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.

Numbers Don’t Lie When It Comes To Marketing

As an eCommerce marketer you occasionally may find it a challenge keeping your focus where there is the highest opportunity for potential growth.

With all the various ways that customers can find your products – email, pay-per-click, organic and direct it can be difficult to know which marketing channel to focus your efforts.

More and more, it has become essentials for retailers to focus on driving potential customers to their website using paid traffic.

Options for paid traffic include Google Ads (shopping and search), Bing/Microsoft Ads, Pinterest, Facebook Ads, eBay, Walmart and Amazon just to name a few. And these are only just some of the available marketing channels!

Today, most retailers find it is necessary to use paid ads to drive traffic to their website if they want to scale sales and substantially grow as a business.

Afterall, nothing is more frustrating than having great products, but your ‘right’ customers don’t even know that you exist.

Regardless of how much demand there is for your products or how much your customers will love your products, without knowing you exists it will not matter.

The scenario of not effectively advertising typically means little to no sales or even worse, sales, but little to no profitability.

Given we know that we need to advertise where should we focus our online marketing efforts?

An undisputed truth when it comes to marketing is that numbers never lie.

Therefore, as marketers it is our job to track the numbers and specifically the right numbers in order to measure and improve the effectiveness of our marketing.

Here are the most common KPI’s (key performance indicators) and the different measurements that I use to guide successful marketing for my private clients. In addition, I’m going to show how I compile this information and use it to make strategic decisions.

I’m using these KPI’s in terms of Google Ads, but you can use these same key performance indicators to evaluate any of your paid marketing channels.

Account Health – KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators

‘Account Health KPI’s’ are used to monitor the health of your advertising channel. They give you a 30,000-foot view to measure your advertising efforts.

These KPI’s should be reviewed on a timeframe that allows enough data to become statistically relevant.

For my private clients, the following Key Performance Indicators are what I use to track on a monthly basis as indicators of the overall health of their accounts.

ROAS – Return on Advertising Spend

An easy formula to calculate, ROAS is calculated simply by dividing dollars generated by dollars spent.

Example, if you spend $1,000 advertising and generate $6,500 in sales, then your ROAS is 6.5. (6,500 / 1,000 = 6.5).

A ROAS below 1 means that you are spending more on ads then generating revenue (of course not good). The higher the ROAS the healthier and typically more profitable is your advertising campaign.

Not only do I track ROAS for the account, but I will use this indicator as a benchmark for individual advertising campaigns.

Note, that ROAS does not account for cost of goods, however, it is a simple calculation that can quickly measure the success of your advertising efforts and that is why I prefer this indicator.

Just like the amateur golfer, you are using this number to compete against yourself striving for better numbers and using ROAS to compare past results.

Rolling CAV – Customer Annual Value

Rolling CAV is calculated by calculating the total sales generated over the last 12 months and dividing by the number of total customers over the last 12 months.

Example, last 12 months your generated $150,000 online and had a total of 1,200 customers, then your CAV is 125. (150,000 / 1,200 = $125)

Note, it is important to use the number of customers and not the number of orders. Using the number of orders will give you the average order value, but not the customer annual value.

This KPI is important because it measures the importance of gaining a new customer. Many times, customers where it initially costs to attain them through paid advertising become exceedingly more valuable as return customers. By keeping track of the CAV, advertisers can determine just how valuable on average each customer is to their business.

True ROAS – True Return on Advertising Spend

This is a combination of your ROAS and your Rolling CAV. I calculate True ROAS to show the annual health of paid advertising and the dollars that I expect marketing to generate over a year.

Why is this metric important?

Unless you are selling one-off goods, typically you will have repeat buyers.

Once a customer purchases your product initiated through paid ads, then the customer is yours. You are free to market to them as you see fit whether that be through email, direct mail or any other variety of touch points.

In addition, generating a new sale from a past customer typically is going to be less expensive than generating that initial purchase and that is reason this metric is important.

Example, last month you spent $1,000 and generated $6,500 in sales for a ROAS of 6.5. This $6,500 was generated by orders from a total of 80 customers.

Over the course of the year, we can expect those 80 customers each to generate an average of $125 in sales based on our current rolling CAV.

Therefore, our True ROAS would be calculated by (80 * 125) / 1000 = 10

This calculation does two things.

First, it demonstrates the importance of gaining new customers by calculating their expected value through the next 12 months and not solely based on the initial sale.

Second, and maybe more importantly, it demonstrates the importance of concentrating on repeat business from your current and past customer base. Increase the CAV from $125 to $200 (just a sale more per customer on average per year) and guess what happens to your true ROAS.

(80 * 200) / 1000 = 16

It goes from 10 to 16!

Optimizing Indicators – KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators

Account Health KPIs are terrific for measuring longer term success. However, measuring success on a monthly basis alone is going to have you more reactive in your account changes instead of proactive.

