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.

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.

Frequency – Controlling How Often Your Google Retargeting Ads Are Shown

The term frequency refers to how often your retargeting ads appear or more accurately the maximum number of times ads are eligible to appear to users.

By now anyone who has spent considerable time on their screens are keenly aware of retargeting ads. Very few people anymore think that it is coincidence that the new toaster they were looking at last week is now being shown within an ad in our Gmail account purely by coincidence.

However, there is still a fine line between subtly nudging a user to return to your website by showing your ads occasionally and blasting them your ad 20 times per day so everywhere they look they see that proverbial toaster.

A question commonly asked is how does an advertiser determine how often (the frequency) to serve retargeting ads to their customers?

However, before we can ask how often we must ask if we as advertisers have the ability to control the frequency.

The answer to this is yes.

With a remarketing campaign, we have two choices:

  1. Let Google determine the frequency.
  2. Manually set the frequency.

Google Determine the Frequency

The easiest and most convenient way to control frequency is to let Google decide how often to serve your ads. Afterall, Google knows everything right?

If you have read through my books or listened to many of my Podcast episodes in the past, you probably already know what I’m going to say.

I believe that Google is perhaps the most perfect advertising channel ever built with the ability that they provide advertisers to reach shoppers while they are shopping. However, I don’t believe much in Google’s automated bidding strategies or even with their formulas on frequency.

My belief is that an advertiser, in tune with their own product line, will be much more effective determining their frequency based on their audiences, time of year and of course their own testing rather than relying on Google’s algorithm.

Manually Set The Frequency

What would be the reason to manually set the frequency you may be asking.

There are a couple of times that I recommend manually setting the frequency and we will look at a couple of examples before we look at directions for how to do it.

What would be the reason to manually set the frequency you may be asking.

There are a couple of times that I recommend manually setting the frequency and we will look at a couple of examples before we look at directions for how to do it.

Busy shopping times. For eCommerce companies this could be the holiday shopping season. As we approach the holidays, Black Friday week to be specific, shopping online becomes fast and furious and is great example of when you may consider increasing your frequency settings.

For these times when customers are likely to make a buying decision quickly, you don’t want to lose a sale for a shopper who be visiting many websites looking for gifts for brother, sister, parents and kids. Therefore, I typically will turn up frequency on high buyer intent audiences such as ‘Shopping Cart Abandoners’.

In contrast, slow periods of the year are a time when you may consider reducing your frequency. Example of this would be a private client I have that sells pond fountains. Typically, in the winter months particularly in states where outdoor ponds freeze over, not many people are thinking of installing a $3,000 fountain. Therefore, it makes sense to decrease the frequency of retargeting ads.

Hopefully, these examples have gotten the wheels in your head spinning on what may make sense for your business. However, like anything I always recommend testing to discover what is the most profitable for your company.

However, note that the frequency capping is available only at the Campaign level and not at specific ad groups levels. Therefore, if for some reason you wish to have different frequency capping for different ad groups, then they will need to be placed within different campaigns.

Note: Currently, advertisers can only modify the frequency of ads within an already existing campaign. Therefore, once you have created a campaign, here are the instructions on changing how often your ads are eligible to be shown to your selected audience.

Changing The Frequency Setting on an Existing Campaign

1. Login to your Google Ads Account

2. Select All campaigns in the navigation panel.

3. Click the campaign you wish to edit.

4. Select Settings in the left-hand menu.

5. Click Additional settings.

6. Select Frequency Management.

7. Set your preference. (You have the ability to manage your impressions by ad, ad group or whole campaign).

8. Click save.

Final Word

How many is the appropriate number of times that a retargeting ad should be served to a someone who previously visited your website and for how long should ads be served?

These are key questions that vary from website to website, but I believe that the answer typically will vary.

In order to be able to determine what is most effective for your website, you will need to test. However, fortunately given the steps in this chapter you have the ability to test how many times retargeting ads will be shown.

In order to address how long ads will be shown (the number of days between when a user visits your website and when they are no longer eligible to be shown your retargeting ads), you will need to adjust your audience.

Again, each website will vary, but here are my frequent recommendations when first starting to test different settings with my private clients:

– Change the length of duration on the audience from Google’s standard 30 days to 60 days.
– Manage impressions for each ad group to 6 per day.
– Increase this number to 12 per day during busy seasons.
– Decrease this number to 2 per day during slow seasons.

And once again, like most settings within Google’s Ad interface, you will want to test and track to discover where your highest profitability will be generated.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google Is Getting Sneaky With Advertisers Retargeting Ad Spend

It probably is no secret to you that most visitors to your website are not going to buy. In fact, on average 97% of visitors are not going to purchase on their first visit.

It has also been shown that the more times a user visits your website the more likely they are to purchase.

Therefore, the question becomes is how can advertisers keep their website and products in front of those visitors that come to your website, but do not purchase?

One of the best answers to this question has been retargeting. For those not familiar, here is how retargeting works.

When a customer goes on your website, a ‘cookie’ is placed on their browser. Cookies are small text files with small pieces of data that are used to identify computers within a computer network.

If we have Google retargeting correctly in place, what will happen is that cookie, will allow us to advertise to that customer throughout the Google Display Network (GDN) based on their visit to our website.

