As the sun sets on Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), a new horizon emerges with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This shift, while potentially daunting for marketers and data analysts, presents an opportunity to uncover deeper, more nuanced insights into user engagement.
For those businesses who have chosen to embrace this change and continue their journey with GA4, understanding the key differences and new functionalities is essential. The future of your data analysis and interpretation hinges on grasping these crucial changes, enabling you to extract maximum value from your data.
In the world of web analytics, sessions play an integral role in understanding user behavior. A session in GA4 represents a visit to your site and times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. However, unlike UA, sessions in GA4 can encapsulate multiple traffic sources.
For instance, if a visitor lands on your site from a Facebook ad, goes through Google to login, and then returns to your site, this entire journey is counted as one session, despite having multiple traffic sources. This is a significant shift from UA, where each visit from a new source initiated a new session.
The Emergence of Engaged Sessions
Engaged sessions are a new metric introduced in GA4. A session can be considered as ‘engaged‘ if it lasts longer than 10 seconds, includes two or more page views, or results in at least one conversion.
The shift from Universal Analytics to GA4, particularly the introduction of the “Engaged Sessions” metric, is a response to the evolving digital landscape and user behaviors. Bounce rate, as calculated in Universal Analytics, was a useful measure of site engagement in the past, but with the advent of single-page applications (SPAs) and more complex user interactions, it became less effective. For instance, users could view an SPA and leave without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce, despite their potential engagement with the content
In contrast, the Engaged Sessions metric in GA4 is designed to provide a more accurate reflection of user engagement.
Understanding Engagement Rate
Engagement rate is calculated by dividing the number of engaged sessions by the total number of sessions. For example, if you have 1000 sessions and 750 of them are engaged, your engagement rate will be 75%. This new metric provides a more nuanced understanding of user engagement levels than before.
In UA, the bounce rate was a measure of site engagement, but its effectiveness has been declining as websites and apps evolved. The bounce rate could show users viewing a single-page application and leaving without triggering an event, which would be considered a bounce. However, in GA4, the concept of engagement has been refined to measure the level at which customers engage with your site or app more accurately.
While both the bounce rate and engagement rate are valuable in their own ways, the engagement rate in GA4 provides a more detailed understanding of user behavior.
The Return of Bounce Rate
Bounce rate, originally excluded from GA4, has made a comeback. But it now differs from how it was measured in UA. GA4’s bounce rate is the inverse of the engagement rate. Using the previous example, if the engagement rate was 84%, the bounce rate would be 16%.
This significant change in measuring bounce rate can be attributed to the new criteria for an engaged session. Depending on your site’s nature, you may see a drastic impact on bounce rates, possibly seeing a sharp drop compared to UA. However, remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your content is more engaging; it’s merely a shift in the measuring methodology.
In GA4, users are only those who have had an engaged session. This is another departure from UA where all visitors were considered users. Total Users in GA4 are more akin to what was defined as users in UA.
Average Engagement Time
GA4 replaces UA’s ‘average time on site’ metric with ‘average engagement time’. This new metric deserves applause, as it gives a more accurate depiction of the time a visitor spends on your site. In UA, bounced sessions were recorded as zero-second visits because no second session would be triggered. In contrast, GA4 measures the actual time a visitor spent on your site, offering a more accurate reflection of user engagement.
The Conversion Shift
Last but not least, GA4 bids goodbye to the traditional concept of goals. In its place, we find conversions. This shift pushes us to reimagine our understanding of conversions and work with this new norm.
GA4 represents a significant shift in Google’s analytical approach, introducing more sophisticated and nuanced metrics. While these changes may seem daunting initially, they offer an opportunity to better understand your audience and website performance. As we journey into this new era of analytics, mastering these new metrics will be key to data-driven decision-making and strategic success.
Picture yourself driving along your daily route to your nearest theatre. You know every turn, every stoplight, and have become accustomed to the rhythm of this familiar journey. You are confident that you will reach the theatre before the show begins.
Suddenly, you encounter an unexpected detour sign in the middle of your path – the road you’ve always taken is temporarily closed for construction. Now, you must navigate a new route to reach your destination.
This unforeseen obstacle not only disrupts your routine but also challenges you to adapt to the change and find a new way forward.
Such is the course of our lives. We are often moving along familiar paths when unexpected obstacles or anomalies arise, throwing us off our well-planned routes. This post is trying to decode our human responses to these unexpected shifts and explore how they can shape our journey through life.
Navigating the Unforeseen: Our Brain’s Role
Humans are naturally inclined to seek stability and predictability in their environment. This inclination is rooted in our evolutionary history, where predictability equaled survival. We build our lives around familiar routines and predictable patterns, creating a cognitive map of our world that allows us to anticipate future events and plan accordingly.
However, when an unexpected obstacle appears, it not only halts our progress towards our goals but also presents us with a profound question: this obstacle wasn’t supposed to exist, so why does it?
Now, our brains must engage in a process of ‘cognitive updating,’ where they reconcile the new information with our existing worldview. This involves substantial mental work as our neural networks reconfigure to incorporate the unexpected data. Sounds challenging, right? That’s the idea!
Cognitive Dissonance: The Psychological Clash
When we meet the unexpected, it triggers a psychological clash. This clash, called cognitive dissonance, happens when we juggle opposing beliefs or ideas.
On one hand, we have our idea of how things should be, built from our routines and predictions. On the other hand, we face the real-life hurdle that stands in our path. To deal with this dissonance, we often change our beliefs and attitudes. In some cases, we might need to rethink our whole view of the world.
So, facing the unexpected isn’t just about breaking routine. It’s a major cognitive and psychological event that demands that we reshape our understanding of the world.
Unpacking Grandpa’s Survival Kit: The Modern-Day Predicament
Losing a job unexpectedly is similar to encountering a ferocious predator on our regular way home. 1000 years ago, that predator was an uncertainty for our forefathers; now it might be a layoff.
It is a disruption that throws off the steady rhythm of your life, bringing in its wake uncertainty, financial stress, and an understandable level of anxiety. To tackle this change effectively, cognitive flexibility – akin to what our ancestors exercised in the face of predators – becomes a crucial tool in our survival kit.
1. Embracing the Hard Truth
Start by acknowledging reality. You’ve lost your job. It’s a tough fact to digest, especially due to our innate ‘confirmation bias‘. We have a tendency to favour information that aligns with our pre-existing beliefs or situations, and it is cognitively more comfortable to deny or downplay the shift. But to make any progress, accepting the truth is vital.
2. Shifting Perspectives through Cognitive Reframing
Next, reframe the situation. In cognitive psychology, reframing is a technique used to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning.
It involves actively constructing a new perspective. Instead of viewing the job loss as a disaster, see it as an opportunity for growth, a chance to explore new career paths, or a chance to gain new skills.
Once you have reframed the situation, brainstorm potential solutions. In this phase, it’s crucial to exercise ‘divergent thinking,’ a thought process used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. Consider different career options, alternative income sources, or even acquiring new skills or education. Consider any solution, no matter how outlandish it may seem initially.
This is where the decision-making and prioritisation tools that can be useful.
For example, the Eisenhower Matrix, one of my favourites. The matrix consists of four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. Read more about it here.
4. Implementing Change Step by Step
Finally, it’s time to act. Implementation can feel daunting, especially after a job loss. However, it’s important to remember that progress often happens incrementally. Break down your chosen solution into manageable steps and tackle them one at a time. This approach, called ‘action planning’, can make a big task seem more approachable, and it has been scientifically proven to enhance goal achievement.
Throughout this process, it’s essential to maintain a self-compassionate perspective. Job loss can lead to feelings of self-doubt or criticism. However, research has shown that treating yourself with kindness in times of failure or difficulty can foster resilience and well-being.
Final Thoughts: Tackling Life’s Crises with Evolutionary Tactics
As we journey through life, navigating unexpected obstacles and tackling life’s crises, it’s fascinating to consider the neurological systems at play. Just as our ancestors used specific neurological systems to detect and react to physical threats – like a lurking predator – we use these same systems to perceive and manage the abstract threats and issues we face in modern life.
Abstract problems – like losing a job or facing a break-up – become the ‘predators’ of our lives, lurking just outside the safety of our known world. When these problems arise, they activate the same neurological platform used by our ancestors, proving how our evolutionary history still influences our reactions to contemporary challenges.
So, dealing with the unexpected isn’t just about updating our cognitive map of the world, it’s also about confronting these abstract ‘predators’, managing life’s crises, and leveraging our inherent neurological capabilities. As we better understand and harness these capabilities, we can become more adept at navigating the uncertainties of life.
