Navigating the road ahead: How consumers are adjusting to COVID-19

My Post (28)COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives and how we connect with the world around us. Things like social distancing, curbside pickup, and at-home workouts are now commonplace. The necessary measures taken to manage the pandemic have not only disrupted the global economy, but have also altered consumers’ interests, expectations, and purchasing behavior. These shifts are constant and they’re happening rapidly—and we want to help you navigate them. Today, we’ll share five key trends we’re seeing and provide helpful resources for adjusting your media strategy.

What’s changing with consumers?

As of this week, there are over four billion people staying home worldwide. And while we don’t know how or when this crisis will resolve, we do have new insight into how people’s needs and behaviors are changing:

People are using multiple devices to go online at unprecedented levels.

Connecting with the world online is more important than ever right now, with at-home media consumption increasing dramatically and influencing all aspects of life.

  • In the U.S., staying home has led to a 60 percent increase in the amount of content watched. Americans are watching roughly 12 hours of media content a day, according to Nielsen data.
  • Consumers across the globe are spending 20 percent more time in apps and games than they did a year ago and app usage in China grew to five hours/day on average (+30 percent year over year), according to App Annie.


People are turning to Google for important information and content to meet their essential needs.

With businesses adapting to delivery or online models, people are looking for clear, specific information about where, how, and when they can get what they need.

  • According to internal data, searches for “food delivery services” have grown globally by more than 300 percent year over year.
  • Americans are watching videos related to recipes and cooking at a rate 31 percent higher than they did the same time last year.
  • According to internal data, searches for “online pharmacy” have grown globally by more than 100 percent year over year.


People are discovering new connections and nurturing relationships (virtually).

Even as people physically distance themselves, they’re using technology in new ways to connect with each other.

  • 50 percent of U.S. consumers said they have used video to communicate with family and friends. In fact, as of April, Google Meet is hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings and adding nearly 3 million new users everyday.
  • On YouTube, we’ve seen a rise in “with me” videos, where people film themselves going about ordinary tasks like cleaning and cooking. In the US, views of videos containing “study with me” in the title are 54 percent higher compared to the same period last year.


People are adjusting routines to be at-home-first.

As daily routines and schedules adjust to new realities, so have online and at-home habits.

  • Search interest for “telecommuting” in the U.S. reached an all-time high on Google and YouTube in mid-March, and continues to grow with no sign of slowing down.
  • Workout routines have changed. There’s growing search interest for “stationary bicycle” worldwide since the beginning of the year, especially in Spain and France, and “dumbbell set” in the UK.


People are practicing self-care more. 

People are focused on taking care of their own physical and psychological needs, in addition to those of friends and loved ones. – Read more

Ad Copy Tips For the COVID Era

My Post (27)Striking a balance between promotional and socially conscious messaging can be challenging right now. We know that Google and Facebook are actively monitoring and snubbing out inappropriate ad copy that has malicious intent (and for that, we’re grateful). That said, it’s difficult not to talk about it and empathize with our audiences.

Google is running a series of weekly webinar sessions called Mobile On Air. In their first session, from May 5th, they covered “Design and Performance in Uncertain Times”. I really enjoyed the section on design principles as it has a universal approach for ad messaging. Below are tips and thoughts on how to approach your message:

Color

Color theory and the link to psychology can help soften your ads.

  • Try to avoid red as it is often associated with error or warning messages
    • If red is one of your brand colors, reserve it for your CTA to draw attention
  • Utilize the “calm colors” or earth tones such as blues and greens
  • Use a coherent color pallet. To attract attention use complementary colors (colors directly opposite of each other on the color wheel)

Tone

The tone of your message should be caring and calm while still illustrating your business’ authority on the matter. Messaging that is too emotional can cause audiences to lose confidence in a business’s authority. Always use credible sources and statistics when making statements and own your narrative. In Kamlyn’s article PPC in the Time of COVID she remarks that consumers respond positively to sensitive ad messaging but data suggests that the majority of consumers are not turned off by your ad messaging. – Read more

How to increase online sales in three easy steps through PPC ads

My Post (26)Coronavirus and related quarantine measures led to an increase in online sales, video content consumption, and the time people spent on the internet in general. That’s why PPC ads are more relevant than ever now for your business. Well crafted ads can be a great way to improve your conversion rate and profit.

