Point It http://www.ruffrhythmz.com Digital Marketing Wed, 24 Jun 2020 09:39:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-favicon-300x300.png Point It http://www.ruffrhythmz.com 32 32 Going Global: Expanding into International PPC http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/going-global-expanding-international-ppc/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/going-global-expanding-international-ppc/#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2020 09:39:00 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=60628 This is a toolbox post written to give our webinar participants an opportunity to dive deeper into the content?presented. This toolbox post is supporting our recent webinar with “Going Global: Expanding into International PPC”, presented by Point It’s Director of Paid Search, Maddie Cary. Did...

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This is a toolbox post written to give our webinar participants an opportunity to dive deeper into the content?presented. This toolbox post is supporting our recent webinar with “Going Global: Expanding into International PPC”, presented by Point It’s Director of Paid Search, Maddie Cary. Did you know that companies still set up spray & pray international PPC campaigns? Stop the madness! It’s time to be better marketers. It’s time to start setting up international campaigns with actual international consumers in mind. For any advertiser considering expanding their PPC program globally, you need to ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Where should you do international PPC?
  • What do international consumers expect?
  • When do international consumers convert?
  • How can you create a successful international PPC program


When trying to decide what markets to first start running PPC in, it may feel like you’re just blindly throwing a dart at a globe. There are a lot of options to consider, including:

  • What countries & languages should I target?
  • Which search engines should I run in (Google, Bing, or international publishers like Naver, Baidu, Yandex, Yahoo Japan…)
  • Which channels should I test first (PPC? Display? Social?)
  • What tactic should I deploy (Text ads? Shopping campaigns? Dynamic ad formats?)

Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember that one size doesn’t fit all. You can’t approach international PPC like it’s the US with a fun language twist. Each market has its own languages, behaviors, customs, and preferences that need to be factored into your paid search strategy.As you first begin determining where to start expanding, keep in mind 3 key principles:Visual-1So, where should you run paid search campaigns? Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  • Can you provide products & services in that market?
    • Yes? Great! Focus on lower-funnel, high intent keywords to drive best CPA or ROI.
    • No? Can’t deliver? Can’t sell? Some sort of roadblock? International PPC may not be right move
  • Do you have localized landing experiences?
    • Yes? You’re off to strong start. Ideally, you have LPs or separate sites per geo & language
    • No? Can’t build them? Then you’re going to drive a pretty poor experience for international searchers. Maybe you don’t want to build them until you know what markets you want to target. It’s a little cart before the horse, but can be workable.
  • Is your brand already well known in that market?
    • Use Google Trends to examine search interest per market, review search trend charts, and even dive into related searchers and top queries in relation to your brand
  • What engines can you launch in and continually optimize?
    • Some engines require a local contact to buy media. Others have interfaces & tools which aren’t offered in English. Below is a breakdown of some top international search engines how much market share they have over Google, and their levels of difficulty:



Anytime you launch a search campaign, you need to know your audience. Don’t run PPC that leaves international searchers shaking their head in disbelief. Not only is it detrimental to your change at conversion, but impacts how your brand is viewed around the world. Consider some key factors when tailoring your tactics to meet what global searchers expect of online advertisers:

  • How do they prefer to pay?Each country’s population has a preferred way to pay. Below are just a few examples:Visual-3
  • What kind of shipping do they expect?

Do shoppers in the country look for 24-hour turn-around? Guaranteed free shipping? Minimum purchase amounts? What does the country’s Amazon presentation look like? That may gave you an idea of how the country has adopted a Free Shipping mentality for their online purchases.

  • What devices do you they expect to find you on?Markets like Spain, Singapore, and Japan have unique mobile user populations above 85%. The Asia-Pacific has more than 1 billion smartphone users, and for a majority of that group, that mobile phone is their only device. Don’t rule out certain device targeting because it didn’t work for you in your US campaigns. Consider each international market’s device interaction and mobile usage rate before you launch new campaigns.


Don’t miss out on high conversion windows in the markets you’re targeting outside the US. Not every country goes wild with online purchasing during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. But there are important online holidays and seasonal periods you should be marking on your PPC calendar if you run international paid search campaigns.

  • What are some international online holidays?Below is a list of some important online international shopping holidays to plan for in your PPC activities:
    • Singles’ Day (early Nov) – China
    • Buen Fin (mid-Nov) – Mexico
    • Click Frenzy (mid-Nov) – AU & NZ
    • Black Friday/Cyber Monday (end of Nov/early Dec) – US, CA, UK, growing in AU, FR, DE
    • Cyber Monday (mid-Dec) – Japan
    • Boxing Day (Dec 26th) – UK, CA, AU, some Western EU, markets with British influence
  • When do people start searching (and purchasing) online for holiday?People are holiday shopping online earlier every year, with search trends indicating purchase behavior starts picking up now at the very start of November. In markets with high Black Friday/Cyber Monday activity, a large percentage of sales actually occur on the Wednesday & Thursday (Thanksgiving) before, as advertisers roll out their promotions sooner each year.

Visual-4It’s also important for e-commerce paid search marketers to be ready for a dramatic conversion drop-off after the shipping window closes as people move to purchasing gifts offline in order to get gifts in time for Christmas.

  • When is the country’s back to school period?Another active online purchasing season is back to school. But not all markets start buying books, backpacks, and laptops at the same time, since they don’t all follow the US school schedule:Visual-5
  • What hemisphere are you targeting?Don’t forget to factor in hemisphere differences when considering time of day, promo times,and even seasonal ad messaging! For example, when it’s 10AM EST in the US during Spring, it’s 3AM in Sydney, AU during their Autumn.


The big question! After you’ve checked off the boxed for the previous questions we just walked through, a long-term successful global PPC program ultimately depends on how you model it. Will you use a decentralized or centralized model? Which one is right for your company? Let’s use an example to layout the two options.Let’s say you’re an e-commerce apparel company. You have over 100,000 SKUs per product category, so you break your PPC marketing team into business groups per apparel type. You have your US teams per business group, but you’ve started expanding internationally, so now you have PPC business group teams in the UK as well. If your number of business groups and targeted markets is fairly small, this model can work (as shown below). But you want to build a model that can be scaled successfully.Visual-6Let’s say you want to build an international marketing program across 10+ business groups. You now also have online stores for 10+ markets, and you’re planning to build sites for more countries in the next year. All of a sudden, that decentralized model is an unruly, siloed beast:Visual-7This model doesn’t scale long-term because it doesn’t support on-going international growth. Communication becomes siloed, and knowledge & best practice sharing is either limited or practically non-existent. Deploying agile, larger-scale campaigns across all markets is very challenging. Most importantly, individual teams will likely set their own goals and monitor their results in a vacuum, without there being a central owner to help regulate how each market program is rolling up to an overall company performance goal.Instead, consider a centralized international PPC program model, with a singular team overseeing multi-market paid search activities. The team will have shared goals and a shared mission, and market accounts will actually perform better because learnings are more quickly shared across campaign owners. This will set you up for scalable, efficient revenue growth globally.Visual-8Not convinced? Check out our Point It case study on how we won a US Search Award for building a centralized model for our largest international client.


It can’t, and a good PPC marketer knows that. It’s critical that you set up your PPC campaigns and online experiences that create trust with international searchers – if you can’t do that, you lose them (and that conversion opportunity).


What challenges have you experienced when running international PPC? Share in the comments or share with us on Twitter @MaddieMarketer & @point_it!.google {left:100%;display:inline-block;position:fixed}

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Putting Profitability First in Digital Programs http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/putting-profitability-first-digital-programs/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/putting-profitability-first-digital-programs/#respond Wed, 25 Jul 2018 17:00:14 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=66059 I just got back from my annual trip to the Google Partners’ Summit. It was part of Google’s Live Marketing event in San Jose, and there was a palpable difference from previous years.?There were the usual themes of AI and Machine Learning, and a lot...

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I just got back from my annual trip to the Google Partners’ Summit. It was part of Google’s Live Marketing event in San Jose, and there was a palpable difference from previous years.?There were the usual themes of AI and Machine Learning, and a lot of attention on the newly announced Google Marketing Platform which looks very exciting.?But for me, the standout was an emphasis on putting profitability first in digital programs, especially in PPC.

