Why We Love Google Discovery Ads: Cheap CPCs and High Quality Traffic

Google Ads has a plethora of strengths when compared to other advertising platforms. The ability to target users as they are searching for specific keywords with Search campaigns is the most obvious and, oftentimes, most effective. Expansive audience creation tools and a massive display network on Google helps brands stay top of mind across millions of websites. And YouTube continues to accelerate its growth and become an ever more attractive option for advertisers who want to tell stories with motion and sound, and reach audiences on one of the world’s biggest platforms. But for all of these strengths, Google Ads has historically lacked a truly visually appealing, ‘social media-like’ option for its advertisers, falling short in its quest to compete with other advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads. That is, until Google Discovery Ads arrived.

What are Discovery Ads?

Made available worldwide in May 2020 but a few months earlier in the US, Discovery Ads are a new campaign type and ad placement option within Google Ads that enables advertisers to place image ads on some of the top placements online, including Gmail, Google’s Discover Feed, and, perhaps best of all, the YouTube Mobile Homepage. 

Taking aim at social media advertising platforms, Discovery Ads consist of large image assets, headlines, and short description text that take users to a destination URL, or can open into a lead form similar to Facebook Lead Ads. Additionally, Discovery Ads also feature a carousel ad type options.  

Unlike the Google Display Network’s clunky, invasive, and oftentimes easily ignored, Discovery Ads give advertisers the ability to tell stories with visually engaging assets and better image placements. 

Is it clear that Google is aiming for social media advertisers?

Benefits of Discovery Ads

In our testing (more on this below), Discovery Ads have been proven to be a cost-effective branding solution on an advertising platform that has historically lacked good branding options (unless you have stellar video creative). 

All three of the placements available in Discovery Ads have one thing in common – they are owned by Google. This means that there are advanced audience creation and targeting options available, including Custom Intent audiences created using recent searches on Google, that are not available in other campaign types.

While it’s still possible to create custom audiences for other campaign types like Display, only campaign types with placements entirely on Google-owned properties, such as Discovery and YouTube campaigns, have the availability to create Custom Intent audiences that are built using the exact search terms recently searched on Google. On other campaign types, the search terms used to build the custom audience will be referenced as interests or purchase intentions, instead of the actual search term. 

For this reason alone, Discovery Ads have a massive benefit over traditional display ads on Google, particularly when it comes to prospecting. Instead of visually prospecting by targeting affinity groups, interests, and website placements, we can create our own very targeted custom audiences that we know have been recently searching for our targeted terms on Google. 

In addition to these awesome audience targeting options, Discovery Ads give advertisers without video assets the opportunity to advertise on YouTube – one of the most sought after placements in online advertising. More specifically, as mentioned above, Discovery Ads offer placements on the YouTube Mobile homepage, an ideal spot for reaching your ideal audience for branding or retargeting campaigns.

How we use Discovery Ads at Tuff

At Tuff, we’ve been testing Discovery Ads throughout 2020 for a variety of our partners and have implemented these campaigns at both the prospecting and retargeting level. Below is one example of recent PPC strategies that Discovery campaigns have featured largely in. You can find another example in our article about YouTube Advertising in 2020.

Using Custom Search Term Audiences To Reach New Users

In early September, we had the opportunity to help online vintage watch auction startup, Dial + Bezel, officially launch their website and brand. With the launch of the website came the launch of all of the marketing strategies.

As a brand new company without any revenue, we knew we had to be cost conscious when it came to targeting and acquiring high quality traffic to the site. 

Initial search campaign tests showed high CPCs over $3.25, and although bounce rate and pages/session for these new users wasn’t bad, the traffic simply did not have the conversion rates we needed to justify the CPC. 

With these early results in mind, we went back to the drawing board and posited that leveraging Custom Audiences created by search terms that we knew our target audience would be searching would be an effective way of reaching more of our target audience for a lot less. This proved to be the case.

To start, we performed extensive keyword research with SEMrush to identify more search terms that we could leverage to build our Custom Audiences. We were able to identify three key ‘themes’ of high volume search terms that we segmented to create three Custom Audiences. 

Early results were very positive and we saw on-site performance that was on par with, or better than, the search campaigns we had previously run. Even better – the CPC of the Discovery campaign was less than 10% of the Search campaign, meaning we can get 10x the traffic for the same cost AND the traffic converted. 

What You Can Expect from Discovery Ads

In short, if done properly, you can expect to receive cheap CPCs and high quality traffic.

Since we have begun running Discovery campaigns at Tuff for a variety of partners and industries this year, we have seen a very healthy $0.27 average CPC vs. $0.61 average CPC for Display ads. When compared to Search ads, the discrepancy is even larger. 

However, although CPCs are cheap (for now), we have also seen traffic that performs better than the other image options currently available on Google Ads. For example, when split-testing the same retargeting audiences with Display and Discovery campaigns for our partner, QuietKat, over the past three months, Discovery campaigns have continued to outperform Display in all key on-site metrics such as transaction rate, bounce rate, pages/session, time on site, and more. 

Conclusion

Many of Tuff’s partners are successfully advertising with Discovery Ads in 2020. Ready to give Discovery ads a go with our PPC team?

team working on google ads

How Much Do Google Ads Cost?

team working on google ads

Whether you work in eCommerce or simply market your business online, you’ve likely heard of cost-per-click (CPC) advertising. CPC advertising generally occurs within first-tier search engines like Google. If a viewer clicks on a Google ad, it redirects them to the advertiser’s website. Each time this happens, the advertiser pays the publisher some amount of money. The relevant question here, of course, is how much do Google Ads cost?

With CPC advertising, advertisers will typically place bids on keyword phrases relevant to their target audience. When a potential customer searches for this keyword phrase, search results will display the advertisement. Among the first-tier search engines that offer CPC advertising, Google reigns supreme. This makes sense, as the search giant controls nearly 90% of its market share and has around four billion users.

This degree of market reach is both astounding and unequaled across other online advertising venues like Facebook or Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Advertising). Google Ads’ dominance is such that, for many small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs), it represents the only online forum in which they advertise. In fact, of the 65 percent of SMBs that invest in CPC advertising, the vast majority utilize Google Ads. Since it can make up a majority of your online advertising, how much Google Ads cost becomes an important consideration.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. You may read online that Google Ads average between $1 and $2 per click. For SMBs, this can come out to $9,000 to $10,000 a month. That’s not chump change for anyone, much less a small business. 

If you wonder why so many businesses fork over that kind of cash, consider this: Google Ads offers an average return of $8 to every $1 spent on advertising. That’s a lot of “averages,” however, and it doesn’t tell the whole story. To learn the truth of Google Ads’ cost, and how this investment works, requires a little more digging.

Google Ads’ Cost Across Campaigns

As stated above, how much Google Ads cost depends on your targeted keywords. If you want to target a keyword like “insurance,” for example, get ready to lay out some cash. As the most expensive keyword, “insurance” has cost as much as $54.91 per click. Keyword bidding aside, the type of campaign you choose determines the way in which your charges accrue. 

Your Google ads cost will accrue differently based on which of the six types of campaigns you pursue. These campaigns include search ads, display ads, discovery ads, Gmail ads, shopping ads, and YouTube ads. The type of cost associated with each appears in the table below.

 

Campaign TypeCost Options
SearchCPC
DisplayCPC, Viewable CPM (cost per mille or cost per 1,000 viewable impressions)
DiscoveryCPC
GmailCPC (charged for clicks to open the email message. Clicks from opened message to website are not charged)
ShoppingCPC
YouTubeCPV for video discovery ads and instream ads, CPM for bumper ads and instream ads

 

Google Search Ads

The most basic of Google Ads, search ads display within Google search results. If you perform a search, you will typically see at the top of the page sponsored links marked as ads. Search ads are CPC and have the benefit of display in the same spot searchers look for information. The shared format of these ads and standard search results helps ensure users see them. The familiar look also encourages more clicks.

Google Display Ads

Google has a network across various industries that appeal to a wide range of audiences. These websites have opted into Google Ads to display advertising across the Google Display Network. Website owners receive payment per click or impression. 

For advertisers, Google display ads put content directly in front of audiences while they visit a website of interest. Display ads typically take the form of images that draw the eye away from a site’s written content. Display ads determine price through CPC or viewable cost per mille (CPM). CPM measures cost through viewable impressions. Viewable impressions occur simply as the ad appears, and do not require a click. For CPM advertising, Google Ads cost a set amount per 1,000 impressions.