In this article, you’ll find the most common errors in contextual advertising and get practical recommendations on setting up effective ads.

The most common errors when setting up ads

1. Contactless ads

Advertisements without contact information take up less space in SERP and lose to competitors’ ads due to the fact that they are less noticeable and informative.

2. Lack of quick links and favicon

This error leads to a decrease in traffic, CTR, and means that the ad budgets will rise.

3. Ads are not optimized for the Google Display Network

A search engine ad campaign is different from one shown on the Google Display Network. If you just copy ads, you’ll not get a good result.

The main difference between campaigns on the thematic sites and in search:

  • Images are not displayed in search but on thematic sites, they must be added.
  • Advertising on thematic sites should be more creative than in search. There are many different formats in GDN you can experiment with.

4. Lack of division into the industry and regional campaigns

Without this separation, you can waste the budget. Dividing the campaign, you’ll identify which industries or regions are more effective, which part of the campaign should get more attention and budget.

5. Improper structure of PPC ads campaigns

The campaign structure does not appear from scratch but is created on the basis of internet demand and customer market analysis (customer needs and requirements, product demand, and other such parameters).

For example, you can create the following groups from your PPC campaign: On a company brand, on general keywords, on regions, on types of the product, on promotions, and on competitors.

6. The site doesn’t load when clicked

Often, a campaign is running but a server is not configured to process the labels of advertising systems. Therefore, when you click on an ad, the site may not load.

How to set up an effective PPC ads campaign

Work with contextual advertising involves continuous analysis. Before launch, it’s an analysis of the target audience, the strengths and weaknesses of the product, the activities of competitors, and niche filling. Since the situation on the market is changing dynamically, before running an advertising campaign, you should carry out a direct analysis of contextual ads, their results, as well as competitors.

Before starting a PPC campaign

As I’ve already said, you should make a deep analysis before setting up your advertisements. You should learn:

1. The target audience

These are people whose attention you want to capture and convert them into buyers.

A specialist should understand their pains, determine triggers of influence, find out which style works best to communicate with them.

You can do it with the help of different polls and surveys among your clients, talking to your customer support team, and studying your competitors.

2. The product

How are you selling the product? How is it made? How is it different from competitors? What value does it create for buyers? What are its strengths and weaknesses? You should know answers to all these questions because it’ll be rather difficult to sell a product or service without them.

3. The niche

Each business has its specifics. It can be something more familiar to each of us (for example, retail, like Amazon) or something non-standard from B2B (business to business) sphere (for example, content marketing services). Study sites from given examples to see the difference between niches.

Small Business Guide to Google Smart Campaigns

My Post (16)Small business owners all know they need to be found when a searcher is looking for their products and services. I have been in paid media for over 13 years and I often get asked “what is the best way to advertise my business when I have little to no knowledge and/or budget?”. Agencies typically handle medium to large companies with larger budgets to spend on paid advertising but this is not the case for small businesses.

Smaller local businesses typically do not have an agency or paid media expert on staff, this is where Google Ads Smart Campaigns come in handy.

Google Smart Campaigns were created with small business’s needs in mind. Let’s dive into what they are and we’ll later go into more detail on how to set up your first campaign to make the best out of your available resources and budget.

What Are Smart Campaigns?

Google Smart Campaigns are not new to Google advertising.They are relatively new to the Google Ads platform (formerly Google Adwords). They are built on Google Adwords Express technology and replace the Google Adwords Express platform. They’re fairly easy to set up and maintain.

Smart Campaigns are designed for small local businesses that want to run paid ads but have little to no knowledge of Google ads. These campaigns are for businesses who can’t afford to hire agencies, don’t have the time to learn the intricacies of running a successful Google Ads campaign, or can’t afford an in-house marketing team.

Smart Campaigns are a great way for small, local businesses to launch into the paid search world. They’re easy to set up, but it’s critical that you set them up properly from the beginning. Here’s how:

  1. Get Started with Smart Campaigns and Create your Account

First, you must have a Google My Business account to create these campaigns. When you create your Google Ads account, make sure you use the same email address that’s associated with your Google My Business account. These two platforms will work hand in hand to address ad creation, business location, and images, so using the same email address will simplify your experience.

It’s also critical that you have high-quality, relevant images associated with your Google My Business account because they will be used for your ads and, thus, be shown to your potential customers. We all like to see before we buy, right? Quality, appealing images are often the deciding factor in a potential customer’s choice to give you their business.

