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.

tuff-user-acquisition-channels

How to Find Your User Acquisition Channels

tuff-user-acquisition-channels

Figuring out which user acquisition channels are going to drive the most growth is key to your business success.

Acquisition channels are diverse and plenty. With many options, how can you create a channel strategy that will really accomplish your goals?

Few companies can afford to actively use more than a handful of channels and, even so, it’s tough to figure out which ones are actually delivering the right customers.

I’ve spent the past few years working with all kinds of businesses across a range of industries to help them figure this out. Instead of sharing a whole list of tactics you can try out yourself, I’m going to share the one consistent strategy I’ve seen add more to the bottom line than any specific channel –  trial and error.

It can seem overwhelming at the start, but testing and optimization should become part of your growth DNA. What might seem like a steep learning curve will turn into a path with long-term payoff when you get it right.

Let’s dive in.

Focus on your users, not your channel

There’s so much out there, it’s often hard to know where to start. As a business owner, you might feel a lot of pressure to continue coming up with new ways to connect with and reach your audience.

However, there’s one fundamental thing you need to focus on and continue focusing on from day one. To successfully manage your tests and increase the chances of success, listen to users and understand their perspective. User research is a priority that should, in some way, find a home within the design of any new channel or tactic strategy.

Whether you have 1,000 customers or 100,000, focus on the already successful users and uncover the user acquisition channels that converted these people. Uncover as much as you can about these people to help your growth team understand what triggers and motivates them to take action. What was their user journey with your product or service and how can you repeat it with future customers? Doing this on a regular basis will give you the right lens to narrow the types of tactics and channels that are most likely to drive a positive response from prospective customers.

Set clear goals

If you’re early in your business, finding growth channels is about traction – not scale. With that in mind, before you start experimenting, make sure you’ve set clear goals you’d like to achieve – even if you don’t have much data to base them on.

Whatever user acquisition channels you attempt, testing and refining campaigns will be a critical part of the process. It’s important to measure the ROI of your efforts by channel so that you know which need a bit of tuning and which need a complete makeover or be dropped.

There’s been a lot written about goal-setting! And, you might already know what works best for you. Here are some of our favorite resources if you’d like to learn more about setting intentional goals:

Create a ridiculously long list of channels and tactics

Have a million and one things rattling around in your head? Good! Just get it all out there.

A brain dump can help you organize your thoughts and feel more in control, especially when you use it to create a growth list like this one.

Get your team together and build your user acquisition channels list – write it down, type it out, drop it into Google Sheets, whatever you want to do. Don’t worry if it’s unorganized or sporadic, you’ll restructure it later.

A chart of possible user acquisition channels

 

Evaluate channel possibility

So you have a big list, now what?

Even lean testing means an entirely new set of processes, resources, and outputs, so it’s important to be intentional with how you and your team spend your time. Attempting to drive growth on too many user acquisition channels at the same time will divide your resources and dilutes your focus.

One way to manage your tests and increase the chances of success is to spend time upfront evaluating emerging channels—the idea is to test and get early access to good opportunities, but you can’t do everything.

Consider the following questions to help you prioritize channels with a “high propensity” to work for your business:

  • Does the channel have an audience that roughly matches your customer personas?
  • Is this channel crowded or emerging? Are your competitors there and will you have to shell out buckets of cash to play?
  • What part of the buyer’s journey do you believe the customer is in when they’re spending time on this platform? How does that align with your business goals?
  • Can you effectively filter your ads to reach only your target audience to better manage your costs and get the best bang for your buck?
  • Is this a compounding loop? Will this channel enable our users to grow the product for us?

Assemble a team to make it happen

We have seen a lot of founders focus on growth strategies. The starting point for that is almost always, “What should the structure for the growth team be?”

As we’ve outlined in the process above, the first step is defining the user acquisition channels that will or have the biggest impact on growth, and working your way backward to the team needed to execute effectively. When you do that, you will quickly realize that to execute on your ideas you need a cross-functional team with a mix of engineering, product, data, design, marketing, and sales skills. The mix will depend on the particular channel you test.

Which is why I love that we are building Tuff not just for our clients, but also with them. We believe the future of growth agencies is in being value drivers, rather than service providers. Sure, we have a number of top-notch services we regularly execute. But, it’s bigger than that.  In order for you to find traction and scale growth for your business, you need a customizable, plug-in growth team.

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.

tuff-grow-email-list

How to Grow Your Startup’s Email List

Person typing on laptop for growing email list

We sometimes get questions about how other clients work with Tuff to reach their growth goals — so we’re sharing some stories to help bring our services to life. Meet Daycation.

Daycation is a Miami-founded startup that allows people to book “daycations,” gaining access to hotel amenities without staying the night. Traditionally, people must check in as hotel guests to access amenities like pools, lounges, hot tubs, gyms, and private beaches. Now, with Daycation’s network of beautiful, on-demand hotels, users can visit their site and easily book hassle-free day experiences.

We worked with Daycation to grow their email list. In two weeks, we added 1,000 new subscribers at an acquisition cost of $1.15 per subscriber. In addition to the list growth, 25 of the new subscribers booked a Daycation within 30 days of joining the email list.

Why Daycation Focused On Growing Their Email List

For starters, email has been the #1 most profitable marketing channel for ten years in a row. From this one statistic alone, it isn’t hard to see why you need to grow your startup’s email list. It is a key piece of any well-rounded user acquisition effort.

From a growth perspective, it is the statistics on customer acquisition costs that make email a no-brainer for a business like Daycation. According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

While we had launched a number of acquisition channels for Daycation, including paid social and chat, we were looking to build an email list of valuable subscribers. Because Daycation is a transactional marketplace, we were confident that email marketing would be a more effective channel than social for driving people to their website and getting them to sign up and purchase a day pass.