In addition, you can customize the cookies to tell us which pages a user visited and adjust bids or whether to include them based on this information within your retargeting campaigns.

For instance, you can only retarget to users who reached your cart but did not purchase. Or you only retarget to users who at least reached a product page but did not purchase.

Advertisers can retarget to specific users by creating what Google calls audiences (which I will show you how to do below). This is really cool!

However, pay attention because this is where Google has gotten sneaky!

Google is now automatically opting your retargeting campaigns into what they term ‘Targeting expansion’.

Targeting expansion is automatically opted on when you create a new retargeting campaign.

What targeting expansion does is show your retargeting ads to users ‘similar’ to the audience that you created. Google does not share the algorithm they use to decide ‘how similar’ they are just that they are similar.

Google also provides a sliding bar where you can include customers who are even less similar to your created audience in greater numbers

This is all new.

Before when creating a remarketing campaign, advertisers would know that they are retargeting to their audience defined as those that previously visited their website. With this feature of target expansion, now advertisers automatically are opted in to serving ads to those that previously visited their website and are included in one of their audiences as well as those ‘similar’.

And the sneaky thing?

Most advertisers don’t realize as the setting is hidden within the more ad group settings area of the Google Ads interface.

What I have found with private clients is that target expansion will substantially increase your spend without increasing your conversions.

This of course makes sense because those users in target expansion have never been to your website and most likely don’t even know who you are.

Next, I’m going to demonstrate how you create a remarketing campaign and then opt out of the new ‘Targeting expansion’.

Creating A Remarketing Campaign

Creating a dynamic remarketing campaign allows advertiser to show the products that a visitor viewed on your website inside an ad that will appear throughout the Google Display Network.

Here are the steps:

1. Click Campaigns from the page menu.

2. Click the plus button to create a new campaign.

3. In the “Goals” section, choose ‘Sales’.

4. From the “Campaign type” section, select Display Network.

5. Select ‘Standard display campaign’

6. Enter your business website URL.

7. Next, you’ll set parameters for your campaign, including:

  • Campaign name
  • Location and language settings
  • Bid strategy and budget

8. Click Additional settings for more options, like ad scheduling, content exclusions, or device targeting (This is where you will want to link a data feed in order to show dynamic ads, see image below). Note, in order to connect a data feed you must have already linked your Google Ads Account with your Google Merchant Center Account.

9. Next, look for “Audiences” in the “People” section. (To serve ads to visitors who have visited your website and left, you will need to use a custom audience that you create in Google Analytics.

Click Remarketing. To select an already prepared audience, click ‘Browse’ and then ‘How they have interacted with your business’).

10. Click the checkbox next to the audiences that you would like to add. This will add them to your targeting.

11. Below the audience, you will see the ‘Targeting expansion’ this is where Google will automatically opt you in to showing your ads to users ‘similar’ to your audience. In order to opt out, slide the slider to the off position.

12. Create your Ad group bid.

13. Create your Ad.

14. Click the ‘Create Campaign’ button.

Forgetting To Turn Off The Target Expansion

If you follow the steps above, your dynamic retargeting ads will be correctly configured and you will start to serve your ads to previous website visitors that you have identified in an audience.

However, what if you forget to take one of these steps? Even worse, what if you see an unexplained spike in traffic and spend in your new retargeting campaign?

If you see more traffic than you are expecting, chances are that you either used a wrong audience with the campaign or forgot to turn off the ‘Targeting Expansion’.

Fortunately, you can adjust your campaign settings even after the campaign has been created.

Here are the steps –

1. Click Campaigns from the page menu.

2. Select your newly created retargeting campaign.

3. Click on the Ad Group that you want to adjust.

4. Click Settings from the left-hand navigation menu.

5. Click on the ‘Edit ad group targeting’ button.

6. Once you click on the ‘Edit ad group targeting’ button, then you can scroll down and scroll the Targeting Expansion to Off.

Quick note, to adjust and turn off Targeting Expansion once an account is created, it must be done from the Ad Group Settings not the Campaign Settings. In addition, it must be done on EVERY ad group where you wish to opt-out of Targeting Expansions.

See how it is sneaky now?

Not only does Google automatically opt in campaigns to Targeting Expansion, but they burry the option to adjust it including the ability to opt out under the Ad Group Setting.

Final Word

Retargeting is a fantastic way to stay in front of the 97% of users that leave your website without purchasing.

Just like with Shopping and Search Ads, with Retargeting ads you don’t pay unless a user clicks on your ad. This means that if a user sees your ads; reminding them of your product or service and simply goes and types in your website URL, well you don’t pay.

In addition, by using audiences you can determine how much you ultimately are willing to pay for one type of website abandoner vs another.

Example, I always set bids higher for those users who reached the cart page then left versus those that left at the product page without adding a product to their shopping cart.

And finally, by using your product feed and cookies, you can show a user the exact product that they were looking at on your website within the retargeting ad that you later serve them.

All this works very well. However, what I’ve found doesn’t work well is when Google tacks on similar audiences.

By opting campaigns into Targeting Expansion, it will most likely lower your profitability and significantly increase your spend.

And worse than that?

It is just plain sneaky!!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

The Academy of Internet Marketing

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

The Thing For Customers More Important Than Even Price

For over twenty years now, I’ve been working with companies to sell their stuff online. This journey has been interesting with the what and the how that I’ve attempted to sell for my private clients.

