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

Renogy solar panel on RV

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

The renewable energy industry is growing, big time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started with a profit-focused strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, flipped standard shopping to smart

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

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

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

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

Google ads shopping campaign.

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

And finally, bulked up sales with the right promos

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

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

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

We’d love to work with you.

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

And stay tuned for a Q3 update!

A person shopping online.

How To Optimize Your Google Shopping Product Feed

Example of Google shopping ad.

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

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

What This Means For Your Shopping Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Google shopping feed optimization chart.

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

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

How You Can Optimize Your Product Feed

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

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

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

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

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

Product Titles

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

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

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

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

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

Product Descriptions

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

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

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

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

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

Product Images

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

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

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

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

Over to you!

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

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

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

 

tuff-facebook-ad-copywriting-strategies

4 Proven Strategies to Improve Your Retargeting Ad Campaigns

Retargeting ad campaigns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Google ads retargeting

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

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

Retargeting trends.

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

How can we act on this information?

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

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

Segment Remarketing Lists Based On Actions Taken On-Site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example of a segmented remarketing audience:

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

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

Why is this audience better?

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

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

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

3. Exclude Mobile App Placements

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

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

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

Why does this happen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

tuff-30-minute-ppc-audit

The 30-Minute PPC Audit Anyone Can Do

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

Original Publication Date: January 1, 2020 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date Range

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

Google Ads performance.

Metrics

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

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

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

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

PPC Audit Checklist

Review Campaign Settings

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

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

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

Screenshot of Google AdWords Campaigns dropdown

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

Access Ad Group Relevancy

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Extensions

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

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

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

Google ad call extensions

Check Number of Ads and Ad Copy

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

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

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

Review Settings

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

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

Key items to focus on:

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

Review Audience Targeting 

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

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

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

Google ads audience targeting.

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

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

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

Triple Check Conversion Tracking

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

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

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

Your turn!

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

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

We’d love to work with you.

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

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5 Simple Strategies to Improve PPC Results

One of the most exciting pieces of working on PPC is that every account is different and some tactics that work for one account may not work for another.

However, every time we roll up our sleeves and start a new campaign or want to see changes in a current campaign, we have 5 go-to strategies we feel confident will improve PPC results.

In this post, we share 5 straightforward ways to improve your PPC performance — all of which are proven and have worked for us.

What’s included?

  • Can we reduce non-converting spend?
  • Can we improve our keyword match types?
  • Can we align our ad copy more closely to our landing page?
  • Can we make bid adjustments by device?
  • Can we utilize remarketing lists for search ads?

Let’s dive in!

#1: Can we reduce non-converting spend?

This is a quick, yet effective strategy. Can you identify keywords that have lots of impressions and clicks, but no conversions or orders? This is called a non-converting keyword: a keyword that spends a significant amount of your budget without providing a valuable return on your investment. It’s important not to get distracted by the vanity metric of clicks, the end goal is conversion.

Reviewing your account and identifying non-converting keywords will help you:

Eliminate waste:
Optimize or pause keywords that have not converted.

Improve the user experience:
Investigate keywords that have a high CTR and high Bounce Rate because this means that the keyword is relevant to the ad but the landing page is probably not correct.

We recently used this strategy when we took over the Adwords account for Jackson Tree Service. This technique helped reduce their Cost Per Click (CPC) by 45% and increase their Click Through Rate (CTR) by 39%. 

#2: Can we improve our keyword match types?

Broad match keywords can be costly because they often generate a large amount of unqualified traffic. Can you, on a weekly basis, use more restrictive match types (modified broad and exact) to filter out unqualified traffic? While clicks may decrease, you’ll be showing your ads to more high intent search terms which will improve sales and increase quality scores.

Broad match is the default match type for keywords unless you select a specific match type. Because broad matched keywords are aimed at capturing a large number of impressions and reach, your ad can show on irrelevant search causing costs to rise fast. Monitor your account for low quality keywords and eliminate any broad match terms that are monopolizing your budget.

For more examples on keyword match types, check out this help doc from Google Adwords support center.

#3: Can we align our ad copy more closely to our landing page?

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 landing page to the ad copy served on Google.

Here’s an example: If you are a landscaping company in Denver and bidding on the keyword ‘+professional +lawn +service +company +near +me”, you’ll want your ad copy to include the terms “lawn services”, your url extensions to include lawn/service, and your ad description to mention “lawn services”.

In addition to making sure you align your keyword closely with your ad copy, send them directly to a page showcasing your lawn services.

#4: Can we make bid adjustments by device?

