CLICK THROUGH TO CONVERSION: Getting results with Google Ads.
Published on 07 May 2020
GOOGLE ME THIS
The two largest online advertisers are Google and Facebook; with Facebook including additional platforms that fall underneath its banner, such as Instagram and WhatsApp.
Of the two, Mark Allen says Google is important for businesses to be across, because it puts them in front of potential customers through multiple channels.
Mark explains the starting point for anyone dabbling in online advertising for the first time is the Google Ads console, formerly known as AdWords.
"Potential customers can find you through search, through display ads, through shopping ads, on mobile and pretty much everywhere on the internet that you're going to go, that's not on a social media channel.
"That's really the duality of how we use digital media these days. You're either on social and apps or you're on Google and other websites. It's about capturing attention on those platforms," Mark explains.
BEFORE YOU START…
When it comes to Google advertising, Mark says it is important to start from the very beginning, by asking yourself what you want your ads to achieve as your objective?
He says there are many different outcomes you can achieve through campaigns, such as getting more traffic to your website, generating sales through your online store, or creating leads by capturing people's contact details, name, address and other data.
Once you have established an objective, Mark says business owners need to work backwards and identify who they are targeting and where they will find them.
"Who are your customers? What are their unique characteristics? What are their interests? What are their demographics?
"For example, if I was selling barbecues online and had to make up an example avatar or persona of who would represent all of the markets I am targeting, I would say one possible avatar could be males 18 to 34 who live in Queensland and in particular cities. You can then think about their interests and translate those into keywords.
"People who are 18 to 34 who live in Queensland, who are interested in barbecues, may perhaps be searching for best barbecues to buy or barbecue cookbooks or barbecue recipes.
"These are all the keywords you can use to try and use to trigger the search results, so that you can place your ad up in front of your target market," Mark explains.
ALL ADS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Mark says the next step is to consider the ad type to use; with Google offering a diverse range of options.
• Shopping ads allow you to upload images of your actual products with prices people can click on and purchase straight from within the feed.
• Standard search ads are the ads everyone sees. For example, you type in your keyword "barbecues" and text ads will come up in the feed,
• Display ads are the website banners you see on websites, in apps and on YouTube and similar platforms.
• Video ads can play on YouTube before a video or during a video. These can also be displayed on third party sites, whereby users must watch a short video that promotes a product before they can access a free app, for example.
Trying to figure out which ad type is best for you and you want to use, can be overwhelming. Mark suggests sticking to the core.
SEARCH VS. DISPLAY: WHICH AD IS BEST?
Mark recommends a basic approach of using search ads to initially get in contact with customers.
"You would create a search ad and use your keywords to trigger when someone searches for something. "When they go through to your website, they have a look around, we'll keep using the barbecue analogy. They've clicked through to your barbecue website. They're having a look around. There's nothing that's really catching their eye or maybe the dog's barking because there's someone at the front door and they close your website.
"You then use your display ads, your banners, to start to display your business on websites they're visiting all around the internet. Those banner ads are used as additional touch points. They're there to remind people about your business, to reinforce perhaps a specific product that they were looking at. And really keep you in top of mind until that person is ready to come back to your website.
"Once you've paid for someone to go to your website, you don't want to then lose them because of something that's gotten in the way. Use those website banners to just keep reminding them about you," Mark advises.
As a rule, Mark suggests displaying banners for 30 days before de-activating them; any longer can appear as pestering. He notes this display duration depends on individual customer journey and lifetime and how long it takes to get them.
He also advises on having multiple touch points, saying a sophisticated Google Ads setup would include high level search ads for generic terms.
"For example, if someone is searching for generic terms about your business, this would introduce yourself to that person. Then they may visit your website, you can retarget them with a website banner. Then when they're on a third-party website or YouTube, they start to see videos about your business.
"Suddenly they're further along in that customer journey and they're thinking about actually purchasing a barbecue from you. They're searching specifically for specific barbecue models and that's when your Google shopping ads can start to come up.
"You can start to see where you can tie in all of the different ad types in a more sophisticated way to make sure no matter where they are on that customer journey, you can ensure you've got a presence all the way along that touch point, all the way to the point of conversion or purchase," Mark illustrates.
AD CAMPAIGN STRUCTURE
Mark explains the three different elements for a typical Google Ad campaign. Firstly the campaign, under which sits the ad group level, and then the individual ads.
"If we break down campaigns, they're really the container that holds all of the ad groups and ads.
"The ad groups allow your customisation, where you set who you're talking to, the keywords and what locations they're in.
"Then your ads are the type of ad; whether a search ad or a display ad. You may have multiple different ads," he explains.
Mark says the campaign is where you set your objective; if the objective for the campaign is to generate sales, he would optimise at this level to ensure it targets people who are more likely to buy from him.
The ad group is where you target your keywords.
"You can group different ad groups at this level. Under one campaign you might have one ad group targeting barbecue buyers, one targeting barbecue buyers in Sydney, one targeting in Melbourne or you may target different keywords based on the different types of products," he says.
