Our bodies’ cells didn’t evolve to flourish in a petri dish. Even fast-growing skin cells stop dividing and turn thin and ragged after a few weeks outside the body. This natural obstacle limited the therapeutic potential of lab-grown cells – if you can’t grow the cells, you can’t use them to heal damaged tissue.
Then, a decade ago, Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka identified a cocktail of genes that, when added to mouse skin cells, transformed them into a new kind of cell that grew happ
Okay, so maybe that’s not so much a fun fact as it is a scary fact, but either way the fact is that most display ads have truly awful clickthrough rates.
The question is, why? Are your ads just unclickably ugly? Do you have the wrong CTAs? Is it just plain banner blindness?
While all of these elements could be contributing to a low clickthrough rate, often display ads struggle because they are simply showing up in front of the wrong audience.
Take this ad, for example:
Decent ad…terrifyingly bad placement.
However, with a little extra effort, your results can be better than this (admittedly, it’s not a very high bar). It’ll take a bit of work and research, but it will get your ads in front of more of the right people.
To improve the performance of your display ads, though, we’ll need to take a look at your analytics data. So, pull up your analytics platform and let’s get started!
Improving Your Topic/Interest Targeting
Topic/interest targeting is a very easy way to get your ads displayed on a ton of websites. However, if you don’t pick your topics carefully, your ads can easily end up in front of an irrelevant audience.
Imagine you’re marketing for a company like Slack, Salesforce or Moz. You’d probably choose a topic that your target audience is likely to be interested in, like “Business & Industrial > Advertising & Marketing > Marketing.”
Seems like a reasonable topic, right?
The only problem is, what your display network defines as a “Business & Industrial > Advertising & Marketing > Marketing” website may not be what you expect.
For example, www.getjar.com is one of the websites under this topic:
Now, I have nothing against GetJar, but if you’re marketing customer relationship management (CRM) software, your ideal audience probably doesn’t consist of people who want to hack Instagram accounts…
I’ll admit that I’ve been researching CRMs, so there’s a chance that Salesforce’s ad showed up because they were using an in-market audience to target people in a CRM purchasing pattern. However, even if this is the case, if I was on GetJar because I wanted to play “Toca Life Town perfect,” I’m not very likely to click on an ad for “The Complete Guide to Lead Nurturing.”
Sure, maybe I might click on an ad for “The Complete Guide to ‘Toca Life Town’ Nurturing”, but “The Complete Guide to Lead Nurturing”? Not so much.
Do you see the problem here? While topic/interest targeting can get you on a lot of supposedly relevant sites, the actual relevance of those sites to your company or ad is often very low.
The good news is, there’s an easy fix for problems like this.
Since most people use the Google Display Network, I’ll use the GDN for my examples, though the same principles apply to most display advertising platforms.
To begin, you need to figure out where exactly your ads are displaying. You can do this by opening AdWords, picking a reasonable time frame (like 6-12 weeks) and then selecting the campaign you’re interested in and clicking Display Network.
From there, click “Placements” and you can see where your ads are being displayed:
Just so you know, if you’ve already chosen certain specific sites that you want your ads displayed on, there will be a “Managed” status on those placements. Websites chosen by Google (from your targeting setting) have their status set as “Automatic”.
Once you’re here, sort by impressions or costs. Check the conversion rates of the traffic on the top websites you have listed and if you see a poor conversion rate, take a look at that website to see if it’s on that’s applicable to your business. If it doesn’t match your advertising goals, click on “Edit” and then exclude that site.
On the other hand, if you find a site with a great clickthrough or conversion rate, click on “+ Targeting” and add it to your list of managed placements. Yes, I know that sorting through and cleaning up your placements can take some extra time and effort, but it will greatly improve the effectiveness of your display ads.
Fixing Up Contextual Targeting
Contextual targeting takes a very different approach to display ad targeting. Instead of using topics or interests to identify the websites you want your ads on, with contextual targeting you create keyword lists that Google uses to identify relevant sites.
Of course, whether or not this approach is a good idea for your company depends wholly on your marketing goals and the keywords you choose.
In a lot of ways, picking the right keywords for contextual targeting is a lot like picking the right keywords for paid search advertising: you need to know what keywords and phrases your target audience searches for online. So, if you’re running a paid search campaign, some of your best data can be found in your search terms report.
You’ll be able to find this information by using a relevant time frame (of about 6-12 weeks) and clicking on the tab labeled “Keywords.” From there, click on “Search Terms”:
Sort this list by conversions, clicks or impressions to see which search queries bring in the best traffic.
Generally, most accounts will have groups of 5-10 search terms or keywords that are thematically similar and drive great results. Identify those search terms are build your contextual targeting keyword lists around those themes.
It will take Google about a month or two to find the best sites for you. Once that’s up and running, you can look through your placements list and see which sites are most worthwhile (like we did in the last section). Or, if you’re already running contextually targeted ads, you may want to look at your current placements and search terms list to make sure that you are currently targeting the right keywords in your display campaigns.
