Conversation Marketing

I was checking my Google blog radar this morning when I came across an absolute gem of a read: Ian Lurie’s Common Sense Internet Strategies at his blog, Conversation Marketing. Ian’s an experienced Internet marketing consultant whose book (available free online or for $19.95 as a book) is one of the absolute best things I’ve ever read on how to permission-based, customer-centric online marketing can really work.

Ian’s approach – Conversation Marketing – is built on six basic ideas:

  • Know the Room. Understand your audience. Base your campaign on that understanding.
  • Dress Appropriately. Use the right design. Not the ‘cool’ one.
  • Sound Smart. Good content, smart architecture, and good code speak to your visitors.
  • Make a Connection. Opt-in e-mail, RSS and other tools continue the conversation.
  • Observe & Adjust. Analytics provide feedback and guidance for ongoing campaign adjustments.
  • Brag Modestly. Someone else should say how important you are

I strongly recommend, commend and suggest you give this a read. And I would not be surprised if you engaged Ian if your sales did not soar through the roof too.

[tags]Conversation Marketing, micro-ISVs, micro-ISV[/tags]

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Bob WalshConversation Marketing

Avoid the top three web mistakes.

By Dave Collins
Founder, Shareware Promotions

Having carried out countless website reviews – some of them live at the various software conferences – we have seen more than our fair share of websites selling software. After a while, patterns have emerged, and it is clear that there are certain mistakes that website owners make time and time again. To help you avoid following in their footsteps, we’ve decided to write about the three index page mistakes we see most often.

Mistake Number One – Not focusing on your customer.

Let’s be blunt: people don’t come to your site to read about you or your plans and aspirations. They come because they need something, and they hope you’ll provide it. They want to hear how you can help them – and the easiest way to do this is to address them directly on the index page. There are two main rules: try to avoid the passive voice, and avoid using the term “we”. Instead, talk to your customers by addressing them with “you”.

Compare these three examples of realistic introductory sentences:

“FunkyTool 3.3 has been developed with ease of use being a top priority.”

“We offer a full range of productivity solutions and time management software. Our first priority is customer satisfaction.”

“Organize your notes, tasks and schedules – save time, and make your life easier and more productive!”

The first example uses the passive voice, and while there’s nothing technically wrong with it, it is a bit dull and bland and probably won’t catch anyone’s attention. The second example is the biggest no-no – at this point, visitors don’t care about you and your priorities, they simply want to find out what your software does. Clearly, the third example is the most immediately appealing as well as the easiest to understand.

It’s simple, really: just leave pompous self-importance and technical details behind, and talk directly to your customers as if they were in the room with you and you only had ten seconds to convince them to buy your software. Simple!

Mistake Number Two – Too many links.

We see this all the time, especially on sites that started out as a one-man business. A website grows, and rather than rethinking the navigation and making things easier for visitors, you simply add a link. And a second one. And a third. Take a look at your index page, and count the links. All the links, including that one to news about the latest update, the little one to the award you got three years ago, the old purple download button that your forgot to remove, and the link to SETI that no longer works. All of them.

With main navigation and footer links included, around 20-40 links is acceptable – but only if most of them are repeated several times. More than 25 unique links is usually a very bad idea, and more than 60 (which we have seen!) should qualify as link assault.

While it is a good idea to provide your visitors with information, too much choice at this early stage will only confuse them. Trim your links down, and leave the ones that really matter. Provide your visitors with a clear path to the pages you want them to focus on, and they will no longer stray over to the ones that you yourself have forgotten about.

Mistake Number Three – Lack of a consistent look.

Your index page is like a shop window. It’s the first thing people see, and so it is your only chance to make a first impression. Now, imagine you’re standing in front of the window of an electronics shop, thinking about going in. The left side of the window looks great, with a wide range of tempting gadgets artfully laid out looking shiny and new. In the middle of the window you notice a big smear on the glass, and there’s a camera with some Christmas glitter on it even though it’s the height of summer. Odd. On the right side, things seem a bit haphazard, and there’s dust and some breadcrumbs in the corner. Disconcerted, you leave the store without entering.

