Google Ads Bidding Options: Overwhelmed With Choices?

Back when I first started learning pay per click (PPC), there was only one bidding option for what was then called Google Adwords, manual cost per click (CPC). That was it. It certainly made the decision on which method to use simple. While the decision was simple, the method wasn’t. Sure you could use a simple formula: CPC * (how many clicks it takes to get a conversion) = your Target CPA. I always tended to bid by feel and still do in manual CPC campaigns too this day. Mostly because I always want to pay the lowest cost per click possible.

Manual CPC

Back then int was much more simple. Bid one penny more than your competitor and show up above them. There were even tools you could get that figured out what your competitors were bidding. You could use an automated bid management tool that would use that data to get the position you wanted. Then came quality score changing the bidding landscape on Google Ads to this day. The new formula became (max CPC * Quality Score) = Ad rank. The ad rank among your competitors is what determines your position on the search results page.

According to Google:

Your max. CPC bid is the most you'll be charged for a click, but you'll often be charged less - sometimes much less. That final amount you're charged for a click is called the actual CPC.

Actual CPC is often less than max. CPC because with the Google Ads auction, the most you'll pay is what's minimally required to hold your ad position and any extensions shown with your ad, such as sitelinks. For example, if your Ad Rank places you immediately above search results (Ex: in the fourth position) with location extensions and sitelinks, you’ll pay the minimum amount necessary to keep that position -- and meet the relevant thresholds tied to that position -- with those extensions.

Very rarely do you actually pay your maximum cost per click, but you’re telling Google that’s the most you’re willing to pay. The difference between your average CPC and maximum CPC is called headroom. Here’s an insiders tip: it’s a good idea to have your headroom be as low as possible. This will typically reduce your average cost per click from what we’ve seen over the years.

Manual CPC bidding is a bit of a lost art in today’s PPC landscape. Personally, it’s been by far the hardest thing to train anyone in PPC on doing. Most PPC managers that excel at it have been doing PPC management before there were any automated solutions to bidding.

When Should You Use Manual CPC bidding?

Manual CPC bidding is available for search, shopping & display campaigns. If you ask Google, they’ll likely tell you NEVER. In fact, when you change your bidding settings in the interface it actually says this:

google ads manual CPC.png

Now don’t get me wrong. This is a 100% accurate statement, but so is Setting bids manually (when done properly) may result in higher performance. Trust me when I say, don’t believe everything Google has to say. They have a way of almost forcing you to do what they believe is the right way. Since their entire business model is based on making money, that alone should at least make you question the recommendation.

The truth is there’s no exact science to this. For any given advertiser, campaign, ad group & keyword the results may differ. Personally, I start nearly every new campaign on manual bidding to create a baseline. When I have that baseline I start testing other bidding options. There is most likely many that feel the complete opposite and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC is a box you can check along with manual CPC bidding. It’s not applicable to any other bidding type. For Google, this was the beginning of any automated bidding. Here’s what it looks like:

google ads enhanced cpc.png

Enhanced CPC uses manual bidding with a smart bidding layer on top of it. According to Google:

This strategy raises your manual bids in situations that seem more likely to lead to a sale or other conversion on your website, and lowers your bid for situations that seem less likely to lead to a conversion.

The major difference to keep in mind when using enhanced CPC is that Google can raise your bid above your maximum cost per click if they believe it to be more likely to convert. Again, you’ll see various answers on the results from this. From what I’ve seen most PPC managers have had good results with this and tend to use it. I know many that feel the opposite though. What’s the answer? Test.

Smart Bidding

There are a variety of bidding options across different campaign types that use smart bidding. While Google recommends Smart Bidding in virtually any case it’s not always the ideal solution. Even when you decide to implement or test smart bidding, there are a variety of choices and depending on the advertiser one might work better than another.

There are many reasons why Smart Bidding has an advantage over manual bidding, but that doesn’t always mean it performs better. If you’re using manual CPC bidding you have the ability to adjust bids based on the following: time of day, day of week, device, audience, location & demographic. In the Google Ads interface we have access to see the performance on each of those data points and choose to bid up, down or exclude.

However, Smart Bidding has those plus additional factors: location intent, ad characteristics, interface language, browser, operating system, actual search query, and depending on the type of campaign you’re running a few others. Even if we had access to every one of those options with manual bidding, it can get far too complex to manage. This is where artificial intelligence comes in. When a search is completed on Google, artificial intelligence will look at all of those factors and decide what your optimal bid should be. This is done every single time a search is made.

