Every business needs a little inspiration.

New Book for Small Businesses – “Appify Your Business” by Bill Furlong

By Click Blooms News, Inspiration

I recently attended the book launch of Appify Your Business by Bill Furlong, CEO, SquareStack and very happy to share this with every small business. Bill was a mentor of mine during a management training program a couple of years ago.

Bill’s book embraces technology and running a business. There are so many apps to chose from, but how do you go about doing it, and why? Bill answers these questions and so much more in his book.

Are you asking yourself these questions:

  • Are you exhausted and overwhelmed from running your small business?
  • Are you an entrepreneur short on time and resources?
  • Is the Struggle to streamline your workflow hitting your bottom line hard?

Then you need this book. You most likely didn’t start a business because you loved billing clients, projecting cash flow, understanding web analytics. You started the business to pursue your craft, your product, your service, not to necessarily run a business.

As the Founder and CEO of SquareStack and Owner of several small businesses, Bill Furlong built his career by helping small and mid-sized businesses modernize their technology workflow and maximize profitability. Now he’s here to show how to future-proof your business.

Appify Your Business is your guide for finding and employing cloud tech solutions customized to your unique endeavor. Through real-world examples and practical steps, this book helps you take the uncertainty out of your app adaptation for a stress-free, profitable tomorrow.

Congrats Bill!

Business Impacted by Weather? We Got You Covered: Campaign Weather Management

By Google, Inspiration, Paid SearchNo Comments

Every business can be impacted by weather, but some actually rely on it. The umbrella salesman needs rain. The water park needs sun and warmth. But even the ice cream store needs better weather to have better sales. Although I am not one to let a little rain stop me from getting a scoop!

Are you worried about spending money on advertising that is not resulting in sales due to weather? Or even worse, that you are missing out on sales because the weather is in your favor?

With weather campaign management, we do not have to be meteorologists, or online 24/7 to manage according to the weather. We can work with you on ideal or not so ideal weather patterns, including temperature, precipitation and wind speed to change bidding or serving your ads. And not to worry, if you have multiple locations that are a fair distant apart, we can make sure that we are adjusting the right location based on its weather conditions, and not be influenced by another location.

Lets say you have an umbrella store in A Town, and a swimming suit store in B Town, over 150 miles away. We define the best weather conditions from the umbrella store as “Rainy, temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, precipitation of above 1mm of rain in the last three hours, with wind speed below 40.” And we want bids to increase by 20% when the weather conditions in A Town match this.

However, we want the swimming store to reduce bids by 20% when B Town also reaches this type of weather. And we would do the opposite of bidding up for the swimming suit store when “Sunny, temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, precipitation below 1mm of rain in the last three hours, with wind speeds below 15.” And these sunny conditions for the umbrella store would be used to bid down. We could also customize these conditions further and not use the same template for the stores as well.

By including the geo-location attached to these weather selections, if both towns are experiencing the same weather pattern at the same time, one will bid down, one will bid up.

We are alerted to the changes and can monitor and override where we may need or want to. This includes feedback from you. If you are a business with only so many resources, like a plumber with so many people or trucks available and you can’t take any more appointments, even if the weather is perfect for conditions for you, we can make the adjustments as you need.

Search Engine vs. Social Advertising

By Facebook Ads, Inspiration, Paid SearchOne Comment

A common question we receive from our small business partners is if they should do search engine advertising or social advertising, or perhaps both. There are pros and cons to both and your business type and goals play a big part of the decision.

Active vs Passive Consumers

At a very high level, the major difference between search engine and social advertising is an active vs. passive consumers. One consumer is actively searching for your product or service, the other is passive and seeing your ad as they browse their social media.

Active – Search Engine Advertising

What we may consider low hanging fruit – capture those that are actually searching for your product or service. You should be investing in some search engine marketing to capture the audience that is actively pursuing what you offer.

This works well for longstanding products/services as well as new ones. However, the newness of the product or service may limit the potential. Let’s say you are offering a never-seen before kitchen widget that can instantly remove seeds from any fruit. Amazing, right? Your patent is all good, manufacturing is in place and producing this widget, and now it is time to advertise.

The issue is that there isn’t a lot of searching for “fruit seed remover” or “how to remove seeds from fruit.” You could include individual fruit names plus some variation of “seed remover,” and see some traction, but not an overwhelming amout. Another alternative is more general terms like “kitchen gadgets.” This can get expensive and not result in a lot of conversions. (Although as a self-confessed kitchen gadget lover, I do use general terms and buy random gadgets, just don’t tell my husband!) This is a great example when passive social advertising may help.