If desktop is performing significantly better than your campaign’s average cost per order, and tablet is performing significantly worse, it probably makes sense to increase bids on desktop, while decreasing bids on tablet. This doesn’t mean you have to turn off a device completely. By bringing each segment’s performance closer to the overall average, your campaign should become more efficient and yield more total conversions.

You can see how your campaigns are doing by selecting a campaign, going to your settings tab and clicking “device”. This example shows bid adjustments for desktop and tablet.

#5: Can we utilize remarketing lists for search and display ads?

With remarketing audiences, you have the ability to increase bids for users who are more likely to convert than your average Joe on the street who has never heard of your company and might not be a quality click. This gives you the ability to potentially bid down across product category Search campaigns as a whole but bid higher on audiences more likely to convert. If you have a product category that has a low ROI and isn’t bringing in new 01’s, you can only serve this category to returning visitors.

In order to leverage a remarketing list, you first must place the Adwords Remarketing tag on your website. To access to retargeting tag, open your Adwords account and select “Shared library” from the left menu bar. Under Shared library, select audiences.

If you’re creating a remarketing list for the first time, you’ll see several remarketing options. Under “Website visitors,” click “Set up remarketing” and complete the setup process

Over to you! We’re excited to share our strategies, open up conversations on PPC and learn all together. What PPC strategies do you lean on when looking to supercharge results?

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.

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The Biggest Mistake Most Businesses Make When Investing in PPC

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 be a huge expense with minimal return.

After managing millions of dollars in ad spend 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 PPC 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. If your PPC reporting looks like the below screenshot, it’s bad and good. Bad because you’re missing an opportunity to be more data-informed but good because we can work on it.

Instead of just looking at top of the funnel metrics like reach or clicks shown in the report above, 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
  • Cost Per Visitor
  • Sales Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per Sale
  • ROI

The biggest mistake most businesses make when investing in PPC

Our most successful PPC clients also focus on retention. Rather than putting their entire budget into the upfront traffic drivers and then hoping their leads will turn into profitable clients over time, they apply proven customer retention strategies that lead to high ROI on their PPC investments.

Before launching your PPC efforts make sure your retention plan is solid. It’s hard to have the foresight to plan for every bump a customer might run into but making sure your team is empowered to spring into action on the customer’s behalf is critical. You’ll end up wasting time and money if the clicks you acquire through PPC don’t stick around.

To share an example, we have an existing client that consistently generates 100 leads per month from Adwords. We’ve been working with their team closely on PPC for over 15 months. In Q1 of 2018, we saw average returns  – for every $1 we spent, the business made $2. We spent $40,000 each month and we got $80,000 each month in return. While this was positive, our other marketing channels were operating at a 3:1 return. By the end of March, we were so unsatisfied with our gains that we almost walked away from Adwords and Bing completely.

In May, we tried something new and it changed the situation completely. Instead of focusing on the click, or PPC channel, we dug deeper on the post-click. Asking, once we get a user to the site, how do we get them to convert? Once we get a user to call us, how do we close the sale? We listened to over 200 phone calls and found that certain sales reps were more successful with internet leads than others. We rerouted the PPC calls to a specific group of sales reps and within 30 days our ROI when from 2:1 to 7:1. We spent the same budget, generated the same amount of monthly leads, but increased revenue by 600%.

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. While a high return is generally the key goal for your PPC efforts as a whole, picking a metric that’s relevant to your campaign objective is equally important.

For example, one of our clients is actively advertising on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Adwords. We use these channels in a comprehensive cross-channel PPC effort to funnel customers through the path-to-purchase.

When it comes to YouTube, we use this channel to strengthen brand awareness and open up the funnel to as many potential people as possible. Because of this, we evaluate our YouTube campaigns based on reach and impression metrics, rather than ROI. We then use Facebook and Instagram to retarget video viewers and drive as much quality traffic to the site as possible. We evaluate these campaigns by click metrics. Last but not least, we then use a combination of Adwords and Bing campaign types to drive sales. Our collective PPC efforts – YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and Adwords – are then evaluated by an ROI target.

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.

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Top 5 Common PPC Questions Our Paid Acquisition Expert Answers

Running paid ads on Google, Facebook, and various other paid platforms is often new and exciting to any business owner looking to crack into new sources of leads. In my role as a Paid Advertising Specialist at Tuff, I partner with CMOs and business owners and get the opportunity to answer their initial questions when getting started. Here are the most common PPC questions and responses to those questions.

Let’s dive in!

1. Is PPC right for my business?

This is a big one, the most high level of common PPC questions. Owners and entrepreneurs have seen ads all over the internet and usually have fair concerns about the validity and effectiveness of them. I look to a few specific things to answer this question:

What industry are you in?

