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7 Low Budget PPC Marketing Tips for Startups

Intent-based marketing channels like PPC can be a true gold mine for startups. If done right, you’ll be able to introduce traffic that’s already in-market for your product/service to a better alternative: your business! While PPC can be super effective when it comes to brand recognition and even conversion, if you’re not careful—creating an airtight strategy, setting up campaigns correctly, and closely monitoring the results and optimizing accordingly—PPC can quickly drain your budget and leave you without much to show for it.

So, how do you go about low-cost marketing? How do you get more leads and exposure for your startup on a tight budget? The good news: we’ve got some answers for you.

And, if you’re in the market for not just answers but also executional help, we’ve got you on that one. We’re a startup marketing agency that helps early-stage startups, scaleups, and even enterprise-level businesses supercharge PPC so that it becomes a notable contributor to their overall growth. 

Read on to get an eyeful of PPC marketing tips for startups on a low budget.

Map out Your Strategy

As with any marketing strategy, defining your goals from the get-go is crucial to setting yourself up for success with PPC

Start by asking yourself what the most important KPIs for your business are. Is it leads? Transactions? Subscriptions? Once you’ve determined this key step, you’ll be able to easily map out clear KPI targets and set up conversion goals within Google Analytics.

Here’s how to set up your first conversion goal: 

  • Click the gear icon in the bottom left to go to the “Admin” section
  • Under “View” in the right-hand column, click “Goals”

setting up goals in google analytics

  • Click the big red “New Goal” button at the top
  • Enter in the name of your goal. For example: Contact Lead or Newsletter Subscriber
  • Under “Type” select “Destination” then click “Continue”

step 2 of setting up goals in google analytics

  • In the Goal Details section, enter the web address of your thank you page. Notice the suggestion under the field. Don’t enter the full URL with the domain name. Just enter the address of the page, such as “/thank-you”

final step - setting up goals in google analytics

  • Click “Save” and you’re all set!

Develop Effective Keyword Targeting

Effective keyword targeting is another critical part of your strategy. Before you spend a dollar, you’ll want to dive deep and map out the best keywords to target and organize them according to where in the funnel users will be when they use them.

Best-case scenario, you’ll want to prioritize Bottom Of Funnel (BOF) keywords, also known as “High Intent Keywords” rather than Top Of Funnel (TOF) keywords, or terms that might indicate a user is early in their research phase or are searching for something related to, but not super specific to what you do or offer.

google ppc keyword selection

For example, if your startup sells digital marketing courses, you’ll want to make sure you’re targeting users who are further down the purchase funnel. These users are typically ready to sign up and have likely completed the research phase so your conversion rates should generally be higher. 

When dealing with a low budget marketing strategy, effective keyword targeting will save you more money by showing your ad to the people who’re more likely to take action. 

Determine a Bid Strategy

In short: there are a number of different ways to tell Google how to spend your money. While there are more automated ways to spend, it’s definitely to your benefit to invest the bit of extra time and effort to manage your budget manually, at least when campaigns are new and there’s still a lot to learn about what works and what’s underperforming.

  • Manual Bidding: Despite the friendly warning from Google, manual bidding is typically the best place to start out for PPC. Manual bidding allows you to have full control over your campaigns, set individual keyword bids, and control cost. While this does require more time-investment—since you’re removing Google’s ability to do the optimizations with automated bidding—you’ll learn quicker and be able to set yourself up for more long-term success.
  • Enhanced CPC: This bid strategy is very similar to Manual bidding but it allows Google to take some control over keyword bids. With Enhanced CPC, you are still able control most of the bidding but now you’re giving Google the opportunity to adjust bids in individual auctions based on the likelihood that click will lead to a sale. You can consider this bid strategy like having Google as an assistant, but not your boss.
  • Maximize Conversions: You’ve finally entered the world of full automation. This means you no longer have control over keyword bids, and you’re allowing Google to take the wheel. The goal of Maximize Conversions is to try and get the most amount of conversions within your budget.
  • Target CPA: Target CPA (cost per acquisition) is a fully automated bid strategy where advertisers set a target cost per conversion, and then Google adjusts bids to generate as many conversions as possible at that CPA.
  • Target ROAS: This is nearly the same as Target CPA, but with return on ad spend (ROAS) instead. With this strategy, Google Ads will predict future conversion and conversion value performance based on your historical data to enter auctions. It will adjust bids in real time to maximize conversion value while trying to achieve the Target ROAS goal you’ve set at the ad group, campaign, or portfolio level. This bid strategy is mainly used for eCommerce brands.
  • Maximize Clicks: This strategy is very similar to Maximize Conversions but instead focuses on clicks. With Maximize Clicks, Google will work to get as many clicks as possible while spending your daily budget. This strategy can be great if you’re trying to drive more volume to your site and accumulate more data quickly.

