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seo in dubai Duane Brown – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Fri, 12 Jun 2020 19:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Life after Google Shopping: Don’t be a one-trick pony /life-after-google-shopping-dont-be-a-one-trick-pony-335781 Thu, 11 Jun 2020 11:00:00 +0000 /?p=335781 No brand grows at scale on one ad platform so you need to look for opportunities beyond Google Shopping. Here are some options to consider.

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Google shopping is the 800-pound gorilla and it’s the default ad platform many people jump on. If it’s not Google, it’s Facebook and Instagram that people want to pour money into. However, what a lot of brands miss out on is having a true cross channel marketing strategy.

The best marketers I know are able to work across ad platforms and are not a one trick pony. They can help guide, suggest and recommend how to incorporate and share information between ad platforms. They are as tactical as they are strategic for the brands they work on.

One quick note, sometimes people call shopping ads by the old name product listing ads (PLAs). That was the first name Google gave the ad format back in 2012/2013. I think the two names are mostly interchangeable but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to everything as shopping ads.

There is life after Google shopping, even as the ad format expands to more Google-owned properties. I’m going to show you the light! Or least make you consider doing more than Google shopping. 

As we tell people in our shopping academy, if you are not looking at opportunities beyond Google Shopping, you are leaving tons of money on the table. People spend a lot of time outside of Google, Facebook and Instagram.

What other channels can you take your shopping feed? Plenty!.. If you know where to look.

Here are the three paid social ad platforms I run ads for clients when I need to expand beyond Google. 

Of course, I’m not including the obvious choice: Facebook / Instagram. Even if they keep trying to launch FB shop and make their shopping product better. Here are three paid social platforms you should care about:


I was a few months away from moving to London (UK) to live and work on brands like ASOS and Jack Wills (British Inspired Holister), when I first heard about Pinterest in the fall of 2012. 

I didn’t think much of the platform at that time as I don’t need a mood board in my life. The key demo for Pinners and the people who use Pinterest are parents, hands-down. If you sell anything to parents then it should be on your radar, even if it’s only from a remarketing and organic play.

  • Date Launched: January 2010
  • Active Users: 300 million (as of August 2019)
  • Gender: 70% Women & 30% Men
  • Mobile Traffic: 85%
  • USA Traffic: 50%

Thirty percent of new users are men because most women are already on the platform. There are about 2 billion searches each month and 40% of the people on the platform make above $100K / year.

We won’t have this for each platform because they don’t release the data but some of the top Pinterest search categories are retail, auto, food, beauty and fashion, home, and travel. Outside of going after parents, those are the industries we think about running ads for on Pinterest.


Many people think of Snap (formerly Snapchat) as a chat and messaging platform for generation Z. However, it is not just a platform for those currently under 18 years old. In fact, roughly 25% of the platform’s users are above 25 years of age and that is not slowing down.

Especially with Will Smith and others setting up shows on the platform. The Snap team is working to broaden the content on the platform and become your favorite place to have your tight-knit community come together. Plus, over 38% of Snap’s audience doesn’t use Instagram on a given day.

  • Date Launched: July 8th, 2011
  • Active Users: 229 million (as of Q1 2020.)
  • Gender: Snap does not tell but my gut says more women than men are on the platform. 
  • Mobile Traffic: 99% (it’s an app)
  • USA Traffic: does not say

Snap reaches 90% of all 13-24 year-olds and 75% of all 13-34 year-olds in the US. Like Pinterest, usage is high as an average of more than 4 billion Snaps are sent each day. People are joining at a faster rate as the platform has seen an increase of 39 million users (or 20% increase) year-over-year. Video ads do really well on the platform. If your brand goes heavy on video, Snap is worth a test.


Maybe you heard Levi’s and TikTok are testing out shopping ads (maybe you have not). Either way, this is the latest ad platform to launch shopping ads as an ad format.

  • Date Launched: September 2016
  • Active Users: 680 million (as of November 2018)
  • Gender: 60% Women & 40% Men
  • Mobile Traffic: 99% (it’s an app)
  • USA Traffic: n/a

TikTok does not release a lot of data on their users and most people are guessing about the demographics of the ad platform but it’s one to keep your eye on.

What should you be launching if you want to take on paid social and runnin some killer shopping campaigns? Well I’m going to throw down some knowledge and tell you.