Hallelujah. Finally.

What you can do if you know customer profitability

I listened to one case study involving a national insurance agency. They segmented their existing clients into, I believe, twenty different segments. They calculated the lifetime value (LTV) of each and targeted their marketing efforts on maximizing the profits from the top segments. It was transformational.

Just think what that approach could do for your business, or how awesome it would be to market in that kind of environment. That’s getting close to Marketing Nirvana.

When I started with Point It in 2009, only one of our clients knew what the LTV and profitability of its customers were. Yes, just one.

I was stunned because knowing the profitability of one’s customers gives a distinct advantage over your competition. Our client knew exactly what the profit would be from their PPC program and could manage it very strategically. It made me wonder: why wouldn’t every company choose to do that?

I thought maybe what was lacking was client education, and I fully expected more clients to get on board with customer profitability as we continued to bring it up. Strangely, though, that never happened – ?and nine years later, only a handful of clients are interested in monitoring their customers’ LTV.

But let me tell you, the times are a-changing.

Why PPC profitability is about to go mainstream

In June, we held an event with Google at their Fremont (Seattle) Campus and it was specifically about putting the profit in PPC. Interest in the event was very high, and the level of conversations from the audience indicated to me a growing interest in the subject matter.

Fast forward to the event in San Jose, and many, many people were talking about it.

Let’s talk about what’s changed and why you need to get on board with it – pronto.

I believe the driving force behind the new focus on profitability is the availability of relevant data, coupled with much-improved analytics tools.

Marketers have always been aware of the impact that data and analytics can have on business. But it takes more than awareness to make positive and profitable decisions. With the right data and analytics, marketers are now able to provide compelling arguments and recommendations to business stakeholders – especially those in the C-suite – to adopt a focus on customer profitability.

How to get the focus on profitable PPC

If I were a digital marketing manager who was looking to redirect my stakeholders’ focus, I’d walk into the CFO’s office and tell them very plainly that it’s finally possible to see the real return on the company’s PPC investment. Trust me, that’s a big deal. CFOs have been asking to see that return ever since Adwords started; many see PPC as nothing more than a massive expense (because not everyone loves PPC like we all do at Point It).

Continuing with my scenario: once the CFO was on board, they would magically begin opening doors across the organization to get things going and make sure they saw this profitability. Sales, Marketing, IT, and other teams would quickly start collaborating once the CFO got behind this approach.

Suddenly siloed data begins to get merged – although it’s likely that not every piece of data is going to be available. If that is the case, it’s time to bring out every CFO’s favorite calculator, the SWAG (just kidding), and use intelligent estimates to come up with LTVs and figure out the profitability of PPC.

Once you start measuring and reporting on this, more and more people will get involved, and this will drive towards getting more and more accurate data over time.

How profitability focus is transformational

At Point It, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing profitability with our team. Granted that for an agency, it’s a lot simpler than it is for many of our clients. For us, it’s just Management Fees, less the Cost of Goods (COGS). But it didn’t take our staff long to figure out the profitability of our client relationships, then to set about improving on that to help our company.

I often hear our team having conversations about improving gross margins – something which, a couple of years ago, I’d never have imagined would happen.

Then things got really exciting when I heard some of the staff talking about how to improve their client’s profitability. They wanted to take on the challenge of shifting clients away from a leads- and sales-based focus to a focus on the profitability of those leads or sales.

And that’s brought us to our single-minded approach: helping clients grow profits. That is the number one conversation we have with our clients today.

It’s sharing time

We found it to be extremely beneficial to share cost information with our staff. So why aren’t more companies doing that? I believe there are at least two reasons.

  • The data is not readily available for each product or segment of a company.
  • There’s a reluctance to share that information with employees. Based on the results we’ve seen, that’s just crazy.

We‘ve started asking clients to share their profit numbers, and response are usually as follows:

  • “That’s confidential.”
  • “It’s way too hard to calculate.”
  • “We’re just given a leads target by management, and never given profit numbers”

Let’s address these points one by one:

  • Confidentiality – would you rather keep that close to your chest, or share it with a trusted partner, who’s already under NDA, and help them help you increase your profits?
  • Difficult to calculate – with the systems in place for tracking leads, sales, product costs, combined with the data analysis mindset of many companies, this answer is just unacceptable. It’s more than worth the effort to calculate. In the meantime, work with an estimate.
  • Lead targets – as a digital marketing manager, or even CMO, it’s time to demand the profit numbers be shared with you in order to make better business decisions. It’s been shown time after time that the people on the front lines are often the best-equipped to provide great suggestions and insights leading to improved profitability. Why wouldn’t your CFO or upper management want to share this data, if it could lead to better business decisions? Start having these conversations with them today.

I came back from the Google event truly jazzed. It’s time for marketing – not just digital marketing – to INSIST on companies having a customer-level profitability focus. When that happens, look out. Marketing will never be the same.

Who knows, maybe the CFO will become your best friend?

Well, maybe that’s pushing it.

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Beach Reads for PPC Geeks: Essential Summer Reading for Paid Search Fanatics http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/beach-reads-for-ppc-geeks-essential-summer-reading-for-paid-search-fanatics/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/beach-reads-for-ppc-geeks-essential-summer-reading-for-paid-search-fanatics/#respond Wed, 11 Jul 2018 17:00:33 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=66035 Summertime is now fully upon us (yes, even here in rainy Seattle), bringing with it visions of longer days, cookouts, and—if you’re lucky—beach vacations. Even if you’re not a fan of the sandy area where land meets water, “beach reads” are essential for the summertime:...

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Summertime is now fully upon us (yes, even here in rainy Seattle), bringing with it visions of longer days, cookouts, and—if you’re lucky—beach vacations. Even if you’re not a fan of the sandy area where land meets water, “beach reads” are essential for the summertime: material that’s light enough to consume while you’re soaking in the warmer weather, but substantial enough to keep your brain in swimsuit shape. As a PPC geek (and proud of it), I’ve compiled a list of essential topics (and related reading) to share as essential summer reading with my fellow paid search fanatics.

Google’s New UI: Embrace the Change

Did you know that Google has launched a new UI? Of course you did, but have you used it? (Be honest, there’s no judgment here.) If you are like me, you’ve been avoiding the new UI since the notification showed up on the bottom of your screen… Sorry Google! Change can be good, but sometimes it’s hard to embrace when you’re in a comfortable rut with the old UI. However, there are some great new things in the UI if you take the time to learn it.

If you want to read an overview of the new UI as a whole, AdWords Help does a great job breaking it down. But here are the things that stood out to me when I started digging in:

  • The new overview page has some great visuals and summary cards that help you to quickly review performance and highlight areas of opportunity.
  • Adwords is giving us more levers to pull regarding bid adjustments for things like calls, household income and a new audience page that houses all your audiences.
  • Maybe the most exciting changes are the updates made to YouTube campaigns. The new UI offers Outstream video campaigns where we can now target users beyond just YouTube, as well as a new campaign type called Trueview for action campaigns, which give ?us the capability to drive more leads from YouTube by adding on a CTA overlay to videos.

As of late June, Google announced that the official change to the new UI is just a few weeks away and by the end of July you can no longer embrace the change you have to accept it.

Make Audience Targeting Work for You

Recently Bing has stepped up their game and released in-market audiences (before Google!) for search. This feature allows marketers to target and increase bids on users who have been deemed to have more intent and, in turn, increase the number of conversions to your campaigns. Google has recently done a soft release on this feature as well for search campaigns. HOWEVER, they did not make any major announcement over this but its worth checking your accounts now to see if this is now available for you to use!

Speaking of Google… although this isn’t a new feature, if you aren’t already using Google custom affinity audience or intent audiences, I urge you to start this summer. There are so many ways your campaigns can benefit from this feature: keywords, websites, you could even target people interested in your competitor’s sites. Google intent audiences take this one step further and will show your ads to customers who they know are in the market for the service or product you are selling. The possibilities are endless!