At Tuff, we strongly recommend starting off with a manual bid strategy like Enhanced CPC before transitioning into automated bidding. If done right, utilizing automated bidding can be a huge win for your marketing strategy but you need to be careful when implementing. If you do not have enough conversion data for Google’s machine learning to work off of and you switch to automation too early, this approach can end up draining your budget without being able to very effectively drive results.

Pause Keywords with Poor Performance and add Negative Keywords

Even though you have your Google Analytics goals dialed, an amazing list of keywords to target, and your bid strategy locked in, sometimes you might not see conversions as expected. And that’s OK! Keep monitoring your keyword performance regularly and identify keywords with poor performance. In some cases, a keyword that’s performing well today may not perform as well two months later. So if you see a keyword that is not driving effective results, pause it.

In addition to this, make sure you are constantly building up a list of negative keywords. This list should contain search terms that you are 100% set on not showing for. Although yours might end up looking a little different, there are various categories that generally apply to most of the clients we have worked with. Here are our top ones:

  • Job Related – job, job opening, job openings, jobs, looking for work, new hires, occupation, occupations, opening, openings, opportunities, opportunity, part time, recruiter, recruiters, recruiting, recruitment, resume, resumes, salaries, work.
  • Research & Stats: about, article, book, case study, data, define, definition, example, diagram, forum, example, history, journal, maps, metrics, news, reports, samples, tutorials, what are, statistics.
  • DIY: crafts, diy, do it yourself, handmade, how can I, how do I, how does, how to, making.
  • Informational: what are, what is, when can, when I, where can, wiki, wikipedia, theory, weather, newspaper, newsletter, meaning of.

In order to add negatives effectively, always make sure to only add exact match negatives if the keyword contains anything that is still relevant to your business. For example, if you find that you served for “digital marketing jobs” and you don’t offer jobs, you’ll want to add an exact match negative for [digital marketing jobs]. If you don’t, you’ll potentially be excluding all and any searches involving digital marketing entirely.

Only Advertise Where You Can Deliver

Although it might be tempting to try to test multiple marketing networks at once, it’s best that you take a granular approach and focus on areas that can bring you the most ROI. For example, if you’re trying to drive conversions on your eCommerce site, you’ll want to begin by advertising your most popular products or best sellers before introducing your entire inventory. This will allow you to maximize your PPC budget to get the highest return on your investment.

You can also use location targeting to limit the areas or regions your ads are eligible to show in. With location targeting, you can get as specific or as broad as you’d like. From mile radius to zip codes to countries, the possibilities are endless.

Here’s a screenshot of one of our accounts where we are prioritizing specific locations:

location based targeting in Google Ads

In this situation, we are only targeting historically high performing zip codes within the United States. Not only did this allow us to maximize our trim budget, we were able to significantly increase conversion rates at a lower cost.

Scope Out the Competition

As part of Tuff’s process, we always conduct competitor analysis utilizing SEMrush to see what others in the industry are already doing. Take the time to research your competitors, identify their PPC approach and make yours better. Perhaps you offer cheaper prices, better discounts, higher quality, or additional features. Whatever it is that makes you stand out, include it in marketing strategy.

