AdWords Mobile Certification

Most Google searches are on mobile devices. That’s been true for nearly two years now. That means, in addition to the necessity for a mobile user-friendly website, you need to ensure your advertising is optimized for mobile.

While not everyone needs to increase mobile app downloads, businesses need to take advantage of mico-moments (I-Want-to-Know, I-Want-to-Go, I-Want-to-Do, and I-Want-to-Buy).

I recently earned Google’s AdWords Mobile Certification. The Mobile Advertising Exam covers these key topic areas:

  • Consumer behavior and the impact of mobile
  • Mobile trends
  • Changes in mobile decision making
  • Promoting an app
  • Driving calls
  • Increasing online or store sales
  • Building awareness
  • Best Practices
  • Mobile bidding and targeting
    • Mobile bid adjustment, keywords, targeting, flexible bidding (maximize clicks, target search page location, target outranking share, target CPA, enhanced CPC, target return on ad spend), and remarketing
  • Mobile ad details
    • Search network, display network, YouTube
    • Ad extensions
    • Ad formats
    • Mobile display
    • Interstitial/video
    • App promotion
    • App engagement
  • Measurement
    • Conversion actions (website sign ups/purchases, iOS and Android app downloads/actions, phone calls (from ads, calls to a forwarding number on website, and phone clicks on mobile site), and importing offline conversions
Advertisements

AdWords Video Certification

I recently took the time to put my skills and knowledge to the test and passed the AdWords Video Advertising exam.

The test, in combination with AdWords Fundamentals, leads to the AdWords Video Certification.

While I can’t share specifics, the test covers these broad areas (with a few specifics, to give you an idea of context). Some require basic math skills and general paid digital advertising knowledge.

Video

  • Benefits of advertising on YouTube
  • YouTube and audience engagement
  • TrueView in-stream ads (Technical details including when to use, how you’re charged, and where they appear)
  • Targeting options:
    • Keyword contextual targeting
    • Demographic
    • Topics
    • Affinity audiences
    • Custom affinity audiences
    • In-market audiences
    • Placements
    • Video Remarketing
  • TrueView video campaigns
    • Video campaign type:
      • Supports TrueView video ad formats, CPV, and Target CPA bidding strategies
    • Benefits of TrueView video ads
      • TrueView in-stream ads
        • When to use
        • How does it work?
        • Where can the ads appear?
        • How will I be charged?
      • Trueview video discovery ads
        • When to use
        • How does it work?
        • Where can the ads appear?
        • How will I be charged?
  • Optimizing video campaigns
    • Making the most of CPV (cost-per-view)
    • Making the most of CTR
    • Narrowing targeting
    • Improving bidding
    • CTA Overlays
    • Best Practices for video ads
    • Measuring performance
      • Display ad mouseover
      • Display ad interactions
      • Video play per quartile
      • Tracking viewer conversions
    • Measuring brand awareness
      • Impressions
      • Engagement
      • Reach/Frequency
    • YouTube Analytics

Advanced AdWords Knowledge + Experience (LunaMetrics AdWords 201)

Information sharing as a general rule

As you may have noticed, I’ve started blogging again. I think it’s crucially important in a relatively collaborative field like higher ed. Nearly six years ago I reached out to Seth Odell (formerly of SNHU and UCLA, now at National University) when he was running Higher Ed Live and asked for advice and he answered on air that, in essence,

  • Starting out and getting your foot in the door in higher ed marketing is difficult
  • If you really want to excel, then (especially starting out) it needs to be more than a 9 am – 5 pm gig
    • You need to get out of work and learn as much as you can and connect with others in the community
    • Once you’re in, you’re in and people are open and supportive (via conference and other information sharing).

The implication of all that was, once you’re “in” and you have some knowledge or experience to share, that you should share it. Learning from Seth and others really inspired me to start working in the field so as soon as I could, I started to pay it forward. I presented about three years ago on some basic concepts related to Google Analytics (and at the time, I was shocked at the positive feedback from folks).

To the extent possible, I’ve given back in the form of answering questions I had along the way, like “What goes into a web/analytics report for higher ed?” and sharing the configuration of a basic admissions inquiry dashboard through the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.

The limits of information-sharing: giving paid search advice to the competition

As I’ve progressed in my career, though, the ratio of “things I can share” to “things I know” has decreased in some areas. One of those areas is in regards to digital advertising. While there is an abundance of online resources and training available, given the direct competition for programs, on-campus, but especially for online degree programs which can compete nationwide for the same students, those in the know aren’t as open about sharing their lessons learned.

