Building Lifetime Customer Value

There is a great post Geordie wrote a couple weeks ago on PPCblog.com about building lifetime customer value. (in case my link doesn’t work, go ahead and paste this: http://ppcblog.com/building-lifetime-customer-value/)

I have talked before about how much I like Geordie’s style of writing – he has a lot of great experience and knows how to get to the meat of making money, and staying profitable. Had the pleasure to co-write an article with him, and his technical deftness is also top-notch – but you’ll see that quickly.

This post comes soon after a huge shake-up for many online professionals, so I think it is particularly relevant and worth a read. When finding new customers is always going to present unique challenges, being able to serve more to the ones you already have is invaluable.

This post also shows you the kind of teaching/writing style Geordie uses. He is more personal inside the forums, but it is the same direct, no BS approach with suggestions you can really use. PPC is one online marketing oasis many webmasters are seeking as organic becomes even less predictable, so get on their membership waiting list. The community doesn’t appear to be accepting new members right now, but things always change. They maintain a limit, so it doesn’t get weak. I would put in your interest if this is something that appeals to you. I can talk from personal experience about how valuable I think this community is – in fact I have. Twice.  🙂

Geordie Carswell of PPCBlog

image borrowed from http://www.purposeinc.com/pwp/geordie-carswell

Bedbug Dogs: Buy a Friend, and a Business Partner

I don’t often talk directly about my clients here on the site, but I am working right now with some new folks who are training and selling bed bug sniffing dogs and thought it would be worth sharing some information on them. I think they’re doing some cool things anyway – so buckle-up, give it a gander and see what you think.

bedbug photo

What is a Bedbug Dog?

I’ll be honest: when I first heard about this, I had no idea what to think…but I am learning. 🙂 I found out a bedbug dog is a dog that is specifically trained to sniff-out bedbugs. In the same manner that a dog might be trained to lead the blind, locate a cadaver buried in the woods, or find the pot stashed in your luggage, so to can they be trained to find these pesky little intruders.

A bedbug dog might be any number of breeds – though Labrador Retrievers and Beagles seem to be among the more popular choices. My new clients (the good people of ACES) tend to prefer labs for this work. ACES Master Trainer says that these dogs have a natural temperament and great disposition for this type of work. Trust me when I tell you their work ethic is pretty persuasive…but I love labs anyway, so had no reason to question this logic.

ACES looks for dogs from about 8 months old to 3 years old to select them for training. They personally vet the dogs to ensure they display some of the traits (obedience, intelligence, etc.) of the best workers – but not every dog makes a good bedbug dog.

How Do Bedbug Dogs “Work?”

ACES primarily serves hotels and the hospitality industry. However, residential folks also might call upon a service like this, if they have reason to believe they might have an issue.

Discreetly, the ACES team shows-up at the place being checked – the team being a minimum of a bedbug dog and its handler. The team will enter a room and systematically make sure that there are no live bedbugs in it anywhere – and that is one thing I thought was really cool…the dog’s ability to sniff out any problems (ignoring false positives) – even through a wall! The handler will lead the dog around the room, and if there is a scent of live bedbugs (be it in the bed, the carpet, the walls), the dog “Alerts” on it (sitting, or “pointing”) – signaling that the handler needs to perform a more detailed visual inspection. If the live bedbugs are found, then the room can be properly treated.

The bedbug dogs ACES uses could tell the difference between live bedbugs, and dead ones. ACES said the live ones have a scent that dead ones lose – so if a dog alerted to a pile of dead bugs, it would be because a live one has passed by numerous times, leaving the scented trail. But I saw the dogs completely ignore the dead stuff, but they did not miss the live ones. I think this is pretty cool – and from a hotel or homeowner’s perspective, dead bugs are nowhere near the issue that live ones are.

Who Buys Bedbug Dogs?

I learned that many pest control officers buy these dogs so they can offer more services to their customers. But interestingly, I also found out that many entrepreneurs also buy bedbug dogs, commit to training, and then open a business to offer the service. (that’s what the title of this post means) It is certainly becoming a more popular way to handle the growing bedbug problem, and more of the larger cities in the US are seeing the emergence of bedbug detection and treatment service providers.

