Portent http://www.aiai7.icu Digital Marketing Agency - Seattle, WA Thu, 28 May 2020 15:47:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 http://www.aiai7.icu/images/2018/11/favicon.png Portent http://www.aiai7.icu 32 32 Big Tests vs. Little Tests: Assessing Risk and Reward http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/analytics/big-tests-vs-little-tests-assessing-risk-and-reward.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/analytics/big-tests-vs-little-tests-assessing-risk-and-reward.htm#respond Thu, 28 May 2020 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53258 How to know when to bet the house and when to play it safe when you’re formulating CRO test ideas and UX implementations. Conversion Rate Optimization is a fine balance. Big, sexy tests with amazing results are the stuff huge contracts with clients and in-house promotions are made of. To get there, though, you have […]

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How to know when to bet the house and when to play it safe when you’re formulating CRO test ideas and UX implementations.

Conversion Rate Optimization is a fine balance. Big, sexy tests with amazing results are the stuff huge contracts with clients and in-house promotions are made of. To get there, though, you have to run smaller, decidedly less-sexy tests with incremental results that don’t necessarily get rave reviews from management. But if you do those smaller tests right, it builds the kind of trust you need in your organization to take the risks required in the big tests.

Pre-Test Questions

To understand risk and reward in testing, you need to start with some basic questions. They will dictate what kind of test you should run and whether it should be a test at all versus an implementation.

How Obvious Will the Change Be to the End User/Prospective Customer?

Will this test appear to be a sea-change to the user, a subtle evolutionary change, or hardly noticeable as they go about their business on your site? Optics can be shaky ground for customers, even if the substance of what you’re asking people to do is relatively fixed.

How Much of the Team Is Involved in Executing the Test? How Big of a Lift Will It Be to Accomplish?

Does this require a CRO, a developer, and a content strategist? Or does this require channel marketers, IT, and leadership decision-makers? The more cooks in the kitchen, the clearer the test design will need to be, and the more calculated the impact to justify the time investment.

What KPI Are You Trying to Affect?

If it’s a navigational KPI vs. a conversion KPI, you can potentially take bigger risks in the design and look to move the needle much more drastically. If it changes how people give you money, you’ll maybe want to be more measured in your approach.

What Kind of Sample Size Do You Expect?

Will tens of thousands of people see this test? Or does this page or part of the funnel only get a few hundred visitors in a month? It might not be worth splitting your audience or trying something groundbreaking if you aren’t going to collect enough data on each variation.

Test Types by Risk

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can determine what kind of test type to run based on what you find. I like to give these tests unique names to identify them by how ambitious they are and how they might appear to customers.

The Superficial

This is the test equivalent of rearranging deck chairs and polishing the brass on a cruise ship. Your customers probably aren’t going to notice, but it might subliminally influence the way they behave.

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Test Characteristics: CTA button color changes, CTA button style treatments, navigation reordering, adding iconography
Team Members: CRO, front-end developer (optional)
KPIs: CTR
Risk: Low
Reward: Low

The Copywriter

A different approach to product or service messaging can work wonders, but this test keeps all the load-bearing functionality and structure of your page in place. It spins the thing you’re selling in a new light without disorienting the customer too much.

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Test Characteristics: Headline changes, body copy changes, CTA button text changes, navigation text renaming
Team Members: CRO, content strategist, front-end developer (optional)
KPIs: Time on page/site, bounce rate
Risk: Low
Reward: Medium

The Dev Special

This is where you start talking to front-end developers and moving things around in a noticeable way. Your customers who are really paying attention will perceive the change, and it’ll more actively influence their progression through your content and conversion funnels.

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Test Characteristics: New images or image treatments, changes to navigation positioning or functionality, changes to layout order of existing content, the addition of new interactive elements
Team Members: CRO, content strategist, designer, front-end developer
KPIs: CTR, time on page/site, bounce rate, funnel start, add to cart
Risk: Medium
Reward: Medium

The Facelift

This is where the website’s end goal doesn’t change, and neither do the baseline navigation objects, but the overall experience can look very different from user to user.

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Test Characteristics: Added elements of personalization, content recommendations based on behavior or incoming campaign, dynamic CTA buttons
Team Members: CRO, content strategist, channel marketers, designer, front-end developer, marketing manager
KPIs: Time on page/site, bounce rate, funnel start, add to cart, conversion rate
Risk: Medium
Reward: Medium

The Dev Deluxe

These tests start to really pull at the structural foundations of a website and how customers interact with you. This work might involve back-end developers to restructure how and what data you collect with forms and shopping carts on the site.

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Test Characteristics: Changes to contact or lead forms, changes to e-commerce carts or checkout funnels
Team Members: CRO, content strategist, designer, front-end developer, IT, marketing manager
KPIs: Time on page/site, bounce rate, funnel start, add to cart, conversion rate, leads, transactions, lead quality
Risk: Medium
Reward: High

The Overhaul

You’ve given up on the viability of your existing site at this point. It’s fundamentally broken and you need a change, but you want to show some users a completely different version of the site before you cut over to it entirely. This could change how customers think about you altogether.

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Test Characteristics: Complete redesign, major functionality and navigation changes, different imagery and typography
Team Members: CRO, content strategist, designer, front-end developer, IT marketing manager, CMO
KPIs: CTR, time on page/site, bounce rate, funnel start, add to cart, conversion rate, leads, transactions, lead quality
Risk: High
Reward: High

Test or Be Tested

Now that you have a framework for evaluating your testing decisions, remember this: hand-wringing and inaction can be just as risky as any test. If you don’t evolve how you present your products and services, the customer’s needs and preferences will evolve without you. Convince your stakeholders to take a leap of faith, no matter how small, and the rewards will always outweigh the risks.

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Custom Reports and Columns You Should Be Using in Facebook Ads Manager http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/social-media/custom-reports-and-columns-you-should-be-using-in-facebook-ads-manager.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/social-media/custom-reports-and-columns-you-should-be-using-in-facebook-ads-manager.htm#respond Tue, 26 May 2020 14:00:18 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53234 We’ve shared the importance of using data from a third-party reporting tool like Google Analytics and a social advertising platform to better understand and evaluate campaign performance. Using the two concurrently means that you can catch and mitigate reporting discrepancies and get a big-picture look at your advertising efforts across all channels. For day-to-day performance […]

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We’ve shared the importance of using data from a third-party reporting tool like Google Analytics and a social advertising platform to better understand and evaluate campaign performance. Using the two concurrently means that you can catch and mitigate reporting discrepancies and get a big-picture look at your advertising efforts across all channels.

For day-to-day performance updates, though, most social media marketers find themselves directly in the ad platform. With that in mind, this post will dive into Facebook Ads Manager and highlight some ways you can tailor native dashboards and reports to fit your needs.

Customize Your Columns

In the Ads Manager dashboard, Facebook’s columns default to the “Performance” view, which outlines campaign details like delivery and budget alongside standard performance metrics like results, reach, impressions, and more.

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In the Columns drop-down menu, Facebook offers a number of canned columns settings in addition to the default, so advertisers can quickly monitor performance at-a-glance.

However, these dashboard arrangements are not one-size-fits-all. Depending on your campaign goals, applying a default column view probably means that you’re limiting visibility of the performance metrics that really matter to your campaigns, possibly losing out on valuable optimization opportunities.

This is where the Customize Columns feature comes in!

You can find the Customize Columns options toward the bottom of the Columns drop-down.

By selecting Customize Columns, you’re able to unlock any and all reporting metrics available in Ads Manager.

Here, you can opt to include the conversion event most relevant to your campaign, giving you a glimpse into performance beyond the “Results” column. All of Facebook’s Standard Events live here, but so do any Custom Events or Conversions you have set up that are being captured by your pixel.

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Additionally, you can compare attribution windows beyond the 28-day click, 1-day view that Facebook defaults to, or the attribution window you’ve selected in your settings.

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Adjusting your attribution window will not only help you make more accurate adjustments to your campaigns, but also develop a broader understanding of performance.

Check out this post if you’re looking to understand Facebook’s attribution windows better and determine the best setup for your business.

Any metrics you choose to add to your Custom Columns selection can be saved for later use in Ads Manager by selecting Save as Preset.

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You’ll be prompted to name the preset, which will then be discoverable under the Custom Columns drop-down menu in your dashboard.

What Metrics Should You Include?

Given the seemingly limitless selection of metrics and performance views you can add to your custom columns preset, it can be challenging to determine exactly which options will be the most valuable to you as an advertiser. Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dashboard arrangement, but there are some guidelines you can follow for customizing your columns based on the types of campaigns you are running.

Keeping some of the standard performance metrics like CPC, CTR, Impressions, Reach, etc. is a great start. The trickier part can be deciding which conversion metrics are necessary to best understand performance, so we’ll focus on general needs depending on your campaign type.

Lead Generation

Lead generation can take a few different forms, but at the end of the day, you’re looking to capture user information that indicates interest in a product or service. For a business operating in a B2B vertical, this could mean sign-ups for a webinar related to a SaaS solution. On the flip side, a business specializing in professional services might want to measure sign-ups for appointment slots.

