Google Shopping campaigns are a great opportunity for retail advertisers to review their current PLA campaigns and optimize them for even better results. However, as many retailers are managing sometimes millions of products across thousands of brands and hundreds of feeds, adapting to and mastering the new Shopping campaigns system can seem like a huge undertaking.
Below we’ve provided seven tips to help you succeed during (and well after) the campaign migration process:
Going beyond basic campaign management strategy, advertisers can obtain additional control and visibility over Shopping campaigns by following more advanced tips:
For more best practices to ensure a seamless transition to Google Shopping campaigns, check out our full-length guide here.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the new changes and functionalities you can expect from Google Shopping campaigns, it’s time to nail down where to start in your transition prior to the August rollout.
The first thing to note is that regardless of how an advertiser’s existing PLA campaigns are set up today, there are several steps that they will need to take to migrate these campaigns over to the new Shopping campaigns in a smooth and seamless manner. Here’s where to start:
Once Google Shopping campaigns are up and running, advertisers should monitor and analyze performance metrics to ensure that they are getting their desired results. These performance metrics should also be used to determine how to best optimize their campaigns going forward.
While the features of Google Shopping campaigns are aimed at providing advertisers with an improved and more streamlined user experience, you should also be aware of the changes that have been made to some existing functionality with the same objectives in mind. Below is a rundown of what’s changed:
Now that you’re armed with the tools to begin making this transition, be sure to stay tuned for tips on how to get the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns once you’ve gotten started.
Marketing metrics like CPC or CPA only capture the cost part of the profit equation. This seems a bit odd when you think about how often successful marketing campaigns are judged on the revenue portion of the equation. It’s also detrimental over the long-term because it treats your marketing efforts as a cost-center vs. a revenue center.
Incorporating customer lifetime value (CLV) is important because it takes both revenue and costs into account. Our recent white paper provided an introduction on how to introduce customer lifetime value into your online marketing campaigns. This post is the first of a 4-part series that will provide pragmatic recommendations for building lifetime value models.
Prelude – Get your data ready
A lifetime value model is only as good as the quality of the data you keep. To develop a good CLV model, you’ll need to ensure you’re accurately measuring things like revenue per customer, margin per sale, and retention/churn or repeat purchase rates.
Once you have your data, there are three good reasons why you need to segment your customers to get an accurate understanding of your customer lifetime value.
Reason 1: Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is incomplete
A simple example can illustrate. Let’s say a business has two customers:
Customer #1 is an unmarried, 25+ y/o librarian, $35K HHI, and buys a hatchback for $15K. Customer #2 is a married, 55 y/o executive with 3 kids, $250K HHI, and bought a sports car for $160K.
Based on this data, the average customer for this business buys $80K cars. Except in reality that $80K car is far outside the price range of Customer #1, and it might not be upscale enough for Customer #2. Furthermore, the average customer’s demographic info based on the details above is basically worthless.
This is why segmentation matters. ARPU tells you that you have paying customers, segmentation can tell you who’s actually driving your business.
Reason 2: Focus your effort on the segments matter most
Go back to the two customers above. Which segment appears to be more valuable to you? Which is the one you want to focus your marketing on?
That’s a trick question. The answer is it depends. If you can convert the hatchback buyer and she buys several cars from you over her lifetime, then she could be worth more than the sportscar buyer. But if you were focusing on a window of 3-5 years, then you’d probably want to focus your marketing efforts on other sportscar buyers.
Either way, you can’t make this decision until you know how different your customers are.
Reason 3: Make better decisions
You might choose to target both customers. And that’s where segmenting for CLVcan be most helpful. Once you can divulge a segment’s CLV, opportunities for acquisition, upsell, and cross-promotion may become more visible. For example, you might leverage retargeting campaigns to upsell to segments with high CLV. Alternatively, you may find that there are cross-promotion opportunities with a segment with lower CLV but potential for growth. Finally, you might decide to cut marketing in channels that consistently acquire customers with low CLV.
Ultimately, understanding your customers’ CLV enable you to be a better marketer. This is a 4-part blog series, so stay tuned for more best practices to follow! [Part 2: Gathering Customer Lifetime Value Data – Start Small and Build]
Agencies have come a long way since the “Mad Men” days. The rapid proliferation and fragmentation of digital, social and mobile platforms has fundamentally altered their role in the advertising landscape. Now they need to be mindful of integrating online and offline data, dealing with cross-channel attribution, implementing digital ad tracking technology, and more.