Almost everyone considers themselves a good thinker, yet this is a quality possessed by a surprisingly small fraction of the population. According to the Marcus Aurelius, true cognitive development requires perpetual transformation. Don’t worry about the jargons, will simplify it soon.
Take a moment to look around – how many individuals do you observe progressively advancing in life? How many are consistently overcoming challenges? Conversely, how many seem stuck in a loop, forever wrestling with the same issues they’ve faced for years?
It quickly becomes apparent that excelling at problem-solving is directly linked to the quality of one’s thinking. And, good thinking begins with clarity.
Marcus Aurelius: The Power of Clear Thinking
Marcus Aurelius, esteemed as the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome and admired as a philosopher-king, is an excellent example of a great thinker. His ability to lead was inextricably linked to his clear thinking.
He honed his critical thinking skills through personal introspection, encapsulated in his private writings – now known as his Meditations. In these profound reflections, Aurelius meticulously organized his thoughts, pondering the causal relationships between his actions and their outcomes.
How he organised his thoughts?
How he redefined the relationships between his actions and outcomes?
Clear Thought: The Foundation of Good Thinking
A clear thought is one that is unambiguous, captures the essence of a concept, and is logically formulated. Such thoughts can be articulated succinctly using simple ‘if-then’ statements, such as “If you learn driving, then you can drive a car” These clear, concise ideas lead to straightforward, intentional actions. Consequently, the above statement translates into a definitive action: when you want a solo ride- learn driving.
How do you know, whether you are good at driving or not?
Clarity Begets Clarity
Clear and intentional actions, in this context, lead to concrete results. When you sit behind the wheel after learning to drive, you will immediately find out whether your initial thought was correct. Either you can operate the wheels proficiently, or you cannot.
This clear feedback, confirming or debunking your supposition, aids in refining your comprehension of your abilities. By discovering whether your self-perception aligns with your actual skills, you move closer towards self-awareness. The more accurate your self-understanding, the better you become at overcoming personal challenges.
Emulating the Greats: Practical Steps towards Clear Thinking
If your goal is to improve your own problem-solving abilities, it’s advisable to emulate Aurelius’s approach.
Begin by organizing your thoughts. Eliminate ambiguity, striving for clarity by encapsulating them in straightforward ‘if-then’ statements. This reductionist logic leads to clearer thoughts, which, in turn, yield clear and intentional actions. These actions produce clear feedback, improving your understanding of the world and, thus, enhancing your problem-solving abilities.
Let’s consider this example: “If I incorporate a philosopher’s name into my writing to establish its authenticity, then more readers will be drawn to my work out of curiosity.” This hypothesis (maybe a null-hypothesis 😉 ) is not only clear but also steeped in logical reasoning, which catalyzes clear action – crafting and publishing the piece.
Once published, the feedback received—measured by the number of readers, their engagement, and their responses—provides immediate validation or negation of the initial idea. It helps you understand your readers’ preferences better and improves your writing strategies for reader engagement. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to meet your goals as a successful writer.
Other Major Learnings From Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Meditations’ is a profound philosophical work that distills key lessons from Stoicism, a philosophy that emphasizes virtue, wisdom, and the understanding of nature. Here are some of my favourite key teachings from ‘Meditations’.
1. Embrace the Stoic Perspective
Acceptance of Life’s Unpredictability:
Take the example of a sudden job loss or a pandemic like COVID-19. No one can predict such life-changing events, and they can leave us feeling anxious and unsettled. However, accepting the fact that life is unpredictable and that we can’t control everything helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
Virtue as the Highest Good
Consider the story of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi led India to independence from British rule through his virtue of non-violence, which he held as a moral excellence. Despite numerous provocations and adversities, he never compromised on his principle of non-violence. This virtue was within his control and he consistently chose to uphold it, leading by example and inspiring millions.
Wisdom Over Emotion
Imagine a situation where someone cuts you off in traffic. Your immediate emotional response might be anger, and you might feel like retaliating in some way. However, by using wisdom over emotion, you would realize that retaliating won’t solve anything, and might even create more problems, like causing an accident or escalating the situation. Instead, by staying calm and moving on, you can ensure your safety and maintain peace of mind. Road Raging is a serious issue.
2. Pursue Rationality
Value Reason: As rational beings, we should let reason, not desire or fear, guide our decisions and actions.
Let’s imagine you’re the marketing manager of a successful sportswear company. You’ve recently noticed an uptick in popularity for eco-friendly products. The initial desire might be to immediately launch an eco-friendly product line to capitalize on the trend. However, instead of acting on impulse, you decide to let reason guide your actions.
You initiate comprehensive market research, analyzing competitors, potential price points, and your target audience’s willingness to pay for environmentally-friendly sportswear. Only after careful and reasoned consideration, evaluating the cost-benefit ratio, do you decide to proceed with the launch, ensuring a more successful outcome.
Pursue Knowledge: We should continuously seek wisdom and knowledge for personal development and betterment of society.
Imagine a small business owner whose company has been successful for many years using traditional business methods. However, with the rise of e-commerce and digital marketing, don’t you think there is a need to adapt? Instead of sticking to what they know, they should pursue knowledge in these new areas.
3. Cultivate Resilience
Transform Obstacles into Opportunities
During the 2008 economic recession, Airbnb faced a significant obstacle: people were reluctant to travel, let alone stay in strangers’ homes. However, Airbnb saw an opportunity in this crisis. They focused on providing affordable accommodation alternatives to expensive hotels, a value proposition that attracted cost-conscious travelers during the downturn. The company has since grown exponentially and is now a major player in the global hospitality industry.
Cultivate Emotional Resilience: We should remain undisturbed by external events and maintain equanimity, no matter the situation.
In 2008, Starbucks faced declining sales due to the global economic crisis and growing competition. Howard Schultz, then CEO, returned to the company and made tough decisions, including closing hundreds of stores and reducing staff. It was a challenging period, but Schultz maintained emotional resilience. He believed in the company and his strategy. Today, Starbucks has rebounded and continues to be a leader in the global coffee industry
To quote Marcus Aurelius himself: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” By striving for clarity and cultivating emotional resilience, by seeking knowledge and valuing reason, we can transform obstacles into opportunities, thereby enhancing the quality of our thoughts and, ultimately, the quality of our lives.
Imagine you’re at your favourite supermarket, walking through the cosmetic items row, and you see hundreds of different brands of body lotions.
So many options, right?
But then, something strikes you – despite the variations in packaging and flavours, most of these lotions actually belong to a handful of big companies, such as Hindustan Unilever or P&G. They’ve just packaged their product in different ways to cater to a diverse range of tastes.
In the realm of online search, it’s eerily similar. Have you ever wondered about the companies dominating Google search results?
You might be surprised to learn that less than 20 companies control a major chunk of the web’s content. They own a variety of websites across a broad spectrum, from health to tech, from sports to food.
Unveiling the 16 Companies Dominating Google Search Results
So, how many companies are we talking about? The number is 16. These 16 companies are the puppeteers controlling at least 562 different brands that show up in your daily Google search results.
According to Semrush, a platform that offers online visibility management and content marketing SaaS, these companies together command a whopping 3.7 billion clicks from Google each month. That’s an average of 6.5 million monthly clicks for each site under their umbrella.
This phenomenon was first identified in 2016 byGlen Allsopp, who pointed out how these companies, renowned in their industries, leverage their online authority and the reputation of their popular brands to help new brands rank well on Google and generate traffic.
Digging Deeper: CBS Interactive
CBS Interactive, a division of Paramount Global, is a global leader in digital content and a key player in the world of online media.
In India they have a strategic partnership with Network18 Group—a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. Their recent launch in India is Jio Cinemas. Something which is considered as an OTT Predator.
CBS’ diverse collection of websites cater to a broad audience, offering content ranging from entertainment and sports to tech reviews and music lyrics. Here are some of the main websites under CBS Interactive, along with their global ranking, indicating their popularity among internet users:
The All-encompassing Net under CBS
CNET.com – Ranked 182 globally, CNET is a leading tech news and reviews website, offering advice on a range of tech products from smartphones to home appliances.
GameFAQs.com – With a global rank of 310, GameFAQs provides users with game guides, FAQs, reviews, and discussion forums for video games.
Gamespot.com – Ranked 808 globally, Gamespot is a hub for gaming news, reviews, previews, and videos for leading gaming platforms.
Last.fm – Ranked 965 in the world, Last.fm is a music discovery service that provides personalized recommendations based on the music users listen to.
MetroLyrics.com – Holding a global rank of 1,590, MetroLyrics is a lyrics-dedicated website, featuring over 1 million songs from around 16,000 artists.