Pro Tip: Audience hack with Snap Ads

Back in the day you could get really good audience insights from Facebook. Over the years that has gone away as features get removed.

One cool thing about Snap and their third party audience lists is that you can upload your customer lists in Snap’s ad manager and as you add a customer list to your ad set, you can get a high level overview of who is on that list. All anonymized of course.

Even if you don’t find success with Snap ads, you can use the ad account to gather insights on your customers and who they are, which you can use for targeting on other ad platforms (including Facebook and Instagram).

How to use shopping campaigns with paid social

You can do a lot of different campaigns on any ad platform but the three I default to are remarketing, retention and prospecting, in that order.

Your goal should be to hit profitability and reinvest what you are making back into the business or in your ad spend. Here are some campaigns that I test out in each segment.

Remarketing: This is the lifeblood of paid advertising because if you can not convert people with remarketing, you are in trouble. The best remarketing lists to use are the following:

  1. Add To Cart + Initiated Checkout
  2. View Collection/Category Page
  3. View Product Descriptions Page (PDPs)

Retention: Keeping your customers and having them come back and buying a 2nd and 3rd time is how you grow a business. There are a few customer lists you can test using shopping campaigns with.

  1. All Customers
  2. Customers with 2x Average Order Value
  3. People with 2+ Order (in the last 365 or 730 Days)

Prospecting: If your remarketing and retention campaigns are working together, then you can start to look at prospecting and going after customers who may not be as familiar with your business and brand.

  1. People who like/follow your account profile (have not bought or visited site)
  2. Lookalike based off audiences lists that have succeed above
  3. Lookalike audiences with a high intent interest audience added on top

These are the three ways we look at taking our Google shopping feed over to paid social and running shopping ads. Can you dig it?


As we started off, if you are not looking at opportunities beyond Google Shopping, you are leaving tons of money on the table. No brand grows at scale by just advertising on one ad platform. 

Thinking about your cross channel marketing strategy and how you can make sure you reach people at the right time with your ads is just as important as being on the platforms they care to use. There is life after Google shopping.

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Microsoft Advertising UI: What’s new (so far) /microsoft-advertising-ui-what-is-new-so-far-333894 Wed, 29 Apr 2020 18:18:38 +0000 /?p=333894 Love it or hate it, the double sidebar makes context switching a lot easier as you move between ad accounts or from other search engines.

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Microsoft Advertising (formally Bing Ads) has come a long way in the last year as they rebrand the advertising platform and look to let everyone know they are still an option. Plus a refresh of the Advertising Editor was a welcome change last year as well.

What has been the biggest change since last year is updating the new UI within the ad manager itself. This UI update does not include the Microsoft Merchant Center platform, which is still only accessible through the old UI. However, you can still import from Google into Microsoft and that should not change when the Merchant Center gets an update.

Bulk operations are also not available in the new UI but hopefully that change will come sooner rather than later. Changing any ad manager, let alone one that has stood the test of time is not an easy feat. Shout out to the Microsoft PM working on this because I can only imagine how hard this change is and all the code and backend fixes that need updating.

So what has changed is what you want to know? I know I did when I came in one morning and saw the option to switch over to the new UI. 

I got a cool little popup/icon asking if I wanted to switch over. It was subtle I would say…I imagine they are doing this in phases for the rollout. Of course, I said yes because who doesn’t want to try something new and shiny?

Overview section

Something we come to expect from Google, and even paid social platforms like Pinterest, is an overview tab that looks at performance for that ad account or across all your ad accounts in your Business Manager.

I will be the first to admit I don’t use this screen and actively ignore it as I like to get into the trenches with ad accounts. Plus a general overview of all my ad accounts does not help tell me who is winning and who needs more TLC this week.

However, I’m not everyone and I’m sure some will find this a useful addition to the ad manager. 

Account summary

There has not been any major changes to the Account Summary section. All the buttons and dropdowns have the same name but maybe the order they are presented in has been tweaked.

The search field box has been brought front and center, while options for custom columns, segments and downloads are all farther to the right of their usual spot. This is similar to other ad managers. That has been one thing Microsoft has tried to do well, knowing when to minimic other ad managers and knowing when to chart their own path.

One great thing to know is your custom and modified column views should get ported over to the new UI. They did for me at least! Whoever the PM is on this should get an air high five. Such a small detail but tons of time saved!

