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Digital Marketing During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Digital Marketing During The Coronavirus Outbreak

The spread of COVID-19 has been a major source of worry in the world these past weeks. Its impact has been felt not just in our daily lives, but also in the economy as well. In fact, it is SMBs that will take the hardest hits now that people are quarantining themselves in order to prevent the spread of the virus. As a business owner, now is the time to reevaluate your digital marketing strategy to make sure that you are prepared.

Impact on Pay-per-click (PPC)

Current trends on the PPC side show that costs per click (CPCs) are tending to stay the same. However, conversions have dropped across most industries as people are more hesitant to convert today due to the uncertainty caused by the virus. Of course, there are some exceptions. For example, businesses that offer business management solutions to facilitate remote work are seeing a boom as more and more people prepare to work from home now that it is encouraged to stay at home to prevent the spread of the infection. The current trend overall with CPCs staying the same and conversions going down is causing an increase in costs per acquisition (CPA) across the board.

 

 

Short Term vs Long Term

 We can already see the short term impact of COVID-19 on businesses across the United States. We’ve had a rough couple of weeks. The sad reality is that businesses will continue to struggle for the rest of the year because the current losses need to be recovered. For some businesses, this has meant putting their PPC efforts on hold in order to try and save some money for now. However, this is only a short term strategy. This is the moment to start looking ahead and plan a strategy to get ahead of the competition by the time things start to improve again. 

Warren Buffet famously said: “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” Now that many businesses are cutting back on their marketing expenses, this is the time when you can double down and work on your marketing strategy so you can hit the ground running by the time your competition is barely looking to restart their own marketing efforts. It is during times of economic downturn that you will find less competition and better results. Maybe there will even be a potential reduction in costs per click due to the reduced competition as ad spend is cut back.

To prepare your digital marketing for the long term, it is important that you look into investing on your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is different from PPC, but they go hand-in-hand when it comes to building an effective digital marketing strategy for your business. SEO works by checking your current website organic search rankings and optimizing them for search engines to improve the quality and quantity of traffic that lands on your site. Unlike PPC, you don’t have to pay for the traffic you get from SEO. It is recommended for businesses that are advertising online to use a combination of both PPC and SEO in order to reach their target audience. PPC helps you stay on top of search page results by paying for your keywords as your SEO catches up and uses the best performing keywords from your PPC strategy. SEO can take some time to fully kick in, but once it does, your investment will surely reward you in the long term.

Final Thoughts

This is the time to strengthen your digital marketing efforts as it will enable you to maintain a competitive edge over your competitors that are slow to react. If you still want to reduce your PPC spend, consider investing it into SEO instead. SEO will allow you to start ranking organically and be ready once business starts to recover. Hopefully this crisis will end soon, but in the meantime I strongly recommend that you double down on your online marketing to minimize your risk and improve your position relative to your competition.

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PPC Case Study – Auto Glass Client

PPC Case Study – Auto Glass Client

To optimize a PPC campaign successfully, it’s necessary to have statistically significant data. More often than not, there are 2 factors that prevent this: inadequate targeting and insufficient budget.

If your audience or budget are not big enough to gather the data needed, it’s extremely hard to make educated decisions for campaign optimization.

Fortunately, in this client’s particular case, we were able to work with the right targeting and a sufficient budget for it. Thus, we were able to create a very successful account due to having enough data to back our optimizations.

Data is sacred because of privacy and its worth. On this note, let me make clear what data I will be and will not be sharing in this case study.

I cannot and will not share any of the following for privacy reasons:

  • Account Structure

  • Campaigns

  • Ad groups

  • Budget

  • Bidding

  • Ads

  • Keywords

  • Locations

Basically, anything that has to do with personally identifiable client information or the details of our success formula is off limits. However, I am going to be sharing the following relevant information:

  • Traffic Source: Google Ads

  • Niche: Auto Glass Services

  • Conversion Tracking: Lead Generation (Phone Calls & Contact Forms)

  • Duration: 3.5 Months (as of now)

Of course, I will also be sharing the results and how we were able to achieve them.

The Results:

Here are the results of 3 and a half months of account optimization:

  • The total number of qualified leads increased 401.32%

  • The overall click-through rate increased 18.00%

  • The average cost per lead decreased 12.33%

  • The overall average cost per click decreased 41.67%

It’s important to note that our client significantly increased the ad spend budget twice during this time period due to the improved results. Another noteworthy point is that before we took over the account management, the account had not been optimized since January 2019. That month had similar spend to our current spend starting last month. I believe it is worthwhile to compare the results of both months because the total leads will not be inflated due to budget differences.