The dogs I saw working were amazing animals: they were smart, happy, and extremely well disciplined. But they truly loved their work – they do it purely for reward (treats) and hearing “Good Boy!” when they do well.

Though the handler’s role is very important, ACES proved it was the dog doing everything by having a kid serve as handler, and the dog worked like a champ anyway – the normal handler was not leading the dog, or helping at all. The live bug were hidden in different places (once, next to a gasoline can to throw off the scent) but the ACES dogs found the live bedbugs every time.

Hope You Never Need a Bedbug Dog

While I was impressed by the way these dogs went to work and what they could do, I sincerely hope none of you ever need to call on ACES or a similar service to come and find the bedbugs in your home or establishment. Bedbugs are nasty little things, and their bites hurt. While it is best you never deal with them at all, if you do run into a problem it is a good thing these dogs are highly trained.

Bedbugs are not caused by a lack of cleanliness. One final thought before I move back into the exciting world of SEO copywriting as my motif, is that bedbugs have nothing at all to do with a room being clean or not – they are simply insects that travel a lot, and might hop a ride in your luggage or something, and set-up their home when they get to yours.

If you are dealing with a potential bedbug problem, ACES tells me the best thing is to get in there and treat it early. Don’t ever be ashamed or embarrassed (it’s not your fault) – be aggressive. Call ACES, and have one of their bedbug teams come out and see what they can find. Hopefully, nothing. But if a bedbug dog alerts, at least you are then on your way to finding the bedbugs and getting rid of them, once and for all.

**UPDATE**12/22/12

ACES had some changes since I initially wrote this post, and the food-driven aspects of bed bug dog training I talk about up there, are not the ones employed by their current senior trainer, Ray Figueroa.

Ray believes in toy training his bed bug dogs and after seeing the difference, I am a believer myself. Here’s a clip of Ray talking about how he selects bed bug dogs to become an ACES Lab:

With food trained dogs, they are driven by hunger while a toy drive dog seeks for toy rewards. I also saw all the food-drive dogs being led to the places they needed to seek – whereas, a toy-driven dog just runs his work all on his own…it is a huge difference in the way the animals work, very clear to see.

I shot a video of a dog at ACES doing a couple simple training exercises, but you can see it in how this dog works – there is serious drive, and focus going on here. Toys win!

ACES is offering bed bug dog services in the greater Atlanta area for bed bug detection, and selling toy-trained bed bug sniffing dogs to people all over the country. There are testimonials and videos of dogs in action on the site, so if you have a need for these specialized canines, I highly recommend ACES to you. Still. 🙂

Debra Mastaler is Laying Out Links

This is just a head’s-up on a series that started this week on Search Engine Land about linking that is gonna be a good ‘un.


Search Engine Landhttp://searchengineland.com/a-link-building-blueprint-the-foundation-62784

Authored by the zenfully talented Debra Mastaler, this promises to be a great primer for anyone who wants to know something about linking. A Link Building Blueprint is a fine idea…coming from Debra, it becomes a must-see.

I know a little bit about linking, but I always pay close attention to everything Debra shares. (Yeah, she’s one of those.) I have never regretted it. I pretty much always agree with her too, which is a plus, if you’re me. She can always defend herself well if challenged, and is not driving by ego – something that appeals to me every time. Really sharp, very measured, and always as nice as anyone you’ve ever met. But she always tucks little value nuggets in her posts and writings out there – yeah, she’s definitely a nugget-tucker too.

As illustrated: Even with this introductory post, she hipped me to using DMOZ better than I am, and supported my current approach to directories is not too bad.

Debra’s been doing this for a long time, and she tells it like it is – no matter what the platform. She is the resident Link Queen moderator in the SEOBook forums where I hang out. In there, she is more candid than she is in her articles for Search Engine Land – but her articles are always just as honest, just as straightforward and just as warm as her most personal posts.

You’ll like it. And it’s good for you, too.

I’d also use this time to remind you to look at the post I did last July covering Rae Hoffman’s seminal linking post – there are a lot of great things in there to make a companion to Debra’s Blueprint.

I am going to update this post with the updates she offers to this series.

