analytics

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Ad Customizers to Personalize Your Google Search Ads

What are ad customizers?

Though we are constantly testing ad copy, it’s not feasible to manually create hundreds of variants to ensure we are showing the most relevant ad to each and every searcher. Fortunately, Google offers tools that allow us to create text ads that update dynamically based on the terms someone is searching, his location, day of the week, device & more at a large scale. When using customizers, be mindful that your ad copy allows for the additional characters the customizer generates and stays within Google’s character limits

When and how to use ad customizers

Countdown ads allow you to include a real-time event countdown in your ads. The counter will count down by days, hours, then minutes to the event and can appear in any headline or description. Countdown ads are useful for creating a sense of urgency around sales, holidays, and deadlines, which can improve conversion rate and conversion volume. To create a countdown ad, type “{“ where you want the countdown to appear & select “Countdown” from the dropdown menu. Fill in the start & end dates, time zone, and language, then save. The countdown customizer will appear in your ad as {=COUNTDOWN(“YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS”,”language”,daysBefore)}. GLOBAL_COUNTDOWN displays the same count across time zones. A florist might include the countdown “Order Now, Only {=COUNTDOWN(“2019/5/12 00:00:00”,”en-US”,10)} Until Mother’s Day!” in her ad copy, which will appear to a searcher as “Order Now, Only 10 Days Until Mother’s Day!” Countdown ads automatically end when the countdown is over, so make sure you have at least one static ad in each ad group.

Keyword insertion makes ads more relevant by inserting the keyword that matched to a searcher’s query into your ad copy. For example, if your ad group includes the keywords plumber, best plumber, commercial plumber, and emergency plumber, your ad copy will show best plumber to people who search “best plumber” and emergency plumber to people who search for “emergency plumber”, etc. To use dynamic keyword insertion in your ads, type “{“ where you want your keyword to appear and select Keyword insertion from the dropdown menu. Fill in the default text field and select your capitalization. A title case keyword will show as “{KeyWord:Default Text}” in your ad copy. When a keyword is too long to be inserted, your default text will show instead. You can also enter create ads with dynamic keyword insertion manually by typing {KeyWord:Default Text} directly in your ad copy. Capitalize “keyword” based on the case you want to use. Make sure this capitalization is consistent with the rest of your ad copy. Now, when a customer uses one of your keywords in their search, Google Ads automatically replaces the code with the keyword that triggered your ad.

Be careful not to use dynamic keyword insertion on competitor ad groups & make sure that your keywords are short enough to be inserted. Otherwise, your ads will serve with your generic default text, instead of the relevant keyword.

IF functions insert text based on audience or device and are useful for remarketing and device specific offers or CTAs. To use an IF function, type “{“ where you want your message to appear and select IF function from the dropdown menu. Then, select your condition. Choose Device to customize your ad copy for mobile devices or Audience to customize your message based on the audience the searcher belongs to. In the THEN box, type a customized message for your mobile users or chosen audience. In the OTHERWISE box, enter your default ad text. The IF function will appear in your ad as {=IF(Condition,insert text):default text}.

A college enrollment campaign might use a device IF function to drive calls from mobile users, while directing desktop users to an online registration form: “Visit State College {=IF(device=mobile,Call Today to Schedule a Tour.):Register for a Campus Tour Online.}.” Mobile users will see “Visit State College. Call Today to Schedule A Tour” while desktop users will see “Visit State College. Register for a Campus Tour Online.

eCommerce advertisers can use audience IF functions to drive revenue through remarketing by showing a special discount to cart abandoners and standard ad copy to everyone else. For example “Save {=IF(audience IN(cart abandoners),25%):10%} Sitewide.” Cart abandoners will see an ad that says “Save 25% Sitewide” while all other audiences will be given a reduced discount with “Save 10% Sitewide.”

