Month: April 2013

4 Tips for Using Google Analytics to Measure AdWords Performance

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Google Analytics Measurement for AdWordsMany businesses both large and small rely heavily on Google AdWords to drive qualified visitors to their websites and mobile sites. Some run these AdWords campaigns quite effectively, while others have their campaigns on a “set and forget” mode. If you fall into the latter category, your campaigns might yield some “ok” results, but you are likely missing out big time on so much more the program has to offer.

The AdWords platform offers many key metrics to help you measure success, such as impressions, clicks, cost-per-click, average keyword position, and ad click-thru rate. These metrics should be monitored against your campaign goals to help determine what you ultimately need to optimize. You can also measure the outcome (and you should if you are not) by tracking conversions (leads, sales, upgrades, etc.) on your site and understand what keywords, ads, campaigns are actually bringing you the money.

1. Avoid Missing AdWords Metrics

There is one optimization aspect that is often forgotten in terms of measuring AdWords performance, and that is the “post-click” performance. This is what happens after someone clicks on the ad and visits your landing page. Are they finding what they are looking for? Are they engaged? Bouncing? If they convert, you can track that in AdWords. And for those who do not convert, there are two different methods for tracking why this may be happening.

Engagement and post-click performance can be measured in a number of ways. You can pull a few metrics such as bounce rate, time on site, etc. from Google Analytics (GA) into AdWords (see AdWords help topic on this here), but I see very few people applying it to their AdWords setup. The other tracking option is to see this data in GA reports. Those who utilize GA for all their reporting will find it more beneficial to go to one place for all their data information, rather than switching back and forth on platforms. Plus, in some cases, GA users who are interested in reviewing the AdWords data may not always have access to the AdWords account they are working with. These folks find the engagement metrics data in GA to be very helpful - and this article is for you! The one prerequisite is that you want to ensure that your AdWords account is linked to your Google Analytics account (as described in the AdWords link above).

2. Leverage an AdWords Dashboard in Google Analytics

Everyone loves their “dashboards,” and the best dashboards are the actionable ones. Below is one that is super actionable! (And I want you to be hooked on it, so you can save costs and increase profits! )

So what do I look for in Google Analytics? We mentioned previously wanting to measure and improve user engagement on a landing page after visitors clicked on the ads and before they converted. Let me suggest we examine our good old metric friend, the “bounce rate.” This is the percentage of visits that go to one page, and then exit the site without any other interaction. For example, if the majority of visitors to JoesComputerShack.com come from AdWords campaign “Computer Monitors” but just arrive at his landing page and click off, the bounce rate percentage is going to be high, and you won’t know that critical fact if you’re are just looking at your AdWords metrics. If this is the case, Joe is going to want to know why these people are leaving so quickly, and why they are not converting. (Maybe Joe doesn’t carry monitors and he is bidding on a broad keyword “computer” or the landing page doesn’t have any mention of monitors.)

This dashboard highlights some valuable information, and we’ve broken it out for you here:

Visits and Bounce Rate by Campaign

Quickly see which campaigns have the highest bounce rate and act on it. Ideas for optimization include:

  • Check your targeting options in your AdWords campaign settings.
  • Check your geotargeting: are your targeting the right region?
  • Check the ad serving schedule. Make sure they are not set when your prospects are not searching, and you just have “happy clickers” wasting your ad budget. Adjust ad serving time as needed.
  • Maybe (and on purpose) you are bidding on very broad keywords for a specific marketing/awareness purpose, so you are expecting a high bounce rate.

Google Analytics - Visits and Bounce Rate by Campaign

Visits and Bounce Rate by Keyword

Similar to campaigns, we want to focus on the work performers. Our top keyword and the 8th top keyword appear to be performing miserably. Almost seven of each visitors comes to the site, and then bounces (ouch!). Optimization ideas here include:

  • If you are bidding on very broad keywords, review your negative keyword list. Should you add more?
  • Check your Search Terms report in AdWords. Are the queries that are driving clicks relevant to your offer?
  • Test using more specific keywords and other matching options, such as Exact.
  • Check to see if the keywords you are bidding on are relevant to the landing page.

Google Analytics - Keyword Bounce Rate

Visits and Bounce Rate by Landing Page

This is going to tell us the performance of our landing pages. Some of these pages are bouncing at 96%... wow what’s going on??? Here are some optimization ideas to examine:

  • Check your page load time (people are very impatient these days!).
  • Are your calls-to-actions clear?
  • Is the page relevant to the keywords you are bidding on?
  • Does your landing page pay off the promise of your ad?

Google Analytics - Bounce Rate by Landing Page

Now if you want to see all three together in one view and one dashboard, you sure can. See the snapshot below and I have shared a link so you can easily create this dashboard in your own Google Analytics account.

3. Create Your Paid Search Dashboard in Google Analytics

Google Analytics Paid Search Dashboard

To create this same dashboard, just login into your Google Analytics account, and then click this link—your dashboard will be created.

Obviously, savvy analysts and marketers wouldn’t just stop at the bounce rate analysis. They are likely to look into enhanced targeting techniques, content consumption, micro conversions (e.g. pdf downloads, demos watched, etc.). But starting off with bounces is definitely a good start and on-going optimization technique that I highly recommend you adopt.