You know this would never be acceptable in a shop window, so why do you think it’s not a problem on your index page? Making your index page look better doesn’t have to cost you anything, either. In fact, the one thing we constantly advocate is completely free: consistency. Deciding on a look and sticking to it can make all the difference in the world.

If you have acquired new graphics for your site, don’t just add them: get rid of the old ones first! There’s no better way to lessen the impact of snazzy new screenshots and slick new buttons than by placing them next to the banner your cousin made in 1998. Be consistent in your colour scheme, too. If you’re using cerulean blue in the header graphic, don’t use indigo at the bottom and ultramarine for the links. The same thing goes for fonts – if you’re desperate to make a sloppy impression, go ahead and use Verdana in the top two paragraphs and Times New Roman in the third.

There you have them – the three most common mistakes we see. Easy to rectify, and even easier to avoid in the first place. Have a good, honest look at your own index page and see if you’re guilty of any of them. You’d be surprised by the difference a few small changes can make!


Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions http://www.sharewarepromotions.com, a well established UK-based software marketing company. Dave specialises in Google AdWords, Log Analysis, Online Marketing and Delegation.

[Editor Note: Dave Collins, noted UK micro-ISV marketing expert, is sharing his considerable expertise on marketing, SEO, Google AdWords and more on Fridays at MyMicroISV. Thanks Dave!]

[tags] Dave Collins, micro-ISVs, web site mistakes[/tags]

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Bob WalshAvoid the top three web mistakes.

Weekly Site Review – E-junkie

This week’s micro-ISV volunteer for my Weekly Site Review post is Robin Kohli, founder of Tucson, Arizona-based E-junkie.

E-junkie is a micro-ISV and provides a service to micro-ISVs who want to streamline their ecommerce processing and followup. Specifically, E-junkie sells a shopping cart service that works with a variety of payment processors (PayPal, Google, ClickBank, Authorize.net) without delving into each processor’s API and with a variety of useful features like storage and delivery of electronic products, registration code delivery at the time of purchase, automatic follow up email, shipping/postage/sales tax/VAT calculation, affiliate program discounts and more.

That’s quite a monthful, isn’t it? J We’ll get to that in a moment, but here’s how E-junkie scored out (1 is great, 5 means it really, really needs work):



First Actionable Task



Write one and boil your features down to one understandable message.



Sidebar of main features works, but main text does not.



Kill the Logo! Existing process graphic is confusing – strongly in need of a screencast.



Rewrite home page to use the great testimonials you have and do some sort of expandable client gallery.

Credibility Markers


Get some third party markers going, add a 30-day money back guarantee and a privacy policy.

Tech Support


One giant FAQ/instructions list does not cut it.



Either kill Community or give it the attention it needs.

Overall Average:


This site needs a lot of work to be worthy of what looks like a really cool product.


(The USP – Unique Selling Proposition – is the most important part of your site. It’s your first foot forward, you first impression and the basis for all else on your micro-ISV product’s site rolled into one.)

E-junkie lack of a clear, concise, understandable USP is in my opinion the biggest thing working against it. Here’s what a prospective customer sees when they arrive at E-junkie for the first time:

What’s the USP? “We help you sell online” doesn’t cut it. Someone else saying “since we started to use it, our sales have increased” makes no sense yet – it? What is it?

The USP sets up the story, gives the prospective customer an anchor of understanding what all these features, boxes and stuff mean. For example,

“E-junkie’s advanced ecommerce cart makes it easy for micro and small businesses to start selling in minutes. Unlike other ecommerce cart services, E-junkie doesn’t take your customers away from your web site, doesn’t require a programmer, doesn’t restrict you to one payment vendor and doesn’t run out of features you might need.”

The above is still a bit wordy, but it makes clear what the cart service does, who will get the most out of it and why it’s better – for those micro and small businesses who want to sell now. Orientate. Relate. Differentiate.

