running ads on spotify

Spotify Ads: How Our Clients Are Using This (And You Can Too!)

running ads on spotify

Testing new ad platforms to diversify the channel mix for your business is never a bad idea. The age-old adage of ‘don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’ is certainly true for growth marketing. 

The truth is, there are frequent changes to ad platforms, such as Facebook’s iOS 14 update in 2021, that can throw a wrench into a business’s advertising plans and have an impact on its revenue and growth. If you haven’t been spending your time diversifying your channel mix, or at the very least testing new ad platforms, chances are a major update to your primary advertising channel would have a negative impact on your business. 

At Tuff, we’re constantly looking for new channels to test for our partners, especially when the ad platform has specific features that could provide synergical benefits with the brand itself. One of these ad platforms we’ve been testing is Spotify Ads. 

Why Spotify Ads? Well, Spotify is by far the world’s most popular audio streaming service, holding 31% of the global streaming music subscription market, more than double their largest competitor, Apple Music, who holds just 15%. An opportunity to get a message out on a self-service ad platform with 381 million users? Yes, please! 

And we’re hardly the only ones – in fact, Spotify’s ad revenues increased 75% YoY in Q3 of 2021. Startups and businesses everywhere are leaning into Spotify Ads as a new channel to reach an engaged and targeted audience. 

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can do this too!

Compelling Targeting Options

As a growth marketer, is there anything better than a self-service ad platform? I mean, being able to set up an account and hit the ground running with ads is a thing of beauty. Spotify makes this easy, but it also makes targeting your ideal audience easy. In fact, Spotify has some downright cool targeting options that stand out, in addition to the classic demographic options like location, age, and gender. 

Some of the more interesting targeting options are on the Podcasts side of the house. It’s no secret Spotify is home to some of the most popular podcasts in the world, and getting the chance to advertise on them is huge. But what really stands out is the ability to prevent your ads from playing next to similar ads, also known as ‘Competitive Separation’, as well as the ability to exclude topics that don’t align with your brand, or even targeting relevant episode topics, known as ‘Content Controls.’ 

For example, an online education platform targeting adult learners may wish to ensure that they’re ads are not playing next to a competitor with similar offerings:

spotify ads targeting options

So, with Spotify Ads, you can not only target your ideal audience by demographic, but you can also narrow in on the the topics that most closely match your brand and offering, while ensuring that you’re not being played alongside your competitor. Pretty cool, right?

On the Music side of things, Spotify provides the ability to target audiences based on interests, real-time context (as indicated by the playlist they’re currently listening to), or genre. 

Audio or Video Ad Types

Another surprising attribute of Spotify Ads is the actual quality of the ads themselves, and the various ad types that are available. 

When targeting Music placements, brands can leverage Audio ads, as well as Video ads (either horizontal or vertical). For Podcast placements, ads are limited to Audio ads. But, even still, the Audio ads look and sound great. When running a Spotify Ads test for Tuff partner and device insurance provider, AKKO, we tested both Audio & Video ads. An example of how an Audio ad looks on a mobile device is below:

spotify ad example

Don’t have a professional voiceover artist to make a high quality Audio ad? Don’t worry – we didn’t either! Instead, we wrote a script (up to 90 words) and submitted it to Spotify to be read by a professional voice actor, and we were even able to select from a library of royalty-free music to use as a backing track. When the ad was returned within 48 hours, it was surprisingly and refreshingly professional. The cost for this audio creation? Nothing. 

Performance & Cost

You’ve made it this far and are convinced that Spotify Ads are at least worth a try. But how much do Spotify Ads cost? And, are there any downsides?

So far in this blog, I’ve had all good things to say about Spotify Ads. But I promise, this isn’t a sales pitch, and there are some cons that we’ve experienced in our campaign testing. Primarily, during our testing we learned that Spotify Ads are probably best used by businesses with a large ad budget – think 5 figures plus. 

Why? Because even though we’ve spent thousands of dollars on campaigns testing Spotify Ads, both Audio & Video ad types, we haven’t seen frequency get over 1.1, even when we geo-target, which means that the vast majority of users hearing the ads only heard them once per campaign. To increase this frequency and therefore your ads’ stickiness with the user, you’ll have to spend much more.