In any case, it’s valuable to have an understanding of the sales process and a user’s journey to conversion. While this should inform the attribution window you select, it can be helpful to customize your columns, so that you can compare results by attribution window.

If you’re driving to a lead form on your site, including Landing Page Views within your dashboard can help you gauge how many users are successfully landing on a page. With that in mind, any additional goals you are tracking should be reflected in your columns. This includes relevant standard event goals and custom conversions that give you full visibility into performance.

E-Commerce

If your conversion campaigns are optimized for a purchase event, those results will be captured on your dashboard without any column customization. However, getting the full picture of your user’s journey through the sales funnel can help you better optimize your campaigns each step of the way.

I recommend adding columns for additional conversion events like Add to Cart and Checkouts Initiated, and Website Purchases. This will allow you to see where users drop off in the journey to purchase and can inform retargeting campaigns with the goal of converting those users.

Purchase ROAS is probably the most valuable metric you can add to truly gauge campaign performance. With visibility into your return on ad spend, you can better understand the value of your marketing efforts. You can find this metric under Conversions in the Customize Columns menu.

How to Report on This Data

In a pinch, you can export the data as seen exactly on your dashboard in the form of a .csv file. If you’re looking for something a little more robust, the Ads Reporting feature allows you to customize and export a report directly from Ads Manager.

You can get there from your dashboard via the Export drop-down menu or the Shortcuts navigation in the top left-hand side of the interface.

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From there, you can create a report by ad account. The toolbar gives you the option to customize by Breakdown and Metrics.

The Breakdown options allow you to view the report by:

  • Level
  • Time
  • Delivery
  • Actions
  • Setting
  • Creative Asset

On the metrics side, you can select from many of the options seen in the Customize Columns feature, as well as more granular settings like URL parameters and audience. Additionally, you can customize metrics by inputting formulas based on your additional reporting needs.

The custom metric option allows you to name the metric, describe it, and enter a formula.

Why Use Ads Reporting?

While Facebook Ads Reporting won’t give you the ability to create data visualizations in the same way a reporting tool like Google Data Studio might, the reports generated in Ads Manager can be an effective tool for disseminating performance data to stakeholders.

Additionally, the ability to report natively by audience and placement can simplify your approach to optimizations.

Leveraging some of Facebook’s customizable dashboard and reporting features will not only enhance your understanding of performance, but also allow you to make more effective and strategic decisions as a social media marketer.

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Google Local Service Ads: Are They Worth It? http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/google-local-service-ads-are-they-worth-it.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/google-local-service-ads-are-they-worth-it.htm#respond Thu, 21 May 2020 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53170 Small businesses are often at a disadvantage when it comes to advertising in service verticals. They simply do not have pockets deep enough to both hold off big-name brands and continually pay exorbitant click costs for high-volume, highly-competitive keywords. Depending on what service vertical you want to advertise in, you can often expect to pay […]

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Small businesses are often at a disadvantage when it comes to advertising in service verticals. They simply do not have pockets deep enough to both hold off big-name brands and continually pay exorbitant click costs for high-volume, highly-competitive keywords. Depending on what service vertical you want to advertise in, you can often expect to pay $5, $10, $15, or more on average per click for such sought-after search terms. Those costs are, too often, not feasible for so many small businesses unless they’re somehow able to maintain an extraordinary conversion rate.

Google recognized this reality, and in 2018 began offering a solution for small businesses to try and level the playing field: Local Services Ads. Local Services Ads are sponsored business listings that are eligible to show for service-oriented search queries.

this illustration of a mobile search for "local house keeping" shows how google will return a local services ad for a housekeeping company that includes a star rating, hours, location, and link to call

Unlike regular text ads or search campaigns, Local Services Ads generate impressions based on service categories the advertiser opts into (there are no keywords used) and can only show in a particular geographic market. Furthermore, you set a desired weekly budget you’d like to pay on average, and you’re charged a flat fee per phone call generated from these listings, which vary by service category and geographic market. If there’s something wrong with the contents of the call—for example, if the caller hung up immediately or asked for something completely irrelevant to your businesses—you can identify it in your Local Services Ads dashboard and not be charged for that call.

To paint a clearer picture: If you run a moving company specializing in short-distance local moves in the Los Angeles market, you could create a Local Services Ads account in the Moving & Relocation category and select only local moves as the service type you offer. Then, you could narrow down where your ads are eligible to show by zip code within that market. Google would then show your ads only to users in the zip codes you specify that submit search queries related to local moving companies. If a user generated a phone call from your ad and the contents of the call fit Google’s criteria for a lead, you’d be charged a flat fee determined by Google for Moving & Relocation services in Los Angeles.

At Portent, we’ve helped some of our clients opt into Local Services Ads. In this post, I’ll review our experience using these ads for two of our larger-scale service clients and their results to answer the question: are Google Local Services Ads worth using?

Onboarding and Setup

We’ve onboarded two large-scale service clients with Local Services Ads in several different geographic locations. We’ll call them Client 1 and Client 2. Client 1 is in the Moving & Relocation vertical, and Client 2 is in the HVAC vertical. In our experience, the whole onboarding process for both clients was extraordinarily cumbersome and took multiple months to complete.

For Client 1, the insurance and license verification process contained extra layers because of the Moving & Relocation vertical. For a single small business with one location, this may not have been as big of a deal. For a business with multiple locations, it was more strenuous on the part of our client. Furthermore, completing the background check process for each field worker took time as we were dependent on each individual to input their own information.

For Client 2, we followed Google’s instructions to bypass their regular background check process for field workers as this client performs their own background checks that appeared to meet Google’s standards. After the client spent the better part of three months ensuring all field employee background checks were accounted for, Google initially denied our client’s request to bypass their regular background check process—despite a completed questionnaire that met Google’s standards—because of a technicality with geographic markets. After another month of back-and-forth and getting legal counsels involved, their request to bypass was finally accepted.

Once onboarding was finally complete for each client, we got to see the Google Local Services user interface (UI) and dashboard. The UI is easy to navigate, and there are only a handful of pages (call reporting, profile settings, etc.).

This screenshot of the LSA dashboard shows the information that is available to you: the number of leads charged, budget spent, appointments booked from leads, and a 30-day graph showing when the leads were charged.

The amount of actual control you have as an advertiser is limited to selecting which specific services you want to opt your ads into (pre-set by Google) and which specific locations within a given geographic market you want your ads eligible to show in (towns, cities, and/or zip codes). Furthermore, you set a desired weekly budget that Google aims to fulfill along with the eligibility for hours of the day and days of the week you want your ads to show.

This screenshot of the LSA dashboard shows the limited options you can control: your business information and bio, budget, and the job types your business ad shows up for

Results

After a quarter of running Local Services Ads for Client 1 (Moving & Relocation), we evaluated the cost-effectiveness of these ads versus our standard paid search text ads. While call quality was excellent and their assigned lead rate was over 90% from Local Services Ads, the desired ratio of long-distance move requests (of significantly higher value) to local move requests fell well short expectations. Paying a flat fee between $30 – $40 for each call (depending on geographic market) proved to be too expensive as the eventual cost per booked move (final sale) ended up being 2x – 3x higher than our standard paid search campaigns in Google Ads.

For Client 2 (HVAC), we saw better results. While the volume of incoming calls was lower than our regular text ads, and the opportunity rate didn’t significantly differ, the conversion rate to confirmed sales proved to be higher. As a result, with the flat fees paid per call, the average cost per sale ended up being half what it was for our regular text ads.

Conclusion: Worth It or Not?

Based on the results we’ve witnessed, the answer isn’t as clear cut as we had hoped for.

From a call quality perspective, Local Services Ads are definitely worth it. The rate of qualified leads per phone call exceeded that of our standard paid search campaigns and that of several other digital channels.

From a cost perspective, it depends. Paying a higher flat fee per phone call than what we typically see from our other paid search campaigns can be made up for in the end with better call quality and an eventual lower cost per sale. However, if you depend on a specific type of service within your vertical to stay profitable, you may find that the average cost per call ends up being too expensive even with better conversion rates or that the incoming call volume is lower than you want to see any given week.

If you’re a small business advertiser in a service industry with a limited budget, we recommend you give Google Local Services Ads a shot. Chances are your onboarding process will be less strenuous than the examples in this post. There is also more upside than downside given the results we’ve seen, and the potential for better lead quality via phone calls. Be wary, though, that it may not be the miracle answer you’re looking for to make up for all the desired lead volume you want. There will be a limit to how many phone calls you’ll likely be able to acquire during any given week. That’s why, if you do decide to test these ads, do not neglect your other digital channels, including paid search campaigns in Google Ads.

