Three off-the-beaten-path ideas that PPC pros should think about in 2016

Okay, I get it. You’ve read all the recaps, trends and goal post articles you can handle on paid search these past few weeks.

But let’s talk, because I want to show you three areas you may not be thinking about that ultimately impact your customer’s journey – even though they’re a little off the beaten path.

1) Stay visible and secure: HTTPS

HTTPS is a consideration for everyone on the Web. In 2014, Google announced HTTPS would be a lightweight ranking signal in organic search that could have more weight in the future.

Then in April 2015, Google announced HTTPS for AdWords products, allowing for HTTPS-encrypted ads. In its announcement, Google said these updates would change the ad experience for users, and that means for advertisers too…

“Our HTTPS Everywhere ads initiatives will join some of our other efforts to provide a great ads experience online for our users, like Why this Ad?, Mute This Ad and TrueView skippable ads.”

Do you remember how many years Google told us to “go mobile” before it started implementing things that would impact non-mobile-friendly sites? If it’s bound to happen, it’s best to start prepping now. HTTPS has benefits beyond just compliance with Google. As this article at Ahrefs.com points out:

  • “When traffic passes to an HTTPS site, the secure referral information is preserved. This is unlike what happens when traffic passes through an HTTP site, and it is stripped away and looks as though it is ‘direct.’”
  • “It encrypts all communication, including URLs, which protects things like browsing history and credit card numbers.”

However, there are a lot of practical barriers to entry that need to be addressed, as this article points out.

I spoke with my Web developer, Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d (author of the article above), and she said because it’s complicated, confusing and generally costs money, it’s likely there will only be widespread adoption of HTTPS once it’s a seamless part of hosting packages.

Rachel then pointed out that hosts manage all sorts of other things behind the scenes for their clients, which people running websites do not need to know about, and believes HTTPS should be like that too.

If you’re considering making the switch, check out these two helpful Moz resources on HTTPS:

In the end, there are people for and against HTTPS, but it’s up to us to stay educated so when our clients and employers ask, we can convey what all of this means to them.

2) Draw customers in: video how-to content

Video ads are an up-and-coming resource for many advertisers, including B2Bs. They may not result in direct sales, but they have a whole bunch of other benefits – they’re engaging, the clicks are cheap and people are consuming video content like crazy right now.

According to Google in 2015, searches related to ‘how to’ on YouTube are growing – 70% year over year. And the most popular searches are educational searches (perfect for B2Bs – like “How to choose a PPC agency” for example).

How to get started…

Gather some intel on the most frequently asked questions directly from your customers or search terms. You can use tools like Google Trends and Google Consumer Surveys.

Then, create video content and target YouTube and the Google Display Network as part of your ad strategy. Here are a few things to consider when getting started with video ads.

Our clients have used this type of video content for bringing new offerings to market, too, and they love it.

3) Help customers when they need you: live chat on landing pages

According to research by Forrester, 44% of online consumers said that “having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”

In 2015, ZenDesk released a report that showed live chat beat out all the other channels for customer satisfaction at 92%.

The fact is, being there when your customers need you at one of the most critical moments – the moment they are making a decision about your brand, product or service, can make a difference.

B2Cs may come to mind as the primary target market for chat but let’s not discount B2Bs either. There are several instances where you might have a paid search campaign driving traffic to a B2B landing page, and your audience may have questions.

chat-window

If you’re looking to get into the business of chat, know that the options have evolved since chat first hit the scene. There’s an interesting article over at CrazyEgg that outlines some important considerations for live chat today, like:

  • Data
  • Design
  • Integration abilities

And speaking of data, you can see how chat is impacting conversions with some of the tools available. LiveChat integrates with Google AdWords to see which clicks convert to chats on the site. And if you want to give chat a spin without the commitment, companies like HappyFox Chat offer a free plan.

Try something new and unusual in 2016

PPC doesn’t exist in a bubble; thinking about the customer journey from start to finish will help you map interesting tools and techniques along the way. So go ahead, and get your feet wet this year with new ways to stay visible and drive conversions.

Pauline Jakober is CEO of Group Twenty Seven and a contributor to Search Engine Watch. You can follow Pauline on Twitter.

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