Additionally, we’ve experienced higher than average CPCs and CPMs when compared to similar ad platforms such as YouTube, at $5 and $23 respectively across all campaigns tested. But, we’ve also seen stellar play-thru metrics, surpassing what you can expect to find on other platforms like YouTube Ads, with most campaigns averaging an 89% or higher ‘Completion Rate’, ensuring the full message is being heard the vast majority of the time. 

In short, our testing has revealed that Spotify Ads are a great way to get your message heard all the way through by a targeted audience, but you can expect to pay a bit more for the privilege, especially if you want the user to hear your ad more than once.

Tracking Your Campaign Performance

Tracking the success of a campaign run on an audio-first platform is tricky, but there are ways that it can be accomplished. 

First, setting proper UTM tracking links on all of your ad creative will ensure that you’re tracking the clicks on your ads into Google Analytics. A simple source/medium combination of spotify/cpc works, with additional parameters like utm_campaign and utm_content for your campaign and ad specificity. 

You can take this further, and direct this UTM tagged traffic to a specific landing page optimized for Spotify listeners. For our partner AKKO, we developed and directed traffic to and provided a special ‘first month free’ offer to entice sign ups. This offer matched the message delivered in our audio and video ads to tie the journey together for the user. 

With UTMs and a dedicated campaign landing page, we were able to ensure that any user that clicked through from our Spotify campaigns would be tracked effectively and efficiently in Google Analytics, siloed away from other traffic efforts.

However, being an audio-first platform means many users that hear ads won’t necessarily engage via a click to the website. In fact, the vast majority of users who your ad won’t click-thru. So how can you track sign ups more effectively? You can leverage the power of ‘Zero-party Data’.

What’s Zero-party data? Forrester Research first defined the term as follows:

“Zero-party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them].”

For example, you can include a very simple question during your sign up or checkout flow – “How did you hear about us?” 

This method is incredibly effective at filling in the gaps that online tracking and attribution so often miss. 

Spotify Ads: Great at the Assist 

If you’re a business currently spending on channels like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and TikTok and you’re looking to explore a new advertising platform in 2022 to diversify your channel mix, consider Spotify Ads. 

With a self-service platform of audio and video ad capabilities, some nifty targeting options, and engaged audiences, Spotify Ads could provide you with a fresh, new channel to expand on your messaging efforts. Spotify ads might not rival what you can do on some of the other more established ad platforms like Google and Facebook, but this channel can play a strong role in increasing your brand’s awareness, favorability, and overall conversions and revenue.

pulling a report from google analytics

How to Drive Better Strategic Decisions Using Google Analytics’ Attribution Models

pulling a report from google analytics

The way the majority of marketers use Google Analytics’ attribution models to make strategic decisions is broken. I’m talking, “holy cow, this has major implications on our bottom line”, broken.

If you’re making major decisions regarding the allocation of ad spend, or trying to measure the success of a campaign and are using Google Analytics’ default reporting, you’re going to want to read this. 

What is Google Analytics’ Default Attribution Model? 

Google Analytics defaults to a Last Click attribution model for most of its reports (and the key word here is most). Last click attribution gives 100% of the credit to the last source, or campaign a user came from prior to converting. 

Some reports, such as Google Ads breakdown under the “Acquisition” report defaults to a Last Non-Direct Click attribution model. What this means is that Google Analytics will ignore all direct traffic and give 100% of the credit to the last channel a customer clicked through prior to returning via direct traffic. Last Non-Direct click is a preferred attribution model over Last Click for many marketers because most direct traffic has had some sort of interaction with your brand prior to coming to your site. 

What are the problems with using Last Click attribution modeling? Don’t I want to know what made my target audience convert?

It’s true, Last Click, or Last Non-Direct Click can be insightful for measuring the final tactic that caused a user to convert. However, this is an incomplete measurement of the full aspect of the marketing funnel. Chances are, your target audience didn’t convert out of the blue. 

