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iPhone scrolling on YouTube.

How to Make YouTube Ads Work For Your Startup

iPhone scrolling on YouTube.

Advertising doesn’t work unless people see it. This obvious piece of analysis guides all aspects of marketing, and explains everything from the cost of ads (those Super Bowl commercials don’t come cheap) to their overall impact. Thankfully, you don’t have to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times to get broad exposure. YouTube advertising has evolved along with the company’s transition into a media megalith, and now offers opportunities for established businesses and startups alike to reach practically any audience. 

As the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube can not only spark interest in your startup, but also push traffic to your website. Whether your work is B2C or B2B, YouTube advertising can and will provide an engaging avenue to connect with your target audience. Best of all, you can build and nurture an established channel to maintain direct contact with your consumers, and thereby establish the all-important trust you need for startup growth. Before we get into all that, though, let’s consider some statistics.

YouTube by the Numbers

Many people have the impression that YouTube only matters to young people. This simply is not true. Regardless of your target audience, YouTube offers an encompassing platform to reach practically any demographic. Consider the following info YouTube ad stats, with some of our favorites highlighted below: 

In the years since this study, YouTube’s growth has only continued to accelerate. Overall, 73 percent of all adults in the U.S. now utilize YouTube in some fashion. Think about that for a moment. YouTube advertising exists on a platform that reaches almost three-quarters of the population. When you consider that the highest rated television broadcast of all time, the final episode of M*A*S*H, reached only 60 percent of people who owned a television, YouTube’s pervasiveness becomes mind-boggling. No other piece of media, not a television show, billboard, or newspaper ad in the world can approach YouTube’s level of influence.

An additional myth persists that YouTube users are primarily young men. In reality, women are just as likely to utilize the platform as men. As for education level and household makeup,  YouTube users are more likely than non-users to have both a college degree and children. What does this all mean? It shows that, whether your target audience is twenty-something men, 35-year-old women, retired couples, young families, or anyone else, YouTube advertising offers a clear line of communication.

Get in on the Action

Hopefully, these statistics have showcased the value of YouTube advertising for early-stage companies. Numbers aside, you still need a clear strategy to get started. Of course, your ultimate goal is to create a brilliant ad that resonates with your audience and leads them to your website. Before visiting your website, however, many of those target audience members will want to see what other videos you have available. To get the most out of YouTube advertising, make sure you have first developed a channel that offers relevant, compelling content. 

Everyone wants a viral video. The problem is, without an established channel, a viral video acts like a one-hit wonder. It might bring you some notoriety, but it won’t help your brand over the long term. Think of it this way: would you rather your brand be the Rolling Stones, or Vanilla Ice? One of these has an established record of hits over many years, with each new hit driving renewed attention to a back catalog of other hits. The other made a big splash, then disappeared entirely. For sustainable YouTube advertising over the long term, in which you develop an audience alongside your brand, you don’t just need a viral video. You need the strong foundation of an established channel. Here are some of our favorite YouTube ad examples for inspiration. 

How to Build Your YouTube Advertising Channel

The way you build a channel is through the regular education of your audience on issues and topics that matter to them. If you are consistent in the production and quality of your efforts, you will develop the asset that all brands want: an audience you can count on for future growth. Your goal with a YouTube channel is not to generate loads of traffic, but rather to establish a loyal audience. The value of an audience is the creation of a brand relationship. For example, Volvo did an excellent job establishing an audience on its YouTube channel. When a particular video starring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral, they were able to capitalize on the infrastructure of their established channel. 

To establish a brand, you want to create content that both educates and entertains your audience. To lure viewers back again and again, your content must have utility. For example, BigCommerce, which is an open SaaS e-commerce platform, did an excellent job with this. The company utilizes its YouTube advertising channel to host educational videos in a series branded as BigCommerce University. Some of the videos address valuable topics not directly related to BigCommerce, such as tutorials on keyword research and SEO

Another way to build your channel is to use consistent themes and characters. Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer, created a series of behind-the-scenes videos that show how its team functions, and gives viewers the opportunity to watch photo shoots and other activities. The result? Almost 12,000 subscribers and 2 million YouTube views. 

Lastly, you want to bolster education with some key elements of entertainment. These could include everything from a short narrative, to a celebrity appearance, how-to video, or provocative elements that spike viewer interest. Also, when it comes to celebrities, you don’t need Taylor Swift. So-called micro-celebrities have generated notoriety not through movies or the music industry, but through Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In addition to availability, these micro-celebrities will already have their own platform to share your content.

To summarize, keep in mind the following rules for the establishment of a successful YouTube advertising channel:

  • Page views are less important than subscribers.
  • Educate your viewer on things that matter to them.
  • Use consistent characters and themes.
  • Spike interest through entertainment.

Find Your Target Audience

Of course, YouTube advertising won’t do much unless you gain exposure to the right people. There are many ways to accomplish this, and the implementation of more than one strategy will aid your overall effort. 

