It’s all about the Millennials. Travel and hospitality businesses – go about doing what you are doing, keeping in mind the millennials. They are the money makers. They are the ones you need to keep happy.

Tourism Marketing

Keeping up with our industry-specific content, here are four factors that I think can easily be implemented in your tourism marketing process and can boost online presence for travel and hospitality businesses.

Before starting off with this post, I did a bit of research. I noticed that all the articles, posts, documentation I came across pertaining to the trends of tourism marketing had one thing in common – they all talked about the millennials, and rightly so. Not that you can’t focus on the other age groups, but they are the ones who make the most amount of money and are willing to splurge whenever the need arises. Taking advantage of this would be awesome (don’t get me wrong, I’m only talking from the perspective of travel and tourism marketing).

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Tourism Marketing Tip #1: All things mobile

Mobile-responsive website.

The first thing that comes to my mind is getting a mobile-responsive website. If you follow the LeadSquared blog, you would have noticed the number of times we have stressed on the increasing usage of mobile devices for marketing, shopping, online transactions, and so on. You may not be aware of it but if you are generating traffic through mobile devices and your website is not responsive, you are probably losing a lot of leads. Why? Because the interface is not user-friendly and that impacts user experience. This is what you need:

                                         Website on desktop                                     Website for mobile

tourism marketing

According to this report from Think with Google as of March 2015, travel and hospitality queries searched on mobile devices have increased and are continuing to do so rapidly. Another report suggests that leisure travellers are more likely to make travel bookings on their mobile device while business travellers are more likely to book via mobile app (more about that below).

Mobile app.

Getting a mobile app would also make a difference since ‘a lot’ of people are now relying on their phones to get things done. Go-Globe’s report on mobile app usage indicates that mobile apps now account for more than half (52%) of all the time spent on online digital media! Here’s another statistic from comScore:

tourism marketing

With so many travel and hospitality apps already available, travel and adventure buffs are now more like to directly go to their favourite travel app rather than search on Google to see what their options are. This is primarily because they are more familiar with the interface and are expecting to hit upon exclusive discounts.

Using mobile phones to check-in to hotels has also been rising in the West, but not as much in India just yet. But honestly, it’s only a matter of time until it is seen in India as well.

Key: User experience

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Tourism Marketing Tip #2: Social media strategies

Now I’m sure you know how effective Facebook and Twitter can be B2C businesses. Travel and hospitality businesses can really take advantage of such platforms. In fact, I think travel-hospitality, health-wellness, ecommerce and food chains, are the ones who benefit the most as they can not only generate traffic through paid channels but also through organic means (more than most other businesses). Having said that, I’m sure most of you would already have a Facebook account. How about Twitter? Did you know that Twitter has started running ads in India as well. Sorted then?

These are a few things you could try to get going:

Latch onto trending topics and using #hastags wherever possible.

I have a couple of examples to support my statement. And I’m not saying it always works but unless you try, you’ll never know.

  1. You can’t talk about a successful hashtag campaign on Twitter for tourism marketing without talking about Travelocity’s #iWannaGo campaign. Some of you may already be familiar with this but for those of you who aren’t, take a look at this coverage of the campaign by Social Media Examiner.
tourism marketing

2. Expedia is also going great guns with the hashtag. Every Wednesday, Expedia holds a Twitter chat using the hashtag #ExpediaChat wherein travel buffs share their bucket list of holiday wishes using that hashtag. Expedia reciprocates this ‘hub of consumer knowledge’ with awesome holiday giveaways. Going slightly off the topic but having regular Twitter chats is also a great way to build a community :)

You could also take advantage of seasons, holidays and festivals. Indians reading this would know that in this country, there is no dearth of festivals. One comes along every few weeks (Eg. #DiwaliDhamaka)

Make the most of images.

Travel and hospitality businesses can actually take advantage of this unlike most B2B and some B2Cs. You can:

  • Hold photo contests and give out prizes/giveaways.
  • Ask visitors to share wacky/cool photos of themselves in different destinations and whoever wins, gets a special offer.
  • Get them to guess the location of a photograph within a limited period of time.
  • Share picturesque photos of holiday destinations, to grab the viewer’s attention.

Brands such as Expedia, Travelocity and Airbnb have really used this medium optimally to drive traffic and generate leads using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Those familiar with the term #ThrowbackThursday would know that it is all about sharing an image from yester years. Expedia modified this and used it beautifully:

tourism marketing

Whatever you do, the end result should be fostering engagement. No matter how many posts you post or images you share, if it fails to engage, you need to rethink your tourism marketing strategy.

Video Ads/Content.

Imagine watching a thrilling 15-second high-quality video of someone paragliding or scuba diving; doesn’t that make you want to go do that? Yes, if you are an adventure buff. And, if you are the calm and reflective kind, maybe the beaches of Bali can lure you in?

In case you have noticed, for the past couple of days, Facebook has been showing mostly videos – that’s because Facebook has recently made the video ads CPV. More about that, here: Facebook Lead Gen Tactics for the Smart Marketer.

Still not convinced? Well, let me tell you that a study by Think with Google has revealed that travellers:

tourism marketing

Check out this video advertisement of the mobile app by Marriot Hotels. It practically summarizes the purpose of my post to a great extent – not directly but you’ll see what I mean.

Instagram.

Instagram is growing in India and fast. There are tons of other photo-sharing apps available but at the moment, in the Indian context, Instagram is among the more popular ones. It’s free and engaging. An image or two a day can do no harm.

The ‘roaminggnome‘ generates new followers every day with its Instagram posts and relevant hashtags. So can you!

Here’s another example:

“The marketing folks at Tourism Montreal wanted to go beyond beautiful skyline images in order to showcase unique moments that define the city and its local residents. Thus, the #MTLmoments campaign was born.”

Over 27,000 pictures were taken and it is said to have contributed to an increase in 15% web traffic. Isn’t this inspiring or what?