From floor and wall safes to boat anchors and other boating supplies, from pond fountains to baseball gear, from high end women’s clothing to exotic jewels from avocado based tea to CBD chocolate, I have run the gamut in terms of online verticals.

For the most, the process of driving traffic is relatively similar, except for CBD chocolate (don’t get me started on that). The level of success a company is selling their products online more times than not will come down to their conversion rates.

When working with companies to drive quality paid traffic many times I also will work with companies by offering suggestions that I have found to improve conversion rates.

Making sure key elements are present such as having an easy to navigate website with special attention paid to important elements such as the shipping and returns policy, a risk reversal guarantee and product and website testimonials can be essential factors for increasing conversion rates.

In addition, I also recommend the continual testing a variety of elements within a website.

I’ve seen where implementing simple changes such as changing the color on the add to cart buttons and within the shopping cart have had an immediate and substantial impact on conversion rates.

And when it comes to your conversion rates, just a small uptick in the number can cause large increases in overall sales.

Image you have 1,000 customers a day, with a 2% conversion rate and an average sale of $75. Calculated out that would be $1,500 daily sales generated from 20 orders.

If we were able to increase conversion from 2% to 2.5%, we would increase daily average sales from $1,500 to $1,875 thus increasing our monthly sales from $45K to $56K. That is an almost 20% increase in overall sales by increasing our conversion by half of one percent!

This calculation and the power of small increases in the conversion rates is the reason that I always have started with conversion rates as the main focus when working to improve a client’s profitability.  

However, last week, I read a line in a book that blew my mind and my thinking on conversion rates at least the way to go about how to increase conversion rates.

The book was Start With Why by Simon Sinek, which I highly recommend, and the line was this:

Though products drive sales they alone cannot inspire loyalty.

Throughout the book the premise is for a company to sell their products effectively a company must be able to connect why they are selling their products with its buyers.

When you communicate why you are selling your products you give your potential customers especially those that connect to your why a reason to do businesses with you.

By establishing this connection through communicating why you are selling what you are selling, you can distinguish your products from your competitors.

Most of what is sold online is what is known as a commodity. For those commodities that we sell many times there are multiple other companies selling the same products or at least very similar products.

With no discernable difference between companies, how does a customer decide from which product to buy their product?

Number one is price.

If a similar product is sold in different stores, customers often decide based on selecting the cheaper price.

Number two is trust.

If a customer doesn’t trust that they will get their product in a timely manner or even that they will get the quality of the product promised, the factor of trust could outweigh a cheaper price.

That is why working on conversion factors such as paying special attention to elements on a website such as the shipping and return policy, guarantee policy and website testimonial can help improve conversion rates. They work because they help build trust.

However, there is one factor that is more powerful than trust and more powerful than even price (at least to a certain degree). It is loyalty.

It is why repeat customers are so valuable to a company. A loyal customer will continue to purchase for the most part without price shopping competitors because they trust your company to deliver what they are buying.

However, their trust becomes even more powerful when they believe in why you are selling what you sell.

My Trip To The Grocery Store

A few weeks back, I went grocery shopping Saturday morning as I was out of eggs and I had promised the family to make breakfast.

Typically, I prefer to buy organic eggs. In California. a bunch of ads ran a few years back showing the cramp condition of some ‘egg farms’ and I always get that picture in my mind of those poor chickens when I’m about to purchase.

However, when it comes to buying eggs I’m also price conscious. I will typically buy the cheapest priced organic eggs and if the price of the cheapest organic eggs is crazy high, then I sometimes will go ahead try to sneak a dozen ‘egg farm’ eggs past my wife at home.

On this shopping trip, there was an organic egg brand that was running a special, buy one get one free. Normally $6.99 a dozen, right now they were 2 for $6.99 or $3.50 a dozen (about the same as non-organic eggs).

I purchased those eggs purely based on price because who the heck really cares about the brand name of an egg, right?

When I returned home and started to make breakfast, I opened the eggs carton and discovered that a small 3” x 2” card was included.

Printed on the card was a small newsletter from Vital Times, the organic egg brand that I had purchased.

On the front of the newsletter, it told the story of this month’s featured farm, The Bough Family Farm and the gentleman that runs the farm.

According to the story, the owner although he had grown up on a dairy farm had decided to go into a different path and was a successful engineer.

In his early 30’s he was inspired by a documentary detailing the deteriorating conditions of food production. He was so inspired that he decided to leave his position and start a chicken farm dedicated to free ranged, humanely treated, organic egg laying chickens.

Today, together with his wife, his children and his parents, they run the Bough Family farms.

The back of the newsletter, Vital Times continues connecting by showing the ‘Bird of the Month’, Vibrant Vivian along with their Mission Statement, a chicken cartoon and some fun chicken facts.

On the side of the egg carton, was a link to the Vital Farms website where you could access a 365 view of one of their featured farms and the happy chickens who live there.

Wow, talk about communicating their why!

For me, their why connected on a few levels.

First, I believe in their core belief of humanely raised chickens.

Two, I was inspired by the story of 3 generations of a family working together on the Bough Family Farm happily raising chickens.