When it comes to conducting a PPC competitor analysis, there are several key areas and metrics to pay attention to:

  • Targeted Keywords: The best part about utilizing online visibility tools like SEMrush, is that you can see what keywords your competitors are actively bidding on. This can give clues into their marketing goals. Are they targeting conversion-focused keywords? Or, does their choice of keywords suggest that their campaigns are focused more on brand awareness? Most often than not, your competitors have already done their own version of keyword research so this will give you a better idea of what keywords to target. 
  • Ad Copy: If you’re new to PPC marketing, studying your competitors’ ad copy can be a great way to inspire your own ad messaging and achieve stronger clickthrough rates. As mentioned before, you’ll want to include a special discount or deal that is more appealing than anything your competition offers.
  • Landing Pages: Your competitor’s website can tell you a lot about the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Do they have a form fill or call button above the fold? Is their site mobile friendly? What are their page speeds like? Being able to find any weaknesses or issues on a competitor’s site will allow you to not make those same mistakes.

Don’t “Set it and Forget it”

If you’re thinking that you’re done after your initial campaign setup, you’re about to flush some budget. When you’re managing a PPC account, you should always be monitoring performance on a weekly, if not, daily basis. This also involves constantly adjusting bids, adding negative keywords, and testing new ad copy to find what converts the best. 

Without the proper PPC ad management, things can go downhill rather quickly, which can have a negative effect on your campaign’s performance and ROI. So, make sure to always monitor and maintain your PPC campaigns, and refine them to yield better outcomes. 

Better yet, work to do an audit every three months at the latest. A thorough audit only needs to take a short 30 minutes and it can make a massive difference when it comes to performance and ROI. Not sure where to start? We broke it down step-by-step!

Ready, Set, Bid!

True, PPC is highly competitive. But it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems! And, it can drive powerful business results that can help you set the stage for growth. If you dedicate yourself to putting in a little more effort into planning and crafting your marketing strategy, you can run low-budget campaigns that drive big results.

The tips we have provided above will help you get the best out of your PPC campaigns. Remember, analyze performance and let your findings guide your marketing tactics. No campaign is perfect; it only gets better with every data-backed change. And, if you find yourself ready to see results but without the time to spend, let’s talk!

tuff-the-biggest-mistake-most-businesses-make-when-investing-in-ppc

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.

team working on google ads

How Much Do Google Ads Cost?

team working on google ads

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

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

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

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

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

Google Ads’ Cost Across Campaigns

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

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

 

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

 

Google Search Ads

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

Google Display Ads

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

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

Discovery Ads

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

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

Gmail Ads

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

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

Shopping Ads

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

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

YouTube Ads

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

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

Google Ads’ Cost in Your Industry

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

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

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

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

How to Estimate the Cost of Your Google Ads Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

Quality Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data to measure your ecommerce conversion rate.

Pairing Market Boom With an eCommerce Growth Strategy

ebike in the snow

When we think about a brand as a good fit for us at Tuff, we look to their current traction and historical growth. How’s their momentum currently and how have they been growing?

Based on the answers to these questions, we then think through whether our team will be helpful to them. Will our strength in Growth strategy specifically around services like Social Advertising, PPC, and SEO be channels that we can drive significant growth month over month? 

In addition to larger growth marketing opportunities, we look to a brand’s success within their market as well as that market’s current growth. Is it an industry that is booming or stagnant? How does the brand’s offering work within that market and how is that market responding to them? 

We then seek to pair external market forces with a growth strategy.

A great example of how we paired market boom with an incredibly smart growth strategy is from our partnership with QuietKat. 

QuietKat is an electric bike retailer based out of Eagle, Colorado that sells direct-to-consumer, on Amazon, and through a network of large and mid-sized retailers including within the Cabelas and Bass Pro Shop network. 

Unlike many electric bike brands within the cycling industry, QuietKat’s primary audience is not your typical urban commuter. Instead for the last few years, they’ve been carving out a place for themselves with a hunting and outdoorsmen space. 

Turns out that electric bikes, in addition to hauling groceries and kids in an urban environment, are also ideal for backcountry hunting when outfitted with fat tire mountain bike tires and accessories. 

Electric bikes are specifically good for hunters due to their quiet and stealthy approach (hence the name QuietKat) combined with new battery efficiency that gives riders the ability to go further for longer. 

