#12DaysofStrategy: Paid Social Tips this Christmas Season

The Christmas season is upon us and there are so many things for advertisers to think about in regards to their holiday strategy:

  • More people on new devices including, tablet and mobile;
  • Consumers will be sharing their holidays as well as looking for gift recommendations;
  • and last but not least for some retailers January Sales will begin as early as Christmas day.

This is a lot to contend with, and social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter can be an excellent source to tapping into the holiday shoppers. In our Day 6 edition of our “12 Days of Christmas Strategy” series we are going to give you a few tips on how to make the most out of your Paid Social advertising strategy, and look at why it can be so beneficial for advertisers to be using these channels.

The first thing to mention is that advertisers need to be aware that social media activity changes during the Christmas and holiday period. This means that the way in which advertisers show content should change corresponding to this. As gifting becomes the primary reason for making purchases in December, change messaging to reflect this: “Get something special for that someone special.”

When targeting on Paid Social channels, advertisers are able to target demographics with a precision not available on other DSP’s. On Facebook, for instance, users must state their gender on their profile, this makes it incredibly accurate to creative gender targeting campaigns. Furthermore, many users share details of their relationship status as well as members of their family. Consider targeting males who are listed as in a relationship the few days before Christmas. If they are in a relationship with a woman use messaging such as ‘Delivery available in time for Christmas day, buy her the perfect present today!’  And you can also target males who are listed as in a relationship with a man ‘Delivery available in time for Christmas day, buy him the perfect present today!’ We know that most of us are notoriously late shoppers, so creating a sense of urgency in your messaging will help to get them to convert.

Look-a-like targeting is another very powerful tool available across many social platforms. If you have an audience email list of consumers who purchased previously, especially during last Black Friday and Christmas periods, consider using look-a-like targeting to expand your consumer base, and reach those who are most likely to purchase.

Email addresses can be an incredibly powerful targeting tool. These are people who you know have an interest in your brand, and in many cases have already purchased from you. Consider creating a list of people who purchased from you during father’s day or mother’s day, then send them messages like: “Make sure to get your Mum the gift she will love this Christmas,” or “Your Dad would look great in this new sweater!”

Increasingly Boxing day sales are beginning online on Christmas day, with businesses taking advantage of the increasing number of people on their phones and tablets. Across data from NMPi campaigns last year, Christmas day sees a much larger proportion of sales on mobile than average.

56% of Facebook users reportedly only log into Facebook on a mobile device, with the remaining 44% logging in across both mobile and desktop. Therefore, with more people accessing social media sites such as Facebook on mobile device rather than desktop, it may be worth injecting spend into your social campaigns over Christmas day and optimising your ads to appear best on mobile.

Hopefully, these tips will help you make the most out of your Paid Social campaigns this holiday season.

 

#12DaysofStrategy: Making the Most Out of the Gifting Season

Christmas is the most important time for many online retailers, and securing a slice of the gifting pie is essential to achieving targets. Therefore it is vital that advertisers do everything they can to plan their digital gifting campaigns to perfection. This article will help you make the most out of your Paid Search strategy.

Remarketing

Ensure you have all your remarketing campaigns set up whether for Paid Search, Paid Social, or Programmatic Display. Make sure you are using all the audience lists you have available to capture users who have already shown an interest in your brand (Check out our post on How to Maximise Audience Data). By simply overlaying remarketing lists and increasing bids for those who have visited gifting pages on-site, advertisers can boost conversion rates by up to 10%.

Split Campaigns by Gender

There are clear gifting trends in December based on gender. We see that females tend to make their purchases earlier in the month whilst there is a definite spike in men’s purchases just a few days before Christmas. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, this reflects the different approaches to gifting for men and women. This should be reflected in an advertiser’s strategy by splitting gifting campaigns by gender and weighting bids for female consumers earlier in the month and men’s closer to Christmas.

Customer Match

An exciting feature released earlier this year, for Paid Search campaigns, enables users to create and target (or exclude) user lists by uploading customer email addresses. It is ideal for a successful gifting campaign as it creates the opportunity to show different promotions to loyalty card members or use CRM data to cross-sell gifting products. For example, if gender is included in your CRM you can target males that purchased female gifts (watches for example) last year and retarget them with offers for other products (e.g. jewellery) as they browse for what to buy their loved ones this year. This strategy can also be used across Paid Social campaigns.