Fortunately, there are five main optimizing indicators that can give us quick insights into the health of the account on a much more granular level.

When I look at a Google Account for a shorter time frame, such as weekly or even daily, these are the Optimizing Indicators that I review for any sudden spikes or declines.

Conversions – Number of total sales.

Conversion Value – Total dollars generated from your sales.

Cost – Dollars spent to generate all sales.

Avg CPC – Total ad spent divided by total clicks.

CTR – Total clicks divided by total impressions.

These Optimizing Indicators are all readily available within the Google Ads Console.

In order to remove or add or even rearrange columns, advertisers can use the column button.

An important realization is that knowing your KPIs are not enough to make successful changes. You must take decisive actions to successfully optimize your paid advertising once KPIs are calculated.

What action?

That is really going to be the million-dollar question or in the case of some eCommerce businesses the multi-million-dollar question.

Throughout my books as well as my podcast I offer different techniques and strategies to optimize on changes both positive and negative to your KPIs and hence to your marketing.

Final Word

What gets measured, get improved. A cliché for certain, but truth none the less.

If you don’t stay on top of your numbers, then your numbers will stay on top of you. I think that I just made that up, but it sounds a bit profound for me so who knows :>

What this article has given you are the key calculations you should be crunching on a monthly basis as well as the KPIs to review on a weekly/daily basis.

Knowing your numbers alone will not help you get better results. Once you have identified a positive or negative trend using Account Health Indicators or you identify a sudden spike or sudden decrease in your Optimizing Indicators it is important to take quick and decisive actions to either halt the negative or capitalize on the momentum.

These actions come in the form of increasing or decreasing bids, adding negative keywords, adjusting bids based on device and a host of other strategies to optimize your paid advertising results.

However, one thing cannot be denied, which is if you don’t keep track of your KPI’s, then you will never know that any action is needed along with the other undeniable fact, which is numbers never lie!

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.

Google is Now Playing Hide and Seek with Your Search Terms

Those that successfully advertise using Google paid search know that the most effective way of doing so is by limiting your spend on unrelated search terms. Effective marketers also know that the number one method to block unrelated and unwanted search terms is with the use of negative keywords.

Especially important for Google Shopping ads where there are no specific targeted keywords. Instead of targeted keywords, with Google Shopping your products are eligible to appear based on Google’s algorithm matching keywords in their product and descriptions with user searches.

This makes monitoring search and continuing to add negative keywords critical to the success of Google Shopping campaigns.

When you first launch a Shopping campaign you should have a list of initial negative keywords to block generic searches.

I have a generic list that I add to new accounts and campaigns which include negative keywords using a phrase match. Examples of these terms include terms such as cheap, knockoff, fake, etc.

However, once you begin running Google paid campaigns you will quickly discover other keywords specific related to your products where you would not have your ads appear.

Being able to identify these keywords has always been a rather straight forward process.

Although it has been moved in the placement through the years, all search terms that have triggered product ads to be displayed have always been available through the Google Search Terms Report.

What Has Changed?

A few months back, Google sent an announcement that they would no longer show irrelevant search terms within the Google search terms report.

Let me tell you for marketers (especially those on a tight marketing budget) there is no such thing as an irrelevant search term when those searches are actively costing you money.

The first month or so after Google’s announcement not much changed. About 95% of search terms were still included within the Google Search Terms report.

However, over the last few weeks only about 50 – 70% of search terms now appear within the Search Terms Report inside the Google Ads interface. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for advertisers to effectively weed out those unprofitable keyword terms that cost budget but produce few sales.

Limiting transparency might well be Google’s long-term plan as they continue to push their automated campaigns including the Smart Shopping.

However at least for now through the end of the year there remains an alternative place to gather your full list of keyword terms driving ad spend.

Google Analytics (Universal Code)

This is great news!

If you have properly installed Google Analytics and have properly linked your Google Analytics account with your Google Ads account, then your full list of search terms is still available within Google Analytics (so-called irrelevant terms and all!).

Note, that these terms are only available within Google Universal Analytics. Google is pushing a new G4 Analytics (Google Analytics 4), which for now WILL NOT include access to search terms.

Fortunately, Google is not requiring advertisers migrate to the new Analytics until the end of 2021.

Accessing Google Analytics Search Queries

Here are the steps:

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

Final Word

The trend of Google becoming less transparent with their system is a bit unsettling to say the least.

Google continues to try to push their automated marketing including automated bidding and automated placements (Smart Shopping).

Without a doubt, automated or semi-automated campaigns are easy to create and require little to no management from retailers.

However, the problem is that these type of campaigns (when you hand the keys to Google) typically do not perform nearly as well. And when marketing budget is tight, not performing nearly as well can often be the difference between a struggling business and a thriving online business.

Fortunately for now, using the Search Queries report from Google Analytics allows for a workaround to the issue of Google hiding what they now consider to be irrelevant search terms!

