Building A Powerful USP That Gives You An Advantage

When it comes to increasing conversion rates with your eCommerce store, it is important to clearly communicate to customers why they should purchase from your website.

This messaging is called your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

The term USP originally was coined by E. Jermone McCarthy is his book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach and has become a cornerstone marketing strategy for growing your business. In fact, how well you clearly define and communicate your USP will be the major indicator determining the long-term success of your business.

Once you realize the importance of your USP, the question becomes: how to define your USP?

The best ways I have found to help clients clarify their USP is to have them answer the following question:

Why should a customer purchase from you instead of purchasing from your competitor OR not purchasing at all?

These are actually two different questions that need to be answered separately and it is important to note the difference.

Why Should A Customer Purchase From You?

If you are selling widgets, chances are other companies are also selling the same or similar widgets. The chances are also pretty good that someone is selling more widgets than you are selling, and do you know why?

Stop and think about it for a minute….

You may answer that they started selling their widgets earlier than you or perhaps they have better advertising, or they have better pricing. These all could be true, but the main factor is that they have done a better job defining their USP.

Remember the Results Triangle we previously discussed.

There are 3 sides: Process, Proposition and Prospect.

Reasons such as a better website or pricing or images are all apart of the Process, but here we want to look at the Proposition and defining the USP that is the centerpiece of your ‘Proposition’, and it deserves your utmost attention.

The first step is to determine how you currently defining your USP. To do this, you need to take a concentrated look at your website, not as the business owner or head of marketing, but as a first-time visitor.

You also need to examine your competitors. Both those doing more business than you and those doing less. Trust me. If done right, this exercise can reveal the initial keys to significantly increasing your conversion and ultimately increasing your business.

On a piece of paper, list why a customer should purchase from you and why they should purchase from each of your competitors (ideally one bigger and one smaller).

It is important to be honest with yourself.

In the end, you probably have a list like this:

All of these are important. But NONE of them define or at least should define your USP. Instead, these are a list for commodities that comprise a solely transactional purchase.

If you don’t define your USP then you will always end of chasing and competing solely based on the list similar to the one above which especially includes price.

Again, it is important to define your USP in terms other than a commodity. It is your USP that will be your defining factor that sets your company apart from your competition.

Here are some famous and powerful USPs

‘Expect more than a coffee.’ – Starbucks

‘Sleek, state-of-the-art design, user-friendly products, reliability, innovation, and being a ‘cool’ alternative to the PC.’ – Apple Computer

‘Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.’ – Nike

‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.’ – M&M

‘You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.’ – Dominos Pizza

‘When you’re only No. 2, you try harder. Or else.’ – Avis

‘Making eCommerce Success A Reality’ – Make Each Click Count University

You might have guessed. The last example is my favorite!

Now that you have seen some examples of USPs that effectively communicate and have been used to grow businesses, it is time to define your USP.

But how?

When looking to define your USP it is helpful to consider the following:

  1. Focus on your customers. Who does your company serve what is your target market?
  2. Root your USP in your business values.
  3. Highlight your company strengths.
  4. Position your company in direct contrast to your competition.
  5. Make your USP clear and concise.

Creating your USP will take time. You will likely need to test and then test again, but once you perfect your USP it will guide your company’s growth both externally by defining who you are to your customers and internally by defining who you are to yourself and your team.

Don’t Become Just Another One of Those

You may be saying, wow creating and communicating my USP is going to be a ton of work, there must be an easier way.

The danger of not fully developing your USP is becoming just another one of those. Just another t-shirt company, just another sporting goods company, just another whatever you sell type of company.

And today, in our transactional based world, you can’t afford to become just another of anything because that will make you compete as a commodity.

I have clients all the time ask; how do we compete with Amazon?

The companies who are asking this question are really asking: how can we compete with Amazon as a commodity?

The answer is you can’t.

Whether it is Amazon or another competitor, someone will either be cheaper, be faster delivering products, create a nicer looking website, etc.

However, if you develop and communicate the reason that customers should, no must buy from you, then that is infinitely more difficult for competitors including Amazon to replicate.

Building A Tribe of Loyal Followers

One of the biproducts of creating an effective USP is building a base of loyal customers.

A great example of this is Apple.

Have you ever met a Mac user? Or perhaps you are a Mac user.

Mac users only make up about 10% of market share of personal computers. However, they would never dream of changing to a PC. Why, because they identify with the brand’s identity. Apple has created a movement and by doing so has created a loyal customer base where they no longer need to compete as a pure commodity.

When I was purchasing my last car, I wanted a Ford Explorer. When my wife asked me to check out other cars, I refused and again stated I wanted the Ford Explorer. This left the only option as what color. And this is what establishing your brand identity and USP has the potential to do for your company as well.

Final WORD

Creating your USP is not easy. No one ever said it was. Creating a successful business is not easy and again no one said it was.

However, creating and communicating your USP is essential in today’s world. As we discussed, it is virtually impossible to compete (at least long-term) as a commodity in our transactional based world. Someone, usually Amazon, will come along and be cheaper, be faster or be more convenient.

By developing your USP that resonates with your customer base, you can effectively stop competing on price and start competing as a unique solution to solving specific customer problems.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He has been called the foremost expert in eCommerce Marketing Growth Strategies. He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Improving eCommerce Conversion Rates Using The Results Triangle

The main challenge in eCommerce since the dawn of eCommerce (aka the late 1990’s) has been how to improve conversion rates. Simply put. How can you get more visitors on your website to purchase your products.