Ad customizers allow you to tailor your ad copy to the context of a searcher’s query by any attribute of your choosing based on a feed of your business data, including geo, keyword, ad group, product type and more. You can upload feeds in Google Ads under Settings > Business Data. You can schedule regular feed uploads to make sure your business data is up to date. Google Ads even offers an ad customizer data template to help you get started. As with dynamic keyword insertion and IF functions, ad customizers allow you to set default text for your attributes in case the data from the feed pushes your copy beyond Google’s character limits. Once the feed is uploaded, you can insert customizers into your ad by typing where feedName is the name of your feed and colName is the column in the feed you are pulling data from.

One attribute you can use an ad customizer for, target location, is especially useful for advertisers who have multiple store locations. Target location customizers update your ad based on the location of a searcher or the location a searcher is interested in. A paint store with over 50 locations across multiple states can easily create ad copy that is relevant to local searchers without manually writing the store location into multiple ads with “Find the Perfect Latex Paint at Your Interior Paint Store.” They also allow the campaign to scale with ease as new locations open.

Experiment with different ad customizers as part of your ad copy testing to see what performs best. You can also apply learnings from your customizers to your static ads. Ad customizers are a powerful tool for managing ad copy at scale and can help you show the most relevant ads to searchers.

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

What In-Market Audiences Are And How To Use Them

Search advertisers have an array of audience targeting options at their disposal. They can remarket with RLSA, reach current customers with Customer Match, prospect with Similar Audiences, or narrow their reach with demographic targeting. Google Ads also offers a newer targeting tool, In-Market Audiences for Search, that allows advertisers to reach users at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Google classifies searchers as in-market for a variety of products and services ranging from “Motor Vehicles By Brand” to “Gyms & Athletic Clubs” to “Strollers & Baby Carriages” to “Moving & Relocation” - over 170 audiences overall. In-Market audiences allow you to target users whose search & browsing behavior indicate they are actively researching & considering buying, or “in-market” for, your products or services. Targeting audiences with a high purchase intent can drive conversions & help reduce wasted spend. In-Market audiences, which are also available in Microsoft Ads, can be added at the campaign or ad group level.

If you’re unsure which In-Market audiences are most valuable to your business, use Google Ad’s Audience Insights or Google Analytics to find valuable, data-based information on who your customers are and how they compare to the average searcher. Insights are available in Google Ads when at least one of your audience lists includes 1000+ people. An auto dealer client, for example, can reach an audience of 25 to 30 million searchers in-market for “Vans & Minivans”  who are 18.6x more likely to convert than the average searcher. This makes sense, however some highly indexed audiences for the same account are less straightforward: those In-Market for “Camping & Hiking Equipment” are 11.6x more likely & those In-Market for “Fireplaces” are 14.2x more likely to convert than the average user.

After deciding which In-Market audiences to test, apply them across your campaigns or ad groups on Observation (Bid-Only) mode. Applying your audiences on Observation mode ensures you can gather data on the In-Market audiences you’ve applied without restricting your campaign targeting. Once your In-Market audiences have gathered enough data in Observation mode, you should have a good idea of which In-Market audiences are driving conversions relative to your account’s overall audience, and can adjust bids up or down based on performance. You can leverage your findings across the Google Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, and Search. Bid these audiences up on search, or create a video or display campaign targeting only the users in your top In-Market audiences. Continue to monitor & analyze audience performance, as it may vary across campaigns & channels. In-Market audiences are a powerful targeting tool that every search marketer should be testing.

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Google Tools To Understand Your Audience

As digital advertisers, we are constantly trying to determine the optimal targeting for our SEM efforts. Understanding your customer personas, the profiles that represent your ideal customers, will help you tailor your digital marketing efforts and set your campaign targeting effectively.

While there are a handful of methods you can use to understand your customer base, including market research, surveys, polls, and social listening, one of the best ways is to dive into your site & campaign analytics. Google offers two tools that can help you quickly understand your audience: Google Analytics & Google Ads Audience Insights.

Using Google Analytics for Audience Research

Google Analytics is a rich source of information about your customers. You can see where your site visitors came from, which terms they searched to find you, how much time they spent on the site & more. You can also find valuable information on your customers’ interests, age, gender, location and even which device & browser they used.