The lack of a USP is bad, but there’s something even worse. The eyes in presumably the E-junkie logo. They stare at you. Then they blink. Then they go back to staring at you. Then they blink. I kid you not. They are decidedly creepy after a while – a short while. To say they detract from the marketing message is a gross understatement.


This is a mixed bag. On one hand we have this as the main feature:

We provide you shopping cart and buy now buttons to let you sell downloads and tangible goods on your website, eBay, MySpace, Google Base, Yahoo stores and other websites using PayPal, Google Checkout, Authorize.Net, 2CheckOut and ClickBank.”

Try saying that sentence. Take a biiig breath. Fourteen nouns and a missing article do not make a feature.

On the other hand, there’s Lower your cart abandonment rate with our lightweight, pop-up free, installation free shopping cart that works in your site. Ah, that’s more like it. A benefit – fewer cart abandonment (losing sales, bad thing) – backed up by the features that give plausibility to the benefit: lightweight, popup free, installation free, works in my site. That’s a reasonable argument to advance – it’s not proven yet, but it’s going in the right direction.

My advice is leave the text of the sidebar of benefits alone (although separate it from the podcast box with some sort of headline like “What E-junkie does for you”) and replace the main text with simple a simple to understand narrative. It should connect to and further explain the (missing) USP, restate the big benefits and cover the other benefits of working with E-Junkie like a one charge with no hidden fees.


The longer I was on E-junkie’s site, the creepier those staring/blinking eyes became. Logos are worse should be visually pleasant things to look at – and they should not look back at you!

You know what got my attention about this ecommerce cart? The cart demo when I finally found it. Here’s what you see when you add an item in the demo:

Cool. The cart pops up, but you are still on the site and you can pick which company you want to pay for. This I get. A screencast/video of someone buying something at an E-junkie-enabled store versus buying something without the E-junkie cart would powerfully sell this service. In fact, when I went to one of the two actual stores shown on the demo page that I could really see how E-junkie (despite the name) might be a good thing to go with.


E-junkie has a very nice page of happy customers and excellent testimonials – buried on its own page, with the blurb from Damon Williams, PayPal Developer Program overused on each and every page. I count 21 excellent testimonials – they were more informative than the main copy – that are at the bottom of this page. This is like flushing gold down the toilet.

I strongly suggest you get these testimonials to the home page where they belong. Not all 21 at once – either 3 or 4 with a more button, or some sort of gallery. And while you’re doing a gallery, some sort of expando gallery of your clients or self changing display would be good too.

Buying a software application requires X amount of trust, where X equals the number of dollars, euros or pounds you want from me. Wanting to be involved in the process of how I get paid requires a lot more trust. E-junkie needs to first use the testimonials it has better, then go get more (customer videos, audios would work well).

Credibility Markers

The PayPal badge on the home page and the quote (once) are nice, but I’d like to see a Better Business Bureau badge there, or some other third party business endorsement, such as a VeriSign Secured badge. The more, the better. For the same reason, E-junkie needs a phone number, physical address and a link to its privacy policy (which I could not find) on every page.

Tech Support

E-junkie seems to have its heart in the right place, although sentences like this: “please e-mail us at info@e-junkie.com or contact us here and we will help you out.” need some polishing. The big letdown is the help page – its one really long page (19 pagedowns~!) with lots of complicated-looking instructions. This information needs to be restructured so that if you are looking for an answer to a question you will not be overwhelmed by all the other answers to all the other questions available.

If you dig, really dig, you’ll find a forum – either this forum should get the attention it deserves or be put out of its misery.


There’s something that might be meant as a blog on the Community Tab:

A blog is a web page with categories, an RSS Feed and posts in reverse chronological order, right? Wrong. There is someone home at a blog, this “Community” blog has the lights on, but no one is minding the house. Too strong? Well, check out the bottom of this post and explain why an ecommerce site would want this post on it. And lose the Google ads while you are at it – they make no sense whatsoever on a company-sponsored blog.

Communities are a good, good thing. But they need leadership, attention and above all else moderation.


