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Easy Guide to Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Ads

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Easy Guide to Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Ads

Tracking conversions is both a necessity and a challenge. Recent developments in the digital ecosystem, such as the iOS updates, particularly Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), along with the ongoing debate surrounding cookie deprecation, have significantly complicated the process of understanding the impact of online ads on offline conversions.

One of the prevalent methods used for offline conversion tracking has been the Google Click Identifier (GCLID). However, with iOS updates actively stripping ad clicks of crucial parameters and identifiers, this method has faced limitations, leaving marketers searching for a more robust and sustainable solution.

Today, we’ll explore a GCLID-less alternative–enhanced conversions for leads, which offers a way to track offline conversions without the reliance on parameters affected by these changes.

Table of contents

What are offline conversions?

Offline conversions are any conversions driven from online sources that do not happen online.

Let’s delve into the idea of offline conversions in the context of a mortgage company. Imagine this company runs online ads to attract potential homebuyers. These ads grab the attention of people actively looking for mortgages. Curious, they click on the ads to learn more about what the company offers. In addition, to stay in touch, these interested folks often complete a contact form on the company’s website, sharing their email addresses and phone numbers.

Afterward, these prospects might take the next step by visiting the mortgage company’s local office to meet with a loan officer, discuss mortgage options, and initiate the application process. Eventually, some of them secure mortgages and purchase their dream homes.

In this scenario, while the initial interaction with the mortgage company occurred online through the ad clicks, the ultimate conversion—the home purchase—happened offline.

how enhanced conversions for leads works in google ads

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Why track offline conversions?

Recognizing the significance of these offline conversions, it becomes clear that tracking them is indispensable.

Relying solely on online conversion data would neglect crucial insights into how online ads drive real-world actions like mortgage applications and home purchases.

To gain a holistic understanding of the effectiveness of their advertising efforts, businesses must measure these offline conversions.

🛑 Is your Google Ads campaign optimized to drive the most conversions? Find out with a free, instant audit from our Google Ads Performance Grader!

How to track offline conversions with enhanced conversions for leads

In the past, businesses often turned to the Google Click Identifier (GCLID) as a means of tracking offline conversions. This unique identifier, embedded in ad URLs, facilitated the connection between online ad engagements and subsequent offline activities, such as in-person meetings with loan officers and mortgage transactions.

However, given evolving digital landscapes and challenges, the reliability of GCLID for offline conversion tracking has faced scrutiny, prompting marketers to explore more resilient alternatives like enhanced conversions for leads.

Prepare to set up enhanced conversions for leads

Alright, let’s get our ducks in a row before diving into enhanced conversions for leads. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A website with a lead form: First things first, you’ve got to have a website, and on that website, you need a lead form. This is where all the action starts. People fill out these forms, and that’s what we’re tracking.
  2. Google Tag Manager installed: If you don’t already have Google Tag Manager (GTM) up and running on your website, now’s the time to make it happen. GTM is like the wizard behind the curtain. It helps you manage all the tracking stuff without pulling your hair out.
  3. A Google Ads account: Last but not least, you’ll need a Google Ads account. That’s where all the magic happens, where you tell Google what to look for and how to track it.

Now, why are these things so important? Well, your website is ground zero for user interactions, GTM is the tool that helps you collect the data, and Google Ads is where you make sense of it all. They’re like the dream team for tracking your ads’ impact on offline conversions. So, make sure they’re in place before we roll up our sleeves and set this up.

Set up Enhanced Conversions with Leads in Google Ads

Let’s break down the process of setting up a conversion action in Google Ads into a few simple steps:

  1. Access the conversions section in Google Ads:
    • Log in to your Google Ads account.
    • Click on “Tools and Settings” in the upper right corner.
    • Under “Measurement,” select “Conversions.”

how to set up enhanced conversions for leads in google ads - select conversionshow to set up enhanced conversions for leads in google ads - select conversions

  1. Create a new conversion action: Once you’re in the Conversions section, click on “New conversion action.”

how to set up enhanced conversions for leads - select new actionhow to set up enhanced conversions for leads - select new action

  1. Select the type of conversion (Import): In the “Conversion action” page, choose “Import” as the type of conversion you want to track.

how to setup enhanced conversions for leads - select import from listhow to setup enhanced conversions for leads - select import from list

