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Five search reports for ecommerce you can pull now to prep for Q4

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Ecommerce companies know this to be true, but it bears repeating: the holiday season will be on top of you before you know it, and it’s time to start getting your Q4 plan ready.

There are many reports and analysis you can pull and put together to develop our Q4 plan. Use the summer’s relative slowness to audit your accounts to see if there is anything to improve before the busy season comes. In this post, I’ll walk through five SEO reports that can help set a plan for Q4:

  1. YoY (Year-over-Year) Comparison
  2. Search Query Report
  3. Impression Share
  4. Top Products/Top Movers
  5. Optiscore

YoY comparison

For many ecommerce companies, the holiday season brings higher volume and spend to your paid media efforts. It’s important to allocate enough budget to keep up with demand on the high-volume days, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, etc. The first report I pull to start serious holiday prep is a YoY comparison by day for 2017 to 2018 to see what campaigns and dates were the most successful.

It’s never apples to apples, of course; last year, you might have tested a new campaign or strategy that wasn’t tested in 2017, allocated spend across a different number of channels, etc.

Questions that you want to consider with this pull are:

  • What did performance look like on high-volume days?
  • Could you have spent more to get more return?
  • What was the makeup of search, display, and shopping campaigns?
  • Should you use your marketing dollars differently this year?
  • Did you have holiday-specific keywords, products, campaigns, etc., that need to be reactivated this year?
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Search query reports

Google has recently made changes to close variant matching. I have noticed some shifts in matching and budget allocation across different campaigns and a wider range of irrelevant matches. Search query reports will help to identify irrelevant matching to find keywords to negate and opportunities for new keywords to build out before the holiday rush.

search query reports

Impression share reports

It’s important to understand what your impression share looks like currently and what it looked like over the last holiday season. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see competitors come in and out of the auction during different points of the year, and you’ll see competition increase during Q4. Impression share reports from the 2018 holidays will help you anticipate potential competitors as budgets increase. Note that Google has introduced additional metrics for impression share now that average position will be sunsetted. These metrics include absolute top impression share and top impression share. Current impression share reports will help you understand and prioritize areas where you should increase impression share, both now and going into Q4.

impression share reports

To accommodate the upcoming spike in search volume, spend, and conversions, you have to be armed with a large inventory of your top products, including last holiday season’s top products, your current top products, and any highly seasonal products. I recommend that you pull Shopping performance of top products by item id in the Google Ads UI or pull a report in Google Analytics to understand top products across all platforms.

top products report

OptiScore

Google has rolled out a new product to all accounts that will help find areas of opportunity and easy wins to keep accounts successful as the holiday season rolls in. OptiScore provides recommendations to advertisers to include bids and budgets, recommendations for keywords, and recommendations for ads and ad extensions. I’ve generally found these to be helpful – at least worth testing! – and make a habit of checking every week or two to get new suggestions.

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OptiScore can be found under the Recommendations tab in the Google UI:

optiscore report under recommendations from google

This is an easy way to make sure that accounts are set up for success; it will alert you if you have ad groups that aren’t serving because they don’t have active ads or keywords, provide budget suggestions, and give you an anticipated number of conversions with an increase in budget. It is very easy to apply the suggestions with a click of the button, which saves you time during the busy season.

You can get lost in a sea of reports if you’re trying to find levers to use this holiday season. It’s important to prepare by understanding historical performance to anticipate this year’s performance by looking at efficient campaigns and areas from 2018 and pulling back in inefficient areas.

Make sure to spend time auditing and optimizing accounts now: pull SQRs, make sure all campaigns have ad extensions, and double-check active ad groups for active keywords and good copy. With the correct preparation and plan in place, your Q4 will be less chaotic and more profitable.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

Search Engine Watch – PPC

MARKETING

From Creation to Stellar ROI

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From Creation to Stellar ROI


Reaching the right customers with your Google Ads campaigns is critical to increase conversions. While it’s possible that scattershot advertisements could catch the interest of Internet users, it’s far more likely that this general ad approach will result in a disconnect between dollars spent and sales made.

To help ensure your ads are reaching the people in the right place, it’s worth leveraging a function in the Google Display Network (GDN) known as affinity audiences. Using these audiences helps pinpoint customer segments that may be more likely to purchase your products, in turn driving more effective and efficient ad spend.

But what exactly is an affinity audience? How do they work, how can you create your own — and what can you expect once you dial in the ideal customer segment? Let’s find out.

What are Affinity Audiences?

Affinity audiences are used by the Google Display Network to deliver your ads to relevant locations online. Given that Google’s network reaches more than 90 percent of Internet users worldwide, it’s well worth the time and effort to understand and apply these audiences at scale.

But what is an affinity audience?

Let’s break the term down into its component parts. Audience is easy — it’s the group of people that will see your ad. Affinity, meanwhile, is defined as “a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests.” The result? An affinity audience is a group of potential customers that share similar interests or qualities (similar to a buyer persona).

