Author Archives: John Pfeiffer

SEO vs. PPC: Why Paid and Organic Search Work Better Together

We talk a lot about the power of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising around here. But while PPC is an immensely effective tool for many businesses, it’s that much more impressive when it’s paired with additional marketing strategies.

Take, for example, search engine optimization (SEO). In many ways, SEO and PPC are perfectly complementary to one another. And by including both of them in your marketing plans, you’ll typically improve a client’s position in search results.

Let’s take a closer look at why SEO and PPC actually work even better together.

Paid + Organic = Double Your Search Visibility

Investing in both paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) search strategies can end up doubling your clients’ visibility in relevant search results pages. That’s because paid and organic search show up in different places within SERPs; paid ads appear at the very top of the page, while most organic results start slightly “below the fold.”

Bidding on the right Google Ads keywords will help your client’s website appear right at eye level. But what happens when a web user continues to scroll through the search results? If your client’s brand can appear again further down the page, that name recognition can subconsciously impact brand awareness and overall perception – which can also make it more likely that their site will be clicked.

There’s an old marketing rule of thumb that claims a customer has to see an ad at least seven times before they’ll actually make a purchase. But if your brand can appear more frequently in search results, it stands to reason that your ads could go further while generating more trust in the process. 

At the very least, you’ll experience more brand visibility – and who doesn’t want that? That translates to more opportunities for customers to visit your site, express their interest, and buy your products or services. 

SEO Succeeds Where PPC May Fall Short

PPC services often yield incredible results within a short period of time. When you’re promoting a new product release or trying to quickly drive traffic to a specific web page, pay-per-click advertising can be an excellent way to go.

That said, PPC can be prone to certain drawbacks. For businesses on an especially tight marketing budget or those operating in highly competitive industries, PPC alone may not be enough to help small business owners achieve their goals. Although it can generate clicks within a matter of minutes, costs can also add up quickly. And if you need to pause your campaign due to financial constraints, your traffic will drop off almost immediately.

That’s why it’s smart to invest in SEO as a supplement to PPC. Search engine optimization is meant to be a long-term marketing solution; in fact, it’s typical for businesses to not see much in the way of results during the first six months of a new campaign. Building your organic presence takes time and effort, but it’s usually well worth it. The work you do on your SEO today can continue to drive traffic and sales for months or even years down the line! And because SEO is a highly affordable marketing strategy, it’s possible for most businesses to invest in it while keeping PPC campaigns running. 

Additionally, SEO is all about providing valuable education and solving problems, allowing you to create a sense of goodwill that paid advertising strategies can’t always capture. Paid ads are perfect for customers who are ready to buy right now – but organic search is usually more aligned with customers still in the information-gathering phase of their journey. By pursuing both strategies, you’ll maintain a more balanced approach to marketing that will be complementary (rather than adversarial) in nature.

Diverse Strategies Will Protect Your Business

You know what they say about putting all your eggs in one basket. Generally speaking, diversification is one of the best ways to protect any type of investment. The same goes for your marketing strategy. 

Although you could certainly spend your entire marketing budget on PPC, that can represent a risk even for the most seasoned of PPC professionals. That’s because none of us are truly in control of the platforms or algorithms we rely on in the digital marketing landscape. We learn as much as we can about them and stay up-to-date on the latest changes. But ultimately, we’re at the mercy of Google, Meta, and other internet giants. If they decide your campaign is of poor quality or a big update is rolled out that impacts websites in your niche, it can take a lot of work to recover. And if your only marketing strategy hinges on one platform, your business could take a huge hit.

Investing in a diverse marketing strategy – say, SEO combined with PPC – can protect your business in the event of these unforeseen complications. If a platform suddenly goes dark or an update renders a go-to strategy effectively useless, you’ll want a “backup generator” of sorts to keep your marketing running. 

When you take a multi-pronged approach to marketing, you’ll have the option of kicking your PPC campaign into high gear while you recover from an organic search algorithm update – or, alternatively, experiencing major gains with SEO while you test out new PPC plans of action. You’ll have a safety net that will keep clients coming to your site, even if something goes awry.

Benefit From the Combined Power of PPC + SEO

When it comes to SEO versus PPC, it’s actually not an either/or. Your strategy will be much stronger with the power of two. To learn more about our white label PPC program and how we can help you get the white label SEO support you need, get in touch with us today.

The surprising results of our “pricing on website” test…

Recently we tested adding pricing to our website.

This is very different for me because when it comes to showing price on my website, I’ve always been against it.

