Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): The Beginner’s Guide

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing quality traffic to a website using tactics like keyword research, backlinks, and meta descriptions. SEO is well known. In fact, it was the No. 1 tactic used by marketing teams in 2019. Using SEO, you can drive great traffic to your website by capturing users who are already interested in your product. But how do you turn traffic into sales?

That’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. What is CRO? It’s the process of getting the maximum percentage of visitors to your business website to perform a certain goal. Using CRO, you can make sure that your website is designed in such a way as to make it appealing and easy for customers to do business with you. 

While SEO focuses on building more traffic for your website, CRO’s goal is to move quality customers through a sales funnel. CRO tries to capitalize on the website visitors you already have. While many companies use both simultaneously, CRO can greatly increase a company’s bottom line.

This beginner’s guide to CRO fundamentals will help you obtain a basic understanding of CRO’s processes and strategies. After reading this, you should have an idea of how CRO can help your business’s growth and profitability.

What Is a Conversation Rate? How Does It Relate to Conversion Rate Optimization?

A conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who come to a website and perform a certain action or conversion. There are two main types of conversions you might want a website visitor to take: micro conversions and macro conversions. 

The action or conversion can be something small, like signing up for an email list. These are called micro conversions. They don’t make a sale, but they move a customer further along in the sales process.

If a visitor’s action is something big, like purchasing a service, becoming a paid subscriber to a website, the action is a macro conversion. This type of conversion represents the end goal of the sales process. 

It’s fairly easy to calculate your conversion rate. To get a CRO calculation, take the total number of conversions you have and divide it by the total number of visitors to your site. Then, multiply the result by 100. You’ll be left with your conversion rate as a percentage. For example, if you have 100,000 visitors to your website, and you’ve made 1,000 conversions, your conversion rate will be 1%. More specifically, check out the CRO calculation below:

(1,000 conversions/100,000 visitors) x 100 = 1% conversion rate

CRO is a way to give companies the best chance to convert traffic into sales. Whereas processes like SEO can take a long time to be effective, CRO can immediately work because it doesn’t rely on attracting more clients, and it can swell your company’s revenue. 

There are a few different ways to track conversion rates, including: 

  • Google Analytics: If you track your site metrics using Google Analytics, you can use the “Goals” feature to track specific conversions. 
  • Heat maps: There are several tools available that can create a heat map of a site page to visualize where people are clicking and scrolling on your website. This can help you determine not only where to put your calls-to-action (CTAs) but also reveal whether they are successful in driving conversions. 
  • Internal data: Depending on what programs you use to monitor sales or sign-ups, you’ll likely be able to pull this data to see which pages or specific CTAs are driving the most conversions. 

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Benefits of Conversion Rate Optimization

CRO has a lot of benefits for businesses. It’s all about making your company’s sales process more efficient. If you do CRO marketing correctly, you can make your website content highly targeted toward the customers who are most likely to purchase your services. 

Some of the benefits of CRO include:

  • You can maximize your company’s marketing ROI. CRO focuses on using resources that your company has so that it can cost less and result in better returns than other options for driving sales. 
  • CRO lets you understand your customers’ behaviors, patterns, and needs. To effectively market to the right clients for your business, you must develop a picture of who those clients are. 
  • It helps your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPS) on Google. CRO is all about meeting your customers’ needs, and Google rewards websites that offer what customers search for with more visibility. 
  • You can get a competitive edge over others in your industry. If your competitor is trying to increase sales by simply increasing traffic or spending without using CRO, you’ll have the advantage of appearing more able to meet your clients’ needs.
  • It makes it easier for customers to buy from you. CRO aims to get rid of anything that could make it difficult for a client to do business with you. You don’t want anything keeping you from making a sale.

8 Ways to Improve Your Conversion Rate

There are several things you can do to improve your conversion rate. CRO is all about making your website operate in a way that drives leads or sales. Learning these will ensure you’re not missing out on easy sales. – Read More

A Practical Guide to Building a CRO Roadmap

If you’ve recently embarked on your CRO journey, here’s a couple of questions for you: How do you prioritize your experimentation ideas? Do you work in silos, or do you see benefit in opening up experimentation to collaboration? If you do see benefit, how do you plan to go about achieving it? How do you plan to address resource issues in your testing plan? The answer to all these questions points to one strategic move that differentiates CRO experts from beginners – building a CRO roadmap. 