First of all, you want to make sure that any ads you create appear on videos similar to your own content. Choose topics that fit your niche, and try to get as specific as possible. One beneficial tool is Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). This helps with your search engine marketing on Google, but can also be linked to your YouTube advertising channel. If you use Google Ads, you can take advantage of topic categories to place your ad within a similar video. Google Ads also lets you target specific YouTube videos. If you do this, however, make sure that the videos you choose have enough traffic to serve your advertising goals.

In addition to these, YouTube offers three options for advertisers to target new customers:

  • Retargeting
  • Affinity Audiences
  • Life Events

Retargeting

Retargeting can mean one of two things. One the one hand, it means you incentivize the return of someone who visited your site but did not convert. When you retarget to this audience through YouTube advertising, they see an ad meant only for them. This ad reminds them about your startup and attempts to bring them back, sometime with an exclusive offer or coupon.

Retargeting can also occur through YouTube when you market to people who viewed your videos. When you retarget a group of people, you have to make sure that you match the message to that particular market. For specific information on how to retarget with YouTube, you can find detailed instructions here

If you use Google Ads, there are many different ways you can reach an audience with a display ad. For example, you can use not only YouTube, but also Gmail, search listings, and Display Network. This last venue is a group comprised of more than 2 million websites, apps, and videos that will run your ads. Display Network has an incredibly broad influence, and reaches more than 90 percent of internet users. 

Retargeting YouTube ad audiences.

Affinity Targeting

Affinity targeting presents another way to aim your ads at the right people. With this, you define exactly who you want to reach. When you factor in a consumer’s most recent and ongoing interests, you can rest assured that your message will reach the right people. YouTube allows you to create custom affinity options for your ideal audience. To define who this is, you will want to use:

  • Keywords that reflect personal interests
  • Where people live, or types of places that interest them
  • Apps they may use

Affinity targeting can accomplish a great deal for certain types of startup marketing efforts. For example, if you are currently engaged with the establishment of your brand, have real-time content you want people to see, and need to increase market reach with incremental conversions, affinity targeting can work wonders.

Life Events

One final YouTube advertising strategy involves the use of Life Events. This option allows you to target specific consumers as they achieve a personal milestone or experience an important life event. If done correctly, the ad you create can trigger a strong emotion. This type of reaction from a viewer can forge an intense personal bond between them and your brand. Life Events you can target include:

  • The creation of a business
  • Colege graduation
  • Changing a job
  • Marriage
  • Moving to a new city
  • Buying a home
  • Retirement

Youtube ad targeting options.

Let’s Get Creative

Once you’ve done all this preparatory work, you can finally get to the creative aspect of your YouTube advertising: choosing which particular type of ad to run. To make the most of your ad, you need to gain the familiarity necessary to develop your chosen format in a dynamic, engaging way.

Example of a YouTube ad.

The main types of YouTube advertising you can run include:

TrueView In-Stream: These ads play before a video. As a marketing tool, they offer a pathway to your website. However, your audience can choose to skip the ad. In-stream YouTube advertising tends to work better in retargeting campaigns, and can result in more subscribers to your channel.

TrueView Discovery: These show up on the right-hand area of the video viewer, on search result pages, and as thumbnails on a person’s homepage within YouTube. The best time to use Discovery YouTube advertising is for traditional search campaigns, prospecting efforts, and retargeting.

Bumper Ads: These short ads come in at less than six seconds. They appear prior to a video, and can create an instantaneously strong impression. Bumper ads are an excellent tool to employ during a retargeting campaign.

When you market your startup through YouTube advertising, it’s important to remember that you’ve entered into an ongoing process. With the analytics provided through tools like Google Ads, you can monitor and continually refine your campaigns. Though marketing a new company in the jungle that’s the internet can feel intimidating, you’ve got a massive platform in YouTube. If you employ the right tools, you will capture the audience you need for long-term success.

Youtube ad platform.

How YouTube Ads Work + 5 YouTube Ad Campaign Examples

YouTube ad example from NBA.

Admit it: we kind of take YouTube for granted. The website that began as a simple nexus for amateur video has become a media titan, to the extent that many people don’t appreciate its enormous influence. Believe it or not, YouTube is the third-most visited site in the world, behind only Facebook and Google. Each and every month, people consume 6 billion hours of video on YouTube. To have such an enormous audience on a single platform is rare, and it makes sense that YouTube ads have become a preferred marketing technique for many businesses.

When it comes to advertising, YouTube provides clear benefits that have made it immensely popular. Consider the following YouTube Ad stats in 2020: 

Clearly, YouTube has a massive reach. It is a unique hybrid of social media site and search engine, and draws in viewers for a host of reasons. As a search engine, YouTube ranks behind only Google, as users use it to find info on everything from World War II, to how to unclog a toilet.

In terms of interaction, YouTube is the third-largest social media network. If you accept Forbes’ claim that all internet users want either information or social interaction, YouTube manages to provide both. Its reach is so encompassing, it actually engages more people between the ages of 18 and 49 than either broadcast or cable TV.  Think about that for a moment, and consider the benefits of advertising on a platform that reaches the widest possible audience. 

