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https://relativityseo.com/seo-services/ Amalia Fowler – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Wed, 27 Nov 2019 15:49:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 How to make a holiday shopping campaign for low budget accounts /how-to-make-a-holiday-shopping-campaign-for-low-budget-accounts-325613 Fri, 22 Nov 2019 19:37:22 +0000 /?p=325613 The unique constraints that small businesses face is why planning, knowing what you’re measuring and being intentional with your budget are so important.

The post How to make a holiday shopping campaign for low budget accounts appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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As an advertiser, it always feels like the holiday season is abnormally long. It starts in August when I’m initiating conversations with our clients about the upcoming holidays and what it means for them. The majority of my clients are small businesses with small budgets, making this an important time of year. Not only do we have to be careful with our spend, but the revenue that is generated during this season is crucial. A lot of the accounts I work with will feel a strain in their business if they don’t earn enough during the holidays to help them make it through the slower months.

The unique constraints that small businesses face with advertising carry over to the holiday season, which is why planning your calendar, knowing what you’re measuring and being intentional with your budget are so important.

Calendar 

One of the challenges of running a small account during the holiday season is planning out exactly which campaigns you will run when. There are three main ways I approach the calendar.

Use historical data

First, use all the data you have access to in order to identify what worked last year and what didn’t. We have a client that is in the hospitality space and has been with us for three holiday seasons. We have a lot of data about what has worked in the past, and we use it to identify the platforms we want to use as well as similar campaigns that we want to run every year. If you don’t have data from last season, use what you do have to make an informed guess.

A caveat here is to ensure you aren’t looking only at last-click data or return on ad spend at the campaign level. Looking at purchase path and assisted revenue is important when identifying what you deem successful. If a specific campaign plays an important role at the beginning of the purchase path, cutting it is going to affect overall revenue.

Another important item to keep in mind is any major changes in your audience or offerings over the course of the year. Ask yourself if you can really make the assumption that what worked last year will likely work again if there have been major platform or audience changes. This also applies if a new competitor is in your space.

Trim it down

Chances are, you don’t have the budget to do everything that you want to do. It is the reality with small accounts, there isn’t enough money to go around. The last thing you want is to end up with a low performing holiday campaign because budget was spread too thin.

There are three things to keep in mind when trimming your campaigns down – budget, capacity and creative.

First, score your ideal campaigns according to priority. For us, high priority campaigns are those that have played the biggest role in affecting the overall bottom line – a combination of direct and assisted revenue. Look at costs from the season last year, take into account rises in cost-per-click (CPC) and the typical length of the season for the business. Some of our clients only run holiday ads from Nov. 11 through Dec. 10, and others run from mid-October through December. You additionally want to take into account any extra budget you may need for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, assuming you participate. Assign your campaigns their ideal budget alongside their priority and look critically at what does and does not fit.

Second, look at the business’s overall capacity. We have clients who are two-person businesses, and although demand exists we know that once they hit capacity, they physically cannot create or sell any more stock. Take this into account when allocating out what you will and will not run. Is there a point where this will happen for you during the season? 

Finally, there is a chance that some of your top-performing and ideal campaigns will require new creative for this year, or even midway through the season. Some creative can be reused year-over-year, but you generally want something new to avoid ad exhaustion, as small businesses can have small audiences. If a high scoring campaign that you really want to run needs new creative, chances are something else will have to go, especially if creating that asset costs additional budget.

Chart it out 

Once you have a plan ironed out, create yourself and your team a GANNT chart with details about execution. We have clients that add our digital marketing component into their larger GANNT charts and while it is excellent to see where digital fits in the overall picture, we find it extraordinarily helpful to maintain our own copy.

This is also important as with smaller clients, they will typically have one point of contact, one team member who is going to be helping with their whole holiday campaign. I’ll hop in for strategy discussions, but the implementation and actual running of the campaign is up to a single person. That can leave a lot of room for error, and an individualized GANNT chart combined with Asana tasks detailing starts/stops/finishes helps us run smoothly throughout the season.

