Kissing Goodbye To The Broad Match Modifier

Let us start with the basics of how Google Search ads work and then we will discuss the recent change and its importance.

When advertising using paid Google Search Ads, advertisers must enter a list of keywords that they wish to trigger their Search ads.

These Search ads, when clicked, will redirect users to the advertiser’s website. Ideally a page on the website that is related to the product or service that the user was searching for on Google.

Plain and simple.

Now these keywords that are used to trigger ads from appearing start to get a bit more confusing, although not really when you understand how they work.

There are (or at least were) four ‘types’ of keywords allowed that determine when paid ads are eligible to appear.

These keyword types are Exact, Phrase, Broad and Broad Match Modifier. Note, there is also negative keywords, but negative keywords are their own complete subject.

For now, we will look at these 4 match types, what they are and the change to the Broad Match Modifier.

Broad Match Keywords – Allows user searches (or close variants) that match a keyword or keywords related to your broad match keyword to trigger an ad to appear. This keyword type is used to maximize reach.

How to implement this match type: This is the most basic search type is also Google’s default. No punctuation needed to distinguish Broad Match type within the Google Search Ads console. Just enter the keyword and it is automatically a Broad Match Keyword type.

Example: For a broad match type, ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ will trigger your ad for search Lawn Mowing Services; however, it will also allow your ads to be eligible to appear for the simple search query Mowing Services (without the word Lawn) or even a more broad, yet related search such as ‘Lawn Aeration Price’. When using broad match there are going to be many more advertisers and how often ads appear will be reliant on your bid as well as your quality score. Note, that just because you are eligible, doesn’t mean your ads will always appear.

Phrase Match Keywords – Allows user searches (or close variants) that match a keyword phrase in the order of the phrase to trigger an ad. This keyword type is used as a balance between reach and precision.

How to implement this match type: Phrase match is used by adding quotes “ “ around the keyword phrase an advertiser would like to advertise.

Example: For the phrase match ‘Lawn Mowing Services’, only searches containing ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ or a close variant will trigger an ad to appear. ‘‘Lawn Mowing Services’ will trigger an ad as well as ‘Lawn Mowing Services Near Me’ and ‘Hiring a Lawn Mowing Service. Previously, a search for ‘Lawn Mowing and Leaf Blowing Services’ would NOT trigger an add to appear since the words Mowing and Services are separated by the word Leaf Blowing in the search. This is what is changing.

Exact Match Keywords – Allows only user searches (or close variants) that exactly match the keyword to trigger an ad. This keyword type is used for precision.

How to implement this match type: Exact match is used by adding brackets [  ] around the keyword an advertiser would like to advertise.

Example: For the exact match [Lawn Mowing Services], only a search for ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ or a close variant such as ‘Lawn Mowing Service’ will trigger an ad to be eligible to appear.

Broad Match Modifier Keywords – This match type is a hybrid between phrase and broad match. It allows keyword to trigger ads regardless of the order they appear in the user search, however, all words must be used within the search query. In addition, Broad Match Modifier keywords will trigger ads to appear only when the keywords match the ‘meaning’ of the search’. This keyword type is also used as a balance between reach and precision.

How to implement this match type: Broad match modifier is used by add a plus symbol + before each word or words.

Example: For the Broad Match Modifier Keyword +Lawn +Mowing +Services, both the search for ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ as well as the search for ‘Lawn Mowing and Leaf Blowing Services’ would trigger an ad to appear. Having the words in the broad match modifier interrupted does not matter as it previously did with the Phrase Match keyword.

What Is Changing and How It Works

Starting in February 2021, Google announced that phrase match keywords will start to incorporate the behaviors of the broad match modifier keywords.

No longer will phrase match keywords not trigger ads to appear based on the word order as long as all keywords are present. In addition, Google will begin to incorporate meaning into the searches.

One point that sometimes confuses those is what is meant by Google matching the meaning of the search with an advertiser’s keyword specially the Broad Match Modifier keyword type and soon to be Phrase Match keyword type.

To best exemplify this event, I’m using an example provided by Google when they announced the recent change.

For the broad match modifier +Moving +Services +NYC +To +Boston

An ad would be eligible to appear for ‘affordable moving services NYC to Boson’, but it would also appear for ‘affordable moving services Boston to NYC’ since word order does not matter in with broad match modifier.

The updated phrase match will not include the reverse direction where the search has a different completely meaning but will not include searches regardless of word order.

Still confused?

Below is a chart that demonstrates the change.

As you can see from the chart, the new updated phrase match will cover almost all of the searches previously covered by broad match modifier with the exception of now it can interpret meaning!