Passive – Social Advertising

As potential consumers review their social media, they can seen and interact with advertising. Targeting consumers is behind the scenes, using one or more targeting methods including location, demographic and interest targeting. Essentially, targeting the right people with the right message.

There is an educated guess behind the targeting, but simply targeting does not mean the person is in-market for the item/service being sold. They are not actively searching, they are passively seeing the ad. This does make for a great awareness campaign, that can result in direct purchases for those brand new items that people don’t know they should be searching for because they don’t know it exists yet.

Just think about how many times an ad in your feed on your social media feed showed you a new item that you at least showed some interest in, if not bought it. And even if it was interest because it was new and something you had not seen before, you may have purchased it later.

We Can Help

Let us help and worry about the best place for your media dollars and allow you to concentrate on your product, service and customers. Contact us today.

2019 Google Marketing Live – What We Learned

By Click Blooms News, Event, Google, Inspiration, Paid SearchNo Comments

It is day one of Google Marketing Live and we have heard about some exciting new things coming to Google Ads.

Google’s New Bumper Machine

First, a bit about bumper ads. A bumper ad is a six-second video format ideal for driving brand reach and frequency. And Google reports that while they are super short, they have a large impact. With over 300 bumper ads tested they found that 9 out of 10 drove significant lift in ad recall.

Bumper ads use target CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) bidding. Your pay each time your ad is shown 1,000 times.  They work well with TrueView ads. They are really effective on mobile with people watching video on the go.

By utilizing machine learning, the new Bumper Machine can take existing video ads of 90 seconds or less and create a six-second bumper ad. This was announced at Google Marketing Live on Tuesday, May 14th. The machine learning analysis the longer video and identify well-structured moments and convert those moments into the shorter bumper ads.

This is great news for advertisers with limited creative or in-house video resources. Depending on the longer video, the Bumper Machine can produce multiple bumper ads.

Gallery Ads

Actually, think Facebook Carousel Ads – swipe-able carousel of images. Users will be able to swipe right/left through the images or click on one to expand the gallery into a vertical view that can be scrolled up/down. A call to action to got to the advertiser’s site appears at the end of the gallery ad. In addition, you have a 70 character description and up to three headlines that you can test.

The gallery ads are perfect for anyone with highly visual products and want to drive more engagement. Google has found that images drive engagement and wanted to test this in advertising. While in beta, it will be rolled out later this year. They indicated that on average, ad groups with one more more gallery ad had up to 25% more interactions (clicks or swipes).

Just a note, you may not see direct conversions from the gallery ads, but you will see non-click conversions or assist conversions in the customer journey.

“Best” Mobile Searches 80% Growth Over Two Years

By Google, Inspiration, Paid Search, SEONo Comments

Google recently released a new stat indicating the mobile searches for “best” has grown over 80% in the past two years. While most people would not be surprised by this, in other words, who doesn’t want the best? But Google went further into its research and found that “the best” isn’t always about finding the best item that exists in the world, but finding the best thing for the customer’s needs.

First, the rise for best is still continuing. And it isn’t on the big purchases. It is on the small things. Google reported strong growth in “best toothbrush” in the past couple of years. On a side note, Google is always one to through out research on toothbrushes, the best toothbrush search increase and they indicated there are more people with smart phones than toothbrushes. They must have a secret toothbrush division they are trying to boost!

In Google’s strive do dig into the increase in “best” searches, they sat down with Sara Kleinberg, Head of Ads Research, to find out what her team was finding. You can read the details of what Sara said. Below is the key points we took away:

  • Basic decisions on price, availability, quality and basic features are easy to do today
  • Deciding factor is often personal criteria that needs research. An example give was: “A taqueria 10 miles away might have 400 5-star reviews, but I’d be fine with a 4.5-star taqueria a stone’s throw away.”
  • They are looking for specific information. Example of it is not just “best shoes” it is “best shoes for standing all day.”
  • The reason for the increase in best searches is to generate their confidence in their purchase.
  • Consumers believe it saves time searching for the best to produce fewer items, with aggregated ranks/reviews.

How can you better your ads, your products and pages to capture this traffic?