While that all seems amazing, one of the challenges artificial intelligence is up against is it relies on the data coming into the algorithm. A good rule of thumb is the more data you’re feeding it, the better it can determine your bid. Now the opposite can also be true. The less data your feeding it, the harder time it has determining your optimal bid. Even Google recommends at least 30 conversions over a month or longer to let the algorithm learn. What happens if you don’t do that much volume in a month? The algorithm still tries to determine your bid, but the likelihood of accuracy can go down.

Does this mean that if you don’t get 30 conversions within a month you should always use manual bidding? Although a good rule of thumb, not exactly. In fact we have two cases just within the last 30 days where we tested Smart Bidding on low volume campaigns and in both cases the results beat our manual bidding. In both cases we went out on a limb with this test.

Here’s one example:

smart bidding test.png

This one has an almost identical cost per conversion and we’ll continue to run this experiment until we have statistically significant results. What’s most interesting here is when you look at the cost per click and conversion rate. Both are nearly double. When they algorithm used all the factors is had for certain keyword searches, it determined a bid significantly higher than our bid would have a high conversion rate. They were right.

Here’s another:

I have plenty of examples of the opposite on either low or high volume campaigns, but what impresses me the most on these is how good the smart bidding is doing on such low volume. Does this mean we switched all our low volume campaigns to smart bidding? Nope. However, we are now going to run more similar tests for lower budget clients.

Now we’ll get into the different types of smart bidding.

Target CPA

This is likely your most common. With Target CPA you (the advertiser) determines the most you would like to pay for a conversion and the algorithm will try to match or beat your target CPA. Keep in mind this does not mean it will. It only means it will try.

Target CPA is a good starting point for many advertisers to test assuming your tracking conversions. It can work well for both lead generation and eCommerce. The best way to start testing this is a campaign that has historical performance data that will give you a baseline target CPA to start with. Typically you’ll want to start with the recommended Target CPA and let the algorithm learn. From there you can start to bring it down. However, Google does claim you can start a campaign from scratch with this bidding type and it will learn on the go.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize conversions uses your budget to try and get you the most conversions while spending your full daily budget. This can be great for campaigns that are either hitting their daily budget or campaigns that aren’t hitting their daily budget, but you would like them to even if it means a higher CPA.

While target CPA focuses mostly on hitting your target CPA, maximize conversions focuses more on hitting your daily budget while getting you the most conversions.

We don’t use this one as much, but we do use it for most clients if the campaign consistently hits our daily budgets.

Target ROAS (Return on ad spend)

Target ROAS can be a great option for eCommerce clients. Often times with eCommerce, ROAS is far more important the your cost per purchase. This smart bidding type works virtually the same as Target CPA, but instead of focusing on your cost per conversion column, it focuses on your conversion value divided by cost (ROAS).

Maximize Clicks

Maximize clicks just like it says, focuses on clicks. Mostly intended for branding advertisers who are looking for click volume ahead of any other metric, there are other use cases as well. Like maximize conversions, the algorithm will focus on spending your budget in full while getting you the most clicks.

A great case for using this bid type is if you aren’t tracking any conversions. Another way that we actually use quite often is when starting out a new campaign. Sometimes we’ll start out with maximize clicks because it may help speed up the process of getting clicks and spending our budget quickly. When we start out with manual CPC we are typically starting as low as possible and increasing bids until we get enough volume. Maximize clicks can help do that for us.

We highly recommend setting a manual bid cap when using this because it can increase your cost per click more than you’d like. While you should always keep a close eye when testing a new bid strategy, keep an extra close eye when testing maximize clicks.

Target Impression Share

Last, but not least target impression share. This is replacing target search page location as Google Ads is getting rid of average position anyway. The algorithm will set your bids with the goal of showing your ad on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page, or anywhere on the page depending which option you choose.

Here’s what it looks like:

target impression share.png

First you would choose where on the page you want to show and then you choose the percent impression share you would like in that location. You also can set a CPC bid cap.

This can be a great bidding type for any client focused on branding and also can be good to test for brand campaigns with sales or lead goals that want to own the search results for their brand.

Conclusion

Overwhelming isn’t it? That’s what we’re here for at RelayPM. We highly recommend using an agency to manage your Google Ads account for this very reason. We’ve run hundreds of campaigns using every single bidding option available. This allows us to know which is best for each client to start with. We always test other bidding types though, whether it’s manual CPC or any type of smart bidding.

So which bidding type is right for you? The answer is all of them or just one of them. The only way to figure that out is to test and then keep testing. We love that Smart Bidding allows us to take one thing off of our plate so we can focus on another piece of the pay per click puzzle, but it’s not always the most efficient type.

Google Ads Auto-Tagging: What Is It & Who Should Use It?

Google Ads Auto-tagging has been around for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been doing this since 2006). While it’s not new, many companies using Google Ads and even some PPC managers either have never heard of it or aren’t quite sure exactly what it is.