Double sidebar navigation

Every ads manager from Facebook to Google has been working hard to make their UIs easier to use in the last few years. Some have fared better at it than others and I know this is not an easy change to make.

You may have even seen me tweet my love for the Snap Ads manager. It’s honestly the easiest paid social ad manager to use out there right now. Very intuitive and makes logical sense. Totally not sorry Facebook. I ended up telling my Pinterest AMs to just copy Snap and be done with it on our last team call.

I digress. What does this all have to do with Microsoft Ads Manager? They are nailing all the small details that take you from good to pretty bloody awesome for an update.

The double sidebar is here! Love it or hate it; this makes context switching a lot easier as you move between ad accounts or from other search engines. 

Plus when you move from an open to a collapsed view in the sidebar. All the little icons just make sense across Search, Shopping and Dynamic Ads. Really love the little shopping bag icon for Microsoft Shopping Ads.

Microsoft Ads tools

This is similar to Google Ads but a few things that make it different is that the Merchant Center link is in a different spot. There is also a link to Microsoft Ads Editor, intelligence tool and of course the naming convention is all Microsoft!

Plus the Import and Reports options are still giving you the same features you are used to in the old UI. One thing I don’t see in the new UI is the Opportunities button, which may be getting a new home in this UI. That is waiting to reveal itself….as I don’t see it in the new UI right now.


This is just a taste of what is changing the Microsoft Ads Manager. There are a lot more changes coming in 2020 when you consider Merchant Center needs a new UI and other areas of the ad manager. What do you think of the new UI?

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Make 2020 the year for e-commerce to get better with the mobile experience /make-2020-the-year-for-e-commerce-to-get-better-with-the-mobile-experience-327147 Fri, 03 Jan 2020 16:13:15 +0000 /?p=327147 It’s time to go through your website and figure out if this is the experience we want customers to have, especially on a mobile device.

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Contributor and SMX speaker, Duane Brown, explains in this video why 2020 is the year to get a handle on your mobile experience as well as find the platforms your customers are on and experiment if they’re new to you.

Below is the video transcript:

Hey, my name’s Duane Brown. I run an agency up in Montreal, Canada. We focus on kind of two areas, paid ads, PPC, Google, Facebook, stuff like that. We also do CRO for clients, we’ll often have to figure out how do their websites convert more. And a lot of our clients are in e-commerce.

There’s a lot of trends I think happening for next year. I think there are two areas we all need to focus on. One is that more people are going to spend time on like Pinterest and Snapchat and even Tik Tok. And so figuring out, do you have customers on those platforms? And does it make sense to test those out in 2020? You know Google, Bing, Microsoft,  Facebook – those are all great places to be. But I think spending more time on those other platforms makes sense if your customers are there.

I think the bigger issue for next year is we still don’t have a great mobile experience, especially your on e-commerce. You see people with pop-ups, people with experiences that don’t match the desktop, and with more and more traffic being on mobile, I think it makes sense to look at 2020 as the year to go through your website and figure out if this is the experience we want customers to have, especially on a mobile device. Is this the experience we want customers to have, and does this match your desktop?

If we go into a recession and people spend less money next year, you need to make sure you maintain all your customers. Or if the opportunity presents itself, grow your customer base in market share. Mobile is a great way to do that because the mobile experience is still not where it needs to be and 2020 can be the year to make mobile even better.

This is part of a special feature from our community of experts on what successful marketers will do in 2020. Read more >>

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Let’s kill the hourly rate: We are leaving money on the table /lets-kill-the-hourly-rate-we-are-leaving-money-on-the-table-324718 Thu, 07 Nov 2019 13:38:34 +0000 /?p=324718 Creating a win-win partnership for agencies and clients depends on the understanding that marketing is an investment center, not a cost center.

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One of the hottest topics and hotly debated threads on r/ppc is about rates and what you should charge. What does an agency charge? What should I charge as a freelancer? How do you charge if you do work on Amazon versus Google or Facebook?

Different ways to charge clients

There are a lot of models for how you are going to charge a client. No one model is perfect and you have to do what is right for your business in the end.


Bill for each hour of your time and track how many hours you worked that week. This is one of the most common ways we have seen freelancers charge for their time.


Work more hours and you know you are going to get paid more (all things being equal). Clients love to love the hourly rate because they are familiar with it from designers and other creative industries.


