The first three presentations set the stage for the rest of Thursday’s speakers, so we all came back from lunch with pretty high expectations. I would have to say that those expectations were fully met. So here are the final four presentations focused on different aspects of paid search and AdWords marketing.
Optimizing Your AdWords for Maximum Profit | Jennifer Lamb & Bjorn Espenses
The next session was something of a two-for-one. We started off with Jennifer Lamb talking to us about rethinking measurement for growth. In other words, it’s time to rethink attribution in AdWords.
Because our legacy measurements limit us to micromoments.
What does that mean?
Well, if we look at the average customer journey, you’d see over 300 touch points along the path. An important thing to note, she pointed out, was that about 71% of these touch points occurred on mobile. (Are we sensing another theme here?)
So the real question she wanted to ask us was: Do your success metrics match this new paradigm?
Jennifer said that measurement is not about limiting potential, but finding opportunity. And you can do this by answering three questions:
- What matters – what is your business objective?
- What is working – are there any new tools you can employ?
- What’s possible – should be supported through testing and measuring
Adapting to The New Paradigm
In order to really rethink our measurements for growth, Jennifer suggested that the most important thing was to get beyond the “last click attribution.” With so many points along the customer journey, there is very little reason to believe that the way they found your website on the time they actually made the purchase was, in fact, the way that they first heard and became interested in your products. And if it was the 110th point on the journey that sold them, why in the world would you credit the 300th? That won’t give you actionable data and won’t help you build a stronger campaign focusing on the right part of the journey.
Is last click attribution ever applicable anymore? She said that if you have a direct path to purchase, then it’s probably fine, otherwise you may need to change your model for conversion tracking. You have many of them open to you, and the one you choose should align with your overall strategy. These possibilities include:
- Last click
- First click
- Position based
- Time decay
The one other method she suggested was a data driven model. This, she suggested, may be extremely important moving forward because with things like machine learning becoming a real player, it will help limit guesswork and streamline your campaign.
Then, Jennifer introduced us to Bjorn Espenses, co-founder of Finch, a company focused on creating programmatic advertising solutions.
Changing How We Do PPC
Programmatic advertising – the use of software to identify click profiles – will, he said, change paid search as we know it.
There are around 3.5 billion searches a day, and in order to really be successful, you need to determine which of those clicks will actually be profitable. Programmatic advertising, can help do this in 5 specific ways.
- Exponential Complexity – If you have 10k keywords, you could actually be looking at 600k instances of clicks you could buy. The variables only get more complex from there. Programmatic methodologies allow you to create a growth engine based on traffic quality score, ad rank, and more so you can get the clicks you want.
- Campaign Structure – You can architect an account to gain actionable data, which will give you the advantage when making bids.
- Grow Traffic – Automated keyword management can lead to dynamic search term insertion, an effective product catalogue, and competitive gap analysis.
- Influence Quality Score – This, Bjorn said, is the “Holy Grail of our industry.” Your clickthrough rate is 75% of the quality score, and the bid is only 20%, so if you can better the CTR – which is something that can be automated – you can see better success. (In the image you can see how “Google’s Cycle of Goodness” contributes to a better CTR and quality score.)
- Predictive Bidding – So how do you know what the next click is worth? As long as you’ve got the above 4 things in your arsenal, you will have the ability to get good clicks and even start to influence the value of future clicks.
All in all, it was a good presentation that really made it clear how complex a major paid search marketing campaign can become, and how, exactly, you could beat that complexity.
Social Ads Strategies That Capture Audiences & Convert | JD Prater
JD Prater, a Senior Account Manager in charge of training and education at Hanapin Marketing, next presented on how to craft paid social strategies that actually work. The problem, he said, was that too often we treat social like search. If we want to get the most benefit from social media, we’ve got to work on meeting and engaging an audience and then crafting multi-channel social ads.
Meeting and Engaging
JD compared this part of social media to “love at first sight,” which is to say, our audiences don’t believe in it, and yet our ad campaigns assume they do. We create ads that are assuming that the readers are going to fall immediately in love, click over to the site, and then make a purchase. As we learned in previous session, this isn’t normally the case. Not until they’ve gone through a much longer “getting to know you phase.” And that, he says, is why we need to treat social like a real relationship.