To help agencies get an overview of these considerations, we just released “An Agency Primer for Digital Advertising Optimization.” It includes lots of integration and optimization strategies, and you can download a copy here.
As a quick preview into the Agency Primer best practices, let’s take a quick look at how agencies can integrate new channels and vertical publishers. While the major search engines have held strong as the most utilized research channel, other channels and websites are stealing market share by offering a compelling research experience.
Here are 5 tactics to consider:
1. Leverage Niche Search Engines as an Acquisition Channel. Niche search engines often present attractive advertising solutions for marketers looking to enhance their visibility in the search results. In the travel vertical, consider Expedia and TripAdvisor. In retail, look into Amazon, eBay, PriceRunner, Twenga, and Kelkoo. Or think about comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket, Compare the Market, Confused.com, or Go Compare.
2. Expand and Optimize Affiliate and Referral Networks. Affiliate marketing, which consists of a revenue sharing relationship between websites and advertisers, has grown considerably over the past several years. Agency marketers often appreciate the pay-for-performance model and recognize the channel as an important part of the customer journey. If you choose to go this route, make sure to review and optimize to reward sites with the highest quality traffic.
3. Advertise on Review Sites to Build Awareness and Consideration. Review sites offer opportunities for highly targeted advertising due to the amount of customer information available. Agency marketers should not be afraid to suggest using review site advertising as a way for clients to drive incremental traffic and revenue.
4. Leverage Retargeting to Re-Engage Potential Customers. In order to retarget a campaign, marketers can leverage a variety of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) or ad exchanges. No matter how you decide to set this up, make sure to adhere to retargeting best practices. These include capping the number of impressions each unique user can be served to avoid over-serving any one user, and carefully crafting your retargeting criteria based on the content they previously engaged with.
5. Test Second-Tier Search Engines and Search Networks. Many agency marketers have started to experiment with second-tier engines as a means of sustaining traffic at target profit margins. While traffic is generally lower on these networks, acquisition costs can be quite attractive. Consider Sendori, AdKnowledge, Advertise.com, AdMarketPlace, and others.
For more strategies and tactics, download “An Agency Primer for Digital Advertising Optimization” today.
“Content Marketing” is a hot topic these days, but many companies struggle to get beyond the buzzword and incorporate it into an effective marketing strategy. Only a few years ago, content marketing was simply jotting down a couple paragraphs packed with keywords. But as search engines have become more complex and their algorithms more savvy, the requirements for a comprehensive and impactful content marketing strategy have heightened as well.
Create (don’t just write!) Your Content. Starting with the basics, the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” I want to call out the fact that marketing is not just written content – rather, it covers all kinds of material. This could range from social media to infographics, to white papers and beyond.
Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut – Diversify. The variety of content has grown considerably as marketers attempt to reach and engage many audiences. When considering your content marketing strategy, diversifying is always a smart move. Different audiences are interested by different approaches, and using multiple formats of content can help you reach more people and maintain their interest.
Make it Easy to Find. Once you have your portfolio of content, the next step is to maximize the number and types of marketing channels used for distribution. Understanding how your audience finds and looks for information is crucial to making the most of your content. Does your audience find you through social media networks or search engines? Do they prefer email updates or RSS feeds? These important questions will help you strategically place your content where it’s easy for the audience to find it.
Use Data to Your Advantage. Running analytics on your content can help reveal valuable insights into audience interests. The more data you have, the better. Discover where you get the most viewers, what types of content they’re consuming, when they’re accessing it, and what information sparks their interest or leads them to convert. This kind of data can be used to influence aspects of your future content – content type, post time, channel of distribution, etc. Many people are surprised at just how data-driven content marketing is.
Remember, Quality over Quantity. Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that quality is more important than quantity. There’s no need to spin your wheels trying to produce massive amounts of content. While it’s good to make sure your content is fresh, it’s even better to make it relevant and meaningful to your audience. You can re-use a strong piece of content over and over again, reaping benefits long after the initial investment.
At the end of the day, content marketing goes way beyond whipping up a white paper, blindly pushing it out, and hoping for the best. Rather, a successful strategy demands many of the same skills required of today’s search marketing pros. For example, take your SEO skills and boost your search engine rankings with a really solid blog. Or put your PPC expertise to good use by giving your evergreen content staying power. Applying your skills and data-driven mentality to content marketing is the quickest way to success.