Key: Engagement

(I have also realized that most of these campaigns tried to emit one common feeling, nostalgia. Maybe that’s something you should keep in mind for travel and tourism marketing).

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Tourism Marketing Tip #3: Content is King

So I have deliberately chosen those words knowing they may have been used multiple times in the past. But without it, generating organic traffic would not be very easy considering there are innumerable travel and hospitality websites to choose from. You need something that separates you from the rest.

Also, it is highly likely that your competitor would also be having a mobile app, mobile-responsive website, running ads on social media, engaging with prospects through contests, quizzes, marketing offers and so on. But content is original, individual and separates the wheat from the chaff.

High-quality engaging posts can seriously increase traffic to your blog and then to your website. Maybe instead of writing about the 7 things you should do/see in Thailand, why not talk about the 7 things you shouldn’t…? I admit, I am not from the travel and hospitality industry so maybe I am speaking a bit out of turn, but from all the stuff I have seen online, it’s all about what you should do, not what you shouldn’t. So maybe you could give that a thought?

This is relevant for both travel and hospitality since they both involve a specific location, and that is what you need to take advantage of.

For travel and tourism marketing content ideas, can get started here: 10 Content Marketing Ideas for Travel and Tour Businesses

Key: Originality

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Tourism Marketing Tip #4: Online Review Portals

Like it or not, today more and more people are relying heavily on what their fellow travel enthusiasts have to say about the place, the hotel, the food and so on. This is especially important for those in the hospitality business. Look at literally every other third-party portal for travel and hospitality, they all have review sections.

Get listed on sites like TripAdvisor, MakeMyTrip, Agoda, ClearTrip, HolidayIQ, Justdial, IndiaCom, TravelGuru, Yatra, FourSquare and so on and make sure that you have at least a couple of reviews in most of these portals, if not all. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure that the information, the contact details, the pictures across all the portals are uniform.

Moving onto reviews, according to a report by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration:

  • If a hotel has negative comments, the probability of visitors booking that hotel is about 2 out of 5.
  • When they see a positive review, the likelihood of them making a booking is 3.5 to 4 out of 5.

So get your happy customers to review you on travel and hospitality portals! Even if you can’t get them to write reviews, at least have some sort of mechanism in place to get them to rate or like/dislike you and share it on your website. You can do this by –

  • Sending a short email, where they can be redirected to a short survey about their trip, upon clicking the CTA, or
  • Sending an SMS, asking how it was with two options saying Y for yes and N for no.

Key: Good Customer Experience

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I hope you can implement these four methods into your travel and tourism marketing process and I do hope they actually make a difference to your online presence. For further reading/reference, you could take a look at how mobile consumers search for travel and this awesome Minimalist Guide to Hospitality Marketing. Do you know of any other that you’d like to share?

Marketing automation software can help sales teamAmit was having an exceptionally bad day. No lead seemed interested in his product, despite calling dozens of them. He had been a sales guy for over 3 years, he knew that he wasn’t giving them a wrong pitch – the leads, just weren’t right.

Exactly one floor above, Namrata – the marketing head wasn’t doing much better. Despite the sales team working diligently, the most promising inbound leads did not convert and their revenue was taking a hit. 

At the end of everyday, Namrata creates an excel sheet with all the inbound leads who have come in that day. It is typically a long list – for there are leads from their PPC campaigns, social media and also direct phone enquiries. She forwards it to the sales head for them to work on.

Without a marketing automation software, the process is long-winding and hardThis list gets divided among the sales people (maybe according to lead’s geography) and they get to work – reaching out to the leads and understanding why they contacted their company in the first place. That was how Amit got his lead list – a bunch of names, with contact information from a particular area,  who had shown an interest in their services.  At first glance this process seems alright, in fact a lot of companies follow it (including yours?). However, it is because of this process that Amit and Namrata are having a problem.

Problem 1. Whom to call?

Amit’s problem is a matter of Lead Qualification. All the leads from a particular location are assigned to him, without checking whether they are really interested in buying. The lead might just be interested in the the new e-book the marketing team created, or could just be enquiring for a friend. In short, the lead is just not ready to buy (yet) and obviously a dozen phone calls from Amit cannot make him. In fact, Amit will just become a pesky sales guy who irritates the lead (no wonder he is having a bad day).

Problem 2. Of the ‘good’ leads, whom to call first?

Namrata’s problem is that she has no way to prioritize leads before she hands them over to sales. She has a list of generated leads, but no insights into their behavior. Result – She passes the leads along, but sales people have no idea whom to call first. If lead A submits an enquiry on the pricing page, well he has a buying intent. However, if Lead B submits an enquiry on pricing and spends a lot more time browsing the other website pages, he is a little more interested than Lead A. Amit should be calling Lead B first.

But, since their process is manual, they cannot make that distinction. Their present form of lead capture tells them that both lead A and B are equally interested, as it cannot track the website activity of the leads beyond the first touch point. By the time Amit calls Lead B, either he would no longer be interested, or worse, he would have been wooed by the competition.

Solution – Marketing Automation Software

Both these problems can be solved with Marketing automation software. Yes – Marketing automation, despite the name (or maybe because of it) can impact sales! In fact 77% of CMOs at top performing companies indicate their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to drive up revenue.

How can Marketing Automation Software improve Sales ROI?

Namrata’s and Amit’s problem, though critical is still only a part of the whole picture. The major factor is that the customer’s buying journey has changed. He connects with you through multiple channels, researches you online, compares you against competition and forms his own opinions before coming to you. Actually, 60% of his mind is made up before talking to the sales guy. So, if Amit wants a shot at closing the deal, he needs to be aware of all these interactions before making the first call. Here is where a marketing automation software can help! It impacts the whole process in 5 essential ways that helps the sales team close more deals.

1. Organizing the captured leads

Namrata’s team collates leads from multiple channels (like social media, third-party sites and so on) with minimum tools.