Overall, I think E-junkie has a sellable product that people – including micro-ISVs – would benefit by. Certainly, their client list and testimonials are very impressive. But they need to get their USP together, use their testimonials better and clean up some very dusty corners of their site if they want a micro-ISV site worthy of their product.

As a first doable set of steps, see the First Actionable Tasks at the top of this post.


The Weekly Site Review is a regular feature of MyMicroISV.com. Please add your comments, rebuttals and opinions! If you’d like to volunteer your micro-ISV’s web site for a free public review, please email bobw@safarisoftware.com. Micro-ISV’s only need apply!

Technorati Tags: Micro-ISV, Weekly Site Review

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Bob WalshWeekly Site Review – E-junkie

Something’s going on with Office Live

In all the years I’ve been doing tech, I’ve been to exactly 1 Microsoft event (the intro of Microsoft Access) and that was in San Francisco. Next month, I’m going to Microsoft in Seattle for an event, entitled: “Office Live Review for Micro ISVs” on May 21, 2007 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I’m paying my own way, flying (something I really don’t enjoy anymore), because something is going on with Office Live.

I’d not looked at Office Live until Michael brought it to my attention. I thought it was either Windows Live, or some sort of hamstrung online Office MS was testing in New Zealand or somesuch.

I was wrong.

There are some really interesting possibilities for micro-ISVs re Office Live.

I -think- what they’ve done whether they realize it or not is built a customizable generic online business platform for any micro-ISV, with some really interesting capabilities if you are doing a .NET (winforms or WPF) app.

I’m still digging into it, but after watching this video, I definitely want more information, face to face: http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=290705 .

Oh, and there’s another from a company called LiveOffice (no apparent connection to Microsoft, thanks Evan!) that with a service that micro-ISV’s can use that came to my attention today thanks to Chris Pirillo – free conference calls with up to 250 people dialing in (not a toll free number, but they offer that too): http://teleconference.liveoffice.com/

Chris and Ponzi did a good job of explaining how the teleconferencing thing at: http://chris.pirillo.com/2007/04/05/hot-wife-video/ (I know, hot wife video? – Chris named it the video, not me!).

Update: Michael Lehman has posted a writeup about the event at his blog: I especially like the sentence “Do you want to create an additional stream of income with a low technical barrier of entry?”

[tags]micro-ISV, Office Live[/tags]

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Bob WalshSomething’s going on with Office Live

A custom quality micro-ISV search of our own!

As I mentioned here, after listening last week to Dan Appleman talk on .NET Rocks! about the custom Google search he’s created for .NET programmers (the search is http://www.searchdotnet.com/; also see this post and this post), I’ve decided this is a tool worth putting some serious time into and making available here.

Spurred on by the creation of another custom Google Search in the last day or two (http://isvoogle.com/), I’ve created and will be maintaining/improving the Micro-ISV Custom Google Search. I’ve already added it to the sidebar here:

If you haven’t heard the buzz about Custom Google Search, it’s a way of creating a search of specified sites and blogs you think have quality information about the subject your micro-ISV is concerned with. I foresee this being a great tool for micro-ISVs: build a custom search about the problem your product/service solves, publicize it, maintain and improve it and help (and attract) your prospective customers.

My goal for Micro-ISV Custom Google Search is to make it the best possible search engine for micro-ISVs who want and need non-coding information about all the many facets of starting and successfully running their Internet-based self funded startup.

I could use your help.

What web sites, blogs and online publications do you turn to for micro-ISV information? Please comment them here and after I vet them, I will be adding them to the Micro-ISV Custom Google Search.

[tags]micro-ISV, microisvsearch, custom Google Searches, Dan Appleman[/tags]

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Bob WalshA custom quality micro-ISV search of our own!

Why the Weekly Site Review?

Simply put, so I get emails like this:


Hey Bob!
Thanks for all your great input. I’ve considered your excellent input and have spend the past couple of weeks concentrating on giving a better user experience:


The results? Amazing!

– FreeHouse was up running for 3 months and resulted in 34 Ads

– Share-House has been up for 3 days and has 36 Ads

That’s 36 ads in 3 days!