Discovery Ads

CPC determines the cost of one of Google’s newest types of advertising, Discovery ads. These are native ads that appear across multiple Google feeds. Visually compelling and designed for mobile devices, these ads rely on the “power of intent.” This means that Google uses information derived from a customer’s site visits, video viewing, map searches, and more to determine the content of the advertising.

Highly targeted marketing like this has an obvious benefit in that it should automatically appeal to customers’ tastes. At the time of its launch, Google announced that Discovery ads would reach a global audience of 800 million users.

Gmail Ads

These interactive ads appear in the Social and/or Promotions tabs of a Gmail user’s inbox. If clicked, the ad can expand to contain videos, images, or embedded forms. They can also contain a traditional written ad, or direct the user to the advertiser’s website. Gmail Google Ads’ cost depends on CPC.

It’s important to note that, for the purposes of this expense, CPC occurs when the ad message is clicked and expanded. If the customer expands the message but neglects to do anything else, costs will still accrue.

Shopping Ads

These types of ads allow you to promote individual products or lines, rather than a brand as a whole. Like other types of Google Ads, these appear on search engine results when a customer searches for a product or service. 

For example, if you were to search for “running shoes,” you might see a detailed ad on the right side of your screen for Nikes. Shopping ads can include prices, photos, and customer ratings. As with other types of search ads, these Google Ads run a set CPC.

YouTube Ads

YouTube video ads open up a vast marketplace for advertisers engaged with Google Ads. In fact, YouTube represents the third-most visited website in the world, behind only Facebook and Google. There exist many types of YouTube ads, most of which appear either before or during viewable content. 

The cost of YouTube ads depends on which type of ad you run. Video discovery ads are cost-per-view (CPV), while bumper ads are CPM. Instream ads that run while the viewer engages with a video can be either CPV or CPM.

Google Ads’ Cost in Your Industry

You might assume that since you know the average CPC of Google Ads, along with the method for measuring cost, you’re ready to build a budget. In reality, this is not the case. As illustrated in the example of “insurance” mentioned above, Google Ads cost vastly more or less across different industries.

Below, you can see a table that compares the CPC of Google Ads across various industries. This chart contains some surprises. For example, keywords related to pharmaceuticals, a massive industry in the United States, come in near the bottom. Online education, on the other hand, which many people consider a niche market, ranks near the top.

It’s even common that Google Ads cost widely different amounts within the same industry. For example, in the fashion industry, “activewear” and other exercise-related terms appear near the top in terms of cost. In this case, you can tie the difference to societal factors. In the wake of Covid-19, personal fitness saw a boom, as it gave consumers an excuse to leave their homes for a walk or run. 

This provides an important lesson: when the time comes to estimate the cost of your Google Ad campaign, you’ll need to consider a wide array of factors.

How to Estimate the Cost of Your Google Ads Campaign

To better understand how much a campaign or specific keyword will cost, you can employ Google Ads’ Keyword Planner. It’s important to understand that Google Ads’ cost is determined through ad auctions. As the advertiser, you set the maximum CPC you will pay. This bid then gets compared to the bids of other advertisers who targeted the same keyword. The higher your bid, the better your ads’ placement in the campaign type of your choosing.

Before you start bidding on keywords, you will want to use the Keyword Planner tool to help outline your Google Ads cost. This tool allows you to search for specific keywords and see their historical cost, along with cost forecasts. Below, you can see sample search results for keyword planning for electric bike manufacturer and Tuff client, QuietKat

As you can see, one of the most expensive keywords, “specialized electric bike” is also the most general. At the opposite end of the spectrum, “extreme fat tire hunting electric bikes,” a highly specific term, comes in at around half the price.

Google’s Keyword Planner essentially reveals the industry benchmarks for your targeted keywords. Remember, if you want better placement in search results, you will need to bid higher than the benchmark provided in the average CPC. Keyword Planner also estimates the number of clicks and impressions your ad will receive on a daily basis. Between this and your CPC bid, you can easily derive an estimate for the cost of your campaign.

Once you define your targeted keywords and get an idea of their cost, you can create a daily or monthly budget for your Google Ads campaign. These budgets represent the maximum amount of money you will pay for a campaign across the chosen time period. This ability to control your ad spend makes advertising on Google a safe bet for your budget. Once you set your maximum bid and budget for Google Ads, you’ll suffer no surprises from unexpectedly high bills.

Quality Matters

Quality represents one final factor of Google Ads’ cost. In fact, the quality score ranks alongside your maximum bid as one of the most important factors that influence your AdRank, or the placement of your ads.

Google determines your quality score based on the relevance and quality of your advertising. More clicks on an ad will give you a higher overall Quality Score. Curious about how to raise this all-important score? 

There’s really no secret to it. If you create compelling ads with relevant keywords that deliver what the searcher expects, you’ll do just fine. The quality of your landing page will also affect your Quality Score, so make sure your website offers a compelling experience for its visitors. 

The Cost of Google Ads: It’s All Up to You

As you can see, many factors can influence Google Ads’ cost. Some of these come from clear-cut choices, such as the type of campaign you run and your maximum bid at an ad auction. Other things, such as industry competition, are outside of your control. 

Though you can’t control the cost of popular keywords, you can absolutely plan a campaign around creative phrases that precisely target your market. All it takes is a little research, some time on Keyword Planner, and a daily or monthly budget that reflects your means and goals. Put work into these, and you’ll start seeing those 8-to-1 returns before you know it.

Thalamus Case Study

From Qualified Traffic to Booked Demos: How We Helped Thalamus Increase Sales 3x

Thalamus Case Study
When it comes to driving demos, it’s rare that a business can rely exclusively on one channel to generate all their leads. A demo, unlike a website click or impression, is a commitment from a potential customer, and to get them to take that step, it’s a bit of an ask.

That’s why, more often than not, you’ve got to figure out the right mix of channels and touchpoints to get quality traffic to your site the first time, the second time, the third time, and then convert. It’s a funnel.

You’ve got to remind them, often and at the right times, about who you are and what makes your product valuable for them. Then, if done well, after a few site visits, they’ll agree to a demo. From there, your sales team can come in and close the deal and the rest is history.

When it comes to booking demos, there are steps. It’s a journey. You’ve got to match your marketing to this path and nurture them down the funnel.

In this post, we’re going to look at how we tackled this for Thalamus and grew their bookings consistently month over month with LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and Bing.

Meet Thalamus

Thalamus is the premier GME interview management platform that connects residency and fellowship applicants and programs. They are a small, 20 person team, based in Nashville and distributed throughout the US. We started working with them in March 2020 with the primary goal of testing out new paid channels to help increase bookings.

“Tuff is amazing. For about 11 years, I’ve always been involved with or owned some element of a brand’s marketing efforts. I’ve been given teams that already existed or tasked with finding the right partner. Tuff is honest the first time someone/s REALLY nailed it. I mean completely nailed it! They understood us quickly. They report in weekly and the reports make sense to me. :) They have awesome ideas and follow through. I feel completely at ease that they are in charge of that critical part of the our SaaS business. They truly know everything there is and give amazing advice, direction, and take action constantly on our behalf.” – Kristi Anderson, Head of Sales, Thalamus (View our reviews on Google and YouTube)

Before we get into the process and details of our partnership, here’s a look at the last couple of months from Google Analytics. This is a 150% increase YoY in booked demos.

Results from Google Analytics

Before we get into the details….it’s worth noting that the interview process, due to the state of the word, had to shift virtual overnight. Thalamus was in the best position to help them with the transition so natural demand was at an all-time high.

Now, let’s talk about the details!

Step 1: Select channels based on targeting and cost

Since Thalamus hadn’t experimented on any channels we knew we would need to start lean, test out each channel, kill anything that didn’t work quickly, and then scale up what worked.

In order to determine the channels and tactics we wanted to test first, we started with their target audience.

For Thalamus, it looks something like this:

Residency coordinators or program directors at academic medical centers and hospital systems throughout the US & Canada.

Using what we knew about the target audience, as well as our experience running campaigns on almost every major channel, we selected these three channels to start:

LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn advertising has behavior-based targeting and we knew we could get in front of people with very specific job titles. LinkedIn advertising, unlike the other channels, allows you to get very niche with professionals and industries. While expensive, testing here was a no brainer.

