Monthly Archives: January 2012

Advertising online for professional services firms part 2: comparing Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Adwords

by Kirsten Hodgson

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

This is the second in a two part series about whether advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook is something professionals should consider. I asked Anna Gervai, owner of Orchid Web Design (a full-service digital agency based in Auckland), author of Marketing Gum, and the moderator of the Social Media New Zealand group on LinkedIn to share her insights:

 

What sort of budget will you need?

 

The budget needed for all three channels is based on an auction process rather than a set cost per ad.

 

So how much you pay is determined by how much other advertisers are willing to pay for the same targeting you’ve chosen at the time you’re running your campaign. This is why you’ll have a bit of trouble at first working out much you will need to spend.

 

What are the set-up fees?

 

You can use any of the platforms yourself to place your advertising with no set-up fee other than your time, or you can get a professional to take care of everything for you.

 

If you have the time to educate yourself then try the DIY option, however expect a large learning curve and poor results until you ‘learn the ropes’. Many who try the DIY option complain of poor results and being unsure how to improve them.

 

A professional is the best idea if you don’t have the time and money to learn as you go and want excellent results from the start, especially for smaller budgets where every dollar counts.

 

A professional will normally charge a set fee for the creative and set-up and often ask a monthly fee for time spent on optimisation (depending on the platform you’re using). The creative / set-up is typically a one-off fee, so once it’s done you don’t have to pay again unless you change your targeting.

 

Normally as part of set-up they will research the best targeting for you, do the copywriting for your ads, suggest or provide any images you require, set-up your ad campaign and account and set your budget. They may monitor and optimise your ads weekly, fortnightly or monthly while they are running. You may also get a performance report each month. No matter what platform you’re using, it’s very important to run multiple ads to test which achieve the best results. Even small changes in copy can have a major impact on your click through rate.

 

Here are a few questions you should ask anyone you look to engage in this role:

 

  • Will we get a report of our results and how often? Many will charge extra for this which is normal, however be wary when there’s no report option provided – the beauty of online advertising is how measurable it is.
  • What are you doing for the set-up fee and how many ads will you be running for us?  Some companies only run one ad, a common and costly mistake. Also make sure you’ll be approving the ads before they go live. Some professionals will charge a percent on top of your ad spend, others will only charge you for exactly what you spent.
  • Will we be charged for the actual ad spend or a set amount per month? (i.e. what happens if our budget is not spent for the month – will you charge us anyway or will you just charge us for the actual ad spend?)

 

All three advertising channels give you the option to set a maximum budget and all give you the ability to set a maximum CPA (the maximum you’re willing to pay for a click). If you use a professional they will be able to advise you on the appropriate budget to help you decide.

 

There is no minimum budget set by any of the platforms, but do keep in mind too small a budget will mean your ads may not show, or may stop showing part-way through the day (if your daily budget limit is reached before the day ends).

 

There are different types of ads on each platform, but for big budgets, Facebook and LinkedIn offer a premium level of advertising (ads that appear in the most trafficked areas of both sites). Facebook premium ads require a minimum spend of US$10,000 and LinkedIn display ads require $25,000 minimum spend. You can still advertise on both platforms with much smaller budgets.

 

What’s the average cost per click?

 

For Google Adwords, many keywords in NZ are still under $2 per click, but certain industries have higher demand and advertisers willing to pay a high CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) that push the CPC (cost per click) up.

 

Make sure you’ve had a Market Demand Report run before you start Google Adwords so you can select the most relevant but also affordable keywords with a lower CPC. This helps you avoid spending your budget on expensive keywords, limiting your results. If you haven’t had a Market Demand Report run before, you can get one for free until the end of February (see offer details at the end of this post).

 

If you wanted to target absolutely all New Zealanders on Facebook with no niche targeting – Facebook ads are currently NZ$0.66 CPC and $0.23 CPM (cost per impression).

 

Again for targeting all New Zealanders on LinkedIn with no niche targeting – LinkedIn ads currently range from US$3 to $4 CPC and the estimated CPM is around $2.

 

What sort of Click Through Rate (CTR) results can you expect?

 

The best return on investment if you’re measuring success based how many people will click on your ads, is usually gained from Google Adwords. This is because your ads only show when someone is looking for the services for which you want to attract new clients. You’re advertising to a motivated, pre-qualified audience.

 

Since your ads are therefore highly relevant to what the person is looking for, your CTR will be a lot higher. More clicks = more potential clients.

 

The average CTR for Google Adwords should be at least 1% in a healthy Adwords campaign.

 

The reason Facebook and LinkedIn get such poor CTRs in comparison is because people are not on those platforms looking for a product or service, so your ad is interrupting them (think of them more like TV ads). This is the main reason it’s unfair to compare Facebook and LinkedIn with Google Adwords. An excellent result for Facebook Ads would be considered a failure in Adwords.