Three, I believe in the opportunity that Vital Farms is giving to small farms to compete and get their organic, humanly raised eggs to market where they compete against much larger less purposeful eggs.

You also know what?

The next week when I went to the store, I purchased another dozen Vital Farms eggs, no longer on sale, and I didn’t even look at the price!

Now this may be an extreme example of communicating their why, but eggs are an extreme commodity. Just think how many brands of eggs can you name off the top of your head?  I can only think of one, it is Vital Farms.

Can you see the power of clearly communicating your why?

One More Story

I have one more story that I want to share. This story is from the end of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why book.

The story talks about a cross country race with a young man named Ben Comen at a Hanna High School cross country race. Ben was living with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a horrible infliction often caused by complications at birth where there is no cure and the affects last a lifetime. Those with cerebral palsy are significantly affected with a lack of balance and motor skills that include tightening of muscles and joints. In addition, people with cerebral palsy often have an unsteady gait and their knees knock and their feet drag.

However, even with cerebral palsy, Ben was determined to compete running in 5K, high school, cross country races. At the beginning of each race, as the other runners sped off, Ben is left far in the back of the pack struggling to run while occasionally stumbling and falling.

While other runners finish in under 20 minutes or at least close to it, Ben’s finish time is typically around 45 minutes.

He will finish his races bloody and bruised from falling, but continues to press on determined to finish each race. He is not competing against any other runner, instead he competes against himself and his ability to finish the race.

At every race he runs, a funny thing happens though. After they finish, most runners circle back to course to run behind Ben. Throughout the rest of the race, Ben is the only runner that when he falls someone will be there to help him up. When he eventually finishes the race, he also will be the only runner with hundreds of people behind him, cheering for him.

This demonstrates a key point not solely with Ben, but about the good of human nature.

When you compete against others, no one wants to help you. However, when you compete against yourself (like Ben), everyone wants to help you.

Final Word

Communicating your why becomes even more important when you are selling a commodity.

If a seller can connect with buyers on why they are selling, their level of trust shoots through the roof and price largely becomes irrelevant.

Of course, you still need to be selling quality products to be successful. And although your products don’t have to be the absolute best, they do have to be good and fulfill a purpose.

From my earlier story, I’m not saying that I would have ever gone back and bought more Vital Farms Eggs if the first dozen were all rotten.

However, if the quality is similar to competitors then connecting on the why is a powerful and effective way to inspire loyalty that goes beyond changing the color of your add to cart buttons.

For those of you selling your products online, do you communicate your why to your customers?

And even more importantly, do you yourself and everyone in your organization know your why?

These are important and sometimes soul-searching questions that could take some time to sort through.

However, by communicating why you sell what you sell effectively and connecting with your customer base, you have an opportunity to increase your sales and conversion rates beyond limits.

For more information on the power of why, check out the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Great Is Not A Goal – Especially When It Comes to Conversion Rates

One thing you may not know about me is that I like to read. Most of the books I read are about marketing with a bit of self-improvement and motivation books thrown into the mix.

Recently, I just finished the book Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen by Steve Sims. The book is about the author’s journey from a bricklayer in England following in his family’s occupation to a club bouncer to becoming an Executive Concierge, running his Bluefishing agency.

The book is fascinating read of a man that Forbes magazine dubbed, “the modern-day Wizard of Oz”.

In his current position running his Bluefishing agency, Steve works to deliver the most elaborate dream experiences for his clients.

From becoming the lead singer for the band Journey for the night to playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods to watching the Formula 1 in Monaco with royalty, Steve has delivered some amazing experiences.

However, the number one lesson that I took away from his book is when he talks about ‘Great is Not A Goal’.

This is an interesting concept. Most people who own their own businesses, myself included, want to have a great company. Our company is something that we have created and why wouldn’t you want it to be great?

However, the point he makes in the book is that your goal can’t be to have a ‘great company’ because it is too abstract. Instead, your focus should be to make your company better tomorrow than it is today.

Now there must be hundreds or even thousands of ways you can make your company better tomorrow than it is today, but as with most things for me it circles back to eCommerce. And the #1 way to make your eCommerce company better today than it was yesterday is to improve your conversion process.

Working on improving conversion rates can be immediately rewarding because just the smallest change can make such a big difference. Increasing your average conversion rate even incrementally can be the difference between a struggling company and a successful one.

Crunching some quick numbers, a company with a 2% conversion rate that is doing $2,000 could be doing $3,000 a day if they had a 3% conversion rate.

Therefore, without adding any new traffic, it is possible to add substantial growth to your company all by working to improve conversion.

So how do we improve conversion?

We test and we measure!

Testing and measuring the results allows us to optimize for the best possible result.

You probably are saying yes, I know to test, but what should I test and how?

For eCommerce stores, there are two types of testing:

  1. Testing the sources that bring you traffic.
  2. Testing elements on your website to improve conversion rates.

Testing Vehicles That Bring You Traffic

Typically, websites have many sources from where potential customers can discover their products or services. Common traffic sources include organic traffic (free placements on Google), paid traffic (Google Ads, Bing MSN ads), social paid ads (Facebook), referrals (traffic from other websites), email (traffic from emails you send) and direct traffic (customers who type in your URL).

Although your traffic arrives from multiple sources, some are sources difficult to test.