Facebook Ads
While we couldn’t target specific job descriptions on Facebook, we knew we could use this platform for cheap retargeting. We put a small percentage of the budget here to capture eyeball
Google

Google Ads
With Google, we wanted as many high-intent searches as possible. For Thalamus, there is a bit of seasonality so we needed to pull historical CPCs and impressions to get started. At first, we kept the keywords tight to ensure the traffic would stay healthy, and overtime we’re able to expand. We relied on a mix of competitor keywords, brand terms, and search terms to make this work.

Increase in search volume and search impressions

We are continuing to see an increase in Search volume and Search impressions

Bing Ads
We didn’t start out with Bing (I wish we had) but added it once we saw such good results on Google. We were able to duplicate our strategy, make small tweaks, and scale bookings with an added lift from Bing.

Bing advertising isn’t right for every industry or company but it’s less crowded (and cheaper in most cases) than Google. This helped us cover more ground and capture additional high-intent terms for Thalamus.

Step 2: Develop highly-target messaging with social proof

Now, we can’t really take credit for this but getting the copy and content right with ads, especially social ads, is really important. Our writer, Elle, dug into the target audience and helped pull out very specific trust-indicators and product features we know would stand out.

 

While Thalamus had never run paid campaigns, they’ve been the leader in the industry for years. We leaned hard on this experience to build as much trust with our cold audience as possible.

Step 3: Measure the results and get better

Once we aligned with Thalamus on their key objective from the paid campaigns – getting more demos booked from their website – we knew that everything we did from a measurement and optimization perspective needed to be shaped around this sole KPI.

Perhaps the most important aspect of setting yourself up for success is being able to accurately measure the results and trust the data you are receiving. Optimizing your website or campaigns based on inaccurate data may be just as bad, and in some cases even worse, than not attempting to optimize your performance at all.

With this in mind, we worked closely with Thalamus to ensure the tracking of the demo request submission form was accurate. We used this goal, along with other on-site performance metrics, as the baseline for analyzing the value of the paid traffic arriving from our paid campaigns. We also reported on leads coming from paid channels by timestamp. The Thalamus team could then score the relevancy of the form fill submissions and subsequent contact to help us determine the true value of the leads we were receiving.

Cost per demo results

With this baseline KPI driving our measurement, it naturally also drove our campaign optimizations, and we continuously reviewed our campaigns, ended campaigns, and launched new campaigns across platforms to identify the best sources of traffic. Intent-driven Search campaigns on Google and Bing were optimized by reviewing the converting keywords and search terms. For social, campaigns were optimized by reviewing the converting ad copy, audiences, and image assets. With continuous measurement and optimization, we have been able to see a steady MoM decrease of cost per lead.

Data on eCommerce with YouTube ads.

4 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Ads For Your Business

Data on eCommerce with YouTube ads.

Microsoft Ads, formerly known as Bing Ads, is the often overlooked PPC platform that many marketers and businesses treat as a lower-budget extension of their existing campaigns that are running on Google Ads.

But as Microsoft Advertising Partners and veterans of the platform, we know the value that Microsoft Ads can bring, especially in certain industries.

In fact, when recently split-testing the exact same campaign and keywords across Microsoft Ads and Google Ads, we found more value from Microsoft Ads in multiple KPIs.

You can see this for yourself in the KPI table below:

This platform-based split test experiment was done alongside our partner, CITI Program. Essentially, we wanted to know which search network would provide higher quality traffic for CITI Program’s target market of research organizations searching for research-specific training courses.

Although Google eked out higher pages/session, Microsoft Ads had a lower bounce rate and much higher conversion rate. 

Had we run this search campaign solely on Google, we may have paused, thinking that perhaps Search isn’t the right channel. Or, had we not split tested Google against Microsoft Ads, we may have never known that there was better performance to be had on the latter platform.

Now that you’re convinced Microsoft Ads is worth a try for your business, let’s take a look at a few of the benefits and efficiencies we’ve found in our recent experiments.

Enjoy Lower CPCs & Scale

“But who even uses Bing search?”

That’s one of the most common rebuttals when discussing advertising on Microsoft Ads, and I admit, I’ve fallen to this misconception before.

But in reality, Bing search accounts for 6.4 billion monthly PC searches and 36.9% of PC market share in the US. 

Source: Microsoft Ads

Simply put, if you’re not advertising on Microsoft Ads, you are missing out on a whole lot of traffic.

And, the fact that there are less advertisers on Microsoft Ads than on Google Ads, means less competition, which also means lower CPCs.

So, you could be also missing out on cheaper search traffic.

There are anecdotes all over the internet of companies and agencies who have achieved lower CPCs on Microsoft Ads than on Google Ads when testing the same keywords, but we have multiple first-person examples where this has proven to be true.

In the scenarios below, we’ve been split testing the same campaigns and keywords with the same budget splits across Microsoft Ads and Google Ads during the same dates. In both cases, CPC is lower on Microsoft. 

With more than enough search volume available and comparably low CPCs, experimenting with Microsoft Ads can help you identify opportunities to introduce your business via Search to a new audience that has the same high intent, but in many cases, costs a lot less to get to your site. 

Access Premium Placements With Audience Ads

Although Microsoft Ads doesn’t have a traditional display network in the same vein as the Google Ads Display Network, Microsoft Ads does boast access to some top quality native ad placements, many of which are currently in beta, or ‘pilot’, for Microsoft Ads.

One such available pilot is the Audience ads pilot, which provides access to premium placements on msn.com, the Outlook inbox, and the Microsoft Edge browser.

It’s only been a short couple of weeks since we began our testing with Audience ads in Microsoft Ads, but so far, the results have been promising. I’ve also been enjoying the flexibility and appearance of the ads, which are automatically cropped to fit a variety of responsive placements.

Even better, Audience ads feature expansive job and industry specific targeting options ala fellow Microsoft product, LinkedIn. This makes Audience ads an excellent choice for B2B businesses looking to reach their targeted audience.

With these placement and targeting options available, we’ve been able to scale our prospecting efforts for Vision33, a B2B partner, by reaching their targeted industries and buyer job titles through Audience ads and maximizing clicks and impressions in a way that simply wasn’t possible through Search ads alone.

We’ve also seen early success in our retargeting efforts through Audience ads – a previous pain point of running campaigns on Microsoft ads.

Compared to our RLSA Search campaigns that are set up to target the same audience of previous site visitors, Audience ads have provided greater impressions and much lower CPCs, with a $0.47 average, compared to $5.12 via Search ads.

Same retargeting audience, but a huge difference in the cost to get them back to Vision33’s website. I’ll mark that as an early win for Audience ads!

Snag More Desktop Searches

You may have missed it earlier, but the chart linked earlier from Microsoft mentions that the Microsoft Search Network accounts for 36.9% of all PC aka desktop searches.

Here it is again, so we don’t forget.

In a world where mobile traffic is ever-increasing, it can be easy to overlook desktop traffic as we continue to optimize campaigns, landing pages, and entire websites for a “mobile-first” world.

But in some cases, like that of our B2B partner, Vision33, desktop traffic is still incredibly important.

In fact, when analyzing Vision33’s primary conversion (form fills) from January – June 2020, I noticed that desktop traffic converts much higher, across every single channel, than mobile traffic on the Vision33 website.

In fact, in some instances, desktop converts at a rate more than double that of mobile and/or tablet.

Knowing what we know about form fill conversion rates and desktop performance on Vision33’s website, coupled with what we know about Microsoft Search Network’s search market share of 36.9%, it’s clear to see why Microsoft Ads is working well for this B2B business.

Every business has different performance on its website, so “mobile-first” may not always be the best approach. If your business is converting higher on desktop than other devices, it’s time to increase that traffic by increasing your search volume through Microsoft Ads. 

Save Time By Importing from Google Ads

If you like saving time automating things as much as I do, Microsoft Ads makes this easy by allowing and even encouraging you to import your ads from Google Ads.

If you’ve already begun running ads on Google Ads and have a campaign structure set up that you’re comfortable with, it is incredibly easy to import these campaigns into Microsoft Ads and even set the import on a schedule. 

With this in mind, split testing Microsoft Ads vs. Google Ads, or even adding additional campaigns to your overall PPC mix becomes a lot easier. And, let’s face it, building campaigns in Google is still a much cleaner and more familiar process (sorry, Microsoft). 

The import feature has allowed us to experiment with the Microsoft Ads channel fast, while making sure we are still serving top quality campaigns and ads, leaving more time for optimizations and data analysis.

Note: If you’re ready to test Microsoft Ads for your business and decide to import your existing campaigns from Google Ads, be sure to double-check the fine details, like device bid adjustments, time and days of week, audiences, etc.

