Many brands are seeing strong year over year growth and in some cases with a conservative PPC strategy. Why is this and what does it mean for future strategies?
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Average position as a metric has been retired since the end of September. This is a big change since for years clients, agencies, and any advertiser has always had at least a little bit of vanity management. By that I mean, everyone at some point submitted a bid with the sole goal of being “number one” and not any actual business metric.
This change was implemented to acknowledge that the average position is not meaningful when you are in a world of personalized search. Stopping vanity bidding is just a beneficial side effect. I wanted to take a look at some data, specifically CPC and CTR, to see how performance varies for top and side positions. I also wanted to look at how these metrics vary on Google.com vs. Search partners. What I found were some very interesting insights that might impact how you think about your campaigns.
When it comes to the differences between Google and it’s partners and top vs. other the keys are:
- Google top vs. other has the biggest differences when it comes to CTR. The data showed a >900% increase in CTR across desktop, mobile, and tablet. This was the highest delta across the entire data set, expect for Partner top vs. other which was nearly 4x the difference.
- Mobile for Google vs. the Partners was also a significant difference at 918%. This was noticeable because the desktop variance was only 30% (basically a tie). The importance of mobile can’t be understated.
When it comes to cost per click differences the variances were really noticeable when it comes to cost per click. The drop off between Google and partners was at least 100% and as high as 268%. The differences are driven primarily by demand. Many advertisers do not participate in the partner network. Therefore, demand is down and the cost per click would fall as well. This is where if the conversion rates are right you would be able to pick up some additional scale. The difference when looking at Google and Partners top vs. other is a much smaller delta. This just highlights the demand point above. The difference in mobile was only 13%. There are such a high demand and fewer spaces for mobile that the difference between top and side was the smallest of any data set that was reviewed.
While the CPCs weren’t that different the CTRs for Google mobile top were significantly higher than the search partners top. I thought this was worth showing the actual data to show the differences between mobile and desktop. The drop in mobile top is very high indicating a different search experience and relevance. The differences are very small and much lower CTR when looking at the “Other” positions.
What action should you take based on this data?
1. Don’t manage to these metrics – Optimize them
Ultimately, you shouldn’t really care what the CPC is or what your CTR is. The goal is hitting your KPIs. If you need to pay $ 100 per click, but convert 100% of the clicks then it’s no different than paying $ 20 per click and a 20% conversion rate. That’s not to say you shouldn’t optimize to improve, you should. I’m just suggesting that metrics like top vs. side CTR are simply indicators on how you can improve. These are not your true KPIs.
2. Understand the value the search partner network brings your campaign
The search network provides scale to your campaigns and to Google for a revenue stream. That doesn’t mean in every case you need or require that scale. If you are struggling to perform break down your traffic by Google and the partner network. Look at not only CTR and CPC data, but also understand conversion rates. What would happen if you cut off the search partner network to both your volume and your cost per acquisition? Does this additional scale provide your business value or would it be better spent investing in other areas that perform better? This isn’t a one size fits all answer. You need to do the work and the result might be different by campaign or even keyword.
The post A look at performance post Google’s average position sunset: Top vs side appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most popular traffic analytics tools for websites, but it can have serious drawbacks for anyone looking to measure content performance.
The problem is systemic: Analytics was built to track traffic for ecommerce and content sites, with the structure of its reports built around pageviews. It can provide some sophisticated data around those views – what kinds of audience members are behind them, how they might have arrived, what they did next, and other such questions – but today’s content marketers need the ability to measure and understand much more than that.
How do people interact with your content when they’re viewing an individual landing page? How do they feel about your brand after having been exposed to it on other media channels? Where are they running into conversion roadblocks? What are the content assets across touchpoints that people are consuming most on their paths to conversion? What assets are most compelling to your most qualified individual leads?
GA can hint at some of the answers to these types of questions, but to truly understand these aspects of your content marketing performance, you’ll need to turn elsewhere.
Here are a few of the biggest ways that Google Analytics can’t measure your content performance properly, along with some tips for overcoming these shortcomings.
1. On-page behavior
Google Analytics only tracks page views and movement within your site. Unless you manually add layers of event tracking, it can’t reveal what people do within specific pages. You’ll never know if visitors get two lines into your content and then get distracted by an interesting link.
This is the value of heatmaps, which are remarkably effective at showing user behavior. They map out which areas of the page get the most view time and the most clicks, and where the mouse rests.
A heatmap shows areas that get the most attention in red, shading to blue for those that get the least. It reveals whether the visitor engaged and interacted with the page, or left it open and unread for hours. With a heatmap, you can discover the most popular parts of your pages, the navigation links people click on most, and whether key elements below the fold are going unseen.
