Brands that seamlessly tie offline conversions to online events are positioned for success, but it’s easier said than done!
Most businesses have a wide variety of customer touch points: website visits, social media interactions, phone calls, email, proposals, quotes, surveys, tech support, ordering, delivery, you name it. While it’s terrific to have so many diverse touch points, they can be a source of great complexity for digital advertisers.
A gap between the online and offline can result in an incomplete picture of paid search performance, as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the keywords and creative that drove those conversions. On top of that, not all interactions result in revenue conversions. The inability to define unique revenue values for each event and tie them to a single customer and keyword results in a bidding strategy that ignores lifetime customer value and fails to calculate optimal keyword bids.
So how can search marketers bridge the gap? Here are three tips for optimizing for online and offline conversions:
These tips are adapted from our white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. It’s a must-read for any advertiser in the financial services sector, and we also recommend it for marketers operating in a particularly competitive market.
The holidays are over, but seasonality should be a consideration for search marketers all year round.
Seasonal shifts in consumer behavior influence paid search performance, and create a constantly changing bidding landscape. Fortunately, this opens up some great opportunities to grow both conversions and revenue. With a little effort to manage seasonal data and constant promotional changes, optimizing for seasonality can be an excellent way to edge out the competition.
Let’s take a look at 4 quick tips for seasonal optimization in paid search:
These best practices were adapted from a recent Marin Software white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. With a focus on the financial services industry, the paper is a good read for anyone running paid search in a highly competitive vertical. It includes tips on efficient budget allocation, online/offline conversions, building brand equity, and adapting to changing business requirements.
For as long as we can remember, the keyword has been the fundamental anchor of the search marketing industry. Through the keyword, search marketers have historically “pulled” customers from the discovery to the consideration phase by trying to map a message (creative) to their search intent (query). Through this process, seasoned search marketers have created massive databases of “intent,” which have allowed them to fine-tune messages and investments based on the “intentions” most likely to drive the ideal ROI.
Intention based marketing through search keywords has been the quintessential strategy in any serious marketer’s toolkit for some time now. But with all it’s benefits, it’s clear to see that the keyword does have its flaws when used in isolation.
While keyword-based marketing tells us a wealth of information about potential intentions, it tells us nothing about the quality or lifetime value of the customer. Is the searcher a current customer or a potential customer? Are they likely to purchase low margin or high margin products? What types of products are they looking for when they come to your website from a branded term? And what is the potential ROI of the searcher one month, six months, two years from now? The search marketing industry has long been seeking a solution to answer these questions, and a way to run search campaigns targeting both intentions and audiences at the same time.
Today, Marin announced Audience Connect, the digital marketing industry’s first ever keyword and audience based marketing solution. Audience Connect is made possible through a partnership with BlueKai, the only independent SaaS solution for data management, analysis and activation in marketing. Through BlueKai, Audience Connect unites advertisers’ first- and third-party audience data with keyword intelligence. It pulls from over 40 thousand attributes of audience data across 400 million profiles, including intent data, demographics, and behavioral insights.
Advertisers can now target more effectively, customize creative and optimize bidding by specific audiences for search campaigns as well as display, video, analytics, native advertising and site optimization. Audience Connect also makes it possible for advertisers to build truly customer-centric programs across all digital marketing channels.
Over the coming months, Marin looks forward to continuing to help our customers reach their ROI objectives while offering them new capabilities through Audience Connect. These include:
For more information on Audience Connect and our BlueKai partnership, please check out our press release.
From time to time Google makes changes to the algorithms that calculate Quality Score. If those changes result in a drop in Quality Score, advertisers are negatively impacted; position is likely to drop and harm the click through rate. Maintaining the same position will likely result in higher CPCs, meaning fewer clicks and conversions within a given budget. Staying on top of Quality Score changes is therefore crucial, but we all know that manually running reports can be time-consuming.
Leading UK agency Croud’s mission is to make digital marketing accessible to all advertisers, regardless of their size and budget. They follow a strict set of best practices designed to keep accounts in tip-top condition. To monitor Quality Score, Croud set up a series of automated alerts using Marin Software’s reporting suite. It was through these alerts that they spotted a recent change in AdWords Quality Score and assessed the impact it had on their accounts. Google does not store historical Quality Score, so without Marin, Croud would not have been able to do this without taking the time to manually record data each day.
Last week, AdWords started reporting lower Quality Scores across many clients. Brand terms and high-volume generic keywords were affected most, and in some instances the drop lasted for two days. By being alerted to this change as soon as it happened, Croud was able to optimize their account accordingly to remain as efficient as possible and manage client expectations.
