Can you trust Smart Goals in Google Analytics?

Recently, Smart Goals in Google Analytics have resurfaced as a helpful feature for ecommerce merchants, but particularly Shopify merchants. In a previous post, we outline what Smart Goals are and why some ecommerce businesses use them. However, a lack of trust (and lack of endorsement) with the Google Analytics feature has turned away ecommerce merchants, particularly Shopify merchants. Like we discussed in the previous post, Smart Goals is a goal-setting users can enable in Google Analytics. Unlike other goals, Smart Goals uses both behavioral data and contextual (shared) data to predict which of your web sessions will result in a conversion. The pitfall here is that the data is not your data, which would naturally be the best predictor of future conversions. Instead, Google's algorithm seeks highly-engaged visitors and then uses that data to conclude the likelihood a given web session ends with a conversion. Google puts it this way: To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data. From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. We can then apply these key factors to any website. The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions. Are Smart Goals a good idea? There's a big hitch in the original concept. Smart Goals was designed for merchants using Google Ads who don’t use conversion tracking. Smart Goals was to help optimise their Ads campaigns by collecting important metrics of user engagement. In theory, it sounds brilliant and helpful for ecommerce merchants and business owners of all scales. But here's how it breaks down in real life: Advertise, measure, repeat As a rule of thumb, ecommerce merchants with stores of all sizes should be measuring their advertising performance. Even if you're creating a "set it and forget it" Google Ads campaign, it's still crucial to track product views, page views, user engagements, cost per click, etc. If you're advertising your products without measuring, you're likely wasting your time and your budget. So how do you ensure you're making good use of ad dollars? Properly set up conversion tracking. Littledata's Google Ads connection is a great place to start. With the connection, you can be confident in your data reporting and that you're tracking the metrics that matter. [subscribe heading="Get Littledata's connection for Google Ads" background_color="grey" button_text="Get the connection" button_link=https://blog.littledata.io/2019/02/28/link-analytics-to-adwords-with-our-new-google-ads-connection/] With conversion tracking, you can follow a shopper's journey and see how many ad clicks lead to purchases, contacts, downloads, signups and more. This data will help you better optimise your campaigns and adjust the ad copy, visuals and calls-to-action to what performs best. Unfortunately, there are thousands of ecommerce merchants who advertise their products without proper conversion tracking. This sets them up for underperforming campaigns and stalls their online store from scaling. Can you really trust anonymous data? The short answer is a resounding no, and for a few reasons: Using other people's data to make crucial product and marketing decisions around your campaigns, your website and your customers isn't a good idea. Only your own customer behavior trends will guarantee you're making optimal business decisions for your product marketing campaigns and your online store. How does Google's algorithm determine likely conversions? If conversions aren't defined and conversion tracking isn't properly set up, how can likely conversions be determined? Google basically assigns each web session a score, with the top sessions made into Smart Goals. That begs the question, "what defines top sessions?" Google scans anonymous data (such as session duration, pages per session, location, device, and browser) to select the users that are "most engaged" in your online store. For example, let's say Shawna the Shopify merchant. Shawna uses Google Analytics to track her product sales and other "big data" figures. However, Shawna has never set up goals in GA. For someone like Shawna, Google would use engagement metrics in place of conversion metrics, since Shawna has no conversion tracking for her Shopify store. This is not necessarily problematic. What is problematic is that other important metrics are left untracked. This includes metrics like: Average order value Customer lifetime value Cost of engaged users Sales increases Google Ads campaign optimisation If conversion tracking was set up (rather than Smart Goals), Shawna would easily be able to trace the online journeys and user engagements on her Shopify store. Littledata's Shopify connection with Google Analytics would also provide Shawna with curated reports and analytics to help make sense of her GA data stream. What's the verdict? While even Google advocates for conversion tracking, there is a better way to track the metrics that support better decisions for your ecommerce business. When advertising, especially with Google Ads, it’s incredibly important to use your own data to make decisions for the positive growth of your campaigns.

by Nico
2019-07-26

What are Smart Goals in Google Analytics?