Building a sustainable CRO roadmap guides your efforts and ensures it systematically contributes towards your business goals at large. Whether you are an agency handling CRO for hundreds of clients or someone who manages CRO for your company, a roadmap will streamline your efforts and maximize throughput by avoiding redundancies and providing a clear step-by-step approach towards optimizing your site. 

Similar to a calendar, a CRO roadmap is essentially a detailed schedule that entails which experiment will be launched when, the time and resources it requires, and the expected outcome. A roadmap ensures that each tweak, change, test, and insight adds value to the next step and accordingly strengthens it to deliver improved results. With a dedicated roadmap to consult, you don’t rely on hope to get results from a few poorly planned and ill-executed experiments scattered across months.

Why do you need a CRO roadmap? 

You can think of a CRO roadmap as a step-by-step framework that you refer to for prioritization, test planning, and allocation of resources for all your CRO efforts, without which you would be completely shooting in the dark. Here are some of the major reasons you need a CRO roadmap to get started.

To switch from a fragmented to a strategic approach

If you randomly run a survey on your homepage this month and conduct a couple of tests on your product page the next month (and so on), you are not going to be able to make the most of the insights gathered or leverage the full potential of the results. To do so, you need a roadmap that dictates every process so you can feed every insight and learning into your pipeline and use it judiciously to drive more substantial results from your program as opposed to some scattered wins or losses.

Let’s say you want to improve your online store’s checkout rate. Needless to say, there are tonnes of tests you can run to optimize for the same. For instance, you could optimize the number of steps in the checkout flow, add social proof and trust badges, avoid the addition of surprise costs at the last step, and so on. Now, without a roadmap, you wouldn’t know which one to prioritize and you might just end up spending too much time running each one of them without getting the expected outcome. On the other hand, if you follow a roadmap, prioritize tests, plan and scope them out over a calendar month/quarter, you can be assured of more promising results.

To get a better hold of resource planning

Again, if you have a systemic approach to optimization, you can always plan your resources in advance, delegate projects, and overall function smoothly with little or no friction as opposed to facing a mini resource crisis every time you decide you want to run an ad-hoc test. 

Moreover, you can always learn from experience and incorporate your learnings of how you can allocate resources better to drive more significant results, efficiently. This is not possible if you follow a haphazard outlook towards optimization and don’t depend on any set framework to guide decisions. 

To improve the speed and efficiency of your CRO program

Needless to say, optimizing your digital properties methodically will only improve the efficiency of your efforts as you would be incorporating previous learnings and doubling down on what works well. Having an overarching roadmap also ensures your processes and tasks are aligned with the overall business goals, so there is minimum iteration, faster delivery, and more promising results.

For instance, if you follow a roadmap, you will know which tests you have to run in the coming month and have the liberty to start laying the groundwork (analyzing data, getting variations created, etc.) and plan your resources accordingly. On the other hand, if you are running sporadic tests, you will end up wasting time in deciding what to test next, ensuring it doesn’t overlap with another test, and planning your resources for it.

How to develop a successful CRO roadmap

Revisit your business goals

Take a step back to revisit your most pressing and current business goals so you can understand how CRO can help you achieve them. These goals will anchor your CRO program and ensure your efforts are not aimless or applied in the wrong direction. 
For example, an eCommerce company could have a business goal to increase the average order value, while for a media company, the goal could be to uplift the content consumption on their site. These will then help you deduce what your optimization goals (and their corresponding metrics) need to be.

Deduce corresponding website goals, KPIs, and target metrics from your business goals

Use your business goals to drill down upon what are some of the more tactical website goals you want your CRO program to achieve, what are the performance indicators you need to watch out for, and what would be the target metrics you need to measure corresponding to them. For instance, if increasing the average order value is your business goal, you can break it down further into:

  • Increasing upsell & cross-sell 
  • Increasing visits to product pages
  • Increasing checkout and ‘Add to cart’ rate

Now, these could be your optimization goals, each of which you can tackle using specific strategies and tests. The metrics to be measured could be revenue per customer, conversion rates, and so on.  – Read more

Why You Need a Customer Journey Map and How To Build One

Imagine travelling to a country for the first time by yourself. 

Without a guide or some sort of map, you’ll definitely get lost. 

The same thing happens when you don’t map out your customers’ journey; you’ll get prospects lost because they won’t find it easy to equate your business to the solution they’re looking for. 

Worse, you’ll lose them to competitors who have their customer journey mapped out already. And you’ll understand this better as you proceed with this guide.