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How to Create and Test Custom Intent Audiences in Google Ads http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/how-to-create-and-test-custom-intent-audiences-in-google-ads.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/how-to-create-and-test-custom-intent-audiences-in-google-ads.htm#respond Tue, 19 May 2020 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53182 I’m willing to bet that you’re here reading this post for one of the following reasons: You don’t know what a custom intent audience is. You know what a custom intent audience is, but you’ve never used them. You know what they are, and you’re looking for new ways to create powerful custom intent audiences […]

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I’m willing to bet that you’re here reading this post for one of the following reasons:

  • You don’t know what a custom intent audience is.
  • You know what a custom intent audience is, but you’ve never used them.
  • You know what they are, and you’re looking for new ways to create powerful custom intent audiences to increase awareness and user engagement on the Display Network.

Regardless of your reason, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll talk about what a custom intent audience is and how to create one, how they differ from custom affinity and in-market audiences, why you should use them, and best practices.

What Is a Custom Intent Audience?

Custom intent audiences are a feature in Google Ads that allows advertisers to target people who are actively researching their products and services. We can build custom intent audiences using keywords and URLs to target users who have already shown interest in specific products and services on Display and Video campaigns. Custom intent audiences can increase brand awareness and are best used to target users who are mid- to low-funnel.

Custom Intent Audiences vs. Custom Affinity and In-Market Audiences

While the concept is similar to a custom intent audience, custom affinity audiences are better suited for top-of-funnel audience building. In Audience Manager, Google describes custom affinity as “People with interests aligned with your brand.”

Look to custom affinity audiences to create a broad customer profile and to capture a wider audience; these users may not be ready to buy, but they could be interested in what your brand has to offer.

In-market audiences are great for top-of-funnel building as well. These audiences are Google’s predetermined buckets of users that are actively looking for a service or looking to purchase a product. The issue with relying on in-market audiences is that they are still very broad; for example, if you’re a SaaS company interested in B2B sales, the ‘Enterprise Software’ in-market audience seems like a no brainer to target. This audience is still a valid target as it’s a good starting point for narrowing your audience to B2B-centric users, but may not target those interested in the specific type of product or service your brand offers.

Why Use Custom Intent Audiences?

You’ve learned what a custom intent audience is and how it differs from custom affinity and in-market audiences. Now you might be wondering, “why would I use them?” Custom intent audiences are great for finding users who are moving their way down the marketing funnel; depending on which keywords you use (short-tail vs. long-tail), we are more likely to target users who are already mid- to low-funnel.

Custom intent audiences are helpful in certain scenarios: you may have a stagnant search campaign, competitive keywords are too expensive, you’re unsure of how to tap into your competitor’s audience, or you want to serve ads to a specific persona. Following are some instances where you could benefit from creating custom intent audiences.

Increase Display Presence

If you think you’ve hit a wall on Google’s Search Network (traffic either decreasing or stagnant), build audiences based on your top-performing keywords and increase your reach on the display network.

Reap the Benefits of Lower CPCs

Depending on your vertical, your CPCs on Search might be driven up by the competition. If your budget doesn’t allow for targeting costly keywords, target those keywords in a custom intent audience, and serve ads on Display to cast a wider net.

Target Users Interested in Your Competitors

Users are already searching for your competitors! Whether these users know your brand or not, get in front of them with a display ad. Target users who are searching for competitor terms (brands, products, services) or target users who have visited pieces of content related to your brand’s products or services.

Create Remarketing Audiences for Specific Personas

Like I mentioned earlier, depending on your audience, there may not be a specific Google in-market audience available to target. You can build your own persona and test; create a custom intent audience based on keywords and URLs those users will most likely visit and lead them to a highly relevant landing page. Capture those users in an audience list and work your remarketing strategy magic.

How to Create a Custom Intent Audience

Ok, it’s time to get our hands dirty. In your Google Ads account, under Tools & Settings, open up Audience manager:

You can find Tools & Settings in the top right corner of your Google Ads dashboard. Audience manager is under the Shared Library column.

Upon loading, by default, you’ll land on the Remarketing list tab. Switch to Custom Audiences and hit the blue ‘+’ icon to reveal your two options, Custom affinity or Custom intent:

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Clicking on Custom intent will reveal the audience builder where you enter keywords and/or URLs for targeting. There are two options for targeting: Google search terms and In-market keywords. The Google search term option is best suited for Discovery, Gmail, and YouTube campaigns, so you’ll want to choose In-market keywords.

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The Ideas tab will give you keyword ideas based on what you enter into the builder. This is helpful as it presents keyword variations like the Google Keyword Planner does, and you can easily click on the keywords you’d like to add to your list. The Audience Size tab gives you reach estimates and demographics based on age, gender, and parental status.

Best Practices and Use Cases

While your custom intent audience will be specific to your business goals, there are some general best practices to follow to ensure you’re getting the most out of your targeting efforts.

Don’t Create a Catchall Audience

Never rely on one custom intent audience to target all different keyword variations; doing so will hinder the visibility of which keywords/keyword groupings are resulting in engaged users. Treat these audiences as you would with Search campaigns; find ways to organize your audiences and test, test, TEST.

For example, let’s assume you’re a brand that is advertising business planning software. You shouldn’t bucket users searching for “business plan software” in the same audience as people who search for “how to write a business plan.” Both queries are valid to use for custom intent audience building, but the intent behind each query differs. “Business plan software” shows that the user is aware that business plan software exists and that they’re actively exploring software options, while the user searching for “how to write a business plan” is at the top of the funnel and needs to be nudged in your brand’s direction.

Use Existing Keywords for a New Opportunity

If you already have Search campaigns running, you can target keywords that are currently performing well and extend momentum beyond the SERP. You can also use custom intent audiences to address the following questions based on keyword performance:

  • Do I need to increase reach on a stagnant campaign?
  • Which campaigns with high competition can take advantage of Display exposure?
  • Are there specific topics my brand can address that aren’t easy targets on Search?

New Campaign Launch

You’ve done all the keyword research needed for a new campaign, and it’s time to launch. If you have the budget for Display, test your new keyword targets in a custom intent audience. Increase your reach by targeting users who have already shown interest in your keywords/topics; bucket these users from the display campaign into a remarketing list and double down on Search with an RLSA strategy.

How to Test Audiences

Creating a custom intent audience is only one part of the puzzle; once you have those established, the next step is to test your audiences to make sure they’re truly working for you. There are a variety of factors you can test your custom audiences for, and ultimately what you choose will depend on your overall business objectives. But to give you some ideas, I’ll continue the software example above. Using that information, you may want to test different audiences based on (but not limited to) the following:

  • Help queries (e.g. “how to…”).
  • Keyword variations based on theme (e.g., Audience 1: “top business plan software,” “best business plan software 2020,” Audience 2: “how to write a business plan,” “business plan templates”).
  • Short-tail keyword vs. long-tail keywords.
  • Webpage types (product page, product category, help articles).

The goal of audience testing is to understand which audiences are more engaged. To begin my evaluation, I’ll typically look at conversions first, but if no conversions have been recorded, I’ll move on to engagement metrics like click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, and average session duration. The metrics you evaluate will map back to your business goals (brand awareness, lead generation, etc.).

If you find an audience that isn’t performing well (depending on campaign duration), you can pause the audience to allow more opportunity for higher-performing audiences, try new display ad creative (preferably responsive display ads due to their dynamic headline and description testing capabilities), or even test new landing pages.

The Wrap Up

Using custom intent audiences is a good way to jump in front of users who are moving down the sales funnel. They’ve already shown interest in a certain topic, service, or product, now introduce them to your brand and let your content do the talking.

Creating custom intent audiences is easy, but how you organize and test your audiences requires some legwork. Understanding user intent will help guide your strategy and help identify when you might need to change your approach. If you’ve created multiple audiences and notice that one of them isn’t performing well, test new creatives before deciding to pull the plug.

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Combining LinkedIn and Google Analytics Data to Optimize Your Campaigns http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/social-media/combining-linkedin-and-google-analytics-data-to-optimize-your-campaigns.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/social-media/combining-linkedin-and-google-analytics-data-to-optimize-your-campaigns.htm#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53105 Data plays a vital role in how we create, optimize, and analyze our digital marketing campaigns. Data is an integral part of digital marketing that showcases campaign effectiveness, which includes audience targeting, creative and messaging, brand recognition, and more. To view the data and make our analysis, we often use either what’s offered in the […]

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Data plays a vital role in how we create, optimize, and analyze our digital marketing campaigns. Data is an integral part of digital marketing that showcases campaign effectiveness, which includes audience targeting, creative and messaging, brand recognition, and more.

To view the data and make our analysis, we often use either what’s offered in the advertising platforms or a third-party tool such as Google Analytics (GA), but not necessarily both. However, with social media channels, how the data is calculated on these advertising platforms is different compared to GA. Therefore, to gain a more robust insight into your social media campaign performance, it is essential to analyze data from both the social advertising platform and GA.

This blog will focus on the LinkedIn platform and the differences in how data is presented and calculated compared to GA. We will look at the unique features of data reporting in LinkedIn and GA and explore why gaining visibility from both platforms provides additional opportunities to measure and optimize your LinkedIn campaigns.

How Does Google Analytics Reporting Differ From LinkedIn?

First, let’s begin by distinguishing a few key data reporting elements that differentiate GA and LinkedIn.