As you get better at a task and it takes you less time, you end up making less money even if you are getting better at your task. How does that make any sense? This is the biggest drawback to the hourly rate, in my opinion.

Percent of spend

Scale that spend up and bill each of your clients more money at the end of the month. This is the most common way we see agencies charge. It’s what clients expect to hear but increasingly clients do not want to pay this way as it can lead to abuse.


As clients trust you and they spend more money, you see your agency revenue increase in lockstep with that higher spend. Assuming that increase is leading to a profitable business, this can work out well for both sides.


Not every client loves this because it can be abused by some agencies to just spend money but not have it be profitable. Also, there are some clients who don’t think an agency should be paid $10,000/month, even if they manage a large ad spend budget that has a good ROAS. 

This can lead to “negotiation” on agency fees or firing the agency and taking it all in-house. The latter being from a lack of value for what agencies can do and thinking they are easily replaceable. You can not in-house an outside point of view for your business.

Monthly retainer

Charge a fixed or flat monthly fee for the work that was agreed upon in the contract and proposal.


It keeps billing simple and both sides know what to expect each month. It’s easier to sell it to clients versus other methods above. Clients are less likely to feel like they are getting ripped off.


Scope creep can increase the workload and yet, it can be harder to increase that monthly fee. If you don’t think about where you will be a year from now with that client, you could find yourself with an unprofitable client on your hands.


Not as widely used but an interesting model we have done with clients. You set a target based on top-line revenue you bring into the business. As you hit different tiers, you get paid on that tier level.


Clients love it because they feel the agency is putting skin in the game. If the agency is good at what they do and the client’s site is top-notch you can make a lot of money each month.


This depends on trust from both sides and a site that is ready to convert. If that site is not good, you can spend a lot of time going nowhere. Also, some clients may not pay the bonus even after the agency did an amazing job. I worked on an account in the UK where this happened.

Mixed Model

Do a combination of the above. Maybe you do a month strategy fee and then do 5% of ad spend each month. You could do a monthly retainer with a performance bonus basked in. There are a few ways you can mix this model up.


It gives you a base retainer for each client but gives you the upside if work increases and the client wants a deeper relationship. You can make more money to cover your costs.


A more complex pricing model that some clients might find more complicated. It can be harder to explain to some clients or turn them off because you still have a percentage of spend in there.

Kill that hourly rate

Once you start charging hourly, you often get into discussions about how long something took. 

This could be because the client was thinking it would take less time or they feel it should take less time because they used to do it themselves.

If you spend all of your time talking about hours and how long a task took on their invoice, the conversation shifts away from outcomes and towards labor.

This shift is about pressuring you to be faster at a task, where there might not always be a faster way to do it. Sometimes faster is not better if you don’t reach the same outcome.

Less time spent on a task means the client spends less money on marketing. So many view marketing as a cost center, when it’s an investment center. Based on my experience, the majority of clients who like hours are just trying to find the cheapest person to do the task.

Hiring agency A at $50/hour is going to be the same as hiring agency B at $100 or $150/hour. We all know this is not the case.

If agency B comes down in price, then this tells the client that this set of work is worth that much. Even if it’s going to cost you a lot more to deliver on the work. We should stop selling hours and starting selling outcomes.

No one right way future

As much as I believe there is no right answer to what we should charge as an industry, I also believe that we should stop underselling ourselves and leaving money on the table. The biggest way we leave money on the table is by competing on price.

Tell me if you heard this one before: you are talking to an awesome client and the brand is one you want to work with. They love you and you love them…you got that first date vibe going on. They ask about your pricing for the project and you tell them your fee structure.

There is this pause and you just wait for them to respond. What has only been 30 seconds feels like minutes. The client then tells you some other agency can do the work for X or your hourly rate of $150/hour is too high because they talked to someone who can do it for $100 cheaper.

Not valuing the work can come from not understanding the task and what it takes to deliver. What is worse is that the client does not value the task and just wants someone, anyone…the cheapest agency to do the work. Large brands have been known to be just as bad at this as SMBs.

What do you do? Some agencies will come down in price and not change the scope of work. Other agencies will come down in price but will ask for a change in scope of work. Other agencies will just say they don’t compete on price and this is what it costs to do the work right the first time.

Working with a client needs to be a partnership. Both sides need to understand that each other’s success creates a rising tide which lifts all boats. Creating a win-win partnership is the only way that both sides will succeed and will be in business a year from now. Remember, an agency is a business and needs to make a profit. Killing the hourly rate can help us get there as an industry.

