Monthly Archives: September 2011

Display Network Survey and Series Wrap Up

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We hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s PPC series on How To Succeed On The Display Network. If you missed any part of this week-long series, you can revisit it at anytime by clicking on the Blog Series tab at the top of the page. Each person can have a completely different experience on the Display Network and we always like to hear from our readers. That’s why we’ve provided the survey below to determine what types of Display Network targeting has worked for you. Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned for next month’s series on managing different types of accounts!

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Real-Time Reports Now Available in Google Analytics

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Google Analytics has been hitting the books hard lately! They’ve been making interface changes (and they aren’t done yet), as well as integrating new features in to the most recent version of the Analytics dashboard. All of those changes have somehow made your Analytics life easier when it comes to viewing data about what has been happening on your site, however today’s update takes all of that one step further: ladies and gentlemen, Google Analytics Real-Time!

There is no denying that having the ability to see current, real-time action from your website takes the PPC game to a whole new level. Asking yourself how? I thought you might…

  • Instant measurement of social media push: did your most recent Facebook post push a huge amount of traffic to your site? Time to step up your social media game!
  • Test campaign tracking: save yourself some time and test out your conversion tracking on your site in current time before you send the traffic source out to your customer base!

On the PPC side of things, it will be interesting to compare traffic right before and after uploading new campaigns or expanding a keyword list. There is one little catch: you have to pull the trigger and finally switch over to the new version of Analytics, if you haven’t already. You can find these Real-Time reports in the Dashboards tab of the new Analytics and will only be able to access them if you have Administrator level access to your account.

This update has been released on a limited basis (you can sign-up for early access here), but should be available across the board in coming weeks.

So how else will you use the new Real-Time reports once you have access? Share your thoughts and ideas below in the comments section!

For further information about this topic, check out the following links:

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more news updates from PPC Hero!

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Display Network Strategy: A Three Part Approach

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In the final topic for our series on how to succeed on the display network, I’ll be discussing display network strategy. I’ll break strategy down into three parts:

Goals – What you intend to accomplish with your display campaign.

Channels – Where you’ll be placing your ads.

Ads – CPM or CPC? Creative strategies to get the most out of each.

Defining your goals

It’s important to understand that display is an entirely different monster than search. You aren’t going to have the same intent connection when serving display ads as you will when serving ads through search. The potential impression wasn’t a result of someone directly telling you what they are looking for. Because of this, you should start your display strategy by thinking through exactly what you intend to get from using display. To start, is it something you even need in the first place? Would your budget be better spent in other marketing channels? If there is room for display, you need to understand the benefit of using it and how best to implement display to reach your company goals.

It’s essential to think through the branding aspects of a good display campaign, particularly when using image ads. Would your product or service benefit from branding, even if you aren’t seeing conversions come through? Will your display campaign contribute to higher conversion rates in your other marketing channels? In most cases, the answer to both of these questions is yes. Because of that, you need to address your conversion rates differently than you do in search. Multichannel tracking in Google Analytics is a great free tool that can help you better define what your goals should be. In many instances, several touch points are needed to convert a user. Display can be an integral part of assisting conversions.

Does this mean you should always relax your conversion cost goals in display? Nope. What you should do is always consider the full benefit of using a display platform.

Define the most appropriate channels

Understanding the channels that you’ll be using is an integral part of your overall strategy. In my opinion, display is more flexible than search when it comes to channels. With search, the ads are shown on the actual search engine, making Google the clear-cut leader when it comes to reach. In display, you can find an equally trafficked site on a second or third tier engine as you can on Google. Sure, Google is going to have more potential sites than these other engines, but the gap isn’t as large or important. Because of this, I think exploring multiple channels is a good approach.

One thing I’ll add as a precaution is that your available budget should also play into how many channels you go after initially. Display can, in many instances, take more time and money to truly optimize than what you may be used to in a search campaign. There are two schools of thought here. You can be cautious with your spend and slowly identify the appropriate marketing mix and placements within your display campaign and control your costs – or – you can set up several targeting options with a decent budget and accelerate the optimization process but with the potential for higher conversion costs initially. I’m firmly in the school of the second option. You have to identify what is going to work and the faster you get there the more successful your campaign is going to be in the long run. Additionally, with higher starting budgets, you are more likely to find a higher number of successful placements.