As with any problem, it sometimes is easier to break a problem into different parts and address each part one at a time. To improve conversion rates on your eCommerce store (or with any offering) it is essential to consider the Results Triangle (shown below).

THE RESULTS TRIANGLE

The Results Triangle is broken down into 3 components: Prospect, Process and Proposition. We will discuss each of the three sides in how they relate to an eCommerce website and how each of them can lead to improvements in conversion rates.

PROSPECT

I start with Prospect because that is the easiest to define at least with an eCommerce business. Prospect are those visitors to your website, you know, the ones who aren’t buying as much as we think they should?

The easiest way to determine if your Prospects “are right” is to analyze your paid traffic results. For Google Ads, you can review your Search Terms report from Google Ads or your User Query report in Google Analytics. For more information on this process, review Chapter 11 of Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping.

Are those search terms driving traffic for the relevant search terms?

There is no mystery in Google traffic, that is why I like it. You can view what is driving the traffic, which will help you determine if you are targeting the right prospect.

Then, look at your conversion rates from your Google paid ads’ visitors. Is the conversion rate higher, lower, or approximately even with conversion rate from other paid and non-paid traffic sources?

Other traffic sources, whether they are also paid traffic sources like FB ads or organic or referral partners is more challenging to determine the Prospect.

However, by reviewing conversion rates by each specific traffic channel you can determine if there are any outliers to your overall conversion rate.

If there are?

If there is a conversion rate that is substantially lower than other channels, chances are that channel is not targeting the right (or at least) the same Prospect as other channels.

PROCESS

This is where most eCommerce websites spend most of their time optimizing. This is your checkout process, this is how your pages look, this is how fast your webpages load, etc.

Although it is important to have a website that removes barriers to conversion, it is not the most important aspect of improving conversion. Rather, it is just one side of the triangle.

I have seen websites that to be blunt, absolutely horrible, still have very good conversion rates.

How you ask?

By having the proper traffic (PROSPECT) and having what they want that others may not (PROPOSITION).

Remember, the Results Triangle is a triangle. A triangle has 3 sides. To fully optimize conversion, you need to focus on each of those sides.

PROPOSITION

Proposition is looking at your offer. Not necessarily your offer for just one item on your website, but you offer as a complete microcosm.

Think of it with the question, ‘why should a visitor buy from your website?’

Now look at your website.

Now look at your website as if you were a visitor who just landed on a page for the first time.

Can you answer that question?

Be honest, if there are competitors in your space, why should a website visitor purchase from your website instead of those competitors?

Hopefully, it is not just because you have the lowest price. Because, if you are competing on just price that makes you a commodity. And unless you have a way to offer the item lower than anyone else can (say you are Walmart or Amazon), eventually competing on just price will put you in trouble.

Instead think of your USP (unique selling proposition). What makes your website better than your competitors AND are you effective communicating that to your visitors?

Are you effectively communicating that USP on those pages where you are driving both new and returning traffic or just on your home page?

Beyond communicating your USP are you offering social proof? Do you have reviews where they are easy to find?

It is funny, shoppers don’t want to be first. I guess it is part our caveman DNA that it is difficult to be the first to wander outside the cave. Having reviews, shows you are trusted, and it shows that others have put their trust in you, and you have delivered.

The last thing you want to be is just another. Just another t-shirt company…. Just another coffee machine selling company… Just another whatever widget you are selling company…

Change your Proposition to change your results.

FINAL WORD

The Results Triangle hopefully gives you a fresh look at how to look at your conversion and more importantly what you can do to increase your conversion.

When it comes to conversion, it is important to measure and test. Make sure you understand the importance of both, or you will face difficulties in making improvements.

Once you understand how the Results Triangle works, then tweaking your Prospects, your Process or your Proposition can actually be fun. Even more than fun it can be the way you’ve been looking for to improve your conversion rates and start generating more sales online!

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Happy Marketing!

Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He has been called the foremost expert in eCommerce Marketing Growth Strategies. He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

End of An Era Using Google Expanded Text Ads

As of the beginning of July, Google limited what can be done using Expanded Text Ads. Although Expanded Text Ads still can display, advertisers can no longer create new ads or modify existing expanded text ads.

If you are not actively using Google, you may not realize the full ramifications of this change. In a nutshell, this is another step closer of Google making automation more prevalent across all ad accounts.

Taking the place of Expanded Text Ads will be Responsive Search Ads. Although Responsive Search Ads are not new, they now are the only choice advertisers have when creating their search ads.

Given the importance of this change, I wanted to share an excerpt from my 2022 Edition of Make Each Click Count – T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google Ads as it relates to best-practices using Responsive Search Ads.

Responsive Search Ads

Responsive Search Ads are the new default type of search text ads. These types of ads work by mix and matching from a larger selection of headlines and descriptions. Once approved and running, Google uses its algorithm to serve the combination of headlines and descriptions that they find to have the highest possibility of receiving a click.

This process of adding multiple headlines and description has for the most part, made the process of testing multiple search text ads irrelevant. Instead, to improve an ad, advertisers can now test different offers and calls to actions to automatically create better performing search ads and thus driving more qualified clicks.