Metacritic.com – Ranked 1,762, Metacritic aggregates reviews and provides scores for movies, TV shows, video games, and music albums.
CBS.com – CBS’s official website, ranked 1,846 globally, offers access to CBS programming, including full episodes of popular CBS shows.
247Sports.com – With a global rank of 2,304, 247Sports offers in-depth coverage of various sports, including news, scores, and recruiting information.
ZDNet.com – Ranked 2,779, ZDNet delivers 24/7 news coverage and analysis on the latest tech and business trends.
TV.com – TV.com, ranked 2,863, is a resource for TV show episode guides, reviews, video clips, and discussion forums.
TechRepublic.com – Holding a global rank of 3,266, TechRepublic helps IT decision-makers identify technologies and strategies to empower workers and streamline business processes.
Chowhound.com – Ranked 5,825 globally, Chowhound is a community of food lovers sharing their food discoveries and experiences.
Comicvine.com – With a global rank of 16,765, Comicvine is a source for comic news, reviews, and a database of comic characters.
Download.com – Download.com, ranked 252,479, is a platform for users to discover, download, and manage software in a safe and trusted environment.
CollegeSportsLive.com – With a global ranking of 600,516, CollegeSportsLive is a streaming service that offers broadcasts of college sports events.
How These Companies Dominate Google’s Search Results
Let’s say you want to buy a laptop. You are searching for a 15 inch laptop.
I hope I don’t have to explain much now.
You can do your own research for better understanding. For example, when you search for the parent company of Tom’s Guide, you will get the following result:
How These Companies Dominate Various Niches
These 16 companies do not limit themselves to a specific niche. Their influence spreads across home, beauty, tech, automotive, cooking, travel, sports, education, and many more.
A report revealed that across 10,000 terms where affiliates are ranking, which cover products in every niche you can think of, these 16 companies ranked on the first page of 8,421 (or 84%) of them. They even claimed five or more of the first 10 organic rankings in 3,999 of 10,000 search results.
This level of dominance is unprecedented and shows the extent of their control over Google’s search results
Evolution of Digital Dominance: Survival of the Fittest
If you’re wondering whether this state of affairs has been constant, the answer is no. The digital landscape, like any other, evolves over time. Many of the leading websites from a 2016 report are still dominant today, but the companies behind them and how they operate have massively evolved.
For instance, only seven or six of the sixteen companies from the original report are still on the list. Future acquired companies like Purch and Dennis Publishing, and now Fandom and Red Ventures own the biggest sites of CBS. CBS is under Paramount Global. This suggests that to stay dominant, these companies not only have to maintain their own strength but also keep an eye out for potential threats and opportunities in the landscape, much like animals in the wild.
Gawker Media was acquired by Univision in 2017.
In 2017, Univision acquired Gawker Media for $135 million. The acquisition stirred controversy as Univision, a Spanish-language media company, took over Gawker Media, renowned for its provocative and often contentious content.
Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018.
Time Inc. was acquired by Meredith Corporation in 2018 for $1.84 billion. The acquisition created a media giant with a portfolio of magazines, websites, and television networks.
Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018.
Dennis Publishing was acquired by Exponent Private Equity in 2018 for $300 million. The acquisition gave Exponent control of a number of well-known brands, including The Week, PC Gamer, and MoneyWeek.
Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018.
Scripps Networks Interactive was acquired by Discovery, Inc. in 2018 for $14.6 billion. The acquisition created a media powerhouse with a portfolio of networks that includes HGTV, Food Network, and TLC.
2 companies are now under the ownership of a larger company:
Vox Media is now majority-owned by Penske Media Corporation.
Meredith Corporation is now a part of Dotdash Meredith, which was formed when Meredith Corporation was acquired by IAC’s Dotdash in 2021.
This is more dangerous for consumers like you and me. It’s getting more condensed.
Impact on Competition and Individual Decision Making
When such a small group of companies dominates search results, it inevitably impacts competition. Other businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, find it challenging to compete with these behemoths.
These dominant companies have established their authority over time and built a substantial online presence, making it difficult for others to rank well in search results.
Moreover, this dominance also influences individual decision-making. When we conduct a Google search, we usually trust and click on the top results, often oblivious to the fact that a small group of companies own the diverse list of websites that appear. This limits the information and options available to us, subtly influencing our decisions and preferences.
Some of the biggest sites these companies are behind, as of May 2023, include MayoClinic (376.7M monthly visitors, owned by Ziff Davis), Healthline (249.1M monthly visitors, owned by Red Ventures), WebMD (223.1M monthly visitors, owned by Internet Brands), and Fandom (753.4M monthly visitors, owned by Fandom).
So, next time you read about the side effects of a medicine, there are high chances that all that information is coming from the same source.
This dominance of Google’s search results by a handful of companies raises questions about the diversity and competition on the internet. While these companies are successful and offer quality content, the concentration.
Dear growth marketers and SEO executives, wake up and do more research on niches; otherwise, you may not get heard.
First things first, knowing your audience is the backbone of any successful marketing campaign. Imagine if you’re a Chetan Bhagat or Amish Tripathi, successful Indian authors, crafting a new novel. You wouldn’t write without understanding your readers’ preferences, would you?
The same principle applies to your business. Your ‘reader’ is your customer. Recognise their characteristics, study their pain points, understand their goals, identify what they read, and determine where they live. This understanding will be the foundation of your Google Ads strategy.
Once you have prepared some personas, let’s move on to the website. Now we are going to modify the website keeping these personas in mind.
Making Your Website User-Friendly: On-site Optimization
Think of your website as your digital storefront. If you own a physical store, you would make sure it’s clean, organised, and welcoming to your customers, right? Similarly, your website should be welcoming, relevant, and easy to navigate.
Define Your Landing Pages Based on the Ad
Let’s say you run an online tutoring service, ‘Qrious Minds.’ You need to define the specific pages where you will send traffic from your Google Ads. If someone clicks on an ad about your IIT-JEE preparation course, they should be directed to the page specifically about that service, not your homepage. This is akin to guiding a customer directly to the section of the bookstore that houses their favourite genre.
Homepage & Branded Traffic
When we talk about a company’s homepage, we’re referring to the main landing page for a website. If branded traffic is your major channel, then you should work hard for ‘homepage’.
Branded traffic refers to the visitors that come to a website directly (like typing the URL into the browser) or through organic search results by searching for a brand’s name or specific product of a brand. These individuals already know about the brand and are seeking it out specifically, often indicating a higher level of interest or intent compared to non-branded traffic.
The homepage should be clean enough to guide them towards taking a desired action, like making a purchase or signing up for a service.
A large and relevant motion graphics clearly explains why Dropbox
The more you scroll, the more they build desire by describing different use cases for their tool.
The Art of a Clear Statement of Value
Once your home page design is ready, the next step is the master text.
The website should include a clear ‘statement of value,’ aka master text.
To put it simply, why should a student choose ‘Qurious Minds’ over other tutoring services? Perhaps you have IIT alumni as tutors, or maybe you offer personalised study plans. This statement is your ‘USP’ (unique selling proposition), the cornerstone of your business.
Drafting Your Master Text
Do thorough research and understand why people love your service or product, then highlight it. Most people ignore this part.
In an article I once came across, the CEO of a software company believed that their fast service and competitive pricing were their key selling points. However, a deeper dive revealed that people love them for different reasons. Those were their user-friendly interfaces and local operations in Mexico. Unlike many competitors who operated overseas, their location allowed real-time communication with US clients and facilitated cost-effective, in-person meetings. Moreover, their software was praised for its simplified user interface, offering just the essential features and avoiding overwhelming users with unnecessary functions. By emphasising these strengths in their messaging, they underscored the disadvantages of dealing with distant operations and complex software, effectively reshaping their unique selling propositions.
So think twice before you draft your master text.
Some of my favourite examples are from
Grammarly (Short & Sweet)
Getprospect (Nothing fancy, straight to the point, easy to read and comprehend)
The Power of Social Proof
Your site should include social proof. This is the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth publicity. For instance, if ‘Qrious Minds’ has testimonials from previous students who cracked IIT-JEE thanks to your coaching, those reviews would be your social proof.
Aggregating enough reviews takes time, so ask your customers for a review after 30 days of purchase and give them an incentive or reward for completion. Actually, this 30-day time frame is a hack; it gives you at least a few days or weeks to resolve any issues—and get a good review for it.
Authority Bias and the Culture Code Behind Social Proof
There is even a psychology behind it: Authority bias.
Showcase or mention a celebrity using a similar product or service, and leverage that to your advantage by drawing similarities between your audience and this person to convince them to make the purchase to increase their status quo.