To recap: 

  • Use historical data to figure out what campaigns you want to run 
  • Look at overall contribution to revenue, not just last click ad spend
  • Trim it down according to budget, capacity or creative 
  • Chart and task it out

Analytics 

When evaluating the success of your campaign, we stick with the metrics that were used the year prior in order to evaluate year-over-year growth, which is our biggest KPI within the holiday season. While we will look at return on ad spend (ROAS), increases in overall revenue generated is our primary goal. There is an exception to this, we will use ROAS as a success metric if a client sells out of inventory each season. If we helped them sell out faster while spending less on ads, then that is a success.

One note about analytics is that it is so important to tag and name your campaigns properly. Use UTM tags that align with not only the platform and type of ad, but the holiday season. You’re doing future you a big favor by tagging your campaigns and naming them in a way that allows for easy future comparisons.

To recap: 

  • Stick with similar metrics year-over-year
  • Look at overall growth/revenue increase instead of campaign level ROAS metrics 
  • Tag and name your campaigns properly to save future you a headache and allow for easier reporting

Budget

Budgets are a hot topic these days. From stories about Google Ads not respecting their own twice a day budget rule to increasing CPCs across the board, there’s always something to be thinking about.

Audience

One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t spend all your budget is focusing on smaller audiences that you hypothesize will drive revenue. If you have a limited budget for the season, focus spend on proven remarketing and email lists. This is especially important during the sale periods, where customers who know you and have previously engaged with your business are more likely to purchase. This is a great way to approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

You can also use lookalike audiences of people who have purchased in past years to narrow down your targeting for top of funnel campaigns.

Know your best performing days

If you have historical data from last season, use it to determine the start time of your holiday sprint. If you’re seasonal, when did traffic return last year? When did purchases rise? Are there certain days of the week or hours of the day that are more profitable? To maximize your budget, look at all of this information and determine when to start your holiday campaigns, whether or not to advertise seven days a week, and where you should be using bid adjustments to maximize revenue.

An example of a seasonal client analytics is below. The holiday traffic came to their site this year earlier than we anticipated. We were going to run ads beginning Nov. 12 but looking at the rise in organic traffic in early October, we decided to run an early bird campaign and have seen a jump in year-over-year revenue as a result of paying attention to the early spike.

Use a script to help you manage

The final budget tip for the season is to avoid that pesky overspending in Google Ads by using a budget script. This piece of advice comes from Duane Brown of Take Some Risk, who recommends this script to limit overspending. The one caveat is that you do have to remember to re-activate what gets paused the next day, either through another script or a rule.

Using a script to ensure your daily budgets don’t get out of control is a helpful way to maximize results throughout the season and prevent Google Ads from taking away your budgetary control.

To recap: 

  • Limit big sale days to your most qualified audiences 
  • Know what days and times you should be loading your budget for 
  • Pay attention to seasonal traffic and adjust accordingly 
  • Use a script to prevent overages

Season recap

One of the best things that you can do for your future self is to make notes as you go. What worked, what didn’t, what UTM tags you used, your GANNT charts, and why you made the choices you did.

We always think we will remember what we did with our calendars, how we managed success and what budgets we used and why, but instead of starting over every season, keep notes so that when you’re planning your 2020 campaigns you have something to refer back to.

The post How to make a holiday shopping campaign for low budget accounts appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Small accounts and Responsive Search Ads – Adopt or not? /small-accounts-and-responsive-search-ads-adopt-or-not-322671 Wed, 25 Sep 2019 17:52:56 +0000 /?p=322671 There can be a wide range of benefits to small accounts adopting RSAs if done properly.

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With Microsoft Ads recently opening a responsive search ad (RSA) beta to their advertisers, it’s clear that the automated Text Ad format is here to stay. The push towards automation continues and with it comes the pressure from platform reps to adopt. While larger accounts have the luxury, in terms of additional budget, to take their time and test these additions, those running smaller budgets often have to make a decision outright: adopt or not? 