Sessions vs. Clicks

GA reports on “sessions,” which translates to “site visits.” In more detail, the GA support document mentions, “if a user is inactive for 30 minutes or more, any future activity is attributed to a new session. Users that leave your site and return within 30 minutes are counted as part of the original session.” In other words, GA records sessions by activity, and not by clicks into the site.

In comparison, LinkedIn reports on “clicks,” which translates to the number of clicks users have taken to visit the site. LinkedIn counts all clicks, regardless of whether or not the user is engaged with the content, or has successfully landed on the site.

For instance, if a user clicks on an ad twice, LinkedIn will count two clicks; however, in GA, if the user clicks twice within the session limitations, it will count as one session.
The example below compares how Linkedin and GA report the same user activity. LinkedIn counted 501 clicks; however, GA counted 345 sessions.

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LinkedIn Report
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Google Analytics Report

It is important to be mindful that both platforms measure and define metrics differently, which results in a significant data discrepancy when comparing the insights reported by each.

Attribution Window

GA offers several attribution models, but the default attribution window is the last non-direct click model, which many digital marketers use. The last non-direct click model gives credit to the last non-direct traffic source that led to a conversion. For example, if a user clicks on your LinkedIn ad, but then comes back to your site directly and converts, LinkedIn would get credit. The downfall to reporting this way is it disregards the different paths the user has taken across channels that may have assisted the conversion process. However, GA can report on cross-device data for signed-in Google users if Google Signals is enabled. This element collects data that is user-based and not session-based.

And, check out this post If you’re interested in learning more about GA and how to choose the attribution model that best meets your business goals.

LinkedIn reports on post-click and view-through conversions. With post-click, a user clicks on the LinkedIn ad and converts within the conversion window. With view-through, a user views the ad (counted as an impression) and converts later through another channel within the conversion window. The default conversion window for LinkedIn is a 30-day post-click and 7-day view-through, but when creating new conversions on the platform, you can change the conversion window to something that more closely aligns with your business goal.

For instance, the timeline below shows how LinkedIn records conversions within the selected post-click and view-through conversions. Using the default window as an example, it will track when a user saw an ad (impressions), clicked on an ad, and converted.

The timeline starts on 9/1, and shows a first impression on 9/6, then a click on 9/20, and then a conversion on 9/26, with the timeline ending on 9/30.
Image courtesy of LinkedIn

Also, the total number of conversions reported within the LinkedIn platform includes cross-device conversions. For instance, if the user first saw the ad through desktop but then converted through his or her mobile device.

While it’s important to be mindful of how the conversion windows are different between LinkedIn and GA, it is crucial to use both platforms to get more insight into how your campaigns performed.

Third-Party Cookies vs. First-Party Cookies

First, let’s differentiate how these cookies collect data. According to CookiePro, “First-party cookies are directly stored by the website (or domain) you visit. Third-party cookies are created by domains that are not the website (or domain) that you are visiting. They are usually used for online-advertising purposes and placed on a website by adding scripts or tags.”

GA uses first-party cookies to report on user behavior data on the site. This isn’t the case for LinkedIn, which reports data from third-party cookie browsers, and which excludes browsers like Safari or Safari (in-app). To view whether your campaigns are driving conversions from the Safari browser, you’ll need to look at GA.

In the example below, GA shows LinkedIn campaigns received 30 conversions from Safari (in-app) browsers. But due to the third-party cookie constraints, you cannot see this reported within LinkedIn. If you suspect your LinkedIn campaigns are driving conversions through Safari browsers, include GA data in your analysis when reporting on conversions.

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LinkedIn Analytics Reporting Features

Before we get into the specifics of the analytics features offered within LinkedIn, we first need to understand the buyer’s journey. On average, a user consumes about ten pieces of content before they make a conversion (e.g., signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a service, filling out a form). Additionally, the buying journey for B2B is typically longer than e-commerce, which may take multiple touchpoints to make a conversion.

Before you begin your LinkedIn campaigns, first establish your LinkedIn KPIs and set up LinkedIn conversion tracking to measure and optimize them more effectively. Once the campaigns have been launched for a few days, look into these unique features within the platform to gain more insight into the success of your LinkedIn efforts.

View-Through Conversions

As I mentioned previously, LinkedIn campaigns track view-through conversions, and the default conversion window is seven days. View-through conversions are another form of measurement that LinkedIn includes to showcase how users are interacting with campaigns. Often, not all users will click on an ad and convert. The view-through measurement plays an essential role besides post-click conversions because it summarizes how users are interacting with an ad, even if they aren’t generating direct clicks. This is an important factor to help determine the true value of your campaigns.

Demographic Data

The most exciting analytics tool I came across on LinkedIn was being able to gain visibility into the demographics data (e.g., job title, job functions, company industry) by campaign. With this feature, you can analyze who is interacting with your ad and find opportunities to optimize your campaigns to improve performance.

The example below shows how you can filter the impressions, clicks, and conversions metrics by demographic per campaign.

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LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms are an ad format feature that allows advertisers to create autofill forms within the platform. Users can then fill out the form and submit their information directly on LinkedIn. This makes it easier and quicker for users to provide their information and for advertisers to collect potential leads.

In fact, advertisers have found this ad format can reduce costs while increasing lead volume. However, keep in mind that since this feature lives on LinkedIn, it doesn’t lead users to a traditional landing page. And since GA tracks website behavior, it, therefore, cannot track Lead Gen Forms because the user isn’t landing on a site.

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Image courtesy of LinkedIn

Google Analytics Reporting Features

Many marketers use GA to track how users are navigating their site, find opportunities to improve site experience, view insights across different channels, evaluate audience demographic data, and more. GA provides data visualization and features within the platform that can be incredibly useful when looking for ways to optimize your LinkedIn campaigns. Here are a few features I have found helpful when I want to uncover critical insights about the effectiveness of my LinkedIn campaigns.

Traffic Overview by Source/Medium and Goals

Within the acquisition reports in GA, you’re able to get an overview of how each channel, source/medium, or campaign is executing on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. This feature gives a high-level snapshot of how the site is performing by channel and goals. I use this feature to analyze by source/medium and understand cross-channel interactions and how that may impact the performance of my LinkedIn campaigns.

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Additionally, this overview report will also give you insights into other things that may be affecting your performance, such as seasonality. For example, let’s say you notice a decline in performance across all channels. By looking at this report, you may be able to identify some seasonality trends, and then adjust your campaigns accordingly (e.g., reallocating budgets or creating new content). To make sure you are getting the whole picture, it is important to not only look at how your campaigns performed, but also by how other channels are performing as well.

Social Network Channels

The channels data under the acquisition reports can be filtered to only show social networks. This filtered report lists all social networks and their organic and paid performance. Looking at the data this way provides an opportunity to see what types of content, audiences, or landing pages are performing best within these channels that can be repurposed into LinkedIn campaigns. I use this feature frequently to gain insight into the effectiveness of each social network campaign and find opportunities to strengthen my current LinkedIn ads.

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Landing Pages

Found under the behavior reports, this feature lists top-performing landing pages by goals within a period. From this perspective, segment by dimension (e.g., channel, source/medium) and view your top landing pages. This is an opportunity to gather learnings from the top-performing landing pages to see how the current landing pages that you’re targeting can improve or what type of content may resonate best with your audience.

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Multi-Channel Funnels Reports

Before we dive into the unique features of GA’s Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports, it’s important to note that the MCF attribution window uses the last-click model, which will recognize direct as a final touchpoint before converting, while the rest of the GA reports reflect the non-direct click model.

Assisted Conversions

Assisted conversions calculate the path the user had taken before they converted through a final channel. For example, let’s say a user clicked on a LinkedIn ad, but then went to the Google search engine to learn more about your company and competitors, and soon after converted directly on your site.

When looking into an MCF report in GA, direct would get credit because it was the last clicked ad. With assisted conversions, LinkedIn would be credited for assisting the conversion path that led the user to take action. I find this to be a valuable tool when evaluating a LinkedIn campaign, especially for B2B, since it usually takes more than one touchpoint for a user to convert.

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Top Conversion Paths

When it has been a few months since launching your LinkedIn campaigns, this feature will come in handy to view the most common conversion path a user has taken. According to the Google Analytics Support Document, the top conversion path feature “shows all the unique conversion paths (i.e., sequences of channel interactions) that led to conversions, and the number of conversions from each path, and the value of those conversions. This allows you to see how channels interact along your conversion paths.” I use this feature to identify how much LinkedIn campaigns have influenced the user’s buying journey. This element shows whether the campaigns had assisted with the conversion path or were the last touchpoint before the user took action (a conversion).

Here’s an example of what the top conversion paths may look like for LinkedIn campaigns:

In this screenshot from GA, you can see the variety of top conversion paths. These range from something short like linkedin to direct x 3, to a much longer path such as direct x4 to google to direct to linkedin referral to direct to linkedin paid social to direct.

