Google recently announced that native Gmail ads are now available for all advertisers in AdWords. Previously in beta, Gmail ads are highlighted text ads with an accompanied logo, that appear on the Promotions tab. If clicked upon, the ad expands to a full page layout, with a lot of realty.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to setup Gmail ads in AdWords.
Create a Display Campaign
If you’re able to dedicate a modest budget to testing Gmail ads, I suggest creating a dedicated Display Network only campaign. Next, select your marketing objective for the campaign. Marketing objectives allow advertisers to align their campaign settings towards with desired goals, such as a form fill. Performance, ROAS driven marketers should choose from a “drive action” objective.
Finish up selecting all your ideal campaign settings.
Select Your Placements
Gmail ads are selected in the ad group’s placements section. To reveal placement options, scroll down to the “choose how to target your ads” section, and select “use a different targeting method”.
Within the placements search bar, submit a query for the web address “mail.google.com”. Then select the domain as a placement.
Refine with Keywords
Only using placement targeting can open your campaigns up to billions of weekly impressions on Gmail. Hone in on your target audience and conserve budget by adding keyword targeting.
Display keywords are utilized slightly different than search keywords. Where search can be exact and intent based, display keywords are broad match only. Display keywords help guide where an an ad will be shown based on the content of the website and previous user browser history. Contextual targeting is powerful for Gmail, as the page content is generated from users’ emails.
Often, I’ll adopt a similar ad group structure to my existing search campaigns. Taking the best performing broad search keywords and adding them to display ad groups.
Consider Audience Targeting
When Google allowed single sign-on across all their products, it not only created a better user experience, but also provided Google with connected data on their user profiles. Advertisers can use this data to build custom audiences to target.
Custom affinity audiences is an option worth considering.
Custom Affinity Audiences
Create a custom audience, targeting users who visit specific websites or have long-term interests in certain categories.
You can learn more about custom affinity audiences in this detailed post.
Within an isolated ad group view, visit the ads tab. Pull down the ad tab to reveal “ad gallery”.
Choose “Gmail ads” from the gallery options.
There are 4 types of Gmail ads:
- Gmail image template
- Gmails single promotion template
- Gmail multi-product template
- Gmail custom HTML upload
For this walkthrough, let’s explore the Gmail image and single promotion templates.
Gmail Image Template
This option is great for branding, featuring your image across the full page width if a user clicks through.
- Collapsed – 144px by 144px
Add your advertiser name, a subject line, and a description. Treat your subject line as if it were an actual email headline – be succinct and to the point. Your description line should follow, by clearly revealing your value proposition.
- Expanded – 650px by (300px to 1000px)
Next, let’s explore the benefits of using single promotion templates.
Single Promotion Templates
While a prominent image can be a powerful way to showcase your brand, sometimes it’s not enough to convey your product or service benefits. The promotional template layout includes both a large area for images, and also provides space for a headline and copy.
In addition to the collapsed copy, expanded promotional templates allow for:
- a large side bar image
- headline copy
- body content
- optional header image
- Side bar – 300px by (200pc to 500px)
- Header image – 630px by(50px to 200px)
With the option to contextually target users by their email content, and lower cost per click averages than Search, Gmail ads provide a promising addition to your AdWords armada. Initial tests have shown click through rates as high as Search, and attractive CPA ranges. Have you tried the new Gmail Ads? We’d love to hear your findings!
We are teaming up with Hanapin Marketing to host a webinar that will cover The Most Valuable Google AdWords Features For The PPC Account Manager. As you know, AdWords has tons of reports, targeting options, and optimization tools. But how do you allocate your time to make sure you’re getting the most value from these features?
Register for this webinar to learn expert tips like:
- Using Auction Insights to find competitors to use outrank bidding strategies on
- How to receive the ideal conversion volume and cost/converted click at positions 1-3 or lower
- Utilizing Dynamic Search Ads as a keyword mining tool
- Increasing bids on qualified, previous site visitors
Join us and our AdWords experts who will walk through their top 10 most valuable AdWords features.
Michael McEuen, Director of Demand Generation at AdStage
Amanda West-Bookwalter, Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing
The webinar is on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 9am Pacific Time. To guarantee a seat in this webinar, register today.
This is a guest post by Marta Dalton, Manager of Web Marketing at ANSYS & Phillip Brooks, Content Marketing Manager at SEMrush.
Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are image-based paid advertisements for specific products (or SKUs) that appear in the SERPs triggered by searches for related keywords. The Google Shopping platform allows e-commerce vendors to build a database of hundreds, even thousands, of individual products within their Google Account and target ads based on a myriad of criteria, such as: keyword, demographics and geographic location, season and amount of inventory. As with Google AdWords, an inefficient PLA strategy can be costly for any online business. Moreover, a successful strategy for either platform requires regular re-assessment of performance and goals in order to maximize performance. Successful digital marketing cannot rely upon a “set it and forget it” strategy.
We’re going to show you how to use SEMrush to perform a competitive analysis using our PLA tool that will identify keywords in three capacities:
- Keywords unique to your domain
- Keywords unique to your competitor/s domain/s
- Keywords shared by both your domain/s and that of your competitor/s
Each of these data sets can provide you with different kinds of actionable information. For example, keywords unique to your domain may be indicative of keywords for which you need bid defensively, as this represents an opportunity for your competitors. Alternatively, keywords that are shared by both you and a competitor may demonstrate opportunities for growth for either side. This would allow you to check which ads are appearing for that keyword and which aren’t. This gap analysis shows conversion opportunities you might be missing out upon. Finally keywords that are unique to a competitor could show you which keywords represent an opportunity for you.
I want to stress that this is only a snapshot for a particular timeframe and this kind of analysis should be repeated on a regular basis to ensure your strategy remains viable.
SEMrush PLA Tool
It stands to reason that if we’re going to be performing competitive analysis, we must first identify just who our competition is. SEMrush has a feature within the tool that can help us do this quickly and efficiently. Our PLA Tool is a relatively recent addition, but it’s rapidly become very popular with our community.
Let’s look at the video game retailer, Gamestop.com With all the news coming out of E3 last week, there should be some pretty healthy levels of traffic going both to their domain as well as the domains of their biggest competitors. Search volume for individual titles/products/SKUs carried by these retailers will also be robust as users search for the best places to buy from.
Within the PLA Research Tool, enter the domain, and select “PLA Competitors” and SEMrush will deliver a list of competing domains sortable by competition level, common keywords and other metrics.
Here we see those results for Gamestop.com:
SEMrush scales and sorts competitors using two parameters:
One is the number of common keywords–that is, the number of keywords for which both domains/advertisers appear in the same PLA block.
The other factor is the number of uncommon keywords. These factors are designed to ensure that competitors listed fall within the same industry.
For example, one site may have fewer common keywords but be listed as more competitive because it has fewer keywords in total–meaning that the majority of its business competes directly with the site being queried.
With this data we can not only can see what sites are competing with Gamestop, we can also extrapolate the domains competing with its competitors by feeding those domains into SEMrush for further analysis.
Competitive Analysis Using PLA Positions report
- Use PLA Positions
- Filter by the brand or the product category to ensure the CSV download is both manageable and usable.
NOTE: in some cases you might want to start with a broad term and filter in Excel, or you might want to focus on a specific sub-category
- Hit apply and export to CSV
- Check out the URL structure and see if you can extrapolate category and/or item model number from there. Some competitors make it nice and easy, like so:
- In this case we can get category and brand from the URL. Copy the “URL” column data to a new column, then use Excel’s “Text to Columns” tool to delineate the data based on how they’re separated (sometimes it’s a hyphen, in this case it’s a slash).
- Now we’ve got both “manufacturer” and “category” in separate columns–for the most part, anyway. (It seems that “accessories” here doesn’t follow the format, so we can isolate that manufacturer and then just move them over to the right by one column so that “accessories” lines up with the other categories.)
- With both “manufacturer” and “category” (maybe sub-category and the product too) off by themselves, we can filter and see what keywords are being targeted by this competitor in these areas.
Bonus Hack #1
Sometimes the URL’s aren’t that pretty and they’re just words separated by hyphens in no particular order (or the order changes based on SEO or the title). This is where the 80/20 Rule comes into play. We will focus on the categories or products that are most important to us and pull them out using the Find and Replace tool.
Copy the URL to a new field and label it “categories,” “sub-category,” “manufacturer,” etc. Create a heading for whatever data you want to separate out.
In this case, we’ve made a field to show “sub-category” which will extrapolate “Xbox,” Playstation,” “Nintendo,” and their model type. From this, we can pick the top 10-20 items we want to find and use wildcard characters in front of the text to grab them (in this case, we noticed that the syntax uses hyphens so we could search for “xbox-one,” “xbox-360,” “ps4,” etc.)
We can apply this search parameter to the data, which results in the nicely filtered result you can see on the image to the right:
From here we can copy the URL to a new column to pull out manufacturer and repeat other data from the URL using the same method.
Bonus Hack #2
Now that we have stand-alone fields separated using Bonus Hack #1, add-in the data from the “manufacturers” and “categories” headings of your other competitors (we also added a new column for the “competitor company” name,) we can use Excel’s PivotTable feature to see how many keywords our competitors are using in each category. If our competitors have a lot of PLA keywords in a category that is strategically important, or in which we have a lot of stock, we might want to revisit our strategy for those terms.
Bonus Hack #3
With this hack, we’re able to pull a manufacturer product code/model number from the URL. We can then see what prices our competitors are charging for the items in question and adjust our pricing and sales promotion strategies accordingly.
Now we just need to make sure we have active PLA’s running on those items and enough stock to meet the increased demand!
Bonus Hack #4
Once we have the data sorted by “category” and “manufacturer,” we can use Excel’s VLOOKUP function to check against our product list to see what we have in these categories that our competitors are NOT advertising on. If VLOOKUP returns “#N/A,” we know we’ve got a winner that they don’t have.
Using the data we’ve already gotten from the PLA Competitor tool, we want to examine PLA Keywords/Product Names that your site shares with competing domains.
We can accomplish this via a side-by-side comparison between our performance on Google Shopping and that of our competition.
Go to SEMrush → Tools → Domain vs. Domain, enter the domain and up to five competitors’ domains into the input fields, select “Keyword Type” option, “PLA” and press “Go.”
With this data, we can:
- See whether or not those domains compete in paid search results for your keywords and compare their PLAs’ rankings for each search term.
- Generate reports for your domain’s unique keywords (excluding common keywords) to see search terms for which you are an uncontested leader.
- View competitors’ unique keywords to understand the opportunity that you may be missing; and get ideas for improving your product feed in order to appear in paid search results for more queries.
So now we know who our competitors are. It’s time to identify where our opportunities lie. This is where keyword research comes into play.
From the Domain vs. Domain report we ran above, we can look at which keywords we share in common with a given domain, but we can also look at those keywords which are unique to each domain as well. These often represent opportunities that we can target.
We can use filters to pull out the headings that we want to focus upon. Then sort that data by “competitor position” or by “search volume” to find potential add-ins for your PLA’s.
PLA Copies Report
We can also use the Find and Replace method (from Bonus Hack #1) on the export from the PLA Copies Report to roll up keyword totals by heading (like we did in Bonus Hack #2.)
This report is particularly handy for creating a “hot list” of items. If we know we have overstock on a specific set of items (talk to your merchandising or purchasing team to see what you have a lot of and/or what stock is about to be written off because it’s aging) we can see what keywords our competitors are going after for those specific item(s.)
Are you using PLAs as part of your overarching digital marketing strategy? If so, what other methods are you using to identify keywords that correspond to products that your site carries?
We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
About the Authors
Marta’s background is an eclectic mix of technology and marketing, and she considers herself fluent in translating “techie” to English and vice-versa. Her background includes a B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering and an MBA, both from Carnegie Mellon University, and a winding path that’s seen her lead digital initiatives under both CIOs and CMOs.
Phillip Brooks is the Content Marketing Manager for SEMrush, the leading competitive intelligence tool for digital marketing. He is a prolific content creator who has worked on campaigns for companies both large and small, including Electronic Arts and Turner Networks.
These days, the competition for paid search advertising is fierce. If you’re not continuously optimizing your campaigns, it’s difficult to stay at the top. Throwing more money on your bids won’t help – you’re going to need to take some serious care of your campaigns in order to nurse them back to health.
Are you seeing a slow decline in click-through rate (CTR) or a steady increase in cost-per-acquisition (CPA)? Your campaign problems might be the result of several different factors. In the post, you’ll learn what optimization strategies you can apply with AdWords to nurture your paid search campaigns back to health.
Get a Bandage
Review your keyword performance report and search query report from the last 60 days. Pausing keywords that have a high CPA, lots of clicks with zero conversions, or an extremely low CTR (< .10%) and no conversions should lower your cost-per-click to start.
Stop the Bleeding
In your search query report, you can see all the keywords you purchased. If there are irrelevant terms that are costing you cash, stop the bleeding and add these as negative keywords.
Run Some Tests
Always testing your ad copy. With only one ad variant, you’re missing out on the opportunity to test messaging. Two to four active ads per ad group will add some lift to your campaigns. Just don’t forget to pause the losing ad as soon as you have enough data to identify it.
Use Segmentation Therapy
I’ve commonly seen campaigns grouped together for network, device, and location targeting. However, organizing campaigns this way actually makes it very difficult to optimize your ads for the particular device, audience, and network. By creating separate campaigns for devices, networks (search and display), and locations, you can optimize each campaign separately.
Having too many keywords in a single ad group could be detrimental to campaign health, as some of those terms could be highly irrelevant. Additionally, if you’re only targeting broad- or phrase-match keywords, your ads could appear for very irrelevant search queries. To fix this issue, try using exact-match keywords, especially if they are able to drive enough volume. For ad groups that have more than 25 keywords, break those out into more smaller ad groups that target a single concept.
Take Preventative Measures
Make sure to include ad extensions whenever relevant. Ad extensions give searchers more information up front, taking up more real estate on the search page. You can use Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions, Product Extensions, and Location Extensions to increase CTR and conversions.
In the example below, the ad with extensions occupies a larger space in the search engine results.
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There’s probably no tool more dear to a digital marketer’s heart than Microsoft Excel. It’s the must-have data analysis program that helps turn raw numbers into actionable insights. Here are five of my favorite Excel features that I’ve learned to love over the years.
5. Table Formatting
Table Formatting lets you apply a beautiful table style to your raw PPC data quickly.
For example, you can use it to convert your plain AdWords campaign performance report to a presentation-ready table.
How to set it up:
- Remove any extra title and total rows
- In the Table ribbon, select a predefined table style
- Your table will now feature clear formatting and filterable headers
Macros let you automate repetitive tasks in Excel by recording your manual actions so you can replay them in future worksheets later with a single keystroke.
For example, you can create a macro that removes title and total rows from your AdWords spreadsheets for easy analysis with pivot tables.
How to set it up:
- Download and open an AdWords campaign performance report in Excel
- From the Developer ribbon, click Record
- Assign a keyboard shortcut (e.g., Opt+Cmd+S)
- Store the macro in your Personal Macro Workbook
- Begin performing the manual tasks you’d like to repeat automatically in the future
- Delete the first row in your table (the AdWords report title)
- Delete the last 4 rows in your table (the AdWords total rows)
- Click Stop to conclude recording
- You can now strip the title and total rows quickly by running this macro
3. Text to Columns
Text to Columns lets you parse through the data from one column and distribute it into multiple columns.
For example, you could use Text to Columns to remove UTM tracking parameters from your destination URLs. This would make it easy for you to analyze landing page performance in a Pivot Table.
How to set it up:
- Download and open an AdWords ad performance report in Excel
- Select your Destination URL column, and launch Text to Columns (Data > Text to Columns)
- Leave your data set to Delimited, and click Next
- In the Delimiters section, type “?” into the Other field, and click Next
- In the Data preview section, select the new column (with your tracking parameters)
- In the Column data format section, select “Do not import column (Skip)” and click Finish
- Your Destination URLs no longer contain any of your tracking parameters after the “?” and are ready to be analyzed with a Pivot Table.
2. Pivot Tables
Pivot Tables make it easy to summarize, analyze, explore, and present large sets of data. It’s a great way to reformat your raw data into interactive tables.
For example, you can use a Pivot Table with the Ad Performance Report from AdWords to quickly discover the best-performing headline of your ads.
How to set it up:
- Download and open your AdWords ad performance report in Excel
- Prepare the table by deleting first row (the report title) and the last 4 rows (the totals)
- Highlight the table, and insert the Pivot Table (Data > Pivot Table)
- Use the Pivot Table builder to dynamically structure the new table
- Segment performance by campaign and headline by dragging “Campaign” and “Ad” into the “Row labels” field
- View relevant performance metrics by dragging “Clicks,” “Impressions,” and “Converted Clicks” into the “Values” field
Finally, we get to the most beloved Excel feature of all: Formulas. Formulas allow you to perform calculations and take actions on data in your worksheet. There’s a myriad of formulas that you can combine to make incredibly powerful spreadsheets.
For example, you can use the simple LEN formula to count the number of characters in a cell. This formula is especially useful when writing ad headlines and descriptions.
How to set it up:
- In a cell, type =LEN(
- Then type the reference of the cell you’d like to count (e.g., your ad headline in A2)
- Now, you’ll have a real-time count of the length of your cell
Share Your Favorites
Did I miss your favorite Excel feature? Share yours in the comments below!