Last week, we revealed data showing the benefits of an integrated cross-channel strategy. But implementing that kind of strategy is easier said than done. Here are some practical tips from our latest white paper, The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising.
1) Assess Your Organization’s Cross-Channel Capabilities – Only 44% and 35% of marketers respectively feel that their paid search and social marketing channels are tightly integrated with their overall marketing activities. That’s way too low! To get more aligned, first ask these questions to assess your organization’s cross-channel capabilities:
2) Target High-Value Audiences Across Search and Social – To reach the right customer with the right buying intentions at the right time, take advantage of audience retargeting across search and social publishers:
3) Measure Performance Across Channels – Marketers who analyze their search and social campaign ROI holistically are able to make better decisions faster. Here are some considerations:
4) Optimize Across Channels Toward Audience Lifetime Value – If you focus on channel-specific metrics, chances are good that you’re missing out on the bigger picture. Instead, opt for an integrated search and social optimization strategy that focuses on customer lifetime value:
Looking for more search and social best practices? You don’t want to miss out on our white paper. Download it here and benefit from lots of data, 5 strategies, and 15 tactics to integrate your search and social campaigns.
In February, Google Shopping campaigns became available to all advertisers globally. Shopping campaigns redefined the way retail advertisers manage and report on Product Listing Ads, offering additional flexibility, visibility, and control marketers truly appreciate. Though advertisers can continue managing standard PLA campaigns successfully, Google announced today that all advertisers must fully transition to Shopping campaigns by late August 2014. After this date, advertisers will no longer be able to manage PLAs through standard Search campaigns, and all remaining PLA campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Shopping campaigns. This transition, similar to enhanced campaigns, represents a challenge and opportunity for retail advertisers.
What Do I Need To Do?
From now until the transition date, advertisers can continue managing and optimizing PLAs through standard Search campaigns. Since the auction landscape for PLAs was not affected by the introduction of Shopping campaigns or the mandatory transition, advertisers can continue running standard campaigns without adversely impacting PLA performance. Keep in mind Shopping campaigns and standard campaigns can run in tandem, ensuring the transition process can be executed successfully over time and according to retailers’ business needs.
How Do I Migrate?
There are five critical steps for transitioning to Google Shopping campaigns:
1. Prepare your feed for transition.
Review your product_type, adwords_labels, and adwords_grouping values. Products you plan to target as a group and bid on using product_type should have exactly the same value in the product_type attribute. Keep in mind that product types can only be subdivided five times.
For shopping campaigns, adwords_labels and adwords_grouping attributes aren’t supported. The new custom_label attribute can be used instead; however it’s limited to five labels per product.
2. Plan your transition process.
Take time to plan out your transition and consider restructuring your PLA strategy according to best practices and business needs. For advertisers managing a large number of product targets, a phased transition schedule is recommended.
3. Create a Google Shopping campaign.
For a single transition, create a Shopping campaign and subdivide product groups based on performance and business needs, then pause the old PLA campaign.
For a phased transition, create a Shopping campaign and systematically subdivide high volume and top performing products; pausing old PLA targets as new objects are created in your new Shopping campaign. If new groups don’t map directly to existing targets, you’ll need to have both PLA campaigns active, setting the new Shopping campaign priority setting to “high.”
4. Subdivide products within your new Shopping campaign.
Keep in mind that advertisers get performance data at all levels for all products, regardless of how product groups are organized. However, since product groups can only be subdivided five times, how these groups are organized becomes very important. It’s recommended that advertisers subdivide product groups first by product attributes that support more granular, subsequent subdivisions. For example, product_type > brand > id.
5. Analyze and optimize.
As with any transition and migration, be sure to monitor performance and ensure all of your products are receiving consistent coverage and driving similar outcomes. Review and familiarize yourself with the new CPC and CTR benchmark metrics as well as impression share. These will provide insight into the auction landscape and enable you to make smarter decisions when optimizing bids and product groups.
For additional guidance, please review Google’s recommended steps for transitioning to Shopping campaigns and work with your solution provider to establish an appropriate timeline.
What’s Marin’s Timeline for Support?