[EDIT]

Here’s the second installment: http://searchengineland.com/a-link-building-blueprint-utility-linking-66202

Here’s the third: http://searchengineland.com/proven-ways-to-use-content-to-attract-links-73610

Review of PPCBlog Membership Site Part 2

Review of the PPC Blog Membership Site: The Community and the Tools

In part one of this thrilling masterpiece, I covered PPCBlog’s training modules, and the tone and approach of the materials offered by Geordie Carswell.

To wrap-up my review of this site, I am going to quickly mention the proprietary PPC Tools and the PPC Community offered by this site.

ppc blog welcome page

For background stuff, revisit the first post.

The Tools

The tools for streamlining and optimizing PPC hinge on the things you can automate: Keyword Research, Bid Pricing, Ad Testing, Data Collection and Reporting. In a nutshell, PPC efficiency often boils down to having tools that make it easier and faster to research, deploy/test, measure, and refine your efforts for greater profitability.

I am an old school guy. I remember doing everything by hand, dumping piles of data from various sources into spread sheets to try to see what was happening. Keyword research was fairly irregular at best, and extremely time-consuming. Creating lists of keyphrases that were concatenating any kind of decent geographical data required two programmers, thirty working hours and a penguin.

Enter the dawn of a new age: PPC Tools. I guess ol’ Grampa gets a boost from Geordie and the folks over at PPCBlog.

tools for ppc

I would describe what each of the tools do, but instead, I made the picture big enough for you to see. Geordie’s (?) descriptions do a fine bit of justice to what these tools will do for optimizing your time in putting together or managing a campaign. Online marketing can be optimized from a simple dashboard.

Case in point: I am running a campaign where Google told me I was getting hits from a specific region (think: multi-state). So I wanted to try a couple of regionally-focused campaigns, targeting phrases that blended various specific locations and my offers.

In the olden days (when I was a boy), I would have had to create a regional database, that I could then concatenate with my keywords. But with my PPCBlog membership, I used the local keyword tool to explode some geographically specific data by simply entering a few zip codes and using a 50 mile radius…it was a pretty neat little thing.

In a few seconds, I had plenty of relevant regional stuff I could blend into my ads. I fed some things into the Mass Campaign Builder, and had it ready for AdWords importing in less than an hour. I coordinated a TON of research and campaign setup in what boiled down to a few minutes — stuff that would have taken me hours (and dinosaurs) in the past.

Are you going to use every tool for every campaign? Of course not. But they could all come in handy, for sure. I don’t scrape keywords, so I can’t see the clean-up tool being of much use to me. But I played a bit with all of them, and was impressed. Simple interfaces, good speed, nice data outputs. Much like Aaron’s team did with the SEOBook Organic SEO Tools, I found these PPC Tools are really efficient at simplifying specific mechanical tasks to make your life as an online marketer easier. Time is money. These tools save you both.

The Community

This is the true selling point of PPCBlog’s membership, to me. Why? Because there are some brilliant people in this community, and the membership fee does a good job of filtering out the lame-os. No frdeetarding in here: everyone has a mission, and we call it online advertising!

community in ppcblog

Think of it like this: if you have a question about what you are doing, or thinking about doing with a campaign, how much is it worth to you to get a valuable second opinion? And a third? A fifth? The point is, multiple viewpoints from like-minded (and more seasoned!) professionals is an amazingly powerful tool.

Capitalizing on the brain power of the community, members help each other to reach greater levels of success. Better still, if you pose a question in here, you are almost SURE to get an answer directly from Geordie. Having a resident expert to bounce your questions off of is a wonderful balance. I have seen him give many folks some support in a direction, or suggest perhaps something else to test. But he’s in there.

The activity level in this community was growing every day I was in it. Questions range from basic beginner validations, to mid-level and even expert level stuff. It might be about ads, optimizing landers or the peculiar way Google treats somethings opposed to others.

I saw Geordie responding, often multiple times in the same thread, to help ensure that all community members get their questions handled in some way. But this is a vibrant, growing community – so experts from different parts of the globe, and practitioners of every shade are willing to chime in when appropriate.

This is not a forum full of BS posts, and flame fests (the freetard, lame-o norm) – this is people working, and finding better ways to work, together.

I have a great deal of respect for ALL of the members I have encountered in this community so far. I would have to ask how many people are actually in there, but I don’t really care. For all realistic purposes, I want an activity level that matches my own involvement. I hit a forum like this, maybe 4-5 times a week or so – so it was perfectly moving along, to me. The answers were coming within 24 hours of any question being posed.