Here are some of the limitations of using Last Click or Last-Non Direct Click attribution modelling: 

  • Can give a distorted view of what is actually driving your target audience to your brand in the first place
  • Doesn’t account for multiple touchpoints in an advertising funnel
  • Silos data and gives 100% of credit to one channel or tactic
  • Doesn’t show how multiple channels and tactics interact with one another
  • Shows an incomplete customer journey

Take this real-client example: if you see that email marketing is accounting for 30% of your e-commerce purchases, and paid social is driving very few last-click purchases (but a lot of email signups!), you wouldn’t want to stop running the social ads that are leading to email signups. In doing so, you’d be shutting down two acquisition channels at once. 

The last-click attribution model is flawed, and doesn’t take into consideration that a customer today has to nurtured to make a conversion. 

Alternatives to Last Click Attribution Modelling

Luckily, Google Analytics offers several attribution models that marketers can use to get a more complete picture of their conversion efforts. There are several ways to do this. 

First, under the Multi-Channel Funnels report, you can select “Assisted Conversions” report and view how many of your conversions were multi-touch. Selecting the “Source / Medium” breakdown allows you to view how different channels function: either as more of an assisted tactic, or a direct tactic. 

assisted conversions in google analytics

A value closer to 0 in the final column means it’s a primarily final conversion tactic. If the value is close to 1, the channel operated equally as a direct and assist tactic.  If the value is over 1, it means the platform assisted in more of an “assist” role. 

Another favorite tool to compare Google Analytics’ Attribution Models is the Model Comparison Tool. At Tuff, we often use the “Last Interaction” vs, “First Interaction” report to identify demand generating campaigns and platforms. 

Google Analytics’ Attribution Models

In this report, we see that Facebook and Google ads have a 20% and 47% increase in attributed conversions when using the first-click attribution model. Google Analytics’ first interaction attribution model gives 100% of the credit to the first source a user interacts with before converting. 

A savvy marketer can also apply a secondary dimension to view campaign filters applied to dig into which ad campaigns on specific platforms are driving the majority of the initial interest in their brand and product. 

Using Google Analytics’ Attribution Models to Make Strategic Decisions

As you’ve probably guessed by now: the answer for how to use Google Analytics’ many different Attribution Models (we haven’t even touched on Time Decay, Linear, or Position Based models, or how to measure via Zero Party data) is not a “one size fits all” solution. 

Instead, we recommend comparing the different models, identifying what campaigns and channels are generating demand and interest for your products, and leveraging different optimization tactics to drive revenue for your brand. It takes more time to compare models, but the savings can be immense. Ready to see how Google Analytics’ first-click attribution modeling can unlock major demand generation wins at the top of funnel for your brand? Drop us a note.

online tool for tracking growth marketing metrics

Our Favorite Free PPC Budgeting Spreadsheet

online tool for tracking growth marketing metrics

With the PPC department expanding (Hi Chris, Adli, and Jesse!) and the need to keep an eye on ever-changing budgets, we built a PPC budget sheet that could keep up with both the growth of our partners and the growth of our team. 

In this post, we’ll explain why we created this for our PPC services, how we use it internally to drive better results as a growth marketing agency on Google Ads, YouTube Ads, Bing Ads, and across various programmatic platforms, as well as give you access to the spreadsheet that you can use.

Why we created one in-house (vs using an expensive tool)

In early 2020, when we were a much smaller team here at Tuff, we noted the importance of owning a Budget Tracker for PPC Campaigns. Whilst experiencing some of the growing pains that come with doubling the size of the Paid Search department, we needed a sheet that could better help us stay on top of campaigns internally and automate budget pacing – this would help us to save time on reporting. Ultimately, a sheet that would allow us to spend more time on our partner’s accounts and to allow us to be ahead of any overspending or understanding anomalies.

After browsing around online, we were faced with steep prices of over $100/month – all to provide the level of automation, number of reports, and user access necessary to tackle the challenges faced by our, now, much larger team. The truth is that our agency needs, lay somewhere between a basic spreadsheet and a pro plan with too many unnecessary bells and whistles. All we knew is that we desperately needed an upgrade.