Don’t Get Caught Out by Stock Availability

The best products sell out quickly and can leave a considerable cost for advertisers who are unprepared. You may notice a product that had been converting well has altogether stopped selling. You go in and check and see that it is out of stock and you pause the campaign. By this stage it is too late, you have already cost yourself money and time. Therefore, it is essential, (especially around Christmas) that you have an “out of stock” script running hourly across your product campaigns. You can set it up to check pages where products are no longer available and alert or even directly pause the keyword in question. This will help use budget efficiently so that you can pause activity on any sold out products, and prevent wasted spend.

Countdowns

Not everyone plans ahead and takes care of gifts for loved ones early so it’s important to highlight in ad copy the countdown to next or same day delivery, which can capture the last minute purchasers as well as creating an urgency to buy. Countdowns can improve CTR by 11% and are a given for a successful gifting campaign.

Ad Customizers

Multiple gifts for family and friends mean that bargains are essential for the majority of consumers. As such it is important you are conveying your best deals to customers. However, it can be difficult to keep on top of the ever-changing offers-not to mention the suffering quality scores for every ad copy change. What is the solution? Ad customizers!

With promotions laid out with start dates and end dates in the business data section in AdWords, add a simple dynamic reference in your chosen ad copy and you have ads that will change as (and when) your promotions do. You can even add countdowns into the end date to increase the urgency! The ad copy never needs to be altered, only the reference sheet and as such, your quality score is maintained even when the ad shown to users changes.  Show the best deals to the potential customer, install some urgency in them with a countdown and save yourself money by lowering those all-important CPCs.

Taking these insights into account should help put your gifting strategies in the best position to ensure maximum activity, and secure a portion of the festive feast on offer.

If you found these tips useful, check out our other posts including, How to Maximise Audience Data or check in on Thursday for our next post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How Social Media Strategies are Effected by Christmas.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: How to Maximise Audience Data

Maximising the value advertisers leverage from their audience data is one of the fundamental digital marketing principles marketers need to get right. However, this is often something that advertisers struggle with, but there are several types of audience data that advertisers have access to and can easily collect. Often referred to as first-party data, the data that advertisers own in relation to their own audience can be leveraged within digital marketing in a number of powerful ways, all of which can all ultimately contribute positively to a brand’s bottom line, throughout the Christmas shopping season, and beyond.

First-party data, data that advertisers own in relation to their own audience, can be leveraged in a number of powerful ways, all of which can all ultimately contribute positively to a brand’s bottom line, throughout the Christmas shopping season, and beyond.

First-Party Data Sources

  • Cookie Data – The most common audience data that advertisers can leverage within digital marketing is first-party cookie data. This can range from numeric data, indicating that a user has visited a certain page on your website right through to more detailed alpha-numeric data such as the Order ID of their purchase, and the value of their purchase. Advertisers can maximise this data by segmenting their audience into lists based on commonalities such as the pages they visited, or the value of their previous purchase. Tailored advertising messaging relevant to customer’s actions and behaviour on the website can then be served to deliver relevant advertising and an efficient customer experience.
  • Website Data – Other audience data that comes from a brand’s website, such as Google Analytics 360 data, can be used in combination with audience lists to further segment. By making ads more tailored and targeted advertisers will see a higher return on investment. For example, fusing bounce rates and site dwell time into the optimisation process when retargeting can often sift out poor converting traffic from first-party data.
  • CRM Data – Advertisers are increasingly taking advantage of their own CRM data. Often used in conjunction with cookie data, CRM on-boarders facilitate the fusing of these two data sources. The benefit here is that CRM data, such as e-mail addresses, can be used as an alternative to cookie data. Additionally, it can be used to cross reference against cookies, essentially cleansing the cookie data and making it more robust for prospecting new customers and retargeting existing customers. Furthermore, it allows advertisers to target specific customer segments such as repeat customers, loyal customers, or even lapsed customers.
  • Search Data – Search data from PPC campaigns is another valuable audience data source. Advertisers can use this data to understand the products a customer is searching for or to assess the level of purchase intent they have. It can be then be used to infer banner creative messaging and to create additional targeting segments for display.