And again, getting an expert like Geordie to give you some pointers or feedback can make a HUGE difference in your AdWords, or other online advertising ROI. But Geordie is only one of the many experts in there, so do the math yourself. Odds are pretty well stacked in your favor when your direction is coming from some of the best minds in the industry.

And there is a good camaraderie in there, even for people facing similar niches. This is cool, because it prevents a lot of the one-upping crap you might see elsewhere. Everyone behaves, because we are all there for the same reason.

Final Summary on PPCBlog Membership

I want to obviously recommend the PPCBlog membership. I would suggest this for anyone who spends more than $100 a month on PPC, Facebook, Bing or other online ad campaigns. Maximizing your profits is easier when you have experienced professionals helping you.

The training modules are succinct and easy to understand, as well as being complete with some insights that will improve the ROI for most campaigns. Geordie Carswell is a fine PPC ambassador here – he is willing to share his time, patience and best of all his depth of experiences with any member who asks.

The tools are great time savers – allowing you to efficiently wrap-up many smaller things necessary in researching  and setting up a well-balanced campaign. Yet perhaps best of all, the community behind the PPCBlog site is a worldwide gathering of online professionals. The experiences range from beginner to expert, but it is a warm and inviting place to learn. The people were great – all the way up to Geordie, Giovanna and Aaron.

Ultimately, if you want to improve your earnings from online paid advertising channels, there is no resource I would suggest to you more than PPCBlog membership.

PPC Blog: Membership Site Review

Part One: PPC Training Modules

I have a little experience and training with PPC, but not a ton. I tended to get frustrated a lot doing PPC, because Google seems to do things in a very peculiar fashion. They sure do seem to enjoy it when you broad match!

But I started thinking recently it might be my own hang-ups. Maybe PPC wasn’t so bad, and maybe I am leaving money on the table. (Sorry for the sales guy clichĂ©…please set fire to my low-hanging shame.)

And then I realized it has been a couple years since I did any meaningful PPC training.

I needed a refresher course on paid advertising.

Maybe I didn’t really distrust PPC – maybe I just didn’t get it anymore. And maybe things were getting better than I remembered. Maybe Google didn’t try so hard to push you into the broad match body slam anymore.

I have a couple live PPC accounts that are very tightly clamped down these days, and I could optimize them. I also have some new ideas brewing that might need some help. So I signed-up for membership on the PPC Blog.

Here’s my review of what you get when you opt for the paid membership of PPCBlog.

The facts:

  • The site was founded by Aaron and Giovanna Wall, and is run by them and PPC expert Geordie Carswell
  • There are three main sections of the site offering value to those learning or improving PPC skills: PPC Blog, PPC Community, and PPC Training
  • The monthly fees for membership are $179 a month, and membership would be required to see what I will be talking about in this review
  • I was not paid to write this – I am simply offering my opinions on the value of this site. There is no affiliate connection. (oh, that there was!)

I am not going to review the blog, because you should go read it for yourself.

Giovanna and Geordie (and the occasional post by Aaron, Peter or other guests) tend to be spot-on, detailed and chock-full of great insights. The blog topics cover more than simple PPC techniques-you really owe it to yourself to soak it in. Wonderful blogging is happening out there, year after year, quietly building into a great resource.

So this part is not going to cover the blog. In part one, I am going to review the training modules. I got a little wordy (ha!), so I cut it up, and made part two about the tools and the forum.

Digging In: The PPC Training Modules

A big part of a site like this is you want to get some expert training. I personally prefer to do it on my own time, and so I like a site where I can easily sift through the information, getting what I need as I see fit. My own pace can be pretty erratic.

In reviewing the training modules in PPCBlog for this post, I approached them in two ways: as an initial means to retrain myself on best practices; and, as a resource I could mentally bookmark to leverage in the future, locating specific ideas to improve upon live tactics as I progress.

Categories are Your Friend in PPCBlogPPC Blog review starting page

Simple categorization is a huge plus when you’re trying to plow through a lot of detailed materials. Thankfully, the modules in the PPC Training are well categorized and clearly marked for easy identification.