To get started experimenting with heatmaps, you can try using Hotjar, Lucky Orange or CrazyEgg.
2. Brand sentiment lift
Google Analytics is limited to tracking page views on your own website. It can’t tell you anything about the impact of your content on earned or shared media channels, where you don’t have the ability to install its tracking pixel. And even if you could use it track content views on all channels, you still wouldn’t know much about the impact that the content has on brand sentiment, or your share of voice in the general market.
Instead, use a social listening tool to track what people think about your brand. Social listening tools track social media shares, comments, reactions and mentions. This information has many key use cases, one of which is gaining a holistic view of brand sentiment.
The better platforms track far more than the number of brand mentions on social media, using semantic text analysis to reveal the emotions behind the posts and comparing these signals to those of your competitors. Merge these trends with your timeline of content marketing achievements, and correlations will start to emerge.
To get started experimenting with social listening for brand sentiment tracking, you can try using Awario, Mention or Talkwalker.
3. Friction points on forms
If a visitor tries to complete an online form and gives up in frustration, Google Analytics will never let you know. The best it can do is to show you how much time all visitors spent on the page. (Even this information can be extremely misleading since GA measures page view durations starting from the moment given page loads to the moment the next internal page loads. If your visitor stays for 10 minutes, reads your article from top to bottom, shares it, and then closes the tab without browsing any further within your site, GA will register ‘zero’ time on page.)
When it comes to lead capture forms, contact forms, and sales checkout forms, it can be hard to tell how many fields you’re best off including. The fewer fields your forms have, the lesser friction people will have opting in, which makes for more conversions.
On the other hand, the more fields you include, the more data you’ll have to work with when people do complete and submit forms, which is useful for identifying personas when executing segmented nurture sequences. You’ll also learn more about your audience, and you’ll be in the best possible position for determining the relevance of your leads. And there’s something to be said for asking a lot of your audience, as it helps to filter out people who are “just curious” about your lead magnet and will never actually do business with you.
To really understand the extent to which form fields are serving as roadblocks on the path to conversion, turn to your form builder tool’s analytics. The better platforms will reveal partial submissions, and how far a user gets through a form before abandoning it, so you can see if any single field is too long or question too confusing.
To get started experimenting with form conversion optimization, I recommend Formstack, Formismo or Jotform.
4. The identity of every visitor
One of GA’s biggest weaknesses is its inability to give context to visitor behavior. It can’t show you much about the identity of your visitors – at best, you can segment data about your entire pool of visitors according to their physical locations, devices, referrers, rough demographics and points of entry to your site.
What’s more, Google Analytics only uses a sample of your visitors, so that even if you tinker with your report settings to reveal the IP addresses of individual sessions, you can’t rely on this information as a comprehensive source of individual user insights.
Instead of GA, use audience intelligence tools that provide information about the interests, behavior, personal data (in a GDPR-compliant manner, of course.) and historic activity of every user, so that you can gain a deeper understanding of your visitors. This allows you to fine-tune your content to appeal to your audience, and it also reveals opportunities for account-based marketing.
To get started with audience intelligence, try Albacross, LinkedIn Website Demographics or Visitor Queue.
5. Funnel analytics
It is possible to use Google Analytics to track users through your funnel and measure its effectiveness. However, setting this all up can be highly complicated. You have to build a confusing series of filters and a dedicated URL structure that allows GA to correlate content pages with each stage of the funnel.
It’s much better to use a single tool that follows users through your funnel. Pick one that logs abandonment points and the cumulative impact of your various key funnel touchpoints. You’ll also need a good way to track the activity of returning visitors, which is another weak point for GA, thanks to uncertainty about cookies, lack of reliability when tracking visitors across devices, and the aforementioned notorious data sampling issue.
And if you integrate a funnel analytics tool with your CRM, logging each lead’s engagement activity on your website, you’ll be in great shape to set up a smart lead scoring system for identifying sales-readiness levels.
To get started with funnel analytics, check out Kissmetrics, Woopra or Yandex Metrica.
6. Off-site interactions
Google Analytics only measures interactions with the content on your own site. It’s not something you can use to measure the impact of content on shared, paid or earned media. So that guest post you recently published on someone else’s blog, or your LinkedIn Publisher articles, for example, will be blind spots for you.
GA can show you information about some of the visits you acquired via clickthroughs from these media presences, but that’s about it.