Using affinity audiences allows your brand to better align ad campaigns to buyers who are interested in what you have to sell. For example, if you’re in the coffee-making business but also have a focus on reducing plastic waste, your affinity audience might contain both people who love coffee and those who love the environment. Groups with both of these qualities are far more likely to buy your product than either group individually.

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Affinity Targeting

Affinity targeting, meanwhile, is the process of identifying the ideal affinities that align with your product or service. Consider the coffee example above. While targeting buyers who love coffee helps improve your brand placement, it also puts you in direct competition with a host of other brands all producing similar products. Additional affinity modifiers that narrow your focus — such as sustainable growth processes, fair labor practices, or environmental priorities — can help set your brand apart.

Do note that it is possible to get too specific with your audience targeting. For example, if your coffee brand targets audiences that prefer beans from a specific region that are collected, packed, and shipped in a specific way, you may end up with a handful of very loyal customers but almost no broader appeal. As a result, targeting needs to narrow the focus without preventing you from reaching the greater public.

What are Custom Audiences?

GDN and the Google Ads platform contain a host of pre-built Google affinity audiences — also called segments — that you can use to focus your marketing and advertisements. These include everything from pet lovers to do-it-yourselfers, TV comedy fans and users with an interest in news and politics.

prebuilt affinity audiences in google ads

But they can’t cover everything. You may have a product or service that doesn’t dovetail with existing segments — here, custom affinity audiences can help.

Understanding Custom Affinity Audiences

Custom affinity audiences are those you create yourself in your Google Ads platform to align with the interests of your target customer base. While Google will suggest different potential segment tags depending on what you input, it’s worth taking the time to do some market research before diving into the custom affinity process. This lets you pinpoint the audience preferences that align best with your brand.

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You can create custom affinity audiences related to four criteria: Interests, URLs, places, or applications. In general, places and applications are the least useful of the bunch. Here’s why. In our coffee example above, there aren’t a lot of coffee-related applications that would set your audience apart. And while geography has some impact on buying behavior, it’s usually not enough to justify an entire segment.

Interests and URLs, meanwhile, can help you dig down and identify potential affinity options that may be shared by your target market at large.

How to Create Affinity Audiences

Ready to create your own affinity audience? Follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Ads account.
  2. Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience manager.”
  3. Select “Custom Segments.”
  4. Enter segment name and interests.
  5. Save your new segment.

Let’s tackle each step in more detail.

1. Log Into Your Google Ads Account

how to use custom affinity audiences: log in to google ads

First, log into your Google Ads account. Here, you can see any active campaigns along with the associated affinity audiences.

2. Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience Manager”

how to use custom affinity audiences: access audience manager

Next, head to “tools and settings” in the upper-right-hand corner and then find “Audience manager” in the drop-down menu.

3. Select “Custom Segments”

how to use custom affinity audiences: custom segments

Now you’ll see a list of any data segments you’re currently using to target prospective buyers. To create an audience or segment, click on “Custom Segments” and then the blue “+” icon.

4. Enter Segment Name and Interests

how to use custom affinity audiences: segment name

Now, give your segment a name and add a few potential interests. For example, if you enter “coffee”, Google will return interests or purchase intention ideas such as “coffees to make with an espresso machine”, “how to make coffee with coffee beans” and “coffee makers that make different coffees.”

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5. Save Your New Segment

Finally, save your new segment with use for ad campaigns. You can create as many segments as you like until you’ve covered all relevant market bases.

The Impact of Effective Affinity Audiences

Ideally, affinity audiences lead to a definitive result: Increased ROI.

Here’s why: When your ads are shown to audiences that are interested in what you’re selling, they’re more likely to click through and purchase your products. As a result, the money you spend on advertising is directly offset by the conversions driven by these ads, in turn creating positive ROI. More generic campaigns, meanwhile, may still increase overall sales but not enough to balance out the spend required to reach larger audiences.

The right audience makes all the difference. Targeted, customized affinity audiences help you reach the people that want to buy your products, in turn boosting conversions and making your overall ad spend more cost-effective. Custom affinity audiences further narrow your market targeting, increasing the likelihood of revenue and reducing the gap between what you spend on ads and what you get in return.

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The HubSpot Blog’s 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers

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The HubSpot Blog's 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers


In our recent Marketing Trends survey, we learned that social media is the most effective channel marketers leverage, as well as the channel they use most.

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MARKETING

How to Grow Your Customer Base

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How to Grow Your Customer Base


Every business owner wants more, is never satisfied with the customer base, and will do whatever is required to grow their brand and increase conversions. That’s because the growth of your company is directly dependent on customer base growth.

Especially the ones that keep returning to patronize your business after their initial purchase. But customer base growth is tough work. And if you don’t know what you do, you’ll end up wasting resources on endeavors that yield little to no results.

However, today we have a ton of skill sets, tools, resources, strategies, and information at our disposal than ever before that can help ease up the process. How do you take advantage of all of them to boost your business?

Do you run a loyalty program? Or launch a referral program for customer acquisition? Or do you opt for traditional marketing?

What are the most powerful ways to boost your customer base? We’ll help you out with the answer in this article. But first, we’ll define a few basic terms to ensure that we’re on the same page.