A Marketing Automation Software can help organize lead captureThey manually gather the leads from every source and pass them on to the sales team to work on. Not only is this time consuming, but it is also terribly error prone. Regardless of how well they try, the sales team will have to wait at least 24 hours before contacting the leads. Worse, if some leads get lost during the collation process, the sales team won’t reach out to them at all!

A lot of companies follow this exact same procedure (maybe even yours?). However, there is a simpler way to do it. With a marketing automation software, lead capture is more organized. The leads who come in through marketing efforts are automatically updated in a single platform, without intervention. That means, Namrata does not have to spend time collating the leads. Also, Amit’s team doesn’t have to wait for the leads to reach them – they can get to contacting the leads immediately.

Not only does it save both teams a lot of time and effort, it also ensures that each lead that comes in is recorded without fail! So you can be sure that your sales team reaches every lead captured, without missing a single opportunity – a definite win all around.

2. Identify whom to call & whom to call first

Once the leads enter the sales cycle, they consume valuable bandwidth. Amit has to spend ages following up with them and understanding their requirement.  However, not all leads that come in are ready to buy. Which is why, Amit’s leads were not interested in his calls. But while Amit was talking to them, the leads that might have had a good chance of conversion were not contacted (no prioritization), and the opportunity slipped through their fingers.

Great news – with marketing automation, this problem can be avoided! Lead Score and Engagement Score – two metrics that quantify each lead’s buying intent. The higher the scores, the more involved that lead  is with the business and should be called first.

Marketing Automation software helps identify hot leads

The leads who have a low score can be put in a nurturing cycle by the system, till they seem sufficiently interested. By the end of they cycle or, even during the nurturing cycle, if they reach a particular score that shows their interest, they can be automatically assigned to the sales team.

Now, sales doesn’t have to waste a lot of time in qualification, and can just prioritize follow-ups without wasting time in chasing the wrong leads.

3. Understand lead requirement

Their sales team is smart. Two minutes after talking to leads, Amit and his colleagues have an idea of what the prospect wants and start selling.  The problem is that not everyone has the same requirement, and they struggle to keep track of it all (excel sheets really don’t cut it anymore).

With a Marketing Automation Software, the sales team’s approach to selling changes. Amit will have a complete view of the lead’s interaction with the website – what he has downloaded, which page he has visited and so on. He can track the lead behavior and thus have a rudimentary understanding of the lead requirement.

Marketing Automation software can help you understand lead intent

So when he makes that first phone call, Amit can make a customized pitch instead of shooting in the dark. At the very least, he will have a basic idea of what the lead expects and be able to make a good first impression. (See this article from the Content Marketing Institiute that tells you a little more on understanding audience insights).

Now, will that not considerably increase the chances of making a sale?! *Grinning* Yes, I thought so too!

4. Reduce response time

I recently signed up at a local gym and requested a call back to ‘know more’. I don’t know what I could have known more about them – because I never got that call (well, perhaps now I know that they don’t follow-up all that well).

On the other hand, at another  fitness center, I got a call within 5 minutes of me signing up! The executive fixed up an appointment with  a trainer the very same day and even offered a 10% discount.

Want to guess where I joined? The latter of course!

Response time makes a huge first impression. The faster you reach out once the lead comes in, the better your chances of impressing the prospect and higher the chances of closing the deal. I know it, you know it and even Amit knows it. But, in practice, it fails due to two reasons:

  • Man-power crunch: You might not have enough man-power to focus only on incoming leads
  • Process delays: Once the lead is in, it is analyzed and then assigned to a particular sales person to contact, which could take quite a lot of time

With Marketing automation, both these problems can be solved.

Marketing Automation software reduces response timeOnce the lead signs up, a personalized automated response can be instantly sent to him.

Another way is to send notifications to Amit himself. If Amit knew every time a particular lead was assigned to him – or that a lead has filled an enquiry form, he could connect with them faster and gain an edge in closing the deal. To make it even simpler, a task can be automatically created for Amit, at a particular time so that the opportunity is not forgotten.

5. Increase cross-selling or up-selling 

It’s not just new leads that generate revenue. Jack, who’s a paying customer, can choose to move to a higher plan, Johnny may think that he wants to get two flats from you and not just one, or perhaps, Jill decides that she is interested in a Creative Writing course in addition to Literature.

Regardless, the potential of an existing customer to buy from you again is extremely high. In fact, for small businesses in the FMCG market, repeat customers are the golden geese.

The catch is (of course there is a catch!) that these customers won’t automatically buy from Amit every time he calls. They need to be nurtured, developed a relationship with, before they trust him enough to buy from him again.

And how can such a relationship be built? Why, with regular, value adding emails of course! Are exams nearing? Amit can send an email to all his students with exam tips. Holiday season? He can send them season’s greetings. A huge festival coming up? Give them more reason to celebrate by sending great offers. Here is a great example of such an email I got:

Marketing automation software helps in customer engagement

It is personalized, direct and is sent at time when the content is highly relevant. With marketing automation, such dedicated nurturing is easy. Using a CRM + Marketing automation tool makes effective personalization possible.  Drip campaigns and email campaigns can take care of the clients without Amit having to spend additional man hours on this. And regular nurturing means happy customers who are ready to invest more!

Take Away

Sometimes, opportunities slip, not because sales and marketing aren’t doing their jobs properly. It could be because they lack the insights necessary to close the deal. Every lead connects with you across multiple platforms and expects the sales guy (and the business) to be aware of that.

To keep up, the marketing and sales teams need to work together. Amit and his colleagues will need every bit of information about the lead that Namrata’s team can provide. Otherwise, they won’t be able to make a good first impression. The traditional sales funnel is broken because it does not enable communication between the teams – bridging this gap is important. That is where a marketing automation software can help, not just the marketing team, but also sales.