Another rationale behind it is culture; you can classify your audience into two types: collectivist cultures and individualistic cultures. India has a collectivist culture. Individualism is about your personal interests; collectivism is about the interests of the group. This group can be your direct family, but it can also be your company or country.
In collectivist cultures, advice from social groups is generally considered important. So, people are more likely to follow the ratings of other users.
Crafting Clear Calls-to-Action ( CTA )
Imagine being in a bustling Indian bazaar with numerous sellers vying for your attention. Among all the noise, a shopkeeper with a loud, clear voice stands out, inviting you to his shop. Similarly, on your website, amidst the wealth of information, a clear and bold CTA button plays the role of that sales assistant, directing visitors to the next step.
The online retail giant, Amazon, is a prime example of this. Their bold, yellow “Add to Cart” button is highly visible and directs shoppers to the next step of the purchasing process.
Furthermore, your website should have multiple conversion conduits, or Call to Actions (CTAs). This is the digital equivalent of different salespeople for different sections, and eventually they will be guiding the customer to the checkout counter.
For example, after reading about your IIT-JEE course, there should be a clear, visible button that says “Enrol Now” or “Book a Free Demo.”
Blog Section: After reading an informative blog post about the benefits of personalised learning, a CTA could be, “Try Our Personalized Learning Approach! Start Your Free Trial Today.”
Course Description Pages: Each course description should have a clear and concise CTA, like “Enrol in This Course Now!” or “Download Course Curriculum.”
Contact Us Page: On the contact page, a CTA like “Get in Touch with Our Advisors Today” encourages prospective students to reach out for more information.
Free Resources Page: If you offer free study resources, a CTA might be, “Download Free Study Material Now!” or “Access Free Practice Tests.”
Newsletter Subscription: A CTA like “Stay Updated! Subscribe to Our Newsletter” can help grow your email list for future marketing campaigns.
Remember, the goal of each CTA is to guide visitors towards a desired action. A well-crafted CTA is clear, concise, and compelling, using action-oriented language that creates urgency and excitement.
Add Badges, Add Trust & Make it Special
Trust is the cornerstone of any business. Just as a customer feels reassured when they see an ISO certification or FSSAI mark at a restaurant, website verification badges like secure payment, BBB, SSL, guarantees, and free returns can build trust in your online services.
For ‘Qrious Minds’, if you offer free shipping for your study materials or free returns on course enrollments, turn these into badges on your website. It’s like a restaurant highlighting their ‘Hygiene Certified’ status – it provides an extra layer of trust for the customer.
Companies like Flipkart and Amazon showcase trust badges prominently, which reassure customers about the safety of their transactions. Emulating such practises can enhance the trustworthiness of your website.
Accessibility and Trust: Contact Information on Your Website
Before writing this article, I did my research by visiting multiple websites from different domains. This last point is missing in 90% of the website, and I believe that will impact your service. As a customer, before I make a purchase, I want to ensure that you are easily accessible for after-sale service.
I always prefer Amazon over Flipkart for this one simple reason: it’s easier to reach out to Amazon compared to Flipkart. Secondly, it builds trust. Customers buy from businesses they trust.
A good example of a website that efficiently incorporates contact information in the footer is the Levi.in website. It contains everything a good website footer should have: a logo, links, social network links, and contact information.
This arrangement not only makes the brand easily accessible to customers but also adds to the overall aesthetic and functional appeal of the website. And their ‘Help’ & ‘Track Order’ buttons are on the right top.
Some Additional Tips For Better Results
Product title and subtitle: Ensure these are clear, descriptive, and honest to attract relevant traffic. For example, Amazon uses specific and honest product titles without keyword stuffing.
Descriptions: These should elaborate on the specifics of your product or service. For instance, an online clothing retailer might highlight the type of fabric, fit, and special features in the description.
Media: Customers are visually driven, so use custom images and videos. Apple, for instance, uses high-quality images and videos to showcase their products from various angles, helping customers visualise the product better.
Nested navigation: Clear, easy navigation is crucial. Websites like IKEA use breadcrumbs, enabling users to track their navigation path and easily return to previously viewed pages.
In conclusion, Optimizing your website for lead generation with Google Ads is a multi-faceted process, involving everything from customer understanding to site design, social proof, clear CTAs, and trust-building. By integrating these elements into your strategy, you stand a better chance of converting your site visitors into loyal customers, thereby driving your business growth.
How to Improve my Email Deliverability? it’s a very common question from many growth marketers. Let’s find answers.
In 2022, nearly 56.5% of all emails were spam, according to DataProt. The amount of spam in email traffic varies from country to country.
India has one of the highest spam rates in the world. According to a report by DataProt, India had a spam rate of 85% in 2022. This means that for every 100 emails sent in India, 85 were spam. In the United States, the spam rate is 84%.
So, there are high chances that your cold email may end up in a spam folder. The good news is that you can easily prevent this if you know why this happens.
In this blog, we will explore why emails end up in spam, outline steps to ensure your emails land in the inbox, and guide you on how to react when your emails unfortunately land in spam.
Why Do Emails End Up in Spam?
Let’s break down the top five reasons:
The email appears as spam: This could be due to the visuals or technical elements, like including too many links or irrelevant attachments in the text.
Bad list hygiene: This happens when your list contains contacts who didn’t subscribe willingly or have opted out but are still included.
Bad sender reputation: This is influenced by your domain and IP reputation.
Individual spam filters set by the subscriber: Your email may be caught by spam filters set by your subscribers.
A mistake on the email service side: This happens when an email service mistakenly marks your email as spam.
1. Your Email Appears Like Spam
Spam filters will likely flag your email if it closely resembles a typical spam email. The content, including too many links, using shortened links, or attaching irrelevant files, can cause this.
Scammers commonly use these tactics, which spam filters recognize. In our next post, we’ll discuss more about what typical spam emails look like and how to avoid resembling them.
2. Bad List Hygiene
Good list hygiene means having a list with subscribers who are genuinely interested and have consented to receive your emails. On the flip side, bad list hygiene involves keeping subscribers who have clicked the “unsubscribe” link or adding contacts who didn’t willingly subscribe. This practice often leads to your emails being marked as spam, thus damaging your sender reputation.
Your sender reputation depends on your sender domain and your IP reputation.
For example, if you consistently send relevant and engaging emails to your subscribers, your sender reputation will likely be positive. On the other hand, if you engage in spammy practices such as sending unsolicited emails or frequently being reported as spam, your reputation will suffer.
Ultimately, the recipient of your email has control over whether your emails land in their inbox or spam folder. They can set their own filters which determine which emails should be considered spam. Unfortunately, even if you’ve done everything right, you may still end up in spam because of these personal filters.
5. Email Service Errors
Sometimes, an error on the email service side can result in marking your emails as spam. This is particularly common when your recipient uses their own email server. Even big email services like Gmail and Yahoo occasionally label legitimate emails as spam.
Now that we have examined the most prevalent reasons why emails land in spam, you are one step closer to mastering email deliverability.
5 Must Need Checklists to Pass Spam Filters
Design Your Emails Correctly
To avoid triggering spam filters, follow good email design principles. Keep text and images separate, use standardized fonts, and avoid excessive use of capital letters, exclamation marks, or phrases typically associated with spam.
Use Honest and Clear Subject Lines
Ensure that your subject lines accurately reflect the content of your email. Misleading subject lines can trigger spam filters and frustrate recipients.
Obtain Consent Before Emailing
Only send emails to contacts who have explicitly consented to receive them. This can be done through a checkbox on a registration form or a pop-up on your website.
Implement a Double Opt-In Process (Email confirmation)
Implement a two-step verification process where users must confirm their subscription to your mailing list. This ensures that your list only contains valid and interested contacts.
Include an Opt-Out Link (Unsubscribe button)
Include an easily accessible opt-out link, which is a legal requirement. This can prevent recipients from marking your emails as spam.
5 More Checklists to Pass Spam Filters
1. Maintain Your Email List
Regularly remove inactive contacts from your list. Poor list hygiene can harm your deliverability and IP reputation.
There are a number of ways to maintain your email list. You can use a tool like Mailchimp or Constant Contact to automatically remove inactive contacts from your list.
You can use Listclean or emaillistvalidation to improve the accuracy of your email list by identifying and removing invalid or inactive email addresses.
2. Use a Private Domain for Sending Emails
Enhance your credibility and reduce the likelihood of your emails being flagged as spam by sending emails from your own domain rather than public domains (like @gmail.com).
It looks more professional. When you use your own domain, it looks like you are a legitimate business or organization. This can help to improve your credibility with potential customers or clients.
