Ethical Marketing: 5 Examples of Companies with a Conscience

Did you know that 92% of Millennial consumers are more likely to buy products from ethical companies? Or that 82% of those consumers believe ethical brands outperform similar companies that lack a commitment to ethical principles?

Ethical marketing

These are just two of the findings of a recent Aflac survey (PDF) into the potential business impact of ethical commerce and corporate philanthropy. Brand authenticity has never been more crucial to a business’ success, and companies that have dedicated themselves to the greater good instead of solely to their bottom lines have seen a remarkable surge in support – and revenue.

In this article, we’ll learn what ethical marketing is and take a look at how five different brands have proven their commitment to ethical marketing. The following examples show the principles of ethical marketing in action, as well as why championing good causes is so effective for today’s brands.

What Is Ethical Marketing?

Before we dive into the examples, let’s take a moment to clarify what ethical marketing means.

Ethical marketing fair trade principles

Image via World Fair Trade Organization

Ethical marketing refers to the process by which companies market their goods and services by focusing not only on how their products benefit customers, but also how they benefit socially responsible or environmental causes.

To put this another way, ethical marketing isn’t a strategy; it’s a philosophy. It includes everything from ensuring advertisements are honest and trustworthy, to building strong relationships with consumers through a set of shared values. Companies with a focus on ethical marketing evaluate their decisions from a business perspective (i.e. whether a particular marketing initiative will deliver the desired return) as well as a moral perspective (i.e. whether a decision is “right” or morally sound).

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Ethical Marketing Example #1: TOMS

My wife loves her TOMS ballet flats. They’re cute, comfortable, and best of all, socially conscious.

Ethical marketing TOMS shoes 

TOMS isn’t just engaged in corporate philanthropy to make a quick buck; it’s a core part of the company’s values and brand.

TOMS was founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006 following a trip to Argentina. During his visit, Mycoskie saw firsthand how people living in impoverished areas of Argentina had to live without shoes, a challenge that many of us likely give little thought. Inspired by his trip, Mycoskie decided to establish his company with giving in mind.

Ethical marketing TOMS shoes philanthropy 

Since 2006, TOMS’ footwear business has donated more than 60 million(!) pairs of shoes to children in need all over the world. As if that weren’t enough, TOMS’ eyewear division has given more than 400,000 pairs of glasses to visually impaired people who lack access to ophthalmological care.

The company has further diversified its operations to include clean water initiatives through its coffee business, and its line of bags has helped support projects to expand access to birthing kits to expectant mothers in developing nations as well as training for birth attendants. To date, TOMS has helped more than 25,000 women safely deliver their babies.

How Does TOMS Use Ethical Marketing?

TOMS puts its social and environmental philanthropy on full display in virtually every aspect of its branding. This not only lets potential customers know the kind of company they’re dealing with right off the bat, but also reinforces TOMS’ brand values consistently across all channels.

Take a look at TOMS’ homepage. Right underneath the carousel, the company tells you that, for every product you purchase, TOMS will help someone in need:

 Ethical marketing TOMS shoes ballet flats

TOMS’ mission is so central to the company’s branding, it’s given almost equal emphasis on its website as the products it sells. In fact, it’s almost impossible to navigate through TOMS’ site without seeing further examples of how TOMS helps people around the world.

This isn’t a typically cynical attempt to capitalize on empty gestures or a feel-good sales tactic; it’s the same principle leveraged by brands that use display advertising. Just as many display ads are designed to promote brand awareness and achieve top-of-mind presence among consumers, TOMS’ philanthropic mission is constantly reinforced throughout its website and marketing materials. As a result, it’s almost impossible to think of TOMS as a brand without thinking of the company’s various outreach projects and corporate giving initiatives.

Ethical Marketing Example #2: Everlane

Clothing manufacturing is among the most controversial industries in the world. During the past 20 years or so, much greater attention has been paid to how and where our clothes are made, particularly in light of tragedies such as the blaze that tore through a garment manufacturing facility in Bangladesh in 2012, killing 117 people – a factory that supplied clothing to American retailers including Walmart and Sears.

 Ethical marketing Everlane homepage

In light of greater awareness about the use of sweatshops, demand for ethically made clothing has soared in recent years, a trend that has given rise to dozens of companies that want to change how we make and view clothing, including Everlane.

Founded in 2010 by Michael Preysman, Everlane is boldly committed to ethical manufacturing. All of Everlane’s garments are made in factories that meet the most stringent quality standards – not only in terms of the clothes themselves, but also in how workers are treated. Everlane only partners with manufacturers that demonstrate a strong commitment to their workers’ welfare, a fact the company prides itself upon in its marketing material.

How Does Everlane Use Ethical Marketing?

Like other ethical brands, Everlane’s About page tells the story of how the company champions the rights and well-being of the workers who make its clothes. What’s really interesting about Everlane, though, is its commitment to radical transparency.

Ethical marketing Everlane factory worker

An Everlane warehouse worker prepares garments at the company’s
Mola, Inc. tee-shirt factory in Los Angeles, CA. Image via Everlane.

Everlane isn’t content to merely tell you that its clothes are manufactured and sold ethically; the company also provides customers with a detailed cost breakdown for each and every one of its stylish, minimalist garments. This includes details on the cost of materials, labor, transportation and logistics, excise taxes and duties, and even hardware such as zippers and buttons.

The company’s Elements jacket, for example, costs $60 to produce, and you can see exactly how much each of the manufacturing and logistical elements affects the retail price:

Ethical marketing Everlane garment cost breakdown 

Typically, the production costs of most commercially produced clothing are a closely guarded secret. This isn’t merely because a breakdown of such costs would reveal a brand’s potential profit margin on a specific item, but also because they highlight the desperately poor pay and conditions many people working in garment manufacturing endure.

By boldly revealing precisely how much each of its garments costs to make, Everlane can offer its customers the kind of transparency consumers want while enjoying the considerable karma this kind of radical transparency offers.