Duane Brown will be participating in a roundtable discussion about profitable pricing strategies at SMX East on Nov. 12.

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Product launches: Getting assets ready and knowing your target audience /product-launches-getting-assets-ready-and-knowing-your-target-audience-320648 Fri, 16 Aug 2019 12:00:31 +0000 /?p=320648 The important work should go into understanding who you will target with your marketing message and make sure you have the right marketing assets.

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Product launches are hard. Let’s not pretend they are a walk in the park. Similar to a person juggling a dozen plates on stage, you have so many moving parts from product positioning to your go-to market strategy, site copy and content and of course building the product you are going to feature on your site.

I have been fortunate and lucky to help fashion and technology brands launch really cool products over the last few years. I’m going to use that experience to help you launch and stay ahead of the competition. If your company has been around for a few years and is looking to launch a new product and become a direct to consumer (DTC) brand, then there are some key parts of your launch that you can not overlook.

Your marketing assets and your target audience is going to make or break your success. Don’t get me wrong, product position, site content and your product all matter as well. However, if you don’t target the right people and you don’t have the assets to show them, you are going to be dead in the water, even if you get everything else right. Let’s dive into why that is the case.

Knowing your target audiences

Have you ever been on Instagram and saw an ad for a product and wonder why? Why did that brand show me that product? This happens more than we care to admit as marketers. Targeting the wrong people or using a pray and spray approach in hopes that someone will connect with the right people is the best way to waste money.

There is an old saying I heard years ago and it goes something like this:

“It does not matter how amazing or innovative your product is if the right people don’t see your ad and care. The people who see your ad need to care enough to click the ad, find out more about your product and then come back and purchase it when they are ready. There are many steps in that process that is out of your hands, which is why targeting the right people is key.”

The question then becomes, how do you know what the right target audience is? If you don’t want to take a pray and spray approach then you are going to need a roadmap to help you determine your audience. Let’s walk through our process for finding the right audience.

The first place we go look is under “Audience” in our Google Analytics. Here you can find out the age, gender, location, language spoken and the devices your current customers use. None of this data is going to be perfect and it should always be taken with a grain of salt. This data does not take into account households who share a computer nor does Google (or any tech vendor) have a perfect handle on cross device tracking.

However, I always say it’s better to have some data than no data at all. Looking in Google Analytics, you might learn that people 35 – 44 and 45 – 54 buy and use your current product in roughly the same amount. You might also learn that you don’t favor one gender over another and that Spanish is spoken as much as English. Plus you find out the USA coasts are as popular as Chicago. If I was to lay out this information it would look like this below:

Laying out this information brings up a really important piece of information. You are going to have more than one target group of customers to market to. It’s rare to launch a product and only have one group of people to show ads to. With a product launch, you don’t want to limit your potential customer groups or limit how much testing you can do at the start.

Before we move on, one other place you can look at under “Audience” in Google Analytics is “Interests.” The reason we didn’t mention this before is because of the cross-device tracking issue we mentioned earlier. After Google Analytics, the next place every team should go talk to is your customer success team.

Beyond this opportunity is to connect and work with another team in the company. I find the customer success team is often overlooked in most organizations despite the fact they talk with customers every single day. They usually have a stronger handle on what your customers are thinking, feeling and calling the company about.

Some good questions to ask your customer success team are the following:

  1. Who’s calling in about X product?
  2. What is their technical level?
  3. Do they call in from a certain part of the country?
  4. Do the people who call in differ from those who we market to?
  5. Any interesting tidbits about our customer base we should know about?

These are some of the questions you could ask. The last two are particularly important because you may learn something you didn’t know before. At my last job, we learned a lot of agencies were a big part of our customer base, even if they were not directly paying us to use the service. That nugget right there gives you a whole new audience to target. If I were to add agencies above, I would have a third group to target.

The reason I would break out agencies is because their needs and wants are going to be different than those who work in-house at a major brand. The easy difference is they are going to want to be able to manage multiple clients from a single account.

Beyond Google Analytics and talking with your customer success team, you can use demographics data from your Facebook or Quantcast ad accounts. Both of those offer a different point of view of your customer and help you get a deeper understanding of who you might want to target.

Knowing who you want to target means you can make sure you have the right marketing assets for your product launch.

