We’re finally here. Set up one ad with multiple headlines and a couple of descriptions, and Google will start testing combinations dynamically to serve the combination deemed most likely to achieve the advertiser’s stated goal. Oh, and get more real estate than a standard text ad for giving the new machine learning option a go.
Google’s new responsive search ads are now in beta in AdWords, though not available to all advertisers yet.
They are part of the continuum to let machine learning models do the work of ad creative optimization. Some of the initiatives that have come before it: dynamic search ads, automated ad suggestions (formerly known as Ads Added by Google) and Google’s efforts over the past year to get advertisers to give up manual A/B testing and add at least three ads per ad group. This is the same concept, just more automated. And, of course, there’s the push to automated ad rotation optimization.
The argument for having multiple ad options is that your ad groups will have opportunities to compete in more auctions when there are more options for the keywords to trigger your ads. It also requires relinquishing more control to the machines, which can give those devoted to strictly controlling their ad tests agita. But responsive text ads are just one more indication that the days of manual A/B testing are coming to an end, and fast.
Need an incentive to try them? Google’s giving responsive search ads more character real estate than expanded text ads.
- Show up to three headlines instead of two.
- Show up to two 90-character descriptions instead of one 80-character description.
Writing ad combinations and ‘pinning’
Advertisers can set up as many as 15 headlines and four descriptions in a responsive search ad. The other fields are the same as expanded text ads.
The extra lines and automated order mean you’ll need to think through all the various combination scenarios. Google suggests writing your first three headlines as if they’ll appear together (in whatever order) in the ad.
Try to make the headlines distinct from each other, spotlighting different features, benefits, offers, calls to action and so on.
The best practice for responsive text ads — writing headlines that are relevant to the keywords in the ad group and including at least one of the keywords in your ad group in the headlines — remains valid.
There is an option to “pin” headlines and descriptions to specific positions. This will be particularly helpful for advertisers in sensitive categories that require disclaimers, for example. Keep in mind that if you pin just one headline or description to a position, that will be the only thing allowed to show in that spot. It’s possible to pin a few headlines or descriptions to a position to provide more flexibility in the dynamic matching.
To see reporting metrics on responsive search ads, create a filter for them in the ad type column then download the report or open it in Report Editor.
While they’re in beta, advertisers will only be able to add responsive search ads to ad groups with existing ads. You can find more details on the AdWords support page.
With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers.
With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers.
One pay-per-click program is called Google AdWords.
AdWords is an online advertising service where advertisers pay to display brief advertising copy, product listings and video content within the Google ad network to web users.
Here are three myths that may be keeping marketers from implementing successful AdWords campaign.
Myth #1: People don’t click on Google ads
Google is a publicly traded company—anyone can access their financial records that tell the story.
Google generates more than $100M in revenue every single day from people clicking on their ads. With an average cost per click between $1 and $2 that’s more than 50M clicks/day.
Google experiments constantly to make their ads entice more enticing.
They’re not going to present you with a free, organic result at the top of the search engine results page when they could showcase several ads that generate revenue. Start paying attention: The first few line items at the top of every search is an ad.
One more thing: Think about your own behavior
When you see an ad that entices you, do you click on it? Of course you do!
Smart companies are using remarketing efforts that identify customer tastes to present you with items that you may have been looking at earlier in the day.
They may serve up similar items or those by the same designer or manufacturer. I shop almost entirely online, and I’m fascinated by remarketing, which illustrates how marketing has gotten smarter.
Myth #2: My competitors can just click on my ads all day, costing me money
Google has extremely sophisticated technology to prevent “click fraud” and “invalid clicks.” This involves the analysis of several click-pattern factors.
Google provides very good reports on AdWords campaign performance, and any suspicious activity is quickly exposed. If a business is concerned they are victims of click fraud, they can contact Google directly to launch an investigation. Google reimburses questionable clicks.
Myth #3: AdWords is an outbound marketing tactic
AdWords is designed to showcase your content when potential customers are initiating a Google search. It’s the only inbound marketing tactic that guarantees your content will rank high on Google when a user performs a search. This is one very attractive reason to be using Google as your PPC platform. The sheer number of Google searches/day makes you part of this community.
PPC delivers a better user experience for the searcher
Think of the information you provide when you set up your Google account. This all becomes part of a huge database, and databased information makes it searchable.
Because of this information, when you create a Google ad, you are able to drill down by location, demographics, interests, etc.
This is not specific just to Google—Facebook, Linkedin and other social channels also provide rich search preferences.
Integrating AdWords with your inbound marketing strategy
Along with your existing content marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) efforts, PPC is becoming a critical component of an inbound marketing strategy.
Google AdWords is a highly effective marketing channel for brands to engage with customers.
The auction-based pay-per-click (PPC) model has revolutionized the advertising industry, but beneath the seductive simplicity of this input-output relationship lies a highly sophisticated technology.
Within this article, we round up five advanced features that can help you gain that vital competitive advantage.
Google AdWords has undergone a host of changes over the past 12 months, some cosmetic and some functional. Google’s prime revenue-driver has a new, intuitive look and feel that makes it even easier for marketers to assess performance and spot new opportunities.Under the hood, AdWords is home to some increasingly sophisticated machine learning technology. Everything from bid adjustments to audience behavior and even search intent is now anlyzed by machine learning algorithms to improve ad targeting and performance.
All of this is changing how we run search campaigns, largely for the better.
Meanwhile, there are broad trends that continue to converge with search. Voice-activated digital assistants, visual search, and the ongoing growth of ecommerce all center around Google’s search engine.
At the intersection of Google and these emerging trends, paid search will evolve and new ways to reach audiences will arise.
Though this future-gazing reveals just how exciting the industry is, marketers also need to keep one eye firmly on the present.
As it stands, AdWords provides a vast array of features, all of which can impact campaign performance. Though automation is taking over more aspects of the day-to-day running of an account, there is arguably more need than ever before for seasoned paid search experts how know how to get the most out of the platform.
Below are five advanced AdWords features that can boost any PPC campaign.
For all of AdWords’ virtues, it has not been able to rival Facebook in terms of sheer quantity of demographic targeting options.
As part of Google’s ongoing shift from a keyword focus to a customer-centric approach, demographic targeting has improved very significantly.
This feature now allows advertisers to target customers by income and parental status, along with gender and age. Targeting by income is only available for video advertising and is restricted to the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand for the moment.
Nonetheless, this is a noteworthy update and provides an advanced feature that many brand will welcome.
The available options now include:
Demographic targeting for Search, Display or Video campaigns:
- Age: “18-24,” “25-34,” “35-44,” “45-54,” “55-64,” “65 or more,” and “Unknown”
- Gender: “Female,” “Male,” and “Unknown”
Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:
- Parental status: “Parent,” “Not a parent,” and “Unknown”
Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:
- Household income (currently available in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand only): “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”
Combined with the improved user interface, this can lead to some illuminating reports that highlight more detail about audiences than we have ever seen in this platform.
It’s not perfect yet and has some drawbacks in practice, as creating audiences can be quite labor-intensive when combining different filters. Nonetheless, demographic targeting is improving and will be an area of focus for Google this year.
Our previous article on demographic targeting goes into more detail on how to set this feature up.
A very natural byproduct of the increase in mobile searches has been an explosion in the number of calls attributed to paid search.
In fact, BIA/Kelsey projects that there will be 162 billion calls to businesses from smartphones by 2019.
