What You Need to Know About AdWords Expanded Text Ads
Google announced a big change to AdWords back in May and in July the official rollout felt like Christmas came early. For years, every digital advertiser lived by the 25-35-35 character mantra and agonized over fitting brand message into those stringent limits when launching AdWords ad campaigns. The next generation of advertisers will eat, sleep, and breathe the 30-30-80 character rule.
One month after Google’s the expanded text ads announcement we’re looking at what these major changes mean, how to get the most bang for your buck, and what advertisers need to know to migrate from standard text ads to expanded text ads. As of October 26, 2016 advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard text ads.
[Update: September 13, 2016] Google announced the expanded text ad format deadline has been moved back. Advertisers now have until January 31, 2017 to make the transition to expanded text ads (instead of the original date of October 26, 2016).
Here’s what you need to avoid costly AdWords campaign mistakes and how to leverage this new ad format.
What are Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)?
Expanded text ads offer 47% more space for your ad copy with two 30 character headlines and an 80 character description. Like Standard text ads, ETAs are available on the Google Search Network and Google Display Network. Both automatic and manual ad extensions are fully compatible with the expanded text ad format.
Google designed ETAs to accommodate the seismic shift in how consumers are now interacting with brands across multiple devices. ETAs will display across desktop and mobile devices AND automatically adjust the format according to the user’s screen size.
Out of the trillions of searches happening on Google, over half of those searches are happening on mobile. And, looking at data from millions of websites using Google Analytics today, more than half of all web traffic is from smartphones and tablets.
Advertisers can now better engage their audience by delivering a mobile-first experience to potential buyers in their preferred context.
What will Change from Standard Text Ads to Expanded Text Ads?
How to Transition to Expanded Text Ads
- Make sure you have AdWords Editor version 11.5 or later. If you don’t, don’t worry! You can download it free here.
- Launch AdWords Editor, select ‘Ads and Extensions’ tab on the left table.
- Select all the text featured on the main screen and paste into a spreadsheet.
The most important fields are: Campaign, Ad Group, Keyword, Headline, Description Line 1, Description Line 2, and Device Preference
- To update your existing standard text ads to the ETA format, you’ll need to create your new columns. So you can easily see copy changes, put the new columns to the right of their respective previous column.
- Insert the =length( function to make sure you don’t go over the character limit for each column.
New Headline 1 = 30 characters; New Headline 2 = 30 characters; New Description = 80 characters.
- Now that you have your spreadsheet is setup, you can quickly rewrite your old text ads and transition those into Google’s new expanded text ads format.
Wrapping Up: A Few Best Practices to Keep In Mind
Spend Time on Your Headlines
Headlines are more important than ever. With the extra headline field, use that space to focus on deeper messaging that resonates with your intended audience. While longer headlines increase the clickable space of your ad, your first headline still remains the most important real estate space. Some advertisers have noticed the second headline truncated when viewed on desktop. Be sure to include the most important message (and keywords) in the first headline.
Keywords Still Matter, So Use the Path Fields to Match Intent
The ETA format now automatically pulls the domain from your Final URL as your display URL with the option to include two 15 character path fields as an appendage to the display URL. Use these two fields to indicate to your searchers where they can expect to see after the click. More importantly, use this space to include top performing keywords to improve relevance and improve your ad’s overall quality score.
Take this Opportunity to Audit Every Aspect of Your Text Ads
Review how your ad, as a complete entity, supports your client’s message. Analyze your historical data and try to come up with new tests to run with your ETAs. This means assessing everything from the ad creative to ad extensions like callouts, reviews, snippets, and more to strategically optimize your ads.
Have you been testing out the new Extended Text Ad formats? Let me know if you’ve found any tips to share in the comment section below ☟.
What’s Growth Marketing?
I was fortunate to attend this year’s Growth Marketing Conference, a fairly intimate event when it comes to marketing conferences. With only 250 tickets available, attendees had the opportunity to personally meet and nerd out over Growth tactics with any one of the 28 speakers. Panels included growth industry leaders such as Andrew Chen, Neil Patel, Jon Miller, and Dan McGaw…just to name a few.
We kicked off the morning with a fireside chat with Andrew Chen and Bubba Murarka titled, “Why Most Growth Hackers Just Can’t Hack It.”
One of the overarching themes many of the speakers focused on was the importance of finding product/market fit. Without it, you will not grow. Chen, known for his straightforward analogy, happily shared this quote:
“Growth is a magnifying glass. If you have a diamond and you put it under a magnifying glass, then you’ll make something big and great. But if it’s just a tiny piece of shit, then it’s just going to be a big piece of shit.”
It makes sense why Growth Hacking, a term coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, has taken off in the past few years. Ideally, once a company has found product/market fit, they then look for ways to optimize growth. This requires allocating resources to specific areas that have been identified as the most viable levers to pull for exponential increase in revenue.
The Google Trends report for the term “growth hacking” clearly shows us the interest in this newly created business function.