Here is the results comparison for January 2019 vs June 2019:

  • The total number of qualified leads increased 100.00%

  • The overall click-through rate increased 36.62%

  • The average cost per lead decreased 47.45%

  • The overall average cost per click decreased 40.90%

I believe that these results are more representative for the optimizations that we have done on the account because the ad spend was very close. With the same ad spend, the qualified leads doubled due to improving the quality of traffic and lowering the costs.

Month 1:

We were lucky to be working with an account that already had relevant historical data that would allow us to make informed decisions based on past trends. 

 

The way the account was set up before we took over was the following:

As you can see, the account had many active campaigns. After analyzing the data, I found that most of them were underperforming and decided to pause them. I reallocated the budgets accordingly. I also noticed that Campaigns 1 and 2 each had one particular ad group that was taking most of the budget, but was also converting the best. 

Given this information, I made the decision to separate each of these ad groups into their own separate campaigns (let’s call them 1a and 2a). Because this account restructuring took place during the middle of the first month, there is still data for the campaigns that were paused. The campaigns highlighted in red were no longer active after the restructuring. 

 

Here is what the first month looked like:

Month 2:

Based on the data collected from Month 1, these were the new changes I applied to the campaigns:

Conversion-focused Keyword Bidding

 

I reviewed all the keyword data and increased bids for converting keywords to improve their rank. I also looked at the CPA for these converting keywords and lowered the bids for those keywords that converted at a high cost.

 

New Expanded Text Ad variations

 

All the campaigns were very overdue for new ad variations because they had been running the same ads for a long time. Adding new variations would allow us to AB Test them for performance.

 

Added Positive Bid Adjustments to the Ad Schedule

 

This way we could focus our efforts on the best day of the week to drive more leads.

 

 

Removed Negative Bid Adjustments on Devices

 

Most of the traffic was coming from desktop so, in order to drive more mobile traffic, we removed the negative bid adjustments on all campaigns.

 

The campaigns ran with minimal adjustments for the rest of the month and these were the results:

Campaign 1 did not do so well when it came to cost vs conversions compared to the other campaigns. I did not feel that it was right to get rid of it just yet, as there was not enough data to back that decision yet. I decided to leave the campaign be for now and observe it for another month.

However, the account as a whole performed much better than the previous month, being able to increase the leads and traffic by almost double without spending a significantly higher amount.

 

Month 3:

 

These were the new changes for the month:

 

Paused Underperforming Ads

 

Now that we finally added new ad variations to the campaigns to test for performance and improve the appeal and relevance of our ads, it was finally time to check the data and see what was performing and what had to go. We paused the underperforming ads and created new variations of the top performing ads in order to continue AB testing.

 

Reviewed Search Terms and Added Converting Terms as Keywords

 

I noticed that there were several highly relevant search terms that ended up converting at a good rate and were not being directly targeted as keywords. To improve our conversion metrics, we added those terms to our campaigns to make sure that we were showing up for those searches as well.

 

Added Negative Bid Adjustments to the Ad Schedule

 

There were certain times and days of the week that were not performing as well and were producing higher costs. By adding negative bid adjustments for those times, we open up the budget for better performing times and days and make better use of the budget to improve the account’s return.

 

A bit over halfway through the month, our client decided to add another significant increase to the ad spend budget which further boosted our traffic and conversion volume because of the good results we had brought with our previous optimizations.

 

Here are the results for the month:

I was right when I decided to give Campaign 1 a chance to redeem itself from an underperforming month. Now it had caught up to the other campaigns. As for the budget increase, the highlighted campaigns received most of it because those were the ones that were limited by budget. The other campaigns did not have that issue.

The cost reduction efforts took a bit of a toll on the conversion rate, as you can see from the traffic nearly doubling but the conversions increasing by 48%. However, the cost per click went down by 28.35%, which resulted in the overall cost per acquisition going down by 5.83% – a net positive result.

 

Month 4:

 

This month was somewhat irregular because there were some client requested changes and the campaigns were paused by the client for a few days, which caused a drop in performance due to lost traffic compared to the previous month.

 

Paused High CPA Keywords

 

The big change that I did to the account this month was getting rid of keywords that were converting at a really high cost. This would open up room for other keywords that are converting well at a lower cost to have more budget available to continue producing good results.

 

Added Responsive Search Ads

 

I also went ahead and added Responsive Search Ad variations to our ad groups in order to test for their performance, as they are a new type of ad that utilizes machine learning to fine tune itself and I wanted to see if it would bring any benefits to the account. I will be coming back to them to see how they have performed.