When using responsive search ads, advertisers are allowed to enter a maximum of 15 headlines each with a maximum of 30 characters. In addition, responsive search ads support up to four descriptions each with a maximum character limit of 90. For the Display Path, aka Display URL, you can add two fields up to 15 characters each that will automatically append to your base URL.

When creating your headlines, Google provides suggestions based on the URL entered. In addition, Google provides suggestions for Call to Action such as Order Online, Shop Today; Promotional phrases such as Unbeatable Prices, Exclusive Deals; and Trust phrases such as Official site and High-quality Products.

Since you have 15 options, to test, I always test at least one Call to Action, one Promotional Phrase and one Trust Phrase and many times will use Google’s suggestions. However, just remember they are suggestions. You need to create an ad that will make sense to the users that you want to visit your website.

It is also important to know that if you don’t pin the order (see the arrow) in the image above, headlines can appear in any order within the ad or not ad all since only 2 or 3 of the headlines will appear. By pinning a headline, you can ensure that the top headline in this instance remains stable and will ensure the ad makes sense. I’ve seen advertisers who are using responsive search ads where the headlines that are appearing (randomly generated) makes absolutely no sense. Think of three promotional phrases appearing with no mention of the product.

In the example provided, I’m using a dynamic keyword insertion which will show the search that cased my ad to trigger. If Google cannot for some reason insert the keyword, then the default text of Sprouted Organic Walnuts will appear in the pinned first position for the ad.

Next comes description, you can include up to 4 descriptions, which Google will test typically showing 2 each time they display your ad.

You will want to make sure your descriptions accurately convey the page you are sending traffic, provide users a reason to click on your ad and are unique to distinguish your ads from your competitors.

PRO TIP: Google will provide examples but remember that they are providing these examples to your competitors as well. Do a search for some of your keywords on Google and see what your competitors are doing and then write a more benefit-filled, more compelling ad.

FINAL WORD

Like it or not, Google is moving towards more advanced and mandatory automations. As advertisers whether you are advertising your own account or working for clients, it is essential to adjust to these changes and quickly adapt if you want to keep your Google advertising profitable.

Responsive Search Ads can produce just as high CTR as the Expanded Text Ads when used properly. However, it is important to realize how they work.

Different headlines and descriptions can and will appear in any order or not at all. Given that fact it is critical that your ad makes sense when headlines are taken in a random sequence.

Don’t just blindly accept Google’s recommendations. Instead think what makes sense from the perspective of your audience. If you do not, you may be left with an ad that will make little sense and be left wondering why your results have tanked.

It is also important to know that while existing Expanded Text Ads will continue to run, it won’t be forever. Make sure you start testing using Responsive Search Ads before your ads stop running and you are left to scramble to create and make live.

For more information on best-practices and getting the most out of your Google campaigns, I encourage you to check out my recently updated 2022 Edition of Make Each Click Count – T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google Ads.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Revealing Google’s Performance Max

Google recently introduced their new Performance Max bidding strategy to replace the Smart Shopping campaign. Smart Shopping campaigns were introduced a few years ago and have since been touted by Google representatives as the best and easiest way to grow your sales using Google Shopping.

There are few things in life that I find are the best while also being the easiest and, in my experience, I quickly determined that Google Smart Shopping was not one of them.

Now, Google has their new and improved Smart Shopping that goes even further with automated bids and ads named Performance Max.

In this article we examine the changes and try to decipher Google’s claims of how Performance Max is now the best and easiest way to grow your sales through the Google Ads platform.

What Were Google Smart Shopping Campaigns?

Google defined there smart shopping campaigns as a product feed to create and show a variety of ads across different networks, including the Google Search Network, Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. Google would test different combinations of the image and text assets provided by the advertiser, then Google would select when to display the most relevant ads, automatically.

At first, this sounds great, less work for advertiser. No need to subdivide campaigns, no need to optimize bids, no need to add negative keywords, nothing but launch a campaign. However, the issue quickly became that advertisers would not know which of their products were serving for what keywords at what bid or even on which network their products were appearing.

And boy did Google promote the Smart Shopping campaigns. I had several discovery calls over the last few years, where new advertisers through either the Smart Shopping campaign was all that was available OR that it soon would be the only choice!

Advertisers were asked to trust Google to make the best decisions for their account.

If you have trust issues or simply have the belief that Google may not have your best-interest in mind over that of Google’s, then this was a difficult proposition.

Difficult or not, if it worked it worked and would have been the end of the story and believe me I tested because I really wanted smart shopping to work so I could focus client efforts differently.

I tested Google Smart Campaigns various times over the last two years and found that a well-optimized manual campaign would outperform Smart campaigns every time generally in sales, but always in profitability and usually it wasn’t even close.

I was mystified by individuals online in Google marketing Facebook groups touting how much success they have had with Smart Shopping and how it had outperformed manual Shopping campaigns.

My thought was, wow they must have not known what they were doing in setting up and optimizing their manual campaigns.

The benefit of Smart Shopping campaigns was that it was much, much easier to setup and could easily be incorporated directly from a Shopify store in a few mouse clicks.

If you believe that some advertising when easy (hopefully being profitable), is better than advertising where it may not be so easy, but much more profitable is the correct choice, then Smart Shopping could have been a viable option. For my clients that wish to pull every possible dollar of profit from their Shopping and Retargeting campaigns, manually created Google Ads campaigns have always been the correct choice.