Recap

As you can see, there are many unique data reporting features within both LinkedIn and Google Analytics that will enable you to gather more insights into the effectiveness of your LinkedIn campaigns. By using them together, you can more thoroughly evaluate campaign performance, follow seasonality trends, and find opportunities to optimize your campaigns. And, by capturing the key elements that were gathered while analyzing the data between both platforms, you can use your findings to test new audiences, content, creative, and more.

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The Importance of Upper-Funnel PPC Strategies http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/the-importance-of-upper-funnel-ppc-strategies.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/the-importance-of-upper-funnel-ppc-strategies.htm#respond Tue, 12 May 2020 14:00:57 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53088 If you ask anyone who manages PPC campaigns why they like doing it, the answer you will get almost always focuses on the satisfaction that comes from running a campaign and seeing real numeric results. The ROI of a click or a dollar is so much easier to calculate than other digital marketing channels. And […]

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If you ask anyone who manages PPC campaigns why they like doing it, the answer you will get almost always focuses on the satisfaction that comes from running a campaign and seeing real numeric results. The ROI of a click or a dollar is so much easier to calculate than other digital marketing channels. And light-years easier than any traditional marketing efforts like billboards or TV ads.

This tends to lead us to focus on mid- to low-funnel strategies with high levels of search intent because that is where those ROI results are most true. That increased level of ROI transparency also leads to very little wiggle room to spend ad dollars on anything else without it being clear as day that the last-click return just isn’t as strong.

In this marketing funnel illustration you case see the customer journey starts at the top with awareness, then moves down the funnel through interest, desire, and then finally action at the bottom.

This is a common pitfall, though.

Why Are Upper Funnel Strategies Important?

Focusing only on low-funnel strategies limits overall performance because you are only addressing one part of the marketing funnel, which can run dry while doing nothing to fill the funnel back up. Exploiting what currently exists toward the bottom of the funnel through paid search is often not enough to grow or even sustain a business.

Growing the top of the funnel through strategies aimed at making more people aware of your product/service/brand means you’re creating more potential customers down the line. You may see a less immediate last-click return from strategies like that, but that shouldn’t prevent you from attempting to grow your brand awareness base.

Growing the top of the funnel can result in greater overall search volume for your brand. As users enter the top of the funnel and work their way down, advertisers should expect to see more things like branded searches, a very low-funnel action. There may be steps along the way as a user gets nurtured, but that is healthy marketing.

With that in mind, top-of-funnel strategies are more appropriate at certain times and for certain advertisers than others.

How Do We Know When It’s Time for Upper-Funnel PPC?

When budget is low, it makes sense to maximize your return on lower-funnel strategies first. But even when budget is limited, a strong case for top of the funnel, brand awareness can still be made. Here are some cases where you may want to consider shifting strategy out of just the tried and true, low-funnel efforts.

  • When branded search impression share stays static or even grows, but impression volume declines.
  • When you have optimized all current search campaigns extensively, and the only plausible room for growth is adding more long-tail, exact match keywords (i.e., you’ve tapped out your current targeting).
  • When you consistently aren’t hitting your target budgets because there isn’t much more to buy on the search network.
  • When Google Trends shows a consistent downward trend for either your brand, your top non-branded terms/topics, or both.

These are all signs that the bottom of your funnel is depleting, and efforts to fill it back up are needed to either grow or sustain the business.

Upper-Funnel PPC Strategies

Upper-funnel marketing efforts are most commonly thought of as display and video. Sure, there are other PPC strategies to consider, but display strategies are a great way to reach out and find new audiences. So for now, let’s focus there.

Within the world of the Google Display Network, consider different audience types that can lead to new first touches with users. Audiences like:

  • In-market
  • Custom Intent (In-market + Keywords)
  • Similar Audiences to Remarketing Lists
  • Affinity and Demographics off of Audience Insights

Google Ads gives you an audience targeting abilities, with options for demographics, interests/habits, activity, and remarketing.

As you identify different audiences to target, think about appropriate messaging for those audiences and what ad formats will resonate the best with them. Ad formats like:

  • Discovery Ads (responsive display + video)
  • Video Ads for YouTube
  • Responsive Display Ads
  • Gmail Ads

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These types of ads are found in campaign types like display and video that have a whole array of bidding strategies to choose from. Since the goal of these campaigns is brand exposure rather than last-click conversions, consider a strategy that matches that overall goal. Strategies like:

  • Pay-Per-Conversion
  • Target CPM
  • Maximize Clicks

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Important Things to Consider When Implementing a New Upper-Funnel Strategy

The most important thing to keep in mind before going down this road is setting appropriate expectations: with yourself, your boss, and your stakeholders. You are likely used to a certain level of last-click return from your PPC budget. But remember, that is not the goal here. The goal is to expose new qualified users to your brand so you can convert them down the line.

  • Attribution. Consider a different attribution model that better reflects this position in the funnel.
  • Goals. Have clear goals to gauge success that fit the strategy. Don’t use the same CPA or ROAS goals you use for lower-funnel strategies. They will disappoint, and, more importantly, inaccurately represent the effectiveness of the campaigns.
  • KPIs. Consider what upper-funnel KPIs you should be looking at. Instead of conversion-focused KPIs, look to engagement metrics like time on site, pages per session, new vs. returning users, or at the very least assisted conversions or other soft conversion metrics.

The Takeaway

None of this is meant to distract from the glaring benefit of PPC: the high level of intent a user has when searching low-funnel keywords on Google and the ability to reach them very quickly and effectively. These strategies should be capitalized on. But as your low-funnel strategy grows and matures, the need for a full-funnel balanced approach grows as well. Ignoring it will limit the long-term potential of PPC and your entire marketing stack.

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Reporting on Assisted Conversions Through Google Analytics http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/analytics/reporting-on-assisted-conversions-through-google-analytics.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/analytics/reporting-on-assisted-conversions-through-google-analytics.htm#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53064 As analysts and stakeholders, we all know the importance of making sure we’re collecting the right data. However, I’ve found that we spend a disproportionate amount of time in data collection than we do in the analysis process. Further, not every business and especially not every marketing effort should be analyzed the same. When it […]

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As analysts and stakeholders, we all know the importance of making sure we’re collecting the right data. However, I’ve found that we spend a disproportionate amount of time in data collection than we do in the analysis process. Further, not every business and especially not every marketing effort should be analyzed the same.

When it comes to understanding the path a user took that led to a conversion, Google Analytics has many ways we can collect and attribute data to a specific action. However, not every attribution method is made readily available to us in Google Analytics.

In this post, we’ll start by making sure we understand the options available to us for attribution in Google Analytics, explain assisted conversions and its caveats, and end with how you can start reporting on assisted conversions to tell a better story with your data.

If you’re already familiar with attribution in GA and the pros and cons of analyzing assisted conversions, you can skip to how to set up reporting for assisted conversions in Google Data Studio.

If you want to learn a bit more about attribution in general before diving into this post, you can check out our Digital Marketer’s Guide to Attribution first.

How Are Conversions Attributed in Google Analytics?

Let’s start by making sure we understand how conversions are reported in Google Analytics by default. GA actually attempts to give credit to the last non-direct click, which is often preferred. However, there may be situations where we want to attribute a conversion to direct—when we know it’s a result of brand awareness, for example.

It’s also important to remember that traffic is attributed to direct when a user enters a site directly but also when Google does not have the information to attribute it otherwise. Some examples are when a user clicks on a link in a mobile app, enters your site through an untagged email, or clicks a link in a document. Many obscure situations could lead to a user visiting your site through a non-direct avenue but have it be attributed to direct. Our analytics strategist, Jackie Jeffers, goes into more detail about identifying and analyzing “dark direct” traffic.

Other Attribution Models in Google Analytics

GA understands that the last non-direct model won’t work for all businesses, especially if you’re implementing multi-channel marketing efforts.

Excluding the default attribution model, there are six other attribution models you can play around with in GA. You can give all of the credit to the last interaction, the last Google Ads click, or the first interaction. There are three others to split up attribution evenly among all touchpoints (linear), give more credit to every attribution that’s closer to the conversion (time decay), or split the credit evenly between the first and last interactions.

Our director of analytics, Michael Wiegand, gives a more thorough breakdown of the different attribution models that are available in GA so I won’t go into full detail here.

Analyzing Assisted Conversions

There’s also the option to look at assisted conversions. Assisted conversions give credit to every single touchpoint in a user’s path—even direct. Every touchpoint in a user’s journey to a conversion is given credit as an assisted conversion except for the final source.

There are situations where giving every source an equal amount of credit makes sense, such as purchases with long consideration cycles. Although, you may want to give different weight to the sources depending on its position in the converting path, especially for situations like these:

In this example, you can see the conversion path consists of Referral, Display, Direct, Display, Paid Search, Referral x3, Direct, Referral, Paid Search, Display, Social Network, Paid Search, Referral, Direct x6, then Paid Search x2.

In this situation, social may not deserve as much credit as referral, for example. Referral was the first interaction, and the user entered back to the site through it five additional times. There are typically hundreds of these random combinations of user paths that users end up taking before converting on your site.

Or what about this example?

In this example, you can see the conversion path consists of Other Advertising then Paid Search x3.