Ethical Marketing Example #3: Dr. Bronner’s

Consumer demand for ethically produced cleansing products has intensified in recent years, and although there are literally hundreds of brands of soap available on the market, few are as unique or memorable as Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling organic liquid soap brand in America.

 Ethical marketing Dr. Bronner's liquid soap

If you’ve ever bought or seen a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap, you’ll already know that the company is a little different to other soap companies. For starters, the product’s unique packaging features the company’s fascinating “Cosmic Principles,” a 30,000-word philosophical screed that company founder and self-styled doctor Emanuel Bronner spoke of while touring the United States’ lecture circuit in the late 1940s. Bronner offered his now-famous peppermint liquid soap as a freebie for people who attended his lectures, but it didn’t take long for him to realize most people would only turn up at his speeches to grab their free sample of soap.

It wasn’t just Emanuel Bronner who demonstrated a commitment to social and environmental activism. Bronner’s grandson, David, was arrested in 2012 for publicly harvesting hemp from inside a locked cage outside the White House, a stunt orchestrated to protest what David Bronner felt was the federal government’s undue oversight of hemp production in the United States.

Ethical marketing Dr. Bronner's campaign GMO labeling

Image via Mother Jones

In the years since the cage incident, David Bronner has been extremely active in many areas of social and environmental justice, including the fight for greater oversight into the labeling of products that include genetically modified ingredients.

How Does Dr. Bronner’s Use Ethical Marketing?

Dr. Bronner’s is such a unique brand because of the eccentricity of its founder. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how different the Dr. Bronner’s brand would be without the “Moral ABCs” that Bronner lectured about shortly after World War II.

Ethical marketing Dr. Bronner's Moral ABCs 

As a result of the company’s unorthodox founding, Dr. Bronner’s is uniquely positioned to leverage its history of ethical manufacturing in its marketing. In many ways, the company’s iconic product packaging serves as the perfect introduction to the firm’s philosophy; I often find myself reading the Moral ABCs while showering.

Of course, the company’s commitment to what it calls “constructive capitalism” goes far beyond its unusual packaging and mission statement. Dr. Bronner’s is what’s known as a Benefit Corporation (or B-Corp), a designation that states such companies must be for-profit operations that have a “positive impact on society and the environment according to legally defined goals.”

Ethical marketing Dr. Bronner's B-Corporation report card 

To this end, Dr. Bronner’s succeeds admirably. The company is committed to several tangible objectives, including raising awareness of crucial environmental and social justice issues, the use of USDA-certified fair-trade ingredients whenever possible, and to equitable compensation structures that limit executive pay to five times that of lower-level employees. (For a little perspective, Dunkin’ Donuts CEO Nigel Travis said in 2015 that paying workers a minimum wage of $15 per hour was “absolutely outrageous” despite the fact that he personally “earns” approximately $4,889 per hour.)

Ethical Marketing Example #4: Conscious Coffees

Coffee is serious business – and I’m not talking about lame “don’t bother me before I’ve had my first cup” jokes. Globally, the coffee industry directly supports the livelihoods of more than 120 million of the world’s poorest people, and few industries are likely to experience the kind of disruption wrought by climate change as intensely as agricultural coffee production; in worrisome news for the constantly caffeinated, literally half the world’s coffee farming land could be lost by 2050 if climate change isn’t tackled aggressively.

Ethical marketing global farming land loss climate change

Image via Global Agriculture

To that end, many companies are seeking to improve conditions for coffee farmers and producers around the world, and one of the best is Conscious Coffees. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, Conscious Coffees was founded in 1996 by Mark and Melissa Glenn, who later sold the business to current owner Craig Lamberty earlier this year.

Since its founding, Conscious Coffees has worked tirelessly to improve its production pipelines to benefit growers, farmers, and suppliers across South America. Like Dr. Bronner’s, Conscious Coffees is a certified B-Corporation, and earned a community impact score in the top 10% of all certified B-Corporations worldwide for its work.

How Does Conscious Coffees Use Ethical Marketing?

Everything about Conscious Coffees, from its name to its logo, reinforces the company’s mission and ethical production philosophy – so much so that Conscious Coffees doesn’t use ethical marketing as much as it embodies the principle as a brand.

Ethical marketing Conscious Coffees affiliated coffee growers

Conscious Coffees-affiliated growers preparing coffee beans.
Image via Conscious Coffees.

In addition to its strong commitment to ethical production processes and fair-trade commerce, Conscious Coffees engages in a wide range of community outreach initiatives.

Its CAFE Livelihoods Program empowers people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua to own and operate their own coffee businesses through training workshops and ongoing guidance and support. The company regularly donates coffee to the local Community Cycles program, a project run by cycling enthusiasts from across the Boulder region who help other cyclists with repairs, maintenance, and refurbishment of old and used bicycles. Conscious Coffees’ team of coffee experts offer technical advice and support to growers and farmers as part of the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer initiative, which helps coffee growers across South America learn new techniques that can help them maximize yields and engage in fair-trade economic practices with North American suppliers.

Ethical marketing Conscious Coffees Community Cycles program

Bike enthusiasts at a Community Cycles event. Image via
Conscious Coffees.

Conscious Coffees is the perfect example of a brand that not only uses ethical marketing practices, but embodies them in everything it does.

Ethical Marketing Example #5: Farmer Direct Co-op

Ever watch one of those food documentaries on Netflix about industrialized agriculture? If so, you’ll already know that farming is not only one of the hardest jobs in North America, but that it’s also one of the most unethical industries. From corporate strong-arming of family owned farms by huge corporations to the abject cruelty and misery inflicted on livestock, farming is a far cry from the bucolic, pastoral scenes presented to us on the packaging of many foods in our local supermarkets.

Ethical marketing Farmer Direct Coop Canada logo 

That’s what makes central Canada’s Farmer Direct Co-op so exciting. An entirely worker-owned cooperative, Farmer Direct is farming with a mission. The cooperative’s network of more than 60 privately owned and operated farms across southern Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan is firmly committed to truly sustainable agriculture and responsible environmental stewardship. The co-op is affiliated with several organizations with a focus on sustainable farming, including the Cornucopia Institute and the Fair World Project.