In order to do this, within the constraints of our own time and budget, we had to answer some basic questions:

  • How do we create a more personalized budget sheet without losing the functionality we loved?
  • How can we collaborate more internally to keep up-to-date with team progress?
  • What kind of campaigns work in differing budget sizes, how can we find out quickly?
  • Can we all work in the same sheet, or do we require individual budget sheets?
  • Will this be used for other departments? 
  • Can we do all of this in a single streamlined document?

We also listed the features we’d want in our ideal version of a budget sheet:

  • Date tracking
  • Partner Name
  • Associated Budget
    • Monthly Budgeted Spend
    • Expected Spend
    • Month-To-Date Spend
    • Budget Pacing Percentage
  • Assigned Team Member
  • Notes

Date Tracking

ppc spreadsheet

First, we tackled the date tracking. We used the following formula to allow us to automate how many days there will be in that month – this helps us to calculate additional metrics, like “Expected Budgeted Spend”:


Partner Name

In order to pull in the PPC accounts associated with our Google Ad partners, we used the Google Sheets official Google Ads add-on. This allowed us to select all the partners under our manager account. Doing this in a single Google Ads report helped us by minimizing the number of sheets used to run multiple reports.

Associated Budget

One of the features of the Google Ads add-on is the ability to pull in several metrics in a single report. Obviously, we’d be pulling in spend data, but we’d also like a way to match the data back to the account name, campaign type, and some basic performance metrics. This is so that when there are any pacing issues due to misfiring campaigns, we are able to easily scan the performance data and identify the issue without opening up Google Ads.

Once this data is pulled into the report, we then created a query formula in a new spreadsheet so that we can match the relevant Ad Account with the Partner Name (should it be different to the given internal name), which leads us to our biggest challenge.

Assigned Team Member

Our previous budget sheet lacked the ability to show which account was associated with which strategist. On top of that, we were shifting accounts around a lot to balance out workloads, and work within our own onboarding process. We needed a sheet that could keep up with our own growing pains without.

Internally, we have a way of matching partners to our team members – this sheet is also coincidentally the perfect way of matching the naming conventions of our Google Ad accounts with the associated channel expert. After importing the necessary data via a Query formula to our spreadsheet, running a Vlookup of the partner name, and creating a simple Data Validation Dropdown, we were now able to make a more personalized, and organized, budget sheet for our team.

This dropdown feature includes every Tuff employee, meaning that should we want to create a universal budget sheet that could be used in other teams, they would be able to directly use a copy of this spreadsheet coupled with the add-on they wanted to use (i.e. a Growth Marketer could use Analytics, a Social Strategist, Facebook etc.)


ppc budget spreadsheet

A small, but important feature – the ability to keep notes. We left a cell open at the end of our data to jot down notes about the account. This leaves us the ability to make brief comments about potential budget changes, campaign pivots, or strategy changes. It also helps our team-lead to keep an eye on any important budget developments.

Get access to the spreadsheet here! 

How does the PPC team at Tuff utilize this new sheet?

As a team, we use this multiple times a week, making sure our monthly spend is aligned with our partner’s goals, and our notes are up-to-date. We meet weekly to go over changes, anomalies, or in-month adjustments, add it to our sheet, and use it as a platform for discussing test budgets.

We’ve also found use for the notes section to talk about campaign strategy shifts or pivots based on the data (e.g. if there are any campaigns struggling to spend, we will discuss changing campaign bidding strategy, CPA/ROAS targets, etc.)

Why it’s important and helps us drive value

As PPC Strategists at an expanding growth marketing agency, a small part of our role is managing budgets, with the bigger role being to meet our partners PPC KPIs.

This requires daily automation management on platforms like Google Ads – being able to see where we’re at financially, how we’ve progressed during the month, and how much left we have to spend, allows us to make more informed decisions for our partners. 

A budget sheet that is malleable enough to keep up with the growth of our existing partners, the growth of new partners, and growth of our own team is invaluable. Ultimately, we knew we needed an upgraded sheet that did all of this whilst still allowing us to work together as a team on staying on top of all budget fluctuations. Not only does this meet our needs, but we also save a couple bucks for ourselves!

typing on a computer using google ads

Google Ads Optimization Tips: The Key To Better Results

typing on a computer using google ads

Google Ads is one of the most powerful and effective marketing platforms available. With various campaign types stretching across Search, Display, YouTube, and even Gmail, Google Ads provides an opportunity for nearly any business that is looking to get in front of their ideal customer with cost-effective, scalable ads. 