4. Create Intelligence Alerts

Take your monitoring a step further by adding in Intelligence Alerts in Google Analytics. Once you’ve linked your Google AdWords to Google Analytics, you can create alerts that recognize specific criteria and alert you when that criteria is hit. With Intelligence Alerts, Google Analytics can help you identify positive or negative changes on your site or campaigns. We recommend you review these alerts daily, and monitor important changes.

Google Analytics Intelligence Alerts

Take your most important landing page and set an Alert to be triggered when your landing page bounce rate is higher than 60%. That is it! You don’t even have to monitor your dashboard anymore. You can set up the alerts you want and if you like, even have them emailed to your inbox.

In conclusion, there are several benefits to linking your Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts. When you key in on specific information you’re looking for, you’re able to expand the data delivered and in turn, benefit your overall online marketing efforts.

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5 Tips for Writing Killer Email Copy

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While social media marketing might get all the attention, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach customers and nurture your audience. In fact, according to the B2B Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 74% of B2B marketers think email marketing is critical to their success.

Whether you are a B2B or B2C marketer, the easiest way to improve your email marketing, and in turn generate more leads and revenue, is to improve your email copy. In the 45-minute class, How to Write Killer Email Copy, Roberta Rosenberg, popularly known as @CopywriterMaven, provides step-by-step instructions for crafting email copy that drives opens, click-throughs, and conversions. A few of my favorite tips include:

To Get Your Email Opened

1. Keep Subject Lines Short

Emails with short and concise subject lines consistently drive higher open rates. Using a short subject line also lets you maintain control of how your email appears when it's displayed in the reader's inbox. Since desktops, cell phones, and tablets all display subject lines differently, it's crucial to communicate your most important information in the beginning of the subject line, in case it gets cut off.

However, short subject lines still offer the opportunity to leverage your brand identity. If you have already established a good relationship with your email list, test including your brand name in the subject line. This will evoke the positive feelings customers have for your brand and compel them to open your email. In her class, Roberta shows an example of how QVC executed this well with the subject line, "Famous Brands & Celebrity Designers... QVC Has It All."

2. Ask Questions and Convey Urgency

Asking a question in the subject line is a highly effective way to peak your reader’s interest and get them to open your email. Including time-sensitive promotions and specific deadlines will also drive immediate action by creating a sense of urgency. These examples from the class illustrate how you can grab your subscribers’ attention and convey your offer—even with a limited number of words.

Email Subject Line Examples

To Get Your Email Read

3. Appeal to Your Subscribers’ Self-Interest

Ultimately, customers only care about products and services in the context of their needs, so your copy should explicitly describe the benefit they will receive. "Features tell," advises Roberta, but "benefits sell." Go beyond describing features and explain core benefits—this will hit the emotional hot points that drive purchases.

In the class, Roberta gives the example of selling an onion. Describing an onion's features, such as its texture and taste, will answer “what” it is, but not "how and why" it should be used. Explaining the onion's benefits, such as bringing a recipe to life and keeping caloric content low, can activate readers’ desires and diminish their fears.

4. Support Your Message with Effective Design

Your email design should support the message of your email—not detract from it. Good design makes it easy for readers to engage with the content quickly and intuitively. It uses buttons and clear prompts to guide readers through the copy, and it places social media icons at the end to prevent readers from clicking them before they've engaged with the content. 

In the example below, Roberta illustrates how design can prevent subscribers from reading your message. Several elements make this email hard to read: all bolded text, all capitalized text, white type over a light background, and a small and hidden call to action.

The design takes away from the message of the email.

However, in the next email, the design does a much better job of engaging the reader and supporting the message through the use of a captivating photo, type font with color contrast, clearly written price, and a well placed call to action.

Great email design.

This design does a better job supporting the message of the email.

To Get Your Email Acted On

5. Use Clear Calls to Action

Clear, benefit-centric calls to action result in the highest click-through rates. Avoid using a generic "click here" call to action. Instead, create one that cues the reader to the next step, such as, "Download your e-book now!" or "Click to save 10% instantly!" Using clear links and easy-to-find buttons is equally important to help your readers find and complete your calls to action.

Email Call-to-Action Example

This email has a clear call to action that drives readers to down the white paper.

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4 Steps to Recovery for Raging B2B PPC-aholics

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B2B PPC-aholicI always thought that I could stay in control of it. That things wouldn’t get out of hand. But who was I kidding? I was knee-deep in a $15-a-click habit and my costs per lead were through the roof. I got caught up with the wrong crowd of competitors, blindly setting maximum bids to get to the top of the page. Those guys didn’t even care if they were getting results or weren’t even tracking to see if they were. They just wanted to be at the top of the page no matter what, and they didn’t care who they hurt to get there. Finesse wasn’t in their game plan, just sheer brute bidding force. They are the “Ham Fisted” bidders.