Traffic generated from organic traffic, for example, is difficult to test. Managing your title tags and meta description can’t quickly be changed to test what percentage of potential clients are clicking on a change to the listing or how changes will affect (at least quickly) in what order your listings will appear for a specific keyword search.

I’m not saying that your organic positioning cannot be improved. In fact, there are thousands of companies who provide SEO services that will be very willing to help you do just that. In fact, I think SEO Services currently may be the number one export from India.

Likewise, direct traffic cannot be tested. Users and typically return users, either will type in your URL to visit your site or they won’t.

Referral traffic also cannot be tested. It is great to have websites refer traffic to you and it is a great source of traffic indeed. A referral from a trusted source such as a partner, directory, or others commonly brings quality traffic as they act as an affirmation source to their traffic by linking to your site.

Since we cannot test organic traffic, direct traffic or referral traffic that leaves us to test paid traffic and email traffic.

Testing Paid Traffic

For my private clients, one of the most profitable traffic sources I use continues to be Google Ads.

Google allows multiple ways to test. For search campaigns (the text ads that appear when you go to Google.com), advertisers can test multiple ads simultaneously. Google will even serve the ad more often with the higher CTR (click through rate).

In addition, you can also run a Google Experiment to test different elements of your campaign for Search campaigns. If you are looking for more information on this type of testing, I wrote an entire blog post on the subject – Using Google Drafts & Experiments Doesn’t Mean You Are A Mad Scientist.

I won’t go into full detail here, but Google experiments are a great way to test different elements of a campaign such as bid strategy using the same time frame for your test.

Google Shopping ads prove more difficult to test at least in that side-by-side format. I usually test in different ways such as changing the structure of the product title in some items or test the effectiveness of using different promotions.

Just remember, even in Google Shopping, where it is more difficult to test you want to always be striving to improve.

Then, there are Facebook ads.

Facebook was designed for advertisers to be able to test and it can be a whole lot of fun.

Advertisers can not only test their copy (aka their ads), but also segment their audience (who sees their ads) by interest and demographics. In addition, you can tag customers who have interacted with your ads and focus on serving ads to those who have previously shown interest.

When it comes to testing your copy with Facebook, it is not just the words in the ad that can be tested. From static images, to videos to static images made into video Facebook, allows for a variety of ad formats all for basically the same price.

Therefore, to be successful with Facebook ads, it is an absolute must to test in this platform.

Testing Your Emails

Regardless of which ESP (email service provider) that you use, you will have the ability to test. I have never worked with an ESP that doesn’t have the ability to test at least the subject line of your emails.

As long as you have a large enough list and are sending emails regularly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be testing trying different headlines with each email send.

When you are constantly testing headlines, you will quickly discover which type of headlines and which words will provide higher open rates.

And with email, it is all about open rates. The more customers who open your email the more likely it is that your email will successfully generate sales.

Also, don’t forget to keep a log of what subject lines you have tried. Afterall, what gets measured gets improved.

Keeping a log of different subject lines will help you determine which subject lines provide the highest open rates and allow you to continue to use those type of subject lines in the future.

In addition, to subject lines, you can test email layout. Play around, by that I mean test different layout, to see which layout generates the highest clickthrough rates.

Because after they open your email, the next thing you want to improve is how many people click on links inside your email.

Whether you are using a starter program such as Mail Chimp or you use a premium service, testing and consistency to your email sends are the keys to improving your email results.

Testing Elements of Your Website

When you first build your website, you likely put a ton of effort into planning the design? Hopefully, the number one goal of that design was conversion.

I say this, because having a great looking website is absolutely great, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

Having a great converting website is what we all should be striving to have!

In fact, it is what we all should be CONSTANTLY strive to have. You heard me right, CONSTANTLY striving to have.

This means that after your website design is complete, you are far from finished. If that sounds like work, you are right it is. However, as we discussed earlier making small differences in your conversion rates can add very large increases to your overall sales.

When helping my private clients optimize their websites for conversion, I always start with the checkout pages.

Place orders yourself putting yourself in the role of your customer. Not only the role of your customer, but the role of a customer that has never purchased from your website and does not know you.

Does your website have all the trust factors that a customer typically looks for? Are you taking the opportunity to display testimonials, stress positive aspects of your shipping (such as a free shipping threshold) in addition are you reinforcing the fact that your site is 100% secure?

Now I realize that some eCommerce platforms limit the ability to customize to optimize the checkout process. This is a shame. Website platforms like Shopify and Big Commerce in my opinion are doing a real disservice to those who use their platforms.

However, even if you lack the ability to customize the cart, you typically will have control over button colors and language to use in various fields within your checkout pages.

Review your competitors’ checkout pages and see what they are doing. Google the term ‘high converting eCommerce websites’. See what those sites are doing with their checkout pages.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to see what is working for eCommerce when you are working to increase your conversion rates.

Once you have finished working on your checkout pages. Move onto your product pages.

The most important element of your product pages is going to be no surprise, the add to cart button and what surrounds it.

A/B Testing or Multi-Variant Testing.

On average, companies spent $92 to acquire a customer, but only $1 on testing how to best convert those customers.

Look at yourself and how much you are spending to acquire a customer and then look at how much you are spending to test how to convert them.