In a nutshell, Smart Goals measure the most engaged visits to your website and automatically turn those visits into Goals, even if you don't have conversion tracking or ecommerce tracking. Those Goals are then used to improve your Google Ads bidding. Not only are Smart Goals one of our favorite features of Google Analytics, but also a helpful resource for ecommerce merchants of all sizes. How do Smart Goals work? The Smart Goals feature in Google Analytics is the result of machine learning algorithms and configured at the view level. These algorithms scan dozens of signals within your website sessions to determine which signals are most likely to result in a conversion. Each session is assigned a score, with the "best" sessions being translated into Smart Goals. So what are these "signals"? Session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser type are among the most popular. To determine the best sessions, Smart Goals establishes a threshold by selecting approximately the top 5% of the traffic to your site coming from AdWords. Once that threshold is set, Smart Goals applies it to all your website sessions, including traffic from channels other than AdWords. After enabling Smart Goals in Analytics, they can be imported into AdWords. What do I need before setting up Smart Goals? If you're an online store owner interested in using Smart Goals, you'll need to have an existing Google Ads account linked to Google Analytics. You'll also need edit permissions at the view level in order to complete the setup. Before setting up Smart Goals, your linked Google Ads account must also have sent at least 500 clicks to the selected Analytics view over the past 30 days (if the linked account falls below 250 clicks over the past 30 days for the selected view, Smart Goals will be deactivated until the clicks rise again to 500 or more). Google Analytics recommends that Smart Goals be used when you aren't measuring conversions. In other words, they're an easy way to use your best sessions as conversions. You can then use Smart Goals to optimise your Google Ads performance based on the best sessions pattern. [subscribe heading="Try Littledata free for 14 days" button_text="Start your free trial" button_link="https://littledata.io/app/get-free-trial"] How to set up Smart Goals If your user permissions are eligible, you can enable Smart Goals by selecting the goal type when following the regular goal setup flow: Sign in to Google Analytics. Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view. In the view column, click Goals. Click + New Goal. Select Smart Goal (if available). Give your Smart Goal a name and click Save. No additional configuration or customization is required (they're called "Smart" for a reason!) How to import Smart Goals into Google Ads After you've activated Smart Goals in Google Analytics, sign in to your Google Ads account, click the Tools tab, and select Conversions. Click Analytics in the left-hand menu. Check the boxes next to the goals or transactions you want to import. Click Continue. On the next page, you'll see settings that will apply to all of the goals or transactions you selected. Make your choices, then click Import goals. Click Close, or to import more goals, click Import more. Google Ads will begin importing the data from your Analytics account. Historical data prior to your import will not be included. Your Smart Goals report To see exactly how Smart Goals perform, use the Conversions > Goals > Smart Goals report. This report shows how Smart Goals traffic differs from other traffic to your website. You can also include the Smart Goals Completed dimension in custom reports. The Smart Goals report also shows how Smart Goals would perform even before enabling them in your view. This helps you determine if Smart Goals will be a useful feature for your ecommerce business. Interested in getting help with any of these features? Littledata's enterprise plans include complete support, a dedicated account manager, data analytics experts and ecommerce Google Analytics consulting. We covered what Smart Goals are, but are they actually beneficial? Next, we cover the why (or why not) behind Smart Goals. 