My fear was that if I showed prices, a competitor would undercut my prices.

For years, when prospects visited my website, they were asked to fill out a form to get a free consultation.  We would then put together a custom proposal or send them our rate card depending on what type of service they were interested in.

I know I’m not alone.

Whether you should or shouldn’t put your pricing on your website is a common question–unless you are more of a commodity type site selling something like airplane tickets, clothing, hotel rooms, and so on.

But for service providers, coaches, consultants and high-end products, disclosing price on a website is often met with resistance.

The thing is, once we tried it, I discovered that my past fears were unfounded.

You see now that we disclose our pricing in advance, the leads that fill out the form for a free consultation are more qualified. Before, we had poor leads. They often were price-shoppers and tire-kickers. They weren’t qualified, had no clients yet, and so on. It was a HUGE waste of our sales people’s time.

Now, we are starting to sell more while streamlining our process and talking to more qualified prospects. We have fewer price shoppers and tire-kickers wasting our time.

It’s created great results for us and I believe it can for you too. There are other reasons you might want to consider listing your prices on your website too…

  • Be considered an option. We now live in a time where price-shopping is part of what people do. If someone is searching for your product or service, more often than not, they want to know how much it will cost them. If they don’t find pricing on your website, they will keep searching until they find a site that has pricing. By not listing your prices, you might be eliminated yourself from consideration.
  • It presents a huge SEO opportunity. Because listing pricing is so controversial, many companies aren’t doing it. This means when you do, you can create a pricing page and optimize for the highly searched terms related to cost and price with little competition. For example, Squarespace uses a strong headline, “Simple Pricing” and includes frequently asked questions about price on their pricing page such as “Is there a discount for yearly service?” “How long are your contracts?” “How do I cancel service?” and “What is meant by unlimited?”

That said, I can almost hear some of the reasons you might still be resistant to posting your prices, so let me address those.

Sticker Shock

If you are worried about whether there will be sticker shock, remember that people often don’t want to go with the cheapest as they don’t equate the cheapest with the best. Plus, wouldn’t it be great to get away from the type of customers who don’t value your worth?

Even so, here are things you can do to overcome price objections, creating buyers that are even more ready to buy. For example, you can:

  • Add testimonials and case studies to your pricing page. Nothing is more powerful than hearing from a satisfied customer who shopped around and found your product or service to provide the best value for the money.
  • Create a comparison chart. Some businesses create a chart showing what features they offer as compared to competitors. You don’t necessarily have to name the other businesses either – you can just use a generic term, for example, “Dental service provider 1”.

Variable Pricing

Some businesses have variable pricing. The fee is dependent on the deliverables and how much time or work is involved. For these types of businesses, simply publish a “starting price.” For example, “fees start at $1,200” or “minimum fee is $500”.

Educating the Competition

If you share what my biggest fear was: that you’d educate the competition, I’d like to offer you an additional piece of advice.  They say imitation is the best form of flattery, so if your competition is trying to copy you, that means you are the leader. Not a bad place to be, right? Plus, people buy on much more than price, so focus on how you can provide something unique and on giving the best value so that even if someone beats your price, you’ll still be the top choice.

Price is a key consideration for people. It helps them make decisions faster and helps qualify whether you are a good fit. And if you don’t show your price, someone else will. So, if the customer wants to see the price, why not give it to them?

Or at least test out listing prices on your website.

You might be as surprised as I was and find that you start attracting better-qualified prospects while repelling the price-shoppers and tire-kickers that are wasting your time. Plus, you’ll sell more.

And ultimately isn’t that what we all want?

5 items you should review when your marketing isn’t producing results

One of the primary beliefs I live by is that your marketing should get you a healthy return
on your investment. And you should hold your marketing accountable.

But here’s the thing, just because something isn’t working doesn’t mean it should be
abandoned. Because sometimes your marketing isn’t working because there is a breakdown
in the process.

Finding and fixing the breakdown is key. Not discarding the entire process! (One reason I
have tracking in place for everything I do for myself and for my clients is so we can help
identify what is causing the breakdown.)

Here are the five steps we go through to build a new marketing funnel. It’s also what we
look at when something isn’t working to fix it. If your marketing isn’t working, go through
each of these steps. Start at the beginning to help you identify what needs to be fixed.

Step One: WHO –This is the first thing you should check. Are you targeting the right
audience? A lack of a well-defined target audience is one of the biggest mistakes I see. This
is so important. In fact, best-selling author, marketing expert, and co-founder of GKIC Dan
Kennedy says 50% of success or failure is the target market.