However, now Google’s highly touted Smart Shopping has been replaced by the next generation … Performance Max.

What Do We Know About Performance Max?

Google is promoting Performance Max (PMax Campaigns) as a significant improvement to Smart Shopping Campaigns claiming Performance Max will yield an average increase of 12% in conversion value at the same or better return-on-ad spend.

It seems to me that a 12% improvement on not very good calculates to be still not very good, yet I digress, and we shall continue to explore.

Performance Max campaigns will be eligible to serve across even more Google platforms. This additional reach will bring increased traffic, but just like with Smart Shopping the lack of transparency makes it difficult for advertisers to know if that additional traffic is profitable or is just more.

Smart Shopping campaigns served product shopping ads and display ads across Google’s Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail.

Performance Max campaigns will now serve ads across Google’s entire network of Search, Display, YouTube, Discover and Gmail, Maps.

While the increased reach adds Maps and Discover, how Performance Max ads also has changed how their ads take priority.

While advertisers could run Smart Shopping and Manual Shopping campaigns side by side (although Google would give preference to Smart Shopping) the Performance Max ads will be even more dominant.

Ads from Performance Max campaigns will be served in lieu of all other Shopping, Display (including retargeting) and Search ads within an account.

The only exception is that Search ads will still be served from a Search campaign where the Exact Keywords match.

Is It Possible to Opt Out With Some Products In Performance Max?

Yes. You can use a subset of your products. This is where adding custom labels to your product feed becomes important.

As I have written, spoke about and taught in the past, custom labels are a vital way to subdivide your account. Custom labels are the only customizable fields that can be used to subdivide.

Perhaps, you want to test the new Performance Max (PMax Campaigns) with just a subset of your products? Then, creating and using custom labels will be essential in creating these campaigns.

When Is It Happening?

All Smart Shopping campaigns will be automatically converted into Performance Max campaigns by the end of Q3 2022. Advertisers can also automatically convert their campaigns with a simple ‘one click’.

 As of now, Smart Shopping campaigns can no longer be created. Currently, Performance Max is the option along with manual campaigns.

FINAL WORD

For advertisers without the knowledge or time to dedicate to Google Ads, Performance Max may be the option. In fact, for those it will be the only option.

It will be now extremely easy to let Google create all of your campaigns with a couple of clicks and hand over your advertising directly to Google.

Unfortunately, with Performance Max the lack of transparency in the form of not being able to see how or what or who or anything about the campaign other then seeing results has only gotten worse.

Advertisers will not be able to give much input other than what products to advertise.

Will it work? Is Performance Max the best and easiest way to advertise?

Performance Max will yield some results and will increase where ads appear (although historically not within premium placements).

Will Performance Max produce better results than creating manual campaigns?

Probably not, but it sure will be easier.

Will Performance Max produce better results than Smart Shopping?

The verdict is still out, but it will increase spend so watch your budgets.

Should you create all campaigns using Performance Max?

Test and determine what is more important to you. Control or ease of setup and ease of advertising.

For me, I will test in some as subsets within some of my private client’s accounts, but I will be very deliberate in making any complete change to Performance Max.   

For you, I would recommend testing using the same cautious approach and as always let the data drive your marketing decisions.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

The Great Shopify Mistake

Guess what one of the biggest mistake Shopify owners make advertising their products using Google Shopping?

It is thinking that using Shopify’s free Google channel will have your products correctly running on Google Shopping and the orders will start to flow in. 

Shopify, instructs you to open the proper Google accounts: Google Merchant Center and then Google Ads account if you want to run paid traffic. Then, Shopify instructs to connect those accounts to your products in Shopify. Many Shopify store owners think by clicking a couple of buttons, like magic your products will start to list and orders will start to come pouring in.

However, I’m telling you today that magic rarely exists and clicking that Google channel checkbox or two is not going to grow your sales at least not efficiently and I’ll tell you why.

First, with the free traffic.

It is true you can generate some free traffic through Google Shopping just by opening a GMC and linking your products. But for most, the free traffic is going to be a mere trickle.

The free traffic you will receive will range from 1 to 2 clicks per day to 1 to 2 per month depending on what you are selling!

Furthermore, the Google channel in Shopify does not let you adjust the different fields that Google uses to filter, sort and list your products.

You could use a supplemental feed inside Google Shopping to enhance your listing, but if are using Shopify’s Google channel to submit your products there is a good chance you have no idea what a supplemental feed even is.

Second, with paid traffic.

If you go on and also open a Google ads account and add some advertising budget, what Shopify will have you using for simplicity’s sake is a Google Smart Shopping campaign. For “smart” shopping campaigns and yes, I’m doing air quotes around smart, you have no idea of where you are advertising, at what bid or for what keyword. In addition, if you are submitting all products you would need to do some deep discovery to find out even for what product.

The only thing actually smart about a Google Smart Shopping campaign is the way Google has configured it to easily accept money from more well-intentioned, yet novice advertisers.

It is a fact that Google Shopping has many moving parts, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. I recently released a course designed to explain the entire process called Understand, Conquer and Profit Using Google Shopping.

This course is a free course within Google Shopping University, and it will clarify the entire process of using Google Shopping.