Marketing Automation Software improves sales cycleIt helps the entire process by plugging the leaks in the system, aligning sales and marketing and thereby improving ROI. That does not mean that once you invest in it, you will find an immediate jump in sales. You will just see that your team is able to better interact with the clients and better cater to their requirements. The Amits and Namratas of your office will be able to focus on improving the customer journey, rather than running around in circles. (Just so you know, we use LeadSquared marketing automation software to help our teams improve their productivity and work together – and they are very happy!)

And if you are still not convinced, David Neild gives you 7 more reasons for you to use marketing automation software.

P.S. If you are you planning on investing in one, then Check out the basic elements you need in your software before making the purchase decision. Also, drop me a line in the comments section about how you will use your marketing automation software. I am human, not a robot. Will love to hear from you.

Lead Qualification - Sales marketing gap Does this ever happen between your sales and marketing teams?

Marketers spend a lot of time, effort and money to create compelling campaigns, optimize them to generate leads, set auto-responders and alerts to connect with them promptly, before finally delivering the leads to the sales team. Many sales people do not even know these terms, but they very well know their targets and when they don’t meet them, they often complain about the quality of leads. The leads never seem to close and most of the times, the argument is – the leads were not good.

Marketing team either doesn’t like it or they don’t care. They are busy running ads and writing content to attract, capture and engage leads, more leads. Leads are everything. That’s what bridges marketing and sales after all. There’s a gaping hole in this bridge though. It makes the sales team complain about lead quality and marketing team annoyed with missed follow-ups for their hard earned leads. That hole is the absence of lead qualification, which if filled can ensure better alliance between the two powerhouses of your business – sales and marketing.

Lead Qualification : A lesson finally learnt

Lead Qualification is the process where the leads are checked to identify if they are really interested in your business or not, before being forwarded to the sales team. These qualified leads are also called sales ready leads.

At LeadSquared, we generate thousands of leads per month, from all sources combined. There leads can broadly be categorized in these four categories :

  1. Invalid – wrong email id, phone number
  2. Not interested – no requirement
  3. Partly Interested – the maybe(s)
  4. Interested – ready to buy

Not very long ago, the leads were assigned to pre-sales team for qualification and initial conversation. Once qualified, they were forwarded to sales. The “not interested” leads were given back to marketing for nurturing and invalid leads were dumped. The customer acquisition cycle looked something like this :

Lead Qualification infographicThe pre-sales team focused qualifying new leads and following up with the older ones, which caused two major concerns :

Pre-Sales bandwidth – Around one-third of all the new leads fell into Invalid/not interested category. Pre-sales team contacting them for qualification required a lot of time and effort.

Less time for outbound efforts – There was very little/no time left for outbound. Outbound lead generation presents a key revenue opportunity, which we were missing on.

In 2016-mid, we reinvented our process by introducing a lead quality check between pre-sales and sales. The process translated to something like this:

Lead Qualification Process

  • Invalid leads were directly dumped by the Lead Qualification team
  • Not interested leads were given back to the marketing team for nurturing
  • Partly interested leads were  given to the pre-sales team
  • Interested leads were directly given to the sales team

This change was happily accepted by all the teams because everyone had more clarity on what exactly they needed to do. We found that it eventually had a positive impact on the revenue because of:

1. More time for outbound lead generation

Pre-Sales team now had more time to focus on outbound calls. In a business like ours, we can’t ignore it. The ticket size in outbound was more and they did not need a qualification, unlike the inbound leads.

2. Better allocation of resources

Every one has a different skill set. The skill of lead qualification team is to pass and fail the lead quickly, sometimes based on instincts. However the art of the pre-sales representative is to communicate. That’s what they do best. Adding a qualification layer ensured better allocation of resources.

3. Better followups

With the introduction of the lead qualification team, the new leads were quickly checked (accepted or rejected) which meant the most serious leads went to sales team faster. On the other hand the pre-sales team could spend more time on the old leads to make them sales ready.

Marketing team’s role in lead qualification

Although lead generation and lead management strategies change with every industry and business type – B2C or B2B, nobody wants junk leads. Some level of lead qualification should always be implemented, even for B2C businesses, whether you are buying a list or running ads. It is not just the lead qualification team’s responsibility to filter out the unwanted. Marketing team can also contribute to lead qualification by :

1. Right targeting

If your marketing team is targeting the wrong audience, no matter how hard your qualification or pre-sales teams work, it just won’t cut it. The lead qualification team should help marketers understand which kind of leads are turning into deals, which industries are they from? What are their demographics? This information is a goldmine for marketers because it helps them:

  • Run ads on the most relevant keywords or concepts
  • Write right content to engage that kind of audience
  • Create help resources for that very persona

This is only possible if there is constant feedback from qualification team to marketing team. But, you have to remember, if the targeting is tight, the lead volume goes down. Marketing team should never be afraid of that. The correct metric to measure the marketing’s lead generation success should be qualified leads, not just the number of leads. Check out this very entertaining adwords post which explains this further.

2. Tightening the lead generation process

Form designIn my last post, I emphasized on reducing the number of form fields to increase conversions. I’ll contradict myself today – keep as many fields as possible to qualify leads right at the onset. Don’t get me wrong; I still stick by the idea that you shouldn’t put unnecessary fields on the form, but don’t remove the important, qualifying fields only to increase conversions. As discussed above, generating more leads isn’t necessarily the best thing. Maintain a delicate balance between too many (too difficult to annoy) and too less (too easy to fill just like that).

Email/ Phone validators – These validators will check the authenticity of the phone numbers or email address and will not let the visitor fill up the form with incorrect entries. This the first sign of a possibly junk lead. Have validators in your form to get rid of the spammy submissions.

Ask what they want – At the time of submitting the form, you should always ask your leads what they are looking for and what they perceive from your ad? One, this information is really useful in predicting the quality of the lead. Two, it helps you tweak your ad in a way that visitors will understand. Check out the landing page that appears when someone signs up for a LeadSquared’s free trial.

Lead Qualification - Thank you page exampleSurprisingly, this page’s conversion rate is 70% which is pretty good. If you ask, you’ll get a response. These responses help marketing and sales teams understand the requirements of the lead, and helps the qualification team check the seriousness of the buyer.