Google Ads Account Settings

The default setting in Google Ads is auto-tagging turned on. The way to find this has changed a few times. Currently, On the left side you’ll see a list that looks like this image below. It doesn’t matter where you are in the interface you can click there. When you get here you’ll want to make sure and click Account Settings on the top.

google ads account settings.png

Once you are here you’ll see a full list of account level settings. One of them you’ll see is Auto-tagging and if you click in you’ll likely see the box checked off.

google ads account settings list.png

What Is Auto-Tagging?

Auto-tagging is designed to be used with Google Analytics. What it does is automatically append special tagging to all of your ads so that they data can be parsed out inside of Google Analytics. If you’re familiar at all with Google Analytics tagging you might be thinking about UTM tags. If you didn’t know any better you might think that if you use auto-tagging, all Google does is automatically create UTM tags for your ads. That would make sense wouldn’t it?

Look what happens when I click an ad on Google for an account that has auto-tagging enabled (we know this because it’s one of our clients)

https://www.troyleedesigns.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjwr8zoBRA0EiwANmvpYNCXRntcV592cPlZjm0ytjZfA_IW-MLfSFDkkpae7-Okj-v087UwBRoCJ6IQAvD_BwE

No UTM tags are to be found in this URL. What you see instead is a gclid tag followed by a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols. Why do they use a gclid and not UTM tags? After all, UTM tags were created for Google Analytics originally.

Why Does Google Use The GCLID?

A gclid is simply a Google click ID. There are a couple reasons Google uses a special click ID (which only Google Analytics can read) and not UTM tags. For starters, they want you to use Google Analytics for all your website tracking needs. Another reason is that UTM tagging only has 5 parameters that it can pass: source, medium, campaign name, campaign term, content. Google passes dozens of other data points from their click id into Google analytics that can only be passed this very way.

If you login to your Google Analytics account, under Acquisition you’ll see an entire Google Ads section:

google analytics google ads.png

You’ll see shopping data, hour of day, ad group and more. None of that would be possible without the gclid. If you’re Google analytics and Google Ads accounts are linked together you’ll also see cost data. If you have auto-tagging turned off and are manually UTM tagging you’ll still see data in here, but only for what you can pass which is limited to source, medium, campaign name, keyword and content.

Using auto-tagging and linking up your Google Ads and Google analytics accounts will provide you with all sorts of new data points that you can slice and dice up to get a deeper view of your advertising and how it integrates with your other website traffic.

Why Not Auto-tag?

The limitation of auto-tagging is when you are passing data into another place outside of Google analytics. This could be Omniture, Salesforce or any other type of CRM. Only Google analytics can parse the data in a gclid so you won’t see any of this passed to other tracking platforms.

If you are doing this already, make sure and double check your data. We’ve seen all sorts of funky things happen over the years when doing this.

Can I auto-tag and manually append UTM tags?

Technically it is possible, but I would advise against this. Even if you match up all the naming perfectly, we still will typically see data issues in Google analytics. To be safe and keep your data clean we would advise against this option. The better solution would be to create something outside of UTM tags that Google analytics wouldn’t read for your other tracking platform. In some cases this is farily simple, like with Salesforce and Omniture, but other cases it isn’t like if you’re using Unbounce and want the lead data passed.

If you must use UTM tags for your other tracking sources, you are better off missing out on the extra data passed from Google Ads to Google analytics, turn off auto-tagging and use only manually created UTM tagging.

If you have any other further questions on tracking your Google ads, please message, text or call and we’ll help you out.

Google Ads Tracking: Conversion Vs All Conversions

Whether you’ve been advertising with Google Ads for many years or just a few months you may be confused about the difference between the All Conversion columns and the Conversion columns. If you've seen a report from us or another agency you’re working with you may see All Conversions sometimes and Conversions sometimes without ever fully understanding the difference.

Google ads conversion tracking.png

If you’ve been using Google Ads for at least a couple years you’ve seen the removal of the Converted Clicks and the addition of the All Conversion columns. Those newer to Google ads have only seen Conversions and All Conversions. So what’s the difference?

Converted Clicks

Converted Clicks was the original Google conversion tracking column. Converted clicks was slightly different than any of the other conversion tracking columns because it was based on the click. It’s how many clicks converted versus how many conversions happened. What this meant was that one person convert multiple times, it would only count it as one. This was a favorite for most lead generation campaigns because if multiple lead forms were submitted by a single user, it would only show you one converted click. With lead generation campaigns having the same person submit their information multiple times in most cases is useless. Converted clicks gave you the true number of leads you received that were different.