Search forms a fundamental part of this brand-consumer relationship, so businesses are understandably keen to ensure they are set up to capitalize on such heightened demand.
Click-to-call can be an overlooked opportunity, as it does require a little bit of setup. If advertisers want to add call extensions, report specifically on this activity, and even schedule when these extensions appear, it is necessary to do this manually within AdWords.
Helpfully, it is now possible to enable call extensions across an account, simplfying what was once a cumbersome undertaking.
This is becoming an automated process in some aspects, whereby Google will identify landing pages that contain a phone number and generate call extensions using this information. However, some manual input will be required to get the most out of this feature.
Our step-by-step guide contains a range of handy tips for marketers who woud like to enable click-to-call campaigns.
Optimized ad rotation
Google made some very notable changes to its ad rotation settings in the second half of 2017.
In essence, ad rotation constantly tests different ad variations to find the optimal version for your audience and campaign KPIs.
Google’s machine learning technology is a natural fit for such a task, so it is no surprise that Google wants to take much of the ad rotation process out of the hands of advertisers and turn it into a slick, automated feature.
Perhaps this focus on the machine learning side of things has led advertisers to beleive that the process now requires no input from them.
A recent study by Marin Software across their very sizeable client base found that many ad groups contain fewer than three creatives:
This is very significant, as Google recommends providing at least three ads in every ad group. Their official stance is, “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”
Creating a range of ads provides the resources Google needs to run statistically significant tests. No matter how sophisticated the machine learning algorithms are, with only one or two ads in each group there is very little they can do to improve performance.
There is a broader lesson to be taken here, beyond just getting the most out of this AdWords feature.
Even the most advanced technology requires the right quantity and quality of inputs. Although more and more elements of AdWords management can be automated, this doesn’t mean we can leave the machines to their own devices.
There are plentiful best practices that we still need to follow. Optimizing your ad rotation by including at least three ads in each group certainly counts as one of these.
Custom intent audiences
Google is clearly making a play for more of the traditionally ‘top of funnel’ marketing approaches.
The launch of more granular custom intent audiences with the Google Display Network is part of a wider strategy to take on the likes of Facebook by providing greater control over target audiences.
Google’s guidelines provide clear definition over how this recently launched feature works:
For Display campaigns, you can create a custom intent audience using in-market keywords – simply entering keywords and URLs related to products and services your ideal audience is researching across sites and apps.
In-market keywords (Display campaigns)
- Enter keywords, URLs, apps or YouTube content to reach an online audience that’s actively researching a related product or service.
- It’s best practice to add keywords and URLs (ideally 15 total) that fit a common theme to help AdWords understand your ideal audience.
- Avoid entering URLs that require people to sign in, such as social media or email services.
- Include keywords related to the products and services that this audience is researching; these will be used as the focal point for building the custom intent audience.
Custom intent audiences: Auto-created (Display campaigns)
To make finding the right people easy, Google uses machine learning technology to analyse your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.
For example, insights from existing campaigns may show that people who’ve visited a sporting goods website have also actively researched all-weather running shoes. AdWords may then auto-create a new ‘waterproof trail running shoes’ custom intent audience to simplify the process of reaching this niche segment of customers.
Once more, we see the addition of machine learning into a core Google product.
These automated audience lists are generated based on activity across all of your Google marketing channels, including YouTube and Universal App Campaigns, along with Search and the Google Display Network.
Although this does not yet provide the level of targeting that Facebook can offer, custom intent audiences do dramatically improve the product and they move Google closer to a truly customer-centric approach.
Sophisticated advertisers will find thata this advanced feature improves performance for both prospecting and remarketing.
Smart bidding has some crossover with the other AdWords features on our list. In a nutshell, smart bidding uses machine learning to asses the relationships between a range of variables and improve performance through the AdWords auction.
It is capable of optimizing bids to ensure the best possible return on investment against the advertiser’s target KPIs. Smart bidding does this by looking at the context surrounding bids and isolating the factors that have historically led to specific outcomes. Based on this knowledge, it can automatically bid at the right level to hit the advertiser’s campaign targets.
These targets can be set based on a target CPA (cost per acquisition), ROAS (return on ad spend), or CPC (cost per click).
The latest option available to brands is named ‘maximize conversions’ and this will seek to gain the optial number of conversions (whatver those may be for the brand in question) against their set budge.
As we have noted already, these algorithms require substantial amounts of data, so this is a feature best used by this with an accrual of historical AdWords performance data.
Smart bidding is also not quite a ‘set and forget’ bidding strategy. Some marketers will still prefer the control of manual bidding and it would be fair to say that smart bidding levels the playing field somewhat across all advertisers.
Nonetheless, it is a hugely powerful AdWords feature and can create multiple account performance efficiencies.
The new attribution model for AdWords was the talk of the town when it was first announced in 2016. But since then, it hasn’t received as much attention.
Even so, I was surprised recently when a colleague in the pay-per-click industry confessed that he wasn’t aware of it.
I can understand how he missed it. After all, it’s one of those AdWords settings that you can easily overlook if you don’t know it’s there.
Therefore, in this article, I’m going to recap what attribution settings are and reveal what you can expect if you start using the new models.
What is Attribution?
Basically, “attribution” is about assigning credit to clicks that lead to conversions.
For example, say “Dan” wants to buy a baseball jersey. So he searches “baseball jersey” and clicks on an ad.
After a few more searches, he decides he wants a Red Sox baseball jersey. So he does some more searching and clicks on another ad from the same company. He then buys a jersey from that company.
How do you want to attribute credit for the sale? Should the first ad Dan clicked get the credit or the second? Or a combination?
That’s what attribution is all about.
Problems with the Old Model
Before Google rolled out its new attribution model, attribution was given to the last ad clicked. But this didn’t always accurately reflect what was happening in the account.
In the baseball jersey example above, the last ad would have gotten all the credit for the sale.
At the time, we could use Google Analytics assisted data to give us a fuller picture of what was happening. But it could be a hassle to try and “meld” Google Analytics data with what we were seeing in AdWords.
Google’s New Attribution Model
This all changed when Google rolled out its new attribution models.
As Google explains:
Most advertisers measure the success of their online advertising on a “last click” basis. This means they give all the credit for a conversion to the last-clicked ad and corresponding keyword. However, this ignores the other clicks customers may have made along the way.
Attribution models give you more control over how much credit each ad and keyword gets for your conversions.
With this change, PPC pros could now choose which attribution model to use.
These attribution models include:
- Last click
- First click
- Time decay
- Position based
And now instead of having to cobble together data from AdWords and Google Analytics, all this functionality now resides in AdWords!
Here are more details from AdWords about the different attribution models:
Changes You May See With the New Attribution Models
When we first tried some of the new attribution models, we noticed some changes in our accounts. You may also experience the following:
1. Your Branded Conversions May Drop and Non-Branded May Rise
Under some of the new models, you may see a drop in branded conversions but an increase in non-branded conversions (i.e., credit given to a branded ad versus credit given to a non-branded ad).
This isn’t a bad thing. We were always convinced that non-branded ads contributed to conversions, but it wasn’t always easy to show that with the data.
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But now, the contributions of non-branded ads are more obvious. It confirms what we always suspected: It’s not uncommon for people to click on a non-branded ad earlier in the path to conversion and then click on a branded ad later as they get to know your brand.