2019-07-25

Link Analytics to AdWords with our new Google Ads connection

To target -- and retarget -- the right shoppers, ecommerce sites need to connect customer behaviour and ecommerce data from Google Analytics with their Google Ads (AdWords) accounts. But until now that was a complicated process, to say the least. Marketers have spent years going through detailed setup steps to connect the platforms, or wading through spreadsheets with manual imports and exports, building custom audiences and segments. It was an ongoing headache, but they did it because connecting shopping behaviour data with AdWords campaigns gets big results. Now there's a better way. Littledata's new Google Ads connection makes it easy to link Analytics to AdWords. Ecommerce sites are using the connection for smarter targeting that increases online sales and customer LTV. Why should you link Analytics to AdWords? In past posts we've highlighted the benefits of linking Analytics with AdWords for a mutually beneficial relationship. Littledata's new connection automates the process to ensure accurate tracking and more targeted campaigns. Benefits include: Online sales data in AdWords reports, and visa versa. Add sales columns to reports in Google Ads and view Google Ads costs in Google Analytics. Abandoned cart campaigns. Get higher ROI with targeted PPC campaigns based on shopping cart activity. Ecommerce hyper-segmentation, especially for Shopify stores and enterprise clients. Since Littledata fixes ecommerce tracking across the checkout flow, the Google Ads connection is especially powerful for marketers looking to retarget with granular user behaviour data, such as product list views, product detail pages and adds-to-cart. Multiple accounts. Multiple views. Our Google Ads connections lets you link multiple AdWords accounts to multiple Google Analytics views. It's that simple. Wait, do you mean Ads or AdWords? Have you heard the news? Google AdWords is now Google Ads. Google pitched the switch to Ads as a large-scale rebrand for simplicity, but it's clearly targeted in part at bumping up competition against other 'ads' in common parlance: Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and Twitter Ads, with Reddit Ads quickly gaining pace among SaaS companies in particular. We still talk about AdWords a bit on the blog (as does the rest of the internet, such as Search Engine Land), but soon we'll all have to adapt to the change. So we're calling this new connection a Google Ads connection, but we don't expect marketers to stop chatting about AdWords any time soon. How does it work? After you sign up for Littledata, you can connect Analytics to AdWords from the Connections tab in the Littledata app. Just follow a couple of setup steps and the app makes the connection for you. No more manual connections. Plus, we audit your analytics setup continually to ensure consistent ecommerce tracking, campaign tagging and UTM parameters. So what are you waiting for? Those products aren't going to retarget themselves... And don't forget to try our Facebook Ads connection to complete your marketing analytics stack. It's an easy way to link Facebook Ads to Google Analytics. All paid plans in the Littledata app include a variety of Google Analytics connections for Shopify, Shopify Plus, ReCharge, Refersion, CartHook and more. PS. The next iteration of our Google Ads connection will provide automation for retargeting using ecommerce segments. Sign up for Littledata today so you're first in line!