Keep this in mind because depending on how your current conversion tracking is setup, because the converted clicks column was removed, you can see multiple conversions from the same person. This might not matter for eCommerce, but it certainly does for lead generation. Conversions can be adjusted to track similarly to Converted Clicks, but it was nice to have them both so you can see the difference as well.

Conversions

After Converted Clicks was sunsetted in September 2016, Conversions became the default tracking column. The automatic addition when you switched over to using Conversions vs Converted Clicks was that cross-device conversions were automatically included. While there is a separate column for cross-device conversions, there’s no way to remove them from the Conversions column without manually doing the math. Keep in mind, Google only reports a cross-device conversions when they are absolutely certain it was the same person. Also, this is one of the many discrepancies when you compare to Google Analytics because Google Analytics will not track cross-device conversions. If you’re looking at the Conversions column and you also have the cross-device column showing, it’s important to remember those are already included.

Google still allows you to make the Conversions column report similarly to the Converted Clicks column, but you have to manually change the setting. If you go to the Conversions page (Tools > Measurement > Conversions) you will see a full list of conversion types. If you click into one of the website source ones (see source column) and click Edit Settings. You’ll see a section that says Count (see below).

Google ads conversion counting.png

The default setting for this is “every,” but if you change it to one it will be similar to Converted Clicks. The primary deciding factor here would be the type of business you have. Most likely if you’re tracking lead generation of any sort you want to count only One and most likely if you’re an eCommerce company you want to keep the default "every” setting. The “one” setting will remove any duplicates if the same person converts more than once. Typically on an eCommerce website, even if the same person converts twice you will want to see two separate conversions because there will be revenue attributed to both.

While we’re in the conversion actions settings area there’s one more section you’ll want to be aware of when considering which conversions columns you should be using. It’s called “Include in Conversions.”

Google ads include in conversions.png

In a case of having multiple conversion types in your account, which many do, this is where you’ll decide which you want to see in the Conversions column and which will only be in the All Conversions column that we’ll discuss later. Again, keep in mind the default here will be to include so make sure you uncheck this box if you don’t want it to be part of your Conversion column.

All Conversions

All Conversions is exactly how it sounds. This is every conversion action in your account as well as cross-device, store visits, local actions (if using business location extensions) and (if you don’t change your settings) view through conversions. The addition of view through conversions being added to the All Conversions column happened randomly I believe almost two years ago. If you’re running any display or YouTube campaigns and you don’t want view through conversions to be included in your All Conversions column, make sure and do the following:

  1. Tools > Measurement > Conversions

  2. On the left you’ll see Settings

  3. Uncheck the box you see below

Google view through conversions.png

Which Conversion Column Should You Use?

That entirely depends on the client, but in most cases the safe bet is using the Conversion column and picking the exact conversion actions in your account that you would typically like to report on. The All Conversion column can be ever changing. One day there could be something additional included in that column that you don’t realize. If you stick with the Conversion column you will always control exactly what your looking at and using to optimize your account.

Google ads conversion segement.png

If you want to see all your conversions, all you need to do is add the All Conversions column and segment by conversion type. (see image)

If you have any further questions about Google Ads conversion tracking, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll help you out.

Facebook Info & Ads Tab: Where Did It Go?

If you’ve been doing Facebook Advertising in the past year or so you like have seen or at least heard about the Info & Ads tab that was added to all Facebook business pages. If you’re not familiar with this check out Facebook’s post about it from June, 2018 here. Adding the Info & Ads (see image on right) was part of their ongoing “transparency” kick they’ve been on since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. I’m not sure how exactly that helped, but from a competitive research view point it gave us Facebook advertisers a way to see any ad another company advertising on Facebook was running. Of course, yes it also showed anyone the ads we were running as well.

Facebook Info & Ads

When you viewed the Info & Ads tab you would see all active Facebook ads that brand was running. This was amazing for competitive research, which before this was incredibly difficult with Facebook. The one other usage I heard which was interesting is that you could check a brand for any coupon codes they might be running (great tip).

Well it’s been at least a month since I’ve used this tab and as I went to check out a competitor last week I quickly found the button removed. In a panic I checked multiple Facebook business pages and to my continued surprise it was completely gone. I must say I’m pretty good at following industry news and didn’t see anything about this. As I quickly jumped onto Google and searched for information, all I found was a Reddit thread about it. Interestingly, I couldn’t find any news articles about it.

Facebook Transparency

In a few minutes I quickly was relieved. The Info & Ads tab wasn’t removed. It was only moved. There was a new Page Transparency section added on the right side of a business page. Once I discovered this and completed a Google search there was a few news articles out there about it. Along with the current active ads a business page was running there was more information added to the Page Transparency section.