 

Facebook ads average 0.05% CTR with 0.1% considered excellent. Facebook tends to average the lowest CTR, lowest CPC and lowest CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) depending on your targeting and the budget of competing advertisers).

 

LinkedIn ads are also a form of display advertising (like those banner ads you see when you’re on sites like www.nzherald.co.nz) and the reported average of around 0.1% for display advertising is considered a very good result. Many report a lot lower results from LinkedIn ads.

 

Knowing these average costs, your daily budget should be set based on the usual considerations, such as the response you want to get, the CPA (cost per acquisition) you're willing to pay to gain a new client and so on – just as you'd take into account with any advertising you might be considering.

 

How can you determine the best platform on which to advertise?

 

This will depend on your product or service and who you want to reach. Briefly:

 

Google Adwords is the best way to reach people already looking for the service/s you offer and is as relevant for selling to consumers as to other professionals. The CPC tends to be higher but your CTR and the quality of leads you get (given they are already searching for what you offer) is also likely to be better.

 

Facebook Ads are the better choice if you want to be seen by people of a certain age, gender, relationship status or who have interests that match your services. With over 2 million New Zealanders on Facebook you’ve got a big potential audience. Facebook Ads are favoured by companies selling to consumers.

 

LinkedIn Ads are favoured for B2B (business to business) services when you want to be seen by people of a certain profession or job position, especially if you want to reach the decision maker, or when people may not yet know about your product or service, so search may be low. Yes, the CPA will probably be higher at the end of the day, and fewer people will probably click through, however the ability to target by industry and job title often means each person who clicks represents a high-value lead. There were 259,000 New Zealanders on LinkedIn as of March 2011.

 

Hopefully this (and the previous) post has given you a lot of helpful insights into the merits and considerations for each platform.

 

If you’d like free advice on the right platform for you and the sort of budget you need to consider based on your product, service and target market; feel free to get in touch with Anna.

 

FREE OFFER for New Zealand Professionals reading this post:

 

Avoid making expensive mistakes with online advertising by having your Market Demand Reports (a set of 2 reports) run before you commit to your spend.

 

Normally $99+ GST, your set of reports is FREE if you contact Anna and mention this article before the end of February 2012.

 

You’ll need to be a professional working within New Zealand to take advantage of this offer and there is a limit of one free set of reports per company. There is no obligation to use Anna’s company or any of their services so go ahead and order your free report before time runs out.

 

Your report will tell you:

 

  • The average number of searches made by New Zealanders each month for up to 300 search terms relating to your products and services.
  • The estimated CPC (cost per click) per search term if you were to run a Google Adwords campaign.
  • The trend in demand per search term over the last 10 to 12 months.
  • The best in which to advertise – which months see market demand peak?

 

You’re welcome to share a link to this post with others so they can take advantage of this offer as well. 

Do you agree with Anna's tips? What other tips would you give to professionals looking to advertise online? 

Advertising Online: Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Google Adwords better for Professional Services?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Photo courtesy jscreationzs

 A number of professionals have recently asked me about advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook and whether it’s something they should consider. I asked Anna Gervai, owner of Orchid Web Design (a full-service digital agency based in Auckland), author of Marketing Gum, and the moderator of the Social Media New Zealand group on LinkedIn for her insights.

 

This week Anna covers why you should consider advertising on social networks. Next week she talks about the sort of budget you need, what results you can expect and how to determine which platform will give you the best return.

 

Anna has also put together an exclusive FREE OFFER for those of you in New Zealand, which you won’t want to miss. See the end of this post for more information. 

 

Why should lawyers, accountants and other professionals consider advertising on social networks?

 

The most popular social channels in NZ that should be considered for attracting new clients through paid advertising are Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

These are often unfairly compared to Google Adwords (also called ‘pay per click’ or ‘paid search’ advertising) so we’ll look at the pros and cons of each.

 

The reason professionals such as lawyers and accountants should consider advertising on social networks is because of the demographic and professional targeting you can tap into, which Google Adwords (paid search) does not provide. With Google Adwords, you target based on keywords and location.

 

For example using Google Adwords, if you’re a lawyer wanting to grow your property clients with a focus on conveyancing, you could target search terms (called keywords) such as:

 

conveyancing    2,900 / month    $2.77 CPC

conveyance      2,400 / month    $2.80 CPC

property lawyer 1,600 / month    $2.63 CPC

 

The numbers per month beside each keyword indicate how many searches are made for that search term (keyword) within NZ every month using Google.

 

The dollar figure is an estimated cost per click (CPC) in NZD if you were using Google Adwords. This is usually the most you’ll pay for one click (more about that later).

 

One keyword means one search term by the way, not necessarily ‘one word’ so one keyword can be one, two, three or more words.