Step Two: WHERE – If you are targeting the right audience, then next thing to consider is
where your target market is hanging out. Are you targeting the wrong place, wrong social
networks, wrong lists, etc.? For example, if you are trying to reach millennials you might
think they all hang out on Instagram. However, this would be an incorrect assumption. It
depends on the millennials you are trying to reach. For instance, older millennials are often
on Facebook, so you could be targeting your audience in the wrong place.

Step Three: HOW –Next you want to look at how you’re trying to reach your audience. Are
you using the right media? Perhaps in the past email has worked well for you, however,
maybe your audience has migrated and is watching more videos these days. (Tip: often this
doesn’t require all new content. In this example, you could take the same message you sent
through email and create a video with the same message.)

Step Four: MESSAGE & DELIVERY –If you’ve got the right target market, you’re reaching
out to them in the right place and using the right media to reach them, and things still
aren’t working, you should look at your messaging. A few things to look at:
 Do you have the right USP (what are you offering that is truly different?)
 Why should they do business with you above anyone else?
 Do you have an attention-grabbing headline?
 Is the message being delivered with clarity?
 Is there a clear call-to-action?
 Is there urgency?
 Is there an easy way to purchase that makes your prospect feel confident? (e.g.
have you included testimonials, secure payment, a guarantee, etc.?)

NOTE: In case you missed our announcement, if your landing page where your message
resides is the source of your breakdown, we now are able to offer you an affordable way to
fix this. We’ve found this piece alone can be a source of a BIG return.

Step FIVE: FOLLOW UP — Do you have a follow-up system in place to get them in the
door? Studies show that only 2% of people purchase the first time they encounter your offer. A full 80% will say “no” the first four times. So, if you don’t have a way to capture
leads when they arrive and then you’re not following up with prospects at least five times
after they initially hear your offer, you are letting a lot of cash fall through your fingers.

Furthermore, in today’s society, you can dramatically increase your sales by following up
with people on multiple platforms.

Think about how you like to respond. Do you prefer texting? An email? Does seeing ads pop
up remind you that you need to get your oil changed or that a new restaurant you wanted
to visit is offering a discount?

Most people have a preferred way of being reached although using multiple platforms can
speed up the sales cycle. For example, let’s say you are driving your target audience to your
landing page through Facebook ads. When they land there, you collect their name, email,
and phone number. You could then send them an email that drives them back to your
landing page. A text message could be sent asking them if they received your email. And
retargeting ads could run to keep you at the forefront of their mind so when they are ready
to make a purchase you are in front of them wherever they go online.

Don’t limp along. If your marketing isn’t working the way you think it should go through
these five steps to review it and locate where it needs to be fixed. Some fixes are simple.
Some take more digging. However, if you stick with it, I promise you the payoff will be
worth it.

A 3-step plan to acquire more (and better) clients

As we enter the New Year, one common goal clients have been conveying to me, again
and again, is to increase their client acquisition.

These days, the many options available make the decision on which client acquisition
strategies are right for you more confusing. Of course, you are always welcome to
contact us to discuss your goals and plans or you can keep reading and follow this
simple three-step plan:

Step one: Evaluate.
One excellent way I’ve found to determine which are the best options is to use the
SWAT method.

The SWAT method takes into consideration your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities,
and threats by answering the following four questions:
1) What are your internal strengths?
2) What are your internal weaknesses?
3) What are your external opportunities?
4) What are your external threats?

For example, an agency we work with designs websites. They are terrific at what they
do and have built great relationships with their clients. They determined that their
internal weakness is that they don’t offer services beyond designing websites, which
poses both an opportunity and a threat. Other agencies which offer additional services
to attract customers to their client’s websites create a threat in stealing their clients. At
the same time, this creates an opportunity to expand their offerings to strengthen their
relationship further with their existing customers, generate new sources of income and
increase the lifetime value of their clients, and become more attractive to prospects. So,
they could continue to focus on their strengths, they partnered with us to provide white
label PPC management services to their clients.

Step two: Choose one or more strategies that match your SWAT results.
Keeping your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in mind, here are five
strategies for client acquisition:

1) Add more target verticals. In 2018, segmenting your audience is critical. One
way to separate yourself from the pack is to take your existing core offer and
tweak your messaging to target specific verticals. For example, if you target
lawyers, consider adding a new vertical that targets chiropractors or plumbers,
and so on. Creating a PPC strategy with target-specific language to attract these
new verticals can help you grow much more quickly.