  1. The date the page was created

  2. The primary country locations where the Page is managed.

  3. The number of people who manage the Page in each country.

  4. The Page's previous name changes.

  5. Any Page merges that happen on or after September 6, 2018.

Here’s what you’ll see when you click See More:

facebook page transparency ads.png

Facebook Ad Library

When you click on Go To Ad Library you’ll see all the active ads that were previously on the info & ads tab. In addition it also shows you the exact date the ad started running which is interesting as well. You can see if an ad has been running just a few days or a few months. To simplify the process you can go directly to the new Facebook Ad Library and search for the brand you are looking for. This will take you directly to the ads they are currently running.

No need to worry, the info & ads tab didn’t get removed. It was only moved to a new section. Given that Facebook continues to lead the internet industry in what they call transparency this new transparency section will likely be around a while and if anything have more information added to it. I would regularly keep an eye on the section to see if any new information gets added.

So go start looking at your competitors ads again. It’s a great way to get new ideas. Keep in mind, just because they are running a particular ad doesn’t mean it’s working. They could just be testing. Also, you can’t see if it’s re-targeting or prospecting and you have no idea what audience it’s directed towards.

If you need any help running Facebook ads for your eCommerce company, don’t hesitate to reach out and setup a free introductory call with us. We’ll show you how we can help grow your eCommerce brand like we’ve helped dozens of others over the years with Facebook & Instagram ads.

Google Shopping Actions & The New Google Shopping Experience

What Are Google Shopping Actions?

In a recent blog we talked about Google Express. We mentioned in the article that Google Shopping Actions are how you get listed on Google Express. Earlier this month at Google Marketing Live Google announced the launch of revamped Google Shopping and that what was Google Express is now being rolled into this new platform.

Google Shopping Actions allow retailers to showcase their products across Google properties (including Google Assistant devices) and purchase direction through their universal shopping cart. There are two main benefits to this platform when compared to traditional Google Shopping Ads:

  1. Customers purchase through the universal shopping cart with all their information already saved through Google pay. This can be a benefit to large retailers, but especially to smaller retailers that may not have the trust factor that Google does.

  2. All sales are commission based for the retailer. The retailers pays a percentage of the purchase price, but unlike Google Shopping Ads, only if and when a purchase is made. Here is the list of commissions.

While it is currently an advantage to be listed on Google Express because it has its own app and platform exclusive to retailers that list through Google Shopping Actions, once the product is rolled into Google Shopping later this year, the placements will be the similar with the exception of Google Assistant. Google Assistant will remain only for Google Shopping Actions retailers.

Should I Switch From Google Shopping To Google Shopping Actions?

The best part about Google Shopping Actions is the platform is completely separate from Google Shopping and can be run by itself or in addition to traditional Google Shopping Ads. In fact, between the testing Google has done and independent testing many retailers are seeing a net new increase in sales. Initially Google Shopping Actions will take some traffic from Google Shopping Ads, but the overall volume will increase.

Get Started With Google Shopping Actions

There are a few requirements to enter the program.

  1. You must have a US fulfillment and returns operation.

  2. There are some restricted categories listed here so you have to have products outside of those.

  3. You must meet returns and customer support standards as required by Google

If you meet that criteria, to get started you’ll sign up here. The integration is done through the Google Merchant center. If you already are running Google Shopping Ads, the setup will be much simpler.

What’s New With Google Shopping?

new-Google-Shopping-2.png


Google Express is being rolled into Google Shopping and the Google Shopping homepage will look more like the Google Express homepage. There will be increased filters and search capabilities to improve the user experience. Currently most product searches begin on Google.com, but the new Google shopping will be designed as a destination to begin your search.

Also, a later addition is that Google Shopping ads will be expanded to Youtube and Google Images. If you offer in store pickup, they’ll be expanded integration for that in which you can sign up here.

Why You Should Work With an eCommerce Marketing Agency

Do you own or run a company? If so, you’re most likely looking for ways to beat the competition. Healthy competition is good for your business. It is what motivates you to come up with ingenious ways to thrive despite the stiff business rivalry.

It goes without saying that the digital business world is fast evolving. This is because of the rapid advancement in technology.

For a business, constant changes in technology may take a toll on in-house marketing teams. How else will they be able to keep up with the changing trends while doing their core business?

One of the best decisions you can make for your business right now is to seek out an eCommerce marketing agency.

Here’s a look at some of the top benefits of working with the marketing agency.

Building a Strong Presence Online

Like many other businesses, yours aims at making and maximizing profits. One of the best ways to achieve this is to widen your customer base. This is exactly what an eCommerce marketing specialist will do for your business.

They will help you to come up with marketing strategies that will make you have a strong presence online. This is essential for your business to succeed.