Under the last click model, branded campaigns would often get all the credit. (“All our conversions are coming from branded campaigns!”) And we might be tempted to pause our non-brand campaigns.
But now the data shows that would be a bad idea.
Having this fuller (and more accurate) picture of what’s going on makes it easier to optimize client accounts.
2. You May Need to Experiment to Find the Right Model
While having multiple attribution models to choose from is great, it isn’t always easy to know which ones to choose.
We were happy to move away from the last click model, for all the reasons explained above.
We decided that first click wouldn’t make any more sense for most of our clients – it would merely shift the overemphasis from the back end of the conversion path to the front end.
Therefore, we’ve been mostly using position-based attribution and linear attribution for our clients. We like these two options because they give credit to clicks that are distributed throughout the conversion path.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had the opportunity to use the data-driven attribution model as none of our clients have accumulated large enough amounts of data to make it available to us.
As explained in the Google help file:
Data-driven attribution gives credit for conversions based on how people search for your business and decide to become your customers. It uses data from your account to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on your business goals. You can use data-driven attribution for website and Google Analytics conversions from Search Network campaigns.
If you’d like more guidance on choosing the right attribution model for your campaigns, check out the Search Engine Journal article, “Searching for the Perfect Attribution Model.”
3. Your Data May Show up Differently
Because some of these models are attribute portions of credit to different clicks, we often see partial conversions (e.g. ¼ conversion, ½ conversion) in accounts.
To minimize confusion, we’ve taken to rounding up these fractions when reporting to clients. We don’t want to get into a lengthy (and distracting) discussion about what, exactly is a “¼ conversion”!
How to Change Your Attribution Model
If you’re inspired to play around with the attribution setting on your accounts, you’ll find it under Conversions in AdWords.
From the table, select the conversion action you want to change. You can then select the desired attribution model from the dropdown menu:
With AdWords changing every day, it isn’t surprising that some industry folks (even experienced ones), might have missed the boat on different attribution models.
While these models might seem a bit confusing, they’re well worth exploring. You may end up with a more accurate picture of which ads are driving your conversions.
A topic that is hugely important for any marketer is that of targeting – making sure your budget gets spent on the people most likely to buy from you.
With all the features available to us across digital advertising platforms, we’ve never had it so good.
Yet most marketers I speak to at events are unaware of the options available to them, and are unfortunately still wasting a lot of their click spend on irrelevant people who simply don’t convert.
In this article, I will explore how to carry out advanced audience targeting in Google AdWords, which features you can use to make your marketing budget work a lot harder, and how to use them.
When you talk about AdWords and/or PPC, most people first think of search ads, so we’ll also start there. The audience options on the Google Search Network are a good place to begin thinking about how you will adapt spend towards the people most likely to purchase or inquire.
These days it isn’t as simple as choosing a suitable bid for any given keyword. For half a decade we have been able to use bid modifiers to optimize the best performing parts of an account and automatically spend more money there. Advertisers can automatically weight budget and bids depending on a few criteria:
- Device type
- Time (which can be the time of day, or the day of the week)
You can ask Google to apply a higher bid of up to 300% more than you would normally spend if certain criteria are met, or reduce bids by up to minus 100% (i.e. turn it off).
I am yet to meet a business that can’t improve their PPC spend by considering these factors.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Does the location of where a search is made influence the likelihood of conversion?
- Is someone using a mobile device worth more or less than someone on a desktop?
- Are you happy spending as much on traffic during the evenings as you are during the day?
One way or another, each of these should influence how you spend your money.
As an example, if you are a retailer with high-street stores and an ecommerce site, then bid adjustments need serious consideration.
If someone is searching on their phone, within walking distance of one of your stores during opening hours, then they are probably worth bidding more for. Send them into the store where they will probably have a higher average spend than they would online.
If you take away one of those factors (it’s now an out of hours search, or they are on a desktop at home) then lower the bid and send them to the ecommerce site.
It is important to understand the difference in value for each type of search and reflect that in your bidding strategy.
A more recent addition to this is demographic bidding. You can now also choose to modify bids depending on:
Is your target market younger males? Then bid more for them, and lower bids if searches are performed by females or older people. This allows you to bid on more broad keywords that you may have avoided before, as you can be more certain of the person clicking.
For example, a clothing company targeting men can bid on broad keywords like “skinny jeans”, which would traditionally have attracted more clicks from females, but that audience can now be excluded.
Before looking at the really interesting audience targeting options here, I want to talk about the basics.
Even though a frankly outrageous sum of money gets spent on Google search ads every single day, people don’t actually spend that much time searching. We spend the majority of our time online doing other things like reading news articles and special interest blogs, watching videos, chatting in forums etc.
PPC advertisers can also use Google AdWords to appear here, on the Google Display Network (GDN) with videos, banners and text ads.
Targeting options are plentiful. To start, you can use Placements and Keywords. Placements are the websites you hand-pick for showing your ads, whereas keyword targeting is based on the text showing on web pages, which you might want to appear against.
Taking it a stage further, you can also bid demographically (not only sex and age, but on the GDN you can also choose parental status). This isn’t a situation where you have to choose one or the other; instead, you can layer these options to really refine your audience.
For example, if you are launching a new range of baby clothes, then you may choose to advertise to females who are in their 20s and showing as parents, choosing only to place adverts on baby-related websites and on pages where your competitors are named or where certain target words are present.
The first of the more advanced targeting options that you can choose to implement, as well as or instead of the above, is affinity audiences.
Google refer to these as “TV-like audiences” and they are based around topics of interest. Data is collected as users engage with pages, applications, channels, videos and content across YouTube and the GDN. This information is then collated and used to build a profile of who they are, and what advertisements can be tailored to their personality and preferences.
You should view an affinity audience as a group of individuals who have a general, long-standing interest in a specific subject.
As advertisers, we can take advantage of Google analyzing someone’s overall interests, passions and lifestyle to get a better sense of their identity. If you think about your browsing behavior, there will be certain themes and patterns that are easy to spot and brands can choose to advertise to you and everyone else with the same interests.
If the ready-made audiences like “beauty mavens” or “running enthusiasts” aren’t quite specific enough for you, then you have the ability to build your own.
Custom Affinity Audiences can be created, where you give AdWords a list of keywords that detail the area of interest and also websites that would be frequented by your audience (authority news sites and strong rivals are good starting point) and then it creates a theme for you.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew someone was just about to buy a product in your market? Well now you can. AdWords can qualify someone as being “in-market” for a specific product or service, i.e. they are further down the conversion funnel and are actively considered purchasing a product or engaging with a service that is similar to what you offer.
In-market audiences take into account clicks on related ads and subsequent conversions, along with the content of the sites and pages that a person visits, as well as the recency and frequency of the visits.
You should view in-market audiences as individuals who are temporarily interested in a specific segment. For example, if I am not a car enthusiast and I don’t read a lot of automotive publications then I won’t be in the automotive affinity audience, but for a short period of time, every once in a while, I would fit into an automotive in-market audience when making a new car purchase, showing this intent by researching and comparing cars online.
I often get asked how accurate this is and, from the campaigns we’ve run, we have seen good results. This is down to a lot of effort from Google where AdWords examines repeated patterns of behavior, sets personalized algorithms and updates in real-time, so people not interested or who have already spent their money soon drop out.
Whilst you are able to target pre-defined in-market audiences, you may want to consider segmenting existing affinity audiences in order to re-engage with users already aware of your brand. This increases effectiveness and gives you full control of moving that user through the conversion funnel and toward your products or service.