Getting assets ready

You shouldn’t get your marketing assets ready until you know who your target groups are. There are two good reasons for this:

  1. Your target group helps you pick your ad platforms, which helps you know what marketing assets you need
  2. You want to make sure your marketing assets match the different target groups. Your agencies are going to need a slightly different message than those who work in-house

If we take the example of targeting agencies, we need to figure out which advertising platforms we are going to use to reach them. Right off the bat I know I want to use LinkedIn as the targeting is perfect when you want to reach people at a company. Google Ads also recently introduced B2B targeting but that does not have an option for targeting agencies.

Sticking with LinkedIn, I know we are going to need a smorgasbord of marketing assets for the ad platform. LinkedIn has InMail, sponsored posts, text ads and even got into the video ad game recently.

If you have been running LinkedIn ads before, then I would look at what has been successful in the past and use that as a starting point to figure out what ad formats you are going to launch with. I would also use this opportunity to test out newer ad formats including video. Sometimes it’s easy to explain a concept with a 30 second video than a long blog post.

Once you know what ad formats you are going to use, start a Google sheet document with what technical limits are placed on each ad format.

  1. What is the max file size for a video ad?
  2. Can you have motion in your sponsored post images?
  3. What is the minimum banner ad size you need for each format? 

Making sure you have this formation means you’ll run into less trouble launching ads on LinkedIn or any other ad platform.

One thing we have done internally as an agency, is create a Google sheet document for the major ad platforms. We add the technical limits for each ad format we use when running ads for clients. It gets updated as needed over time but saves us time from having to Google search if we don’t use an ad format for a few months. Putting processes in place is sexy.

Once you have all this information laid out, you can start to come up with ad copy and a storyboard for your video, and figure out what the assets are going to look like. You can make sure you have assets speaking to each of your target groups. You don’t want to miss out on targeting anyone with your new ads.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you create two or three versions of ad copy or another version of your video and run A/B tests across your different ad formats. It’s rare to know exactly what each target group is going to want to see. Plus once you find something that works, you can duplicate the assets and scale up variants of that messaging.

Scaling of your marketing is a whole other post for another day. What I hope you got out of this article is the important work that should go into understanding who you will target with your marketing message and making sure you have the right marketing assets.

Launching your next product is not easy but doing a bit of research and early investment with your time, means you can hit the ground running and have a successful product launch.

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Fighting brand fatigue through A/B testing /fighting-brand-fatigue-through-a-b-testing-310969 Fri, 25 Jan 2019 13:00:07 +0000 /?p=310969 Here's how an e-commerce business tested different ad copy and images on Facebook to lower their CPA by 70 percent over three months.

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From Google to Facebook and even Instagram and Bing, you are competing against other advertisers. This is normal and expected. What is usually not talked about is the competition that you face against yourself – namely brand fatigue.

Brand fatigue happens when your advertising begins to degrade in performance because your ads are being shown to the same set of people repeatedly. Two things can happen:

  1. You start to see your costs go up as the ad system has to work harder to show your ads to new people. This can increase your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) as conversions don’t increase in lock-step with costs.
  2. You start to see your target CPA rise as you see fewer conversions happen each day and week while your costs remain the same. This one happens a lot to brands. This is the silent killer in many ad accounts…especially on Facebook.

It’s normal to see ebbs and flows in an ad account and performance change over time. However, if you continue to see an increase in your CPA, then brand fatigue may be starting to set in.

What can you do about this? The best defense against brand fatigue is a good offense. That means A/B testing your way to a better CPA over time. Never rest on what is working today because it can stop working tomorrow.

Let me tell you how we helped an e-commerce client fight against brand fatigue with their site and mobile app. We did this work while lowering their Facebook CPA by 70 percent over the first three months of working together, starting in June.

Our process for any new client is doing an account audit, understanding their unique selling proposition (USP) and then launching campaigns. We look at analytics data to learn and help start our next test. This feedback loop is key to success because data helps chart the way.

Account audit

When we take on any new client, the first 48 hours of getting access to their technology systems and ad account involves an audit. This audit looks at the account from top to bottom. We look for the following:

  • Is conversion tracking set up correctly and is all of the data getting into Google Analytics?
  • Are their rules, scripts and shared budgets impacting the account?
  • What can the search query report and change history tell us about account performance?
  • What does the account structure look like? Does this take into account context including business, contract obligations and industry needs (i.e., not being able to bid on competitors)?
  • How are keywords, interests and other targeting set up?
  • What does the ad copy look like? You want to make sure that your ad copy stands out in a sea of sameness online
  • Is the client not using common features that make sense for their business?