Without a customer journey map, you can’t easily plan out the interactions potential customers should have with your business that will convert them into customers. In other words, you can’t engage with your audience, effectively.

And besides that, you won’t be able to easily strategize what they should do after buying your product. Should they be advocating for your business? Should they join an online community of your existing customers? These are some questions you’ll be able to answer with a customer journey map.

But let’s define what it really is – just to be sure we’re on the same page:

What’s a customer journey map?

To put it simply, a customer journey is the process a potential customer goes through before, during, and after making a purchase from you. 

It covers all the customer journey stages from the time they hear about your brand through the period they’re considering your product or service, to even after they’ve bought from you. 

Unfortunately, your customer’s journey isn’t always linear. 

A prospect can visit your site, add a product to cart or start filling your contact form, go through your testimonials page, and leave for days before coming back to finally make a purchase.  

To understand this better, let’s look at this example: Mr A needs to buy a pair of affordable, high-quality blue shoes. There are a couple of places (Google, Amazon, etc.) that he could go to start his buying journey, but he chooses Instagram. He searches Instagram, scrolls through the feed, and sees a page that promises what he’s looking for. 

Impressed by the product descriptions and their page’s aesthetics, he clicks on their website link and lands on their homepage. Then, he browses through their page and, that’s right, sees a blue shoe. 

There, Mr A becomes a customer of the brand he’s bought the product from.

This is an example of a simple customer’s customer journey, and mapping it out visually helps you create your customer journey map.

But a customer journey can be much more complex than this simple illustration we just gave, depending on the nature of your business and the complexity of your product or service. 

The image below is an example of a customer journey map; it can be simple or complex based on what you include, the time frame, and your type of company. 

By now, you probably have enough reasons why you should be mapping out your customer journey, but if you’re still not certain you need it, here are three other reasons you should consider:

Three major reasons why you need a customer journey map

Smart business owners use customer journey maps. Research reveals that companies using customer journey maps have a 54% greater return on marketing investment than those that don’t. 

Even more, the chart below shows a side-by-side comparison of brands that use customer journey maps and others that don’t. You can see that in every area compared, brands that use customer journey have a higher percentage than brands that don’t.

With a good customer journey map, you can:

Reason 1: Improve your customers’ experience 

Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors that don’t. 

Since a customer journey map is a visual representation of your customers’ journey, you’d be able to see their experience with your brand and improve on it. When you do this, your customers will have a seamless experience buying from you. 
And the more seamless their experience with your brand, the more sales you get; no wonder 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience.

Reason 2: Reduce cost and increase sales

Brands that use customer journey maps reduce costs and increase sales. A study by the Aberdeen Group shows that such brands experience more than 10 times the improvement in customer service costs and a 21% yearly growth, while brands that don’t actually experience a decline in growth at -2.2%. 

The same research shows that brands that use customer journey maps enjoy an average sales cycle that is 18 times faster, with 56% more revenue from upselling and cross-selling efforts. – Read more

How To Optimize Offline Conversion Tracking

Offline conversion tracking is a dream for B2B advertisers. It lets you take a whole chunk of data your automated bidding strategies were previously missing out on and optimize toward it. But if you’ve set up offline conversion tracking, and you’re not quite sure what to do next, here are some tips on how to optimize for the best lead quality.

1. Assign Value to Your Conversion Actions

Think about the lifetime value of your customer and the steps along your customer journey. You can assign value to each step along the customer journey to make sure your campaigns are optimized to the right conversion actions.

First, you’ll determine the lifetime value of a customer. In determining the lifetime value of a customer, you want to consider the number of users who converted from PPC clicks, average revenue per purchase, average purchases per year, and then number of years they’ll be a customer. Multiply all of these number together, plus your profit margin, and subtract your Google Ads spend and voila! You have the customer lifetime value. 

From there, you’ll work backwards to determine what value each step of the customer journey has.

Let’s imagine you sell software to enterprise level businesses. Your average lifetime value for a customer is a $10,000. You know on average, before someone becomes a customer they download a case study, then sign up for a webinar, and if they attend a webinar, your sales team marks them as an SQL and takes it from there.

That’s three steps before they become a customer. You know from experience that about 10% of people who become SQL turn into customers. Your $10,000 customer lifetime value multiplied by the 10% conversion rate from SQL to customer means the value of a meeting attendee is roughly $2,000. From there, you can continue working backward to determine a value for each step. 