Again, this approach isn’t quite as easy as simply writing down all the possibly relevant keywords you can think of and using that list to target your display ads, but the results will be much better.
Refinining Demographic Targeting
Demographic targeting is one of the simplest display ad targeting methods to use, but it’s also one of the least effectively employed ways to improve your display advertising’s performance.
The majority of advertisers forget that they have demographic data they can use to help measure the performance of their ads. You can tell you have a problem with your targeting if your target audience is men over 50 but all of your ads are showing up for women under 30.
Sadly, this sort of problem is far more common than you might think.
To see if your demographic targeting makes sense, open up Google Analytics and select “Audience.” From there, expand the Demographics submenu and choose “Overview.”
Finally, change your segment to “Converters” and you’ll see a screen like this:
Looking at the results in this GIF, you can clearly see that this client shouldn’t be targeting display ads to people who are older than 44 or younger than 25. There are no real conversions coming from that audience.
By the way, this approach only works if you’re tracking conversions, so if you don’t have conversion tracking set up…change that now. However, even in this situation, you can still get some fantastic demographic information for target demographic insight from the AdWords Report Editor (assuming that you get a lot of high-quality traffic through paid search):
You can see here that this client gets about 3x more clicks from men than than they get from women. With that in mind, would it make sense to run a campaign that targets primarily women? Probably not.
Once you know the demographics of your audience, it’s time to compare those demographics to the demographics of your display advertising audience. Just open AdWords and click your chosen campaign, then choose “Display Network”. From there, choose the Demographics tab:
In this case, we’re looking at display ad demographic data for the same client as we saw in the other two screenshots. Comparing that data, it looks like their display ads are being shown to 3.4x more men than women, which matches the click demographics of the search ads they have set. That’s probably a good thing.
However, a significant portion of their impressions come from people over 44 and under 25. That’s a potential problem since that demographic doesn’t seem to convert on the client’s site. Limiting this client’s demographic targeting to people between 25 and 44 could significantly improve their ad performance.
Unlike the last two tactics, this approach is very easy to implement, so take a look at your demographic data and figure out where your best value comes from!
With the right targeting, you can get your display ads in front of the right audience. That can be great for building brand awareness and driving relevant clicks and conversions.
Or, your ads could be showing up in situations like this:
However, by using your analytics data, you can put together a good advertising strategy that can get your display ads to the right audience and boost the odds that your display ads will get clicked.
You’ve heard my two cents, now I want to hear yours.
How do you improve display ad performance? Have you ever seen any heart attack-inducing display ad fails like these?
About the Author: Jacob Baadsgaard is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising, an online marketing agency dedicated to using PPC advertising and website optimization to drive sales. His face is as big as his heart and he loves to help businesses achieve their online potential. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.
How much sex a person has is the result of many factors… but are there any that seem more important? To find out, these researchers collected data from 254 women in their thirties, asking them about their personal and physical lives. It turns out that over 40% of the women sampled had sex at least twice a week, and that obese women were more likely to have sex at least three times a week. I guess they really don’t call it the “dirty thirties” for nothing!
Factors Related to Coital Freq
fMRI researchers should care about (and report) the size of the effects that they study, according to a new Neuroimage paper from NIMH researchers Gang Chen and colleagues. It’s called Is the statistic value all we should care about in neuroimaging?. The authors include Robert W. Cox, creator of the popular fMRI analysis software AFNI.
Chen et al. explain the purpose of their paper:
Here we address an important issue that has been embedded within the neuroimaging community for a long tim
A hot prospect has demoed your software or product, and now you’ve got Sales talking with the decision-makers about an enterprise solution that will be your biggest yet. You find out they’ve narrowed down their decision to you and two of your competitors. This should be a slam dunk—you just spent the last three months doing market research and sharpening your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), and you know your team now clearly communicates the unique value you provide.
But the sales process drags out weeks and months. . . and the prospect is asking for discounts and extra customization at no additional charge. You’re crunching the numbers, trying to figure out how to keep the deal alive and asking yourself why you’re stuck competing on price again. And then you find out the prospect chose a competitor.
What went wrong? Your UVP was strong. Your sales team was at the top of their game. What happened?
As it turns out, UVP isn’t as important as we think it is. CEB research surveyed 3,000 B2B buyers across 36 brands and 7 industries and revealed that only 14% of buyers perceive enough meaningful difference between brands’ business value to be willing to pay extra for that difference. Unless you’re selling something truly revolutionary—solving a problem that has not yet been solved in any way, shape, or form—your UVP is pretty much the same as your best competitors’ UVPs. Although there are subtle differences, your prospects are saying they’re not willing to pay for them. So you end up competing on price.
Only 14% of buyers saw enough difference between suppliers to be willing to pay a higher price for it. (Image Source)
What’s the solution? It’s not that UVP doesn’t matter at all. B2B buyers demand ROI—you have to deliver at least as much business value as your competitors do, in order to get into the consideration set. So all the work you put into developing your UVP isn’t wasted.