It isn’t about simply putting the word best in your copy, since consumers are looking for what is best for them in particular, which is most likely different from another consumer. Two things to try today”

  • Content and search ad tell the story, and all of the advanced features. Look at the search queries for examples and make sure you are utilizing language and features consumers are searching.
  • Utilize Google’s machine learning and automated keywords and ad creatives to keep up with the changing language and features consumers are using

Google Ads + Google Analytics = A Perfect Combo!

By Analytics, Google, InspirationNo Comments

When we onboard a new client, one of our first request is to be given access to Google Analytics. On occasion, the owner or marketing person asks why we need access, shouldn’t we just need the Google Ads account. And while yes, we can just work with Google Ads, but marrying the two together, where the two platforms can actually talk and share information is perfect marriage.

First thing to consider is typical consumer journey can take over 10 touch points before they follow your desired action. Understanding the full journey through Google Analytics is key to developing a strategy as well as the success of all campaigns.

Next, with the platforms sharing information, we can look in Google Analytics and see all your marketing efforts and what is working. Is there a particular messaging working better in another campaign that is better than what is running in search? This gives us an opportunity to see this and test the messaging in search. Or vice versa, and you can test search messaging in print.

Also, connect the two always a sharing of audience information. So in search we are not limited to the audience search is already drawing in, but the full audience of you site for robust learning and targeting.

Finally, Google Analytics for most small businesses is free, so why would you not use it and connect it to Google Ads where you are spending money?

Need help connecting the platforms and understanding the data? Contact us to help.

Escape Room Challenge 2019

By Click Blooms News, InspirationNo Comments

At our parent company, Lever Interactive, one of our values is Seek and Solve. And while we certainly live this value everyday in our work, we decided to have some fun time and still live our values.

We headed over the Escape the Room in Oak Brook. We broke into two teams (because we like a little competition as well!). One group did the Jurassic Escape:

Team members (left to right): Danyl, Mike, Melanie, Lauren, David, Tracey, Bryan and Dan from their Jurassic Escape adventure.

The other team went on The Dig:

Team members (left to right): Chris, Scott, Jen, Emily, Carla, Amber, Blake from The Dig adventure.

We all had a fantastic time. We laughed, we worked together, we definitely seeked and solved. Unfortunately we did not solve enough and both teams ran out of time before we could finish that last puzzle! Uugh!

We highly recommend it and had a great time bonding as a team!

Video Marketing Changes in 2018 to Carry Forward to 2019

By Click Blooms News, Google, Inspiration, VideoNo Comments

While video has been a very powerful way to advertise, it was focused on driving mass reach, brand awareness and consideration. For those direct response advertisers, it wasn’t enough action.

But, in 2018 that began to change. Video is now a larger part of the whole consumer journey. Brands used video marketing in 2018 to both drive awareness and direct response. Want to know more about the shift, here is a snapshot of Google’s data.

Evolution in 2018

The reason video became more action-oriented last year is in large part due to an evolving consumer behavior. YouTube conducted UX research in 2018 and it revealed that people are not always looking for a passive viewing experience. YouTube discovered that many views crave something interactive.

Secondly, platforms have evolved in response to this new consumer behavior. Nicky Rettke, YouTube’s product manager indicated “Historically, video advertising hasn’t been actionable, optimizable or measurable against direct response objectives. The only way someone could ‘act’ on a video was to watch it.” But this changed in 2018. New video formats like TrueView for action allow marketers to optimize for a specific user action.

Lessons for 2019 Strategy

Right audience for action

The American Marketing Association indicates the average U.S. consumer is exposed to 10,000 brand messages a day. How as a marketer do you cut through all of that noise to make sure your video stands out.

An example is a luxury outlet whose buyers were impulse drivn utilized pre-roll video with a 25-second ad that gave the user an offer. If they clicked on a link, they would be taken to a landing page to utilize the offer. If they did not the offer was gone forever. The sense of urgency drove action and direct sales.

Right Audience with Multipurpose Creative

The best ad served to the right audience will not achieve much. An online home goods and furniture retailer used blended brand creative and performance formats utilizing clickable “Shop Now” calls-to-action which took viewers to their website.

They used custom intent audiences to reach people who had recently clicked on one of their product-related search ads. These viewers had already shown interest and with the video creative, they were able to realize a 3x return on ad spend over their other campaigns.

Repeat, Repeat and Repeat Again

Don’t stop with one impression, or try to mix in to many messages. The Google Pixel team in 2018 in their campaign that “Repetition does not spoil the prayer.”