Ethical marketing Farmer Direct Coop products 

In terms of what Farmer Direct actually sells, all of the co-op’s produce is certified organic, and includes produce such as beans, peas, and oats, all of which are sold at Whole Foods locations across North America.

How Does Farmer Direct Use Ethical Marketing?

Like all of the examples above, ethical marketing lies at the heart of Farmer Direct’s operations. In addition to its vibrant, active social media presence (through which Farmer Direct offers a range of healthy eating tips, recipes, and other fun content), Farmer Direct maintains a lively blog and newsletter, both of which serve as further opportunities to help people make better decisions about their food and live a more conscientious lifestyle as consumers.

Perhaps a little unusually for an agricultural organization, Farmer Direct also maintains a surprisingly good Pinterest profile, which is always great to see alongside the mainstays of Facebook and Twitter.

Ethical marketing Farmer Direct Coop Canada Pinterest 

Farmer Direct’s mission may be a little more challenging than that of the other companies featured in this post. Not because they’re not trying to sell something (they are), or because there’s no demand for organic, authentically grown produce (there is), but because they want to change the way people think about food and where our food comes from. This is a much longer-term goal, and a really ambitious one, too. Industrialized agriculture has transformed the way we eat – and not in a good way.

Ethical marketing topsoil erosion diagram

Image via Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations

Another element of Farmer Direct’s ethical marketing that’s worth mentioning is its strong dedication to truly sustainable agriculture from an environmental perspective. Many farms emphasize their organic certifications or their beautiful pastures where their livestock are free to roam and wander, but Farmer Direct wants to raise awareness of how factors such as topsoil erosion can devastate rural farming communities and even individual farms.

Businesses Can Do Good AND Do Well

Although each of the businesses featured in this post are distinctly different, they all share a common characteristic: a commitment to giving back and protecting the rights and livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. These companies have embraced ethical marketing not as a cheap gimmick they can exploit to drive sales, but as a core part of their mission and values as organizations.

Ethical marketing relies on a long-term strategy of continuing education, campaigning, and activism. It’s about helping consumers make better, more conscious choices about the products they buy and the stores they frequent. It’s about changing the way we think about how goods are provided, the people who make and sell the things we buy every day, and the communities that rely on fair, ethical trade to survive. It’s about cultivating brand loyalty by aligning your organizational values with those of your ideal customers.

Hopefully these examples have given you some ideas on how you can develop and incorporate philanthropic principles in your own organization. Not every company will be suited to ethical marketing – there are no fair trade plumbers, after all – but those that are may find that focusing on people and not just profit could be a wise investment.


Daily Blogging Is the Best Worst Decision of My Professional Career

I’ve been blogging on the Internet since before I even knew the word “blog,” let alone what it meant. When I first started out, it was nothing more than a humble text-based newsletter that I would manually distribute via e-mail (using the BCC field, of course). This was in the late 1990s. After that, I progressed to a hand-coded website that was hosted on Geocities. I would manually update the raw HTML of the homepage every time I had a new article, bumping the “recent posts” section accordingly. Even then, I had no idea what a “blog” was.

Of course, a lot has changed in the last couple of decades. I’ve been blogging professionaly for over ten years and I’ve become much more comfortable with content management systems like WordPress. When I first started out, the posting schedule was sporadic at best and I might go a month or more between posts. When I started doing this for a living, I made the decision at one point to blog daily on my own site.

And this was simultaneously the best and the worst decision I’ve ever made in my career as a freelance writer and professional blogger.

The Case for Daily Blogging

As difficult and as challenging as it may be, committing yourself to writing and publishing a new blog post each and every day offers numerous benefits, whether or not you choose to earn a full-time income from blogging itself.

First, blogging every day helps to hone your writing skills. It might sound like a brute force approach, but it is absolutely true that the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. At the very least, you’ll get much more comfortable writing quickly and efficiently.

Second, blogging every day forces you to come up with fresh new ideas on a very frequent basis. It forces you to be creative, because no matter what niche you choose to approach, you’ll feel like you hit a brick wall eventually. The ideas will start to run dry and that’s when you can really challenge yourself to think outside the box and come up with truly original topics.

Third, blogging every day develops your discipline and creates a habit. When you’re working alone from home, it’s easy to slack off, procrastinate, and allow yourself to get distracted. There’s always tomorrow, right? But if you commit to daily blogging, you form a stronger structure for how you can run your online business and stick with it.

Why Blogging Every Day Is Bad

But there are two sides to every coin and daily blogging is no exception.

First, when you force yourself to blog every day, you can start to feel like you’re sucking all the fun out of it. What may have once been a fun and imaginative way to express yourself and to reach the wider world can start to feel like work. And the dot com lifestyle is not about work in the traditional sense. You can feel shackled and tied down, just like a 9-to-5.

Second, daily blogging can also lead to a lot of substandard content. If you only blog when inspiration strikes, it means that you’re more likely to publish content that is of higher quality. If you blog every day because you have to, you’ll end up writing some stuff on some days that just isn’t up to snuff… but you publish it anyway. And this can ultimately harm your online reputation.

Third, depending on the audience that you have on your blog, the length of your posts, and the kind of material that you publish, daily blogging can also lead to reader fatigue. Your subscribers can get too overwhelmed with how much you’re producing and you might start to stray away as a result. You could actually lose readers because you’re writing too much.

Fourth, the time commitment required to blog every day can detract from your opportunities to pursue and work on other projects. If you’re dedicating that much time and mindshare to writing a post, you’re not spending that time growing your social media presence, writing an e-book, or developing a membership site. You could be doing something else.

No Right Answer

Some people are going to tell you that blogging is going the way of the dodo. There are so many other platforms and blogging has become oversaturated. They’ll say it’ll eventually go the way of the traditional newspaper or magazine. I disagree. The format and style may change — it already has many times — but blogging is definitely here to stay. Whether or not you choose to do it daily is entirely up to you.