2) Expand your offerings. By providing new services, you not only can increase
your earning potential with existing customers, but you have another way to draw new customers in. For example, let’s say you offer SEO services only. By
partnering with us as a white label service, you can offer PPC management as a
new service without risking losing potential prospects or existing customers to a

Or if you already offer PPC management, look at going beyond AdWords and
provide advertising on other channels such as Facebook, Instagram, BingAds,
Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Oath. These can be tricky; however,
we have proven systems in place that will exceed your expectations.

3) Focus on your strengths while partnering with someone who specializes
and excels in your weak areas. Rather than spending energy on learning a new
specialty to expand your offerings, partner with a white label service to add
something new. This way you keep control and don’t risk messing up your
relationships with your existing clients. For instance, are you good at making
sales and customer care? Let us take care of the PPC side of your business for
you. Rated among the top 5% of Google Partners, our track record, high rating,
and over 20 years’ experience specializing in PPC will help you attract more
leads either through campaigns we create for you or by offering you another
attractive service to add to your company offerings, helping you land potential
new customers. And because we will take care of these PPC services including
AdWords, Facebook Advertising, etc., you’ll have more time to concentrate on
making sales.

4) Work on drawing more relevant traffic to your website. Using a Google
certified agency can help you attract more relevant clients. “Google Partners” are
designated by a blue or red badge. A BLUE badge designates that the minimum
requirements have been met to become a partner. An agency with a RED badge
indicates it is among the top 5%. (PPC for Small Biz has a RED badge.) While an
agency with a blue badge may be less expensive, it’s not unusual for a red
badge agency to decrease your acquisition costs by 60%.

5) Add an advertising strategy to your social media channels. You can run
extremely targeted ad campaigns for your business with social media ad
campaigns. In 2018, highly targeted campaigns will be critical to stand out,
making this even more essential to successful client acquisition. In addition to
selecting your audience based on age, gender, and location, you can get much
more targeted. For example, you can target users on Facebook based on their
interests and target Twitter users based on keywords and on LinkedIn you can
target users based on the industry they work in, their job title, and their job skills.
This more targeted approach helps you gain better, more qualified customers
which means you’ll stretch your advertising budget further.

Step three: Decide on a partner agency you feel will be most effective.

Reaching and converting new customers is important to your business and strategies
like the ones listed above can be what your company needs to grow your business in

In determining what agency to partner with, here are some things to consider:

1) Search for an agency that specializes in PPC in your category. (PPC for Small
Biz specializes in designing, implementing and managing PPC advertising
programs (AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads) for small business, Global 1000
companies, ad agencies, resellers and multi-location franchises.)

2) Ask for case studies so you can get a feel for their experience level.

3) Ask to see not just one-month results, but six or nine-month results to see if the
agency gets results for their clients over a longer period.

4) Speak to their clients. You’ll get a feel for how the company does business and
services their clients.

5) Find out how the agency communicates to ensure they are available when you
want to speak with them versus only speaking to you once a month on a pre-
booked appointment. Also, find out who you’ll be speaking with. (At PPC for
Small Biz, we won’t delegate your account to junior staff, SEO specialists, or
unqualified administrators like other agencies do.)

6) Before you sign anything, get 100% clear on what is expected. This includes your
campaign goal and timescales and who’s responsible for what.

7) Make sure you have an out clause if the objectives aren’t being met. There is no
need to be on the hook for 12 months, but to be fair to an agency, that period
should never be less than three months.

To get a Google certified agency, search for “Google Partner.” I recommend searching
for a RED Badge-designated provider (which signifies they are in the top 5%). Follow
these three steps will help you achieve your customer acquisition goals this year.

Want more sales this holiday season? Fix these 4 conversion-killers…

Online shopping cart abandonment is a big problem. According to Baymard Institute
from a round-up of 37 studies, 69.23% of shopping carts are abandoned before the
customer completes the sale. This means you’re only selling about one-third of what
you could be selling.

To help you increase your sales this holiday season, here are the top 4 reasons people
abandon their shopping cart and what you can do about it.

1) Unexpected shipping charges – Twenty-eight percent of shoppers will
abandon their shopping cart when presented with unexpected shipping costs. It’s
not that people don’t want to pay for shipping. It’s when people are presented
with something they didn’t expect to pay, they get a negative feeling and leave.
What to do about it: Tell people upfront about your shipping charges. For
example, at the start of your sales funnel, say, “You’re going to have to pay some
extra shipping charges because this is an oversized item.” Or whatever the
reason is. Another thing you can do is provide a “calculate shipping charges”
feature in the shopping cart. Even if they don’t use the feature, they will expect to
pay something for shipping.