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. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Frequency – Controlling How Often Your Google Retargeting Ads Are Shown

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

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

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

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

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

The answer to this is yes.

With a remarketing campaign, we have two choices:

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

Google Determine the Frequency

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

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

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

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

Manually Set The Frequency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changing The Frequency Setting on an Existing Campaign

1. Login to your Google Ads Account

2. Select All campaigns in the navigation panel.

3. Click the campaign you wish to edit.

4. Select Settings in the left-hand menu.

5. Click Additional settings.

6. Select Frequency Management.

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

8. Click save.

Final Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

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

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Google Is Getting Sneaky With Advertisers Retargeting Ad Spend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is all new.

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

And the sneaky thing?

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

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

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

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

Creating A Remarketing Campaign

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

Here are the steps:

1. Click Campaigns from the page menu.

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

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

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

5. Select ‘Standard display campaign’

6. Enter your business website URL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Create your Ad group bid.

13. Create your Ad.

14. Click the ‘Create Campaign’ button.

Forgetting To Turn Off The Target Expansion

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

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

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

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

Here are the steps –

1. Click Campaigns from the page menu.

2. Select your newly created retargeting campaign.

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

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

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

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

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

See how it is sneaky now?

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

Final Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And worse than that?

It is just plain sneaky!!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

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

The Academy of Internet Marketing

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

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Beware of The Phone Call From Google

If you are advertising using Google, you will likely at some point receive a call from a Google representative.

One way that Google continues to grow is by assigning representatives to advertiser’s accounts in the role of account strategist. Depending on how much money you spend each month, will determine how often a Google Account Strategist contacts you regarding well strategizing on your account.

Now, before I go into a tirade of how Google uses live representatives to convince their current advertisers to unnecessarily increase their spending, I want to talk about the positive side of advertising on Google.

I believe that Google is perhaps the greatest advertising channel ever invented!

That might sound over the top, but I really do believe it. Where else in the history of mankind can you reach so many potential customers where they have an interest to purchase? Regardless if you are a company offering roofing repair or a company who sells t-shirts, the ability to reach potential customers is incredible.

In addition, Google’s advertising platform continues to evolve. Google offers advertisers the ability to select where within the Google Network to advertise, using different keywords with different formats types all while being able to either manually or automatically control bids.

No wonder that with so many ways to optimize a Google Ads account, many advertisers do not take advantage of everything that would benefit their account.

Quick Analogy, then we will talk more about the Google account strategist.

Have you ever been to an all-you-can eat buffet?

At a good all-you-can eat buffet, there are going to typically be many more choices then you can possibly eat. Some of the options like the artichoke salad with fresh sardine oil may not look right for you. Maybe for some it is, but to most it probably would not.

Now what if there was ‘Buffet Strategist’ from the restaurant that came to your table, while you were eating and asked if you had time to discuss the buffet?

You probably would listen to what they had to say, right?

After discussing how to be go about the main dishes of the buffet like the roast beef carving station and the different pastas, the buffet strategist might ask you if you tried their new artichoke salad with sardine oil.

After you tell him no, he will tell you about the artichoke salad in how it was made, how good it is for you and how many other buffet goers have enjoyed it.

Now you may decide to try it. However, before you do would you want to know that the buffet strategist gets paid more depending on how many people eat this sardine salad? Would it change your level of trust knowing that is why he wants more people to try it?

I’m not sure if you followed my buffet story; however, let me plainly explain the point I’m trying to make.

Google typically changes representatives every quarter to managing different accounts. The goal of the Google Account Strategist is to increase spending in the quarter for their assigned accounts.

What is the best way for them to do this?

By having their assigned advertisers either:

  1. Increase spending on current types of advertising. (Eat more of the Roast Beef).
  2. Convince advertisers to expand advertising across networks not currently in use. (Try that artichoke and sardine salad).

As an official partner agency, Google rewards points based on how much money my clients spend and more points based on how well an account is optimized compared to Google’s automated metrics. In addition, an agency will receive additional points for having their clients spend more money on notoriously poor performing (at least profitability wise) channels such as Google Display.

These rewards have never meant anything to myself, although I redeemed them a few months ago for a shiny new Google decked bike that I tool around the neighborhood in. However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. They are number one with their goals of profitability.   

Now how much do you think these rewards motivate the Google Account Strategies that calls you on the phone? You and I will never know for sure, but it is something to keep in mind.

The first goal of the Google Rep – Increase accounts spending on current types of advertising.

This is where Google and the goals of its advertisers are joined.

If an advertiser is generating a healthy profit using Google Ads and they can fulfil all their orders, then an advertiser should increase their spending to garner more sales, don’t you think?

If advertisers are spending more money, that means more money for Google which means happy shareholders.

With so many different ways to tweak campaigns, this is where your friendly Google Specialist may come in useful. It is also why even I take their calls. They may have the insights of an expert looking at an account at an overview that you have missed working on an account on a daily basis.