Microsoft Audience Ads (a.k.a. Bing Intent Ads, a.k.a. Bing Native Ads)

This native ad type gives you the opportunity to increase your reach by showing your ads on non-search sites within page content. They’ll appear on Microsoft partner sites such as MSN, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Edge and many more, allowing your ads to be visible to people who aren’t performing searches. Another advantage to this ad type? They require the use of an image, which helps increase the overall size of your ads, which helps drive more clicks to your site – equaling more conversions. Beautiful!

Microsoft audience ads are also another great opportunity to drive users with intent to your ads and landing pages. Bing targets based on a user’s interest, which it gathers from their search history, demographic information, and browser history. Using this information and AI, Bing can place extremely focused content — including your ads — in front of its users.

Bing MSAN: Another Way to Increase Reach

I’m feeling the love for Bing and Microsoft this summer! Another major coup for Bing was the announcement of Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN, Microsoft’s display network) at the Bing Partner Summit in May. Microsoft says that this is yet another way for Bing search advertisers to extend their reach to new audiences — audiences that Google and Facebook have yet to reach.

Similar to what has been mentioned above these new audiences include Microsoft sites such as: MSN, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft edge and many more partner sites. MSAN will be utilizing their AI learnings as well as utilizing the customer profile data from LinkedIn such as company, industry and job functions. For me, this is super exciting, working with B2B clients we all know that Bing tends to perform better and this will be adding on another touchpoint. Not only that, we have an opportunity to target our customers in a more specific way with their LinkedIn profiles.

Not only will LinkedIn targeting be available for MSAN campaigns, Microsoft has also announced that this will be coming soon for search campaigns as well! All the audience possibilities…

Final Thoughts

It’s an exciting time in the industry. Ad types are changing; video and display ads are being given more of an opportunity to drive conversions instead of only being thought of as upper funnel tactics. There is an increased focus on audiences; driving ads to consumers with more intent, and the use of AI learning is helping to help take platform audiences to the next level. Obviously, not all ad types will work for your company or client, but it presents us PPC geeks with a better opportunity to stop and think about who our audience really is, and to test different messaging and sources for reaching them.

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Event Recap: Thinking with Google About PPC Profitability http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/event-recap-google-ppc-profitability/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/event-recap-google-ppc-profitability/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:00:13 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65999 Common metrics used to judge the success of marketing efforts—such as cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on ad spend (ROAS)—can prove to be short-sighted and ineffective. Even though CPA, ROAS, and other front-end metrics may be what the C-Suite is used to, evolving the...

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Common metrics used to judge the success of marketing efforts—such as cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on ad spend (ROAS)—can prove to be short-sighted and ineffective. Even though CPA, ROAS, and other front-end metrics may be what the C-Suite is used to, evolving the conversation to profit-based measurement can lead to better results. Profit optimization is not as easy as flipping a switch; marketers have the challenge of sharing the message and convincing leadership that it can create results. Last week, we hosted a seminar with Nick Danford, Agency Development Manager at Google, and Maddie Cary, Point It’s Vice President of Client Services, to talk about PPC profitability.

Over the seminar’s two hours, our panelists walked participants through profit optimization from Google’s point of view, as well as the agency perspective. Nick talked about his experience as a client development and client acquisition leader, working with businesses in education, retail, and food service (among others) to implement profit optimization programs. Maddie focused on how businesses can establish a digital program focused on profit optimization and how to overcome common obstacles. Following is a selection of highlights from the conversation that we felt were too good not to share.

Why are front-end metrics less effective than they could be?

No matter the industry, every marketer wants to convert leads to customers. There is an abundant supply of data available, but it is easy to get distracted by a surplus of information that actually tells you nothing.

If your organization is measuring success only by last click attribution, you are going to encounter information gaps and decision-making problems. You won’t know what resources you spent getting to that point—the data gathering, collateral design, cost of paid advertising—just what ended up attracting a click.

Point It PPC Profitability

Profit optimization is more accurate and leads to better results

Once you can turn the organizational conversation around and help the CMO and CFO understand that metrics like CPA and ROAS don’t correlate with profit, you’ll have at least a small opening to help change mindsets and meet goals.

Profit optimization can also prove to be a useful resource for integrating your sales and marketing departments, by giving you something to measure. Maddie remarked that 59% of businesses don’t measure sales and marketing alignment at all—a major lost opportunity!

Knowing what generated leads, paired with data about what turned into leads, makes the route to conversion less likely to hit a dead end.

Digging into the data and making it work for you

The challenge many marketers face today has less to do with the availability of data and much more to do with how do interpret it, draw conclusions, establish goals, and convince the C-Suite why your strategy will work.

You’re also going to have to ask questions. Maddie shared two of her favorites:

  • “What are the things that help us drive demand?”
  • “What are the things that capture demand and help us drive profit?”

Point It PPC Profitability Digging into DataNick put it well when he explained that it takes more than the player who scores to win a basketball game. Using that comparison, he asked what would happen if only the person who scored the basket got paid. Where would that leave the other players, the coaches, the trainers, and everyone else who got the team to that point? Relying on last click attribution is like crediting only the player who scored.

Nick and Maddie stressed that there is so much more data available, and that data paints a more comprehensive picture that can point the way to profitability with the right analysis and strategy.

Using data in a versatile way can help strengthen agencies as strategic partners, Nick said. He continued, “If you understand leads in the context of profit and what they’re actually bringing you…digital marketing agencies can be even greater partners and bring more success to the challenges that your businesses are facing.”

It’s also essential to understand metrics options and how they all relate to each other. Isolated, compartmentalized metrics do no one any good. “If you’re sick of a metric, you can’t just complain about it. You have to propose another. You have to be a thought leader and propose another metric that you think is more useful to the company,” said Nick. You also are going to have to be the champion for that metric’s role in your profit optimization strategy (don’t worry—we can help).

Nick described how his team uses “client playbooks” to check in monthly on initiatives most likely to lead to profit. That allows the team to review what worked and what didn’t, while projecting ahead for the next steps with the clearest potential.

Demystifying PPC Profitability

Defining (and demystifying) “profit optimization”

Part of the goal of the webinar was to demystify the term “profit optimization.” This is just thinking about marketing differently and measuring it differently, said Nick.

He explained how the Google team worked with a CRM startup that was competing against Salesforce to move it beyond its practice of just tracking initial leads. The next question, said Nick, needed to be how to move the lead from raw to qualified. The team incorporated information into AdWords reporting, stratified it according to business size and took geo into account. Ultimately, the overall leads rose almost 10% and estimated profit grew by 43%.

Do we need to abandon organic efforts?

Short, emphatic answer: NO! Organic will always be important, but paid offers you more layers, possibilities, and options.

Paid media adds control and testing scenarios not easily available with organic media. “Organic should still be very much a part of your strategy. But paid offers a lot more levels of information to figure out how to actually maximize,” said Maddie.

Case studies make the point

Nick explains how diverse businesses can achieve profit optimization based on customized marketing approaches. A restaurant, for example, moved beyond conversions to calculate “customer match” by analyzing anonymized email data, uploading it, and segmenting the information to yield an increase of 20,000 more high-potential, high-frequency diners per month. ?

An insurance company used deep data analysis to figure out that chasing new customers was not as cost effective as developing current clients by explaining how to bundle policies. “It’s a lot easier to add in a policy than hunt for a new person,” said Nick. ??

Maddie shared an example of how she helped an e-commerce client build value by figuring out which of two campaigns was driving the most revenue per order. Always put money where the value has the most potential, she recommends. She also explained how a layered approach, breaking out campaigns and targeting based on audience size helped guide a business toward its highest projected close.

Convincing the C-Suite that PPC can be profitable

Convincing the C-Suite

At this time of high turnover for CMOs—when the CMO position is often transitioning to “Chief Strategy Officer” and the CFO has an ever-watchful eye on spending—it’s up to you as the marketing professional to position yourself as a thought leader on profit optimization and be prepared to help them understand how everyone benefits in the long run. Maddie also gave pointers for introducing profit optimization concepts gradually, to bring leaders along and get buy in more easily.