- Know who you are before making an attempt to meet others – define your voice, personality, brand, and then use it to generate emotions.
- Define your audience – create personas, map out the buyer’s journey, and make sure you content aligns with it.
- Know where your audience hangs out – Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, and are they hanging around B2C or B2B areas?
- Appeal to their needs – you need to sell value, not products.
Crafting Multi-Channel Ads
The goal here is to create a relationship funnel. He said that 60% to 90% of the buyer journey is actually done before actually considering a brand. So this is where we go through the relationship steps.
- Awareness – Just say “hi”
You need to make a good first impression. This is where you can experiment with targeting and create some kind of value exchange.
- Consideration – Dating
Generate engagement and address concerns. This is where you’ve earned permission to interrupt other parts of their social lives with relevant information. (A good phase for remarketing.)
- Decision – Making a commitment
You actually have to ask for a commitment. Unfortunately, this is where most people stop when in fact it should be where you shift into really fostering the relationship.
- Adoption – Date Nights
This is where you have to work to keep the spark alive. You can help them stay informed about your products and start building more positive sentiment.
- Advocacy – Defend your significant other
There are times when you need to stand up for your favorites. You can inspire your audience to stand up for you and always “be on your side.”
Measure the Results
JD also talked about which moment gets the credit, taking us back to the “last click” question. While the last interaction is usually direct, if that’s all you’re measuring, then the right marketing channels might not be getting the credit they deserve.
Social and organic search is way on the front end – the first click side of things. If someone found you on mobile devices, they likely went home to make the purchase on a computer, so that may look like two different people. So, in addition to the last click attribution, he also recommended:
- Review assisted conversions
- Funnel position by social network
- Social impact on different verticals
- Time decay attribution
Last-click-only attribution is quickly becoming an antiquated model because if you’re not giving credit where it’s due, you may be missing the big picture and bigger opportunities. There are different metrics for different phases of the funnel, and, JD wanted everyone to remember, ROI isn’t strictly about revenue, when awareness, loyalty, opt-ins, and more can be very profitable, too.
Master This 1 Thing in Ecommerce PPC | Kirk Williams
What is the one thing that PPC specialists need to master before Google changes it again next year? According to Kirk Williams, a Google AdWords and Bing Ads PPC manager at ZATO, the answer is the shopping results that appear in search results.
Ecommerce PPC and What You Need to Know
Search results, Kirk said, are shifting to paid. You don’t need to do a lot of in-depth research to confirm this. Just do a simple search and see how most of the results above the fold are paid placements.
But that’s not the only change. Google is shifting the Shopping results over above the text ads, and that is why ecommerce businesses need to take advantage of this marketing channel.
Engagement with Shopping results is growing, which is why the search engine is currently investing heavily in this channel, to the point that Shopping is even appearing in image search and customers can make a purchase directly from the Shopping box.
Step Up Your Shopping Game
Kirk said that it is important to understand that Shopping is not bidding on a word or intent, but a product. And this can change how you set up and track your campaign.
You can set up your campaigns to bid on specific queries, but if you do, you need to make sure your filters are set precisely. He recommended that you start with your ideal product grouping and then slowly transition to new products to find the perfect balance.
He also talked about custom labels, and while he said that they can be used to group products, they’re not always strictly necessary because Brands and Categories can be just as (if not more) useful. Possibly the most valid use for custom labels is for things like weekly clearance deals or Top 50 Products lists (things that are trying to push products over returns).
It’s also important to note that 66% of conversions don’t match the product clicked, so trying to guess with custom labels is ineffective because it’s hard to predict what they really want. (This is tied to the 300 touchpoints that Jennifer spoke of in the previous presentation.)
Remarketing for Shopping
There are three reasons to divide Shopping and remarketing efforts
- Random bid modifiers can make everything more difficult
- Return customers do not equal new customers
- Better budget control
In order to effectively manage remarketing for Shopping, you will need to build detailed user behavior lists and microconversion lists. Then you can develop one main “master campaign” and, from that, you can start developing a strategy by pulling top brands or products into individual campaigns.