Mark reiterates the best place to begin is search and display ads; search ads to get people to your website, display ads to remind them about you once they leave.
He caveats there are different types of extra ad features if you want people to specifically call you rather than visit your website. He adds there are dynamic product ads which list all your different products and allows you to display products based on what people look at most frequently. Plus responsive text ads, shopping ads, video ads, the list goes on and on…
Search ads appear once you put a keyword into the search console and appear as search results.
"They appear above the organic ones. They're really powerful if you're trying to get your message across or perhaps you're a new business or you don't have a lot of search engine optimisation on your website, so you're not showing up very high in the search feed. If this is the case, then advertising is a good way to shortcut those problems.
Mark explains business can expect to pay more to appear higher depending on how much other people are bidding on that keyword.
"If you're bidding on something that's really popular, say pizza or something that's specific, other people may be bidding on it and it may be expensive to be up higher in those results. These ads are triggered by keywords. You select those keywords ahead of time and then those ads will be triggered based on what keywords people are putting into their online search query.
As the title or the headline is what people look at first and generates most of the clicks, Marks says businesses really need to nail their value proposition up here and relate it to what people are searching for.
SEARCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Sounds easy enough, but how do we know what people are searching for? How can we ensure the search terms we think people are using, match the search terms they are actually using?
Mark says there is a keyword planner tool within Google Ads which allows you to perform a couple of functions.
1. Enter the URL of your website and it will crawl your site and provide a list of suggested keywords you should be using - this is a really powerful thing to do.
2. Enter subjects or example keywords and Google Ads will generate a comprehensive list of additional keywords based on that.
"Once you select the keywords you want, in the console it will show the average number of searches for the last period, including how many people have searched for this term, how many people clicked on it, how popular the term is.
"You may be looking for say search words around barbecues and you may think that this one keyword is definitely what people are searching for. You can put it into this search console and Google will actually tell you, yes, that is a great keyword, it has had a thousand searches last month. The average cost per click is this, or it will tell you that it is not a good keyword," Mark says.
KEYWORDS ARE KEY
Search terms are vital. If you get this wrong, your ads are not going to perform very well.
"Keywords are public. You don't own a keyword, you have to bid for it, you bid against other people. If it's a really popular keyword, it could be very expensive.
"This is why you need to try and figure out your budget ahead of time. If you're selling shoes for $10 and it costs you $10 per click, you're going to want to hope that you have a 100% conversion rate on that click, but it's not likely. If keywords are popular, they'll be expensive," he cautions.
Mark reassures there are ways to adjust the value of keywords in your advertising campaign, but using different match types, including broad match, exact match, broad match modified, phrase match, negative match.
"Using a search term report, you can take one keyword and attach different match types to it to try and increase the likelihood that you'll get your click on there and you won't get nonsense clicks or clicks that are from people who aren't really interested in what you're presenting your ad for.
"For example, if you were putting a keyword of "barbecues", the word barbecue would be a broad match because it's one keyword and it will match anyone who's typing anything to do with a barbecue …
"It will show results for anything relating to barbecues as well … someone might be typing in something completely different, but it relates vaguely to barbecues and you'll be shown in those results. This can be really expensive if you don't have the right match there," he warns.
Mark says to narrow down the field and make it a lot more relevant by using broad match modifier.
"By attaching a plus sign to the front of the word barbecue, it will appear within searches relating specifically to barbecue. It's when you lock your keyword and place there. What you're doing is you're saying, I want this to appear in search queries relating to this specific keyword.
"Another one is phrase matching. Instead of a keyword you can put in a phrase and Google will return your result if someone is typing in that phrase. That's useful if you want to put in something a little bit more specific.
"If you want to be absolutely specific, you can use exact match where it returns queries for exactly that keyword, such as "barbecues for sale". If someone is typing in barbecues for sale or to buy, that will specifically be showing your ad and your ad won't show it for anything else.
"It's a bit of a balancing act on how specific you go because you don't want to miss out on showing your ads to the right people," he says.
MAKING SENSE OF METRICS
Once your campaign is up and running, you've set your objective, you've got your campaign structure, you've got your ads set up there, your search and your display ads are sorted, Marks says the next step involves looking at performance metrics.
"When we look at the console, you can see all of the different metrics for the campaign.
"CPC, CTR, impressions, conversions … it can be very overwhelming but it is crucial to understand what these mean and read whether they are good or bad results," Mark urges.
• Clicks are the number of clicks that that ad has received. This is really important as it is what you're getting charged for a search campaign. The number of clicks is a good metric to help you understand if it's being effective at a really top level.
• Impressions simply tell you how many times that ad has been served up. If you've got a really broad keyword and you're getting thousands of impressions but no clicks, that's probably telling you, I need to tighten that down a little bit. I need to make sure that I'm not showing the ad thousands of times and no one's clicking on it, or I’m probably showing it to the wrong people.