2) Being forced to create a user account. I get it. You want to capture buyers’
information and continue to market to them. But forcing people to create a user
account will ruin your chances of converting 23% of users. I’ve even seen sites
where you can’t shop unless you hand over an email address, which is
ridiculous. How do you know if you like their stuff if you can’t even look at it?

Some people just want to buy stuff and don’t want to create a user account.
What to do about it: Rather than refusing to serve customers who don’t want to
create an account, provide a guest option. For example, an effective checkout
I’ve seen is where before you go to checkout, three options are provided: 1) a
Member checkout 2) Guest checkout, 3) PayPal checkout (or Pay by Amazon is
another great option.)

3) Unsure about the product or service. If a user doesn’t have experience buying
from you, they may get cold feet during the check-out period.

What to do about it: Fifty-five percent of shoppers find customer reviews
important when making a buying decision. So, if you want to dramatically
influence your conversion rates, include customer-generated reviews and ratings.
This is a transparent way for a customer to see you have satisfied customers. A
good example of this is on Amazon.

As a bonus, review-related search queries are high in volume and very high in
click-thru rates and conversions.

4) People are unsure about website & transaction security. Now more than ever
people worry about whether their credit card and personal information are safe.

What to do about it: There are several measures you can take.

 You can change your buy buttons to read “Secure Checkout” and change
the wording next to your credit card fields to read “Secure credit card

 Add the logos of the major credit card and third-party payment methods to
your form.

 Add your phone number with the words, “Need Help?” next to your form.
This gives people security that you are a real company and makes them
feel better that they can someone if they run into trouble.

 Give clear instruction on what is needed and expected each step of the
way. For example, if the phone number needs to be typed in as
4445556666 instead of 444-555-6666, tell them. This helps avoid errors
and frustration.

 Add something familiar and credible. For example, the new “Pay with
Amazon” button lets people make a purchase from you with just one click.
All fields are auto-populated and the familiar orange and blue Amazon
button help make it easier while making people feel more secure.

 Keep your SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate up-to-date. The SSL
certificate authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information
sent to the server. Consumers have been trained to look for “https” as a
signal that the site is safe and secure while “http” is an indication the site
isn’t secure. Make a yearly event on your calendar to remind yourself to
update your certificate to keep everything running smoothly.

Three Ways to Get People Back to their Abandoned Shopping Carts
It may not be possible to persuade all of the shoppers who abandoned your shopping
cart to return, but there are a few ways to recover sales that have proven effective.

Send an abandoned cart email – According to SalesCycle, when you send an
“abandoned cart email” to people who have added items to their cart but failed to check
out, nearly half will open that email and one third of the clicks will lead to purchases
back on your site.

Offer a discount on items left in their abandoned cart – Fifty-four percent of
shoppers will purchase products they left in a shopping cart if those products are offered
at a lower price.

Use Re-targeting –Seventy-two percent of millennial shoppers respond favorably to re-
targeting. (Re-targeting is showing users ads to bring them back to your site after
they’ve abandoned it). In fact, re-targeting is one of the most powerful and effective
forms of marketing and can create higher ROI, greater customer retention, easier new
customer acquisition, a way to convert old customers to come back, and higher
customer spend rates.

The first step to recovering abandoned shopping carts is to understand the reasons why
customers leave without completing the sale. Use this list as a guide and then
implement the solutions provided above to build trust and complete more transactions
this holiday season and beyond.

Win more customers in the micro-moments that matter

Have you ever done any of the following?

• Searched on your phone to find a place to eat?
• Searched how to fix something, cook something, build something, or clean something?
• Searched to see what events are happening that night or weekend?
• Searched to see if there was a store in the area that carried a specific item you wanted so you didn’t drive all over town looking for it?

These are just a few of the examples of what people are searching for today. So, if you are like the growing majority, your answer was “yes” to at least one of these searches.

I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t own a smartphone (or at least a mobile phone) these days. All my clients do.

The increased use of mobile phones has had a big impact on the way people interact with ads. Which is why the most successful companies are creating ads that target what Google coined as “micro-moments” and then they use PPC to drive people to these ads.

The American Marketing Association defines a micro-moment as “a mobile moment that requires only a glance to identify and delivers quick information that you can either consume or act on immediately.”