You’ll get better results from a multi-channel dashboard tool that pulls together user analytics from all channels, including email marketing, advertising tools, and social media. This type of solution can’t show you how people found your content on these properties, nor where they went next if they didn’t end up on your website, but it will help you consolidate all your metrics into one centralized dashboard for a more holistic analysis.
What’s more, if you combine data relating to engagement on all touchpoints into one timeline, you’ll start to see correlations between spikes on certain channels and website conversions, which can point you in the right direction for further drill-downs
To get started with multi-channel dashboards, try Klipfolio, Databox or Geckoboard.
Google Analytics isn’t a magic button
Google Analytics is hugely popular, but it can’t do everything, especially if you’re concerned about content performance. Fortunately, there are other tools that fill the gaps GA leaves behind, giving you a much clearer understanding of your content marketing success.
The post Six key content performance aspects that Google Analytics can’t measure appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Download an easy to use ppc performance troubleshooting template that will organize your analysis and allow for easy collaboration among teams.
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Google updated their Test My Site tool to include custom recommendations for mobile sites. Read more to find how this tool can improve your mobile performance.
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The 9th generation of Intel’s Core series helps firm up the foundation of the PC resurgence.
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Q4 is right around the corner, and that means digital marketers need to be on top of their game in planning, building, executing, and converting. But when you are looking to really scale revenue and new customers this holiday season, you’ll have to incorporate some branding strategies.
Now, I work for a performance digital marketing agency, so everything we do is always tied back to the question, ‘Well, is it improving performance?’ So when I say branding, I’m talking about the avenues that will allow you to get very targeted so that you can be sure you are hitting relevant audiences for your business. Better yet for performance marketers, there is a way where (to some extent) you can measure the effects these branding plays have on performance (I’ll get to that in a bit).
In this post, I’ll break down channels to test for branding, and then I’ll talk about how to measure the performance of those branding channels/campaigns. Let’s get started.
This channel has huge reach, and it’s a great way to cast a wide net and get exposure for your brand. The biggest downside with YouTube is that, if you’re not careful, you can spend a lot of your budget ineffectively.
Here are a few targeting recommendations to effectively get in front of the right audiences and have a positive impact on performance:
- In-market audiences – With this targeting, Google identifies users who are actively shopping for certain categories. Additionally, if you know the demographics of your target audience, you can layer on gender and age targeting to get more selective about the folks who see your ad.
- Custom intent audiences – You can also take things one step beyond in-market audiences and develop your own custom intent audiences. With custom intent audiences, you enter a list of search terms that align with what your ideal audience uses to find your product/service. Google will then use that list to define and reach the ideal audience for your business; this lets you go beyond Google’s predefined audience segments and reach people as they’re making a purchase decision.
What makes Instagram’s stories feature so great is that it takes advantage of all of Facebook’s granular targeting capabilities, which means you can get right in front of the specific personas you want to target (including interests, demographic, behavioral, as well as lookalikes and custom audiences). You can also get specific with the devices you want to target, so if you know, for instance, that your core purchasers are typically iPhone users, you can limit targeting to those devices.
I would recommend initially starting off with your top-performing Facebook audience and refine testing from there.
Native is a great way to deliver your ads to massive audiences who are in the mindset of consuming content. Native offers tons of channels: Outbrain, Taboola, Yahoo Gemini, etc. My recommendation is to start with Yahoo Gemini – in particular, the following ad types.
Yahoo mail ads appear within your Yahoo mailbox. You can leverage Yahoo’s capabilities to target by age, gender, interests, and custom audiences. Typically, I recommend targeting users interested in your competitors as they would be highly relevant; that, coupled with layering on age/gender data, will get you close to the personas you want to go after.
Additionally, as you test across Yahoo’s wider network with native, one highly recommended ad format to use would be carousel ads, which come in either desktop or mobile format.
Desktop carousel ads allow advertisers to show a more premium format for their ads:
Mobile carousel ads allow advertisers to use up to 5 images to tell a visual story:
One caveat: not all sites are set up to take carousel ad formats. The sites that are set up for carousel ads tend to be higher-quality properties, so it’s a nice bit of self-selecting when you put carousel ads into play.
How to measure branding performance
Okay, now that you’re casting a wide net and building awareness for your brand, how can you quantify the value of those efforts? Although it’s not easy to assign value to every aspect, we’ve found some strategies to be helpful.
One technique we use is by tagging our ads with utm parameters, indicating the channel, campaign, targeting and ad that a user is coming through on when they click the ad.