Conclusion

Although Microsoft Ads may not be the first choice for businesses when deciding where to allocate their PPC funds, it certainly deserves a closer look, and preferably an experiment or three, to decide if it’s right for you and your business goals. 

Certain industries thrive on the platform, and the lower CPCs make it incredibly enticing for those who are running out of room to scale their core search campaigns on Google, or are looking to increase high intent traffic for a lower cost through search campaigns.

If you’re ready to give Microsoft Ads a try, reach out to Tuff today.

A man using social listening tools on his computer.

How To Create Your Own Automated Social Listening Tool

A man using social listening tools on his computer.

As marketers, it’s often easy, and comfortable, to remain focused solely on internal data. “Are we increasing conversion rates?” “How long is an average user session?” “Are we acquiring new users from the right channels?”

While internal data is extremely important, we must also utilize outside data to maintain awareness of specific trends in our industry and what we’re marketing. Although we can create or continuously iterate a brand and its products based on our internal data, we can only attempt to shape the public’s perception and opinion, and we may yet be missing unique opportunities. 

This is why it’s imperative to keep your ears open to the public to understand where your industry is headed, and how your product or service is being perceived in this journey.

Jorn Lyseggen, founder and CEO of Meltwater – a SaaS company that develops and markets media monitoring and business intelligence software – recognized this shift earlier than most. Jorn has coined the use of outside data to shape internal decisions as “Outside Insight.”

“Outside Insight shifts the focus from internal data and what you are doing to external data and what your industry is doing, allowing you to benchmark against competition and discover new threats and opportunities in real time.”

In recent years, this surveillance of public opinion, or industry and brand monitoring, has taken on a new life due to the prevalence of social media, carving a niche for what is known as “social listening” – a new breed of industry and brand monitoring that focuses exclusively on what users are saying on social media. 

No longer do companies need to rely on surveys from a select group of people. Today, we can actively monitor what the public is saying about our brand or industry. Even better, we can see what’s really being said about our brand or industry in real-time.

Creating Your Own Automated Social Listening Tool

Manually searching for brand mentions on every social media channel is a time-consuming task, especially for a social media manager who has campaigns to launch.

While there already exists a plethora of social listening and brand monitoring tools on the market, there is another simple, cost-effective way to create your very own, automated social listening tool in-house using one of my favorite marketing tools available, Zapier.

Most social listening tools work by scraping social media sites like Twitter and Reddit for mentions of your brand and/or keywords, and then importing these tweets or posts into a dashboard for you with various filtering options at your disposal.

With Zapier as our scraper and Google Sheets as our dashboard, we can do this too! 

Although not as fancy as a full-fledged SaaS, Zapier’s Google Sheets integration gives the average marketer super powers.

If you’re ready to save time on your social listening, follow along to these steps or watch the Loom video below:

https://www.loom.com/share/30aa96908bad4e30af42a676ffcf9581

 

Step 1: The Set Up

Create a free Zapier account if you do not have one. You will also need a Twitter account and a Gmail account to use for Google Sheets.

Set up a new Google Sheet with the following as headers in Row 1:

  • text
  • Screen_name
  • url

Once logged into Zapier, select Make a Zap.

Step 2: Twitter Scrape

Choose Twitter as your app and Search Mention as your event in Step 1 of your Zap. 

Monitoring search terms in Twitter

After selecting to continue, link your Twitter account to Zapier and enter the search term you want to monitor. For example, if you are Manchester United Football Club, you can choose to monitor your branded keyword “manchester united.” 

If tracking keywords with more than one word, be sure to put the keyword in quotation marks.

Test the trigger to confirm the data is being collected and continue. When viewing this data, you will fields for text, screen_name, and url, just like we set up in our new Google Sheet earlier. 

There is also a ton of other data that you can collect. If you are interested in any of the other available data fields, simply add a new column to Row 1 of your Google Sheet with the name of the data field.

Step 3: Google Sheets Input

Choose Google Sheets as your app and Create Spreadsheet Row as your event in Step 2 of your Zap. 

After you continue, you’ll want to link your Google Drive and Google Sheet, and Google Sheet tab that you will be exporting the data to with Zapier. 

Once linked, you will see the fields text, screen_name, and url. Now, you can click within each field and map the Twitter data we collected earlier to the column in Row 1 of your Google Sheet.

Step 4: Finishing Up

That’s it – you’re done. All that’s left to do now is the test the Zap in the final step, check to make sure your Google Sheet was populated correctly, and turn the Zap ‘On.’

You’re now set to collect every tweet that mentions your chosen keyword. 

Repeat these steps with Reddit, and you can collect post text and more information from Reddit whenever a post is made that includes your chosen keyword.

Conclusion

With a tool like Zapier, it’s easier than ever to keep your pulse on what’s being said about your brand and industry in real-time. This basic setup is powerful, yet only scratches the surface on what types of outside data can be collected and how it can be analyzed. Coupled with existing internal data, you can use this information – and the outside insight available from other tools like Google Trends – to understand how the public is engaging with your brand and industry.

YouTube on a mobile phone.

YouTube Advertising in 2020: Example Ad Campaigns From Tuff Clients

YouTube on a mobile phone.

Incredible reach, narrow audience targeting, and the chance to show your product in all its glory through video. It’s no wonder advertising on YouTube grew 36% in 2019 and is now a $15 billion – or nearly 10% – slice of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) revenue. The YouTube ad stats are, to say the least, very impressive. 

Now, in 2020, with most of the world stuck at home and glued to their devices, 39.4% of social media users in the US alone believe they will use YouTube significantly more than usual and 24.3% slightly more than usual, according to a March 2020 survey by Izea

In other words, over 60% of US social media users plan on using YouTube more now that they’re confined at home.

At Tuff, we’ve known the value of a comprehensive YouTube ad strategy for years. We’re also willing to bet that YouTube viewership will continue to grow throughout 2020, even as lockdowns are lifted and we’re no longer confined to home.

That’s why we recommend YouTube ads to a variety of our partners, especially those with a story to tell, brand awareness goals, or a product that impresses in use. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the YouTube campaigns we have run so far in 2020 alongside our partners.

Creating Top of Funnel Awareness For QuietKat

QuietKat is a maker of premium, electric fat tire bikes. From the beginning of our partnership, we knew that the more we could show the product in use via quality video assets, the more brand awareness and interest in the products we could generate. 

We also knew that the likelihood of someone buying a $3,000 – $6,000 electric bike after watching a video ad on YouTube was low – even if the bikes are as rad as a QuietKat. 

Instead of attempting to focus on lower funnel conversions, our strategy so far has involved incorporating YouTube at the top of our full-funnel approach, focused on achieving the lowest Cost Per View (CPV), while continuously testing new audiences and video creative. 

An example of a YouTube ad.

The Campaign Structure

Equipped with 4 high-quality videos produced by the QuietKat team, we launched 4 campaigns, each with one video asset, running as skippable in-stream ads. 

Within each campaign, we have multiple ad groups with different targets. For example, one ad group will contain a list of topics to target, while the other contains a list of audiences to target. Running these ad groups side-by-side, we can quickly learn which audiences or topics are performing the best and optimize our campaigns to show for the best performing audiences or topics.

Within each of these ad groups, there are multiple ads which have been designed to split test multiple CTAs on the same video that the campaign is structured on. We want to know, is there a call-to-action that users are more likely to embrace when presented with a video ad? Is ‘Shop Now’ too strong of an ask for this expensive of a product? Most likely. But what about ‘Explore QuietKat’? 

Altogether, we tested 40 different ad variations of targeting and copy. With all of these variables being tested over the course of a few weeks, we quickly found our winning video asset, as well as our winning target audience. Spoiler alert – topic targeting outperformed audience targeting for our main KPI – Cost Per View – with an awesome $0.02 CPV.

Why is Cost Per View so important for this YouTube ad strategy?

As mentioned earlier, our goal for this YouTube ad strategy is to increase brand awareness for QuietKat electric fat-tire bikes. By optimizing for the lowest CPV in our target audiences, we are able to reach the most users within our budget. However, with YouTube at the top of our full-funnel strategy, we knew that one touchpoint for these users is not enough. We didn’t simply want to show them a video and never interact with them again. That’s where the next steps of our funnel come in.

One of the most underutilized sources for creating retargeting audiences is YouTube. When most people dream up retargeting audiences, they usually only think about creating audiences based on the users who have already visited their site. 