So, how did we attract 1000+ new subscribers in two weeks?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Daycation’s Playbook:

  • Everything begins with great content or value. People will find your site because of your amazing content. They will keep coming back because you provide relevant value. Your content will be the foundation of what you email to them, which will be the reason they stay subscribed (or hit unsubscribe!). For Daycation, we decided to run a cabana giveaway in Miami. In exchange for an email address, people entered for a chance to win a day pass and cabana for four at one of Miami’s top luxury pools.
  • Once you have the right content, you need to start putting your landing page together. Creating a high converting landing page isn’t rocket science. However, creating an effective page involves more than simply designing something that looks good. For Daycation, we leveraged these nine components of a killer landing page and mocked a wireframe using InVision.
  • The page went live, and we needed to get the word out. For Daycation, that meant adding a banner to the homepage of the site, as well as tapping into paid social. We launched Facebook and Instagram campaigns, targeting a specific subset of customers who were most similar to their best current customers.

Screenshot of a Facebook ad for Daycation

Screenshot of an Instagram ad for Daycation

  • Every interaction with someone is a chance to influence their opinion about your business. The minute you collect an email you can start providing relevant value and the message you send is critical. Using Customer.io, when someone signed up for the giveaway, we triggered the confirmation email below. For a large percentage of this list, this was the first email they ever received from Daycation. This is a large opportunity to make a lasting first impression. Try your best to step away from a transactional mindset and show your companies personality.

Screenshot of an email from Daycation

  • We ran the giveaway for two weeks, spreading the word to as many people as possible. Once the campaign ended, we announced the winner through email, sending the entire list a $10 off coupon code on their next Daycation.

Screenshot of an email from Daycation

The Results:

Duration:
2 Weeks

Ad Spend:
$1,215.76

New Subscribers:
1,264 new subscribers

Cost Per Subscriber:
$1.15

Subscriber Purchases (within 30 days):
25

Next Steps:

Our focus on email didn’t end with the cabana giveaway. You’re not just looking to grow your startup’s email list and present a nice vanity metric. It can be easy to just focus on building the list and see the number of subscribers growing and call it a success. Once you have a healthy list of emails, you need to continue focusing on the value you provide to your users with email. What is the end goal and conversion you’re looking for them to make? 

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.

tuff-facebook-ad-copywriting-strategies

Refining Your Facebook Ad Copy For A Lower CAC

Person updating Facebook ad copy on laptopReady to start using Facebook ads to acquire more customers? 

As an agency with social advertising experts, we’re fortunate to run and test quite a few Facebook ads every week. This means lots of copywriting opportunities and the need for fresh inspiration.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”
— Shakespeare

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
— Margaret Atwood

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
— Jack Kerouac

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
— Samuel Johnson

No matter your writing muse, communicating your message in a compelling way with a limited number of characters ideal for social media is hard. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, your creativity and your vocabulary. It’s also an opportunity to increase reach, leads, and revenue for your business.

When I feel myself hitting a roadblock, I bring myself back to four pillars I’ve found effective for Facebook ad copywriting:

  • Timeliness
  • Humanizing
  • Emojis
  • Wordplay

Below we’ll share and comment on these four strategies. Under each strategy the first two ads will examples will been written by Tuff and the third example will be another company we think has practiced this strategy well.

Timeliness

Timeliness is an awesome tool for Facebook ad copywriting. Being able to take advantage of the excitement and hype surrounding a big or seasonal event can go a long way. It also shows your audience that your ads and content aren’t on a set and repeat schedule, your aware of what is going on in their world and following along as well.

Here, we capitalized on the Madness of March.

 

With Valentine’s Day coming up before this ad, we were communicating the value of Xendoo — it saves you time.

 

Example: We like how Penguin Books makes you feel all the fall feels.

 

Humanizing

This year Facebook, as a company, has been making a number of changes to incentivize interactions and engagement. They’ve been noticing trends of users being quite passive on Facebook, mostly scrolling throughout content without interacting with it. So, rather than prioritizing content that might grab a user’s attention, but drive little interaction, Facebook will favor the content that sparks conversations and brings people together. One way we like to try and attempt this is through humanizing brands and ads by using photos of real people and customers rather than graphics and illustrations of people. The second way we practice this is through using real names, locations, and jobs in ads.

Instead of a picture of the meal, we used a photo of a person this audience might relate to.

By using “Sally” and “Philly”, we built a character similar to the target audience.

Outside Example: We love the photo 17hats uses here. It shows they know who their audience is.

Emojis

We love emojis! In some A/B tests we’ve also seen them performing quite a bit better than there emoji-less counterparts. With the right brand, they make a lot of sense. Depending on the demographic, including emojis likens the ads to the text messages and Facebook comments with their personal network. We especially like to use emojis as bullet points, like in the 2nd and 3rd example here. It turns Facebook ad copywriting in emoji-writing.

Wordplay

It can be easy to tune Facebook ads out. But, when the copy makes the reader think, laugh, or challenges them with a pun, it can create willingness for deeper engagement. If you need an assist, this Pun Generator can help get the juices flowing!

Divine Spaces is a marketplace focused on unique event rentals. “Open your doors” applies to both the literal and metaphorical doors.

Readers likely aren’t used to fill in the blank type ads. We were hoping to surprise them here.

Over to you…

What Facebook ad copywriting strategies do you use for Facebook ads? Send us a note and let us know.

If you’re feeling stuck writing Facebook copy, challenge yourself to write four different ads practicing: timeliness, humanizing your brand, emojis, and wordplay. Then, pick your favorite out of the four.

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.