Click on the link below to signup and in under an hour you will know more about advertising using Google Shopping than 90% of Shopify merchants including probably your competitors!

You don’t need to be an expert, you don’t even need to run the advertising yourself, but you should absolutely know how Google Shopping works and that is why I created this course.

Click on the link below to read all the details and get started today.

Understand, Conquer & Profit Using Google Shopping
https://www.makeeachclickcountuniversity.com/conquerandprofit

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Adding The ‘Who Done It’ List To Your Negative Keywords

Here is an expert tip on a fairly simple way to save some money on your Google Paid Ads.

How much ad spend you are going to reduce will depend on how much you are currently spending and how many negative keywords you currently are using, but I can tell you that it could be around 3-5% of your ads budget.

For you to save money on unnecessary ad spend what you should do is add what I call the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords to your campaigns.

What is the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords?

This is a list of negative keywords that block question searches from triggering your ads to show. Effectively blocking question searches in both shopping campaigns and search campaigns that utilize either phrase or broad match, this list will eliminate high level searches that rarely if ever directly lead to a sale.

What are these keywords and why do they never or at least very rarely lead to a sale?

Here are some of the words. Read through the list below and think what type of keyword searches these would generate for your campaigns then we will look at examples for one of my private clients:

  • ‘where’
  • ‘how to’
  • ‘how do’ / ‘how you’
  • ‘could I’ / ‘could you’
  • ‘can I’ / ‘can you’
  • ‘should I’ / ‘should you’
  • ‘does a’ / ‘is a’

Why does this list of ‘Who Done It’ keywords rarely if ever lead to a conversion?

Because these keywords are going to generate very high level / low buying intent traffic.

As you read through the list you probably filled in the rest of the question in your head as it comes to your campaigns so perhaps you already know what I mean, but let’s look at some examples:

A private client of mine sells shower drain covers and not the $5 variety from Home Depot, but rather super high-end drain covers starting at about $60.

For his company, he wants traffic from keywords from people searching to replace or install a new drain cover.

Here are some of the searches that contain ‘shower drain’ that adding the ‘Who Done It’ list will block.

  • Where are the screws to uninstall a shower drain?’
  • Hot to install a shower drain?’
  • How do I clean my shower drain?’
  • Could I make my own shower drain cover?’
  • Can I replace my shower drain cover myself?’
  • Should I cover the drain in my basement?’
  • Does a shower drain block water?’

You see the pattern, right?

The pattern is that none of these searches have a very high likelihood of leading to a sale.

Sure, you could serve visitors retargeting ads after they visit your website, but still, it is a longshot. Better to save the money on what it would cost to bring these looky-loos to your website and apply the ads budget you save to traffic with a higher likelihood of converting.

Creating Your Custom List of ‘Who Done It’ Negative Keywords

Besides taking the list of examples above, you may want to know how to customize the list for your account.

The most effective way to find your own ‘Who Done It’ list is by reviewing the terms that have historically driven traffic to your ad campaigns.

If you have been following my writings, you are aware that Google has partially hidden this data within your Google Ads account. However, it is still currently available using Google Analytics. Here is an article that goes into details – Google is Now Playing Hide and Seek with Your Search Terms

Fully detailed in the article mentioned above, here are the steps to access your full list of search terms using Google Analytics Search Queries Report.

  1. Login to Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com/)
  2. In the left-hand menu click on ‘Acquisition’
  3. Then, ‘Google Ads’
  4. Then, ‘Search Queries”
  5. Change the date in the upper right to dates you wish to view.
  6. Using the Secondary dimension drop down to add ‘Campaign’. Note, without this step you will be viewing keywords from the entire account.
  7. Change rows to a number that will display all data (default is only 25 rows).
  8. Export data.

Applying Your List of Negative Keywords

One you have your own list of ‘Who Done It’ negative keywords the next step is to add it to your account.

When adding negative keywords, you have 3 choices:

  1. Add them at the ad group level.
  2. Add them at the campaign level
  3. Add them at the account level.

Here we are only going to review adding them to the account level because in my opinion there is no reason to have ‘Who Done It’ traffic in any campaign or ad group.

To quickly add these negative keywords to multiple campaigns, I recommend using a negative keyword list. A negative keyword list will easily let you add or subtract keywords to the ‘Who Done It’ list and quickly apply the list to multiple campaigns.

Here is how to create an implement a negative keyword list.

Create a negative keyword list:

  1. In the top menu, under Shared Library, click ‘Negative Keyword List’
  2. Click the blue plus button.
  3. Name your list and add negative keywords.
  4. Click Save

Apply negative keyword lists to multiple campaigns from the negative keyword library

  1. Click the tools & settings icon Google Ads (in the upper right tool bar) of your account.
  2. Under “Shared library,” click Negative keyword lists.
  3. Check the box next to the negative keyword lists you want to apply to campaigns.
  4. Click Apply to campaigns.
  5. Select the campaigns you’d like to apply the negative keyword lists to.
  6. Click Apply.

FINAL WORD

Blocking searches using the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords only works when using manual shopping campaigns. With smart shopping campaigns, you can’t block unwanted keyword searches and you won’t even be able to tell how many ‘Who Done It’ searches you are receiving. Yet just another reason to avoid Smart Shopping campaigns.