Once we go through the audit and answer all the questions above (and many more), we chat with the client as we go through our list of questions. We want to make sure we understand business and historical context of the ad account before we start making changes.

Lastly, we make incremental changes and never make changes all at once. The worst thing is making massive changes and not seeing your strategy work out. Phase your changes in over a few months for a large account or a few weeks for smaller accounts.

What is their unique selling proposition (USP)

While the account audit is happening, we start to do customer research around what people think about the industry. We look at Reddit and TrustPilot (and other sites) to get a pulse on the industry.

What do people say in the pros and cons section of these review sites? What are the common questions, comments and concerns that come up? We take all this information and place it in a Google doc that links back to each comment or thread online. That way we can reference it later.

This data always helps craft a better USP and ad copy that sounds…well, human. The reason it helps is that we start to sift through the data and look for themes. It’s super interesting to see how people talk about one brand over another. It also helps make sure our copy is not vague.
Vague copy is useless.

What words do people use that a brand themselves would never say? Your brand truly is what people say online when they think you are not reading and watching. We generally come up with two or three themes and USPs for a brand to consider.

Each theme has three pieces of ad copy to test on Facebook (or any ad platform). Never get attached to one idea or USP. Let the market decide what they care about. For this client, it was about access to boutique brands all in one site.

Campaign launch in …3…2…1!

Based on each theme and USP, choose images that reinforce that messaging for Facebook and Instagram ads. Then launch ads and monitor them over the next three to five days. We may pause underperforming ads or give it a week to run.

Our Facebook testing period looks at a combination of client budget, audience size and analytics data to see what we should keep in an ad account. We don’t want only to find ad copy that works. We want to find ad copy that can consistently bring in customers over the long haul.

There is nothing worse than an ad account that you cannot scale. This client took six weeks from mid-June until August to find that right mix of brand copy they liked and a USP that worked in the market. Once we found that, we saw their CPA drop almost overnight.

With ad copy that worked, we continued to test. We tested similar copy and play-on-words in the ad. We tested different CTAs as well.

We tried different images to find something that won against our control group. One interesting test kept showing lifestyle images that involved people performed worse than product shots.

This was not something we expected, but no matter what we tried, product shots won out every time. This lead us to look at the best product images we could find and doubled down on this win. All these images got worked into our customer landing pages and were consistent.

By consistently testing out our ad copy and images on Facebook, we were able to lower the CPA by 70 percent over three months. All this knowledge was then used in our marketing for their app launched in September. All the A/B testing helped the client grow the brand across their site and app.


Testing and moving the needle on your business is a process. You never want to rest on what worked yesterday or last week as you continually need to test your images and ad copy on Facebook. If you don’t do it, your competition will.

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Learn how one startup doubled CPL and saved money /learn-how-one-startup-doubled-cpl-and-saved-money-310132 Tue, 08 Jan 2019 15:39:24 +0000 /?p=310132 In this case study, a focus on keywords and cleaning up data to better understand CRO led to a 55 percent decrease in purchase CPA and larger deal size leads.

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Stop me if you have heard this one before: We want the cheapest lead possible.

One consistent theme that I hear from startups and international brands is people asking for a cheaper lead each month and year over year.

However, that is the faster way to waste money and, in some unfortunate events, go out of business. There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want the cheapest lead:

  1. Paying Customers: A cheap lead looks great early on but as you spend money each month and see fewer leads convert into a customer, it becomes increasingly hard to justify your spend on paid advertising.
  2. Wasted Time: If your leads are not converting then this means you are wasting a lot of time on business development that is not helping your business grow. You want to spend time on the leads most likely to convert.

Let me give you a real-world example. We spent the last eight months working with a SaaS startup that competes with Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento in the e-commerce space. We took on the SaaS startup when their cost per lead (CPL) was $49 and their cost per acquisition (CPA) for a paying customer was $1,734.

The startup wasn’t happy as the number of leads that turned into customers was inconsistent from month to month, and they were wasting thousands of dollars on keywords that were not converting. Worst of all, the data they had was a mess to sift through due to a poor strategy.