For sites that don’t get a lot of traffic, your audience sizes are limited. For sites that get most of their traffic through paid ads, the cost per visitor is high, and therefore it is expensive to create large retargeting audiences. 

But, with YouTube ads, you can create a large retargeting audience for cheap, by creating an audience of users who have viewed your YouTube ad. 

For example – with $900 spent, we were able to create a retargeting audience of 20,000 targeted users who had watched one of our YouTube ads – or $0.045 per user. Not a bad cost to add a user to a retargeting list that you know has already seen your product in action.

Important note: bumper ads and non-skippable instream ads are not eligible for adding users to retargeting lists, so be sure to use an ad type like skippable instream ads if you want to use this tactic.

With Cost Per View optimization as part of your YouTube ad strategy, you open a new world of retargeting possibilities – one that allows you to add fresh users to your retargeting audiences at a much lower cost than normal. 

WatchBox – TrueView for Action

What about using YouTube to acquire traffic that is further down the funnel, or in other words, closer to taking the desired action aka converting? That’s the question we looked to answer for Tuff partner, WatchBox, when we created a Trueview for Action YouTube ad strategy.

Example of a YouTube ad for eCommerce.

With a fully fleshed out search and display strategy already producing positive results, we wanted to expand WatchBox’s footprint on YouTube and acquire highly targeted users who we knew were looking for the products that WatchBox had to offer.

While topic and audience targeting can get us close and cast a wide net, we wanted to target users that we knew we were actively searching for the products we had to offer because they were already indicating their intent.

In order to achieve this, we created a Custom Intent audience created around targeted keywords, rather than audience attributes. 

Thanks to WatchBox’s extensive search campaign history, we were able to pull over 12 months worth of search data to identify the keywords and search terms that were converting best on the WatchBox site.

We took the top 50 keywords identified in this audit and used these keywords to build our Custom Intent audience.

Optimizing YouTube Campaigns for On-Site Performance

With the goal of getting engaged users to the WatchBox site in mind, we opted to use this Custom Intent audience in a Trueview for Action campaign.

YouTube’s Trueview for Action campaigns are designed to drive leads and conversions by adding CTAs, headline text overlays, and an end screen to the video ad. These additional elements on the YouTube ad provide multiple opportunities for user engagement and result in a much larger percentage of visitors clicking from a YouTube ad to your site when compared against ad types optimized for brand awareness.

With a $10,000 budget and armed with multiple 15 second and 30-second video ad variations, we launched and began to collect results.

As initial results came in, we noticed that the on-site performance according to bounce rate, time on site, and pages/session was just about equal across the 15 second and 30-second ad variations. However, the 30-second ad variation was converting at a 21% higher conversion rate.

With this information and on-site conversions in mind, we paused the 15-second ad variations and left our 30-second video ad variations running to complete the campaign. 

Looking at the results of this YouTube campaign against the results of our ongoing Search and Display campaigns, we noticed some clear areas of success for this YouTube strategy.

Key metrics from this campaign include a Bounce Rate of 31.35% with pages per session of 4.51. In comparison, the overall campaign average during the same time period was a Bounce Rate of 63.73% and pages per session of 2.60. 

Additionally, this YouTube campaign outperformed the overall campaign average in conversion rate by 33.33%! 

By leveraging a YouTube ad format designed to drive clicks and conversions, along with a hyper-targeted audience created by search terms, we were able to drive high quality traffic to the WatchBox site through a new platform.

How We Advertise on YouTube Without Video Assets

What about our partners who don’t have the luxury of access to top quality video content production? 

Although video content is definitely preferred, there are still ways to get ad placements on YouTube, even without having video assets.

The most familiar way to accomplish this is to target YouTube placements in display retargeting campaigns. Oftentimes, and especially when using dynamic or responsive ads, youtube.com will appear as a top placement for display campaigns. And although you can target specific YouTube channels and YouTube videos in this campaign type, you are limited to normal display ad assets and are missing out on premium YouTube homepage placements. 

This is where the ‘Discovery’ ad type has come into use for Tuff partner, Renogy.

Example of a YouTube retargeting ad.

We knew that Renogy could benefit from a premium placement on the YouTube homepage (Discovery campaigns also include placements on Gmail and Google Discover feeds), and we also knew that focusing on this placement could help drive transactions on their site, especially when used to target lower-funnel retargeting audiences, such as Abandoned Cart audiences.

We set up a Discovery campaign split testing static image ads with carousel ads – an ad type only available for Discovery campaigns.

Within the first 2 weeks of launch, the Discovery campaign began returning a 4x ROAS when used for retargeting – compared to a 2.5x ROAS for dynamic retargeting campaign targeting the exact same audiences.

Conclusion

With near-unlimited reach, low advertising costs, and the ability to reach very specific audiences, YouTube is one of the top networks savvy brands are leveraging.

Many of Tuff’s partners are successfully advertising on YouTube in 2020. Ready to give YouTube ads a go with our YouTube ads agency team?

Google Ads: How Tuff Optimizations Turned $172 of Extra Ad Spend Into $192,853 More in Sales

Renogy solar panel on RV

Does this post look familiar? We originally published it on January 16, and so much has happened since! It’s now updated with all the latest data and research on the topic. Enjoy!

The renewable energy industry is growing, big time.

According to CNBC, in the U.S., of all new power capacity added to the grid in 2018, about 30% was from solar. In addition to these increases, nearly every segment of the renewable energy market is seeing rapid price declines.

It’s easy to see there is tremendous room for growth, which is why Renogy, a renewable energy company, reached out to our team to help them supercharge their enterprise SEO and paid efforts.

“Working with the Tuff team is an absolute pleasure. They’re incredibly sharp, goal oriented, and fantastic strategists. Most importantly: they get results! Everyone on the team is very personable and we always look forward to our meetings. Integrating the Tuff team has been one of the best decisions we’ve made and we are confident that we’ll do very well scaling up with their help.” – Evan Huynh, Marketing Director, Renogy (View our reviews on Google & Facebook)

We integrated closely as a team back in November, just in time for the end of the year push. In the first 2 months of our partnership, we were able to generate $192,853 in additional sales for November and December by only adding $172 bucks to the budget. That’s when we originally wrote this post. 

Now, 6 months into our partnership, we’re back with some updates. At the turn of the new year, we worked closely with the team at Renogy to identify our revenue targets for 2020. 

Our first challenge was to increase overall ROAS across our Google Ads campaigns – including search, shopping, and display – with the goal of hitting 3.5 ROAS overall in Q1. And we’re pleased to say we cleared these goals with a 4.5 ROAS.

In this article, I’ll take a close look at the part Google Ads plays in building and optimizing an ecommerce growth strategy, and how Tuff & Renogy worked together to smash the Q1 goals:

We started with a profit-focused strategy

When your online store has different products at different price points and margins, you need to think of them differently. Why? Because not all sales are created equal.

When we took over the Renogy account towards the end of 2019, structurally it was in great shape. Campaigns were organized, settings were optimized, and ads had an above average CTR for the industry. If we had only cared about volume, we would have given this account two thumbs up and kept it humming.

But for Renogy, we cared about volume and profit. So, we needed to analyze the account through a profit-focused lense if we were going to make any meaningful improvements.

We evaluated the value of each sale in the account, not just volume of sales, and identified big discrepancies in ROAS. For example, one ad group generated $250 from $200 spent and another generated $1,200 from $200 giving us a ROAS 1.5 and 6.0, respectively—a significant difference in return for the same amount spent. From a volume perspective these campaigns are equal (each generated one sale) but when you factor in revenue the picture changes quickly.

Armed with the above information, the very first thing we did in the Renogy account was update our analysis and reporting to follow a profit-focused strategy, the goal to achieve as high of a ROAS as possible without losing scale. This helped us:

  • Reallocate existing budget to higher ROAS campaign
  • Set more profitable campaign spending limits
  • Know where to focus our efforts first
  • Where are the low ROAS campaigns in the account? Can we update these and get them more profitable?
  • Where are the high ROAS campaigns in the account? Can we pump more money into these without dropping our return?

Going even deeper than campaign and ad group level, we performed an exhaustive keyword and search term audit on every non-branded Search campaign (this audit template can be found in Tuff’s “9 Ready-to-Go Growth Marketing Spreadsheets Startups Can Use to Boost Productivity”) using Renogy’s extensive internal Google Ads data over the prior 12 months, to identify our winning keywords and search terms, i.e. the keywords and search terms that were contributing the most revenue, as well as those with the highest ROAS. 