Once again – Your advice has been incredible!

Alfie John

PS: If you want to do a bit of a plug on your show, I’m having a Linkback Contest :)



If you would like to have your micro-ISV site considered for the Weekly Site Review, please email me at bobw@safarisoftware.com.

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Bob WalshWhy the Weekly Site Review?

The 5 Laws of a Remarkable Corporate Video

[Tom Clifford is an award-winning filmmaker, interesting guy and a strong believer that companies – big, small or micro – are in the story making and storytelling business. Youtube and its imitators and lesser-known video sites are disrupting and reshaping what video means. Tom’s got some good advice here if you’re about to hit the

video superhighway, or just trying to add one good screencast to your micro-ISV site that tells your story. Thanks Tom!]

By Thomas R. Clifford
Corporate Documentary Filmmaker & Story Katalyst

Ever think about having your own marketing video?

Sure you have. You’ve probably wanted your own corporate video for the longest time.

With so many businesses producing their own marketing videos, not having your own video is like throwing money into your competition’s hands.

Heck…you might even own a fancy video camera with all the latest editing software. Oh, yeah…you even have your own free, worldwide broadcast network, remember? YouTube.

So you’re good to go, right? Nope. Not so fast. What will make your video stand out from the others? How will it be different so your potential customers will notice you?

Here are five ideas to move your audience into action using an authentic corporate video.

As a veteran documentary filmmaker, there are several natural “laws” I follow to produce a “remarkable” corporate video. They will work for anybody, including you. These ideas are an expanded view from my “10 Tips to Create Your Remarkable Corporate Video” post.

1. The Law of Story.

From my lens, tools do not a story make. They never have; they never will.

Do you know the secret DNA code for your video? It’s your story. Period.

Not the latest hi-tech gear. Not those cool, whiz-bang-eye-catching effects. Not that slick camera with all the tricks built-in. How about that wicked new software? Nope.

Story “makes” video. YOUR story is YOUR video.

So here is the formula: your remarkable story = your remarkable video.

How do you make your video “remarkable?” Remember, your story is unlike anybody else’s story. WHY you do what you do holds the key to your remarkable corporate video.

Think about this for a minute.

Why do you do what you do? Go back in time; to that “A-ha!” moment. In that instant, in that single moment, you realized you could change somebody’s life for the better. That is what your audience cares about the most. That is what has to be captured in your video. Your audience wants a story. So tell them a story. Beginning, middle, end. Simple.

  1. Tell them what you do.
  2. Why you do it.
  3. How it helps them, and
  4. What it means to them.

That’s it.

Then your audience will care about you. More importantly, they will care to tell someone else.

2. The Law of Caring.

“Why should my audience care about me?” “Why would they care about my product or service?” “Will they even care about my video?”

Caring means “concerned, compassionate, kind, considerate and sympathetic.”

Why the heck should your audience be concerned and sympathetic about what you do? They’re terribly busy. You are just one click away from your competition. Boom. Whose next? They’re outta here.

Tough stuff, indeed. But once you tell your audience why they should care about you, then you offer them meaning behind the product. Then they begin to care. When they care, you have their attention.

I care about filmmaking because it literally changes people’s lives. It changes careers. Filmmaking changes our thinking, our perceptions, and our consciousness.

Your remarkable corporate video should have the same passion. People care more about authentic stories than fancy features, statistics, comparisons, charts and graphs and drop-down menus.

So…get me to care about you and your story, then I will feel connected. Then I will get emotionally involved. Then I will tell others, too.

Now that you have my attention and I care…perhaps a sale is not too far away.

3. The Law of Different Points of View.

Who ever said a scripted voice-over with video is how to create a corporate video?

To jumpstart things, consider incorporating these different points of views in your video:

  • You.
  • Current customers.
  • Potential customers.
  • Sales people.
  • Primary audience.
  • Product/service.
  • Human Resource.
  • Purchasing Department.
  • The CEO.
  • Department heads.
  • Department teams.

Each one represents a point of view, a personality, beyond yours. Now that’s different!

