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The Thrive Hive

Tips on digital marketing you can apply today.

Alaska Tourism - How Can You Thrive With Minimal State Marketing

Kristen Lindsey - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The state of Alaska's budget woes have reached the tourism industry. Despite near record visitor numbers and a thriving industry, critical state marketing support for the industry has dwindled from upwards of twenty million dollars to to a mere 1.5 million dollars.

Many of our clients are asking about how they can retool their own marketing programs in response to this situation. Here are some digital strategies to consider:

1.  Do you have the right business intelligence?

Of course, businesses look at overall revenues, profit margins, etc. but there are other important ways of tracking your marketing program. Evaluating which analytics you review to support your marketing objectives is an important first step. 

You need a fuel gauge in your car to know if you're running out of fuel, right? Just looking at miles traveled will not tell you if you are in danger. Are you looking at mere website traffic to determine your digital success? Rethink your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and find the ones that give you actionable information. Some examples of KPIs we use with some clients are engaged visitors (sessions of x page views or more), shopping cart abandonment rate, average order value and more.

2. How is your website conversion rate?

Is your site optimized to maximize bookings? An incremental increase in your conversion rate is one of the biggest ways you can improve your digital marketing performance. Analysis tools like heat maps, exit surveys or landing page optimization testing can help you find areas of opportunity. Google Analytics has multiple ways to measure conversion, and spending a little on development to get this information can pay big dividends.

3. Are you spending your digital advertising in the right places?

U.S. department store merchant John Wanamaker is credited with the quote, "I know half my advertising is working; I just don't know which half." With digital advertising & marketing, this is no longer the case. Conducting an ad cost analysis (i.e. cost per conversion by advertising medium) can prevent you from throwing money at a poor performing tactic and underspending on something really valuable. For example, when executed properly, paid search advertising can have the lowest cost per acquisition of almost any other type of advertising. If you have an effective paid search program but not maximizing your spending, you are losing cost effective conversions.

4. Is your site mobile optimized?

So many travelers are making decisions on where to eat, what to do and even where to stay once they have already arrived at their destination, and they are mostly using mobile devices to make these bookings. If your site is not optimized for mobile yet, it is time to bite the bullet and make the investment. Yes, it is a capital expense that may feel like a lot, but is the most important part of conversion optimization you can undertake.

5. It is time to professionalize your social media presence.

Playing around with social media and seeing if it can contribute to your marketing program is a thing of the past. The size of audiences on social media now easily rival audiences in other areas, such as search. Developing a coordinated social media strategy in alignment with the rest of your marketing as well as exploring paid social advertising options will enhance your overall program and increase its impact. As with all marketing, with digital, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy and consistent message among all tactics - search, display, email, social - can have a disproportionate impact and huge bang for the buck.

So, if you are looking for ways to leverage your marketing program further to make up for State of Alaska marketing program support, here are some ideas to start with. Do these resonate with you? Any other comments on digital opportunities you see? Please share in the comments!




Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Update

Scott Thomas - Thursday, February 14, 2013

Google AdWords has begun a major update/upgrade known as Enhanced Campaigns. These new campaigns are being promoted to simplify and reduce the number of campaigns within an AdWords account. The changes within the new Enhanced Campaigns are in response to new reality that many people are connected to the Internet, wherever they go, via multiple devices (smart phone, tablet, or laptop/desktop). Along with this change, one can argue that the line between "online" and "offline" activity is blurring.

Marketing in a Constantly Connected World

Billions of searches are being conducted on all devices, these searches indicate when people are searching for location, general information, or a way to find the solution to a need or problem. Google indicates that mobile searches often provide advertisers the opportunity to better understand the context and intent of the user. In addition, multi-screen users often begin a search on mobile or tablet, and then follow up later on a PC.

Given the wide variety of devices and campaign strategies to target various devices and locations as separate campaigns, a business running large and extensive PPC advertising program could end up creating dozens of campaigns target devices and people differently in the current AdWords system.

The Benefits of Enhanced Campaigns

Powerful Bidding: improvements that allow one to manage bids seamlessly across locations, times and device types. For example, a business could bid higher for searches that are conducted on a smartphone, nearby a store, during the times that the store is open.

Smarter Ads: that are optimized for varying user contexts. One can show the right ad, site link, app or extension based on user context and device capabilities. Example: Different sitelinks can be shown to highlight special offers during specific days or times, and according to device type. So perhaps a restaurant will show special offers for specific days to coincide with slow and/or busy times. 

Advanced Reporting Metrics: advertisers will immediately have access to detailed call reporting with free Google forwarding numbers and conversion metrics. New conversion types will include phone calls and digital downloads.

What will Change for PPC Advertisers?