At this point in the process, your marketing messages should showcase exactly what your brand has to offer and how it differs, alongside any promotions. Make use of all sales tools at your disposal here as these people are looking to spend now and may not be back for a while, if at all.
Very similar to in-market audiences is an additional type of targeting that came out last year – the ability to advertise to people just before or just after a few big events that take place in their lives. Namely:
- Graduating from college
- Getting married
- Moving house
Even though there are just three options to choose from, there are huge industries that surround each one. Take someone moving home, for example: there are property lawyers, estate agents, removal companies, furniture retailers, kitchen fitters, and many more that should all be considering this audience and factoring it into their advertising strategy.
So, when you’ve done all of this work and now have all of these well-targeted people visiting your site, the sobering reality is that most of them still won’t do what you want them to.
The stats show that you should expect over 90% of people to leave your site without converting, 70% of people to abandon your shopping cart without purchasing, and 2-3 visits before someone crosses the line. You need to have a remarketing strategy in place to start turning these stats around and getting visitors back to convert.
Remarketing works after a cookie is placed into the browser of website users and it gives you the ability to show different ads to people depending on the actions they have (or often more importantly, have not) performed when on your site. It’s powerful – Google data tells us that people on one of your remarketing list are twice as likely to convert as a regular visitor.
To make the most of this, think about what you’d say differently to someone who purchased your most expensive product, versus someone who purchased your cheapest. For the former you may use ads to invite them into a VIP club or ask them to refer a friend, whereas the latter you may just try to upsell.
What about someone who abandons the shopping cart? Could you entice them back with a discount? In this situation you could even layer up your targeting with in-market audiences – when someone who previously visited but didn’t buy from you now shows signs that they are close to purchasing, it is time to bring out your strongest offer.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)
When remarketing was first launched in AdWords, it was available across the Google Display Network, but the search side of things was left out. However, a few years ago we saw the launch of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs), which allows advertisers to also remarket on the search network.
This opens up huge new options for advertisers, as you can display different ad copy and choose different bids and landing pages for your Google search ads if the people searching are on your remarketing lists.
A good example of how game-changing this can be is in the retail sector. If I have a shop that sells gifts online and want more purchases at Christmas, then traditionally I would have had to be very careful with the keywords I bid on, making sure I only cover searches specific to my products.
Broad keywords like “presents” and “gifts for men” ordinarily would not be profitable and would just burn through my budget. RLSAs let me target those keywords, only showing to people who had purchased gifts from me last Christmas.
As I know they are far more likely to convert, I can afford to out-bid the other advertisers and can write ad copy that rewards repeat custom. You can think in a completely different way and have the freedom to almost abandon traditional PPC rules when someone is on your remarketing lists.
If you have a database of customers and prospects that you want to advertise to, perhaps to get them to repeat purchase, or to get them to actually purchase for the first time, then you can use Customer Match to speak to these audiences.
Your email lists can be uploaded into AdWords and you can then approach these people in a similar way to how you’d remarket them. When they are logged in to Google you can show them unique adverts and use different bids across Search, Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail advertising.
The big win here is that it works cross-device, as people tend to be signed in to their Google accounts on phones, tablets and desktops. This is where remarketing often fails, due to the cookie being device- (and even browser-) specific.
This can be powerful for cross-selling (e.g. if someone bought a flight with you, use this to sell them car hire) and it is great for informing existing customers of new releases and any special limited-edition runs.
It is also quite a safe environment to test out new sales offers, as you already have a relationship of some kind with these people so can judge how well things are received here before rolling them out to unknown audiences.
Remember that for remarketing to work really well, you need to be as granular as possible, meaning that by their very nature, the lists often aren’t huge. But if your remarking lists are performing strongly and you’d love the chance to have more traffic just like them, what can you do? This is where something called Similar Audiences comes into play.
If you have used lookalike targeting on Facebook or the prospecting tools within many of the programmatic platforms then this will be familiar. It’s where you ask Google to look at the audiences within your remarketing lists and go find more people just like them.
Available on both the search and display networks, this is a simple way to find new, prequalified users and often returns additional audiences around 5 times the size of your remarketing ones. It automatically updates, so when someone clicks on an ad and joins your site, they become a remarketing list member and are removed from the similar audience list.
Google data shows that brands typically experience a 41% uplift in conversions here. In our work for clients in retail and finance in particular, we’ve seen this go even higher.
Start your audience strategy
If you are keen to try out these features but don’t know where to start, take a look in your Analytics data.
Begin to identify the types of people coming to your site and those that convert. Where are they located? What devices are they using? What times are conversions highest during the day or week?
Bring those themes into your search and display targeting and use the tools within AdWords to find out where these people hang out online, what topics they are passionate about. Additionally, start thinking about how you’d show them different offers once they’ve already been to your site. You’ll be glad you did.
We’ve all heard of growth marketing.
But what does growth marketing actually mean?
At the risk of over-simplifying, growth marketing is essentially the path to attracting the right visitors to your business. Not just the low-hanging-fruit, top-of-funnel visitors, but those who are “sticky” and likely to lead to a conversion or sale.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the unsung hero — and the secret weapon — for today’s growth marketing leaders.
In addition to achieving a successful consumer decision journey across multiple channels and devices, search delivers bottom-line results and ensures on-track results for the long-term.
Here are six best practices for a winning SEM strategy.
1. Deliver Value Across the Decision Journey
As the behavior of your fragmented customers evolves, your growth marketing plan should as well.
Who are the customers behind all those clicks?
New research from Bing Ads allows us to better understand the five distinct stages all customers share:
- Initiation: Getting background information and buying landscape to become a more informed researcher.
- Research: Exploring buying guides, recommendations, and products that meet basic criteria.
- Compare: Comparing a handful of products that meet the customer’s criteria, including ratings, reviews, features, and cost.
- Transaction: Finding where to buy, then seeing pricing and promotions, availability, and local stores.
- Experience: Getting customer service, asking maintenance questions, and making additional purchases.
2. Align Your Campaign & Business Goals
Search can impact, and help you measure, your business goals.
Be sure to align your SEM strategy with your campaign objectives:
- Brand awareness and perception: Bid competitively on your non-brand, brand, and competitors’ keywords. Non-brand searches are the key to starting a journey: 72 percent of brand ad clicks had a non-brand or conquest term in the user journey preceding the brand click. Searchers were 30 percent likelier to conduct a branded search after being exposed to a brand ad on a generic search query or a competitor’s branded query.
- Win new customers: Consumers rely on search to inform purchase decisions. SEM can help with every stage of the decision process. At the start of their journey, 49 percent of consumers use a search engine to find the products they want.
- Drive sales: Search’s strength is driving conversions. It outperforms other marketing channels across devices in conversion rates.
- Enter new markets: The ubiquity of search allows you to activate a cross-border marketing strategy that drives foot traffic with Location Extensions, get more phone calls with Call Extensions, and increase ad clicks with Sitelink Extensions.
3. Expand Your Marketing Funnel
As our constant companion, search is no longer just a product — it’s a behavior.
We turn to search at all times and in all places, whether on our desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.
Understanding how people search at different points on their purchase journeys opens the door to engage your brand with this new audience.
Having become an engine of insights, search now delivers influence throughout the five buying stages (initiation, research, compare, transaction, and experience).
