Aside from the fact that I love Penn State football, I write this blog because it forces me to understand and to experiment with social media marketing.
As a marketing professor, I can discuss in my classes the impact of blogs on opinion leadership that can shape consumer behavior. I can experiment with content and see what draws the best responses. I can use Google Analytics to perform a statistical analysis on who's visiting my blog, how often, and from where.
I have also experimented with being an Amazon Associate - selling merchandise on my blog. That hasn't worked very well, although I must confess I haven't devoted enough time to making it work well.
I also allow advertising on my site through a feature called Google AdSense. I get paid whenever someone clicks on an ad and I get a penny or two per day based on the amount of ad impressions that are generated. The click through rate has been ridiculously low and that hasn't been very successful either.
Basically, I'm typical of many bloggers who blog simply because they enjoy it. They think they have something worthwhile to say and like to self-publish. It's not a means to immediate riches. You need thousands of followers - not hundreds like I have - to make any sort of decent income from the tools available to you through blogging. Especially if you're trying to blog about sports!
I know only one blogger who's so successful at blogging that she quit her full-time job. She's now making money by selling local advertising for her site. But she has a lot of followers, and it took her a few years to build up her traffic. And she blogs about parenting not sports.
So at the beginning of this football season, I decided that I needed to extend my reach and start to get more followers on my site as the first step toward attracting local advertisers.
Google had sent me a gift certificate $100 worth of Google AdWords advertising. So I thought I would start there. Create a clever advertising campaign that would provide an incentive to visit my blog.
I know that a key principle of AdWords ads is to give away a free premium so that people will have an incentive to visit your site.
What I really wanted to do was give away a chance to win a pair of season tickets to Penn State football in exchange for someone signing up to follow my blog. We had an extra pair of tickets and I could do a contest or some sort of drawing. However, Terry rightfully nixed that idea. It would have cost $644 and so far I'm not convinced I will ever get that sort of return back on this.
So, since I like photography and I could easily deliver a high quality photograph of the S-zone electronically from my site, I created the following ad:
Free Penn State Photo
A blog on Penn State football
By a fan who attends every game
If the reader clicked on the url they would be directed to a page on my blog to download the photograph. Then they could explore the rest of the blog. I decided not to require a subscription because some people prefer to remain anonymous. I could track the results through Google Analytics and know how my traffic is increasing. I don't need names and email addresses, even though it's nice.
I ran this campaign between June 5 and June 12 to see what would happen. I set a very low daily budget and spent $41.54 of the $100 in free campaign money I received.
What happened is that my ad generated 375,832 impressions and resulted in 57 clicks and 25 visits to my blog. The click-through rate was .02%. I judged a successful click-through rate to be about .20% or higher so this was an absolute failure.
But that wasn't the only problem. It was where the ads were appearing that bothered me more than anything else. There were a lot of impressions, but many of them were on soccer websites throughout the world (where soccer is known as football). I had more impressions in the Los Angeles Times or the Baltimore Sun than I did on the Centre Daily Times here in Penn State land. And some of the click-throughs to my site came from dubious web-site sources that suggested they weren't legitimate Penn State fans.
I decided to cancel the campaign and redesign it. So right now I still have about $59 in free Google AdWords money to play with at another time. I thought perhaps I should spend the rest of the money closer to the college football season, and focus on other means of driving traffic to my site.
I never did get back to creating a second AdWords campaign. I found other means that were more effective in driving traffic to my site. Besides, I don't have a budget for advertising right now! I would be better off doing a promotion for two tickets to a game rather than spending it on AdWords.
You're probably wondering by now why I'm telling you all of this.
Last week, Google announced that it is celebrating its 10th year of Google AdWords. So they did something very special - and impressive. They sent a thank you video to all of their advertisers that is customized to each website that has advertised with them.
I found it ironic because really I haven't spent a penny with them. But the video is quite a bit of fun.
Check it out for yourself by going to this Youtube site! Watch for how it's customized to this blog!