2. Create Custom Columns for Each Stage in Your Sales Cycle

Continuing from our previous example, you now have your 3 steps in the sales cycle (case-study, webinar, and SQL), and you know the rough value of each. Create custom columns in the Google Ads interface to better organize this information. Access custom columns by choosing ‘Modify Columns’ and search for ‘Custom Columns’.

Creating custom columns is the easiest way to define metrics around your imported offline conversions. You can also lump together different conversion actions. If you’re tracking multiple case study offers as conversions, you might lump those together under one umbrella in a custom column. You can assign value to each conversion action, making it easier to track metrics like ROI or revenue. You can also create custom cost/conversion metrics for different conversion actions. 

3. Optimizing Your Campaigns Towards a Conversion Action

Which conversion action your campaign optimizes for really depends on your campaign objectives. Using the same sales cycle steps as we did above, you know that your sales cycle is long, so it may take a while for leads to become sales-qualified. In this case, you might want to set up your campaigns focused on awareness and reach to optimize toward the first step in your sales cycle, a case study download. From there, you can use remarketing campaigns to drive users to more down-funnel conversion actions. – Read more

Introducing the new Google Analytics

Millions of businesses, large and small, rely on Google Analytics to understand customer preferences and create better experiences for them. With more commerce moving online and businesses under increased pressure to make every marketing dollar count, insights from digital analytics tools are even more critical.

But with major shifts in consumer behavior and privacy-driven changes to longtime industry standards, current approaches to analytics aren’t keeping pace. In a survey from Forrester Consulting, marketers said that improving their use of analytics is a top priority, and that existing solutions make it difficult to get a complete view of the customer and derive insights from their data.

To help you get better ROI from your marketing for the long term, we’re creating a new, more intelligent Google Analytics that builds on the foundation of the App + Web property we introduced in beta last year. It has machine learning at its core to automatically surface helpful insights and gives you a complete understanding of your customers across devices and platforms. It’s privacy-centric by design, so you can rely on Analytics even as industry changes like restrictions on cookies and identifiers create gaps in your data. The new Google Analytics will give you the essential insights you need to be ready for what’s next.

Smarter insights to improve your marketing decisions and get better ROI

By applying Google’s advanced machine learning models, the new Analytics can automatically alert you to significant trends in your data – like products seeing rising demand because of new customer needs. It even helps you anticipate future actions your customers may take. For example, it calculates churn probability so you can more efficiently invest in retaining customers at a time when marketing budgets are under pressure. We’re continuing to add new predictive metrics, like the potential revenue you could earn from a particular group of customers. This allows you to create audiences to reach higher value customers and run analyses to better understand why some customers are likely to spend more than others, so you can take action to improve your results.

Google_Analytics_predictive_metrics.png
Churn probability in the Analysis module

With new integrations across Google’s marketing products, it’s easy to use what you learn to improve the ROI of your marketing. A deeper integration with Google Ads, for example, lets you create audiences that can reach your customers with more relevant, helpful experiences, wherever they choose to engage with your business.

The new approach also makes it possible to address longtime advertiser requests. Because the new Analytics can measure app and web interactions together, it can include conversions from YouTube engaged views that occur in-app and on the web in reports. Seeing conversions from YouTube video views alongside conversions from Google and non-Google paid channels, and organic channels like Google Search, social, and email, helps you understand the combined impact of all your marketing efforts.

Google_Analytics_YouTube_EVC_report (2).png
YouTube Engaged-view conversions in Analytics reports

Businesses taking part in the beta are already seeing benefits. Vistaprint, responding to rapid changes in their business at the start of the pandemic, was able to quickly measure and understand the customer response to their new line of protective masks. And Jeff Kacmarek, Vice President of Domino’s Pizza of Canada, found that “linking the new Google Analytics to Google Ads enables us to optimize around the actions that matter most to our customers, regardless of how they interact with our brand.”

A more complete understanding of how customers interact with your business

The new Analytics gives you customer-centric measurement, instead of measurement fragmented by device or by platform. It uses multiple identity spaces, including marketer-provided User IDs and unique Google signals from users opted into ads personalization, to give you a more complete view of how your customers interact with your business. For example, you can see if customers first discover your business from an ad on the web, then later install your app and make purchases there. – Read more

Make every marketing dollar count with attribution and lift measurement

Understanding how each media touchpoint contributes to your goals can mean the difference between marketing that drives business growth and marketing that fails to deliver. To make every dollar count, you need tools that help you learn how people are responding to your ads, so you can take action to improve your results.