SEM also reinforces your conversion funnel and unifies disparate marketing activities.
4. Take Audience Targeting to the Next Level
Right-time, right-place engagement alone is no longer enough to compel potential customers.
You need to reach as many unique searchers as possible utilizing audience targeting.
Step 1: Build richer buyer personas that consider these factors:
- Behavioral: Past behaviors are useful for understanding consumers’ interests and their likelihood to purchase. To better measure user behavior, analyze activities across websites, searches, and content.
- Demographic: Buying preferences are influenced by elementary but important factors that include age, gender, and location.
- Contextual: Consumers often search in the moment. Analyzing where, when, and how they search can provide useful content for creating more impactful ad campaigns.
Step 2: Choose keywords that align with the key stages and mindsets of your target customers:
- Initiation: Keywords such as “What is” and “Benefits of” work best at this stage.
- Research: Keywords such as “Buying guide” and “Models” work best at this stage.
- Compare: Keywords such as “Reviews” and “Features” work best at this stage.
- Transaction: Keywords such as “Where” and “Coupon” work best at this stage.
- Experience: Keywords such as “Support” and “Experience” work best at this stage.
5. Lift Other Investments with Paid Search
Optimize your search efforts by combining organic search with a paid SEM strategy.
- Search and social: Customers who click your paid search and social ads are likelier to buy and spend more. Strengthen your keyword coverage to get more impressions, and tailor your bidding strategy for commercial-related PPC campaigns.
- Search and TV: Search volume spikes for days after a commercial airs. In a Bing Ads study of the biggest commercial event of the year, the Super Bowl, the increase in branded search volume followed a consistent pattern across industries.
- Search and display: Conversion rates increased by 52 percent while display and search were running simultaneously. Not only did conversion metrics increase, but campaign reach (impressions) increased by 45 percent as well.
- Search and other channels: When Bing Ads is alone in the purchase path, purchases have a 27 percent higher order average order value than purchases not including Bing Ads, which also generate value when paired with other channels.
6. Fight & Win the Battle for Paid Search Budget Share
SEM still competes with other channels for a share of your marketing budget.
So bring along hard data that connects the dots between search engine marketing and business benefits.
Your budget share battle plan involves three elements:
Pick the Right Metrics to Measure SEM Impact
Metrics provide an easy way to see what is and isn’t working.
Your team can test, change and optimize your brand’s SEM strategy for better results.
Focus your reporting by identifying and tracking key performance indicators that reflect your business goals:
- Acquiring new customers
- Driving foot traffic
- Getting more phone calls
- Increasing ad clicks
- Building your brand trust
- Expanding cross-border strategy
Separate SEM Impacts from Other Channels
Know which channels drive your marketing results.
Each sale is the culmination of a series of marketing touches that may involve several channels over the course of days or even weeks.
Attribution gets quite complex at times, so if you can prove campaigns with paid search deliver ROI and bottom-line results, you’ll unlock more budget and further optimize search performance.
Apply the Same Process to Allocate Budget Between AdWords & Bing Ads
This last piece falls into place when you analyze the paid click share and query that each SEM option represents within your industry.
You’ll not only get your business in front of a large audience, you’ll be confident that your paid ads will lead to clicks.
SEM is the backbone of today’s marketing mix.
With so many channels and more fragmented customer journeys, the real challenge is ensuring you engage audiences at the right time through the right device.
You no longer can afford to put all of your marketing dollars into one search ad network.
Follow the best practices outlined here to maximize the reach, impact, and value of your paid search campaigns with bottom-line results.
Then your fight for marketing resources will be far easier to win!
When it comes to selling online, pay per click (PPC) advertising provides one of the quickest solutions to drive sales online. Unlike SEO that can take months to see results, running a PPC campaign can generate results overnight.
One of the main platforms for this type of advertising is Google AdWords. AdWords will enable your website to be in front of potential customers looking for products like yours in real time.
However great, AdWords comes with its challenges. Campaigns have to be constantly reviewed and optimized to produce the best results. This can be time-consuming and overwhelming, but, using the right techniques, you can manage to save a lot of time and wasted budget.
After managing hundreds of AdWords campaigns, we have compiled a comprehensive mix of basic and advanced tips to help you take your eCommerce site to the next level. Discover how to apply them to your campaigns below!
1. Create a Google Shopping Campaign
Google Shopping campaigns, also called product listing ads (PLA), are AdWords campaigns designed for shopping. They allow advertisers to display product images, pricing, and even special offers in listings.
Also, they show up before search ads or organic listings, which gives them a prominent spot in search results. They particularly stand out on mobile, where they cover a great part of the screen.
PLA ads are key to get your products right in front of your customers and take up a bigger portion of the results page. The key is to combine search and shopping campaigns to occupy most of the listing space—see how Shopbob accomplished this below:
And, if you rank organically, even better! You can have three consecutive listings on the first page of Google.
Advanced Tip for Shopping Campaigns
You may already be running Shopping campaigns, but are you making the most of it? Use the advanced tip below!
Prioritize & Use Negative Keywords Wisely
By assigning campaign priorities, you can tell Google which campaign to choose first, if the same products are multiple campaigns, targeting the same area. The key is to give high priorities to best sellers, finely narrowed campaigns, and new arrivals, which can provide the biggest return on investment.
Let’s say I sell Levis jean shorts, which have been added to three different campaigns in my Shopping ads: campaign 1, 2, and 3. These three campaigns were set up to attract people with different levels of intent, so I could bid higher or lower accordingly. Campaign 1 is for super targeted searches, campaign 2 for medium targeted, and campaign 3 for more general searches.
Then, using negative keywords, I can exclude keywords to the desired level of intent I’m looking to target. For instance, for campaign 1, which is meant for high intent searches, I can use negative keywords like “shorts.”
In that way, I can prevent campaign 1 ads from showing for general searches. At the same time, I would give campaign 1 a high priority to show up first. This process would be done with the rest of the campaigns, to allow higher bid flexibility and increase ROI.
2. Adjust Bids Based on Location & Device Performance
If your campaigns have enough impressions and clicks, you’ll be able to tell after a couple of weeks which locations are performing the best. This data may be key in optimizing your campaigns to bid higher for locations that are generating the lowest cost per conversion. Alternatively, you can bid lower for lower performing locations.
All you have to do to find this data is visit the “Dimensions” and select “Geographic” view from the drop-down menu.
Then you can sort the results by conversions to see the locations with the highest conversions to determine your best performers. To find your low performers, sort the view to show locations with the highest clicks and impressions.
After that, see if there are any high clicks that don’t match with conversion quantities. For instance, if you get 200 clicks from Florida, with no conversions, something may be off.
You can get more details by analyzing your search terms, but, for now, the best decision may be to lower the bid for Florida. Do this by applying a bid modifier to the specific location. Just go to the campaign, then click on Settings> Location, and click on the bid adj. column.
Similarly to how you used geographic dimensions to analyze location performance in the last point, you can also use device data to determine which device works best—desktop or mobile. You may be surprised to find out that one of them performs much better than the other.
For instance, if your mobile conversion rate is low, it may indicate that your mobile presence is not optimized. To find this data, go to settings, select Devices, and compare clicks vs. conversion rate.
3. Optimize Your Campaigns Based on Search Impression
If you’ve been running campaigns for a bit, and you’re getting results, you’re probably wondering how much more you can invest to get more conversions or how many conversions you may be losing due to performance. Search impression share and search impression lost are the metrics that can provide you an answer.