 

Your ad can be set to only show in search results when a person searches for one of those keywords, and only for the locations from which you want to attract clients (e.g. Auckland).

 

What are some of the differences to consider when comparing the 3 options?

 

CPC advertising – Facebook, Google Adwords and LinkedIn: All three give you the option of your ads appearing for free so you only pay for a result (when someone clicks on your ad) called Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising.

 

CPM advertising – Facebook and LinkedIn: Facebook and LinkedIn give you the option of CPM advertising (cost per thousand impressions) where you pay per thousand impressions (an impression being one view of your ad, whether someone clicks on your ad or not). Google Adwords does not give you the option of CPM.

 

Location targeting by city: Facebook and Google Adwords: Although all three give you the ability to target New Zealand, only Facebook and Google Adwords also offer location targeting by city (e.g.Auckland) which can rule LinkedIn ads out for certain professionals (n.b. LinkedIn does allow targeting by city in countries such as the USA and the UK).

 

Target by keyword: Google Adwords: Being able to target by keyword is why Google Adwords averages a much higher CTR (click through rate) than Facebook and LinkedIn, giving better results and therefore more potential clients.

 

Age targeting: Facebook and LinkedIn: Although both platforms let you target by age, Facebook provides the option to target by individual year from 13 to 64+ (e.g. you might want to target people aged 40 to 59), however LinkedIn has pre-set age targeting (18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 54 and 55+) so doesn’t provide the same level of flexibility.

 

Target by job title: LinkedIn: A key reason LinkedIn stands out as a good choice for advertising professional services is the ability to target by job title and/or job function. You could target your ads to show only for Business Owners for example, or CFOs, CEO’s, HR professionals, Accountants and so on. This allows you to precisely reach the decision makers that best match your services.

 

Combine this with LinkedIn’s ability to target by industry and you can start to see the potential of LinkedIn advertising over the other two.

 

FREE OFFER for New Zealand Professionals reading this post:

 

Avoid making expensive mistakes with online advertising by having your Market Demand Reports (a set of 2 reports) run before you commit to your spend.

 

Normally $99+ GST, your set of reports is FREE if you contact Anna and mention this article before the end of February 2012.

 

You’ll need to be a professional working within New Zealand to take advantage of this offer and there is a limit of one free set of reports per company. There is no obligation to use Anna’s company or any of their services so go ahead and order your free report before time runs out.

 

Your report will tell you:

  •  The average number of searches made by New Zealanders each month for up to 300 search terms relating to your products and services.
  • The estimated CPC (cost per click) per search term if you were to run a Google Adwords campaign.
  • The trend in demand per search term over the last 10 to 12 months.
  • The best months in which to advertise – which months see market demand peak?

 

 You’re welcome to share a link to this post with others so they can take advantage of this offer too. 

 

Have you advertised on social media networks? How valuable have you found this to be? 

 

Do you have any questions for Anna? Post them in the comments box and she'll respond. 

The professional services selling myth

by Kirsten Hodgson

I've worked with a number of lawyers and other professionals who are petrified that, in order to build their businesses, they are going to have to convince people to hire them by pitching to them. They're understandably nervous and the idea of 'selling' doesn't sit well with them – they're in their roles because they enjoy their profession and helping people. They've been sucked into the professional services selling myth.

While there are aggressive rainmakers out there who do focus on themselves and their needs, this approach doesn't fit everyone's personality. The good news is that there is another way: focus on the other person and their needs.

Larry Bodine alluded to this in a recent blog post: 5 marketing tips to make it rain in 2012. In it he said to stop pitching to people because nobody likes it and to start asking questions. He's totally right. Asking intelligent questions is one of the best things you can do in a new business meeting. That's because:

  • how can you let people know how you can help them unless you know what their specific needs are?
  • And, how can you know what their specific needs are unless you ask questions to uncover these?

How should you approach each new business meeting? 

Before each new business meeting:

  1. Research the person/people you are meeting and the company – look at their website, do a google search, check their social media profiles, look at their annual report
  2. Find out the other person's objective for the meeting by asking 'What would you like to get out of this meeting?' or 'What would make this a good meeting for you?' or 'If there was only one thing you could get from this meeting, what would you want it to be?' If you have called the meeting, you may be better asking this at the start of the meeting itself.
  3. Write down the other person's objective for the meeting – once you've done so, jot down how you can meet their objective
  4. Write down your objective/desired outcome for the meeting - ensure it's SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). For example, it may be to get a meeting with the CEO in the next 2 weeks, to gain agreement to run a workshop within the next month or to be able to put together a written/verbal proposal based on that client's needs by X date.
  5. Write down at least 3 questions you would like to ask the other person/people – what do you need to know in order to move to the next step? When in the meeting, the key is that you listen to the other person's responses and don't leap in as soon as you hear an issue they have that you can help with. You want to find out about the various issues they have and then uncover which are most important to the client. The danger with jumping in is that you focus on an issue that actually isn't that far up the client's priority list. A really great model to follow in new business meetings is the SPIN selling model, the brainchild of Neil Rackham – I like the way the questions move from general to more specific and that they seek to create a need. It's a logical process that's easy to follow.