How to Advertise on YouTube

Like any advertising tool, the way to garner the most benefits from YouTube ads hinges on your strategy. Aalap Shah is the founded of 1o8, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency. 

“What I find most useful is to treat YouTube ads as you would normal out-of-home ads on TV,” says Shah. “You have a shorter format, a compelling hook at the start, and you use all the targeting features (including banners and re-marketing) to make the ad pop and become memorable.”

Not all YouTube ad campaigns are created equal, and each should grow from a clearly established marketing strategy. For example, before you can create effective YouTube ads, you must identify your target audience. If you want to reach different demographics, you will need to design specialized content for each. Among the top 100 advertisers who utilize YouTube, 56 of them have more than 10 channels, with each targeted on a specific sector. 

To identify a target audience, create distinctions between factors like age, gender, location, level of education, and occupation. For example, let’s say you want to promote weight loss tips. If you search YouTube simply for weight loss, you’ll receive over 175 million results. That’s an ocean of competition, and your carefully crafted advertising will sink without a trace. If you search for “weight loss tips for women”, you suddenly narrow down the results to 23.8 million. If you further refine your search, you might end up with something like “weight loss tips for women over 60”. This brings the number of results down to a relatively lean 871,000. 

This search process is one among many ways you can identify an audience through YouTube. You can also:

  • Survey your present customers
  • Divide the market according to income or education to identify profitable groups
  • Imagine the customer most likely to purchase your product or services
  • Research the volume of specialized keywords (low volume is best, as there is less competition)

Pick the Right YouTube Ads

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to settle on which types of YouTube ad campaigns to run. You’ll also want to keep in mind the key difference between advertising on YouTube versus Facebook or Google. With YouTube, you only pay for an ad view if one of two things happens: a viewer passes the 30-second mark, or they watch the whole thing. 

YouTube offers six types of ads for you to choose from.

  1. Non-Skippable Video Ads: A viewer must watch these before they can access a YouTube video. Non-skippable YouTube ads can appear during, before, or after the primary video. Since the viewer has no choice but to watch the ad, you wind up paying every time it appears. Generally speaking, these types of ads are for companies with larger budgets.
  2. Skippable Video Ads: These ads allow the viewer to skip them after 5 seconds. Like non-skippable ads, they can appear before, after, or during the primary video. With these, you will only get charged if a viewer chooses to watch for at least 30 seconds. 
  3. Display Ads: These YouTube ads are placed to the right of the feature video. Display ads can appear anywhere on YouTube, with the exception of the homepage. Ideally, your ad will entice a click from the viewer, at which point you get charged for the advertising.
  4. Overlay Ads: These transparent ads appear on the bottom of videos watched on laptops or desktop computers. They will not appear on mobile devices, and the viewer can close the ad at any time. In reality, these ads tend to generate mis-clicks, in which a viewer attempts to close the ad, but accidentally clicks through to the advertiser’s video.
  5. Midroll Ads: These ads only appear in videos longer than 15 minutes. The ads appear intermittently throughout, in the same manner as commercials on television. Viewers have no choice but to watch them to continue their video. 
  6. Sponsored Cards: These showcase content relevant to the primary video, such as featured products. The viewer sees a teaser for the card, and then can click an icon in the top right corner to browse the sponsored cards.

Know Your Competition

Advertising on YouTube has a major element of competition. In order to make your efforts successful, you must familiarize yourself with your competitors. Locate a competing company’s channel or channels, and watch their YouTube ads yourself. Ask yourself how effective they are, and make note of successful tactics. 

To understand a competitor’s broader YouTube strategy, you can create a spreadsheet that tracks their ads. The spreadsheet can have columns for the company’s name, a screenshot of the video, the product or service offered, the number of views, and the ad’s headline. With this information, you can identify not only the most successful ads, but also the elements that drive them.

YouTube Ads in Practice: Five Successful Campaigns

If you want to be the best, you have to study the best. A consideration of other campaigns is indispensable for someone who wants their own YouTube ads to succeed. Each of the five companies considered below achieved a great deal of success through their efforts on YouTube. Click through to the videos, then read our analysis of how they work.

GoPro

YouTube ad example from GoPro

GoPro became a household name thanks to videos of the camera’s use in extreme sports. The above ad is completely different, however. Instead of the first-person view of a mountain biker flying down a trail, or a skydiver hurling themselves from a plane, it features a firefighter saving a kitten. The overall feel is sweet and cuddly, rather than action-packed and dangerous. You might wonder why GoPro would create marketing materials at odds with their image. Simply put: it makes them appealing to a wider audience. 

When you make your own YouTube ads, don’t shy away from pushing the boundaries of your image. If you vary your format and topics, you can find different ways to showcase your brand’s theme to appeal to a larger audience.

Skullcandy

YouTube ad example from Skullcandy.