by Ari
2019-02-28

Why you should link Google Ads with Google Analytics

Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Google Analytics have constantly proved their worth as valuable tools for ecommerce marketers to get insights and detailed reporting on advertising ROI. But why should you link Google Ads and Google Analytics together? What does it mean to connect them? Our enterprise ecommerce customers in particular have seen a major benefit of linking Analytics with Ads. Those who linked these two platforms have seen a significant improvement in reporting and it made it much easier to retarget ads to clients that have forgotten or abandoned their services but shown intent to purchase a particular product or type of product. Why connect? Is it really necessary to connect Google Ads linked with Analytics? Let's get down to basics. In the Ads platform you can’t see what your users do after they click on your ads or if said ads led to a sale, you can’t see their path on your website, so you are basically losing the big picture of your customer’s behaviour after they see the ad. In short, without connecting the two technologies together, your shopping funnel is incomplete. You can't see Google Ads performance compared with other marketing channels, or how those Ads actually contribute to revenue. Both Google tools have their individual strengths but you can see their real power once you have linked both of them. If you are already using both Analytics and Google Ads but haven’t linked them yet, then you are missing a lot of valuable information about how to connect marketing with revenue -- and where to optimise. [subscribe button_text="Free Google Analytics Connection"] With the two platforms tied together, they will be able to communicate much more efficiently and provide more granular data in your reporting. Google Analytics has a dedicated section within the Acquisition reports solely detailing Google Ads performance which you cannot obtain unless you have linked your Google Ads and Analytics accounts and are using auto-tagging in Google Ads. These reports share some common information with the types of data that can be found in Google Ads, but here you are able to combine and link the Google Ads data with all the data available in Analytics to find more meaningful insights and potentially make better decisions. Moreover, you are able to leverage these insights into a number of different goals that you wouldn’t be able to easily see in Google Ads. Surprisingly though, a full connection doesn’t happen automatically. Yes, they are both Google products, but you need to do some work to connect the platforms and then take action based on that data. Google's thoughts on connecting Google Ads with Google Analytics This quick video highlights the benefits of linking the two platforms together (whether you call them Ads or AdWords is up to you...marketers are still a bit confused by Google's rebrand). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EmXFM1_xEo Top four benefits of linking Google Ads with Google Analytics for ecommerce 1. Retarget based on checkout steps in ecommerce The most effective way to grab these customers is to target them based on where they dropped off. Luckily, Google lets you do exactly that: with the right analytics, you can set up retargeting campaigns based on checkout behaviour. We highlighted this in a more comprehensive blog post on how you can improve Google Ads retargeting by analyzing the customer behavior during checkout. Our customers have been applying those tips and seeing results in less than a week. Learn more about how to improve AdWords retargeting using ecommerce checkout steps. 2. Retarget based on users who reach a Google Analytics goal You can set up a simple or complex goal and then target that audience with the right messaging. For example, even a newsletter subscription can lead to a goal completion. That user showed interest in your product and with a bit of persuasion and smart ad targeting, you’ll most likely succeed in transforming that lead into a buying customer. PRO TIP: Watch our video on troubleshooting your Google Analytics goals setup if you're having issues with goals. 3. Block advertising to people who have previously purchased An effective retargeting audience setting is crucial. There is no need to spend money on retargeting ads for people who will not be convinced to buy by them. If someone has already purchased a product from your online store, then the chance of them buying the same product in the next few days is nihil. If you don’t set an effective retargeting audience, you are more likely to spend way more money for with no result. The solution is to exclude people who recently bought your products from retargeting for a certain period, and you’ll be able to retarget them again after a certain time frame. That means that if John from California just bought a shirt from my website, I will not retarget him for the next month; he will not see any ads of the shirt appearing on his browser for that period. [subscribe "button_text="Free Google Analytics Connection"] If you want to see the best result of with your retargeting campaign then keep this in the back of your mind when making campaign planning. You will be left with more budget to spend on retargeting ads that are actually effective and most important of all, a happier audience. 4. Send different adverts to different segments of customer lifetime value (LTV) Our biggest customer segment right now is automated analytics for ecommerce subscription businesses. It should come as no surprise that subscription ecommerce merchants get a special benefit from linking Ads with Analytics. Littledata's ReCharge connection enables you to see customer lifetime value and create different audiences based on a customer’s last purchase or the number of orders placed. By this segmentation of audience you can customise your PPC ads and reach the right people who are already loyal to your brand and know your products. Your ROAS will be amazing and you won’t have to make huge efforts to get major results. Questions? The benefits above speak for themselves, so what are you waiting for? Especially if you run an ecommerce site, the time to connect is now :) If you’re trying to connect Google Analytics with AdWords for an ecommerce site, it should go smoothly. But sometimes an account manager can help with custom setup and reporting, or simply check to make sure you’re tracking things correctly. Littledata’s pricing options include various levels of support to fit every business size and goals for growth. Check out our free guide on how to connect your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts.