Sometimes, you get too close to stuff and it’s great to get a birdseye view from an expert, wouldn’t you say?

However, do you make it a habit to look at Google’s automatic ‘Recommendations’ within your account?

If not, you should.

The Recommendations link is located in the left menu just below the ‘Overview’ link.

These recommendations are automated ‘Google Account Strategist’ and of course help an advertiser spend more money, but they also help advertisers ensure there is nothing negatively affecting their account.

Examples, of common suggestions and warnings.

– Warning regarding overlapping negative keywords.
– Suggestions for new keywords to add to a campaign.
– Suggestions on adding different ad types.
– Suggestions to add common ad extensions.
– Suggestions on adding new bidding strategies.

About a year ago, Google introduced a 0 – 100% rating on how optimized each account was optimized. An although I find this rating a bit arbitrary and meaningless, the percentage of increase percentage with each recommendation will tell you how important Google feels each change will be to your campaigns.

However, when reviewing you must realize that these suggestions are automated. Automated being the key word. Never blindly accept recommendations, in order to generate maximum results, you must know how these suggestions will affect your advertising.

Pro Tip – Even by declining the recommendations in the ‘Recommendations’ sections of your Google Ads account it will increase Google’s optimization score on your campaigns.

In addition, many of these recommendations Google automatically emails if you have selected to receive their customized help & performance suggestions.

Note, you can manage those email settings within your preferences notifications if you wish to receive or to stop receiving these recommendations.

Just like in within the account recommendations inside the account, Google commonly sends out are ways to increase your ad spend.

A favorite for them to do this is through adding keywords to your account. If you receive these ‘suggestions’, you need to be very careful because they are based on keywords your competitors are also advertising and may not be relevant to your account.

Come to think about it. It’s very smart for Google to let you know what keywords your competitors use as it inspires competition and increases the price for popular keywords! 

Another favorite of both the Google Account Strategist and the automated Google suggestions is the suggestions to either fully or at least partially automate your campaigns.

Through Google Shopping this means using Google Smart Shopping campaigns and in Google search it means using automated bidding strategies.

I have written about both smart campaigns and automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should not use.

However, in a nutshell what the biggest drawback of using is that these automated strategies take the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their money. Instead advertisers blindly (in the case of Smart campaigns) and semi-blindly (in the case of automated bidding strategy) trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising dollars.

Especially with Smart Shopping campaigns, where advertisers cannot see their bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device ads are running, this takes a lot of trust.

Trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. If not, they will not advertise anymore. But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google. By reducing profitability just a bit while substantially increasing advertisers spending and testing different lesser used advertising methods inside Google Ads may make perfect sense especially if you are Google. But, does it make sense for you?

If the Smart Campaigns and automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing across all of my client’s accounts. In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions. 

However, I’ve tested and the automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our manually optimized campaigns.

Now granted, we are doing more than most advertisers optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping Simplified.

However, my warning is this when you are talking to your Google Account Strategist. They are getting incentivized to increase your spend and incentivized to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).

This fact you should keep in the forefront of your mind!

The second goal of the Google Rep – Expand advertising to networks not currently being used

This goal goes hand in hand with the first as it will help you spend more money with your advertising but is a bit different in how it goes about it.

Google offers five main networks – Search, Display, Shopping, Video and Discovery networks.

Almost all advertisers use the Search network. These are the traditional text ads that appear on Google.com or their partners when you search. Search ads are the original Google ad type.

In addition, the majority of eCommerce advertisers use the Shopping network. Shopping ads are the ads that appear with your product’s picture, name and price either on the main Google tab or within Google Shopping.

However, when it comes to Display, Video and Discovery networks those are used very little in comparison.

Display ads are ads that appear within the Google’s network. Commonly used display ads include retargeting ads, which I use. However, advertisers can also just serve their ads within the display network to users who have never visited their website.

These type ads are much cheaper to use, but they also have much lower conversion rates.

Video ads are just as they say. They are video ads that are served on YouTube and across the web.

Finally, there are Discovery ads. Discovery ads are non-video ads that run on YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover.

After your Google Account Strategist discusses why your account should transition to automation, the next topic will inevitably be expanding advertising to any of the networks that you are not currently using.

This is where it is important to know your goals in advertising using Google.

Is your goal in advertising doing it for profit or for brand awareness?

I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, you goal is letting people know who you are.

And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?

Final Word

The more money you spend advertising using Google ads the more often you can expect to receive a call from a Google representative.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t pick up the phone and don’t take their calls. In fact, I always take their calls.

However, what I’m suggesting is to know their motivation is to increase your account’s spending and getting your account to advertise across different networks.

I am also suggesting to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER change how you are advertising a successful campaign without testing.

With search campaigns you can test by running Experiments in Google account. You can change variables within a search campaign, such as the bidding strategy, and actually test for a set time period and see what performs better.