When Is It Changing?

The change went into effect February 2021. Starting in July of 2021, you will no longer be able to even create BMM keyword types.

Fortunately, you won’t need to make any changes to your account. You can still leave all of your broad match modifier keywords if you have them and they will start to also work interpreting the meaning.

However, going forward (starting at least in July), you will need to enter keyword types as phrase that you would have before added as broad match modifier.

Note, this change will not impact negative keywords in how they work.

Final Word

As a disclaimer, for most of my private clients I exclusively used a combination of exact and broad match modifier keywords match types. I found this combination worked well to provide relevant keyword traffic.

Google changes frequently their algorithm and their interfaces. Mostly minor changes, sometimes major changes; however regardless of the change it always seems to make those using Google ads cringe at the thought.

This change although a bit complicated to grasps seems to make the keyword system more efficient and will be easier to manage moving forward.

No longer do you need to distinguish between exact, phrase and broad match modifier. Now you will just need to use exact and phrase and I guess broad if you don’t care about driving relevant traffic (see examples above)!

Only time will tell, but my thought is this will be a positive change in driving relevant traffic.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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 for small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus 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 see what makes us special and 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.

Google Ad Credits Have Finally Found U.S. Advertisers

Have you ever found money?

Last week, I found 20 dollars in the pocket of my favorite pants. Obviously, it was already mine, but then again, I didn’t know I had the money, so it was indeed found.

The funny thing with found money is that what you do with it is highly reliant on where you find it and how much it is.

If you find money outside your bank, you may deposit and save it. If you find money outside your favorite department store, you may spend it. However, generally you are more free thinking with found money because after all it is money you previously did not have and are much more likely to do something with it quickly.

Last week, many advertisers found money in their Google Ads account as Google starting depositing ad credits to advertisers throughout the USA.

If you are an advertiser that spent money with Google Ads in ten of the twelve months in 2019 and in January and/or February of 2020, you most likely received your ad credit from Google last week.

Most of my private clients, received either $300 or $750 in Google ads credit, so it was a good chunk of found money.

If you are an advertiser that did not see a notice about receiving an ad credit, you can easily check in your Google account if you received a credit by logging into your account and navigating to the transaction settings under tools & settings and looking at ‘Adjustments’.

If you are currently advertising, there is nothing you will need to do. The ad credits will automatically start being applied to your ad spend as the image above shows.

If you are not currently advertising, the ad credits will stay within your Google Ad account until the end of the year (12/31/20).

So Why Now?

Google announced its plans for ad credits back in late March, vowing to provide ad credits starting sometime in May.

So why the timing of now (in late June) opposed to April or even May as originally promised?

I believe that reason is two-fold:

  1. If Google issued the credits in April or May, many advertisers wouldn’t have seen the full benefit of the credits as conversion rates were universally lower. However, conversion rates are increasing across industries and advertisers will most likely get more benefit from the credits now than they would have a month or two ago.
  2. Average Google clicks are currently substantially less (some clients up to 50% less) because not as many advertisers are currently using Google Ads. Many advertisers paused advertising in late March or April this year. By giving the credits now, Google is hoping to gain interest in having those advertisers who have paused their advertising return and start spending money advertising with Google even after they have used their credit. (At least that is why my inner cynic thinks!)

If you are interested to learn more about how Google Ads are currently cheaper and why many advertisers are currently finding increased profitability using Google Ads, check out last week’s podcast episode:

Resuming Paid Advertising In A Post COVID World

In the meantime, know that you have until the end of the year to spend your Google ad credits.

Also know that if you haven’t yet done so, now may be the time to reactivate your Google Ads as average pay per click costs are currently reduced due to a decrease number of current advertisers.

If you wait until later in the year, you most likely will not be able to attain the same number of clicks from the Google ad credits as you can now simply because of the current decrease in the number of Google advertisers who have yet to restart ads since COVID.

Remember to stay safe and stay focused.

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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count book series.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

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.


Wrangling Up Your Customer Lifetime Value

In paid advertising when evaluating the success of your campaigns, you typically look at key metrics such as ROAS (return on ad spend) or ROI (return on investment). These metrics are both important when calculating the success of your paid advertising although they do not provide advertisers with the full picture in terms of profitability.

There is another important advertising metric that is often overlooked, yet important to calculate when evaluating the profitability of your paid advertising. It is the CLTV or Customer Lifetime Value.

The Customer Lifetime Value is calculated when you multiply your average order value by the average times a customer purchases from your website.

Example, if your average order value is $100 and on average customers will make two purchases over time from your website, your CLTV is $200 (100 x 2).