If you found these tips useful check out other posts including, The Impact Christmas has on the Travel Industry or check in on Wednesday for our fifth post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How are Social Media Metrics Affected by Christmas.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: The Impact Christmas has on the Travel Industry

Most online retailers will be running sales from now until the end of New Year to make the most of the influx of consumer shopping and trying to hit year-end targets.

But what about the travel industry?

Air Travel search interest drops in October, November and December by 11%, 18% and 14% respectively compared to the yearly average. This lull is driven by the consumers’ shift in focus towards Christmas. For many consumers, it is not the time to be thinking about travelling when there are so many things to do and money is tight.

Thus, whilst most of the eCommerce world are running wild over the festive period, the air travel industry bides its time for a rush of their own. In January consumers begin looking for the next big event, namely the summer holidays. It is at this point right the way through to March where we see peaks in interest and ticket sales for international travel, particularly air travel.

However, this is only half the story!

Does domestic travel industry undergo the same post-Christmas metamorphosis?

According to Google, the search interest for train related keywords only differentiates by at most 18% above and below the yearly average compared to the 45% seen in airplanes, indicating that trains are far less seasonal than their winged cousins. Trains also don’t see a dramatic dip in the last quarter of the year as planes do.

From our internal data we are able to analyse the spikes of a specific train company. They see an onsite conversion rate of 5% in October and 7% in November above the average. Total site visitors were 8% higher during the final quarter compared to the average. Customer site visits to the website peak in the final quarter, with conversion rates correlating in October and November, but diverging in December.

Highlighting how site visits and conversion rate varies over the year compared to the average for one major train company.

There are two questions to pull from this:

Firstly, why do conversion rates peak in October and November for train travel?

The first thing to note is that train tickets can be bought online 12 Weeks prior to travel, which means that tickets for Christmas Eve become available on the 2nd of October. Anyone looking to plan their journey to see loved ones over the festive period is likely to carry out their booking in the two months before December when prices are increased.

Secondly, why is there a drop off in onsite conversion rate in December despite user numbers remaining elevated?

Booking within three weeks of your journey online does not give you the same monetary benefits as it does for those of us who are more frugal and book earlier. Thus, people tend to research online for train times but have less incentive to go through the online checkout process. According to the train company, this results in higher traffic but a drop off in conversions as more people purchase on the day at the stations.

What can we learn from these trends to help us optimise digital marketing for travel clients?

For those in the international travel market, the time to act is from January to March immediately after the holiday period. Push messages relating to getting away for the summer. Increasing digital ad spend during this time of year will be necessary if you want to stay competitive.

However, in the domestic travel market, consider focusing advertising spend in the months leading up to December when people are looking to plan their holiday trips back home. Christmas related messaging, and more aggressive bidding would enable you to take advantage of the pre-festive period.

Whilst the travel industry is affected in a wholly different way than much of the retail industry, it is certainly impacted dramatically. Digital advertisers need to understand the influence of Christmas on consumers’ mindsets towards different industries and act accordingly.

If you found these tips useful check out other posts including, Effective Messaging Timelines in the Run Up to Christmas or check in on Tuesday for our fourth post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How to Maximise Audience Use.” We will be covering more topics throughout the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

#12DaysofStrategy: Effective Messaging Timelines in the Run Up to Christmas

Now that the Black Friday week is over ad copy messaging is more relevant than ever, with the run up to Christmas being a key trading period for most retailers.

Ensuring messaging runs across all digital channels, such as Display and Paid Social, as well as offline such as print and storefronts, is crucial. It delivers a consistent message to consumers and reinforces brand recognition, especially when tied with a strong Christmas tagline.

Updating messaging as we move closer to Christmas helps to capture consumers at different stages of the buying cycle, from those still browsing in early December to the last-minute shoppers purchasing a few days before the holidays.

Early December

To show ads are current and relevant to the consumers shopping needs, include seasonal words in ad copy, such as Christmas or Boxing Day.