Beyond, eyeballing it and improving your conversion based on your gut (which is better than doing nothing), there are services that you can use to discover real-time results.

By using A/B testing, you can test anything from colors and placement of your call to action buttons to images on your pages, to headlines, to elements in your navigation bar.

As long as you already have a solid amount of traffic, you are able to make data-driven changes to improve conversion rates on your website with this type of testing.

Companies such as VWO, Sitespect, Convert.com, Puffin just to name a few offer the ability to test all elements of a webpage. In addition, most of these companies offer a free trial so you can get a good feel for their interface and how they work before committing any budget.

Have you ever not been able to go to sleep because you think maybe you are leaving money on the table? Well, you might be and testing using one of these companies will be a great way to find out.

Final Word

Remember, great is not a goal. Not because great is not great, but because wanting to become great is not actionable. Instead, concentrate your efforts on becoming better than you were yesterday and you will put yourself closer to becoming great.

Regarding eCommerce, the two most important things are your traffic and if your traffic is purchasing once they reach your website.

You can have the best website in world selling the world’s best gizmos, but if no one knows about you then you won’t do well.

On the other hand, you could be driving tons of traffic to your website, but if no one buys once they get there then what is the point?

By clearly focusing on these two aspects: traffic and conversion you will be able to make those small improvements today than will lead your website into being better than it was yesterday and it might eventually become great.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Money For Nothin, Chicks For Free Just Like Google Shopping Actions

“Money For Nothing” was a smash hit from the mid-1980’s by the group Dire Straits.

As the story goes, the lyrics were inspired when a member of the music group overheard the comments from a delivery driver in the back of an appliance store as he watched a MTV music video.

The delivery driver’s comments included the classic lines from the song, “what are those, Hawaiian noises?…that ain’t workin”, and of course “money for nothing and chicks for free”.

Of course, those who know better realize the hard work needed for any performance especially a music video production.

I bring mention this song not only because it is one of my all-time favorites, but because last week Google announced that Google Shopping Actions would now be free for advertisers.

If you missed it, the announcement will affect those advertisers who have already either enrolled or have begun the enrollment process into Google Shopping Actions. For those retailers, Google Shopping Actions will now substantially reduce or even eliminate their fees.

Here was the important part of the email that many advertisers received last week:

Announcement sent from Google on 7/23/20

For those not familiar with the program, Shopping Actions are created using merchant listings inside Google Shopping. Within these listings the final payment transaction takes place through Google and Google takes a percentage of the sale rather than charging per click.

Earlier this year, I dedicated an entire article to Shopping Actions, which you can read here if interested – Google’s Shopping Actions – Changing The Landscape.

As a quick summary of that article, before last week’s change, Google would charge merchants 12% – 15% to process an order through Google Shopping. Once Google processed the payment, they would send merchants the order information through the merchant’s Google Merchant Center account.

To be eligible for Google Shopping Action, merchants would apply for the program and control their eligible product listings through Google Merchant Center.

Merchants participating using Google Shopping Actions have two options

First – you can enter their your payment processor and pay 0% commission. This will need to be done by February 21, 2021 to continue to serve ads using Google Shopping Actions.

Second, continue to use Google’s payment processor through 2/21/21 and pay a flat 5% commission.

Although good news for existing Google Shopping Action customers (either active or who have started the process); the Shopping Actions program is now closed until further notice for retailers who have not yet applied.

What is now available to all retailers is the ‘free’ clicks inside Google Shopping that Google announced in April of this year.

If you don’t know what the free clicks, check out this article – It’s Back To The Future With Google’s Free Shopping Ads.

However, the free clicks are just like that rock band getting their money for nothin’ and their chicks for free. Although, it looks quick and easy to take advantage of this free traffic, it is still going to take a work.

Free clicks and paid clicks inside of Google Shopping as well as Shopping Actions clicks are all determined by which products a merchant uploads into their Google Merchant Center account.  

The process of opening a Merchant Center account and submitting products to Google Merchant Center is where many advertisers especially those new to using Google Shopping may get confused.

It is also where I can help. I have dedicated the first section of my new book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, to properly configuring Google Shopping. Right now, you can immediately download the book for $5.96 and make sure you get started with the proper foundation.

In addition, I have recently created a new Facebook Group, Make Each Click Count Facebook Group. It is FREE to join and will give you immediate access to myself where I can answer any questions regarding the setup of your merchant account.

Click Here to request to join the Make Each Click Count Facebook Group.

In fact, there are some questions others have asked in there that might be useful for you to check out as well:>

Remember To Stay Safe & Keep Healthy,

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Solving Puzzles: The Rubik’s Cube & Advertising Using Google Shopping

Growing up in the 1980’s, I can still remember the fad of the Rubik’s Cube. Kids of all ages would challenge themselves and others to solve the puzzle by aligning all the colors on each the sides.

Once you were able to solve the puzzle, the next step would be to see how fast you can solve the puzzle.

Over the years, there have even been competitions on how fast people can ‘solve the cube’. Today, the world record currently is at an amazing 3.47 seconds!

There are certain steps that you need to take to solve the Rubik’s Cube and if you are interested in learning those steps, you can easily find them by searching YouTube.

All master Rubik’s cubers have one thing in common – they have a process.