The takeaway here is, if your budget is tight, spreading it out among several channels is going to lessen the odds of making all of those channels as successful as it can be. Would you rather have one rockstar channel or several so-so channels?

You should also remember to think through how you’ll be utilizing your individual channels. If you need some more insight into this, check out a post I wrote last month about scaling your display campaigns.

Match your ad strategy to address your goals.

The third process that you should work through when developing your overall display strategy is your ad objectives. To start, you should decide on a bidding model. There is a place for both CPM and CPC but the way you go about your creative should be different for each. In a CPC model, my best advice is to pre-qualify your traffic through extremely descriptive ads. Because you’ll only be paying for customers that click, if you ad is too vague, you might be driving traffic that isn’t qualified at all and that will wind up costing you more money. Your ads need to be extremely relevant in CPC but you need to strike a balance between disqualifying too much traffic. You don’t want to lose fringe customers that might click due to curiosity and lead to a conversion.

CPM requires a different strategy in my opinion. You are paying for those impressions regardless of who is clicking on them. In these instances, I think the right move is to leave something for the imagination. You want your ad to draw attention to itself. You want it to be intriguing and you don’t want to pre-qualify too much. Hopefully you have a good site to back up the creative and your focus should be on getting as many of your impressions to click through to the site, where they can then make a decision on how to proceed. Your bounce rate will probably be higher for your CPM campaign than with your overall site traffic but you’ll also be capturing more visitors for the same price and are giving yourself more of an opportunity to convert at no additional cost.

It’s obviously important to think through which route you’re going to take ahead of creating your campaigns because your messaging should be consistent with your overall strategy. Now that you’ve got your starting strategy all worked out, read through some of our other posts on display to take your campaigns to the next level.

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Whaddya’know Wednesdays: The Top 5 Goals For E-Commerce PPC Landing Pages

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This week’s Whaddya’know Wednesday expert, Chris McGee, is the Product Manager and Marketer here at Hanapin Marketing. One of the products he’s managing and marketing is Doppelpager.com, which allows you to copy and change existing landing pages to make them more effective for PPC. In this video, he goes over the top 5 landing page goals for e-commerce sites, and how to achieve them.

Continue reading

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Mobile PPC: Google Wallet, Quality Score & Speculation

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Mobile search and expansion has been a hot topic throughout the year, and continues to pickup momentum. A recent study has revealed that 75% of users said mobile search makes their lives easier, 63% claimed that access to mobile search has changed the way they gather information, while 32% said they use mobile search more than search engines on their computers. When it comes to mobile pay-per-click campaigns, it’s hard to ignore statistics like this. Based on the study’s findings alone, you are already missing out on 32% of traffic without a mobile website. That’s not even including your impression share, which makes a number like 50% seem more realistic. With data revelations like these and the holiday season on the horizon, it’s becoming increasingly important to look for new ways to better your mobile strategy and presence.

For the purpose of this article, I’d like to discuss a couple topics on the Mobile PPC front: First, I will offer up some foresight as to how Google Wallet could eventually end up affecting your Mobile campaigns. Then, I will discuss the importance of creating user-friendly mobile landing pages, since mobile website optimization is now factored into your AdWords Quality Score. Although the added component of Mobile Quality Score is sure to have an effect, I believe Google Wallet also has the potential to really make an impact on the mobile PPC marketplace in the near future, so here are my thoughts:

 

Google Wallet

Google announced the addition of Google Wallet to their seemingly endless arsenal of tools and products not too long ago. I believe that this has the potential to affect our mobile search campaigns in the long-run. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the system:

Google Wallet is an Android app that makes your phone your wallet. It stores virtual versions of your existing plastic cards on your phone. Simply tap your phone to pay and redeem offers using near field communication, or NFC.