Using the audit spreadsheet mentioned in the article linked above, we were able to export all of the data needed from Google Analytics within the past 12 months, and quickly compare the keywords and search terms with a variety of filters.

What we found was that although certain keywords and search terms may have had an above-average conversion rate, that didn’t necessarily mean these keywords and terms were performing a positive ROAS. By focusing on the ROAS above all of the other factors, we easily identified our winning keywords within each campaign, as well as our underperforming keywords, which were promptly removed from the campaigns in order to allocate the spend to our top performers. 

We were also able to identify some additional search terms that were driving great ROAS but weren’t currently being used as exact match keywords. With these findings, we were able to add these search terms that have been proven to drive profitable ROAS as exact match keywords into our campaigns in an attempt to trigger results for these terms more often.

Since the completion of the keyword audit, performance of non-branded search campaigns has skyrocketed, with a 194% increase in conversion rate and 274% increase in transactions when compared to the previous time period. Additionally, we substantially lowered the average cost per order from $632 to $128!

Then, flipped standard shopping to smart

Out of all the existing campaigns in the account, Renogy’s shopping campaign was driving the lowest ROAS. 

With our profit-first focus, we dug into the analysis for the standard shopping campaign and realized that it wasn’t structured around the most profitable products and search terms. Instead, it treated every product – from the $49 solar speaker to the $1,200 lithium battery – the exact same.

In this case, three of this campaign’s 100+ products were spending half of the budget over a 30-day span. And they’re only bringing in a tiny 11% of revenue. Ouch.

Because Shopping campaigns don’t use keywords, your product feed takes their place and is responsible for the signals that connect people’s searches with your products. For a quick win and momentum boost, we flipped the campaign from standard to smart and stripped out any product that was sucking up spend without delivering a solid return.

Google ads shopping campaign.

Within a week, our negative ROAS shopping campaign started turning out a consistent 668% ROAS week over week over week. And with Q1 officially wrapped up, our Smart Shopping campaign finished the quarter at 679% ROAS.

And finally, bulked up sales with the right promos

This final strategy we had very little to do with but it’s worth mentioning in the grand scheme of it all. While we were busy making profit-focused account optimizations, the Renogy team strategically rolled out product promotions and sales to support our revenue targets. In turn, we were able to supercharge these sales with Google Ads by:

  • Updating search ad copy to match the promo and sale messaging
  • Build sitelink and promo extensions to accompany our campaigns
  • Bulk up display efforts promoting the sale
  • Each one of these promotions, small and large, helped us bulk up our growth trajectory with Google Ads.

Building and optimizing an ecommerce growth strategy on Google to get results like this is not easy. It’s not rocket science either, though. If your execution is data-driven and your product is high quality, you can see results like this, too. If you want to explore more about how to scale your customer acquisition with Tuff, or want a first-hand look at the data showcased above, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with our team. We’d love to learn more about who you are and what you do so that we can help you find your way to the next level.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.

And stay tuned for a Q3 update!

A person shopping online.

How To Optimize Your Google Shopping Product Feed

Example of Google shopping ad.

Google shook up the world of eCommerce when it announced earlier this week that it was opening up it’s Shopping search results to free, unpaid listings. The historically paid-only placements will be made available to unpaid product listings, starting next week, as Google ramps up its plans to compete with Amazon to become a primary online shopping destination.

This exciting development will allow eCommerce companies, like Tuff partners Renogy, to unlock more premium placements in Google Shopping results, at no extra cost. Although paid Shopping product ads will take the top & bottom positions on each page of Shopping search results, free products will now make up the bulk of products featured.

What This Means For Your Shopping Strategy

With bidding & targeting out of the picture for most placements on Google Shopping search results, it is now feasible to expect that the majority of your Shopping impressions, and therefore clicks, may come from free Shopping search results as a result of strong product feed optimization. At the very least, it will provide a new source of free, high quality traffic to your products – and how often do those come around?

It’s a new kind of SEOShopping Engine Optimization (trademark pending) – and the opportunities are very exciting.

Veterans of Google Shopping and Merchant Center know that this has always been a deciding factor in winning paid Shopping placements. 

As an example, I recently created a new product feed for a Tuff partner, and set up Shopping campaigns. When I launched the campaign, I kept the product titles and descriptions the same as the Shopify site. I wanted to see how the products would perform with the original titles and descriptions.

The blue line on the chart below shows the impressions the campaign has received since launch. The red arrow indicates the day I made optimizations to the product feed, including updates to the titles and descriptions.

Google shopping feed optimization chart.

Almost immediately after I spent some time digging in and optimizing the product titles and descriptions, the impressions shot up. 🚀

It’s safe to assume similar optimizations will be necessary to rank high organically in the new, unpaid Google Shopping listings. 

How You Can Optimize Your Product Feed

If you’re a Google Shopping veteran, you already know the value of optimizing your product feed to give your product(s) the best chance at appearing on Google search results by matching with sought after search queries. Since you can’t target keywords on Google Shopping like you can with normal Search campaigns, strong product feed optimization has always been the way to effectively target keywords for your products.

However, with the opening of Google Shopping search results to unpaid listings, we can realistically expect a flood of eCommerce companies registering for a Merchant Center account for the first time to take advantage of this free, premium placement. 

This means more competition for the free search result placements as more eCommerce sites rush to link up their products to Merchant Center.

It’s time to dig-in and use product feed optimization to ensure your products climb to the top of the unpaid search results like they deserve to be.

Focusing on the following optimizations will give you a great start.

Product Titles

Sometimes there is no secret, just adhering to best practices to give yourself the best shot. When it comes to Shopping results, this is very true, especially in regards to how you title your products in your product feed.

When optimizing your titles, consider how you search for items on Google when you are actively shopping, and use that as initial guidance. 

You want to keep your product titles simple, yet descriptive, featuring a primary keyword string that will help your product surface for your desired search terms. You also want to make sure your title reads naturally, and you avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ your title.

As time goes on and you collect more data, be sure to evaluate the search terms that are triggering your products to surface. 

  • Are these the keywords you want? Great! 
  • Are you showing up for searches you don’t want? Add those as negative keywords. 
  • Have you found search terms you didn’t think of but are driving desired results? Consider adding them to your product title to trigger more often

Product Descriptions

In addition to your product title, your product descriptions are the only other spot to optimize product feed with text. Oftentimes, product descriptions in Google Shopping are underutilized. 

Google generously gives us 5,000(!) characters to use in this description. This is a lot of real estate to accurately describe your product while effectively including keywords that you want your product to surface for.

To put it another way, we are just now about to hit the 5,000 character count on this post in the next sentence (that wasn’t planned, but is a cool coincidence).

Just like with your product title, it’s important to keep your product description accurate and descriptive, while avoiding unnatural phrasing and ‘keyword stuffing’ that will negatively impact your products’ search results.

But with 5,000 characters to work with, be sure to create a lengthy description that hits a few of your target keywords, but most importantly,  is useful for shoppers and entices them to click.

Product Images

Speaking of enticing shoppers to click on your products, what could entice them to click more than a high-quality product image? 

A crisp, clean, high-quality product image is paramount to your success on Google Shopping. This image should consist of the product centered on a white background with no text over the product. 

Although the image doesn’t contain text, it does send one of the strongest signals to Google that helps determine your ranking in search results – click-through rate. 

The higher your product’s CTR, the more Google’s algorithm learns that this product is intriguing to shoppers who have searched for this particular search term. Because of this, Google’s algorithm will favor your product to surface more often, and in better positions on search results over time.

Over to you!

With free product listings launching on Google Shopping, the competition for unpaid placements will be fierce.

Now, possibly more so than ever, an optimized product feed is paramount to your success on Google Shopping. 

Using these optimization strategies, you’ll be well on your way to an optimized product feed and Google Shopping success.

 

tuff-facebook-ad-copywriting-strategies

4 Proven Strategies to Improve Your Retargeting Ad Campaigns

Retargeting ad campaigns.

Getting traffic to your site can be time consuming and expensive, but a consistent flow of healthy, targeted traffic is one of the keys to success for any business with an online presence.

Because getting traffic to your site requires investments in both time and money, it’s important that you attempt to capitalize on this traffic as much as possible. This includes making sure that your connection with these users doesn’t end when they leave your site after their first visit.

This is where remarketing, also known as retargeting, comes in.

Remarketing isn’t a new idea in the world of PPC. But, many people, including experienced PPC professionals, don’t know how to harness the true power of remarketing.