2. Create Your Smart Campaign

Once you’ve created your Google Ads Account, there are two options of goals for your Smart Campaign: sales and leads. As you can see below, I have chosen leads as my goal. At the bottom of the screenshot, there is another option that opens up and asks about what action you want: calls or visits. If you choose sales as a goal, there aren’t any other options. I have chosen calls as my action. – Read more

Google Ads Basics: A Guide to Setting Up Your First Google Ads Campaign

My Post (15)Google Ads are to online marketing what the “pizza move” is to beginner skiers—once you get the hang of the basics, you’ll start seeing results straight away (and likely be keen to learn more, more, more). But that initial learning curve can be a little daunting, especially if you’re still learning about online marketing in general, and all the tactics, tools, and strategies that come with it.

Since Google is basically synonymous with the Internet, Google Ads are worth getting friendly with. Not only will they get your business, product, or offerings in front of a lot more of the right eyeballs, they can help build good credit within the Google ecosystem to bolster your organic ranking efforts.

But you’ve gotta crawl before you can walk, so I put together a step-by-step guide to creating and setting up your first Google Ads. Full disclosure—I’m pretty new to setting up Google Ads myself, in the interest of taking a genuine, no-foolin’ beginner’s approach. I’ve also included all of the awesome resources I used in my research at the bottom of the post, so you can explore advanced strategies at your leisure. Now let’s tackle this bunny hill together.

Why Should I Use Google Ads?

Google Ads put your offers in front of a super-targeted audience that is—in many cases—actively looking for exactly what you’re offering. Beyond the pay-to-play power of advertising your business on the world’s most-used search engine, Google Ads can be your portal to building a high Quality Score that reflects on your business overall.

Quality Score is a measurement of relevance through an assessment of click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing pages experience. It’s a way for Google to calculate which advertisers are creating honest, well-targeted, and useful ads versus ones that are… not.

You know those clickbaity, keyword-dense ads that send you to a mystery website or page with a million different products? Their Quality Scores are probably in the pooper—and that sh*t has consequences, like:

  • Which ads are eligible to run
  • How eligible ads are ranked in search results
  • CPC (cost-per-click) you’ll pay as an advertiser

What Google’s really looking at is the experience you’re providing to people searching for those keywords. Your Quality Score gets better the more relevant your keywords are to your offer, the more targeted your ad messaging is, and the better your landing page matches your ad—so visitors get exactly what they’re expecting when they click through. This also translates to increased ad opportunities, higher ad rankings, lower costs-per-click, and more return on your ad spend. – Read more

Discovery Campaigns As A Part Of Your Remarketing Funnel

My Post (13)Do you remember what you were doing one year ago? It was a simpler time – the Toronto Raptors were in the midst of an NBA championship run, activists were gearing up to storm Area 51, and a little diddy called “Old Town Road” was burning up the airwaves. You may also remember May 2019 for Google announcing the availability of “Discovery Campaigns”, which were subsequently rolled out to advertisers throughout the year. If you have not yet experimented with Discovery Campaigns, you should strongly consider doing so. My experience has convinced me that they can be a powerful tool, especially for expanding a remarketing strategy.

Discovery Campaigns: What Are They?

If you have not yet discovered* the campaign type, here’s what you need to know. Discovery Campaigns can show ads on three placements – Youtube, Gmail, and Google’s Discovery Feed. Google’s Discovery feed, for the uninitiated, is a feed that shows on the Google App and the Google mobile home page that shows stories and links based on a user’s interests.

In terms of how the ads appear, they are similar in many respects to Google’s responsive display ads. They take an input of several images, a logo, and headlines, and combines those for different placements. They can show as a carousel-type ad, allowing users to scroll through different images and headline pairings. Here’s are a few examples of how they might appear on different placements:

Discovery Campaign Ad Examples

Discovery Vs. The Google Display Network

In order to test this new campaign type in one of my accounts I created a Discovery Campaign targeting a remarketing list and enabled it to run at the same time as the previously created display remarketing campaign. The account in question was a real estate advertiser with the goal of generating leads. Prior to discussing the results of this campaign, I wanted to highlight a few aspects of the experiment: – Read more

How To Double Relevant Google Shopping Volume in 5 Steps

My Post (12)Have you had trouble capturing enough targeted volume via Google Shopping to make it a meaningful revenue source? You have a limited number of characters to play with in your product feed titles, so when you do pick a keyword or two to feature, it will be at the expense of many others. Keyword stuffing your shopping feed certainly isn’t a viable option, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could capture traffic for those other keywords in Google Shopping as well?