It is less likely to be flagged as spam. Spam filters are more likely to flag emails from public domains as spam. This is because public domains are often used by spammers.
It gives you more control. When you use your own domain, you have more control over your email marketing campaigns. You can choose the type of content you send, the frequency of your emails, and the target audience for your campaigns.
3. Set Up DKIM and SPF
These measures verify that an email claiming to originate from a specific domain is indeed authorized by the domain owner, thereby preventing spoofing.
DKIM, which stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail, involves adding a digital signature to an email message. The signature is generated using a private key held by the domain owner. Upon receiving the email, the recipient’s mail server can utilize the public key (published in the domain’s DNS records) to verify the signature and confirm the email’s authenticity.
SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, enables the specification of authorized mail servers for sending email on behalf of a particular domain. This information is published in the domain’s DNS records. When a recipient’s mail server receives an email, it checks the DNS records to determine if the sending mail server is authorized. Unauthorized servers may lead to email rejection or spam labeling.
4. Protect Your IP Reputation
Your IP reputation reflects the trustworthiness of your IP address as perceived by email servers and internet service providers (ISPs). It considers factors such as spam complaints, email bounce rates, and the quality of your email list.
Maintaining a good IP reputation is crucial for optimal email deliverability, ensuring that your emails reach recipients’ inboxes instead of being flagged as spam.
By following the previous “5 Must Need Checklists”, you can safeguard your IP reputation and achieve high engagement rates.
5. ESP Matching
Implement ESP matching, a technique used to identify the Email Service Provider (ESP) used by your recipients and send emails from the same ESP.
For instance, if you send an email from email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org, utilizing the same ESP can reduce the chances of your email ending up in the spam folder. Unfortunately very few platforms available in the market offer ESP matching capabilities (Considering affordability).
How to Deal with IP Address and Domain Blacklisting
If your IP address or domain appears on a blacklist, it can significantly impact your email deliverability as email servers may be less inclined to accept emails from you. It is crucial to regularly check for blacklisting and take prompt action if you find yourself listed.
There are two types of blacklists:
Blacklists based on the sender’s domain.
Blacklists based on the sender’s IP address.
If either the domain or IP address is blacklisted, your mailings might encounter spam filters or, in the worst-case scenario, won’t be delivered at all.
Several factors can lead to your IP address or domain appearing on a blacklist.
For example, your server may have been compromised and exploited for spam sending. Alternatively, you might be dispatching excessive emails, or a significant number of recipients could be marking your email as spam.
If you discover that your IP address or domain is listed on a blacklist, it is essential to take steps to have it removed.
Identifying Your Blacklist: Using Tools to Determine Your Email Status
Firstly, you need to identify the specific blacklist that includes your information. Use tools, such as MxToolbox, DNSBL.info, DNS Checker, Sitechecker, Site24x7, and BlacklistMaster, can help you determine whether a blacklist has your IP address or domain.
To use these tools, input your IP address or domain name into the search field and select “Blacklist Check”.
Requesting Removal: Contacting the Blacklist Operator
Having identified the blacklist that has your data, you must then reach out to the blacklist operator and request the removal of your IP address or domain. Remember, each blacklist has its unique removal process for IP addresses and domains. Thus, you must follow the instructions provided by the specific blacklist operator.
Next, get in touch with the support team of the site hosting the blacklist with your data. Give a detailed account of the circumstances that led to the problem and explain the actions you’ve taken to rectify it. As soon as they verify that you’ve solved the problem, they will remove you from the list.
Keep in mind that removing your IP address or domain from a blacklist might take some time. During this period, you can still improve your email deliverability by adhering to email marketing best practices.
Some more tips:
Sending email from a dedicated IP address
Sending email to a warm list of subscribers
Using a reputable email service provider
Do not buy or rent recipient lists
Don’t link to disreputable websites
Drop shortened links
Reduce email size: Some email services, such as Gmail, truncate emails that are over 102KB in size.
Let’s Summarise Our Email Deliverability Tips
By following all these best practices, you can improve your email deliverability and avoid being blacklisted in the future.
Now, If you believe there’s a mistake, for example, your reputation is low even though you’ve adhered to all the best practices, you can contact the email service directly through their sender contact form and ask for advice.
Contacting Email Provider Support
Provide your information, specify the issue, and wait for a response from the support team. It’s crucial to be polite, clear, and concise when explaining your problem.
Keep in mind that the support team may not respond immediately, so continue aiming for the inbox by following best practices, experimenting with sending tactics, and monitoring deliverability.
What is domain reputation and how does it impact deliverability?
An email domain is the part of an email address that comes after the @ symbol. For example, when you send personal emails via Gmail, your domain is gmail.com. If you’re a business, your company likely has a designated domain that often matches the website address.
When talking about email marketing, an interesting analogy often crops up; consider your sender reputation like a credit score. A low credit score might lead to difficulties in securing loans or mortgages. And if you do secure one, you might end up with high interest rates due to the associated ‘risk’.
In a similar vein, a low sender reputation could mean a substantial chunk of your emails land straight in the spam folder, regardless of their content. Email service providers use this method to determine how recipients interact with your emails. Do they move them out of spam or let them stay there? A particularly bad reputation might even hinder your emails from reaching the inbox entirely.
Just like it takes time and good financial practices to improve a poor credit score, it requires consistent, quality email marketing practices to improve a low sender reputation.
However, maintaining a good sender reputation is tricky because each email service provider has its algorithms to assess and calculate your sender reputation. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of your sender reputation, to avoid putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Securing New Domains for Cold Email Outreach
The first rule of thumb in cold email outreach is to use dedicated domains, separate from your main business domain. For instance, if your primary domain is myblog.com, avoid using it for cold outreach. This tactic safeguards your business domain and email reputation from the risk of being marked as spam.
Your outreach domains should be similar to your main one to maintain the brand association.
Main domain: www.akhilpillai.com Outreach domain: hello.akhilpillai.com or updates.akhilpillai.com
Remember, keep the domain names consistent, recognizable, and avoid using dashes; they’re commonly associated with phishing attempts, leading to potential deliverability issues.
Domain Warm-up Process
Once you secure your outreach domains, you’ll need to warm them up. Domain warming essentially means gradually increasing your email activity over a certain period to build a reputation with email service providers. It’s a precaution against appearing like spam, which often involves a sudden spike in email activity.
Consider this, a new domain, especially if it’s under a month old, raises suspicion among email service providers. To bypass this suspicion, allow your new domain to sit idle for a short while or warm it up very slowly over 30 days. Recommendations from many ESPs even suggest waiting at least 12 weeks before going full speed into outreach.
Some Tools for Email Warm Up
As a dedicated growth marketer juggling multiple channels, it may feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. This is precisely where email warming tools come into play. These services automate the time-consuming task of warming up emails, ensuring you establish and maintain credibility with email service providers.
While you focus on your broader strategy and the day-to-day tasks of running your campaigns, these tools work quietly in the background, building your sender reputation, and maximizing the effectiveness of your email outreach.
When choosing an email warming tool, consider these key features:
Appropriate pace: Fast warm-up is desirable, but too fast might raise suspicions.
Extensive network: A bigger network assists in building a good sender reputation.
Advanced automation: Automated warming simplifies the process, saving you time.
Detailed reporting: Tools should provide in-depth insight into your reputation and the warm-up progression.
Value for money: Choose a high-quality tool that’s affordable and offers a free trial. Avoid overspending.
This is my favourite because they provide a a true free plan. In their free plan, we can send 3000 emails and provide support. I believe no other platform does this.For my personal blog, I am using Quickmail.
They claim that they provide a Smart warming algorithm, Multiple ESP warm up (Google, Outlook, etc.), Live blacklists and DNS check ups
$25 /email account/ month (Little expensive)
Staying Active: The Human Touch
During the warm-up period, your focus should be on proving your ‘humanity’ to the email service provider. You need to establish that your email address isn’t being used for mass spamming, but for regular, human-like activities.
These activities include sending emails to friends, signing up for social media accounts, subscribing to newsletters, and so on. The idea is to keep the email traffic flowing in both directions – incoming and outgoing. These actions show your provider that your emails are desirable, leading to interactions and replies, which is entirely opposite to spam emails.
Cycling the Crops: Knowing When to Pivot
Just like a farmer rotates crops to maintain the soil’s productivity, email marketers need to ‘cycle the crops’ – the domains. One domain might work great for a month, two, or even three, but eventually, deliverability might start dropping due to various reasons.