• A good way to measure that is just with this percentage - Click-through rate (CTR). This is the percentage of impressions that resulted in actual clicks. You want it to be up, over 1% at least. And the way that you measure that is you just take the clicks, divide them by the impressions, times them by a hundred, and it gives you your CTR, your click-through rate. That's telling you, if that is being effective or not.
• Cost per click (CPC) So you're getting 1,482 clicks, but is it costing you a lot of money? Is it $10 a click? Is it a $100 a click? You want to have a look at your campaign and figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
HOW MUCH SHOULD A CLICK COST?
How should you think about your cost per click? How much money should you be spending on Google Ads and how do you know what a click is worth for you?
Mark says this is essential to understand, and comes back to your campaign objective of 'what do you want to do?'
"This is where you set your conversion when you're setting up your campaign. It might be defined as the number of sales or leads or downloads on your website, but this is where you measure if it's being effective or not.
"Knowing how much you should be spending comes into your cost per conversion.
"For example, our hypothetical metrics are showing we got 107 conversions, we spent $1,600, therefore 1600 divided by 107 is $15… So for every single conversion that we made, each one has cost $15.
"If you're selling shoes online for $10, that's a terrible campaign as you're running at a loss. You need to look at your targeting, your advertising and who you're showing this to.
"Alternatively, if you're selling an online course for $2,000 and your cost to convert them is $15, that's a terrific campaign. That's really the high-level metric that we focus on is cost per conversion because that's where the buck stops," Mark illustrates.
Your cost per click comes from your keywords. You may have a group of keywords and each of those keywords has a different cost per click.
Mark says it is critical business owners monitor how much each keywords is costing them, eliminate expensive keywords and focus on cost-effective keywords that deliver on conversions.
DASHBOARD: GOOD OR BAD?
As every business and industry is different, Mark says to give an overall benchmark is difficult.
"This is about standards. Your click through rate should be upwards of 1%. That might seem really low, but that's the very base that you want to be hitting.
"4.3% click-through rate, is a really good result.
"Cost per click you want to ideally have under a dollar, but again, it depends on the industry and how popular those keywords are.
"To get a benchmark for conversion rate you need to first consider what the conversion actually is. For example, if the objective is to deliver leads rather than actually purchase a learning course online and we know for every 10 leads we deliver, we know they generate one sale.
"That means that 10 times $15 is $150, and they will generate a few thousand dollars based on that. That is a really, really good cost per conversion. If the conversion was a sale of the online course worth thousands of dollars, that's even better," Mark says.
He says if you're sending people to a landing page or a website where they're converting, the industry standard of a good conversion rate is between 5% to 10%, although this is a broad benchmark.
When it comes to display or banner ads, Mark says the conversion rate is slightly different, as the objective is different.
"Banner ads are simple messaging vehicles, ideal for someone to really quickly scan it and get an understanding and awareness of your brand," according to Mark.
Mark says banner ads generate on average 0.02% of clicks, meaning the benchmark click-through rate will be less than that for search ads, sitting under 1%.
"Banner ads are not really there to generate clicks, they're there to remind people and keep you top of mind with your audience.
"These should be clear and simple with no more than six words, so people can pick up the information really quickly and easily just by scanning it," he advises.
EYEBALLING THE DATA
Mark encourages businesses to keep their eye on their campaign metrics to understand whether campaigns are performing within these thresholds or are performing badly. Thresholds need to be set ahead of time, he recaps.
"You should have an understanding of ultimately what your cost per conversion needs to be, so there's no questioning it, you know that you have to have a conversion rate under $20 and if it's less than that it's going great," he says.
Further, business owners with multiple campaigns running should benchmark them against each other and play off the different campaigns based on their results.
He says it is a pruning strategy; trimming away the underperforming campaigns, the adsets and the ads to let the better performing ones thrive to achieve even better results.
Is there a preferred campaign length? When is the perfect time to review an existing campaign?
Mark advises businesses should be constantly optimising their campaigns but warned about making changes too frequently.
"Only make changes when changes are statistically significant. If you're jumping into a day-old campaign that has had a hundred conversions, you can probably make a call on whether that's performing or not.
"But if a campaign has been running for a day and nothing's happened, you've had no conversions, leave it. It hasn't been running for long enough.
"A good rule of thumb is five days or 10 conversions. That's just a really basic rule of thumb. Don't make a decision before one of those two things has happened," he urges.
Mark acknowledges there are a range of online resources including Google, Coursera, Lynda.com or Udemy which give a comprehensive understanding of how to run Google Ads.
Mark Allen is the founder of property start-up, Patch; a platform that allows users to put offers on any property, whether for sale or not, to connect buyers and sellers and facilitate an online sale online for a fraction of the cost. Mark is also a Turbo-traction Lab alumni. Turbo-Traction Lab is a hands-on program designed to build a modern business in 80 days, delivered with a ‘lab’ mindset.
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