At the end of the meeting, discuss the next step with the prospective client. Get their agreement both on what action will be taken, who will take it and when it will be complete. For example, you may say 'It was great to find out about the issues you're facing over the next year. You mentioned that X and Y are really critical and these are things with which we can assist. Would it be of value if we were to put together a short proposal setting out our understanding of your needs, how we could help and the associated costs?' If the client agrees let them know when they can expect to receive your proposal and stick to the deadline you agree – better still, deliver it early.

If they don't agree, find out what they suggest happens next and, again, agree a timeframe.

What other tips would you share to help other professionals get more from new business meetings? 

Do you agree with my tips above? Why/why not? 

Want to be seen as an expert in your field? Then work to own the space

by Kirsten Hodgson

I read a great article late last year by Allison Shields about repurposing content (and definitely recommend you read it). I absolutely agree that lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals should do that but I think that they should take it one step further…

If you want to position yourself as a specialist/expert in your field, then you need to own the space: you need to identify key issues that will impact your target market and then leverage all the channels available to you. 

How can you do this? 

The ideas below are based on some work I did with a law firm partner in 2004 that positioned her as a leader in her field in the climate change space. Those operating in the field say she's still right up there today.

The first thing you need to do is to brainstorm the upcoming big issues in your area of practice. When doing so, think about:

  • whether there is any new/emerging legislation
  • what your clients and prospects say their big-ticket items are going to be for the next year or two
  • what's happening in your area overseas that may impact your clients or may become legislation in your country
  • whether there's an opportunity to commission some research that will be of value to your target audience (such as research to uncover attitudes, future trends, issues etc) or to run round-table sessions

Then choose your topic or issue and create an action plan:

  • write down your goals ensuring they are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). For example a goal might be to generate $X in revenues from water-related projects between Jan 2012 and Dec 2012. NB: goals don't all have to be financially related and could include converting specific prospects into clients, or to be the go to person for the media for enquiries in your area etc. 
  • write down the measures you will use to ascertain whether you have achieved your goals. For example, number of clients, number of repeat clients, percentage of overall work from this area, client feedback etc.
  • write down the actions you will take and when you will take them (see below for some ideas of how you can leverage the various channels). You may want to do this as a timeline so you can see what you are going to do when and include when third party decisions will come out that you will need to respond to (such as when Bills before Parliament are due to have their next reading). Doing this means you can allocate time to read through decisions and summarise these to your clients/prospects.
  • keep updating your action plan with next steps to ensure there is forward momentum.

How to leverage the issues

I regularly see professionals put out a news alert to their clients, and they may even speak at a conference and put together an article on the same topic but I very rarely see them proactively leveraging all communications channels open to them to really own the space. While it might look like a lot of work it's actually surprisingly easy to repurpose content. You can also ask your colleagues and marketing team to help with some of the activities. Using the example of some new legislation coming into force, here's what you can do:

  1. Call your top 5 clients who are likely to be impacted. Don't wait until the legislation comes into force. Give clients an early heads-up and then let them know you'll come back to them when you have more information.
  2. Talk to colleagues whose clients may be impacted by the upcoming legislation, including what it may mean for their client. If they agree this may impact their client, ask them to give their client a heads-up and offer to go and talk to the client when the time is right. If you want a colleague to set up a meeting between you and their client, give them a few prompts they can use when talking to their client as this will increase the likelihood of client buy-in.
  3. Talk to your main referrers about the issues and offer to speak to their clients.
  4. Put together a short newsalert setting out the issue, who it will impact and what it is likely to mean (or when further info will be available). Repeat as Bills have their next reading or become legislation.
  5. Put together a short video along the lines of the information in the newsalert.
  6. Speak to conference organisers early and look to get a speaking slot at any relevant events.
  7. Organise a seminar/webinar at an appropriate time. You may want to look at specific events for specific clients plus more of a catch-all session.
  8. Put the newsalert on your website, consider adapting it into a blog post, and share via social media networks. Do the same with the video and conference/webinar slides. You could also put your videos on your YouTube channel and they could double as your blog. 
  9. Identify the best publication to reach your target audience and call them to give them a heads up on the issue and how it might impact their readers, and to see if they would be interested in an article or some commentary on the topic. Repeat for other media including TV, radio, and online. 
  10. Do a roadshow in the main centres in your country.

Using a multi-pronged approach means you will achieve maximum reach and will be visible each time the issue comes to the fore. I strongly believe that taking an issue and leveraging it is one of the best things you can do to position yourself as an expert in your field.

What's your view?