 

Here are the results:

We received less traffic and, as a result, less conversions than last month. This resulted from the campaigns not running for a few days. This should not present a big issue in the months to come as long as we can run the campaigns like normal. 

Campaign 2a stood out this month because it spent almost as much as Campaign 2 but had only around 60% of the conversions. The reason for this was because the ads were showing in lower positions than usual, which affected the conversions. Bidding for this campaign needs to be adjusted accordingly because it performed well in previous months and can be brought back to a good level of performance with the right adjustments.

 

Moving Forward

 

Overall, both myself and my client are very satisfied with the results the account has produced thus far. Optimization is all about making educated decisions using the right amount of historical data in order to improve performance. As time goes by and trends become more apparent, this account can be further optimized to produce even better results! Now that we have a few months’ worth of data to work with, we can focus on narrowing down our top performers even further and shutting down what isn’t performing at an ideal level. That’s just the way it goes when working with Google Ads. It’s all about doing our best for our clients with the data that Google provides us.

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3 Ways To Lower Your Campaign’s CPA

3 Ways To Lower Your Campaign’s CPA

 

 When measuring your campaign’s performance, I’m sure that the most important question on your mind is: 

 

“Is this campaign profitable?” 

 

One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting a return on your investment is to make sure that your campaign’s cost per conversion (CPA) is below the revenue you receive from each client that converts. There’s no point in having a campaign to sell phone covers for $20 each if it takes $50 to make 1 sale! This is why you should pay close attention to your CPA when you optimize your campaigns. 

 

Here are 3 proven methods to lower your PPC campaign’s CPA:

 

Method 1: Lowering your Keyword Bids

If your cost per conversion is too high, it may mean that you are spending way too much on each click. The following formula is how CPA is calculated:

 

Total Cost/Total Conversions = Cost per Conversion (CPA)

 

When we talk about ways to reduce our campaign’s CPA, one of the most obvious methods is to increase the amount of conversions. However, far too many people ignore the cost element of the formula.

 

It’s a common occurrence for campaigns to have a range of expected conversion rates. There’s always work that can be done to improve them, but if your historical organic and paid traffic convert at steady rates and you’re lacking the resources to do conversion optimization, your scenario may look like this:

 

($3 CPC x 10 clicks) * 5% conversion rate = $1.5 CPA

Method 2: Increasing your Quality Score

Depending on the nature of your business and the behavior of your clients, a Call-only campaign could potentially be a great fit for you.

 

If your business is an emergency service, sending your potential clients to your website is probably not the best idea when they need your help now. Other times, a potential client may want to speak with you before making a payment to hire your services. They are looking to do business with someone they can trust.

 

 

Call-only ads are a special type of ad format directed only at mobile devices. Unlike other ad formats, they do not send users to a website when they are clicked. Instead, they immediately start a phone call to the phone number on the ad. They also feature a call button.

An example of a Call-only ad.

It’s important to note that you should only be running your Call-only ads during your hours of operation. You don’t want to be showing your ads at times when you won’t be available to answer the phone not just because it’s a waste of your advertising budget, as you won’t be able to take advantage of the leads you receive when you’re not answering the phone, but also because it creates a negative perception of your business to those potential clients whose needs weren’t met when they needed you.

Method 3: Reviewing your Locations

One of the most common causes of wasted spend is non-converting locations. Locations that do not convert are one of the most common causes of wasted ad spend. I know that trying to target as many locations as you can to reach as wide an audience as possible is tempting. However, too broad a targeting approach often results in showing your ads to audiences that are not interested and paying for irrelevant clicks.

I recommend that you look at your locations at a more granular level and check the geographical reports to see what locations are wasting your spend. This way, you can exclude them and focus your budget on the locations that are bringing you results, resulting in an immediate reduction in wasted ad spend and an increase in CPA.


So there you have it! Now you have 3 important areas to focus on to work on reducing your CPA and increasing your return on your Google Ads campaign. Happy optimizing!

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How to Effectively Advertise your Local Business on Google Ads

How to Effectively Advertise your Local Business on Google Ads

Every day, millions of people conduct Google searches in order to find local solutions to their problems. As a small business owner, it is extremely important to be able to reach the people that are looking for your services exactly when they need them. Thus, having a strong local presence in Google Ads is essential to grow your market.

 

 

Here are some tips to effectively use Google Ads to advertise your local business:

 

Think Mobile

 

We live in an increasingly mobile world. Nowadays, pretty much everybody is online through their smartphone. This is very important because the way people search on their mobile device is significantly different than how they search on desktop. The one key difference that local advertisers should give high importance to is that mobile searches connect people to local businesses.