Testing with Smart campaigns is a bit more difficult, but you can and should attempt different methods of testing. Whether it is side-by-side or testing different time periods, make sure you don’t make a change without testing.

By testing, you may indeed find that automated campaigns perform better. However, especially for those using Google Shopping that follow best-practices as detailed in my new book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, you will most likely find out that a well optimized manual campaign outperform Google Smart Shopping campaigns every time!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

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

The Academy of Internet Marketing

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

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

What Google Removing Keyword Transparency Could Mean For Advertisers

One of the common misconceptions for those new to advertising with Google Shopping is that you want to generate as much traffic as possible.

As with any marketing channel where you pay for traffic, this is blatantly false!

With Google Shopping unlike Google Search there are no keywords. Instead, Google uses their algorithm to match eligible products from an advertiser’s merchant center account with a user’s search query.

In order to match eligible products, Google uses the product title and description to filter the most relevant results based on the searches of users actively Shopping.

However, as anyone who has been running successful Google Shopping campaigns will attest, sometimes the search terms that are sending traffic are terms an advertiser would rather not pay to receive.

Imagine that you are selling Nike Air Jordan’s. As an advertiser, you wouldn’t want your products appearing for the search term ‘Nike Air Jordan Knockoffs’ or ‘Fake Nike Air Jordan’s’, would you?

No of course not.

You wouldn’t want these keywords triggering your products to appear because traffic coming from those search terms would most likely have a very low conversion rate for your standard priced Air Jordan shoes.

And although this traffic would have a very low conversion rate, you (the advertiser) would still be charged each time your products appeared for these searches when your product ads were clicked.

Negative Keywords

This is where negative keywords are useful.

In order to avoid these clicks, an advertiser can enter the words fake and knockoffs as phrase match negative keywords at the account, campaign or ad group level.

The retailer selling Nike Air Jordan’s is a random example that I just fabricated. However, the keywords that drive unwanted traffic are very real and generally they are a huge budget eater for most advertisers. In addition, they can vary tremendously from account to account and even campaign to campaign.

For a well run, fully optimized account, it is essential for advertisers to identify keywords driving unwanted traffic and ad spend and use negative keywords to prevent future ad spend.

For advertisers using standard shopping campaigns, Google offers or least had been offering full transparency of what search terms trigger products to appear as well as what search terms triggered products that appeared that were subsequently clicked.  

This tool that provides this transparency is aptly named the Search Terms report.

Proper use of the Search Terms report is one of the most effective ways for advertisers to improve profitability. In fact, it is arguably the most important tool advertisers have to monitor keywords for their Shopping campaigns within their Google Ads account.

By reviewing the Search Terms report on a consistent and ongoing basis, advertisers can identify which keywords are driving unwanted traffic and prevent future unwanted searches by adding them to their negative keywords.

What Is Changing

A few weeks ago, when I logged into one of my private clients Google Ads accounts, I saw a concerning alert.

The alert read that the Search Terms report is being changed to only show keywords that are searched by a “significant number of users”.

Again, I’ll repeat because it is important to realize.

The Search Terms report is being changed to only show keywords that are searched by a “significant number of users”.

At face value, it appears that Google will not be as transparent. As I understood the alert, it means that Google will no longer show the keywords that trigger shopping ads to appear just a few or as they say a non-significant number of times.

However, what is non-significant? This is the real question that Google has not yet answered.

If you multiply one or two clicks per hidden search term by a hundred or maybe two hundred weekly clicks at $0.50 then the costs wasted could very well be significant to my private clients for sure!

It is also concerning, that in the past changes that Google makes to the Google Ads interface have always been to make navigating the Google Ads platform easier for its advertisers.

This change DOES NOT make it easier to navigate.

In fact, what it does is make it less transparent and this change could make Standard Shopping Campaigns more like the Smart Shopping Campaigns. For more information on this, refer to my recent article –

Google Can Keep Their Stinkin’ Ping Pong Table Because I’m Not Doin’ It

In that article, I write about how Google is strongly incentivizing partner agencies like mine to promote and convert from Standard Shopping campaigns to Google Smart Shopping campaigns.

So who knows?

Making Standard Shopping Campaigns more like Smart Shopping Campaigns may be their plan all along.

However, then again, I could just be imagining a conspiracy.

For now, I will put away my tin foil hat and get back to the present and what we should be doing in our campaigns to prepare for this change.

Now in the weeks that followed Google’s announcement, there has not been much clarification on what ‘significant number of users’ exactly entails. However, this warning provides definite cause for concern and advertisers would be wise to be proactive to this news.

What Should We Do?

There are a couple of actions that we can take, while we still have full access to the complete Search Terms report.

The first recommendation that I would make to someone calling me asking for advice would be work on a negative keyword list for the account.

Google offers a number of ways to add negative keywords and one is through creating a negative keyword list.