In a time where consumers are increasingly engaging with brands online, advertisers are faced with the challenge of tying conversions occurring offline, back to the online clicks and events that led to those conversions. Particularly in industries like financial services and automotive, applications and online leads result in offline verifications and approvals at brick-and-mortar locations. This disconnect between customers’ online and offline engagement results in an incomplete picture of ad performance as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the clicks and events that drove those conversions.
The requirement for this level of visibility is becoming more apparent, and the industry as a whole is shifting to solve this challenge. In fact, earlier this month Google introduced the ability for advertisers to measure offline sales with AdWords’ conversion import feature. This new AdWords feature helps advertisers measure and optimize for the complete end-to-end purchase process. It’s exciting to see publishers beginning to understand and support this level of marketing complexity. Providing marketers with online to offline visibility allows brands to realize the true return of their online advertising investments and enables them to better optimize their programs.
In early 2012, Marin addressed this same challenge by introducing Revenue Upload by Order ID (RUBOID). By assigning order IDs—for example an applicant or quote number—this feature enables advertisers to bridge the gap between their data warehouses, or CRM systems, and online customer activities. Marketers are not only able to attribute offline conversions and revenue to back to online clicks and events, but also modify attributed revenue based on refunds, cancellations, and other downstream revenue adjustments.
In the case of AMF Bowling, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers, online coupons are used to drive customers to one of their 285 bowling centers across the country. However, this online to offline engagement created challenges in tracking and measuring coupon effectiveness. They lacked visibility into the bowling centers that benefited most from their coupon redemption program. Six months after integrating their program with Marin’s RUBOID technology, monthly revenue attributed to paid search was over 10 times higher than the revenue attributed in the first month of the program. The ability to optimize with a complete picture of ROI enabled AMF Bowling to lower their cost-per-conversion by almost 70% over a nine month period.
From October through December 2012, when Google first transitioned shopping results in the US, PLAs experienced an almost exponential growth in impressions and clicks. Since then, retailers have continued to embrace the richer and more engaging ad experience, providing online shoppers with highly relevant creative that include product details, images, and price.
To help search marketers prepare for this holiday season, Marin has released a report, “Google Shopping Ads: Product Listing Ads Deliver for Retailers.” This annual report examines the continued surge in PLA adoption and spend, and presents four critical best practices for successfully deploying, managing, and optimizing PLA campaigns in Q4.
Highlights from this report include:
Download the complete 8 page report, “Google Shopping Ads: Product Listing Ads Deliver for Retailers”, here.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the first two tips in this series, check out Part 1 here. If you’re already up to speed, we’re going to pick up where we left off and discuss three more strategies to make your online retail search marketing programs a success.
3) Advertise your entire product catalog. Retailers that promote their complete product line and deliver relevant ads are able to differentiate their offerings and maximize their revenue outcomes.
4) Convert on-the-go consumers with mobile. Retailers that can successfully and engage on-the-go shoppers will be able to acquire revenue as customers move across devices.
5) Optimize for seasonal shifts. Retailers that account for seasonality will maintain an advantage and accelerate revenue outcomes during critical buying periods.
Are you a search marketer in the online retail industry? Share your tips for success in our comments section. And make sure to download a copy of our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers,” for more in-depth discussion of these winning strategies.
Retailers face unique challenges in the battle for online revenue. And in this highly competitive space, technological inefficiencies and the inability to execute effectively on paid search strategies results in higher costs, lower margins, and missed opportunities.
Marin Software studied some of the world’s largest and most successful retailers, and identified 5 strategies for success. Read on for ideas to improve your own search marketing programs.
1) Allocate your budget efficiently. Retailers that efficiently allocate their budgets are able to maximize revenue without increasing spend.
2) Capitalize on brand equity to beat out the competition. Retailers that do this are able to maximize ad visibility and create engaging brand experiences.
Stay tuned for three more strategies, coming soon. And for more information, download our white paper, “Revenue Acquisition Management for Online Retailers.” The white paper reviews the challenges in executing each strategy and highlights tools and techniques for addressing them. It’s a must-read for any search marketer in the online retail vertical.
In our Feature Spotlight blog series, we highlight and discuss use cases for new and popular features within the Marin Software platform. Today, we’ll take a look at Marin’s bulk support for Google enhanced campaigns; streamlined capabilities that enable search marketers to effectively scale the migration and management of enhanced campaigns.