Bing’s 2015 Christmas analysis showed that including endorsements such as ‘As Seen on TV’ and ‘Recommended’ can have a strong impact. In addition, consider including payment options such as ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ or ‘Free Credit,’ if these options are available for big ticket items.

Alter messaging according to the keyword group or theme. For more generic gift keywords the call-to-action should be more focused on browsing the range of products available, as consumers searching using these terms may not have decided what they would like to buy. Emotional based ad copy is effective here and should be tailored towards the recipient.

Example: ‘Find The Perfect Gift For Mum This Christmas.’

Manufacturer or product keywords require a stronger call to action such as ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Buy Today.’ Those consumers search for a specific product are more likely to have done their planning and now know what they would like to buy.

Bid multipliers now allow advertisers to split campaigns out by device. This makes it possible to tailor messaging for those exclusively searching on mobile. For consumers on the move use messaging to encourage store visits such as ‘Come Into Your Nearest Store Today.’ Additionally, including the price of products in headlines (if price-competitive) will allow consumers to make easy price comparisons and ultimately decisions.

The Week Before Christmas

In the final week before Christmas, use ad copy to highlight the urgency of making a purchase. This will capture those last-minute shoppers.

Messaging should include the last guaranteed delivery dates, and considering creating a countdown script to automate the process. After the last delivery dates have passed, alter the messaging to ‘Click & Collect’ if this option is available and the date is later than for last delivery.

Use device-specific campaigns to target mobile consumers with messages such as, ‘Still Available in Store,’ after delivery dates have closed. This will help to drive those final sales.

If you found these tips useful check out our first post What to do After Black Friday or check in on Monday for our third post in our ‘12 Days of Christmas Strategy’ blog series, “How to Maximise Audience Use.” We will be covering more topics over the series so stay tuned, and follow our progress on Twitter with #12DayofStrat!

Using Data more Effectively with Facebook Custom Audiences

As advertisers strive to reach the audiences, and re-engage former users, Facebook has simplified this process. Using Facebook Custom Audiences, advertisers can reach old and new users in one fell swoop.

What are Custom Audiences?
Armed with a list of email addresses or phone numbers (CRM data), advertisers can upload the information as a CSV or TXT file into Facebook’s advertising platform, create a custom audience and target those individuals with relevant ads across Facebook. Information can also be captured from a website or mobile app using Facebook tags. Data collected on user site activity can then be segmented into different groups, such as users visiting specific products but failing to purchase.

Tapping into New Audiences
Instead of bombarding random users with irrelevant ads, Facebook offers a smart alternative to growing potential customer base through lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences use custom audience data to reach out to similar users that are relevant to your business on Facebook.

Lookalike audiences can be based off the data collected from people who: like your page, have visited your website, are part of the demographic you care about, or live in/are visiting your desired location. Advertisers can also focus on milestone/life events such as weddings, new homes, or a new baby, or even target specific preferences, such as dog lovers, fitness buffs, and coffee aficionados.

Re-engaging with Former Customers
Consumers are far more likely to buy from a brand they have previously purchased from, making Custom Audiences an efficient means of making your advertising budget go further. You only spend money on people you know are more likely to convert, rather than casting a wide net and wasting ad spend on people who aren’t your target demographic, or interested in your products or services.

Benefits of Facebook Custom Audiences

  • Reach Relevant New Users – for those trying to expand their customer base, lookalike audiences, are an incredibly powerful tool. Target new people who have a similar user profile to your current customers, indicating a higher propensity to purchase the products or services your business offers.
  • Increase page likes – get more people to notice your brand.
  • Selling/Upgrading a product – capture users who have purchased an item or service and market accessories or extras that they may find useful.
  • Reach users who don’t open your emails – many people automatically delete product emails or send them to a junk folder never to be seen again. By using Facebook’s Custom Audiences, you can capture this user when they are on Facebook by putting the product or service from your email in front of them in their news feed.
  • Remind your audience of a call-to-action – remind users to continue with an action they may have forgotten about in their email.
  • Turn free trial/“freemium” users into subscribers – show freemium users the extras available to them in their Facebook newsfeed – let them know the features they’re missing out available via subscription.
  • Promote contests – have a contest in the wings? Capture interest with customer who you want interacting with your event through Custom Audience targeting.
  • Encourage customer feedback when launching new products or services – ask your custom audience to respond to the survey on your latest product by offering an incentive like a “freebie”, or discount on their next purchase as a thank you for participating.
  • Enhance email marketing efforts – catch people in their inboxes, and on social media, doubling you chances for interaction.