Although it is important to calculate your CLTV when evaluating the profitability of your paid advertising, increasing this metric has very little to do with actual paid advertising.

A simple formula that dictates to increase your CLTV, you must either increase your average order value or increase the average number of times a customer will purchase.

There are ways to increase both of course. To increase your average order value for example, you may look at anything from adjusting prices to bundling products to increase order size.

Similarly, to increase the average number of times a customer will purchase there are ways in increase the average such as staying in touch after the initial purchase through email or social media.

However, for follow up campaigns to be effective something must happen first whether you are an ecommerce or a professional service business, the customer must be happy with the initial deliverability.

To illustrate my point, I am going to share two stories one of a professional service (a recent visit to a dude ranch) and one of an ecommerce order that I recently placed for some fancy lightbulbs.  

A Recent Stay At A Dude Ranch

Last weekend, to celebrate the end of school our family decided to take a weekend vacation. Inspired by the movie City Slickers, I did a Google search for ‘dude ranch’ about a week before our desired trip.

As most do, I clicked on the first paid ad that appeared on Google which happened to be for a dude ranch outside of Santa Barbara (about 100 miles away).

After reviewing their website, reading reviews (paying particularly close attention to the negative reviews) and confirming availability we made the reservation.

This process highlights many key elements in producing good conversion rates using paid ads:

  1. The keyword they were advertising was relevant.
  2. Their bid was high enough to put them in the top space in Google Ads (high ad rank).
  3. Their ad was well-written earning the click.
  4. Their website was easy to navigate showing off their services and facilities.
  5. They had a good number of reviews with the 5-star outnumbering the 1-star by a ratio of approximately 10 to 1.

Add it all up and they earned the conversion of a weekend booking. With a conversion value in my case of around $1,200, I would imagine that their Return on Ad Spend and their Return on Investment must be particularly good.

However, as we discussed earlier these metrics are just the beginning and not the end. In order to see the entire picture, a business owner must calculate their CLTV.

For this stay, the hotel CLTV would be determined by increasing the order value (how much additional money do guest spend during their visit) and increasing the average number of times guest will return for future stays organically without doing a Google search.

At the hotel, the horse riding was separate so little opportunity for the hotel to increase their average value and all the meals were included with the stay, so again little opportunity there. In fact, the only things that I could see to increase the average order value were the bar and the vending machine.

Now, there are creative ways such as partnering with other experiences in the area other than the horse riding that may be able to increase value, but overall, there was little for the hotel to work with.

For this hotel then, the CLTV would be highly reliant on increasing their profitability by the increasing the average number of return purchases aka the average times that guest are going to return in the future.

The hotel was owner operated and they were friendly, in addition the hotel included nice accommodations. When not riding horses, there was a small, but nicely maintained swimming pool and a game room that the kids enjoyed.

However, there also were a few things that downgraded the experience. The included offenders included that the meals were not as quality as advertised; the dining room was setup using cheap folding tables and matching cheap plastic folding chairs; the mattresses and bedding was very old with springs poking through and both the eating area and cabins had ants and spiders roaming freely.

Now I realize this was a rustic experience and would have been fine at 2-star prices, but when you are charging 5-star prices your customers expect 5-star service and 5-star accommodations. With just a few changes, a 5-star experience could have been fairly easily achieved as most of the groundwork was already in place.

The stable on the other hand (which was not connected) went out of the way to provide a great experience.

My wife and son went on an hour and a half horseback ride. Distraught that she was not old enough to go on a ride, my 5-year-old daughter was overjoyed when the manager of the horse stable put her on a horse and walked her around the paddock for 10 minutes.

The bottom line was that as we drove home, I asked my wife if she would like to stay at the dude ranch again. Her answer was this, next time we should stay at a different hotel in Santa Barbara and come up and ride the horses at the stable. OUCH!

I would think that this answer is a common one and is definitely dragging down the CLTV of the dude ranch. With some easy fixes and taking into account what their customers want, this hotel would most likely see their CLTV and profit levels skyrocket.

Some Fancy Lightbulbs

When my office was constructed a few years back, the contractor had ordered these big round decorative lightbulbs as a finishing touch. As with all lightbulbs, one day it blew out and I had to search for another.

Like with the dude ranch, I again did a Google search. This time it was a search for the model number of the lightbulb. Through Google Shopping, I found 3 stores that carried the specific lightbulb that I needed all at the same price.

I clicked the Shopping ad from the first retailer (showing the importance of ad rank) and placed my order.