QuietKat came to Tuff to talk about growth in March 2020. Their success in the hunting space had propelled them to seek new audience growth within the Outdoor space.

As mentioned, before we bring on new partners, we do our research to make sure that specific clients are a good fit for Tuff. QuietKat was no different, we did our homework and spent time pouring over historical data, Electric Bike Industry insights, and projections for where the market was headed.  

From our research, we found numerous opportunities for growth within QuietKat’s offering that would pair perfectly with Tuff’s Growth expertise. In addition, we learned that the E-Bike Market was in the midst of a Market BOOM. In short, while e-bikes had taken years to gain popularity outside of niche customer markets specifically for environmentally conscious buyers, the market had shifted sometime in the late 2010s and the mass opinion had decided that electric bikes were ‘in’ and were buying them quicker than brands could build them. 

For example, during our research, we found that Rad Power Bikes, an urban commuter electric bike industry leader from Seattle, had one of their largest revenue-generating years in 2019 with over $100M in electric bikes and accessories sold. In 2020, following their successes in 2019, they’ve seen 300% revenue growth month over month. 

Due to a pairing of market boom with growth strategy, QuietKat has also seen significant growth in 2020. Here’s how we were able to yield results with our growth strategy attached to a growing market. 

We Made Our eCommerce SEO Strategy a Top Priority

We often find that organic is overlooked as a channel. Strategies for growing organic often get put somewhere at the bottom of the marketing strategy and harped on the least. 

Don’t get us wrong, paid advertising is very exciting but in our opinion, brands with organic revenue making up the largest chunk of their overall revenue stand to do the best in the long run. 

The simple fact is that it’s incredibly difficult as a brand to subsist on just paid growth. Typically, you need a pipeline of investment to help pay for that growth when costs increase or you need to scale. 

With a strong organic revenue-producing strategy, you can build your own investment pipeline for the days when cost is high or turning up the scale is prime time. 

But doesn’t an eCommerce SEO Strategy take years to actually start working? 

organic growth from Google Analytics

Yes, it takes time (so does growing a brand), but you can start seeing results in 90-days or less should you know how to build on organic momentum through a tactic called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). 

One of Tuff Growth’s Channel Expertise is SEO, we even have a dedicated channel expert who heads up SEO strategy for our clients. 

For QuietKat, we found that in 2019 Organic Traffic made up 40% of eCommerce revenue, the highest revenue-generating channel with the highest conversion rate in our analysis.

By making Organic Growth a priority we’ve been able to grow that channel. Currently organic makes up 60% of revenue for QuietKat. 

We were able to grow organic with three main SEO tactic improvements. 

Dashboard example from SEM Rush

1. Improving Site Health + Speed

When we first start working on improving the organic performance for our clients, we typically run an SEO Audit to determine whether we can start implementing organic revenue-driving strategies that will work with the current infrastructure. Two primary data points we look to when making this assessment are Site Health and Site speed. 

Site health is based on the number of total errors and total warnings that are found on the pages crawled on your site. We typically feel comfortable implementing revenue-driving strategies when websites have a 90% or better score. 

Another check we do is on site speed. We find that website’s with slower speeds perform at lower rates than ones with faster speeds. This impacts how organic traffic will perform on your website. We can spend lots of time developing revenue driving organic strategies but if the website infrastructure they land on isn’t ready to handle their needs then performance will suffer. 

2. Improving Internal Linking 

Once we’ve improved site health and speed, then we seek to improve the internal linking on your website. For QuietKat we made sure that every single page on their website linked to other content in a parent / child like structure. 

We specifically worked on making sure that there were no dead-ends for the user and that the user always had a place to go that we wanted to rank. For example, they might start on a blog post and end on a landing page, because we had included a link to a collection page within the blog post that then pushed the user to checkout a product page. 

3. Improving Product Optimization

Once we had improved internal linking for QuietKat then we worked on product optimization, which involves one of the most effective tasks you can do in eCommerce SEO – optimized product titles. 