Skullcandy is not messing around when it comes to YouTube ads. You’ll notice that they maintain a consistent voice, and do a good job of targeting sports demographics like skateboarders, surfers, and snowboarders. They accomplish this through high-energy videos that appeal to young people. Skullcandy also has a variety of content, from customer reviews and product demonstrations, to a concert series and podcast.

Skullcandy’s YouTube ads foster a sense of community among its customers. If you can do the same, you will develop long-term customers that have a sense of loyalty to your brand.

Artifact Uprising

YouTube ad example from Artifact Uprising.

Artifact Uprising helps customers put together custom photo books, cards, and albums, and also prints photos. The nature of their product encourages sentimentality and emotional connection, characteristics which the company highlights in its YouTube ads. 

Regardless of your type of industry, you can use this approach to forge an emotional connection with customers. Learn how people use your services or products to enhance their lives, and share these stories in your ads. 

Code.org

YouTube ad example from Code.org

This non-profit promotes greater access to computer science instruction in schools. The ad serves as an example of influencer marketing, in which recognizable people create a bond with the viewer through the product. As Bill Gates describes his humble beginnings, the message is clear: if you help Code.org with its mission, more people can succeed like he did.

If you work in an intimidating field like computer science, influencer marketing can humanize your message. Put a face to your company that viewers can either recognize or sympathize with, and you can lower the barrier of entry to your services.

Sun Bum

YouTube ad example from Sun Bum.

Sun Bum has clearly fostered a laid-back, chilled out aesthetic. Its YouTube ads not only highlight the company’s hair care products, sunscreen, and lip balm, but also contain engaging content that has fostered a fanbase. Through multiple videos a week, the company covers a broad range of topics that includes everything from office life vignettes to dyeing tutorials. They also have a channel devoted to musical performances. This allows them to link their brand to appealing musicians as a way to connect with customers. 

One of the best things you can do through an advertisement is cultivate a community of similarly-minded people. If you produce engaging content, these people will actively help your marketing efforts through sharing and discussing your ads.

YouTube offers a platform to place your ads before millions of people. If you can target your audience, settle on an ad type, and create compelling content, you can count on enhanced business. Of course, ads on YouTube require work, as you must keep your content fresh. If done correctly, however, the money and time you put into YouTube ads can represent the best investment you’ll ever make. 

 

YouTube Advertising

28 YouTube Ad Stats to Get You Started Today

YouTube Advertising

Not sure if YouTube Advertising is the right advertising channel for you?

With video content on the rise, YouTube has seen record-breaking numbers that prove the power behind this marketing channel. But is there a reasonably high ROI in it for your brand? Is it worth the investment to create a video ad and start running it?

To find out, it’s important to have a clear picture of who is using YouTube, and what kind of content they’re consuming. The YouTube ad statistics provide powerful insights into the might of this platform, and will clue you in on how you can use it to grow your brand in 2020.

Who Uses YouTube?

How wide is the swath of users on YouTube? To find out, we pulled some statistics on the users. The numbers here may surprise you.

More Adults Use YouTube Than Facebook

Seventy-three percent of American adults use YouTube, topping Facebook users by 4%, and nearly doubling Instagram’s adult user base.

YouTube Isn’t Just for Young People

A surprising number of older adults and seniors consume video content on YouTube:

  • 71% of people ages 26-35
  • 67% of people ages 36-45
  • 66% of people ages 46-55
  • 58% of people ages 56 and older
YouTube Ad Stats by age.

Source: Statista

YouTube Is the Most Popular Platform In America

Topping Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and, well, everything, YouTube has more users than any other platform in the US.

Most Men Use YouTube

Seventy-eight percent of American men watch video content on YouTube.

Women Use YouTube Slightly Less Than Men

The numbers are still strong, though. Sixty-eight percent of adult American women consume content on YouTube.

Most Young Adults Use YouTube

A whopping 81% of Americans ages 15-25 years old watch videos on YouTube.

YouTube Reaches More Americans Than Every Cable TV Network Combined

For American consumers ages 18-49 years old, YouTube widely outpaces cable TV for video content consumption.

Americans Use YouTube More Than Anyone Else In the World

Fifteen percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from America, with India landing in second place at 8.1%, and Japan coming in third, at 4.6%.

Most of YouTube’s Popular Content Isn’t In English

Interestingly, despite the US making up the majority of YouTube users, only 33% of the content from some of the most popular channels on YouTube is in English.

What People Watch on YouTube

The types of content that most viewers on YouTube consume might surprise you. These data points prove a powerful concept in marketing: that content informs the earliest phases of the buyer decision process.

The YouTube Algorithm Influences 70% of What People Watch

This is a crazy one. As it turns out, most of what people watch on YouTube is heavily influenced by YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. In a Pew study, 81% of people said they watched things recommended by YouTube.

YouTube usage stats.

Source: Pew Research Center

Most Popular Videos Come from the Same Small Percentage of Creators

According to Pew Research, 79% of views on YouTube are on just 10% of the channels, suggesting that most of the popular content on YouTube is created by a very small portion of channels.