The higher the number of visitors on your website, the greater the conversion and sales rates.

Improving Staff Productivity

By hiring a team experienced in eCommerce marketing, you can rest easy knowing the right people are in charge of your marketing endeavors.

Your in-house team will have the opportunity to focus on their core competencies. When your employees concentrate on what they were hired to do, their overall productivity will increase.

Some of the key things that eCommerce marketers can perform include web design, graphics development, and social media marketing among other online marketing functions.

Keeping Up with Changing Trends in the Digital Marketing World

As mentioned earlier, things are constantly changing in the digital marketing arena. A marketing trend that was trending last year may no longer be a viable option today.

It's for this reason that top marketing agencies strive to stay abreast of trends and emerging skills. This way, they will be able to offer unmatched services to their clients.

As of 2018, the number of internet users across the globe was roughly 3.9 billion people. This indicates that the online market is vast and requires in-depth knowledge of different emerging tools.

A good eCommerce strategy requires massive resources to acquire these tools and skills. For a business, this can be a daunting task. Instead of saving money, you will be using more money and time to teach your in-house team new skills.

At the same time, new tools often prove to be expensive.

A digital eCommerce agency will bring in expertise and knowledge of digital marketing to your business. They will advise you accordingly on how to improve your digital marketing experience and sales.

Saving on Marketing Costs

For the vast majority of businesses relying on digital marketing to grow, digital marketing costs constitute a significant percentage of total marketing costs.

Figuring out the best digital marketing strategy for your business is crucial to getting the most out of your digital marketing efforts. An eCommerce marketing specialist can customize your online marketing strategies to attract maximum traffic at minimal costs.

If the bulk of your target customers are on social media, for example, they can facilitate purchases through the platform, thus reducing the need to have separate selling outlets. This will help you to minimize operating costs.

Improving User Experience

Due to the efficiency of the eCommerce marketing team, your user productivity systems project will run smoothly at all times. This way, you will be able to offer services to your clients without any glitches.

Unlike professional digital marketers, in-house marketing teams may lack the capacity to deliver high-quality levels. They may not be able to meet the changing needs of your business and its clients as effectively as the pros can.

Improving Operating Efficiency

Running a successful business can be challenging. As you seek to maximize profits, you will also have to manage the day to day operations of your business. This can consume a lot of time that could be dedicated to other issues that require your immediate attention.

Digital eCommerce marketing agencies can improve your business efficiency.

They provide a high level of control over your marketing campaign. This will leave you with extra time on your hands to run other operations that require your attention. This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll lose control over your marketing campaign.

The professionals will consult you on the marketing operation according to your flexibility, thus giving you access to the marketing operation.

Alternatively, a leading eCommerce marketing agency will carry on with their activities and update you on a weekly or monthly basis.

Bringing in Scalability

Whether you are looking to launch a new business or expanding your business, your marketing needs will always grow. This is because marketing dynamics are always changing. Due to this, you will need to be in your best form to apply the new skills and techniques in your marketing campaign.

With a digital marketing agency, you are assured of prompt scalability in your marketing campaign.

This is hardly possible with an in-house marketing team. You will have to hire a professional team to take charge and scale your marketing campaigns on time.

Hire an eCommerce Marketing Agency Today!

Hiring a top eCommerce marketing agency will go a long way in helping you to grow your business.

Not only will the in-house team become more efficient at their core responsibilities but the eCommerce aspects of your marketing strategy will be managed better, saving you both time and money.

Contact us today for professional eCommerce marketing services today.

Microsoft (Bing) Audience Ads, Not To Be Confused With Audiences

What Is The Audience Network?

About a year ago this month Bing Ads announced a new 'Audience Network.' The network replaced their native ads offering they have had for a few years. The new 'Audience Network' is their AI powered solution to compete with the Google Display Network and extend the reach of the ads you run on Microsoft/Bing. The Audience Network is powered by AI using the Microsoft Graph which tracks anonymized user data across the web to optimize performance while extending advertiser reach. According to Microsoft:

Ad placements across premium sites like MSN, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Edge, as well as other partner sites, blend naturally into your consumers' experiences. That way, you can put the right ad message in front of your customers at the right time in their decision-making process.

There are two ways to run your ads across the Microsoft Audience Network:

1. Search Campaigns

2. Audience Campaigns

Although Audience Campaigns were announced over a year ago, they are still in a closed beta. For more information on how to set these up (as our agency doesn’t currently have access to them) see Microsoft’s guide here. Below is a summary of the placements.