Although it won’t have a direct effect on your paid search campaigns, it will nonetheless impact and increase savvy mobile users reliance on their smartphones to make transactions. Not only can consumers make purchases online, but now they are also capable of merchant transactions as well; a “two-fer”, if you will. In other words, smartphones are becoming universal transaction tools that can accommodate all of your shopping needs in one place. Out of sheer convenience, Google Wallet may end up playing a role in luring even more consumers to the paid mobile search front at increasing rates. This is good news for us, especially if we are prepared to take on more mobile traffic! However, the app is currently only available to those with a Nexus S 4G by Google, but as with any Google product, I would expect that to change in the not-to-distant future. The real impact wouldn’t come until later, once more phones become compatible with the service. But, these are just thoughts and only time will tell.

 

Mobile Website Optimization & Quality Score

Google made another announcement recently about how mobile website optimization will soon be a factor of your Quality Score in AdWords. Providing users with the best possible search experience is one of Google’s core concepts, and given the incompatibilities that often arise between mobile and desktop browsers, this is essentially their incentive to make the overall mobile search experience better for those users. From the announcement, Google mentions that:

In the coming weeks, we will be introducing the mobile optimization of a website as a new factor of ads quality for AdWords campaigns that are driving mobile search traffic. As a result of this change, ads that have mobile optimized landing pages will perform better in AdWords — they will generally drive more mobile traffic at a lower cost.

Compared to Google Wallet’s indirect effect on the mobile marketplace, this will have a much more direct effect on your mobile pay-per-click campaigns as a result of its correlation with Quality Score (driving more traffic at a lower cost). User-friendly landing pages are now best practice. However, regardless of its effect on Quality Score, you should already be thinking about long-term relationships with your customers anyway. If they have a poor experience with your brand, the chance of winning those customers back becomes difficult. On the other hand, if your page is optimized for mobile and users favor your site, you will ultimately pay less per-click. This is why it is important to visit your own websites and look for areas that could use some improvement.

 

Are You Sure You’re Optimized For Mobile?

You can easily prepare your brand to accommodate the increasing number of smartphone users by ensuring that your mobile landing page is user-friendly. Also, if you need help creating a mobile landing page, Google now offers a tool to help you design and build professional mobile web pages. This is an excellent opportunity to gain an edge on your competition and prepare your brand for these changes, in addition to anything else Google rolls out in the near future.

It should be interesting to see how Google Wallets and the new Quality Score component affect the mobile pay-per-click marketplace during the coming months. We can certainly expect QS to have an impact on mobile PPC, but does Google Wallet have the potential to indirectly affect how many customers see your PPC ads in the near future? Given smartphone technology we’ve seen up until now, I’m confident that consumers will eventually begin to rely more and more on their smartphones for all of their shopping needs, both commerce and ecommerce. We’re on the brink of something big here, but only time can reveal the true story… Feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below, I’d love to get some additional perspectives!

 

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Newest Developments for the Google Display Network

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This is the third post in PPC Hero’s series on How to Succeed on the Display Network. This post focuses on some of the newest developments Google has made and how they apply to making the Display Network work better for advertisers.

Yesterday, Bethany wrote on the best practices for the Google Display Network and last week, Sarah and I had the opportunity to head up to Chicago for Google@ Chicago to get a look at product demos and hear more about some new developments Google had announced.  Today, I’d like to touch on some of the Display Network’s more recent developments from that seminar and discuss how they are helping advertisers to see more benefits.

The Display Network and +1

+1 Button

One of Google’s newest projects is their new social network, Google+.  They also launched the +1 button, (which most people compare to Facebook’s ‘like’ button) which allows those with a Google+ profile to +1 a website or search ad with a  ‘plus one’ button and they’ll show up in the Google results for that website’s listing.

Last week they announced that not only would organic results contain these +1’s, but they’ll also be applied to display advertisements which is pretty good news for advertisers.  Essentially, Google is trying to develop online advertising into a more personal and relevant experience.  A brand that one or more of someone’s Google+ friends endorse with a +1 (and thus a picture of that person in the ad itself) helps develop greater trust for the ad and product.  The entire idea is very similar to Facebook’s ads which have included ‘Likes’ from friends on them for awhile.