During the checkout process, I was offered a 4-pack of standard lightbulbs for $4.99 with no increased shipping. This sounded like a good deal as typically a 4-pack in the store is closer to $10. I therefore added the lightbulb back to my order thus increases my order value (which is as you remember one of the ways to increase the CLTV as well as a way to increase the ROAS and ROI).

My order took about 2 weeks to arrive, which in this day and age is a bit excessive for shipping time, but I had 5 other lightbulbs that were working in my office so I did not mind too much.

When I received my order, it was in a plain brown box and within the box nicely packed were my lightbulbs that I ordered.

What was not in the box was anything else. No catalog, no offer for more products, no card thanking me for the order, no offer for a discount for a future order, nothing but the order.

In fact, they did not even include a receipt or invoice for the order. The only way for me to see who the merchant was with whom I placed the order with was to look at my email or my credit card statement.

This company again had a great paid shopping ad campaign and great website and did a good job getting me to increase my order value. However, they missed a big opportunity to better connect during their most important piece of the initial experience, the deliverability.

In the restaurant business, it is a proven fact that if someone dines with you there is a 25% chance they will return. If they dine with you a 2nd time, there is a 30% chance they will return. If they dine with you a 3rd time, there is a 90% chance they will return!

I’m not sure of the exact numbers for ecommerce, but in my experience it is something very similar.

And if you know that the percentage of likelihood for repeat busines goes up drastically with each purchase, shouldn’t you do everything in your power to try to get that 2nd or 3rd order?

They paid for the initial conversion when I made the purchase. However, remember the CLTV is determined by the average number of times a customer purchases in their lifetime.

I’m going to need more fancy lightbulbs in the future, it is just a matter of time (although I did buy 2). However, when I need those fancy lightbulbs, I’m going to do another Google search for the model number. Even now a week after my initial order, I do not know that name of the merchant whom with I placed my order.

If I knew the merchant’s name, I would very likely go directly to their website because I know they have the light bulbs that I need. Now, I may very well end up with one of their competitors simply because when I place the order I’m not sure who fulfilled the first order and to be frank don’t really care.

This fact is where this merchant could do better and could find an opportunity to increase their CLTV and thus their overall profitability.

Final Word

As a business owner your business is increasing your profitability and a sure-fire way to do this is by increasing your customer lifetime value (CLTV).

Remember, to increase your CLTV you need to increase either the average order value or increase the average number of times that a customer will purchase from you.

Here are two rules to consider when providing a deliverable:

  1. Deliver your goods or service as if it was your mother who ordered it.
  2. Do everything in your power to make it easy for a customer to order with you again.

For both the dude ranch and the fancy lightbulb retailer they both missed an opportunity to increase their CLTV through their deliverable as they did not follow those two rules.

Take a few minutes, write down those rules where you can see them and take a look at your own deliverables. Are you following those rules or would your mother not place a 2nd order:>

Remember to stay safe and stay 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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count book series.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

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, 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’s Automated Bidding Strategies

Since the 1980’s, the concept of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ has been debated on its merits of either advancing society or being the eventual end of mankind.

I’m not willing or ready to join that debate nor is this the proper forum to do so, but what I will discuss is Google’s semi-new automated bidding strategies.

For those Google advertisers with the time and the knowledge to properly segment and optimize their Google Ads campaigns, typically you will generate better results and gain important insights not available when you manually segment, optimize and actively manage your campaigns.

However, like anything, you won’t know for sure if optimizing campaigns manually is more effective than Google’s automated bidding strategies if you don’t test. I recommend and I am always testing different bidding strategies for my private clients and I suggest that you do the same.

I’m not proposing that you test your entire account, but a subset of your account that may not be performing well or at least is not your most essential account during your busiest time of year make excellent candidates for testing:>

A quick note when testing is that you will want to understand the bidding strategies before running any test so pay attention to the rest of this article and discover which strategy may be the right fit for you and your advertising goals.

And for those of you who lack the time or knowledge to properly optimize your campaigns (if you are reading this article) know that using a Google automated bidding strategy is going to far outperform doing nothing, so know your options.

Automated Bidding Strategies – What They Are

In general, the purpose of Google’s automated bidding strategies is to automatically set bid values in order to maximize the likelihood that a click on your ad will result in a conversion.

In order to calculate the likelihood of conversion, Google uses past historical data including search terms, click through rates, device, operating system, time of day, etc. to either increase or decrease bids in real-time based on the selected bidding strategy.

For automated bid strategies to be effective, advertisers will first need to ensure that they have properly configured their conversion tracking and then that they have established conversion history and know their campaign goals.