Identify activities that demonstrate value

Big or small, you need to be prepared to delineate the profit-optimization activities that will demonstrate value. Here are some reasons it’s worth choosing profit optimization over front-end metrics. ?

  • It’s more effective to focus on the right metrics at the right time than to focus on growing all things at all times
  • Traffic doesn’t matter; what matters is how you’re getting the traffic in order to drive more profit
  • C-Suite involvement is critical—but the onus falls on you to convince them
  • Organic reach still matters as part of your strategy, but paid gives more levels of data that can help you figure out how to maximize profit
  • Automation can be an asset; refining workflows can help sales teams spend time on the tasks that have the most potential to create value
  • Understanding what your manager is trying to accomplish should be a goal prior to presenting ideas for profit optimization
  • Part of your challenge as a marketing professional is packaging a new idea in a way that leadership can embrace. “Speak as if it’s the most important metric,” advised Maddie

To sum up

It’s easy to get comfortable with collecting data the way you’ve always done it: cost to acquire, ROAS, and conversions. But comfortable doesn’t equal profitable. Optimizing profit involves doing the hard work: setting up a paid search program that aligns sales and marketing; taking data from all phases of the lifecycle into account, and abandoning the old way that wasn’t working anyhow.

Flip the paid search script and get ready to measure something that really matters: your profit. ?

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Interview with Google: The Importance of Paid Search Profitability http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/interview-google-paid-search-profitability/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/interview-google-paid-search-profitability/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 17:00:02 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65966 I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Nick Danford, our guest expert at Point It’s upcoming?Thinking With Google: PPC Profitability event on the Google campus. Nick works with Google’s Global Business Organization, where he drives performance-based strategy and crafts AdWords solutions with some of...

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I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Nick Danford, our guest expert at Point It’s upcoming?Thinking With Google: PPC Profitability event on the Google campus. Nick works with Google’s Global Business Organization, where he drives performance-based strategy and crafts AdWords solutions with some of the department’s most strategic, digital agencies. I challenged him to help me understand how paid search can help a marketing department grow into a digital advisor to the larger business, and wanted to share the highlights of our conversation.

Why has PPC profitability become such a hot topic?

The market space is crowded. Everyone is trying to tie investment to results — and not just any results, but the right ones. For most companies that’s about profitability. That’s what the CMOs care about. They are the people who hold the purse strings, who are actually making the decisions, and whose jobs are on the line if business return isn’t meeting expectations. The C-suite is focused on profitability and it seems that even though advertisers have an abundance of data, it can still be challenging to follow that line of thinking for in-house marketers. That’s why it’s so critical to involve your agency in the conversations. Agencies like Point It are armed with a C-Level business point of view that can help you show the impact an individual channel, like paid search, can have on the bottom line.

Focusing on Paid Search profitability

In the past, Google has been focused on metrics other than profitability.?Was there a gap between the agency and the advertiser in how the story was told? Is that why you are focused on helping agencies craft a connection between the in-house marketers and day-to-day contacts and their stakeholders?

Drawing a clear line of value from ad to revenue is hard. I would say that everyone is still struggling to tell that story. Rarely do clients use their in-house or agency experts to the best of their ability. Oftentimes they’re thought of as money spenders and ad managers but not as strategic digital advisors. This puts courageous agencies in a position to challenge this misconception, helping them break out of the “agency-as-lead-machine” mindset, and, as we like to say here at Google, try to solve for the whole problem.

When a strategic marketer starts solving for the whole problem, they start digging deeper, asking more questions. Why are people trying to get leads? They’re trying to get leads because leads bring in revenue. How much does that lead cost? What does it bring in? Then you get into these higher level strategic business metrics like profit, but also average order value, or customer lifetime value, etc. So you’re going behind the platform and interpreting the numbers into something that a business leader is going to care about. That’s not easy.

Deciphering business intelligence from paid search takes solid business acumen, but it also takes some guts. Anyone doing that is going above and beyond what a typical ad manager is hired or expected to do. It means trying to solve for something bigger —and that’s something that not everyone is capable of doing, nor wants to do. Ideally, a company would find a marketer, a team, or an ad manager that’s going to be their guiding light. They shouldn’t just want to hire an agency or an in-house expert, but someone that’s going to help their business grow because they care about their results in the same way that leadership does.

Telling your story to the C-suite takes guts

You mentioned something earlier about it taking guts, and I think that is a really important sentiment. Telling hard truths and making recommendations based on data — not just from a statistics perspective, but from a business insights perspective — you can run into some painful blockers. When you’re doing paid search work, especially from an agency’s perspective, you’re not always connected with marketing leadership. How can an agency like ours help an ad manager, or someone who owns the PPC channel, tell the profitability story to their C-suite?

You’re right, having guts is a critical part of this process. If you’re good at your job — any job, really — you want to make a difference in your customers’ lives. You have to be willing to challenge your client, and that happens from a place born out of trust.

Whether you’re an external resource or an internal one, you have to understand what the person you’re serving needs and help them accomplish their goals. If the company’s goal is rapid growth, and your goal is to rise up in the company, connecting those dots for the the people in an organization and taking that to leadership is key to making even more magic happen for the advertiser.

But, circling back around to guts and bravery, the key is making sure these stories don’t stop at just one level in an organization. Don’t settle. Request leadership’s presence in your quarterly business reviews, and show them how you’re making an impact on their business. Make sure that leadership understands the importance of the paid search channel to their bottom line. Make sure each level of the organization understands the importance of this channel to their goals. Draw the line. It could make people uncomfortable, but it’s also the way you’re going to get recognition for key results. It’s how you’ll be included in the larger marketing strategy — or better yet, company strategy — conversation. Someone who does that well could skyrocket from a marketing manager to a strategic partner to the business.

Getting started with a profitability model

When you think about helping a company create a model that shows profitability through paid search, where do you start?

There are several things that go into it. We’re going to wave the bravery flag again here, because a lot of what you’re working with surrounds attribution strategies. And attribution is a combination of art and science. It’s based on educated assumptions, which are in turn based on existing data, which takes — you guessed it — guts to stand behind. You’ll want to make sure your measurement is as complete and accurate as possible. After that, make sure the conversion window is good, and ask yourself, “Am I capturing everything? Are there lags? Are there delays? Is that accounted for in the data I’m using to build my attribution paths?”

The next thing you’ll want to address is your attribution model. We recommend companies who are still using last-click attribution take a harder look at that. Campaigns that are truly driving value are a) going to provide you with more critical data about your customer and b) not going to offer best practice information with a last-click model. I’d say that attribution is the most crucial part of all of this, because when you have good, detailed attribution, you can accurately see which campaigns are the most profitable.

Next you’ll want to fine-tune your goals. It’s a good idea to set different goals for the different networks or devices you’re targeting — I’ve seen clients whose goals differ based on versions of their site. Their mobile site might have an email capture goal, while their desktop site is aiming to generate leads or reach a purchase goal. Once you ensure your conversions are tightly aligned with the ways you segment your audience, you can start looking more closely at your PPC account. You’ll find that account looks a lot different once you’re armed with cleaner data.

After goals you should look at conversion value. You’ll want to understand profit margin — keeping in mind that profit margin can differentiate between types of products or services, and will vary across campaigns. After you remove advertising cost, you’ll have an estimated profit for that purchase, which will allow you to look at the purchase more holistically. When your attribution is buttoned up, it’s easier to understand how each piece of the “purchase path puzzle” impacts the overall sale. For example, your display campaign might have a higher CPA, but it might also be more profitable because it touches more valuable leads on the way to converting them.

Remember: all leads are not the same. All audiences are not the same. All clicks are not the same. But going through these exercises paints a clearer picture of what’s actually driving value — unlike just looking at return on ad spend or cost for acquisition, which only shows a piece of the picture.

Gathering buy-in

Not to be blunt, but if you’re an individual contributor — or even the leadership that owns the paid search function or channel — how do you convince people that the work you need to do to spearhead profit-driven marketing is worth it?

I get this question a lot. If you put a dollar into a machine and it gives you more than a dollar back, then that’s going to be worth it. Whatever’s driving these profits — as long as you can attribute it to driving the profit — is valuable to the company.