There are tools available to learn about what your competitors are doing. These include built-in tools like the Auction Insights report (which only shows how you’re stacking up to your competitors on keywords you’re already bidding on), Keyword Planner (which you can use to scrape your competitors’ websites for keyword ideas) and paid tools like SEMrush and SpyFu to essentially spy on what your competitors are doing in regards to PPC.

Kick it up a notch: take AdWords 201 by LunaMetrics

For those who need a higher level of training, there is LunaMetrics (which also teaches advanced Google Analytics courses). They offer beginner courses but also a 201 course rather than recaps some basic success metrics and settings, is a deep dive into hands-on implementation.

The course is a masterclass on, really, a snapshot of how AdWords works at the time (it’s constantly changing). The course begins with how AdWords assists in moving people through the sales funnel before digging into more complicated and useful metrics like acquisition, conversion, and attribution. The course also covers setting up AdWords filters to automate some of the no-regrets decisions you can allow AdWords to make for you (pausing high cost, no conversion keywords, for a start). It digs into the tools for bigger campaigns like adding and managing user-defined dimensions.

The course also covers setting up AdWords filters to automate some of the no-regrets decisions you can allow AdWords to make for you (pausing high cost, no conversion keywords, for a start). It digs into the tools for bigger campaigns like adding and managing user-defined dimensions.

It’s an intensive dive into Metrics & Reports, Analysis Features (including AdWords/Analytics integrations), Advanced Analysis, Campaign Management, Tracking Campaign Segmentation, Automation, and (of course) remarketing.

My course was taught by Nick Eppinger, who specializes in paid search advertising and SEO. Even if you’re familiar with AdWords, I can’t recommend it AdWords 201 by LunaMetrics highly enough.

So, while I’m ramping up to outdo my previous performance (sorry, top-level only: “Surpassed budgeted enrollment goals for the executive coaching program by 58% by effectively managing AdWords“), don’t expect any helpful advice here other than, go ask Google.

Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing

Even before I became responsible for overseeing a unit-wide content strategy I was involved in extensive copywriting and editing. I had taken one traditional and one web writing course as part of my communications master’s degree, but I felt a need to learn more about the logistics of copywriting and working with others.

There are dozens of courses available on this topic but I wanted to learn from instructors with extensive experience in journalistic copyediting. Poynter News University seemed like the perfect fit.

I first heard of Poynter (a journalism news website and training provider) after one of their folks reached out to me after they became interested in why I made NPR’s Facebook page a lifetime ago.

The Poynter ACES (American Copy Editors Society) certificate in Editing consists of a number of courses that, together, provide the standards, skills, and best practices of editing. The specific courses are listed below. I highly recommend the certificate for those starting out in copyediting (and those, like me, who might need a refresher to this day).

HubSpot Email Marketing Certification

In addition to working hands on with HubSpot’s marketing automation platform in the past and demonstrating a clear return on investment of using the platform effectively, I’ve also begun adopting best practices in email marketing to build a documentation as part of our academic unit’s content strategy for the web.

HubSpot’s free course (a pretty effective inbound marketing effort to entice students to use their product in and of itself) covers the importance of building an email strategy for your organization, lifecycle marketing, contact management and segmentation, components of a high-performing email, email design and functionality, deliverability, lead nurturing, email analytics, and optimization/testing.

As you know, there’s a lot more to email marketing than making something look nice and hitting send. As we build in the above aspects into our email planning and execution, I think we’ll see the dividends in an improved engagement and conversion metrics.

Note: It can be difficult to highlight or share my thoughts on efforts that are largely internal and gradual, but I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to share the 10,000-foot overview of the effects of our combined email marketing effects as I did previously using inbound marketing methods.

Web and Social Media Writing for Higher Ed

Similar to my need to take the Advanced Web Analytics for Higher Ed course, I also took the Web and Social Media Writing for Higher Ed course offered by Higher Ed Experts and taught by Sofia Tokar of the University of Rochester.

As I wrote for the course alumni testimonials section,

This course is a terrific way for web writers (and their supervisors) to improve their understanding of web writing best practices in the context of writing for higher ed websites and digital/social media marketing. This course will provide you with the foundation to produce actionable guidelines and templates for web writers to make their web writing more engaging and more consistent.

The learning objectives encompass basic and more advanced ways to adjust to writing for online audiences for higher ed.