How To Make 6-Figure Monthly Online Income! Download John Chow’s New eBook!//

$1,054,927.43 In 261 Days

When I started 2017, one of my goals was to make $1 million in one year with MOBE. I am super excited to report that today (Sept 19, 2017) I have done it! At the time of this post, I was at $1015,137.66 payout plus $39,789.77 pending payout for a total $1,054,927.43 in just 261 days.

That works out to $4,041.88 per day or $168.41 an hour for every hour of the day. At this pace, I am looking at over $1.4 million for 2017 MOBE income.

MOBE has become my #1 online money-making system. It has allowed me to live Dot Com Lifestyle, drive $250K of cars for free, send Sally to one of the Top 50 private schools in America, and buy a $2 million house for cash.

Can I Really Do This Business?

One of the most common questions I get from people who are thinking about joining MOBE is, “Will all of this work for me?” and “Can I really do this business?” The answer is, regardless of your age, background, where you’re from, or your experience level, you can do this business. You can start your own online business, and be successful at it.

Your first first step is to download my ebook, the Ultimate Online Profit Model// if you haven’t already done so. This details the business systems I use to make six-figure monthly income and live the Dot Com Lifestyle. You can also get my Blogging Secrets book at Amazon.

Attend The IM Freedom Workshop

If you wish to talk to an expert face to face about Internet marketing, then I invite you attend a live IM Freedom Workshop in your area.

Each workshop will have both an afternoon session and an evening session. Find the workshop that’s most convenient to you, and register now. Space is limited. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis. You must be pre-registered to attend. There is no on-site registration. Find the closest workshop here.

Apply for My Ultimate Dot Com Lifestyle Coaching Program

If you’re truly ready to move forward and make a positive change in your financial future, then go applying for my Ultimate Dot Com Lifestyle coaching program.

This is a 21 step system I created with MOBE to help you make your first $1,250, $3,300, $5,500, and even $10,000 online. You’ll also be given a one on one coach who will work with you, and answer any questions you may have. All you have to do is follow the system and do what your coach advises. You may not pull down $1 million in 261 days like I did, but it’s pretty easy to make $1,000 a month from it.

The application fee is one time $49, and allows you to go through all 21 steps. I recommend you go through the steps, then decide if this is something you want to do. If it is, great! Welcome aboard. If you decided this is not something you want to do at this time, then get a refund and go on with your life. I can’t make it simpler than that.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!//

What’s a Good Quality Score for Each Type of Keyword?

When it comes to Quality Score everyone wants a 10. But for certain types of keywords, that’s about as likely as WordStream doubling my salary to drink bourbon and grill dry-aged ribeyes on a veranda overlooking Lake Winnipesauke. We can dream, but it ain’t gonna happen.

You see, when you add a new keyword to your account, Google automatically assigns it a starting Quality Score of 6. From there, a combination of factors, including expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience, will determine whether that score sinks or skyrockets. But not all keywords are created equal.

traits that impact quality score include expected ctr ad relevance and landing page experience 

Today, we’re going to talk about what constitutes a good Quality Score depending on what kind of keyword you’re bidding on. Viewing this key AdWords metric in context will help you identify the right keywords to focus your optimization efforts on.

Here’s a high-level overview of what you’ll learn today:

  • A “good” Quality Score in AdWords depends on what kind of keyword you’re looking at
  • A good Quality Score for branded keywords is between 8 and 10
  • A good Quality Score for high-intent commercial keywords is 7 to 9
  • 7 is a good Quality Score for low-intent keywords
  • Aim for a Quality Score of 3+ on competitor keywords
  • Prioritize raising your Quality Score for high-intent keywords first

Now let’s dig into this topic in a little more detail, including a quick recap on how Quality Score works.

What is Quality Score?

For those of you who are new (or could use a refresher), Quality Score is the metric Google uses to determine the quality (duh) and relevance of your ad copy and landing page in relation to a given keyword. It’s then used to calculate your cost per click (CPC) and ad rank for that keyword. The higher your relevance and your Quality Score, the better your ad rank and the less you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

This makes Quality Score really important to your AdWords performance.

quality score in adwords impact on cost per click

Also important to your performance—from a conversion and ROI standpoint—is intent.

If you sell mugs decorated with witty phrases, the keyword “buy novelty mug” is inherently more valuable to you than, say, “mug” or “what are mugs.” While those last two are relevant (ish) to your business, they’re not commercial; those searchers are very unlikely to buy anything from you.

As such, time spent trying to improve your Quality Scores on broad, informational keywords will have much less of an impact on your bottom line than optimizing high-intent keywords that lead directly to action.

Believe it or not, this holds true for businesses outside of the highly competitive ceramic drinkware industry, too.  

The 4 Kinds of Keywords

For the purposes of this exercise, we can divide keywords into four major groups: brand, competitor, high intent, and low intent. 

A branded keyword is a layup. No other advertiser can use your brand in their copy (it’s against Google’s guidelines) and it’s unlikely that a competitor’s using your name in their URL or on a landing page.

quality score has the ability to make you pay more or less per click based on degree of optimization 

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s almost impossible to get a Quality Score of 10 when bidding on your competitor’s name; for New Balance to outrank Nike on a search for “Nike,” they’re going to have to pay an arm and a leg.

Between the poles of brand and competitor, we can split keywords into two groups: low intent (typically informational or navigational searches) and high intent (commercially relevant keywords, the ones that lead to conversions, the backbone of your AdWords account. Need I go on?). Both are important to your overall AdWords success (if you use remarketing, cheaper low intent keywords are a great way to create audiences and drive conversions down the road), but treating them as equals is a waste of your time and money.

With that, let’s look at what a solid Quality Score looks like for each type of keyword (and talk about how to improve them if you’re missing the mark).

What’s a Good Quality Score for Branded Keywords? 8+

Even though your website should be the first thing that shows up in the organic results when someone searches for your business, there’s a big old chunk of real estate above the organic listings that your competitors are welcome to claim. (And the above the fold real estate on brand searches looks even more commercial on mobile devices.) Fortunately for you, competitors need to pay a premium to do so.

That being said, many of them are ready and willing.