  1. Choose the goal and action optimization category: Next, select “Other data sources or CRMs” and then choose “Track conversions from clicks.” Click “Continue.”

how to set up enhanced conversions for leads - select crmhow to set up enhanced conversions for leads - select crm

  1. Name the conversion, specifying its value, and setting conversion counting rules:
    • Now, it’s time to give your conversion action a name that makes sense to you.
    • Specify the value for this conversion. This can be the monetary value of the conversion or a value that represents its importance to your business.
    • Decide how many conversions you want to count per click or interaction.

how to set up enhanced conversions for leads - set up count per interactionhow to set up enhanced conversions for leads - set up count per interaction

  1. Complete the creation of the conversion action:
    • Click “Create and continue.”
    • Then click “Turn on enhanced conversions for leads.”

how to set up enhanced conversions for leads - turn on trackinghow to set up enhanced conversions for leads - turn on tracking

    • Now, you can use your existing Google Tag or Google Tag Manager. For the purpose of this demo, select Google Tag Manager.

This conversion action you’ve just created defines what you want to track as a conversion. It could be a completed purchase, a lead form submission, or any other action that you consider valuable to your business. Google Ads will now start tracking this specific action to help you measure its performance and optimize your ad campaigns accordingly.

Set up form tracking methods

Capturing user data like email and phone numbers is crucial for enhanced conversions because it allows you to connect online interactions with offline actions.

Here’s why it’s important:

  1. Match online and offline interactions: When a user clicks on your ad online and later converts offline (e.g., makes an in-store purchase), having their contact information helps you match these interactions, providing a complete picture of your ad’s impact.
  2. Customized follow-ups: With user data, you can follow up with potential customers more effectively. For example, you can send personalized emails or text messages, improving the chances of conversion.
  3. Accurate measurement: Tracking user data ensures accurate measurement of offline conversions, enabling better optimization of your advertising campaigns.

To grab user data from your website’s lead forms, you can use different methods, including:

  • CSS Selectors: Identifying HTML elements by their class or ID attributes.
  • Data Layer Variables: Leveraging data stored in your website’s data layer.
  • Custom JavaScript Variables: Writing custom JavaScript to extract the required data.

For this guide, let’s focus on using CSS Selectors.

To create a DOM Element variable in Google Tag Manager (phone number and email), follow these steps.

Phone number:

  • Go to your website where the lead form is located.
  • Right-click on the phone number field and select “Inspect” to open your browser’s developer tools.
  • In the developer tool’s “Elements” tab, the phone number field should be highlighted.
  • Right-click on the highlighted element, go to “Copy,” and select “Copy selector.”
  • In your Google Tag Manager account, go to “Variables” and click on “New.”
  • Name the variable (e.g., “Phone Number – DOM Element”).
  • For “Variable Configuration,” choose “DOM Element.”
  • In the “Selection Method” section, select “CSS Selector.”
  • Paste the CSS selector you copied earlier into the “Element Selector” field.
  • Optionally, provide an attribute name (e.g., “value” for input fields).
  • Save the variable.

how to set up lead tracking form for phone numberhow to set up lead tracking form for phone number

Email:

  • Follow similar steps as above but inspect and copy the CSS selector for the email field on your lead form.
  • In Google Tag Manager, create a new variable (e.g., “Email – DOM Element”).
  • Configure it as a DOM Element variable using the CSS selector for the email field.

These DOM Element variables will capture the phone number and email address from your lead form based on the CSS selectors you provided. You can then use these variables to pass this data into your Google Ads account, facilitating the tracking of enhanced conversions for leads.

⚡️ Is your Google Ads account set up for success? Download the free guide to find out >> The Last Guide to Google Ads Account Structure You’ll Ever Need

Set up the user-provided data event tag

Creating a Google Ads User-Provided Data Event Tag is essential for capturing user data and tracking offline conversions effectively. Here’s a straightforward guide to set it up:

  • Log in to Google Tag Manager: Access your GTM container.
  • Create a new tag: In GTM, go to “Tags” and click “New.”
  • Choose Tag Configuration: Under “Tag Configuration,” select “Google Ads User-Provided Data Event.”

how to set up the user-provided data event taghow to set up the user-provided data event tag