Sure, the user entered the site three times through paid before converting, but shouldn’t the other advertising source get credit for bringing the user to the site in the first place? We want to be able to identify what source we paid for that falls under this ‘other advertising’ channel and put more money into it if it’s bringing new converting users to our site.

These are reasons why I report on first interaction assisted conversions in addition to last non-direct click conversions in my reports. We don’t always need to credit every channel in a path; in many cases, we want to know how we first brought a user to our site, and what channel they ultimately took to convert.

In the Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) reports in GA, you can switch your Assisted Conversions report over to First Interaction Analysis.

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Take a look at this report, for example, where paid search is credited for 30% of last-click conversions but actually accounts for 38% of first-click conversions:

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There are over 9,000 more conversions that occur by users who we first captured through paid search, but are attributing to other channels like organic, paid social, or display. We’re even possibly pumping more money into those channels while cutting down our budget in paid search because our ROI looks worse for paid search when only looking at last-click conversions.

When Should You Report on Assisted Conversions?

Reporting on assisted conversions requires a bit more time and effort, and it’s really worth it if your business meets any of the following criteria:

  • Users take a long time to convert: A purchase with a long time lag will undoubtedly incur more touchpoints along the way, and only crediting the last one won’t help you uncover how you’re acquiring these users.
  • You’re engaged in cross-channel marketing: You have display ads, paid search ads, organic social posts, and paid social ads across multiple platforms—how in the world will you know how you got these users to your site when they search your name and keep converting through organic?
  • You’re determining a budget: Even if you’re engaged in only one paid effort, you have to justify its costs. If you’re only looking at last-click, you may be missing the 9K conversions from the previous example in your calculations.

For example, let’s say one converting user has an LTV of $200, but your YouTube engagements cost $3,000 and only resulted in 10 last-click converters at a CPA of $300. You may decide to pull the plug without realizing that the YouTube engagement resulted in 20 additional first-click conversions that converted through direct. You’re missing half of the picture in these calculations, which is a huge risk, especially if your marketing budget is dependent on its outcome.

With all that said, not every brand needs to report on assisted conversions. Many businesses have almost 100% of conversions occur in their first session. Some businesses may not engage in robust multi-channel marketing efforts, so you may really only have one or two channels to credit, and those may be the only ones that show up in your last non-direct click conversion reports. Lastly, it may not be worth the time and effort if you don’t have budgets to analyze for ROI and efficiency across paid efforts.

Reporting on Assisted Conversions in Google Data Studio

And finally, let’s dig into how to analyze and report on assisted conversions in Google Data Studio—because there isn’t really an easy way to do it. 🙂

The Google Analytics connector in Google Data Studio does not offer any assisted conversion dimensions or metrics yet. However, it is available through the connector in a third-party tool like Supermetrics!

These are the metrics that are available:

In this screenshot from GA you can see the MCF options available are: total conversions, total conversion value, assisted conversions, assisted conversion value, first interaction conversion value, last interaction conversion value, and assisted/last click conversions ratio.

And these are the dimensions (there are even more when you scroll down):

In this screenshot from GA you can see some of the MCF dimension options available are: channel group path, 1st through 4th interaction channel, source path, medium path, source/medium path, campaign path, and 1st through 4th interaction campaign.

Hopefully, these will get integrated into our Google Analytics connector in Google Data Studio one day. But for now, an automated Google Sheets will suffice.

This is how I set up my Supermetrics query:

This screenshot shows the query set up with date range: YTD, metrics: First interaction conversions, last interaction conversions, Split by (rows): Year and Month, Channel group, Conversion goal number, and Filters: mcf:conversionGoalNumber==(not set).

Set your date range and date dimensions (under ‘split by rows’) to fit your reporting needs. Additionally, set your ‘conversionGoalNumber’ filter to return data for the goals you want to report on. I have my filter set to equal (not set) to return only transactions. Otherwise, keep everything else that’s included in my configuration.

Here’s how I modify the sheet when it returns the data:

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I add two columns after the ones that are returned to include:

  • Last Interaction – Assisted Conversions
  • First Interaction Assisted Conversions

I do this to make sure we’re not double-counting conversions as a first interaction and a last interaction. ‘Last Interaction – Assisted Conversions’ returns the difference between ‘First Interaction Conversions’ and ‘Last Interaction Conversions’. Then ‘First Interaction Assisted conversions’ returns the deduped number of first interaction conversions and otherwise returns 0.

Copy the two formulas all the way down your sheet, past where your query returned data so it’ll calculate as your automatic data pulls populate the now empty cells.

Lastly, set up your query to run automatically at whatever increments work best for your reporting:

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In Google Sheets, find Supermetrics in the Add-ons drop-down and select Schedule refresh & emailing.

I still always do a quick check when the query was supposed to run to make sure the formulas exist for every new row.

Then, set up your reports in Google Data Studio to look at first interaction assisted conversions alongside your last-click conversions:

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Or, report on it directly in your individual channel report slides and determine whether to incorporate it into your ROAS or CPA metrics:

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This data can certainly warrant its own reports entirely or can be formatted to tell different stories.

Final Thoughts

Familiarizing yourself with attribution data in Google Analytics and understanding how to analyze assisted conversions will go a long way in helping shed more light on how your customers ultimately come to convert on your site. And while the process outlined in this post is a good place to start, I’d recommend comparing other attribution models and finding the model that properly gives credit to your efforts based on your unique sales cycle and user flow. Then, you can set up your reports accordingly.

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My Time Management Process: 18 Steps That Keep Me Sane http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/internet-marketing/my-time-management-process-18-steps-that-keep-me-sane.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/internet-marketing/my-time-management-process-18-steps-that-keep-me-sane.htm#respond Wed, 06 May 2020 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53135 Information overload, too many communication sources, and shifting priorities wreak havoc on our ability to effectively manage our time and workload. I get hit with emails, Slack messages, phone calls, meeting invitations, drive-by conversations, and the always fun ‘everything is a high priority’ request that tries to pull me away from getting done what I […]

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Information overload, too many communication sources, and shifting priorities wreak havoc on our ability to effectively manage our time and workload.

I get hit with emails, Slack messages, phone calls, meeting invitations, drive-by conversations, and the always fun ‘everything is a high priority’ request that tries to pull me away from getting done what I need to do effectively and efficiently.

Our agency’s most effective team members excel at cutting through the clutter and fending off the noise and distraction that pulls them away from following through on their priorities. Their ability to stay organized, responsive, and accountable also allows them to walk away from work at the end of the day knowing there are no loose ends to worry about.

Achieving peace of mind after a full workday is something that everyone deserves.

Everyone’s role and responsibilities within an organization are different, and what I’ve laid out here won’t apply to every single person. That’s okay; the goal of this post is to share a few ways to make sure all of your loose ends are tied up and accounted for when you start and finish your day.

If you take one thing away from this to try in your workflow, this post is a success.

Here’s my approach to staying sane.

Starting the Day

My workday starts before most people are in the office. It’s my quiet time to plan, think, and get prepared for the day ahead. Here’s how I get started:

1. Quickly Scan All the Newsletters and Mailers That Come in Overnight.

My day starts with a quick review. I subscribe to around five daily newsletters that I really pay attention to.

Scrub your email subscriptions. It’s time-consuming and can be overwhelming to open an inbox to 20 or 30 useless mailers that you never read. Just take the time to unsubscribe. It will save you in the long run.

2. Send Anything Worth Reading to Pocket and Read It Later.

If you haven’t explored Pocket, it’s worth a look. Pocket provides a quick and easy way to store and save content for later consumption. I don’t often have time during the day to read full posts or pieces of content. When I find something, I send it to Pocket and catch up during lunch or when I have a moment of free time.

3. Archive Everything That Isn’t Useful or Has Already Been Sent to Pocket.

Once you’ve completed your sweep, get all of the mailers that you don’t need anymore (which should be all of them) out of your inbox.

Delete or archive them to an organized and clearly-labeled folder within your email client.

4. Scan Twitter.

Twitter is my next go-to to get caught up on industry news. Highlights get sent to Pocket for later.

5. Confirm My Calendar for the Day.

I have a lot of meetings; my calendar is usually stacked from 9am until 4pm or 5pm. That set up doesn’t provide much breathing room during normal business hours. If you don’t meet much but have tasks and projects to accomplish during the day, try assigning time on your calendar to provide space for yourself to complete that work.

Every morning before my first meeting, I ensure that my calendar for the day is set. Sure, last-minute changes happen, but at the very least, I know how my day is supposed to go. I make sure I’m not double-booked anywhere, and I make sure I am prepped with the right information and notes for those meetings.

6. Archive Every Email That I Don’t Need to Respond To.

I get included on a ton of group email communication. I like the visibility, but I don’t need to weigh in on all of these conversations. If there isn’t a clear prompt or reason for me to respond, I read it and then archive the email out of my inbox.

7. Boomerang What Isn’t Time-Sensitive.

Boomerang is a lifesaver for me.

If I have an email containing context or information regarding a meeting or task that needs to be addressed but is not time-sensitive, I use Boomerang to bring that email back into my inbox at the appropriate time.