Facebook Ads

Should Google+ succeed (which a lot of people are really hoping it does, myself included), these new developments could really change the game for marketers and add more emphasis to Display’s importance.  Hopefully the +1 button being used more than 4 billion times a day according to Google is a sign of this?

Multi-Channel Funnels

Analytics Multi Channel Funnels

At the end of last month, Google Analytics launched a new tool that we at Hanapin Marketing were very excited about – multi channel funnels.  This tool helps marketers understand the value of those areas we don’t see much value from with the naked eye.  If you haven’t had the chance to explore this tool yet, I’d really recommend Bethany’s Quick Guide to Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels.

Multi channel funnels take you through a purchase decision based on how many different channels your customer could go through before they make their end decision.  One of the biggest issues with SEM is that oftentimes, you won’t see a conversion the first time someone visits your site for the first time.  In fact, they might use several channels to research you before they decide to convert.  This tool helps to see their path more clearly.

Multi Channel Funnels

*Campaign names have been blurred for client privacy

For me, multi channel funnels has become a great way to see how my AdWords Remarketing is working.  In addition to having backend tracking available to me to see how well I’m doing from a revenue standpoint with these ads, I can take a look at multi channel funnels and see how users are interacting with organic searches, referrals, display, remarketing, social networks and more.  In addition, my Retargeting-Images campaign tends to have a higher CPL than I’d like to see.  Multi-channel funnels help me see that clicks on these ads are often times a part of the process.  Again, I double check these campaigns against revenue tracking data, and it all pans out – thus this campaign gets a bit of a higher CPL allotment.  You can use this tool for the Display Network in general and watch how it works with your other campaigns to get you a conversion or if the Display Network really is just sucking up all of your money.

Yet To Come – The Contextual Dynamic Creative Template

Here’s an interesting new idea in the pipe from Google in the Display Ad Builder – the contextual dynamic creative template. Instead of making a different ad for all of your products, you’ll be able to sync with Google Merchant and let Google contextually choose which of your products are best suited for the websites you decide to advertise on.  Information is pretty scarce on this topic, but it looks like a promising time saver.  Here’s a pretty video if you’d like more info on Google CDC.  This tool is in Beta, so if you’re interested in signing up do so here.

As we all know, Google likes to shake things up a bit quite often, so this new list will likely be obsolete tomorrow morning.  Keep checking back with PPC Hero for more Display Network and SEM info and look for the 4th part of our series, Developing a Display Network Strategy, tomorrow!

 

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Google’s New, Easier Instant Previews and the PPC Effect

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Today we have another post from one of our PPC Hero allies, Mark Reynolds of Blazen Web Marketing. Mark is an internet marketer and web designer based in the U.K. In this post he takes a look at Google’s new Instant Previews, how it can impact the CTR of PPC ads, and offers tips on how to improve your landing pages.

Google has announced the new version of its Instant Previews feature, which I discussed in August during Google’s testing. The new mouse-over feature makes it easier to quickly view previews of websites in the search results without having to visit the website first.

The change from Google’s last version of Instant Previews is quite significant in that rather than having to click on a small magnifying glass icon, an instant preview tab now appears when you hover over any part of the ad or organic search result; you then simply hover over the tab to bring the landing page preview into view.

The new Google Instant Previews can be accessed from the top Google ads and the organic results, but not from ads down the right-hand side.

Take a look at the video below to see how it works. [NO AUDIO]

Google +1 Button is Back

Since our article last month on Google’s testing, a couple of small things have changed, but the main change is that unsurprisingly Google’s +1 button has come back out of the Instant Preview area and now sits next to the website address, giving it more attention for users who are logged in. Why Google would want to test putting the +1 button in the instant preview area is a curious one.

Google +1 Button Moves next to the Web Address in New Google Instant Previews

Does the New ‘Instant Previews’ Make Search Easier?