Audience Network For Search Campaigns

Extending the reach of your search campaigns through the Audience Network has been active since May of last year . Every search & shopping campaign as of right now has automatically opted into this. If you're currently managing ads on Microsoft/Bing and this is the first time you're hearing about the audience network, you are running on it without realizing it.

microsoft ads network.png

In order to view the audience network performance data on any tab within the Microsoft Ads interface you can segment by network. The settings for the audience network are different than ad distribution. Ad distribution is chosen at the ad group level and you are either choosing certain networks or you are not. Audience ads can be adjusted at either the campaign level or the ad group level. On a positive note you have more control than within the ad distribution options. With audience ads you choose a bid modifier. If you don’t want to run at all on the audience network you choose -100%.

Under Settings within the campaign or ad group you’ll see Audience Ads towards the button (see image below).

How Do Audience Ads For Search Work?

Microsoft automatically creates the ads using the creative elements and your existing text ads. If you have image extensions running those images will be used as well to create a more visual native placement. According to Microsoft if you don’t have image extensions they will use licensed stock images to increase the number of placements your ads are eligible for.

Next Steps

You should immediately log into your Microsoft ads account and review the segmented audience network data. From there choose to continue running or adjust your bid modifiers accordingly. If you’re going to continue running or at least testing the Audience Network, be sure and add in image extensions (which you should have anyway).

To continue reading about Microsoft (Bing) ads check out our other blog articles:

Bing Ads Custom Audiences: Worth The Effort For Some

The Time Has Come: Bing Ads Has Taken Over Yahoo Search

Bing Ads: Are They Worth the Trouble?

Facebook Ads Cost Controls: What Are They?

Last month Facebook released a new cost control option for their ad set level Optimization and Delivery. Wait, what are cost controls? I’m glad you asked. Many Facebook Ads users didn’t know these existed in the first place.

When you’re creating a new ad set in Facebook Ads, when you scroll towards the bottom you’ll see a box that says Optimization & Delivery. The following options are in this window:

facebook optimization and delivery.png

Depending on the optimization for ad delivery you choose will determine which cost controls are available. Since we most commonly use “conversions.” we’re going to focus on that.

The cost controls option has been there for years now, but in April, 2019 Facebook added a new option. Previously the two options were either bid cap or target cost. Well technically the third option is not choosing any of these as they are optional. In fact most experts (us and others we’ve spoken with) recommend not choosing any of these and letting Facebook maximize conversions at the lowest cost.

What’s The Difference For Each Cost Control?

Target Cost

Target cost is recommended for the most consistent cost per conversion goals. Facebook will aim it’s bidding on hitting your target cost as your average cost per conversions. Some conversions may come in lower and some many come in higher.

Bid Cap

A bid cap is different because it doesn’t necessarily take into consideration anything that happens on your website. Facebook is using this to determine what CPM it bids in their auction for your ad to show. Regardless of whether they convert well or not. If you’re particularly concerned about what your paying for your ads versus your goals, this bidding option is for you.

Cost Cap

The latest edition is cost cap bidding. Facebook claims this is very similar to using the recommended method previously which is not choosing Target Cost or Bid Cap, but it at least gives Facebook some guidance on the goal you’re looking to hit as your cost per acquisition. Their goal here is to get you the most conversions at or below your cost cap. It sounds very similar to Target Cost, but isn’t supposed to limit your conversions as much.

We’ll update once we’ve further tested this bid strategy. If you have an eCommerce company and are looking for help with your Facebook ads strategy and management, feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to discuss further.

Don't Forget To Tag Your Facebook Ads!

There are currently more than 28 million websites using Google Analytics. With all likelihood, you’re one of them. Yet time and time again we get into a potential client’s or new client’s Facebook Ads account and none of the ads have ever been setup to track properly in Google Analytics. Unless you properly tag your ads in Facebook Ads Manager, all of your Facebook traffic will be mixed together between paid and organic in Google analytics. Not to mention you won’t be able to drill down any further than source.

What Is A UTM Tag?

UTM stands for urchin tracking module and is nothing more than the format used by Google to track unique URL’s. If you’re using Google Analytics for your website every time you setup something that has a clickable URL, you should be tagging it with the UTM tags. For more information check out Google’s URL Builder. If your organic Facebook post has a link, tag it. If you send out an email, tag all the links. The naming convention is entirely up to you, but these are the UTM parameters Google reads (what you do with them is your choice):

Campaign Source: Required field and used to identify where the click came from (Facebook, Google)

Campaign Medium: Used to identify the type of source (email, CPM, CPC)

Campaign Name: Used as the first layer of identifying the traffic source.

Campaign Term: Intended to track the keyword in paid search, but can also be used as a second layer from campaign to further identify the traffic source.