Product titles need to have clear and searchable titles that Google can easily index and rank. When titles are optimized, it’s more likely that user queries will trigger your organic content to be shown on search engine results. 

In addition, we also optimize product descriptions, which helps with driving more organic traffic because there’s more content on the page to rank. High quality content in your product description will work in combination with your product title to help you show up higher in search results. 

Developed a Strong PPC Strategy That Plays Nice With Social & Organic 

Example of an eCommerce search ad on Google.

PPC is one our favorite tactics at Tuff. It works really well by itself and can help bring websites extremely qualified traffic due to the fact that when done correctly brings in people already in the discovery phase of what you’re offering. 

It’s also our favorite because it can work really well with social and organic. 

One big issue that is often overlooked when thinking about Growth is how paid tactics work together individually and with organic. My hunch is that this is due to paid tactics usually being performance based. At Tuff we use performance data strategies to inform us on how tactics are working – a very common perspective to use in marketing. 

Where we separate ourselves at Tuff is how we isolate those tactics’ performance and consider how those tactics are working with one another to advertise as a funnel. How are the paid tactics working in combination with a strong organic strategy? How are we informing users on a more impression-based model to consider our brand down the line? 

Just looking at who saw our ads, clicked, and immediately converted is a poor way to judge an overall Growth Marketing Strategy, but it’s also a great way to determine if a particular ad campaign is performing at a high enough rate to warrant increased spend. 

The secret is to utilize a balanced full-funnel approach to decide what channels serve as awareness or reminders and what channels attribute to the last click sale.  

Understanding Audience Has Never Been More Important

Like many marketing strategies, audience understanding is key to success. For QuietKat, we spent a lot of time on both social and PPC refining our audiences. One of QuietKat’s objectives for us was to find new audiences outside of the hunting space. To do this, we worked off of hunters and found subsets of Outdoorsmen closely aligned with their primary audience that existed outside of the immediate audience. 

To do this though, we tested the same creatives across platforms like Youtube, Google Display Network (GDN), Facebook, and Instagram. 

We quickly learned that these top of the funnel placements would not yield immediate results and that we would need to look to longer conversion paths with multiple touchpoints. 

We found that on average it took 7 touchpoints in a sequence to yield a conversion, but on the extremes, we saw 13 touchpoint highs and 1 touchpoint lows. 

Understanding Multi-Channel Sales Paths

Example of mult-touch attribution for eCommerce.

For QuietKat, our analysis found that due to the cost range of an electric bike by QuietKat ($2500 – $6500), we weren’t going to find one advertising channel that would definitively carry our sales. For higher priced items this is generally the case since the decision stage is inherently longer. 

As explained above, we found on average that conversion required 7 touch points. This meant that customers were coming through to convert on a longer sequence that included our multiple channels from social to ppc to organic to direct. 

For less expensive priced items, we might find that a single channel or two channels play a central role in assisting a conversion. For more expensive items, we’ve found that the buyer’s journey is longer and requires more touch points.  

Having an independent strategy for each channel that worked together underneath our larger growth marketing strategy allowed us to increase overall eCommerce revenue by 88% since our partnership began in April 2020.

Focusing on eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Example of an eCommerce website.

The final tactic that contributed to our partnership success has been a keen focus on eCommerce Website Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). It’s such an important factor of a successful growth strategy, because you could have the best ad creative and copy, but without a solid conversion rate – your ads might never get the conversion they deserve. 

One area of focus that applied to our overall eCommerce Converison rate was improving onsite navigation by developing a data-driven layout combined with our expertise for eCommerce to build a smart navigation header bar. 

Our strategy helped increase eCommerce Conversion Rate by 26%, which led to over 100% increases in Revenue and Transactions. 

Stats on an increase in online CVR.
Essentially, we were able to get more people to purchase by simply making it easier for them to find what they were looking to purchase. 

By focusing on eCommerce Website CRO, we were also able to increase revenue without needing to increase ad spend budget or traffic. 

MoM data results for online store.