Google’s announcement:

“Sometimes you’re searching for a page with a specific type of visual – like a seating chart when you want to buy baseball tickets – but can’t tell from the results page which one will have exactly what you’re looking for. Or you’ve already seen a specific page and would recognize it in an instant if you saw it again. You can now quickly glance at a preview of the page without having to click and see if it’s the page you want.”

Where Google Instant Preview comes into its own is when searching websites for a specific image. It now takes just seconds to hover over the previews of 10 or so websites in this situation.

What isn’t as straight forward is searching for textual content. As a searcher you still have to scan the tiny snippets of text that Google has identified with its red outlines.

Background colour of text preview changed to black in new Google Instant Previews

Google has changed the background colour of the text area to black to make the text stand out more, but it still lacks the stand-out nature of an image. Below we’ve enlarged the text on the instant preview and feel that increasing the text size could make it more useful to searchers; maybe Google will test this in the future?

Increased Size of Text to Increase Emphasis on Textual Content in Google Instant Previews

How will Instant Previews Impact Google PPC?

At the moment there seems to be far more value in using Google Instant Previews to quickly find websites that host certain images than for finding more text based content.

Searching for products is where Instant Previews could have the biggest impact as it’s now much easier for buyers to compare the landing pages of all of the top PPC & organic search results before visiting any of the ecommerce websites.

This is another reason why ecommerce websites should use large, clean photos which really convey everything that’s good about the product.

How Could the New Instant Previews Affect Ad CTR?

The impact of Google Instant Previews isn’t just about eCommerce, but let’s use that as an example.

1. In the search in the video below we’re looking for ‘running shoes’ and in 1 or 2 seconds we can see that all of the top 3 ads seem to stock a good number of shoes. If we compare that with the organic results, the reduced ability to target specific landing pages with SEO becomes apparent. I can hardly see a running shoe in the previews of the top organic results. After this initial scan, my attention focuses in on clicking one or more of the top ads. In this scenario, where on first appearance the organic results seem to provide poor competition, ad CTR could increase. [NO AUDIO]

2. Next let’s try a slightly narrower search by including a brand name in the search term. The third ad illustrates that, now more than ever, it’s crucial to relate your landing pages to the search phrase you’re targeting, otherwise your CTR could drop. Bar charts and technical detail are not what I’m looking for, so I discard the third advert. The other 2 ads seem to provide a range of running shoes by this manufacturer. The landing pages of the organic results seem to lose out again with a sparseness of product photos, making me more likely to click on the top ads. In this scenario the ad CTR for ads 1 and 2 could increase.

3. Finally we look at a specific model of running shoe which has a range of colours. This time the organic landing pages catch up and the playing field is more level. In this example it’s harder to differentiate one site from the other. Strong photos could really be a deciding factor, especially if the searcher has a specific colour in mind, as well as of course, persuasive ad text.

Google has now made Instant Previews more obvious to users and it’s more likely that people will evaluate your website/landing page visually before visiting it, or not visiting it as the case may be.

If more people start to use Google Instant Previews, then it makes sense that the competition between the top PPC ads and the organic results could really hot up.

In the above examples the PPC ad previews bear up pretty well, but there are many other examples on the web where the landing pages of Google Adwords campaigns are poorly matched to the search term and so we can only conclude that CTR could go up or down depending on the competition. You may have a poor instant preview, but your competition could be worse.

Improve Landing Pages to Set Campaigns Apart

What is clear is that this is another opportunity for you to set your campaign apart from competing PPC campaigns and competing organic results. If you want to increase CTR then this is another huge reason to make sure your landing pages closely relate to the keywords you’re bidding on and that you’re bidding on the right keywords.

How about Non-ecommerce Landing Pages?

As already mentioned, Instant Previews give more value to the searcher when there are specific images that they can relate to their search. Landing pages/previews that don’t have that same visual advantage, eg. ‘Home Insurance’, probably won’t see the same impact.

Does Your Instant Preview Look Professional?