Today, we’re announcing improvements to Attribution in Google Ads including coverage for YouTube ads and a significant expansion in the availability of data-driven attribution. We’re also sharing updates to our lift measurement solutions including a new way to measure incremental conversions and an accelerated time frame so you get results even faster.

Measure more of your Google media

Attribution in Google Ads helps you understand the paths people take to complete conversions. It awards credit for conversions to different ads, clicks, and factors along the way, so you can focus your investments on the media having the biggest impact on results.

Earlier this year, we launched a new look for attribution reports to help you get important insights faster. And with more people turning to YouTube as we spend more time at home, we added YouTube to attribution reports, to help you better understand the role video plays in your customer’s path to purchase.

fuboTV, a live TV streaming platform that includes sports, news, network television and movies, used attribution reports to understand how customers interact with their YouTube and Search ads before converting. They saw that for every conversion YouTube drove directly, it assisted 2 more conversions on Search. “These insights helped us see the full value of video. This enabled us to start thinking about YouTube and Search media in one view and take into account blended cost-per-acquisition goals that more accurately reflect the total impact of our ads at driving conversions,” said Antonio Armenino, Search and Display Lead at fuboTV.

YouTube ads in attribution reports is now in beta. Eligible advertisers will be able to opt-in within the Measurement > Attribution section of Google Ads to see YouTube ads in the Top Paths, Assisted Conversions and Path Metrics reports, alongside Search and Shopping ads. And to give advertisers a more holistic view of Google media, we’re also adding Display ads to attribution reports in the coming months.

Data-driven attribution is now available to more advertisers

Data-driven attribution (DDA) is a type of attribution model that uses Google’s machine learning to determine how much credit to assign to each ad interaction along the consumer journey. Trained on and validated against incrementality experiments, data-driven attribution gives credit based on the incremental impact of your ads. It continuously analyzes unique conversion patterns, comparing the paths of customers who completed a desired action against those who did not, to determine the most effective touchpoints for each business. DDA is our recommended attribution model because the constantly updating, machine learning-based approach ensures you are always getting accurate results that account for the latest changes in consumer behavior.

DDA requires a certain volume of data in order for us to build a precise model, but to make DDA available to more advertisers, we’re lowering the data requirements for eligibility. With this change, each conversion action in your Google Ads account that has at least 3,000 ad interactions and at least 300 conversions within 30 days will be eligible for DDA. This is possible due to ongoing improvements to the machine learning algorithms we use to train data-driven attribution models, so we can do more with less data without sacrificing precision.

Use full-funnel lift measurement to validate and implement findings

Attribution is best for day-to-day, always-on measurement and is effective for setting ad budgets and informing bid strategies on a campaign or channel level. Businesses that are prepared to move beyond DDA can use randomized controlled experiments—also known as incrementality or lift—to set channel-level budgets or to optimize future campaigns.

For years, marketers have used Brand Lift and Search Lift to measure the impact of YouTube ads on perceptions and behaviors throughout the consumer journey, from brand awareness to purchase intent, and lift in organic searches on Google and YouTube. Today, we’re announcing that Conversion Lift is now available in beta. Conversion Lift measures the impact of your YouTube ads on driving user actions, such as website visits, sign ups, purchases and other types of conversions.

Each of Google’s lift measurement tools use best-in-class methodology to ensure accuracy and precision, and that no additional costs are incurred to run these experiments. In addition to delivering accurate, full-funnel measurement, we’re making changes to our lift measurement tools so you get results even faster.

For Brand Lift, we recently launched accelerated flights so you can get the brand perception metrics you care about sooner, with the ability to re-measure over time. We’re also reporting Search Lift and Conversion Lift results as soon as they become available, with flexible study durations and integrated daily reporting, so you can see changes more frequently and over time. Last, you can now run Brand Lift, Search Lift and Conversion Lift measurement on the same campaign, so you can get fast, actionable results across the entire consumer journey. – Read more

19 Must-Have Tools To Begin Your CRO Journey

A website is a home to many actions. Button clicks, form fills, purchases, and many more events collectively constitute engagement and conversions. Experience managers tend to look at these actions from both macro (site-wide) and micro (visitor level) lenses to understand their visitors and map their business’s overall conversion rate.

But there’s a problem.

Even though experience managers make sure to take every bit of information into account to analyze their business performance, many often don’t use the right conversion rate optimization tools, leaving room for flaws and glitches to breed. To avoid such hiccups, we’ve created a list of highly recommended CRO tools based on each conversion rate optimization stage to effectively enhance your website and business’s performance.