It comes down to looking at paid search as an investment vehicle, rather than as a cost center. If you’re optimizing the metrics that matter to the leadership at your business, then the effort and the resources are worth it. If you reach a point of diminishing returns, you’ll want start optimizing — that’s something you can plan for down the road, when you’re considering long-term strategy.

I’m excited you’ll be speaking at the upcoming Thinking with Google event! What else will you share with our audience?

I’ll be talking about why this effort is worth it. We’ll talk about the benefits, and the basics that advertisers need in order to use their agency in a more strategic capacity, and about putting profitability front and center when working with your digital marketing agency.

Don’t forget to register to dig deeper! Maddie Cary, Point It’s VP of Client Services, is going to join me — and she’s whip smart. It’s going to be a really lively conversation. Plus, we’re providing a free Google Home Mini and a free continental breakfast to each person who joins us. You really can’t lose.

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Why Did They Google It in the First Place? http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/why-did-they-google-it/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/why-did-they-google-it/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 17:30:46 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65909 One of my favorite things to do lately is to ask people in the PPC world a deceptively simple question: “Why did they Google it in the first place?” I’ve been asking it all over — in one-on-one conversations with peers and in front of...

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One of my favorite things to do lately is to ask people in the PPC world a deceptively simple question: “Why did they Google it in the first place?” I’ve been asking it all over — in one-on-one conversations with peers and in front of crowds (including during a presentation at the 2018 Hero Conference in Austin, Texas). The purpose of the question is to dig into what to do when you’re facing an overcrowded market and are having a hard time growing your search program, specifically your branded search.

I’ll admit, it’s a leading question. When I ask it, I’m trying to drive people toward understanding three major points:

  1. How to grow branded search through GDN, YouTube, and Paid Social
  2. How to allocate budget effectively across the different tactics, and
  3. How to convince key stakeholders to buy in, whether they are clients or bosses

Branded search: you’re doing it wrong

When I embark upon this conversation, I start by getting more specific with my questions: Why do people search for your brand in the first place? What caused them to do it? What was their motivation? (Nobody raises an eyebrow when an actor asks for a character’s motivation, and it works well in this situation, too.)

The answers I get are usually varied but — unsurprisingly — all revolve around search-based efforts.

That’s when I take the opportunity to let them know that they’re thinking incorrectly about search. (This was especially fun at Hero Conference. Telling a room full of professionals they’re flat-out wrong is something everyone should try once.) Search doesn’t create demand; it captures demand. Search is the troll under the bridge capturing the water running off the top, but it didn’t make it rain in the first place. We have to remember that the most important part of our titles as digital marketers is the second word: marketers.

Searchers have got to want it

Why Did They Google It Blog - search iconMarketing is a lot like a relationship/friendship. As I mused in another blog, you wouldn’t walk up to the most attractive person at the bar and lead off with “will you marry me?” You have to get to know them. Learn about what makes them tick. Marketing is the same concept. You can’t just say “buy my product, please!” We have to give them a reason to want to buy our product.

How do we do that in markets that are getting more and more crowded? Let’s face it, most of us have small budgets. We’re all facing high competition. Non-brand terms get more and more expensive every year. And — for good or ill — we’re not all working for the Apples and the Microsofts of the world, so our brand visibility is often low.

What if I told you there was a way you could increase new users to your site by 100% and conversions by 40%? Yes, I know… you’re getting really excited. An though it may sound like it, this isn’t a gimmick or a too-good-to-be-true moment. What if I went further and said it could be done by leveraging your existing platforms?

Leveraging your existing platforms to grow branded search

Here’s how we go about it. First, we look at the GDN. Which, according to AdStage, saw 40% lower CPCs than search in Q4 of 2017. Then we look at YouTube, which has over 1 billion people using the platform — or one third of the Internet, for those of you counting at home. Finally, we look at Facebook, which has over 2 billion users/two thirds of the Internet. (Side note, all that fear of people leaving Facebook because of its recent issues was clearly overblown, considering Facebook actually reported growth in daily users when they reported their earnings).

So why these platforms? Why not one of the other, fancier options? Simply put, these tactics are already viewed as PPC. GDN and YouTube are both available in AdWords. Facebook is typically viewed as PPC, with a lot of advertisers doing both AdWords and Facebook. There’s no surprise that it’s easier to allocate budget to these efforts since it doesn’t have to come from a different source. Also, since these options are being used by many search marketers already, people already feel like they understand the tactics and they aren’t as “scary” as programmatic. Attribution is “cleaner,” because you can utilize AdWords and Google Analytics to determine performance. Finally, it’s cost effective. CPCs and CPMs are cheaper on these platforms.

Then we talked about “Why Video?” Because let’s be honest, video sounds SOOO expensive. But, did you know that 45% of people watch more than an hour of FB and YouTube videos a week? Or that one third of all online activity is spent watching videos? Still not convinced? Well what if I told you that viewers retain 95% of a message in a video compared to text? If none of that was enough to convince you, keep in mind that social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. Plenty of reasons ?to invest in video! Pro tip: Google offers a service called “Director Onsite” where they will send a team from Google to your client to help create a video with high quality production. The cost? $350 of ad spend when the video is complete. That’s it. No strings attached.

Here’s a real-life example of how this can work

Why Did They Google It Blog - bright ideaI’ve seen this strategy succeed in my work with clients at Point It. Without naming names, here’s a recap of the client’s challenges that we needed to solve:

  • Non-brand CPCs ~$10
  • CPA goal of $100
  • Competitors with +10x budgets
  • 8 competitors bidding on brand terms
  • Non-brand impression share <10%

That’s a tough situation. In order to break even on non-brand terms, we’d have to get a purchase every 10 clicks. (If you know someone who can get a non-brand purchase every 10 clicks, I want to meet them. I’m not kidding.)

Our hypothesis for the client was that if we?turned off non-brand search and focused on an upper funnel branding strategy, we could increase overall traffic, plus branded search and improve CPA without sacrificing conversion volume.

Here’s what we did. We utilized YouTube TrueView videos because you only pay if the user clicks or watches 30-seconds — resulting in a lot of free branding. Then we used GDN placements on websites and in Gmail. Finally, we used Facebook video views to optimize toward video views, allowing us to create audiences based off time spent watching our videos.

Within GDN and YouTube we utilized custom affinity audiences which factors in consumers most recent passions and ongoing interests. We also utilized custom intent audiences, which is people who are in-market for and interested in buying products similar to ours. Finally, we used lookalike/similar audiences to find potential customers that are like ours.

So what were the results? (After all, we’re PPC marketers. We want the data.) When comparing Q1 to Q4 (seasonality is not a factor):

  • We spent 11% less
  • We saw a 43% increase in transactions (within Google CPC and Bing CPC in GA), and
  • We saw 145% increase in new users through Google and Bing CPC.

Are you kidding me?! That’s killer, if I do say so myself. And I do!

Allocating budget effectively

So back to my second objective with this line of conversation: figuring out how to spend the money. I recommend starting with what you’ve got, and let the data guide your decision. You’ll first want to start by fully funding your branded search if you aren’t already. It doesn’t matter if you increase demand for your brand if you don’t have the budget to capture the increase.

In terms of the tactics that you’ll be utilizing, split the budget evenly to start. You don’t know what’s going to work best yet, so collect some data before determining your tactic. Then, run it for two weeks before you make any decisions, collecting statistically significant data if you can. Then, adjust your budget based on your KPIs and whichever is helping to drive the best results.

Don’t forget to utilize click-assisted and view-through conversions. These are display tactics after all, so if you’re evaluating performance on a last-click model, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Convincing stakeholders to buy in

Why Did They Google It Blog - chattingI know, I know. You’re probably thinking “My boss/client will never sign off on this!” I’m not saying you’re wrong, but, you’re wrong. (Wow, that gets easier every time I say it!) Sometimes getting buy-in happens by starting small. Propose a test, and be brave about it. (There’s a common misconception among marketers: that all tests have to succeed. That just isn’t true. Even if something isn’t a success, you still learned from it and got better at what you do.)