If I’m Boomeranging an email with information for a meeting, I’ll send that email back into my inbox on the morning of the meeting. If there is information about a project I need to work on, I’ll Boomerang that email back for when I’ve slotted time for myself to work on that project.

Either way, those emails are read, prioritized, and scheduled to pop back into my inbox at the right time. Most importantly, after scheduling to bounce back, they are archived and are out of my inbox until I really need them.

8. Reply to All Emails That Require Less Than 90 Seconds to Complete.

Short and sweet. Punch them out and move on. Archive every email you responded to.

There usually aren’t too many of these to address that have come in overnight, because of how I end my day with my emails. We’ll get to that later in this post.

9. Prioritize All Emails That Require More Than 90 Seconds to Respond To.

If you’ve followed the steps outlined so far, your inbox should now only hold emails that you need to respond to or need to reference later in the day.

A few questions to ask yourself about the email that is left in your inbox:

  1. Is it time-sensitive?
  2. Would it be more effective to have a conversation?
  3. Do we need to loop anyone else in?

The answers to those questions dictate your next step. If now is the time for you to respond, do so, and then archive the email.

If you’re still following this workflow, your inbox should now only hold non-time-sensitive emails that you need to respond to or emails with information prevalent to your day ahead.

For me, that usually means around 5-6 emails in my inbox as my day gets underway.

Pretty manageable.

10. Refine and Prioritize Your To-Do List.

I also keep a to-do list through Trello.

My meetings don’t go on there, but the loose odds and ends from the day find their way onto my Trello board. Effective meetings should have valuable action items, right?

Any urgent follow-ups end up on my ‘To-Do By End of Day’ list. (More to come on this later).

With my calendar of meetings set, inbox under control, and to-do list ready, I start my day with a clear path and all of the information I need.

Peace of mind.

Time to take on the day.

During the Day

It’s rare for me to get a solid chunk of time during normal business hours to crunch through email, work on projects, or write.

I’ve had to learn that my work comes from providing direction, feedback, and encouragement for my team.

Here’s how I support my team during the day:

11. No Multitasking During Meetings.

When I’m working, I don’t multitask.

No Slack. No monitoring my inbox. No checking Twitter.

Being present is my focus, and I try my best to minimize any distraction I can. Maybe I’m not good enough to multitask effectively, but I find it very difficult to carry Slack messages back and forth with someone, read an email from another team member, and have a conversion all at the same time.

I can’t juggle all of that well, so I don’t do it.

12. Between Meetings, Catch Up on Slack.

Slack might be one of the most useful tools and one of the most destructive tools at the same time.

The key here is again, no multitasking. I catch up on unread Slack messages between meetings. Non-time-sensitive messages go unresponded to at that moment. (We’ll get to more on this later).

Time-sensitive messages are responded to quickly as time permits.

13. Between Meetings, Sweep My Inbox.

When I get a couple of minutes, a quick scan of my inbox is where I spend my time.

I immediately archive any email that I don’t need to respond to.

I Boomerang any email that I don’t need now but will need later.

I keep any email that I need to respond to in my inbox.

That’s it. Moving on.

Ending the Day

The end of the day is all about tying up loose ends and preparing for tomorrow. Here’s how I end my day:

14. Confirm My Calendar for Tomorrow.

Once my day of meetings is over, I go back to the calendar to see what’s on tap for tomorrow. I confirm my schedule, accepting, adding, moving, and canceling things as priorities shift.

At the end of the day, my calendar for tomorrow is clean and there are no loose ends to worry about.

15. Follow Through on the To-Do List.

By the end of the day, my to-do list has a smattering of random follow-ups to address.

If checking something off takes less than five minutes, I take care of it at that moment. If it’s a longer task without a strict expectation for turnaround, I add it to my Trello board and prioritize it later.

At the end of the day, my to-do list is clean and there are no loose ends to worry about.

16. Organize My Inbox, Again.

I immediately archive any email that I don’t need to respond to.

I Boomerang any email that I don’t need now but will need later.

I keep any email that I need to respond to in my inbox but don’t respond yet.

My inbox is now a neat and concise place only containing messages that I need to respond to.

17. Sort Through Slack.

At the end of the day, I catch up on Slack.

I respond to every message that requires one or respond with affirmation that the message is received.

Some messages trickle in after-hours and those are dealt with as needed.

At the end of the day, my Slack app is clean and there are no loose ends to worry about.

18. Clean up What’s Left in My Inbox.

If I’ve been good about my refinement process, I now only have emails in my inbox that need to be responded to.

If I have an email that I don’t need to respond to, I archive it.

If I have an email that I will respond to later, I Boomerang it.

If I have time-sensitive emails that should be responded to, I respond to every single one.

Once I respond to an email, I archive it out of my inbox.

On a typical day, my day ends with 2-3 emails in my inbox.

At the end of the day, my inbox is clean and there are no loose ends to worry about.

Project Work

My role is unique in that the majority of my work comes in the form of a meeting in one way or another. I don’t produce a lot of tangible deliverables like when I was a strategist at the agency. I do miss that from time to time.

However, I do have a list of things that I need to address. The items on that list vary in importance, time-sensitivity, and how tangible or aspirational they are. That list of things used to live in my head. Over the years, I’ve become pretty dedicated to storing that list in Trello.

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I take care of my ‘To-Do by End of Day’ list every day. The ability to store long-term thoughts, plans, and aspirations for the agency in one place enables me to write down those thoughts and then move on to something else in a way that I can come back without forgetting.

At the end of the day, my time-sensitive to-do list is completed or items on it are reprioritized.

There are no loose ends to worry about.

When I close my MacBook every evening, all my loose ends are tied. I have my day for tomorrow sorted, I don’t have a stack of emails to worry about, I don’t have people waiting for me to respond in Slack, and I have my to-do list completed or reprioritized.

When I close my MacBook every evening, I have peace of mind. That peace of mind allows me to decompress, relax, and enjoy the time I have with those around me.

I am far from perfect in how I approach my work and everyone has a different workflow that helps them, but I follow this meticulous process closely and it’s made a huge impact on my work and my life over the past couple of years.

I hope you find one or two things worth trying.

The post My Time Management Process: 18 Steps That Keep Me Sane appeared first on Portent.

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Optimizing for Conversions: 7 PPC Landing Page Best Practices http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/optimizing-for-conversions-7-ppc-landing-page-best-practices.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/optimizing-for-conversions-7-ppc-landing-page-best-practices.htm#respond Tue, 05 May 2020 14:00:40 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53042 Building landing pages for paid campaigns is much more of a science than it is an art. And while the design esthetic is still essential, if you’re not strategic about the information that makes up your PPC landing pages, you may very well be wasting your time (and your money). In this post, I’ll teach […]

The post Optimizing for Conversions: 7 PPC Landing Page Best Practices appeared first on Portent.

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Building landing pages for paid campaigns is much more of a science than it is an art. And while the design esthetic is still essential, if you’re not strategic about the information that makes up your PPC landing pages, you may very well be wasting your time (and your money).

In this post, I’ll teach you about PPC landing page best practices and industry standards. I’ll also walk you through the anatomy of a landing page that’s designed for paid advertising and share some resources that will help you get started.

But first…

What is a PPC Landing Page?

Before I dive into the why, I’ll start with what makes PPC landing pages different. Unlike your typical website landing page, a PPC page should only be found when a user clicks on a paid ad. In other words, pages designed for PPC campaigns are typically hidden from search engines and only accessible by a PPC ad click. They also contain less “extra” information and internal links than a typical website page, in an effort to limit distractions for customers that might prevent them from completing a conversion.

Here’s a look at how PPC landing pages compare to your typical website page:

In this side-by-side comparison, you can see that a PPC landing page lacks a lot of the elements found in a traditional website landing page, like a top navigation, company and team information, and other links to services or social media channels that may lead your user off the page before converting.

Want to learn more about PPC as a marketing channel? Head on over to What is PPC? Pay-Per-Click Explained.

Why Dedicated PPC Landing Pages are Worth the Investment

PPC advertising is relatively straightforward. What you put into it is what you get out. That said, carefully crafted campaigns, targeting, and ads can only take you so far. Regardless of whether you’re the mastermind behind your PPC strategy or you outsource your paid efforts to an agency, there’s only so much optimization that can be done to improve your conversion rates.

If you want to take your campaign strategy to another level, this is where dedicated PPC landing pages come in! By creating landing pages tailored to your ad groups, you can improve your Quality Score, decrease cost-per-click (CPC), and increase conversions.

7 Factors that Make a Solid PPC Page

Now that you understand the value of ad group-specific landing pages, let’s dive into the anatomy of a PPC landing page design.

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1. Page Title

Your PPC landing page title must authentically match the ad copy that drove the user to the page in the first place. If there’s a disconnect between the ad copy and the page title, users are more likely to bounce as soon as they click on the ad.

When creating a PPC landing page title, it’s important to keep it simple yet informative. Users should be able to understand the gist of what the landing page is about just by looking at the title. When in doubt, use the Blank Sheet of Paper Test to ensure that your title gets your message across.