Points to Remember

  • For website and mobile created custom audiences, users are only kept in the group for a maximum of 180 days, unless they revisit the site or use the mobile app again.
  • Lookalike audiences can only use people located in one country at a time.

Want More? Read our two white papers on how to use Facebook more effectively and Turning Big Data into Smart Data.

How to Test the Value of Brand Keywords in Adwords

A recent study by Bing analysed click results for Retail and Travel brands comparing those brands that bid on brand keywords and those that do not. The study found that there is a 31% increase in clicks when bidding on brand keywords. Furthermore, without having a brand ads competitor ads receive 34% of clicks.

 

However, for some companies bidding on brand keywords may not be an efficient or effective use of their budget, so how can they test if bidding on brand keywords is right for them? At Net Media Planet (NMP), we have developed a process to help determine the true value of bidding on brand keywords. This simple process can be done by any advertiser, and can ultimately help them to be more profitable.

 

The Process:

 

The first step in testing the value of brand keywords is to create a new campaign in AdWords that bids on exact match brand keywords. The campaign will alternate between running and pausing the keywords every other day. For instance, Monday keywords will be enabled, Tuesday they will be paused, Wednesday enabled, and so on for around four weeks to get an accurate analysis from the data. Alternating day’s removes possible skews in the data caused by day of the week or time of the month trends.

 

There are two ways to manage the pausing of the campaign: manually or automated. Manually takes a significant amount of effort compared with automated processes, and there is a higher room for error especially on weekends if the campaign is no being monitored. We highly recommend automating the process in either AdWords or DoubleClick, depending on where the campaign is managed.

 

To set up campaign automation in AdWords select the exact match brand keywords and click on the “Automate” drop down then select “Pause keywords when…” Under Frequency choose “One time” the date and the time a seen below:

 

Pausing Campaign Keywords in Adwords

 

Similarly to reactivate/enable the keywords go to “Automate” dropdown and select “enable keywords when…” and select the next day, as seen below:

 

Enable Paused Keywords in Adwords Automatically

 

These automation rules will need to be created for each day of the month, so repeat this process until the entire month is automated.

 

Tracking:

 

In order to track results, the website will need an analytics platform such as Google Analytics which allows ecommerce tracking specifically the revenue performance of organic and paid search channels.

 

For instructions on how to implement Ecommerce Tracking visit Google Analytics Support Page.

 

Determining value:

 

In order to determine the true value of brand keywords, you will need to look at the combined organic revenue and paid search revenue for each day of the campaign.

 

1. Each day add together the organic and paid revenue values.

 

Date Brand Term Bidding? Organic Revenue PPC Revenue Total
1/7/15 Yes £45 £100 £145
2/7/15 No £40 £80 £120
3/7/15 Yes £70 £110 £180
4/7/15 No £50 £95 £145

 

2. Then at the end of the campaign add together all the results for days where brand keywords were enabled and days when the campaign was paused.

 

Brand Term Bidding? Organic Revenue PPC Revenue Total
Yes £115 £210 £325
No £90 £175 £265

 

3. Quite quickly you will be able to determine the effectiveness of the campaign, but remember to subtract the cost of ad spend for the days you were running the campaign. That way you can determine if the extra cost was worth the increase in performance.

 

Brand Term Bidding? Organic Revenue PPC Revenue Ad Spend Cost Total
Yes £115 £210 £20 £305
No £90 £175 £10 £255

 

This process can also be used to evaluate website sessions if it is an important KPI metric for the campaign. Instead of looking at paid and organic revenue you will add paid and organic sessions together. This may be relevant for businesses that do not have an ecommerce platform on their website.

 

Who Should Always be Bidding on Brand:

 

For brands who sell their products through resellers, this can increase competition on brand keywords. We recommend always bidding on brand keywords in this circumstance to decrease the amount of lost business. As mentioned earlier in this article competitor ads will accrue 34% of clicks if you are not bidding on brand keywords.