By creating a negative keyword list, advertisers can easily add keywords that will prevent unwanted searches from appearing into the list and then add this negative keyword list to the campaigns that they select.

When I first launch a campaign for a private client, I have a standard list of negative keywords that I add to a new negative keyword list for eCommerce retailers.

This initial negative keyword list contains approximately 150 keywords such as: pics, pictures, instructions, video, how to, knockoff, fake, etc..

I then add this list to all active new campaigns in order to block these unwanted search terms.

In addition, when I’m reviewing the search terms keywords using the Search Terms report on an ongoing basis, I’m constantly splitting out the negative keywords that I want to add as either adding to the account, the campaign or the ad group level.

If I want to add negative keywords to the account level, I’m adding to those keywords to my general negative keyword list.

This list which is already linked to most if not all of the Shopping campaigns and sometimes to the Search campaigns as well, will instantly allow these negative keywords to stop unwanted traffic throughout the account.

My second recommendation would be consider using priority levels to dictate which traffic is eligible to trigger your shopping ads to appear.

In my new book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, I dedicate an entire chapter to a strategy called positive keywords.

The positive keyword strategy mind you is a bit complicated but follow me for a quick minute if you have never heard of this.

The subject of positive keywords took a full chapter of my book to cover but here is a quick overview.

By using the priority levels of high, medium and low at the campaign level settings, advertisers can use low bids with high priority level campaigns to filter out a ton of generic traffic.

Using our earlier example, of the eCommerce retailer selling Nike Air Jordan shoes, I will explain how this would work.

If a campaign was created as a high priority campaign at a low bid ($0.05) and negative keywords were added to the campaign of “Nike” and “Air Jordan”, then any generic search terms that would cause eligible products to appear without those keywords would be directed to this campaign.

Keywords with low conversion rates such as ‘Tennis shoes’, ‘basketball shoes’, etc. would all be directed to this campaign with the $0.05 bid.

Now, if we created a new campaign, with a low or medium priority that contained the exact same product with higher bids, then searches with keywords that included Nike or Air Jordan would be directed to this campaign.

I realize that this is a bit fast, so for more clarification, please read the chapter on positive keywords in my book.

However, just know that this is an effective way to reduce unwanted more generic terms from generating clicks at least at your cost per click rate.

Now this would not stop those keywords for ‘Nike Air Jordan Knockoffs’ or ‘Fake Nike Air Jordan’s’ in your medium priority campaign, so it would be important to also use a negative keyword list in conjunction with the positive keyword strategy.

Final Word

The bottom line when interpreting Google’s alert is that we don’t know what a ‘significant number of users’ will constitute.

We don’t know how much of an effect on either yours or my campaigns this will have. 

In addition, the recommendations that I have just given with creating your account negative keyword list and implementing positive keywords are two things that already would be benefiting your account.

If Google only ends up removing  keywords for instance with a few impressions and no clicks, then you will still be able to fully add negative keywords that you no longer wish to receive traffic.

However, right now we just don’t know.

Therefore, if you are not doing it, make sure you start to work on implementing a full list of negative keywords while you for certain have full access to your accounts Search Terms report.

Whether or not this Google change ends up being a big deal or not, using these strategies will help boost your profitability and generally will do it very quickly!

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.

Google Can Keep Their Stinkin’ Ping Pong Table Because I’m Not Doin’ It

In this article, I discuss the perks of being an official Google partner agency. What that means for us and for our clients.

In being an official Google partner agency, Google offers my agency a variety of perks. One of those perks are rewards points based on how much our clients spend along with how well optimized our clients’ accounts are based on Google’s criteria of automated metrics.

These reward points have never done much to incentivize actions with us at True Online Presence. Our focus has always been to do what is right for our private clients first and foremost. My sole goal with working with a private client managing their Google Ad spend is optimize their Google account with the purpose of increasing both their sales and profitability.

Now as a disclaimer, I did redeem some Google reward points about a year ago for a shiny new Google colored bicycle that I sometimes tool around my neighborhood riding. So, even though the points don’t incentivize us, I’m admitting to you that I do sometimes open and look at the Google reward point updates and some of the swag gifts they are offering.

Before I go any further, I’m not accusing Google of being diabolical and out to get their advertisers. However, truth be told, like with any mega company, Google has their own agenda that sometimes may not fully align with that of their advertisers.

I think that Google’s rewards system is genius in nudging agencies to optimize clients’ accounts in the direction that Google would prefer. It is a classic example of positive reinforcement and the bigger the rewards that Google offers the more effective this strategy becomes.

With all that said, a few days back I opened the Google rewards updates email that I received as I wanted to see what Google was currently promoting.

The first page that opens for a Google Partner Agency is an introduction page to Google’s Product adoption. Google refers to product adoptions as “challenges that are designed to help you improve the quality of clients’ accounts. Product adoption targets are specifically tailored to your company’s clients past performance”.