  • Configure the tag: Provide the Conversion ID from Google Ads (Tools and Settings > Under Setup > Google tag > Installation Instructions > Install Manually > Grab the number after ‘AW-’ ) and create a “User-Provided Data” variable to capture user data like phone numbers and emails.

how to configure tag for form tracking in enhanced conversions for leadshow to configure tag for form tracking in enhanced conversions for leads

  • Set up the User-Provided Data Variable: Configure this variable to capture user data based on DOM Element variables (e.g., “Phone Number – DOM Element”).

how to set up the User-Provided Data Variable in enhanced conversions for leadshow to set up the User-Provided Data Variable in enhanced conversions for leads

  • Create a trigger: Click “Triggering” and create a new trigger with the type “Form Submission.”
  • Configure the form submission trigger: Set conditions like “Some Forms” > “Page URL” > “contains” > “your-form-page-url” to specify when the tag should fire.
  • Name and save the tag: Give your tag a name and save it.
  • Preview and test: Use GTM’s preview mode to test the tag by submitting a form on your website.
  • Publish your changes: When everything works as expected, click “Submit” in GTM to publish your container changes.

Also, don’t forget to set up a Conversion Linker tag in GTM and configure it to fire on all pages. This tag is crucial for accurate click data and conversion measurement.

Notify Google Ads of offline conversions

Once you’ve tracked the offline conversions, the final step is notifying Google Ads about them. This is crucial for the accurate measurement of your ad campaign’s effectiveness.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Access the conversions section in Google Ads: In your Google Ads account, go to “Tools and Settings” and select “Measurement,” then click on “Conversions.”
  2. Upload conversion data: You can manually upload a file, the ideal way to handle this process is to automate it directly from your CRM system, where you have customer data, including phone numbers and emails. Take a look at all the templates available as well if you decide to use a sheet, CSV, or Excel file.

how to import offline conversions to google ads enhanced conversions for leadshow to import offline conversions to google ads enhanced conversions for leads

  1. Use data hashing: When providing conversion data, it’s extremely important to hash it using SHA-256 encryption. SHA-256 stands for Secure Hash Algorithm 256-bit and is used for cryptographic security. This ensures the security and integrity of the data during the transfer.

Automating this process from your CRM is not only more efficient but also more secure and scalable.

*For a comprehensive guide on this process, including a Google Sheets template and an embedded hashing script, check out Measure School’s detailed resource.

More ways to track offline conversions

Setting up enhanced conversions for leads isn’t the only way to track offline conversions from Google Ads. Here are a few other options.

Use a call tracking number

If your primary conversions are phone calls, you can use a call tracking number to identify how searchers found your business. Call tracking numbers are automatically generated based on how a prospect got to your website and allow you to see the source in your reporting.

For instance, if a prospect clicked to your website from an organic search result, the number generated would be different from one where a prospect clicked from a paid ad. This would then be reflected in your reporting so you could see the caller found your number from organic search.

This helps you keep track of offline conversions and see what channels are driving calls.

Track in-store conversions

In some cases, you may be able to track offline conversions such as visits to your physical location. One way to do this is by using UTMs or QR codes that customers would bring in to use in-store.

You may also be eligible to set up store visit conversions in Google Ads. Learn more about that here.

Offline conversion tracking made easy

In a nutshell, enhanced conversions for leads offer a straightforward way to track offline conversions resulting from your online ads. Just capture user data, create a Google Ads User-Provided Data Event Tag, and upload or send your conversions to Google Ads.

So, don’t wait around–implement it and watch your advertising insights soar. Your campaigns will thank you! 🚀

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Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

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Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

In the modern landscape of e-commerce, ensuring your products stand out against others is crucial. Millions of shoppers turn to Google Shopping on a daily basis. The ever-increasing competition within the market means the importance of a well optimised product feed is more important than ever. Despite that it’s an area that campaign managers often overlook. 

There are many techniques that can be used to optimise your product feed to elevate your listings and maximise performance in Google Shopping. Let’s dig into 5 quick wins you can implement today!

1. Optimising for Mobile

Mobile devices have become the primary method of search. The shift towards mobile makes it important to recognise that mobile-friendliness extends to every facet of a business’s online presence. That includes product feeds. A significant portion of your traffic is going to come from mobile searches. It’s essential to optimise your product feed with this in mind. 