2019-02-25

How to improve Google Ads retargeting using ecommerce checkout steps

In the ecommerce world, one of the smartest ways to improve ROI for marketing campaigns is to retarget customers who visited your website in the first place. These visitors are already in the market for the types of products that you sell, but how do you pull them back if they've dropped out of the checkout process? The most effective way to grab these customers is to target them based on where they dropped off. Luckily, Google lets you do exactly that: with the right analytics, you can set up retargeting campaigns based on checkout behaviour. At Littledata, we've helped online stores in over 50 countries improve marketing ROI using ecommerce tracking. In this post, let's look at three simple steps you can take to improve your AdWords retargeting (now Google Ads retargeting) based on ecommerce checkout behaviour. 1. Set up accurate product tracking for your store Enhance Ecommerce tracking has been available from Google Analytics for a few years now. If you're already using this Google Analytics feature, good for you! Having product data means you can take advantage of this and create Audiences that then can be shared with Google Ads (and other platforms). In order to improve Google Ads retargeting using checkout steps, you must have checkout tracking and Enhanced Ecommerce enabled in Google Analytics. Once it's enabled, you can follow this checklist to set up accurate product tracking to be used for Audiences in Google Ads: Check out this resource (or share it with your lead developer): Google's Guide to Measuring a Checkout Repeat after me: "the fields must by dynamically populated!" This is important! Clarify where the checkout process starts and ends on your website (and again, if your developer is handling the setup make sure they're clear about each stage in your checkout funnel, including where the process starts and stops) Set up checkout tracking based on that process Once this data is successfully coming into Google Analytics, you're ready to create Audiences and share them with Google Ads At this point, it's important to mention that there are a lot of elements to Enhanced Ecommerce tracking and each part needs to be set up separately. For example, you will not automatically track product categories, listings and details. If you're not sure how to implement the full extent of Enhanced Ecommerce, we're here to help. If you're using the Shopify platform, you're in luck — our Shopify reporting app's audit feature checks for accurate product and checkout-step tracking, and automatically assists with setting these up for you. The app works directly with the Google Analytics setup for your Shopify store, so you don't have to deal with Shopify's native reporting (which doesn't let you see how users are progressing through the checkout process). 2. Analyse customer behaviour, including checkout steps Shopping cart abandonment is the most frequent complaint we hear from ecommerce marketers. Why does someone add products to their shopping cart and then just abandon it completely? This isn't common in brick-and-mortar stores, so why does it happen so often online? Remember that online shoppers don't want to leave those things behind. They were attracted to those products and have expressed the desire to buy. But with a bad checkout flow, too much information or too little, they'll fly away and leave behind only unloved products with high shipping costs or under-promoted benefits. One of the best Enhanced Ecommerce use cases is the Checkout Behaviour report. This is essentially a Shopping Cart Abandonment report, showing weaknesses in your checkout process and where to invest your time and money to convince users that have added-to-cart to go ahead and complete a purchase. Why is this important and relevant to Google Ads? Well, everything in marketing is about perspective. The above report doesn't only show you where you could improve your checkout flow, but also where you've lost customers. 'Lost' is the keyword here. If you're losing a significant percentage of customers at the shipping stage of your checkout process, this is an opportunity to improve — and to market those improvements using Google Ads. For example, you might look at that report and ask yourself: Are you charging customers too much for shipping? You can't really change that cost for all carts (we know that shipping costs are significant), but you could, for example, offer free shipping to shoppers with items in their cart over some profitability margin. Retargeting those users in Google Ads is an effective way to show them that you're ready to reward them for making large purchases from your online store. Are you limiting yourself to too few territories? Put your analysts to work to find out where customers that leave the purchase flow want their goods to be delivered. Can you extend your logistical capabilities, or do you have a brick-and-mortar store nearby where you can direct these shoppers? Use Google Ads retargeting to let them know. Of course, Google Analytics' native reports aren't for everyone. If you find them confusing or haven't worked extensively with Enhanced Ecommerce data, check out Littledata's report packs. These automated reports are an easy but comprehensive way to read and interpret ecommerce data without any hassle. For the purposes of tracking checkout steps to improve retargeting, I'd recommend our Ecommerce behaviour pack, which includes reports on shopping behaviour by marketing channel and checkout steps. [subscribe] 3. Set up retargeting campaigns based on that data How do you retarget users in Google Ads based on Google Analytics data? Fear not, brave colleagues! If you've made it to this step, you shouldn't have any trouble creating powerful retargeting campaigns. First, you'll need to create a new Audience. In your Google Analytics Admin, find Audience Definitions in the middle of the screen near the bottom. Click on New Audience. Click on Create New and on this screen go to Conditions and Filter Users to Include the steps you want to target with this Audience. Set the Shopping Stage to contain (equal) 'Checkout_Abandonment' or 'Checkout_1', 'Checkout_2', etc. - wherever your customers have been falling off and leaving a basket full of goodies without completing the purchase. (Note that this field is auto-completed, so give GA a second after you start typing to show the options here.) You'll then need to set a time period. Think about your specific business and how far back you want to go with the search. Once you're happy with your selection, pick which Google Ads account you'll want to link to this new Audience. That's it! You're now ready to run PPC promotions to a buy-ready audience that would otherwise have disappeared. I hope you've enjoyed this quick guide. Please drop me a line below and let me know how you use checkout steps in relation to Google Ads. I always love to hear how other specialists in the field combine platforms to create perfect marketing. PRO TIP: If you're in a country with Google Merchant available, you can benefit from dynamic remarketing. This does take some extra setup on the product level, so let us know if you have specific questions. (And stay tuned - we're planning some Google Merchant Center-related posts for the near future.)