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I have historically been a fan of the “not.” There are a lot of arguments against RSAs and few in their favor. For example, you can’t use ad customizers in the text, which limits its abilities. There’s also anecdotal evidence from across the PPC community that, while RSAs are getting better click-through-rates and driving more traffic, they’re less effective than extended text ads (ETAs) in driving conversions. However, the biggest complaint, and perhaps widest-reaching one, is that there is no insight into the data regarding which combinations are being shown and in what ways they outperform one another. You can see how many impressions each combination receives, but that’s it. In essence, you’re setting a variety of ad headlines and descriptions and crossing your fingers. For smaller accounts with less budget per day, ‘crossing your fingers’ is a terrifying proposition. 

That being said, RSAs can be beneficial. Although we don’t get insight into the data, Google can quickly test tens of thousands of headline and ad description combinations, which is something that I am unable to do with ETAs. With small, low volume accounts, part of the appeal of RSAs is being able to test thousands of ad copy combinations in one go. While it would be nice to have more insight into performance, after some experimenting myself, I think it’s a mistake to write off RSAs completely – especially with the signals we’re getting from the platforms saying that they’re here to stay. 

I’m a big fan of testing against my assumptions, especially since I know my bias lends itself to having me reject automated ad formats and other automations. I don’t like change as a person, let alone as a PPC professional, and as such I try to lean into it when the opportunity presents itself. My team adopted RSAs across the board in February 2019; here’s what we’ve learned from 4,200 ads running since then: 

  • Responsive search ads, on average, receive more impressions than extended text ads;
  • Click-through-rate is relatively similar across our accounts; 
  • Responsive search ads, on average, have a 0.20c cheaper cost-per-click.

Looking at ads from the group that received more than one conversion: 

  • Responsive search ads continued to receive more impressions on average than extended text ads; 
  • Click-through rate was higher on expanded text ads; 
  • Conversion rate was equal across the board;
  • The overall total number of conversions was higher with responsive search ads; however, they also tend to be significantly more expensive.

Although this data has its limitations, it serves its purpose here as it gives an overall picture of the potential of RSAs. After crunching the numbers I was not surprised by the fact that RSAs are receiving more impressions or that expanded text ads are receiving higher click-through-rates, but I was surprised by the fact that of the ads that generated conversions, the RSAs were generating more.

Digging deeper, the biggest thing I noticed was that RSAs typically performed better when matched with a conversion-based automated bidding strategy. In my accounts, RSAs that were in a campaign with either Target CPA or Maximize Conversions as their bidding strategy outperformed ETAs across the board on both cost-per-acquisition and amount of conversions. 

Does this mean you should switch all your ads to RSAs and all your bidding strategies over today? No, not at all. There are still pros and cons to RSAs, and the successes I’ve indicated above may not translate over to your accounts. But it does give an idea of some of the benefits, and hopefully, encourage you to consider testing.   

Adopting RSAs in smaller accounts doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and it doesn’t have to be terrifying. When creating your RSAs, I recommend the following: 

  • Add your RSAs to existing ad groups with a minimum of two well-performing ETAs;
  • Have each piece of copy be distinctly different from one another. Ask yourself if the combinations would be redundant or if each adds value; 
  • Add headlines and descriptions you already have data behind and ones that you know are high performing;
  • Consider an automated bid strategy in tandem with your RSA (but don’t do both at once, or you won’t be able to tell what caused the consequent successes or failures across the account). 

Overall, I’ve seen enough positive results from RSAs that I am comfortable having one in each ad group. For newer accounts, I often run ad groups with only ETAs until I’m confident I can identify some high performing headlines and descriptions, and add RSAs at the end of month one or two, depending on volume. 

The bottom line is really that RSAs are here to stay, and that there can be a wide range of benefits to small accounts adopting them if done properly. So, in the case of whether or not small budget accounts should adopt RSAs, this skeptic encourages adopting and testing while we have both types of ads available to us.

The post Small accounts and Responsive Search Ads – Adopt or not? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Demystifying visibility metrics in Google Ads /demystifying-visibility-metrics-in-google-ads-320156 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 18:48:47 +0000 /?p=320156 Here are six metrics to help advertisers determine how often - and where in the SERPs - ads are showing up to help identify maximize growth opportunities.