 

How Effective Are Brand Keywords?

Source: Bing ads internal data, Dec. 2014

 

In some situations it can be incredibly difficult to match the budgets of some of the bigger resellers. If this is the case using RSLA’s will allow advertisers to use their budget more effectively by only bidding on consumers who have shown an interest in their products.

 

6 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Click-To-Call Campaigns


 
With the advent of Google AdWords’ Enhanced Campaigns and unified device targeting, managing the bids of a pure click-to-call campaign can be a tricky balancing act. Here are 6 top tips, tricks and things to remember when optimising your click-to-call campaign:
 

1. Setting up your campaigns

Click-to-call campaigns are set up in Adwords, as like any other paid search campaigns. However, advertisers must add a call extension to their ads, which is found within the ‘Ad Extensions’ tab.
 
Within each campaign, advertisers are able to add in a phone number. Remember: show phone numbers appropriate for the country you are targeting, otherwise they may get angry customers complaining about expensive international call charges!
 

 
Google forwarding number – by using the call forwarding number, advertisers can utilise call reporting features in AdWords, such as phone call conversions, phone impressions, number of phone calls, PTR (phone-through-rate), and Avg. CPP (average cost per phone). Advertisers can see which keywords are driving phone conversions. However, the downside is that by opting into call reporting, Google replaces the company phone number with their own generated number. As a result, this new Google number appears on the user’s mobile keypad as a “0333” number. This may be off-putting to some users who are concerned about call charges.
 
Show the following links – if advertisers want to drive ¬only mobile calls, the “show the following links” option in Adwords allows you to select “Just the phone number”. By choosing this, a click on your ad will mean the user gets directed to make a phone call rather than to the homepage of your site. The headline then moves down below the display URL, and the phone number appears as your new ad headline clickable straight to the number.
 
If advertisers choose to combine these two options, be aware that the company call number appears as the headline of the Paid Search ad but when the user clicks on it, a different Google forwarding number will appear in their keypad, as represented below. This may cause consumers to not proceed with the call.
 

 

2. You pay per click, not per call

When your ad appears on a mobile device and the user clicks the ‘Call’ button, the call number appears on the user’s keypad where they can then choose to follow through with making the call. Google will charge you a CPC based on that first click and not on whether the user then follows through to make a call. Advertisers may find that there is a large discrepancy between the click through rate and the call through rate and should plane their budget according to a drop off ratio.
 

3. Mobile ads

Advertisers can increase their call through rate if the mobile ad uses messaging to emphasise and encourage the user to call. Ad Text such as “Speak To A Specialist Today!” or “Call Now For Our Best Prices!” can serve to reinforce that by clicking on this ad a consumer is expecting to make a call. This reduces money spent on wasted clicks.
 

4. Search Partners

In your normal paid search campaigns, it is often best practice to include all search partners in your campaign settings to maximise coverage. However, with a click-to-call campaign, choose to disable this feature and select the ‘Standard’ option. While all search partners will be able to show your mobile ad, many do not have the call button feature. This increases clicks and ultimately cost while reducing the call through rate.
 

 

5. Ad scheduling

Remember your call centre opening hours! Within the ‘Settings’ tab at campaign level, you are able to set your ads to schedule at certain hours of the day and days of the week. Make sure that your ads only run while your call line is open otherwise you will be paying for clicks and receiving no calls.
 

 
Furthermore, you will be able to employ the ‘Dimensions’ tab to find out when you are receiving the highest number of impressions and tailor your bid strategy to be more aggressive at those times. For instance, if a travel advertiser knew that users liked to research flights during their morning work commute and then call through during their lunch hours, bids can be customised accordingly.
 

6. Have a mobile ready site

 
Last but certainly not least, make sure your website is mobile optimised. This seems like a simple point but can often be overlooked and forgotten! Click-to-Call is an effective mobile advertising function and whenever advertising on a mobile device advertisers will have consumers viewing their website, especially if show “both my website and phone number” are selected during the setup (see the first point). If the website isn’t mobile optimised then consumers are more likely to leave the site without calling or converting, wasting valuable ad budget. Google have a new handy tool that allows advertisers to see if your website is mobile-friendly: google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly
 
 
Click-To-Call advertising can be an incredibly effective campaign, especially when your ultimate goal is to get a consumer on the phone, but this campaign strategy is fairly new. By using the above tips and tricks advertisers can increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.