Then, use the data you gather to support your decision. Show your stakeholders the market place, show them how it’s crowded. Show them that that they can get branding for an efficient cost in other channels. Tell them that it’s a chance to innovate. It’s my experience that managers and clients love innovating, being the first to do something — especially if their competitors aren’t doing it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. Again, it’s just a test, not a long-term commitment. The worst thing that might happens is that you try it and it doesn’t work out. Even if that comes to pass, now you have data to support other decisions later on down the line.

Your turn

The best part of having this conversation with people is trading stories and learning from each other’s experiences. Now that you’ve heard my side of the story, I’d love to hear from you, too. What are some ways you’re raising brand awareness and fighting the expensive and crowded markets?

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Are Robots Coming for Our Jobs? Three Ways to Stay Relevant in the Age of Machine Learning http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/are-robots-coming-for-our-jobs-stay-relevant-machine-learning/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/are-robots-coming-for-our-jobs-stay-relevant-machine-learning/#comments Thu, 10 May 2018 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65881 In the last 24 hours, I’ve said the following three things at least once: “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like today?” “Hey Siri, give me directions to get home.” “Alexa, add coffee to my shopping list.” I can’t even turn on my living...

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In the last 24 hours, I’ve said the following three things at least once: “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like today?” “Hey Siri, give me directions to get home.” “Alexa, add coffee to my shopping list.” I can’t even turn on my living room lights without yelling for Alexa’s help — and I know I’m not unique in this.

Machine learning is everywhere. As paid search marketers, we’ve read article upon article and sat through countless conference sessions about how we should be utilizing machine learning in our optimization of accounts. We all know that publishers are investing countless dollars into creating and improving all of their automated solutions. Automated bidding, scripts, custom audiences, dynamic search ads, and suggested ad copy fill our working days. As we deal more and more with automation, it’s easy to wonder where the limits of its reach are.

So are robots coming for our jobs? I’ve heard many answers to this question. Some marketers think “Automation can’t do what I do. I’ll never be automated out of my job.” And to those people I say: you’re wrong.

Now, let me clarify my position. Will a fully automated account ever perform as well as an account that’s constantly receiving optimizations, testing, expansions and overall PPC TLC? Absolutely not. However, can a junior marketer with a year or two under their belt have some pretty decent performance with the help of automation (and likely at a much cheaper cost than us lifers)? Well… Still no. Not yet. But I’ll bet you the whole 2.1% of a Bitcoin that I own that they will be able to soon – and maybe sooner than you think. It’s coming fast.

So how do we combat this dystopian future and keep our (human) selves from obsolescence? I’m so glad you asked.

1. Utilize machine learning and work smarter, not harder

Robot icon machine learningFirst of all, save yourself some time. The best way for digital marketers to begin getting ahead of the machine learning wave is to embrace it. Publishers have spent the last few years investing in machine learning, and it’s important for us to evolve with them in order to stay relevant.

If you haven’t started really utilizing these automated features, there are endless resources to help you get your feet wet (I recommend these two lists from some of my favorite PPCers: “Amazing Automated PPC Rules You Must Use” and “5 Ways To Automate More Of Your PPC This Year”). If you’re looking for important (but general) areas of focus, I’d start with the following:

2. Take the PPC hat off, put the marketing hat on

The real fun begins once you’ve automated some of the tactical work it takes to manage an account. I’ve been throwing this saying around a lot lately, and I think it’s the best advice I can give anyone: “Be a marketer, not a paid search marketer.” Paid search is a mature channel and most of your clients (or internal stakeholders) will understand the basic concept of search queries driving to keywords driving to ads. Focusing on these simple things does not provide value.

Take a step back. Look at the forest, not the needles. How does paid search feed into the overall marketing program? How can you share learnings from other channels such as email or traditional advertising to further integrate paid search into their program? Since our client base tends to skew more B2B, it is part of our DNA to partner with our client’s creative marketing department to make sure we’re incorporating our paid search strategy with their lead nurturing strategy and effectively guide users down the funnel.

Paid search is so much more than just bidding on keywords. It’s all about capturing existing demand. Marketing teams put so much time and effort into driving demand for their business using a wide variety of tactics, and it’s our job as digital marketers to make use of that demand to drive results for our clients and fill their pipelines.

3. Embrace your inner storyteller

Controversial statement time: digital marketers suck at storytelling.

Of course we do! We’re a bunch of type-A personalities who love data, Excel, and other business intelligence tools. We can’t help ourselves. That’s what it took to get into digital marketing ten, or five, or even three years ago.

Today, the game has completely changed. Now that advertisers have an understanding of how paid search works, they don’t want to talk about CTR or CPCs or quality score. They want to talk about how the money they’ve invested has impacted their business. I’m certainly not saying you should completely forego your weekly/monthly reporting, but I am saying to shift how you talk about it. Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite.

It is our job as digital marketers to talk about how digital is impacting the business. So learn to do just that, but in a much broader sense. Don’t simply talk about an increase in conversions or an increase in revenue — work with your team to find ways to connect that to business profit.

To sum up

Overall, machine learning isn’t coming to take our jobs. It’s coming to save us time so we can be better at our jobs. Machines will never be able to have high-level, C-Suite focused strategy conversations. So the more we learn to work with it and flex those muscles now, the more prepared we will be once the robots actually end up taking over — I mean… becoming an even larger part of our everyday life and work.

If I leave you with one thing, let it be this: embrace change. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Your clients and internal stakeholders will respect you for it.

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Five Key Issues Every CMO Should Consider About a Paid Search Audit http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/five-key-issues-cmo-consider-paid-search-audit/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/five-key-issues-cmo-consider-paid-search-audit/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 15:25:56 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65796 If you type the term “paid search audit” into the search engine of your choice, the results will be an inundation of blog post upon blog post upon webinar upon whitepaper about how to execute paid search audits. You’ll even notice many agencies out there...

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If you type the term “paid search audit” into the search engine of your choice, the results will be an inundation of blog post upon blog post upon webinar upon whitepaper about how to execute paid search audits. You’ll even notice many agencies out there advertising “Free Audit!” The quantity of information is overwhelming — but you’ll quickly notice that the amount of quality information leaves something to be desired.?I’m here to help guide you through these muddy waters. I want to talk about five key issues to consider when thinking about paid search audits, and how to weigh the benefits of having a third party execute your audits.

1. Full, actionable audits are not free

Blog: Five Key Issues Every CEO Should Consider Should Consider About a Paid Search AuditAs I mentioned above, there are plenty of advertising agencies out there providing free audits. And while yes, the audits they provide are free (though typically not very detailed), they come with a hidden agenda. These companies want your paid search business.

The value you’re going to get from an audit really comes down to the intention behind the audit. These tend to fall in two buckets:

  • Companies that want to steal your business. These audits are going to provide you with details around what you’re doing wrong without looking at the bigger picture or your bigger business opportunities.
  • Companies that want to help you improve your business. These audits are made for your team to take action on. They’re a bit slower and a bit more thought-out to help you and your team drive improved results for your business.

If you’re happy with your current agency — or even if you have a in-house team that you trust, but are looking to identify additional growth opportunities — go with the latter. You will not receive a “free” audit, but you will receive a full analysis of your account and strategy with action items for your team, without the pressure of someone trying to take your business.

2. A comprehensive audit is more than just checking for best practices.

Typically when people think about paid search audits, they think about making sure that best practices are covered, features are being fully utilized, etc. I think audits go a bit deeper than that.

Knowing and following best practices is one aspect of a comprehensive audit, but that’s definitely not the single factor that will drive improved results for your business. Full, comprehensive audits should contain:

  • A best practice review including a look at your account structure, conversion measurements, and feature adoption
  • A performance analysis of your targeting performance analysis, messaging, and landing page(s)
  • An advanced analysis of your audience(s) and upper funnel and testing strategies

3. There’s more to a paid search audit than just looking in AdWords

While Google AdWords is typically where advertisers spend the bulk of their budgets, there are many other platform opportunities out there. A paid search audit can help you uncover opportunities in other platforms such as Bing Ads, Yahoo Gemini, and YouTube.