Viewers Don’t Care About Famous Actors

Data straight from YouTube shows that the relevance of content to a viewer’s interest is 3x more influential than content featuring celebrities. The moral of the story? You don’t have to pay a famous actor or influencer to get the views.

Influencer Content Dominates the Beauty Sector

About 60% of views of beauty content on YouTube are on influencer content, while 39% goes to brand content, and just 1% to publishers.

Relevant Content Performs Better Than Swanky Content

Here’s the really great news: production values aren’t the end all be all for YouTube viewers. It turns out, interesting content is on average 1.6 times more important than production values to viewers.

More People Than Ever Use YouTube for Product Research

Between 2017 and 2018, views for product review content doubled, implying users being a purchase decision with product research on YouTube.

Most Shoppers Use YouTube at the Beginning of Their Shopping Process

The data supports YouTube’s use as a consumer product research tool. Eighty percent of users say they use YouTube’s product content early in the buying process.

Viewer Engagement Has Increased by 70% On YouTube

This means that viewers are no longer just quietly watching — they’re connecting with creators, commenting on their content, and engaging.

Most Viewers Watch YouTube On Mobile Devices

As is the case for most web traffic, YouTube users on average spend 70% or more of their viewing time using the platform on a mobile device.

Streaming Onto TVs is YouTube’s Fastest Growing Screen Segment

Smart TVs, Roku players, and similar devices now make up over 250 million hours of watch time per day on YouTube. Watching YouTube from a TV screen has increased by over 39% in the last year alone.

YouTube Is Second Only to Netflix for Video Streaming

For Americans ages 18-34 years old, YouTube is the most popular video streaming platform with ads, and is second only to Netflix in video streaming as a whole.

How Ads Are Performing On YouTube

How buyers consume content ultimately impacts what kinds of advertising they respond to. Predictions indicate that by 2022, 82% of global internet traffic will come from video streaming and downloads.

Increasing Video Consumption is Driving YouTube Ads Revenue

With YouTube on track this year to make a record-breaking $5.5 billion in net revenue from advertising alone, the case for YouTube ads has never been stronger.

Growth Compounds Growth On YouTube

According to YouTube, channels that make $10,000 or more per year grow 50% year over year.

Google Preferred Ads On YouTube Increase Purchase Intent By 53%

YouTube’s role as a product research platform may have something to do with this. YouTube reports that their premium ad offering, which targets the top 5% of channels on the platform, is dramatically effective at producing buyers.

They Also Improve Ad Recall By 112%

Even more dramatic is the impact these ads have on ad recall for YouTube advertisers. YouTube’s Google Preferred ad campaigns improve ad recall for views by as much as 112%.

YouTube Is the Third-Best Influencer Marketing Platform

Tailing behind Instagram and Instagram stories, YouTube as an influencer marketing platform will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020.

Most Shoppers Have Discovered a Brand Through YouTube

In a powerful study, Think With Google reported that 90% of shoppers surveyed said they had discovered a new brand through YouTube.

YouTube Ad stats from Google.

Marketers Say YouTube Is the Most Effective Video Advertising Platform

Most marketers will tell you that YouTube is the most effective advertising platform, with a staggering 78.8% of them saying it trumps even Facebook.

Viewer’s Prefer TrueView Ads Over In-Stream

Eight out of 10 YouTube viewers say they prefer skippable TrueView ads over ads that interrupt their streaming.

YouTube Ad Statistics to Fuel Your Strategy

YouTube advertising is a powerful way to engage new buyers with your brand. If your company isn’t getting in front of buyers on this platform, it’s time to start now.

As video consumption data points continue to indicate large-scale growth in video consumption, it’s going to be up to brands to get out there and be seen.

Is your team ready?

YouTube on a mobile phone.

YouTube Advertising in 2020: Example Ad Campaigns From Tuff Clients

YouTube on a mobile phone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Top of Funnel Awareness For QuietKat

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

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

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

An example of a YouTube ad.

The Campaign Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WatchBox – TrueView for Action

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

Example of a YouTube ad for eCommerce.

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

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

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

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

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

Optimizing YouTube Campaigns for On-Site Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How We Advertise on YouTube Without Video Assets

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

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

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

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

Example of a YouTube retargeting ad.

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Renogy solar panel on RV

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

The renewable energy industry is growing, big time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We started with a profit-focused strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, flipped standard shopping to smart

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

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

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

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

Google ads shopping campaign.

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

And finally, bulked up sales with the right promos

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

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

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

We’d love to work with you.

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

And stay tuned for a Q3 update!

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-google-ads-for-foundation-repair-business

3 Secrets to Getting More Foundation Repair Leads from Google Ads

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

KC Waterproofing specializes in foundation repair and basement waterproofing, serving homeowners in the entire Kansas City metro area and beyond. Although they had been running Google Ads for over a year, KC Waterproofing didn’t feel confident about their campaigns and were left guessing about results and deliverables. Looking to build up defense against local competitors while increasing qualified sales leads, they turned to Tuff to help them refine their Google Ads efforts. 