2. Concise Headlines and Supportive Copy

Don’t waste time writing detailed copy about your products or services. Keeping your headline and supportive copy short and to the point is key. Users should be able to scan the headlines with ease while picking out the information that’s important to them.

If you’re not entirely sure how to best optimize landing page copy for scanners, check out this article from the NNGroup, which covers their research on fundamental scanning behaviors.

3. Trust Indicators

This is the time to leverage your best testimonials, notable press mentions, client logos, and positive user reviews. Another way to show trustworthiness is to highlight certifications that will resonate with your target audience. Whatever they may be, adding trust indicators to your PPC landing pages can show users your dedication to your customers and reinforce your expertise.

The element of trust alone can make or break a sale. And if people don’t trust you, they won’t purchase from you.

4. Clear Call to Action

Clearly defined calls to action (CTAs) are a crucial part of a PPC landing page strategy. CTA copy can’t be vague. Avoid using statements like “learn more,” “buy now,” or “subscribe.” When it comes to placement, make sure that the CTA is visible and featured above the fold. If a user has to scroll to reach the CTA, there’s a greater chance they won’t convert.

5. Accessible Form Fields

Forms must follow accessibility best practices. This means that form input fields should always be visible to the user. While this rule may be obvious, it’s very common to see forms with hidden or missing labels.

Furthermore, it must be clear to the user which input fields are “nice to have” versus “required.” If this information is not clear and the user fails to fill out a required field that results in an error message, they’re much more likely to get frustrated with the process and leave your page.

6. Compelling Images or Video

Compelling visuals may help users get a better understanding of your product or service. Regardless of what your offer entails, pairing descriptive headlines and supportive copy with a visual cue is always valuable.

When designing your PPC landing page, take a look at your image and/or video inventory, and choose a few assets that help get your offer value over the finish line.

7. Negative Space

Unlike the regular pages of your website, you’re not trying to get your PPC page to rank in the organic search results. Meaning, you don’t need to cram as much information as humanly possible onto those pages. Keeping your layout simple and clutter-free is essential. You’ll want to incorporate negative space (also known as white space) into your landing page design.

Think of negative space as a breathing room for your users, or a pause between your selling points. When information is broken out into meaningful and clearly-defined sections, it makes it easier for the user to consume the information on the page.

PPC Landing Page Elements to Avoid

Knowing what elements to leave out from your PPC landing page build is equally as important as knowing what to include. Here’s an overview of the elements that I recommend skipping:

  • Main menu
  • Footer
  • Internal links*
  • Information that doesn’t pertain to the campaign ad group

*Note, you should always include your company logo, with a link back to the homepage, at the top left corner of the landing page. If there’s no way to visit the main site from your PPC landing page, that can be a major pain point as well.

By including this type of information on your PPC landing pages, you’re creating distractions. In this instance, distractions are opportunities for your target audience to deviate from the conversion goal and explore your website further, negatively impacting your conversion goals.

How to Build PPC Pages from Scratch

Now that you have a handle on what you should—and shouldn’t—include in a PPC landing page, you can start building them.

Start by determining the number of pages you’ll need; you will want to create unique landing pages that align with your different ad groups. A well-structured ad account should have clear and tightly themed ad groups with specific keywords. Work with your PPC strategist to identify these themes. From there, you should be able to see how many pages are needed, and the general content that will be included in each of them.

It’s important to note that one unique landing page per keyword variation won’t be necessary. Google understands the similarities, and your page content should include these variations. In other words, you don’t need to spin up a new page for every keyword that you target; this would create unnecessary work and the feeling that your landing page creation will never be done.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to start from scratch. It’s fine to repurpose content from existing landing pages. However, you’ll want to make sure the information you end up repurposing for your PPC landing pages is easy to scan and digest without the context of the original page it came from.

And don’t worry if you don’t have internal design or development resources. There are plenty of tools out there that you can use to build landing pages. Here are a few that I recommend:

All of these options are easy to use and offer pre-made templates to choose from that have been tested already.

What’s Next? Optimize PPC Page Performance with Testing

When it comes to paid campaigns, the work never stops here. Once you’ve got the foundation down, it’s time to test! One of the most important ways you can optimize the performance of your landing pages (and your overall PPC strategy) is by testing new things. And these don’t have to be major updates or revisions; even the smallest tweaks can be impactful.

The post Optimizing for Conversions: 7 PPC Landing Page Best Practices appeared first on Portent.

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Expanded Text Ads vs. Responsive Search Ads: A Performance Comparison http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/expanded-text-ads-vs-responsive-search-ads-a-performance-comparison.htm http://www.aiai7.icu/blog/ppc/expanded-text-ads-vs-responsive-search-ads-a-performance-comparison.htm#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2020 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.aiai7.icu/?p=53019 In a previous blog post, I explained what responsive search ads (RSAs) are compared to expanded text ads (ETAs) and how you can implement them in your Google Ads account. I also wrote about Google’s claims about RSA performance: higher clickthrough rate, higher conversion rate, lower cost per click. But that got me to thinking: […]

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In a previous blog post, I explained what responsive search ads (RSAs) are compared to expanded text ads (ETAs) and how you can implement them in your Google Ads account. I also wrote about Google’s claims about RSA performance: higher clickthrough rate, higher conversion rate, lower cost per click. But that got me to thinking: Is that even true?

So, I decided to test those claims by taking a look at the data available to me from two of Portent’s largest paid search clients. In this blog post, I’ll share that data with you and try to paint a clearer picture of RSA performance. If you want a more 101-level overview of responsive search ads and how to use them, I recommend checking out my previous blog first.

The Claims

Before we dive into the data, I want to quickly go over Google’s claims about responsive search ads. With RSAs, Google says that it may help you generate more conversions because your ads will be eligible for more auctions. It also claims that it can help your Quality Score by improving your clickthrough rate, which in turn lowers your cost per click. While they don’t guarantee performance by any means, it’s a bold claim nonetheless. Any feature that can potentially boost performance in all KPIs is obviously a must-have, but you need to be sure to test the performance to see if RSAs perform well for your specific account.

Now that we’ve quickly recapped the potential performance of adding responsive search ads to your account, let’s take a look at the data.

The Data

To get the most reliable data possible, we looked at two of the highest spending accounts that Portent manages, one in the outdoor apparel industry (I’ll call them Client One) and another in the HVAC industry (I’ll call them Client Two). We pulled all search data from a six month period.

Once we got the most relevant data we could find, we had to figure out exactly what metrics we wanted to focus on. To most accurately determine the performance of RSAs vs. ETAs, we chose to focus on Clickthrough Rate (CTR), Cost per Click (CPC), and Conversion Rate (CVR). We chose conversion rate instead of flat conversions to ensure that the data wouldn’t be skewed by one type of ad receiving more traffic than the other.

Now without further ado, it’s time to get into the results.

The Results

Let’s start with CTR:

Of the three metrics we looked at, CTR was easily the most confusing metric to analyze. For Client One, responsive search ads performed 24.5% better than expanded text ads did. If you were to look at just this account, you would see RSAs as a slam dunk when it comes to improvements, but unfortunately, we’re not just looking at one account.

When looking at Client Two, the takeaways for CTR become a lot murkier. As you can see, we actually saw a very slight decrease in CTR compared to traditional expanded text ads. It’s only a 3% decrease, but it still calls into question the overall effectiveness of responsive search ads.

Let’s look at CPC next:

I’d say that’s pretty inconclusive evidence. Despite having extremely large sets of data over a six-month period, the cost per click managed to be exactly the same for both Client One and Client Two.

This isn’t to say that RSAs don’t help cost per click, because it might. In these two accounts, however, we didn’t see any evidence that CPC improved due to the use of responsive search ads. If I were to run this test again, I would want to try it in a brand new campaign that hasn’t run either RSAs or ETAs. The fact that ETAs were running in the account long before the RSAs means they could’ve had a chance to improve their CPC over a long period of time.

Finally, let’s look at CVR:

Now that’s what I’m talking about! For both Client One and Client Two, we saw substantial increases in our overall conversion rate when using responsive search ads compared to traditional expanded text ads (40.7% and 13%, respectively). RSAs clearly helped generate more conversions than traditional ads, which at the end of the day is what you’re looking for in a paid search account. This is likely due to the larger number of headlines and descriptions, coupled with Google optimizing for conversions from our bidding strategies.

Final Thoughts

Despite not showing any evidence of improving CTR or CPC, responsive search ads helped these two clients see a significant increase in conversion rates over a six-month period. And while CTR and CPC are important, they don’t mean anything if you’re not turning those clicks into conversions. So I would call this experiment an unequivocal win for responsive search ads.

Don’t take my word for it, though! Every account is unique, and will likely see different results by running the same test. I know multiple clients have tested RSAs that haven’t performed as well as expected due to a variety of reasons. So run your own tests, draw your own conclusions, and do what’s best for your company or your client. Happy testing!

The post Expanded Text Ads vs. Responsive Search Ads: A Performance Comparison appeared first on Portent.

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