The Enhanced Campaigns Challenge
Google’s move to enhanced campaigns was without a doubt one of the biggest shifts paid search marketing has experienced, generating industry buzz and plenty of concern among search marketers. One of the biggest concerns was the amount of additional work required to migrate to and manage enhanced campaigns. Migrating and managing these campaigns for large-scale search accounts demands a lot of time—especially the manual, time-consuming tasks of migrating and merging campaigns.
Marin & Enhanced Campaigns
The advantages and pitfalls of enhanced campaigns have been well documented and discussed throughout the search industry. Kye Mou did a great job of covering this topic in his post on what enhanced campaigns mean for search marketers. Understanding the requirements to successfully migrate all campaigns before July 22nd, Marin’s Product team has been working tirelessly to integrate features to support enhanced campaigns. This hard work paid off in early March when Marin announced our first round of support for enhanced campaigns. Since then we’ve announced additional features, including bulk upload and multi-edit support for enhanced campaigns.
Marin’s Bulk Support for Enhanced Campaigns
To help advertisers more effectively migrate to and manage their enhanced campaigns, Marin released bulk upload support across all key enhanced campaign objects. Marin users can now accurately perform all of the following actions using bulk sheet upload functionality:
Additionally, Marin will display the Google recommended mobile bid adjustment on the enhanced campaigns’ settings page.
All-in-all these features will save a significant amount of time and streamline the workflow for search marketers who are migrating to, merging, or managing enhanced campaigns. Learn more in our helpful report, The Search Marketers’ Guide to Enhanced Campaigns.
Earlier this week, I started to take a look at the top 10 biggest changes to happen in the paid search industry over the last decade plus. From ad rotation settings to device targeting, search marketers have certainly seen our fair share of new features and innovations. Today, I’ll reveal the top five biggest changes in paid search history:
5. Google enhanced campaigns
Some might argue this should be higher on the list. But before we bump it higher on the list, let’s wait and see how it all plays out after July. Google is fundamentally changing the way search marketers manage and optimize their AdWords campaigns. The migration to Google enhanced campaigns will place all device targeting capabilities under the roof of a single campaign, along with the ability to set mobile bid adjustments at the campaign and group level.
Theories differ on what the long term impact of enhanced campaigns will be on paid search performance, but what all search marketers can agree upon is the importance of a successful migration where enhanced campaigns are optimized to ensure post-migration success. We’ve invested too much time structuring and optimizing our campaigns to meet our business needs to dismiss enhanced campaigns as a minor change that will have minimal impact on paid search performance. If I recreated this list a year from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if enhanced campaigns were much higher on this list, but until we know more, I’m happy keeping it at number five.
4. Google Product Listing Ads
Google PLAs have been a game-changer for those in the online retail space. Managing listings are now easier, the listings are more accurate and up-to-date, and the ads themselves stand out and are more engaging. Though you still need to optimize to get your listings to show, one can argue PLAs are much more effective than traditional text ads, especially when attempting to advertiser your entire product catalog.
3. AdWords Desktop Editor
Though not as vital as it was when it was first introduced some eight years ago, the AdWords Desktop Editor paved the way for the next generation of platforms and tools for managing paid search campaigns at scale. Those of you who managed paid search in 2004 or earlier understand how much more difficult it was back then using just the AdWords interface and spreadsheets—plenty of manual toggling between campaigns, and much more time-consuming workflows for creating or editing keywords and ads. When Google introduced the offline desktop editor, it transformed the way search marketers managed and made changes within our search accounts. Now publishers like Bing and Facebook have their own offline desktop editors.
Would you like to add multiple, deeper links to your search ads? Yes, please! Though they don’t show up for all keywords, ad sitelinks creates a big incentive for search marketers to get relevant and push ads to the top of the search engine results page. The ability to include additional links within a search ad enables search marketers to not only increase the ads’ real estate, but also provide users with more relevant, deep-linked landing pages. The combination of the two has enabled sitelinks to increase ad CTRs for the keywords they are eligible to show for.
1. Quality Score visibility
Finally, the secret formula was revealed! Well, not really. One of the biggest mysteries and challenges for search marketers was understanding the relevancy of our keywords and what exactly determined their competitiveness and cost. Once Google revealed the concept of Quality Score and the variables that influence it, search marketers became obsessed. All management and optimizing strategies from that moment on was predicated around improving Quality Score. Gone is the guess-work in figuring out what keyword, ad, or landing page changes will have the greatest impact. Now we know the factors of relevancy that Google deems most important, and we’re able to better manage and optimize our accounts to improve and maximize long-term performance.
There you have it, my list of the top 10 biggest paid search changes. Chances are your list, if you choose to create one, will vary from mine. If that’s the case, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below and let me know why you’d rank one change higher than another.