For this reason, you need to bid on your own keywords. The required investment is small—especially compared to some of those high intent keywords (we’ll get to them in a minute)—but dominating the SERP pays dividends. You can basically sleep your way to a high Quality Score for branded campaigns. That means if you’re not seeing at least an 8, something has gone horribly wrong (don’t worry, it’s fixable).

Think about the contributing factors. The expected CTR should be high since the search was for your brand (intent city) and your ad couldn’t be more relevant. The only potential detractor is landing page experience, which is impacted by a combination of content, structure, and load time.

Check out this New Balance ad that surfaces when I search for the brand and nothing more (can you tell I love leisurewear sneakers yet?).

example serp for branded keywords showing quality score 

The copy isn’t salesy outside of an obligatory “shop now” in the description. The rest of the ad speaks to the brand’s heritage (“Since 1906,” “For more than 100 years”) and ad extensions are used to share additional value propositions and links to high-traffic pages.

Guess what? You can do this, too.

Simply speaking to your prospects and sending them to a relevant location will yield a high Quality Score, making your branded keywords dirt cheap on a CPC basis.

Tips to Improve Quality Score for Branded Keywords

  • Ensure that your landing page loads quickly with the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
  • Don’t be afraid to tout your brand’s distinguishing factors in your headlines, even if it means relegating your CTA to the description .
  • To dominate the SERP, add as many relevant ad extensions to your branded campaigns as you can; this will help prospects navigate to more relevant pages and push competitors further down the page.

What’s a Good Quality Score for High-Intent Keywords? 7-9

High-intent commercial keywords are the most important subset of keywords in your AdWords account. They also tend to be the most expensive. As a result, high-intent keywords are the area in which maximizing Quality Score will have the greatest impact on performance.

Whether you’re a merchant of $15 skinny jeans or $25,000 software, high-intent keywords are those search terms that convey clear intent to do X, where X is your conversion objective.

Let’s say you sell flowers online and, two days before his mother’s 49th birthday, a terribly forgetful son needs to send something that will elicit a smile. He types “buy flowers online” into Google and sees…

 keywords with high commercial intent are the place to focus your quality score optimization efforts

What do you notice about these ads? What do they have in common?

The ads are relevant and feature CTA’s for days.

Even 1-800-Flowers (who have brand recognition for days) uses the search term in their copy. You’ll also notice a smattering of dollar signs and deals, all of which exist to entice a searcher into clicking. These advertisers are specifically attempting to improve their expected CTR for the term “buy flowers online.”

Before Google even considers the landing page experience component of the Quality Score calculation, each of these advertisers has made a concerted effort to optimize for ad relevance and CTR. This means that two-thirds of the contributing factors are accounted for, making a QS of 6 or 7 attainable through diligent ad testing and good account structure alone.

Landing pages are trickier to tackle from a resources perspective, but if you can ensure speed and relevance, you’re going to please Google’s algorithm. For your high-intent keywords, try to build out single keyword ad groups and implement ad group level landing pages. While this can be a major hassle (not to mention expensive), ensuring semantic relevance and fast load times is the best way to improve this crucial component of your Quality Score. For the keywords most likely to impact your bottom line, it’s totally worth it.

Tips to Improve High-Intent Keyword Quality Score

  • Use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG) to isolate high intent terms. This gives you more control over your bid and allows you to implement the exact term in your ad copy.
  • Have dedicated landing pages in place for your most valuable keywords.
  • Include your target keyword in your ad at least twice, but don’t overdo it! I suggest using it in the first headline and again in the URL paths; use a related term in the description to add emphasis without coming off as spammy.

What’s a Good Quality Score for Low-Intent Keywords? 7

Low-intent keywords aren’t unimportant. In fact, they form the foundation of any great remarketing campaign (and can be used to forge successful Lookalike audiences in Facebook). That being said, most SMBs and overworked agencies simply don’t have the time to push Quality Scores to 10 across the board.

Let’s say you’re running the AdWords account for an online MBA program. This is a ridiculously expensive niche, with stiff competition and CPC’s commonly exceeding $30.

though important to the top of your sales funnel low intent keywords should be optimized after high commercial intent keywords 

That’s why I’m suggesting you set a more realistic target: aim for a Quality Score of 7 on your non-branded, top-of-funnel keywords.

Google’s baseline Quality Score of 6 is faux optimism on their part; it’s almost guaranteed to go down from there as soon as you record a few hundred impressions. Why? Think back to those contributing factors again.

Google cannot determine your CTR if a keyword is brand new. If you’re lumping comparable keywords into a single ad group (instead of using the SKAG I mentioned earlier), you’ll never maximize the landing page experience component outside of load time. That leaves only ad relevance, which can suffer from the same keyword oversaturation that may plague your ability to max out landing page performance.

From a business value standpoint, it simply isn’t worth your time and money to invest in trying to max out Quality Scores for informational or navigational keywords. That being said, you can make strides towards reaching a Quality Score of 7 for your low-intent keywords by crafting irresistible CTAs (like we talked about earlier) and ensuring a well-laid-out account structure.

This means no more than 20 keywords per ad group. They need to be related by some common thread; whether that’s semantic or thematic is your call, but ensuring similarity will allow you to ensure ad and landing page relevance without stretching yourself too thin.

Tips to Improve Quality Score for Low-Intent Keywords

  • Try to implement campaign-level landing pages; this will ensure contextual relevance (allowing you to answer a prospects’ questions) without getting too granular and wasting optimizing for terms that don’t tie back to revenue.
  • Split your keywords into tight, organized ad groups that can be more effectively tied to individual campaigns and landing pages.
  • Outside of using a keyword (or close variant) in your ad copy, focus on improving CTR by testing CTA’s in your first and second headlines.

What’s a Good Quality Score for Competitor Keywords? 3+

Finally, we come to the most challenging subset of keywords (at least in terms of Quality Score): your competitors’ branded terms.

Everything that works in your favor when bidding on your own brand is now reversed; your lack of “relevance,” at least as Google sees it, means you need to bid up if you want to show up. A Quality Score of 3 or better in a competitor campaign means you’re killing it. That’s because your only real weapon—outside of your own brand recognition—is irresistible ad copy.