Within the first two months of working together, we were able to cut spend year-over-year last month by 17% while increasing leads by 85% with Google Ads. That translated into more leads for less and a massive spike in revenue. 

Google ads for foundation repair results.

Why KC Waterproofing Turned to Google Ads

For many businesses in the foundation repair and basement waterproofing business, Google Ads can feel like you’re throwing money away on a regular basis. Sure you can get a bunch of clicks, but it’s hard to get the right clicks that actually turn into a lead. 

After working with local businesses for the last three years, however, we’ve learned how to reliably produce quality leads from Google Ads. Here are three of our favorite strategies and ideas that can help you show up locally when it matters most: 

Foundation Repair and Basement Waterproofing Playbook:

Get granular with keywords and adgroups

Relevance is key when you are running ads on Google. For example, when someone searches “foundation repair in crawl space”, they want to see and click on an ad that mentions ‘Crawl Space’ rather than a generic ad that just talks about foundation repair. This makes sense, right? People want a quick solution to their problem and are more likely to click on an ad their specific concern understands them and their needs.

When you structure your campaigns, organize keywords into different ad groups, and each ad group will only show ads for the keywords in that ad group. Here’s an example of how we started with KC Waterproofing: 

Google ads account for foundation repair.

So, in the  “sump pump installation” ad group, we only put sump pump keywords in that ad group to serve on Google. Then, we wrote ad copy specifically for “sump pump installation” for that ad group. The same goes for all the other campaigns and adgroups. 

Google ad for sump pump installation.

Include call-only ads

With call-only campaigns, you can encourage customers to call you by clicking your ad. And in this case, you bid to drive calls to your business instead of clicks to your website. Call Only campaigns are only served on mobile and they look like this: 

For local campaigns, these can be a strong addition to your overall Google Ads strategy. In addition to call-only ads, utilize all relevant ad extensions in Google Ads. This will help motivate searches because they have your location and phone number at their fingertips. 

Set up tracking and report on deals closed

The final, yet most important, key to running a profitable foundation repair campaign in Google Ads is high-quality tracking and reporting.  No matter how strong your keyword research, adgroup set up or campaign type, if you aren’t tackling leads, there won’t be many results. Despite the importance of conversion tracking, less than half of the local Google Ad accounts we review are effectively tracking conversions or closed deals.  

If you really want actionable data, make sure you set up the below: 

Google Analytics
With Google Analytics, build-out goals so you can accurately track leads. From there, you can integrate your Google Analytics and Google Ads account to give you more actionable insights like campaign performance, time on site, bounce rate, and keyword health. For KC Waterproofing, this helps us analyze customer activity on the website after an ad click. 

Conversion Tracking
For foundation repair, a conversion is typically counted when a customer fills out a quote, contact form, or calls a phone on your website. Once you have all the conversion action you want to tack, it only takes a few minutes (and some basic HTML) to get conversion tracking up and running for your campaign.

Call Tracking
For KC Waterproofing, 70% of their monthly leads come from phone calls. Google Ads, along with other call tracking services like CallRail, can show you which search keywords are driving the most calls aso you can allocate more spend to top performers. 

Lead Tracking
At Tuff, we leverage a shared spreadsheet with KC Waterproofing that integrates with their internal CRM. This gives us the ability to see beyond a phone call or form fill to understand lead quality and return. We can see how many leads received a quote, how many leads were lost, and how many leads actually closed that month. 

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-30-minute-ppc-audit

The 30-Minute PPC Audit Anyone Can Do

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

Original Publication Date: January 1, 2020 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date Range

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

Google Ads performance.

Metrics

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

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

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

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

PPC Audit Checklist

Review Campaign Settings

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

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

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

Screenshot of Google AdWords Campaigns dropdown

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

Access Ad Group Relevancy

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Extensions

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

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

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

Google ad call extensions

Check Number of Ads and Ad Copy

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

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

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

Review Settings

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

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

Key items to focus on:

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

Review Audience Targeting 

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

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

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

Google ads audience targeting.

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

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

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

Triple Check Conversion Tracking

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

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

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

Your turn!

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

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

We’d love to work with you.

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

tuff-facebook-ads-for-subscription-businesses

How To Run Paid Acquisition Campaigns For Your Subscription Business

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

Beer Drop is an all Colorado beer subscription delivering only the freshest beers from Colorado’s best small breweries you won’t find in stores. 

As a growing business, Beer Drop came to Tuff looking for a growth marketing partner that would help scale customer acquisition leveraging ppc and paid social. With clear goals and an aggressive testing plan, we’ve worked closely with Beer Drop to continually hit our growth goals and customer acquisition targets. The Beer Drop team works strategically on the product while the Tuff team is responsible for executing growth strategies that deliver quality traffic. This combination, so far, has been pure magic. 

  • In the first month, we started slow. We focused on audience research, targeting, and message development. We validated that Facebook and Google were the right fit for Beer Drop and could successfully deliver subscribers. 
  • In the second month, we tripled our budget and went for scale. We expanded our geo-targeting, introduced video, and refined the sign up flow. 