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Metrics to assist you in achieving growth in the Google Ads interface are constantly evolving and this can cause issues for even the most experienced of search marketers. Among the most complicated to sort out and understand are the “share” metrics. While they are excellent for identifying growth opportunities and identifying visibility gaps, figuring out which metrics to use when can be frustrating.

Let’s take a look at six of these metrics and how we can use them to identify growth opportunities within the search campaigns.

The competitive metrics

The first four metrics are competitive metrics, meaning that they represent an indicator of where your account is in relation to other accounts that you are competing against within the ad auction. This is an important distinction from the majority of metrics in your Google Ad account.

1. Search impression share

Search impression share is an old favorite. It represents the number of impressions you have received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. This gives you a percentage that indicates how well your ads are performing in an ad auction. For example, a search impression share of 68% indicates that 68 times out of 100, your ad is showing on the search engine results page, also known as the SERP.

2. Search top impression share   

This metric is similar to search impression share, but instead of indicating the percentage of time you are receiving any impression on the SERP, it indicates the percentage of time your ad is showing in one of the top positions, above the organic search results. The calculation for this metric is the number of times your ad is showing in the top positions versus the number of times you were eligible to receive an impression in the top position.

3. Search absolute top impression share

Following the same pattern as the above two, search absolute top impression share is the percentage of your impressions that are shown in the very first paid position. It’s calculated by taking the absolute top impressions divided by the number of times you were eligible to receive an impression in the absolute top position.

The ad circled in pink has an impression at the absolute top. The ads in purple are all receiving an impression as part of the top impression share.

4. Click share

This is where things deviate from the norm. Click share, a relatively new metric, is the number of clicks you’ve received on the search network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks that were possible.

If you have a click share of 68%, you received 68 out of every possible 100 clicks on your ad. This is opposed to impression share which is where your ad showed 68 out of 100 times that it was eligible to show.

Identifying growth opportunities with competitive metrics

When using the above metrics to identify growth opportunities, it is important to remember that these metrics represent your place in a larger environment. They are indicators of how well you are performing against others. That is why they are called competitive metrics (and can be found in that section when selecting columns in Google Ads).

These metrics are useful because they can help you optimize your account. There are two ways you can be losing impression share: either through low quality or a low bid. Use the additional available columns of impression share lost (budget) and impression share lost (rank) to determine what you can do to improve your impression share. If the answer is more budget and you don’t have any additional budget, consider reining in your locations. If the answer is rank, look at your quality score, ad relevancy, and landing page experience.

The addition of click share to the metrics gives us the ability to identify where there is potential for more traffic. In the example above, the campaign I’m looking at has 99.29% of the search impression share, but only 89.55% of the click share. This means that while I’m visible almost 100% of the time, I’m only capturing 89% of what Google deems to be possible in terms of actual clicks.

Using these metrics together, I’ve now identified a campaign where I have the opportunity to increase my click share to potentially capture more traffic. How will I do that? By looking at ad relevancy and copy.

The performance metrics

There are two other metrics that have the word “impression” in them that can help us identify areas of opportunity and provide even more insight into how our ads are actually doing. These metrics are Impressions (Top) % and Impressions (Abs. Top) %. Unlike the metrics above, which are indications of your ads’ placement in the larger competitive environment, these two metrics indicate the actual location of your ads, painting a clear picture of where all of your eligible ads are appearing.

5. Impressions (Top) %

Impressions (Top) % is calculated by taking the impressions that you have earned in the top positions, above the organic search results, divided by all earned impressions. The main difference between this metric and the search impression share (top) is that this is calculated through using your actual earned impressions, not the estimated impressions Google thinks you would have been capable of earning.

6. Impressions (Abs. Top) %

Similar to the above, this metric takes the impressions you have earned in the absolute #1 spot divided by all earned impressions.

Where are my ads actually appearing?