3. Using a lead management system

Some CRM and Lead Management systems like LeadSquared give a score to each lead based on the chances of their closure. This scoring is called Quality Scoring. Quality score can be set by the business on the basis of their ideal buyer persona. Let’s take an example :

Lead Qualification - Quality Score IllustrationQuality score makes it evident that Jim needs to be chased first. This helps the lead qualification team prioritize their tasks and reach out to the most serious lead first. Although quality and lead scoring helps a user understand the seriousness and the intent of the buyer to some extent, it can never fully replace the human interaction. That being said, it saves a lot of time and energy if set properly.

In the end

Sales and marketing are very different from each other but they strive for a common goal – generating more revenue. A lead qualification process will help sales by giving them more time for followups and outbound calls, and will help marketing with data driven feedback to tweak their campaigns accordingly, hence bridging the gap between the two.

What do you think? How are your currently qualifying your leads? Let’s talk in comments.

How to increase CTR in Google Adwords

A few months ago, we conducted a webinar on Google Adwords. After the session, questions poured in. Among all the questions about keyword match types, conversion rates and campaign structure, there was one question that kept appearing – how to increase CTR in Google Adwords?

It’s a fair question, but before we get to that, there’s one thing we need to understand. Optimizing your ads to get the highest CTR should not be the starting point of your PPC campaign optimization. You should start with the aim of getting high quality impressions, because with junk impressions, your clicks and leads would be junk too. (You can read this very entertaining Google Adwords guide to understand how you can get the best impressions for your ads.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you how we at LeadSquared figured out how to get a high click-through rate in Adwords. These tips would help you increase your Adwords CTR too.

First, what factors help increase CTR in Adwords?

There is one thing important for giving you a good ad CTR – your ad position. The ad position depends on a mix of things:

  • the search term – keyword relevance.
  • your keyword – ad copy relevance.
  • your bid
  • your quality score
  • the landing page experience.

If you consistently want a good CTR, you really need to take care of this mix. However, there are a few straightforward things, which can help you optimize the above factors to some extent, and that’s what I am going to discuss today.

1. Add the keyword to your ad headline instead of body

This increases the ad copy’s relevance to the keyword, which in turn helps improve the position, and motivates the searcher to click. Here’s an example:

Increase CTR by using keyword in headline

While running ads for LeadSquared, we tested two simple ad copies – identical content, but the position of the keyword switched. The Ad A had the keyword in the body copy and Ad B had the keyword in the headline.

Both ads were in the same ad group. The Ad A received 1.12% CTR and the Ad B received 3.74% CTR.

Result: By using the keyword in the headline itself and not in the sub headline of the ad copy, our CTR increased by 233.9%.

how to increase CTR in google adwords by using keyword in the headline

2. Using DKI (Dynamic keyword Insertion) in your Ad copy

If you don’t know what Dynamic Keyword Insertion is, this is how it works.

Suppose you have so many keywords in your ad group “red shoes”, “leather shoes”, “formal shoes” etc. and your ad copy has the DKI code –> Buy {KeyWord:Shoes}. Now, if someone searches for “red color leather shoes”, then Google would replace the code with this keyword, i.e, your ad would appear like this –> Buy Leather Shoes. This makes sure that your ad is very relevant to the search query, thereby increasing the quality score, and ultimately the Adwords CTR. (If you need help, this tutorial would help you get started with DKI.)

It can be used in any part of your ad copy – headline, sub headline or the display URL. We tested two variations of our ads again – one without DKI, and one with DKI in the headline of the ad copy.

how to increase ctr in google adwords by using DKI in the headline

Result: Adding DKI helped us increase CTR by 68.34%. 

Best Practices of Using DKI

  1. Make sure you don’t have misspelled keywords.
  2. Make sure you aren’t bidding on your competitor’s brand name. (you aren’t supposed to use competitors’ brand name in your ad copy).
  3. Don’t use DKI in broad matched keywords.
  4. Don’t put the code in the wrong format.

3. Ask questions in the ad copy 

When we structured the ad in a question format, our CTR increased by 55%.

Increase CTR by asking questions in the ad copy

Another seemingly trivial, but very important tip is to use simple words in the ad copy, which the searcher relates to.

4. Increase bid, optimize ad, reduce bid

It’s quite obvious that the ads appearing on top tend to receive more clicks than the ads towards the bottom. Start by increasing your bids to capture the top position. Follow this up by optimizing your campaigns properly. To optimize your campaigns, once again these are the important factors:

  • Search term + Ad relevance
  • Ad + Landing Page Relevance
  • Landing Page Experience

Once your ads are properly optimized, and start receiving clicks, you can decrease the bids. You don’t need to waste money unnecessarily.

Higher search positions helps increase CTR of your ad

5. Use Ad Extensions

Extensions give larger display area to your ad, thereby improving the click through rate and the ad position. There are several types of ad extensions that you can use. Here are some of the most effective and most used ones:

  • Call extensions
  • Location extensions
Use location extensions to increase CTR of your ads
  • Review extensions
  • Sitelink extensions
Sitelink extensions help increase CTR in adwords
  • Call-out extensions
Use Callout extensions to increase CTR in your adwords campaigns
  • Structured Snippet extensions.

Let me cite an example to help you understand how well ad extensions can help to increase Adwords CTR. (Case Study Courtesy ThinkWithGoogle). Accor hotels wanted to optimize their Adwords campaigns to get better conversions and better CTRs, and decided to use a combination of ad extensions for this. Here’s an example ad:

How Accor Hotels increased their Adwords CTR with extensions

After using the ad extensions for a while, they saw great results:

  1. Call extensions increased their Adwords CTR by 4%
  2. Sitelink and image extensions helped them increase their CTR from 13% to 24%
  3. Review extensions helped them increase their CTR by 19%

Those are some impressive numbers. If you want to know how to set up extensions, this article would help you out; there are several kinds that you can use, and you should use the combinations well to get the best Adwords click-through rates.