However, despite Google’s consistent attempts at automating success with little ongoing management, Google Ads can quickly become an expensive platform with little return if you are not consistently and confidently optimizing your campaigns for better results. 

In this blog, I’ve gathered up Tuff’s talented PPC team and asked for advice and proven tips on campaign optimizations that can be applied across a variety of campaign types. The following tips are all tried & tested favorites of our PPC team, and hopefully can provide you with additional insights into improving your Google Ads campaign performance to make it a profitable, scalable arm of your marketing toolbelt. 

Improve Your Search Campaign Performance

Search ads are the most common and *debatably* the most effective Google Ads campaign type for most businesses. This is because search ads allow you to capture your ideal customer at the exact moment of search and when their intent is the most high. Unlike social or even YouTube ads which rely heavily on audience targeting and disruption tactics, search ads make it easy to deliver the right message at exactly the right time – the moment of search.

One downside of search ads can be high cost-per-clicks. This is moreso true in some industries vs. others, but the right campaign strategy and optimizations can work wonders in improving your search campaign performance, even in expensive industries, and this starts with ensuring that you are utilizing every weapon in Google’s search ad arsenal.

As Google moves to phase out expanded text ads by June 2022, it’s imperative that advertisers utilizing search ads begin the transition to Responsive Search Ads (RSA), Dynamic Keyword Insertion Ads and/or Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). In fact, we recommend you do this as soon as possible, if you haven’t already done so.

While Google’s shiniest, new features may not always perform the best when they’re first rolled out, RSA and DSA ads have been around for a while now, and they’re no longer just the new options on the block. In testing these more advanced ad formats, we’ve found great pockets of success in improving our ad relevance and ad rank scores, as Google is able to automatically apply the best performing, or most likely to be clicked, combination of headlines & descriptions at the time of search, leading to improved click-through rates. 

In addition to testing out the various types of search ads available, including all of the relevant campaign extensions will ensure that you are given yourself the best opportunity to show up in search results.

As a rule of thumb, sitelink extensions, structured snippet extensions, and call out extensions are a must. These three extension types provide more context and clickable links to your ad, allowing your ad to take up more space in the auction results to enhance your CTRs. 

Additionally, newly released image ad extensions have proven to be effective in our testing, increasing our CTRs over search ads that do not have an accompanying image ad extension. In fact, in one test, ads with image extensions for Tuff partner, Xendoo, averaged a 29% increase in CTRs vs. ads without image extensions. 

image extensions for Google Ads

Increase Shopping Revenue

If you’re in the business of selling products online, aka eCommerce, you probably already know that shopping campaigns on Google Ads provide an excellent opportunity to reach shoppers online at the moment of search. With intent as high as search ads, but with accompanying images and direct-to-product landing page links, shopping campaigns have the potential to be the top performing campaign type in your eCommerce marketing efforts. 

However, just like search campaigns, it’s not as easy as ‘set it and forget it’ (not yet at least). There are areas of optimization that can help your ads stick out from the results list, as well as give you an edge against competitors.

First, it’s incredibly important that you have fully optimized your product feed. The product feed is the lifeblood of your shopping campaign, and structuring your product feed for success can be the make or break difference in your campaign testing, especially because shopping campaigns do not target specific keywords. Instead, Google matches your product feed with relevant searches at the time of search, deciding which products and sellers show up. Your product feed is the only way to provide Google with the relevant information and context needed to get your products showing up for desired searches.

To structure your product feed for success, ensure that all of your product data is up-to-date and relevant, and also ensure that you’re taking advantage of all of the available attributes for your product type. Furthermore, you should ensure that you are including relevant keywords in your product titles and product descriptions. This is where Google will get the context it needs to surface your product for the right searches. If you’re searching and searching but still not seeing your product show up for your desired keywords, double check to make sure that those keywords, and other relevant context, is included in the product titles and descriptions.