Building a Growth Team
Chen went on to describe how a growth team functions within an organization. A true growth team works cross-functionally and includes a product manager, marketer, engineer, data scientist, and designer. Normally, this team works independently of marketing and product to allow for the autonomy to design tests and influence the product roadmap.
Panelists like Juney Ham (CMO, Hired) and Archana Agrawa (Head of Data Science and Growth Marketing, Atlassian) focused on the structure of growth teams and how to organize for success.
For example, Atlassian plans to grow 20x, from 5 million monthly active users to 100 million monthly active users. Agrawa shared how she structured her growth team and the essential competencies to reach that level of growth.
You should model your growth team around these four areas of expertise:
- Data Science
- Develops predictive analytics and focusing on multi-touch attribution.
- Marketing Analytics
- Responsible for business insights and recommendations.
- Data Engineering
- Implements testing at all states of the customer lifecycle.
- Growth Product Marketers
- Focuses on messaging for activation, journeys and in-product experience.
The success isn’t determined by the number of signups, but rather by active product usage and how to drive that usage into conversion. Without the right foundation of structure, competencies, and process, growth initiatives will inevitably fall flat and fail to provide business value.
Metrics that Matter
As a SaaS growth marketer I really enjoyed listening to “How Thought Leaders Get Explosive SaaS Growth” panel with all-stars like Shira Abel (CMO, Cyara), Scott Heimes (CMO, SendGrid), Elizabeth Yin (Partner, 500 Startups), and Tim Matthews (VP of Marketing, Incapsula).
On the topic of metrics, speakers shared insights on which KPI’s matter the most for optimal startup growth. Elizabeth Yin, without hesitation, noted churn rate as the most important metric because investors judge the scalability of a business based on product stickiness. You can focus resources on acquisition efforts to grow the number of leads, demos, and signups; however, if you’re unable to retain those initial customers you acquired, then you’re actually costing your company more dollars. A leaky conversion funnel is a strong indication time and resources are dedicated to the wrong customer stage lifecycle. Tim Matthews followed up on this same thought with CAC Ratio and why retention rate is a sure-fire metric to measure growth’s success.
The conversation then shifted to top-of-funnel tactics and how to fill the sales pipeline with qualified leads. The most recent trend is to leverage marketing automation as a means to increase the volume of incoming leads. While this has made the job of the marketer easier, automation has caused a degradation in quality, wasting time and creating noise in metrics data. It doesn’t matter if there’s a high volume of leads in the sales pipeline if they are not going to convert into customers.
Scott Heimes talked about the power of analog marketing tactics. Heimes divulged how to segment based on lead quality to determine which contacts should receive a more personalized sales interaction and which should be directed to an automated nurture track. For example, when dealing only with 50-100 top tier leads, it can be worth your time to send direct mail to these contacts. These time intensive tactics show that you actually care about gaining their business and has resulted in many new customers for SendGrid.
The takeaway here is to spend a little more time personalizing messaging to your top leads, and optimize your automation tactics to continue filling that top-of-funnel to nurture lower priority leads.
Sara Varni, SVP of Sales Cloud at Salesforce, gave her presentation titled “One Metric Marketing – How Daily Action Can Drive Long Term Success.” Varni shared how focusing on one metric was the key to scalable growth at Salesforce. The biggest challenge to overcome in growth is aligning marketing and sales goals. Echoing a statistic she shared:
“B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs 10% or more of revenue per year.” – IDC Research.
When each team is aligned on the same one metric, it’s makes it a lot easier to identify processes that really matter to move the needle.
Varni’s four step process to achieve this is:
- Clarify Organizational Priorities
- Evaluate the Metric Effectiveness
- Gain Cross-Functional Consensus
- Revisit, Revise, and Pivot
When anyone speaks about growth, it usually involves a/b testing. Daniel McGaw of Effing Amazing laid it out clearly, we’re all testing wrong. Or as he would say it, we’re all fucking wrong (that’s his shtick). Along with the numerous and equally humorous f-bombs dropped, McGaw demonstrated any optimization testing must be done with a view of the entire customer lifecycle – retention must be considered, don’t limit success to user acquisition.
As an example, a variation test that results in more signups is great, but how do you know those signups are quality leads and will result in less churn? Maybe your “winning test” actually increases churn 3-months down the road.
To solve for this is not complicated and simply requires connecting your testing tool (e.g. Optimizely) to one of the many analytics tools such as Google Analytics or MixPanel. You’ll then be able to clearly track your test groups throughout their entire lifecycle.
Wrapping It Up
It is clear that growth is ultimately a long term game when building a new team focused on conversion optimization. And it’s not up to one person, or one team, it’s up to the entire company to focus on growth.
The conference can be summed up in these three key points:
- Focus on product/market fit before scaling. (“Nail it before you scale it”)
- Focus on one key metric at a time. Rally your marketing, sales, product, and customer success teams around this metric.
- Build a multi-disciplinary growth team comprised of specialists in their respective fields.
If you want to learn more about the conference, visit http://growthmarketingconf.com. I’ve also listed a few additional resources to check out below: