About half a year ago, I got my first AdWords certificate. It all began when we at AdStage found out that we needed at least two AdWords-certified people in the company to qualify for the Premier Partner Badge. Fairly new into my role back then, I was an easy target.
If you’re in the same boat right now, don’t let the word “exam” scare you. Through a couple of simple strategies (and a lot of social pressure), I got my AdWords certificate in less than a week while working full-time. In just one week, you can make your mom and boss proud, too.
Below you’ll find the seven key strategies and study hacks.
1. Select your second exam
To get your AdWords certificate, you’ll need to take two exams. The AdWords Fundamentals assessment is a must for everyone, and you can choose among the following five options for your additional exam:
– Search Advertising
– Display Advertising
– Mobile Advertising
– Video Advertising
– Shopping Advertising
You’ll need a score of at least 80% on each exam to pass. With that, you’re good for a year. You’ll have to retake both tests every 12 months to keep your certificate valid.
Which additional AdWords exam should you choose? If you’re a PPC practitioner, it depends on your goals. I spent two years working for a mobile app company earlier in my career, so I went for the Mobile Advertising exam. I’ve also heard from the agency friends that Shopping might be the easiest one.
To get started, sign in to the Google Academy for Ads using your personal Google account — or your corporate email address if you’re taking the exam as part of the Partner badge requirement.
- AdWords Fundamentals Study Guide
- AdWords Display Advertising Study Guide
- Mobile Advertising Study Guide
- Video Advertising Study Guide
- Shopping Advertising Study Guide
2. Set your timeline
If you’re like me and plan to study while working full-time, set up a realistic timeline and block the time on your calendar you’ll dedicate to studying and taking the test. Plan 3 hours for two exams (90 minutes each) and 1-2.5 hours every day, depending on how much you already know about PPC.
I studied daily for about 45 minutes during my commute on Caltrain in the morning and after work. I also reviewed the guide for about 15 minutes before going to bed. I split my time about 65/35 for the Fundamentals and Mobile Advertising exam, because I found that understanding the basics helped me better grasp the concepts in the additional assessment.
Rescue Time — a personal analytics tool to help you avoid distractions.
Pomodoro Timer – you’ll find many web and mobile apps. Mine is Focus To-Do for iOS. Pick any you like; they all work the same way: a timer breaks your work into focused 25-minute time blocks separated by a 5-minute break. After 4 consecutive working cycles, the app will time a longer, 15-minute break.
3. Explore the Google AdWords UI
If you’re new to AdWords, I’d start by setting up an account. Create a campaign or two, browse through the different types of reports, see where things are. While most questions on the test are covered in the study guide, this step will help you enrich your learning with context.
For example, the answer to the question below is easy to derive from logic, but even faster if you download the AdWords Editor and attempt to access real-time data without WiFi.
AdWords Editor is a free application that allows advertisers to make changes to AdWords campaigns while being offline. Which of the following actions CANNOT be completed when using AdWords Editor offline?
- Copy items between ad groups
- Undo/redo changes made to campaigns
- Access real-time click and impression statistics
- Move items between campaigns.
4. Sign up for iPass
If you walk away with just one lesson from this article, this is it. iPassExam is a subscription-based software program that has one of the largest online question banks for Google AdWords, Facebook Blueprint, Google Analytics, Bing Ads, and Adobe ACE tests. I owe this tip to Mike McEuen, a former agency marketer and PPC pro who was my boss at the time, but I was completely sold on the software when I found out that many Google employees are also fans.
iPass question banks are designed to match the official Google study guide, which means you can quiz yourself after each chapter (or even before reading one). After long hours of work when I didn’t feel like reading about clicks and conversion types anymore, iPass quizzes were a somewhat fun distraction while riding back home on Caltrain. The web version works nicely on iPad.
Each question comes with a brief explanation, a handy link to the guide, and stats on how other students did on the same question to benchmark your success.
The annual subscription will cost you $99.99. It saved me many hours in preparing for the exam and was well worth it.
5. Spread out your learning
I’ve seen online courses that guarantee your certification in just two days. It is doable. However, if you have the time, spread out your learning for each of the two exams a little every day, for at least a week. With just an hour a day, your preparation will almost feel effortless. Plus, you’ll remember things better. Just like with lifting weights at the gym, consistency and progress beats intensity. If you lift too much without giving your muscles time to rest, you’ll just end up sore.
Watch this video on chunking:
6. Mix it up and alternate different study techniques
Rereading the material is not very helpful — and quite boring, too. This technique may fool many into thinking they’re learning, but they’re not. To be productive, alternative different techniques:
- Recalling what you just read
- Explaining what you just read to a friend
- Handwriting a question on on one side of a flash card and the solution on the other
- Quizzing yourself on a problem
- Reviewing your flash cards in a random order
I love using flash cards, so I got myself a 100-count pack for less than $3 on Amazon. I used it for several courses I took on Coursera, for my AdWords certification, and still have a bunch of those left.
Pro tip: According to Barbara Oakley, the author of “Learning how to learn,” handwriting builds stronger neural structures in memory compared to typing.
- AmazonBasics Ruled Index Cards, 3×5-inch, 100-Count.
- Barbara Oakley: A Mind for Numbers. (the companion book to the popular online course “Learning How to Learn”
7. Get enough sleep
In my productivity app folder earlier in the article, you might have noticed a sleep tracking app. That’s no mistake. Sleep is my most powerful hack.
If you’re short on sleep, you can’t think quickly and well, and your memory suffers. Sleeping also helps you strengthen your ability to focus — which means less time for you to master the material. Good sleep is important throughout your training for the exam — and critical right before the test to make sure you’re functioning at your best.
Check out this sleep-promoting TED talk by Arianna Huffington:
One last thing
Unlike with Facebook Blueprint Certification where you take a proctored exam, you can use your notes or the Google online guides in the Google AdWords exam. However, the time is limited to 90 minutes for each exam, and some questions are tricky, making it a little hard to Ctrl-F-search for things while taking the exam.
That is it! Good luck! Let me know how the exam goes.
It’s 3:15pm and you’re just wrapping up your budget optimization plan for the week. You get a ping from sales informing you of a brand new client – time to break out your trusty onboarding plan. Beyond the basics of onboarding, of course, is the challenge of connecting with your new client in a quick and impactful way. Please forgive the cliche, but there really is only one chance to make a positive first impression.
First impressions aside, there are plenty of other controllable factors that go into a successful professional relationship. In the first few months of your client’s lifecycle with your agency, it’s crucial to build trust and camaraderie. You can do so in a number of ways, but it all comes down to communicating as equals. Here are 3 ways to build effective relationships with your current and future clients.
1. Be a teacher
Businesses hire PPC agencies for one central reason: they don’t have a digital advertising master on board. While many team members may be savvy to bits and pieces of the full PPC marketing journey, there is still a lot of negative space to be filled when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of a successful paid digital campaign.
We, as humans, are characteristically afraid of the unknown. This fear leads to frustration and distrust. Ultimately, the PPC knowledge gap between you and your client can lead you both down the rabbit hole to an unsatisfactory relationship. While this seems like a bit of a slippery slope fallacy, the best way to build a positive and collaborative client relationship is to create a solid foundation of knowledge and shared understanding of the service you’re providing. Now, I’m not advising you to give each new client a full crash-course in digital advertising to the point where it eliminates their need for outside marketing. More rather, it’s important to give each new client a very high-level understanding of the following:
- KPIs you’ve deemed important to their marketing goals
- Benchmarks for these KPIs
- The why’s and how’s behind your strategy for them
Additionally, one of the reasons your new client has hired your firm is to be set up with a marketing strategy that most other marketers aren’t using. Simply put, they want to be confident in your ability to come up with and execute innovative marketing strategies to boost their business. In order to properly communicate to the client that you can meet this need, it’s important to teach them not only about strategy basics but also about the innovations you layer on top of your strategy to make it unique. This involves laying the groundwork with a few basic building blocks of campaign strategy and checking in with your client to ensure they understand the difference between the two.
Beginning an agency-client relationship with education not only shows that you care about your new client but also lays a foundation for trust. It eliminates the barrier of understanding what you’re doing for them while mitigating the risk of potential mistrust down the road.
2. Communicate with transparency
Of course, communication is key to building any type of new relationship. We know this going into new client onboardings, but a lot of the time, this is much easier said than done. Some of us have clients who will email seventy-five times per day, every day. At least this is what it feels like. With this kind of volume, we can fall into the trap of putting transparency and open communication on the back burner, send a quick surface-level throwaway response, and get on with business as usual.
While this method takes care of the immediate question at hand, it’s can lead to a loop of placing band-aids on broken arms. The best way to combat the negative consequences of poor or non-transparent communication is to do so proactively. Let’s break this proactive communication model down into 3 parts: setting proper expectations, performance reporting, and follow-up.
Set proper expectations
Ideally, expectation-setting should be done throughout the sales process, and then again during onboarding. This process should go both ways, as well. It’s important to solidify what your new client expects from you as an Account Manager, but it’s just as important to communicate your expectations for your new client. Do you need certain information from them on a monthly or quarterly basis? Do you expect them to be available for calls on a regular basis? Get this out of the way first so there are no surprises down the road. two-way expectation-setting is also a great way to hold your client accountable for what you need now and in the future.
Send timely reports
Reporting is the next step in our transparent communication model. Sending visual representations of your agency’s performance to your clients is by far the best way to maintain transparency throughout the entire client lifecycle. With a regular reporting cadence, your client will feel that they are in the know and up-to-date with the advertising you are doing on their behalf, which will lead to fewer check-in emails down the road. A solid reporting structure that focuses on the KPIs and performance goals identified during onboarding is the best way to consistently and transparently communicate your progress with any client. It’s important to note that different clients require different types of reports. Some businesses prefer table-style data like you would see in a spreadsheet, while others digest the info easier with time-based charts and graphs. Find out what works best for you client, and show them what they need to see in the way they want to see it each week, month, or quarter.
Be consistent in follow-ups
Lastly, following up on these reports with a quick email detailing what you gathered from it shows a level of accountability from you to your client. Instead of only showing your client a chart with a conversion count that exceeds your goal line, send them a 2-3 sentence email explaining what you believe the cause of their campaign’s excellent performance was. This is not only a great way to subtly brag about your PPC management skill, but also helps your client up to your level of understanding. It is equally as, if not more important to follow-up with your client when a campaign underperforms. If you send out a report with potentially disappointing news, you should always follow up with your deduction of what went wrong, and how you plan on shifting your strategy to adapt. While this is a tough email to send, it shows that you are holding yourself accountable, and are not trying to hide any shortcomings from them.
Voilà! You’ve set the standard for transparent communication with your client, and likely built a little trust along the way.
3. Build empathy
This is a big one. As an Account Manager, your number one job is to, well, manage your clients’ accounts. You do this job because you are a highly-skilled PPC advertiser who also has some client-facing experience under your belt. Of course, customer service isn’t always top-of-mind, but treating your client with empathy will only help you foster a more positive and effective relationship.
Now, when I say “empathy”, I don’t mean catering to your client’s every whim. Nor do I mean being hyper-conscious of every word you send their way as not to offend them. Here, “empathy” means changing your mindset about how you treat your clients; you should be working with your client, not for them. This holds true especially when your client calls you frantically demanding explanations for underperforming campaigns. No one likes fielding these types of questions, and it can create a divide in an otherwise positive client relationship. It’s important to keep in mind the factors on the client’s side that have led up to this moment. Chances are, there’s someone above them demanding answers even more frantically, and someone above them, and so on.
The easiest and most consistent way to show empathy toward your client is to communicate in a way that puts you both on the same level. Kent Pearce, Director of Customer Success at AdStage, who’s also my boss, gave me the following advice when I once asked him how he builds such great relationships with all of his clients: “Just talk to them the way that you would want someone to talk to you.” At first, I didn’t believe it was that simple. The more mindful of this type of empathetic communication tactic on my calls and emails, the easier it was to build and nurture relationships with my clients.
Leveling with your client is the foundation upon which a positive relationship is built, and layering education and transparency on top of it make it effective and mutually beneficial – even when things go wrong.
What are your best tips for managing client relationships? Tell us in comments.
In the days of Mad Men and lunchtime martinis, marketing was driven as much by feel as by measurement and data. The reach of a magazine or billboard ad could be approximately based on the audience size, but understanding the overall health and ROI of a campaign was largely guesswork. It meant a lot of hand-waving when someone walked up and asked, “How’s that campaign doing?”
Times have changed, of course. Modern marketers have access to oceans of data on everything from impressions to brand awareness, customer retention rates and lifetime value. Fluency in these metrics and an understanding of statistics is fundamental to growing a career in marketing.
With all those metrics, “how’s the campaign doing” should be a lot easier to answer. But a lot of the time, it isn’t. There’re so many ways to answer the question, and things can get muddy.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a single simple metric to monitor? A metric that’s high-level and easy to understand, yet data-driven and accurate? Happily, this metric exists. It’s the Lin/Rodnitzky ratio, developed by the founders of 3Q digital, Will Lin and David Rodnitzky. We’ll refer to it as the “L/N ratio” for the rest of this post.
What is this marvelous metric? The L/N ratio compares the total cost of conversions in a campaign vs. the cost of traffic from keywords that convert at least once. For example, an L/N ratio of 1 means that every search query triggering an ad has at least one conversion. On the other hand, an L/N ratio of 6 means that you are paying for clicks from six search queries that never convert for every query that does.
What the L/N ratio means for the health of a campaign
You can use the L/N ratio to assess whether opportunities are likely being missed, or if money is being wasted on too irrelevant traffic. It’s a really nice, at-a-glance way to assess how a campaign is doing.
Too low: L/N ratio from 1.0 to 1.5 means that every search term, or almost every search term, is converting at least once. This indicates a very conservative campaign with narrowly defined keywords. If this campaign is not intentionally specific, such as a branded campaign, you are likely missing conversion opportunities by restricting traffic too much.
The sweet spot: L/N ratio from 1.5 to 2.0 means that the account is nicely balanced, and gets a nice variety of traffic without being either too conservative or too aggressive.
Getting a bit aggressive: L/N ratio from 2.0 and 2.5 means that the account is drifting away from the sweet spot and should be tightened up before money is wasted.
Too high: L/N ratio above 2.5 means that the account is wasting a lot of money on non-converting traffic.
It’s easy to calculate the L/N ratio for any of your accounts. The first step is to make sure the account is tracking conversions.
Set up conversion tracking
To use the Lin / Rodnitzky ratio, you need to have conversion tracking set up on your website. To do this, you need to:
- Create a conversion action in AdWords, which prompts AdWords to generate a special snippet of code.
- Place the snippet of code on your website.
Setting up a conversion action in the new AdWords UI
AdWords recently rolled out its updated UI to all users. Use it to set up a conversion action by signing into your AdWords account and clicking the tool icon in the upper right.
In the menu that appears, find the measurement headline, and click conversions.
You’re now at the list of conversion actions. Click the big “plus” button to add a new one.
You’ll be asked what kind of conversion you want to track. Click “website” on the left hand side.
You’ll now fill out a form that describes the conversion you want to track.
- Conversion name. Enter a name that describes the conversion you’re tracking. We entered “newsletter sign up,” but it can be anything.
- Category. Select from the drop-down list the type of conversion you are tracking. This groups similar conversions together for easier reporting.
- Value. Enter a monetary value for the conversion, if you have one. You can use the same value for every conversion, or you can use a different value per conversion. Using a different value requires that you set up transaction–specific values.
- Count. You might be tracking multiple conversion actions after an ad is clicked. You have the option of counting every action as a conversion, which is usually best for sales. Alternatively you can count one conversion per ad click regardless of the number of subsequent conversion actions, which is usually best for tracking leads.
- Configuration. This section includes multiple settings for the tracker, including:
- Conversion window. How long to watch for a conversion action after the ad click.
- View-through conversion window. A “view-through” conversion happens when user saw an ad on the display network but didn’t click on it. The same user subsequently converts at some point in the future. This setting selects how long to watch for a view-through conversion.
- Select in “conversions. By default, the conversion action you are creating will appear in your conversion reports, but you can change that using this setting.
Click create and continue at the bottom of the page.
The conversion tag
Once you set up your conversion action, two snippets of code will be generated. You need to place these on the website on which a conversion will take place.
The first bit of code is called a global site tag. It’s placed in the <head> section of your website. The same global site tag should be placed on every page of your website that you wish to track.
The second bit of code is called the event snippet. You choose whether you want to track website visits as a conversion (how many visits to a landing page) or if you want to track clicks on a link or button as a conversion. This is the code that tracks a specific conversion action, and is placed in the <head> tag right after the global site tag.
The different conversion tracking methods
There’s two ways to track conversions. One way is to track visits to a website that appears after a conversion (a “landing page”), such as a thank you page. The other way is to track when someone clicks a link or a button on your site.
Why track clicks instead of a landing page
You may want to track clicks as conversions if the landing page is unavailable (such as a third party payment page) or doesn’t exist (such as when a click downloads a file or prompts a call).
Gather conversions data
Once you have conversion tracking set up, you want to gather at least a couple weeks’ worth of data so that your calculations are statistically significant. Without the two weeks, your L/N calculation isn’t likely to be meaningful, and can cause you to make mistakes with your campaign configuration.
Setting up the search query report in the new AdWords UI
To get conversion data by search query in the new AdWords UI, click keywords on the left hand menu.
Next, from the top menu, select search terms. Also, make sure you have a date range of at least two weeks.
Now you have a report that contains all the search queries for the selected time period. You now want to filter these results to show only those queries that generated at least one conversion.
Click the filter icon in the upper right:
The filter dropdown will appear. Click it and select conversions.
You’ll be prompted for a number of conversions. Select the greater-than symbol, type 0 into the field, and click “Apply.” Now you have a filter that will show only those search queries with at least one conversion.
The final step is to add the columns to the cost per conversion data in your report. Do that by clicking the columns icon in the upper right and select “modify columns.”
From the selection area, choose conversions and then cost per conversion
The columns will appear on the far right of the report, be sure you can see them so that you can calculate the L/N ratio.
Calculating your ratio
Now! You’ve filtered your report to show only those search queries that had at least one conversion, and you’ve added the cost per conversion columns to your report. Now you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and see what’s what with cost.
At the bottom of the report you will see the total cost of your filter (the cost for the traffic from search queries that got at least one conversion) as well as the overall cost per conversion.
Divide one by the other:
Total cost / Filtered cost
And you have your L/N ratio!
In the case of this example, the L/N ratio is pretty bad: 9.6. This account is wasting a lot of money and should be optimized immediately.
The beginning of this post discussed the rules of thumb when it comes to the L/N ratio: too low and the campaign is likely too conservative. Too high and you are likely wasting money. Like any high-level metric, this is meant to be a general indicator.
What to do if you have a poor L/N ratio
If your L/N ratio is too high, you should look at those search queries that eat up a lot of budget without driving conversions. If the search term is irrelevant to your business, you should negative match it. This way you can immediately improve the performance of your campaign and lower your L/N ratio.
If the search term is expensive but is generating some business, consider lowering the bid for the term instead of negative matching it altogether.
On the other hand, if your L/N ratio is too low, you can increase the bids for search queries that are underperforming.
Using the alpha/beta campaign strategy
You can more easily maintain a healthy overall L/N ratio by using an Alpha/Beta campaign strategy. The Alpha/Beta strategy is a two-campaign system with one campaign (the “beta”) containing broad match keywords. High-performing search queries are placed in the Alpha campaign.
By adjusting the budget between the Alpha and Beta campaigns, you can manage your investment between exploration for new keywords and harvesting proven performers.
An AdWords campaign is complex and has many moving parts. The L/N ratio is a great general barometer for the health of your campaigns, but it’s only one tool. To ensure you get the most for your AdWords budget, be sure and familiarize yourself with best practices for campaign structure, keyword discovery, ad copywriting, and landing page design.
This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top nine headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Feb 26 – Mar 2nd.
Tune in as they cover the latest on Google UAC updates, Facebook News Feed, Twitter’s bookmarks, YouTube live streaming, and more.
LISTEN TO THE SHOW
AdExhchanger spoke with Google’s Director of App Ads about what’s next on the roadmap for Universal App Campaigns and Google’s plans to “give app developers a peek inside the black box.
News Feed FYI: Ending the Explore Feed Test
The Explore Feed was a trial response to consistent feedback we received from people over the past year who said they want to see more from friends and family in News Feed. The idea was to create a version of Facebook with two different News Feeds: one as a dedicated place with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated place for posts from Pages.
To understand if people might like two separate feeds, we started a test in October 2017 in six countries.
Facebook is rolling out job posts for business and job seekers, who can now use the Jobs dashboard found in the Facebook web sidebar or mobile app’s “More” section. Businesses can post jobs on Facebook and promote them with ads, while job seekers can find a full-time or part-time gig, filtering the openings by proximity and location.
According to Facebook, during the 2016 election, President Trump’s campaign actually paid higher rates to advertise on the platform overall than Hillary Clinton’s campaign did.
If you want to save a tweet, but don’t want to “Favorite” for everyone to see, you can now do so by bookmarking it. To use this new feature, click on a new “Share” button and choose “Add to Bookmarks.”
Twitter trying to be less toxic
RFP for a conversation health score
When it comes to voice search, Amazon Echo might be biased towards certain brands. eMarketer shares data from last year’s research conducted by Bain & Company, which uncovers Alexa’s top suggestions for shoppers who search by voice.
YouTube is expanding its list of features for creators of live video. Live streaming will now include chat replay, automatic English captions, location tags, and IFTT technology integrated into YouTube’s monetizing tool. Automatic captions will be powered by live automatic speech recognition technology.
Unilever threatens to pull ads from Facebook and Google
Unilever h”It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on wellbeing, on democracy – and on truth itself,” Mr Weed said.as pledged to:
- Not invest in platforms that do not protect children or create division in society
- Only invest in platforms that make a positive contribution to society
- Tackle gender stereotypes in advertising
- Only partner with companies creating a responsible digital infrastructure
“Begin with the end in mind.”
That was good advice back when Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People so many years ago. And it’s good advice now.
In fact, if you had to write The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketers for 2018, “begin with the end in mind” would be a smart chapter title. Perhaps even the first chapter title.
You could begin it by talking about how to define marketing goals.
This is trickier than it sounds. If you’ve ever been around the conference table when the question of which marketing goals to pick comes up, you know how the conversation goes. People start tossing in all sorts of ideas…
“More website traffic.”
Those are all admirable goals, of course. One or two of them might even be the right goals. But you need to distill all those suggestions down to one or two priorities. Because if “improve every single metric we track” is your marketing goal… you don’t have a goal. You have a herd of competing priorities.
The trick, of course, is to pick one goal that will support all the others. That one thing that, if achieved, would make pretty much every aspect of your business better.
Then your second trick would be to find the perfect, trackable metric through which to measure your progress. The one metric to measure every piece of content by, every advertising campaign, everything you do. To find the “one metric to rule them all” in Lord of the Rings parlance.
Now, can you have more than one marketing goal? Sure.
You can have no marketing goals if you want. You can even be like 66% of B2C or 55% of B2B content marketers, who don’t have a working definition of what success even looks like.
But we do not recommend this.
And frankly, if you’re reading this, you wouldn’t take that path, either. So pick one goal (or two, if you must).
How to pick your marketing goal/s
You may already have an idea of what your primary marketing goal should be. Here are a few ways to test if it’s a worthy goal, or to develop a marketing goal in the first place:
· If you could change one thing about your business, what would deliver the biggest impact? More revenue? Shorter sales cycle? Something else?
· A year from now, where do you want your business to be? What’s one specific, succinct goal that would prove you had achieved that?
· As you look through your reporting – particularly your marketing reports – what’s one metric you feel your company is just really weak on? Another way to ask this is: Where’s the black hole in your marketing funnel?
· If you could achieve this one goal, what else would you be able to do? Often, goals are like chess pieces – you pick a particular goal simply because it opens up so many possibilities and options for your business. Achieve that one goal, and you’ll be in a position of power.
· Can you realistically achieve this goal? Tripling the number of leads you get sounds great, but could you actually map out what it would take to get that done – and realistically plug those tasks into your calendar? Give yourself a winnable goal, not a moonshot. Unrealistic goals often get ignored.
Choosing a primary marketing goal is something that you should get a group consensus on. That’s because if you’re really picking this one goal as the focal point of your marketing work, that means a lot of people are going to have to be committed to this goal. All those people need to believe in this not just give it lip service.
For those of you who aren’t 100% sure of what your goal should be, here are the most common goals digital marketers have:
Those are all excellent, admirable goals. But notice how spread out the answers are. None of them gets more than 20%. This speaks to how individualized most companies marketing goals are – and that’s as it should be.
How to attach a metric to your marketing goals
This is where we get specific. The metric you pick – and how you track and measure it – is the ruler by which you will measure success.
Sometimes, goal metrics are easy to measure. Like new leads. You define that as how many unique individuals fill out a particular form, for example. That’s a nice, clear, easily trackable way to see what’s happening.
But as Michael McEuen writes in his post on B2B attribution, more leads is not always a great way to actually improve your business, because not all leads are created equal.
Some leads are more affordable to get, sure. But when you track their performance all the way down to revenue earned, the source of the most leads is not necessarily the source that generated the best leads. Or even the most revenue.
This is exactly why so many marketers have shifted from “get more leads” to “get better leads” for what they track. Or their metric may be even more specific, like “reduce the cost per Sales Qualified Lead by 30%.”
There are many other types of metrics to track, of course. Customer retention is a great thing to track, as it can result in so much revenue growth.
Lifetime value is another one of marketers’ favorite metrics. This is an especially smart metric to focus on because the marketer who has the highest lifetime value can outspend all of her competitors.
If they only earn, say, $50 per customer as a lifetime value, and she earns, say, $150 from each customer, she can outspend them three to one with advertising and still break even. She can afford to spend more to keep those customers loyal, too.
But again, that’s just one metric. And if you’ve got your analytics dialed in, you may want to track a very specific thing.
That can be a limitation of some marketing analytics tools. All tools help, sure, but often you’re stuck with only 5-6 “out of the box” metrics to track. You can’t create a custom metric unless you’re a Google Analytics whiz or can cobble together your own reporting tool via Excel or Google Sheets.
You may also want to track a constellation of goals. Sometimes this is the best way to see the details of how you’re achieving a particular marketing goal.
Here’s a series of marketing goals, and their supporting metrics:
o Increase website traffic
- Time on site
- % of returning visitors
- Social media referral traffic
- Value per visitor
- Email marketing referral traffic
o Increase revenue
- Average order size
- Customer Lifetime value
- Cost of customer acquisition
- Value per lead
- Shopping cart conversion rate
o Cost per click
o Conversion rate
o Cost/engaged visit
o And even more:
You get the idea. Often, the hardest part of tracking marketing results is deciding which metrics or KPIs to focus on – and which ones to screen out.
Again, it’s a good idea to talk to your teammates about which metrics they think will support your chosen goal or goals. Their perspective on what should or shouldn’t be measured can be extremely helpful.
The limits of analytics… tracking things offline and the squishiness of attribution models
If you’re purely a digital marketer, you might be lucky enough to actually track every single step from when someone first sees a brand message through to when they place their fifth (or 50th) order.
Most of us are not so lucky.
This can really cloud the issue of picking a marketing goal. And it can make tracking that goal even harder. Sometimes, marketers just give in and decide to measure what can be easily tracked (like leads, or gross revenue). The metric and goal they pick might not be perfect, but the idea of wading into their analytics to really track the hard stuff is just too daunting.
Unfortunately, this is kinda like that old joke about the drunk scuffling around under a street light. Someone asks him, “What are you doing?” “Looking for my keys,” he says. “Where did you drop them?” “Oh, down the street” “So why are you looking here?” “Well, the light is better here.”
I hope you laughed at that.
For those of us who have tried to track complex sales cycles, it might be a little less than funny. It may hit a little too close to home. Many marketers are guilty of looking “under the streetlight” for our data, simply because, there are a lot of dark alleys along the buyer’s journey.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing analytics tracking is getting better all the time. What was a data “dark alley” five years ago can now be a well-lit path.
Just look at how far attribution models have come – and how many companies are using them.
Despite all the advances, you and your team will need to be honest about where the dark spots in your tracking are. There’s bound to be a few places where you’ll have to make an educated guess about what’s really going on.
You’ll also need to define which attribution model really makes sense for your sales funnel.
This is when things can get weird around the office. Who knew intelligent people could get into heated arguments over time decay or last non-direct click attribution models? But if you’re awarding bonuses and raises based on how people meet the goals defined by these metrics, expect to have some friction.
We often tie performance bonuses directly to these type of metrics, and that can make almost anyone surprisingly passionate about marketing analytics.
We hope it doesn’t seem like marketing goals are overly hard to pick. And we hope that tracking those goals seems within reach – not something that you’ll have to overhaul all your reporting to do.
It definitely is something to put some thought into, but don’t get too worried about making a mistake. Even if you don’t pick the perfect marketing goal, at least you have one at all. That puts you well ahead of many marketers – or companies.
And if you can’t track that goal down to the atomic level… so what? Get the best data you can, shape it so you can make the best decisions possible, and forge ahead.
Not having a marketing at all is by far the biggest mistake. And not even trying to track it? That’s the second worst mistake.
Even if you can’t track things perfectly, you can get a good enough idea of what’s going on. Having even one or two reliable, trackable metrics will always be more successful than just guessing.
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70% of marketers expect an increase in demand generation budgets in 2018, according to the Demand Generation Survey.
At the same time, overall marketing budgets are shrinking (as per Gartner’s 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey). Last year, marketing budgets claimed 11.3% of overall company revenue, down from 12.2% compared to 2016. So why would B2B demand generation marketers grow their spend while the rest of us are bracing for a cut? And how are marketers planning to allocate their marketing budget to increase ROI?
Let’s look at the key marketing trends that may offer some insight into this curious phenomenon. The data shows that while the budgets are going up to support more personalized campaigns and higher spend on digital, B2B marketers will be held to higher standards of measurement.
tl;dr: more money will come with greater accountability.
1. Demand Generation Team is Becoming the New Revenue Team
This year, more marketers see revenue as their key metric. The number of marketers who said they have specific revenue-based quota increased from 23% in 2017 to 28% in 2018.
91% of demand generation marketers surveyed for the report say that they track their revenue contribution to the company. And for a good reason: that contribution is growing! When asked what percentage of revenue is attributed to marketing-sourced leads, 28% of marketers said between 26% and 50%.
As you can see, the demand generation budget increase comes with weighty expectations for delivering on deeper-funnel metrics and conversion goals such as revenue.
Less than 2% of marketers are measured on web traffic, while most only eye the metrics that directly contribute to the bottom line — such as SALs (sales accepted leads), a metric that counts the number of potential customers whom both marketing and sales teams consider “a fit” for their business, based on a variety of criteria such as budget, need, and the prospects’ timeline for making the investment.
Why you should care
How you report on marketing spend to the higher-ups will likely change. Because CMOs today are under more scrutiny for delivering ROI (or so says Gartner), paid marketing teams will be tasked with measuring the full-funnel impact of their campaigns.
2. Focus on Higher-Quality Leads Will Require More Expensive Marketing Tactics
73% of marketers consider lead quality their priority for 2018. Targeting high-value customers in 2018 will mean that marketers may have to rely on more expensive marketing techniques.
Take events, for example. 68% of marketers use events to generate qualified leads for the top of the funnel, according to the report. Trade shows, seminars, and summits take up a large portion of B2B marketing budgets. Even virtual events and webinars require a significant investment if you consider technology, sponsored speakers, and promotion.
Content, even though still “ROI-amazing” according to Brian Balfour of the ProfitWell Report, is also getting more expensive to produce as demand for good content marketers exceeds supply, Digiday reported.
Why you should care
Whether or not you’re considering an ABM strategy, you’ll likely shift your marketing budget around to test new channels. Be prepared to set up your tracking to account for multiple marketing touches, online and off. Your marketing dashboard should reflect the dollars in/dollars out for each channel, whether it’s a Facebook campaign or a steak dinner.
3. Dollars are Shifting to Digital
8 out of 10 of the most effective demand generation channels are digital, and the top 3 of them are, again, all digital: email, search, and website.
Digital ad spending reached $209 billion worldwide and is expected to grow by 13 percent this year.
As a relatively new marketing function, demand gen encompasses many marketing activities, with lead generation perhaps being key. B2B prospects are online, empowered with all the information that was earlier unavailable or hidden under the “contact sales” form-fills. So naturally, demand gen marketers will be investing more money to have relevant information ready and accessible at every stage of the buyer’s journey — and tracking the impact across different channels to close the loop between ad spend and revenue.
Why you should care
As your digital spend grows, you will need to consolidate all your paid marketing data in a single dashboard with easy access to granular metrics. This is important not only to have a central view for cross-network PPC reporting, but also to spot trends and find opportunities to improve.
So, while the overall marketing budget growth is stalling, businesses will keep spending more on activities that generate incremental revenue. If the trend for unifying sales and marketing under a single revenue metric is to continue, demand gen teams are poised to grab the largest slice of the marketing budget pie in the years to come.
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Google Showcase Ads display results for commercial searches above AdWords ads, creating a unique opportunity to get your product into your customer’s shopping cart. Intrigued? Here’s the lowdown on how to build and optimize Showcase Ads.
What are Google Showcase Ads and how do they work?
A Google Showcase Ad (GSA) is a shopping ad containing several related products that appear above paid Google AdWords search results. Initially, these ads would pop up only when searching a broad, general category (such as “snakeskin flats”), but after running some additional searches I was pleased to discover that they can now be very specific… and crushed to find out that I will never be able to replace my size 10, black tipped, pointed toe Franco Sarto snakeskin flats. Thanks, Google.
The great thing about GSAs is that the first impression is free. Your account will only be charged if the customers expand and stay in your ad for 10 seconds or click through to your site. This function has a lot of potential to reduce your Google Adwords spending and increase marketing ROI by allowing customers to comparison-shop inside their initial search results. If pricing is competitive and your ad optimized, GSAs can be a game changer for merchants.
On the other hand, if you fail to create and optimize your GSAs, you’ve essentially handed your competition that coveted first impression, even if you have the bigger AdWords budget spend.
Google Shopping Ads display everything from large retailers to second-hand sellers, like Poshmark.
This makes setting up and optimizing GSAs a top priority for anyone selling merchandise.
Setting up your GSA
In order to take advantage of your GSA, you’ll have to jump through a few goops (Google hoops, which I swear is a thing!), and who better to teach you how to do that than Google itself?
Before you do anything, be sure to review the requirements to set up a GSA campaign. You can then learn all about Google Shopping Ads in the AdWords Help Center “About Shopping Campaigns” section, and get instructions on how to set them up in the “Create a Showcase Shopping” section.
By mapping your campaigns to conversion data with closed-loop reporting, you can show the forces that the extra investment and new budget allocation is worth it in the long run.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Showcase ads do not work with automated bid strategies, so you’ll have to either change your current campaigns to maximum CPE bidding, or set up a separate campaign.
As mentioned before, the initial view of the GSA is free, and you will only pay when someone expands your ad for more than 10 seconds or clicks the link, so make sure that they can immediately glean the information they need from your ad.
You can only use one ad per ad group, so plan accordingly. Adding extra ones will be a waste of time and effort.
How to optimize your GSA
Pick the Right Photos
GSA’s visual nature caters to the primal parts of our brain, but also makes it harder to stand out from the crowd. Have a look at the other photos in your category. Is there a way that you can make your product photo stand out? Adding a colorful background or using a model instead of a plain product shot (or vice versa) may help catch the buyer’s eye.
You’ll also want to make sure that your ad has enough contrast, as it is easy to scroll past ads when they are all lined up in a row.
Resize your photo with care
When setting up the ad Google will ask you if you want to use a product image or a cropped header image for the collapsed ad. If you are advertising a specific product, then use the product image that best fits the user’s search terms. If, however, you are advertising group of products rather than one specific product, then choose the cropped header image.
Use common SEO tactics
Since you are no longer bidding on individual keywords, it’s more important than ever to optimize your title by using brand name, style name, size, color, material, and other descriptive elements in the title of the ad.
Use negative keywords
While you can’t select keywords that your ad should show in, you can use negative keywords (either at the campaign level or in a specific ad group) to keep your ad from showing in irrelevant places.
Depending on what your product is, you may need to do some tracking to see where leads are dead-ending before implementing this tactic.
Update your feed daily
Google loves nothing more than up-to-date and relevant information, and you can increase your rank by allowing Google to fetch the data from your account on a daily basis, rather than the minimum required 30 days.
Add promotions to your stream
GSAs include promotional details, which can give your buyers an instant incentive to shop with on your site.
Google offers automated extensions that fetch promotions from your website and showcase them in your GSA, alerting your customers to discounts, price drops and free shipping. It also allows you to set up other promotions, such as percentage discounts, BOGO deals and more. The merchant promotions implementation guide will get you started.
Google may take up to 72 hours to review your ads to ensure they are compliant. Review their guidelines to make sure everything is in line, and give yourself a time buffer in case you are running any time-sensitive promotions or have a client deadline.
Include GTIN (if you have them)
Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) – including UPCs, EANs, ISBNs, MPNs, etc. – help Google determine the exact brand and item you are selling, allowing them to place your product with greater accuracy. Google prefers these to other attributes, stating they make your ads richer (so we can assume that using them might also end up making us richer).
Don’t fret if your product is custom-made and doesn’t have a GTIN, as Google understands that store brands, OEM parts, preorder parts, and vintage items usually don’t have them. Instead of using a GTIN, Google recommends you submit as many attributes as you can.
Measure and automate ads
Check out our case study with the fashion watch retailer MVMT, who was able to raise revenue by 108% and double conversions using AdStage’s PPC automation software, while also lowering acquisition cost by 18%.
Every two years, The CMO Survey asks hundreds of senior marketing executives hard-hitting questions about their marketing performance, hiring, and budget allocation to track industry changes and predict new trends. 2017 marks the 19th administration of this survey, so there’s plenty of comparative data to dig into.
Last year, 349 U.S.-based marketers participated. The majority of those who responded to the survey (over 90%) work at the VP level and above, which means they were asked the questions everyone wants to ask: “How big is your marketing budget?” and “Where did the marketing dollars go?”
As expected, ad dollars are shifting to digital as more consumers buy online, and marketers plan to invest more in marketing analytics to close the loop between marketing spend and ROI. In this article, we’ll look at the highlights of The CMO Survey’s data from 2017.
1. Marketing budgets represent 11.4% of company’s overall budgets
Marketing’s share of the overall firm budget grew from 8.1% in February 2011 to 11.4% in August 2017, according to the CMO Survey.
2. Marketing is the key revenue growth driver for over 30% of companies
According to the survey, the marketing organization now leads not just brand, advertising, PR, social media, and promotion activities, but also revenue growth (34.3% in February 2017 and 29% in August 2017). There’s no comparative data to see how the revenue function has grown over time (The CMO Survey only added this question in 2016), which will be interesting to track in the next few years.
3. Marketing spend as percent of company revenue wildly varies by industry
Education, consumer goods, and transportation sectors spend more on marketing as they see a higher return on investment (one assumes that construction, manufacturing, and energy sectors kept the money for R&D). Marketing spend as percent of company revenues is highest for education sector at 18.5% (compared to just 2% for construction).
4. 72% of marketers are investing in marketing analytics
When asked “What’s in your marketing budget?”, 72% of marketers mentioned marketing analytics. Marketers are also planning to spend on social media, research, and training.
5. CMOs will spend 18.1% of overall budgets on marketing analytics in three years
As more businesses use marketing analytics to guide their business strategy, marketers are making larger investments in marketing analytics. The current marketing spend is 5.5% of total marketing budgets and expected to grow 18.1% in three years.
6. B2B marketers will invest more in their team’s education and training
Compared to other sectors, marketers in B2B plan to spend more on “developing knowledge about how to do marketing” and “marketing training.” Consumer marketers, on the other hand, are open to spend a little more on consulting services.
According to the report, the investment in continuous learning is especially generous in banking, service consulting, and technology sectors.
7. Marketers are shifting media dollars towards digital
Digital marketing spend in consumer goods will grow 18.6% while traditional advertising spend will drop by 1.9%, according to the survey. As more ad dollars shift to digital, traditional media advertising spend is expected to drop across all economic sectors. The drop is most noticeable in the B2B sector (-3.6%), as marketers go online to reach buyers who now tend to make decisions based on extensive online research. Digital spend is increasing fastest for B2C (+18.6%) as e-commerce continues to grow.
8. Marketers predict social media spend to grow by 89% in next 5 years
Social media spend as percent of overall marketing budget is currently at 9.8%, but marketers plan to boost its share significantly (up to 18.5%) in next 5 years. Consumer brand marketers lead the change, with 25-40% growth in social media spend expected in next year, according to the survey.
9. …But marketers are generally really, really bad at predicting their spend numbers
Actual versus predicted social media spend as percent of marketing budget varies as much as by almost 10%. For August 2017, marketers predicted to spend 19.5% of their budgets on social media and ended up spending a little less than 10%. For the past 3 years, the social media’s share of the total spend varied slightly by just 1-2%.
10. And most marketers struggle to prove the impact of social media on their business
45% of marketers say they are “unable to show the impact yet,” while 38.6% have “a good qualitative sense of the impact, but not a qualitative impact.” Only 16.3% of marketers are confident in their ability to justify social media investment. This number is down by 4% from 2016, which either means that the impact is getting more difficult to prove — or marketers are finally opening up about the challenges of marketing attribution.
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Audiences were all the rage for advertisers and marketers in 2017. No longer just a tool for social media or display network marketing, audience targets became a major focus in paid search as well. From Customer Match to Similar Audiences, In-Market and Custom Intent, the focus for SEM has already begun to shift away from the “what” of your product or service to the “who” of your prospective clients and consumers.
YouTube Viewer Audiences for Search
Amid the flurry of audience targeting options being released and expanded nearly every month last year, one unique type of audience targeting in AdWords slipped in under the radar: YouTube Viewer Audiences for Search. This new targeting enables YouTube remarketing audiences for RLSA to retarget video viewers in search.
In this post, we’ll dig into this audience type in hopes of revealing why every paid search specialist ought to be taking advantage where possible.
To guide our exploration, we’ll draw upon the words of Brian Halligan, CEO at HubSpot:
“To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products” (emphasis added).