Every year, groups of very smart advertisers are asked to give their prediction for the future of digital advertising. For the past 3-4 years, the answer was an overwhelming “shift to mobile.” So what will the predictions for 2015 be? You guessed it, mobile! So it should be no secret to anyone in this industry that mobile advertising is becoming increasingly competitive. In this post, I will show you some ways to make sure you set yourself up for success on mobile platforms.
While the focus is primarily on AdWords, many of these tactics should be considered when optimizing other networks, and certainly your message should be consistent across your channels.
1. Mobile Landing Pages
Having a mobile-friendly landing page will do wonders for your conversion rates. It makes the user experience less frustrating and makes finding necessary information easy.
Here are two ways to make your landing page mobile friendly:
- Use a mobile responsive website – With a responsive website, your site layout and images will automatically adjust to the screen size of the device it’s displayed on. This typically requires an overhaul of your design, but it’s the optimal method and future-proofs your site.
- Create a mobile landing page – With a dedicated mobile landing page, you can create a high-converting page that renders well on mobile, without changing your existing website. You can create one in minutes with tools like Lander or Unbounce.
2. Call Extensions
Call extensions simply add a phone number to your ad to help encourage people to call your business.
Which type to use:
- Just the phone number – only populates a phone number when clicked; customers are unable to click through to the site.
- If your website is not mobile friendly, or hard to read.
- If someone will actually answer the phone.
- If you do most of your business via phone.
- If there is value for a person to call; e.g. free consult, place an order or book an appointment.
- Both phone number and clicks to website – if a person clicks on the ad headline, they will be allowed to go to your website; if they click anywhere else, a number will populate to call.
- If your website is mobile responsive.
- If your business is hard to understand and more information is needed.
- If someone will answer the phone.
- If your website brings value to your business; e.g. you offer a lot specials, typical questions can be answered on your site and information is easy to find.
3. Mobile Optimized Ads
Creating dedicated ads for mobile devices will make testing much easier, and it will help you segment data so you can make more important decisions.
- Put your specials first – People’s attention spans on mobile are very short– they are likely on the go or simply don’t have time to research heavily. So put the meat out first, and let them get the potatoes on their own.
- Use shorter keywords in ad text – mobile searches tend to be shorter, and we know that Google bolds the ad text if it’s part of the search. With that knowledge, if you couple keyword insertion with some carefully placed keywords in the description, you’ll have a pretty bold ad.
- Use callout extensions – Callouts are a great way to list specials in a short, easy to find place. Learn how callouts can strengthen your offer here.
4. Mobile Bid Modifiers
You can also use bid modifiers allow you to adjust your bids on mobile devices by a percentage of your desktop bid.
There are several rules of thought here. Mobile ads used to be considered a cheaper click than a desktop bid, but since enhanced campaigns, that no longer seems to be the case. However, I usually just keep bid aounts the same until I can get some data to make a decision. You can find that data by segmenting your campaigns by device:
5. Be Aware of the Display Network
Let me be blunt– the display network for mobile devices is terrible. You will likely spend most of your time trying to figure out how to exclude all the Mobile Apps. That said, the cpc’s do seem to be pretty low on the GDN. If you want to try and make it work, I would suggest using very specific targeting and placements.
Once you’ve gotten a solid mobile strategy in place, TEST! Just because your website looks great on mobile doesn’t mean it’s conversion friendly, nor does it mean your customers will see it the same as you. Test your specials, ad text, landing pages, etc. Remember that any good test has a control and a variable. Once you choose a winner, iterate and test again.
Mobile Only Campaign Test
Since the launch of enhanced campaigns, mobile campaign customization is virtually impossible. However, I’ve heard of some people placing conversion codes on your mobile landing page; then once you’ve gotten enough conversions, changing your bidding strategy to Conversion Optimizer. Google’s algorithm should recognize that mobile is getting all your conversions and start to shift all your impressions to mobile. You will want to make two conversion codes to track the real conversions if you do this. I have not tried this strategy myself, so proceed at your own will. I did think it was a clever concept, though, so I figured it would be worthwhile to share it with you.
Mobile devices can be a valuable tool for driving customers to businesses. Carefully planning your strategy will help ensure you advertise on mobile more efficiently. Test your strategies, and throw your ego aside, letting the data lead your decisions.
Have other mobile optimization strategies? Please post your comments below!