If you have been frustrated by limited targeting options for Google Shopping ads (namely, the fact that you can’t assign a list of keywords to a single product), this easily-implemented strategy will grow your reach and revenue.

Throughout this article, we’ll highlight Majux‘s strategy using a hypothetical brand for demonstration: SportsX Protein Shakes. SportsX has only one protein shake blend, but it’s applicable to a number of high-volume queries: “nutrition shakes,” “protein shakes,” “weight gainer shakes,” “high calorie shakes,” and more. We’ll revisit this brand later.

Some prerequisites before jumping in:

  • This technique is ideal for businesses with a low number of SKUs that apply to a large subset of web searches.
  • For the purpose of this article, we’ll be importing product feeds to Merchant Center using Google Sheets. If you are using a Shopify feed, WooCommerce API, or a similar method, you’ll have to adjust the strategy accordingly.

The Issues With Getting More Shopping Campaign Volume

Problem #1: You can’t use keywords for targeting like you would in a search campaign. Google determines your ad’s relevance based on the product title and description in your shopping feed, but this will never be as exact as phrase or exact keyword targeting.

Problem #2: You have to abide by strict character limits, thereby limiting your targeting more. While you can technically upload titles of up to 150 characters, Google strongly recommends 70 characters or fewer; no more than 70 will display in the SERPs. Since your titles need to be written for humans, you can’t simply stuff all of your target keywords into 70 characters  — as a result, your reach is diminished because you have to pick one keyword to prioritize and maybe a second one tacked on elsewhere.

Problem #3: To complicate matters further, Google prioritizes words at the beginning of your titles and descriptions. So in the title “Nike Men’s Blue Lightweight Running Shoes,” the brand name Nike and modifiers “men’s” and “blue” will have more weight than “lightweight running shoes,” in theory.

Problem #4: Your product might be hyper-relevant to far more queries and keywords than you can reasonably fit in your product titles. This is exacerbated when you have a low number of products, say 3 of them, but there are 10+ phrases that are relevant. You can’t simply allocate one, or even two, phrases per product line in your feed.

Problem #5: Even if you did stuff your titles with keywords, only the first one in the title would reach its potential. Google would devalue the keywords towards the end of the title, more or less, thus leaving a good bit of traffic on the table.

To simplify, what should you do if you have a product that applies to more keywords than fit in the product feed title, and what can you do to reach those additional queries? – Read more

Track Mobile Call Conversions in Google AdWords

My Post (10)80% of the internet users own and use a smartphone to browse the web, and 48% of them go to the search engines as the first step in their research for a product purchase. These numbers are only expected to increase so it’s become imperative that businesses make it easy for mobile users to access important information on their site and convert.

Good marketers know it’s important to track conversions back to the source, and Google makes it easy to track call conversions back into the AdWords platform. All it takes is two basic steps:

  1. Add a snippet of Javascript tracking code to your site
  2. Make your phone number clickable and add an onClick function

The first step is pretty easy. Google will give you the code when you go to set up the conversion and you can paste it into your site. If you’re using WordPress, many themes have a field in the settings that allows you to enter Google Analytics tracking code to your site – you could put the Google call conversion code in this same block, before or after the Google Analytics code.

The second step is necessary even though mobile devices are often able to determine automatically what is a phone number and register that the user wants to call it when they click on it. The problem is, you need to add a bit of code that tells the device to run the Javascript you added to the page when the number is clicked, which is only possible if the number is coded to be clickable.

If your phone number is an image, which is commonly the case when the phone number is in the header, then the code will look something like this: – Read more

Accounting for Future Performance in Paid Media

My Post (22)Changing circumstances can force you to confront the future. Planning ahead is essential and can better prepare you for what comes next. While a model won’t perfectly predict what comes next, it can be vital in preparing and setting realistic expectations.

In this article, we’ll cover a few approaches that you can explore and build on. It’s worth noting that while there is no out-of-the-box solution, the process and business knowledge you can apply are what make these tools valuable.