One other thing, stand back and look subjectively at your landing page’s instant preview. People can make trust judgements based on how professional a website looks. Does your website/landing page look professional, does it look inviting? Does it look clean, uncomplicated and easy to use? Does your text look easy to read, rather than being grouped together in one or two big clumps?

Start with the aesthetics and get that right, then hopefully the content in your ad and the content that Google highlights on your preview, is the content that motivates the searcher to click.

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It’s Google’s 13th Birthday!

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We here at PPC Hero want to wish Google a very happy 13th birthday!! Although Google’s actual birthday has been a debated topic through the years, Google has chosen September 27th as their official day to celebrate! Check out this great post on Search Engine Watch to see this year’s infamous Google doodle, as well as each doodle for each of Google’s birthdays!

 

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Ads in the Wild: How ‘Bout a Touch of Branding to Go with that Click?

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It’s Tuesday, and that means time for another installment of our “Ads in the Wild Series”  from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he dissects and analyzes ads he sees various places online. This series gives an in-depth look at the philosophy and strategy behind these ads and provides actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

With a few savvy exceptions, most Facebook advertising clients run ads with a strictly direct response mindset.

But while expecting measurable response from your Facebook ads is smart, it helps to keep in mind that ads aimed, written, and designed specifically for a target audience consistently outperform generically messaged and designed ads — especially when you’re measuring performance on a conversion rather than click-through basis.

And that’s where a bit of branding can come into your ads through intelligent use of micro copy and branded imagery.  Case in point, this ad for Appsumo:

PPC Facebook Ad Appsumo

Notice the irreverent and challenging headline?  See how they call it a Kopywriting Kourse?

Doesn’t that say volumes about the approach these guys are likely to take regarding copy (think copy with a hyper-conversational and personality-driven style)?

Yes, this is still a direct response ad, but the guys at appsumo are smart enough to know that the person most likely to respond to this micro-branded messaging are also the most likely to sign up for their course, given the copy/description on their landing page.  So this targeted and branded ad is very likely killing it on CPI.

And you’re not sure what I mean about the kind of copy on their landing page, here’s a sample:

“Soooo you’ve read articles online about improving conversion rates by changing headlines and copy.

It’s true…it does work. I’ll show you:

Appsumo is a web-based company that constantly improves its users lives through strategic discounts on needed products for startups and business users.

-or-

This fat-ass Sumo sends you one MASSIVE money-saving deal on tech stuff for startups (like apps and software)….Everyday.

Which one was easier to understand (and possibly more offensive)?”

See what I mean? As I said: hyper-conversational and personality-driven  copy.  What better way to describe a couse on this than: Kopywriting Kourse?

Then there’s this ad from Yellow Tail Wine:

PPC Facebook Ad yellow tail

First the logo and the use of brackets around Yellow Tail is taken right from their bottles, making it easy for customers to recognize the brand.

This is perhaps more important than you’d suspect, as there’s at least one study showing that consumers remember and respond to wine labels far more reliably than brand names alone.

Second, “Never the wrong time for the right wine” is a perfectly worded sentiment that Yellow Tail’s core market will find hard not to “Like.”  And while the “like” response is still a measurable click and this is still a direct response ad, there’s no shortage of branding going on, either.

Finally, there’s Hipmunk.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to screen capture their Facebook ad before it disappeared, but the Facebook ad is largely similar to this billboard:

Hipmunk Billboard

With the same instantly recognizable flying chipmunk logo, and even better copy, as the Facebook ad copy read: “Sort flights by ‘Agony.’”  This reads better than the billboard because agony-free is too nondescript an adjective — any flight search engine could claim (erroneously) agony-free searching. But only one search engine lets you sort flights by agony, and the syntax of that copy makes the common reader sit-up and take note.

Again, the very idea of sorting flights by agony is a bit of micro-copy branding brilliance.  Just the sort of branding needed to make like-minded souls click through to the Website.

So here’s the deal, while you’re crafting your Facebook ads, make sure to step outside of your Direct Response mindset long enough to see if a bit of micro-copy and image-based branding might not inspire click from just the kind of people you most want to attract.

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