Let’s dig into an example…

Here’s a SERP for the search query “HubSpot”:

 it's difficult to optimize quality score for competitor keywords but focus on expected ctr with compelling headlines

HubSpot doesn’t have an ad on this page, but they’re the first organic result (remember what I said about all that real estate? Read ‘em and weep). Both competitors with ads served for my search are deploying similar tactics—hammering home difference in cost and a demo offer—with one exception. One is attempting to trick Google’s Quality Score algorithm (and searchers, for that matter) by implanting an alternate spelling of HubSpot. Don’t do this. While it may save you a buck, it may result in ad disapproval or suspension (plus the dishonesty is a bit uncouth).

Instead, focus all your efforts on crafting headlines that can’t be ignored and CTA’s that make your competitors’ offering look obsolete.

Tips to Improve Your Quality Scores for Competitor Keywords

  • Use RLSA to increase bids for searchers who have already visited your website; they’re worth paying a bit more for because their search habits indicate that they’re shopping around.
  • Test your CTAs constantly to find out what maximizes CTR: this is the key to a QS 3 or higher.
  • Say something outlandish in your first headline to draw attention away from the organic search results.


Improving your Quality Scores isn’t a one-time thing: it’s a constant process. For each type of keyword, you should be aiming for the following Quality Scores…

  • Branded: 8+
  • High Intent: 7-9
  • Low Intent: 7
  • Competitor: 3+

While a well-manicured account structure and great copy can go a long way towards establishing success, the nature of expected CTR is such that continuous testing is the key to maintaining enviable Quality Scores across the board.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

How Long Does It Take Google to Index New Links?

This is a very popular question and people are always trying to find out how long it takes for Google to index links after you build a link. With each new link built within an authority site, you have the potential to boost your rankings within the SERP’s so it’s no wonder people are always trying to push Google to index. However, over the past four months, I’ve been tracking the indexing process of different websites like Web 2.0’s, Link Directories, and general blogs, discovering a cool pattern starting to develop. We’ll be going through some important reasons that change the rate of indexing and what you can do going forward to increase the time it takes for your links to show up under your profile. Here’s what you’ll be learning today:

  • What I learned from researching this question in Google
  • My trial and results
  • How to improve the rate of link indexing

My Research

I went online trying to find an answer to this question and learned something pretty interesting. Google doesn’t pay attention to links that have NOT been around for more than 3 months. I was a bit skeptical about this so I went out and put some case studies together. From my own research, this statement is true that links younger than “3” months won’t add any value and even show up under your profile. However, there are some exceptions to the rule that I’ll be discussing a bit later on. Links younger than “3” months NOT being indexed is something I read in different places so I decided to put together a quick case study, using some of my web 2.0 properties.

The Case Study

I have around 10 different Web 2.0 properties so knew this would be a great way to test indexing. On all 10 of them, I built links and started to track how long it takes for the external link to show up under the other websites’ link profile. I tracked the profile using, which is currently the best tool I’ve used for tracking links. However, I put a twist on the case study by dividing up all 10 Web 2.0’s into…

  • 5 only building links without frequent content updating
  • 5 with links and frequent updating

I wanted to know if the Google freshness update plays a significant role in NOT only indexing, but also being able to capture new links both internal and external. My entire testing period will be 3-4 months or until all links were indexed. Here’s something else…

I also built some links pointing to my page from popular link directories. These directories have been around for years and are constantly updated daily with new links. This means they are frequently being bombarded with fresh new link profiles.

The Results

Web 2.0 – Links (content 1/Month)

I was surprised to find that when I built links on Web 2.0 properties and published content once a month, it took EXACTLY 3 ½ months for the links to show up under my link profile. For example, I had published content on a legal property in November 2014 and the external link was indexed in March 2015. I was clearly able to see it within the link profile using

Web 2.0 – Links (content 1/Week)

Here’s something interesting and it proves the freshness update can help your content and links get indexed more quickly. On 5 Web 2.0 properties where I added content 1/week, I was surprised to find my links being updated and showing up in my profile 1 month later. Keep in mind these are fresh new websites with “1” link built to an external source and content added each week.

When building links using “Link Directories”, the results were even more amazing and I believe the success has to do with the reputation of the website. Many of the link directories I use have been around for years and are very large websites constantly updated. Here are the results…

Link Directories – Updated daily

I built links on “3” popular link directories and from my research, I know they are updated with 10-20 new links daily. When I checked after “1” week, the link was indexed and showing under my profile. I was able to see EXACTLY what page it was pointing to and “First Seen” using I attribute the success to their credibility and the fact that they are constantly being updated with new content or links. This triggers Google freshness algorithm, which, in turn, indexed all these pages more quickly.

This trigger applied to my Web 2.0 property in #2 when I was updating content each week compared to once a month.

Wrapping It Up

Here’s what you can learn from the quick lesson:

  • A typical site with a ordinary posting schedule usually does take 3 month for links to show up
  • A frequent posting schedule does improve rate of indexing for page and links
  • A reputable site has a faster indexing process
  • A reputable site with a frequent posting schedule will enhance rate of indexing

How To Make 6-Figure Monthly Online Income! Download John Chow’s New eBook!//

Proof That Anyone Can Make Money Online & Get a Free Car

During the Titanium Mastermind at the Croc’s Resort in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of meeting 65 year old Allen Dockter and his wife. They were brand new in the business, had zero internet marketing experience, but managed to make $17K online in 3 months by following the training in my 21 Step System.

Allen is living proof that anyone can make money online. He had no marketing background or computer experience. However, he was teachable and more importantly, he acted on what he learned in those 21 steps. He didn’t make excuses. He just did it and he is now reaping the rewards.

That reward includes a brand new truck thanks to the MOBE Motors program. The program allows any MOBE affiliate to drive the car of their dreams for free. My Tesla Model X and Jaguar F Type are free because of the program. Before those two cars, I had Mercedes SL550 for free because of the program.