Personal Value Beats Business Value
But while nearly all B2B companies focus on business value and treat B2B buying as a rational decision process, the reality is that people are making these buying decisions—people who have emotions and who are concerned about things like getting a promotion, being respected by their peers, and not making mistakes. They fear risk. They want admiration. They are driven by the desire to be successful.
According to CEB’s research, over 90% of the B2B buyers surveyed would either put off the purchase indefinitely or would buy from the lowest-price supplier in their consideration set. If you’re going to consistently win deals profitably, you need to address personal value at least as much as you address business value.
Buyers were much more likely to purchase from the supplier that demonstrated personal value. (Image Source)
There are two sides to personal value—a positive and a negative. If you tackle both in your marketing and sales materials, you’ll build a strong case that will motivate buyers. Let’s look at each of these in detail.
Address Personal Benefits
The positive side of the personal value coin is personal benefits—how your product or service benefits your prospects personally. While every individual will have his or her own goals and desires, you’ll want to identify two or three that are shared by most of your prospects so you can focus on these in your marketing. (If you break out different market segments or personas and market separately to each, you have the freedom to get more specific with the personal benefits you highlight.)
To identify the personal benefits that will resonate with your prospects, you’ll need to do a bit of research. The easiest way to learn this info is to set up brief phone interviews with current clients or prospects who fit your ideal client profile. Here are a few questions you can ask that will give you insight.
- What is important to you as a [title or role]?
- What are you currently working toward? (A promotion? A role change? You’re looking for what motivates them.)
- What are your one-year goals?
- Where do you see yourself in two years?
Once you’ve completed your interviews, look over the words and phrases that your interviewees used to describe what matters to them. What words and phrases were used the most? These are the ones that you’ll want to incorporate into your messaging to ensure prospects fully understand and instinctively react to what you’re saying.
Address Personal Risk
The negative side of the personal value coin is personal risk. Fear is one of the strongest forces that prevent people from taking action—even action they logically know they need to take. If you want prospects to move forward in the buying journey, you’re going to have to address their fears.
Nearly every B2B buyer, no matter what his or her job role, has the following fears.
- Potential loss of time. Would-be buyers are busy and almost always have more on their to-do lists than they can possibly get done. They worry that implementing your solution will take up too much of their valuable time.
- Potential loss of respect. To get the deal agreed upon, buyers have to champion your solution to their teams. They worry that if your solution doesn’t deliver as promised, or if it’s a nightmare to implement, they’ll lose the support of coworkers and superiors.
- Potential loss of job. If the performance of your product or service is bad enough and causes a large loss of money or potential revenue, a buyer could lose his or her job over the purchase. This is a fear that can easily and completely derail a purchase.
If you want to close the deal, you’ll need to address each of these fears in your bottom-of-the-funnel marketing content or sales materials.
It’s important to note that “showing” is more effective than “telling” prospects that they don’t need to worry about these potential hazards. Besides that fact that it would be weird, no one would believe you if you simply stated, “And there’s no reason to fear losing your job if you buy from us—you won’t!”
Use testimonials and case studies to demonstrate the results you’ve achieved for other companies similar to theirs. Point out how quickly or easily the implementation went and the specific ROI you delivered. Social proof (especially if you’ve got testimonials or case studies from companies well-known in their industry) will alleviate their fears better than anything else.
Dig into the Pain of Non-action
The best way to overcome that last bit of doubt remaining after you’ve addressed potential fears is to dig into the pain that will result from not moving forward with the purchase.
Find out what the buyer will lose if he or she puts off the decision, and quantify it. How much revenue is he or she sacrificing? How much time is he or she wasting?
Then compare the loss resulting from inaction to any remaining potential risk. You need to show the buyer that the reward greatly outweighs any potential risk. This is the final kick-in-the-pants that buyers need to make the purchase.
The best time to point out the pain of non-action is in your proposal. After you’ve clearly communicated business benefits and personal benefits, and after you’ve assuaged their fears, make sure they feel how much the status quo hurts—and how that pain will just continue to get worse the longer they stay there.
Never Forget You’re Selling to People
The companies that win will be the companies that thoroughly understand their prospects and clearly communicate personal value as well as business value. Never lose sight of the fact that, even as a B2B company, you’re selling to people. Show off that shiny UVP, but don’t stop the conversation at business value. And you’ll find that price is no longer holding you back from those highly-coveted enterprise deals.
About the Author: Laura MacPherson is a freelance writer who integrates persuasion psychology and research into copywriting and content for B2B companies. Follow her (or connect) on LinkedIn for an unlimited supply of marketing tips and tricks.
What hurts one mouse, hurts every mouse.
That’s the conclusion of a new study examining the social transfer of pain in mice. When one group of mice was exposed to a painful stimulus, a completely unaffected group displayed the same kind of heightened sensitivity as the first. Given that mice are mammals like us, the effect could also exist in humans, as well as informing future pain research.
Testing for Pain
In their study, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University work