This meant we had to get the advertising spend under control, make sure we had proper data to work with and truly understand the type of customer who was going to convert. When we did all of the above, we achieved the following, even though we doubled their CPL in the process:

  • Lowered their purchase CPA by 55 percent
  • Larger deal size leads that the sales team could sell to
  • Had consistent sales each month compared to the last three in-house people
  • Brought in customers that have a similar or higher LTV

CPA chart

How did we do this? Let me walk through our plan of attack as we launched this brand in eight countries within the first three months of working together.

Working with data

Data is at the heart of what do we as PPCers. However, the client didn’t have a data framework to understand what was working on Google and Bing. The first thing we did was an audit on their advertising and analytics accounts to make sure everything was set up correctly.

Once we fixed a few issues and made sure we had a UTM tracking bible in place that everyone in the company understood, we got on with the heavy lifting.

Having a consistent and standard naming convention saves time and money. A good example is how your company names paid search traffic; is it CPC or PPC?

Having a single source of truth makes it easy to compare results as the company grows and accumulates more data. This startup was going to have a large amount of data as we planned to launch in eight countries within the first three months of working together.

Getting spend under control

One of the things we saw early in our account audit was a heavy focus on display ads. We turned those off as they were not converting into paying customers. We wanted to focus our spend on keywords to help us make sure our ad copy and landing page matched the searcher’s intent.

For startups, we look at building campaigns based on the following keywords: brand, competitors and then non-brand keywords. If we have enough traffic, then we look at doing remarketing. Lastly, we always test a dynamic search ads (DSA) campaign to see if it works for the brand. Frederick Vallaeys has a great article covering DSA campaigns and automation.

Brand campaigns are self-explanatory. Competitor campaigns are a little more tricky. We had a budget that allowed us to focus on the top five competitors in this space including Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento. However, if the budget your working with is an issue, then we recommend only focusing on the top two or three competitors.

We built a campaign for each competitor and used the following seven keywords below. The reason we gave each competitor their campaign was to help control spend and easily see which was converting and profitable.

keyword list

Over the years we have found that these are the seven ways people do their research when looking for software and comparing options. People searching for a competitor are lower in the funnel (or closer to deciding to buy).

The phrase or BMM keyword may capture traffic from current customers who want to call up your competitor’s support team. It’s a good idea to use your negative keywords to block traffic related to customer support request.

Once we had set up the brand, competitor and DSA campaigns, we waited until we had enough data to launch a remarketing campaign. The remarketing campaign was going to target those who had become a lead but not a paying customer.

If you have already paid to get someone to your site and have them become a lead, you should try to convince them to become a customer (when it makes sense). However, don’t just show ads to leads non-stop, that is the fastest way to annoy someone.

For non-brand campaigns, we looked at keywords including +Online +Shopping +Platform or +Create +Online +Store. We would only bid on non-brand keywords when we had room in our budget. It’s always best to start with your lowest hanging fruit, which is usually your brand, competitor and remarketing campaigns.

Customer insights with CRO

Understanding your customers and why they buy is essential. This helps you write better ad and landing page copy that speaks to a customer during their research. Gathering this customer insight falls under conversions rate optimization (CRO).

CRO is not about a/b testing or merely increasing your conversion rate, which is a misnomer in the name. If you do CRO right, you can convince customers to buy higher tier packages from your pricing pages or acquire customers who have a better lifetime value (LTV).

Both of these don’t require a better conversion rate but do require talking with customers to understand them better. When we do CRO work for clients, we run surveys, online polls and even meet customers face to face. We want to understand the reason they bought and the value they are getting out of the software. Never be afraid to talk with customers at a regular cadence.

We even do online research on Reddit, TrustPilot and TrustRadius to see what some of the common problems are in each industry. There is a lot you can learn about a product on the sites, which can also work out to help developer better ad and landing page copy.


Working on a SaaS brand takes a strong strategy, with the right data, to make choosing a path a lot easier. We couldn’t have succeeded if we only did one thing above. We had to fix their data, get spending under control and understand why customers were buying in the first place.

These strategies led to a 55 percent decrease in the purchase CPA for our Saas brand in 2018. As we plan for 2019 with them, we are looking at new opportunities in new countries as well as new ad platforms like Facebook and Instagram advertising. The future is bright as long as we don’t get hung up on the cheapest lead possible.

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