Christmas: Sparkle vs Savings

Over the last couple of years we have seen a change in consumer behaviour during the Christmas period.

 

Across many of our retail clients, we have traditionally seen offer based ad copies that promote sales or savings perform well throughout the year. This rather predictable trend was however not always carried through to Christmas. Seasonal messaging that focused on ‘finding the perfect present’ or ‘sparkling this Christmas’ often outperformed offer based ad copies; in one instance by 43%.

 

Christmas Past

Last Christmas we started to see this seasonal messaging trend shift for some of our retail clients. ‘Christmas savings’ messaging generated higher CTRs and conversion rates than the seasonal based messaging. This echoes the trend that Google called out this year in their Christmas webinar. This highlighted the significant growth in search volume for the terms ‘Christmas offers’ and ‘Christmas deals’ in the last 2 years as shown below;

 

Trend of keywords related to Christmas savings

 

 

Christmas Present

Now, as we enter the most important 6 weeks of the retail calendar, we have started to see this consumer reliance towards offers and deals develop one step further. Owing to a declining conversion rate YoY on a client’s homepage in the first month of Q4, we utilised our learnings from our ad copy tests and conducted a landing page split test. We wanted to test the hypothesis that directing traffic from their brand terms to an offers page, which emphasised the best promotions, would result in a positive uplift in conversion rate. This approach diverted visitors away from the traditionally high converting homepage.

 

This resulted in a 28% increase in conversion rate for the brand term and has since been rolled out to other non-product specific keywords.

 

Christmas Future

It is always a risk for clients to cater for bargain hunters owing to the detrimental impact on AOV and potentially the brand reputation. However, with consumers now having easy access to competitor prices and with sales and voucher codes becoming an increasingly regular occurrence online, sales are no longer only a way to clear surplus stock. They are instead becoming a response to how customers are searching and purchasing online.

 

In response to this emerging trend, we are adopting three new strategies in the approach to Christmas to take advantage of the changing consumer mind-set:

 

1. Landing page split tests – We no longer assume that the homepage continues to be the highest converting landing page for brand terms.

2. Expanding ‘savings’ related keyword coverage – This enables advertisers to maintain share of voice and capitalize on this ever-increasing traffic.

3. Test value added offers – Promote differentiating features such as ‘elf-styled gift wrapping’ or ‘free express delivery’ to stand out in the SERPs.

 

In conclusion, with consumer search patterns changing each Christmas, our paid search strategy has to continue to develop through messaging tests, landing page optimisation and coverage of trending keywords. However, with consumers’ ability to compare prices so quickly online, brands and advertisers must concentrate on their differentiating features in the lead up to Christmas.

 

Moving away from the monetary savings and towards the sparkle of a hassle free Christmas may be the message for Christmases to come.

Google Ad Rank Calculation Update

This week Google announced a major change to its Ad Rank calculation which is used in determining the position and CPCs paid by each advertiser in the Google ad auction.

 

Historically Ad rank has been calculated by multiplying your Max CPC bid by your Quality Score (Google’s assessment of the relevance of your keywords, ad copies and landing pages). But with this new update Google now also factors in the expected uplift from the ad extensions and extension formats that you are using in your AdWords Campaigns. In addition Google has increased the importance of Ad Rank in determining whether your ad extensions are eligible to be displayed along with your ad. Here are the full details of the update from Google:

 

  • Ad extensions and formats can now influence the position of your ad on the search results page. If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, then the ad with the more positive expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher position than the other.
  • When estimating the expected impact of extensions and ad formats, we consider such factors as the relevance, clickthrough rates, and the prominence of the extensions or formats on the search results page.
  • Because Ad Rank is now more important in determining whether your ad is shown with extensions and formats, you might need to increase your Quality Score, bid, or both for extensions and formats to appear.
  • In each auction, we’ll generally show your highest performing and most useful combination of extensions and formats among those eligible. So there’s no need to try to guess which extensions will help improve your clickthrough rate the most.
  • You may see lower or higher average CPCs in your account. You may see lower CPCs if your extensions and formats are highly relevant, and we expect a large positive performance impact relative to other competitors in the auction. In other cases, you may see higher CPCs because of an improvement in ad position or increased competition from other ads with a high expected impact from formats.
  • For now, this update only affects search ads appearing on Google Search.