The priority when it comes to optimising for mobile is ensuring your product titles are suitable and clear. Screen space on mobile is limited. Lengthy titles can get truncated, hiding important features, potentially leading to lost visibility and lower CTRs. Place essential details at the start of your product titles to ensure they are fully visible on mobile searches. 

Consider using condensed phrasing or abbreviations where necessary to show information both concisely and with clarity. By doing this, you can increase the effectiveness of your listings and enhance visibility within the Shopping results, which can lead to more traffic & more conversions for your business.

2. Fill In All Attributes

The listings for your products within the Google Shopping feed are made up of numerous different attributes that allow Google to get a better understanding of your products. These identifiers give Google information that helps to accurately match your products to relevant searches they should return for, as well as being able to compare products like for like with other competitors within the auctions. While there are over 65 different attribute slots that can be filled in, the most important attributes are made up of GTIN, MPN and Brand.

GTINs & MPNs provide a unique identification for each product which allows Google to know exactly what the product is you’ a’re selling. This increases your chances of the products appearing in features like “Similar Items” as well as the “Compare with other stores.” This is good for price competitiveness and provides users with a more personalised shopping experience.

1715932563 788 Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

Including brand names in your product listings also helps you to gain trust and credibility. With the increase in dupes and fake products, having the brand name can help users quickly identify products and can positively influence purchasing decisions. This also helps to return your products for users searching specifically for that brand, again increasing the potential click through rate.

Although these are the most important attributes to help unlock features to give you more real estate, higher credibility and enhance click through rate, it is important to fill in as many of the fields as possible. By providing Google with this enhanced level of product metadata, the search engine will be better able to match the product to relevant search queries, improving your visibility and click through rate with qualified traffic.

3. Use Your Search Terms

One of the most insightful features of Google Ads is search reports, which provides the exact search terms users are actively typing in. You can use this data to align your product feed with the language and preferences of your target audience. By delving into your search term reports, you can gain insights into the specific terms and phrases that potential customers use when they are looking for your products. These terms may differ from your standalone product titles. That makes this a huge opportunity to gain extra visibility within the search results.

Once you’ve identified the terms your audience uses, you can begin to incorporate them into the relevant feed attributes, including titles & descriptions. This will not only help to increase visibility but also convey relevance to the user, increasing the likelihood of clicks and conversions. 

A good example is Hayes Garden World who are selling a 5ft bench. When looked at objectively, the retailer would assume that this is a relevant title for this product. However, after doing some digging into the search terms, they would find that their users are more interested in how many people the bench seats, rather than the physical size. Adapting your product titles to reflect this will help boost consumer confidence ,as well as enable you to stand out from competitors.

1715932563 916 Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

4. Segment With Custom Labels

One of the most overlooked features of the Google Shopping Feed is the opportunity to customise and segment your products further than Google automatically allows, by using Custom Labels. These are manual categories you can fill in with whatever you like. They provide the ability to group together products in ways that aren’t covered by Google’s own attributes, allowing you greater flexibility in subdividing product groups based on what is important to your business. 

This could be done in many different ways: by margin, by value, by availability, by bestsellers etc. Once you’ve categorised your products, you can create separate campaigns for each Custom Label. You can tailor the bidding strategy, ad copy and messaging to resonate with the specific audience that each label is trying to target.

1715932563 996 Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

By employing this feature within the feed, you can hone in on focus areas. This will save you time on manual segmentation, as well as giving you additional insights and aligning your marketing strategy with your business goals. 

5. Feed Rules

1715932563 564 Five Product Feed Fixes To Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaign

Feed rules are a powerful tool to optimise your product feed quickly, without the need to have access to the raw feed. They give you the ability to manipulate and transform data within the feed, unlocking many new opportunities to enhance your product listings. 

There are many different ways that you can use feed rules. The main ones enable you to change required data – if there is some missing or incorrectly formatted – add additional data to incorporate more variables, and also clean up the feed by removing redundant or irrelevant information.

Practical ways to use this could include, for example, temporarily appending “Black Friday Sale” to titles in November. You can also use the “Extract” feature to pull specific data out of titles/descriptions to fill in other attributes e.g. Colour or Size. 

Feed rules empower you by enabling you to quickly change attributes in the feed to suit your needs. With the click of a button you can enhance your feed’s relevancy, visibility and the performance of your products to ultimately drive more traffic and conversions to your site. 