 

 

Not convinced? Here’s some data you might be interested in:

 

 

The “near me” search phrase, a strong indicator of purchase intent, has been one of the main focus points of research into mobile search behavior. Google has found that “near me” mobile searches containing some variant of “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown over 500% in the last few years.

Google has also found that 76% of people who conduct those “near me” mobile searches visit a business within a day. Not only that, but a whopping 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

What should local advertisers do to leverage this information? Make sure your bidding is competitive.

 

Use positive mobile bid modifiers in order to make sure that you are automatically bidding higher for those “near me” mobile searches with high purchase intent. A higher bid will give you a higher chance of winning a top ad position on the mobile search results page. Targeting a top ad position will increase your chances of reaching a potential customer, given that most people don’t scroll past the top results on a mobile device.

 

Use a Call-only Campaign

 

Depending on the nature of your business and the behavior of your clients, a Call-only campaign could potentially be a great fit for you.

 

If your business is an emergency service, sending your potential clients to your website is probably not the best idea when they need your help now. Other times, a potential client may want to speak with you before making a payment to hire your services. They are looking to do business with someone they can trust.

 

Call-only ads are a special type of ad format directed only at mobile devices. Unlike other ad formats, they do not send users to a website when they are clicked. Instead, they immediately start a phone call to the phone number on the ad. They also feature a call button.

An example of a Call-only ad.

It’s important to note that you should only be running your Call-only ads during your hours of operation. You don’t want to be showing your ads at times when you won’t be available to answer the phone not just because it’s a waste of your advertising budget, as you won’t be able to take advantage of the leads you receive when you’re not answering the phone, but also because it creates a negative perception of your business to those potential clients whose needs weren’t met when they needed you.

 

Google My Business

When a potential client does a local search query on Google, they are shown business listings that contain names, ratings, address, hours of operation, and phone numbers.

Having a good Google My Business listing increases your chances of success in your local market. An optimized listing that contains as much relevant information as possible makes it easy for Google to match your local business listing to the appropriate searches, which in turn increases your exposure.

Google My Business listings appear like this when a local search is conducted

Another way that you can leverage your Google My Business listing is by linking it with your Google Ads account. In doing so, you gain the ability to use location extensions in your account. Location extensions add very relevant information to your ads, such as:

  • The distance to your location and your city (mobile)

  • Your location’s street address (desktop)

  • A clickable “Call” button

  • a clickable access to a details page for your location—with information such as hours, phone number, photos, and directions

 

You get all of the above benefits when you use location extensions on your account at no additional cost! This gives you a competitive edge over other businesses that are not taking advantage of this useful feature.

 

Segment your Account by Location

 

Google Ads has a very useful functionality that allows you to target only the specific locations where you want your ads to show. Location targeting can be done at many different levels, but for advertisers focused on increasing their local presence, the most useful method of location targeting is radius targeting.

Here is what radius targeting looks like in the Google Ads platform.

Radius targeting allows advertisers to show ads only on a specific radius around their business. No local business is the same, so the most advantageous radius that each Google Ads account can target is not the same either. It all depends on your competition (how many similar shops are there in your area) and your customers (how far are your customers willing to travel in order to obtain your services).

 

Another way to segment your account by location is to use location-specific keywords. By having keywords that target location searches, you can group them into location ad groups and write more relevant ad copy to target this audience. You can utilize a function called dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) to automatically insert those location-specific keywords into the ad depending on where the search came from. This makes your ad a lot more relevant.

 

Local Service Ads (LSAs)

 

Local Service Ads are a special type of ad designed for local businesses in certain industries and regions. Their purpose is to show at the top of the search results page in order to provide instant solutions to clients with time sensitive problems.

 

Users that conduct these types of searches are not the type to take a lot of time evaluating their options because they usually need their problems solved ASAP (e.g. a bathroom flooding).

An Example of Local Service Ads

As you can see above, LSAs provide the following information: business name, rating, phone number, and hours of operation. They also come with a Google Guarantee stamp of approval!

The best part about LSAs is that when a user clicks on them, they are not taken directly to the website. Instead, Google prompts them to enter the service that they need and their zip code. This is how Google makes sure to match the user to the best service provider. Why is this good for you as an advertiser? Well, it’s only after a user completes those steps and then engages with your ad that you are charged. Therefore, advertisers don’t get charged by click, but by lead!