Automatic bid strategies can be changed easily through the settings link at either the campaign, ad group or keyword level depending on the strategy.

By using automated bidding strategies, advertisers are addressing two problems that can be commonly found within manually optimized campaigns.

  1. Ensuring that bids are set high enough to compete with other qualified advertisers.
  2. Ensuring that bids are not set too high which can result in ads being shown on too loosely relevant of user queries where there is little likelihood of purchase.

Note, we are discussing the automated bidding strategies, which are not to be confused with Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns.

For information on Google Smart Shopping Campaigns, see my article – New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize.

Types of Automated Bidding Strategies

Google offers six different automated bidding strategies – Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Clicks, Maximize Conversions, Maximize Conversion Value and Target Impressions Share.

All six of these campaigns are available for use in Search campaigns, while only two automated bid strategies are currently available for Shopping campaigns – Target ROAS and Maximize Clicks.

My feeling is that soon all the automated bid strategies will become available in Shopping campaigns. Therefore, even if your Google Ads account is predominantly Shopping campaigns it is advisable to know the difference between the automated bidding strategies and to even test how they work and their effectiveness within your Search campaigns.

TARGET CPA

The lingo – CPA – Stands for Cost per Acquisition. In other words, what is the average amount it costs you to generate a sale.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected cost per acquisition goal.

Where it is available – campaign and ad group levels.

When to use – This strategy works best when you already have an established CPA with over 30 conversions in the last 30 days. You can use this strategy to either lower your CPA or to maximize conversions by setting the Target CPA slightly higher than your last 30-day average. Note, this strategy will remove any location/device bid adjustments that are currently active.

TARGET ROAS

The lingo – ROAS – Stands for Return on Ad Spend. To calculate ROAS divide gross revenue by ad spend.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected ROAS goal.

Where it is available – campaign, ad group and keywords levels. (Shopping & Search Campaigns).

When to use – This strategy works best when you already have an established ROAS with over 50 conversions in the last 30 days. In addition, this strategy makes sense only when conversions have different conversion values.

MAXIMIZE CLICKS

The lingo – A click is calculated each time a user clicks on your ad and is directed to your website.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many visitors as possible to your website within your set budget.

Where it is available – campaign, ad group & keyword levels. (Shopping & Search Campaigns).

When to use – You have a historical high conversion rate and you would like as many visitors as possible sent to your website.

MAXIMIZE CONVERSIONS

The lingo – A conversion is what the advertiser defines as their end goal. For eCommerce retailers this is typically a product purchase. For others, a conversion could be as simple as joining a mailing list.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably large budget and wish to generate as many conversions as possible.

MAXIMIZE CONVERSION VALUE

The lingo – The conversion value is the total value of all conversions.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to gain the maximum conversion value within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably large budget with conversions of drastically different conversion values.

TARGET IMPRESSION SHARE

The lingo – Target impression share is the percentage of time your ads appear at the top of the page.

The strategy – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to generate ad placement at the top of the page as often as possible within the set budget.

Where it is available – campaign level.

When to use – You have a reasonably well performing conversion rates with a reasonably large budget but are struggling with how often your ads appear at the top of the page.

Final Word

You probably have heard the phrase ‘All Roads Lead to Rome’?

This is true when optimizing your Google campaigns, as there are many ways to achieve your goal of conversions. However, although there are many ways to achieve conversions some will perform better than others.

By better, does that mean lowering your cost-per-acquisition or increasing the number of conversions?

The key metrics that matter are going to depend on your goals as an advertiser and how you wish to best utilize Google in your advertising.

However, whether manually optimizing or using one of Google’s automated strategies it will require testing to discover which strategy performs the best based on your advertising goals.

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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author 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 Ads Editor – The Difference Between Mastering & Being Simply Proficient

How do you determine the difference between a master and simply being proficient when it comes to managing Google ads?

For me, what constitutes a real master regardless of subject are these three things: knowledge; efficiency and quantity output.

Sound, right?

Although a proficient user can have all the knowledge on Google ads regarding how it all works and the most effective methods to optimize an account without using the Google Editor, these users will never be able to match the efficiency and quantity output of someone who relies on the Google Editor for making significant account changes.

What Is The Google Ads Editor?

Google Ads Editor is a free downloadable application for managing your Google Ads account. Once installed you can download your account or accounts and make changes to the account within the Google Ads Editor. The changes that you make within the Google Editor are stored ‘offline’ until you ‘Post’ the changes at which time they are uploaded back into your Google Ads account where they are immediately implemented live.

The Google Ads Editor has been designed to be easy to understand and will work even when you are not connected to the Internet.