6. Add keyword to the Display URL as well

It’s pretty straightforward – display URL helps you tell the searchers where they’ll reach after clicking the ad. If it contains the keyword, it increases the relevance of the ad again, increasing the chances of it getting clicked.

Improve click through rate by adding keyword to the display URL

7. Add negative keywords regularly

Now, this step is more aimed at making sure that your ad doesn’t get triggered for irrelevant search queries, because if the search term is irrelevant, then either of the following might happen:

  • The ad won’t get clicked at all – this would push the ad down (lower position).
  • The ad would get clicked, but the visitors would bounce off. This makes for a bad Landing Page Experience, which reduces the Quality Score of the ad, and again pushing the ad down.

Lower position means lower clicks.

And, it’s very obvious that if you are not marking negative keywords, you are just spending money on irrelevant traffic, so this is a must.

Add negative keywords to increase CTR for relevant keywords only

8. Pause the non-performing ads

You can do A/B testing of your ad copies to see which ones are getting better clicks, and then pause the ones that don’t perform well. This would help you identify the ad copies that work, so that you can use them in all your future campaigns as well.

So, these are my learnings from running Google Adwords campaigns for LeadSquared for over 2 years. I hope they help you increase your click-through rates as well. Once again, remember, it’s not important how high your Adwords CTR is, what matters is how relevant are the clicks that you are getting. So, by all means, optimize your ads to increase CTR, but do it only after you are receiving high-quality impressions.

Did I miss any tips on improving Adwords CTR? Let me know in the comments.

Drip Marketing Campaigns

It is a farmer’s delight to see the seeds he has sown bear fruit. But ask a farmer, it’s not that straightforward. While too much water may spoil the crops, too little would cause them to wither. The farmer has to ensure that the crops get an adequate amount of water at the right time. And water isn’t the only factor here – fertilizers, sunlight – everything should be just the right amount for the crops to thrive. And this is for just one type of crop. What if there are many more, just like the leads you generate?

Each lead is unique – they are individuals, with opinions, preferences, likes and dislikes. You cannot ignore that when you communicate with them.

Drip marketing - helps you tackle wrong targeting problems

Can you convince a cat to buy a dog from you?

That is exactly what an appropriately targeted, thoughtfully drafted drip marketing campaign would help you avoid.

Much like a farmer who caters to the exact needs of his crops, a perfect drip campaign would help you give your leads exactly what they need. No wonder, drip marketing owes its name to the farming practice, Drip Irrigation.

What is Drip Marketing?

Drip marketing is personalized communication sent out based on user action (buying a book, completing a purchase, signing up for a product free trial, subscribing to blog etc.) or inaction (not completing the purchase, not clicking an email, not using the app for a month etc.). The simplest ones can be just time-bound as well. These user actions/inactions are called triggers.

Why is Drip Marketing important?

They are used to send your audience exactly what they need, when they need it. This can help you achieve many objectives, in terms of prospect and customer engagement, but they all fall broadly under 3 categories:

  • Leading a prospect towards conversion (helping them buy), without being a major pain ?
  • Making your customers feel happy about their decision of buying from you (improving customer experience)
  • Increasing brand recall (making a good impression, so that they remember you when they need to buy what you sell).

Here are a few examples for more clarity

Those reminders you get to buy that book from Amazon (if you abandon your cart without buying) – that’s drip marketing. So are the recommendations you get based on your last purchase.

Drip Marketing - Books recommendation

And, the review request emails after you have received your order – that’s a kind of drip marketing campaign as well.

Plum review email - Drip marketing

If you have ever subscribed for a course on Coursera, you’d have received emails for lessons, quizzes, deadlines etc. in a series distributed over the duration of your course. That’s drip too – a sophisticated one at that. Check the email below – they know that “some” deadlines were missed. ?

Drip marketing - Coursera

Now that we have that clear, let’s see what different campaign types are there, and how can you use them.

Different types of drip marketing campaigns

I knew what drip marketing was before I started writing this post, and I was also aware of the different ways in which we at LeadSquared use it. However, only when I started researching for this article, and dug down deep into my inbox, did I realize how effectively businesses are actually using it. That’s the purpose of this post – to make you aware of how it can be used differently. After all, only when you become consciously aware of something, do you start noticing it all around you.

The mark of a good drip email campaign is the prospect not even realizing that it’s a pre-written, automated email. We have had instances of customers responding to our post-webinar drips, because they thought it was a personal email. ?

The more personal you make it, the more chances of them reacting positively to it. Below are nine different ways you can become digital farmer and nurture your leads.

1. Educational drips 

Regis Mckenna once said, “the best marketing is education.”

People will not forget you if you provide them real value. They might even go a step ahead and become your brand advocates by sharing that value with others. At LeadSquared, we do this by sending out relevant e-books, webinars and blog posts to new leads based on their industry and job function.

On an average, our webinars attract a few hundred leads per session and our eBooks get amazing responses as well. The next logical thing for us to do is send them more relevant content to engage them. If we don’t, they’ll just sit in the system idle.

The following email gets sent to people who download our e-book “How to be a smarter real estate marketer.” It’s a recording of an old webinar on real estate marketing that was a huge hit. It makes sense because they have already downloaded an e-book relevant to real estate.

Drip Marketing- Real estate

And, this is the first email in a set of educational drips for these real estate audience. The industry specific content ensures that they hold value for the recipients. Here’s the report for this drip marketing series:

Drip marketing report for real estate emails

2. Offer drips

These drips send out promotional offers or discounts to your leads based on their recent activities to give them an extra push to buy. Most of the festival and holiday offers you would receive in your inbox are email campaigns, but the most effective ones are drips.

Look at the example below and you’ll know what I mean.

I’m a frequent shopper (albeit a window-shopper) at Jabong, and I receive a lot of promotional emails from them. Just a while back, I was browsing through their winter wear collection, as it is getting a little chilly out there. And barely an hour later, I got this email. That’s an offer done right, because it was based on my activity.