Campaign Content: Used as a third layer for identifying the traffic source

Here’s what a UTM tag looks like:

utm_source=source&utm_medium=medium&utm_campaign=campaign&utm_keyword=keyword&utm_content=content

The initial UTM can start with either a ? or a & depending on your URL setup. This is where it can get a little confusing and where mistakes are made. If there is already a ? in the URL somewhere, the first UTM start with an & just like the following UTM’s. If there is no ? in the URL before the UTM tag, start with ? before the first UTM.

How To Add UTM Tags To Facebook:

First, all your URL tracking in Facebook will be at the ad level.

facebook utm tagging.png

View Tag:

If you’re running a tracking system like Doubleclick or another attribution software that will track ad impressions, there is where you would put the tag.

URL Parameters:

This is where the UTM tag will go. There are two ways to do this. Either you can build it yourself or you can use the Facebook “Build A URL Parameter.” If you click the link you’ll see the following to build your URL parameter:

Last year Facebook introduced dynamic parameters to help with the tagging. These work similar to value track with Google Ads. If you click into each one of the boxes you have the choice to either pick a dynamic parameter or enter your own. To the right are the dynamic parameters you get to choose from. As you fill in the boxes on the bottom you’ll see what it looks like. You also have the choice to add your own parameters if there is another tracking program you uses. Maybe you use Salesforce to keep track of your leads and have custom parameters setup.

One thing to note that we’ve learned the hard way. For any other source you typically add the ? or & to start your UTM tag. Do not add that in Facebook. For some reason they automatically take care of this. If you add it yourself it won’t track properly. if your used to setting up UTM tags regularly this can be challenging to break your normal habit. I know it has been for me.

Conclusion:

Be sure and track all your marketing channels correctly in Google Analytics. This allows you to gain deeper insights into where your sales and leads are really coming from. Don’t just remember UTM tags in Facebook. Remember them for all marketing channels. The better your tag, the cleaner and more accurate your data will be in Google Analytics.

Google Express: Is This Just Google's Version Of Amazon?

Launched initially 6 years ago Google Express has gone relatively unnoticed. Few have used it, and even less have heard of it. At first glance, it appears to be a lot like Amazon, but there are some distinct differences.

Is Google Trying To Compete With Amazon?

Yes and no. While at first glance Google Express appears to look a lot like Amazon, it is different. For close comparison, it’s more like eBay. With Google Express you can buy products from multiple retailers in one checkout (like Amazon), but once the order is completed the individual retailers you bought from take over the order. The vast majority of items purchased on Amazon ship directly from an Amazon warehouse and are delivery by Amazon. With Google Express, if you are buying an item from Target, you pay Google, but Target packages and ships the item to you.

What is Google Express?

When Google Express launched 6 years ago the eCommerce landscape was completely different than today. Amazon was growing rapidly, and most major brick and mortar stores had not even begun to know how to compete. Google Express initially launched in the San Francisco Bay area only on a free trial basis with plans to become a yearly membership program (like Amazon Prime). Products were picked up directly from stores like Target, Home Depot & Walmart and delivered to your home by Google.

Over the next 4 years, Google Express tested different methods and programs. At this point, more than 90% of the United States could use the program. Google partnered with local retailers and with a $95 membership fee you would get free delivery. At this time Walmart joined forces with Google significantly increasing the number of products you could purchase with Google Express. At the time Walmart was after the voice purchase part of Google Express using Google home devices. Fast forward two years Walmart has finally become someone to compete in eCommerce, and they pulled out of Google Express to focus on their own program.

Today anyone in the United States can order off Google Express, and the program has opened up to more local retailers. See the full list here.

Why Use Google Express?

Google Express offers a clean, simple checkout where you can purchase directly from the retail partners, but in one purchase. No need to place multiple orders at once or create multiple accounts with the various retailers. What’s great for the retailers, unlike Amazon, is that they continue to own the customer once the purchase is completed.

For lesser known retailers, Google is there to back the purchase. Retailers have to adhere to the minimum return policy required by Google Express and shipping times are monitored.

How Does Google Express Integrate With Google Home?

Here’s the answer to Google’s current long term plan with Google Express. As voice purchasing picks up momentum, Amazon can fulfill ,on the Amazon Alexa device, but Google didn’t have an answer for Google Home. As Google Home continues to grow, it will give Alexa real competition in voice search and product purchasing. Last month Walmart even joined forces back with Google to support Google Home voice purchasing.

Can Anyone List Products On Google Express?

In recent months Google has begun to open Google Express up to more retailers with Google Shopping integrations. Through a platform called Shopping Actions you can apply to be a retailer on Google Express. There are more minimum requirements than Google Shopping as Google plans to keep Google Express a separate program.

If you’re interested in joining Google Express, let us know, and we’ll walk you through the application process.