Search impression share is the impressions you’ve received divided by the number of impressions you were eligible for. This metric can help you identify how many more impressions your campaigns can get. To find out why you’re losing impressions, look at Search Lost IS (rank), and Search Lost IS (Budget). These two metrics show you the percentage of impressions being lost due to rank and budget, respectively.
So, if your Search Lost IS rank is high, you’ll need to increase your ranking by doing things like increasing your quality score. Alternatively, if your Search Lost IS budget percentage is high, you’ll need to increase your budget to avoid losing impressions.
To get these metrics, go to “customize your columns” by selecting “competitive metrics.”
4. Create a Dynamic Remarketing Campaign
Only a percentage of your website visitors will convert into customers upon visiting your store. Remarketing campaigns will allow you to target these previous visitors to encourage them to come back and make a purchase. Even if your previous visitor is already a customer, you can get him or her to come back for a repeat purchase—so it’s a win/win situation from any angle.
Even better than simple remarketing campaigns are Dynamic remarketing campaigns. They will take your retargeting to the next level by showing previous website visitors the exact products they were viewing before leaving your store. Start by creating a display-only campaign and selecting the “Buy on your Website” option.
Then, under “Additional Settings,” select “Use Dynamic Ads” and select “Retail” under business type.image: https://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Retail-900×392.png
Once that’s set up, you’ll have to submit your product feed and install the remarketing tag on your site.
5. Bid on Competitor Keywords
Do you have an eCommerce store that’s an authority in your niche? You can leverage its reputation by targeting related keywords in your ads. For instance, if you notice that people are searching for Levi’s jeans, and you’re a new jeans store, you can target “levis jeans” in your campaigns to bring awareness of your brand.
Is this legal? Yes, but you have to be very careful not to violate Google’s Trademark policies. They basically state that you cannot use the trademark in your ad or confuse the user to think it is your brand. However, you can include an appealing value proposition to encourage users to click on your ad instead of clicking your competitor’s ads.
Hopefully, with these 5 tips, you can take your eCommerce store to new heights. Either you can start implementing these with new campaigns that you build, or you can check your previous campaigns to make sure they are following these tips.
I have a confession to make.
The odds of my instantly deleting one of the many marketing emails I receive each day are about as good as Tom Brady and the Patriots making the playoffs — meaning it’s pretty likely to happen.
Unfortunately for all you email marketers out there, I’m not alone. According to email marketing service MailChimp, the average email open rate across industries is below 25 percent,with a click rate of 2 to 3 percent. That means that, on average, you’d need to send 100 emails to get two or three people to take any action. All that time and energy spent crafting the perfect email marketing campaign will be wasted if you don’t create a complementary strategy to get more sales from your hard-earned email list.
The good news is that you can use Google AdWords as your complementary strategy by simply leveraging the existing data you have on your email subscribers. Let’s dive into the best ways to make that happen.
Learn the ins and outs of Customer Match in AdWords
Customer Match in AdWords might be the greatest secret weapon for email marketers that Google has to offer. It allows you to target or exclude your existing customers on Google Search, Display and YouTube by simply uploading your customer email list to AdWords. Think of it as another way to nurture your sales leads besides sending them more emails.
The best thing about Customer Match is that it’s not that difficult to get up and running. Here’s what you need to do to get started:
- Click on the “Wrench” icon in the top right corner of your AdWords Dashboard.
- Click on “Audience Manager” under the Shared Library section.
- Click on “Audience Lists” from the Page Menu on the left.
- Click on the blue “+” button to create a new audience list.
- Select “Customer List.”
- Choose the option to upload a plain text data file or a hashed data file.
- Choose your new file.
- Check the box that says “This data was collected and is being shared with Google in compliance with Google’s policies.”
- Set a membership duration (this should be determined by the types of customers that make up the list).
- Click “Upload and Create List.”
Please note that these instructions are for the “new” version of the AdWords dashboard. If you’re interested in Customer Match but are still using the “old” version of the AdWords dashboard, see here for more instructions.
Segment your email list
Now that you have a better understanding of Customer Match, let’s take a look at how you might want to slice and dice your email list to more effectively target your sales leads on AdWords.
Take a look at the following email audience segments we use at AdHawk (my company) for a moment:
- New and engaged email subscribers who have not become customers.
- Email subscribers who have not opened an email recently.
- Email subscribers who are existing customers and would be a good fit for an upgraded product or service.
Each of these email audience segments has an entirely different relationship with our business and needs to be messaged to differently. If you have a similar breakdown of your marketing emails, you can repurpose your email list segmentation for your AdWords campaigns via Customer Match. This will allow you to tailor the messaging of your ads for each segment, and as a result, help to nudge your sales leads farther down your funnel.
Create a different AdWords strategy for each segment of your email list
Once you have your email audience segments in place, it’s time to develop a unique AdWords strategy for each segment.
I’m going to use the three email audience segments noted above as examples. Your approach might be different, and that’s okay. Just make sure you’re not using general ads for every email audience segment you have on your list.
Converting new and engaged email subscribers
When a new lead signs up to learn more about AdHawk, our team goes into “educate” mode. The goal is to get them to see the value of our product and services as quickly as possible so we can move them down the funnel.
Our “Welcome” email flow takes the first steps in educating our leads, and it performs pretty well compared to the industry average. But our secret weapon emerges when we take a list of our “new” sales leads and turn it into a Customer Match campaign in AdWords.
Here’s what a typical flow for this segment looks at AdHawk:
- Step 1: Potential customer signs up to learn more about AdHawk.
- Step 2: After signing up, the potential customer receives the first email in the “Welcome” email flow, with a call to action to book a time with our sales team.
- Step 3: A Customer Match segment is created for all “new” prospective customers that didn’t take action on the first email in the “Welcome” email flow.
By using a Customer Match segment for all new and engaged AdHawk sales leads, we’re able to bid up on more generic keywords that would be too risky to bid up on for a general search campaign. We’re also able to create Gmail Ads with a similar look and feel to our “Welcome” emails series that prompt a strong customer recall.
Converting unengaged email subscribers
Converting unengaged email subscribers can be a huge pain in the butt. They’ve stopped engaging with your emails, so the worst thing you could do is continue to bash them over the head with more emails.
Here’s the flow we use to re-engage leads that have left us hanging:
- Step 1: Potential customer signs up to learn more about AdHawk but does not engage with our emails for 30 days.
- Step 2: A Customer Match segment is created for all “unengaged” prospective customers.
- Step 3: A Remarketing campaign is created to target prospective customers that have not converted after 30 days.
- Step 4: We tailor the Customer Match and Remarketing ads to promote a special offer.
This group is the least likely to convert, so any new business scraped up is a huge win! It’s important to educate these stale leads on what we do and remind them why they signed up in the first place.
Upselling existing customers to a new product or service
Most marketers are so intent on attracting new business that they often forget that there is a wealth of opportunity under their noses. Don’t sleep on marketing to those that have bought something from you in the past! We use our existing customer segment to promote new features or products we feel they will be a good fit for.
Here’s the flow we use to target existing customers:
- Step 1: A Customer Match segment is created for our “Existing Customers.”
- Step 2: We further segment this list by renewal date to ensure that customers see our ads when their contract is up.
- Step 3: Tailor the ads to promote additional services we offer that our customers are not leveraging.