Beyond identifying opportunities across platforms, a paid search audit can help you uncover issues with:

  • Google AdWords and Google Analytics integration
  • Google AdWords’ integration with your backend CRM
  • Google AdWords’ integration with third party tools (including call tracking tools, LP testing tools, etc.)
  • Any third party bidding platform integration

4. Not just anyone can execute an unbiased, actionable audit

It’s likely that whoever is running your paid search efforts is doing a great job. You probably have full trust in all the work they’re doing, and that’s great! That’s also the exact reason they are not the person or team you want to execute an audit on your account.

A truly unbiased review of your paid search efforts needs to be executed by someone who isn’t close to the account. This unbiased review gives an opportunity for real growth opportunities to shine and real cost efficiency wins to show themselves.

Hiring an agency to execute your audit not only provides this unbiased look, but also allows you to take advantage of that agency’s years of experience. You’ll benefit from the wins and learnings they’ve had with other clients — something an in-house resource just can’t provide.

5. Don’t only seek an audit when you’re unhappy with results

Every single company can benefit from a paid search audit. Even if you have a team of experienced digital marketers running a program that is driving great results for your business, you’re still not an exception to this rule.

If you’re seeing great results in your current efforts, an unbiased paid search audit will identify how you can do more of the things that are working — and fewer of the things that are not. A full audit will also help dictate future strategy, and taking advantage of an agency’s experience to build a testing plan will help you drive even better results that what you’re seeing now.

However, if you are unhappy with results, or you suspect that there might be some additional untapped opportunity — that’s even more of a reason to get a paid search audit. You want to make sure you invest in a fully comprehensive audit that is not only actionable, strategic and looks deeper than simply your AdWords account — but that is executed by an organization with a depth of experience across verticals and across industries.

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Five Key Insights to End your Frustration with Paid Search http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/five-key-insights-end-frustration-paid-search/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/five-key-insights-end-frustration-paid-search/#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2018 17:00:59 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65800 At any given moment, most PPC programs are wasting up to 30% of their budget. Many people feel the frustration associated with trying to make PPC work for them — and perhaps you feel their pain. Point It’s President Frank Coyle weighs in to offer...

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At any given moment, most PPC programs are wasting up to 30% of their budget. Many people feel the frustration associated with trying to make PPC work for them — and perhaps you feel their pain. Point It’s President Frank Coyle weighs in to offer five key insights (and related recommendations) to help end your frustration with paid search.

1. Every time someone clicks on your ad, Google makes money. Do you?

If you take nothing else from this article, that one question should be at the heart of your thoughts on Paid Search.

Adwords is fantastic for generating sales or leads. It’s also a very powerful, advanced platform to manage — so unless someone is managing it full-time, it’s tough to stay on top of.

When we look at PPC accounts, it’s disheartening to see how much money is being wasted. Reasons for waste vary, but often include incorrect settings, wrong keywords, and irrelevant ads. Frankly, Adwords has so many levers to pull and bells to ring that unless you have someone dedicated to staying on top of things, it is not uncommon to see up to 30% of the PPC budget being wasted.

Recommendation: Once a year, get an independent evaluation of your PPC account. This isn’t meant to be a threat or an insult to whoever is in charge of your day-to-day Adwords management. It’s a way to put fresh eyes on your strategy with the aim of increasing the program’s performance and cutting wasted efforts.

2. If your PPC program isn’t focused on profitability, it’s missing the point.

Few companies today realize that using profitability as a KPI for Adwords is a game changer. Once you know how much profit a sale or a lead can generate for your business, you are in the sweet spot for Adwords because you’ll know how much to spend each month in order to hit profitability targets.

What happens when you don’t know how profitable a sale is, or don’t want to share that information with your PPC agency? Just use an estimate instead. The point of this exercise is to encourage your marketing manager to adopt a more business-focused approach, letting your PPC person worry about the nuts and bolts of Adwords instead.

Recommendation: Think profitability, and you’ll be one step ahead of your competition.

3. Not seeing your PPC ads showing on Google? Quit worrying and ask these questions instead.

We frequently get emails from clients because the CEO is on their case after they googled some keyword and the ads weren’t showing. If this sounds familiar to you, here are three common reasons your ads aren’t showing — and what you should know:

  • The ads may not be scheduled to run at the time you are doing the search. For example, we only run ads between 8AM and 5PM for many of our IT clients, because results have proven it to be unprofitable to run ads outside those hours.
  • The ads may not be running where you are currently located. Let’s say you run a hotel business in Seattle, but searched for your keyword while you are visiting Los Angeles. If you googled “Seattle downtown hotel” your ad may not show because it’s not targeted for the L.A. area.
    The daily budget may have been used up. Adwords lets you spread the budget evenly over the day, or lets it be used up as people click on ads.
  • Your budget could be used up by two in the afternoon, or by even late morning. Your PPC manager will be aware of this. Don’t worry without cause: off the bat, it’s impossible to say whether the situation is good or bad without deeper investigation.

Recommendation: My advice when ads don’t show? Don’t assume something is wrong. Use it as an opportunity to talk with your marketing manager and understand the nuances of the Paid Search Account. It’s good for the blood pressure!

4. Being in first place on Google is not a strategy. It’s often a complete waste of money.

“My CEO insists we get to the number one slot!” Oh, how I cringe when we get that message from a client. Here’s what you should know about Adwords: it helps you figure out the most profitable position for your keywords. It’s really, really, good at doing that. And guess what? The most profitable place is rarely the first position.

Think about the last time you searched on Google to buy something or schedule a trip. Did you buy from the first Google ad? Probably not, because we all like to do a lot of research before purchasing.
More often than not, it’s a waste of money being at number one. That doesn’t mean that it is never a good strategy, but you just don’t know until you see the data.

Recommendation: Let Adwords and your marketing manager figure out what position is best for your keywords… not you.

5. Every year, Google makes dozens of changes to Adwords. Here’s how to keep up.

Even if you’re spending $20,000 a month on Adwords, missing out on new features (or incorrectly using existing ones) can have a significant impact on your business. And if you’re spend is over $100,000 a month, you have a lot to lose if your team isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Here are a few ways to avoid the big misses:

  • Make sure your PPC manager gets a lot of training. Sending them to conferences is not an expense, it’s an investment.
  • Don’t rely on just one person doing PPC. Have a back-up person on the team as well. If your expert leaves, all that knowledge leaves with them.
  • Consider having a PPC audit done once a year. Talk with people who live and breathe Adwords to make sure your team is truly up to speed.

Recommendation: Consider a PPC Audit once a year . It will save you money and identify gaps for your PPC team to work on and grown your account.

The post Five Key Insights to End your Frustration with Paid Search appeared first on Point It.

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WIN/FAIL: Social Advertising Strategies That Work (Plus Some That Don’t) http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/win-fail-social-advertising-strategies-that-work-plus-some-that-dont/ http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/blog/win-fail-social-advertising-strategies-that-work-plus-some-that-dont/#respond Wed, 25 Apr 2018 17:00:49 +0000 http://www.ruffrhythmz.com/?p=65716 Social advertising may feel as devoid of rules as the Wild West — and in a way that’s part of its appeal: the limited predictability, the need to constantly reinvent your approach, the “shoot first, gather metrics later” attitude that drives innovation. But even us...

The post WIN/FAIL: Social Advertising Strategies That Work (Plus Some That Don’t) appeared first on Point It.

Social advertising may feel as devoid of rules as the Wild West — and in a way that’s part of its appeal: the limited predictability, the need to constantly reinvent your approach, the “shoot first, gather metrics later” attitude that drives innovation. But even us thrill-seeking A/B testers need somewhere to start and a way to hedge our bets when devising a social strategy. As someone who spends most of my waking hours immersed in the world of social advertising, sometimes it feels like I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in-between. I’d like to share some insights about social advertising strategies that work (plus some that don’t) to help you make informed choices when crafting your own strategy.