Adding the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords is going to effectively block the higher purchase intent traffic or the traffic which is the furthest away from making a purchase.

In the image above, the ‘Who Done It’ list is going to block the awareness to interest group. Typically, those website visitors are a long way from purchasing and not profitable to serve Google paid ads.

Ideally when we are looking to drive traffic from Google at a minimum, we want traffic in the intent to evaluation stage or those looking to make a purchase.

Adding the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords is one way to effectively ensure we are getting this qualified, purchase intent traffic to our Google Shopping and Search campaigns.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google Campaign Optimization Scores – How You Should Manage Them

Last year Google introduced their Google Campaign Optimization Score.

This score measures how well each Google Ads campaign is rated based on Google’s preferred standards. Rated between 0% and 100%, this score looks like a cut and dry number to measure how well your account is optimized.

Optimization score is displayed on all active Search, Shopping, Display and Video Auction campaigns. A 100% score translates into your campaigns being fully optimized in accordance with Google’s best-practices with scores lower than a 100% meaning Google has other recommendations for your campaigns.

However, it is important to realize that your goals as an advertiser may not (and many times do not) align with Google. When it comes to preferred standards and your campaign’s score it is important to keep in mind that the Campaign Optimization Score is based solely on Google’s goals.

What do I mean?

You will see some examples below, but I like to think of it this way.

Google’s goal is to get as much money from its advertisers as possible while providing a viable marketing network for its advertisers and a good experience for its users.

Our goal as advertisers is or at least should be to optimize our advertising spend based on our own goals. Those goals could be sales and revenue, which is typical for eCommerce advertisers or traffic aka awareness (not as typical). Regardless of the goal, we should work to optimize our ad spend to maximize the value of our goals.

Now, if you are like me, you will find that nothing is more irritating in your account than seeing a low score. If you are an agency, it also can be disastrous if a client is in their account and sees their optimization score is low.

Fortunately, you do not need to accept all of Google’s recommendations to improve a campaign’s optimization score.

Ignoring specific recommendations will give your campaigns the full credit for that recommendation, but you first must login to each recommendation and manually review.

How Do You View Your Google Optimization Score?

  1. Login to your Google Ads Account.
  2. Click on Recommendations in the left side navigation menu.
  3. You can then filter your recommendations into specific categories by clicking on the category name.
  4. You can then Apply recommendations, View Recommendations or Dismiss recommendations. To dismiss you will need to first click on the 3 vertical dots.

You can also view your Optimization Score for individual campaigns. Click on the Campaigns button in the left navigation menu. The Optimization Score is shown by default. You can turn on/off the column. Therefore, if you don’t see it click on the columns button and turn it on. The field is listed under ‘Recommended columns’.

Reviewing Google’s Recommendations

Beyond improving your score there are obvious benefits to reviewing your Google Optimization Score.

First, consistently reviewing recommendations may alert you of new features within Google Ads, soon after they are released. This is how I was first alerted to Image Extensions, which have been fantastic on improving Search campaigns’ click through rates.

Here is an article on image extensions if you are not aware of what they are about or how to best use – Image Extensions – Making Google Search Ads Viable Again?

There is also a lot of what I consider non-sense recommendations, such as giving 24.6% improvement for changing to Smart Shopping (see image below) or high percentage increase for automated bidding within Search campaigns.

If you have read my Make Each Click Using Google Shopping book, you probably know how I feel about Smart Shopping, but here is a quick synopsis of why it may not be a good idea to trust Google with your Shopping campaigns.

New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize

Another recommendation favorite is adding or improving responsive search ads. Which, I mostly agree with although like anything else in Google I highly recommend testing.

Below is a list of categories and common recommendations that I see and the actions that I usually take with each:

Bidding & Budgets:

Raise your budgets (Usually Review and Accept)

Move unused budgets (Usually Dismiss)

Raise your budgets for upcoming traffic increases (Usually Dismiss)

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions using a target CPA (Always Dismiss)

Keywords & Targeting:

Upgrade your existing keywords to broad match (Usually Dismiss)

Remove conflicting negative keywords (Will review)

Create Dynamic Search Ads (Will typically dismiss)

Add audiences for reporting (Usually Review and Accept)

Use Display Expansion (Always Dismiss)

Add new keywords (Will review suggestions)

Remove redundant keywords (Usually Review and Accept)

Automated Campaigns:

Switch To Smart Shopping (Always Dismiss)

Ads & Extensions:

Add image extensions to your ads (Always Accept)

Add responsive search ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Improve your responsive search ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Add price extensions to your ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Repairs:

Make sure your automated bid strategy can optimize your bids by fixing your conversion tracking. (Deserves attention).

FINAL WORD

For the most part, I believe that the recommendations that Google provides are a helpful feature for advertisers.

Although seeing a low score may be irritating especially when it is driven by recommendations that would most likely hurt performance, it does work to drive action. In order to improve your Google Campaign Optimization score you need to review and either accept or more likely dismiss each recommendation.  

And even through, I personally ignore and dismiss the majority of Google’s best-practices for my private clients’ accounts that I manage this is because of the systems in place of how my agency generates the best results.

Those with less experience managing Google or who want to spend less time optimizing or become more ‘hands off’ may accept more of the recommendations than I do and may even activate the dreaded Smart Shopping campaigns:<.