Simple Math

With a few formulas, you can quickly pace account metrics, understand the direction of your account, and plan for the rest of the month. Sometimes the simple method is all you need.

One common method involves taking the current total, taking the average of the last seven days, and multiplying it by the remaining days in the period.

For a month this looks something like a month to date spend + last seven day spend/7 * days remaining in the month.

Simple forecast example in Google Sheets
Simple forecast example in Google Sheets

The simplicity of this method makes it intuitive and easy to adjust for. Seven days is a great starter as most accounts follows a typical cycle as activity rises and falls through a weekly period. You can adjust it for stability by increasing the seven days to 14 or 21. The beauty is that the formula starts so simply that it’s not a big investment to make changes.

If you need to add more nuance you can apply this same method to account segments to account for differences in brand investment, non-brand, shopping, or the product line level. You can also add further modifiers to weight the remaining days differently. The best part of this method is that it can be easily modified, is intuitive, and produces reasonable results with little effort.

You can see more advanced implementations in this post, How to Forecast Spend Potential in Paid Social Campaigns

Data Tables in Excel

Data tables are a great method to estimate the account level effects of changing metrics. You can take an efficiently metric such as ROAS or CPA and create a table with new CPAs/ROAS by different cost per clicks and click through rates. This helps you forecast the impact of performance changes in your account.

Data Table Example in Microsoft Excel
Excel Data Table Example

Unlike the previous example, it does not account for time. Instead, it provides useful benchmarks for upper and lower limits in performance. It clarifies possibilities and outlines the bounds of performance.  You can use it these as a best-case and a  worst-case scenario or see how far metrics would have to change to hit a goal target.

You can find further details in this post,

How to Utilize Excel Data Tables for Better Projections

and this webinar,

Discover More Accurate Projections with Excel Data Tables

Going Further with Your Models

Or course models can go much further. You can explore time series with Holt-Winters, ARIMA, and more. While these are not always directly applicable to daily work and optimizations they can be useful when longer terms forecasts are needed. The main benefit is that they are built to account for trends and seasonality. Something our naïve models don’t account for. – Read more

Googlers’ tips for staying connected from a distance

My Post (10).pngSocial distancing, by definition, makes it hard to get a healthy dose of human contact. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family that go beyond the standard phone call. We asked Googlers to share how they’re keeping family and friends close, while staying a safe distance apart. We hope their ideas might inspire you, too.

Give your family a surprise hello through the Google Home app

To feel closer when we’re far away, I broadcast messages through the Google Home app to my family in London (I’m in California). Usually I’ll say hi and give them a few updates on my day. I get a kick out of knowing I might give them a little surprise of suddenly hearing my voice in the hallway.

– Robin Bhaduri, Google Podcasts team

Breakfast talk on Duo

I have a Nest Hub Max in my kitchen. I use it most often while I’m cooking, but lately I’ve been using it to video chat with family over Google Duo. I can do things like have breakfast with my five year old nephew without having to hold a phone. The Nest camera adjusts to where I am in the kitchen, so I don’t have to stand in a certain spot for him to see me on video.

– Ajay Surie, Google Fit team

Cook with friends via YouTube and Google Docs

My friends send each other YouTube videos showing ways to prepare tasty dishes. We all try the same recipe, prepare it as shown in the video, and send photos to each other once the dish is completed. It’s been fun to see the similarities and differences between the same dish, prepared by different people.

– Jeff Sinckler, Tenor team

Similar to Jeff, my friends love to cook. We’ve been sharing recipes with each other using Google Docs. We reference an article or video as the main recipe link, and include notes about our experiences with that recipe. Whenever someone has a question, they can add comments to the doc and the doc just gets better. This is also useful for discovering different ways to make the recipe a success, e.g. for ingredient substitutions (very relevant right now) and doubling or halving portions.

– Tahai Michelle Baik, Search team

Tell each other what you’re up to on Calendar

Even though our days are less structured than they used to be, my immediate family still puts what we’re up to on a family Google Calendar. My mom will check in after she sees I’ve taken a dance class online, I’ll ask how it went cooking a particular recipe for dinner, and we’ll reach out to my brother to ask how his online coding training went. It helps us stay close even though we’re scattered all over the world. And Calendar also reminds us to step outside to cheer every day at 7 p.m. for all the workers that are keeping things going during these difficult times.  – Read more