Before you add any CRO tool to your arsenal, evaluate them for the following carefully. 

How to choose the right CRO tools?

GDPR compliance

Since you’re engaging with visitor data at each stage, it’s essential to ensure that your data collection tools must be GDPR compliant.

Integrations

To avoid data silos when using multiple data analytics tools, ensure that the tool has ‘integrations’ with other tools you use or open APIs to build custom integrations. This helps prevent data duplication, confusion, and related uncertainties.

Security

If you plan to install supporting CRO software on your website, ensure the tool doesn’t get breached, especially when running experiments. Your CRO tools must be safe and secure to use. Single sign-ons, multi-step logins, etc. help ensure security. Check your CRO tool under consideration for these critical features. 

A multi-user friendly dashboard:

When selecting a CRO tool, make sure it offers an integrated dashboard where mapping your experiments and other activities is easy. A user-friendly dashboard also allows cross-team collaboration, which is a building block in CRO. 

After evaluating the tools, let’s now look at some must-have CRO tools based on different conversion rate optimization stages. 

List of some must-have CRO tools

The research stage

When it comes to conducting research, multiple CRO tools exist that help map both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data tools, such as web analytics, offer insights into what’s happening on your site. Qualitative tools such as heatmaps, scrollmaps, surveys, and the like give context to why it’s happening.

Mentioned below are some of the best CRO research tools you can use to collect necessary visitor data to form data-backed hypotheses for your CRO test campaigns.   

Google Analytics

Google Analytics[1] is one of the best web analytics tools that tracks website traffic and user activities, such as session duration, pages per session, bounce rate, and more in real-time, across various site pages. It also offers additional information such as traffic source(s), visitor location and demographics, page performance, and conversions. You can use its premium version, Google Analytics 360, to unlock more in-depth insights. 

Cost/month – Free

VWO Insights 

VWO Insights is a popular and must-have user behavior research product for CRO professionals. It helps understand customer behavior through heatmaps, session recordings, on-page surveys, and more. The qualitative user behavioral data you get from VWO Insights helps form thorough hypotheses for your CRO roadmap.

Cost/month: Growth Plan:$169/month for 10,000 visitors; $247/month for 30,000 visitors; $310/month for 50,000 visitors. Custom pricing for Pro and Enterprise Plan.

Heap Analytics

Heap Analytics[2] is another qualitative data gathering tool that captures visitor interactions, including clicks, form submits, and transactions, and helps identify behaviors and marketing channels that convert the most. Heap also has a clean data analytics dashboard that’s quite handy and easy-to-use. When using the tool, you don’t have to create additional ‘events’ to track basic website interactions, as in Google Analytics.

Cost/month: Three comprehensive plans, including Free, Growth, and Enterprise. Only custom pricing is available.

Mixpanel

If Google Analytics sheds light on what’s exactly happening on your website, Mixpanel[3] helps you see who did what. With visitor behavior tracking, you also get the advantage of viewing specific insights into which set of website visitors have entered your sales funnel, which ones are bouncing off, and so on.

Mixpanel also offers an additional second data channel to compare numbers against Google, as it’s never a good idea to trust one tool for all analytical data blindly. 

Cost/month: $0 for 1000 visitors; $174 for 5000 visitors; $304 for 10,000 visitors; $524 for 20,000 visitors. Custom pricing for 20,000+ visitors.Read more

How Does Google Shopping Work?

One in five shoppers starts their product search on Google. This makes Google second only to Amazon when it comes to product searches—and gives sellers a great opportunity.

Google Shopping is the umbrella term covering the different tools and programs that Google provides to help online stores reach shoppers. But how does Google Shopping actually work?

This guide will demystify the ecosystem that is Google Shopping and help you navigate the various programs and opportunities Google offers your business.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping refers both to Google’s comparison shopping network and to their advertising platform. Since the same term is used to refer to both, it can get a little confusing. Here’s how it works:

Google Shopping: The Comparison Shopping Engine

When we refer to Google Shopping, we’re actually talking about two interconnected platforms. One is Google’s comparison shopping engine (CSE).

Googles comparison shopping engine, Google ShoppingGoogle’s comparison shopping engine.

Here, shoppers can search for any product and compare prices and models from various sellers. From a product listing, shoppers can click through to the merchant website. Or they can check out directly on Google if the product is eligible for Buy with Google. This feature lets shoppers complete the entire purchase process without ever leaving Google Shopping.