4. The Law of Benefits.

It’s all about me and my world. That’s how your customers think. Come to think of it, it’s how you think, too.

Connect with your customers by showing your audience the benefits of your service over your features. Why?

Because consumers buy with their emotions and feelings. Think of it this way.

Your features are food for the “left brain.” Your benefits are food for the “right brain.”

Assume for a moment that the left brain is satisfied with the features you offer; the features work, they’re cool, they’re different, they’re unique. But your viewers are still hungry. That’s where the right brain comes in; where the emotions and feeling are stored.

Ultimately, we are motivated to purchase things by our feelings and emotions. We feel good buying your product. We feel enlightened using your service. Your customers don’t feel the features. They feel your benefits. Sell the benefits. It’s about them, not you.

5. The Law of Change.

Think 30. 30 seconds, that is.

Commercials have completely re-wired our brains to think in 30 second time slots.

Your corporate video should follow the same path. Think of your five minute video as a series of 8-10 commercials; change the music and ideas every 30 seconds.

This is the best-kept secret to make people think your video is shorter than it is. Changing the pace and rhythm every 30 to 45 seconds keeps things moving and keeps your audience engaged every moment along the way.

Think of these “5 Laws of Remarkable Corporate Videos” as the foundation for your video story. They can be applied by anyone with any product or service, and easily customizable.

So…whose telling your story?

[tags] micro-ISV, corporate video, screencasts[/tags]

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Bob WalshThe 5 Laws of a Remarkable Corporate Video

Advice for Web 2.0 micro-ISVs re free trials

A while ago I wrote on some of the ways of converting prospective customers into ex-prospective customers. Yesterday, I found this excellent post at Vitamin by Sam Nurmi on the same topic for pure online services: “Create an irresistible free trial for your app”.

His main points are:

  • Signing up for a trial account should be easy and painless,
  • Do not require trial users to enter their credit card information,
  • Do not cripple the trial,
  • Include a “highlight bonus.”

Sam does a really good job: if you’re an online kind of micro-ISV (a.k.a. a Web 2.0 company), read it.

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Bob WalshAdvice for Web 2.0 micro-ISVs re free trials

The Marketing 101 podcast for micro-ISVs

Our latest The MicroISV Show just got posted by my hardworking cohost, Michael Lehman, and if you are looking for a really good intro to marketing your micro-ISV and creating a useful marketing plan – look no further. We interviewed Kevin Epstein, author of Marketing Made Easy and proprietor of the Stupid Marketing site and blog. Kevin not only understands marketing high tech – he’s been the guiding hand at several major high tech companies including VMWare – and he’s been there and now is back doing it again in the startup world.

So, download it, cue it up and enjoy as Kevin helps you get the whole marketing thing. Enjoy!

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Bob WalshThe Marketing 101 podcast for micro-ISVs

When Google AdWords Fails

[Editor Note: Dave Collins, noted UK micro-ISV marketing expert, is sharing his considerable expertise on marketing, SEO, Google AdWords and more on Fridays at MyMicroISV. Thanks Dave!]

By Dave Collins
Founder, Shareware Promotions

I’ve now been working with Google AdWords for more years than I can remember. Literally.

Over the years I have helped setup, administer and maintain a variety of AdWords accounts. As well as being a qualified Google AdWords professional, I’m currently handling almost 30 different AdWords accounts, with a combined advertising budget in the region of $80,000 per month.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of the accounts that I have handled have seen good results. Some have proven to be reasonable, while others have been staggeringly effective.

However, in any form of advertising, there is no such thing as a 100% certainty. AdWords is no different. If it was, we’d all be taking out bank loans just to raise our budgets as high as humanly possible.

There are four main reasons that I have seen for a Google AdWords account to fail.

1) The AdWords account is not set up properly.

This is by far the most likely explanation for an AdWords account not performing as hoped for. And there are more possible ways of shooting yourself in the foot than I could possibly attempt to cover.

