent-up demand by organizations to promote their products or services. That’s why if you meet one of the requirements above and you’ve always wanted to test the “paid search” waters but believed the media (advertising buy) cost would be prohibitive, you might want to consider implementing a Google Ads campaign as soon as possible vs. waiting until things seem back to normal (or as close to normal as is achievable in 2020).

Need Help With SEO or SEM (Google Ads) Or Applying For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant? Our SEO Experts Are Here To Help!

We are trying to “give back” as much as possible during these challenging times. We are glad to help any non-profit organization apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant for free. We’re also offering the following special. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your pandemic or post-pandemic marketing challenges and opportunities. It’s never to early to start planning!

Being Found on Google, fundraising/development, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, landing page, landing pages, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, target audiences, website

Capitalizing on Now-Even-More-Effective Free Advertising From Google

I considered titling this piece, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Recent Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Changes”, but ultimately, I believe the revisions will cause non-profit Grant recipients to achieve better ad campaign results. So, really, it’s all good.

If you’re not familiar with the Grant Program, whether you’re responsible for creating awareness or causing service use among populations you serve – or for growing donations or volunteers – you may be missing out on a free, extremely-effective means of accomplishing these objectives. Incredibly, Google awards non-profit organizations world-wide, who meet its eligibility requirements, with $120,000 in FREE annual Google Adwords (now known as Google Ads) “search” advertising. And, the advertising Grant is indefinite and simply requires recipients to complete an annual survey.

Based on my own and other marketing experts’ experiences, Grants ARE being regularly awarded to eligible non-profits who follow the slightly complex application procedures – Grants aren’t unicorns or pipedreams! You can learn more about minimum eligibility requirements at https://www.google.com/grants/.

The type of advertising awarded is “text” vs. “image.”  Ads appear at the top or bottom of Google search engine results pages when an individual enters terms relevant to a non-profit’s services and mission in the search engine. In the case below, ads are being presented to searchers entering terms such as “help coping with sudden illness.”

Ad Grants sample ad

HOW YOU’LL BENEFIT FROM 2018 GOOGLE NONPROFIT AD GRANT PROGRAM CHANGES

While the $ amount associated with the annual advertising budget awarded remains the same, Google made a significant policy change to make 2018 Grants more valuable. With Google AdWords, advertisers bid against each other to have their text ads shown for terms they believe their audiences will be searching on, known as “keywords.” Grant recipients used to be restricted by how much they could bid to have their ads shown for desirable keywords, which often meant that for-profit or non-profit organizations with deeper financial pockets had their ads shown far more frequently than Grant recipients’. The great news is that the cap has been removed related to how much a non-profit can bid, using their free advertising $ pool.

WHY YOU’LL NEED AN IN-HOUSE OR EXTERNAL GOOGLE ADS EXPERT

While Google has made it easier for non-profits to have their ads shown more often to appropriate “searchers”, to take advantage of this opportunity, Grant recipients now must:

  • Achieve a minimum of a 5% click-thru rate on their ads, i.e., at least 5% of the individuals to whom a Grant recipient presents ads must click on the ad to land on the recipient’s website.
  • Use more advanced AdWords features and results tracking, such as “site links” (links that appear below ad copy that reference and point to unique Grant recipient website pages) and conversion tracking that tallies when desired outcomes, such as clicking on a certain link within a page, occurs.
  • Complete additional Grant application steps, such as registering with TechSoup.

Why Does Maximizing Your Grant Require A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Expert?

Awardees must have a staff member or engage a marketing consultant who:

  • knows the “ins and outs” of Google AdWords (now known as Google Ads) and how to employ and optimize advanced features and tracking
  • can both interpret the Grant application process and has the capacity to deal with some of the hiccups that will likely occur

As alluded to in my intro, despite recent Grant changes, I believe using expert staff or consultant time to apply for and maintain a Grant will still render a very positive ROI. Given that ad click-thru costs often range from $0.30 – $5.00, a $120,000 budget goes a long way toward creating awareness or causing other desired outcomes such as service use, and event ticket sales. Thus, ongoing, annual financial benefits should far outweigh the costs associated with obtaining and effectively employing a Grant.