Essentially, this part of Google Shopping works as a product research and discovery hub, with many tools and features available to smooth the path to purchase.

Google Shopping: The Advertising Platform

The other side of Google Shopping is the search engine’s advertising platform.

Google Shopping ads appearing in the right hand corner of search resultsGoogle Shopping ads appearing on the Google search results page.

Shopping ads display product details—image(s), star ratings, promotions, local availability, and more—to customers across Google domains. These ads appear on relevant searches on Google, as well as relevant pages on partner sites and Google properties like YouTube and Gmail.

Google Shopping ads uses a cost-per-click (CPC) model (also known as pay per click), which makes it an affordable way to drive traffic to your store. Since you decide how much you pay when a shopper clicks on your ad, you can optimize your advertising strategy to maintain low costs while driving sales. The ad platform also provides you with a lot of control over when and where your ads appear (more on that later).

Organic search traffic takes a lot of time, effort, and luck to build, especially for ecommerce. Google Shopping gives you a shortcut to reaching relevant shoppers with your product all across the internet.

How to Set Up Google Shopping

There are two steps you must take before you can use any Google Shopping program.

First, you must sign up for a Merchant Center account. The Merchant Center is the beating heart of Google Shopping. This is where you’ll add and manage your products, set up tools and programs, and track product performance.

Screenshot of the Google Merchant Center dashboardMerchant Center allows you to add products, manage tools, and track performance.

Signing up for Merchant Center is very easy—all you have to do is enter some basic information about your business.

Once your account is created, you’ll need to verify your website. You can do this in one of two ways: through an existing Google product installed on your website (such as Search Console or Analytics) or by adding a specific tag to your website’s code. This allows Google to ensure the store belongs to you.

Once you’ve verified your website, you’ll have access to all the features of Merchant Center. Your next step is to add your products. The video below provides a rundown on how to do this.

Basically, you have three options for adding products to Merchant Center:

  • Upload each product manually. With this option, Google guides you step-by-step through manually adding product details. This can be effective if you only have a few products, but it’s time-consuming if you have a large catalog.
  • Create a product feedYou can either do this in Google Sheets or upload an existing product feed in spreadsheet format.This spreadsheet will contain all the key details about your products and act as a database for Merchant Center.
  • Sync your product feed from another sourceScheduled fetches and the Merchant Center Content API are two ways to automatically grab your product data from existing databases (either on your website or with a third-party service like Sellbrite). If you want to really hit the “easy” button, Sellbrite removes the complexity of uploading products to Google, by integrating with Google’s Content API. This allows merchants to easily manage which products they want available on Google from within our apps.

This product data will power everything else on Google Shopping, such as where your listings and ads appear and what details are displayed. Be sure to follow best practices for structuring your product data. Most importantly, be thorough! The more details you include, the easier it will be for shoppers to find you.

Once you’re set up in Merchant Center, it’s time to start selling and promoting your products through Google’s many Shopping channels.

To learn more about setting up Google Shopping, check out our step-by-step guide.

How the Google Shopping Ecosystem Works

Once you’re set up in Merchant Center, you’ll have access to a number of programs. Think of these programs as parts of an ecosystem. They have individual functions and benefits, but, when used together, they enhance your collective Google Shopping performance.

Most of these programs are free to use, and all of them are designed to help you attract traffic and increase conversions. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Surfaces Across Google

This program makes your product listings eligible to show up across Google properties, such as Search, Shopping, Images, and Lens. While Search and Shopping are certainly the most lucrative of these properties, Google continues to experiment and expand their product listing placements.

Example of Google Shopping ads appearing in Google ImagesExample of product listings displayed on a Google Image search, via Surfaces Across Google.

It should also be noted that Surfaces Across Google is a prerequisite for Shopping Actions—one of the best Google Shopping programs available (more on that later).

Surfaces Across Google is easy to set up and completely free to use. In Merchant Center, go to the Growth tab. There, you’ll see the option to enroll in Surfaces Across Google.