In other words, people are searching for very specific pieces of information such as where is the closest pizza place, how long should you cook sweet potatoes, or where can I get new tires for my car today?

Here’s something else worth noting: According to the Google/Ipsos Consumers in the Micro-Moment study (March 2015), “91% of smartphone users turn on their phone for ideas while doing a given task.” Plus, one in three smartphone users has purchased from a company or brand other than the one they were looking for because of the information provided at the moment they needed it.

Which means if you aren’t creating ads to target these micro-moments you’re losing business to companies that are. If you are targeting these micro-moments, congratulations, because you are winning new customers away from your competitors.

What are the micro-moments people search for?

Google has identified five different micro-moments (which also apply to YouTube searches):

1) I want to watch what I’m into moments. These feed people’s passions and interests.
2) I want to know moments. These feed people who are exploring, learning or researching.
3) I want to go moments. These feed people who want to go to your store and shop right now.
4) I want to do moments. These feed people looking for instruction.
5) I want to buy moments. These help people decide about what or how to buy.

People expect their digital experiences to be customized to them in other ways too.

Here are three ways consumers want their searches customized for them:

1. What’s “near me”?

Consumers want location-specific responses, so if they’re searching for a dentist or ice cream or whatever nearby, they want to be able to type in “dentist” and get appropriate responses. Where people used to expect to have to type in their location or “near me”, today people assume their smartphone will know where they are.

2. Where can I purchase this “right now”?

More and more, consumers also use their smartphones to make spur-of-the-moment purchases. In fact, according to Google/Ipsos Connect, Rising Consumer Expectations in the Micro-Moment, U.S. Survey (Dec 2016), “smartphone users are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to a year ago.” That means they want to be able to make a dinner reservation, book a hotel room, or find a pharmacy that is open “right now” simply by entering “Italian food”, “hotel room” or “pharmacy.”

3. What’s the “best”

Consumers also use their phones as a guide to finding solutions. Perhaps they are looking for a math tutor for their child. Or they moved to the area and they need to find a new doctor. They will search for guidance on how to make the best decision. This extends to everything from the safest car to kitchen faucets to what are the best places to ski. Mobile searches for “best” have grown 80% in the past two years!

Consumers want and expect their searches to be fast and easy. If your business isn’t meeting this requirement, they’ll find another business that is. And because businesses are adapting and complying with their wishes, they are using search more than ever before. In fact, experts predict that these expectations will only continue to rise. People will want to get things done even faster, be more informed and have even more personal experiences.

The good news is as a small business owner, you can now level the playing field and create a huge competitive advantage by creating ads to address these micro-moments. If you haven’t taken steps to serve consumers in this more personalized way, then I encourage you to adapt and adapt quickly. It’ll be one of the most important marketing decisions you ever make.

6 ways to stop fake news from crippling your business

It’s written and published with the intent to mislead.

And if it’s about your business, it can turn potential buyers into skeptics instantly which, of course, will have a negative financial impact on your business.

For example, an investigation by Buzzfeed reported fake news sites targeting small businesses. When content goes viral on social media, it hurts the business because people believe the made-up content.

One restaurant Buzzfeed mentioned had to cut staff hours as their customers declined due to false claims about the owner being arrested for selling human meat.

Another sign fake news is impacting bottom lines is that people are paying more attention to where companies are advertising. Studies show that consumers lower their opinion of a brand if it advertises on a site they don’t trust.

As small business owners, we must not only be aware of this, but proactively combat it to safeguard our businesses.

Here are 6 ways you can fight back against the impact of fake media:

1) Back up your claims with proof. Clayton Makepeace, one of the highest paid copywriters and marketers in the world, says proof is critical, especially the higher the price a product or service is.

He says to ask yourself, “What does my prospect absolutely have to believe in order to make this product mandatory for him?” and then go about proving it in your sales copy.

You can do this a number of ways on your sales landing page including using testimonials and incorporating facts and statistics from credible sources into your copy.

2) Set up Google Alerts. In this age where people increasingly post false claims about products and services, it’s important for you to listen to what people are saying about you online and respond accordingly. Google Alerts is a free online tool that allows you to keep tabs on who’s mentioning you, your product or service, or website. You can set up any number of “alerts” to help you manage your online activity by simply inputting keywords specific to your business and brand. Google will immediately send you an email notifying you when those terms appear online.

3) Be a stickler about keeping your word. If you say a product or a special price won’t be available at a later date, don’t make it available later. If you say there will be no replay for your webinar, don’t give a replay.

When you don’t keep your word, you teach prospects and customers that your word is not to be trusted.