Let’s get started.

What is Your Customer Base?

Your customer base is made up of your repeat customers. These are buyers who keep returning to your business to purchase more of your services and products. They are loyal as well as display loyalty to your brand, even engaging with it on various platforms and channels.

These people are your organization’s most prized assets. So when we talk about “customer base”, we mean buyers who don’t just patronize your business once but who keep coming back for your offers.

What is the Difference Between Your Target Audience and Customer Base?

Your target audience is made up of the people that your product or services are made for and that you want to purchase your offer but haven’t yet. These people are the wide pool where your customer base is gotten from. Your customer base, on the other hand, is made up of your current customers who keep purchasing from you.

How Do You Know the Size of Your Customer Base?

The size of your customer base can be calculated through various means but the simplest way to do so is to capture the data of every prospect turned buyer via a contact detail like an email address. This way you can know the people who buy from you and generate offers that suit them.

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Steps to Grow Your Customer Base

Let’s have a look at the various ways you can boost your customer base:

1. Use User Generated Content

Fashion retailer Monsoon requests shoppers to share photos of themselves using their product, which are then used on their website.

User-Generated Content is brand content created by customers. The thing is, people would likely listen to a fellow consumer talk about how great your product is based on their personal experience than if you do it yourself. So obviously you need to improve your customers’ experience with your products before encouraging them to produce content about their experience.There are so many ways to encourage user-generated content.

Take the chips brand, Doritos, for example. To keep customers engaged with the brand and generate user content, they launched a website doritoslegionofthebold.com that allows users to create branded videos and images that the company shares on its social media platforms.

You can also create a social media giveaway that involves customers making Instagram posts using your product with a caption about their experience and the best one wins a reward. These posts are then reposted by your official page and prospects can see what other people think about your offer and this motivates them to trust your brand and make a purchase.

2. Referral Program

Casper mattress referral program

Just because people like your product doesn’t mean they’ll recommend it to others. It’s your duty as a brand seeking to boost its customer base to induce this behavior via incentives, which is what a referral program is. Consumers believe the opinion of their family and friends more than they do yours and that’s where the power of referral marketing comes in.

You tell your existing customers to promote your business to people in their circle and in exchange, reward them for their actions. So not only are they telling people about their experience with your business because they love it but they get a reward for doing so, which motivates them further.

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Here’s how fashion brand Rent the Runway does it. They run a referral program that offers $30 in store credit to customers in exchange for them referring the business to their colleagues and friends. And in addition the referred friend also gets $30 in credit for use in the store.

3. Engage Your Customers and Ensure they’re Satisfied

Starbucks loyalty program incentives

The primary way to build a customer base is to ensure that you retain your customers. One-off purchases have their place but if you intend to grow as a business you need customer retention. And the only way to do this is to ensure that they’re engaged, happy, and satisfied.

How do you achieve this? Loyalty programs.

A great loyalty program works by offering existing customers a reward for continuous patronization of your business. The rewards can be discounts after say 5 purchases, or a free product or service after a specific number of purchases. With loyalty programs, you can even give specialized offers on the birthday of your customers to boost engagement and make them feel valued. Set up a recurring emails campaign to ensure your customers receive scheduled messages with special offers, discounts and promotions.

The whole idea is to show your customer that you value their continuous support of your business and at the same time, you get them to make recurring purchases with the reward as an incentive.  

Jillian Michaels runs a fitness app that does this excellently. The app offers badges to users once they complete particular tasks to ensure that the customer feels appreciated as they use the app. In this way she incentivizes customers to use and subscribe to the app as they feel valued with each reward.

Another way to ensure that your customers are happy and engaged is by offering stellar customer service. If buyers have questions and they’re unable to get answers, problems will arise. Customer retention is most demanding after a buyer is through with their purchase. So you need to provide your current customers a place where they can return to ask questions to give feedback. For example, you can use a cloud phone system for your business to deal with customer inquiries faster and therefore understand your customers’ pain points beter.

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After all, adhering to quality feedback from a customer can help to build your customer base as well because it means solving an issue that bothers customers that you may not be aware of.

Lastly, consider using your knowledge to continually offer educational content that your customers will find valuable and keep them engaged with your platform.  For instance, let’s say that you run a popular SaaS that helps salespeople keep track of their sales pipeline.  It’s obvious that your customers are interested in sales skills, so it would be wise to invest in an online course platform and invite sales specialists from within your company or outside of it to help create a free educational course about sales skills that can provide a ton of value for your customers.  

Conclusion

Growing your customer base involves a lot of work and sometimes can get confusing. However, with the right tips, you can craft powerful strategies as we have seen in this article that will help to not only grow your customer base but keep your customer satisfied and engaged.

With a referral program, for example, you can retain customers by keeping them engaged with the goal of finding new customers and receiving an incentive. In the same breath, you also attract new customers who believe in the recommendation of their family member or colleague more than yours.  Others like loyalty programs help you ensure that your customers are happy and satisfied while enticing them to make recurring purchases from your brand.

So why the wait? Get started!



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