Once the product feed is properly configured and flush with target keywords in your titles and descriptions, you can still optimize your campaigns further. One optimization technique is to provide Google with product review ratings. These product ratings will provide a front-end star rating on your product’s results in shopping campaigns, indicating social proof and previous customer trust in your product and brand. Adding these product ratings to your shopping campaign ads will help increase your CTR, potentially lower your CPC, and increase on-site conversions.

Google Ads shopping campaign optimizations

Dial In Your Audience & Placement Targeting

When you expand outside of search and shopping campaigns, both of which show your ads on the Google search results page, it becomes even more important to ensure that you’ve tested and dialed in your ideal audience and placement targets.

This can happen in many ways, but ultimately it’s imperative to ensure that the audiences you are targeting, whether it be in a Discovery campaign or on YouTube, are relevant to your overall campaign goal.

A bad example of campaign audience structuring we see often at Tuff is a structure that includes both prospecting and retargeting audiences within the same campaign. Because prospecting and retargeting are two different beasts that deserve two different messages, segmenting these audiences into specified prospecting and retargeting campaigns will improve your performance and ensure that you can tie in messaging that is specific to where the user is in their own journey. 

For example, a YouTube video ad designed to raise awareness to potential new customers should have a different message than a YouTube video ad served to an audience that is already familiar with your brand and further along the purchase funnel. Segmenting your campaigns by audience type will help you keep your messaging consistent to your audience.

Similarly, reviewing and optimizing your placement report to show your ads only on placements that are resulting in high quality traffic can push your Display & YouTube ads results to the next level.

One optimization tip we typically use at Tuff (not always, but in most cases), is to exclude Mobile App Placements from being targeted by your Display campaigns. If you’ve ever launched a Display campaign and see really poor results, chances are Mobile App placements are eating a lot of your budget. Google knows Mobile App placement inventory is plentiful and cheap, so naturally Display campaigns will optimize towards these placements. However, time and time again we see these placements performing poorly, delivering traffic that does not perform as well as site or even YouTube channel placements.

Continuous Optimization

Google Ads can work wonders for most businesses looking to spend on advertising that is effective and scalable. However, the work doesn’t end once you launch the campaign – in fact, the majority of the work has just begun. Continuous optimization of your campaigns will improve your performance and drive better results. 

If you’re looking for best-in-class PPC campaign management, schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your existing campaigns and help take your PPC campaigns to the next level.

Non-Branded Custom Intent Targeting on YouTube: Cut Your CPCs by 50%

Person reading a book about YouTube ads strategy.

It’s no secret that YouTube Ads are extremely effective if done right. The perfect combination of quality video creative with strong targeting can help a business achieve its online marketing goals, whether that is to increase brand awareness or increase on-site conversions. 

While placement targeting options such as channel, video, and topic targeting are all great options to reach your specific target on YouTube, YouTube audience targeting is also incredibly effective. But, going beyond Google, creating affinity and in-market audiences, and leveraging powerful Custom Audiences may help you achieve your best results – and, potentially save some money on expensive search terms. 

What are Custom Audiences?

Custom Audiences on Google can be created using recent keyword searches. However, only campaign types with placements entirely on Google-owned properties, such as YouTube campaigns, have the availability to create Custom Audiences that are created with people using keywords recently searched on Google. On non-Google owned properties, such as websites opted into the Google Display Network that your ad may show on, the Custom Audience is created with people with any of the search term interests or purchase intentions. 

When creating audiences using keywords, you have two options: create an audience using your branded keywords, or create an audience using non-branded keywords. 

When To Try Custom Audience Targeting on YouTube

With the ability to target the people who are searching for your targeted keywords in a potentially more cost-effective way, Custom Audience targeting is an exciting and effective audience type, particularly for industries with high search CPCs. This is often the case with non-branded keywords. 

Imagine, you are getting your best performance out of your non-branded search campaigns, but CPCs continue to rise. How else can you continue to get in front of people actively searching for your keywords if you don’t want to pay for ever-increasing search campaigns CPC prices? By creating a Custom Audience out of your non-branded keyword targets, and targeting this audience on YouTube, of course!