2019-02-06

Our top 5 posts from 2018

Happy new year! With a lot of big things on the way for Littledata this year, including new Connections to automate analytics for an even wider range of popular ecommerce apps and platforms, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the posts you found most useful with our current feature set. Last year we reviewed our top posts from 2017 and found that the focus -- not surprisingly -- was on Shopify and Google Analytics. This time around, our most-read and most-shared posts have really honed in on individual features and connections, especially for larger stores using one of our enterprise plans for full account management and unlimited automation. Interestingly, 4 out of the 5 top posts have a title in the form of a question. Perhaps a sign of 'plugged-in' (ie distracted) readers looking for a sense of engagement? 1. What's the real ROI on your Facebook Ads? For the past decade Facebook’s revenue growth has been relentless, driven by a switch from TV advertising and online banners to a platform seen as more targetable and measurable. When it comes to Facebook Ads, marketers are drawn to messaging about a strong return on investment. But are you measuring that return correctly? 2. Why don't my transactions in Google Analytics match those in Shopify? If we had a nickel for every time we hear this question! In this popular post, our partner manager breaks down common reasons for ecommerce data inaccuracy between Shopify and GA, and takes a look at how to fix those issues automatically. Find out the top 6 reasons for inaccuracy, including some orders never being recorded in Google Analytics! 3. New help center articles on Shopify tracking and ReCharge integration With detailed new articles on Shopify tracking and how our ReCharge integration works, the new Littledata Help Center quickly became a go-to resource for current customers and ecommerce managers this past year. Even before they become customers, many ecommerce industry folks are using the help center to get a clearer view of how to use Google Analytics effectively. We're happy to help! 4. Are you looking at the wrong Black Friday metrics? Paying attention to the right ecommerce metrics can help you establish the best customer base and shopping experience for long-term growth. But many retailers still focus only on the most popular metrics — especially during the online shopping craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (#BFCM). Over the next few weeks ecommerce managers will be obsessing over data, but which stats are the most important? Two popular metrics — ecommerce conversion rate and average time on site — may be misleading, so in this post our CEO recommends looking instead at longer-term benchmarks. 5. Average order value benchmarks 2018: how do you compare? Increasing average order value usually has a dramatic impact on profits and ROI from marketing spend. It is also a gift that keeps on giving, as optimisation in this area is something that can deliver ongoing results over the long term. The holiday shopping period in 2018 had us obsessed with one of our favourite ecommerce metrics: average order value (AOV). How does your site compare? This popular post includes a new infographic that breaks down the stats, using our set of private benchmark data about the ecommerce industry.  