However, like almost everything else in Google, it comes down to testing to see what will give you the best results in your Google advertising and the recommendations are a great way to alert you of what is available within Google Ads that you may not be using.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Image Extensions – Making Google Search Ads Viable Again?

Google Shopping ads over the last few years have outperformed Google Search Ads in terms of profitability for the majority of my private clients.

Like many of you may have done, most of my private clients have opted out of advertising using Google Search campaigns.

The only exception where Search campaigns are still widely used across verticals is with a branded Search campaign. Note, a branded campaign is where you bid on your company name and close variants.

However, this might all soon change.

Google has begun to roll out a new ad extension that has significantly increased CTR (click through rates) and conversion rates. With this new Google ad extension, I have been seeing the potential to again make Search ads more viable for many of my private clients.

What is the extension?

They are image extensions.

While still in BETA and not currently available in all accounts, within the accounts that I have activated I have seen a significant increase in click through rates and conversion rates worth getting excited about!

Why is this?

One of the reasons that Google Shopping ads work so well is because users know what to expect before clicking on the product ad. Being able to see the product image along with the product title and price gives an accurate picture of what a user can expect BEFORE they click on an ad.

With Google Search Ads, even with the most clearly written ad there could be room for confusion on what they expect in terms of the user.

This confusion leads to high bounce rates thus lowering quality score thus lowering your ad rank and yes increasing the cost per click that Google charges.

However, by being able to show a related image along within the Search ad, much of this possible confusion is now removed.

In addition, image extensions are eye catching and help ads stand out from competitors who have not yet implemented these extensions with their Search ads.

Who can run ads and what are the requirements?

In order to be eligible for image extensions, accounts need to have the following:

  1. Have a good history of policy compliance.
  2. Ads accounts need to be within an eligible vertical. Sensitive verticals such as sexual content, gambling and alcohol are not allowed.
  3. Accounts must be open at least 90 days.

Image extensions use two ratios:

  1. Square (1×1) minimum size 300 x 300 pixels; recommended size 1200 x 1200 pixels.
  2. Rectangle (1.91×1) minimum size 600 x 314 pixels; recommended size 1200 x 628 pixels.

Note, square images are required while rectangle are optional.

Google recommends as best-practices for advertisers to upload 3 of each size for every account they wish to have images used with the total images allowed being 20 images for each ad group.

Note, just like Shopping ads, watermarks, logos and other promotional overlays are prohibited within images.

Google performs quality and policy checks before approving image extension so you should make sure your images are compliant with the above policies.

Instructions to Create Image Extensions:

  1. Sign into your Google Ads Account.
  2. In the left menu, select Ads & Extensions, then Extensions.
  3. Click the blue plus button and select Image Extensions.
  1. Select a campaign or ad group where you would like to add the new extension.
  2. Select the blue plus next to images and select image source you wish to access to add your image.
  3. You have the option to add new images or add existing images to your campaign. For new images, you can upload images or have Google scan your website or social channels for existing images.
  1. If images don’t meet specifications, you will have the option to crop images.
  2. Upload at least 1 square image. Recommended to upload 3 images with maximum of 20.
  3. You can preview your image by clicking on the pencil icon. Once you are satisfied, click Save and images will be submitted for approval.

Image Extensions – How They Appear

Here is an example of a live image extension as it appears on this mobile device.

Notice how an image appears next to the ad description below the ad headline and above site extensions?

Note how prominent it makes the ad appear?

What do you think this is going to do for the click through rates?

FINAL WORD

Start using image extensions!

It is rare that I can recommend a new rollout from Google Ads to be used across all verticals, but with image extensions I am comfortable doing just that.

I have not found any examples where using image extensions underperforms not using them. Plus, image extensions do not cost anything more to include on your ads and in fact by increasing your quality score they likely will lower your CPC.

One strategy that has worked well for me is reviewing which keywords are currently converting in your Google Shopping campaigns and using this list to create a new Search campaign.

By using a list of keywords along with the image for items that are already converting and directing them to a category page where users can shop for the item, you will immediately have double coverage using both Shopping and Search ads.

Regardless of the strategy you decide to apply, make sure you are using relevant images that add to the customer experience and begin to test results with your own account!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google’s Core Web Vitals – The New Website Experience Algorithm Change

A hot topic going around right now is ‘website experience ‘or specifically good individual page experiences.

But what is a good page experience and how can you measure how good of a page experience your website currently provides to its users?

A good page experience (at least defined by Google) revolves around page speed (how quickly pages load) and website responsiveness.

Now that we have defined the ‘experience’, you may be wondering if a ‘good page experience’ is just a fad or a buzz word from industry professionals or whether is it actually important to consider?

The answer is both. Providing a good ‘website experience’ is a trending subject discussed in length right now, but for good reason.

Some of the ‘good experiences elements have already been best-practices for some time. Having a mobile friendly website, that provides safe, secure browsing free of popup ads has been helping site become Google compliant.

What’s Changing?

Google recently announced a gradual rollout that is set to begin June 2021 that will take into account other page experience elements when determining how they organically rank pages.

The good news is Google is providing the tools you need to know to optimize for these changes before they happen.

In May 2021, the Google Chrome team announced a CORE WEB VITALS, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability that help business owners determine the page experience they are providing their users.

There is a lot of technical jargon there, so let’s look to simplify it a bit.