A powerful resource for those wanting to improve their efficiency managing Google Ads, the Google Editor allows advertisers to quickly make changes in a fraction of this time it takes compared to making the same changes using the Google Ads interface.

Given the capabilities of using the Google Ads Editor, why is it then that more advertisers do not incorporate doing their work within the Editor?

My thought is that those advertisers that are not using the Google Ads Editor simply do not understand its capability or how using the Google Ads Editor will make managing their Google campaigns a whole lot more proficient.

In order to remedy this lack of understanding, I have listed the top time saving tasks that can be performed using the Google Ads Editor. There are many other ways to incorporate the Ads Editor into your optimizing of Google ads, but these should be enough to show you some of what can be achieved.

My Top Ways To Use The Google Ads Editor

1. Copy/Cut & Paste

Although there is limited copy and paste function within the Google Ads interface, the process is cumbersome and slow to perform. For example if you want to copy a search ad between ad groups, you must go to the ad (click copy under the more button); navigate to the ad group you wish to copy; go to the ‘Ads & extensions’ section of the ad group; click the more button and paste the ad.

If you are very quick, this process can be done in about 1-2 minutes.

If you want to copy an ad in the Ads Editor, you left click the mouse (click copy), click on where you want to copy the ad, left click your mouse (click paste).

If you are slow, this process can be done in about 3-5 seconds!

Being able to copy and paste is not limited to ads or even to Search campaigns. Whether modifying your Search, Shopping or Display campaigns, the Google Ads Editor can quickly copy almost anything from one campaign to another including ads, ad extensions, product groups, keywords, settings, audiences, placements and more.

In fact, you can even copy and paste entire campaigns or move ad groups from one campaign to another!

Needless to say, the ability to copy/cut paste can be a huge time saver when you need to copy or move elements within your account.

2. Bulk Changes

The Google Ads interface is extremely limited when making changes. Advertisers are limited to changes of one at a time or if very proficient making multiple identical changes to items within the same ad group (such as keyword bidding).

The Google Editor in contrast allows advertisers to use bulk edits to quickly make changes to multiple campaigns simultaneously.

The bulk editing tool allows you to search and replace text, move items, and undo or redo changes across multiple campaigns in a fraction of the time it would take using the Google Ads interface.

3. Import/Export

If you or someone on your team is more comfortable working making changes in excel rather than in the Google Editor, no problem. The Google Editor allows you to export data, make changes within excel and then reupload changes into the editor.

Once you reupload the changes, you can review all changes before approving them and sending them live to your Ads account.

Whether using excel or the Google Editor to make changes, one thing is for certain – both are a whole lot faster than making changes directly within the Google Ads interface.

4. Find & Replace Text

Using the find and replace text is geared toward working with Search campaigns. This feature allows an advertiser to quickly change text throughout ads.

During the holidays, I found the find and replace tool particularly useful when working on private client accounts, as I would change promotions and details fairly regularly.

Example, you want to change a sale from the 40% you were running during Black Friday to 20% for the rest of the holidays.

If you are using the Google Ads interface, you will need to navigate to each ad and manually make the change at either the ad group or campaign level. Depending on how many ads you are running within how many different campaigns or ad groups this type of change could take between minutes and hours.

If you are using the Google Ads Editor, you simply use the Find & Replace tool and the process takes a minute or two regardless of how many ads you are changing!

5. The Ability To Work Offline

With the Google Ads interface in order to be able to make changes you need to be connected to the Internet.

With the Google Ads Editor this is not the case.

And although typically most of us are not spending our days flying through the country on private jets without internet, occasionally this feature does come in useful. You never know when you may be unable to connect to the Internet, but still have changes to make to your Google Ads.

A few weeks back, due to some winds here is Southern California, my Internet was out of commission most of the day and during the holiday season. If I did all my optimizing exclusively in the Google Ads interface, I would have been dead in the water.

However, since I work so much in the Google Ads Editor, I was able to work in my private client accounts that had data downloaded, make changes and then upload them into their Google Ads accounts when the Internet was restored.

Final Word

Just because you have always done something a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most efficient way of doing it.

I, myself, get into this trap of when I have been doing something for so long and it is working that it is difficult to evolve even if there is a better way.

I was recently at a marketing event and I was speaking to an individual that coincidentally also ran a Search Engine Marketing company managing private clients. When we spoke about the subject of maximizing time and using the Google Ads Editor he said, ‘I don’t need the Editor I do just fine making my changes directly within the Google Ads interface’.

All though you can work exclusively inside the Google Ads interface (as many advertisers do), using the Google Editor is going to make you a whole lot more efficient and increase your quantity output.