I admit that personally I stink at ‘the cube’. I recall only being able to ‘solve the cube’ once and it took a couple days and it was mostly done by stumbling upon the solution.

However, for businesses that advertise using Google Shopping they may find themselves trying to solve the problem of why their sales suddenly decline or why costs suddenly skyrocket.

Now this is a puzzle that I could enter a competition in solving!

Below is a recent thread between myself and a member of the Make Each Click Count Facebook group as well as some running commentary that I have added.

If you are currently using Google Shopping, you may want to pay attention to the steps (to the process) that I take to identify the issue and then solve the problem of lower sales:

Commentary – He has been running Google Shopping ads a few months. However, the same ads which were performing well a few months back are now not performing nearly as well.

Commentary – Suggestion to fix an immediate issue (incorrectly using negative keywords) and questions to identify whether the reason for the decline. Trying to discover if the decline in performance is due to a change within the Google Ads Interface.

Commentary – It looks like nothing has changed. Immediate responses are typically to change your pricing or change your bidding or both (which commonly lower the profitability of your account). Note, that before you make immediate changes you will want to make sure you identify the problem.

Commentary – More questions and answers working to determine whether the problem is consumer based or advertiser based. If the problem is consumer based, such as less searches or if someone has the exact product at half the price, then the fixes will need to come from outside Google Shopping. However, if the problem is advertiser based, then we should be able to identify and find a solution within Google Shopping.

Commentary – We have now identified the issue (decrease in click-through rates). Now we must determine the best course of action.

Commentary – I believe the best course of action is to introduce Positive Keywords to the account. By formatting shopping ads in such a way, the advertiser can reduce negative keywords for unwanted terms that need to be added and he will be able to gain more market share for his relevant keywords. In addition, without those unwanted mostly irrelevant keywords, he will be able to identify his true CTR for converting search terms.

Commentary –This advertiser took immediate action to fix his advertising. He immediately ordered and read the chapter of my book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping that was recommended. There were just a few hours between my post directing him where to find more information on Positive Keywords and his post that he had purchased the book, read the recommended chapter and implemented the strategy. Wow that is dedication to wanting to improve his results and do it fast!

Google Shopping for many eCommerce retailers can be an incredibly successful source of profitable revenue; however, it does take work. There are many moving parts and many places where you can go astray (including blindly following Google’s recommendations).

Final Word

The above was a thread between myself and a member of the Make Each Click Count Facebook Group. This group is FREE to join and offers immediate access to myself as well as other marketing experts, many whom have made guest appearances on my Make Each Click Podcast.

In addition, my book that was reference in this thread, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, is currently available as an immediate electronic download by clicking here.

Or if you prefer the softcover edition of the physical book mailed to you, you can request to do so during checkout for a few dollars more.

Solving the puzzle to fixing issues with Google Shopping is not too complicated if you take the calculated steps to correctly identify the problem and are able to implement a proper solution.

However, that is the same thing the guy solving the Rubik’s cube in sub-five seconds says as well:>

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Focusing On Your Current Customers Is Key To Long-Term Business Success

One of the reasons my wife and I purchased our current home eight years ago was the yard and the fruit trees that had been cultivated throughout the years.

Within our yard there is a large Avocado tree, five orange trees, four lemon trees, two blood orange trees, a tangerine tree, a persimmon tree, two large groupings of pomegranate trees, grape vines, two blueberry bush, a raspberry bush and a walnut tree. It is a real-life growing fruit salad!

What we soon realized shortly after moving in was the vast number of creepy crawlers and the host of other critters that were enjoying the medley of fruit trees as much as we were.

Through the years, even though the house is in Pasadena (not exactly country living), I have seen the following creatures in our yard: racoons, opossums, squirrels, rats, bobcats, coyotes, lots of geckos, hawks, owls and I swear one time I saw what I believe was a weasel.

Seeing all the animals (except for the rats) is kind of cool. It is a regular ecosystem alive and well in the middle of the city.

However, what we also had was a full-blown spider infestation when we moved into the home.

Thousands of spiders including black and brown widows that turned our yard into a real action Halloween display.

After a few months, of living on the property, we hired a pest control company – Terminix. They came out every three months and sprayed the outside of the property, which helped control the spider population.

For their pest control service, I would be automatically charged $147 every three months. All in all, I paid $588 per year, which totaled $3,528 in the 6 years that I kept the service.

In addition, I added their mosquito protection during the last two summers, where they would service our home every two weeks for four months during the summer to spray the yard for mosquitos and mosquito larvae. This service was an additional $98 per month or $392 per year and a total of $784 over two years.

The grand total that I paid Terminix was $4,312 over 6 years. I wanted to give you these numbers so you could gain an overall understanding of just how valuable a long-term repeating customer can be to a company.

About a year ago, after a second bad experience with the new technician that was assigned to my house, I decided to cancel the service.

This is where the story and your interest in the story should really begin.

I do not know much about the pest spraying business or how it works, but I like to learn from what companies are doing when attempting to salvage a customer from leaving.

The lessons and techniques that a company often will implement when it comes to customer retention are often useful as they may lend themselves to other companies regardless of industry.

Terminix is one of the largest pest control companies in the world. I know because I looked it up. They have a presence in 47 states and 22 countries. Their annual revenue as reported back in 2015 was a hefty $1.45 Billion.

