Do Display URLs Matter in Paid Search?

In ad copy, we know that content can affect your ad performance. Headlines, keywords, or even the CTA can impact the ad performance. It is well known that the right landing page can affect conversion rates. Does the URL displayed in your ad make a difference in performance? In this article, we are going to show you that it can make a difference.

Display URL Examples

Using PPC landing pages is not an uncommon practice in helping to measure performance. In this screenshot, we see ads from Gap and Shein that are using a sub-domain in their ads.

clothing for women search query

Here is another example from Dell. Oftentimes, advertisers will use subdomains like Deals, Shop, or Coupons. In this screenshot, we see Dell is using deals.dell.com in their final URL.

new computer search query display url

A Display URL Test With Subdomains

For one brand, we had many challenges with tracking due to the large volume of phone numbers displayed on their website. We were able to set up Google website call tracking, but this only worked for their primary toll-free number and not for the local phone numbers. Analytics was able to track the click-to-call activity for all phone numbers, but this was not ideal because it was unable to measure the duration of the call. The best option may have been using a third party call tracking service, but this was not an option for this brand.

So, one recommendation we had was to set up a PPC landing page that would display one primary phone number which would allow full visibility into call quality. One challenge was the brand was unable to set up a page on their primary domain, so we created a separate domain. All ads were redirected to this domain and nothing else was changed in the ad copy. Another thing to note is this client has several Brand campaigns targeting different regions of the country.

branded campaign results for test display url

As you can see in the Branded campaign, the costs were 12% lower, impressions increased by 18%, and CPCs increased by 16%. The conversions decreased by 25% and the CPL increased by 16%. Updating the ads can reset the ad quality score and this could have contributed to the higher CPCs we saw here. However, the metric that stood out the most for me was the impact it had on our CTR. Less searchers were clicking on our ad with the subdomain as the display URL, compared to the original ads. 

The Non-Brand campaign performance was not impacted to the same degree as the Branded campaign. The CTR decreased by 7%, CPCs were 2% lower, conversions increased by 21%, and the CPL was only 5% higher. 

One theory was that customers may have trust issues with the domain displayed. That perhaps they could see the organic listing below and were clicking on that instead. In the Non-Brand campaigns, their organic listing was less likely to show in the #1 organic spot due to the competition. The CTR did improve the next month, but only to 5.99%. In Analytics, we do see Organic traffic did have a 17% lift. However, the campaign lost less than 1,000 clicks, and so this traffic increase may or may not have been related. – Read more

How to Use Google Ads to Promote Your Business

If you’re thinking about spending some of your marketing funds on ads to reach your target audience, you’ll want to spend your money in the right place in order to get the best results. Google has over 4.8 billion interactions and 259 million unique visitors daily, and with traffic like that, it’s difficult to imagine a better place to advertise for your business.

You might be wondering if Google advertising works? As Google states, “Google is where people search for what to do, where to go, and what to buy. Your digital ads can appear on Google at the very moment someone is looking for products or services like yours. Whether you’re on desktop or mobile, a well-timed ad can turn people into valuable customers.” Read on to learn how to use Google Ads to promote your business.

What is Google Ads PPC (Formerly Known as Google Adwords)?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google Adwords, is, as HubSpot states, “a paid advertising platform that falls under a marketing channel known as pay-per-click (PPC), where you (the advertiser) pays per click or per impression (CPM) on an ad.” The platform launched in October 2000, just two years after Google burst onto the internet scene. In 2018, the advertising platform was rebranded as Google Ads. With the detailed instructions on how to use Google Ads the platform provides, Google Ads has become increasingly popular as the go-to place for digital advertising for businesses across all industries.

Google Ads PPC allows you to create and share well-time desktop and mobile ads to your target audience, which means you can advertise on the Google Search engine results page (SERP) when your ideal customers are looking for your products and services. Ads from the Google Ads platform are not limited to just the SERPs. They also display on Blogger, YouTube, and the Google Display Network, which can “help you reach people with targeted Display ads while they’re browsing their favorite websites, showing a friend a YouTube video, checking their Gmail account, or using mobile devices and apps.”