Google’s CORE WEB VITALS is how Google will judge the level of experience that a website provides to its users. Although, these metrics are subject to change, for now they consist of the following three elements.

  1. Loading – How fast your website loads.
  2. Interactivity – How fast your users are able to interact with your website.
  3. Visual Stability – How elements shift during loading on your page.

In order for a website to achieve an overall good score, Google has added a benchmark of being within the top 75 percentile for all three metrics.

These three metrics are filled with developer jargon that can be perhaps difficult for most store owners to fully comprehend.

Therefore, to add clarification to the upcoming update, we will look at each in layman terms.

Page Loading

Probably the easiest of the three metrics to measure and to fully understand, this metric measures how fast does your website loads.

Measured in LCP (Largest Contentful Paint). This is a metric that identifies the time it takes to render the largest image or text block that is visible when a page first loads.

In order to be within the top 75%, websites should load their LCP in 2.5 seconds or less.

Google provides a number of tools to be able to measure both page speed and LCP.

Google Field Tools:

PageSpeed Insights
Chrome User Experience Report
Search Console (Core Web Vitals report)
Web-vitals JavaScript library

Google Lab Tools:

Chrome DevTools
Lighthouse
WebPageTest

Page Interactivity

Page interactivity is measured in a unit called FID (First Input Delay).

FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with your website page (click a button, click a link, etc) to the time your website is able to process the event.

We’ve all clicked a button on a website (especially a complete purchase button) and experienced a long delay.  This is Page Interactivity.

Although, not referring specifically to the order button, the delay can also take place within the website as users navigate and it is a slow to respond link or navigation element that does not provide a good customer experience.

In order to provide a good user experience, a website should have a FID of 100 milliseconds or less.

The tools to measure Page Interactivity are the same as measuring Page Load Speeds:

Google Field Tools:

PageSpeed Insights
Chrome User Experience Report
Search Console (Core Web Vitals report)
Web-vitals JavaScript library

Visual Stability

Visual Stability the third metric is measured with a unit called CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift).

To provide a good CLS, a page should maintain a CLS of 0.1 or less.

What exactly is a Cumulative Layout Shift?

 Have you ever started reading text on a page when it first loads and all of a sudden it shifts? Or even worse, you are clicking on a link or button and all of a sudden it moves?

These movements typically happen as page resources are loaded independently or asynchronously.

Whatever, it is called it is not a good experience for the user.

Measuring CLS allows a measurement of how often these ‘shifts’ are occurring for real users.

CLS measures how quickly elements move and how much they move on the page during loading.

The formula Google uses is:
layout shift score = impact fraction * distance fraction

Here are the principles that Google has provided to improve your CLS score:

Always include size attributes on your images and video elements, or otherwise reserve the required space with something like CSS aspect ratio boxes. This approach ensures that the browser can allocate the correct amount of space in the document while the image is loading. Note that you can also use the unsized-media feature policy to force this behavior in browsers that support feature policies.

Never insert content above existing content, except in response to a user interaction. This ensures any layout shifts that occur are expected.

Prefer transform animations to animations of properties that trigger layout changes. Animate transitions in a way that provides context and continuity from state to state.

FINAL WORD

Providing a ‘good page experience’ has just gotten more complicated. The good news is that unlike other algorithm updates, Google has given us advance warning on this update and the tools to test and change our website.

How much will this algorithm change affect organic rankings?

That has yet to be determined, but keep in mind that updating your website to be in the top 75 percentile of the new CORE WEB VITAL metrics will not only help your organic (SEO) rankings, but also help to improve your customer experience and most likely your conversion rates.

Do yourself a favor and take the time to take a closer look at your website’s user experience and use the tools to adjust your website sooner rather than later.

If you are looking for more help or direction in fixing your issues, click here and schedule a complimentary discovery call to discuss possible solutions to improve your website experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Using ‘Special’ Holidays For Your Own Promotions

Yesterday was Cinco De Mayo. The day before that it was May 4th Star Wars Day. Last week was Arbor Day.

Wow so many holidays! And you know what? These are just the “big ones”.

There seems to be a ‘holiday’ for anything you may be able to think. So, do you know what your special day is?

I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say, I’ve missed my special day.

No, not my birthday, I of course remembered and celebrated that. My anniversary?

No, I managed to remember that as well.

I’m talking about January 11th, National Marketing Day.

In case you need some ideas about picking and promoting your special day, here are some examples of “holidays” for a variety of verticals.

Examples of Promotional Holidays

March 6 – National Dress Day

March 19 – National Backyard Day

April 4 – National Vitamin C Day

June 21 – National T-Shirt Day

September 19 – National Volleyball Day

October 22 – National Nuts Day

October 24 – National Food Day

November 19 – World Toilet Day

And what if you can’t find a special day to celebrate for the purpose of promoting your business?

If all else fails, you can always make up your own. That is what Amazon did and now Amazon Prime Day is household term, well at least in my house.

Remember, the difference between Earth Day and Arbor Day comes down to simply better marketing!

Speaking of marketing. If you are currently using Google Ads, I invite you to checkout a new video I recently shared. 

The FASTEST way to GROW your business using Google Paid Ads is by INCREASING YOUR PROFITABILITY and this video details the best way to do just that!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAINING VIDEO

Happy Celebrating & Happy Marketing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.