From initial launch to today, as an integrated team, we’ve been able to increase subscriptions by 531% while simultaneously driving down cost per subscription by 61%.  

Building and optimizing a customer acquisition strategy on Facebook and Google to get results like this is not easy. It’s not rocket science either, though. If your execution is data-driven and marketing and product can work as one, you can see results like this, too. 

Talk to your existing customers

When it comes to successful ppc and paid social campaigns, we spend 50% or more of our time understanding what the customers’ needs are. This is so often overlooked but incredibly critical. You have to know who your target audience is, what their problems are, and how they want to interact with you. Having these questions explicitly answered will allow you to build a much stronger customer acquisition strategy on Facebook and Google based on both qualitative and quantitative data.

During this phase, we like to: 

  • Talk to customers 
  • Read customer reviews 
  • Read competitor reviews 
  • Study social channels and followers 
  • Follow Google Analytics flows and analyze heatmaps 
  • Analyze Google Analytics audience data

Test different audiences and messages

When it comes to paid channels, especially Facebook, it’s easy to narrow in on visuals. This is important, absolutely, but don’t get stuck here. It’s more important to test early and often with multiple audiences than to spend weeks on creative development. 

At Tuff, for Facebook audiences, we take the 80/20 rule. We launch campaigns with 8+ audiences, find the top performers early and push spend to them, and then kill the rest. We did this with Beer Drop, too. In month one, we launched with 45 audiences across 5 campaigns. In our second campaign launch, we only launched with the top 30% of audiences in phase one. 

For Beer Drop, “top performing audiences” meant audiences that purchased subscriptions. This isn’t always the case though. When you are evaluating success and making audience optimizations, you have to link back to your campaign objective. Did you optimize for reach? Did you optimize for clicks? Did you optimize for sales? You need to evaluate campaign performance against the action you told Facebook you care the most about. 

Focus on your lowest hanging fruit

If you’re testing the waters with paid social and ppc, if you can focus on the low hanging fruit, do it. With limited time, money, and people, you want to put your best foot forward first. For subscription-based service, that could be: 

  • People who’ve added stuff to cart and have purchased
  • An email list you’re trying to reactivate
  • Retargeting audiences to a specific landing page 

That said, I’ll be honest, for Beer Drop, we ignored this completely. Beer Drop is based in Colorado and has more brand awareness in this market than any other state in the US. Our initial plan was to experiment with campaigns in Colorado because we thought the existing brand presence would help us convert at a higher rate. We changed directions before launch because of our overall business objectives. We needed to find out if paid acquisition would work in cities and states that had never heard of us before. It’s a balancing act really, how do you pair business objectives with the right experiments to give them the best chance to be successful? 

Optimize for subscriptions and not clicks

For Beer Drop, we tested out two types of campaign objectives. We ran a batch of click objective campaigns and a batch of subscription campaigns. This is an important distinction because it influences what optimization and bidding options you have throughout the campaign setup and ultimately how the ads are served. 

Our click objective campaigns, example below, we developed around a “quiz” concept where we wanted to drive as much traffic as possible to the quiz, collect an email, and then retarget. The engagement and click stats were bonkers. To no one’s surprise, people love beer quizzes almost as much as they love beer. Although we had incredible results here, we ultimately killed it because it wasn’t helping with our end to get more subscribers at an efficient cost. 

Our subscription objective campaigns, example of one of the ads below, were setup using custom conversion event tracking. We place code on the subscription confirmation page and tell Facebook to help us get our ads in front of people likely to subscribe. This doesn’t always work for newer brands or startups like Beer Drop but for us, because of our data-driven target and user-specific copy, it worked. 

Using real photos as social proof

Users have become pretty numb to overproduced videos and fancy creative. A few years ago the conversation with paid, especially Facebook, was “how do we stand out enough to get someone to stop scrolling?” but now, it’s “how do we get more real, more authentic, and blend in with our target audience?”. This is exciting for the small budgets and teams who want to test and experiment often. 

Here is a good example. The video below has no editing, took 3 minutes to film, was shot on an iPhone, and ever since launch, has been our best performing ad in almost every campaign: 

124 comments and 43 shares in two weeks? Yup, yup! 💪

To get this right, using real photos to drive results, revisit the “Talk to your existing customers” section of this post. It’s the one consistent thing you have to do all the time!

Learn from your traffic and make user flow optimizations

It’s not just about impressions or clicks, right? It’s about driving actions and subscribers. The customer acquisition equation is only complete when we focus as much on pre-click as post-click (and engagement and retention but let’s stick with acquisition for now!). 

When someone clicks on your Google ad or Instagram ad, what happens next? We like to use tools like Hotjar, Heap, and Optimizely to learn what users are doing when we actually get them to landing page or website. How can we make things more clear on the page, provide the right value, and remove friction? 