How can you tell? Keep a keen eye on your open rates. A significant drop in open rates is usually an indication that it’s time to switch up the email domain you’re sending from. When this happens, it’s advisable to let the original domain ‘rest’ for about three to four weeks. During this resting period, the domain reputation often resets, allowing you to get back on track.
Contrary to what you might think, domain reputation damage isn’t permanent. If you find yourself in a difficult spot, remember that patience and appropriate rest can heal most wounds. With the right practices and careful nurturing, your email outreach can thrive, delivering your emails right where they need to be – in the inboxes of your potential clients.
Stay tuned for more insights from us, and happy emailing!
Let’s not waste time by giving an intro. If you don’t know what it is and are looking for something from scratch, do a Google search on “What are Google Ads?” and come back.
This is the part -1 of the series.
Proceed with caution when someone (it can be a YouTube video or Instagram Ad) guarantees specific results with Google Ads. If they’re promising to double your traffic, be sceptical. If they’re promising this overnight, it’s time to block that person.
Understanding Google Ads Varieties
Google offers different types of Ads, each designed for various marketing goals. Understanding these can help you make informed decisions about your advertising strategy.
Search ads: These ads appear at the top of Google search results pages when someone searches for a keyword that is relevant to your business. Search ads are a great way to reach people who are actively looking for what you have to offer.
Display ads: These ads appear on websites that are part of the Google Display Network. Display ads can be images, videos, or text ads. They can be used to reach a wider audience than search ads, but they may not be as targeted.
Video ads: These ads appear on YouTube and other video-sharing websites. Video ads can be a great way to reach people who are interested in watching videos about your products or services.
Shopping ads: These ads appear when someone searches for a product that you sell. Shopping ads show the price of your product, as well as your product image and rating. They are a great way to reach people who are ready to buy.
The Influence of Google Ads: Data Insights
Despite the belief that paid results are not clicked on, data suggests otherwise. In fact, 67% of searches with high commercial intent lead users to click on a paid ad. When users are in the research phase, they tend to choose organic search results. However, when they’re ready to make a purchase, they opt for ads.
A study by HubSpot found that paid search ads can generate a return on investment (ROI) of up to 200%. This means that for every $1 you spend on paid search ads, you can expect to generate $2 in revenue.
The Trio Behind Google Ads
Google Ads operates with three key players:
Googler (users): This is the person who is searching for something on Google. When they type in a keyword, Google will show them a list of results, including both organic results and paid ads.
Advertiser (businesses): This is the business that is paying for their ad to appear in the search results. They can choose to bid on specific keywords, and they will only be charged when someone clicks on their ad.
Google Machine (the system): This is the system that powers Google Ads. It takes into account a number of factors, including the keyword bids, the quality of the ad, and the relevance of the ad to the search query, to determine which ads will appear and where they will appear.
What is Google Ads bidding?
Imagine you have a lemonade stand. You want to sell as much lemonade as possible, so you decide to set up a lemonade stand near a busy street. You know that people who are driving by are more likely to stop and buy lemonade, so you decide to bid on the right to have your lemonade stand in that spot. The higher you bid, the more likely you are to get the spot.
Google Ads works in a similar way. When you create a Google Ads campaign, you’re bidding on the right to have your ad show up when someone searches for a keyword that you’re interested in. The higher you bid, the more likely your ad is to show up.
There are a few different ways to bid in Google Ads. You can set a maximum bid, which is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for each click. You can also set a daily budget, which is the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on your campaign each day.
Google Ads will use your bids and budget to determine when and where your ads show up. If you’re bidding high enough, your ad may (stress here, MAY or May Not) show up at the top of the search results page. Or, if you’re bidding on a specific keyword, your ad may show up when someone searches for that keyword.
How does Google Ads Bidding Works
Google Ad Ranks
Google Ad Rank is a number that determines where your ad shows up on Google Search. It is calculated using your bid amount, the quality of your ad, and the competitiveness of the auction. The higher your Ad Rank, the higher up your ad will show.
Imagine you and your friends are playing a game of musical chairs. The first person to sit down in a chair wins. The chairs are like ad positions, and the person with the highest Ad Rank is the first person to sit down in a chair.
Your bid amount is like how fast you run to the chairs. The higher your bid amount, the faster you run.
The quality of your ad is like how well you can sit in a chair. The better your ad, the better you can sit in a chair.
The competitiveness of the auction is like how many other people are playing the game. The more people playing, the harder it is to win.
Big Question: How you determine Quality of your Ad?
Google won’t tell you your Ad rank, but Google tell you the Quality Score. Quality score is a measure of how relevant and well-written your ads and landing pages are.
It is calculated based on three factors:
Click-through rate (CTR): This is the percentage of people who see your ad and click on it.
Ad relevance: This is a measure of how closely your ad matches the search terms that people are using.
Landing page experience: This is a measure of how good the experience is for people who click on your ad and land on your website.
Relevance Matters: Organic vs. Paid Search
Whether it’s organic search results or paid ads, relevance is highly valued by Google. If your paid ad is more relevant to the search, it will rank higher, resulting in a top spot and lower cost per click. Google employs this strategy to build user trust.
Relevancy is the first key to Quality Ads.
In conclusion, Google Ads bidding works by determining the position of your ad on Google Search based on factors such as your bid amount, the quality of your ad, and the competitiveness of the auction. Your Ad Rank, which is calculated using these factors, determines where your ad will appear.
Can Google Ads be Profitable
To answer this question, you need to answer few other questions.
Before you decide to invest in Google Ads, ask yourself:
Can you afford the initial costs?
You’ll want to allocate at least $1,000 – $1,500 per month as a minimum starting point, although I recommend a minimum budget of $2,000. If you can comfortably meet this expense, go ahead!
Identifying Your Business Objectives
Before initiating a Google Ads campaign, it’s essential to pinpoint your business goals. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I know my close rates?
Do I understand how many leads I need to make a sale?
Do I know how many leads I need each month to turn a profit?
By determining your specific objectives, you can better assess the potential success of a long-term Google Ads campaign.
Assessing Your Website’s Quality and Responsiveness
Your website needs to be fast, mobile-responsive, informative, and user-friendly. Ask yourself if you’re ready to handle a surge in traffic.
Can you respond to customer calls promptly?
Is your sales team trained and ready to handle inquiries?
Is your inventory sufficiently stocked for an increase in orders?
Defining Your Audience
Understanding the size and location of your audience is also crucial. If you operate in a rural area with a small local population, Google Ads might not be the best choice for your business due to the limited audience size.
If you have proper answers for all these question, well, Google Ads will work for you. However, to make your Google Ads campaign profitable, it’s crucial to be prepared for competition unless you have a monopoly in the market.
Success in Google Ads requires a proactive approach to outperform competitors and stand out in the crowded digital landscape.
Gearing Up for Competition: Core Metrics of Google Ads
Before launching our campaigns, let’s explore the core concepts of Google Ads. (Ensure your ad spend is competitive enough to get the necessary clicks; otherwise, Google Ads may not yield the expected benefits.)
In the context of Google Ads, conversions refer to the actions you want your website visitors to take.
Fill out a form
Make a purchase
Download a document
Sign up for a newsletter
Google depends heavily on conversions to determine what’s working, and everything revolves around this metric.
If you don’t define what a conversion is for your business, Google can’t optimise your campaign for conversions, leading to ineffective ad spending.
Therefore, you need to track every potential conversion action on your site, irrespective of its significance. These actions serve as predictive indicators of intent.
Remember, the goal is conversions. The focus should be on generating revenue, directly tied to conversion actions.
The Role of Keywords
Keywords are vital in Google Ads. They’re like labels that users use to search for answers and solutions. As advertisers, we use keywords to organise, categorise, and design our ads. We include keywords in our landing pages and use them to signal to Google when we want our ads to show up in the SERPs.
Bear in mind, the words you use to describe your product or service may not be the same as the words your potential clients use.
The Google Ads sales funnel is a model that helps businesses understand how potential customers move through the buying process. It is divided into three stages:
Top of the funnel – Discovery: This is the stage where potential customers are searching for information about your industry, or they may be comparing different products or services.
Here, the goal is to introduce your brand and generate interest. In Google Ads, this can be achieved through targeted display ads or video ads that reach a wide audience. The purpose is to attract users and make them aware of your offering, planting the seed for future consideration.
Middle of the funnel – Intent: This is the stage where potential customers are starting to consider your business as a possible solution.
At this stage, the goal is to nurture these prospects and provide them with valuable content that addresses their needs and concerns. In Google Ads, this can be done through targeted search ads that appear when users search for relevant keywords related to your offering. The aim is to capture their attention, provide useful information, and establish your brand as a reliable solution.