You’ll need to upload your product data (as well as tax and shipping information), but you can use your existing product feed for this. Once you’ve completed this step, your products will be eligible to appear on searches across Google. – Read more

How to create a sales funnel for your online business

No matter how talented you are, making a living as a creator goes beyond the quality of your work. It’s all about keeping your pipeline full of qualified clients or customers so that you have consistent income coming in.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketing advice fails when it comes to driving consistent leads to your inbox:

  • Endlessly produce content and put it out there, just hoping that people see your value and buy from you
  • Cold-pitch your target audience, spending lots of time on prospects who won’t convert
  • Create ads for your products and services without a strategy, spending empty dollars for no return

But what if we told you you could develop a proven method for taking strangers from “no idea who you are” to excited paying customers?

You can. It’s called a sales funnel. And in this article, we’re sharing how you can create one for your online business.

What is a sales funnel?

The phrase “sales funnel” sounds complicated, but it’s not. Simply put, a sales funnel is the process that people must go through to become your customer or client, from the time they first “notice” your business to the instant they become a paying customer.

For online creators, the bulk of the sales funnel often takes place through email. But your sales funnel can also take place on a website or sales page, through a webinar, or through some combination of each of these.

Why is a sales funnel important for creators?

A sales funnel may seem like a fancy marketing tool for big corporations. But as you’ll see, in practice, creating a sales funnel is incredibly easy and effective for small businesses, too.

Here’s why sales funnels are the best-kept secret of successful creators:

Puts you in the driver’s seat of your marketing

You may think of your customers as the people who are buying from you already or who are about to buy from you. That is, customers who are already aware of their problem and are actively looking for the very solution you offer.

But there is a whole other world of potential customers out there who will eventually be ready to buy from you…. Just not yet.

These customers need to be nurtured. In other words, they have the potential to become awesome paying customers but something has to happen first: They need to be helped to understand why they need your product or service and get prepared to pay the cost.

This is the job a sales funnel does. With a sales funnel, you’re no longer waiting passively to be found by the few people who are already aware of their problem and looking for a solution. Instead, you’re actively turning a wide swath of ordinary people into amazing customers.

This active approach to marketing and sales is what leads to that holy grail of a full pipeline of qualified customers. These customers started off not knowing why they needed your product or service, and now they’re ready and willing to buy from you.

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Ensures you don’t waste time with bad-fit customers

A sales funnel does the work of educating your customers for you. Done well, your sales funnel will help the right customers self-select for your service or products.

This means that by the time you have to engage personally with potential customers, such as on a sales call, they’re far more likely to be a good fit for what you offer. No more wasting time on sales calls, emails, and messages with bad-fit customers! – Read more

How Will Google Ads Limiting Search Terms Affect Account Managers?

Google Ads has started informing advertisers that they will begin limiting search term reports, due to privacy concerns. 

Google’s Statement:

“In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions,” (Per Search Engine Land)

What Does This Mean?

Now, the one word in this statement that will stick out to every PPC marketer is, “significant”. 

I’m assuming what the word “significant” means that we will no longer be seeing search terms with one impression and one click as we have become accustomed to. Now, the question I, and I assume most of us, will be pondering is what is the line of significance?

Is it 5 impressions? 
Is it 50 impressions?
Is it 100 impressions?
Or even more? 

We will have to wait and see what this “significant” means, and learn to adjust. 

How Will This Affect Our Accounts?

Many brands do not have large monthly Google Ads budgets, where 50 clicks on unqualified queries can really damage month-over-month performance. For larger brands, running many campaigns with broad match modified keywords, those unqualified queries can add up to a significant cost. Now, add the issue of not knowing exactly which queries are driving the wasted spend. Suddenly, account management might be more difficult moving forward.

Coming from the point of view of a brand, we are an entity paying to advertise on Google’s search engine, as a medium to; 

  1. Drive traffic to my domain and sell a product, or our information
  2. Collect data on those who interacted with my ads, so that I may optimize my advertising strategy to searchers who are interested in the product or information that my business provides.

All of us account managers have opened up a search query report, and said, “how did this get here?”, then immediately added said term to our negative keyword list. 

We work in Pay Per Click marketing, and now we must accept paying for clicks without always knowing what the searcher typed into the Google search bar?

How Does This Affect SEM As A Whole?

This update is creating a significantly more difficult advertising environment, for advertisers who must provide our brands with a tightly aligned list of successful keywords and negative keywords.

That said, this change is being made in the name of privacy. I believe we all stand for more control of our personal information. I also believe that it would behoove Google to provide their customers (us) transparent information regarding our purchases (or clicks).

This change comes in a wave of many other similar changes over the last year that give advertisers less control over what queries can and will trigger our ads. This will push the importance of managing our negative keyword lists to one of our top priorities. – Read more