We’ve structured our flow this way because our product runs on a subscription basis. If you’re selling physical goods that can be repurchased often, break down your segment by the products your customers have shown the most interest in. That way, you can tailor your ads to the specific products you believe would resonate most with them.
Are you leveraging AdWords as part of your email marketing strategy? If you are, I’d love to learn more about what strategies you have used that have been successful.
Initiating a new Google AdWords campaign is exciting, whether you’re running a small campaign or a large one. To run a successful campaign, follow these seven steps.
Businesses are extremely effective when it comes to driving qualified and relevant traffic to your website – especially when people type in specific keywords related to your business.
What are Google ads?
Google offers businesses the opportunity to advertise on their search pages. This is Google’s exclusive advertising platform where advertisers bid on specific keywords in order for their ads to appear in the search results when people type them in.
Since advertisers pay for these clicks, Google makes money from these campaigns – known as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Depending on the relevancy of the keywords to conversions for your business (and the competitiveness of the keywords), this type of campaign may need to be tweaked to suit your specific needs, ensuring that you don’t spend money on the wrong content and keywords.
How do Google ads appear?
Google ads typically appear once an auction is completely focused on specific keywords. How do Google ads appear?
- Advertisers choose a list of words and phrases relevant to their business based on the terms people are most likely to use when searching for related products and services.
- Advertisers then bid on these keywords covering how much they are willing to pay for users to click on their ads.
- Google combines a quality score along with the bid to determine which ads appear on the search engine.
- Once the user clicks on your ad, you will need to pay a specific cost based on Google’s cost per click for that particular ad.
AdWords typically work on an auction system. This system takes place during every keyword search undertaken by users.
What affects a quality score on Google?
In order to win AdWords on Google and have your ad appear in relation to specific keywords, you’ll need to ensure that your quality score is high. A higher score and good bid amount will put you in a better position to get your ad placed on a Google SERP. The following factors make a difference to your quality score:
- Relevance of the search query to your Google ad and ad group
- Relevance of your ad to your landing page
- Historical data covering the click-through rate for the ad and ad group
- Historical account performance
What are the benefits of a higher quality score on Google?
Apart from getting your ad placed for certain keywords, there are additional benefits for your business if you have a higher quality score, such as:
- Lower costs. Google tends to reward advertisers who have high quality scores in the form of lower costs per click, which ultimately helps enhance their return on investment.
- Greater exposure. With higher quality scores, you will notice your ads displaying more often in the search engine and in more prominent positions than others, which enables you to get more conversions and clicks without having to change your bid.
Businesses looking to build successful ad campaigns on Google should always try to get a higher quality score for their long-term benefits.
How to make your Google Ad campaign successful
Certain actions will help make your Google ad campaign more successful, so make sure you follow them in your quest to build the online reputation of your business.
Keep track of customer demand
One of the key ingredients of a successful Google ad campaign is customer demand. If people aren’t searching for relevant products and services, then your efforts in Google are hardly going to work. Before starting any online campaign, check the following:
- Ensure adequate search volume to target the market you’re going after
- Research what consumers are looking for and tailor your ad solutions accordingly
- Create products and services that are in demand.
Once you’re able to keep track of customer demand, you’ll be in a better position to deliver a successful Google ad campaign.
Always have a clear goal in mind
Any SEM campaign must have a goal and the desired outcome in mind in order to be successful. You will likely run an AdWords campaign in your quest to grow sales or win followers for your business, in addition to creating more brand awareness. Consider the following:
- What is the outcome you’re looking to achieve from your ad campaign?
- Who are you looking to target?
- What kind of keywords are being searched for that may be relevant to your business?
- How can you make your ad relevant to the keywords typed into the search engine?
- What action do you want to drive for readers?
You must always be aware of the specific call to action you are trying to get your targets to perform so that you can create a clear ad campaign that directly reflects your goals. Never go live with any campaign until you’ve identified your goals clearly and know what you need to measure results.
Write for your target customer
Any ad you write must be relevant to your specific target audience, so your tone, language and call to action must be adjusted accordingly. What do your ads need to do for your target?
- Attract attention with the right tone and context
- Raise customer interest
- Convince customers to perform your desired call to action
- Lead customers into taking that action
When you write ads that resonate with your target audience, your ad campaign will have stronger results.
Be clear with your keyword targeting
When you implement an ad campaign, you should have all types of keyword targeting included in your overall strategy for the best results. Your keyword targeting strategy should include:
- Broad match. Google shows your ad when a similar phrase or keyword is used but has a higher chance of irrelevant traffic being driven to your website. You should ideally bid lowest for broad match keywords.
- Phrase match. Google displays your ad when a user types in the specific phrase your ad is optimized for, giving you more control over who sees your ad. Bid a higher amount than broad match keywords.
- Exact match. Google will only display your ad when the user types in the exact keyword or keyword phrase, which is why this gives you the most control over who sees your ad and has the least bounce rate. If possible, bid the highest for exact match keywords.
Keep your ad groups separate according to keyword type in order to ensure the campaign remains well organized.
Create a strong selling proposition
Having a clear and unique selling proposition is key when you’re looking to cut through the clutter and come up on top with your Google AdWords campaign. Customers should be well aware of why they are choosing you over your competition, which is why you need to have a strong unique selling proposition. Here are some benefits to creating a strong selling proposition:
- A strong USP generates more traffic while keeping away unwanted leads – ensuring more quality leads to your website.
- It boosts conversion rates.
- It can reduce the time customers spend on price comparisons, especially if you’re offering something unique.
The best way to create a strong USP is to understand your customers more intimately, so you solve problems and give them what want. When you pay attention to their shopping behavior and patterns, you’re in a better position to create something that adds value to their needs.
Optimize your Google AdWords campaign
You can never create the perfect AdWords campaign from the start. So you will need to optimize it midway to ensure that you’re getting the best results. Consider the following:
- Keyword bids. From the time you start generating clicks to your website, you should consider optimizing your keyword bids. You can raise the bid for keywords bringing in good sales. If the keywords are not generating the results you want, lower the bids or switch to other keywords.
- Landing page conversion rates. Landing pages should always offer what is being promised in the ad or else you run the risk of the customer bouncing off. Landing pages that stick to the ad content usually result in higher conversion rates and greater profit for the brand.
- Click-through rates. Any quality score for a website is determined directly by the click-through rate of a particular Google ad. Test different campaigns simultaneously, if possible, to see which ones get you the most number of clicks.
Once you’re able to optimize your Google AdWords campaign, you’ll start to see greater traction for your desired call to action – which, in turn, is beneficial for your business in the long haul.
Be aware of what your competition is up to
Knowledge of what your competition is up to will help you make more informed decisions about your specific Google Adwords campaign. Here’s what you need to know:
- Use keywords your direct competition is optimizing for
- Create call to actions that generate the best results from your target audience
- Thoroughly examine the look and feel of landing pages
Once you have knowledge of these factors, you can optimize your Adwords campaign effectively to ensure that it is structured and well organized.
Effective Google Adwords campaigns can help you boost the profitability of your business, but you must build them around powerful concepts in order to be successful. Consider working with online marketing experts who can help you take your business to the next level.
Discover some of the best practices on B2B PPC campaigns that you can use today, including attribution models, ad types, video, and more.
If you work in digital marketing, you might not normally think of B2B PPC (that is, pay-per-click for business-to-business campaigns).