Additionally, if you already have video assets, this strategy is a no-brainer. To prove it, check out this example from a test we recently ran for our partner, Team Bootcamp. Team Bootcamp had already been highly successful at advertising their ‘Anatomy Bootcamp’ all-in-one online study tool with YouTube by targeting a list of highly matched YouTube channels. 

When looking to scale this success on YouTube and increase the volume of free trial sign ups, I knew that we would have to look for additional targeting options available. At the same time, we also had been testing a non-branded search campaign on Google that was yielding very promising conversion rates, but high CPCs, resulting in a cost per conversion that was higher than we were comfortable paying for. Enter our non-branded Custom Audience test!

To target those same keywords that we had proven to convert with search, we created a Custom Audience of non-branded keywords using the keywords that delivered the best results from our search campaign. 

Here is what the audience creation process looks like. As you can see, you simply plug in your keywords and Google will also provide audience insights on the right hand side.

youtube ad targeting


(Although Google recommends creating a Custom Audience using 50 or more search terms, I have actually seen better results when creating the audience using 5 terms or less.).

Before even spending $100, we saw excellent results, with a cost per conversion of less than a third of the cost from the search campaign. The combination of winning video creative with a highly targeted audience was producing great results. This signaled to us it was time to invest a greater percentage of our monthly ad budget in the YouTube campaign.


What If You Don’t Have Video Assets?

If you don’t have video assets but would like to try out a Custom Intent audience made up of actual search terms and not just “purchase interests,” you can still achieve this through using a campaign type with placements only on Google-owned properties, such as Gmail or Discovery. In fact, running a Google Discovery Ads campaign will also get you placements on YouTube mobile, without even needing a video ad.

This is a strategy we leveraged for Tuff partner, Dial + Bezel. When helping Dial + Bezel launch their brand new website and watch auction platform, we wanted to attract an engaged audience, but after testing a non-branded search campaign, we knew it wouldn’t be sustainable for this start-up to pay a premium on search CPC clicks. 

Instead, we again leveraged a non-branded Custom Audience and used it to target people searching for the keywords we tried paying for on search. Not only did we see CPCs of one-tenth of search, we saw on-site performance that was nearly identical, indicating that we were hitting the targeted audience that we wanted to hit, without having to pay for search CPCs.

Youtube Campaign Results

Even if you don’t have video assets and therefore can’t advertise on YouTube, you can still find your audience, and good results, using Custom Audiences on Discovery.


As the competition continues to increase year-over-year for placements in the top 4 results of Google Search ads, costs continue to rise for clicks across multiple industries. Although search campaigns have the highest intent targeting available, they also often have the highest costs. Utilizing Google’s Custom Audiences on Google-owned properties such as YouTube can give you the ability to reach your desired audience without breaking the bank.


The Biggest Mistake Most Businesses Make When Investing in PPC

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

What is the ROI on your PPC channels and how does it compare to your other digital marketing efforts?

If you can’t answer this question, you’re not alone.

When it comes to digital marketing, PPC is a critical piece of the client acquisition mix. Done right, it can bring you more leads, more sales, and more revenue. Done poorly, it can quickly become a big expense with minimal return.

After managing millions of dollars in ad spend, $4.4 million in 2020, to be exact, we’ve learned that one of the most critical components to account success is managing campaigns to an efficient ROI. It’s our favorite and most telling metric. Understanding ROI from your paid digital advertising campaigns means tracking leads from click to close and measuring revenue on a per-channel (or campaign) basis.

When you understand which campaigns and channels are actually generating revenue, you’ll know where you’re making or losing money and have a powerful data set to share with your fellow executives and investors.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to invest in Google, Bing, and YouTube for the long-term and learn about the unlimited opportunity to maximize your ROI.

How to identify an ROI target

When it comes to maximizing your results with PPC, the first step is to identify an ROI target. While this can be difficult to track, it’s one of the most important KPIs for your business and advertising health.

How do you determine an ROI target for your PPC efforts? Here’s how we do it:

(Sales – Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = ROI

So, if a PPC campaign generated $1,000 sales and the PPC campaign cost $100, then the campaign ROI is 900%.