How to Use Google Ads

Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means that marketers target specific keywords on Google and make bids on the keywords, competing with other businesses also targeting those keywords. The bids for keywords are “maximum bids” or the max you’re willing to pay for an ad. For example, if you place a maximum bid of $5 and Google determines that your cost per click is $3, then you’ll get that ad placement. If Google determines that the ad is more than $5 then you won’t get the ad placement you bid on.

When using Google Ads, you can choose to set a daily maximum budget for your ad rather than placing a maximum bid. With this option, you’ll never have to worry about spending more than your specified amount for each ad per day. This bidding option can help you get a better gauge of how much you should budget for your digital ad campaigns.

There are three types of bidding options marketers can choose from as part of the Google Ads setup when using Google Ads, including:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC). How much you pay when a user clicks on your ad.
  • Cost-per-engagement (CPE). How much you pay when a user performs a specific action on your ad (subscribe to a list, watch a video, etc.).
  • Cost-per-mille (CPM). How much you pay per 1,000 ad impressions.

Google takes the bid amount and pairs it with an assessment of your ad called a Quality Score, which according to Google, is “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.” The Quality Score ranges from 1-10, with 10 being the best score — so, the higher your score, the less you’ll have to spend on your ads. When using Google Ads, the Quality Score combined with your bid amount creates your Ad Rank, which is the position your ads will appear on the search engine results page (SERP). When a user sees and clicks on the ad, the marketer will pay a small fee for the ad click, hence pay-per-click.

Terms to Remember When Using Google Ads

Below are some common terms to help you understand, set up, optimize, and run your Google Ads. While some of the terms are specific to using Google Ads, some are related to PPC ads in general.

  • AdRank. AdRank determines your ad placement when using Google Ads. The higher your AdRank, the more your ad will be shown to users. This increases the probability of users clicking on your ad. Your AdRank is determined by your maximum ad bid multiplied by your Quality Score.
  • Keywords. When a Google user conducts a search, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher’s intent. They conduct these searches via keywords, which are words and phrases that align with what a searcher wants to satisfy their query. For your ads, select keywords based on the types of search queries you want your ads to display alongside.
  • Negative Keywords. This is a list of keyword terms you don’t want to rank for. Generally, negative keywords are semi-related to your intended search terms but aren’t keywords you want to rank for.
  • Campaign Type. As part of the Google Ads setup process, you’ll have to decide what type of Google Ads you want to launch:
  • Search Ads are text ads that are placed shown on Google SERPs.
This is an example of how to use Google Ads to advertise on Google Search.
  • Responsive Search Ads allow you to create multiple versions of ad headlines and copy (15 versions of ad headlines and 4 variations of ad copy) when using Google Ads so Google can select the best performing ads to display to users. With traditional Search ads, you create only one version of your ad. Response Search ads, however, give you the opportunity to test your ad components to understand which ads are earning the most clicks.
  • Video Ads are 6-15-second ads shown on YouTube.
This is an example of how to use Google Ads to advertise with video ad campaigns.
  • Display Ads are typically image-based and shown on web pages within the Google Display Network.
  • The Google Display Network (GDN) is a network of websites that allow space on their webpages for Google Ads. These ads can be images or text and are displayed with content that matches your selected keywords. Typically, the most popular Display Ads are Google Shopping and app campaign ads.

Read more

How to Analyze Site Visitor Engagement With Google Analytics Reports

Wondering if the people you send to your website find what they’re seeking? Want insights to improve the customer journey?

In this article, you’ll discover how to analyze your website visitor engagement in Google Analytics. You’ll also learn how to see which audience segments spend more time on your website and find opportunities to adjust what visitors see when they first land on your site.

To learn how to use three Google Analytics reports to discover how people engage with your website, read the article below for an easy-to-follow walkthrough or watch this video:https://www.youtube.com/embed/g3YZW2LQraQ?enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.socialmediaexaminer.com

Google Analytics and the Customer Journey

Before we jump into analytics, let’s talk about why you’d use Google Analytics in the first place. Think about it in terms of a conversation. People are coming to your site and your site is having a conversation with them to hopefully get them to become customers.

If you think about it, that’s what happens when people visit an offline store. They have to interact with a salesperson who helps them purchase their products. Your website is basically doing the same thing and Google Analytics is how you can listen for that conversation and understand how users are interacting with your website.