The important thing is that you must be relevant at all times, and in this channel, customer match can be very hard and rare.
Bid for Shopping
Bidding for Shopping isn’t exactly like normal PPC ads. Obviously, you need to bid smartly and efficiently, and that means using filters for smart, fast bidding decisions. Kirk recommended using saved filters as the best way to work as efficiently as possible.
On top of that, he recommended always using data from Attribution Data to make the best bidding decisions possible.
So how do you take advantage of this important marketing channel before Google changes it again?
- Set up your campaign for query intent
- Organizing with brands and categories is better than custom labels
- Use remarketing
- Use saved filters
A Road Map to Analytics Mastery | Annie Cushing
The final keynote of Day 1 of this year’s SLC Digital Marketing Conference was presented by Annie Cushing. Some of us at SEO.com were lucky enough to have lunch with her. She was really great to talk to, even if I accidentally got topic of conversation around to the all-important subject of Pokemon GO! But we did talk about how businesses could use such a massive trend to attract new customers, so that’s totally valid, right?
She informed us immediately that she was there to sell us on the importance of analytics in the market – and Google Analytics specifically, since that is the industry standard.
So how do you get from analytics amateur to skilled professional?
Annie shared 10 skills that you need to acquire to master analytics, and she claimed you can acquire them all in 10 weeks. You can check out her site for more detailed explanations on each of these skills, but here are the basics:
1. Metrics and Dimensions
It’s important to understand the differences between metrics and dimensions and how they’re displayed in Analytics. Basically, anything that can be measured with a number is a metric and displayed in blue. Dimensions are shown in green and can help you isolate campaigns.
2. Standard Reports
You need to know the ins and outs of the standard reports so you can effectively customize your own later on. These reports include all the elements on the left of the Analytics dashboard, and you really need to think of them as the jumping-off point. The best thing about these reports is that it will help avoid sampling problems.
3. Custom Reports
To start producing custom reports, you just have to click the Customize button at the top of the screen. Here you can do exactly what you want and get a real forensic examination of a website. You can, however, get sampling if things aren’t set properly.
4. View Filters
Changes to the view filters are permanent, so be extremely cautious when you modify them. Sometimes it may be better to use a Report Filter instead, which will give you the answers to specific questions without impacting the whole of your Analytics. This will also help you avoid sampling.
5. Data Sampling
So we’ve been warned a lot about sampling by now, but what exactly is it? Basically, if you’re “sampling” you’re not getting good data because Google is literally taking a small percentage of data and extrapolating the rest. So when you get a note that says a report is based on [blank] sessions or a percentage of sessions, you’ll know something is wrong. If you see the yellow flag of sampling, click the icon and move the slider bar to the right to make sure these reports are based on real data.
6. Ecommerce Tracking
Annie recommended that everyone upgrade to Universal for ecommerce tracking because this is where you can get the most advanced options. Just make sure the product categories are properly set in order to get the best data.
7. Campaign Tagging
This is something that Annie highly encouraged we make regular use of. However, she also warned that it is easy to miss-tag something, and even a capitol letter in the wrong place can mix up certain tags. When this happens, the data goes away into “Data Hell,” as she put it. It gets hidden away in a horrible category (more like a bucket) called “(Other).” The only way your data should end up here is if you’ve done something wrong, so take another look and make sure you’re seeing all the data you need.
8. Custom Channels
It’s important to be careful with these, too, because it can also make permanent changes to your analytics. This is where you will track partners, affiliates, paid social, shopping, PDFs, etc.
9. Event Tracking
It can be useful to set up event tracking, but just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Too many events in your Analytics can slow everything down, and, in many cases, it’s already tracking the information you need. So be absolutely sure you need to set this up before you do.
In the end, you need to make sure you have all the elements of effective analytics fully implemented to make sure your website is performing well and contributing to your company’s growth. You need to make sure that the guts of Google Analytics is always working right, providing the right data, and helping you create the reports that show what you’ve been doing right and what you can still do to grow even more.
And that was it for the Thursday, paid-search-focused SLC|SEM conference. While there were a lot of SEOers at the conference that didn’t have a deep background in this marketing channel, there were definitely a lot of great takeaways for everyone.