These are just a few of the ways that you can improve your Google Shopping performance through optimising your product feed, giving your campaigns the best potential within the auctions. By leveraging these tools, you are able to start filling in the gaps and giving Google as much information as possible whilst also giving you more flexibility in your marketing efforts.

Anna Simpson is the Head Of Paid Media at Cedarwood Digital – a performance marketing agency based in Manchester. 



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Google Ads Releases New Search Partner Insights & Controls Following Advertiser Concerns

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Google Ads Releases New Search Partner Insights & Controls Following Advertiser Concerns

One of Google Ad’s top benefits is its massive reach. Advertisers can easily reach billions of people across the greater web through Google search, Shopping, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Discover, and more than 2 million different partner websites and apps. Google makes it easy for advertisers to reach all of these constantly updating placements across the web, too. Some of Google’s campaign types–such as Performance Max, App, and Smart campaigns–even automatically target all of these available placements to further simplify reaching this massive audience for advertisers.

However, seasoned advertisers know that not all placements are equally valuable. In fact, your brand’s ad next to the wrong content can upset your customers, damage your brand, and work against your goals. It’s crucial to monitor where your ads appear online to prevent these missteps, but for years, advertisers couldn’t view or control some of their ad placements on Google, specifically in their search partner network.

However, after some recent vocal concerns from brands, Google has responded and released a new tool for some advertisers to review their ad placements across the search partner network and exclude placements that may be inappropriate.

Contents

What is the Google Ads Search Partner network?

Believe it or not, Google isn’t the only search engine across the web! There are hundreds of smaller search engines and millions of websites with search bars–and many of them serve similar PPC ads within their search results. However, most of these smaller sites don’t build their own advertising platforms, such as Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising. Instead, they partner with Google (or Microsoft) to help advertisers connect with searches on their sites. These secondary search engines across the web make up the Search Partner network and collectively make up a decent share of search traffic for many industries.

🚨 Ready to learn how to maximize your campaign success across networks? Start with our free Google Ads Grader!

Google’s Search Network is comprised of two main components:

  • Google search sites, which include Google Search, Google Shopping, Google Images, and Google Maps.
  • Search Partner network includes YouTube search, smaller partner engines, and sites that host a search bar powered by Google. A surprising number of local and specialty websites are part of the Search Network–including some recognizable tertiary search engines like Ask.com.

google ads search partner network - example search partner network ad

In Google Ads, advertisers can easily view their search campaigns’ results and segment their performance between Google search and the Search Partner network. Within search campaigns, advertisers can easily opt out of the Search Network at any time within their campaigns’ settings.

google ads search partner network - screenshot of network settings in google ads platformgoogle ads search partner network - screenshot of network settings in google ads platform

However, Google’s Performance Max campaigns don’t offer that visibility or flexibility to advertisers. Google’s Performance Max (and other fully automated campaign types) dynamically places your ads across the entire Google network (Google search, search partners, display, YouTube, video, discover, and Gmail) to dynamically use AI to maximize your campaign’s results.

The problems with Google’s Search Partner Network

Google’s Search Partner network’s additional reach is generally positive for advertisers–but that reach comes at additional costs and concerns. Even if most search partners on the network are from reputable, high-quality sites, the vast internet unfortunately hosts many low-quality sites and bad agents.

Google has never previously shared a list or directory of its ever-changing search partners. And unlike placements across the Google Display Network, advertisers haven’t been able to review where their ads appeared on the Search Network. Search advertisers had the choice to buy ads on the entire Search Partner network–or opt out entirely. Advertisers using Performance Max campaigns were automatically included across the entire Google network, including Search Partners.

Over the years, advertisers have become increasingly worried and vocal about the kinds of content their ads appeared alongside, and many advertisers have serious concerns about their brand image across the web.

Recently, Adalytics published a study revealing some concerning placements across the search partner network and discovered that several large companies, agencies, and government agencies were allegedly paying to show ads across some very questionable sites. Some of the examples from their study include pornographic content, pirated content, and sites that may be subject to international sanctions.

Google largely refuted the claims from Adalytics and assured advertisers that ad revenue wasn’t being shared with sanctioned entities. They further asserted that Adalytics claims were exaggerated and that such sites “represent a minuscule amount of [Google’s] Search Partner network.”