by Ari
2019-01-08

How to implement a successful mobile marketing strategy

Mobile as a marketing strategy isn’t a new idea to anyone, but the landscape is changing quickly. Back in 2015, Google told us it would be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. More recently, in early 2018, they stated that page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches middle of this year. As consumers change their behavior on mobile devices, this greatly impacts our strategy as marketers. We now need to be visible on all devices, all the time. What do all these changes mean for marketers? Whether you're a solo AdWords consultant or a member of a digital agency, it's essential to stay on top of consumer trends in a way that is measurable and repeatable. In this post I break down how to develop a data-driven mobile marketing strategy that can easily scale with your online business. Mobile search has changed As consumers, we are research-obsessed. We want to know everything we can about an ecommerce product or service so we can make informed decisions. And as more of us search for seemingly minor things and do so on a small device, advertisers have the opportunity to be present in those micro moments. With an increase of searches on mobile devices (and with mobile searches already having bypassed desktop searches several years ago) we need to be present across the entire consumer experience, making the customer experience a business priority regardless of our brand or business size by providing a seamless experience on every device. Analyzing data with a last-click attribution model misses some of these mobile moments. Assumptions have changed along with search behaviors. In September 2015, Google shared that “near me” or “nearby” searches on Google had grown 2X in the previous year, but the use of that phrase has since declined. People still want results that are near them, but the assumption of today’s searchers is that Google knows the location of the searchers and where to find what was searched because people are using their devices throughout the day. Increase of use for “open now” and “tonight" and “today” travel-related terms indicate people are seeking information on their device. [subscribe] What this means for brands Does your strategy consider these trends and adjust to changes in consumer behavior? A mobile experience leads to a brand impression. People expect a consistent experience every time they interact with a brand. If your site does not deliver and does not deliver quickly, they will quickly leave. Regardless of which channel they used to get to your site, the mobile experience must be as seamless as the desktop experience. What this means for Google AdWords As mobile use continues to increase and consumer behavior changes, we need to better align our PPC efforts and use an attribution model that addresses all steps of the journey. With AdWords, we can align our marketing strategy to mobile use with mobile search ads, mobile display ads and app ads on mobile devices. Each option offers slightly different features. Text ads can display on any device. The primary difference with ads on mobile vs desktop is more ads per page on a desktop and only a couple on a mobile device. Because the first couple ads take up most of the screen on a smartphone, advertisers need to be in the first or second position because that is all that will display. Impatient searchers will not scroll down on their device to your ad in position four. On the Display Network, you can be more creative with ads, adding images and videos to the mix. Although image sizes that work on desktop computers will also work on mobile devices, aim for a smaller size of 320 x 50 when possible, keeping the layout of smaller screen sizes in mind. The third option for mobile ads are appearing on mobile apps, which are part of the Display Network. App promotion ads have a goal of driving downloads. Campaigns with only app promotion ads are eligible for phones and tablets; they are not on desktop computers. Bid adjustments With your AdWords campaigns, set bids on mobile devices that are aligned with your goals. As mentioned above, many will not scroll down the search results page on a smartphone to view ads so may want to increase these bids. This is also important for branding goals; you need to be at the top to be seen. When determining mobile bids based on ROI, identify ROI for desktop versus tablets and devices. That way, your adjustment is based specifically on the mobile value of conversions. Keywords In any AdWords campaign, the key to success is selecting the correct keywords. But you can go a step further and use the keyword tool to also see mobile trends for your selected keyword over the previous year. Use these findings to inform your bidding strategy. A subjective approach is to view your keywords in the eyes of your users. Are the keywords in your campaigns ones that you would type into your mobile device? Although more people use voice recognition to search, there are still those who type in their request. Since typing on a small screen results in typos, you want broad match keywords in your campaign when targeting mobile users. Make sure these keywords include action-oriented terms. Some people may surf their device out of boredom while standing in line, but many search to find information to make a decision. You can capture these early clicks with an attribution model other than last-click. Mobile URLs Google provides an option of using mobile URLs in ads to customize the mobile experience, but if the mobile URL is the same as the Final URL in AdWords, adding it does not impact mobile performance. This is designed for people who have different pages for mobile users. AMP pages An open source initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) solve the issue around slow landing pages to make them faster for mobile. Business that have used them find a much quicker loading time and a more engaging experience. You can also use the AMP version of your website in this option for final URL Bid strategy Take advantage of machine learning with a Smart Bidding strategy in your AdWords campaigns. It considers the multiple signals around device type and browser for auction-time changes, offering more targeting than we could do manually as an AdWords account manager with simple bid adjustments. Monitor device performance with this strategy and prioritize mobile traffic if it does particularly well on devices. Attribution models In all AdWords campaigns, regardless of device, many advertisers use the last-click attribution model, which is not ideal for any campaign, including those targeting mobile. It gives all the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint - the last click - which misses out on how other interactions influenced the decision to convert. If you have enough data in your account, utilize the Data-Driven Attribution Model. If it is not available to you, consider one of the other options besides last-click attribution. The right reporting for mobile marketing Before you target mobile users with advertising, check first that your site performs well on mobile devices if you do not plan to have a mobile specific URL. Start with a quick test for mobile speed to see if you are at risk of losing traffic. Next do a quick SEO check of your site which is based on Google’s guidelines, which is also relevant to paid traffic. For all your campaigns, not just AdWords, you need to consider metrics such as sessions by device type for general site behavior and conversions once a campaign is running for a while. To minimize manual work for reporting and analysis, use a Littledata report pack which pulls in data from Google Analytics to offer automated reporting on customer touch points, providing data you need without the manual labor. And remember your mobile users are on the go, so any advertising needs to cater to them in the moment!   Want to know more? Get in touch with Tina's agency, 360 Internet Strategy, and follow her on LinkedIn.