A beta program for Google Shopping campaigns will become available well in advance of the transition date. General availability for campaign management, streamlined reporting, URL Builder functionality, and integrated bid optimization is scheduled shortly after the conclusion of the beta. For more information on Marin’s Shopping campaigns beta, release schedule, and transition plan, please contact your customer engagement and customer success teams.
Paid search involves a million moving parts, but today we want to call out ad copy as a particularly important aspect. Good ad copy is convincing, drives click-through rates, and makes your ad stand out relative to your competitors. All this can lead to better quality scores and lower costs.
However, if you’ve ever stared at the blinking cursor with a case of writer’s block or wished you had more time to test and optimize, you’re not alone. Many search marketers are guilty of neglecting their ad copy from time to time. Even search marketers who take the time to fully test different ad copy and decide on a winner may not be refreshing it as often as needed to continually combat ad fatigue.
In this post, I’ll walk through some basic methods to increase your ad copy CTR and make it stand out:
1. Use Your Value Proposition – What’s the reason why searchers should visit your website? What benefits do you offer and why should people choose you against your competitors? In the example ad below, the value proposition is clear and straightforward, offering people a way to create a custom website quickly and easily. Someone looking for this service might be enticed by the 100+ design selections offered and simplicity of the “3 Easy Steps” messaging.
2. Capitalize the First Letter of Every Word – There’s evidence all over the web that capitalizing the first letter of every word in your ad will help increase CTR. Consider the two ads below, and it’s clear to see which one stands out more.
3. Use a Strong Call to Action – What should people do after reading your ad? A strong call to action will instruct searchers on the next step they should take, and create a sense of urgency for them to click on the ad. For example, if you were selling life insurance, “Get a Free Quote Today” is a call to action telling searchers to visit the site right away for a quote.
Keep in mind that optimizing for a boost in CTR doesn’t mean that the conversions will magically appear. Just because you create outstanding ad copy to make a searcher click doesn’t mean they will convert. Search marketers need to look at all these different elements in a holistic way and use data to evaluate how effective their ad copy is in terms of both click-through rate and conversion rate. For example, if you are driving a CTR of 10% and generating new traffic, but bounce rates are high and conversions are low, then chances are your ad copy isn’t relevant to the landing page you’re driving them to and needs to be re-evaluated.
Good luck, and happy ad copy writing!
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.
Big data. It’s a phrase everybody throws around, but with meaning that nobody can fully agree on. Definitions usually include some combination of massive amounts of information, structured data, unstructured data, too much data to process, complex data, or data that is beyond our computing power. While this is interesting, it’s not necessarily helpful. And what does it mean for digital marketers?
The idea of big data really kicked off when analyst Doug Laney published an article on data management challenges way back in 2001. He framed the discussion using three Vs:
Since then, others have added any number of additional Vs including veracity (data quality), viability (how useful the data is), and value (what the data helps us learn or do).
So while we can’t 100% agree on the definition of big data, the real takeaway is that you should know what big data means for you and your industry.
Which brings us to digital marketing! Big data is absolutely critical in our field because it makes data-driven marketing possible. It reveals intent and gives us a picture of our audiences. It allows us to be simultaneously more global and more local. It allows us to work across channels, and in real time. It keeps us competitive, and it can reap big profits.
All these perks are great, but dealing with big data is no simple task. The data must be organized in a way such that we can glean actionable insight. Scale is a big challenge, across millions of customers and keywords. And when we have really powerful data, it can also be a struggle to trust and act upon it when it’s not in line with our basic intuition and judgment.
Some companies – not just search marketers – are getting it right in a big way. Consider how the United States Marine Corps enlists big data in its recruitment efforts, described by AdAge. Or take a look at how some other big companies, from Netflix to Walmart, have enhanced their offerings with data-informed decisions here in this great Mashable article.
Marin Software is essentially a big data product, helping digital marketers make sense of and act on massive sets of really cool data. We encourage a data-driven approach of understanding audiences, predicting, and optimizing.
Now for the fun part. According to a recent McKinsey report, big data leaders have, on average, 5% higher productivity and 6% higher profits than other companies. In other words, marketers who capture the power of big data are making a sizeable impact on their bottom lines. So if you’re ever overwhelmed by all that is “big data,” remember that everyone else is on a journey to figure it out too, and that the possibilities and payoff are certainly worth the effort.