The type of business you operate is of big concern to me. If you are a niche business with no competition and Keyword traffic, PPC is a great fit for you. If you are a brand new Real Estate Investor in a crowded NYC market that has a ton of expensive competition, PPC would be a tough nut to crack. Usually clients fall somewhere in the middle and it’s my job to find the sweet spot in the market space.

Do you have systems in place to handle leads?

It’s not a great experience for potential customers if there isn’t a sales funnel or process in place to convert this new channel of incoming leads. It’s important to ask yourself, does my business have a reliable CRM? Will my business be able to provide a reasonable amount of creative flexibility with landing pages to test new traffic? Do we have a reliable IT process?

How much traffic is out there for you?

This might be the most important starter question. I always check if there is enough traffic out there looking for exactly what your business does, using Keyword tools like Keyword Planner, and SpyFu. Bottom line, if there’s not enough traffic PPC might not be the answer. Traffic doesn’t just mean Keyword impressions, it could also include audience groupings for display, youtube, facebook, etc. If there aren’t market segments that exist already, you would essentially be creating a market, and for a lot of business owners the capital to do that is limiting.

2. How much should I spend?

This usually comes on the heels of agreeing that PPC is right for you. Now, it’s time for me to align PPC expectations:

What are your goals?

There is a big difference between looking for engagement to drive leads and looking to drive sales of a very expensive online item through paid ads. This question is an opportunity for me to set realistic expectations based on experience and traffic estimates. This is also a great time to be more specific about how we plan to turn cold traffic into warm traffic through blogs, white papers, videos, etc. This is where an experienced PPC manager will explain that turning extremely cold traffic into a sale through one ad and landing page might be too big of an ask.

What is the lifetime value of your customers?

The lifetime value of your customer is an important metric to track. This metric should be ingrained within the decisions you make about balancing your own books. Knowing the lifetime value also helps a PPC manager assess how much we should spend to get a lead and customer or sale through the paid advertising.

Knowing these two things helps me set a baseline budget for testing and makes sure I’m optimizing my campaigns against the right ROI targets.

3. What will I get in return?

So, we’ve decided PPC is right for you and set a budget for testing. Then, we dive into some more questions:

What are you hoping to get in return?

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. During this stage, I work with you to set reasonable lead and ROI targets.

What are your historic conversion rates from traffic to lead?

This is a necessary metric to know as a PPC manager. With these historic numbers, I can set a baseline for your PPC performance. If conversion rates are too low based on PPC traffic, your targeting isn’t hot enough.

What are your historic conversion rates from Lead to Sale?

Similar to above, this metric is important to grade the continuity of your marketing efforts from ad to sale. If you are getting a ton of leads but no sales, a) your ads aren’t in line with the messaging on site, or b) the site in general isn’t great at converting colder traffic. As an end-to-end growth agency, we love analyzing if it’s a or b and can help optimize either.

With all the above, you can forecast some average conversion rates and some very conservative numbers on what you can expect from the PPC efforts.

4. What platforms should I be on?

This is where we breakdown the platforms for our clients and help them select the right channels to reach their goals. As a general rule, if the objective is brand awareness, we’ll typically start with Facebook, Instagram, or Pre-Roll YouTube ads. Video is an excellent ad format when it comes to reach and impressions, so we’ll often push for this type of creative asset to maximize brand lift.

If you’re bootstrapped and on budget looking to drive leads, conversions, or sales, we often launch search campaigns on Google and Bing knowing these might be more expensive clicks, but should convert at a higher rate than other platforms since users are actively searching for a solution or product. In other words, the search intent is higher.

Selecting the right platform to reach your objectives is one of the single most important pieces of the strategy phase. And, in the ideal world, we leverage a handful of PPC channels to reach potential customers at every stage of the buyer funnel – from awareness, consideration, and conversion with a variety of ad formats and retargeting.

5. I see my competition all over the internet. How can I do that?

You’re right to think that way. If your competition is doing it they’re taking money off the table. We like to investigate a little further with this common PPC question:

Is copying your competition best? (Think USP)

Any PPC manager should remind you that copying the competition isn’t always the best strategy. Maybe they’re doing a great job and you can borrow a thing or two, but ultimately, they are separate businesses with separate Unique Selling Propositions that should be built into the ads.

Are they bidding on your brand?

If competition is bidding on your brand terms you should 100% get into the game. That other business is stealing business from you, bottom line. From personal experience, businesses have had shut their doors because other digital marketers have cannibalized their brand terms online.

Are they across all platforms?

This is great to research because it can yield opportunities for an account manager. What if a business is slaying it on Amazon but not on Google? What if a huge brand is owning Google but not on Bing, and that competitor can bid on their brand terms? What if none of them are on FB?

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.