2018-04-19

How to quickly build user personas for PPC campaigns

Buyer personas. User personas. PPC personas. Are these just marketing buzzwords? Do they mean months of planning before you can even begin your PPC campaigns? The answer to both questions is a straightforward no. 'User personas' don't require months of extra work to build, and they aren't just another marketing buzzword. If you follow my suggestions below, you can quickly create personas to help target and optimise your next PPC campaign. Start with brainstorming Brainstorming should come at the very beginning of your process. What do you already know about your audience? This can be old-school brainstorming with a pen and paper, or a more business-like approach with a whiteboard in your conference room. If you do this with a team, hand out some Post-it notes for jotting down ideas. The Post-it notes approach makes it very easy to move your notes around and begin grouping by identified themes. Quickly create simple personas The key here is simplicity.  There is great content out there on creating more complex personas, by using a resource such as Hubspot’s 100 Questions. For the simple approach, I look at three areas to kick things off. Describe the audience by their demographics: gender, location, age, parental status, income, etc.. Identify the biggest problems they want to solve. If you are unsure how to define this one, start with 'I want' or 'I need' to put yourself in the position of your audience. For example, as a marketer, my ongoing problems include automating mundane tasks and creating simple personas. Ask how your offering specifically solves the identified problems. When it comes to creating personas, Littledata can help by automatically building personas with existing Google Analytics data. With this information, create a very short narrative with the key descriptors and needs of each identified persona. [subscribe] Find the perfect image Do this after you finish the above steps. You do not want to start with image and then create a persona to look like that person. (There’s some great discussion on that on UX Mastery). One step I often recommend is to look at images of people in existing marketing materials to see if they represent the personas created from this exercise. Digital tools to help you create user personas After you do some brainstorming and jot down initial notes about personas, you can next turn to digital tools to help you. MakeMyPersona.com is aptly named because it helps you do just that.  It is a way to organize some of the thoughts that came up in the earlier steps. Those in the B2B market can try Up Close & Persona. It meets my criteria of simple and takes you through questions that help you think of appropriate messaging for your audience. However, some of the questions have only a few preset answers so I would not start this tool. It could box you into narrow thinking. Littledata’s buyer personas feature helps you identify the website visitors that are most likely to convert.  We know that Google Analytics does not do all the work for us, but there is a lot of data available for analysis. Compare these findings to what was uncovered during brainstorming. Develop your PPC campaign around the user persona Take your 'I want' and 'I need' statements and pull out some of those phrases as keywords. When it comes to choosing PPC keywords, stay away from your corporate lingo, and instead think about how your prospects talk about you. These keywords will help you match your message to each persona. Is your persona trendy with a sense of humor? Maybe you will get a little snarky with your messaging.  Is the need something serious, such as a health issue? Stay away from the snark and instead be really clear about your benefits. Create an offer that matches the persona. An intellectual, highly educated executive may take the time to download and read your white paper. A busy single parent with four young kids wants a solution. And wants it quickly. Segment personas by channel. I like Littledata's buyer personas because they let you see how to adjust your ad spend based on specific marketing channels beyond Paid Search. PPC is not the only place to reach your audience. You will - hopefully - have a multi-channel approach and need to understand Organic Search, Email, Referral, and Social in addition to PPC. Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, you may not be able to reach every persona and on every channel. One consideration for your PPC spend is to focus on the longer tail or brand name keywords. This is definitely a smaller audience, but it will capture people further down the funnel who are more likely to buy. What to do next I hope that you find this simplified approach to developing personas useful in kicking of the next stage of your digital marketing! My goal is to provide steps for you to take action and not get bogged down by the prospect of developing personas before kicking off a campaign. You may want to refine this approach over time, but the important thing is to get started now. Even with the best planning, you may find some surprises in your campaigns after you get started which is why I always watch new campaigns closely, especially in those first few days. Monitor your performance by channels in Google Analytics and be prepared to adjust your ad spend. Your ROI will vary by offer and user persona, so focus on actionable analytics from this wealth of data to make the right decisions for your particular business.   Want to know more? Get in touch with Tina's agency, 360 Internet Strategy, and follow her on LinkedIn.

2018-03-15

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