Audience Reports in GA

Google Analytics Audience Reports give detailed information about who visited your site. Audience Reports contains over 15 subsections, but we will focus on Demographics & Interests here.

The Demographics report gives you insight into the age and gender of your site visitors, and each demographic group’s behavior on the site. The overview gives you a high level demographic breakdown of users by age and gender, and you can toggle through other key metrics like sessions, bounce rate, and session duration as well. The Age & Gender reports give a more granular look at each age group’s or gender’s behavior on your site, including bounce rate, pages per session, duration, and goal completion.

The Interest report in turn gives you a psychographic view of your audience. Google Analytics segments interests into three categories: Affinity, In-Market, and Other. Affinity includes users with a more general interest in topics, such as “Cooking Enthusiasts” or “Travel Buffs.” In-Market includes those users at the bottom of the funnel who are ready to convert, with more specific segments like “Home Decor” and “Hotel & Accommodations.” Other categories is similar to Affinity, but provides a more granular view, for example “Home & Garden/Bed & Bath/Bedroom/Bedding & Bed Linens.” Like the Demographic overview above, the Interests overview breaks down key metrics by each of the top ten interests in each category, and you can drill down into each category’s report acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics.

Understanding the demographic & psychographic composition of your customers will not only ensure your campaign settings target the users with the highest conversion or goal completion rates, but also inform the creative, ad copy, and overall messaging of your marketing efforts. These reports can also help you gauge whether your campaigns are, in fact, sending the right visitors to your site. You can even use age, gender, and interest segments to create remarketing audiences to use in Google Ads.

Using Google Ads Audience Insights for Audience Research

The Google Ads audience insights tool helps you learn about who your converters and website visitors are, as well as find new audiences to target. Audience Insights is housed in the Shared Library under the Audience Manager.

Google Ads Audience Insights report

The Audience Insights report is a valuable resource for determining where, when, and to whom you should be advertising your products or services to drive conversions for your Gmail, YouTube, & display campaigns, and can also help you choose more relevant keywords & messaging to implement in your search campaigns, set bids, and more. Audience Insights benchmarks your website visitors against the United States on demographics, location, devices and interests. For example, the traffic for one of our clients in home goods retail is 66% more likely to be female and between 35 to 54 years old, 42% more likely to be parents, and 76% more likely to be visiting from a computer than the general US population. We also know that our visitors are 10.3x more likely to be in-market for “Kitchen & Bathroom Counters” and 3.2x more likely to be “Beach Bound Travelers.” Armed with your customer persona, you can leverage your findings and refine your paid media strategy to drive high-value traffic to your site.

Once you’ve created your customer persona, continue to periodically review your data in Google Analytics & Google Ads. Buying habits & preferences can change over time, so it’s important to reevaluate and recreate your personas especially if you’ve gone through new product launches or industry changes.

Here's How to Get Better Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool to monitor customer behavior online. This free tool is used to track metrics on more than 27 million websites, but the power of the tool rests with the user. You can glean all sorts of information from Google Analytics, but to gather advanced data beyond clicks and conversions, you have to know a thing or two about the platform.

To help marketers get more from Google Analytics, we'll explain how to use filters to refine data and get a better look at your online activity.


Use Filters

One of the easiest ways to get more from your data, is to apply filters. Google Analytics gives you the power to add the following filters:

Exclude data

  • Include data

  • Change data

  • Search and replace data

  • Set up advanced filter

Filters give you a different perspective and help you get more detailed metrics. For instance, you might filter your traffic to exclude any internal hits. In other words, any employee who visits your website from inside the building doesn't count in your traffic stats.

To add a filter, log into your Google Analytics account, go to Admin, and click filters under the Account column. Then simply add any of these pre-made filters to your data.

Strategies to Filter Data

You can collect and sort data in hundreds of different ways, but here are a few common ways that marketers apply filters:

Measure Traffic From Local Audiences

Set a filter to see what kind of traffic your site gets from people who are in a specific location. If you know where people are located, you can create personalized campaigns that cater to them. For example, if you’re opening a new store in Phoenix, you can create a campaign that’s especially for Phoenix-based customers that announces the new store.