Shortly afterward, Google announced it would temporarily allow advertisers to opt out of the Search Partner network in Performance Max and App campaigns until March 1. Advertisers would have to contact Google directly to opt out of Search Partners in these campaigns.

Google’s new Performance Max campaign placement report

Addressing advertiser’s growing concerns, Google announced that it would begin to share more insights into where advertisers’ ads appeared across the web, including on the Search Partner network. Starting on March 4, advertisers can review how frequently their ads appeared across individual placements within their Performance Max and App campaigns.

The report is now available to all advertisers with active Performance Max and App campaigns. However, the reporting is slightly hidden from how advertisers generally review their search queries or other ad placements. Instead, advertisers can find these two new reports within the “report editor” section of the Google Ads dashboard.

google ads search partner network - performance maxgoogle ads search partner network - performance max

The new Performance Max campaign placement report shows where and how often your Performance Max ads appeared on different placements from the web. Unfortunately, the report only shows the ad impressions from your Performance Max campaigns–other performance metrics, such as clicks, costs, and conversions, are unavailable.

google ads search partner performance max placement report screenshotgoogle ads search partner performance max placement report screenshot

This reporting is only available for Performance Max and App campaigns. Traditional search and shopping campaigns still do not have any reporting available for individual placements across the search partner network.

🛠️ Set your Google Ads campaigns up for success with our free guide to the perfect Google Ads account structure!

How to opt out of Google search partner placements

Starting in March, Google will also allow advertisers to exclude individual Search Partner placements from showing ads for any campaigns in their account, including Performance Max. The placement exclusion can only be added at the account level–unlike many other placement exclusions, which are available at the campaign or ad group level.

To exclude a placement from showing your ads, you will need to create a placement exclusion list and apply it to your account. The Placement exclusion lists are kept under the “Tools and Settings” menu in Google Ads, under the “Shared Library.”

google ads search partner network - placement exclusion lists in shared library screenshotgoogle ads search partner network - placement exclusion lists in shared library screenshot

Once you create a new exclusion list, it will automatically be added to all of your campaigns in that account. New placement exclusions may take up to 12 hours to go into effect.

Take control over where your brand shows online

Google’s newest placement reports and exclusion options are designed to give advertisers more visibility into where their ads appear across the web and more control over their brand online. How much you decide to use these controls is up to you, but it’s always a best practice to review your placements and add new exclusions regularly.

Want more like this? How to Use Google’s New Brand Restrictions to Gain Back Control of Your Spend



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5 Campaign Red Flags And Why They Matter

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5 Campaign Red Flags And Why They Matter

As PPC experts, we rarely have the luxury of harnessing 100% of our efforts and energy into a single account. When we do, it’s usually substantial, with multiple markets, products, and budgets to consider.

With a plethora of metrics to learn and utilize, optimizing our campaigns can feel overwhelming. Over the years, I’ve narrowed the optimization tasks down to focus on five key metrics and red flags. This will allow you to execute fast and effective boosts to campaign performance and efficiencies.

Here are 5 red flags to look out for on your PPC campaigns and, crucially, how to fix them.

1. A Weak Clickthrough Rate

We all know the importance of CTR (click-through rate) as a metric. It serves as a strong indicator of relevance between our keywords, our ads, and the user’s search terms. While the go-to benchmark used to be 2-3%, the introduction of automated bidding strategies and RSAs has moved this closer to 5-6% in most industries.

A CTR below this level raises considerable red flags. Not only does it indicate weak ad group relevancy, but it’s inefficient; the ‘Expected CTR’ of your ad has an effect on your ad rank, and bid, and will see you falling short at auction time. 

Here are two simple, yet effective, fixes for a weak CTR:

Take your Assets Reports – a breakdown of the effectiveness of each headline and description – and start by swapping those ranked ‘Poor’ or ‘Average’ to new alternatives on your ads. 

The second simple step is to review your ad groups. Over time, your ad groups and your keyword list are both likely to have expanded. Are there any opportunities to separate top-performing keywords from the rest? Do your keywords fit one neat theme, or are multiple themes creeping in? If so, separate them and tailor each ad’s copy to the new themes.