Can I Really Do This Business?

One of the most common questions I get from people who are thinking about joining MOBE is, “Will all of this work for me?” and “Can I really do this business?” The answer is, regardless of your age, background, where you’re from, or your experience level, you can do this business. You can start your own online business, and be successful at it. Allen, and many others like him, is proof of that.

Attend The IM Freedom Workshop

If you wish to talk to an expert face to face about Internet marketing, then I invite you attend a live IM Freedom Workshop in your area.

Each workshop will have both an afternoon session and an evening session. Find the workshop that’s most convenient to you, and register now. Space is limited. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis. You must be pre-registered to attend. There is no on-site registration. Find the closest workshop here.

Apply for My Ultimate Dot Com Lifestyle Coaching Program

If you’re truly ready to move forward and make a positive change in your financial future, then go applying for my Ultimate Dot Com Lifestyle coaching program.

This is a 21 step system I created with MOBE to help you make your first $1,250, $3,300, $5,500, and even $10,000 online. You’ll also be given a one on one coach who will work with you, and answer any questions you may have. All you have to do is follow the system and do what your coach advises. You may not pull down $150K in a month like I did, but it’s pretty easy to make $1,000 a month from it.

The application fee is one time $49, and allows you to go through all 21 steps. I recommend you go through the steps, then decide if this is something you want to do. If it is, great! Welcome aboard. If you decided this is not something you want to do at this time, then get a refund and go on with your life. I can’t make it simpler than that.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!//

8 Advertising Tips for Electricians & Other Tradesmen

For a millennial, full-time digital marketing professional who runs ad campaigns for the tech startup she’s employed for, learning AdWords seems quite feasible.

For an electrician, roofer, locksmith, or contractor, PPC might as well stand for party planning company… Why would people in small service-based trades like these be familiar with pay-per-click advertising? They may not have grown up with the internet, and they certainly did not attend school to become digital advertisers. They more likely attended a trade school to master the jobs they do now. Their priorities are fixing your pipes, repairing your roofs, and ensuring your televisions are installed properly.

This is what makes digital advertising challenging for many tradesmen and blue-collar professionals.

construction workers in the 1930s

Typical lunch break

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with WordStream customer William Rusch, who refers to himself as the “master electrician” of Charleston Electric, a family-run electrician business in Charleston, South Carolina, that’s grown substantially in their last five years in operation. William is actually far too modest because he does much more than practice his craft of electrician; William is the founder of Charleston Electric, and also runs the company’s marketing campaigns, and is responsible for bringing in new clients to keep the business running. This of course includes paid search.

Marketing and Advertising Challenges Faced by Tradesmen

When William and I discussed some of the challenges he’s faced while running online ad campaigns through Google AdWords while also running his electrician business, two in particular stood out…

1) Allocating Your Online Ad Budget Properly

The world of AdWords is not an easy one to navigate. There’s campaigns, ad groups, keywords, match types, negative keywords, ads, extensions, mobile ads, bidding, budgeting, and the list goes on. As an electrician, understanding the strategy to spend money wisely in this crazy world of paid search isn’t easy.

adwords budget breakdown

“The challenge is knowing how to spend your money. It’s not easy to know how to use AdWords,” William said. “As electricians most of us are not marketers. We know how to do our job really well, but when it comes to advertising we are forced to pay someone to do it or do it yourself.” This leads me to the next challenge…

2) Having to Rely on Outside Help

When you’re in a line of work like William, your main focus is fixing the electrical issue at hand rather than advertising and marketing. This often leads to relying on outside help, which can lead to money being thrown down the drain.

“A lot of people I know in similar lines of work have been burned when paying someone else,” William said. “They end up spending thousands of dollars per month and not knowing where their money is going. In the past we’ve used companies to market with and I never felt like we got great results from what we did.”

So, how do you get around these challenges without hiring help? Well, if you’re a blue-collar professional trying to fulfill your long list of jobs while simultaneously getting new clients, you’ve come to the right place.

Follow these eight tips to run more effective online ads and grow your client base and revenue with paid search.

How to Run Effective AdWords Campaigns in Blue-Collar Industries

#1: Structure Your Ad Campaigns by Location

Location can make or break your chances of getting a client in the trades. For instance, if I’m looking for a plumber in Hingham, MA, I’m more likely to go with the one within a 3-mile radius of my location rather then one located in downtown Boston. Often enough the situation may be urgent when it comes to manual labor, so proximity is critical.

This is something that advertisers need to keep top of mind when configuring and structuring their campaigns.

“We use location-specific targeting to structure our campaigns around the three major cities where we operate and towns around them,” says William. “We then generate ads based upon location, and have those ads specific to that location. We also have a very good name that’s specific to the area that we’re in.”

location targeting in adwords

An example of radius-based location targeting in AdWords

Make sure to get specific with your campaign targeting, even drilling down to a specified radius. Then structure your ad groups around keywords that pertain to that location. For example, if you operate in Boston, create a campaign for people who live in Beacon Hill and target that specific radius. Then bid on keywords like “electrician in beacon hill” and “beacon hill electrician near me.”

#2: Cater Your Ads to Targeted Locations

Bouncing off the last tip, it’s important not to forget to add in the location into your ad text. Regardless of whether your targeting and keyword strategy is spot on, if the location isn’t prevalent in the ad copy, then a competitor’s ad with more detail will likely win the click over yours.

Don’t leave any mystery around the location – being clear about this will lead to more actionable outcomes from searchers.

Take the example below. When I searched “roofer near me” these two ads popped up:

online ad tips for small local service professionals

While it’s great that the first one includes information around price, what I’m really interested in is location. I know immediately that the second ad is located in Framingham where I currently am located. It’s not only broadcasted in the ad text, but it’s reinforced in the link as well, and luckily I can also get a free estimate before making a commitment to the roofer in my area.

#3: Encourage and Prioritize Phone Calls

For William, phone calls are essential, since this form of communication is the way that the majority of new and repeat customers contact Charleston Electric.