Then we develop remarketing campaigns or ad sets specifically targeting our brand awareness efforts. (For example, we remarket specifically to those who have clicked on our Instagram Story ad.) This separates our brand awareness efforts within our remarketing campaigns, which allows us to quantify conversions (and conversion rates) of those who have been exposed to our brand via our broader branding initiatives. It’s not perfect, but it helps us define how successful our branding efforts are.
With users brought in through branding campaigns, it’s important to remember that the buying journey can be longer – even if you’re a retail brand in Q4. If you’re looking to capitalize on your user base for the holiday season, there’s no time like the present to bring in this new audience and get the nurture/remarketing engine running.
According to Hochman Consultants (2017), the average cost of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is increasing – with the average cost-per-click in 2016 being nearly double that of 2013.
When you consider the fact that Google processes over 2.3 million searches per minute (Business Insider, 2016), this is hardly surprising.
But what can marketers do to ensure that they can attract customers on this increasingly competitive channel, while avoiding these burgeoning costs?
In my previous two articles, I looked at how to stop Google AdWords campaigns from failing by using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to gain a holistic overview of customer behavior, and how data-driven attribution with a CDP can supercharge your paid search.
In this article, I’ll outline five ways that a Customer Data Platform can improve your AdWords performance and ROI by keeping costs down and attracting new business.
Content produced in partnership with Fospha.
1. Data accuracy
Many businesses continue to struggle with optimizing their keyword bids. The simple reason for this is the fact that, regardless of how modern and advanced your bid management platform is, inputting inaccurate data can hinder success – and be costly to your business.
A Customer Data Platform gathers, integrates and centralizes customer data from various sources to give marketers more control of, and visibility over, their data. This data-driven approach stitches together the customer journey, and uses attribution to accurately assign credit to various marketing channels based on their importance in the path to conversion.
Without this true view of their data, businesses are missing the accurate value of their different channels. They also risk making poor decisions about which marketing channels are beneficial, and which are not, which might result in budget being taken away from a channel which has a huge role in the path to conversion.
With more accurate data, Customer Data Platforms are able to highlight the true value of keywords – allowing your business to pinpoint high and low performing keywords and campaigns, and optimize their spend on paid search.
For instance, with a more accurate data source, Fospha were able to help a client identify that 50% of their keywords weren’t contributing to any conversions. Check out the full case study here.
Manual bid management can be a laborious task, but with the help of a bid management platform to automate the process, this becomes a quick, effortless and efficient process. The next step lies in super-charging the capabilities of this platform. And the answer lies in an accurate data source.
Combining the power of the Customer Data Platform to discover high and low performing keywords across all channels through this data, with the automation of a bid management platform, enables spend on poorly performing keywords to be quickly reallocated – resulting in an improvement in ROI.
3. Real-time access
Unlike most other Customer Data Platforms, Fospha facilitates real-time interactions for bidding, helping reduce and eliminate the amount of wasted clicks on incorrect audiences. A Customer Data Platform integrates seamlessly with bid management platforms like Kenshoo and Marin to support these real-time interactions, such as bidding on ad clicks.
Real-time access through a Customer Data Platform also enables marketers to automate their bid management through advanced machine learning.
Marketers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of moving away from keyword-based marketing, and towards audience-based marketing. However, they can go one step further – making a move towards people-based marketing.
This is no less of a necessity with your bidding strategies. Understanding your audience is crucial, and by utilizing a data-driven attribution model, a Customer Data Platform provides you with a granular understanding of a single customer. From here, you are able to use your data to optimize your targeting and increase conversions by offering more relevant content to your customers.
In addition to this, keyword performance is largely dependent on types of devices used. It is important to boost keywords that do better on mobile and to suppress those that do not. Marin found that by adjusting bids for mobile, their clients enjoyed 10% higher CTR and 2.5% lower CPC than those that failed to do so.
A Customer Data Platform is able to detect these optimized conditions and adjust your bid management strategy accordingly.
5. Bidding strategies
Defining your bidding strategy can drastically improve the performance of your paid search campaigns. However, in order to reach a truly optimized level, different keywords, audiences and goals will require different bidding strategies.
A Customer Data Platform gives you a granular view of all your marketing channels to ensure the strategy deployed is custom to each specific need.
Content produced in partnership with Fospha. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Search Engine Watch.
Following its longstanding tradition of reporting quarterly earnings for its fourth financial quarter of the year in July, Microsoft today announced non-GAAP revenue of $ 24.7 billion and GAAP earnings per share of $ 0.83 (and non-GAAP earnings per share of $ 0.98) for the last three months. Operating income was $ 7.0 billion non-GAAP. Read More
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