  • Exclude Traffic From Company Employees

We mentioned this example above but the idea is to remove any traffic data that stems from people inside the company. The idea here is to a more accurate traffic reading. If the company website loads automatically on every computer when it’s started, for example, that’s not customer-based traffic so you wouldn’t want it included in your stats.

  • Eliminate 'Fake Hits'

Spammers are constantly trolling sites looking for a way in. As they conduct their searches, their visits are counted as traffic. You can exclude these ''fake hits'' from your metrics for more accurate readings.

  • Tips to Create Effective Filters

Before you log into Google Analytics and add filters, you should know a few things:

  • Create an Unfiltered View

You need one view that's untouched, or unfiltered. That way, should other data get rearranged or deleted, you'll always have this view as a fail-safe. Name it something obvious such as ''Unfiltered View,'' and make it clear to everyone this view shouldn't be touched.

  • Filters Work After the Fact

In other words, you can't apply filters to data you already have. Filters are only applied to data collected after settings are in place.

  • Filters Are Applied in Order

The order in which you apply filters matters. Google Analytics applies filters in the order that you set them, so take some time to think through the process.

  • Work With Pre-set Filters First

To start, use pre-set filters like ''exclude data'' and ''include data'' before you move on to creating an advanced filter. Advanced filters give you the power to customize your metrics, but it's aimed at savvy users.

Google Analytics gives businesses great insights, but getting pertinent data that are specific to your company takes some work. By applying filters to your data sets, you can refine your results and get a better understanding of your audience.

Measuring your output: the right analytics for content marketing

shutterstock_314440679 Your team may create the best content in your category, but who’s measuring its effectiveness? It’s time to get started using analytics tools to assess your content marketing efforts. Find some of the best ones at your fingertips.

Being effective at content marketing isn’t just tied to hiring the best creators, developing a strong editorial calendar or loading up your social channels with great content. Your effectiveness is more about measuring your content output in relation to your audience’s wants and expectations. Using analytics tools for your content marketing is the best way to learn what they need.

Any content marketer today has to know the ins and outs of analytics. Your content budget may come with parameters for building leads, conversions, traffic and business, so it’s best that you know how to deliver the numbers to your executive team.

Using analytics tools

Fortunately, there are free and paid analytics tools available to start using today. Many professional content marketers rely on Google Analytics. This data juggernaut is free to use, offers customized reporting, includes an analytics API and, most important, gives you deep insights on which of your site’s pages are drawing big traffic and click-throughs. This tool is almost a necessity. More than half of the world’s largest websites use it.

Using Google Analytics is easy but mastering it is trickier. Knowing what you need to measure, finding it and relating it to your content efforts will take some effort. For example, if you want to measure your blog traffic, you should measure these KPIs (key performance indicators): unique visitors, page views, pages per visit, social shares, average time on site and bounce rates.

With these KPI measurements, content marketers can use the data to boost a site’s content opportunities, leads and conversions and overall user experience. You can gauge content performance by page views, page views by title, page views by content grouping and more.

You will also find value in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). This tool will help you see if Google search is finding your content, if your site has any critical SEO issues that prevent Google from finding and ranking your content, and if Google fully understands your content.

Automation is key, too; rather than pulling reports, have them delivered to you. For example, set up a daily alert on your Google Analytics account to see which of your site’s pages are getting the most traffic. Sometimes traffic patterns on your pages emerge from a solitary tweet or other online mention that can kick off content promotion opportunities.

Your takeaway is this: If you’re creating content marketing campaigns, you need to measure the effectiveness of this work. Using analytics tools will help you understand which parts of your content are working, which parts aren’t and how to better promote distribute and share your content on the Web.

Some numbers to consider:

  • 55 million: Number of websites that use Google Analytics (another source uses 53%)
  • 63%: top percentage ranking given by LinkedIn Tech Marketing Community for importance of Web traffic and/or visits as a key content marketing metric
  • 55%: Percentage of bloggers who regularly check analytics
  • 50%: percentage of business to consumer marketers who told CMI that measuring content effectiveness was one of the top challenges for this year