If you think setting up an “All Users (Website Visitors)” audience and sending them generic display ads is enough, you are wasting your precious marketing dollars. While you may have some results, they won’t be consistent enough for you to optimize and you may start wondering why you’re even spending money on remarketing in the first place.

Instead, remarketing should be treated as its own discipline, with an approach that is separate to how you attract first-time users to your site.

After all, the point of remarketing is to get users who have already been on your site back to your site to continue their journey down your funnel(s).

So, how can you get better results from your remarketing campaigns?

The strategy is simple and hopefully while reading you’ll begin thinking of ways that you can implement these strategies in your own remarketing campaigns.

Let’s get started.

Determine The Portion Of Your Overall Ad Spend To Be Allocated To Remarketing

At Tuff, we’re often asked the question “What percentage of my budget should I be spending on remarketing?”

This is a great question, but unfortunately, there is no definitive percentage or number that can immediately be given and a recommended remarketing budget should consider a great deal of variables, including customer purchase lifestyle, potential seasonality, industry specific CPCs, site specific conversion rates, and more.

It’s important to first lean on any internal & external data that is already available (first-party and industry specific is the best), clearly define your goals for your overall PPC ad budget, and use this information to determine appropriate projections and budget allocation.

Additionally, If your site is still developing its sources of traffic and overall site traffic is low, you would understandably look to spend the majority of your PPC budget on acquiring site traffic first, while maintaining a lower percentage of your budget on remarketing. However, you don’t want to ignore your remarketing budget. A small amount of traffic can still be a valuable amount of traffic. Once you have enough traffic to create & serve to audiences, you should.

For sites with limited traffic, be sure to reference Google’s minimum audience list sizes to know when your remarketing audiences have gained enough members to become eligible to serve on the various Google networks.

Once you start running remarketing, how will you know when you’re spending enough?

Luckily, Google Ads provides some awesome insight with the ‘Remarketing Reach’ chart on the ‘Overview’ tab of display campaigns.

The ‘Remarketing Reach’ chart is a relatively new feature in Google Ads which displays the percentage of members on a campaign’s targeted Audience List(s) which is eligible to see the campaign’s ads.

Google ads retargeting

This very simple chart can be easy to overlook, but it is very informative. What can we learn about this specific remarketing campaign from this chart?

We can see that this campaign is not reaching even a quarter of it’s potential reach due primarily to a limited budget and low-bid. Zooming in on the 4th bar gives us the detailed percentages for the week.

Retargeting trends.

Only 13.2% of the members of the audience list(s) being targeted in this campaign were served an ad. Furthermore, 63.9% of our audience list members did not receive an ad due to a lower-than-needed budget.

How can we act on this information?

First, review this campaign’s performance so far. Are you happy with the conversion rates and cost-per-click? If the answer is yes, it’s time to increase your remarketing campaign’s budget to ensure your ads reach a greater percentage of your available audience list.

Review this chart weekly for all of your display remarketing campaigns and adjust your budgets accordingly.

Segment Remarketing Lists Based On Actions Taken On-Site

This might seem like common sense, especially if you’re a veteran at PPC. But, you will be surprised to learn how many digital marketers simply stop at creating an ‘All Users’ website list and think that their remarketing is going to give them good results.

In order to really make remarketing work to its full potential, you should take the time to create multiple remarketing audiences for specific remarketing campaigns designed based on the actions users have taken on your site.

If you’re an e-commerce company, perhaps the first thought that pops into your mind is a remarketing audience of abandoned cart users.

This is a great example of a more targeted remarketing list than the All Users list.

But, can we take this a step further? What if someone was really interested in your product but did not add-to-cart? Maybe you don’t sell products but instead sell services and don’t have a shopping cart. In this scenario, an abandoned cart audience won’t work.

Don’t fret. There are other signals and metrics that can be used to identify the users who are most interested in your site.

These can include: Demographics, Technology (Device, Browser, etc.), Pages Visited, Behavior, Traffic Source, Conditions, and Sequences.

Using any of these, and even better yet – combinations of these signals – will provide much more targeted audiences which will almost certainly result in better performing remarketing campaigns.

My favorite way to find the best users who are most likely to take action is by using the Advanced filters such as Conditions and Sequences.

Using these filters, we’re able to get really creative and our audiences will become very segmented to result in the best remarketing targeting.

Here’s an example of a segmented remarketing audience:

  1. Campaign = Your Search Campaign, Visited landing page = www.yoursite.com/landingpage (Sequence Condition)
  2. Time on site > 3 minutes (Behavior Condition)
  3. Page Depth > 4 (Behavior Condition)

In order for a user to fall into this remarketing audience, they would have had to arrive to your site from a specific Search campaign that you identify, visited your landing page, spent more than 3 minutes on your site, and went to more than 4 pages on your site.

Why is this audience better?

This audience will be much smaller than your generic All Users list, but it will most likely perform better and drive more conversions because these users have signalled intent and interest in you by meeting all of these conditions.

This is just scratching the surface on all of the possibilities and conditions available for creating remarketing lists.

Simple idea: If you run an ecommerce site and are utilizing remarketing (you should be), be sure to exclude users who have already completed a purchase. Unless, of course, you want to remarket to these users with an upsell or a personalized promotion and turn them into repeat customers. In this case, you would set up a separate campaign targeting an audience of your known customers.

3. Exclude Mobile App Placements

When optimizing a Google display remarketing campaign, one of the first places to find insights is in the Placements tab. More specifically, the Where Ads Showed tab.

This tab shows you exactly where your remarketing ads appeared. If you don’t check this often, you’ll be surprised to see a plethora of Mobile Apps contributing a lot of impressions and clicks.

You may even begin your optimization, sort by CTR, and see that many of these Mobile App placements have minimal impressions, but extremely high CTRs. Like, suspiciously high CTRs.

Why does this happen?

Because display ads on Mobile App placements are especially prone to “fat-finger clicks” – or, to put it another way – accidental clicks. This means that the ad might show on an App 2 times and be clicked 2 times.

Can you think of a time that you were using an app and you accidentally clicked on a display ad only to immediately back-out and go back to the app?

Yeah, that advertiser still paid for that click. Now multiply that by dozens, hundreds, or thousands of wasted clicks (depending on your ad spend).

Not only are advertisers wasting the money on the initial click, but when they go to optimize this campaign, they may think that remarketing is a bad idea for them overall as their Google Analytics will show traffic from their remarketing campaign performing poorly due to the high bounce rates, low time on site, and lack of conversions.

Instead of optimizing based on their campaign’s “true” performance metrics, they are also attempting to optimize a campaign that has a lot of misleading performance metrics as well. You can see how ineffective this is.

So, how can you exclude mobile app placements from your remarketing campaigns?

Well, it used to be a lot easier, up until about a year ago when Google announced that they were removing the adsenseformobileapps.com placement.

Since then, other options have come about such as setting specific targeting for devices in which you could break out Mobile Web from Mobile App and specifically exclude Mobile App. This option has since been removed by Google as well.

The workaround I’m about to show you is a little bit more tedious than the old options, but it is well worth the money saved on your campaigns.

  1. Click Placements from the left hand menu.
  2. Click Exclusions
  3. Click the pencil to edit your Exclusions
  4. Click Add Placement Exclusion and select to remove this placement from your campaign
  5. Click App Categories

There are 144(!) individual App Categories. You have to select all 144 of these categories to have your ads completely excluded from showing on Mobile Apps.

4. Utilize Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) To Add Search To Your Remarketing Arsenal

When most marketers think of remarketing, they immediately think of display. However, one clever trick to boost your remarketing strategy is to target remarketing audiences with your search ads.

The idea is that these users are already familiar with you and your site, and when they’re searching for the keywords you’re bidding on, you want to make sure that they see you again to stay top of mind.

Unsurprisingly, these targeted remarketing search ads typically result in higher CTRs and conversion rates.

Simple idea: Target your brand keywords and a remarketing audience. This way, if a user is searching for your brand and you know they have already visited your site, you can target them with personalized ad copy mentioning a specific promotion to help them decide to take action faster.

These are some of my favorite tricks & tips to maximize money spent on remarketing. Do you have any other strategies that you use to make your remarketing dollars go further? Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your existing campaigns and help take your retargeting to the next level.

 

tuff-30-minute-ppc-audit

The 30-Minute PPC Audit Anyone Can Do

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and fresh content. 