“Repeating the message is the best way to move an audience from awareness to action quickly,” explained. Jabari Hearn, who led the Pixel campaign.

The strategy resulted in 20% lift in brand awareness and a 113% higher click-through rate to the purchase site than the average of previous campaigns.

Success in 2019

Video is a great way to see even further success in 2019. Share your feedback or your wins in 2018 that are guiding your 2019 strategy.

YouTube Viewer Behaviors

By Google, Inspiration, VideoNo Comments

Did you know that every day people watch over a billion hours of video and generate billions of views? That volume creates a lot of noise, but Google has still found three distinct patterns of viewer behaviors. Here is what Google indicated was the most interesting in 2018.

Going Back to Basics

Life is crazy. According to the APA, 3 of 4 Americans say they have have experienced at least one stress (only one!) in the past month. With this in mind it isn’t surprising to see that people are looking for was to decompress, de-stress, unwind and simplify. Ironically, they are turning to technology to do just that. Watch time on YouTube of videos related to “relaxing” increased by more than 70% between July 2017 and June 2018.

In addition, subscriptions and viewership of “van life” channels and videos (which document people’s attempts to create alternative, minimalist lifestyles) reached an all-time high. Survival videos and primitive technology hit an all-time high this past summer.

Not big news that the newest generation of consumers (millennials and the like) put more value on experience over possessions. Marketers are making the shift from selling just products to lifestyles.

Searching for Inspiration

Easy to feel overwhelmed with so many options out there in the world. People are turning to YouTube for help and advice in narrowing down their choices. Watch time on YouTube videos on “which product to buy” doubled this past year.

Consumers have also been seeking out is very expansive, everything from beauty to travel. “Morning routine” videos where makeup and skin products are reviewed and applied have tripled in the past two years. Travel-related videos have also increased 41% in August and September this past year.

And finally, consumers are looking to YouTube influencers to provide some inspiration. But brand marketers do not let that stop you. 70% of shoppers say they’re also open information directly from brands.

Looking for Connection

Despite many people staring into their phones and being oblivious to things around them, many online video viewers are looking for a social experience and wanting interaction. As an example, 7 in 10 generation Zers say that watching videos help them feel more connected.

YouTube is a great way to showcase your brand, products and their value. Not only through organic views, but also paid YouTube advertising.

Consumer Insights of 2018 to Know for 2019

By Google, Google My Business, Inspiration, Paid SearchNo Comments

Google recently came out with some interesting consumer insights of 2018 that all business should be aware of for 2019. While there are so many various articles on consumer insights, we will break it down into the ones you need to pay attention to in this year.

Always Shopping

Did you know that 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given time, in up to six different categories. In fact, minutes before I started writing this blog, my favorite pen ran out of ink, and I immediately opened my browser to go to an office supply store and order a new box.

Also consider that in nearly one quarter of those shopping occasions, shoppers say they turn to their smartphone first. And nearly 9 out of 10 shoppers are not absolutely sure of the brand they want to buy when they are first looking for information on their smartphones, marketers who make the research process easier can be big winners.

What does this mean? It means being present and useful to shoppers along every touch point.

Nearby and Now

Customers want not only places but specific things near them and available now. In fact, “Near me” mobile searches that contain the variant “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over 500% over the last two years. In addition, there has been a 200% growth in mobile searches for “open” + “now” + “near me.”

Things like having your inventory of products listed on your website, along with your hours. And don’t forget your My Business listing on Google complete with your hours.

More Research = Fewer Regrets

It isn’t always about buying things. Search can be used to find good or great experiences as well. People want to curate their experience before they go whether it is a vacation or dinner out.

In fact, the research is part of the process and helps to build anticipation before they leave their house. It also helps to reduce anxiety by working out details like prices, maps, parking, schedules, etc. One person Google spoke to directly said “I wanted to research so I wouldn’t have regrets.”


Shoppers are not letting price stop them. If they item they want is out of their price range, they are willing to look for something very similar but lowered prices. Mobile searches for “that looks like” grew by 60% in the past two years.

Voice Activated Speakers

A hot holiday item this past year was voice-activated speaker devices. In a recent Google survey of over 1,500 people, it was found that parents are power users and Boomers see the devices as “empowering companions” with potential.

For marketers, users who own these devices welcome brands as part of the experience. Users like to receive information on brands and products that are important to them, but also to order and receive those products.

As you head into Q2 of 2019, take these insights into consideration as you plan updates to your products, websites and marketing. Here is to a successful 2019!