This is possible because eCommerce CVR is directly tied to eCommerce Revenue. When eCommerce CVR goes up, revenue and transactions go up. See the chart above for reference. When we increase the eCommerce CVR to .5%, we see a direct increase in Transactions and Revenue without needing more traffic or an increase in average order value. Growth Marketing Strategy

Each Growth Marketing Strategy looks different for each brand we work with at Tuff. Not all the channels featured in this case study may work for any other brand. Let us take a deep dive into your brand and develop a strategy built for your business. 

Download a Sample Growth Marketing Proposal

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-increasing-mobile-app-installs-tuff-case-study

16,947 App Installs Later: 8 Simple Ways to Grow Your App Installs With Facebook and Google Campaigns

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

Your app is live and you’ve been steadily growing users over the last couple months. Now what? How do you scale faster without seeing massive spikes in cost? 

We teamed up with our partners at WatchBox and Rever, two very different companies with very different apps, objectives, and target audiences, to figure out if we could leverage Facebook and Google campaigns to: 

  • Increase mobile app installs by 3x 
  • Maintain Cost Per Install (CPI) targets below the industry average

And the results after 30 days? 

Spend:
$7,886.18

Quality Installs:
5,165

CPI:
$1.53

Industry Average:
$2.07

Focus:
In-App Actions

 

    Spend:
    $12,623.58

    Quality Installs:
    11,782

    CPI:
    $1.07

    Industry Average:
    $1.51

    Focus:
    Install Volume

Based on the data above, we doubled our investment for both accounts and scaled even larger – and we’re still experimenting with ways to improve efficiency. In this post, we’re happy to share what we’ve had success and hope they are helpful as you scale customer acquisition efforts on your own. 

Adopt the 80/20 audience strategy

When it comes to using Facebook campaigns for customer acquisition, app install focused or other, you strategy should be driven by the target audience. Who are you targeting and what do you care about? 

Start by analyzing your existing users and build from there. Where do they spend time online? How do they talk about your app? What other Facebook pages do they follow? What other apps do they use? 

Take this information and jump into your Facebook Audience Panel. Using a mix of lookalike, custom, and saved audiences, build a minimum of 10 separate audiences to target. Give each audience an intuitive name so it’s easy to remember and keep organized. 

You can also leverage Facebook’s audience insights tool. This will analyze the people who already follow your Facebook page and give you insights on the other pages they follow, like, and engage with. Use these insights to build out audiences using interests and behaviors. 

Find your hook

What is going to make someone hit download or subscribe? Finding the answer to this is key for increasing mobile app installs. 

After building out our target segments in Facebook’s audience panel, we create Facebook campaign concepts for each target segment. Both the copy and creative is developed with a particular audience in mind. We want to find the message that resonates the best and kill everything else. For example, we ran all three of these ads below to the same audience with the same creative. The only thing that was different was the copy. The winning ad quickly surfaced to the top and we were able to kill the other variations. 

Facebook mobile app install ad. Facebook mobile app install ad with video. Facebook mobile app install campaign.

Create multiple ads and formats on Facebook

We’ve seen success with single image ads, carousel ads, and video ads. If you have limited funds, a scenario that many startups — and even enterprise companies — face, you don’t need anything fancy. 

You can use the same creative for you single image campaigns as you do for you carousel campaigns. And if you don’t have a video, put it on the list for phase two. More tests give you better insight into which format will deliver better results. 

Facebook mobile app install example. Facebook mobile app install carousel ad.

Upload as many assets as possible for Google campaigns

Before you do anything on Google ads, make sure you configuring conversion tracking for installs. If this isn’t setup, there’s no point in running campaigns. 

Then, when you go to build your app campaigns, make sure you upload as many creative specs as possible. Google takes care of most of the optimizations for these campaigns and since it’s constantly learning, you want to give it as many creative combinations to test for you. Here are the specs you want to upload: 

Text install volume and in-app action campaign types

What’s your focus? Do you want to drive as many installs as possible regardless of the quality? Or do you want to only get downloads from users who are likely to use or purchase your app? When you go to setup your campaigns on Google, you can select from the below options: 

Install volume: campaigns that optimize towards driving app install volume 

In-app actions: campaigns that optimize towards cost for specific in-app event(s) post install (reaching X level, a sign up, etc.). For this you will need conversion tracking set up, either with Firebase or a 3rd party mobile measurement company. 