Bottom of the funnel – Action: This is the stage where potential customers are ready to buy. They may be filling out a contact form, making a purchase, or scheduling a consultation.
The goal is to provide them with a compelling offer or incentive to convert. In Google Ads, this can be achieved through highly targeted search ads, remarketing campaigns, or shopping ads that display specific products or promotions. The aim is to prompt users to click, make a purchase, sign up for a service, or take any desired action that leads to a conversion.
Not All Keywords Are Equal: Craft an Offer
Everything you present to your visitor should be an offer. So, you should select your keywords accordingly.
The search terms you bid on should allow you to present an offer
For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, bidding on search terms like “women’s dresses on sale” or “discounted men’s shirts” allows you to present offers that cater to specific customer interests or needs
The ad copy you use is an offer
For example, an ad for a fitness center might include copy like “Get in shape with our state-of-the-art facilities and expert trainers. Sign up now for a free trial!” This ad copy presents an offer of a free trial, enticing users to take action and engage with the fitness center.
Your landing page should include a very clear and compelling offer
For instance, if you’re running an ad for a software product, your landing page could highlight a limited-time offer such as “Get 50% off your first year subscription. Sign up today!” This offer creates a sense of urgency and provides an incentive for visitors to complete a purchase or sign up.
Another thing to keep in mind is don’t stuff your AdWords with “You”.
Too often, we see advertisers essentially introduce themselves in their ad copy and landing pages, rather than inform the user what they will do for them.
What should the visitor do?
What’s the offer?
And why is it valuable?
Your credentials mean nothing without a clear understanding of how you will directly change the customer’s life.
Crafting Your Offer
Make sure your offer matches the search
Always be closing
Value based: cheaper isn’t always better
4. Every step of your conversion process is an offer (moving them toward the next step)
Awareness: “Discover the truth about the environmental impact of your cleaning products with our informative articles and videos.”
Interest: “Dive deeper into the world of eco-friendly cleaning with our comprehensive guide: ‘Green Cleaning: How Eco-Friendly Products Stack Up Against the Rest.'”
Consideration: “Ready to make the switch? Enjoy a 10% discount on your first order of our eco-friendly cleaning products. Use the code ‘GREENHOME’ at checkout.”
Conversion: “You’re just one click away from a cleaner, greener home! Add our Eco-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner to your cart today.”
Retention: “Welcome to our Green Home Club! As a member, you’ll enjoy monthly discounts, exclusive content, and early access to our new products. Join today and start saving!”
5. Your core offer isn’t always the right offer (ascension)
This refers to the idea that the product or service you’re best known for (your “core” offer) isn’t necessarily what will attract every customer. Sometimes, a customer might be more interested in a related product or an upgraded version of your product.
For example, if you sell eco-friendly cleaning products, your core offer might be an all-purpose cleaner. However, a customer might be more interested in a specialized kitchen cleaner or a bundle of multiple products. This is where the concept of “ascension” comes in – you start with your core offer, then you offer more advanced or premium products as the customer becomes more engaged.
Features vs. benefits (features tell, benefits sell)
This is a common principle in marketing and sales. Features are factual statements about a product while benefits explain how the product solves a problem.
While it’s important to include features in your ads, it’s the benefits that really convince customers to make a purchase. In other words, don’t just tell customers what your product is or does – tell them why it matters to them.
For example, instead of saying “Our eco-friendly cleaning products are made without harmful chemicals,” you could say “Experience a cleaner, safer home with our eco-friendly products – no harmful chemicals, just powerful cleaning power.”
Let’s say you’re about to start an email marketing campaign. Always remember, it’s your product that should do the talking. What really matters in marketing emails is your product and the image you build around it.
Here’s another key point – email marketing is the cheapest form of advertising, and advertising is all about making sales.
It is essential to acknowledge that advertising’s core purpose is to drive sales. Think of it as amplified salesmanship, where you converse with thousands instead of one. Some people spend up to $10 for each word in an ad. So, each ad should be like a super salesperson. Hence, every ad should be a super-salesman.
If a salesman’s mistake can cost a little, an advertiser’s or email marketers mistake can cost a thousand times more. So, be careful and precise. Bad salesmanship may hurt a small part of your business, but bad advertising affects all of your business.
Beyond Literary Skills: The Subtle Art of Selling
People often mistake email marketing or copywriting for fancy writing. But fancy writing isn’t really helpful here. Like a good salesperson, an ad needs to explain things briefly, clearly, and convincingly.
Here’s a simple way to decide on your advertising.
Ask yourself – “Will this help sell my product?”“Will this help me if I were talking to a buyer?” Honest answers to these questions can help you avoid many mistakes. But if you’re just trying to show off or do things to impress yourself, you’re probably not going to get people to spend money.
Fancy slogans or clever phrases might not work either. If you can’t imagine these impressing a customer in person, don’t rely on them to sell in printor emails.
Imagine this – “Buy my product. Give me your business. Give me your money.” Do you think that will work?
The best ads or cold emails don’t ask people to buy anything. They don’t even mention the price. They don’t say where you can buy the product. Good emails focus on how the product can help the customer. They provide useful information and highlight the benefits.
Does this all sound too cliched gyan? Let’s dig deeper then.
Some Scenarios: Build Trust
Yes, you’ve heard it all before, these are some randome advices all marketing gurus preach. Okay, let me share some examples to give you a better insight.
Imagine a manufacturer of brooms in India who deploys a force of around 2,000 salespersons door-to-door. Success seems improbable, but their approach surprises. Instead of asking for a purchase, they offer a broom, saying, “We’ve brought this for you. Please choose one from these samples.” The excitement of receiving something sparks interest, and in the process, the householder spots several brooms they wish to have. This unexpected service compels them to place an order.
How Sellers Utilizes a Mobile Business Model
Let’s take another example from India, a company distributing chai and other supplies via carts across numerous cities. A representative drops off a small pack of chai, saying, “Give our chai a try. I’ll return in a few days to see how you liked it.” When he returns, he doesn’t ask for an order. Instead, he offers a useful kitchen tool, not for free, but as a bonus that can be paid for by purchasing more chai. Service always takes the front seat.
I heard a story that a European manufacturer of electric sewing machine motors struggled with advertising. Following expert advice, they ceased direct sales attempts and offered to send a motor to tailors in Savile Row (London) via any dealer for a week’s trial. Along with the motor, a guide would demonstrate its operation. Their ad simply said, “Let us assist you for a week, without any cost or obligation.” This irresistible offer led to sales in nearly nine out of ten trials. (Maybe this won’t work in India, considering Indian civic sense and ethics 😉 )
As someone who has worked in email marketing, I can tell you that the real test of a marketer lies in selling products through cold emails. It’s a skill one must master for success because for any startup, cold emails remain the most affordable and accessible method of marketing.
However, before diving into “the techniques of email marketing”How to Draft Cold Emails”, it’s crucial to understand the psychology behind marketing. The successful marketer needs a firm grasp of human psychology. The more insights you have into this, the better your results.
Marketing and Psychology: A Powerful Combo
You need to understand that different triggers create different responses, and this knowledge is essential for effective email marketing and overall marketing success.
Like in Physics, certain effects lead to certain reactions, and use those reactions to increase results and avoid mistakes.
Just like human nature remains consistent, the basics of psychology never change. They are as valid today as they were during the times of Caesar.
For example, we’ve learned that curiosity is a powerful motivator. We make use of it whenever possible.
Consider the scenario of popcorn in a cinema, a staple in India and around the world. Initially, popcorn was just another snack.
But what made it so popular?
The curiosity sparked by seeing kernels transform into fluffy, crunchy snacks right in front of your eyes, hearing the loud “pop” sound, and the captivating aroma filling the air. “Kernels bursting into larger than life sizes,” “Sounds like tiny fireworks,” “Each kernel undergoing a mini explosion.” This sense of wonder played a significant role in making popcorn the go-to movie snack. Now it became a habit and standard at movie halls.
Stay Curious and Build Loyal Customer Base
So your headlines, should bring some curiosity. But in my experience, most services highlights the affordabaility in the headline.
Understand that low price isn’t always the best way to appeal to customers. Americans, for instance, are big spenders. They like good deals, but they don’t necessarily go for the cheapest. They take pride in affording the best. On the other hand, in India, terms like “Free,” “Cheapest,” and “Most Affordable” work better. Here, the decision-making process often begins with the price. So, tailor your approach to suit your target demographic.