Another way to think about the conversation is engagement. In Google Analytics, you can look at a report and see the engagement level of website visitors. If they’re not engaging at all, it means they’re having a bad conversation and you might want to change some of the marketing messages. If they’re engaging a lot, you’d expect that they would ultimately become purchasers.

Now let’s look at Google Analytics reports where you can find this data.

#1: Analyze Website Visitor Engagement by Traffic Source in Google Analytics

Start by jumping into my favorite report: the source/medium report. From the Google Analytics home screen, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium in the left navigation.

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The source/medium report tells you where your website traffic is coming from and the amount of traffic you’re getting from these different traffic sources. It also shows your engagement metrics, and ultimately, the results of all of that engagement.

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If your report doesn’t look like mine, that’s because I’m using something called UTMs. Make sure you’re properly using UTMs to tag your traffic as well. Read this article to learn how to set up UTMs.

In the source/medium report, we’re going to focus on the Behavior section, which includes three main metrics for engagement:

  • Bounce rate tells you how many people came to your site and left without seeing another page.
  • Pages per session is how many pages people saw during their visit to your site.
  • Average session duration is how long people stuck around.

At the top, you can see the bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration for the site as a whole.

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Below the sitewide numbers, the report breaks down these metrics by traffic source.

Bounce Rate

While it’s helpful to know that the bounce rate is 27% sitewide, you can’t really do anything with that information. You’ll need to drill down by traffic source.

In the image below, you can see that the bounce rate for direct/none is 31% and for infusionsoft/email, it’s 12%. So the bounce rate for people coming directly to the site is about the same as the sitewide bounce rate. The infusionsoft/email traffic, however, is about half that. The people coming to the site from email are twice as engaged as the people who are coming there directly.

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What about the other traffic sources? The bounce rate for search traffic (google/organic) is 25%, which is about the same as the overall site traffic but not as engaged as email traffic. This is about what you’d expect because these visitors probably just recently heard about the business and therefore aren’t as likely to engage.

Email traffic, on the other hand, has heard about the business. They already know, like, and trust the brand and are coming back again and again. I’d expect the bounce rate to be lower because you’re having a better conversation with this particular traffic source, and according to this data, it looks like that’s the case.

If you look at the other email—ecommerce-unmasked/email—the bounce rate is much higher at 48%. What’s the difference? They’re both email so shouldn’t the bounce rate be about the same?

The difference is that infusionsoft/email is an internal list. These are customers and leads so they understand the brand, are coming back to the site over and over, and are much more engaged. Ecommerce-unmasked/email, on the other hand, is people who don’t know about the business yet. They’re in the early stages of working with the business so a higher bounce rate is expected.

Pages per Session

Now let’s move on to pages per session. Below, you can see that infusionsoft/email is at 5 pages per session, while the sitewide number is almost 4. This means visitors coming from email are seeing a lot more pages when they visit the site.

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You already know that the other email source—ecommerce-unmasked/email—has a high bounce rate and looking at pages per session provides even more detail. Instead of viewing 5 pages on average per visit, these visitors are barely seeing 2. They’re coming and going quickly so the targeting for this particular email may need to be adjusted.

Other traffic sources like organic have a higher bounce rate than email, but these visitors are exploring 4 pages per session on average, which is higher than the sitewide number.

This data says to your business that organic is okay. People are searching for problems, finding the site as a possible solution, and when they come to the site, some of them bounce, which is okay. But the pages per session number tells you they’re sticking around and checking out a number of pages, which means they’re going through the different offers and exploring the site.

So what’s the conversation quality with these website visitors? It’s a better conversation because the business is engaging them more. That’s a good sign.

Average Session Duration

The third metric we want to look at is average session duration. In the image below, you can see that people spend about 19 minutes on average with the site for each session.

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Now let’s look at the different traffic sources. From the analysis above, you know that infusionsoft/email traffic is highly engaged because the bounce rate is low. Pages per session tells you that these visitors are seeing a lot of pages. And, finally, the 24 minutes on site is a lot higher than the sitewide average (18 minutes). The takeaway is that the conversation with the company’s email list is good. – 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

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.

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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.

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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

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