For my product adoption, Google was offering 11,000 points for converting at least 27% of my private clients shopping campaign ad spend into Smart Shopping campaigns (I’m currently at 0%) and 6,600 points for having at least 12% of my client ad spends dedicated to using display advertising (I’m currently at 3%).

Translating that into goodies and swag gifts, an agency would need 10,610 to redeem for a Google Ping Pong Table; 15,300 for a Google Pixelbook; and 16,260 for an official Google Foosball Table.

Now there are other ways for an agency to earn Google reward points; however, Google is currently being very aggressive with trying to have agencies such as mine move clients into using Smart Shopping campaigns and to spending more with Google display ads.

This begs the question as to why?

First, let us look at Google Smart Shopping campaigns and what they are.

By using Google Smart Shopping campaigns, advertisers no longer define their bids, negative keywords or devices they wish to advertise. In addition, the option to adjust bids by time or day or location no longer exist. Instead, advertisers are trusting Google to make those decisions for them.

I have written about both smart shopping campaigns and different automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should mostly avoid.

However, in a nutshell the biggest drawback of using these automated strategies is that Google assumes the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their ad dollars. Instead, advertisers blindly trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising spend.

Another factor to consider is where your ads appear now and where they will appear using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Currently, when advertisers create a standard shopping campaign, they are opted into Google’s Search Network. Google’s search network includes all Google sites as well Google.com.

In addition, ads are by default opted into also being shown on Google Search Partners, YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover. However, currently advertisers with a standard Shopping campaign have the option to opt out of showing ads anywhere other than within the Google search network.

However, with Smart Shopping campaigns the option to remove certain networks is no longer an option.

In addition, with Smart Shopping campaigns advertisers cannot see specific product bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device their ads are running. This takes a whole lot of trust.

And trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?

Why would Google prefer advertisers even use Smart Shopping campaigns you may ask?

Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. Because if advertisers are not profitable using Google, they will most likely not advertise anymore. I think we can all agree on that? But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google.

If Google is slightly reducing advertisers’ profitability while substantially increasing an advertiser’s ad spend and at the same time also being able to test different lesser used marketing channels such as display ads, then this may make perfect sense for Google.

However, is this an ideal strategy for you the advertiser?

If Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns and other automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing them across all of my client’s accounts.

In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions. 

However, I’ve tested all of these types of automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our private clients manually optimized campaigns.

Now granted, we are doing more than the majority of agencies optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping strategies and best-practices as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping.

However, heed my warning. When you are working with an agency or interacting with a Google representative, be aware that they are getting incentivized to increase your spend and to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).

I believe that the reward system is a very effective way for Google to make sure agencies are incentivized to help Google push their automated strategies.

However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. Our private clients with their goals of increased sales and profitability is our sole focus.  

Given that, it doesn’t look like I will be earning the rewards points for changing my clients over to Smart Shopping campaigns anytime soon.

Now On To Display Ads

Remember when I told you earlier that Google was offering 6,600 points for having my clients total spend for display advertising reach 12%?

Display advertising for those that may not know is when ads appear within the Google Display Network outside of the Google Search Network.

There are over 2 million websites within the Google Display Network.

Now display ads are typically promoted as being effective for building awareness and brand recognition. However, since they appear when users are not actively shopping or searching, they have a much lower conversion rates and generally are not nearly as profitable.

That is why the only display network ads I typically run for my eCommerce clients are dynamic retargeting ads. Dynamic retargeting ads work to show a product that a shopper looked at on your website where they did not purchase.

These type of display ads I find to be much more effective and therefore they are the only type of display ads that I typically use.

Dynamic retargeting ads work to keep businesses and products where a shopper has shown interest in the forefront of a shoppers’ mind. In addition, these type of display ads also give shoppers the impression that you are a large company that advertises across many sites.

In addition, to standard display ads not being effective, they are also riddled with fraud. If you listened to a recent Podcast episode that I did with Neil Andrew of PPC protect, he says within that interview that up to 80% of display ads are actually fraudulent clicks.

When it comes to display ads, it is important to keep in mind your advertising goals. With my private clients, the goal is typically profitability.

With display ads is your goal in advertising profitability or for brand awareness?

I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, your goal is letting people know who you are and what you are.

And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?

So, with Google rewards system, they are offering 6,600 points for increasing clients spend to advertise more on a network that historically provides poor results and is riddled with fraud.

Darn, it doesn’t look like I’ll get the Google rewards points for display ads either!

Final Word

Google continues to redesign their search results trying to determine the optimal layout for its users. The more users continue to use Google the more advertisers will seek to advertise.

However, the number of advertisers is not infinite. If an advertiser is not successful showing profitability in their sales (depending if that is their goal) then most likely they will not continue to advertise with Google at least not for very long.

The more advertisers, the more competition and the more expensive Google will become.

Fortunately, for us, our private clients and those who have read and implemented the strategies inside my book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, using Google as a marketing channel continues to work driving profitable sales.