The Effectiveness of “Pay After a Week” Strategy
Now, consider this. Many businesses have advertised, “Try it for a week. If you don’t like it, we’ll return your money.” Then came an innovative idea – sending products without asking for any money upfront, and saying, “Pay in a week if you like it.” This proved to be far more appealing. (Demography matters here)
As one marketing expert explained it,
“Two men came to me, each offering a horse. They both made the same claims. They were good, gentle horses, safe even for a child to drive. One man said, ‘Try the horse for a week. If my claims are not true, you can have your money back.’ The other man said, ‘Try the horse for a week,’ but he added, ‘Come and pay me then.’ Naturally, I chose the second man’s horse.“
The power of perception plays a significant role in decision-making. Imagine you have five products that are identical in every way. Now, if you ask five people to choose one, they might each pick a different one. But, here’s a twist: if you highlight certain features or qualities in one product, everyone’s attention is drawn to it.
And what happens then? All five people are likely to choose that one product. It’s all about how you present it. This is a key strategy to remember when drafting marketing emails. You have to highlight the right features to make your product stand out. There is a great deal in mental impression.
Specificity: A Key to Impressiveness
Let’s move on to the next crucial aspect – being precise and explicit.
There’s a stark contrast in the impact of two statements taking up the same space, where one is clear-cut and the other is vague. If there’s a point to be made, ensure it lands with maximum impact.
A retailer might mention, “We’ve cut down our prices,”yet it might not stir much interest. However, when they say, “We’ve slashed our prices by 25%,” the announcement hits home.
Consider a marketer selling affordable women’s wear through mail order. For years, his tagline was,“Lowest prices in India.” Competitors soon followed suit. Then he started promising to beat any other seller’s price. His competition copied this strategy too. Over time, these claims became generic, losing their allure. But with some wise guidance, he switched his approach, stating, “We only make a net profit of 3%.” This concrete statement made an impact. Given their scale of operations, it was clear their prices were rock bottom. No one could expect a business to run on less than a 3% profit. The following year, their sales surged dramatically.
The most talked-about gadget of the year
Consider the marketing of smartphones. “Fast performance,” “Long battery life” “50 MP Camera” Each brand had the same chance to win over customers. Then a new brand came along. They were up against brands that everyone already liked. They did something different though. They said, “Look at our Glyph interface, It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before (a supporting image)” “We believe in windows, look at our transparent design” “Faster than ever before. Our phone is the first in India to feature the SD 778G+ processor and cleaner Android software.” This straight-to-the-point strategy got them a lot of success quickly in this tough market.
Xiaomi’s 12 Lite is a better phone than the newly launched brand in terms of features and price. However, the new brand has been able to gain a foothold in the Indian market due to its strong marketing campaigns.
The Challenge of Changing Habits
I read somewhere we humans are slaves of our habits.
Shifting people’s habits is a tough task, and it can cost a lot. Before you jump into such an endeavour, give it a serious thought.
Consider this: to promote shaving soap among the traditionally bearded farmers of Punjab, you’d first have to change their long-standing tradition of sporting beards. The costs associated with such an effort could be sky-high. Yet, there are countless marketers who try to pull off similarly ambitious tasks. They plunge in without adequate research, tracking results haphazardly without truly understanding them.
However, let’s not conclude that altering habits and penetrating markets is an impossible task.
In the 1970s, they were struggling to sell instant coffee in Japan, a country with a deep-rooted tea-drinking culture.
So, what do you do when your target market doesn’t have a cultural imprint of your product? You create one.
To crack this nut, Nestlé hired a French marketing consultant named Clotaire Rapaille.
Rapaille conducted in-depth three-hour sessions with ordinary Japanese folks to try and understand their cultural relationship with coffee.
Nestlé decided to change their approach. Instead of persuading Japan to embrace coffee, they began to produce coffee-flavored (caffeine-free) desserts for children.
Kids universally adore candies and desserts, and Japanese children were no exception – there was no cultural barrier in this regard. Fast-forward fifty years, and Japan now spends $22 billion on instant coffee, more than any other country.
Let’s Wrap It: Email marketing & Psychology
From the outside, advertising might seem straightforward. Many individuals assert their expertise in it, leading to a lot of advertising work being awarded based on personal preference.
But the real experts understand that the complexities involved in advertising are as substantial as those in constructing a skyscraper. A lot of these challenges lie in laying a robust foundation.
The psychology behind marketing is full of insights, and its a foundation. Some marketers have a natural understanding of these principles. Others learn them through experience. However, the most efficient way to learn is from others. When you observe a successful strategy, make a note of it, and when the right opportunity comes, put it into action.
Have you ever heard the word “Somatic marker” before? Maybe No! But have you ever wondered why you choose one brand over another? Whether it’s picking a Samsung TV over a Xiaomi TV or reaching for Chocolate flavour instead of a Strawberry flavour, there’s something going on in our heads that influences our decisions.
Let’s dive into the fascinating world of our minds and explore how our brain creates somatic markers that shape our buying choices.
Connecting the Dots: Somatic Marker Hypothesis and Decision Making
Imagine you’re standing in the supermarket, eyeing two brands of cereal. They’re nearly identical in terms of ingredients and price, yet you feel a slight tug towards one. You can’t quite explain why, but you find yourself reaching for that particular box. This, in essence, is your somatic markers at work, subtly nudging your decision-making process.
Antonio Damasio, a renowned neuroscientist, proposed the somatic marker hypothesis. He suggested that our decisions aren’t just the result of rational thought, but are significantly influenced by emotional responses or “somatic markers” linked to our past experiences.
Somatic markers are like mental bookmarks or shortcuts that our brain creates based on past experiences of reward and punishment. They link together concepts, sensations, and emotions to guide us towards decisions that lead to the best outcome. For example, if you once burned your fingers touching a hot oven, your brain forms a somatic marker associating the concepts of “oven,” “hot,” and “pain.” This marker helps you avoid similar situations in the future. It’s active in virtually every choice we make.
Somatic Markers: The Invisible Puppeteers of Buying Behaviour
In the world of marketing, understanding consumer buying behavior is crucial. And here’s where the somatic marker hypothesis throws a curveball. Marketers have realized that they can no longer just focus on providing logical arguments about why their product is superior. They need to appeal to the somatic markers of their customers.
Let’s consider car sales. A marketer can talk all day about the technical specifications of a car – its mileage, horsepower, and safety features. But what if the customer had a past positive experience with a particular brand? That emotional memory, the somatic marker, might pull them towards that brand despite the logical arguments.
Let’s consider another example of shopping for a digital camera. With a sea of options, many of which have similar features, why do we tend to gravitate towards Japanese brands? our brain has formed new markers that link Japan with technological excellence. This association leads us to choose a Japanese camera, even if we can’t fully explain why.
Companies and advertisers are aware of the power of somatic markers, and they actively work to create them in our minds. Take TV commercials, for instance. Tires from different brands may seem identical, but you find yourself drawn to Michelin or MRF (Thanks to Sachin). This preference has little to do with the tires themselves. Instead, it’s the somatic markers carefully crafted by the brand.
Somatic Markers: Creating Emotional Landscapes in Marketing
Antonio Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis has reshaped how we think about consumer decision-making processes. Businesses are now designing marketing strategies that don’t just engage the mind, but also the emotions. They strive to create positive emotional experiences that plant favorable somatic markers in the minds of consumers.
Take, for example, Coca Cola’s famous “Share a Coke” campaign. By personalizing each bottle with a name, Coca Cola didn’t just sell a beverage – they sold an experience. When a customer saw a Coke bottle with their name on it, they experienced a moment of delight that was likely to become a somatic marker, subtly influencing future buying decisions.
Advertisers can create somatic markers relatively easily and inexpensively. They aim to surprise and shock us by associating two seemingly unrelated elements. These shocking associations make a lasting impression on our brains, making the brand more memorable.
Consider the case of Andrex, a brand of British toilet paperthat outsells its rival Kleenex in the United Kingdom. Both brands have similar quality and price, and they spend the same amount on TV ads. However, Andrex’s success can be attributed to its use of a small Labrador puppy as a mascot. The puppy becomes associated with growing families and toilet training, creating a rich set of conceptual links in consumers’ minds. When faced with a choice, consumers may “feel” that Andrex is somehow better, even without consciously recalling the ads.
Let’s Wrap it: Somatic Markers
Understanding the role of somatic markers in decision making opens up a new frontier in marketing. It’s not just about appealing to logic, but about creating emotional experiences that can guide buying behavior.
As we move forward, the companies that can effectively engage with the somatic markers of their customers will have a powerful tool at their disposal. And as consumers, being aware of our own somatic markers can help us understand the mysterious forces that often guide our decisions.
Remember, the next time you feel an inexplicable pull towards a product, you might just be experiencing your somatic markers at work. Happy shopping!