Here are the industries eligible to show LSAs today:

  • Locksmiths
  • Plumbers
  • Garage Door
  • Electricians
  • HVAC
  • Air Duct Cleaner
  • Appliance Repair Service
  • Auto Glass Service
  • Auto Service Technician
  • Carpet Cleaner
  • Event Planner
  • Handyman
  • Home Improvement Pro
  • House Cleaner
  • Junk Removal Provider
  • Lawn Care Provider
  • Mover
  • Painter
  • Pest Control Technician
  • Pet Care Provider
  • Pet Groomer
  • Photographer
  • Roadside Assistance Service
  • Roofer
  • Tree Service Provider
  • Tutor
  • Upholstery Cleaner
  • Water Damage Service Provider
  • Window Cleaner
  • Window Service Provider

These are the regions where LSAs are currently able to show:

  •  Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  • Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  • Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
  • Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  • Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • St. Louis, MO-IL
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

If your business is eligible to show LSAs, I encourage you to take advantage of this offering.

 

 Get Started!

 

Reaching your local customers is more competitive than ever these days, but with the above tips, your Google Ads local advertising strategy will be ready to help you grow locally.

 

Work on implementing these suggestions on your campaigns today!

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Google Is Preparing to Sunset the Average Position Metric – What Does this Mean for Advertisers?

Google Is Preparing to Sunset the Average Position Metric – What Does this Mean for Advertisers?

A couple weeks ago, Google Ads announced that it is currently preparing to sunset the Average Position metric from the platform this September.

What is Average Position?

Average Position is one of the original Search metrics available for the Google Ads platform. When your ad competes in the Google Ads auction, it is assigned an Ad Rank based on your bid and Quality Score. Your Ad Rank then determines your Ad Position in the paid Search results.

Ad Position only refers to the order of the ads on the paid search results, but not their location. Your ad may have won the top position in any given ad auction, but that doesn’t mean that it is going to show in the top of the Search results page. There’s a chance that your ad is showing below organic results.

Why is Google taking Average Position away?

Basically, Google has determined that Average Position is not a very useful metric to review auction performance anymore. Google Ads started to transition away from Average Position back in November, when they introduced a set of new metrics related to auction performance and Search results page visibility.

The new metrics are the following:

  • Top Impression Rate: The percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top section of the Search results. 

                                                  Top Impression Rate = Top Impressions / Total Impressions

  • Absolute Top Impression Rate: The percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top position in the top section of the Search results.  

                                                  Absolute Top Impression Rate = Absolute Top Impressions / Total Impressions

  • Top Impression Share: The rate at which opportunities to appear at the top of the Search results page turn into actual impressions at the top of the Search results page.

                                                  Top Impression Share = Top Impressions / Eligible Top Impressions

  • Absolute Top Impression Share: The rate at which opportunities to appear at the top position of the top section of the Search results turn into actual impressions at the top position of the top section of the Search results page.

                                                  Absolute Top Impression Share = Absolute Top Impressions / Eligible Absolute Top Impressions

According to Pallavi Naresh, Google Ads Product Manager, these new metrics give a much clearer view of our prominence on the Search results page than average position.

                                                                                   Google’s example for the top and absolute top positions

What do we do about it then?

The folks over at Google Ads have determined that these new metrics are more useful and insightful than the Average Position metric. Google Ads has been taking steps to shift to automation for a while now – this measure is yet another step they are taking in that direction. For the most part, automated bidding is not about being at the very top of search results, but rather about showing your ad where it has the highest chance of converting. In most cases, manual bid to position strategies are not as useful to advertisers as automated strategies are.

 

There is a new automated bid strategy called Target Impression Share that is used to influence page placement. With this tool and the time we have to prepare for the change, advertisers should not have any issue adapting.

 

Even though Average Position has been a staple metric to gain insights on performance over the years, the fact that it’s going away should not be a cause of worry for advertisers. The PPC industry is constantly changing and evolving. The trend towards automation is becoming increasingly pronounced and the loss of Average Position (mostly used in manual bidding strategies) a reflection of that change.

 

Does the automation trend mean that account managers will soon become a thing of the past? Absolutely not. Automation is a very useful tool for account managers, but it is far from being a replacement.

 

As an advertiser, there’s two things that you should do to prepare for this change:

 

  1. If you are currently optimizing your account taking Average Position into consideration and find it useful, there is no reason to stop doing so. Continue doing what works for your account until the change is implemented in September.

  2. If you haven’t done so already, familiarize yourself with automated bidding strategies, especially Target Impression Share. This will be more useful as time goes by and Google Ads continues to shift towards automation.

 

Change is scary, but in our rapidly evolving world of PPC, as long as we are informed and have enough time to prepare there is nothing to worry about.