I played the game the way it had to be played on the search result pages, but I wasn’t getting anywhere and I wasn’t producing much, even in terms of clicks. That’s what happens when your average cost per click is in the double-digits. The leads that I got from those clicks were too expensive and my client was starting to grumble about possibly leaving the relationship.

low keyword search volumeI was stuck. The game was ruined and the only way I could compete was to be a ham-fisted bidder, just like the competitors that ruined the game. I tried to build out more “Long Tail” low-traffic, but highly targeted keywords, but almost all of them were slapped with the dreaded “Low Search Volume” label by Google AdWords. My translation of that message was “yes, these words are relevant, but we aren’t going to waste our server space on them and you are just going to have to compete like everybody else on the broadest, most competitive search terms.”

So what’s a marketer to do when they have to play a game rigged against them that will ultimately lead to failure? The answer: don’t play the game – change the game.

Step 1: Find a Another Way

In the B2B lead generation game—especially for high-end enterprise products or services—Google AdWords is NOT the best channel on which to advertise these days. The best channel for B2B lead generation is LinkedIn Advertising. LinkedIn has over 200 million members that willingly turn over all of their at-work demographic data. LinkedIn Advertising allows you to target text ads directly to your ideal customer at your ideal companies and, most importantly, to target ads to those ideal customers in LinkedIn Groups, which are thriving right now with active users. No other online channel on earth has the demographic targeting power that B2B advertisers need that LinkedIn Advertising provides right now. It gives marketers great power to filter out the irrelevant audience.

Step 2: Join the Content Marketing Revolution

Stop thinking of content marketing as just blogging. It’s webinars, whitepapers, surveys, videos, infographics and other cool stuff that many of your prospects would be willing to fill out a form on a landing page to get. If you are selling a big-purchase, high-commitment, enterprise-level product, then getting someone to click through an ad link and then fill out a “Contact Us” form is going to be a challenge. Go with low-friction, high-value digital assets to get form completions from your target audience and then work on nurturing those leads over time with marketing automation software, e-mail marketing and a continuous flow of relevant content assets to get that person further down the sales funnel.

Step 3: Make Google Remarketing a Priority

Have you heard about remarketing? If you have a long sales cycle or if you are trying to sell an enterprise-level product, it’s a great tactic to keep reaching your site visitors. I admit that I resisted it for a while; it seemed like cyber-stalking for commercial gain…OK, it kind of is, but if you are smart with capping the frequency of how often people see your ads, it can take the creepiness out of it. Remember Step 2 about content marketing? Well if you keep creating new digital content assets that your target audience would find useful, you can keep cycling them to your site visitors with remarketing and get more chances to be authoritative about what you sell.

Oh yeah, remember Step 1 about LinkedIn Advertising? Guess what, you can leverage your failures from your LinkedIn Ad clicks with Google Remarketing. You utilized all of LinkedIn’s demographic targeting features to find the perfect audience to advertise. If you utilize a custom URL on your LinkedIn Advertising landing page, you can then create a Google AdWords Remarketing Group specifically for those people who you know are in your target demographic. In other words, you can pretty much guarantee every person who sees the ads in that specific remarketing campaign are all your exact target demographic.

Step 4: Use AdWords Differently—Utilize the Features of the Google Display Network

I used to use the contextual targeting features of the Google Display Network. It was OK, but it wasn’t the tactic that I would use as my first line of attack. In fact, it was my last budget priority. But, that was a different game. That was Business-to-Consumer advertising, and the search advertising clicks were cheap and abundant.

In the ultra-competitive world of lead generation for B2B enterprises, costs per click are getting crazy-high and search volumes for the keywords that convert are much scarcer. It doesn’t help that Google seems to want to kill off all of the “Long Tail” keyword possibilities by slapping a “Low Search Volume” status on perfectly good keyword choices.

Here’s the good part about the Google Display Network. Today it has cool features that make it much more effective than it used to be. You can target ads to a Google searcher’s interests in the last 30 days. There are around 1,600 different search interests that you can target and a lot of them are pretty niche categories. You can also utilize Topic targeting to only advertise on pages in the Google Display Network on certain specific topics (they seem to overlap with the 1,600 interest categories). You can advertise to gender and age demographics. You can also bid higher or lower to those age groups and genders based on their historical performance.

You can also combine these features to find your performance sweet spot.

The Dawning of a New Day

Things got better pretty quickly after taking these four steps. I didn’t completely stop search advertising—I just allocate whatever budget is left over for it after prioritizing the new tactics that are working so well first.

dawn of a new day

The results are insanely good. For one of our clients, LinkedIn Ads for webinars and whitepapers have been over 1,500% more effective at getting sign-ups than search advertising that went for “Contact Us” conversions—and almost 100% cheaper in cost per lead.

The change in PPC tactics that emphasized Display Network tactics like remarketing, search interests and age and gender targeting actually had a lower conversion rate; however, the clicks were over 80% less expensive. We actually ended up getting 226% more PPC clicks for only about 66% of the previous spend.

That change led to way more opportunities to convert (clicks). We ended up with almost 50% more conversions, for a cost per conversion that was over 60% lower than previously realized by just focusing on search advertising.

I take it one click at a time these days. But, I’ve found a new way that’s working for me and seems to make everyone involved very happy.

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