Given that, I figured they would have a good customer retention/win back procedure in place.

I figured wrong.

When I called to cancel, the phone representative asked me why I wanted to cancel. I told her that I was not happy with the service provided by the new technician.

To which she responded, “you would be surprised, we actually have had a few complaints recently about his service. I’m sorry you weren’t happy, and I’ll cancel your service right away”.

That was it. My service was cancelled and just like that a customer who had paid them almost $5K and had been engaged in an ongoing service agreement over the last six years was lost.

I did start receiving post cards about once every two months, but the postcards were generic and did not address my issue; the issue why I cancelled.

Also, interesting was that each of the subsequent post cards focused on Terminix’s more expensive service (the mosquito service) and not the original service, which is where my backyard spider problem is again surfacing.

Most companies, especially eCommerce ones, do not have the luxury of having their customers call and tell them why they are going to no longer use their service.

Before we even discuss a win back campaign or ideas of how to salvage a customer relationship once it is broken or at least fractured, it is important to discover how the relationship became damaged.

In the past few weeks, within both my podcast and my blog, I discuss the mother of gold rule. The mother of gold rule is – Are you treating your customers with each interaction the same as you would if the order were placed by your mother?

This rule is valid in creating goodwill in your customer relationships that is vital to both eCommerce as well as Professional Service companies.

However, beyond offering great service with each interaction, there are other additional measures that you can take.

And why should focus on the extra effort to keep your customers happy?

Here are a few reasons:

First, keeping your customers as customers is going to be significantly less expensive that acquiring new customers.

Think about how much it costs to acquire a new customer. Regardless of your business this is typically going to be most of the advertising costs. Now think about how much you are spending on keeping your customers happy.

Second, a happy customer often will refer you other customers similar to themselves. An extremely happy customer is likely even to become an ongoing ambassador for your business.

Third, an unhappy customer will sour others on your business and is much more likely to speak of your company in a negative light to others regarding your company than a happy customer is to refer.

In fact, it has been shown that an unhappy customer is 7x more likely to tell someone about their experience than a happy customer.

Case in point. Over the six years of doing business with Terminix, I referred about six people or about one per year. However, look how many people I am now telling about my unhappiness with Terminix:>

Okay. Maybe an extreme example, but I think you get the point!

Providing your long-standing customers with benefits such as a VIP Program with exclusive privileges, rewarding frequent customer purchases or simply learning more about your customer and their needs and working to solve their problems will go a long way to increase your customer retention and increase your long-term profitability.

You must consistently reinforce to your customers that you are the best choice to continue to do business with compared to both your competitors’ options and the option of doing nothing.

Once you dedicate yourself to the great service you provide your customers and effectively use your resources to continually remind them of the benefits of business with you, your customer retention will undoubtedly increase.

However, let us assume that you have done everything you can to keep your customer relationship healthy and a customer still decides to take their business elsewhere. No matter what you may do, this is sure to happen from time to time and if this happens you need to be ready!

The most important thing you can do is to try to determine why your customer no longer wants to be a customer. If you can do this, your customer retention issue will get a whole lot easier.

Once you know why they know longer are going to be a customer, such as the Terminix where I flat out told them, it is important to have a procedure in place.

Once you know the issue you can follow these steps in action plan for retaining a customer:

  1. Address the problem and then fix the problem.
  2. Do not let a customer leave without providing an offer to have them stay. Discount on service, discount on products, an unadvertised bonus, etc. You will need to test the effectiveness of offers, but make sure you have an offer ready.
  3. Make it easy for a customer to return. Once someone has done business with you and you have addressed their problem of why they no longer are doing business with you, then winning them back will be much easier than attaining a new customer. Focus your marketing on their problems as well as the reasons that fractured the relationship.

Terminix continues to market to me, but for their addon expensive Mosquito service and not the original pest control service.

If they would market to my original and currently persisting spider problem with perhaps a bit of incentive to return or market to me with how they have changed policies with their technicians, they would have a good chance of gaining back a customer.

That is why it is important to know why your customers left, what current needs they have and remind them how you can solve their unique problems.

This is just as true for eCommerce companies as it is for Professional Service companies. If you have a customer who made multiple purchases in the past, do what you can to discover why they are no longer are a customer; fix the issue and make them an offer to return.

The process of customer win-back is going to be much more cost effective than focusing purely on new client acquisition and in the long-run this strategy will work to ensure your growth and sustainability.

Final Word

The cliché that the customer is the lifeblood of your company has been often said, however, many times it is either forgotten, misinterpreted, or simply ignored.

What I believe to be a more useful saying is that focusing on current customers is the key to long-term business success.

I think this statement defines the importance of serving your customers with the goal of them becoming repeat customers. For a growing and profitable company can only become so if they do not have to continually spend on acquisition but can depend on a reliable base of customers continuing to purchase.

In order to create this loyal base of customers, it is important to treat them well (mother of gold rule) as well as reward them for their purchases and continually remind them of the benefits of doing business with you.

And if a customer no longer wants to do business with you, find out why and take action to correct the issue. By correcting the issues that are making customers leave, you can perhaps save customers while ensuring other customers are not bound to leave for the same reasons.

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Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.