You can use the new Impr. (Top) % and Impr. (Abs. Top) % metrics to determine where your ads are actually appearing. These two metrics are not a reflection of your ads within the greater competitive environment that is the Google Ads auction, but of actual performance.

As we move towards automated strategies and even with basic rules that you can set up in your account, impression share and its variations are important metrics to keep an eye on. It is crucial to understand the differences between these six metrics and how each represents a different facet of account visibility.

All of these help us as advertisers to determine how often our ads are showing, where in the SERPs that our ads are visible, and assist in taking actions to maximize growth opportunities. While not the only metrics to look at, or even the most important, understanding these different metrics can help you optimize for growth in our account.

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3 conversations to have when testing low volume ad accounts /3-conversations-to-have-when-testing-low-volume-ad-accounts-317592 Thu, 30 May 2019 13:47:20 +0000 /?p=317592 Testing in low volume ad accounts takes time, and there are three conversations crucial to setting expectations with key stakeholders.

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Testing is essential for anybody running a paid search account, and there are many guides for how to go about executing one. However, the majority of them cover how to test in high volume accounts, accounts where it is arguably much easier to accrue the data necessary.

In low volume accounts, tests typically take 30 to 60 days to reach any sort of significance, and on occasion up to 120 days. If you’re isolating a variable, that’s a long time to keep things the same in a testing environment that by definition, is ever-changing. One thing I have learned while working with low-volume ad accounts is that setting expectations with key stakeholders is a necessity.

These expectation setting conversations typically revolve around three themes.

‘It is going to take time’

This conversation should be had early on, as soon as the line “let’s test it!” is triumphantly declared in a meeting. My immediate reaction is to see how long the test will take and investigate the reality of running it, before agreeing it’s a good idea.

Chances are, in any account with a lower budget, your test is going to take 30 – 60 days and now is the time to bring that up. It is in your best interest to address what you’re looking to find, the hypothesis, the metrics you are going to measure success by, and then use historical data calculate how long it is going to take.

Sending an email about the test you are going to run, how long it will take, and why it will take that long puts the information in writing and ensures that everybody is on the same page. If you receive any pushback later, it can be helpful to refer back to what everybody decided on initially.

‘Please don’t touch that’ (aka: ‘If you change that it will affect results’)

Things change over the course of 30 to 120 days, and it is inevitable that the “please don’t touch that” conversation is going to come up. Due to the length of tests in low volume accounts, I’ve had to train myself and my team to check what is currently being tested before doing optimizations so as not to disturb any tests in progress. It’s natural that people will forget testing is occurring when it can take up to four months.

Any change to the testing environment will affect results, and if the test is multi-campaign, then you have to be incredibly careful about every change you make. However, there are numerous occasions where you may need to make a change, whether out of necessity for the account or simply because a superior/client requests it.

In these situations, the best thing to do is to describe the effect making that change will have on the test and document the fact that the environment has now been disturbed. This helps ensure that everybody is on the same page for when you interpret the results later.

‘These results are going to be random’

It isn’t unusual for somebody to simply declare an end to the test, a ‘winner’ per se, whether or not we have reached statistical significance. One way to avoid this is to be very thorough in the first conversation, by defining what metrics you are going to measure success by.

However, if you have an unavoidable end to a test, it is important to explain what this means. The results of that test, without significance, are random. You cannot be sure that the favoring of one variable over another is scientific, or due to chance. Therefore, any decisions made off that test will also be random.

The danger here is that you continue to test variables by building off of random results, and ultimately missing out on making the better decision because the test didn’t run to significance. However, it happens, and when it does, the best thing you can do is explain why the results are no longer scientific to those involved. In that case, you’ve done your due diligence.

The bottom line

There is no perfect testing environment in PPC, and there never will be, as there are many variables we cannot control. Low volume ad accounts are especially vulnerable, as things like user intent and seasonality will always affect tests that run for multiple months.

Controlling how we communicate testing to those involved in our accounts, and ensuring that we are proactively discussing testing, will allow us to make the best possible decisions when optimizing them going forward.

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