The top ways that I have listed above are some of the more popular ways of using the Google Ads Editor, but in no way is it an exhaustive list.

The Google Ads Editor can be used to make any type of change where you are currently changing using the Google Ads Interface and if you are making more than one change, probably much quicker.

If you aren’t currently using the Google Ads Editor, I encourage you to start exploring what is possible and making it an essential tool in your Google Ads management.

After all, by become proficient in using the Google Ads Editor you will be a step closer to becoming a true master in the realm of Google advertising. Well, maybe not a true master, but at least a whole lot more efficient!

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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than twenty 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

Important Highlights from A Recent Google Account Review

A service that I offer through True Online Presence is a complete review of a company’s AdWords account. Coined the T.O.P. AdWords Assessment, this assessment includes having me spend 2-3 hours reviewing a Google Ads account structure and provide ratings on the account based on key metrics that I have found to strongly correlate with success.  

The key metrics that I use to rate an account’s health include: Match Type/Keywords; Adjusting Bids Device/Location; Segmenting Campaigns; Shopping Health (for e-commerce); Conversion Goals (for professional services); Activity Level; Ad Extensions, Ad Testing and Budgets.

Advertising on Google is unlike any other advertising medium as it can deliver red hot leads.

You can reach potential users while they are searching for an exact service or product. They can find you right in the middle of their buying process! However, like other marketing channels Google needs to be configured correctly and tended often to provide advertisers with optimal success.

A Recent Review

Last week, I had a company purchase an AdWords review. Due to my private client workload and running The Academy of Internet Marketing, I don’t accept too many T.O.P assessments anymore, but this was requested by a website design firm that I have known for quite a while.

They requested for one of their clients, a professional service company located in the Midwest spending about $200 a month in AdWords. Although not a huge monthly investment that still that comes to approximately $5K in the last 2 years and who wouldn’t want to make sure they are spending $5K prudently?

The reason that I choose to share this assessment was the due to the bare bones’ nature of their AdWords account which allows me to really detail in this article what is needed to run a successful Google marketing campaign.

First Some Background

The company, a legal entity, first started using AdWords 2 years ago. Professional Service companies are a bit different to evaluate than an e-commerce company as there is no add to cart button to press. Instead what is defined as a conversion is up to the advertiser to decide. This company had decided to define their sole conversion as phone call received.

Since inception 2-years ago, AdWords has generated 21 phone calls. For these call the company had paid $131 for each call generated (CPA – cost per acquisition).

Quick note, that with this sort of review I do not have the conversion statistics of how many of those calls became clients or how much a client is worth, I’m just looking at straight analytics based on data available and I am evaluating the account on the 7 key metrics listed above.

So, let’s get started…

Match Type/Keywords

One of the most important things a search campaign can utilize to be successful is the proper use of match type. Match type determines which keywords trigger an ad to appear. There are 5 match types – broad, phrase, exact, broad-match modifier and negative.

This account is using all broad match. Using broad match is going to bring in the most traffic, although also the most unqualified traffic. To be successful with eliminating unwanted searches especially with broad match, you need to be highly vigilant with the adding of negative keywords. Unfortunately, for this account there have been 0 negative keywords added.

Over the last 2 years, the broad match search terms ‘divorce & family law’ and ‘divorce and family law’ have racked up about $500 generating no phone calls/conversions.

These keywords in the broad match form has caused this attorney’s ads to appear for keyword searches such as ‘types of family law’ and ‘family law 61354’. With the average cost-per-click of about $4 it is important to not waste money on unrelated clicks.

I would recommend that this account change all their keyword match types to phrase and broad match modifier and use the search terms report to add negative keywords to block unrelated search terms.

For directions, I referred the company to the following articles:

Properly Using Keyword Match Types in Google Advertising

And

The Art of Adding Negative Keywords

Adjusting Location/Bid Device

This account is set to only bid in certain cities and counties where this firm offers services. When you look at a map this makes for an odd pattern. Unless they only can practice in certain counties, they may be better advised to add a search radius of X miles from a certain city.

For device, all 21 phone calls have been generated from mobile devices. Remember, the only conversion action being tested is phone calls.

I can see a phone extension for mobile ads, but not for desktop. They should expand the phone extension for desktop and may want to consider looking at a 3rd party phone tracking system such as Call Rail, so they can determine where not only Google calls are coming from, but all other phone calls generated from other marketing channels.

Segmenting Campaigns

A mistake that many companies make when creating their AdWords account is not having enough/segmented campaigns. This account is no different. There is only one campaign which is sending traffic directly to the home page.