Fewer Device Targeting Options: Desktops, laptops and tablets are being grouped together as one group and mobile devices will grouped together as another group/device segment. All devices within these different segments must be targeted, there will be no more targeting (or "opting out") by a specific device (i.e. iPad only campaigns) or device type (no way to opt-out of all tablets, for example). 

  • Mobile devices will be targeted by default in the new Enhanced Campaigns. PPC managers can raise or lower bids based on the mobile device type. Apparently, one can also eliminate mobile device advertising by dropping the bid amount to -100%, but one cannot create a "Mobile Only" campaign. Tablets and PCs could be heavily de-emphasized by negative bids.
  • Targeting by separate operating systems will no longer be available. 

Sitelinks at the AdGroup Level: The additional sitelinks that can be placed at the bottom of text ads will be set at the AdGroup level, with improved tracking and reporting features. Also, the sitelinks can be changed according to time of day or device type. 

More Bidding Options/Settings: Default bids will be set at the desktop/laptop/tablet level. PPC managers will be able to increase or lower bids based on device, location and time. The multitude of bidding options will be extensive for large campaigns.

Calls & Digital Downloads to be Counted as Conversions: Advertisers will be able to count generated calls from a campaign, over a certain duration, as a conversion. Digital downloads will also be available for goal/conversion tracking.

Increasing Mobile Adoption: The rollout of Enhanced Campaigns will push more advertisers to including mobile devices in their PPC campaigns (many may not realize that mobile can be heavily de-emphasized with lower bids or eliminated with "-100%" bids). More websites will likely be forced to adopt responsive or mobile sites to target more devices and people more effectively.

Timeline for Rollout: Advertisers are beginning to receive notifications that Enhanced Campaigns are available now, and all campaigns will be upgraded in June of this year. 

What do PPC Managers and SEM Experts Think?

The reaction has been mixed, with many pros and cons debated within the community. While the new campaigns may be easier to manage in the long-term, or simply reduce the number of campaigns, many people in the Search Engine Marketing community agree that the conversion will require a great deal of time and work. The lack of control over device targeting frustrates some managers and large advertisers, but many also feel that it will make campaign management easier for small and medium sized businesses.

 is the Search Marketing Manager at Apokrisis.



Google's +1 Being Added to AdWords Ads

Kristen Lindsey - Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Just had an email from Google stating that it will be adding a +1 button to all AdWords pay-per-click ads.

This means that people searching on Google will have the ability to "like" an ad via its Plus One service.

An example of an ad provided by Google:



This appears to be an aggressive move by Google to have its social tools gain traction in competition with Facebook.

For more information on Google's +1, refer to a previous post by Lisa about it.

What are the Benefits of Managed PPC Campaigns?

Scott Thomas - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
If you own business, you may ask why you should pay for PPC campaign management? Anyone can start their own PPC campaign with Google AdWords and/or Bing AdCenter, choose keywords, write ads, and then let it run. You could choose a wide variety of keyword phrases to target and chose the board targeting feature to reach as many people as possible. If you have deep pockets, this may not be a bad approach, but most businesses have a limited marketing budget and need to make the most of their advertising dollars.

Pay per click campaigns allow one to measure and experiment with the results. By combining the PPC campaign tools with an analytics program, one can constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the targeted keywords into converting into leads or sales through your website. New keywords phrases, ads, and landing pages can be tested to find the best combinations for your website's goals. Even if you cannot directly measure sales through your website, one can compare the engagement levels of PPC visitors to organic visitors, or better yet, measure conversions for leads (email newsletter sign up, brochure request, and/or submitted forms for more information).

A search engine marketer will constantly be in a testing and optimizing mode; consistently working on improving the effectiveness of a PPC campaign. Depending on the reach and scope of a campaign, a PPC manager may be trying to get you the most visitors for the lowest cost, or carefully targeting the keywords that most often turn into leads or sales.

The search engines continue to offer new publisher or content markets and devices to target. Sometimes, they may "opt in" your campaign without notifying you. Often, when a campaign is opted in by default, the search engine benefits by getting more clicks and increasing your costs. However, the new device or market opportunity may not be a good match for your campaign. A professional PPC campaign manager will stay on top of the latest trends and give you recommendations on targeting a new market for your PPC campaign.

As the options for PPC marketing increase, it's often best to break down campaigns by market and/or device. Content or publisher networks, mobile devices, tablets, and click to call options are often best set up as their own campaigns, targeted specifically to those users. Organizing your campaigns into specific markets or devices allows you to test new opportunities, and constantly test the best ways to reach your audience.

Whether you keep management of your PPC campaign in-house or choose to hire a search engine marketing company, PPC campaigns allow you to constantly test, measure, and optimize as you use paid search to reach website visitors.