Put your efforts where your users are — but choose wisely

Let’s start by talking about who’s using which platforms, and how often, and why.WIN-FAIL social strategies


Even with all of the upheaval it’s faced recently, Facebook still dominates the social media landscape — both for users and for advertisers. With 1.4 billion daily active users, and over 2 billion active monthly users, there’s no doubt that putting your ad on Facebook will get it in front of more eyes than any other platform. Even if all of America stopped using Facebook (which they won’t), they would still have over a billion daily users! 88% of 18-29 year olds (and even 62% of those 65 and older) use Facebook on a daily basis. But as any advertiser worth their salt will tell you, exposure alone won’t immediately correlate to conversions: only 32% of users engage with brands regularly, and 40% have never liked a business page

Still, advertising on Facebook makes sense for a lot of organizations. Why? Because we’re marketers. We forget that the most important part about our titles as Digital Marketers is that we’re marketers. Our job is to brand users, to get them excited about what we’re doing. Facebook allows you to do that. You can find success in almost any industry, because at the end of the day, your customers are there. It’s a question of right message, right place, right time.


LinkedIn’s audience looks small when compared to Facebook’s: “only” 500 million accounts, 250 million of whom are monthly users, and only 40% those log in on a daily basis. LinkedIn’s roots as an online resume platform means it can be easy to assume it’s a little less “social” and a lot more “network,” but it’s important not to dismiss its reach. LinkedIn is the most used social platform amongst Fortune 500 companies; 61 million users are senior-level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions — including 11 million Millennials in decision-making positions.

LinkedIn is a great place to be for B2B advertisers who want to reinforce their credibility by ushering users to quality content through targeted ads. It can also be a great place for higher education due to its rich data surrounding careers and education. LinkedIn is definitely pricey, so it’s best served when you have a product with a higher lifetime value. They are constantly updating and improving though, so it’s getting easier to measure results. ?


Twitter’s smaller numbers (330 million active monthly users) belie its power as the hive brain of humanity. Its users are extremely active, tweeting hundreds of millions of times a day and generating over 2 billion search queries a day. Combine that with the fact 28% of Twitter users are college-educated and one third also report earning over $75,000 annually, you end up with a an intellectually curious, technology-savvy audience for your ad content. This makes Twitter a great platform for small- and medium-sized business who are looking to build brand awareness and loyalty: 69% of users have purchased from an SMB because of something they saw on Twitter, and a third of users amplify SMB messages by retweeting.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make with Twitter is that they want last click conversions out of the platform. I want to be able lose weight and eat cake, but those two things don’t go hand in hand. Twitter is great for brand awareness and engagement (just look at Wendy’s as an example). You have to treat the platform for what it is. If you don’t have discretionary funds for building your brand (you definitely should make the case for them if you don’t have them), then Twitter probably isn’t your jam. That doesn’t mean it’s ineffective though.

What’s working for social advertisers (try these things)

After drinking from that fire hose of statistics, you may well ask: “OK, but beyond the platforms, what’s really working? Where should I direct my energy?” And I’ll come back with (an irritatingly predictable), “It depends.” It sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true. How you build your strategy depends on so much: your resources, your industry, your style, your audience, your voice, how established your brand is… Variables aside, though, here are some tactics I’ve seen that make the difference in a successful social advertising strategy.WIN-FAIL social strategies

Keep Facebook in your plans, but don’t stop there

95% of marketers still say that Facebook produces the best ROI for their advertising dollars. This is where Facebook’s reach and enormity can work in your favor: even if its engagement percentages are lower, volume alone is on your side when dealing with Facebook ads. Twitter is the second most valued platform among marketers and advertisers, with 63% reporting best ROI, followed by Instagram at 40% and LinkedIn at 38%. Bottom line? Facebook’s still the dominant force for social advertising but be sure to know your audience and diversify your approach accordingly. I never suggest putting all of your eggs in one basket, especially in an age where new technologies and platforms are popping up all the time. It’s important to remain agile.

Take the high road with your messaging

It’s tempting to fall back on product comparisons (and the between-the-lines smack talk they insinuate) when you’re trying to stand out in the sea of social ads. But public trust in businesses is at an all-time low; comparisons give your competition air time and can make you look petty. Use your messaging to establish trustworthiness and indispensability by focusing on three other tactics: featuring customer reviews, your brand story, and how you solve your customers’ issues. Think about your own life. Do you like being hit over the head with the hard sell all the time? No! you want to be wooed and won over.

Post at the times your audience is ready to engage

Users engage differently with platforms at different times of the day and week, so it only makes sense to adjust your ads accordingly. 80% of the US population runs on Eastern Standard Time, so scheduling on EST (no matter where you are located) is wise. Facebook users are most active Thursday through Sunday (and click the most at 3 PM); Twitter users are 181% more likely to be active during their commute; LinkedIn users (professionals to the end) are most active before and after work. This is where analytics are your friend: figure out when your users are most active and plan accordingly.

Keep it visual

At this point in history, this should go without saying: your ads must be visual. Image posts get 179% more interaction than average Facebook post; LinkedIn posts with images receive 200% more engagement than text-only posts; tweets with images see an 18% higher click-through rate than those without — and tweets with videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than tweets with photos.

Take advantage of the most profitable ways to advertise

LinkedIn’s Account Targeting allows your message to reach specific individuals within a list of organizations in their database, making it a strong contributor to the 30% increase in CTR across LinkedIn’s retargeting options. Facebook retargeting delivers 21 times the CTR, a 79% lower CPC, and a 63% lower CPA than standard retargeting. Giant neon signs say: DO THIS.

Find your own angle

There are some industries that just seem to be made for social media: marketing (84% of marketers have integrated their social media and traditional marketing activities), food and beverage (8 out of 10 restaurants either use or plan to use social as a key marketing tool), and even education (57% of colleges use social media as a key component of fundraising). But that doesn’t mean the benefits of social are off-limits to those whose industries are less obviously suited to it. Take heart: if the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and finance industries are finding their footing with social, there’s room for everyone to reap the benefits.

What’s not working (“strategies” to avoid)

OK, now for the reality check. Crafting a successful strategy is sometimes as much about knowing what to avoid as it is about what to pursue. There’s lots of ways to do social advertising right, but there are still some pitfalls that you should take pains to avoid. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of a few “strategies” (I use that word loosely) to steer clear of.WIN-FAIL social strategies

Avoiding channel diversification

In 2012, the average internet user had three social media accounts–now that average is closer to seven accounts. This means that it’s important to leverage multiple channels to reach your customers with a message that feels consistent and cohesive. That said, every channel has its own best practices and requirements, so expecting to produce one ad and have it work across platforms is unrealistic. Set aside the time and resources to modify your message to meet the needs of each specific channel.

Relying too much on emotional appeal

While establishing an emotional connection between your brand and your customers is vital for brand positioning, it may not be the best approach when it comes to advertising. One study reported that only 20% of Facebook posts generate an emotional response—and zero of those were paid or branded messages, they were personal content. So don’t worry too much about going for the emotional approach with your social ad content. Instead, strive to stand out by being memorable in other ways: funny, helpful, or even shocking—as long as your content is in line with your brand voice and message. ??

Using static and non-personalized ads

Let me put this bluntly: people are more likely to survive a plane crash than they are to click on a banner ad. If you want more concrete statistics to back that up, 86% of Internet users suffer from “banner blindness” and, even back in 2014, the CTR on banner ads was only 0.1%. The solution? Find ways to make your ads more personal and dynamic. Facebook Dynamic Ads are a great place to start. They give you the ability to test a multitude of different texts, headlines, images, and CTAs. This is a great way to test out all possible combinations of your perfectly crafted copy without having to spend months testing each thing separately.

Targeting by sexual orientation

Targeting people by orientation always walked the line of questionable strategy, but now Facebook has eliminated the option entirely with the aim of preventing discrimination. Honestly, this shouldn’t matter much—successful social ad strategies should always be guided by well-defined customer personas for your target audience(s), and those personas must be driven by more than a single factor.

To sum up

There’s no perfect formula that will spell success for everyone when it comes to paid social. Keep the above points in mind as you begin to narrow down what works for you, your business, and your audience — but above all, never stop looking for new ways to address the challenges you face… then test, measure, iterate, and repeat! Remember, there’s no such thing as a failed test. Why? No matter what the outcome, you learned something and got that much better.

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