Learning objectives for the course included

  • Write using a conversational style
  • Organize online writing effectively
  • Create effective microcontent, including tweets and headlines
  • Optimize content for mobile devices
  • Use lists and tables to make writing easier to scan
  • Use images, video, and infographics as part of your content
  • Optimize a page for search engines
  • Create an effective program page that will bring in search traffic
  • Create a user persona that aids in web writing
  • Define an appropriate tone for a higher ed website
  • Use basic story techniques in web writing
  • Create content optimized for sharing on social media
  • Explain ways to apply content strategy techniques to create better writing across a website.
  • Apply content strategy tools to social media content
  • Use web analytics to assess the quality of web writing

Advanced Web Analytics for Higher Ed

I realize I’ve been quite delayed in updating folks on what I’ve been up to. One of the many things I’ve prioritized since my promotion to officially managing the marketing office is working to ensure my staff and I stay informed of changes in the industry and tools that enable us to do our jobs. One of those has been the relatively low-cost (compared to conferences and full-time courses) Advanced Web Analytics for Higher Ed provided by Higher Ed Experts and taught by Bentley University’s Director of Digital Marketing, Joshua Dodson.

As I noted on their impressive roster of course alumni testimonials,

This course is a must for higher ed marketers. Joshua expertly explains key concepts for students to gain a more thorough understanding of Google Analytics and its more insight-producing functionalities.

I had already taken an advanced Google Analytics course through LunaMetrics and passed the GA Individual Qualification and am/have been certified in using the Google Analytics (and AdWords) for years now, but this course have hands-on advice on how to make the most of the tool for large institutions (including specific ways to mitigate and overcome sampling aside from what’s publicly available).

Content Strategy for Higher Ed Marketing Teams

content strategy by brain traffic
content strategy by brain traffic

Content Strategy, courtesy of Brain Traffic

Since 2008, when I starting blogging for Mount Allison University in Canada, I’ve been interested in the best ways to source, structure, and present quality content. At the time, it was pretty simple in terms of the content strategy components laid out developed by the folks at Brain Traffic.

2008 – Individual Content Publisher

Substance: My life and how it was improved by going to the school.

Workflow: After an initial introduction and being presented with guidelines, I would write, edit, approve and publish everything myself.

Governance: Limited

Structure: However I wanted to structure it.

It worked at the time for being a part-time content publisher tasked with sharing my story of being a student at the University. Since then, of course, I’ve taken on more complicated roles with large and varied audiences with different structure and governance regulations/guidance. For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip over the intervening nine years with the general note that with growing audiences come with a greater emphasis on ensuring efficiency, effectiveness, and consistency.

2017 – Managing a Team at American University

For context, I have a directly manage a small team of a full-time content-producing Communications Coordinator, a part-time permanent Web Coordinator, vendors, and student workers. Beyond my department, I coordinate marketing communications for a dozen undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in conjunction with other ~20 program and operational staff. Our current priorities are building off the work Converge Consulting did with pilot programs and completing the site-wide upgrades already underway. My office is also creating prospective student user personas, program-specific communication workflows, improving our inbound marketing efforts, and other efforts I hope to share with you soon.

For my part, I’ve and will continue worked to document, a few key areas of content strategy for the school and its various web distribution platforms including social media and email across our programs. Here’s where I am at the moment.

Substance

In terms of substance, our programs appeal to an array of distinct audiences. As we hire and train more content contributors, we’re working to help clearly explain the value proposition and other key points for each of our programs that we want to highlight when we discuss the programs across different channels. This has taken the form of personas, guidelines, and other internal documents to ensure consistency and understanding across a number of forms (soon to include more video).

Workflow

As the expectations of our various audiences evolve (Generation Z, defined for our purposes as those born after 1995/1996, for the majority of our on-campus offerings), there’s a continued need for up-to-the-minute news and an expectation of information and resources on demand. As we adjust to the preferences our of audiences, it’s crucial to have an adaptable plan for how content is produced and disseminated. From creating internal swimlane diagrams for content production to efficiently manage content from ideation to distribution and the now common response flow charts for responding to social media, it’s important to have a plan to make the most use of limited staff time and resources. This includes using the right tools to enable teams to automate things that are better left for computers to decide (like the best timing for posts) and aren’t cost-effective for humans to do.

I’ve done process mapping to create the most efficient workflow to ensure quality and relevant content (as determined by program and marketing staff) can get to key audience as efficiently as possible (but without skipping key review by Subject Matter Experts). My goal is to make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. In my case, I’ve switched our team to ToDoist Business to enable transparent efficiency in the processes up to approval. We’ve compensated for the unintuitive nature of some distribution platforms with documentation for all required steps. We’re also constantly improving our ability to connect content production to business KPIs to demonstrate real value.

Governance

As the “Content Owner” and “Data Custodian” for subdirectory http://www.american.edu/spexs and administrator of other web and social media services, I’m responsible for the ~15 staff members I’ve delegated permission to publish to the website abide by a number of rules, including but not limited to: the Responsible Use of University Web site and Content Management SystemElectronic Mass Communication PolicySocial Media GuidelinesTrademark Usage Policy, and the Web Copyright and Privacy Policy, among others.