The timing here counts. The need for warmer clothes, given the weather told them that I just needed a little push to make the purchase. The push came in the form of an offer that is really difficult to refuse!

Drip Marketing- LogoDrip Marketing - Jabong

3. Action completion drips

Sending offers like Jabong is one way to push sales, but there are other ways to do this too. You can make it easier for them to buy.

Look at how well The Souled Store has done this! They not only sent me an email reminding me I had an abandoned cart, they also gave me an easy link to get to the cart quickly and complete my purchase. Since this was whimsical purchase, this push made me actually go ahead and complete the transaction. A definite win!

Drip Marketing - Souled store

4. Customer retention drips

These drips get triggered when a customer does an activity that you can term ‘negative’. This could be an unsubscribe, uninstall or an unfollow. See, all ‘un’-desirable things. ?

In the example below, Rapido is trying find out what went wrong when I uninstalled their app. As soon as the Rapido app was uninstalled, a drip was initiated and a mail asking for reasons was sent out. Clear and simple: Give us feedback so we can serve you better.

So if I ever need their service again, I would re-install the app.

Drip Marketing - Rapido

5. Cross-selling/Upselling drips

Traditionally a marketer’s job is done when the lead converts into a customer, but not really. You can always continue to add value to them. Give them a reason and motive to purchase more from you, and they will.

I had recently purchased a protective case for my phone from Amazon and they gave me suggestions for similar products. They know I own the phone and I’m looking to protect it from damage, therefore a protective screen would make sense!

Drip Marketing - Amazon

(Tip: Send suggestions that are relevant to their recent purchase, to increase the chances of getting clicked)

6. Customer re-activation drips

Remember all those “we miss you” emails that land in your inbox. That’s what I am talking about. These drips aim at re-engaging the customer by including a human emotion. The trigger here, unlike the previous ones, would be inactivity.

Look at this simple, yet pretty neat one from Zivame. It conveys a simple message, said in a consistent way and attempts to appeal to the emotional side of me, using words like ‘give us another chance’ and ‘let me know what I can do’.

Drip Marketing- Zivame

7. Onboarding drips

Everything from our product on-boarding emails, to when you get a welcome email from Amazon/Dropbox etc. falls under this category. While welcoming may be just a single mail, on-boarding might involve sending out a series of mails depending on what the user is trying to do with the product.

For example, when you sign up for a free trial with LeadSquared, you get a welcome mail thanking you for signing up.

Drip marketing- welcome

After you have welcomed the customer, the next logical step would be to help the customer get on-board. This would involve finding out how the user is going to be using your product, or helping him navigate any difficulty he might face while using your product.

Drip Marketing- Onboarding

Notice how the drip warns the user of the number of emails they’d be getting and also how it offers them the option to do it on their own? These drips allow the user to know that he can reach out for help anytime, should the need arise.

8. Upgradation drips

When you sign up for a free trial of a product, and near the end of your trial period, then automated messages are sent to you asking you to upgrade your trial to the premium version. Though this would be part of an onboarding drip more often than not, but they require a special mention, because of how effective they are. At LeadSquared, we get a lot of personal responses to this particular message of the drip campaign.

Zapier did that once my free trial with them got over. An email reminding me that my trial was up. They also offered to extend my trial if I wanted. This will help close a deal with a customer who is on the fence about the purchase.

Drip Marketing - Zapier

9. Feedback drips

This one is a no-brainer! Unlike the Rapido example where the feedback was asked due to a trigger, these surveys are generally sent out to prospects asking for their opinions and to make them feel appreciated. After a specified period of using their product, this drip would be triggered and ask the user for their opinion.

Like Uber.

Not only do they flatter my ego by calling me valuable, they go on to say how this would improve my Uber experience. Adding a freebie would only make me take the survey to try my luck. A win-win for both.

Drip Marketing- Uber

Let me end this by reiterating that these 9 types of drip emails might overlap with each other, because as we discussed earlier, the objectives are always 3:

  • Leading a prospect towards conversion (helping them buy), without being a major pain ?
  • Making your customers feel happy about their decision of buying from you (improving customer experience)
  • Increasing brand recall (making a good impression, so that they remember you when they need to buy what you sell).

Hopefully, now you are more aware of the different kinds of drip marketing campaigns around us, and would start noticing them more, finding ways to use a particular kind for your own business. Have you noticed an interesting drip campaign that I might have missed out? Let me know in the comments below!

(Plug: Do try out LeadSquared’s Drip Marketing tool. You can take a free trial or sign up for a demo)

Form Design Ideas For Lead GenerationIt wasn’t very long ago that salespeople used pen and paper to note down the sales enquiries, scribbling down the details of prospective buyers. After a while, computers took over and digital notepads replaced paper, which were finally replaced by web forms. To state the obvious, this means that businesses don’t need to note down the information anymore – it’s captured automatically, and organized for later use.

Talking specifically about online lead generation, this information is used to contact the prospects with an intent to convert them into buyers. In this article, we will see how form design can help fire up your lead generation – because design matters – I have seen the form design alone increase conversions by over 20%.

A form is the heart of lead generation

You rip the form from your page and your lead generation stops working. You can live without sub headlines and testimonials, but you can’t without a form. Actually you can, but you won’t generate any leads. In the last few years there have been significant improvements in web forms, helping designers and marketers come up with clever ways to generate leads with delicious design and compelling content.

Don’t think of form as a supporting element on your web page. It should be fully capable of standing alone, i.e. selling the offer even if you take away all the other page elements. You can also call it a mini landing page. Forms can come in different shapes and sizes. Here’s the most widely recognized structure of a lead generation form:

Structure of a form

Web Form Design Ideas

First things first, by design I don’t mean look and feel alone. Design is the essence of things. It’s what makes something work. And to make the form work, you need to optimize it for conversion. Conversion happens when someone fills up the form and submits it. This post is dedicated to that – generating more leads with tweaks to form design. Below is the list of simple, but often ignored ideas which will fire up your lead generation.