2. Missing or incomplete campaign settings

Back to basics. As someone who has audited 100s of accounts, time and time again I see the same handful of issues. By now, we’re all surely aware of the sneaky default location setting of ‘People interested in your targeted locations’ over ‘People in your targeted locations’. (If not, double-check your campaigns to ensure they’re serving where your target audience is!). There are, however, a few more settings worth checking on, and language settings are one of these. 

On Google, language targeting matches queries “where the keywords match and Google believe that the user understands at least one targeted language”. On Microsoft Ads, the language campaign setting “determines the language that you will use when you write your ads and should be the language of your customers”.

Whether or not your brand has a global reach, your ad copy within each campaign is unlikely to be in all languages (often the default setting). When serving an international audience, best practice is to create unique campaigns and ad copy native to the respective local languages. Regional nuance is critical too. 

Check your Campaign Settings to ensure that the language of your ad copy matches the audience(s) you’re asking your PPC platform to reach.

3. A lack of exclusions

If you’re running your accounts at peak efficiency, you should have plenty of exclusions in place. With the push towards upgrading your keywords to broad match, performance max black boxes, and a substantial rise in automation techniques, we PPC heroes need to be more on top of exclusions than previously. 

Whether you’re running search, performance max, video, or display campaigns, exclusions are likely to apply to your campaigns. 

Such exclusions include:

  • Negative keywords
  • Audience exclusions
  • Content suitability, placement, or topic exclusions
  • Brand exclusion lists
  • Location or country-level exclusions.

If you don’t currently have exclusions applied to your campaigns, that could mean inefficient campaigns: targeting the wrong keywords, showing ads to current customer lists, on irrelevant or harmful content, on competitor content, or even in the wrong country entirely!

As a simple first step, begin by applying negative keywords to your account, campaigns, and/or ad groups and review your basic audience targeting options. If you can exclude current customers, reduce your demographic targeting from 18-65+, and double-check your campaign targeting and exclusion settings, that’s a great start.

4. Sub-par quality scores

One of the easiest ways to create inefficiencies is by failing to monitor quality scores. According to Google Ads, quality score is “a diagnostic tool meant to give you a sense of how well your ad quality compares to other advertisers”. This score is from 1-10, (1 being poor, 10 being excellent), is available at the keyword level, and is a product of the following three factors ranked from “below average” to “average” and “above average”.

  • Expected CTR: Based on historical data, how likely is it that your ad will be clicked?
  • Ad rank: How closely does your ad match the user’s search query and the intent behind it?
  • Landing page experience: How useful is your landing page? Does it answer or support the user’s search query?

Luckily for those of us who struggle with math, the platforms calculate these for us based on the last 90 days of auction insights. In a perfect world, we’d aim for a quality score of 10 – although that may not always be possible. However, 7 or above is indicative of a ‘good’ quality score, with 3 or below being poor.

As with other items mentioned in this list, weak quality scores contribute to inefficient campaigns. To address this, work on optimizing each of the above three factors, starting with any that are ranked “below average”. Remember: the ultimate goal is to ensure that your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages are consistent in content.

5. No conversion data

And finally, one of the biggest red flags is a lack of conversion data. Generating zero conversions is one thing – and may be a red flag, but having no conversion data at all is concerning.

Today, PPC platforms are much stronger – particularly on brand-new accounts – on encouraging conversion setups before creating or publishing a campaign. However, there are plenty of legacy accounts with old, incomplete, or out-of-date conversion tracking, likely leading to millions of dollars in wasted spend annually. If you’ve been putting off the dreaded conversion tracking setup process, don’t delay further. 

The final tip here is to ensure your conversion tracking is up to today’s standards. While conversion tracking for the end-goal of your campaigns is undeniably important, you’ll also want to track ‘lighter’ conversion events to give your PPC platform all the signals it needs to generate conversions – particularly when using smart bidding strategies. 

If you’re using Maximize Conversions, Target CPA, Target ROAS, or Maximize Conversion Value smart bidding strategies and you have multiple conversion methods tracked (such as app downloads, phone calls, lead form fills, and product page views), ensure that each conversion is set up as a ‘Primary’ or ‘Secondary’ conversion goal respective to how important it is. Multiple primary conversion goals will make it difficult to optimize your campaigns.

Summary 

Whether you’re brand new to PPC or have decades of experience, frequent platform changes often mean adapting what you thought you already knew! The five tips above should give you a great starting point for optimizing, improving, and boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of your accounts. Good luck!



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