Beer Drop’s product team led the charge here. They’ve made small tweaks and adjustments at every stage of the user flow over the course of the last few minutes which has inched our conversion rate up and up. We would never see this type of growth, a 531% increase in MoM subscribers, without a product team committed to user improvements.

When it comes to paid social and ppc, remember that 90% of your traffic from these channels will be on mobile. Review your page in mobile, design in mobile, and make improvements based on mobile behavior. 

Use enough budget to test and get data to make better decisions

There’s no one set budget for starting out on Facebook and Google. When we think about test allocations, we start with the goals: “What do I want to learn from my paid advertising? What is the end goal? 

In the first phase with Beer Drop, we set out to answer:

  • What are my users responding to? 
  • Can I prove market fit on Facebook? 

We’ve seen that in order to answer questions like this, that you need daily budgets in the $200 to $400 a day range to get meaningful data. And be prepared, the early months are often not very profitable. I know everyone wants results, heck I’d be lying if I didn’t say Tuff is driven solely by results, but the trick is to have a smart testing plan to get data that’s statistically significant to your paid social and ppc efforts. What you prove on $100 in spend is not significant enough to say that it’s going to be the same if you spent $10,000. 

Whether you’re just testing the waters or ready to scale, figuring out how to acquire new customers on Facebook and Google is difficult. We’ve spent the past few years working with all kinds of different businesses, with small and large budgets, across a range of industries to help them figure this out. We’re still partnering with Beer Drop closely and will update this post with future results, challenges, success stories, and more. 

In the meantime, 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.

tuff-google-ads-for-hvac

How to Drive Your HVAC Sales Leads Up with Google Ads and Facebook

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

Alpine Ductless is a family-owned Northwest ductless heating and air conditioning installer based in Olympia, WA.  Looking to build up a defense against local competitors while increasing qualified sales leads, they partnered with Tuff to launch local Google Ads (formerly Adwords) and Facebook campaigns to drive their HVAC sales leads upward, along with their revenue and booked jobs. Through closed-loop reporting (Lead < Assigned to a salesman but not quoted < Lead Quoted < Customer Ordered < Sales Volume), we now maintain a minimum 1953.33% return on ad spend each month. 

Why Alpine Tapped Into PPC

Today, 80 percent of homes in the U.S. have an air conditioning system — and that’s similar for commercial properties. This generates a massive amount of search traffic on terms like “central air conditioner installation” or “ductless mini split installation.” Since there are plenty of customers searching for an HVAC company, if you don’t show up in every possible area on the search engine results page, customers won’t find you. 

One of the channels we saw the most success with for fueling user acquisition for Alpine Ductless was Google. After an initial kick-off meeting with Alpine Ductless to align on goals, ROI expectations, call-tracking, and reporting we launched geo-specific paid campaigns following the below process. 

HVAC Playbook:

Step 1: Conduct user research before building campaigns

Have you built out campaigns and ad groups in Google Ads before or with the help of an agency? You go into Google Ads, pick some keywords, insert some ad copy, and fill in the rest. In 15 minutes, you’ve got an up-and-running ad campaign. Sound familiar? 

If so, we should talk. One of the key things missing from this picture is research. After managing dozens of local Google Ad campaigns for our partners at Tuff, we’ve found that a team-wide brainstorming session to narrow in on the best keywords and match types can make a huge difference in the campaign ROI. 

Step 2: Configure tracking and reporting flow 

After we do our research, we set up conversion tracking and call tracking. This is critical for local businesses because without this tracking you’re in the dark when it comes to results. For form fills, we placed the Google ads pixel on Alpine’s site and also configured goals in Google Analytics. Then, we worked with their team to setup CallRail to track calls.  For many local businesses, a phone call has a very high chance of becoming a sale, because it usually means a customer has finished researching and is ready to pull the trigger. 

Step 3: Capture highly relevant searches on Google 

Google ads for local business can get expensive and wasteful fast. Before we launched campaigns, with Alpine, we identified top keywords and niche-specific opportunities to improve our clicks, quality, and sales. As a team, we decided to start with only the most qualified terms and expand from there once we had a steady sales flow. We also restricted our ads to only show to people within a 30-mile radius from the business to make sure the clicks were relevant. 

Step 4: Make your contact info easy to find and add call extensions 

The whole point of running Google ads for your local business is to get the phone ringing, people in the door and leads in your pipeline. We helped searches do this by making sure Alpine’s contact info was front and center on Google. In addition to call information, utilize all relevant ad extensions in Google Ads. This will help motivate searches because they have your location and phone number at their fingertips. 

Step 5: Build brand awareness and retarget with a compelling offer on Facebook 

To combat ad invisibility and get the most of customer acquisition using Facebook ads, we try to always include a compelling offer or call to action in our retargeting effort. Doing so can drive great results, especially if your goal is to generate sales rather than solely drive clicks. With a wide range of targeting options to help you find the right niche, customer acquisition using Facebook ads can be a highly cost-effective channel. Here’s an example of what this looked like for Alpine Ductless: 

Facebook ads for HCAV business.

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.