4) Run your ads on credible, trusted news sites. There is a “halo effect” that brands experience when advertising on trusted news and media sites.

Network Research did a study relating to advertorials. Respondents indicated they were 20% more likely to trust a brand sponsoring an advertorial, even if they were unfamiliar with the brand—if the ad is in a media outlet they know and trust. (63% were neutral)

But, if respondents had a favorable opinion of a brand and an ad appeared in a medium they do not like or trust, 19% are more likely to lower their trust in that brand.

Results from ad campaigns across the World Media Group (WMG) support this. WMG, made up of media including The Washington Post, Bloomberg Media, Forbes, Fortune, Newsweek, The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal, outperformed benchmarks and received substantially higher results—the greatest effect seen for desktop video (21% higher than average) and on mobile advertising, ads achieved viewability rates 40% higher and encouraged 43% more interactions.

5) Get your company on page one of search results. According to Forester Research, 81% of people find what they are looking for through a search engine. And Target Marketing says research studies show that people equate the results at the top of search results as being “the most authoritative, the best vendor or the correct answer to their query.”

Using SEO strategies and PPC, you can get on the first page of search engines for targeted items.

SEO gets clicked more often, but it’s more difficult and takes longer to achieve first page results. With SEO it can take anywhere from two to six months on average.

PPC results are more likely to convert click-thrus from the search engine and work much faster. With PPC you can get on page one for a multitude of targets within a day.

For long-term efforts, get an SEO strategy in place. For product, service or business launches, limited time offers, special events and to build your brand awareness, a PPC strategy will serve you best.

6) Pay more attention to brand safety than price. An article in Marketing Week says, “Marketers must also stop the focus on price. Ensuring ads are viewable, not susceptible to ad fraud and appearing on the right sites will cost more than allowing ads to appear anywhere.”

I want to assure you that we are working hard to help ensure your brand safety. As a premier Google Partner, I can tell you Google is diligently monitoring content and removing anything that breaks their rules.

While there may always be a risk, you can use these steps to mitigate it.

An Inexpensive Media to Attract New Customers

Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day, reaching more 18 to 49-year-olds than any other broadcast or Cable TV network.

That’s a large pool of customers to tap into.

But that’s not even the best part.

According to my inside source at Google, because it’s still in its infancy among other reasons, advertising on YouTube is very cheap. You don’t have to have a large TV advertising budget to get your ad in front of people. In fact, ads range from only two or three cents per view to between 10 cents up to 40 cents for the most competitive niches.

Five additional reasons you should consider advertising on YouTube.

1) YouTube is very good for scale. You can start with an ad budget for as little as $1 per day if you wanted, test things and scale when you determine what works. My advice would be to spend more the first few days to get the data quickly. The data will help you determine whether your videos are good enough and discover who your customers are so you can target better. (You’d be surprised how many people are wrong about who their customers are)! Once you have that data, you can turn off the ads that aren’t working and scale up on the ones that are.

2) You can generate leads cost effectively. As mentioned, ads range from only two or three cents to forty cents per view. The key here is to understand how valuable a lead is to you. Even leads for customers with a small lifetime value can be generated affordably here.

3) It can be profitable straight away. Because the ads are so inexpensive, you’ll will get a return on your investment very quickly. Plus, because you’ll know within a few days if your ad is working, you won’t have to waste weeks or months testing like you do with other types of advertising.

4) It builds a strong bond with the user. Because a lot of information can be shared in a video, not only with words but with what’s visually presented in the video, you can bond with the user very quickly.

5) You can repurpose your video ads. Once you’ve created your video, you can use it on other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to extend your reach even further.

What type of YouTube ad should you use?

There are different options for running ads in YouTube. The most prevalent are the ads you see at the beginning of a video where you have to wait five seconds before you can skip the ad. Discovery ads are the ads that appear at the top of search results on the right-hand side of the video you’re watching. The ad looks like a thumbnail of a video which encourages people to click. Overlay ads are the semi-transparent text ads that appear in the lower part of a video.

Recommendations will differ depending on what you are trying to accomplish and testing to determine which is the best option for you.

What should you include in your YouTube ad?

The beauty of video today is that you don’t need expensive equipment to create one. You can even shoot a video on your phone! That said, there are some important things you’ll need to consider when creating your ad yourself.