1. Abandon the impotent form

This is the first point, because none of the points below would work, if this isn’t set right. No matter how good your form looks, how intuitive it is, or how well-written the copy is, it won’t work without an offer. People don’t want to fill form, they want to claim an offer – it’s as simple as that. The offer could be to learn more about your product (inquiry), an e-book (resources), a consultation or a free trial to name a few.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Abandon the impotent formFilling up form is a pain and you need to override that pain with the pleasure of claiming the offer. There are way too many offer-less forms on the web, and they do nothing for conversion. Kill the impotent form.

2. Conversation for conversion

Design your form like a logical conversation. If you are a salesperson, how will to talk to your prospect? You won’t ask for a phone number before asking their name. Keep your form fields in a logical order of a natural conversation.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Conversion for conversationOur brain is in auto-pilot mode while doing most of our day to day activities – when we drive, clean our room or when we are fill up a form. The natural, conventional conversation helps your visitors fill the form without even realizing the effort.

3. Be creative with the header

There are more ways to utilize the form header than writing the same old headline and sub-headline. Think of creative ways to make the form compelling. Check out this form header used in a webinar landing page:

Form Design for Lead Generation - Be creative with the form headerSee how the speaker’s information on the form header attracts attention, while giving credibility to the form. A visitor quickly connects with the speaker, which increases the chances of form fill.

4. Eliminate the unnecessary 

Don’t crowd your form with unnecessary details. The more fields you have, lesser are the chances of conversion. With every field you add, probability of conversion drops. Make sure that you only keep the fields that you really need.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Minimise the form fieldsWhy would you want to keep a city field in a form that’s obviously being used in a location targeted campaign? Even if it isn’t, you can still capture the location by IP tracking. Zip code isn’t needed either, because as started on the form, the salesperson would anyway call the prospect to confirm the address.

5. Use Auto-fill

Auto-fill is a technology where the form fields are filled automatically, if you already have them. For example, if you host a webinar every week, and send the invitation to the same list of prospects, they shouldn’t have to fill the form every time. Only the unique visitors should take this pain.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use AutofillIn case of auto filled forms, there is just one action to take – click the call to action. So much easier! Shibani Roy, our webinar expert says :

Webinar Expert Shibani Roy“Auto-filled forms increased our webinar registrations by 25%. It is super convenient for the attendees and of course, it just saves time. Think of it in this way. If you regularly order food or even clothes from a specific food or clothing brand, isn’t it easier to just have your address already there instead of putting that in every single time? It’s the same thing.”

 

6. Pop it up

Form is the most important element on the page, because that’s where the transaction happens. The prospect claims the offer and you get the contact information you want. For that very reason your visitors should be able to discover it easily. Below are some of the design principles commonly used to draw attention to the form on the page.

Contrast – Contrast is the state of being strikingly different from the surroundings. Our brain gives special attention to a disruption in the pattern. That is why the form colors are generally contrasting to the page it’s on. Below is the example of a good color contrast. The contrast can be from shape, size and position as well.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use contrastEncapsulation – Encapsulation is when you place an object within a shape to highlight its importance. The most common example is the border. We add borders to the form to define it and make it look more important.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use encapsulationShadow – In graphic and web design, shadow is used to give a sense of depth to the object and hence helps in popping it out from the rest of the page.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use shadow

7. Pop, don’t scream

There is a difference between popping up and screaming. An excess of contrast can catch attention for sure. But can it hold it long enough? The idea is to get the attention to the form, after which the offer takes over. The form below shows how too much contrast can annoy the eyes, causing the visitors to bounce off.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Too much contrast

8. Make sure it looks good on mobile

Your form should render well and above the fold on every device, even if that means modifying content to suit different devices. The example below illustrates how you can optimize content so that form fits perfectly on mobile.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Optimize for mobile

9. Use visual cues

Visual cues are signals to direct attention to something important. We can’t help but pay attention to an arrow or a pointed finger.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use visual cuesSee how a downward pointer instantly draws your attention to the offer below, without disturbing the form layout

10. Keep it aligned

A well aligned page looks good and is much more readable than its unaligned counterpart. Check out the example below:

Form Design for Lead Generation - keep your form alignedWe like symmetrically aligned things, be it a face, an object or anything else visual. Alignment makes it easier to understand things, and is therefore a very important part of form design.

11. Use form footer to encourage action

Form footer is often ignored but it can be your secret conversion weapon, if used well. The psychological principle of trust and scarcity are commonly used in the form footer such as – Only 100 spots remaining (scarcity) for webinar form or 1000+ downloads (trust) for the eBook form.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Use form footer

12. Break a long form up

Breaking a long form into parts makes it a little less intimidating. Also, while filling out a complex form, people like to know how much is still left. Have visual cues to convey that information. Making it clear and  intuitive avoids frustration and helps a visitor to stick, increasing the chances of conversion.

Form Design for Lead Generation - Multi step form

13. The call to action

Call to action or CTA or a form button (in this context) is an instruction to the audience to provoke a response. The call to action  is such a vast topic in itself that it needs a new post all together, which i will should write soon. In the context of this post it is the last step of conversion.

form-design-for-lead-generation-call-to-action As soon as a visitor hits the CTA, the information gets submitted and you have generated a lead. The three most important things to keep in mind while designing call to action buttons are :

Make it action centric –  As cliched as it may sound, “submit” doesn’t not work. It does not mean anything. Use action words like – Download it now, Free trial, Free Ebook. Something which immediately demands action.

Keep it contrasting – It is the action center of your marketing campaign, it should be strikingly visible on the page.

Make it look like a button – We are used to clicking buttons. It gives us the cue that we are supposed to do something now (take an action).

That’s it for form design here.

Hope you found these ideas useful; now use them to up your lead generation, and please let me know how it goes.