In addition to the university-wide regulations, there are multiple internal stakeholders with individual priorities and needs when it comes to our website which leads to un-codified and internal but no less important guidelines for out outreach and marketing efforts.

Structure

In addition to having workflows for content production, we’re working on templates to standardize as much of the required and technical elements of stories so that our writer’s work can be spent on effectively telling the story and not worrying about “how” to optimize things as there will be a guide available. This is not to take the joy out of writing but to focus writers on writing and to make the technical aspects of web-writing as cut and dry as possible. This follows research showing that making an excessive number of decisions tires the brain and makes it less effective.

Conclusion

I hope that’s helpful. If you’re just starting out, I would strongly recommend reading Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. Also, anything by Steve Krug but especially “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability“.

(Nearly) One Year at American University

Hello,

For those of you who have kept up with these blog posts, you may have noticed there has…not been a lot to keep up with lately. That’s because, over the last year, I’ve been incredibly busy with the changing nature of my work and a number of time-intensive projects that aren’t quite ready for prime time.

However, since it has been a LONG time since I shared anything, I figure I should offer a brief update.

Context

Soon after I started at American University, my supervisor left for another job. As I took responsibilities above my job duties, I earned a promotion that took effect just six months after I started.

Added Responsibilities

It would be boring to list (or read) everything I’ve done in DC, but it generally has been combination of the baseline requirements of the (nearly identical) Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications position at the business school, the technical oversight required by the Online Content Manager at the School of Communication, and many of my previous supervisor’s Director of Communication & Marketing responsibilities including when I’ve been introduced as Acting Director (including leading an RFP process to secure and now managing a new marketing vendor, sourcing a new email provider and training staff, and managing the performance of a full-time Coordinator, part-time web staff, and student workers).

Keeping Current

On top of the day-to-day, I’ve made sure to stay current regarding industry best practices. While this kind of work has been previously relegated to “professional development”, many digital marketing roles (including mine) require it as a core job requirement. Recently I completed a couple of courses (Web Writing for Higher Ed and Advanced Web Analytics for Higher Ed) to provide resources to staff members in those areas I now train and manage to ensure we stay current. We’re working on a redesign effort and ensuring my team is on the same page will be crucial.

I also went to an advanced AdWords training and kept up on the latest in higher ed by going to EduWeb16 and the Stamats 2017 Adult Student Marketing Conference (and was good at tweeting, apparently).

New Resume

Because I work across the hall from our internships director who assists students in improving their professionalism and employability (and because I may soon be asked to help review resumes at our summer Professional Development Day, I figure I should practice what I may soon preach and update my own resume.

The layout hasn’t really changed since I created in a graphic design course at Newhouse almost five years ago. I’ve simplified it a bit so that it’s more easily editable (and replacing the expensive Fairfield font with a free alternative). Anyways, below is a very condensed version of what I’ve been up to. What do you think?

Geoff Campbell Resume

Paid Digital Advertising for Higher Ed

While higher ed doesn’t exactly have a reputation for adapting quickly to change, evidence that institutions are aware of and adapting to the expectations of students is seen in the lauded annual Ruffalo Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report. The report noted that 34% of seniors and 43% of juniors have clicked on a college’s ad online. These students are more engaged, according to the report, in that they are 10% more likely to have visited a college Facebook page and 10% more likely to have viewed a college site on a mobile device.

Schools that are interested in starting online advertising efforts should take some important preliminary steps to make sure they make the most of their advertising budget and end up with actionable data.

Quick research on Kissmetrics quickly provide a beginner with some definite first steps.

As I’ve previously noted, step one in a SEO strategy is creating a keyword list, including important long-tail keywords. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you can the words that your customers are using to find institutions like yours, not necessarily the highest-traffic head keywords.

Where to begin

You can pay for online ads a lot of places, but given the dominance of digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook, I’d start there. Google has a range of resources for those who are just starting out in their understanding of understanding web tracking from their Analytics Academy all the way up to certifications in AdWords, Analytics, and Video Advertising.

Facebook similarly has a courses on advertising best practices, etc. I took their “Reporting & Analytics Learning Path” course this summer and learned more about the business’ thoughts on their own advertising.

For the first time I can recall, the recommendations in the 2015 version include a direct call for colleges to invest in digital advertising.

“There are enough students clicking on paid interactive ads on Google and Facebook that campuses should use these cost-effective advertising methods.”
On a related note, there’s also a call for a deeper look at the actions of your website visitors.”Make sure you capture key data through web analytics, email open and click rates, SEO rankings, and other data points that help you measure the success of your efforts.”