We start with the Install Volume campaign type to get data back quickly. Then, once we see success there, we integrate Firebase and run in-app campaigns. The Firebase integration can be technically tricky to setup, so if you are short on dev resources or don’t have dev support, skip this. 

Split campaigns by device

iOS and Android campaigns will perform differently. To know where you want to allocate more spend, knowing you CPI by device is extremely helpful. In the example below, you can see what had way better results on Andriod. We were able to identify this after a few days and push spend there. 

Facebook mobile app installs for iOS and Android.

Split campaigns by location

Similar to device, locations will perform very differently. Instead of lumping all your locations into one campaign, consider breaking them out, especially if your customer acquisition goals are international. 

For Rever, we were focused on install volume so allocated 65% of the budget to our best CPI market (EU). In phase two, when we were focused on upgrading free users to paid users, we shifted spend to the US because the market had the best free to premium conversion rate. 

Learn and then scale

If you’re new to Facebook and Google, building the right campaigns for customer acquisition is about traction – not scale. We start out with a max daily budget of $150 and this is spread out across anywhere from 15-25 ads sets (or audiences). That means each of the audiences in the first phase only get $2-3 bucks per day/max. 

Phase one is all about learning so you know exactly where to allocate the big bucks. At the end of two weeks, you want to know: 

  • What are my top three audiences? 
  • What device give us the best CPI? 
  • What message and creative is the best? 

With the answer to these questions, Increasing mobile app installs becomes easier. You can kill 80% of your ad sets and push all your budget into the top 20% to supercharge your customer acquisition results. For example with Rever, we had 12 different ad sets in our initial launch. Each ad set launched with $3/day budget. 

Once they went live, we start to kill low performing ad sets, drop in new ad sets, and push budget to the top performers. The below screenshot is the outcome after 14 days where you can see two audiences eventually received all the spend because they were driving the highest quality results. 

Facebook mobile app install results.

If you want to explore more about how to scale your customer acquisition, or want a first-hand look at the data showcased above, touch base to set up a free, 30-minute growth strategy session with the Tuff 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.

tuff-common-ppc-questions-our-paid-acquisition-expert-answers

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.

tuff-paid-advertising-benchmarks

How Good is Your Paid Advertising, Really?

How does your paid advertising stack up, compared to your competitors? Where does it fall compared to other businesses where your customers spend money?

Whether you’re doing PPC for the first time or your company has been running campaigns for years, it can be daunting to know whether or not you’re doing a good job. In fact, benchmarking your paid advertising against other companies can be more complicated than measuring the results of your own efforts.

Here’s a simple 3-step process for creating your benchmarking report:

1. Understand the metrics that matter most

Earlier this year, Wordstream dug into their clients PPC data and compiled Google AdWords benchmarks across 20 different industries.

They evaluated their accounts based on the following metrics:

  • Average Click-Through Rate (CTR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Click (CPC) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Conversion Rate (CVR) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display
  • Average Cost per Action (CPA) in AdWords by industry, for Search and Display

These metrics vary depending on industry. A useful metric for one industry isn’t necessarily helpful for another. What’s important is that you don’t need to compare every possible metric. With the four metrics above, you’ll have a good sense of what is working and what isn’t and how you can improve.

2. Collect data

Now that you have target metrics for your industries paid advertising, the next step is the execute your campaigns. Once you’ve hit “enable”, your campaigns will start running and the data will begin to populate in your account.

Instead of focusing on a short window of time, we like to focus on at least 30 days. You don’t want to get buried in too much data, but you do need enough data for your evaluation to be statistically relevant.

3. Analyze the results

At this stage, you’ll map your internal scores for the same metrics against your collected data. Where are you doing well? Where are you falling behind? What smart ideas can you quickly implement? How can you improve?