Remember the human aspect. It’s important to remember that you are doing business with a real human being on the other end of that video. Focus on the user and think about the impact you want to have on them. Imagine they came into your business, what would you say to them

The first five seconds are critical. You want to capture their attention within that first five seconds so they will stay and watch more rather than skipping your ad once they can. Focus on images and words that will grab them by the lapels and draw them in (while still being relevant to what you are selling.)

Market backwards. Think about your best customers, clients or patients. Where did they come from? What were they searching for to find you? What problem were they looking to solve? If you can work back from the sale to when and how they discovered you, it will help you identify the moment that triggered them to interact with you. This will give you clues as to what to include in your ad.

Create different ads to connect with your audience where they are at any particular moment. Not everyone is going to be in the same place as far as how ready they are to buy. One person may be looking forward to a future event and simply doing research. Another person might need to buy something today. For example, let’s say you’ve moved and need a new dentist. You’re just doing research at this point so you want to know why you should pick one dental office over another. Now let’s say you have a bad toothache. The information you want is about a dentist who can alleviate your pain immediately with no wait. By structuring your ads differently and using different keywords, you’ll be able to connect with your audience the way you would in a face-to-face meeting, speaking directly to their exact needs at that moment.

Deliver an authentic, customer-focused message and YouTube advertising can be an incredible advertising platform. Plus, jump on now, and you can get in on the ground floor while it’s still inexpensive.

How to create cash flow AND more time during a crisis

Several months ago, my wife was in a bad accident.

It was, of course, unexpected and upsetting to say the least.

I share this not to alarm you… she will be alright. No, the reason I share this is because this incident caused me to examine my business.

You see, when the accident happened, my wife went from being active in the job market to not being able to work for quite some time which meant a loss of income.

Not only did I need to instantly ramp up my business to compensate for the loss of income, but I also needed extra time to take care of my wife and four kids.

For many small business owners, immediately turning up the revenue faucet would require a lot more of their time. Which means dedicating the extra time needed to take care of their spouse and kids, would cause a conflict.

Either way, what course of action you choose could have devastating consequences. On the one hand, you could end up with severe financial difficulties. On the other hand, your decision could negatively impact your relationships with your wife and family.

What would you do?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to choose. I had systems already set up in my business that allowed me to do both. As I thought about this, I realized how lucky I am. It also made me realize how many small business owners I know that, if faced with a similar situation, would be forced to choose.

So while I sincerely hope you are NEVER in a situation like this, I felt it was important to share what I’ve done that allows me to quickly increase my income AND at the same time, take extra time off without negatively impacting my business.

Here are three things you must do:

1) Make your business scalable. Being able to create more income at will is something everyone should do. Whether you have an emergency, want to make a special purchase or take a vacation, etc., it’s nice to be able to create extra cash flow to your business on demand.

2) When possible, automate. If you have a lot of manual processes in your business, it’s more difficult to scale your business up. Plus automation gives you a lot more time to do the things that are most important to you and your business.

There is a lot that can be automated in your business. For example, I receive the same type of questions over and over. Rather than writing an entirely new message each time, I can automate my communication to answer a prospect’s questions. This leaves me more time to focus directly on my clients.

Lead generation is another thing I’ve been able to automate. This not only allows me to attract new leads to my business 24/7, 365 days/year, but it also allows me to turn on, turn off or turn up my lead flow.

3) Create systems. Systems not only make your business more efficient, they make your business duplicable. Which means you can have someone step in and take care of things exactly as you would. (This makes your business saleable too.)

Systems can also make your business more profitable. I have a system in place for my accounting. This eliminates the shoeboxes of invoices plus I know exactly how much a lead costs, what the lifetime value of a client is and other important numbers in real time. Knowing these numbers is critical to running a profitable business. They allow you to see what advertising is effective and make any course corrections in a timely way instead of figuring out at the end of the year that you weren’t as profitable as you thought you were.

Systems work well for processes such as marketing, billing, and lead generation.

Take a moment to examine your own business (and take a short survey here):

Are you able to scale your business up or down as it exists today?
Have you automated processes that you repeat, such as lead generation and repetitive communication?
Do you have systems in place that would allow others to step in and duplicate?
If the answer is “no” to any one of these questions, then I highly recommend you put these on your “to-do” list. As I discovered, you never know when you’ll need them and it pays off to be prepared when you do.

Here’s to your online success!

John Pfeiffer

P.S. I want to hear from you. I want to know which of the above three things you struggle with? Which would you like to know more about? I’ve created a short survey that will take less than 60 seconds of your time. It’s completely anonymous so you can feel free to answer openly and honestly. Please take a moment to let me know here so I can address your biggest business difficulties in future emails.