But those companies where their Google advertising may not be as well-run may indeed find becoming profitable using Google ads a challenge.

For those advertisers, they may be better off letting Google handle their ad placements and ad spend through Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. In fact, why they are at it, they may want to try to increase their brand recognition through some Google Display Ads (although I would highly advise against it for most eCommerce companies).

By letting Google manage campaigns in this way, they will most likely see better results than just setting up a single shopping campaign that has all their products with just one bid. This is what I unfortunately see all too common in companies starting to advertise with Google Shopping that do not have a plan.

However, with either letting Google run their ads or setting up a Shopping campaign and not optimizing it, these companies are missing an opportunity to use Google Shopping as a significant and profitable marketing channel simply because they do not know how it works or do not have the time to manage it. 

Fortunately, for our clients, this is not that case.

Although, sadly it doesn’t look like team True Online Presence will get that new Google Ping Pong table anytime soon!

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.

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.

Microsoft Follows Suit Offering Free Product Shopping Listings

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would offer free product placements to merchants within their Bing Shopping tab.

These free listings are now available within the United States. In addition, the free shopping placements will expand to the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany and Australia.

To be eligible for product listings to appear, merchants need to submit and have their products approved within the Microsoft Merchant Center. Whether running free or paid placements, merchants will need to first submit the products they wish to appear into their Microsoft Merchant Center account.

For those advertisers already using Bing Ads with active product product listings, there is nothing new that they need to do to be eligible for free traffic. All eligible products will automatically be opted in to showing within the free product listings section on the Bing Shopping tab effective immediately.

There is an option for retailers to opt out of serving in the free traffic section, but why would you want to turn down free traffic?

And although reporting on free traffic is not currently available, Microsoft’s announcement touted that reporting will soon become available this fall.

Below is an image of displaying how the free vs. paid placement will appear within the Bing Shopping tab.

Why Should You Care?

Microsoft/Bing in normal times accounts for about 10% of all traffic. However, currently they account for approximately 33% of all desktop traffic. Due to COVID, more people are spending more time at home and this has translated into more time on their desktops.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article – Microsoft/Bing Ads – A Surge In Profitability that details why advertising using Bing is an effective strategy for retailers.

During the early stages of COVID, Bing Ads had only a 5% decline in traffic which was significantly lower than Google. In addition, some of my private clients were seeing ROAS tripling Google.

Oh, and even if Bing sometime returns to only accounting 10% of all traffic, you know what 10% of FREE is?

It is FREE!!!

Easiest Way to Implement

If you are currently running Shopping ads using Microsoft/Bing ads, there is no action to be taken.

However, if you do not currently run ads then you will need to open a Microsoft/Bing Ads account and a Microsoft Merchant Center account.

If you are not familiar with Microsoft/Bing, both these accounts work very similar to the corresponding Google Ads and Google Merchant Center accounts in terms of both setup and properly maintaining.

In fact, if you are currently running ads using Google Shopping, then opting into the new free listings on Bing Shopping will be extremely quick to setup.

Advertisers even have the option to copy products directly from Google Merchant Center to the Bing Merchant Center and configure the data to have future sends scheduled automatically. This will ensure that all data remains in sync based on your Google Merchant Center.

Once you have items imported into Microsoft Merchant Center, if you would like to start using paid traffic as well, you easily can. Bing Ads also will give you the option within your account to import campaigns including bidding, negative keywords and other settings directly from Google Ads.

Why Did Bing Decide To Offer Free Shopping Placements?

When it comes to the why the free listings are now be offered is up to debate. There are a couple of differing opinions:

On their official announcement, Microsoft touted the reason as ‘looking for ways to help their retail partners take advantage of the recent and rapid shift of retail shopping from in-store to online’.

However, if you wanted to be a bit more cynical, you may say that the reason was:

Either first, following suit to what Google did earlier this year in offering free shopping placements inside Google Shopping – read the details here – It’s Back To The Future With Google’s Free Shopping Ads.

Or second, and maybe more accurately, that by giving new advertisers free placements that this will likely increase the number of paid advertisers using Microsoft/Bing.

In order to receive free shopping placement, a retailer must open a Microsoft/Bing Account and a Microsoft Merchant Center and submit products to the Microsoft Merchant Center.

Once products are approved, the only thing holding back merchants from starting to receive paid traffic is entering their credit card!

Final Word

Regardless of their motives, this is an exciting announcement from Microsoft/Bing.

By offering free shopping placements, merchants can increase their exposure through the Microsoft Network with no out of pocket expense.

In addition, especially since COVID, results for most of my private clients using Microsoft/Bing ads has been very good with profitability for most higher than Google Ads.

By exposing new advertisers to this often-forgotten marketing channel, Bing Ads will increase product offerings for shoppers (which is good for shoppers) while providing businesses of all sizes something we all want – Free Quality Traffic.

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.