Most digital marketers think of PPC as a B2C (business-to-consumer) discipline for either direct sales (retail, such as apparel or electronics) or for lead generation (identifying and matching potential customers for services, such as consultations for financial services or finding a new healthcare provider).
Your job as a PPC marketer in the consumer space is as you’d expect. You run paid search ads for your product or service that nudge searchers to your landing page and hopefully get them to convert. And as a B2C PPC marketer, you have a relatively short sales cycle.
Why the B2B PPC Conversion Funnel Is Different Than B2C
There are different rules of engagement for marketing toward a business audience than toward consumer audiences.
Let’s go over some of the bigger points of differentiation.
Multiple Decision Makers
While a consumer shopping for a new winter coat probably doesn’t have a lengthy approval process, multiple stakeholders, and a legal department to vet contracts with, your business customers do.
Longer Sales Cycle
One of the immediate effects of having multiple decision-makers in the sales process is a longer sales cycle.
A while back, Salesforce found that the average B2B sales cycle is 84 days long(though they vary wildly, and may be significantly longer for your company).
The longer sales cycle means business customers may take weeks or months to eventually choose to sign up for your subscription service or enterprise-scale product.
Need for Multiple Messaging Points Across the Funnel
Because there are multiple stakeholders involved in B2B purchasing decisions and because the sales cycle tends to be longer overall, it’s far more important to have relevant messages for the appropriate audience at different funnel stages.
Searchers in exploratory mode will respond better to upper-funnel messaging without a strong push to sell. On the other hand, searchers who are deeper in the funnel – reading reviews, comparing costs and individual service or product features – may instead be better served by a stronger call to action that drives them to convert.
The Beginning of the B2B PPC Funnel
The B2B PPC funnel starts out in a different manner than a consumer funnel. You can’t exactly hand out free samples of your enterprise-scale software on a tray at your local shopping mall.
Instead, you’ll likely introduce them to your funnel with a visit to your company’s online presence – if not your main homepage, then most likely a specific landing page on which you’re featuring a virtual offer, such as a webinar, eBook, infographic or another asset.
To procure that asset, visitors will need to sign themselves up for your funnel by filling out a lead capture form.
Once these visitors have become part of your funnel audience, your next task is targeting them properly by way of AdWords Audiences.
Presumably, you’ll also have your own specific qualifiers for types of leads for different stages.
At this point, you’re most likely using a CRM solution (if you have one) to score and qualify leads, after which, these audiences should be moved to deeper-funnel audiences for your PPC ads. Meaning, you don’t want to be showing top-funnel ads to these deeper-funnel leads, but rather, more-appropriate messaging to this warmer audience that will nudge them to the bottom of the funnel.
B2B PPC Tactics: Keywords, Attribution & Ad Types
Now that we’ve given an overview of B2B PPC and how to get prospects into the top of your funnel, let’s go into some actionable tactics you can start using immediately to nudge them through your sales cycle and get them to closed-won status.
1. Branded-Keyword Campaigns
It might not be obvious, but branded keywords are important for mid-funnel prospects in B2B PPC.
Specifically, once prospective customers become aware of you, unless they’re already breaking down your door to buy, they’re likely performing pre-purchase research.
They’re comparing features and price points between you and your competitors, and potentially performing searches either for your brand plus nonbrand terms (“ABC Software Inc. enterprise security”), comparison searches (“What’s the difference between ABC Software Inc. and XYZ Software Inc.”), or simply running repeated brand searches with your name as they go through the steps of their own due diligence.
2. AdWords Attribution
If you ask Google, the only attribution you need is data-driven attribution, which uses the publisher’s machine learning algorithms to precisely calculate and assign partial “credit” to different touchpoints in your funnel.
While the publisher will tell you that this black box algorithm is the only way to go, it should be noted that there are rather high volume requirements – 15,000 clicks and 600 conversions in the past 30 days (and subsequently, 10,000 clicks and 400 conversions per month).
For those businesses that don’t necessarily meet this threshold, alternatives such as time-decay attribution and position-based (U-shaped) may make more sense.
Position-based attribution assigns 40 percent of the “credit” for a conversion to the top of the funnel and 40 percent to the bottom, with the remaining 20 percent going to mid-funnel. This heavily weights top-funnel and bottom-funnel interactions and may make sense for businesses that strongly emphasize initial leads and closed deals only, such as commercial real estate, in which finding qualified buyers and sellers can be almost as important as closing on a property.
The time decay attribution model assigns “credit” to various touchpoints throughout the conversion journey, weighting the most recent more heavily and the older touchpoints less so.
This attribution model may make sense for highly competitive B2B spaces in which initial leads are less emphasized and closed-won deals are of paramount importance.
This attribution model may also be useful for testing purposes when comparing conversion journeys – if Conversion Journey A, which has a certain set of touchpoints and marketing content, consistently drives closed-won deals three months faster than Conversion Journey B, it may be time to more strongly emphasize the touchpoints in Conversion Journey A and do some retooling (or retiring) of the touchpoints in Conversion Journey B.
3. Remarketing & Retargeting – RLSA & GDN
Once your prospects have entered your conversion funnel, it becomes more important to serve them messaging and landing pages that are relevant to their specific needs and mindset in the current stage of their conversion journey.
In other words, it’s important to avoid inundating these prospects with top-funnel messages that no longer apply to them.
If you continue to serve these prospects ads to sign up the webinar they already watched two weeks ago, you won’t only annoy and confuse them, but you’ll also miss out on the opportunity to target them with a more-relevant, mid-funnel message.
This is what Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is for – these search ads help you provide varied messaging for these mid-funnel prospects.
The same can be said for targeting via Google Display Network (GDN). Remarketing via GDN should offer varied but targeted ad experiences that tie together your lower-funnel website offers, such as customer success stories, budget calculators, free audits/assessments and similar.
It may also be useful to experiment with the new Display Responsive Ad feature, which pairs a text ad with a Facebook-size image and seems to work well for mid-funnel display campaigns.
4. YouTube Video Ads & Bumpers
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is… well, it’s a lot easier to digest than yet another 5,000-word white paper.
Keep in mind that video ads, at present, aren’t necessarily the strongest channel to drive final conversions – you should go in with appropriate expectations here.
That said, due to the way certain video types are counted, YouTube videos may help you drive a great deal of awareness and keep your brand top-of-mind for mid-funnel prospects in a cost-effective way.
YouTube video ads most commonly take the form of a skippable pre-roll that loads before a standard video. Fortunately for you, if viewers don’t get to the 30-second mark in your pre-roll ad, YouTube classifies that interaction as an impression rather than a paid view, and such impressions are served free of charge.
Because you can serve an unlimited number of impressions for free so long as viewers don’t make it past 30 seconds, YouTube video ads potentially offer a very cost-effective branding opportunity.
Then again, given that video watchers are more impatient than ever, we don’t recommend videos that go much further than 30 seconds in length. In fact, YouTube’s 6-second bumper videos can also provide quick reminders of your brand and your products and services to mid-funnel prospects without being overly obtrusive.
These tips should hopefully help point you in the right direction for B2B PPC.
As mentioned, B2B PPC is a different beast with different properties and in many cases, significantly longer conversion/sales cycles.
Due to these relatively longer sales cycles, along with having more stakeholders involved and more proof points required, I recommend taking a holistic view of your B2B firm’s entire conversion journey, preferably collating all relevant data for every touchpoint to help you craft the best campaigns and drive more final conversions and sales.