Original Publication Date: January 1, 2020 

Let’s get one thing about a PPC audit off our chest. We know our PPC accounts aren’t always perfect 100% of the time. Audits are one of the best tools we have for making small, sustainable improvements.

That’s why we routinely conduct audits for our clients. Incorporating this step into our PPC management process helps us catch small issues before they become big issues.

As we start another year managing our clients’ PPC accounts, we’re taking the time to audit our efforts more extensively. The main purpose of a deep-dive PPC audit is to help our clients with marketing strategy development. These audits help us:

  • understand historical performance in a way that allows us to set better goals
  • identify the right metrics we should be measuring
  • highlight room for improvement

Many of our clients leverage our expertise and data insights to help create and finalize their marketing goals and budgets. To help contribute to these strategy efforts, we conduct a PPC audit to offer reliable projections to determine spend, number of leads, cost per lead, conversion rate, sales, and more. Hopefully this post can help you do the same!

The following checklist outlines the different account areas you can dive into during your PPC audit and what items to look for.

Date Range

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on the entire year. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your audit to be statistically relevant. For this year’s year end audit, we selected January 1, 2019 – November 1, 2019. 

Google Ads performance.

Metrics

The next step you want to do before digging into the data is select the metrics you want to evaluate your account by.

To avoid analysis paralysis, it’s crucial to strip away the excess and focus on the paid search advertising metrics that provide actionable insight. Assessing critical paid search advertising metrics during your audit will allow you to monitor and improve digital performance.

Here are the top 6 metrics we like to include in a PPC audit:

  • Channel Growth
  • Conversion Rate
  • Acquisition
  • Cost Per Order (or Cost Per Lead)
  • Sales
  • Revenue

PPC Audit Checklist

Review Campaign Settings

Your account structure should be divided into a number of campaigns based on clear categorical buckets.

If your strategy is to organize by market ー for instance state, city, or county ー your campaigns should be labeled with the associated market. If your strategy is to organize by product type or service, your campaigns should be labeled with the associated product or service. Keeping a clear naming structure at the account level will help you stay organized and reduce reporting time.

You don’t want your campaigns to look like this:

Screenshot of Google AdWords Campaigns dropdown

The key is to avoid numbers and over-complicated naming conventions – keep it simple, straightforward. Essentially, are the campaigns numbered A-Z or do they have unique names that explain what kind of ad groups you’re going to find and what type of campaign type it is?

Access Ad Group Relevancy

It’s tough to get potential customers to convert if their pay-per-click experience is not relevant. One of the best ways to make their click experience more relevant is to match the creative and copy of your ad to the search term of the user.

High-Intent Search Term —> Hyper-Specific Ads —-> Relevant Landing Page

How can you do this? Scan your account to find ad groups that hold more than 15-20 keywords. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up.

Why does the number of keywords matter so much? While your ad groups’ keyword count won’t impact performance, remember that you want your ads to be as relevant as possible. When you have a huge list of keywords, it typically includes various themes, meaning you’re forced to write generic ad copy.

Rather than serving generic ad copy to a large list of keywords, you want to break out your ad groups into lists of granular, related keywords that share the same theme. When you do this, you can create hyper-specific ads for each ad group that will help you increase your quality score and click-through rate.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are the extra snippets of information Google allows advertisers to add to their Expanded Text ads to provide more relevant information to searchers. Ad extensions can help improve click-through rates and give you more real-estate on the page. They are an important part of the PPC audit to pay attention to. If your account doesn’t have any ad extensions set up, get on it!

If you have extensions in place, double-check that the extensions are running successfully. Are your sitelinks truly representative of your business? Can you check your call extension to make sure someone is answering the phone when it rings?

Pro-tip: If you’re using call extensions to drive phone calls to your business, make sure to use the advanced settings to set your call extensions to run only during your hours of business. This way, you won’t be wasting money on calls to your business that no one is available to answer. You can also set your call extension to have a mobile device preference, serving your ads with the right extension to the right users at the right time.

Google ad call extensions

Check Number of Ads and Ad Copy

Scan your account to find ad groups that only have one ad running. These are likely the groups that will require the most review and clean-up. We generally recommend having a minimum of three ads per ad group to improve account optimization.

However, you also don’t want to have a ton of ads per ad group. The sweet spot is typically somewhere between 2-3 ads. This amount keeps the account manageable while giving you enough data to run split tests. Let your ads run two weeks, identify a winner, pause the losing ads and test out new options against your winner.

While you are reviewing your ads, don’t forget to focus on the basics as well. Are all of your ads grammatically correct? Do any of the ads have spelling errors? Are they promoting the most relevant offers?

Review Settings

Analyzing your campaign settings is a simple activity that takes less than five minutes. We love digging into campaign settings because it’s generally something that is set up when the campaigns are created and then never looked at again. There are probably some juicy adjustments to be made.

In the settings tab, you can check and optimize device performance, ad delivery method, ad scheduling, ad rotation, and location/language targeting.

Key items to focus on:

  • Is your campaign targeting search and display traffic? If so, fixing this can be a big win for your account. The main problem with targeting search and display within one campaign is that these networks target users in two completely different scenarios. You can’t get a clear understanding of performance and your ads are less effective.
  • Are you serving your ads in all available target markets? Check your locations settings to make sure you are targeting all the countries, states, cities, or counties relevant to your business. Here you can make bid adjustments based on the target locations you value the most.
  • Are you making device bid adjustments? Review your performance by device – mobile, desktop, and tablet. If your performance alters by device, you can make adjustments to prioritize your top performing devices.

Review Audience Targeting 

Your ad groups are setup and optimized, you’ve got the right amount of ads and the right copy ready to go, your keywords are fine-tuned, and your campaign settings are exactly what you want. What else can you focus on to make sure your campaigns are as effective as possible? The right audience targeting.

Oftentimes, advertisers are very familiar with audience targeting including remarketing audiences, when it comes to display campaigns. However, adding relevant audiences to your search campaigns can be an effective way to gain insights into your market, while also boosting your performance.

In addition to keyword targeting, you also have the ability to add in-market audiences and custom intent audiences to your search campaigns. We recommend setting these audiences at the ‘Observation’ level for targeting, which means that users that Google has not grouped into these in-market or custom intent audiences can still be served your ads as they search for your target keywords.

Google ads audience targeting.

A major benefit of adding audiences at the Observation level is the ability to add bid adjustments to these specific audiences. After adding some audiences and gathering data, review the performance of your audiences and decide if they are performing better than the average user who has interacted with the campaign. If so, add an appropriate positive bid adjustment to these audiences (e.g. 15-30%).

Pro-tip: consider adding remarketing audiences to your search campaigns. This tactic, known as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, or RLSA for short, is especially effective if you have a lot of traffic. 

For example, if you have an eCommerce site and receive a lot of traffic, you most likely have a lot of abandoned carts. Consider creating an abandoned cart audience for remarketing and adding this audience to your search campaigns with a solid bid adjustment. The users in this audience have already shown high intent by adding a product to their cart. How much more than your standard bid would you willing to pay to get these audiences back to your site when they are searching for your targeted keywords? 20%..35%…maybe even 50% more? 

Triple Check Conversion Tracking

Last but not least in the PPC audit, are you tracking conversions properly? Neglecting to track conversions is a massive PPC mistake.

Without conversion data, it’s impossible to understand what’s working and what’s not. Here are some common conversion errors that you can watch out for:

  • Your not measuring phone call conversions from search and digital. We strongly recommend setting up CallRail to track calls from PPC. Setting your account up to track phone calls will help you optimize your marketing and increase ROI.
  • Your clicks and conversions are exactly the same. If you see this in your account, you have your conversion tracking code on every page of your website, rather than just your order confirmation/thank you page. Unlike your remarketing tag, your conversion tag should only be placed on the page that appears after a conversion has been completed.
  • Your conversion count is super low. A suspiciously low number of conversions could mean you’re missing conversions. Before abandoning your PPC efforts altogether, double-check to make sure conversion status isn’t “unverified” or “tag inactive”. If you see either of these errors, re-install your conversion tag and follow these steps to verify the setup is correct.

Your turn!

We strongly encourage marketing teams to conduct a PPC audit quarterly and annually so they can search for new and better solutions to improve campaigns. While the above checklist can easily be completed in 30 minutes, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive check, it may be better to outsource the project and get fresh eyes.

Tuff offers a free PPC audit and would love to learn more about your company and goals.

We’d love to work with you.

Schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your marketing, product, metrics, and business. Then, present a Growth Plan with actionable strategies to find and keep more engaged customers.