($1000-$100) / $100 = 900%

While this doesn’t account for Lifetime Value (LTV), it’s still one of the most important metrics for you to track so you can make informed budget decisions.

How to invest in and evaluate your PPC to yield the highest ROI

Now that you’ve set an ROI target, the next step is to evaluate your performance based on ROI. It seems simple yet too often companies come to us after running PPC campaigns with uncertain feelings as to whether or not it’s working. Instead of just looking at top of the funnel metrics like reach or clicks, once you have your ROI targets, we monitor results and evaluate performance based on ROI.

The cadence of your reports should be determined on your lead-to-close time. For example, if you typically close a lead in a 7-day window, you might look to do weekly reporting. We’ve also worked with clients with longer lead-to-close times, as long as an average of 3 months. In cases like this, you might look to do quarterly evaluations.

With ROI reporting, we track the following metrics at the account level:

  • Spend
  • Traffic
  • Sales/Leads
  • Cost Per Visitor
  • Sales Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per Sale/Lead
  • ROI

The biggest mistake most businesses make when investing in PPC

To evaluate your PPC campaigns and their true effectiveness, it is important to ensure that you are tracking your conversions properly within the PPC platform. It is also crucial to understand your conversion’s attribution window, which can be set on a conversion level within the PPC platform, and what this attribution window means. Not understanding this will lead you to measure the success of your PPC campaigns with an ill-informed understanding of how your campaigns are performing and will lead to bad optimizations and poor return.

The attribution window of a conversion is different than the lead-to-close time discussed above and specifically refers to conversions. Simply put, the attribution window is the length of time in which a click or a view (in the case of Display or YouTube) from a campaign can be credited for a conversion.

It is important to determine and set the attribution window for each conversion based on your specific business and conversion goals within the PPC platform so that you can measure your campaign’s true effectiveness.

Consider this example for Tuff partner, Joyn. In a push to register free trials to Joyn’s subscription at-home workout platform in 2021, we’ve heavily leveraged YouTube in-streams ads to gain brand awareness at a low cost.

Because we’ve optimized our YouTube ads for brand awareness metrics, like lowest cost per view, we knew that if we measured cost per sign up with a short click-through and view-through conversion attribution window, YouTube ads would look to be underperforming as rarely will a viewer click through on a brand awareness ad and sign up, especially when introducing the brand to new users for the first time. 

Brand awareness ads are playing a top of the funnel, educational, and nurturing role in the customer journey. With this in mind, to measure their true impact, we determined a click-through conversion window of 1 week and a view-through conversion window of 2 weeks from awareness YouTube ad view to sign up was a fair measure of the campaign’s success.

This means that if someone views our ad and then signs up for a free trial within 2 weeks, the video ad last viewed will be credited for the conversion. Or, if someone views our ad and then clicks to the site and converts within 1 week, the last ad clicked will be credited for the conversion. Now, we can determine if these video ads played a role in influencing free trial sign ups beyond a simple last non-direct click conversion like the standard measurement within Google Analytics.

In a situation similar to this, you may elect to use view-through conversions in your total conversion calculations when determining the role your ads have played in the customer journey.

Why thinking long-term yields the greatest returns

In this blog post, we’ve talked a lot about ROI and managing your PPC accounts to an accountable ROI target. Ensuring you are understanding the true impact of your PPC campaigns and conversion tracking will set you up for long term success and more informed decision making.

While a high return is generally the key goal for your PPC efforts as a whole, optimizing for the right conversion and understanding how your campaigns play a role in the customer journey will help you get there..

From plug-in equations to determine your ROI to higher level strategy focused on customer retention, PPC is a powerful and important digital marketing tool. 

Empowered with data, you can learn how to yield the highest PPC ROI for your campaigns.

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.

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. 


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 Type Cost Options
Search CPC
Display CPC, Viewable CPM (cost per mille or cost per 1,000 viewable impressions)
Discovery CPC
Gmail CPC (charged for clicks to open the email message. Clicks from opened message to website are not charged)
Shopping CPC
YouTube CPV 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.

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.