This attorney offers custody services, divorce services, criminal law and other family law; however, all traffic is sending ads directly to the homepage regardless of which ad they click.

Making a user click around to find a specific service once they land on your website is a mistake. Related keywords need to be segmented into similar campaigns in order to have ads for specific keywords direct users to the exact service they are searching.

Conversions

The only conversion goal for this account is for a phone call.

If a user that clicks on the account and is not immediately ready to contact the attorney, they most likely will not make that call even if they may be semi-interested in the service.

Setting up different conversion goals such as a lead magnet will allow to capture contact information.

Examples would be offering a free report such as ‘The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Divorce Attorney’ or ‘The Top 10 Mistakes When Filing for Divorce’. A lead magnet is a great way to capture prospective client’s email or phone number and enables an advertiser to open a line of communication with potential clients.

Retargeting is also another very effective way to stay in front of a potential client. When a user goes to a website a ‘cookie’ is automatically placed on the user’s browser. This allows both professional services and e-commerce companies to use retargeting ads to those users after they leave the website and are browsing throughout the Google Display Network.

Here is a great article that I wrote referring to lead magnets that I encourage professional services to read:

Professional Services Sometimes Need to Give Away the Sizzle to Sell the Steak

Activity Level

Running ads on Google is not designed to be a set-it and forget-it strategy. Monitoring an account needs constant revisions for adjusting bids, adding new keywords based on searches and eliminating searches through negative keywords.

An account that is well managed should see at least weekly changes to bids and keywords as well as testing ads (more on that in the next section).

Using the change history tool, I’m showing a grand total of 27 changes in over 2 years. This is a definite sign of neglect in this account.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are snippets of information that Google allows advertisers to append to their ads. Relevant ad extensions for professional services include sitelink extensions, callout extensions, location extensions (great for professional services), call extensions, message extensions, structured snippet extensions and price extensions.

Read all about extensions in my article:

When It Comes to Your Google Ads, Size Does Matter

And

Why Google’s Newest Ad Extension Provides A Competitive Advantage

At a bare minimum, all advertisers whether professional service or e-commerce should be using call extensions, sitelink extensions and callout extensions on every ad.

Ad Testing

Google first introduced expanded ads in 2016 and have since updated the amount of text even further.

Currently, advertisers are allowed the following character limits:

  • Title/Headline 1 – 30 Characters.
  • Title/Headline 2 – 30 Characters.
  • Title/Headline 3 – 30 Characters.
  • Description Line 1 – 90 Characters.
  • Description Line 2 – 90 Characters.
  • Display URL + 2 optional paths – 15 Characters each.

The more information you can provide a potential client or buyer the more successful your ads are going to be in generating traffic. It is a mistake to not take advantage of all of space that Google allows when writing ads.

In addition, each ad group should contain a minimum of 3 ads optimized for show best-performing ads.

Google provides the testing inside their system, but you need to be running multiple ads for it to take effect. Over time, ads with higher click-through-rates (CTR) will automatically be served more thus increasing your CTR and increasing your Quality Score.

Having a high-quality score can greatly reduce the cost of ads over time.

For information on quality score, refer to my article:

Why Google Advertisers Need to Know Their Quality Score

Budgets

Budgets

When determining your daily budgets in Google Ads, you need to make sure of a couple of factors:

  1. You are comfortable spending the amount you set your daily budget over the month. If you set your budget at $10, for example, your daily spend could be up to double $20, but your total will not exceed an average of $10 for the month or $300 total ($10 x 30).
  • Especially if you are running profitable ads, you want to make sure you are capturing all available traffic. One of the most effective ways to do this is by viewing your Search Impression Share; the Impr. Top % (which is the percentage of time your ads appear above organic results) and the Search lost abs. top IS (budget), which shows how often your ads were not shown above organic results due to a low budget.

By combining these 3-key metrics, advertisers can determine if they have a high enough budget in place to capture all possible leads.

Last bit of advice

Google AdWords has a lot of moving parts that need to be considered when running a successful advertising campaign. One thing is for sure is in order to have superior results, you need to make sure you are constantly monitoring.

The good news is that many of your competitors are probably not optimizing using all the tools Google provides, so by monitoring and being aware of the key metrics listed above you will more than likely have a huge advantage over your competition.

The key metrics that I dig into when reviewing an AdWords account are in no way an exhaustive list of what can and ultimately should be done; however, they are what I consider to be the most important metrics of a well-run Google AdWords account.

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online destination for for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. Plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for complete access for 2 full weeks.

Happy Marketing!

Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Author2.jpg

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.