When you first get in, there are some modules created to help you follow a simple, clear path through the training. It’s helpful, because if you don’t know where to start, they ease you in. Nothing overwhelming – they just offer a nice, soft starting place, with a clear pathway to grow.

I liked immediately that there was beginner information, but it was not limited in scope, nor was it in any way condescending. It allowed me to quickly review the basics again, and make sure I am still thinking about things as they are in the real world.

PPC Blog review navigation screen capOf course, there is no need to follow a training path if you come in later with a specific need. So, let’s say I came in and wanted to learn more specifically about Facebook advertising, or had a Google ad I wanted to refine.

In both cases, the simple navigation in PPCBlog allows me to go directly to the module I need from the “Training” link dropdown.

Or, I can just go to the site map.

PPC blog review sitemap screen cap

PPCBlog has enabled two solid ways for you to approach the information.

You can follow the path laid out for you, and each module will lead you into the next. This is a smart way to learn because the information in some of the modules builds on information offered by previous ones.

The other way, is to simply zero-in on the specific area of information you want to explore, and jumping right into it. This is better for people with more experience, or what you’d do once you’ve been a member in here for a while.

And look to the right – there is a handy sub-nav ready to bring you to wherever you want to pick up.

I think PPCBlog handled this well. As a result, they seamlessly accommodate professionals with varying levels of experience. It’s all there, never more than a click away.

The Modules: Tone, Flow and Information

The training modules were created by Geordie Carswell – a well respected PPC expert. He has a solid enough reputation, so I felt giving him a chance  to teach me was not a big risk.

Geordie Carswell of PPCBlog

image swiped mercilessly: http://www.purposeinc.com/pwp/geordie-carswell

Geordie’s writing style and approach to organizing his ideas is straightforward, open and well informed. It makes these modules engrossing and easy to understand, no matter what level of experience you’re bringing to the table.

His tone is assured, but not condescending. He starts basic, yet within every module I kept finding little gems tucked in there.

These tasty morsels are unique, because they allow insight into Geordie’s range of experiences. Having information offered by an expert is exceptional in this respect – he is able to understand what most users need, and still offer something taking you beyond the rudiments.

More than once, there might be a paragraph or two of fairly detailed information.  Geordie summarizes them for you as “The main takeaway here…” or “This means you should focus on…” or something similar and gets to the heart of it.

I would share some specific details, but I don’t think that would be fair to the work Geordie has put in.

For a general example, in the Google AdWords module, Geordie has offered a variety of screen caps to walk you through setting up your ad groups more efficiently.

He then goes into detail on how to refine keywords, which variants to include, which characters to use, and how to address negative keywords to your greatest advantage. In short, he is giving you all the information you need to set up a safe, a moderate, or an aggressive campaign.

Which way you use the information Geordie offers in these modules is based only on your own personal thresholds and direction. The information is all there, complete with warnings when things might get a little risky.

This is a big plus to me, because again, it shows the value of being able to rely on this resource more than once.

Geordie’s modules have a lot of information and insight presented in a very clear manner. They are typically short and to the point, and all of them had links to deeper resources. Nice use of bullets and short, tight paragraphs.

Perhaps best of all to me, are the little asides and suggestions that Geordie offers. This is true value-add stuff, this is thinking, experience and something you won’t find elsewhere – unless you find Geordie, I guess.

I am of course, hyper-critical to the way people communicate. Geordie is worth listening to on a number of levels, and you’ll see it instantly when you read the training modules.

The Verdict?

Ultimately, you have to evaluate a training program on its ability to provide a recurring value. At least I do – I was raised in a big family, and mom didn’t like things that did not return recurring value.

But no worries here – I locked in-step with Geordie’s style pretty quickly, and can see no reason why anyone else would have a different experience.

I liked his approach for presenting a wide-based bed of information, simply. Couple this with the little nuggets of insight he offers (that I feel are pretty unique to each professional), and the value and ROI are clear. Geordie’s professional experience is definitely beneficial to refining my own efforts so far, so my own return on investment has been realized.

My mom would approve.

But wait until I tell you about the extra benefits found in the community, and the tools.

Part two is now posted, you can see it here. And go to the blog and have a look for yourself…I am telling you, these kids have a nice little spark catching fire here.