Some of the more common mistakes include using of the wrong keywords, overly-heavy use of broad matching, inexact (or none existent) negative keywords, poorly written ads, bad landing pages, bad products, running the AdWords campaigns with a “one size fits all” approach, spending too much, spending too little, not giving changes time to kick in and much more.

I would never point any fingers, but nine times out of ten when a person tells me that AdWords doesn’t work for them, their account has not been properly set up.

2) Account not managed continuously.

“Set it and forget it” is a bad, bad idea for Google AdWords. It is an approach that spells slow and certain death for any AdWords account.

As a general rule of thumb, you need to be logging into your Google AdWords account once a week. At an absolute minimum, once every two weeks.

If you’re not doing so, then at best you may be wasting potential opportunities. At worst you may be wasting your money as well as opportunities.

And it’s not enough just to log in every now and then and raise a bid or two.

You need to keep on top of monitoring performance, adjusting bids, writing more ads, purging dead ads and keywords, experimenting with new ideas, improving quality score and more.

Look at your Google AdWords accounts in the same way you might view a car. If you never paid attention to the oil, water, tyres or gas/petrol, you might well get into serious trouble quicker than you can shout help, skid off the road and hit something large and heavy. If or when your car starts acting strangely, topping up the gas and replacing the oil probably won’t help much either.

Don’t leave your Google AdWords account to run itself.

3) No demand for what you’re selling.

Anyone who has worked in marketing for a reasonable length of time can tell you that creating demand for a product where none exists is extremely difficult.

The same principle applies to Google AdWords. You can have the best keywords, perfect matching options, beautifully written ads and an immaculately set up series of ad groups and campaigns. But if there’s no-one out there who is actively searching for your product and keywords, then AdWords isn’t for you.

In the past four years or so, I have worked with two different products where this proved to be the case. Great products, well written ads, good landing pages, well-picked and targeted keywords and a well structured account. But no one bit the bait. No one was searching for what we were offering. And it’s a depressing thing to see a 25% CTR for an average of two impressions a day.

4) A saturated marketplace with high budgets.

If you have many AdWords competitors, and worse still they’re quite active, you may be in trouble.

Why? Dave’s rule of the marketplace:

If many people are involved in activities where skill and strength are equally important, guess which will be more prevalent?

Or in the case of Google AdWords, if your many competitors can get their ads higher than yours by either spending more money or using more skill, which do you think will be the more common approach?

In the past, Google leaned heavily towards use of skill. But nowadays, sadly, spending more is almost as effective as polishing your campaigns. Think of their “to activate this keyword either increase your bid or improve your quality score” approach. Anyone with more money than sense and/or skill may be able to beat you. At least in the short term, until their money runs out.

The million Euro question is: what can you do about it? Well, you can start by accepting the fact that Google AdWords is great for most products, but not all of them.

And if you’re not sure? My advice would be to dip your toes in cautiously.

Don’t spend weeks (or longer) carefully crafting twenty five campaigns, each with 3 ad groups, hundreds of keywords and a multi-level tracking system in place. Start with the ones most likely to produce the results. Setup a campaign or two, an ad group or two, and test the waters.

If it works, you can be reasonably confident in investing more time. If it doesn’t work, try to understand why it didn’t, consider alternative approaches or get in touch with me!

One other final point, while we’re on the subject of Google AdWords.

People sometimes ask whether it’s really worthwhile paying for Google AdWords if their regular Search Engine Rankings are doing well already. In other words why pay for the ads to be displayed when your company shows up in Google’s search results anyway?

The answer is simple. You’re not paying to have your ad displayed, you’re paying for it to be clicked. And if you choose not to do so, then those very same people will be clicking on your competitor’s ads instead.

Aside from that, AdWords give you more extensive and immediate control that goes infinitely beyond anything that you can consider applying to your regular search results. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re only paying when your ads are actually working.

Ask not what you can do for Google, but what Google can do for you.


Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions http://www.sharewarepromotions.com, a well established UK-based software marketing company. Dave specialises in Google AdWords, Log Analysis, Online Marketing and Delegation.

Technorati Tags: Dave Collins, micro-ISVs, AdWords

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