I imagine this is true for many others in similar lines of work, because when an individual needs someone to visit their home or workplace they want to ensure they’re booking an appointment with a real person. They also likely have a very specific scenario that is much easier to describe over the phone rather than through a form or email.

So how do you prioritize phone calls in PPC? Here are few tactics to mastering this:

  • Set up call extensions
  • Experiment with call-only campaigns
  • Ensure you’re using call tracking so you know where your calls are coming from
  • Broadcast your businesses phone number in your ad text and on your PPC landing pages
  • Make sure your landing pages are mobile responsive
    • Make use of call-specific CTA’s (calls to action)

landing page for blue collar business

William’s home page

“We often encourage people to call now or save $25 with a phone call in our ad text,” says William.

#4: Run Competitor Campaigns

Staying ahead of your competition is important in any industry, but it can be especially helpful to have a competitive strategy in place when it comes to blue-collar advertisements. Often searchers will look for a specific electrician company, perhaps one that’s more well-known or was a referral from a neighbor. Here lies the opportunity to appear ahead of that company by bidding on competitor keywords.

“We have lots of competitors so we’ve geared up our competitor campaigns to market against them,” says William. “For different competitors I create campaigns and I target their company name, and make it specific to what they’re doing. Competitors don’t seem to be spending as much, so if we spend a bit more we can beat them in the SERPs, generate calls at cheap CPC’s, and gain customers that are actually looking for them.”

#5: Create Authentic and Trustworthy Ad Copy

Ad copy can make or break your chances of getting site traffic or even a direct phone call from your ads. Especially in an industry where customers are typically making close comparisons to your competition nearby, thinking strategically about ad copy becomes even more critical.

This isn’t something you have to tell William twice. When writing his ad copy he decided to use the emotional aspect of the fact that his business is family owned and operated.

build trust with ad copy

“I always like to add ‘family-owned’ company because we are family owned and operated,” said William. “I also talk about the amount of experience we have because these two components provide a sense of trustworthiness.”

Taking a tip from William’s book, I think it’s important to be transparent and honest in your ad copy, and let the best things about your business sell it to your customers.

#6: Let Your Customers Speak for You

In a situation where a contractor or electrician is coming to your home to make a repair, consumers are always cautious about being scammed. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of someone who pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get their chimney fixed when the next week the same problem arises. Yet, the contractor who made the repair has managed to drop off the face of the earth.

This is why customer testimonials are more important then ever.

“Testimonials are very important to us. People want to know what they’re getting into. Luckily, we have almost 80 reviews on our Google page,” says William. “Overall we have a positive reputation and that helps to persuade people that they should give us a shot over someone else who maybe doesn’t have testimonials.”

reviews and testimonials

5-star reviews!

If you’re company is lacking testimonials, don’t be afraid to ask your happy customers for them!

Here are a few ideas for how you can incorporate more customer testimonials into your digital marketing efforts:

  • Configure review extensions in your search ads
  • Encourage customers to review you on multiple platforms (Yelp, Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.)
  • Publish testimonials on your AdWords landing pages
  • Create a dedicated area of your website to highlight customer testimonials
  • Invest in video testimonials for your homepage

#7: Open Your Wallet

Don’t roll your eyes just yet! Often enough, business owners hold their wallets far too tight to their lockbox. But when it comes to paid search, the word “paid” is in the title for a reason.

If you want to get a high return you need to be willing to invest. Yes, it’s important to know what you’re doing before dumping your money into a bunch of poorly structured campaigns running on highly competitive broad match keywords. But once you’ve nailed down a solid strategy, put a reasonable amount of money towards your PPC campaigns to ensure you’re being competitive enough to appear in the top spots.

“If you are in a service-based business, advertising is extremely important. If you do not advertise you’re not going to bring in new customers on a daily basis,” says William. “You’ll get referrals, but to generate new business you need to advertise to grow. While it may be scary to spend $1,000/month, if you want to grow and get new business there’s only one way to do this and that is to spend money.”

In my opinion, William has the perfect attitude. “I spend a lot of time focusing on our marketing, and I’ve made a goal to maximize advertising dollars. I’m always willing to try new things, and spend the money to try it.”

Follow William’s advice and invest in market research! It could substantially pay off in the end.

#8: Always Be Identifying Negative Keywords

If you’re wary about wasting money, then you should be proactive about identifying negative keywords. Negative keywords – the searches that you DON’T want your ads to appear for – will ensure that your ads don’t show up for irrelevant searches.

They are especially important when bidding on broad or phrase match keywords, and unnecessary to configure for exact match keywords since ads will only appear if the exact term is matched with the keyword search. For more on negative keywords check out this resource.

William found that adding negative keyword research to his PPC workflow not only saved him huge amounts of money, but it also improved his AdWords ROI.

negative keywords

Big-budget advertisers know how important negative keywords are for ROI

“I found negative keywords like ‘electrician shoes,’ ‘electrician gloves,’ ‘electrician knives,’ and ‘electrician tools.’ Since we do repairs and installations, every time we get a click for something like that it just wastes money,” he says. “For us it was thousands and thousands dollars per year we were wasting. It’s one thing to spend money and get relevant clicks, but another to spend money and get unqualified traffic.”

After realizing how much money William was wasting he decided to streamline his process, and began using QueryStream, a WordStream Advisor tool that shows the exact keywords individuals are typing into Google to find his ads.


Those “Milwaukee” and “Wisconsin” search terms probably aren’t converting well

“QueryStream is the most helpful tool. I simply go on there every night, go through each campaign and go through the clicks we’re getting,” he says. “Then I go through and add in negatives throughout the whole campaign or even our whole AdWords account. It makes it so simple to do, and it’s so much easier than trying to do it through AdWords. Before we were wasting our budget. WordStream has allowed us to streamline our account, and really make our advertising budget work for us.”

While yes, managing online advertising can be quite difficult for people in this line of work since their main responsibilities lie elsewhere, the investment can significantly grow your business.

If you’re currently advertising on Google and curious as to how you’re doing, try our AdWords Grader for a free report!

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

Twitter: @margotshealthub

Instagram: @margotshealthhub