Why YouTube Advertising and/or Content Promotion is Worthwhile
As digital marketers, we tend to be very excited about the first part, and very ambitious about the second. Unfortunately, it’s not enough just to connect to the users who are already shopping for our product or service. The goal is to be smart and cohesive in accomplishing the task of marketing both in the “learn about” and “shop for” stages. So let’s first spend a moment on why YouTube advertising and/or content promotion is worthwhile in its own right.
According to eMarketer in 2017, monthly digital video viewership in the U.S. averaged more than 221 million individuals (81.2% of U.S. internet users). Internationally, Western Europe contributed another 219 million viewers of digital video monthly (68.2% of Western European internet users).
Think about YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine…you name it. It’s not hard to believe that so many of us are voluntarily consuming digital video at least once a month.
On the other hand, eMarketer’s projections for the next 3-5 years also show that viewership growth in the near future will be consistent but marginal.
Essentially, we are seeing that the market for digital video is nearing saturation in terms of consumption. Of course, this means that the market for video advertising is only going to grow more competitive as we all begin to compete for the same placements: to get in front of these valuable, attentive eyes and ears.
Using Video to Directly Populate Audiences
It’s time to turn the tables, think outside the box, and stay ahead of the game.We shouldn’t just value digital video as an ad format for retargeting website visitors or driving new website traffic for subsequent remarketing and direct ROI.
We don’t even need to argue for YouTube’s potential to “lift Branded search traffic” anymore. Video can now be used to directly populate viewer audiences for targeting on both Search and Display.
As Lee Odden (CEO at TopRank Online Marketing) once stated: “Content is the reason Search began in the first place.”
This is where we connect how people learn about and shop for our products or service. If vast digital video consumption is doing the “teaching,” then our Search remarketing must be ready to capture subsequent “shopping” moments for those users.
Making the Case for YouTube Advertising
Before a YouTube Viewer Audience strategy can successfully be executed, we first need to have some kind of presence on YouTube to generate views. This requires some kind of content strategy, video content production, and of course, some level of financial investment and buy-in from company decision-makers (which may or may not fall into your job description).
To help out those who need to justify an investment in YouTube advertising, we’ve compiled a group of statistics relating to the reach, device use, geographic locations, demographics, and user behavior associated with YouTube advertising.
Beyond the stats, though, the real need for video advertising comes from the reality that we no longer live in a world of easily defined, two-dimensional sales funnels. Buyer journeys are now a web of touchpoints from multiple devices and media, each as unique as the associated prospect. Skilled marketers must be prepared to address and nurture each of these users, at all times and on all platforms.
Data suggest that users consult YouTube for help with products and services before, during and after the decision-making process. Thus, YouTube can be an active player in all stages of the conversion funnel or buyer journey.
Video Content Strategy
So, to stay competitive and create the best buyer experience for every customer, a video content strategy is truly necessary. Without it, all that potential revenue and engagement is wasted. Not to mention missing the opportunity to capitalize on YouTube Viewer Audiences.
If the above stats aren’t enough to convince your company heads, you can always ask them to consider a new perspective for YouTube advertising: a low-risk channel for feedback that cooperatively assists more traditional video marketing efforts. You can also utilize earned actions KPIs and YouTube Viewer audience behavior to show that YouTube ads are successful.
Identifying and Building YouTube Viewer Audiences
For the purposes of this discussion, we won’t dive into the step-by-step of how to link a YouTube channel to Adwords or how to create a remarketing list. Rather, presented below is a framework for approaching your YouTube Viewer audiences by building personas associated with each. There are three foundational audiences that I believe every AdWords account will benefit from building, applying, and observing: “Website Strangers,” “Acquainted Visitors,” and “Non-Converting Fans.”
1. Website Strangers
These are users who have viewed at least one video from your channel (you can decide which videos to include/exclude based on your channel content). This means they have some familiarity with your brand. They have not, however, visited your website or completed any kind of conversion action. Thus, visiting your website is a clear next step to take in their customer journey.
Target these individuals with a Website Visit invitation. This might be in the form of a Text Ad on Search, or an Image or Responsive Ad on the Display network. Depending on your typical sales funnel, a website visit might lead directly to a conversion action, or it may transition the individual from a “Website Stranger” to an “Acquainted Visitor.”
2. Acquainted Visitors
These are slightly lower-funnel than “Website Strangers,” because they have engaged more directly with your brand. These are users who have visited your website once or more, or who have engaged more deeply with your content than simply viewing a video or ad. It may be that they liked or commented on your video, or even visited your channel page.
Because these users have an even greater familiarity with your brand, they can be directly targeted with a low-risk conversion invitation. That may mean signing up for an email newsletter or promo code, creating an account for later conversion, downloading a whitepaper, submitting a request for more information, or something else specific to your industry.
3. Non-Converting Fans
Lastly, it’s important to address individuals who engage more deeply with your content, whether by subscribing to your video channel or becoming a brand ambassador by sharing your content with others. They have already engaged with your website but just haven’t taken the step to convert.
These are users ideal to target with Discount or Promotional conversion offers. You might take advantage of Countdown ads in Search to increase urgency, apply a percent-off discount to your headline, or highlight some other offer to help close that deal.
Looking at these three foundational audiences, you can see that each is quite easy to compose. There is a lot of power in data collection and targeting capabilities for not a lot of effort on your part. A few sub-audiences built into a combination audience and you can quickly set yourself up for success.
Time to Put it All Together
Once your audiences are created, you can start applying them to your established Search campaigns for observation (or “bid only,” if you refuse to switch over to the new Adwords UI). This allows you to see how your Viewers are engaging with your current keywords and ad copy.
Utilizing AdWords ad customizers, you can also implement audience-specific messaging with IF-functions in your ad copy. As you monitor and quantify your audience behavior, you can then make informed decisions about bid modifiers or campaign structure to best address these YouTube viewers and nurture them in their decision-making process.
In addition to Search campaign application, do not forget the potential to utilize YouTube Viewer Audiences with Display campaigns. You might run a YouTube Viewer retargeting campaign for your Acquainted Visitors or Non-Converting Fans.
The Display network can also be a channel for inviting Website Strangers to your landing page. By breaking down your audiences to consider YouTube engagement as well as website behavior, you have the power to show much more tailored creative to these subsets of your prospect list.
And of course, once you have your audience lists established and your retargeting strategies in place, be sure to stop back here and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.