Let’s look at two different Tuff client accounts and walk through different ways you can analyze and understand your results.

eCommerce

Tuff has been partnering with a high-end jeweler in the US for over 2 years. Working closely with their marketing team, we manage their paid advertising for YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Bing, and Adwords, spending around $150,000 per month in media allocations.

In the chart below, we’ve compared their Q1 Search Performance with the industry average. Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

CTR: We’re only slightly above the average on CTR which made this feel like a key opportunity to improve. Using this info, we sorted our ads from top performing to lowest performing. We kept our top 50% and generated a new set of ads to replace to lower CTR ads. We also layered on two new ad formats: Call Only Ads and Responsive Search Ads.

CPC: Our cost per click is higher than average so we can tackle this in a few ways. We started by asking two fundamental questions: Can we identify keywords that have a high number of impressions and clicks, but zero conversions, orders, or sales? If so, let’s kill them. And can we use more restrictive match types (modified broad and exact) to filter out unqualified traffic? If so, let’s tighten up our match types so we can eliminate waste.

CVR: For now, no action items within the account. We’ll continue to monitor and tackle this next benchmark report.

CTA: This is one of our favorite metrics. How much did it cost you to acquire a lead, sale, conversion? This account has 56 search campaigns with a different CPA for each. We know exactly how many leads we need to convert a sale and what are ROI targets are at each campaign. Compared to the industry we’re $18.57 above average. However, we know that our products, at a higher price point than traditional eCommerce, still have a positive return. Since the campaigns are still very profitable at a $63.84 CPA, this metric isn’t super concerning. That said, one way to get this down would be to consider offering a promotion or deal with our retargeting efforts on display. This won’t lower the Search CPA, but it should help increase post-view conversions from Search.  

B2B

Here’s another example from one of our B2B clients. This company is relatively new to the market but growing fast in the small business bookkeeping and accounting space. We manage their paid advertising for both Facebook and Adwords, allocating 20k per month across both channels.

Here’s how our team tackled the assessment:

CTR: Nice! We’re up significantly here. This could mean that our positioning is relevant and unique to our competition in the space. While we didn’t make any adjustments to the ads in this account, we did pull the top performing ads for the entire marketing team so that we could leverage that positioning in other channels such as email, Facebook, Instagram, and landing pages.

CPC: We’re spending 3x more than the industry average on clicks, so it was important to dig in here. The first thing we did was look at our keyword position and the required minimum bid to stay on the first page of results. The keywords in this industry are expensive and in order to stay in the top 3 positions, not the first but an average of 2, we had to bid pretty high. The account quality score is high, so we know that spend is one of the best ways to keep us on page 1. One of the tools we use to see keyword bid trends is Google’s Keyword Planner. We use this before we launch campaigns and during optimization so we know an estimate on what things will cost.

CVR: Wow! Big high five to our client on creating high-converting landing pages. While there were no direct actions to take on this one, we did analyze which campaigns had the highest and lowest conversion rates. For any campaigns that we’re budget capped and converting at a high-rate, we increased budget.

CTA: Over by $5 and working to bring this down. Since this is an average and the account has 31 search campaigns, can we identify any campaigns that are 2x over the CPA average? If so, how do we bring them down? This benchmark was helpful in understanding which campaigns we need to focus on the most to see the most significant change in results.

Key takeaways:

  • Use the data to understand your account metrics but not to shut things down immediately if you don’t hit it out of the park on your first swing. As you can see from our eCommerce example, things look pretty red. The benchmark report gives you a chance to identify focus areas and improve.
  • Understand where you fall on the industry paid advertising spectrum. These benchmarks are averages, and it’s important to know where you fall on the spectrum. In our eCommerce example, the average product price is $10,000. This account sees very different results than a lower price product account.
  • Benchmarks give you a place to focus but aren’t the only indicator of success or failure. We always go back to one key metric: ROI. When you understand which campaigns and channels are actually generating revenue, you’ll know where you’re making or losing money and how to move forward.

Over to you! 

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

If you’re short on capacity, you can get some of the benefit of benchmarking with significantly less effort by contacting Tuff for a free growth strategy session. We’ll analyze your paid advertising and present your top growth opportunities in a PDF.

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.