 

Why has Google made this change?

It has been widely known that Ad extensions typically improve CTR which means more ad clicks and more revenue for Google. By making ad extensions a key component in the Ad rank calculation this will likely further encourage advertisers to take advantage of more of these Google features within AdWords.

 

Also as ad extensions generally only appear for ads in the top 3 positions in the SERPs it is likely that advertisers will compete more aggressively for these top positions in order to see the additional benefits that ad extensions bring to Ad rank which would ultimately mean increasing overall market CPCs.

 

What does this change mean for advertisers?

The Use of ad extensions will now be more important than ever. To ensure advertisers are getting the best position and lowest CPCs for their max bid they will have to ensure they are using the most relevant combination of ad extensions for each keyword, location, device and time of day. With ad rank now being dependant on the actual performance of these extensions, not just whether they exist, this gives advertisers another element to optimise in addition to ad copies, keywords and max bids which will give an advantage to performance orientated paid search agencies.

 

The changes will likely have a bigger impact for clients with a high reliance on mobile activity as ad extensions on mobile devices (location extensions, call extensions as well as sitelinks) provide a method of getting mobile users the content or information they want fast. Advertisers not utilising these features will likely see a drop in average position and/or increase in CPCs as a result of the Ad Rank update.

 

The changes will also mean that some businesses will need to make changes to their web design in order to avoid being penalised by this update.

 

E.g. Small businesses that have a website with only one or two landing pages will not be able to fully use sitelinks extensions unless they create more landing pages (Google policy states each sitelink must go to a different landing page)

 

Top Tips/ Recommendations

  • Ensure that you are eligible to use as many types of Google’s ad extension formats that are relevant for your business as possible. E.g. Sitelinks – Requires 1 unique landing page per sitelink
  • Location extensions – Include location information next to your ads via a  Google places account or by enter addresses manually in AdWords
  • Social Extensions – Does your business have a Google+ page linked to their website?
  • Call Extensions – Do you have a phone number that customers can call your business on?
  • Offer Extensions – Can you provide an exclusive offer that can be redeemed online or in store?
  • Review Extensions – Show accolades from reputable third parties below your ads
  • Analyse the historical performance of the extensions formats you are currently running to identify which formats perform the best by keyword category, device, location, time of day etc. Ensure coverage of your best performing extensions is maximised and increase relevancy where possible – E.g. Improve sitelink relevance by using ad group level sitelinks and use sitelink description lines, ensure offers and promotions are kept up to date
  • Look at which of the other available extension formats can be displayed in the SERPS in addition to your current best performing extensions and add these into your campaigns. For example call extensions, location extensions, social extensions and review extensions can all be displayed in addition to sitelinks in the SERPS so will likely have a positive impact on your Ad Rank. Google states that the ad platform will generally show your highest performing and most useful combination of extensions and formats among those eligible. So one option is to upload all extension types available and let Google pick the best ones. However how effective Google will be at picking the best extensions is yet to be seen
  •  Use device preference and scheduling on extensions to further increase relevance. E.g. scheduling call extensions for call centre opening hours, schedule offers between the start and end date
  • Look at what ad extensions and formats your competitors are using and how you can improve upon and differentiate your ad extensions to give you the advantage
  • Monitor changes in ad position and average CPC as a result of implementing different extension formats to see which are the most beneficial to Ad Rank for your activity
  • Monitor changes in ad position and average CPC as a result of implementing different extension formats to see which are the most beneficial to Ad Rank for your activity
  • Expect this to rollout across Display in the near future so start testing ad extensions and formats in Display now

 

This is clearly an important change from Google Adwords and brands should certainly take note.  Please get in touch if we can help .